Maybe if the kids hadn’t woken me from a deep sleep at 2 am, things would’ve turned out differently. The darkness of this time of night cloaks me, gives me a clarity not available in the daylight. Maybe if I’d slept through them, my dreams wouldn’t have come crashing down. I could dwell the rest of my life in those maybes, live happily believing the black of night whispers untruths. But I’ve never been much for doubting the revelations that come to me at night. And I’ve never been a procrastinator. Best to get on with it.
It is not always obvious, because I hide my pride in big smiles and clever jokes, but I do believe I’m priceless. I suspected you also lived in that belief, swam in it with the moon shining down on my deep, dark depths. I know you realized years ago that I am not what I’ve always portrayed to the world - that I’m much more. I thought you appreciated that the world gets the photograph of me - the turbulent, beautiful waterfall, the clear pool perfect for swimming that tricks you into thinking you see all there is to see, the cliffs with their exhilarating jumps of wild abandon, the hot rocks perfect for drying after a cool spring-fed swim. Everyone gets that part of me - the part they enjoy and appreciate for what it does for them. Everyone gets my trees and flowers, my butterflies and songbirds, my bass and gar suspended in glassy water, because these are things that would be too costly to hide. They lie waiting for discovery in the daylight, or the moonlight, and to hide them would change me fundamentally because I’d have to dim my light. This is the part of me that is an extrovert. This is the part of me that is uncontainable.
Like an iceberg, though my surface is expansive and impressive, it is less than 10% of me. The rest lies deep beneath the light, away from the lens, unphotographable. The rest of me is the priceless part, the piece that very few ever even glimpse, the part I rarely share at all and have never shared completely, until you. I thought you understood that though I have no secrets from you, my depths are still under exploration. I thought you understood that conventional means won’t help you understand me. I thought you understood that only you have been able to see all of me, more than my surface and more than my sunlight, and more than my twilight, and more than my moon-lit midnight. Only you can see my abyss. Only you can see in my caverns. Only you know the pieces of me so microscopically infinitely small that they couldn’t be counted in a lifetime. Only you understand I’m so infinitely large that I’m unimaginable, unperceivable.
Or so I thought, if not for the clarity of darkness that only exists in the madragada- the small hours after midnight. Here I could see a different perspective, where you became uncomfortable with the vastness of me, where you shivered after swimming in my waters, even sitting on my hot rocks, and where you paused with fear before jumping from embarrassment into my safe pools. Here I could see my sunshine burns your skin, and my creatures threaten you with their macabre looks, songs, curiosity. Here I recognize my surface threatens you and my depths terrify you, even as you value me, even as you want to own me. Even as you struggle to contain me.
As I said earlier, though, I am priceless, and ownership of something priceless is a tricky thing, but a price tag is impossible. To believe you could possibly price me, pay a debt to me with cash, and wipe your hands of me, expecting my gratitude for your price named and paid is an insult. I gave myself willingly to you. I allowed you, with much deliberation, to access all of me. I dropped my moon into my abyss so you could see. I blocked my sun’s rays with cumulus clouds and held your hand while you jumped.
You can no more pay a debt to be free of me than you can pay the air to breathe, or pay the water to drink, or pay the tree to take shade. My gifts were freely given; there is no debt that can be paid with money. I am everything; you owe me nothing. If you feel you owe a debt to me, you can buy my trees but not cut them, buy my waters but not drink them, buy my air but not breathe it, buy my light but not see it. You can buy my stars but never know them, buy my aquifers but I won’t show them. I am not a commodity. I cannot be traded, bought, sold, or valued with dollar signs. If you wish to pay an imagined monetary debt to me, you’re free to do so, and you’re free to walk away without a thought, as you always were. I gave you my time, my thoughts, my perspective, my intellect, my comfort, my love, myself. It is a surprise to me that you can recognize, appreciate, and value these gifts while pricing them in your mind, tracking them to repay with cash when you are done.
Wipe your hands of Me.
I remember when the thought of you sent shivers down my spine, ridiculous, goofy smile splayed across my face. I once drove off with the gas pump nozzle still in my tank, I was so stupid for you.
I wish I could remember how exactly you enchanted me. I never meant to love you. I thought I could safely be friends with benefits because I had no interest in you. But I was intoxicated. Literally, of course, but also figuratively. I was mesmerized. That’s quite a power you have. Turn a stone from resistant to malleable. I was done with relationships. Done with a man feigning ownership. Done with owing my whereabouts or companionship to another. Done with justifying my actions or sharing my privileges. I just wanted to have some fun.
Your courtship was insidious. Manipulations shrouded in niceties, demands layered beneath vulnerabilities. You portrayed a woke, gentle soul when you wore your mask. But there were always cracks. “Behind the red curtain” as you would say. Which always creeped me out, TBH. I don’t… have… a “red curtain”. I have depth and breadth and soaring vistas and many layers like a stinky onion, but not closets with skeletons, no dark corners, no secret rendezvous. You were a mystery to me, an enigma. And now I’ve unraveled you and you sit in the center of your tangled mat of frustrated possibilities furiously knotting everything in reach. So much potential laid to waste.
You create entanglements to justify your inaction. You blame when you should apologize. You confuse and gaslight yourself and everyone you claim to love. Your love isn’t so much a gift as recognition of gifts received. You really believe the stories your mind creates, and your fantasy world is rich in your achievements, your commendation.
Looking back, I did think I could change you. I thought I could lead you to be the light. I imagined the books I’d write of how I led you to awakening. What an accomplishment! I am the excrement alchemist and you’d be my shining trophy, my greatest achievement, my proof, my love. I imagined you adoring me for life for bringing you to the light. But you never worshiped me, you worshiped the reflection of yourself. And now I know you were only ever capable of mirroring me, so I was in love with a reflection of myself, too. I was in love with the way you made me feel in the good times, when your mirror was steady and strong. I envisioned myself a goddess in rapture in the reflection in your eyes and maybe I could have lived there forever if your mirror had never faltered.
A reflection requires constant effort, which we didn’t always have. And though I could still drown you in comfort when you were not reflecting back to me (or even worse, when you were rude, thoughtless, or cruel towards me), you were incapable. Like Narcissus enchanted by his pond reflection, you were addicted to being loved by me. You were not addicted to loving me and so you were always chasing the dragon of my adoration. Never satisfied with partnership or equality, you demanded complete compliance to your every desire, validation to your every thought, worship of your every action.
You were heroine to me and I’d always capitulate for another hit.
This habit has been hard to break and heart-breaking to boot. Maybe we were Bonnie & Clyde in another dimension but here in this life I have other work to do, other priorities aside from mutual mesmerization with you. Though intoxication is fun it does not change the world and that’s exactly what I came here to do. I could spend this lifetime mothering you, but you will never reciprocate, never see your role in perpetuating your drama, never recognize how useless the conflicts you constantly create.
“Never say never”, I can hear you grumble, always the devil’s advocate, always pooping in the cereal (another gross analogy of yours). Always guaranteed to be negative, even in adoration (“You almost make me forget about weed” seemed to be the highest praise in your mind). “If you have something to say to me, just SAY it!” you sling bitterly at me as I attempt to bleed my emotions onto paper through this useless lead, my only real talent, my only genuine expression, my safe space laid to ruins and lit with the spit of your acrid, hateful tongue. You happily crushed all my joy and could somehow still smile while I cried.
It’s the thought that counts, Love, and you’ve given me almost no thought at all. Ignoring my inconvenient interruptions to your reverie, a dream I spun with broken, bloodied fingers, a lifetime of weariness devoted to you. You weren’t interested in my ideas, my accomplishments, my children, my goals, my hopes, my dreams and yet you were still somehow enough for me because I did not know my value, did not recognize my worth, did not understand the concept of partnership, mutuality, collaboration and honestly I was in too deep when it all became obvious – too late to turn around. I thought I could salvage this wreck. I guess I dreamed myself a pirate, too.
So I’ll be my own love. I’ll love myself longingly and write sickly sweet sticky love notes for my mirror and cook myself elaborate dinners and compliment myself on a job well done. I’ll love my children and be their soft landing wherever they roam. I’ll teach them to value themselves rather than surrendering to demands of an enemy for a taste of a compliment. I’ll reparent myself right alongside them. I’ll buy myself lavish gifts – I always seem to know exactly what I want and I’ll sit in happy, stupid silence with my Self for eternity.
I know you’re already couching your escape plan. Gathering justification for retreating to the comfort and safety of the familiar. I don’t believe you’ll make any changes, but that was never my goal anyway. My goal was clean escape, no mess, no regrets. I’ve planted plenty of seeds, watered and nurtured, pulled weeds, advised on weather and temperatures and love. It’s your garden to grow or neglect. I’ve got my own garden to attend to.
I can see you’re still searching for a path out of this reckoning, hoping to find a justification with which I’ll agree, support, retreat into your arms. That’s your journey, though. I can’t hike it for you.
You’re right I’m a gem. You’re right I’m the total package. You say you lost me, but the reality is you never showed up. Like me not knowing where to find my dad in my dreams, you weren’t trying. You’re aware that I’m hurting, but you bury those feels like all the others and you wait for me to rally on my own.
You fail to realize partners don’t leave each other hanging off a cliff and only lend a clapping hand once they’ve succeeded in the summit. Partners dig deep for their team. Partners lean-in to each other’s feelings. Partners rally together. When I had COVID, I finally realized you were never my partner. We were only on the same team as long as I was joining your team, as long as you were the lead, as long as you held the reigns, as long as you called the shots. When I’m leading, you aren’t following.
But, c’est la vie. Que sera, sera. All the French cliches. I am fine, as it turns out, thank you for wondering how I’m handling losing the dream job I’d worked my whole life towards, my carefully-crafted magical world of no debt and limitless possibilities. I take my magic with me wherever I go. It turns out whatever job I have is my dream job because I craft my dream every day, in every moment, even right now, crying at my computer because you never could really love me. You could only love the way I made you feel. If I wasn’t laying it on thick, you felt nothing at all.
I guess you’re grasping at straws now. Desperately searching for something – anything – to shackle me. I was never yours to cage, I was clear from the beginning. I don’t owe you anything. I’ve given you more than enough. My blood, sweat, tears, voice, energy, love, light, happiness, health, better judgement, integrity, and five years of my life. There were moments that felt like a dream. The moments when I was really manifesting us. Can you imagine what we could have been if you’d been manifesting us, too? If we’d been dreaming together? We can’t know now, not in this lifetime. I tried to leave a door open for you, tried to stay strong in your life. But you’re always looking out for Number One, what’s your bottom line? You could have had a dream life. If you’d only wanted it.
I wish you the best, my Love. I hope your dreams do come true. I can’t let you make us cry anymore. We have a happy little bubble, it’s glorious. We wanted you all to live in our glorious bubble, too. But our music is too loud, and sometimes we have crumbs on the floor, and our walls are painted brightly, and we are too generous with our affection, too weird with our love. We just aren’t your people and I wish I’d realized it years ago. It was a good lesson to learn our people won’t make us cry, and they’d never feel comfortable when we’re in shambles. Thank you again, for the lessons, for the good times, for the joy. I wish to move forward remembering the good and I can’t do that with you in my life.