It’s always the worst at night. I have no idea why.
That’s when the images and sounds flood my mind. It’s as though someone made a movie and I saw only the first part. I loved the movie and wanted to see all of it. I loved it so much that I wanted to live in it, but I couldn’t.
And then someone had all the images and sounds and smells and emotions from the rest of that movie — and feeds bits and pieces of them to me at random times. It’s warm and loving images of love and family and home and everything I’ve ever wanted.
There‘s a projector on the inside of my skull — and someone plays those images. What I see teases me and torments me, but I can’t make them go away. I don‘t even know whether I want them to go away.
She’s always there. But she’s not really there.
It makes no difference to you who she is. None of the details matter outside of the tortured images inside my skull. But the story is as old as the human race.
I fell in love with her before she fell in love with me. I’m certain of that. She was perfect but she was flawed. Nothing was wrong with her but everything was wrong with her. She was just as confused — and sometimes confusing — as I am.
The longer I knew her, the more I saw through her perfect exterior and saw deep dysfunction and need, but that made me love her — paradoxically — more than ever. I had visions of both of us needing to work toward better emotional health. Everything made so much sense.
And she fell in love with me. That was the high point of my life so far.
It was a delight to live in the warm glow of her love. She needed what I had to offer. She told me to never forget how much she wanted me. How much she needed me. Her words and her warm love were like healing salve for my hurting heart.
I had finally found what I had been looking for all my life.
That’s all of the story that I got to see. The film ended there, as though the film broke. But the story was already written and already living in vivid Technicolor on the screen inside my head. And that’s what won’t go away. I keep seeing and hearing bits and pieces of the rest of the story, but they’re all jumbled and out of order now.
Is that love which won’t die? Or is it merely the product of having an over-active imagination which torments me simply because the images I created of our future were too powerful?
Is this really about her? Or is it just dying echoes of a powerful love that I can’t let go of? Or could it be merely something that my heart holds onto until someone else comes along who will offer me a love that won’t go away? Is that what it will take to erase the images and the sounds?
I see us in the car sometimes. There are birthdays. Children. Her hair and her eyes. Christmas. I’m proud of her. Trips together. Holding hands in the dark of a movie theater. Taking care of her when she’s sick. Quiet time together at home. Love and laughter. Security. Home together.
I wanted to see this film. I wanted to live it. I needed that love.
But now all that remains are these images that haunt me — especially late at night — as I slip in and out of the fantasy which once seemed so real.
She’s not here. I’m a man who imagines himself dancing with the love of his life, but who’s really twirling around with his eyes closed as others wonder whether he’s lost his mind — because the partner he holds in his imagination isn’t really here.
I say that I miss her. I say that I still love her. But you can’t really love someone who’s become a figment of your imagination, can you?