Often, I wonder why.
Inside my mind, amidst the vacant, dark back alley pauses between the brick-solid building thoughts that loom up out of the fog take up more immediate concerns – like my mother, my student’s needs, the thousand deadlines I’m days late on – I look, down deep into the gloom, hoping to catch a glimpse of the whys, and the twists and turns.
The Riddle of You exhausts me.
And then the next brick-and-mortar building of a thought emerges out of the fog reminding me of something more pressing and more present that must be attended to and merely a ghost of the puzzle of you remains, only to slowly fade away, like a MISSING flyer torn loose from its stapling on a wooden post, swirling away into the dimly lit downtown nights of my subconscious.
I cannot reason out your rhythms, your ebb and flow. And all I can conclude is that you simply do not know.
Do you know?
Are you at all aware?
I’ve seen you sometimes, so lost in the shifting dune landscapes of your mind, the quick channel changing as one thought emerges, only to flee as the next thought intrudes, with no way for you to hit the pause button.
The choices you make at the times you make them formed from a lifetime that had only the decayed bones of a structure.
And you needed structure. Badly.
The choices you make and the way you make them still, I cannot understand.
There are walls to you.
Surrounding you, around you, within you and without you, all about you.
Artfully constructed with a Do Not Approach sign on the front, and a Why Won’t You Come In? question graffiti tagged on the back. Arranged in such a way, with locks and tumblers and cogs that shift and shape, some formed from pure animal instinct, out of reflex, some that you have crafted due to bitter experience. More signs that sound proudly, “I am not my illness,” while others read, “You cannot touch that, I have an illness.”
You have built a puzzle that cannot be solved, a labyrinth with no clear center or exit.
Such skillfully constructed traps of logic and sympathy and pure animal reaction. I often think you do not know, you’re not aware.
I have a mind made for studying.
Did you know that?
I didn’t either.
Not till you.
Not till after.
And two years after our world ended, two years I’ve been medicated, two years I’ve been clear.
I have studied your walls, as they shift and seal, grow and change, and I know I cannot get past them.
Some days I forget this.
On those days I am hopeful, because I see the Promise of You as you should have been, as you could be – functional and happy. And it makes me hopeful that we might still have a chance, a chance at being a couple, at forming a family again, a chance that there might be a happy ending for us.
Other days I remember.
Those days, I see the Other You. The you without rules who exists in a timeless world.
“Have you taken your meds?” I ask, and you just shrug lightly and smile like you simply forgot to add softener to the wash. And “no” is all you respond.
Your shrugs destroy me.
Maybe that is why I cannot move those days.
Maybe that’s why I cannot get out of bed.
Maybe that’s why I have disappeared.
Because now I know.
After all this time, after all this hoping, after all the attempts, all the fights to try and fit – I know. There is no life for us.
There will never be a life for us.
There is no future. Your walls are too high, now. I know I did not put them there. Those walls were raised high by the hurts other men made, other choices.
But my betrayal fortified them.
I know now that I truly cannot help you.
I cannot save you.
I cannot untie all the strands and knots, the jumbled cords.
I cannot break through those walls.
I am no longer the Mender of Broken Dolls.
I cannot pick up your pieces anymore, put them back together.
Only you can do that.
I love you, and I always will, but I must leave this gray, formless place where I’m at. My father’s death changed all that, remember? I must move forward. I must move on. I have others I need to tend to. I have places I must be. The Road calls.
I can only hope that you can fix yourself.
I hope you realize what I’ve always known – that you have the power within you to break the spell that’s holding you back. Your own spell that you yourself cast, long ago, with the magic power of child who needed protection.
But now you must reverse it, you must look deep inside, and like an archaeologist you must dig down and dig deep and unearth each relic of pain that you have buried. You must dig them out, face them, inspect them, name it for what it was, remove its power over you, then place it in a box and file it away. It won’t be easy, and it will take time, but it will be worth it. And then I hope you find the You Who Should Be. I hope you’ll start off on down the Road, journeying far behind me, but moving, healthy, happy.
I hope that happens.
I truly do.