Last night I lost myself to the writing. It was 9 PM when I started with i., and midnight by the time I reached x. I had no idea. For the first time in a long time, I lost myself to writing, truly and sincerely. I let the words trickle freely, gushing out bits and pieces of forgotten childhood, twenty-something skewed perspectives and above all, shame. It was the latter that I struggled with yesterday, the cloud that hung above my head all day long.
I haven’t had to deal with that in a long time, where they are concerned.
I thought I have moved on from that. Things are now different, I’d often say. I thought I’ve long ago stopped writing their stories, that their beginning and middle are no longer seared deep within. I thought I know better now, because I do. Age and wisdom have indeed taught me more than a lesson or two.
Sometimes when I need the jolt, needing to remember how it was back then to remind myself how crucial it is to not gnash at open wounds, I retrieve the single image of her that I have yet to erase from years ago: her huddled form on the floor, tear-stricken, and clutching at her chest in resounding pain. The sound of her wail – sometimes I am convinced I can still hear it. I have never seen her like that before then, and never again since.
I can still recall those days of tiptoeing, quiet as a cat, hidden from his view. My heart pounded a thousand beats per minute and often, it was only when the suffocation hit that I realize I had been holding my breath. I can still remember the gentleness in his tone, contrasted with the gnawing fear in my heart. Absence is a word that is hard to come to terms with, and it took me a long time to arrive there. It took a longer time to believe it for myself. Sometimes I can still make out the deliberate silence, like grasping at imaginary straws; he’s never been a man of many words.
The truth does not set anyone free, but age and wisdom have indeed taught me more than a lesson or two.
Yesterday I realized that even though I have sealed these memories shut and thrown away the key, in truth, it takes very little to remember. Sometimes moving forward means accepting what was; I agree. Sometimes forgiveness lies in continuous kindness; I believe that, too. Eventually anger dissipates, replaced by sadness; I refuse to give in to that. The aftertaste is bittersweet; the whiff of freshly served pancakes on Sundays is nothing but a memory. Inevitably walls are built, high and mighty, to protect against the flood; concrete and impenetrable.
Sometimes I am angry, because what is hardest to reconcile is neither the brokenness, nor my reflexive and deliberate act of playing my own knight in shining armor. It’s not the instinctive nature of holding people at bay, yet loving them too destructively. It’s not the adage that life is the survival of the fittest; sink or swim. It’s not about the lost souls.
What is hardest to reconcile, is the feeling of being robbed. It is the residual guilt; shame. It is the vestigial frustration; angst. It is the inadequacy of a child to understand that the darkness observed in deep wells does not mean that light cannot permeate. It is the marred innocence, of turning out hardened.
Sometimes what is hardest to reconcile is six words, a mere six words – these bloody six words:
Maybe I would’ve turned out differently.