Sometimes a person or a memory will pop into your mind. Something passing in the day will remind you of them and you are suddenly flooded with memories of time you spent with them, something you did with them or something you did to them. Some people remind you strongly of a personality trait of yours you try to forget or try to hide. But it seems there is no escaping it. There is never an escape from what it is you really are.
Sometimes I am reminded of my Preacher Man. This happens a lot. We spent a lot of time together and his father’s church is not far from my home. I think of him and I am suddenly reminded of all the longing I felt when I was with him. To be something more, to feel something real. And I never did. I remember the feeling of emptiness. Of shame. I remember feeling used and unwanted. I am reminded of a lot of ugly things, and they tend to play themselves over and over in my mind until I am driven to think of something more horrible or more sad to get away from it. Sometimes I lock myself in my shower and think of the water as tears, I’ve gotten to where I can’t even cry about him and what he did anymore.
Sometimes I think of my girlfriend before Beloved and I feel completely inadequate. She had a remarkable way of bringing that out in me, showing me I was never quite living up to all the potential she saw in me, that she knew I had. I remember her hounding me to do more, to make a difference, to love myself. I remember she and I would discuss things, silly things to me but very important to her, and she would exclaim, always, after these long conversations, "you are so intelligent, why are you wasting yourself the way you do." I never knew what to say. When she left me I remember thinking I wasn’t good enough for her. She had gone back to an old lover. One I knew was very smart, very driven, everything, in short, I wasn’t.
I look at my mother sometimes and I see where I have come from and I feel a little sick inside. In part because I am nothing like I was, I am more, I have clawed my way out of the gutter I was raised in. And still, I see myself as the thing I was, poor, not good enough, not having enough. I want more, always, even now when I have everything I ought to need. I see her satisfied with her house, her husband, her religion, her completely hum drum nondescript life and I feel almost jealous because she is happy with it. She struggles to keep it and she loves it so much. I have a lot more than I used to, more than her, more than I should have ever hoped for as a child, and I am unhappy. I want more. I am selfish and greedy.
There are moments when I look at Beloved and wonder what it is I am to her. She seems, to me, so smart. She has it all together. She knows it all sometimes and I wonder what she must think of someone as simple and tired as I am. I see her fighting to make more of herself when I am still unsure of what I want to be, who I want to be, and whether or not [some days] I even like myself.
I am unable to escape my memories. I am unable to escape the shadows of the present that seem to overwhelm me with my shortcomings and my longings. I feel them and I see what I am, to me. Unfinished, incomplete, needy. Ungrateful, unloving, greedy.