The Once That Never Was
Perhaps the strongest reminder of what once was is the memory of what never was.
We might find ourselves, shortly after our hearts break, frozen helplessly in our empty beds. Here, we appreciate the sadistic symphony of depression and anger—but we’ll disguise it with false strength coated in phrases like: “I’m just happy I’m single.”
A while thereafter, should we find our beds empty still, we may long again for his whisper, her kiss, his touch, her laugh. We’ll flood ourselves with emotions we’ll never forget. And, as time distances us from our battered hearts, we’ll scar it once more.
The mind will take up where the heart left off. As much as the mind has tamed his heart through the irrational and overwhelming, it will provoke its own catastrophe.
Suddenly, we miss things not as they were—but as we thought they were. Our histories warp into fantasy.
Suddenly, life as it is doesn’t stack up to how it was. We feel trapped with the delayed torment: “I don’t know if I’ll ever find something like we had. What have I done?”
At last, false memory eclipses our minds and hearts with that fiendish thing called regret. We’ll drown it with our work, our friends, our families, our vices. Or we’ll curl up in our empty beds again, and sleep our pain away.
Or…is there something else?
He has broken your heart, and here you are, an eon later, feeling sorry for yourself. She has moved on, and she’s happier now than she ever was with you. They’re doing things together you never did. To put it most eloquently, it sucks.
We thus self-induce our hearts into coma—the wrath of the mind has again troubled this frequent friend and foe.
Artists portray living with such longing their entire lives. Such pain makes our poetry poignant, our painting powerful, our song meaningful. But such suffering—as beautiful as history frames it—isn’t for all of us.
Some of us want to smile—and mean it. We want to wake up by ourselves, and feel totally content. We want to defy the curse our human nature places upon our minds and hearts—we want them to live forever in harmony.
Perhaps that’s where we’ve dipped a bit into an ironic torture. We spend our lives fighting for peace with the people we wish to give it to: ourselves.
What roads we’ll take to get there! We’ll change a damaging past into something that’s beautiful to cope with it—only then to long for something that never existed.
Unless we wish to exhibit eternal turmoil on a canvas or in a book, why not accept this for what it is—the thing we’ve been hiding from? The truth.
We look at ourselves, and say, in our infinite charm: “You know what? This really does suck. But dammit, that’s all right. It should suck.”
We admit to ourselves in this moment what calmed us for years as clumsy children with scraped knees and bruised skin: “It will be OK.”
It was true then. It is now. And that truth, unlike the immature mischief of our adult hearts, never will change.