I feel him working his way to where I am. He is not moving as slow as I did, but he is cautious. He feels something happening, something he did not expect, but his arrogance does not allow him to see it as a threat. He continues down the path, directly towards me. It takes several minutes, but eventually, he is at the door. Of course, he speaks first.
“I know you’re in there. There is nowhere else to go, so you might as well stop running.”
I do not answer.
“Did you really think you could get away from me, or did you even try? I think you want to stay. I think deep down you like it here.” He is trying to get a bead on me, so he can offer the solution to anything I feel might be missing from my life.
I feel focused and centered, but one thought does slip by me.
“You’re alone, aren’t you? Not as hot as you used to be? Guess they’re not knocking down the door anymore, are they, Linda?” He pauses a moment to examine the thought thoroughly. “Wow, you used to be a stunner. Too bad you threw all that away on guys who don’t even remember your name. A smart girl like you could’ve made better decisions. Now, all you have are your brains, and really, you have a bit too much of those, don’t ya. Too much to say, Linda? Did people stop listening to you?”
I concentrate on holding my center, but the words sting. He is nowhere near done, but I cannot interrupt. I must let him continue until he realizes I am not responding. He will sense he is hurting me. I cannot stop myself from letting it through, but he will eventually expect me to respond.
“So, the looks have slipped, the body is gone, and now, your only asset; that pretty little brain of yours offends people. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t so loud, but if you whisper, they don’t listen, do they? They drown you out, and you can’t tell them how you feel. Boo Hoo. All you want is to have people understand you, and they never will. Do you know why? I’ll tell you. They will never understand you because you pretend to be strong when you are weak. You are a coward. You are afraid of everything and everyone, and you think, if they know it, no one will like you. Well, I got news for ya, sweetie. No one likes you anyway. Do you know what they say when you’re not around?…No?…Well, I’ll tell ya, and the cool thing is it will be pretty accurate because I can hear them. That’s right, I can listen in, and I can keep you posted on what everyone really thinks of you. It’s just a service I offer, because at the end of the day Linda, I’m going to be you’re only friend. I am going to be the only one who is completely honest with you.”
I don’t respond, but he doesn’t wait.
“Are ya ready? Here we go.”
I pull the sweater tighter around my body. Tears stream down my face, but I do not move. I remain with my eyes closed, holding on to my faith. I focus with all of my heart on IEO and imagine him here with me. My new best friend continues.
“Your friends only tolerate you, but you know that already, don’t you. That’s too easy. Let’s see if we can dig a little deeper. They think you’re loud. They think you are full of crap most of the time. They think you are arrogant and more than a little ‘holier than thou.’ They laugh because sometimes you still think you’re hot, which is funny. You can’t blame them for that one. They think you’re a hypocrite and that you are too judgmental. Just because you know some things doesn’t mean you know everything. You claim to have let go of your childhood, but you haven’t, have you. You think you’ve had it tougher than everyone. It’s your little badge that says, ‘I’m somebody,’ because deep down, we all know that you will never really be anybody. You’re trailer trash, Linda. In fact, you’re not even that. In a sense, it would be a real claim to fame, having overcome growing up like that, but you grew up in middle-class suburbia. It was just your family that was trash. How was that; Growing up in a neighborhood of descent people, while your family brings down the property value? Still that way, isn’t it. How’s your status in the neighborhood now, still bringing down the neighborhood? You know you’re nobody. You’ll never be anybody. You might as well stop trying, Linda, because the stink of being nothing more than a hooker for your brother will never wear off of you. You will always be trash, and men will never want you for more than anything but a piece of ass. That’s why they’re not talking to you. Why put up with your big mouth if you’re not putting out anymore. Even if you were putting out, I wouldn’t hold out too many bets. I mean, we both agree you’re not what you used to be. Maybe, if you got your lazy ass off the couch, it would help, but I don’t see why you should bother. There is still the issue of your personality we would have to overcome, and you’re 41. It’s about time to give up hope on that one. You might as well face it. Your best years are beyond you, and you can never get them back. You have always been and will always be a stupid slut. A leopard just doesn’t change its spots, dear.”
He says all of this from the door, but now he senses the break. The pain crosses through my peaceful meditation and finds my heart. The tears are flowing freely, and my chest feels like it will collapse down upon itself, but I will not sob. I will not make a noise. I will not give him the satisfaction of seeing my pain.
As he feels his words break through, he lights a torch and comes around the corner. He is surprised by the room and pauses for just a fraction of a second before he continues. “Wow, you fixed it up all pretty in here, didn’t you? Did you think this was a date? I thought you didn’t play that way anymore. I’m sorry if you were confused, Linda, but I think we should just establish this from the beginning,” he is right next to my circle, and these words he is sure to say as directly into my downturned face as he can. “I’m not gonna go there with you, and do you know why? No? Well, I’ll tell you. We can’t be all sexy with each other, Linda, well, because even I don’t want you. I’m mean. I’m not a picky guy. I’ll take it where I can get it, but that’s just gross, so maybe you’ll want to pick up all these blankets and get real about just what kind of relationship this will be. We’re going to have to focus on just being friends but remember Linda. It’s not me…it’s you.” At this comment, he laughs and starts to stroll around the cavern.
He actually expects me to get up and put this stuff away. He thinks my shame will drive me to do so, but I remain in my seat.
I think it surprises him a little, causing him to turn and look at me. As he does, he forgets his surprise and notices the yellow dress. More ammo. He laughs for some time before he speaks, “What’s with the dress, Linda? Did you think you could be like her? Did you really believe you could ever be that feminine? You know you’re not, though, don’t you? You know you look like a big, fat ape sitting there in that dress. You look more like a man in drag than anything.” He laughs again. “I can’t believe you thought you could ever compare yourself to her, that you could ever be that beautiful. Even in your prime, even with your twenty-two-year-old bleach blonde hair and your rock-hard abs, you were never beautiful like her. You were too desperate and needy ever to be beautiful. Take that off. You don’t deserve to wear a dress like that. You’re a pig. Take it off.”
I remain seated.
“I said take it off!” Finally, he begins to show some discomfort. He could have never been with a beautiful, graceful, intelligent woman during his life. All of these words he says to me are just nuances of what he feels about himself. Women wanted nothing to do with him. It’s why we are his target. It doesn’t make the words any less painful knowing this. His wounds feed off mine.
When I do not comply, his rage grows. I sense it, and the battered child in me cringes as he comes towards me. I think I am probably rocking and shaking somewhere deep inside, but on the exterior, I am the same stoic, immovable statue I have been since his entrance to the cave. He rushes me, and I fight my urge to flinch. I don’t know if the sage will protect me here, but I won’t need to find out. As he nears the edge of my circle, the buck steps between us.
“Oh, so this is how it is. Had to bring a friend, did you? I almost forgot. We never talked about what a coward you are. Seriously Linda, a deer? You brought a deer to this dance? Even your weapon of choice is pathetic. What are you going to do with a deer?”
I do not answer.
“Jesus Christ, Linda. Don’t you have anything to say for yourself? Even the biggest of cowards will stand up for themselves eventually. You are the most spineless person I have ever met, and I’ve known quite a few. She would never have let me go on like this. At least she fought back. You make me sick.” He bows his head with the last sentence. It’s like he’s exhausted himself and feels sad at his own words.
Finally, he stops and looks at the blanket again. “What’s the deal with this? Is this seat taken?” He gives a light chuckle, but I can see he is going back into his mind. His inner dialog is now with himself. He is not even fully aware I am here anymore. “Of course, it’s not taken. No one would want to be here with you, would they, Linda? I don’t even want to be here with you, but it doesn’t look like anyone wants to be here with me either, so it looks like we’re stuck with each other, a couple of losers, all alone on date night.”
He is moving to a place where I can do my best work. The more depressed he gets, the more likely he is to move from rage to self-pity. It’s natural to be mad at first, to resent people for mistreating him. As he’s already pointed out, what he hates in himself, he can now pity himself for feeling it. I need to be careful here. He’ll soon become despondent. I must catch him while he’s still feeling sorry for himself. If I can do this, I can build a relationship, and then he will let me help him. For now, he is mumbling and drinking the water, consuming the medicine. Soon he will lie down upon the blanket, and he will sleep.
As I watch him surrender to centuries of exhaustion, I prepare to wait, but this time I will not need to wait alone. The buck lies down next to me, and I rest my head against his back. He is a comfort, and I will sleep better tonight knowing he is there with me. I will need this support to avoid getting trapped in the words of the self-loather. I focus on being a healer and letting go of what he has said. I believe I will be okay tonight, but I am careful to keep my awareness high. I cannot continue this way for too many days if my strength is to hold. Today, I maintained my center. I don’t know if I will be able to do the same tomorrow.
Please, Great Spirit, give me the strength to hold the space. I will need your guidance.
I don’t entirely leave my body as it sits there. I feel myself sitting with my hand on the Buck’s back, always. Even when I am here, I am there. I must hold the space. If I drop my guard for a moment and he wakes, I will have lost all the ground that I have gained. Now is the time to be vigilant. I will rest when I’ve finished my work.