I can hardly remember what he looks like any more.
It’s been 4 months, more or less, since I last saw him. (I used to know how many weeks it had been, without having to think, but this time I had to check my diary…)
At the weekend I came across a photograph of him on my computer, and it was like going back to your home town after an absence of 20 years. The strange sensation of seeing things that you don’t remember until you see them again. And, even stranger, feeling how dramatically the emotional significance has changed.
I remember the delight with which I pieced together his image in my mind while separated from him in the first heady weeks of our love. I would always start with his eyes and the angle of his browbone, which I found irresistibly attractive. And from there there the mental image just fell into place – a face, smiling, and haloed in the glow of our radiant happiness. I remember that feeling – but I can’t see the picture any more.
Now when I try to remember what he looks like, the image is clouded with echoes of the pain of the break up. I remember the coldness with which he turned away from me, the arrogance and defensiveness he showed in those last conversations. But the pain is fading, and the mental image fades with it.
Shortly after we broke up, I changed my computer screensaver, because each time it flashed up a picture of him it was a painful reminder. The person I loved had vanished, leaving behind someone who looked the same but behaved completely differently. And each time I saw his photo, the pain I felt at his rejection of my love and my honesty stabbed my heart all over again.
For a long while I avoided these reminders, and just got on with healing from the pain, and learning from it what I needed to learn. And now the pain is almost entirely gone, the mental image I have of him is fading, and seeing photos no longer brings back the pain.
It feels strange, but much more peaceful.
Each day now the memories slip further into the past. If I try, I can remember our happiness and the fun things we did together, and I smile – as you do when you hear a story of happiness which happened to someone else, a long time ago.
In the present I feel just a little wistfulness, plenty of compassion and the occasional flash of anger.
It is the future, with all its challenges and hopes, that interests me now.