Serendipity

Was I born a masochist or did society make me this way? I demand unconditional love and complete freedom. That is why I am terrible.

267

A part of me wanted to gamble. I considered betting on myself, on whatever love or fragmented remains of it were left for me. Plenty of marriages survived on nostalgia and fear of being lonely, perhaps I could join their ranks.

Part of me imagined ripping her to shreds. It took whatever strength I had left to not humiliate myself further by contacting her. I fancied a confrontation, dreamed of it, practised all the witty insults I could throw at her that might cause even a semblance of the pain and anguish she had carelessly drowned me in. But none of it really mattered, when even the mere suggestion of it sent him rushing to her side, jumping to her defence.

There was nothing to save, we had truly run out of love for one another. Or rather, he had run out of love for me, and it was as if he’d pulled a plug out of the drain and I was quickly losing the rest. It hurt less than I expected, which hurt more in a way. I always believed if you could stop loving someone then you never really loved them at all. But ten years is a long time to be fooled by infatuation. If I’m being honest, only 4 of them were any good. We soldiered on when the warmth melted away. We did the mature, responsible thing, and “worked on our marriage”. Ironically the happiest times when we both felt most content was when he loved another woman. He had to betray me to be good to me, now ain’t that sweet.

tbc..

 

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266

I was searching for ways to become invincible. When you’ve been cut to the bone and miraculously survive the incident, you learn to put on some armour.

I discovered that deceit could manufacture a type of happiness as intoxicating as those built on the truth, and my definition of toxic began to shift further and further away from reality. In some ways the parts I’d lost to him were never recovered, and I was both better and worse for it.

He looked right through me once, down on his knees begging for forgiveness. I looked into his eyes and saw only pity, and I wondered if I had imagined everything else. What is it about love that leaves us yearning for more, like the moth to a flame? What is it about lust that can destroy it? No amount of children, vows, papers or joint accounts can hold it together once it crumbles, not even for a second. Even as he sits across from you in the same living room, you can see his mind is worlds apart, and the smile that once made your world spin now felt cruel and sadistic.

Is this it? Is this how it ends? Ten years of my life wasted on a criminal and a thief, with nothing to show for it except this big empty apartment full of relics, a shrine dedicated to his unfaithfulness. I was supposed to be grateful, I was expected to consider myself the winner, for shedding myself from an unhappy marriage and retaining the house and steady alimony, as if that was a choice I had made, as if in some ways, I preferred for him to fall in love with someone else. This was supposed to be my salvation, a second chance at being happy on my own, built on more solid ground.

My lawyer was a pragmatic woman. Not unsympathetic, but she did not believe in wasting billable hours on mending my broken heart. She was a firm believer that time would heal my wounds, and access to his bank account would be of significant assistance.

tbc..

265

I’ve been in love before, many times even. I’ve always found it easy to love, to find that piece of someone worthy of treasuring. The world was more beautiful if you looked for the goodness in people.

But I’d only given myself up once before, so completely, that when he turned a liar, my world crumbled. I did not know how to pick myself up, how to collect the fractured pieces. I wasn’t sure I wanted to, I wasn’t sure I wanted the leftovers. I wasn’t sure I could live in a world where someone I loved so fiercely could demolish my affections with only an apology. The last thing I wanted to hear was “I’m sorry“. The words left a sour taste in his mouth and a cigarette burn on my sleeve.

Enough time has passed for me to understand that we were never meant to be, nor should our paths ever cross again. There was always going to be someone else who was capable of delivering a happiness to him that I couldn’t possibly have attained, and a part of him knew that. He was right to insist on being selfish. I was selfish to hate him for it.

Yet I find traces of him on me still, rust stained scars marking out his capacity for cruelty. I was hellbent on forging tangible evidence of the pain he was delivering, I never considered one day I might regret the mess I’d made. To be fair, I never thought I’d live long enough to regret anything.

Now you kiss me and I weigh it against his lies. You whisper “I love you” and I remember he meant it too, he swears it. He hurt me in ways you couldn’t imagine. I love you in ways he couldn’t fathom. I’d let you shatter me just like he did. You know darling, some girls just look prettier when they’re broken.

264

Sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever speak again or whether I have to die in order for you to miss me.

Your face, that smile, all that you were and all that I’ll never be. Everything we could have been and everything that’s forever out of reach. You put us here. You built the walls knowing I’d be too proud to tear them down. I can breathe again. The worst is over yet you’re not here to witness my redemption. What is it good for?

But she can still taste me on the tip of your tongue, your betrayal like the sweetest poison. She finds her heart broken every time your mind wanders in sin, love doesn’t offer you salvation. You will never find peace through denying yourself pleasure. You won’t learn to love her more by pretending.

I should just be happy for you.

I should just be happy for you.

I should just be happy for you.

I should just be happy for you.

Congratulations on your engagement.

263

There are very few opportunities in life (and in death) for you to sincerely be there for someone. We don’t like to often admit that we need other people, but sometimes we accede to our vulnerabilities. I am stubborn and immature and perhaps unreasonably angry with you for not being there, for once again, as you are so accustomed to, letting me down.

I was foolish to think your fondness for me still extended to romance, that you would in fact, drop everything, that I was worthy for you to make an exception for. I’m not sure why I believed this possible, when I had never been a priority in the past, yet there I was, still offering you unwanted chances to prove me wrong. I still dreamt of such sweet mistakes. I still wanted to believe your lies because they sounded better. I wanted to prove you loved me for once, or know that you didn’t.

But then I wake to the loneliness, to the bitter broken promises and empty regrets. You stole my heart and my time, left me with only evidence of our failures, my misplaced confidence caught on tape. Now you whisper the same sweet nothings to her, you hold her in your arms and say she’s the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen. She falls asleep by your side feeling happier than she has in months and believes every word. Nine months in and she’ll discover to her despair that you don’t even love her enough to leave the house.

Or maybe I was the curse. I was never enough for you. You were never enough for me. We are both thieves and we thrive in the chaos of unintended consequences. You never meant to fall in love with me. I never meant to take you seriously. Now I lie here missing you, wondering what might have been. If I had chosen you, maybe you would have chosen me.

262

I have always thrived on chaos. I find conflict enchanting, and occasionally I would manufacture unnecessary drama for my own amusement, simply to avoid the routine. I read too many love stories while I was young and impressionable, and despite all that has happened, I remain hopelessly optimistic, unreasonably sentimental. I am too often torn between wanting to be remembered and wanting to disappear entirely. I miss the people I desperately want to forget. I think about him more than I should. I have difficulty distinguishing the difference between sensible and boring. Yet it sometimes feels I’ve managed to capture the banal despite lacking sensibility.

I am all I could ever have hoped to be and I am nothing all at once. Every day is a blessing, and every day feels like a curse, a pitiful dance. We are just children playing God, pretending not to watch the clock, pretending not to count. How many days before we turn to dust, before brittle bones can no longer hold us steady and our own bodies turn against us, until at best we surrender in comfort, surrounded by sorrow. A life well lived ends in tragedy despite, you leave behind hurt regardless of your good intentions.

I love you in ways I don’t understand. I could die for you and leave you in the same breath, if you would permit me. Too often I find myself dreaming of a different story, one where we met when I was still young and naive, foolish enough to wear my heart on my sleeve. I’d let you rip it apart if you wanted. I suspect even the destruction would taste sweet. But we are not young lovers anymore, we are older, wiser, jaded, we’ve suffered through suspect and deceit. We recognise lies and we respond accordingly, sometimes it comes so naturally we don’t even notice it. This little game, your pretty lies, your clever, thoughtful, perfectly manufactured answers, so eloquently pronounced that I can only smile and nod my approval. Darling, I love you to the moon and back, but you are not my sun.

261

What is it about pain that leaves us craving for more? Why is it hardwired in us to seek pleasures that are entangled in suffering? What primitive natures take over when we weep with joy?

I had never expected to be understood, to cease the fight and submit to degradation. Something wicked in his eyes, something charming sends shivers down my spine. He uses me until every cell in my body aches, yet I have never felt more loved than those precious moments after, when we lie there in our contentment, a lazy smile stuck on my lips that lingers for days.

He can be cold and unmoved by my begging, and in the next moment breathe passion into me with tender whispers. “Hush, be a good girl…” and just like that I’m lost again, my body not my own, he takes me where he goes, painting me in his colours, marking his territory.

Oh, the dangers of being owned. The closer you get the harder the fall if he ever lets you go. When will I learn, silly girl, to cease treating love like a drug, a distraction from a damaged past. I can never seem to get enough, I can never shake the addiction.

But darling you kiss me and I can taste the stars. Won’t you be my redemption? Take my hand and stay a while, this crazy world with all it’s beauty and darkness, how nice it is that we could find each other under the same skies, and love each other despite our imperfections. You are the closest thing to perfect I have ever missed.

260

Sometimes I feel that you don’t love me the way I love you, or that you don’t love me as much as I love you. I know how childish that sounds, how irrational and immature it is in nature, and that it is untrue. On most days I know it is untrue. There are other days when I think maybe it is true but that it doesn’t matter. Some days I know that you can never love me more than you do now, and nothing I do could ever change that in any meaningful way.

I am bound to you the way a moth flocks to a flame, dancing and darting under the light, in flight and in joy. Your presence bears a sense of comfort and happiness I had not known before, and so with it the crippling fear, a carefully contained anxiety built from the inescapable knowledge of what I know to be true: one day you will leave me; one day I will leave you.

259

What is broken may never mend the way we want it to. I loved you and you loved the way I loved you. You watched the life drain out of me and began searching for the nearest exit. You wore my scars like trophies, deep down you wanted to be remembered.

I wish I could love him with the same fearlessness, the same carelessness, the willingness to be hurt. Do you know what it’s like to miss who you could have been? I find myself reverting to old unhealthy habits. I feel myself giving in to darker cravings.

Anything worth having can be lost. Now I have something to lose. Now I can be frightened, all the time, always preparing for the worst. I spent a lifetime around people like you who took pleasure in making me feel small. It’s hard to believe sometimes that he could see differently. He convinces me over and over again and yet I always forget, I keep begging for reminders, all the while convinced that one day he’ll be tired of lying to me. One day he won’t bother.

I was reckless until I met him, as it had never mattered to me before. In a way you can always sense the difference between someone simply passing by and someone who intends to stay. We know before they ever touch us who will be gentle and who will leave a mark. Some lovers leave bitter tastes in our mouth and others we wish for happier endings though we no longer play a part.

You had turned me to a beggar once. I was naive enough to think you loved me and foolish enough to try and make you stay. I kiss his lips and taste your betrayal. You left me with a crooked heart. Oh darling take me back to the start.

258

Do you know what it’s like to wake up one morning and hate the life that you’ve built? A life that so many would envy, a life that some would trade in a heartbeat, a life that perhaps you never deserved to begin with.

The skillfully curated library intended to enlighten your guests to all your class and wisdom. Wallace’s Infinite Jest sprawled open on your bedside table, your chances of actually consuming it growing infinitely smaller with each passing day. No one actually reads books these days, who has the time?

The carefully selected catalog couture stashed neatly in your walk in closet. The grossly overpriced stiletto heels that only a true masochist would fathom walking in. The unethically sourced blood diamonds that satisfies the darkest parts of our selfish nature, the feeling of having won something in this trivial game, of having the upper hand in this meaningless excursion. Petty excuses for a petty existence, self serving because we no longer worship deities, we think we are Gods.

We used to know our place, back when only Emperors wore jewels and gold threaded embroidery. In this age of spin we’re led to believe that we too, can have a chance to experience life as royalty. If not for a lifetime then perhaps a month, a week, a day, an hour. A billion dollar industry designed to make you feel content with what is otherwise a mediocre existence, a mild inconvenience to this planet at best.

Have you ever woken up one morning and no longer recognised yourself? When did the fine lines sink in around your eyes? How many bottles of expensive creams in french labels will it take to erase the tiredness from your soul? When did you grow old? Did anybody notice you were gone? Will anyone notice if you don’t return? Do you fantasise about leaving it all behind? Being dramatic just for once, packing your bags without leaving a forwarding address. It used to be easier to disappear, when we didn’t have devices and accounts that tracked every movement.

I am wary of being called ungrateful, of inviting unpleasant superstitions. But I am so very tired of myself, of what I am becoming, of every day that passes and the days yet to come. I fear becoming a caricature of myself, of withholding my affections for purpose, of a love held together by mutual convenience and bitter compromise. You keep pushing me to be a better version of myself, sometimes I wonder if you ever liked who I am to begin with. I keep chasing your approval and losing myself in the process. I fear when you’re done with me, there’ll be nothing left.

257

I know we’re supposedly not friends anymore. But I’m just having a bad day and I missed you. I don’t know how it ended up this way but I have these moments where I think of something you’d find funny and it kills me a little that I can’t just tell you anymore.

I know we’re supposed to strive to be independent but I took for granted the luxury of knowing I could always count on you. How did we just walk away from that? How did it all fall apart without us noticing? Why didn’t you fight harder for me? I wish I knew how to walk away with the same air of confidence, like you were so sure that everything would be okay. How could you be sure? How was I ever going to recover from you, from us? What if I never did?

We were so young and so convinced we knew the truth, too stubborn to ever admit we might both be wrong. I think about you all the time even when it’s poison, and I lose myself in thoughts of you, I let it consume me. Those memories, your casual smile, the way you shone a light on my soul when I was drowning in darkness. I loved the image of you that I’d perfected, more than she ever knew or suspected.

I wanted to tell you that I might have met the love of my life and I think you’d like him. I imagined you’d have been so proud of me. I wanted you to know that I have only the deepest affections for you, as much a lover as a friend, however disrespectful she might consider that. I trust that I have used up all her contempt regardless, so I might as well offend. You used to find that endearing, but perhaps now you’d say it’s in poor taste.

Oh how we change, how we change. Yet I still love you the same.

256

I wonder if you ever think of me.

Not in a romantic sense, but just as a passing thought. I wonder if you’re ever haunted by memories of laughs we shared, secret smiles and subtle glances, a stifled giggle now and then.

I don’t have a choice in what reminds me of you. The episodes come and go as if I am a mere bystander and the theatre has decided today it will play you, it will remind me that you’re hilarious and witty and all the things I loved about you are still true, but I was not worthy of being held onto.

I see your face now and then in strangers, boys who hold a shadow of your Nordic features, but never quite capturing your smug yet self deprecating charm.

We stood together at the crossroads and you took the good path, the straight and narrow, the safer road, always so sensible. I was always clamoring to be misunderstood, to be missed, to make mistakes so you could save me. You grew tired of my antics quickly and soon enough, you grew tired of me. Who could really blame you?

I asked you a long time ago, the first time you said you loved me. I asked what love meant to you. You were confused by the question. I was unwilling to share my answer, knowing it would do more harm than good. Because love meant I’d do almost anything for you. Anything within my power, anything that wouldn’t result in someone else’s pain, anything that wouldn’t destroy me in the process. If some small sacrifice on my part could improve your day, I wouldn’t hesitate, because your happiness meant more to me than anything else. I was so blinded by my infatuation that I refused to see it was never the same for you. “I love you” meant you tolerated my existence. You allowed me to build my life around you out of convenience. You told me lies because they sounded better. You let me live in my own fantasy so you never had to break my heart. You waited for me to break my own.

Still I hear your voice some days, quiet murmurs in the dark. I feel your arms around me sometimes, and you whisper that I’m the prettiest girl you’ve ever known. I didn’t believe it then and I know it was never true, but it still felt good to hear you say it. “I love you” meant you were willing to lie, and that must count for something. You risked a tarnish on your soul in order to make me smile. You loved me the only way you knew how, for a while.

255

It’s 1am and I can’t sleep. Who do I blame for that?

I feel insatiable, a bottomless pit. He gives me affection but it’s not enough. I became accustomed to the way you loved me. All smiles and sweetness, the gentle calm that would wash over me with your embrace. Sometimes I feel alone even as he holds me. Who do I blame for that?

I feel myself growing older but none the wiser, only more mediocre. Who do I blame for that?

As the days pass by and the unlikely possibility for some miracle of achievement continues to diminish, my feeble attempts to carve dreams into reality only seem to highlight how impossible they are.

I fantasise about something drastic, but a part of me rightfully carries a very grim concern that a true tragedy may not make me, it might simply break me. I have been broken before. I no longer blame him for that.

I miss him at times. Maybe it’s easier now that I know it can never be. I can forgive him for not living up to expectations that are no longer expected. We really loved each other for what it was worth. I know that still. I don’t know how to love like that again. Who do I blame for that?

You can say I love you and not mean it. I could hear it in your voice before you did. I miss falling asleep in your arms. In the mornings we were always so far apart. I was always scrambling back for cover, for warmth, for last minute affection.

Is this as good as it gets? It is enough? Should I learn to be happy? The answer to “are you happy” for me has always been “I should be”.

There is simply too much suffering happening at any given moment to even begin to comprehend, let alone be indulging in my own minor inconveniences.

But it hurts to not know what you want. As Wallace so aptly put it, “the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing”.

I watch others walk through life with such purpose and stride while I continue to fade into darkness.

254

“Happiness is the enemy. Now you have something to lose.”

I dread the day I lose you to a prettier smile, a youthful radiance no longer found in our dimly lit study. I fabricate the slow death, the agonizing ache when you must watch helplessly as your lover’s impatience outgrows their affections for you. You stay quiet and watch the threads come apart slowly, or you fight and tear it in two.

I picture your lips on her, every inch of her. How she makes you feel young again with her gaze, how easily she falls for you as I once did. How her innocence reminds you to dream, and how my heart will shatter on the day you decide to stop pretending.

I don’t know how love grows or where it goes when it runs out. But I feel a hollowness in my chest when you’re gone and a tenderness through the long nights when sleeping together feels better than anything else. The kind of love that fills you to the brim and the kind of love that terrifies me to my very core.

I find myself thinking about the others who had lost you, others who now miss you. The  few who still keep in touch, the ones who left enough of a dent for you to miss them too, even if you won’t admit it. The one that your parents liked, the one you thought you might marry. I ponder the possibility of joining their ranks and I don’t very much appreciate my chances of survival.

What does love mean to you? What does it mean when you say you love me? What is it about men that makes women feel so lonely? What is about you that leaves me always wanting?

253

What would you give up for the love of your life?

What would make him worthy?

I have lived enough or am perhaps simply weak enough to admit that love can sometimes not conquer all. There is bitterness to be found in counting copper and your smile still haunts me.

I have learned that forgiveness can be found at the bottom of the glass, and regret follows if we only bend when it is too late.

I used to think that ours was an unbreakable bond, now I know there was simply no one pulling at the strings. We had never really been tested before. It turned out most lies we tell eventually crumble.

There are men who warm you and there are men who burn like fires, who swallow you up in the smoke, leaving only dust and memories. The men who protect you are more often the ones who break you, they know where to push the buttons, they know how to hurt.

He will remain faithful even in his infidelity, and you will be his forever treasure. The perfect solution to all his broken promises, the unjustifiable reward for all his selfishness. But he will love you like you have never been loved before. His love is strange and all consuming, you won’t know how to survive without it.

I still wish you more than happiness. I still love you with my crooked heart.