“It is quite amazing when someone who is supposed to know you better than any other human being, someone who is supposed to protect you, care for your dreams and desires, can shatter those dreams so completely, so seemingly casually, and for such a reason.” She agonized.
It seemed strange to her that economics would be the decider, especially given her history of making major life changes based on emotions and values with zero attention paid to money. Someone who can give up millions a month in salaries just to have quality time, someone who can “make do” with a 10th of the income, making sure the family, the relationships, and health, gain primacy, someone who basically has never cared a damn for the little green pieces of paper, suddenly has to hear that those pieces of paper are the reason she cannot have her single greatest Desire in life. Seems strange even coming from someone who knows her a little bit, and frankly dumbfounding when coming from someone who has known her most of her life, someone who presumably knows just how much this means to her.
She can remember back to when she was all of twelve yeas old, and starting to figure out who she was and what she wanted from her life. As far back as that she knew this was what she wanted, and as much of it as remotely possible. She would manage, make do, make the adjustments necessary in her life, lifestyle, and behavior, to accommodate this great Desire of hers. Over the years it had only gotten more crystallized, and had become the bedrock for her personality. This was who she was. Her name, her nickname, her entire identity had become bound up, to so large an extent, with this one Desire of her life, this one mission, this meaning that she sought to give to herself.
Life, as it does, threw her its share of curves as she grew up. She had her highs and lows, as does everyone, some more than others. Through the manic highs and the abysmal lows, through the paradise and the hells, through self destruction and therapy and pharmacology, this was one of the things that held her together, one of the essential parts of her personality, of her deepest heart, that managed to survive. There was never even the slightest question in her mind of relinquishing this Desire, of giving up this hope, of letting go of this need. That would have been like letting go of the very base of herself, of becoming someone she wasn’t, of discarding who she so deeply, so fundamentally WAS.
Then, things got better, after a lot of bad times, the OTHER appeared. Things became almost magically, miraculously OK. (Maybe she should have been warned then? Things that seem too good to be true so often are. But she just didn’t see any signs.) The oh-so-long felt agony, the indecision, the loathing of self and everything else, the desire to opt out, all faded nicely into the background, confining themselves to the merest of rare occasional twinges. She had a good run with that, years and years of calm, placidity (is that an entirely good word? She wondered), stability (highly over rated she always thought), adjustment, and all those other desirable states of mind the mental health faculty keeps harping on about. Good things, she supposed, although it did cause all of her creative juices to dry up for a while. Apparently she could not make art unless she was in conflict, or unhappy, or something.
That lasted a while, and the universe gave her the tiny little part of the Desire that she saw as the first step, the foundation of her empire of Desire, the first installment of the many, many to come. Then, things started sliding again, though the process was subtle enough to completely avoid being noticed. The next step, the second installment, kept being put off, further and further, for one reason or another. There were major moves, life upheavals, just wasn’t the right time, trying but not managing to, trying other avenues, and so on and so forth. By the time she noticed what was happening, it was six years too late. Still, one must try to correct one’s mistakes whenever one notices them, so she took a good try.
It wasn’t meant to be. Physically and emotionally devastated by the attempt, she gave up the idea of achieving her Desire through the regular method. The alternative seemed to be something only she was interested in. the OTHER had neither the time, nor the inclination to be frank, to bother with such things. Maybe one installment was enough for the OTHER, maybe the idea of the alternative path was not a welcome or comfortable one (although the OTHER claimed to have been interested in the alternative for years before they had ever gotten together), or maybe the OTHER just could not be bothered to make so much effort for something that didn’t matter so much to them. She had to keep trying, for the sake of the first installment if nothing else, for she could see how essential it had become for the first one. Whatever the OTHER’s reasons for reluctance, it fell completely to her to pursue the matter, to try as hard as she possibly could.
No hope. The law, the social attitudes, the mentality of the people with power in the alternative scenario, all conspired to deprive her of any possibility of achieving her Desire through these alternative channels. One tiny window was left open, one last shred of hope, one last reason to keep trying, but unfortunately for her it was something the OTHER must follow up on. And she was beginning to be more and more sure that the follow up would not happen. And she was right. The whole body language, the attitude, the lack of drive of the OTHER was a clear indication of the reluctance to do this. She kept needling, and it didn’t make a difference. Eventually she simply gave up.
As she withdrew more and more into her shell, backing up from the agony of false hope, and somehow trying to gain control over this gnawing need, the almost obsessive want, she made efforts, for the first time in her life, to achieve the state of numb zombie existence she had rejected in the past. Now she aspired to be that blank, a blankness she had fought in her past, that she had ripped apart just to be able to FEEL. Now, feeling only meant more pain than even she was able to handle. Plus, with the first installment being her responsibility, she knew she could not afford a breakdown. Nor was “opting out” an option any longer. The only choice left was to stop feeling. She withdrew more and more, attempting to block things from affecting her, from making a difference. Some people noticed, and commented, some didn’t, but she began to go blank letting the pain sink to the bottom, rising up only in silent midnight weeping fits, or curling up when she was alone.
Eventually, the OTHER began asking. The change had become noticeable enough to penetrate even the masks and party faces she put on habitually these days. Every time the OTHER asked, she changed the topic, or denied it, or tossed it away lightly, not wanting to get into a crying fit, or a shouting match. Even arguing seemed more effort than she could manage these days, and she could not remember the last time they had had a fight. She just let it all slide, curling up within herself with her pain, unwilling to let anyone see, ask, analyze. Maybe love was ebbing, maybe it had just become too much effort, or maybe things had just become too much to take. What was left was to keep going through the motions, keep feeling only the nice things, and to bury the agony deep enough to ignore.
Still, the OTHER kept at it, asking, and asking, and commenting, figuring out at least some of the unhappiness lurking behind the forced smiles visible all day, until matters came to a head. And what are the reasons for the reluctance? Nothing much, merely doubts about economic capability 10 years down the line. After a lifetime of knoqing, and half a lifetime of togetherness, this is what she got. Her deepest Desires, her need, balanced on a MAYBE, never mind what that does to her, her mind, her heart, and the relationship. “Can anyone be that unthinking?” she wondered, “and can anyone ignore what this is doing, and will do, to the US? What it is doing, and will do to the first installment?” maybe those things don’t matter to the OTHER so much, or maybe the danger is really unfelt and unappreciated. She, on her part, can feel the drifting, the distances growing, the pain starting to become more than the love can support.
The shell beckons, walls begin to sound more safe than restrictive, and feeling and emotions seem to be overrated. Maybe it is time to become reformed, to join the average humans, to become typical – typical woman, typical partner, typical.