I never imagined my life as an epic. And The Lord of The Rings wasn’t even one of my favorite books. Yet, it’s odd the way things turn out, what you’re intended for and what is intended for you.
At the age of 30, I pivoted my life from behind a computer screen & inside a corporate straitjacket and leapt out into the great unknown. Writing. Digital pioneering. Relationships. Like Bilbo & Frodo, I hadn’t seen adventures in my future but life it seems had other plans. Three years later I found myself battered in body, mind & emotions. I had wounds inflicted by an engagement ring that I realised too late was a trap. It had felt so alluring once.
I began the arduous process of picking up tatters of myself. There was a much loved book, a gift from a reader that my ex had callously damaged. Like me, that book is a permanant reminder that survival comes with scars & forgiveness does not mean reset. I managed to rid myself of the ring but I couldn’t send back all the poison he injected into my life. There was a copy of The Lord of the Rings, an anniversary gift from him. This book causes an avalanche of hard feelings. How could someone who claimed to love me could not know that I already had a copy of this book, a collector’s edition? A perfect metaphor for an ugly ring & an overinflated proposal that would win him brownie points & leave me no room to protest. An inscription in his crude handwriting (my graphology stint whispering that this tells of an unevolved mind). But words of intimacy & affection – this is the hardest to stomach. How to reconcile these extremes of devastation & emotion caused by one person?
I couldn’t bring myself to tear the page or even scribble over the words. Even in my deepest despair, I will not be that monster that mutilates a book. Maybe I was afraid of the rage I’d unleash if I let my pain spill onto the page. I also couldn’t discard the book. There was a raw, bleeding slice of my soul inside that book. So I hid it at the back of my bookshelf & lived a half life while I picked out the shrapnel of abuse from within me. I got a tattoo of a paper plane to cover up a scar and as a daily reminder to hold the pain, fold the page & let it go. I took this to stage, letting just a sliver of pain show in the lines
“A love letter from someone who doesn’t love you anymore. A page from a book that was a gift from someone you don’t want to remember.”
Last month, I took the book out. It was time. Still painful but the pandemic has forced me to let go of all things that are toxic & hold on only to my breaths. My hands trembled as I opened the pages. The memories came flooding back. I tried to evade them by asking @rajni.arunkumar if I could send her this book. She agreed to take it off my hands (and what a good friend she is). Because I knew her kids might open it, I felt I had to mask the ugly inscription page.
I took out my paintbox. When I finished, I was spent in colour and tears. The inscription isn’t visible anymore. Only I know it is there. The wound has knitted together and the scar has been turned into art. I have a tattoo, a life lesson & a spotlight. I don’t even need to make a paper plane anymore. I shut the book & put it into the discard pile. The part of me that goes out isn’t jagged & I don’t anymore miss it. It will be part of a new story for someone else.
Abuse, violence, cheating & lies will never be okay and if you emerge stronger, that end will never justify the cruelty you had to endure to get there. But healing is an adventure. And I am grateful to have gone through it.