The love was gone and she lay empty in my arms like a ghost with no heartbeat. I was falling endlessly into the dark eternity of despair, not knowing just how far the crack in my heart would grow, or if the gap would be beyond repair. Years of emptiness and lost hope were my daily companions. I was alone and unwilling to settle for anyone less than my soul mate and then I met her. But how far had the cracks in her heart grown? Was her smile just a front to hide her own pain? She was no stranger to betrayal and her heart was also challenged. This she shared candidly, when I first met her. And of course, I saw it in her eyes. Maybe the cracks in her heart is what attracted me to her, as I am so accustomed to rescuing broken hearts, as I recklessly expose my own.
I have fooled myself before, blurring the lines between love and despair. What is it about the fluttering of a broken wing that blurs my vision? After so many years of shielding my wounds have I healed? How is it even possible that after so much pain and betrayal I could even consider trying again? Why her? How could this possibly be happening, or was it just in my imagination? What is it about these chapters of love that can be so painful that it takes years to recover, if ever? I do not know if I can or if she is even willing, but she could be the one that will bring some sense or meaning to the years of waiting, hoping and longing for a true soul mate. Is love even under our own control? Is it beyond our own capacity to limit or create, or is it simply destiny? Why would she ever choose me? I am so flawed. Even as I write this I know that beauty like hers, both inside and physically is a once in a lifetime encounter.
My heart has not been my own since as long as I can remember. Maybe the pain was just too much for it to heal. When you do not own your own heart, how can you even offer it again? Does this happen to everyone after losing love? After believing I am living in a world of brokenhearted people, maybe I have literally become one of them myself. I see it everywhere like an emotional plague. So what makes me think that I am immune to the same plight as all of those I see around me who appear to be heartless. Is it just that they too have cracks in their own hearts, so deep, so wounded they cannot go back? So why? Why does my heart bring me here again? Is it possible that time does heal all wounds?
She now knows the truth about the depth of my admiration for her and has neither agreed that it is a path that she wants to take, or denied the opportunity to take it. Of course, she holds all the cards, has all the power and will determine if the massive amount of love I have to share is worthy of hers. I can only hope and be authentic and pray that we are everything that I believe us to be. But hope and reality are so often split by fear and uncertainty, poor timing, and logic used to override desire, that we tend to deny ourselves what really makes us happy. We look to the media and what love is supposed to be rather than what nature dictates it is. We wander lonely and empty trying to buy our happiness with things, so we think we have what we need. In reality, most of us never know what we need, we just know that we want more, but still feel alone. We think love to be a financial security blanket, rather than an expression of our heart.
As I grow older and wiser I realize that life itself is just a series of experiences that last but a heartbeat in time. I understand why we have become so narcissistic as a culture and materialistic. Wanting is a never-ending obsession of what we are brainwashed to think life and love should be. Most of us are simply empty, hardened souls, wishing our lives were something more, something different and something easier. Families are torn apart believing there is more to love than loyalty and life-long commitments and we end up with a roller coaster of unfilled, empty, promises.
The “getting and spending” has become an addiction and love has taken a back seat to beating our neighbors in acquiring toys and brands that mean nothing. We work endless hours and pay impossible taxes, blinded by the desire for more. Then, in the end, we look back and wonder where our lives have gone, where the time went and what the purpose of our life was meant to be; when it is too late. Of course, no one could argue that life is not a bed of roses after the dismantling of the American dream, which started with the Great Recession of 2008 and has continued as a roller coaster ever since. Survival itself is simply no picnic. Despite decades of opportunity, job growth and the good years, globalization, greed and corruption have plagued our society with the middle class being left in the wake. But should love depend on money? Isn’t love supposed to be pure and organic? I just do not understand the world we are living in any longer, or maybe as I have often characterized myself, I am just naive to what modern relationships are truly about, as admittedly I am a life-long helpless romantic.
Having experienced both physical and emotional love younger than most I have known, and with more chapters of love than most, I have not believed in the great novels of love, despite the fact I have always hoped to find one. However, now I’m starting over in this new more challenging economy. I know not that I possess the finances to support a relationship that seems to depend on the almighty dollar. Has love truly become a financial relationship? I hope not, but it seems that it has. Of course, I am as naive as I have always been when it comes to the realities of modern love. People who value dollars over dedication makes no sense to me.
Both sunrises and sunsets show her in the most beautiful light. I still cannot believe the way my body and mind react to her voice and her smile. The warmth of her hugs make me dizzy, a reaction I do not understand to this day; even her scent. I told her today that it was too late, that my heart was already hers and we shared a passionate day at the beach. We were shooting again and we both had more than our share of wine on an empty stomach. It was cold and we were waiting for opportunistic times between the cloud cover to capture photographs as the sunset came and went behind the clouds. In between we spoke of life, love and our hopes and dreams. The alcohol acted as a truth serum and we shared many truths. Truths we probably would not have shared otherwise.
In the middle of it all she cried. She cried with great anguish and told me not to waste my heart on her, that she was too far-gone. She did not realize that I already knew that her heart is broken and even if she feels it is beyond repair, I do not. I see the love in her heart and the joy when we create together and I know that she is not aware that I am looking deep into her soul. If she would only stop worrying about falling in love. Every physical sign tells me she is happy when we are together.
The water was cold and she was dancing her way through it. It was a magical moment. She, for a moment, let herself go and was embracing the day. We created true art and my heart was beating faster than I can remember, only missing a beat when I started to “think”. While it took a few bottles of wine and a day at the beach, I felt her body shivering in my arms and her hips gently rolling into mine as I shielded her from the cold. The brief kisses and intimacy were followed by her refusal to give herself to the moment completely and then suddenly an abrupt change of gears. But before we could think, we kissed and I knew, I knew that we connected and the passion was pure and from our hearts. But then as soon as she gave herself to the moment, she withdrew her willingness to pursue what her heart desired.
We abruptly left the beach and drove to dinner to the other side of the Island. She sat next to me with her body stretched over the center console to lean against mine and she held my hand. It was beautiful. Her scent was so distinct and intoxicating that I did not want to shower, but I had to or it would have driven me insane. I know she felt every bit of love that I did that day, but she was torn, still broken and afraid to heal, afraid to ever struggle again financially. I have everything but money to give her, at least for now. We spoke of a life in the future and we spoke of wants and dreams.
But I know that my kiss melted the ice around her heart, for at least a moment and she told me there is hope for us. And then she disappeared from my life again, putting me in the friend zone and not even discussing the magic between us that day. I am more than confident that it is all it would take for us is to be together, and I know she knows that, but she will keep me at a distance so that she can continue to guard her heart. A heart she has built a beautiful body around to perhaps auction to the highest bidder. I have seen it a thousand times, over and over, where a woman chooses a big wallet despite her moral high ground and claim she cannot be bought.
I would hope she knows at this point, I am not willing to buy love even if it is hers. I have seen love too many times dwindle to nothing over and over with women who sell out, winding up depressed and alone, with more money than they know how to spend and no reason to spend it. I pray this is not her fate. I pray she sees what we felt as genuine and authentic and stops pushing me away. You simply cannot deny a feeling. You do not quiver in a man’s arms unless you are feeling love. It is not possible to look into a man’s eyes with need and desire and then deny love. But she continues to hide.
It’s been a week. We text and chat about photographs and layouts and the next issue of my magazine which will come out in just a few weeks. Of course, I doubt that I would have completed it if it were not for my passion for her. She was my inspiration for the entire issue even if I had to create an entire new magazine just to feature her. She inspires my creativity like no one ever has. I have seen many beautiful women and I have been inspired, but this is different, almost unexplainable.
Even writing this chapter itself, which has become our story, is the only way I can survive in between our time together. I long to see her, hold her, even if I am delusional. At this point I know not that she will ever trust that my intentions are true and my heart is pure. She asks me how she is different than all of those that have come before her. It is very hard to explain that when you are alone, with no love, any excuse for love is better than simply dwindling away. It was almost as if I was in a dessert and drank from a dirty well just to survive. There was nothing pure about it, but it did help me survive.
Now with my new-found health and my life recovering both financially and in most every other way, I know that I will never drink from that dirty well again. I want the purity of real love. I see it with her, and I hope she will drink with me. But again, she has all the power. I just have my heart and my words, words that may fall on empty ears. So, I write them and hope that it helps me survive the days without her. The days without her are not easy, as I think of her most of the time, wishing we were again creating together and sharing those little moments that turn into longer moments, that turn into a lifetime of moments.
I’ve condemned myself to a solo life, minimizing my own space and things, knowing that I do not want to sell myself by offering a treasure trove along with my heart. If my love does not become the unrequited love we read about in novels and see in movies, she will find the happiness that has eluded her most of her life. I often think that there are so many unhappy people because we turn our backs on our destiny, never find happiness and go through life lost. Then when we wonder why we have not found our happiness, we cannot go back in time to where we lost track of our own destiny and remain lost forever. Well at least in this life.
Last night was again magical, just to see her again, feel her and to almost taste her in the air, as there is something about her that is like a warm summer’s breeze over a wildflower field. She intoxicates me. I am of course lost now beyond any hope that I will survive. If my heart has lost its way and she simply is unrepairable, or she cannot, or does not want the love I am offering. But what makes me think I can read a woman as deep minded as she is? I cannot, but know that I do want to help her improve her life, and become self-sufficient, even if my love is not returned. Unrequited love is the worst love any man can endure. Her happiness means more to me than the pain and longing I feel when we are not together.
But what does the broken heart know; especially when two people have both felt the deep pain of betrayal from those they have loved before? Do they learn how to forgive or forever keep a shield up to protect themselves; never again succumbing to the pain? We both know that pain, both have the fear. But why the passion then? Maybe it was just a fleeting moment of weakness and will never happen again. To most, probably just a spark of a moment that ended abruptly. But to me, a spark that ignited a wildfire of emotions.
The cracks in my heart will grow much deeper I fear, as each moment we are apart seems like an eternity and I realize that the words she spoke in tears and despair may have been her most honest.. She is obviously using her beauty like a free pass, and of course I do not blame her. I just believed I was different. Maybe that’s how most men feel. Maybe we are just conduits to goals for hardened women. But something in my heart tells me that is not the case, so I hold on to hope, the one word she agreed we had.
We spoke again this afternoon and again my heart was beating rapidly. I tried to focus on her as she was going through a small but drama filled incident with a friend, or one of those “false friends” very attractive people tend to have. Despite the fact we spoke about that incident I could tell she was truly hurt and disturbed by this person she cared about. She thinks that finding friends at this point in our lives is easy but what she does not know as a beautiful woman, finding friends, real friends who are female, will always be challenging. Every woman finds her not only to be “unfair competition” for the single guys, but also a threat to their marriages in the case of married women, as she has that rare beauty most men will do anything for, even dump their wives.
Each time we speak I feel closer to her and I hope she feels closer to me. I pray for the day she wants to spend our lives together, as I know that my heart is so selective that waiting fifteen years for her to walk into my life, may be my only chance at true love again. Sometimes I believe my gifts are a curse. Why do I have this uncanny ability to see what people feel, I know I am not fooling myself as time has taught me that my instincts, when it comes to human emotion, are far more intuitive than educated guesses. I see what people feel so well that the timing of my photographs capture those instances when people are feeling “more” than they do typically. They capture people who, at least for a moment, let their guards down and feel, something our society has lost to the day-to-day of stresses and responsibilities.
With her, I see it and feel it. I know what is going on in her heart, at least when we are together. But as soon as it is time to part, it turns off like a switch has been flipped and she goes back to a blank state, protecting herself from anything that could penetrate the walls around her fears and insecurities. She turns herself to others who would never find a place in her heart, perhaps an easier road to take than that of real love.
But who am I kidding, no man knows what is going on in a woman’s heart. We just hope they see something in us so unique that they overcome the years of frustration or failed relationships and give themselves freely to love. Love is subjective to the individual. People often find themselves in unrequited love, where they are not loved in return, despite the depth of the admiration for that special person they feel so in love with. I certainly hope that this is not the case. But, the more time in between seeing her, the more I believe she is not ready for love with anyone, or will ever truly consider it with me.
We saw each other again last night and again my heart could not contain itself, beating uncontrollably as soon as she walked into the room. Every time she greeted another man I became more and more jealous, an emotion I had not felt in many years. I could not believe that I was feeling possessive of a woman whose heart did not belong to me; she was only mine while we were shooting. Outside of that I had no claim to her, I knew that, but still my heart felt as if we were together for a lifetime and would not stop pounding, almost out of my chest.
I fell to sleep alone that night, longing for her to be lying next to me, to feel her in my arms again like the one time when she let herself go at the beach, telling me that I was romantic and that she was feeling true love. I still can taste the salt water and her sweat as if she was still with me. I dreamed of spending our lives together, but suddenly like a rush of freezing air blasting into my face on a cold winter’s midnight, I awoke alone. I was alone, and she was gone. I was left to walking and chasing sunrises with only hope as my companion.
“Chapters of Love” Copyright John Joseph Dowling Jr. 2016