May 23, 2007

the metaphyiscal case of the missing girl

A few years ago, I thought I knew everything. I was different. I was riding a wave that started as back as far high school. Everything about me made sense. I had a place, I had people, I was something and I could define what that something was. University was over, I was acting on stage just like I planned, my city was glowing and me with it. It all seemed pretty natural.

Then I met a boy.

Hilarity ensued.

Because I got it, love, and love is a funny curious little thing they say. But I thought I had love all worked out, and right then I would have sacrificed anything, done anything for it, but then the boy left. He told me he loved me, but he 'had to figure out his life', that 'he couldn't be in a relationship', and he left. Ha ha.

And then a hurricane hit Halifax. And the hurricane left my glowy city all in a mess, like he left me a mess.

But a weird thing, when he left, something inside me left too, felt like something was missing, something lost, and I was lost. The big sad. The big empty. I covered myself in blankets and couldn't leave the bed. And even my friends could see the missing spot, like a hole in me I couldn't hide with the rest of me.

And then it stopped being about the boy. I was just different, there was the hole in me. I was lost. I wasn't an actor anymore, I wasn't fun, I wasn't brave, I wasn't me anymore. I didn't even feel like me. I don't know how to explain it, except to say there was a me, and then there wasn't.

And I didn't really eat, and I didn't really sleep, I was a hungry sleep-walker and no one knew who I was anymore.

So of course, I knew I had to do something, fill the space with something, so I got busy. I got really busy. I worked hard. I left my mind for a while and let what was left work like a busy bee. Then I woke up with a journalism degree and realized there were no more excuses I could find to fill my empty space, I exhausted the city looking for busy, but I just kept finding the hole. I could feel it again. It never left.

So I started writing a blog, hoping I could say something concrete, something that sounded like me, that could make sense of it, and I made a busy bee-line for Toronto telling myself I would be found, following a thin excuse, but there still wasn't enough work and I started to think I might never be good again. I was panicked. I was freaking.

And then I met a boy.

I filled the space with a person.

I loved love again, funny thing, and would have sacrificed anything, would have done anything for it, but the exact same thing happened. He loved me too, but he 'had to figure out his life' too, and he 'couldn't be in a relationship' too.. Good joke on me all over again.

But this time I didn't want to be the one to get left behind.

So I just woke up, and I'm in Korea. And I wasn't brave when I got on the plane, I was finding blankets to hide under again. Jeongseon is probably the loneliest most surrealist hiding spot I could have found. And the worst part of all the story is that empty is still here, in me, except right now it's deep and bellowing and it's railing in me, and it turns my eyelids inside out, and my face hurts.

And I feel it. I still can't figure it out, or why I don't feel like myself. Why I've been a little unhappy under everything all this time. I'm still lost. Only this time it's figurative and literal - there are no existential road signs speaking plain English telling me which way is me.

I am so scared I'll take the road that loops back around. I don't want to go that way again. I don't want to be vulnerable anymore. I want to be fun again. I want the big sad to get lost, not me. I want to take the road that merges on ahead with my missing self, and it's not writing and it's not acting, it's not teaching and it's not Korea, but I don't know what it is, and I'm standing still because I'm scared.

I probably need some help here. Maybe I was running from something coming to Korea, but I do want to be running to something. Is it too late to decide what?

This lengthy melodramatic rant [congratulations if you made it this far] is just me saying I haven't felt really right in almost four years and it could be a bigger problem than I'm letting on. Does anyone remember what the hypothetical missing piece of me looks like? I want it back and I don't want to wait to get back to Canada to find it.

Have you seen this girl?
She had great eyebrows.


Kelly said...

Can I be a bit of a big sister here??

Yes, I made it to the end of your rant and I have to tell you that I completely understand what you're talking about. I, too have had that hole you speak of. Remember the disaster wedding of '90? Well, that was the aftermath of a romance that came before it. It was 1988 and on my 20th birthday, my fiance who happened to be in the US Marines calls me, not to tell me happy birthday...but to tell me he slept with his old girlfriend who had flown in to see him in California. I was devistated. I was blind with betrayl and I couldn't breathe. Somehow, I went on...met Dave (who happened to look very much like my Marine) and the rest is history. Obviously, trust became an issue, and the aftermath of that wedding left me with my self esteem in my boots and I felt despair all around me. My parents were no help (my mother's answer to everything is "take some gravol, and things will look better in the morning"), my friends were all embarking on their lives, with careers and significant others. I was left behind in so many ways. I had a lot of alone time to reflect on my life, on what happened. I have no idea how I did it, but I pulled myself up by my bootstraps. As disfunctional as my relationship with my folks is, I knew they had my back. Then there were my friends who, it turns out, are the best friends in the world. Of course, there was Katelyn...this beautiful little baby girl who I felt needed me and I couldn't fall apart for her sake. She helped me just with her innocence. The bottom line was this: A guy shattered my heart and my very core! My dreams, aspirations, and a very large part of my heart were gone! I thought I could recapture that with not only another guy, but nearly a carbon copy. It doesn't work that way. Someone had given me great advice once..."LIVING A GOOD LIFE IS THE BEST REVENGE ON SOMEONE WHO HAS HURT YOU."

Since I'm much older than you are, I can tell you this: your twenties are a decade of discovery. You'll find out who the REAL Sarah Riley is. It's in your thirties when you'll learn to like her.

Your spark is're a beautiful woman who's so smart, and has so much to offer the world. Look at all you've done. Don't look at what drove you to what you've done...just look at WHAT you've done. I think you're pretty amazing!..xo

riley said...

thank you kel.

it's probably selfish of me, because I remember, but I can't imagine, I have no idea how bad it was for you, but I wish this guy had hurt me worse - it feels like this would be easier if I could just deal with the broken pieces by mashing it all into hate.

it'd be easy to get cynical too, given my track record, but I'm deciding I have to believe I deserve a guy who isn't busy questioning whether he wants to be in a relationship with me - shouldn't there not be a question when it's really the real deal? I think I owe myself after all, since the first time around I blamed myself. And that wasn't worth it, I can't blame myself this time.

Dad says all the time, 'things work out, honey, they just work out'.

guess I have to believe that too considering who it's coming from ;)

also I'm rocking out to a lot of Queen right now, who help by just happening to be the best 'get up and get on with it' band out there...

"someday I'm gonna be freeeee ohhhhhhHHHHH!"

natania said...

Ok, now that the two of you have me sitting here bawling....Look at what you both have accomplished in your lives!!
Kelly, you eventually met an amazing man and had two gorgeous boys, have a job, a home, everything little girls dream of.
Sarah, you have gone a long way too! You have gone to school, university, travelled to many parts of the world whom some ppl would dream of doing, acted in a lot of plays and did things YOU wanted to do! You are an amazing woman whom I think the world of and any man would be lucky to have you! Just wait, it'll happen...Look at Kelly;). It hurts like hell but the best is yet to come!! I love you! xoxo

riley said...

OK, no more sob fest here ! :P

this post was a bit of therapy for me.. actually, I hadn't realized anyone would understand, but it's something we all go through, all of us.

And it's not just about a relationship that didn't work.. it's about feeling a sort-of hopeless loneliness - but everyone knows what that feels like - so we are alone, but not really.

Kelly said...

Writing is cathartic. I think it's good that you're expressing yourself here, Sarah! Keeping things bottled up inside creates bitterness, resentment and none of that is healthy ... and you're too young for all of that.

You'll do well, young grasshopper, and this journey to self discovery will lead you to a more peaceful mindset.

I'm sounding like Yoda!! "Do or do not...there is no try!"

Your Dad's right though, too ...things have a way of working out. They just do. Besides, a broken heart builds character. Believe me...I'm quite a character!...xo

Kelly said...

Oh, and one last thing ... if a guy is questioning a relationship, or parts of it, all it means is he's the one with the problem. It's not you.

Please trust me on this one. If I thought it was because of something I did everytime someone broke my heart, I'd still a puddle lying on the floor. (remember, every relationship I had before Kenny, the guy cheated on me and often it was with a friend) You have to know who you are, and you have to know that you are a remarkable person who is accomplished, with passions and intelligence and a great sense of humour. Never mind that you're gorgeous...that's just icing on the cake.

You had made the "boy" reference in terms of the past relationships...I'd say that's pretty accurate, for any man worth his weight in salt would not walk away from you.