Or: ‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
— from Dylan Thomas’s poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”
Let me begin with this proffered tidbit from my personal journal, the offline complement to this blog. I wrote this on September 7, 2007.
While I intended to put great effort into some near-holy writ enamored of remembering this day, this shadowed anniversary of a darker occasion, some bit of prose remembering the death of a dearest Derek now three years removed to this very date and time, standing still in my own starless night leaves me empty and wanting for that which I cannot share. I rest restlessly alone at the window in a darkness darker than the color of midnight, a paint so villainously shadeless as to be those vile monsters who proffer self-made doomsayers to avoid: regret, emptiness, sorrow, lonely tears, tortured anguish, and unrelenting lamentations.
Dare I let slip the eager beast now wanting remorse to rule the day? Can one relentless train of tears drown the soulless behemoth pinning me to an altar upon which hearts alone are sacrificed?
Nay, I know, for even the rain beautifully cannot quench such thirsts.
Parched spirits wander about me even now, demons of remembrance too potent to repel waltz their sickly dance skillfully as sounds silent and stark rend my fleshless recollection. What an impossibly soothing noise they make. What a marvelously ghoulish sacrifice they demand even as they rip and tear at my being.
Can weeping be a delicate gesture, delicate enough to warrant reprieve from such leviathans of languish? Suffer they the same as we, as to comprehend what devilish blade they wield and its heartless suffering against my essence? Unlikely.
Instead, and in grieving acceptance of sad distress, come to me, you shadow cast, and play your drama about me without reluctance. I take you unto myself and hold you near and dear like so many scars.
Let the pain remind me I feel. Let the tears fall in storms of wailing such that they might drip their cold encumbrance upon my being. Let me fall upon the sword of loss expertly forged with hammer and heart. Let me cry in the caress of specters both ancient and new.
More than six years ago I lost the second of two great loves in my life. The first, Drew, was lost to his inability to be honest; the second, Derek, was lost to his death. To never love represents the greatest tragedy in life. But to love represents the opening of oneself to pain, to grief, to scars that never fully heal.
For many years I believed I could not experience true happiness without sharing my life with someone. To wit:
Too immature to understand what would be so clear a decade later, my sole purpose in life defined itself in terms of “being with someone.” I raced from boyfriend to boyfriend, from bed to bed, from heartbreak to heartbreak.
Finally, in a relationship that ended long before I realized it—or accepted it, I wasted emotional credit buying time in a desperate search for that which mattered little yet deserved my every breath. My heart lay broken upon the eternal shore of deception and selfishness, and there I remained for too long trying to put it back together.
‘How can one survive without another?’ I often asked myself, and with equal rapidity I gave the same tired answer: ‘One cannot survive without another.’
So I went on aching and lamenting what I thought I needed, comparing my own misery with that of “normal people” too crippled by anguish and torment for their own good. I knew someone without another meant little, deserved less, and died reaching for loved ones who did not exist.
I refused to be that person.
Torturous distress in codependent hell motivated me to seek others, to keep looking for something more. Life became an endless search.
When finally I met Derek, suffering beset me from every side and I reached out to him with a longing I dared not acknowledge. In return, he became a confidant, a friend, a lover, a roommate, a sounding board, a debate partner, an adversary, and a loved one.
I have never denied that sharing life with someone offers levels of happiness that can’t otherwise be attained. And I certainly would never deny that love is a precious gift; a tumultuous thing to be sure, but a precious gift nonetheless. Still, following Derek’s death, a great deal of soul searching helped me realize that, for
all their value in creating stability, family, and community, relationships are not for everyone. This doesn’t mean those who don’t want relationships are unstable, anti-family or anti-community. It does mean there are other ways for people to express themselves or promote their own stability, family and community.
I no longer see it as necessary to be in a relationship, the early and unrelenting pursuit of which can lead to bad experiences, emotional turmoil and heartache.
Many younger people worry about being alone and lonely in their thirties and forties and up. I can’t say I’ve never worried about this, but, as I’ve discussed with my closest friends, I grew out of that mentality. I eventually learned that being in a relationship in your twenties and thirties is no guarantee you’ll still be together in your forties or fifties. People change, grow apart, and die. As you’ve learned if you’ve followed my writings here, I, through experience on more than one occasion, have learned that all of those things are a natural part of life.
Put quite simply, fear of a lonely future seems a horrible reason to enter into a relationship, or to remain in one that doesn’t work anymore.
I have realized that being happy without being in a relationship is perfectly normal, that not having the desperate need to be with someone at all costs is also quite normal, and that my life need not be focused on the pursuit of a relationship in order to be complete.
I am living by a very simple axiom well stated by Francois de La Rochefoucauld: “When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.”
To have truly loved twice in a lifetime seems a gift, an unexpected yet welcome definition to the more than three decades which encompassed the first great love and the second great love. So having been gifted with such unbelievable fortune, after Derek’s death I withdrew from the possibility of pain by holding the world at a distance, by slamming the door on that part of me that became so rooted in these two lives. Yet even I know that darkness and dank fail to hinder the growth of beautiful things.
[photo of rooting collybia (a.k.a. rooted agaric or beech rooter; Xerula furfuracea)]