The author Patricia Highsmith says, “The real return to normality is after falling out of love.” I agree. Many times I’ve fallen under a nasty spell of love. Once inside that oxygen starved bubble, my brain switches to another level of operation.
When I’m in love, my brain convinces me that this delirium is desirable. Prick that suffocating bubble and I’m free again. Free to think independently. Free to pass the answering machine and not bother checking it. Free to remove my makeup, slip out of my bra and be a sloth on Saturday night. I’d rather watch couples enduring the cloistered hell of coupledom. Couples dining opposite each other as silent as Marcel Marceau, minus the animation. Lean forward, fork to mouth, flick a glance at their partner, eyes down to plate again. No television to break the awkwardness of having nothing to say to each other.
I love not having a husband call to say he’ll be late, night after night, who may really be slipping out of the suburban monotony of Tuesday garbage night and phone calls asking “could you bring some bread and milk home”. Who could be at the pub, checking out the younger versions of myself, flirting to relive the man he once was, before ‘love’ snuffed out the flame. I’m glad it’s not me fretting at home, wondering if my lover has slipped out of the bubble for some fresh air. I never have to consider desperate options like staking out his workplace, checking his wallet or text messages while he’s showering. Not being in love keeps me sane.
When you’re in love, suspicion can chew holes in your confidence. I’ve seen it before. You had a sense of humour once, now your brain is distracted from the enjoyable things in life. At this stage you don’t consider walking away. Being alone is inconceivable. You’d rather be dead than alone.
Reason tries to poke through the fog and remind you that once, before him, you were alone. You were happy, hugely happy. It takes a long time to realise this. Circumstances may force aloneness on you. You’re dragged from your no longer viable bubble where you lie for weeks, maybe months. Slowly the contamination to your brain begins to clear.
One day someone asks…”How are you going?”
Before you have a chance to make your pitiful reply, a voice is saying “GREAT…I’m GREAT!” You look around to see who has butted in, when you realise in a heart pounding moment…that voice was YOU! Finally, your brain has regenerated. Your fabulous, confident, self directed self has returned.
Patricia, thank you for reminding me not to climb into any more bubbles.