She never really goes away, but she’s also never really there. Like a ghost from another life — a life which I once lived with her — she haunts my dreams and intrudes on my waking hours.
It’s not convenient to live with a ghost from the past. My conscious mind has buried her over and over again. But just when I start thinking I’ve won the long struggle to put her behind me, I remember she’s still in this world. And it all comes flooding back.
Her face. Her eyes. Her voice. Her words. Her habits and her thoughts. Her goodness and her fatal flaws. And then I can’t stop the tidal wave of emotions. It exhausts me, because I’m left with nothing but unanswered questions.
As I walked down an aisle of a grocery store late Saturday night, I suddenly heard something in my heart ask, “Do you still miss me? I still miss you.”
And I felt her presence. She was there. But she was there as a shimmering ghost from the past, not as a real woman who could love me or answer my questions.
“Where are you right now? What are you doing tonight?”
My ghost is always there to remind me that she exists, but never to answer questions. I don’t know whether she’s happy. I don’t know whether she’s forgotten me. I don’t know if she’s sleeping or if she’s still awake at 3 a.m. as I wonder about her.
I don’t want to ask these questions. I don’t want to wonder. It would be far more convenient if the ghost stayed away. But I can’t help myself.
“Why didn’t you choose me? Why did you simply fade away with no explanation?”
I shouldn’t need to have these questions answered, but they torture me. Every time I’ve convinced myself that it doesn’t matter anymore — that it can’t matter since she obviously moved on — I eventually have one of those moments when I realize I’m mistaken. I haven’t put it in the past. I do still care. I do still hurt.
“Was something about me not good enough for you? I would have done anything for you.”
Men often go to absurd lengths to be acceptable to the women they love. (I’m sure women have their version of this, too, but I know this side of the table.) They’ll become wealthy or successful to please the women they love. They’ll build whatever she wants. They’ll change their entire lives just because that’s what it takes to make her happy.
And they will be happy to make the sacrifices — if her love is freely given in return. I would have done anything for her, and I’ll never know why it wasn’t enough.
“Did you really love me? Or were you just fooling yourself with a fantasy to soothe your unhappiness about other things? I don’t even know anymore.”
I’ve lived with the fear of being abandoned — especially by a woman who I love — ever since my mother left in early childhood. I’ve talked about this before.
Did I choose someone who I unconsciously knew would abandon me, in some psychologically twisted need to live out the same old script again? I don’t know. I guess it could be.
“What do you look like this moment? What’s the look in your eyes like these days? Are you sharing your burdens and fears with anyone? Or have you gone back to hiding everything inside? And do you still love me at all?”
The questions are endless. And my heart aches.
There are more of the questions when the ghost comes at night. It’s almost as though she’s sitting right here beside me. I can almost touch her.
I can see her face. I see her eyes and her hair. Her hands. Her lips. But I can see right through this illusion. And just when I think she’s about to look back at me — just when I think she’s going to speak or reach out to me — the ghostly image smiles the warm smile that I know so well. Then it fades away.
And once again, I’m left with nothing but an empty room. And a hurting heart. And a lot of unanswered questions that haunt me when I least expect them to appear.