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.

240

I get lost inside people. I spend so much time trying to understand them, I forget who I am in the process. I’d do anything to get inside your head, to be someone else for a moment, to imagine how you’re feeling, if only because the narcissist in me wants to know how I make you feel. I want to know if being with me can change you, as being with you has changed me.

I need something more than time or effort or feeling. I need chemistry that can’t be manufactured by words or actions. Some inexplicable connection, something intangible that grabs you by the throat and makes your heart pound against your chest so fast that you forget how to breathe. The first kiss feels like a punch. I leave marks on his chest so his other lovers would know that I was here.

His palm strikes my cheek and I’m awake for the first time in weeks. I feel the weight of his body closing in on me, and I kiss him like I was afraid to say “I missed you.” I wear my bruises with twisted pride and he admires his handiwork with childlike glee. We are bad for each other, we know how to bring out the worst in each other. I can see cruelty in his eyes, no hint of remorse. I adore the cold, calculated sadist. I crave the satisfaction of making him lose control. I smile innocently at his rage, I become his worst addiction.

I understand obsession, I have a perverted desire for the absurd. He’ll never love me the way that I need to be loved, so I’ll never grow tired of chasing his approval. I’d rather be heartbroken than submit to a mediocre love affair. I’d rather be hurt than feel nothing at all. I kiss him like he’s my favourite mistake.

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239

I feel always on the run. Always fleeing from the past, away from old horrors, ready to let cobwebs conceal the skeletons long ago buried. Running away from old lovers who terrify me to my core, knowing full well what they are capable of now. They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but they did not see the wildness in his eyes, the venom, the urge to wound. His desire to see me suffer far outweighed any affection he ever felt for me.

I want to be honest with you, but I know some stories are not meant to be told. I want to be truthful, but I know lies can sound better. I want to be close to you, but my affections can be exhausting. I crave intimacy but I have trouble maintaining eye contact when we’re speaking. I want to know your hopes and dreams but I’m afraid you’ll laugh at mine. I want to fall in love again but I don’t think I have any heart left over. These days I am more sick of pleasure than you are sick of pain.

I used to think that I was addicted to earthly pleasures, to tangled bodies and messy ecstasy, fleeting but gratifying. I glorified hedonistic living. I was always too afraid to admit that I desperately yearned for intimacy, for closeness, for the brief respite of being understood. Love was never simply unbridled lust or delicate fantasies, love was your kiss good morning, the feel of chapped lips on my skin, and indecent whispers that tickled my ears.

But maybe I have to lose myself in the darkness before I can recover the light. Maybe I have to taste death before I can appreciate every breath. Maybe this absence is supposed to teach us a lesson and no matter how harsh the truth may seem now, we can be forever changed for the better.

 

i used to think love was a tragedy in waiting

i had watched it drain the life out of people

leave them blue, bruises painted on their wrists,

their lovers held them so tight and never let go

i thought that was how the stories are told

i never knew love could fill you up

make your heart beat in sync and the joy of your laughter could

send me to sleep

and i could wake up in the morning missing you

after hours of not kissing you

i could yearn for the taste of your lips and

i never knew love could exist without hurting

until i met you

 

238

I am constantly torn between wanting to stay true to myself and wanting to fit into the category that would make those around me more comfortable. Frequently battling the urge to pursue my own happiness against the habit of pleasing everyone around me. I spent so many years of my life pretending to be someone else that becoming myself felt like I was being ripped apart somehow, as if I was losing the last bit of good that society had hammered into me.

I’ve never had anyone explain sex to me. Not the logistics of it nor the emotional ramifications. Everything came from messy uneducated research and a lot of trial and error. My introduction to porn was a disturbing video of a Japanese “schoolgirl” being groped in an empty classroom by an older unattractive man. I wasn’t sure what he was doing to her but she didn’t sound like she was enjoying any of it. It didn’t look “sexy” to me and I couldn’t understand why the boy who sent it to me would enjoy it. I filed it away as “something weird and icky and unpleasant and I don’t need to try that ever because she sounded like she was dying a slow painful death”. If sixteen year old me had a sneak preview of my internet history now she’d probably pass out from the shock.

Being from a conservative family and surrounded by judgemental peers during my university years meant I spent most of my sexually active years feeling ashamed of all my explicit desires. Nothing that I was doing felt good and nothing that I wanted to do felt right. I had a string of vanilla boyfriends who were either horrified or unenthusiastic, either obvious in their disgust or proclaimed they ‘did not want to hurt me’. The backlash was me diving head first into anyone who did share my sinful interests, the results were just as disappointing. Boys who would feign interest for a good fuck, boys who didn’t know what they were doing, or even better, sadists who simply wanted to beat me to tears and had zero interest in my pleasure.

On a very primal level I have always been obsessed with kink. I’ve always had such a fleeting attention span that vanilla sex would cause my mind to wander and I’d find myself lost in thought about something I’d read on the news that day. The pain and the discipline forced me to focus and remain present. The pleasure always followed.

But the lonelier parts of me have always craved for a deeper connection, believed in some naive fantasy that being naked could sometimes lead to real intimacy. The desire to relinquish control in a way that said: I trust you to hurt me just enough. To be broken and then made whole again. To be loved so fiercely that it left bruises. The transgression, the control, the chaos and the surrender triggered a reaction in me that was more addictive than any sort of drug. I was addicted to the illusion of being understood. To being laid out bare, scars and all, battered and defeated, but loved and kissed, over and over, till I was no longer hurting. Just for a few moments, it would all stop hurting.

237

There’s a part of me that believes depression isn’t real. It’s all in your head, he said, and I believed him. Those pills don’t really work, it’s all just a placebo effect, and the side effects outweigh the benefits. Depression is cowardly, it’s laziness, it’s an unwillingness to take action to remedy an unwanted situation. It’s selfish, self indulgent, childish procrastination, a reluctance to move into adulthood, to deal with the real world, a crippling tormenting fear of reality and responsibility.

There’s a part of me that knows depression is real. The part of me that equates depression with a time in my life when I was cutting so much that I ran out of skin. The part of me still covering up scars from 7 years past and dodging questions about the ghastly wound on my thigh. “Oh, I don’t really know… I was stupid back then.”

I never wanted to blame my bad behaviour on depression because depression was me. I was desperately unhappy but I smiled at everyone. I was lonely but I refused company. My grades were falling so I cut more classes. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning and I became increasingly unpleasant to be around. It’s funny how something invisible can be felt with such gravity. It was like I could dampen the spirit of a room just by walking in.

I recall lying in the hospital bed, my leg bleeding, freshly stitched up, and my mother looking down at me with a confused mixture of anger and disappointment. She demanded to know “what the fuck do you have to be depressed about, I’m the one who should be depressed to have you for a daughter”, while the Doctor looked at me apologetically, having finally understood why I didn’t want to call my parents.

There’s a part of me that believes it was my fault, because depression is only debilitating if you let it be. Depression makes you feel like you made the choice. You chose to stop seeing your friends. You chose to not hand in that assignment. You chose to pick up the knife. You chose to let your boyfriend cheat on you. You pushed him away in the first place. What was he supposed to do, not sleep with the doe-eyed 21 year old who could actually hold a conversation?

Depression doesn’t just make you forget what happiness feels like, it makes you forget you are capable of happiness at all. It was never a low hum or simply background noise for me. It was deafening, it demanded all of my attention. It would start from the moment I woke up groggy and tired and continue until 3 am, as I lay in the dark, counting down the hours I had left to recuperate, growing ever more desperate as time ran out and I was still unable to trick my body into sleeping. Depression never let me rest, it wanted to be heard. It took precedent over my friends, my family, my dreams, my future. It became the only thing that held me together while I fell apart. It was the scapegoat for my mistakes. It was my enemy and my salvation. It was something I could fight, something that could be fought, and that made all the difference.

236

What happens when love runs out?

I will kiss your lips for the last time and confess that I was convinced you were an angel sent to save me, and even with my heart bruised and battered, I’m still grateful to have met you. Darling you saved me, you saved me, and just because the love ran out doesn’t change that.

What happens after that?

I would kiss you once more and tell you love is not so fickle and nor is it weak. Love starts from before we meet, love is written in the stars, love is out of our hands, and it burns and burns ever so brightly, we are merely the embers.

From flames to dust, from lovers to friends. 

I wish you so much more than happiness. You’ll find a dark haired girl with a dimple like mine but a prettier smile and baby blues that remind you of the ocean.She tickles you with her doll like lashes and you crush over the wild innocence in her eyes. She falls asleep in your arms feeling as safe as I once did. You kiss her good morning every morning and you mean it. You kiss her until you forget my name.

I’ll still love you. I just won’t tell you anymore.

235

When you love someone, what is it that you love about them? Is it the way they make your heart flutter? The way your body aches after they touch you the right way? The way their hands move on your skin, sinking into all the spots that make you shiver? The way their eyes catches the light and sparkles when they smile? The way they hold you to their chest and breathe you in, the beauty, the softness, the sadness, breath it in, breath it in.

When I love someone, I break my heart trying. I get lost in their infinite potential, I pave the way to their betrayal, I hand them the knife. I fall in love with the endless possibilities, with the kindness and sweetness it evokes from us both. I fall in love with all the wrong people. Because it’s the wrong kind of love that makes your heart race, that makes it skip a beat, that makes you feel the right kind of ache. It’s the wrong kind of love that makes you feel alive as you struggle to breathe, that bites at the hand which feeds it.

I have this very real fear of falling in love. Not the usual fear of the unknown, but the much more threatening fear of the familiar, of a phantom ache. I share an unwillingness to hurt people’s feelings, not due to compassion, but out of self preservation, a natural preference for avoiding responsibility.

For a year of my life I have felt like a visitor. Always packing, always leaving, always making sure never to overstay my welcome. I wondered if that’s how all women felt eventually, living in a house that you didn’t pay for, existing temporarily in someone else’s life, in a role that could be taken away if you weren’t paying attention.

For two years of my life I have fought for you, tooth and nail, clawing at the slightest implications that this was meant to last. Reaching for the stars only to find dust, falling for beautiful promises that only turned to empty words, making me emptier still. Yet I stand here waiting with my heart wide open again, refusing to turn my back on love, convinced that this connection means something so inexplicable that losing it could destroy us both. I hold you to my chest and breathe you in, my fighter,  my angel, my darling, let it be, let it be.

234

Nothing could have prepared our generation for becoming so acutely aware of the successes and failures of everyone around us. Never before have we been so transparent in our disguises. Our lives on display in our social media prisons, this nightmarish system that consumes your time and leaves you feeling empty. None of us are half as happy as our status updates would like to pretend.

Perhaps the most difficult part is coming to terms with just how ordinary we are as individuals. To be reminded daily that you won’t be remembered, that history has no space for you, that none of us as as special as our teachers and parents led us to believe. We were not born extraordinarily beautiful, or outlandishly intelligent. We do not possess the charisma to charm love out of strangers nor the talent that attracts the attention we so desperately crave. Yet deep down we all yearn for affection, for love, for all the good in life that we were promised as children. From the moment we know that such joys exist we are doomed to never be content, never be satisfied with the present. Nothing will ever be enough.

Yet there are moments when the lights are shut and the stars are bright, and we are young and beautiful and alive. I’m laying next to you, I can hear your heartbeat and I am grateful to be breathing. There were moments when we kissed that I felt almost immortal.

Now I feel as if I am deteriorating. As if I have lost an integral part of myself and there are no clues on how to reclaim that part of my soul. It is not as dramatic as it sounds. There is no spectacle to behold. My heart has not been ripped in two yet I can feel it bleeding still. Know that I have bled for you.

There is not a cell in my body that does not miss you, though the conscious mind does what it can to soothe the pain. You’ve driven me to madness so effortlessly, caused me to abandon all logic, forced me to reevaluate my preconceptions of this life that I was living. I had become so consumed by being with you that I have forgotten how to exist on my own. It is not loneliness from the outside world that wounds me, but rather the loneliness from within that threatens to take control. There is a fine line between romanticism and foolishness and I tether on the edge, swaying by your breath. I am lost without you.

 

233

I’ve been selecting the archive button on every device that shows his name. It’s always hard to say goodbye to an old friend. You worry that no one will ever understand you as well as he did, and you would be right, no one will. It was a rare combination of wanting to know you because he found you intoxicating, and a natural intimacy that drew you close in the first place.

It was the right amount of incompatible for what it eventually became, a unique bond that always hinted at a little more, we were always a little too flirtatious for our own good. He would pretend not to notice as I partied away my sanity and would use euphemisms like “you’re too exciting for me” rather than confront my self destructive behaviour. He always knew when to bow out gracefully from a losing fight.

I pretended to be bored by everything he represented and I never let him know I think I could never deserve someone as good as he was. I watch him struggle to keep his distance as if something about me could be contagious. He was so risk averse that even witnessing it made him feel uneasy. I was too young to admit I was wrong, how could I ever be wrong. I was so sure I knew how to love, I was so sure I was making myself happy. It didn’t matter if the happiness was only ever temporary, if I could collect enough blocks of temporary happiness then I could pretend I was right all along. Every mistake, every heartbreak could be erased if I could just kiss the right lips, taste the right people, forget about yesterday and live for tomorrow.

She thinks I loved him once, albeit was a long time ago. More importantly, she thinks he loved me once, and that in itself was an unforgivable betrayal. Monogamy does not believe in grey areas. We both know enough to understand that what feels good is not enough of a foundation to build a life on, and we are both too terrified of the naked truth to be with someone who sees so clearly. You need the person who sees only enough to love you, not the one who sees all and loves you despite. That sort of love burns out the moment your faults begin to outweigh your redeeming qualities and they will resent you for becoming yourself.

I know I loved him once, for a few hours when we laid in bed together and he wrapped his arms around me like I had always belonged there, and he kissed me the way I always wanted to be kissed, and he showed me what peace should look like. I knew I could hurt him then, with my carelessness, my manic episodes, my unwillingness to conform. My utter devotion coupled with my inability to be faithful would confuse and terrorize him. However passionate we could be would only be matched by the excruciating pain when he comes to realise that some fires cannot be contained, some people cannot be tamed.

 

232

Everything is perfect but I feel terrible. I have everything I need, but it’s not enough. I see the world through rose tinted glasses and there are moments I want to blow my brains out.

I’ve started smoking again. The narcissist in me trying to find the romanticism in dying young. Drinking more whiskey hoping that will make the words pour out, finding there is none because once again I’m empty. I find people strange. I find myself stranger. I want to be alone but I can’t stand being lonely. I want to be loved but I’m never good at it myself.

What could be more sobering than kissing someone for hours not out of passion but because they’re there? What could be lonelier than three tangled bodies out of sync? We try so hard to be close but the distance is louder than anything else.

When we’re young we drink to forget the pain. As we get older we drink to remember it. Those moments of excruciating agony that we thought would make or break us, are now the only moments worth remembering. When the high wears off and you realise you’re far more sick of pleasure than of pain. The pain is the only part of you that still feels real. It’s the only thing that reminds you you’re still living.

I suspect for the most part, writers simply enjoy hearing the sound of their own voice. They want an excuse to hold a voice recorder and wander around the house speaking out loud to themselves and not be called crazy for it. This is why solitude brings out the best in artists. Only when you feel safe in the knowledge that no one is watching you, can you create something you would share with a million strangers.

We throw around euphemisms and attempt to disguise our narcissism as a yearning to be heard, to feel understood. But the truth is we’re simply selfish. I just want your attention. I want you to hear my story, understand my grief, my pain. I want you to know my mistakes and love me anyway. Love me as I am, forgive me for all my transgressions.

I am as stubborn as they come. I refuse to change, even when I know it’s good for me. I can hurt you and love you in the same breath. I will save you only so I remember how to break you again. I know I am the type to leave people, so I am terrified of being left. I think the worst of everyone, because I am the worst of them all. I’ve said goodbye before, I know the words. You look into my eyes again, you hear them say ‘stay, stay, stay’.

231

What’s the worst that can happen with a story? You meet the right person and everything is perfect until it’s not. You love each other until you can’t stand the sight of each other. You miss them most on the days you’re not supposed to. Everyone has lived this story. Tell me how yours is different.

Tell me how you wake up shaking some nights because you felt her hands on your skin again and you almost cried out her name.Tell me how the first time you saw her cry it felt like someone had punched you so hard in the chest you couldn’t remember how to breathe.

“She used me”, you liked to tell people that, as if it justified all your selfishness. You forget that everyone uses everyone. It’s not what you really mean. You mean to say she used you more than you used her. The scales were tipped in her favour and that made you uncomfortable. You were accustomed to getting the sweeter deal. A part of you feels wounded still.

“He broke me”, she liked to claim, as if that excused all her unkindness in the end. She was always quick to dismiss her own misdemeanors, you had that in common. She could turn the pages in a heartbeat and forget your name in the blink of an eye, yet hold you to every sin you’ve committed since the dawn of time.

“I lost her”, you’d mumble to yourself at 2am with whiskey coated breath and a heavy heart, the only time you’d ever allow yourself to feel a little remorse, when you’re sure no one would catch you. Just for a second you wish she could be in the room, so that you could feel her presence, though you know it would not bring you the same calm, you know she would no longer look at you like you were the sun.

I should have known better. I should have loved him less. I should have let go when my feet were still touching ground. I should have talked less. I should have said more. I knew always that it would end in heartache but I was convinced that I was strong enough to love him despite it. Such is the addictive nature of self harming. You can put down the knives but you never really stop fashioning your own injuries.

If I had to verbalize what I believe accounts for the failure of most of my romantic relationships, it’s the fact that I cannot bear love’s ageing. I cannot stand the dissolution of the honeymoon phase. As soon as the vacation, the electrifying vitality, the rapture of meeting someone new fades, its a kind of death practice. You die a little. When enthrallment dissipates, you have a moment of profound tragic realization that everything passes, that our greatest ecstasies are imbued, are cast upon by a shadow of dread, of knowing that this will pass, that this will end.

Jason Silva

230

I’d hate for you to think I’m still writing about you. I’d hate for you to know I’m still thinking about you. I don’t know whether to call it weakness or insanity, to miss someone who has been gone for longer than they were ever around, to wish for a life that would have invited more pain and heartache than I could even imagine. The grass is always greener.

I looked you up again just to read your writings. Something I never bothered doing before because I thought your essays were boring. Now it’s the only connection I have left, your boring way with words. It was always a pleasure talking to you, and I miss that. I’m sorry I forgot that we all have our moments of weakness, I’m sorry I refused to let you have yours. In that moment you lost me. In my moment I lost you. We were never meant to be found.

I’m sorry I invited myself into your life so bizarrely and refused to leave without leaving destruction behind. I wanted to paint the walls bloody so they’d think twice before following. It was a warning to you to not cut so deep. I’m sorry it took so long for me to pick myself up. I could do it again now with all the grace you’d wished for, but it’s never easy to tear apart something you built with love. I’m still learning how to live in the relics.

I think part of me suspects that it will never again be the same. I will never again leave my heart wide open, I will never again kiss without doubt, I will never again love the way I loved you, so devastatingly certain, so sure of a happy ending. Something so intricate was broken inside the day you said goodbye, something delicate and irreparable. Now I see only farewells, be it from betrayal, time, or death, it all ends the same. But I have never been good at letting go. I am still hoping to say hello.

229

I fell in love with you in the dark. Eyes shut, heart wide open, full of hope and a gentle sadness. I knew new beginnings meant leaving something behind, but I carried my baggage to your doorstep, half expecting you to shut the gate. You greeted me all smiles and shyness, with no judgement and only kindness.

I fell in love the moment I stopped being shy around you. I thought that signaled the end, as it always has in the past. But then came the moments I still felt shy around you, then came all the ways you made me feel new. There was something about the way you lived that made the mundane aspects of an ordinary life no longer banal and depressing. It’s in the way you touch, the way you kiss, the way you loved.

It’s the moments when we’re lying in bed together and my arms are wrapped around you way too tight. It’s the moments when you think I’m sleeping and you sneak a kiss only to be embarrassed when you catch me smiling. It’s the time you played me a song that sounded like love, and that was the moment I knew there may be others like you, but I would never meet another like you.

It happened so suddenly, one day my life consisted only of you. Sometimes I think I must have loved you before, maybe a few lifetimes ago, because I don’t know how else to explain the familiarity. You were always there, always on my mind. It was a love I could assemble, a love that was easy to reciprocate, a feeling of being so understood that words were unnecessary. A freedom to be myself, that I had never considered possible. Everything else became background noise, all I wanted to hear was your voice. Everyone else could be forgotten, all I could see was you. Everything that came before was mere infatuation, I have never felt love like this before.

228

I have fought long and hard with myself over this, and I’ve yet to come to a satisfactory conclusion. Maybe it’s the fact I grew up reading books where love came in many forms, where stories were set in an era where polyamory was the norm, so I never questioned that one could love many and really mean it. Perhaps I saw how easy it was for jealousy to destroy people, and I wanted to erase that word from my dictionary altogether, which I have failed time and time again. But since the first time I said those words and meant them, I never felt at ease with monogamy. It never came naturally to me, it went against all of my instincts.

I often wonder whether it’s foolishness or stubbornness that drives us to go against our biological instincts. I find it laughable that people believe they can fight biology in the first instance. I find it dishonest to pretend that once we are in love, we no longer find beautiful people attractive, and we are forced to lie to and withdraw ourselves, for fear of forming a connection with an outsider and destroying what we have. I find it a pity that we are forbidden to love more, as if one tarnishes the other, as if more love could make what is existing feel less. It seems absurdly selfish to want to possess someone so entirely and declare your love by severing their ties with all others.

Yet I can’t help but find it deeply romantic that there are those who do not waver in their faith, who remain devoted till their deathbed to their one and only. Those who remember only one smile, one laugh, one body, who never wanted to share, never had to, and never will. There are times when I wish I could be more like them, and I wonder if something is broken inside me. I wonder if there is something wrong with the way I love, whether I ask for more because I know that I will never be enough. I crave for a love unblemished and so deeply satisfying that no distractions are required.

But I then imagine a world where my actions are not dictated by a lover’s restrictions, and every connection has the possibility of meaningfulness. I can’t decide whether it would be a blessing or a curse to live with so much freedom and possibility, whether it would dilute the sensations, or dampen the experience of being alive. I so desperately want to love and be loved without boundaries. I’m intrigued by the perversely romantic notion that I could go anywhere, be with anyone, kiss whomever I wish, but come back to the person who feels like home at the end of it all, and know that nothing has changed in the way that we feel for one another.

I want colorful chapters, memorable characters, but one love affair to hold me steady. I want harmless flings, candlelit dinners with forgettable faces, the thrill of discovering you have something in common with someone that you’d never expected. I want all this but to fall asleep in your arms only, wake up to your face only. I see eternity in your eyes only. I want to touch and taste many, but to love you only. I am selfish beyond your understanding. I am hopeless at this game.

 

227

After all this time, perhaps I owe you an apology. In my efforts to prove that I was the most injured, I forgot that we only met because of your kindness. I rewrote our story and neglected to mention that once upon a time, you were my prince, and you healed my wounds before replacing them with new ones.

In my eagerness to hurt you, I called you the worst things I could think of. I wanted to give you a taste of my medicine, so you’d never forget me. I chose to be childish, I decided if you weren’t going to wake up to me every morning, then you could at least think about me on the nights you couldn’t sleep, when it becomes hard to breathe and you wonder if I ever learned how to be happy alone.

I know that her smile doesn’t tug at your heartstrings, her tears will never bring you to your knees, and you don’t think you’ll ever love again but you never cared for it much in the first place. Love was always more of a luxury to you than a necessity. In the back of your mind you always saw me as a liability.

But I still miss you so much that it makes my heart ache when I picture someone else sleeping next to you, waking up to your smile and kissing you good morning. I’m not constantly falling apart anymore but I can still count the pieces missing.

At the time, no one else’s pain was comparable to mine, now I know that they all are.

At the time, I didn’t believe you when you said ‘we always hurt the ones we love‘. Now I know this to be true.