Fire in the Blood

In the swirling, curling storm of desire, unuttered words hold fast
With reptile tongue, the lightning lashes towers built to last
Darkness creeps in like a thief and offers no relief
Why are you shaking like a leaf?
Come on, come talk to me
~”Come Talk To Me” by Peter Gabriel

In the beginning, there was the fire of rage, the burning of loss, the pain and the pressure. Later, there was unrelenting grey and the slivering cuts of icy loneliness and silence.

Now there is a new storm racing in the blood, new fire, and it has nothing to do with rage and everything to do with desire.

I responded to him like I’d responded to no one ever before. Together, our chemistry was incendiary. His touch trailed fire, his mouth burned. I made him shake and tremble. Together, we dove deep, drowning in the oceans of love and lust and intimacy.

After: drifting, unaware, we’d come back from so far, so slowly, eyes alight with wonderment and joy, turning to each other like plants to the sun, tangled in our growth.

And now that burning desire is back, as sharp and as electric as it ever was, limning each nerve, setting skin afire. It curls and twists through my stomach, knotting my fists and gritting my teeth.

There is no adequate outlet. There is only one cure, impossible to hold.

I could find company for the night, but I don’t want to. I don’t want something easy and disposable. I want back what I had, a molecular connection, two souls made one. I need the impossible, and I can’t have it.

Just when I thought I’d discovered the nastiest potholes of grief, the last of the twists and turns, I wake burning alive, breath caught in my throat.

What the hell am I supposed to do now?

woman fire man water

The Double-Edged Sword

Snowy Night, detail

Snowy Night, detail

I know where you are
Safe in my dreams
You live on for me
And I hear your voice calling to stars
And heaven’s so clear
Still feel so near
“Out There” Kristy Thirsk

I miss him most at night, curled up alone around a pillow. I still sometimes wet the pillow with tears before I fall asleep; sometimes I fight the sleepy pills until I stumble, bleary-eyed and nearly incoherent, into bed. But always it hurts, and I suspect the part of me that will always belong to him will always ache at night. He was a champion cuddler, and I crave his affection, oh, so much.

I had an easier time of it during the blazing summer-my bed was so hot and sticky I didn’t want to share space with a gnat, let alone someone who put out heat like a blast furnace. But as the weather has gone from chilly to cold to frigid, I’m missing him more and more. I am surprised to find it’s even possible to miss him more. I’m feeling a resigned kind of sadness that’s almost worse than burning alive. This hopeless feeling of ‘Yes, this is just how it’s going to be.’

Hell doesn’t always burn, you know. Sometimes it’s vast, resonating silence and bone-deep cold. Not until you lose someone do you fully realize the devastating, tearing impact of silence.

I was lucky, at first. In the hellish, bleak days and weeks that immediately followed his death, I had a friend who was kind enough and with whom I felt comfortable enough with to spend the night, and let him hold me while the inside of my head raged and burned, while my lungs grasped for air. The bad, dark days and nights when spending any significant time alone was a very, very bad idea, and I had been sufficiently destroyed inside and out that one of my particular foibles had become utterly insignificant.

I have a thing about sleeping with people. I don’t mean sex – I mean the actual act of sleeping with someone else. In my head, it’s somehow become an act of intimacy on par with, and even sometimes exceeding, the act of sex.

Let me explain. In sleep, we are at our most vulnerable. Mouths open, drooling, snoring, we are stripped of all pretensions, of any vanity. We are defenseless, in every way. Thanks to a few regrettable life events coupled with an abusive, alcoholic ex, I have a real problem with being defenseless.

In the act of sex, we are still in control, after all. We can choose how into it we are, how much we’re willing to reveal. While it’s true that holding back dulls the experience, it’s still a choice. Not drooling in your sleep is not a choice you get to make. I have trouble sleeping in strange places – most of us do – but I am deeply uncomfortable even spending the  night at a friend’s house, and I can’t sleep on any form of transportation at all.

Around the time that the medication began to take hold, the relationship I had with that friend began to fray, and then implode. Since then, I’ve been alone in the dark.

That’s not to say I’m alone in spirit; I’m not. I know his love is still with me and always will be, and I have a growing network of friends scattered across the globe who genuinely wish the best for me and are concerned about my welfare, and I love them for it. But there’s a twist in the pain where that intimacy used to be: the curve of his arm, the warmth of his skin, the only sense of true security and safety I’ve ever found in love.

With him, I opened myself completely. Nothing hidden, nothing held back. With him, the strength of what we felt, what we could give, set fire to the dark. I was as exposed as I’ve ever been: me, who took self-protection and preservation and elevated it to an art. Next to that, what was a little drool on a pillow?

Exposed, utterly open, vulnerable. Completely defenseless against the loss that followed. Love and hope, risk and fear, loss and pain. The flip side of our great love is my great grief; the hole blown through my tender and exposed heart. I had no walls left, had marshaled no defense; when the blast came, my soul shredded like wet tissue paper.

Next to that, what are a few tears on a pillow?

Adagio For A Broken Heart

Broken Stone Heart - Yukifujita

Last night, a friend tried to help me navigate my blasted and twisted internal landscape (and bless him for trying, it wasn’t easy). That conversation gave voice to the endless cry inside my broken heart: Dustin cherished me, as I did him. And I lost that.

Let me be clear here: that was the first time I’d ever felt that way. I don’t just mean in romantic relationships – I mean ever. And it was the same for him.

One of the things we shared, for better or for worse, was an emotionally sterile and cold home environment, with distant and emotionally unavailable parents (both of mine, in my case; his mother in particular in his. His father was a welter of emotion, most of it rage and none of it good). We both spent our childhoods feeling a nuisance at best, experiencing tears that didn’t get comforted, fears and hurts ignored or dismissed.

I watch children playing with their parents in the park, playing tag in their yards, and I wonder what that must be like. My brother and I played all the time, but rarely with our parents. We seemed to be always pushed to just get out of the way.

Funny, how much the moments of irritation and anger stand out, while the rare moments of affection do not.

No one’s childhood is perfect. Mine could have been much, much worse-more like Dustin’s, for example. I know and understand how my parents got to be the way they are, and I don’t harbor any resentment for it anymore. Their own homes were broken by divorce and early widowhood; they never had any healthy role models for parenting.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have deep-seated needs for the things I didn’t get growing up. Feeling as if I matter to someone, feeling cherished and loved, feeling safe and secure, needing physical affection and tenderness–these are all things we both craved. We always touched each other so carefully, with wonder and joy. I can still feel his fingers tracing a gentle line from my temple to my jaw, feel his thumb brush over my lips. I can still feel his cheek in the palm of my hand, how he would hold it to him, turn his head to kiss my palm. How he would cradle my hand to his chest in his sleep as I cuddled up behind him.

Intimacy had never existed in my life before. I daresay it hadn’t existed in his either, no matter how much he struggled to find it. We could tell each other anything, be honest about who we were and how we felt.

How much of yourself do you hide every day because you don’t think people will understand, even your partner? How many people do you really feel you can be authentic with and not be met with judgement and condemnation, but with understanding and acceptance? What do you do, where do you go, when you’ve found that, only to lose it?

What am I supposed to do now?