I can’t remember loving him; what it felt like, what he meant to me or why I needed to make it work. I believe I have selective amnesia when it comes to my ex because the feelings I had for him have retreated to that part of the brain where memories of extreme pain, like childbirth and heartbreak, go to hide and where denial hangs its hat.
It’s a safe and protected cove where all can be forgotten in the blink of an eye which is a good thing really because, let’s face it, if women could vividly remember the pain of childbirth they’d probably never give it a second go-round. And if we could remember the agonizing heartache that falling out of love brings, would we ever want to fall in again?
Every once in a while I take my emotional temperature by asking myself a few basic questions. Have I forgiven him? Were we ever truly happy? Why did he feel the need to put ketchup on everything he ate, including my home made lasagna?
Lately a few good memories have bubbled to the surface. Like the time we took that road-trip to Memphis and got to laughing so hard he almost lost control of the car. Or the first time he told me that he loved me and I knew he meant every word. All this should feel like progress, I suppose, but it’s like remembering a scene from a movie; something that I watched rather than something I lived. And that makes me wonder: if I can’t remember most of our life together does that mean I was just sleepwalking through it? Did I ignore all the warning signs because we’d been happy once upon a time? Did I let my dream of him eclipse the real him?
At one point it seemed like he just fell off the edge of reason; lost his mind, went bananas. I ignored all the warning signs that howled at me like a cat in heat and for the life of me, looking back on my reaction to his dive into the deep and troubled waters of lunacy, I am hard pressed to understand what the hell I was thinking. Because he went crazy and you can’t fix crazy.
When my friends tried to point out the obvious, gently at first and then with mounting pressure, I would dismiss their fears telling them it was just a phase he was going through, like a bout of plague or a penchant for shoplifting. I told them that he’d get over it. But they could see what I could not; denial had planted itself firmly between me and the obvious. Like when you gain ten pounds but only look at yourself in mirrors that show you from the neck up; everyone around you can see that you’re bursting out of your jeans but as long as you don’t have to look at it you can pretend they still fit. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. It’s a tool for survival, like a sleep mask for your everyday life. Nothing unpleasant, like daylight or the truth, can penetrate it as long as you wear it and it makes it easy for you to turn a blind eye to that which is staring you right in the face.