Our clams on the half shell were a soft fleshy pink, inviting dinner guests to slurp them down greedily one by one. Waiters at Carmine’s NYC had filled our carafes of Malbec and Riesling twice over before we even received our entrees. At the end of the table the men were mischievously snickering amongst themselves and in front of me my best friend doubled over in painful laughter at the girls’ slapstick comedy, much of which I eagerly participated in. It is surprisingly easy to participate by proxy, after I’ve temporarily vacated my body and sit beside myself fidgeting uneasily, confused and annoyed with my confliction. I must have looked back at myself, and wondered, “What are you wasting this moment for you miserable fool?” and re-entered the vessel that was my body to continue being tickled by the highly inappropriate jokes which were so typical of us. After a reunion weekend filled with friends, decades old and months old, enjoying feasts and drinks in total merriment, I was empty inside. In the midst of laughter and hugs, shared jokes and affection, I was anxious and inexplicably disturbed. My love for those around me battled my weakness for surrendering to the meaninglessness of it all. Alone in the bubble of love surrounding me, I felt like a skeleton, stripped of my vital parts that gave me hope, happiness love and ambition. What was happening and why? I prayed for sleep so my subconscious may answer. . .
It happened again. For the fourth or fifth time in weeks, I dreamt about my front door being left wide open after I repeatedly went back to shut it and bolt the locks. In my dream this happens in all of the houses/apartments I have known: my very first house, my last house, my beach house, my current apartment etc. It begins by me coming home and locking the door. After a series of events unfold I am shocked to find my front door is not only unlocked but wide open again to the world. This, in addition to a variety of seemingly unintelligible dreams, plagued my rest.
Despite my recent, determined quest to accept and become positivity, I find myself tripping over residual tangles of negativity ambushing me like a spider’s web. Bouts of negative feelings drown me under shame, anger, hatred and disgust. Caught in the moment, these feelings multiply like a virus rising from dormancy. Birthed from regret and failure, they settle deep as failure always does. . . I am dreaming again. In my dream, I wake up to find my body and my room just as I had left it, having fallen asleep fully clothed with all the lights on. In my dreamy present, I get up to turn off the lights and crawl back into bed when I notice my bathroom door closed with light streaming through, beneath the door. Immediately infuriated over my personal space being violated by an unidentified person inside my apartment, I storm over to bang on the door and demand identification. The door opens and through the shower steam walks my loathed and insufferable former boyfriend. The sight of him enrages me so that surely all my vital organs are boiling in blood. After verbally assaulting him to my capacity and satisfaction I wait half a millisecond for his response before he looks at me, emotionless, almost subhuman and says in an empty voice, “I’m leaving now.” With that, he calmly walks out of my bathroom with uncharacteristic stability and through my front door which he shuts behind him. I finally wake up to reality and know that a good thing has just happened.
I was puzzled, after almost two years of separation, as to why I remained diseased with these emotional ailments. I meditated, sought advice from every source and wondered how I still harbored so much resentment and repulsion. Not one ounce of me regrets departing from this former relationship but I regret intentionally inhibiting my intuition when I needed to trust in it most. I needed to forgive myself. After this twinkling in my thoughts, I began the process of expulsion. My dream confirmed that with forgiveness of my own shortcomings and oversights which snowballed into eventual disaster, I could cure the cancer of resentment consuming me and find release from torment. I could forgive him. Most importantly, I could forget him and all of that miserable time wasted. As my mind purged itself it actually allowed him to leave me in peace finally, as he did in my dream; a restful farewell to all punitive memories. And how succinct my dream was in its delivery: drawing up the image of him departing the most intimate realms of my mind, using my bathroom, the most private sector of anyone’s home, to symbolize the depths of personal invasion I felt (and cringed) from the thought of him.
Over the next few days, other long suffered (very long suffered) afflictions slowly began its evaporation. All of a sudden, on my couch one lazy evening after a grueling day of meetings and deadlines, the darkness left me. I felt it leave as I lay on my back dozing off. I was fully aware of its absolute absence around me. After having finished half a decade of mourning over a previous ill-fated and star-crossed love from my undergrad years, (yes, I understand how this may seem a running theme in my life) I’ve carried on with life and nurtured a void inside; a void left by a heart torn out of its cavity and the pulsing remnants cauterized. During the same time I was planning escape from my recent debilitating relationship, I learned of my Unrequited and his new life with his new woman. No matter how adamantly I lived my own life, the thought of their presently and oh-so-perfectly shared happiness has always gouged open deep wounds that even cauterization could not prevent. However, after my small-scale, self-performed exorcism of my former boyfriend I felt (most miraculously) freed of the chains which bound me to this other man as well; the one big love of my life thus far, who was bigger than life. Without realizing what was happening, I was able to bear the thought of him without the aching and think back fondly of our time together. I was suddenly happy and grateful for having spent years of my life with my Unrequited. It happened and I was there. I was the one he turned to during those times and I was the one he shared much laughter with. I turned this over and over in head, wondering if I was lying to myself, persuading myself or, growing.
It seems my suffering always departs instantaneously, unexpectedly, all at once just as an epiphany would arrive. It wasn’t even until the darkness left that I realized how much light there is now. Light that I did not miss before because I was so convinced this darkness would be finite for me. Retrospectively it makes sense as I realized I had been thinking myself into migraines over current circumstances and rationalizing what didn’t need to be, or couldn’t be rationalized, trying to relate, trying to fit love, life and all its complications into equations of math and science. I was left stunned for a bit in disbelief, suspended in between, vulnerable still, since a certain amount of pain will always be present in memory, sore when probed, and hardened over years into a jagged scar but, around this bend, I am no longer left open to the fear that my wounds may bleed at the slightest disturbance. I am open for healing this time, not for hurting. Aches and pains come along with healing, this goes without saying but, we all know the road to healing is a good one though not an easy one.
Remembering the recurring dreams of my front door agape, I wondered if it was a foreshadowing to this entire therapeutic process. The dreams, as I recall, are not menacing but quite perplexing as I overcome the shock of seeing the privacy of my home displayed through my open front door. I felt naked, unprotected and scared. No malignant force ever enters though, and I always stand there in confusion staring into the openness before I reach out to lock it again. Could it be that rather than being afraid of any evils walking in to terrorize me I should instead be contemplating walking through it and arriving on the outside victorious? Perhaps my front door is persuading me, inviting me to step outside and greet the world with a new face instead of rejecting its offer and hiding inside behind locked doors where I feel safe to nourish my woes. Perhaps.
Surviving these past years of turbulence and decadence, my heart must have revived itself from wreckage, first as a tiny ember, burning dull beneath the ashes left by a barrage adversity and then to a sprout, then a bud, and now leaves and a petal have sprung. The positivity inside me that was fully defeated over the years but never vanquished, whispered first then spoke and hummed itself into a song that sang and sang and sang until its echoes reached my ears and bellowed into my head, purging the darkness out of me with its voice. Just as one can never ever kill truth no matter how many times you shoot it down, you can never vanquish hope for survival or deserved happiness. It needs only the slightest sprinkle of desire, a tiny, tiny idea of survival before it incubates a fully armed legion deep within you to rescue yourself from your plight. I had prayed for darkness to leave me and the darkness left with the hope of my conscious and the help of my subconscious. Light always prevails over darkness but, you have to find the light switch buried leagues beneath your subconscious and you have to want to find it and you have to want to survive, three times as strong in your survival, after you’ve built up your immunity and intuition. I remind myself constantly that it always gets much, much worse before it gets better – like an infection of any sort, but such is life. With this on my mind I won’t even think into the future. For now I’m going to enjoy this moment (and hopefully more moments) absent of darkness, listening acutely to my dreams.