‘None of them know, Aomame thought. But I know. Ayumi had a great emptiness inside her, like a desert at the edge of the earth. You could try watering it all you wanted, but everything would be sucked down to the bottom of the world, leaving no trace of moisture. No life could take root there. Not even birds would fly over it. What had created such a wasteland inside Ayumi, only she herself knew. No, maybe not even Ayumi knew the true cause. …As if to build a fence around the fatal emptiness inside her, she had to create the sunny person that she became. But if you peeled away the ornamental egos she had built, there was only an abyss of nothingness and the intense thirst that came with it. Though she tried to forget it, the nothingness would visit her periodically – on a lonely rainy afternoon,or at dawn when she woke from a nightmare. What she needed at such times was to be held by someone, anyone.’
The quote above is from IQ84 by Haruki Murakami. His simply phrased and structured prose can be devastating in laden moments, and this is a prime example. This frank, unadorned extract resonated with me particularly after reading it for the first time because I sometimes feel the same way.
I felt like the barren wastes of an arctic desert today. Like if you took a sledgehammer to my skull, all that would leak from the cracks would be the contained remnants of an ice-dusted storm. And then maybe if you truly stuck your nose in, you’d find a swirling black hole in the deeper recesses of my mind.
Yeah, I felt kind of shitty to put it bluntly.
I couldn’t stop thinking about how terribly cold I feel most of the time around people. I just don’t feel much at all. Yes, I don’t make friends easily, but this isn’t the root of the problem – the true friends I do make are usually worth the lack of a crowd of cooing acquaintances who thrive off artifice and the social popularity it brings. It’s also not a case of me not caring, I’d still feel saddened by the loss of life if you stepped into the road and were crushed by a speeding bus. It’s more that my pride steps in, figuratively flinging an arm in front of me as if to say “STOP. Don’t waste your time on small talk and niceties, its inefficient bullshit that doesn’t provide you with anything new, bar the potential ‘warmth’ of laughing over trivial shit with fellow human beings.” Or something like that.
Or maybe it’s self-preservation. I find it difficult to trust most people, and I’m pretty confident that I know why. Are you ready for a cliché tale about my past? I fell in love with a boy for the first time in secondary school. It was that stupid kind of love where you would gladly set yourself on fire for them, and maybe even enjoy it a little as the flames melted the flesh from your bones. There weren’t any locks on my doors, he just had to show up and I flung them wide open, desperate for a taste of passion, and the feeling of being wanted. Feeling like somebody wants you is a short-term fixer for feeling inadequate (f.y.i the real solution likes within yourself, but that’s for another post), it’s definitely an emotional drug. So of course, when somebody snatches it away, and leaves you with sudden crashing waves of pent up insecurity, well its a little overwhelming. After that, I used to dream about drowning all the time, on huge magnificent ships, in the midst of raging sea-storms.
So the short and short of it, is that my trust was shattered when he changed his mind. But the final blow that really set my mistrust in stone was the lack of closure – I had no idea why the love stopped, I was given no reason. So of course, the logical step to achieve the closure I so craved, was to blame myself, and to hunt for the things I had obviously had done wrong, to make him want to leave.
“Not good enough” is a terrible thing to tattoo on your own heart. And no its not romantic, its debilitating and prevents you from living your life properly. Imagine this; there’s a gaping hole, that suddenly swept through your chest. Oh God it hurt like hell to begin with, when the edges were still raw, and it would bleed all the time, meaning you’d have to scrub yourself regularly in order to be presentable. After some time though, scars formed and healed over the worst of the damage, so you moved on as best as you could – that’s what losing in the love game does to most people, its pretty common. Sometimes though, life sends experiences your way that make you wake up with weeping wounds and cracked sores. Or inexplicably, sometimes you slip your own hands inside the hole, press your hands up against the jagged sides, delicacy be damned, and push. The hole becomes you, you are your own emptiness. It throbs with your every heartbeat, reminding you that you did this to yourself, and that despite the pain, it’s better than opening yourself up to receiving further blows. Yes, there exists a huge expanse of wasteland, but at least no more flowers will grow, only to die there.
Am I not living my life properly, then, in a social sense? Perhaps. But I feel as though I so rarely come across people I truly want to bring close to me, that I feel as though my high expectations are also a factor. Did you not say thank you when I held open that door? You’ve just been relegated to ‘Only Speak To If Completely Essential.’ Ultimately, if we’re not going to teach other new things, and provide new interesting conversation, then I won’t really want you as a regularity in my life. I don’t have time to waste on ‘fast-food friends’, you’re boring.
“I’m hungry, from an anorexic heart,” – Lady Gaga
So yes, this does lead to loneliness sometimes. And I do wonder if I was a little more tolerant, and less perniciously proud that I might have a wider circle of friends… Yet I’m convinced that this expanded circle would be full of people I didn’t fully trust, that they were more like fodder for Facebook or Instagram photos. It would be like stuffing myself full of junk food to satiate an aching hunger, it would only last momentarily and it would cause more damage than good. I prefer to wait, even if that feels like I’m emotionally eating myself from the inside out sometimes, from sheer starvation.
Please, don’t misinterpret me as simply whining about being Billy-No-Mates. I do have a tiny handful of fiercely burning suns in my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful for finding them and having them in my life. And overall, I would take such fire over a legion of flickering candles any day.