My head is a little haunted sometimes.
Because I horde the memories, because I keep an extraordinary amount of minutiae in there, and because I'm an intensely emotional girl, there is a constant swirl of emotion in me. In a given moment, I will drive along a certain street or hear a specific song, and it will dredge up a memory—Oh, I talked to Absolem from that parking lot or That song was playing when Bounder and I <did whatever>--and then I will re-evaluate the entire relationship. It may take hours or it may happen in an instant, but every emotion I ever felt about that person will come in waves of good and bad, roiling over each other and crashing against the shores of my heart in quick succession.
Hurricane Sassafras can be an utter bitch sometimes.
But none of those emotions are happening now. I'm not living the event that led to the original emotion. It's just an echo, a ghost.
"Ghosts can't hurt you," Rango has reminded me a hundred times. "They're powerless."
Theoretically, they have the power I allow them to have, though I don't really know how to make them feel less important. Some have just taken time to fade. There are dozens of faceless, nameless shifting shapes that are little more than a murmur in my periphery.
But then there are the others.
My therapist said to me once that our bodies have a memory of their own, that our memories play out on a deep, cellular level because our bodies were physically present for the events that occurred. As she explained it, this is why anniversaries of powerful and vividly-remembered events can bring on the same emotions that were felt originally.
Right now, at this time of year, I am in a cycle of dozens of anniversaries. For whatever reason, the period from mid-April to the beginning of August is peppered with anniversaries like a minefield of memories. They run the gamut from wonderful to confusing to downright heartbreaking—and sometimes all three at once.
My therapist also had me work on sitting with my emotions, on allowing them to fall in and around me and just be, without reacting or overreacting to them, naming them and being aware of what they were and where they came from. But with emotions constantly on this rollercoaster down Memory Lane, it's too easy for me to become stuck in place, sitting, paralyzed in my useless fear.
And I do know that the fear is pointless and counterproductive. In my head, I am fully aware that what I'm feeling is wrapping its cold hand around my heart because I let it. I know that the ghosts are vaporous re-imaginings of what I remember, vacillating around my perspective at the moment that I am reminded of them.
But what is it about the others that I can't quite seem to escape them fully?
Absolem was both witness and accomplice to the inner transformations that were the cause of so much outer revolution. There are days I think of something that I should tell him and then remember that we no longer have that relationship, that I can't just message him and tell him to call me when he gets a chance. While I miss that friendship, I do not miss the emotional craziness that sometimes ensued because of it. I don't miss those tears, but I do sometimes change the route I drive just to avoid passing my own ghost.
Bounder was... Bounder. He was the one who broke my heart and wouldn't give me the closure I asked for. There was an ending—and one that took far longer to play out than we were actually a couple—but it didn't come how I felt like it should've, and it never will. Because he lives close by, I sometimes pass him on the street. It's not a ghost with him so much as a poltergeist, make me nauseated and ill from a sucker punch to the gut.
There are still some songs I just. can't. bear. to hear.
And with DH, it seems like there should be more than with the others, but there's not. In fact, it happens far less often than it used to. Yes, I've had almost three years to put that damage behind me. Yes, I still have to deal with his shit in my basement.
But I can also see the very best of him every single day in our boys. I chose to have two children with him for a reason, and Max and Tricky remind me all the time of how that decision was the best one I ever made. Somehow I've been able to unpack and repack all of that emotional baggage and keep only what mattered, and it's very rare that those memories have the power to upend me.
So I've been a bit on edge for the last few days. I told the Castration Committee that I felt like I was about to crawl out of my own damn skin again. Last night, the first good spring storm came, thunder like the laughter of those specters. I sat on my porch swing, feeling the cold spray of torrential rain on the breeze like phantasmal fingers stroking along my neck. I let the emotions come and swing with me until I thought I would choke on my own breath.
What was I feeling? Why was I feeling it?
I couldn't name it. I couldn't exorcise it.
One of Rango's superpowers is to be able to replace those memories with his own, our own. He is a Ghostslayer Extraordinaire.
"What do you need me to do?" he asked.
"Nothing. Just hold me."
Is it that you miss them? One of them?
Is there something you're not getting that you need?
Not at all.
It wasn't that I was missing anyone else. I hate to compare old loves—each relationship was special for its own reason—but Rango is undeniably so much more than any of the others. There is nothing any of them was or has that he doesn't offer to me willingly and completely.
"Sometimes I just... hurt," I whispered to Rango.
It just hurts.
And there it was. Just hurt. Not grief or anger or longing or sorrow or love. Just hurt that hasn't fully healed. It doesn't feel like it did when the wounds were fresh, but it still aches sometimes when I twist just right or move too quickly in an unexpected direction. Sometimes I just bump the old wound.
And somehow, giving that to Rango makes the hurt fade.
He kisses me and makes me better.
Today, the ghosts are mostly quiet. They're just kind of hanging out and busying themselves with other things, playing quietly off in the distance. I can feel their presence, see them out of the corner of my eye, but I'm doing my best to stay out of their line of sight.
Somewhere between them and me is him, Rango, who will stand guard for as long as I need.
I'm not so scared anymore.