Words, either spoken or written, are sometimes misunderstood, manipulated, and abused. For the most part, it is simply a matter of ignorance, either ignorance because the reader does not understand the words, or ignorance because the reader wants to interpret the words in a manner that validates his or her emotions and beliefs. I have been both victim and abuser of words. I have fallen victim to the minute inclination that words may have in hopes for a revelation of something I want so desperately to believe. And when I’ve realized, often too late, that I’ve misunderstood the words or have added more meaning to them than they were intended, I am hurt by the betrayal of the speaker/writer and by the words that have been used against me.
But I have also been guilty of using words to affect others and manipulate their ways of thinking. I have carefully selected the words I use, either sedulously enough to stir the workings of the heart and mind, or ambiguously enough to leave room for interpretation and imagination. And sometimes I do it innocently, without ill intention; the words simply falling in place so perfectly that they protect me from vulnerability and commitment, or they hit their mark with gentle seduction and sophistication. However, other times, I have abused my knowledge of words in order to achieve what I want and get the response I intend in such a way that significantly impacts the reader, not always in a positive manner.
However, right now, I am not victor but victim, falling prey to my own words when expressed so eloquently and beautifully, poetry in action, but not in intention. And my readers have abandoned these truths by being succinct – if not absent – in their responses. I have poured out my soul in verses and missives only to be met with silence or ambiguity, and there is pain in the offering as I continue to splurge my words upon the page in, perhaps, a futile attempt to safeguard my heart while concurrently hurting yours.
Hope is like an open window to the outside world from a room full of shadows and darkness, doubts and fears that what is wanted most will disappear in a mist of delusional desires. And yet, there is always that open window, and all I have to do is approach it and reach out, replace the stagnant stench of death with the cool breezes of renewal, watch as the world goes by in slow upheaval and quietly go with it, no longer boxed in and alone, but free. But still, just going to the window is a scary prospect since it requires me to get out of the corner where I’ve been cowering in for years as disillusionment plummeted me into further despair. Dare I defy the fate befallen upon me by chasing after open windows?
Inspired by http://www.deviantart.com/art/Hope-38926144
If I had a chance to go back and change something from my past, I would never have gone into the sleeping bag with him. But how was I supposed to know that my decision – his betrayal – would affect me even as an adult? It was an unexpectedly cold night and he was a fun uncle because he was younger than my other uncles, and actually played with me and made me laugh. How was I supposed to know that he was not to be trusted? That his youth would give way to recalcitrant impulses that would mar me forever, and yet barely scathe him at all. He had smiled his beautiful smile and patted the space beside him under the sleeping bag and I did not think twice about it, running to him and cuddling up beside his warm, lithe body. How was I supposed to know that he had ulterior motives, motives dark and loathsome? After a while, as the rest of the family talked among themselves, I could hear the sounds of cooking in the kitchen, my father’s laughter erupting one of the bedrooms, and I smiled up at my young uncle. How was I supposed to know that the smile he returned was subversive and shifty, the thoughts of his mind not reflected in the smile on his lips? He pulled up the sleeping bag to our necks and pulled me closer to him. I warmed to him, enjoying his attention and the way he made me feel so loved in a family that believed in tough love. How was I supposed to know that what he was to do was not out of love, but selfish urges? When his roving hands began to wander over my chest and abdomen, confusion replaced warmth, and I looked up at him, but he had already pasted his smile upon his face, and only nodded slowly. How was I supposed to know what he was doing when I was only six-years-old? His soft fingers stroked my abdomen with such care and slowness that it almost felt normal, but then lowered to my nether regions, both our smiles quickly dissolving into nothingness. How was I supposed to know that what he was doing was wrong when I had always trusted him? I don’t know how long it lasted, somehow my mind had lost its cohesion as his fingers moved rhythmically inside the sleeping bag. And when they finally stopped, he looked down at me, almost apologetically, his dark face perhaps as pallid as mine, and left the sleeping bag. How was I supposed to know that it was not my fault? That what he did was disturbing and sick, and I was not to blame for the repugnance of his actions. Instead, I reserved my tears for other times, and when the itch began, I failed to tell anyone what he had done, and simply dealt with the pain. He never spoke or played with me again, and I did not miss him at all, though my fragile mind blocked the other times he took advantage of me each time I slept over his mother’s house. How was I supposed to know that he too would block out the nightmare and deny it years later when I confronted him about it? Or that thirty years later, it would be the first experience I’d think about when prompted to write about something I’d go back and change from my past?
I sometimes wonder about the intentions of the heart, that pulsating organ that is both deceitful above all things and still somehow bears love and happiness in its bosom. Its untrustworthy reputation gives hindrance to reliability and credence, and yet I blindly entrust it with safeguarding my distinct love for others and the reciprocated happiness they bring. It bears witness to my unraveling emotions, and holds my secret affairs in its charge. And perhaps for this very reason the heart is considered deceitful and mysterious, because it holds what is most dear in the palms of its hands all the while ransoming one’s secrets to the highest bidder. It competes with the mind for attention and then, when it has conquered it, vengefully conspires with it to subjugate me in an emotional upheaval.
But despite knowing this, I cannot deny that the love and happiness that is harbored in the heart surpasses even the most deceptive of its machinations because my intention is not to let go of that which the mind contends with but the heart desires with passion. After all, who can understand the mysteries of the heart?
There have been times in my life when people have made me so happy my heart has swelled with pleasure, and I was barely able to contain the excitement they brought me and the delight of having them in my life. I count them as special and beautiful, no matter the proximity at the time, and regardless of our differences. Each person has been significant to me and memorable in ways unique to them; in ways that have touched different areas of my life and my soul; in ways that have left an indelible mark on my heart.
But relationships are revolving doors that bring people into my life, and inevitably let them go. These doors never stop their slow rotation, the circular motion akin to the cycle of life, and sometimes, on those rare occasions when serendipity shows favor my way, friends return through those doors and stay a while longer. And the pain of having had let them go once makes it so much harder to do it again, and I miss them even before they’ve moved on. Part of me is left alone again and I mourn my loss for now there is an emptiness in the part of my heart that only they could fill and can never be replaced.
I miss that part of me that made me feel so happy and so beautiful.
How quickly we forget festive resolutions that were made either while happily inebriated amidst celebration and confetti, or easily pressured by well-meaning family and friends; pledges that are encouraged but sadly fail to make it into the category of commitment, and those who were eagerly depending on the completion of said resolutions end up disappointed and disillusioned, sometimes severing the trust-bond that had formerly been established, oftentimes causing worry about the promiser’s well-being. After all, most resolutions are made to improve one’s own quality of life, hollow goals that one would like to achieve but realistically one is not really willing to commit to. Judgment and guilt then befalls the person and, in turn, grotesque self-destructive behavior ensues in order to placate these ill feelings, and that which the person had so happily or so pressured to resolve has suddenly become a dangerous and malicious enemy. And inevitably we quickly forget our resolutions until the next New Year when they come up again as passive, innocent promises that too soon become misleading and teeter on the ridiculous.