Saturday, Sept. 10, 2005
The Specter Factor
Some things I do not understand. Maybe I never will.
People come to me for advice and for solace and just to bare their souls. I'm talking about countless people of both sexes and all sorts of histories, people I've never met, people online and off, many of them complete strangers (or nearly so) who perceive that I have some boundless source of right answers and/or unconditional love. Let me explain very quickly that I am in no way either complaining about that or denigrating the folks who approach me. I cannot think of a higher honor than those contacts from folks who invariably change the nature of the "stranger-ship" into "friendship." I've met some extraordinary, wonderful, fascinating people that way! To me, that's a miracle, not a problem, though I am certainly far from a panacea for those in pain -- I wish I really were able to undo the hurts of the world. As it is, all I can do is listen/read and commiserate, genuinely hurting with those who hurt and rejoicing with those who are happy.
But it makes it doubly frustrating and painful when someone in my personal life chooses to walk away without a word. I find myself pondering if I am somehow completely inferior in person to what I am in print, voice, or whatever.
I am not perfect and have never made any claim to that effect. What you see here is pretty much who I am offline. My rants, my loopy sense of humor, my not-always-rational take on life, all of those things are me in fact. I don't post 100 percent details of my life here, of course. It would be pretty tough to document every second of every day, every nuance, every minutae of self-doubt and raging ego (occasionally simultaneously.) It would provide a cure for insomnia, and have virtually no other redeeming value.
Like most of the world, over the years I've erected a lot of personal walls. They're there for a reason. From a childhood with a sadistic SOB for a father, to being married to a man who wanted absolute power without a single iota of responsibilty, to surviving physical assaults and rape, to family and so-called friends who made it their lives' work to grind up my psyche and turn it into a sluice of liquified hell, to children who used me to vent all of their frustrations, I had to endure. The only way anyone can survive through that is to lock off the most basic core of who you are, to shut the world out. And they are myriad concentric barriers - walls within walls within walls. Friends are allowed to within this layer but no further. A lover gets here, and no further.
The person you see outside the barriers is the same person as resides inside the innermost, hidden recesses. You simply don't see the intensity, the degrees, the specifics. Yes, I have secrets. I don't know anyone who doesn't. But my personality is consistent. My soul, if you will, is a part of all of me, from the inside out and back again.
Perhaps that's a problem. People assume that as they work their way through, like opening a birthday gift that's wrapped in dozens of boxes, that when they get to the middle they'll find some fantabulous prize. Meanwhile they toss off the wrappings and all of the things about me that are contained within each layer, disregarding that these things, too, are who I am. The wrappings and packing materials in this case aren't trash - they're part of the parcel.
I remember reading a book once that said no matter who you are - from the man on skid row to the Queen of England - who you are inside will always be the same person as the child who caught with their hand in the cookie jar. And that simple statement is a pretty profound truism, when you think about it. We might grow up and our perceptions become more sophisticated, but who we actually ARE remains until the day we die. Anyone who expects some magical, mystical being of perfection will always be disappointed.
Talking today with a friend, though, reminded me that there are other forces to consider when someone elects to sever a relationship - whether a friendship or something more intimate. There are many times I've walked away from someone when it wasn't anything they'd done wrong. It was some of the scars hidden within those walls I mentioned. Or it was an outside influence that made it impossible for me to continue. It was my own fears that my imperfections, when they came out, would doom things anyway - therefore I considered it perfectly reasonable to take pre-emptive action and walk away.
I'm guessing I'm not alone in that behavior, either.
So when seemingly out of the blue, someone important to me chooses to drop off the face of the earth, I'm left wondering if I was condemned to an emotional death (and without any opportunity to defend myself against my silent accuser, by the way) for a crime I didn't know I committed, or one I didn't commit at all.
There are some weird additional facets to this particular rock-in-a-hard-place. Like old friends/boyfriends who show up sometimes years later, treating me suddenly as though I'm a treasure. No apology, no explanation. They just decide to try to pick up where they left off. It's inconsistent as hell. I've had both former dear friends and old boyfriends do precisely that in the past month, people whose earlier disappearances left me devastated.
Confusing doesn't even begin to describe it. I have to guess that in their cases, the prior disappearances were driven by outside forces; but truth be told, I just don't know. And it doesn't make it any simpler to deal with another key person who just elected to drop out of my life - again, no explanation, no communication of any kind to say why they suddenly want nothing to do with me.
Back to square one. My unidentified crime at fault, or some ghost from a past I don't even know?
Before - After
In the grander scheme of things, no soul can truly be replaced. Each one of us has a place in the universal tapestry. We each contribute our own color and texture. When one thread is snipped too soon, it distorts all the threads around it. Other lives can unravel and tear. If the wrong thread is ripped away, the whole fabric of life becomes dangerously fragile.
- LeiLani, aka Radiogurl aka Bright Opal (1957 - )