Tag Archive | masks

from “Into the Darkness”


“Alone. Yes, that’s the key word, the most awful word in the English tongue. Murder doesn’t hold a candle to it and hell is only a poor synonym.” ~Stephen King

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She looked at me with all the compassion she could muster when she told me I had to move on without him. And I longed to whisper, “Be very careful when you wish for my silence, because your wish may come true,” but I only looked at the ground. What could I possibly say—it was over? I was done? Death took my love from me?—there was nothing I could say, there was no way in which to explain how empty I felt or how bleak the future appeared. It didn’t matter what I said—I was alone.

Whether I saw it happen or not—it happened—the day he died, I began dying too. As I watched the light fade from his eyes, it began fading from mine too. All the times we stood gazing into each other’s eyes—all the times I told him I could sink into his blue eyes—all the times he told me that my brown eyes just knew—everything—had seen everything. . . and now the light faded. For nearly five years, the light continued to flicker, but now—the light is dead.

I must have read a thousand pieces telling me how to grieve, but grief has a mind of its own. There is not a manual specific to every case—there is not a set of instructions—each soul is alone in its grief. Some recover; some do not. I’ve faced the inevitable truth of my own grief—I struggle to live without love. I love still—my children, my parents, my family, my friends—there is still love, but I no longer know the love of a man so that he sees the world in my eyes. There is no passion in my life, no one will ever think I am beautiful or that my soul is made of light. The light is dead.

It took a long time for me to realize that there is no way to explain my loss to others. It is impossible for them to understand what life is without passion and love, because they have it. They claim understanding, but they claim it from the embrace of their lover. For me, life is empty without passion, without my love. The light of life is dead.

I have nothing left to give. I grieved through my words, believing they would help me heal, but the wound is so deep that it will not heal. I’ve put all my energy into overcoming human frailty—overcoming the need for affection—overcoming the need to be loved. I think I’ve beat it. I no longer cling to an idea that I have a future; I’ve accepted that I will spend the rest of my days in solitude—alone. Accepting it is the easy part—eliminating the yearning for affection is the most difficult task I’ve undertaken. But I agreed. On some level—I agreed. On some subconscious level beyond my memory—I agreed. I accept my fate, but if only I could move beyond the human shell I inhabit and overcome all the emotion. Mechanical? Perhaps, but it would be so easy to continue. I function in the dark now, so on some level; the transformation is underway.

I’ve read so many articles and papers on what solitude does to the human being, so I accept my plight with full knowledge of the danger. They say it cannot be done, but I am an anomaly to the species—I can do it. I can march through the seasons, alone and cold. For reasons unknown to me—it is my only choice. I surrender to solitude, but I will not surrender to rhetoric. They say it cannot be done; I say that it can be done.

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The girl I was once is dead. She battled so hard to stay alive, but defeat was inevitable. No one can look beyond the physical scars to feel attraction to her—no one can reach beyond the emotional scars to save her—she is gone. How upsetting it is that people believe strength comes from solitude. Perhaps it does when solitude is a choice, but when you find yourself alone because of death, your strength only comes from struggling to survive. I’ve given up trying to explain to people that there is a difference in finding moments alone, while someone who loves you is waiting for you and living every moment alone while no one waits.

It is impossible to explain what life devoid of passion and love is like after knowing it so thoroughly. Perhaps if I’d never known, the transition would be much easier, but having known it is like having manna from the gods, and then starving without it. There are those of us who fail to present beauty in its societal form. There are those of us who only attract one person. One man loved me completely, regardless of how I looked to the rest of the world. Then fate took him from me, and left me to exist alone. They say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” well, he was my “beholder.” He saw past the scars and through the demons to my soul, and loved me anyway.

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Words were my vice—I loved to write—but without anyone listening—my words are empty now. They are only words, and they are not reaching anyone. I crave the feedback that he gave to me—and it no longer exists. I am finished. How happy others will be to know that I’ve finally accepted the challenge fate gave to me—I accept my mission wholeheartedly—to embrace the solitude in all its darkness and complete my work in silence. No one will ever love me or hold me again. The long, cold years have hardened me. No one will ever laugh at my silly jokes or hold my hand when I am scared. He is gone, and I walk alone . . . into the darkness. Until I see him again.

©2014 Relinda R.

The 10 Best and Worst Things I’ve Learned after Losing my Spouse


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Best Things:

1. You learn which people are your true friends. (People who really care will show up, not to dispense advice, but to be there for whatever you need)

2. You realize to what great depth you loved someone. (Love deeply, you will grieve deeply)
3. You notice your loved one’s presence from time to time. (An important reminder that his or her soul continues to live)
4. You learn the truth about people. (People will show their true colors by their actions)
5. You learn to listen. (Listen to people, read everything—non-verbal behavior, verbal behavior, and between the lines, and you will see either their compassion or their annoyance with you)
6. You learn that cemeteries are sacred, and not to be feared.
7. You get to know yourself completely. (You may not like what you find, but at least you know the truth)
8. You realize how important love is during incarnations. (You discover that love is the only thing that matters)
9. You learn that people live to love.
10. You become strong. (Even if you were already strong, you become stronger)

Worst Things:
1. You learn which people are your true friends. (You realize that most people are merely acquaintances, and really do not care about your well-being unless it affects their life in some manner)
2. You realize to what great depth you loved someone. (Realizing the extent of your love means you also realize that your heart is ripped open and beyond repair)
3. You realize you can drink straight from the milk carton and it does not matter because there is no one there to care.
4. You learn the truth about people. (You learn that most people do not really care what you feel inside, but are concerned about what you reveal on the outside)
5. You learn to listen. (Unfortunately, while learning to listen—you develop an uncanny ability to read non-verbal clues)
6. You learn that people make assumptions based on appearances. (You realize that unless you are attractive, no one will ever get to know you)
7. You get to know yourself completely. (You may discover that it is impossible to function as yourself because people merely tolerate you)
8. You realize how important love is during incarnations. (By discovering that love is all that matters, you realize that everything that mattered is gone for the duration of this incarnation)
9. You learn that people live to love. (You realize that without love and affection, you cannot live, only exist)
10. You become strong. (If you were already strong, becoming stronger means that your heart begins to close, and eventually, it closes completely)

We all know that grief is different for everyone. We can read about the stages of grief, and the stories of grief, but ultimately, everyone experiences it differently. For me, losing my husband meant losing the best part of me. For nearly 20 years, I functioned on the premise that life was about happiness, affection, and love. For the last four years, I’ve realized that I was right—without those emotions, life is an unfulfilled journey. My husband and I were very passionate, and we laughed . . . we laughed so much. My personal experience dictates my list of the 10 best and worst things about losing a spouse. Everyone’s list is different.

You will note that many of the things on my “best” list are also on my “worst” list. It is all about perception. For instance, there is a positive and negative about learning who your true friends really are. If you think you have a wide circle of friends, you may realize that you only have a few. The true friends will not change the subject or ignore you. They will show up unexpectedly to mow your lawn or just listen. They will be there when you call them in the middle of the night, just to listen. And they never tell you that you are wrong to grieve. Treasure those people in your life, for they are few. On the other hand, finding out who your true friends are is a good thing because you realize where you stand with people. If they tire of your sadness, they tire of you. Those are the people who do not care about your feelings, but rather about what it is you can do for them. It is good to know where you stand. The cliché about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer is accurate. Know who your friends are and make adjustments accordingly.

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Realizing that you loved someone so completely that he or she was a part of you is wonderful, and equally devastating. You begin to know just how fully and completely you were loved and gave love, but at the same time, you realize that is gone and you will never have it again. For me, life has no purpose beyond that of loving. I can accumulate degrees and awards, but they mean nothing because at the end of the day—I have no one with whom to share those accomplishments. My life centered on affection—there were always good morning hugs, middle-of-the-day hugs, and night hugs. Now, I am fortunate to receive a hug once a year or so, and those hugs are usually forced. It is difficult learning to live life devoid of human affection. There are usually children and true friends to hug, but that is different, I am speaking of no holds barred, all-out partner hugs. Eventually, you learn that you can exist without affection, but that is all it is—existence. I continue to exist.

Learning the truth about people, much like learning who your friends are, is equally wonderful and devastating. You learn so much about people by reading their mannerisms and listening to their words. Unfortunately, you learn that the majority of people want to avoid you and just want to see you smile. They do not care whether those smiles are real or not; they just do not want to deal with the negativity or sadness. Essentially, you learn to wear a mask in public. Wearing a mask is not about deception necessarily, but about functioning in society. You must maintain a mask to work efficiently.

Learning that people live to love is a quandary. Love is the most powerful of all human emotion, and it does not matter how independent one is—when there is no one who looks into your eyes with total love, what is the point of anything? I’ve recently heard a lot about loving yourself, etc.—that is all great, but human beings still need to hear “I love you,” and not while gazing at your reflection. It is great to love yourself . . . to a point. When you love yourself too much, you become narcissistic and indifferent. I’ve always been independent, but I’ve also always believed that love is real. Ultimately, accepting that you will be alone for the rest of your days and no one will ever truly love you again is a pivotal point in life. For me, I have to accept it so that I can continue, but for anyone else—I would say never do this. Never accept solitude. Only the extremely strong will survive this way. Once you accept solitude, your heart begins to turn cold. I liked the “old me,” the person who loved completely and was loved in return. The “new me” has been alone so long that the thought of not being alone horrifies me. I am to the point that I look forward to coming home to an empty, cold, lonely home because for two days, I can be the “old me.” I can shed the mask and stop pretending, even if for just a few moments.

I was already strong. In fact, that was one of the qualities that my husband loved most about me. The “new me” has become even stronger. Colder, yes, but stronger—after all, the cold is a side effect of strength. You have to maintain a wall in order to build strength. You build a wall to cope and keep people out. Unfortunately, the wall eventually becomes so high that no one can penetrate it.

This list is primarily for me. I would never want anyone else to learn about grief in the manner I have. I will stop writing one day, I will stop talking about my loneliness one day, and I will completely accept solitude one day. I am still straddling the fence right now, with most of me almost there. “Hope” has all but taken his last breath inside my heart. When he gasps for the last breath of air, and I accept solitude completely, there will be no turning back. None. The “old me” looked forward to every day; the “new me” has nothing to look forward to, which is pointless. When Hope dies completely, I will have fulfilled my purpose in life as my heart closes forever. No doubt that it will be a great relief to most—they will no longer have to read about my grief or sadness, they will not hear negativity, they will see what they want. There will not be posts on social media sites, there will not be any more pleas for help; all will be silent. This is a good thing though, a good thing indeed, but not for those few true friends in my life, and certainly not for me.

©2014 Relinda R.

The Key


My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.

‘Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.

‘What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
‘I never know what you are thinking. Think.”
― T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

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I continue to exist. . . breathing, barely so, but existing. They tell me I should be grateful for that—for existing. They tell me many things, but the only one who I truly hear whispers from inside my mind, quietly reminding me that I should go. I argue, of course, I say that I must withstand my punishment, but the whispering says that no one wants me here anymore—not really…did they ever want me here? It’s sad really, so sad that they believe punishment comes after death when in reality, we live our punishment amidst the fires of our hell every day. Empty streaks of blue try to hide the gray shades of my hell. The blue masks the gray skies; it is not really that beautiful shade of blue. Blue—what is blue but a shade of black that we think we see. I saw only the blue before; it was a long, long time ago. I don’t see blue anymore. Eliot’s Waste Land is real. I should know; I possess the key.

©2014 Relinda R.

from “Delusional Illusions”


 

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Masks exist to hide reality. One can become skilled in the art of masks, if one works continually at the illusion. Others will not be successful. There are always those who see through the mask and know it is a transparent shield to hide the loneliness, but most crave the illusion. After all, they don’t mind the emptiness inside you as long as they cannot see it. And to the bearer of the mask—it becomes necessary; it digs into your flesh until you become one and then, only you  will remember it is a mask.

If you listen to people, it becomes increasingly obvious there are few who truly mind the mask you wear. You learn to smile at the right moments, and laugh when necessary, and that is all they really want to see. They want to believe that you are happy to be alone. They do not care that you really weep alone, so long as they do not see it.

©2014 Relinda R.

“I love you and that’s all I know”


All my plans have fallen through,
All my plans depend on you, depend on you to help them grow,
I love you and that’s all I know.

When the singer’s gone let the song go on…

But the ending always comes at last,
Endings always come too fast,
They come too fast but they pass too slow,
I love you and that’s all I know . (
Art Garfunkel “All I Know” written by Jimmy Webb)

I tried to watch a comedy today. Flop. I cried. I find that I am extraordinarily talented at securing my emotions behind this mask I don each day, but I am still rather shocked at the depth of pain it secures when I remove it in solitude. The last three years have led me to believe that the talents I once possessed had died, and now I discover that I have acquired a new talent—acting.  The grief bottled in my soul escapes when I am alone and threatens to destroy me. It is all right though because I am alone. As long as no one sees it, it is all right. Actually, I have been unable to stop crying for the last four days. My karmic debt must be massive. I keep asking when will I be released, but He does not answer. When I cry myself to sleep and wake up an hour later, I know I still owe on the bill. I have also been asking what I did, in either this life or a past life, to accumulate this much karmic debt. No one answers. An answer could hint to how much time I owe and at least provide something in which to look forward. I visited his grave today. I cried.

My mask becomes iron-like as I stoically face each day. The only problem is my eyes. One cannot hide his or her eyes. Mine are red and swollen, but fortunately, few notice. At least when I use the excuse of my tiredness, it works because I actually am exhausted. I do not dare say that I am tired of living like this. I only say that I am tired. It works and it is not a complete lie.

I know that realistically, the tears will end. No one can continue to function when a song makes him or her cry or seeing a flower’s bloom makes him or her fall to the ground and lament the cycle of life. In the meantime, all I must do is make sure no one sees the tears and repeatedly assure everyone that their plight is much worse than my own, even whilst my heart knows that they have someone waiting at home. I think that one of the most difficult parts of pretending is knowing that people honestly believe they understand while I know that they have the arms of their loved one waiting to hold them at night. The most difficult part is knowing that when I say, I’m good, I am a fraud.

I think that as I near the three-year mark, I am nearing the point of collapse. I am just praying that my mask is strong enough to hide my inevitable collapse, at least until I am alone. I expect nothing from life anymore, but to hear from the other side would help me to cope. If only I could hear him whisper, “It is going to be all right,” perhaps I could gain the strength to finish paying the karmic debt I owe. Until then, I just continue to march along, enduring my punishment, and asking God, how much longer, Lord, how much longer.

©11.2012 Relinda R.

Learning to Live Without You—Day 1,044


Today is day 1,044 of living without him. I thought I would die on that day, and I suppose I did, but my heart continues to beat. I read a quote last night, which captures the feelings I have been experiencing lately. Rob Sheffield says:

It’s the same with people who say, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’
Even people who say this must realize that the exact opposite is true. What doesn’t
kill you maims you, cripples you, leaves you weak, makes you whiny and full of
yourself at the same time. The more pain, the more pompous you get. Whatever
doesn’t kill you makes you incredibly annoying. (quote)

While I never want my friends to stop verbalizing their pain, I find the quote incredibly accurate in describing my own life. I just happen to be the type of friend who strives to make others feel better. I do not like to see my friends hurting and I recognize when they need a sympathetic ear. In the same regard, people are growing tired of how I continue to whine about my loss two years, ten months, and eight days after suffering the loss of my husband.

I have known for some time that I have to behave as two separate people in order to cope with my grief. Ironically, the therapy (in the form of Facebook) my daughter arranged for me has also become my greatest foe. It is where I go to smile and sometimes, it makes me cry. I have lost friends because they tire of my grief. I have seen posts reminding me just how much I irritate my friends. When they ignore my posts, I feel wounded. Silly, I know, but I seem to have little control of my emotions during the previous 1,501,920 minutes of my life, if it is even what one might consider “a life.”

I am incredibly busy as I embark upon completing a bachelor degree in English. I am sleep-starved as I prepare to enter graduate school, but I think writing may be a thread preventing me from drifting too far away from reality. I am learning that Facebook can only be therapeutic if one says what others wish to hear. My blog, on the other hand, is my blog. So few of my friends read it, and the ones who do are indeed true friends and understand my need to vent my frustrations. That is my reasoning.

I must strive to be two different people in order to continue living. I must appear genuinely happy in public and on Facebook in order to continue living; however, when I am alone or writing for my blog, I can be the pitiful, desolate creature I am destined to become. I can bask in the misery of my grief without the worry of offending others. It is a difficult task to wear the mask of the bereaved, but I have worn it before and I can wear it again.

I read a different quote last night that said, “If you spent less time bitching about your life, you’d possibly enjoy it more.” Supposedly, the “Rock” coined that phrase. I have heard it before though. I do not know how many wives the “Rock” has buried or if he spent the last 90 million seconds of his life grieving the loss of his loved one, but my bet is that he has not. Regardless of how much that particular quote hurt me because it seems to say, “Shut up already and get over it,” I see the truth in it. I do not agree with the latter half because only someone who has not experienced true grief can continue to “enjoy life.” However, I see the validity of recognizing that people tire of hearing people bitching about their lives. I was that person once, prior to experiencing loss. I am not that person now. I know how important it is to express the grief you feel, before it consumes you and threatens annihilation. Shakespeare is correct in his thought, “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”

I am making a promise to myself to manage my behavior more accordingly in the future. If I have learned anything during the last three years, it is that people will not understand the grief you feel until they have experienced it for themselves. I cannot control the behavior of others, but I can control my own behavior. Therefore, once again, I don the steely mask of the bereaved to appease others while I grieve privately. No one will notice. No one will mind at all. The only way they will know my broken heart is through my blog. And it is my blog, after all.

©2012 Relinda R.