For many years, Maynard sung this line in my head. It played over and over whenever I found myself in situations I could not cope with, reminding me that disassociation was always the best way to deal with emotional pain, creating many, many gaps between me and myself, between myself and the world.
A metaphor or not, the gap is real. It mutates. It widens. It’s dangerous. The gap is dark. The gap is vicious. The gap remains silent and looks at you even when you don’t look at it. The gap is vast, like a black hole in the universe.
I would sit in front of the gap not daring to move, not daring to enter either. “I know where thou ist, gap! Dare I not to enter.” I’d shout at the gap and walk away to find any distraction, like work, friends, alcohol, money / g a p / relationships, fancy dinners / g a p / meditation, breathe in, breathe out, yoga / g a p / food, friends, films / g a p / sleep, family, travel / g a p / work again, blog posts, friends, / g a p / pizza, beer, beach / g a p / Scotch nights, more travel, new languages / g a p / g a p / g a p. The gap is eternal, all-pervading. It’s always there, silent, all-observant.
“Hello, gap,” I smiled nervously every time I saw it.
By my 26th birthday, the gap wanted me. I was afraid to go through the gap. The truth is that I was deadly afraid of the gap. The gap seemed real and I all I could do was stand in front of it, frozen, unwilling to cross, unwilling to disappear.
“Take care not to make me enter,” I repeated to myself. I didn’t want to let the other “me(s)” disappear. I didn’t know what the gap was nor what I would find on the other side. To me, it was a giant void on unknowness. I wanted fresh things but known situations. I wanted freedom but safety. I wanted change but to continue wherever I was. I wanted to belong and go away at the same time. I wanted to keep the work, the friends, the love I’d achieved with so much dedication and effort. I wanted to fight for the dreamed world, even if it meant to live vicariously. But the gap was vicious, pushing me, shoving me, bloodsucking my sanity and resistance. That’s when I panicked. I was afraid that my suicidal tendencies would wake up from their sleep and push me hard into real physical harm. I was afraid of a mental break down. Moreover, I was afraid of the gap because I couldn’t find it outside. The gap was within. The gap was me.
A rampage of smoking and drinking made the perfect escape. Isolation was the cherry on top of the cake. What a glorious tool denial and disassociation is. When you detach from yourself and your surroundings, the gap not only becomes unemotionally painful, it fades away under a foggy sky of existentialism. But make no mistake, all the pain you try to avoid, it will come. Pain always comes disguised as change.
Four years have passed, and as change is the only constant, everything has changed. I don’t have the same job I worked so hard to earn. I don’t have the same friends but the ones I keep are the ones I need. I’ve accomplished most of the things I’ve said I would do by my thirties. I’m free to love whoever, wherever I want. Day after day, I struggle with my disassociation tendencies because I don’t want to live vicariously anymore.
I’ve accepted the gap and acknowledged it as it is: a gap. I’ve been standing in front of the gap for a year now, looking to the other side, thinking if I really have to enter. Will I disappear? I ask myself. Most likely not. What’s in me that I’m so reluctant to lose?, I ask.
As an effort to keep me grounded and socialise with other humans, I went hiking yesterday. The place was new and shining. Nature grew wild and splendorous. Humanity was nothing compared to the rocky mountains and trees. There I was, lost in thought when I saw the gap again. For once, I felt no fear. I didn’t want to run away.
For the first time I was able to see the gap outside. The gap was physical. The gap was rocks. The gap was in fact, a gap.
From the distance, all you could see was the remains of a giant rock, now broken by earthquakes, rain and erosion.
The once solid rock was now a passageway where particles of dust played in the air between rays of light, creating a martian-like atmosphere. The caverns created interconnected tunnels where you could walk and climb. Walking inside the rock all you could think of was on the other side. Where does it lead? What will I find? Mellow moss grew in the shadows. In the walls, the remains of spider webs. On the other side, a mild waterfall. Small ponds of water and fish.
There was no mystery, only life behind the gap.
The world seems cruel when it comes to change. Sometimes, it can be brutal but it surely delivers the best. Even diamonds were once only carbon.