The flavor of the past changes with the atmosphere of the now.

If the present is good, then the happy memories are like a great song or poem that you think on or tell. “Remember this day? So happy, so much joy and love.” and the feeling wells up from your belly to your chest, like drinking warm and thick cocoa with the perfect amount of marshmallows. You can rewind them and play them in your mind, over and over, letting that peace fill you.

When the now is bad, though, the memories hurt. You are trying to only focus on the now, not thinking about the happy past because it’s no longer that way, or if you aren’t thinking of the present, you are running toward the hill, the horizon, the finish line that means that your life will be better then, just keep going, keep running, don’t stop don’t fall.

But someone like me, the future is just the same as the present. Loneliness that sears your marrow with its chill. And when the happy memories come, it isn’t a welcome respite. It’s a slap in the face, a kick to the kidneys, a knife to your gut. It catches you hard and fast and your throat clamps up tight and the cold travels down to a rock of ice, no, of dark matter, in your middle. A black hole that sucks all the hope out, makes Oz turn back into Kansas, grey and wilting.

A memory that used to bring such joy, something that you used to relive over and over in your mind because you knew it was one of the happiest in your life, now makes your soul shrivel up in loss, because you know it’s gone. It’s gone and the present made it untrue, a lie. That beautiful moment were you were so full of love tears leaked down your face, the look of wonder you knew was a reflection of your own, it has no meaning now except for the pain it brings and now you cry, but bitter, hollow tears and you wish there was a way to remove that memory, because ignorance isn’t bliss but it’s better than knowing what you’ve lost. At the same time, you hold on to it, examining every detail, because for that one moment, you felt that, at that moment it was real and you were someone who loved and was loved in return.

My ex-husband says I hold grudges, that I wallow in misery. I guess he’s probably right, from the outside. But on the inside, it is more than that. It is the desperate longing to find a way to be worthwhile, to be someone who might find herself loving and loved again.

A Sorta Fairytale by Tori Amos


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