I used to think the term “trial by fire” was just a silly expression. A clever limerick made up to bring an allegorical image to one’s mind, like “if the shoe fits” or “paying through the nose.”
But since the stress-induced burning sensation I’ve been carrying around in my chest for the past week feels a lot like actual fire, I’m not so sure it is just a metaphor.
The last time I felt this consistently shitty was when I was nineteen and I’d just had my heart smashed to bits for the first time. Melodramatic as it sounds, it took me about a year until I finally started to feel normal again. Even then, it took me a lot longer to stop blaming myself.
There’s something about loss that sticks with you, especially if it’s sudden. Whether it’s a possession or a relationship or an opportunity, there’s always that nagging doubt of what part you might have played in its loss. What did you do, what could you have done, and would it have mattered? On top of it all, there lies that aching, persistent desire that seems fueled by the knowledge that whatever the thing was, it can never be. Or if it once was, it never will be again.
Maybe it wouldn’t have been all that great, or maybe it would’ve been the greatest you’d ever had. But you’ll never know, so you pine after it with an insatiable lust. Should’ve… could’ve… would’ve…
What is it about human nature that makes us so bogged down in the past, in our mistakes, in the things we can’t control? Is it some kind of lurking genetic masochism? Or deep down, are we all idealists–but only in retrospect?