This isn’t as easy as I’d like and it certainly isn’t any easier on others. I didn’t realize my own isolated island of a world isn’t so isolated after all. I keep bumping into people and things and they keep bumping back.
The lights dimmed. The sun shaded and the days became a little less dazzling and a little more dreary and I didn’t know it. I hadn’t noticed. Or I was trying not to. I knew there was big empty inside me, I didn’t know others knew it too. Today, I found out they did.
Out of the what-used-to-be blue, she asked “Peter, do you miss Killer?”
I don’t know where it came from. A group of us were celebrating her birthday and after dinner I invited her to join me for a cigar. She accepted. After coughing –she kept forgetting “you don’t inhale cigars” probably because she smokes– catching her breath and settling in, she, of all questions, asked that.
“Yeah, I do. I really do.”
I didn’t think much of it. I thought she was just making conversation. We talked about other things. We talked about things like addiction, friends dying and watching strangers recover. We talked about family and how easily they press our buttons because they helped install them. After a few minutes, there was a lull and that’s when it struck me.
“Why did you ask about Killer?”
“Because I thought you missed her.”
“Why’d you think that?” I asked. “I mean, I would expect to still miss her, but why ask about it?”
“Because I thought so. I could tell.”
“Yes. You’ve had a little less joy and a little more sadness in you lately.”
I was silent and shocked and the tears I have yet to cry started seeping to the surface.
“Since when did you become so perceptive?” I asked.
“You think you’re the only one who pays attention?” she corrected me.
“I didn’t know it showed. I really didn’t. It didn’t show to me, so I didn’t think it showed to anyone else.”
“Of course it showed to you. You don’t just get up and walk away from something like that. It takes time to work it out.”
Naively, I thought I had, not because I’m different or better just because I didn’t notice. I didn’t notice my tears because there were none. Tears aren’t all it takes however. Sometimes it takes more time.
“And you’re yelling more often. Don’t get me wrong. I respond to your yelling, but you’re doing it more than you used to.”
Yes, I do yell. Usually, what I can’t take and what reaches my limit faster than anything else is dishonesty and manipulation. I’m a master of both. That’s why they bother me so much. They remind me of me and this is part of why this friend of mine is in my life. She reminds me of me and where I come from. Aside from her twenty phone calls in one evening and endless text messages when she was drinking, now that she’s sober she’s not perfect (none of us are) and she shows it…in manipulative text messages and sermons of deceit. I hate it. I call her on it. She responds…favorably. I’m not much different. When I first got sober it wasn’t the tender, patient, long suffering friend who moved the mountain of my drunkenness. It was Roy, the man who flung me on the rocks and pulled me through the wringer. He called me on my shit and I responded. I don’t advocate tough love for everyone, but it certainly worked for me; because, for the first time, I realized I was responsible…for myself, my sobriety and my recovery. Could I, would I stay sober when nobody else cared? I could and I never knew that until I had reason to know because Roy didn’t care either, at least not until I did. But, that’s another story…
Tonight, it’s about therapy. Talking, for me, is therapeutic. Talking honestly is uncomfortable in the short run but therapeutic in the long run.
My friend’s observation shouldn’t surprise me. In the past, when my friends have had break ups or their hearts broken, the remnants and the wounds have remained for weeks and months and sometimes years. I knew it. I didn’t know if they did. Often times, when I’d ask, they’d say things like…
“Oh, I’m over her. That’s done.”
Underneath those words was emptiness, a vacuum of vacant nothingness. While I hate to judge (that’s not true. I do it often), in this case, it’s nonsense. Since when can giving your heart to someone, giving years of your not-yet-lived-life, giving broken promises of “always” and “forever” and giving hopes for all these things vanish after painful vanquish? Rings don’t take long to return. Memories have a mind of their own. And hearts take time to mend. Its a fact of life, at least it is my life, and today, I was reminded that my journey isn’t over.
While I leaned back and watched the smoke rise from the end of my cigar, the thought occurred to me…maybe this awakening of a singing, songbird heart is a sign of what’s to come. Maybe my love has just begun.