That’s All I Ask of You

The Phantom of the Opera is one of my favorite musicals. I think everyone loves it because it’s so fantastical and improbable but I love it because it is so human. The character “the phantom” is the perfect metaphor for the way  many of us live and love, at some point. He falls in love with a woman and immediately sees the problem. She is a beautiful chorus girl, he a monster that lives in the walls. He believes that if he can find something that ties them together, some part of him that is beautiful she should be able to see past his exterior and love him. When she instead chooses the rich handsome Count he is devastated. He saw the life he wanted with her and forgot about the life she might want in return.

I think I have lived my life as both Phantom and Christine. At different times I have felt for those who could bring me out and make me feel good, laugh and have fun but that I knew I was not truly attracted to. I have also worked to be with someone that I knew was not for me. When you are in this place ,the place that is both selfless ( if this is what he wants I will become this ) and selfish ( because I WANT him and that is all to it )  you like Erik ( phantom) are setting yourself up for a crushing blow . For the moment when the actual person comes into the life of your paramours life and takes them away. You alone sit in devastated unbelief while the rest of the world scratches its head wondering what you expected. If you actually thought the scheme you planned would work, and why.  This act of desperation , and while you , like Erik , are far from stupid you are lost.  Lost , sadly , in misguided hope that forgot the other part. YOU ARE  NOT THE ONLY FACTOR.

Erik’s life was all about darkness, with one spot of light Christine. He wanted her to live in the world he had created for himself.  In his mind she would be his creation, adored by fans and living in the world above then come home to him in the depths of the darkness and he would live vicariously through her. Her adoration would be his. Her applause would be theirs. Did Christine have desires, dreams, and plans of her own? He never asked. My two favorite moments in the musical version by Andrew Lloyd Weber is when Erik , having caught the two lovers Raul and  Christie together laments that she betrayed him. She never promised herself but his need for her makes her his in his mind. The other is when she realizes what the problem is and goes to him and Erik, finally realizing that the best case scenario between them would be the union of his obsession and her pity.

My whole life, not just in love but in the life I have missed the second part of the moral. I have often tried to force myself into a life that wasn’t mine. I also have spent a good number of my years letting people superimpose their desires into my life , as well. So today my decision is that I am allowing myself the luxury of leaving all that behind. If the wants of others are somehow hurt by my decision , so be it . I am also allowing myself to forgive me for times when I was the phantom , hiding behind a mask and preying on  , and praying that the other person would ,for the love of god, love me . Ultimately , I never knew until I knew.  Like Erik in his final scene , I can watch the persons, places or things that I once hung all my happiness on move forward , and sadly admit that it was not meant to be . And becoming, once and for all, the unlikely , scarred, weak and unstable hero of my own story.