Heart of Hearts: My Selfish Sacrifice 07/15/09
And with that this chapter ends. A single call. A single sentence. Her quiet voice trembles as she tries to muster up the strength to answer the most direct and finite of questions. I try to muffle out the white noise and concentrate on the subtleties: the slow, strained breathing, the importance of the next words weighing heavily on her analytical mind, the soft cries of a defeated soul hushed by her reserves of pride.
It’s easy for me to imagine the scene on the other end. I’ve seen it before. Her angular face branded with telltale signs of sorrow, the cracks and crevices in her face filling with the tears she fought so hard to hide– her willowy frame crumpled deep within the covers of her bed. She winces as she remembers the many nights we spent lying side by side discussing our thoughts and plans for the future–our future. We’d stay up, unable to sleep, limbs entangled lovingly, hands locked inextricably together as we’d map out the life that we knew we’d have together someday. Back then things were different. At that point we could almost smell the unmistakable odor of paint emanating from the walls and feel the soothing hardwood floors of our future home pressed close beneath our wayward feet. But, that was then.
On this particular evening nothing but a thick fog of stifling uncertainty and pain exists within the stark white walls of her room. Memories, once cherished, bury themselves right below the surface of her skin–sending continuous shock waves of broiling blood pulsating deep within her veins. Moments shared between us manifest themselves as ghosts of our past. Her rhythmical deep breaths in and out do little to assuage her nerves. Panic shoots through her body as she realizes that the time has come to cast a decision. She realizes that our entire future relies on the sentences to follow.
Her face goes pale. The red glow emanates from underneath her feet. The sight of unmistakable crimson guides her bony hands to the cavernous insides of her barren chest. Pulled apart at the ribs, the cracking of bone, the ripping of flesh and nothing but silence as the beating heart finally slips out of my hands and onto the unforgiving floor below. I listen for the wailing of sirens, but quickly realize that the alarms had been sounding for months. Emergency personnel could do nothing for a severed heart, a battered soul or the shattered shards of trust that intermix with the salted blood streaming down her broken body.
My hands are permanently red. I am both Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne; maimed by the lashings of self-loathing regret and forever stigmatized for choices that I have deliberately made. Eternal awareness will prevent my mind from rest–as the clamor of stampeding “What Ifs?” recklessly storm about my skull. Echoes of former warnings and ultimatums reverberate and haunt every twist and turn within the abysmal maze-like folds within my brain. I’ve heard them before, but always pawned them off as bluff. But, I’m listening now. And in a desperate attempt to regain control of a situation I held the reigns to for months… I presented the option of a reunion of two broken hearts–of two lost souls.
My question was sincere. I know that I am beyond capable and prepared to reside in a house of cards; where one small mistake, one wrong movement will collapse the entire structure. I can make that situation work. And I was ready to accept that as my fate. I tend to expect perfection out of relationships–but as I have observed and digested more of life’s cruel realities, I have learned to just be happy when the good outweighs the bad. And in she and I’s case, it did. It truly did.
I had been avoiding the inevitable for the past week. Sleep evaded me as I struggled to sort through all of the emotions that I was sentenced to face. At that certain time of evening when good-nights escaped the lips of the weary, lights dimmed to black–and as tired eyes rested– I stared blearily into the darkness of the night, running through all of the enumerable mistakes that I had made, and thinking of all the ways I could have changed the outcome of this entire debacle. It was entirely in my hands, and I knew it. It’s a hard pill to swallow for anyone, but especially for me.
During this respite from reality I attempted to cram as much life and experience as I could into a truncated amount of time. My past is riddled by missed opportunities. Most nights were spent deliberately isolating myself from the rest of the world. Thus, I looked upon this new found sense of freedom as an opportunity to live and learn. I did not set out to achieve any goal other than avoiding the inevitable. My aversion to confronting the menacing stare of loneliness and emptiness led me down a path of recklessness. I would use any tactic possible to cloud my mind, hoping to forget about things too painful to deal with at that time. My dependency upon a single entity needed to be alleviated through misused diversions and healed by the hours I managed to successfully evade the demons.
I refuse to apologize for the way I handled the situation at hand. It baffles my mind that I am expected to conform to someone else’s idea of how grieving and mourning should transpire. I feel that no one is right or wrong in a battle such as this. We have little control over how our instincts will kick in and steer us in times of distress. Some sink into the throes of depression and despair almost instantaneously and continue to wallow in their own tears for days on end. While others exhibit aggression, rage and even violence in response to a traumatic event. I was predestined for a different path, and neither mine, nor those aforementioned are incorrect. They are all just…different.
I do, however, apologize for the way I handled the final moments of our relationship, not just as a couple, but as friends. As many know I have the tendency to become very guarded when faced with a barrage of accusations… oftentimes even in jest. My sensor immediately sets off a security fence around my actions, opinions or beliefs. And anyone who creeps close enough to intruding upon that area will be presented with my hyper-defensiveness. My entire demeanor changes as I try desperately to avoid being discovered as a person unworthy of affection, adoration or even love. This worry is omnipresent, and instead of being able to tell her that I was sorry for breaking her heart, for giving myself to someone else (*note* not when I was dating her), and for ruining her chance of ever trusting me again–I went into my defensive mode. I know that all she heard during that phone call was my panicked voice trying to protect myself. And for that I apologize. I am responsible for causing another being, my first love, someone who will always remain the most important person in my life irreparable damage. I always knew that she had placed the entire contents of her innards in my hand. Everything was up to me. Her future depended on how tightly my hands cupped the responsibility I had been both blessed and burdened with. We went into the relationship knowing that each of us had hollowness in our eyes, large weeping wounds incapable of healing and thus always susceptible to infection plagued our insides– and perhaps even more crippling; our festering sense of trust in others. We knew this. And in the end it was my negligence, and my selfishness, that will go down as the sole reason for this sepulchral situation.
Her words were choppy as she held herself together by strength and pure focus. Her answer, however, was clear. It was over. It is over. And what we had will never be again.
I do not know what the coming days will bring for me. My ability to deal and tolerate with the knowledge that I have now–that actions I have participated in, words that I said were able to pierce so deeply into her psyche– is limited at best. My spirit is temporarily crushed. Both of our hearts are trampled and will be mangled and marred for the rest of our lives. And all involved in my life will suffer the ill effects of dealing with someone so bruised and broken. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through pulling the weight of two people’s suffering.
I go to bed now with a heavy heart. Mine is still beating. Fewer strings exist to hold it in place, but it is there. I can feel it aching.
I abhor who I am today, while anticipating who I will be tomorrow. The only sure thing is that I will walk alone. There is no looking back, only moving on.