The More Loving One - W.H. Auden
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us, we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
“Droll thing life is -- that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself - that comes too late - a crop of inextinguishable regrets.”
-Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
When it became very clear that my beloved did not presently want to discuss any other option than separation, I finally got the message and moved out. Every step of this process was a bad step. One of many good examples was where I moved. It was only one half a mile away from her. There's plenty more to contemplate with that location and plenty of situations that occurred that I could lament over but I won't.
I think it made it harder knowing that she was in walking distance. The nights were long and painful during those six months. It was an amazing location and, for the first time in my three-legged dog's life, I started taking him on walks. (He had never enjoyed walking - I guess it was challenging for him - but I forced him because I needed to get out and walk too. Before long, he was nudging his leash my way in excitement. This was one of the few escapes I had each day - even though I also cried while walking.). The proximity was just too much for my sensitive emotions.
I never could get a clear read from the beloved through this whole process. She never showed any emotion other than her general bright demeanor. She never told me how she felt, other than that she was not going to pursue mending the relationship. She just ended it and that was that.
One night, while sitting in bed, crying, I received a text from her. I remember that it was around 11pm. The text read, "How are you doing right now?" This was shocking. I had no idea what had prompted her to have any concern about my emotions. She knew what kind of state I had been in. At that moment, I was listening to music (and bawling my soul out, of course), so I just answered accordingly. I said, "Right now, I am crying uncontrollably listening to Sam Cooke sing "I Lost Everything." I am sad, lonely, depressed, and miserable." She replied, "I feel the same way."
This is where that story hinges. It might have been one of the most important pauses in the separation. My ass-of-a-self kicked in and I immediately responded, "I doubt you feel the same way I feel." She did not respond after that.
I have often kicked myself for that. I have no idea what would have happened had I rushed down the road to her house in another attempt at restoring our love. Maybe she was asking me for that. I'll never know. This is another one of those horrible "what if" moments. It saddens me to think that I could have been so stubborn. I really didn't think she was capable of missing me or feeling 'sad, lonely, depressed, and miserable.' Maybe she wasn't feeling that way for me. Maybe she just wanted me to know that she hurt too, even if it was for a different reason. But maybe she had a brief moment where she thought, "He's right. We need to surrender to each other and work this out - for our sakes, for the sake of our children, for God's sake." But I guess she got the answer she assumed she'd get from me.
In my inextinguishable regret, I share with you "I Lost Everything" from Sam Cooke
Today's illustration is intimate and, therefore, could be gross and uncomfortable to the reader. Skip ahead to the offering at the end if you want to bypass this story.
I will spare you the graphic details and I won't get into the oddities, demands, prerequisites, fetishes, or any other complicated components of our sex life. We were both virgins when we were married. I hear this is a rare thing, and most people don't believe me when I tell them. I was fine with that. In fact, I was great with that. I thought she was great with that.
I would say that, quite often, the act sex was just that - an act. It wasn't necessarily a union. I speculate that it is generally the male who is in search of a release and, because of this seeming need, will ignore the needs and wants of the female. I didn't try hard enough to tend to hers. As usual, I'm painting myself as the bad guy. It wasn't that way. I absolutely did make efforts with her needs but I digress.
When it was special and good, and we were both in the moment as one, and both satisfied, and two had become one, and we lay in a tangled mess of holy flesh trying to find our way back from la petite mort, this is what would happen to me: I would lie with my beloved in my arms - my head against her chest, hearing her heartbeat. I would say to her, "Please tell me that you'll never leave me..." At that moment, I was always overwhelmed with a great fear that she would do just that. She would always sigh and sometimes say my name with an exclamation as to indicate that my request was outlandish. But in that exclamation there was hesitation. Sometimes she would humor me after a couple of requests and say it. When she had fulfilled that request, I would rest easy and drift away in her softness.
I had no reason to think that she would leave me simply because we had both made a for better or worse promise to each other. Even though it wasn't the ideal marriage, it was our marriage and we were gonna stick it out - hoping to eventually create a bright future where we could happily grow old together. She had other thoughts and other plans that I certainly wish we would have discussed and resolved a decade ago.
I have already described the cycle of emotions I experienced (and continue to experience) after she was gone. I was first angry and frustrated and had an "I'll show you" attitude. After that, I was like a rabid raccoon backed in a corner. Then came the dog paddling in the middle of the ocean with no hope in sight. After about 3 months of this, I started to reflect on what a selfish person I was and wanted to fix it. She did not. I think she might have had a few moments of hesitation where she thought that perhaps it would be best to fix it, but she held fast. (I remember one night that could have been an opportunity for me to mend the situation but that'll take me down another rabbit hole. I'll save it for tomorrow.)
I first heard Nina Simone sing. Ne Me Quitte Pas and it moved me like no heartbreak song ever had. There are several versions out there including an English version (that isn't a literal translation) by Rod McKuen. My favorite version is by the author of the song: Jacques Brel. Oh, he must have experienced the same heartbreak I did for no one could describe those desperate feelings with such passion and wisdom unless they had traveled down that road.
I've previously mentioned that my former wife often cited me for being dramatic. I am. As an artist, I constantly look for ways to express myself. Soon after my exposure to this song, I hired a tutor to help me memorize and correctly pronounce the words so that I could perform the song in a public setting. But, even I realized that this was a bit too much - actually laughable. I freely accept accusations, but let me not be accused of butchering this amazing song.
The lyrics and translation are included on today's offering. How I wish I were the shadow of her shadow...how I wish she would hear my cry, "Don't leave me."
“My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”
-L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Oh, brokenhearted! Let's raise the dead together.
For your free sticker and a free copy of the Hoarsely Cry mix disc - volume II, send your address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to request volume I if you are just now joining me!
Volume II playlist:
1. Bon Iver . I Can't Make You Love Me/Nick Of Time
2. Joy Division . Love Will Tear Us Apart
3. Cigarettes After Sex . Keep On Loving You
4. Pablo Neruda . If You Forget Me
5. Larry Norman . I've Got To Learn To Live Without You
6. Keaton Henson . You Were Always On My Mind
7. Charles Olson . In Cold Hell In Thicket
8. Roy Orbison . Crying
9. The Cure . Untitled
10. Flower Face . Angela
11. Alan Watts . Falling
12. Tarnation . Leaving On A Jet Plane
13. Concerning Love . Unknown
14. Pulp . TV movie
What can I say? I’m incredibly flawed…love isn’t like what you see on TV.
This is what it’s like - this is my reality. It’s not as magical as it’s portrayed in a Disney movie.
It’s a lot of pain and sacrifice. You just keep pushing until you bleed.
“Infantile love follows the principle: "I love because I am loved." Mature love follows the principle: "I am loved because I love." Immature love says: "I love you because I need you." Mature love says: "I need you because I love you.”
-Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
This place is where I collect things that have moved me or helped me along this chapter in my life. I obviously take time to spill my guts but I’d imagine that reading what I write would be a laborious task for anyone who happened to discover Hoarsely Cry. The great thing about the collected offerings is that they speak for themselves. Fortunately for you, the heartbroken, you can bypass anything I have to say and just read the words in bold or click play on the audio or video file.
Today offers another song that I’ve listened to for years. I purchased this album the week it was released in 1998. I have known every word to this song - belting it out at 3am while on an all-night road trip or up on a 32’ extension ladder repairing a soffit or bent over a large painting in a dank basement. Not once did I let the story of this song reveal itself to me. Pulp usually perform songs of young love or old lust. I don’t think of them as a group that would spin a yarn about heartbreak.
I finally stumbled across Pulp’s “This Is Hardcore” on vinyl in April of 2019 and immediately snatched it up. I committed to the ritual of listening and set myself up in front of the stereo flipping through the record packaging and feeling a bit guilty about looking at the very suggestive imagery within - but, I didn’t look away. I let the wall of sound this band generates pulse through me and sung along - laughing at Jarvis Cocker’s wit, snarkiness, and scandalous lyrics. My previous ownership of this album had been on CD and I never really took time to dwell on the lyrics even though I did have the entire recording memorized. With the large and legible 12” insert, I had opportunity to read along - finding words here and there that I’d always mistook for something else. When TV Movie started to play, the first line was like a knife in my heart: “Without you my life has become a hangover without end…”. I quickly read ahead of the singing and was in disbelief that I had never truly heard these lyrics. I was a mess for the next two hours as I lifted the arm on the record player and dropped it back down on this song over and over again. It was about me and for me and still is.
If you actually do read through my blog, you must know by now that I repeat myself and go back and forth with my emotions. This song elicits a longing to have her back in my life. The lyrics are worth a posting so you can sing along while you cry in frustration over the one who broke your heart.
I’m gonna go cry now. Won’t you join me?
Without you my life has become a hangover without end
A movie made for TV
Bad dialogue, bad acting, no interest
Too long with no story and no sex
Is it a kind of weakness to miss someone so much?
To wish the day would go away?
Like you did yesterday
Just like you did yesterday
And I can't think of a way to get through this pain
To be happy again, to make it all alright
And I know it must be bad, 'cause sitting here right now
All I know is I can't even think
I can't even think of anything clever to say
So I say
Why pretend any longer?
'Cause I need you here with me
It's obvious that I miss you so much
So please say you're gonna stay
So please say you're gonna stay
So please say you're gonna stay
The night is getting darker, now
And there's nothing on TV
But I'll sit tight
Till morning light
Yeah, I'll wait until the day
Until the day that you say you're gonna stay
“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.”
“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
-J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
Growing up, my folks had a framed image of that Martin Luther quote and they lived by it. It was always hugs and kisses and tears when my father would leave home and on his return, you’d see the joy in his eyes as he’d lay focus on the most important person in the family to him: my mother. What a wonderful example of how to live in harmony. Why did I choose to allow that illustration to skip a generation? From my current perspective, I don't believe my beloved ever wanted that kind of a relationship with me once the commitment was made. You know those stupid impulse purchases you make, or a decision to stop at a drive-thru for lunch? I think that’s what I was to her. Because I knew this deep down, I never worked on changing her mind. I thought I could fuss love out of her…what a fool, what a dope, what a sucker.
There was an occasion before I had moved out of the house, but just after she had demanded that we actually proceed with the separation (something I thought would blow over and not actually happen), when she was leaving town for several days. Her plane ticket was cheaper if she left from an out-of-town airport three and a half hours away. I, of course, agreed to drive her. On the drive down, her attitude was full of hope and joy about her present and future. She was quite chatty and I was not responding to the chattiness. To fill the void, she started playing music. I let my childish refusal to discern what would be appropriate and potentially helpful to take charge of the moment and angrily turned the radio off saying something like, “How can you just sit there and be so happy when we are headed into a separation?!” The remaining two hours of the trip were spent in complete silence. God…what was wrong with me?
I wanted to speak to her. I wanted to find a way. Although she would have preferred to not be the recipient of my ridiculous silence, I am certain that she would not have wanted the conversation I chose since it would have been a conversation full of begging and demand for reason. I doubt any discussion we would have had concerning “us” would have swayed her. But, I’ll never have any way of knowing. My demeanor was one way while my insides ached for her to understand how I truly felt. I knew she didn’t love me for a long time but I didn’t try to fix it, I just reacted by not being accessible, projecting depression, and demonstrating a short temper.
Arriving at the airport, I pulled her bags out of the trunk and we did not say a “goodbye” or “farewell” or “so long”. Definitely no “I love you”. There was no wife sorry to see her husband part. There was no husband making any effort to elicit longing. There might have been a gruff “bye” and that would play it’s part in the coming “going away” and the great effort made on her part to forget me.
One of my favorite reads that I revisit over and over again despite some of its unsavory content is Jack Kerouac’s "On the Road". One passage reads: “What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye.” I felt the weight of a silent “goodbye” that day. I knew everything would change the moment she walked away from me to check her baggage in. (There is more to it than just a feeling but I want to avoid dragging other anonymous individuals into the story regardless of their negative role or the blood I see on their hands.)
I returned several days later to pick her up. Everything was different. For her, the forgetting was initiated. For me, a journey of regret and heartache - always wondering what could have been “if”.
Today’s offering (assuming you made it through this ridiculously long post) is, yet again, a cover. Several years ago, Mark Kozelek curated "Take Me Home: A Tribute To John Denver". I highly recommend you purchase this. There isn’t a bad cover on it in my opinion. Tarnation performs “Leaving On A Jet Plane”. This song feels like whatever has happened is over but there is still so much love and longing - so much desire to not forget the other - so much intent to be sorry to leave. There is a desolate implication that it’s gonna work out. A wedding ring is promised, but who knows…There was a short period, after my beloved's divorce, that lasted from January to June where I thought that things might work out. They didn’t. It went from bad to worse. Her plane trip was quite the metaphor and she never really came back again.
The previously quoted Kerouac passage ends with: “But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” I pray to God that you and I - the brokenhearted - can do just that.
"Well now really when we go back into falling in love. And say, it’s crazy. Falling. You see? We don’t say “rising into love.” There is in it the idea of the fall. And it goes back, as a matter of fact, to extremely fundamental things. That there is always a curious tie at some point between the fall and the creation. Taking this ghastly risk is the condition of there being life. You see, for all life is an act of faith an act of gamble. The moment you take a step, you do so on an act of faith because you don’t really know that the floor’s not going to give under your feet. The moment you take a journey, what an act of faith. The moment that you enter into any kind of human undertaking in relationship, what an act of faith. See, you’ve given yourself up. But this is the most powerful thing that can be done. Surrender. See. And love is an act of surrender to another person. Total abandonment. I give myself to you. Take me. Do anything you like with me. See. So, that’s quite mad because you see, it’s letting things get out of control. All sensible people keep things in control. Watch it, watch it, watch it. Security? Vigilance? Watch it. Police? Watch it. Guards? Watch it. Who’s going to watch the guards? So, actually, therefore, the course of wisdom, what is really sensible, is to let go, is to commit oneself, to give oneself up and that’s quite mad. So we come to the strange conclusion that in madness lies sanity."
- Alan Watts
“Only I never wish to get up in the morning”
-(Dorothy) L. Frank Baum, Ozma of Oz
“I’ve heard that sometimes a version of you must die before another more enlightened version can be born. I think that’s true after watching the corpse of myself walk around.”
-Julie Flygare, Wide Awake and Dreaming: A Memoir
When I have moments that I sincerely laugh or enjoy, it seems unnatural. As quickly as I recognize what is happening, I tend to be stricken with a bit of fear. It is likely another testament of how difficult it is for me to let go. I had a few of those moments last night and was able to allow them to happen. Then came sleep. And, that sleep actually came. I usually dread the night because I toss and turn - instead of counting sheep, I count sins and regrets. I actually have this horrible practice of recounting every horrible thing I’ve done that I’m able to recall from birth on. (I’d be a great textbook case, huh?).
A beautiful storm rolled throughout the night and played its part in my restful night that would have normally been plagued with nightmares of the beloved with her entourage of friends and lovers. These ridiculous dreams usually include me in a situation that involves a crisis or heavy manual labor while said crew observe, laugh at, and mock me. It’s quite unsettling and I wake up crying and sweating. It sucks. But last night was heavenly. Solid rest with dreams of oceans and long walks - two things I love dearly.
I woke at 5:45 am to distant rumbles and purple flashes coming through my windows. The rain was steady on the window sill and was providing the perfect transition into waking life. And as my eyes adjusted to the grey room, I looked at the pillow beside me and the blankets that formed, what seemed like, an endless desolate landscape where I might traverse with no direction until to death do I part.
With that landscape came the realization of being alone again. I miss the softness of sleep with her and how she would feel in the morning. She looked like a baby deer snuggled up in a nest of leaves. Her rose petal lips against her fresh-cream skin - dashed with specks of ground ginger…and I’d watch an occupied landscape slowly rise and fall with life as I would leave for work. Unfortunately, I’d often leave without telling her goodbye.
Recognizing the situation, I immediately started to sing the ending of the Beautiful South song, “My Book” - where Paul Heaton desperately repeats over and over again, “Back to bed, back to reality.”
This activity that I usually dread was one I wanted to dive back into - to dream of oceans and long walks. Now I face a day thinking about what isn’t. Alas! My corpse walks alone.
Today’s offering is a simple lament of love lost. It holds firm to beautiful memories while succumbing to the reality that there is no going back. Because of the night of good sleep and a rainy day that would’ve been lovely to spend with her, this song works for me: Flower Face “Angela”.
“Oh my love take me there. Let me dwell where you are. I am already nothing, I am already burning. Oh my love, I was once part of you—take me too!”
“It is far easier to see brave men die than to hear a coward beg for life.”
Jack London, The Iron Heel
Concerning the "helpful resources" in yesterdays post - those folks have been kind enough to be there for me and resist the urge to offer advice unless I asked for it. When suggestions were given, I usually ignored them. It was always the right kind of advice but I didn't want anything to do with it. I wanted her back in my life. I believed in the "happily ever after". I believed in "till death do us part". I believed in restoring the broken mess that could be mended back into a beautiful family.
One individual sent me this edited "inspirational" message from a mega-church pastor, T.D. Jakes. I am usually hesitant to embrace anything coming from this type of pop-faith but I listened. The message is laden with truth. How much has it helped me? I dunno. But, it still rings in my ears two years after I heard it. I'm now sharing it here for you in hopes that, if you have a beloved in your heart who you are not done pursuing, and she/he is obviously done pursuing you - perhaps the content will burn in your soul and fire you up to stop begging and allow that person, who doesn't care about you at all, to walk away.
“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”
My analogies are often a stretch. This is probably one of those posts that use scenarios and situations to connect dots for me. It always makes perfect sense to me until I read it over again - then I just chuckle at myself. Instead of taking your time attempting to explain my complex way of thinking, I’ll deliver today’s message and hope it connects dots for you.
I have a dear friend who will sometimes introduce me this way: “This is xxxx. Have you all met before? Well, just so you know, he once made a homeless woman cry.” This particular friend loves to never let you forget awkward, uncomfortable, and regretful situations. It is funny though and the intent dumbs down any heavy guilt you might have, even though it does stir up the silt again.
That story is true. I live in a city that has a real problem with homelessness. Especially considering the size, it’s really bad. My family has a real heart for the homeless, the addicted, prostitutes - that whole culture of individuals who are victims of abuse, neglect, mental illness, or whatever else has led to their horrible circumstance. I understand the entangled mess and really do see that their is a need to help this demographic. I don’t quite have the heart for many of them that my family does though. It is not the chronically homeless, the addicts, or the mentally ill who rub me the wrong way. It’s the capable and the unwilling to do anything about it who irritate me. I’m getting better about it though and understand that I truly don’t know any of their stories. In fact, after a couple of years of entertaining the idea of completely giving up, I suppose I can see how any life footing gone bad could possibly lead to such a desperate situation.
Here’s the story: My friend and I were walking downtown where a great deal of urban renewal has taken place over the past decade. What once was a vacant downtown, with boarded up windows and no foot-traffic, is now a bustling city full of restaurants, shops, bars, bowling, theaters, condos, hotels, etc. It has become a destination city. One particular homeless individual was walking straight toward us. I have trained myself to avoid eye contact because this ensures interaction. This particular lady approached me daily with the same story. She was also a person who had stolen money from someone in front of me and I chased her down to retrieve it. I was a bit exhausted by her but had never really been cruel to her. As she approached us, and I had inadvertently made the undoable eye contact with her, she started to say, “Excuse me, could I ask you a question?” This was how she always started before launching in to her story about needing a bus ticket to get medication, etc…but this time she only got to, “Excuse…”. I cut her off immediately by bluntly saying, “NO!” She immediately started to cry and said, “You don’t have to be so mean.”
She was right. I should not have been so mean. I immediately felt bad on one hand but on the other, I was frustrated because I had had multiple encounters with her that week and I was in the thick of the emotional crap that this blog is about…plus work, etc. Still, there was no excuse for what I said to her or the way I delivered it.
This has made me wonder if this was how my former wife felt over the past two and a half years whenever she’d see me coming. I don’t think I’d be wrong to assume that she saw me as this pathetic individual who was in the situation they were in by choice and who refused to pick themselves up to make any real change. She had multiple encounters with me every week that started with me addressing her not unlike the homeless woman - “Can I ask you a question?” It would be followed by, “Why not?” Or “Please!” It was a desperate person in a desperate situation. At this stage, it was by choice. She gave me the typical “I don’t carry cash on me” answers for a long time until she finally interrupted me with a loud and forceful, “NO!”
I think part of my issue with the homeless is that there are so many resources for them in this town. They don’t ever have to go without food, shelter, dental or medical care. I would guess that there isn’t a person in town, homeless or not, who doesn’t know this. I could say the same for me. I’ve had plenty of resources that I could tap in to that might help me pick myself up and walk away. Perhaps the beloved should not have been quite so harsh with me? Maybe it’s good that she was. She actually left me no choice but to figure out how to make an attempt at happiness without her - revealing that I was only an option to her if nothing else ended up working out for her (...obvious from the start though).
But I drift in the eyes of the ghost - down on my knees with my hands in the air. I often fight the devil futility - feeling him gnaw away at my heart, knowing I’ll never completely lose this pain. An unfortunate and vicious cycle. (God…why do I still love her?)