In Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls the young protagonist Conor exclaims at one point:
“I can’t stand it anymore! I can’t stand knowing that she’ll go! I just want it to be over! I want it to be finished!”.
Without giving too much away for anyone who has yet to delve into this story, it made it’s mark in my life for being the very first to clearly portray the messy business of feelings. Much like Conor, our emotional reactions are rarely, if ever, straightforward and quite often intermingled with feelings that we may be surprised to find surfacing. I’m reminded of Hozier’s “she’s the giggle at a funeral” or the time when I laughed during an interview because the whole affair felt too staged for me not to find it even slightly amusing.
In the other tab I have opened a flight tracking application. I click into it every couple of minutes with those mixed emotions (I am coming to believe there are no other type of emotions) to see where the Air India plane carrying my boyfriend is.
There can be a detachment to my checking. I look at the green line and wonder how it is that the flight is tracked -simultaneously theorising possible answers to my own question- and feeling tempted to click off this particular route to see the flight paths of other airlines.
Of course there is concern that the next time I click the tab the flight will have disappeared. My amateur use of Headspace has not yet helped me develop the skills to stop the torrent of thought that follows the largely improbable idea that the flight will suddenly be wiped from the screen. (I am also coming to believe that there are no words with more ability to generate anxiety than what if?)
Objectively I had what I would consider to be a good day. A productive early morning was followed by a trip into Dublin which, though cold of course, served the purpose of taking the length out of the hours preceding my boyfriend’s evening departure from Paris Charles de Gaulle. By the time I found myself back on the bus in the late afternoon I knew he would be arriving at the check-in.
It isn’t a simple case of missing him now, as if things in life could be reduced to a solitary emotional response. Naturally there is the fact that I miss him but it is intermingled with a complicated sense of the same emotion: I miss what hasn’t come to pass, the moments we might have had together and the future where we can speak about how our month in India was. It is not so much missing but missing out and it feels selfish.
I wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t some fear in the collective response to his leaving. Fear however, I easily accept, as it is something that duly deserves its place in any temporary long-distance relationship. Nobody would question feeling frightened about the potential everything that a solo trip on the other side of the world lays bare.
What surprises me is that woven into the acceptable feelings is the idea that I really don’t mind this situation. Unlike the airport at the weekend I have not cried and I have not the sense that I am burying emotional denial -though I suppose you could argue that the very act of writing this blog is exactly that (!).
It has been weeks of knowing that he will leave and that has been the worst part. Though his journey has just started in many respects the difficulty of it ended for me the moment that the Air India plane rolled up its wheels in the sky somewhere over Paris. There is a relief to the fact that he is currently entering what looks like the airspace just north of Turkey.
I could spend hours dissecting whether or not the fact that I find a sort of peace in the evening of his departure indicts a poisonous problem of neglect or disinterest in our relationship I suppose. What is much more likely is that I was never going to only feel sad or only concerned or only peaceful.
If A Monster Calls has taught me anything it is that to bare the truth of our feelings to ourselves is a process of immense emotional understanding and cleansing. I am not trying to hide any part of these feelings in a corner of the room from where I write and with that comes the peace that can only accompany this act of self-acceptance.
How many times after all can we truly say to ourselves, I know how I feel about this?