This will be No Past month.
Present and future allowed; past — verboten!
A friend of mine who’s in a challenging relationship recently decided to “not speculate” for a month. She would think only of the present and the past and not think about what would or could be with the future.
Of course she failed and repeatedly. But having declared this to all and sundry she caught herself and others did too and although it didn’t stop her from speculating it stopped her from dwelling.
So I’m going to try the past.
My wife and I have been making, I think, valiant efforts, in trying to deal with the present. And I mean valiant.
This is really, really hard.
Perhaps, harder for the leaver (my wife) than the leavee (me). There are so many practical considerations and then combine that with brutal emotional combat zone.
And you know the combat isn’t as much with each other. It is of course too. But often it feels like two soldiers on the Western Front in the middle of WWI. We’re at the end of the war, we’re on opposite sides, yes. But we’re both veterans — how much genuine animosity can you feel for the person who’s going through the exact same hell you are? You go over the top and engage without thought — someone blows the whistle and over you go. The explosions and bullets and mud and stench are everywhere but you really don’t know where any of that is coming from who’s responsible for what. You’re certain it doesn’t really matter because it brings the same pain no matter where its come from.
But you have to just go over the top and engage in this vast no man’s land where there really is no one else. Its just the two of you.
You really don’t get anywhere farther ahead and at the end of the engagement you hunker back down in your trench waiting for the next whistle.
If a ridiculously obvious dream sequence were to be created from this, it would be that we’d be at the Peace table in the Versailles Palace at one moment and then instantly transported to the trenches the next.
It’s the past that sucks us back into the trenches.
We start talking about the now and the future, we get comfortable, complacent and clever. So a clever arched retort with a reference to our personal history gets tagged onto a comment and wwwwwooooosh….. we’re in shittiness central.
It’s hubris of course and combativeness.
We’re both clever people and its just so, so hard to resist.
We’re also both Christians so I can say it feels like the devil coming in. I know my intellectual athiest and agnostic friends will cringe at that. I’m not saying we don’t have personal responsibility, absolutely we do — we fling the door open and put out tea and biscuits for him whilst we pummel each other in the mud. But it’s not for nothing that the Greeks thought of the Furies and other societies speak of demonic possession or spirits. It feels that extraneous, that out of control. You feel an external force goading you on, whipping you into a frenzy, where no matter what your rational mind or heart is saying another part is pushing you to get that last zinger in. This’ll show her/him, I’ll get the last word…. and of course you never do.
There is always an endless supply of bombs, ammunition, mud and wire, its just a matter of how much you can take before you collapse exhausted.
So if we do let the devil/demons/furies in. We do it with the past.
- Do you remember when?
- How can you say that when you said….
- I would have but you always….
- Its just like…
- etc. etc.
We can’t let our guard down for an instance or it will suck us in and we become horrible people to each other.
So until July 10th, I will not talk about the past. And we’ll see if that keeps us out of No Man’s Land.