A life full of love... oh wait...
When I entered adulthood, 30 years ago, I was a big-R Romantic. I believed in love, that I would find it and it would be wonderful.
So how did it go?
Here are the women I've loved. I'm leaving out the fleeting stuff that we more or less all accumulate. Just the decently established ones.
1. A girl who thought she was too good for me and lied to me about our future, leaving me without any future at all. Long story, you don't want to know.
2. A woman who dumped me so she could get a better flat on campus. She also, I strongly believe, had a termination without telling me. That hurt, not because I would have disagreed or tried to stop it but because she didn't even think it was worth bothering to tell me.
3. A woman who dumped me because she thought I lacked ambition and wasn't a Catholic.
A woman who when I needed support because I was suffering from crushing
depression instead left me isolated and alone, refused to even touch me
and when we split up, instead of doing the decent thing and moving to
England where I could make a life, refused to leave her dad's home,
chaining me to suburban Brisbane and a life of scrabbling for work that
would never fulfil me and left me so scared that I will be unable to
support my kids that I have to be exploited and humiliated by assholes
the whole of my working life. She also took half my money, half the things I worked for while she refused to get a job to lessen some of the stress on me as I struggled in a marginal work environment as a freelance, and my car.
5. A woman who I still don't
really understand what her fucking problem was but invented a fake
phantom pregnancy to manipulate me.
6. A woman whose only
purpose for being in a relationship was to take from me and to make me
suffer for whatever she gave, who destroyed my sexual confidence because
I couldn't fuck her like a 25yo but never once -- NOT ONCE -- asked me
what I would like because she didn't care, who hated my kids, appalled
everyone she met and when we finally split, extorted money from me by
playing on my insecurities and manipulating a mundane truth into
something so ugly and baroque that I started to believe I am in fact the
huge asshole she made me out to be. Oh, she also threatened to kill me more than once, which was nice.
So all in all, these days I feel grateful that I still have my sanity, my balls and my life, such as it is.
And I still turn up! I am still the same wide-eyed Romantic I was back then. I still believe in love just as much as I did when I was 18. I still hope number 7 will be "the one".
And I look back at that and think, oh it's me.
I feel like I have something to say but it's only really me who needs to hear it so don't feel bad if you pass this by. Perhaps like me you find self-pity hard to bear in others. Perhaps you wish I would find a hobby or something. Anyway.
I have been unable to deal with my mum's dying and I'll be honest with you, it's not because I am grieving for her. It's because I'm grieving for myself. I cannot stop thinking that her love for me was undeserved, that I was not, am not, never will be the man she believed I was, and without her to believe it, I am left with only myself to give a true accounting to myself of myself.
The problem I have and can't resolve is that I cannot stop believing I am able to flower into a good man. I feel haunted by the golden child I was, the lovely, loving, gentle boy who learned from the wonderful woman what love is. But what did he become? A worthless, empty piece of shit, a spinning ball of wreckage. On good days, I hope that I really am like priceless porcelain that has been broken but if it's somehow glued back together, it will resemble something beautiful, albeit cracked forever. On bad days, I feel like the only way I can justify my existence is that I have children who would suffer if I was no longer here, and even then, what good am I for them? I look at my beautiful Zenella and I wonder what good I have brought to her, what good will I ever bring to her? I am such a pitiful forgery of a parent, I can scarcely believe I have the nerve to claim to be a dad.
It is not just that I have failed so much in life. It is the belief that I could have succeeded. Not being good enough is fine. You can only do what you are able to do. But not being the best you can is unforgivable. You can make as many excuses as you like but you cannot hide from it.
I cannot bear that my epitaph will read: he was much less than he could have been.
I have recently met someone. She is very private so I am not going to talk about her here. Enough to say that she is lovely. She is in most respects just exactly what I was hoping for when I entered the dating market again. I'd like to believe she is a good match for me. But just because someone is what you want doesn't mean you are able to keep up your side of the match. I feel like it's not even that I don't deserve her (which is a kind of silly thing to say) so much as that I can't
I feel like I will be happy to know her until she realises she has mistaken an empty, barren counterfeit of a man for a human being and then she will have to give up on me. I feel like I want to dive swooning into love and it is so bittersweet because I know it will hurt so much when she gives up on me.
Not that it will stop me. I have never feared pain and I have never stopped trying to love others just because I am so hopeless at it. I keep hoping that somehow wanting to will be enough, that someone will realise that I really do want to and that will work for them.
It is a painful conflict that I cannot resolve and I think it is because I won't accept the obvious solution. The clash is between a deep, abiding desire to serve others and the inability to achieve it. My mum gave her life to others: to me and my sisters, to my dad, to people she helped, whose pain she eased. It is all she wanted to do and she was able to do it. She never felt she was good at it. She was plagued by fears that she was not good enough for other people. But she was. And I inherited the desire, the deep and abiding desire, but my motivation is entirely selfish. I want to be something for others because I am nothing in myself. I want to reflect myself in others -- to be the ghost of a reflection because I have no substance. There is no David. There is no being here. And I keep hoping that if I try hard enough I will become real, that if I am loved I will become worthy of love.
But I never try hard enough. And of course the simple solution would be to accept that I cannot and to stop wanting to be anything but what I am.
I want so much to be the man she believed I am. I keep searching myself to see if he is there but I can't find anything to let me believe in it.
A couple of days ago I was a huge arsehole to my new girlfriend. In a few moments I became everything every woman who once loved me and came to hate me thought I was. And I was left thinking, what if that is real and everything else is just mummery? What if I reach the bottom of my well and find mud? I wish I was man enough to show her the kindness she deserves and let her go.
I don't want to believe I am just mud. Sometimes I feel that beautiful boy was real, that he hasn't died, that he can still become a man, that I didn't fail him completely and I can still be all the things I promised to and never was. But without my beautiful mum, who will ever love me enough to sustain that belief?
Sigh. Another thing I should not post but of course I will because I feel like a problem shared is a problem halved or whatever mad thing leads me to overshare. Some days -- this is one of them -- I feel like I should stop blogging, stop Facebooking, stop trying to be anything to anybody and disappear.
I do not think of the brain as a unity but as a collective whose working, if unobstructed, is fluid and dynamic. When free from restraint it simply allows the world to interact with it and reacts authentically. It is without pattern because the world itself is only apparently patterned.
When we do not get what we want, we form fixed points in our brains. They are forced to return to those points, as though we had tied the brain to them. Without resolution, we are forced into patterns, over and over, and the unfree brain feels as though it is in pain.
What we want is a difficult concept and I don't think it is a real thing at all. I think we have disparate signals and urges within the brain that are without structure but some part of our brain demands structure and collates them into desires.
Do you not sometimes feel you do not understand what you desire? That you have somehow interpreted it out of a language you do not really understand?
If we did not, there would be an end to wanting but there never is.
Sometimes when I massaged a woman -- always a woman because their skin is smoother -- I would become focused so that all I consisted of was the action of massage. My mind stilled and I felt at peace. We talk about "losing yourself" in a thing and that is what I did.
I realised that relinquishment of the self brought peace for me. Perhaps even that the self is no more than the wants that we have interpreted from signals and urges we do not fully understand, and that if they are extinguished, we too are extinguished.
Sometimes when you are high, you can become fearful. You disorder your brain and small things can seem threatening. Cars pulling up in the street nearby are cop cars. The noise of the possums in the loft is burglars trying the door. Things people say seem double-edged, tinged with unkindness.
But sometimes you just feel your brain has no moving parts and whatever you are doing, you are doing it without concern. Reading, even, can become an incredible pleasure. Not what you are reading, that
you are reading.
It seems simple. You only want to do what you're doing. When you are able to diminish what you want to one thing, your brain's working is free. You have no purpose other than to do the thing you want, so it is easy to eject the self.
I have not finished but I have stopped caring about what I was writing. A happy ending!
you can't hurt me
you can touch me but
you can't break me
The warmth between us is a shield, no one can enter. You feel the world shrink to these square metres. I'm not thinking about anything else but the reconstruction of Athens in the ruins. I'm not thinking about anything else but you, I promise.
You can touch me if you want to. Let it flow. Let what you have flow out of you and into my skin, leave trails for tomorrow so that I will know you have been here. Leave me gasping.
I'm not thinking about anything else but you, I promise.
Let the warmth you know you feel spill out into me. Let me know you are real and I will be real too. Let me feel you love me. I will die if you don't consecrate me. I don't care if you kill me. The only boundary is what you will be. Break me into pieces and you will exorcise me.
Let your fear make you my slave and me yours. Let your fear guide you into passages of love that you cannot contain. Break me into pieces and you will become me.
Make me real and justify me.
Be yourself. There is only me here to see. Shed your skin and deify me, sacrifice me, destroy me. Nothing hurts and I am free. Desolate me. Grow your teeth so you can eat me. Grow strong so you can crush me. Turn yourself inside out and you can drown me.
Nothing hurts and I am free. C'mon baby c'mon be with me.
I've been trying to think what I can say about P, who recently died. It's really hard though. I have spent more hours talking to her -- almost entirely virtually -- than I think I have to anyone else in this world. We shared a lot of stuff. She loved and hated me and I never really understood either.
She hadn't spoken to me in a long time and I didn't know how sick she was. I knew she would kill herself with drinking. She had become desolate in a way I think most people cannot grasp is even possible for a person. But I can.
I loved her. That's what I want to say about P. I loved her and I wish I had been better able to make that worth something to her. Because she was worth a lot more than she believed about herself.
Also, ffs, Puck, why'd you have to do that, you cunt?
Choose me choose me choose me
So I'm back in the dating market, which is a mix of exhausting and dispiriting. Given that I was already exhausted and dispirited, that's probably not a good thing but I'm too needy to be single for long so needs must.
I've had one date and that went well. K was very nice and I felt like we had a chance of going somewhere. Usually the way I feel about dates is I either go "fuck no" within about a minute of meeting them, feel meh all the way through and then am relieved when they're not interested in a rematch or fall in love between the end of the date and getting home. K I liked a lot and felt like she liked me.
But a couple of days later she said something had reared its head that she wanted to do more than dating me so I could fuck off.
I get a decent amount of interest. I mean, they're not queueing up but some deluded souls think I might be the man of their dreams. The problem is, they mostly don't appeal to me. They're either scary to look at or just obviously not well suited. For instance, I don't really talk politics a great deal with girlfriends unless they want to but if you vote LNP, you're probably not someone I'm going to be happy with; or if your idea of fun is to kayak, or even worse, watch motor cars, we probably don't have much in common. I mean, I'd kayak but I find people who "seek adventure" boring.
I sometimes message someone I fancy. That hasn't gone well. It's hard to do because if they don't like you, they just don't answer, and even though I'm a big boy now, I still get a little upset when women knock me back.
If it sounds like I'm saying that no even halfway attractive woman likes the look of me but a pack of mingers has formed outside my door, then yes, it's somewhat like that. I know, people are not just their looks but come on, even the most right on among us doesn't really ignore how others look, and I'm far from right on in case you thought otherwise.
Then I get to thinking, what do I have to offer them anyway?
I mean, I'm not exciting. I don't kayak. I don't go mountain biking. I don't have any strong desire to jetski.
I'm good looking to women who find me good looking, I suppose. I don't think I'm a minger but others may disagree.
I'm not in great shape, although I've recently lost a few pounds and my kids insist I don't look fat because I'm big enough to carry it. They're honest judges because they legit LOL if I suggest I might be attractive to women.
I'm quite clever but of all the virtues you can have in this world, being clever is close to the least useful. I mean, if I'd turned it into money, that's one thing, but instead I've turned it into introspection and overanalysis and no one likes that. Most of the women on dating sites say they want someone "happy". Round here, that amounts to pretending there's nothing wrong with your life. I suppose some people might actually believe there's nothing wrong with their life. Mostly, I don't even know what would be better, so not only am I not "happy" I have no idea how to become it. I suppose there's some mileage in making out that the key to happiness is the right partner. Maybe it is. But I make quite a poor dependent even.
I'm quite likely to do what I say I will do but that doesn't mean I'm trustworthy. It just means I won't offer to do things I'm not likely to do or just don't want to. And my trustworthiness is bound into how I feel about you. Ordinarily, I'm faithful and reliable but I've always believed that relationships are transactional. You don't get undying fidelity just because you're my girlfriend. You have to do stuff to make me want to be with you. I think we're all probably the same but people think labels are worth as much as actions -- at least they think other people should value them that way while not actually seeing that they themselves are obliged in the same way. So the best you could probably say is I probably won't fuck your best friend.
I'm quite thoughtful. I'll do things that show I care for you. I probably won't buy you flowers unless you really like them, but I might buy you the chocolate bar you once mentioned you like, or take you out for Thai because you told me it's your favourite a couple of weeks ago. I'll clear up after you quite often and do little things to make your life better quite a lot of the time. I'm not really into being critical of others, so you won't often, or hardly ever, hear about your flaws. Sometimes I might say something I think is constructive but not often and not in a way that is at all calculated to make you feel bad about yourself.
I'm quite affectionate. If I love you, I will tell you often and I kiss and hug people I'm close to all the time. I don't care much about sex and don't have inhibitions so you have a decent chance of getting what you want, within the bounds of my capabilities.
I'm a good listener. Or I can fake it, let's put it that way. I switch off if what you're complaining about is me or I have already heard it a dozen times, but I'm sympathetic. I have that man thing where I want to fix everything so you probably get a mix of the emotionally satisfying shoulder to cry on you were looking for and a dose of "here's a solution" that in my experience women aren't often looking for men to provide. But I can't help being goal oriented and seeing problems as things that demand an effort to solve.
I'm quite personable. I mean, I think most women like me well enough. I'm not particularly outgoing but I don't think I make people uncomfortable. I'm polite and gentlemanly at first meeting. You could probably take me home to meet your mother without too much fear. I'm not particularly good at small talk but I'll remember things we talked about online or that were in your profile and say things that are vaguely appropriate.
What a fine catch! We haven't even done the bad points yet. If you read this blog, you already know I'm lazy and dishonest, have a temper, am selfish, vain, neglectful and sometimes ridiculous. I am dirt poor (although I'm generous when I have money) and I have no serious drive or ambition. I spend way too much time online (although I feel like if you were willing to suggest other things to do, I'd do them; it's just my default). You are probably right to look elsewhere.
Still, I'm hopeful that before long I'll have hooked up with another grossly unsuitable woman who will make me unhappy in most respects to the point that I start to think yes, it's me not you. I keep telling myself it's just a function of the women I attract but once you build a track record of it, you have to wonder whether it really is just that you're a miserable prick who brings out the worst in the borderline insane.
Forty-eight years old and you are no one. In a world made of money, your only value is to work, consume and die without troubling anyone too much.
Sometimes you feel as though you are entirely separate from the world and cannot touch it. Sometimes you feel as though if you were gone, scarcely anyone would notice. They would just say, oh him
, and go back to wondering what to have for tea. Sometimes you feel as though you do not consist in anything.
Sometimes you feel as though you swam out from shore on a sunny spring day and never were able to return. Sometimes you feel as though there will never be a way to put your feet back down on solid ground.
No one is coming to rescue you.
I fall in love between the end of the first date and arriving home. I fall in love because I need it not because I have anything to give you. Sometimes I feel as though I have only ever loved one woman. Sometimes I feel as though I doubt even that. When you make a story and try with everything you have to make it feel as though it is real, you have to rely on your imagination.
And I am not an imaginative man. If I was, I would write about worlds that do not exist and not the one that does.
Sometimes I feel as though I have loved many women. Sometimes I feel as though I have tried. Sometimes I feel as though that should count for something.
But I never gave anything. How could I? I have nothing to give.
Sometimes I feel as though all I want is forgiveness.
Sometimes I feel as though I have loved you for 20 years and sometimes I think I dreamed it up just to never have to love anyone at all.
No one is coming to rescue me. I'm going to have to find a way to drown.
It is like there is no way to mesh these gears. Sometimes it feels as though I want to be worth something. Sometimes it feels as though I want to give.
You can fool yourself for a short while but you know that you only want to take. You do not know how to be anything other than ragged claws, scuttling across the floors of silent seas, wishing you were not alone in the dark.
Sometimes I wake in the dawn and for a moment I do not understand the noise of the birds. Then I realise, they are no different from us. They feel free but they will also die. They are also restless.
They are not unknowable. They are not mysterious. They have a beginning and an end. They do not care about their limits.