After months and months of listening to people talk about Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love I'm finally reading it. But I'm having a bit of a problem getting through it. I read a couple of pages and then I have to go in search of post-it's again. I keep finding things I need to mark. And then I need to sit and think. They are not just nice turns of phrase but things that speak to me. Writing about this when I get all the way through it is going to be a bitch because I'm not even a quarter of the way through it and I could probably write a freaking thesis about it.
Something struck me last weekend as I was reading this on the bus to the way to Ottawa. I had to stop and dig a post-it out of my purse (what? don't y'all carry post-it's in your purse?) and then I had to stop and think. Because I had just caught a glimpse of myself in this book. It wasn't a pretty me either. It's a me I've been and would rather not be again. It's a me I've been repeatedly. It's a me I'm hoping I am moving past.
Addiction is the hallmark of every infatuation-based love story. It all begins when the object of your adoration bestows upon you a heady, hallucinogenic dose of something you never even dared to admit you wanted - an emotional speedball, perhaps, of thunderous love and roiling excitement. Soon you start craving that intense attention, with the hungry obsession of any junkie. When the drug is withheld, you promptly turn sick, crazy and depleted (not to mention resentful of the dealer who encouraged this addiction in the first place but who now refuses to pony up the good stuff anymore - despite the fact that you know he has it hidden somewhere, goddamn it, because he used to give it to you for free). Next stage finds you skinny and shaking in a corner certain only that you would sell your soul or rob your neighbors just to have that thing even one more time. Meanwhile, the object of your adoration has now become repulsed by you. He looks at you like you're someone he's never met before, much less someone he once loved with high passion. The irony is, you can hardly blame him. I mean, check yourself out. You're a pathetic mess, unrecognizable even to your own eyes.
So that's it. You have reached infatuation's final destination - the complete and merciless devaluation of self.
I read that and got taken back to a time and a place I'd like to forget. A time when I didn't recognize myself. When I really didn't like the person I was with that much in the beginning and at the end liking them even less as I sat in a crumpled mess wondering how the fuck I ended up there. And then not knowing how to deal I got skinny (fine, skinnier) and drank a hell of a lot of booze. Somehow or another I came out of it. But not unscarred. And not brave. No, not all brave. I still sit huddled in the corner not daring allow anyone to get close. I hold men at a distance letting them in just enough to have fun but never enough for them to get past my barriers.
Because the thought of that scares the crap out of me. Because I know that what happened years ago was an infatuation. It was an addiction. And when it broke it nearly broke me. I'm terrified to think of what could happen if I were to find something real. I'm terrified that I would lose myself totally and not be able to bring myself back from the edge.
Balance. Yes I know. Balance. Small word. Big meaning. It's elusive. It hides. A mirage.
I'm not good at balancing my selves. Some are always dominant over the others, often working to hide the vulnerable ones. They are my facade. My mask.
They protect the one inside that is waiting for someone to take her hand and ask her to make a leap of faith with them. For someone to say that they are scared to take that leap too. And to say that if we are going to crash why the hell don't we do it together and have some fun on the way down. Cause maybe, just maybe, there will be a net at the bottom to catch us both.