Saturday, June 18, 2005

Emotional Jetlag

From 0 to 60 to 30,000 feet, I’m back at 0. Back to the standard yellow alert that keeps me on edge, but not frantic. Back to normal. But somehow, normal seems nowhere near as normal as I remembered. I don’t know what I was expecting, but hometown doldrums are unaltered by departures and arrivals, by endless terminals that in name alone sound deadly, by points of origin and destinations that seem extremely different at journey’s start than they do after all the mileage has been accrued. It’s a short trip from optimism to pessimism, from elation to deflation. And during the trip entire, I’m still just me. As far as I've traveled, I've returned to a circumstance unaltered by my experiences. Still, it's a journey. I pass through insecurity, a checkpoint I am all too used to. Unshoeing myself, I feel my socks, the protectors of my tender toes, slip on shiny, happy linoleum. My footing unstable, I wonder if metal detectors can detect the slow, metallic hardening of a human heart. I dismiss the melodrama and put my shoes back on. Dragging a suitcase, now with only one wheel functioning, I wondered: did my bag travel on hope, with optimism contained just within a zipped compartment? Or was it despair that kept my carry-on rolling on, in the knowledge that to stop would result in paralysis? Then, the answer: hope and despair are too closely connected to separate. They are conjoined twins; one will die without the other. And that's why distance can make you sad and proximity can make you sadder: because the closer you are, the more your heart feels the once and future distance. In a wireless lounge, hope rebooted leads to some endless area of the undeveloped internet, where I am lost in the land of 404-filenotfounds of missed connections and opportunities. I can’t explain it away, argue it out of existence in front of a jury of my fears. I’m judge and defendant and prosecutor. Interpretation and reinterpretation are the soul purview of self, and the burden of justice weighs heavily. It's not just about him. Undoubtedly, the rawer, recent part of it is. But part of it is residual,--the infectious, previously latent remnants of the other disappointments that litter my mind, the other potentials who never actualized, never became anything of substance. Not fair to make him the lightning rod for decades' disappointment; still I feared his reaction like terrorism. Somehow I knew that unspoken, my meaning would sweep by him as airborne intangible; he'd judge the longing as irrational, nonspecific and dismissable--even amid protestations of my greatness, dismissing me in the process. Compared to war, hunger, crime, poverty, suffering, death…I know this disappointment is a luxurious indulgence, my grief only a whisper of a truer heartbreak: my caught breath and swallowed tears are hyberbolic nothing. But there’s no pretending that the sadness doesn’t go deep. Deeper than canyons seen from airplanes or betrayal or deceit or chasms of misunderstanding or relationships you overimagined. Back then, I took in the ambiguity willfully, like clichés, or carbon monoxide. Part of me preferred to live with a desperate unstable hope in ambiguous silence. While uncertainty is torturous immobility, it also preserves possibility. In immobility, new wounds cannot be inflicted: past stays past, potential seems horizon-limitless, and futures seem more hopeful. Instead, I seized the reins, demanded truth. Received my certainty with a side of heartbreak. Here, where I am now, feels like a place of impossible and insatiable thirst—tired and irritable, I’m parched for contact. In some moments, hairline fractures in my heart belabor vital breath and it feels like I’m eroding. Now, having never begun, it's over. Lesson learned: that if you ask for nothing you get nothing. But sometimes, even when you ask, you still get nothing.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, Esther. I feel your pain. I, too, asked and got nothing, about two week ago (but who's counting?). Well, nothing but heartbreak. But, God, you write so well. Can I bring this post into therapy with me this week, hand it over, and say, "Here, this is what I'm feeling?" Or is that too weird?

Wishing you a shavua tov...

Esther Kustanowitz said...

Sometimes I wish I knew who the "Anonymouses" (Anonymi?) were...

But feel free to bring my words to therapy if they help you. Sometimes I do that too. Or you can try Ari's words, too, which I found pretty resonant...

The way I see it, we're all here to help each other.

Gatsby said...

Beautiful. I like the travelling metaphor a lot. I guess I don't belive that you "got nothing" from telling him your feelings. I find that hope-mixed uncertainty exhausting. The only real relief from it is knowledge, which can unfortunately be painful.
I guess the consolation comes that the pain is temporary, and that by finding out the truth you're that much further toward getting through it.

Ari said...

My goodness woman... you are So good.

Zenchick said...

At first, I was just admiring the writing, not even sure what metaphor was being painted...and then, and some almost imperceivable point, my heart opened up. I hear ya, sister. LOUD and CLEAR. I could have written that post (although, admitedly, not as well)...and yet, I agree with gatsby...nothing ventured, nothing gained. The alternative: to always be in the dark. I used to do that, myself, out of fear. No more.
Mazel Tov on taking the risk.

annabel lee said...

I'm so sorry you've been facing such struggles. I have nothing to offer but my sincerest wishes for you -- I wish you love and peace and joy and contentment, bimhera v'yamenu.

Anonymous said...

Ester, That's some of the most seriously elegiac thoughts on the topic I've seen in quite awhile. Very Nicely put, but I'm sorry that it had to be written in regret. Necessary for the emotion, but not in the repetition of the experience.

Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

T.A.B. said...

Esther, you write quite a turn of phrase. Excellent post. It certainly resonated with me.

Lyss said...

Ambiguity can be convienient, but only for a while.....
Just know that you deserve better than someone who would keep you in suspense.

Shoshana said...

Wow - beautifully written, and completely relatable, unfortunately. Esther - I truly hope that these days are leading to the light at the end of this dark tunnel for you. Keep bringing these words to others - it helps to know there is someone else out there who feels it, and can articulate it so well. And hopefully it helps you also.

Needsabetterjob said...

Esther, is there a blog that provides some history to everything, I find that I don't follow some of the insider stuff.
Good Luck,
Jobber

Esther Kustanowitz said...

Jobber, what do you mean, "insider stuff"? This stuff is from my head, so no one really knows what or who I'm specifically talking about. What kind of history do you want?

Needsabetterjob said...

It sounds like you went out w/ a couple of guys pretty seriously, and something happened. Is this accurate? What was your dating life like in general since college? You are not obligated to respond, it just would be a more completed picture of you. You know some people give alot of details of their history and dates and so on.

Esther Kustanowitz said...

Jobber, I know lots of sites provide you with detailed info on their past and current relationships, but I decided a long time ago that I'm not going there. That's not what JDaters Anonymous is about. I've always felt that it was fairer to the men I've dated to not share stories--good or bad--with the world.

If I want use this space to go into how someone is making me feel, I'll do it. But I won't drag his name through the dirt. Unless he's an axe murderer or in another way a mortal threat, and then all bets are off.