I was tempted to name my last post “epitaph”. A part of me had been brutally severed. My hopes, my dreams now lay smouldering on a pyre. It seemed fitting.
When I typed those brave-faced words, they were an expression of how I wanted to feel, a few days or weeks or months from now. Something to aspire to. Then, somehow, after hitting the “publish” key, I realised I was genuinely beginning to feel that way.
Taking a step back, looking critically at the last few months, I see that much of my time was spent waiting, feeling despondent about being apart, dealing with the guilt of Tadpole’s impending separation from her father, smothering my doubts with a pillow. Negative feelings which crushed my spirits with all their ominous weight, preventing me from enjoying the here and now.
Now I find myself appallingly fragile, but intact, and somehow lighter. I no longer have to do battle with those demons any more; the weight has lifted. Only now do I see, with startling clarity, how impossible it was to continue following that ghost of a dream.
All the same, much of the past few days remains a blur. As I go about my daily business, my mind is elsewhere, playing my favourite memories in a continuous loop, until I’m ready to lay them to rest. On the surface, I laugh and joke, say positive, brave things, make plans for Tadpole and me. I’m going to buy a little flat, I say. On a whim, I’m going to the South of France for a few days, a holiday of sorts. People are rather surprised at how much better I seem, already. An indecently rapid recovery?
But I can barely bring myself to eat. I go to bed only when I’m thoroughly exhausted, so that I cannot lie awake craving his warmth. His touch. All day long there is a fluttering inside my chest, a constant edge of panic I cannot shake off, but which no-one sees.
This morning, in the crowded métro, a couple caught my attention. I saw their embrace out of the corner of my eye, and something inside me twisted, pulled. I couldn’t tear my masochistic eyes away from the woman, the way she looked at her companion, with hunger. I know I looked at him that way too, once. Sometimes, all I wanted was to crawl inside his skin.
Then, when I reached my destination, I saw another woman, elderly, confused. She stood by a rubbish bin, manically tearing up a piece of paper into smaller and smaller pieces, scattering them on the station floor like ragged confetti. Every few seconds she repeated the same two words, in an identical strangled voice, as if a needle were jumping on a record and playing the same disembodied phrase over and over.
It was. It truly was, for a while. But I refuse to believe that it was my one and only shot at magical. Soon, I will renounce living in the past tense, move on.