I’ve asked this of myself nearly every day of my life, at least for the last 20 years, and I’ve sometimes had answers. They were often mundane, occasionally grandiose, usually just an excuse that I knew was an excuse even as I told it to myself. I’ve got to finish that song I started. I’ve got a concert next week that’s going to be great. I’m going to see a friend out of town tomorrow. It’s my mom’s birthday next month. Whatever. Those reasons and all the others are fine reasons, and were never lies. They were always not the whole truth though, of course: just a placeholder excuse that could be easily pointed to when the real reason was deeper and amorphous. The only reason I’ve ever had to live was not for me or anything I enjoyed or any friend who needed me. The reason then is the same reason I still live now, but that One Reason doesn’t need to be written here, except to know there was and is still a reason.
The point of this is that for some short time I had found something else beyond this One Reason. Adjusting to it was slow and difficult for me and though I’d transitioned partly over to accepting this as another reason to live, it clouded my judgment and actions, apparently. To live for another person, to find some meaning for myself beyond myself, beyond my inconsequential hopes and dreams and hobbies, was an entirely foreign idea, and it was because of this that it was a struggle to accept and acknowledge fully. I’ve only fully realized this in the last few months, and that’s partly because of the sudden separation of that other person from my life.
I’ve always been difficult to deal with, I understood this and warned any and all who came close enough. “I enjoy you as a person and appreciate your connection with me and want it to remain, but please know that it may not be easy because of these things.” I thought I’d finally found someone who fully accepted and could deal with this from me not for just some short amount of days, weeks, or months, but for years and years. I honestly didn’t think it was ever possible. The fact that it didn’t last didn’t surprise me at all. I was regularly shocked to see that it still continued each week and month that it did, honestly. Some of these times I was less than agreeable to around, other times I was pleasant and kind and giving and downright hopeful. I hoped that the latter would make up for the sometimes long bouts of the former. It seemed to be a difficult give and take that somehow worked, and I was so grateful for it.
My gratitude however wasn’t seen. It wasn’t shown in the right ways, I guess. Nevertheless, what I showed was rarely acknowledged and even less so accepted as real; in fact, it was often looked at with suspicion. It was often rejected, and it was at best ignored. Maybe that sort of reaction was my own fault somehow. Who knows?
By this point, by choosing to live with someone somewhere else, by uprooting my life and everything I’d spent years cultivating with friends, with life as a whole, I gave away what was and went full in on this new life. I was confident in my decision. I was trying to still test the waters of it all, but was so certain that it was the right choice that I was comfortable and happy and did not question myself, not at all. This was my life, this was our life, going forward, forever. Forever. This was the start of it, but this was the basis of it that would always be: us, together, trying to find happiness and trying to keep one another pushing forward. We would stumble and falter and perhaps miss some parts of the life we each had before or could’ve had instead, but these would be but fleeting losses. We’d chose one another and that was all there was.
This was what she’d wanted for years. It took me a lot of time to get there, and I think that though it was good for her and for us together, to grow past that quick jump into untested waters, I likely pushed it too long and we lost some momentum in that time. If I could go back and do things differently, there’s a hundred moments and decisions I’d change.
But now, now that she had what she wanted and I wanted this and was happy to have it as well, she did not want it anymore. She was, I assume, afraid of the reality of it. Of the rote day-to-day of it, of the actuality of it. The difference between having a child and babysitting someone else’s for a day. The boring day and week struggle of being together was too much for her, seemingly from day one in our place together. I could almost feel her deflating then, but I wrote it off as just newness jitters, just adjustment period. I was sure of my decision, so I was looking through rose-tinted glasses, and this blinded me as to the reasons and faults of the change this caused in her. I did what I could but the weeks became months became a year and more and then it started to sink in how serious this all was.
And by then, she was lost to me. She’d drifted away on a wave of comforting distance that she’s so often turned to for years. Keep someone, something, anything, at a distance and you can control it and allow it to be separate from you when you need it to be. You can pour all your hope and dreams in and twist it into anything you want it to be. You can begin again and it’s as important or unimportant as you deem it to be that day of the week. I understand this fully, as it’s very similar in how I view my creative pursuits of writing or music: I can pour hours into some twisting music that is meticulously designed exactly as I choose, and yet the moment I step away from it, it’s out of my mind and yet still there waiting for me when I want. It’s a perfect thing that I can say means nothing (I’m not a real musician, it’s just a hobby!) or means everything (music is how express myself and it defines me as a person!) depending how I need to view it at that moment. She always did this with her addictions, and I knew that. But she seemed to have it under control. And I think she really did, until it became good to be a crutch for her, when she needed to escape from the difficult reality staring her in the face.
And so she asked herself, why live? Or at least, that’s how I imagine this. She wanted to go through that beginning again, that falling in love, that lusting for what could be without having to deal with the stark and often ugly reality of a day to day life with another person living towards the bottom of the food chain. Ignore that and live for what has been fun consistently for the last ten years: go online and meet someone new and flirt wildly knowing that the distance makes it exciting because you can say anything and it can’t really happen because the distance between is safe and keeps reality away. It’s all fantasy. It’s all another beginning, and the beginnings are surely fun, I can’t argue with that. That’s what she wanted to live for, it seems.
So I’m not left asking myself the same: why live? I still have that One Reason, and though it’s still valid, it feels empty and lonely. I can’t just throw a new topical excuse with it and make it feel acceptable or joyous as when I had another reason, when I had her, and a life with her, and a family with her, and a future with her, to look forward to. That was the reason I never expected to find, and I at times maybe avoided in my past, because I knew that if I were to gain it and lose it, it would break me. But I took it on because it felt safe, she felt safe, she felt like everything to me. She still does. But she left, and I lost it, and it broke me.
I don’t know the answer anymore: why live? Why? Do any of us know, really? I did, once. Not anymore.