I believe in something that I think should have a new name because it’s old one is dead and meaningless: love. Other languages have many names for the many kinds of love. The kind I speak of is not the spark of teenagers that fall away in a week. This is not the adoration towards a parent or mentor. This is not the care of a parent. This is not the companionship between brothers and/or sisters. This is that connection you sometimes see in old married couples, when they look at one another, saying things with their eyes that no one else in the world could understand. I believe in this kind of love.
My reasons, though, are not typical. Not because I was raised by two parents deeply in love. Not because I was in a poor household with two parents that held us together through their love for us, or for one another. I was raised in a typical American household: the one car garage in the suburbs, the two point five kids, and the backyard with the swing set my dad made. But it was not a house of unconditional love. My parents split in a nasty divorce leaving my older brother and I stuck in the middle of two sides with a no man’s land in the middle. With two parents too childish to grow up and put my brother and I first, I was burned out, feeling unloved and, yes; angst was my friend before I knew the word.
Inside my mind thrived a world forged in the pages of books. I was reading Robert Jordan and Anne McCaffery by seventh grade and I read stories of two people finding each other through a world of chaos to a sanctuary in one another’s arms. I dreamed of finding this. I mistook something much different for this.
The emotional abuse I received even before the divorce led me to a kind of thinking that said: “I am not really worth much. My best is never good enough. I deserve everything I get.” This led me right into the path of a narcissistic and nearly psychopathic personality. He and I both had dealt with feuding parents and dark, suicidal thoughts. As my father said afterwards, he had hoped we could help one another heal. This is a thing my father did not learn through his relationship with my mother: Two half people does not make one whole person, and cannot begin to make one relationship. Two partial people cannot help one another heal, they will only tear one another apart. Even if there is one whole person, if that whole person cannot step aside, or help the partial person heal, they too will become a partial person. And so, I became even more of a partial person than I already was; an empty eggshell was the metaphor I used.
By the end of my sophomore year of high school I was an undiagnosed manic-depressive with suicidal thoughts haunting me daily. I saw a shrink regularly, but we just played battleship and ate pizza. When my parents informed him they were switching me to another shrink, he decided to disclose to them I was very near a break down. His guess was a little late: I was having breakdowns weekly and was falling farther.
That summer, after my sophomore year of high school, I was lower than I can even understand now. I had pushed away most of my friends at the behest of the other partial person. The last two friends I had invited me to a local Harborfest for the fireworks one Saturday night at the end of July. Through all of the chaos in my life, I found some one in whose arms I have found sanctuary. I thought, at that point, that is was little different from fairy tales.
No, the relationship I am in, and have been in for almost four years, is not perfect, and has some faults formed when I was still a partial person. But we have a connection I thought existed only in the books I read. We would stay up until three in the morning, just talking and listening to music. The most important part of what we have is in the things we’ve talked about and shared when the mind is most free: when the mind is most tired. We have helped one another to overcome the pain in our pasts, holding each other, standing when the other’s legs cannot hold them. I was not a whole person when our path began, but I am closer everyday. Where the other is strong, I was weak and becoming stronger. Where I am strong, the other was weak and is growing. Together we walk because we both believe in that which another name is yet to be found. There are times when reality exists without words to describe it.
I once thought all relationships were painful and that I deserved to live with that pain. Now, I know I am worth more than my pain. I am a person, I am alive, and I am healing because I believed, in a small part of what was left of me, in that special kind of love.
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