We’re all haunted by something. Much of our lives are spent dealing with one haunting after another. And some of us are haunted by almost everything that touches us. If you think that you aren’t haunted by anything then you don’t have a past and you never made a bad decision; and good for you. I think about what haunts me a lot, maybe too much. I know I’ve thought about it a bit too much these past few days. Sometimes it seems that my humanity is strangled by the things that haunt me. Sometimes it seems that all that’s left are ghosts.
I don’t think haunting is as much about regret as it is about the reality that we make up for ourselves. Most of our demons are self made – for a million different reasons. My regret for a love that I lost is all tied up in memories that may or may not be totally accurate at this point. Those memories are all colored in hues determined by feelings and tears, seen through a broken lens of time and sadness. Heartbreak: this is the haunting of loss.
I think about why I constantly run from the prospect of love, and I can only explain it as a haunting. I’m haunted by the idea of loving someone as much as, say, a song that touches me so deeply I can’t stand to hear it. I avoid it because I can’t bear feeling something with an overwhelming deepness that engulfs me. This avoidance of feeling is the haunting of beauty.
In my interviews for the Mike Williams book, so many people have told me their stories – their sadness and regrets and their sweet memories of friendships and loves lost. They all say something about making bad decisions when they were young – as if they were the only ones who did and now they have to apologize to someone – to themselves – for it. Even after I remind them that everyone believes they have made horrible mistakes, they still feel the need to apologize to me. Not giving ourselves a break – this is the haunting of the past.
When I started writing this, my life was very different. Now, only a few days later, I see that there are so many other things that can haunt: loneliness, doubt, silence. I wonder now if those things have always been with me, only hiding when I have something to lean on and reappearing when I’ve lost the ground under my feet. They are there to define me by my weaknesses whenever I stop walking through them long enough see them and remember they are there. And just like ghosts, as soon as I stop allowing them to be, they disappear again.