Sometimes we must undergo hardships, breakups, and narcissistic wounds, which shatter the flattering image that we had of ourselves, in order to discover two truths: that we are not who we thought we were; and that the loss of a cherished pleasure is not necessarily the loss of true happiness and well-being. (109)
That's what real love amounts to - letting a person be what he really is. Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending - performing. You get to love your pretence. It's true, we're locked in an image, an act - and the sad thing is, people get so used to their image, they grow attached to their masks. They love their chains. They forget all about who they really are. And if you try to remind them, they hate you for it, they feel like you're trying to steal their most precious possession.
I never used to realize it, I guess. I try and play it along and just not make trouble for people. Probably I never would have had any trouble at all if I hadn't run into Brett when they shipped me to England. I suppose she only wanted what she couldn't have. Well, people were that way. To hell with people. The Catholic Church had an awfully good way of handling all that. Good advice, anyway. Not to think about it. Oh, it was swell advice. Try and take it sometime. Try and take it.
And still the brain continues to yearn, continues to burn, foolishly, with desire. My old man's brain is mocked by a body that still longs to stretch in the sun and form a beautiful shape in someone else's gaze, to lie under a blue sky and dream of helpless, selfless love, to behold itself, illuminated, in the golden light of another's eyes.
To stand by yourself -- that was also part of dignity. That way, a person could get through a public flaying with dignity. Galileo. Luther. Even somebody who admitted his guilt and resisted the temptation to deny it. Something politicians couldn't do. Honesty, the courage for honesty. With others and yourself.
My theory was that if I like a confident, cheerful person, eventually I would buy it myself, and become that. I always had traces of strength somewhere inside me, it wasn't fake, it was just a way of summoning my courage to the fore and not letting any creeping self-doubt hinder my adventures. This method worked then, and it works now. I tell myself that I am the sort of person who can open a one-woman play in the West End, so I do. I am the sort of person who has several companies, so I do. I am the sort of person WHO WRITES A BOOK! So I do. It's the process of having faith in the self you don't quite know you are yet, if you see what I mean. Believing that you will find the strength, the means somehow, and trusting in that, although your legs are like jelly. You can still walk on them and you will find the bones as you walk. Yes, that's it. The further I walk, the stronger I become. So unlike the real lived life, where the further you walk, the more your hips hurt.
There was something stubborn in me that didn't want to lose weight to attract a man. If the right man came along, he'd be able to see my virtues magically. Once he kissed me, the frog would turn into a prince. I had become a trick question, a heavy disguise, but behind the disobliging exterior was the welcoming child I would always be. Of course, what I'd forgotten was that he was not Parsifal and I was not the Grail; the medievalism of my imagination was not sufficiently up-to-date to recognize that the lover was a shopper and I a product.