I move forward in his absence because I can't afford to stop. When I do, the full weight of it hits me and I am hollowed out again. It's funny because sometimes I am so in my moments that I forget. I am so in my body and in my life that I am full and whole and free. I create. I listen to my body religiously. It is through this instrument that all my decisions are made, and it feels good, this release, this trust in myself.
I haven't had a panic attack since that day I tried and failed to build that stupid fire and got us into our last fight instead. I have been without that horribly vivid rush, that feeling of imminent doom since he walked out of that wood shop and my life. But that's not really true. We still talk, send messages to each other via email, text, and even snail mail. It is now as it was then, I am often the one who initiates, and he replies graciously. But there is no more panic in my life.
Over the last two years, the attacks had been coming more and more frequently, and there was nothing I could do to manage them, though I tried. I turned into a beast within them. The frantic pain and suspicion always got the best of me and brought out my worst. But since that day in January, I have not even come close to that state, and for that, I am grateful.
I think that's why I was so happy at the surprise of him in the bookstore. Seeing him felt like a relief, but there was something else. It was that panic. I felt a bit of it when I saw him; it was shallow, but it was there. My joy at seeing his face overrode that, I can't remember the last time I was so happy to run into a person. It made my weekend. He made my weekend. Or did I? I think it was, as with all things two people do together, a collaboration.
I knew who I was at the beginning of the relationship. I was the woman who gives too much, in the face of indifference, in the shadow of neglect, in fear of abandonment, I give and give and give, because I am in love, and I want to prove myself worthy of that love. That's why I was so reticent to date him. I knew who I would turn into, no matter who he happened to be. I knew him well enough to know that I would fall too deeply in love. I would, as I do, lose myself in his life to the point where I would find myself truly lost. And I would know, as I do now, that it was my choice, my effort, my own undoing. I can't blame any of the men I have given way to for this effort. It is my pattern ever since I first lost myself for my father. Turning myself into what I thought he wanted so he would love me.
I was able to get my father to love me, but he left too, in the form of ALS, and as he left, he said the thing that he would always say at the end of our infrequent long distance visits, "I think we did very well." This put a cap on the pain of leaving him, of having to be without my father again.
And all I want to do is break out of this set of habits. All I want is to be free of this dynamic that I always create, because in the end it is the end of my relationships. If my dad had lived long enough, I might have found that out with him, I might have seen that there was no gesture large enough to convince me that I was worthy of love without the effort. I know that he loved me, but sometimes, I chose the role of victim instead.
I recently saw this, the dynamic of love, or relationships, and how it keeps me from becoming. I feel like my cells have outsmarted me again, pushing me into a pattern of behavior that in the end, is my undoing. Or, the undoing of my relationship. It was the same with my divorce. When I finally left my wasband, I felt like I had shed 200 pounds of weight in a single day. I had given so much to him and to the relationship that I felt, and still feel, that I have nothing more for him, ever. Not love, not hate, not even a conversation. He has gotten enough of me to last my entire lifetime.
This is how the days pass, with hope that I will someday believe within a relationship. Believe in the strength of my character, in the potency of my being, in the wealth of my wisdom. That everything I give will be given out of love and for love alone. That I will have a knowing that will keep me from giving up too much of myself just in case I am not actually worthy of the love I am receiving.
Maybe someday, the days will pass differently.