Sunday, October 25, 2015

I Could Never Love you Back

A close friend’s aunt just passed away. I could tell by the way she talked about her, that she was someone very special. The funeral was this weekend.

Today, I went for a walk in the woods. Along the way I crossed a few fields, sat next to a salt marsh, crossed a small waterfall, and observed in amazement a large tree recently felled by a beaver, now leading into a river.  My walk, which started under a cloudy and misty fall sky, followed a path of rectangular blazes, recently screwed into the trunks of
pines, oaks, and aspens; first yellow, then red, a short loop of blue, white, and back to yellow again. The trails are new, just a few years old, and you can get lost pretty quick if you loose sight of the markings, like I did a year ago. After an hour into my walk, and becoming totally immersed in my surroundings, I think to myself, this is where, when that time comes, I’d like to rest for eternity, on a soft bed of yellow pine needles, with the sound of a brook cascading over glacial stones and chickadees singing and dancing from tree to tree.

Becoming emotional, with tears trickling down my cheeks, my mind wandered back to a conversation I had with my therapist last week.  I asked her about my recent bouts of uncontrollable sadness. Crying fits and emotional collapses had become all too common in the previous weeks. They were different than the ones I had in the past, episodes that I came to associate with depression: feelings of unworthiness, thoughts of suicide, and wanting to hide from the world.   These new outbursts came out of the blue, and sometimes right after a very joyous moment.  I was confused and scared. She turned the conversation to the plastic surgery I had this past summer and asked how I was feeling about it.

“You know,” she said, “it might be part of why you’re so emotional. You’ve been through a lot. I know that may sound obvious, but sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough credit.

“Yah” I replied, “it sure was ”

Since facial surgery I feel more confidant and at peace with my body than I can remember. Not since I was a kid playing in the woods or riding my bike through puddles on rainy days have I felt so free.  As I looked at the surface of a stream, it hit me, that for nearly 50 years, when I looked into a mirror or saw a photograph of me, I never saw myself looking back. Instead there was this stranger, first a boy with blonde hair, then a teen with braces, and an eventually a man with a receding hairline and glasses. And despite how I felt on the inside, that reflection became inseparable from my identity.  He was my ever-present shadow. And now he was gone, like a leaf floating downstream, eventually disappearing into the waiting darkness.

Expect for a bunch of photos, there’s little that remains of him and I wasn’t prepared for this, this emotion, this sadness, and this loss. But I need to grieve. So to fully appreciate the joy of finally being me, I need to say farewell to my former face, my companion, and my twin.  Sorry, I couldn’t love you back, but thanks for carrying me this far. It’s time for me to get busy living, without you. Now, how do I find the way home?