Somehow, I always seem to attract the sad ones. The ones with eyes my mother used to call “soulful”. The ones with hurting hearts and wounded spirits.
“I’m trying to decide if you hair is red or brown,” I said to him, pushing a curl from his forehead.
“It’s both,” he said, and told me his beard comes in bright red but he thinks it’s ugly. I’m less shocked than I used to be by these casual put-downs, but they still make my heart skip a bit. The pain and self-hatred in statements like that hurt me.
We’re stretched out in bed, content, comfortable. But there is a sadness that surrounds him that I can’t touch. I can’t soothe it away. Mind-blowing lovemaking has made him peaceful for now, but there is something still there, keeping me out and his pain in. I trace the line of his jaw under the ginger stubble and I hurt for him and for the sadness in his red-brown eyes.
“It’s peaceful here,” he says, burrowing into the comforter.
“I try to make it that way,” I say, “The world is too chaotic for me. My home is my safe place, my haven.”
Life keeps bringing me back to this place. The peace of my home. I’ve made it an extension of myself. Natural woods, muted colors. Calming, warming, inviting. Maybe that’s why the sad ones seek me out. Maybe it’s the calm.
Maybe they see in me the darkness I have walked through. Maybe they respond to it. Maybe in that darkness they see themselves. I just don’t know.
I understand that darkness. It lives, like a black hole in the corner of my mind, always there and waiting to welcome me back. Depression is a horrible bitch, self-hatred as addictive as any dangerous drug and just as deadly. Living with the daring to spurn the bitch is a struggle. Keeping a step ahead of her grasping fingers is one of the hardest things a person can do.
But when it comes down to her or me, the bitch will lose. I have too much to continue on for. A life filled with losses but one I have come through victoriously. A long struggle to allow myself to be free of the bitch has given me a confidence that drives many people away and attracts others like moths.
Maybe the sad-eyed boys and girls see in me the confidence they want to move ahead, to crawl out of the dark hole, to flip the bird to the bitch and move on.
Maybe all they want is to pillow their head against my breasts and take with them some of the peace I have found, before they pick up their own battles once again.