If like me, you tend to keep avid journals that document the high points, low (and lower) points, and thoughts and tangents about the people, events and feelings in your life, you may be able to look back on these personalized written records and see, page by page, just who you are in the present and how you came to be that way. This is effective only sometimes; and other times, you read back what you’ve written and it’s like someone else is speaking to you that you don’t know, don’t want to know, and who is inexplicably not a part of your character. You read your own untidy script and wonder where this person came from; their thoughts seem flawed and inconsistent with your values, and you feel alienated from that person. You feel you have a great grasp on where you came from; you came from them. But the question becomes, where did they come from?
I drift in and out with connecting with past encarnations of who I was when I was both idealistic and fatalistic at the same time; I believed in true love, love at first sight, love upon a handshake or a glance across the room; love that seemed too coincidentally ideal not to work out. By the same token, I didn’t believe this love would ever come into my life. And so the person I see is someone who is so grateful that it did, and so disbelieving it would last, that she gave up everyone and everything else, either mentally or physically, in trade for the pursuit of that very love. What she didn’t realize is, that’s not love; it never will be love; and it will only cause people to take advantage of your ease and willingness to compromise and words and actions of affirmation and affection that were constant and seemed so real, despite their blatant falsehoods, despite the visible cracks. Sometimes in my daily present life, I feel the scarred remains of this person still aligned with me, her shadow loafing behind me or her shadowy face looking at me sullen from my mirror’s reflection while I’m brushing my teeth. Shards of her still pierce my skin; other times, I can coax her away. I can make myself realize she won’t do me any favours and I should ignore her inclinations and manipulations and personal tragedies.
The other night, I was standing at the bar with my best friend ordering a pint and this disgusting 70-something-year old man was sitting next to the space where I stood. He got up from his stool and pressed against my back, grinding against me with his hand on the small of my back and he said, “Oops, did I do that? I didn’t mean to” in this cheeky booze-crowded voice. Then he looked me in the eye and asked, “are you girls single?” I replied flatly, “no” and returned to looking ahead at the bar. When I did this, I could see my past self, dejected at the St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl in 2006 (one of the worst nights of my life and a rock-bottom moment for me) looking to not avail for someone I knew while some gross old trucker stood behind me and continued to grab my ass. I froze in my tracks, still searching, with my eyes and not my body, foranyone familiar. But there was no one and eventually I wandered out into the freak mid-March snowstorm and disappeared into the lone underworld of the pub crawl.
When I considered this moment amidst another similar one (albeit, less lonely than the first), I realized that my darkest moments evoke other dark moments; in those dark moments is when I see the unrecognizeable version of me, the one who, without explanation, clings to the past and whose pathetic and unrealistic tendencies and beliefs make thick fog of her judgment and choices. Once the fog clears, I look back and think, “what was that?”