Serendipity

Was I born a masochist or did society make me this way?

Tag: journal

287

In a lot of ways the past few years have felt like a blur. A mostly happy blur, or at least limited to a level of sadness that I could handle without falling apart. I don’t know whether to attribute that to age or wisdom, or perhaps an uninvited combination of both.

It might be a testament to my own narcissism that I seemed more distraught over losing my university boyfriends than I was about losing my grandmother, or hearing about the death of our family dog. It felt like a different sort of sadness, a dull ache, not a shattering. Or perhaps the defining difference was that I had the chance to say goodbye this time, with a full heart.

I was too young to be concerned about her mutterings when she lived at home with us, but thinking back, it pains me to remember how deeply unhappy she was. She would constantly tell me how she wished she was dead, and was annoyed with her body for not obeying. Even being surrounded by her children and grandchildren couldn’t ground her enough to make up for the loss of her husband. She was from a different era, and the idea of seeking new happiness never even crossed her mind. As far as she was concerned, her life was over when he so selfishly passed away so soon, and she was merely waiting to follow.

As the dementia set in, we became a blur too. But there were a few moments of clarity towards the end, or maybe just my wishful thinking convincing myself that she was happy to see me.

I remember feeling an uncharitable degree of anger towards members of my extended family for being true to themselves. Aunts who refused to let her live with her sons despite it being custom. People who balked at the idea of spending money on someone with one foot in the grave, now trying to alleviate that guilt by contributing to an expensive coffin. Their giant crocodile tears and banshee screeches at the funeral almost making me laugh out loud. Her favourite son who decided he didn’t need to be there in her final moments, but rather stayed in China to guarantee his inheritance and avoid inviting squabbles. A cousin who cited young children being difficult to travel with, and a demanding work schedule as reasons for his absence. I’ll concede that funerals don’t have quite the same appeal as an island getaway.

I know that I am being unfair, yet felt that anger magnify whilst scrolling past cleverly worded social media tributes to a woman who could barely turn on the television without assistance and had never owned a mobile phone. It filled my mouth with a bitter taste I was unaccustomed to. I was never close to them but had always felt a fitting level of camaraderie, which vanished as quickly as their feigned trauma. I grew up being told that family was more important than anything, and blood was thicker than water. It took years to unlearn those little white lies, and let go of the associated disappointments.

I might not ever become one of those people who wake up in the mornings feeling a sense of purpose, but I no longer wake up with dread. It’s taken years to drag myself away from depressive and suicidal thoughts but they no longer take up the majority of my day. Most days they’re not even an afterthought. I still feel anxious and I worry too much despite knowing better, but I’m comfortably optimistic about the future. I want to build a family, the one I’d always wanted, filled with joy and laughter, and bursting with love. For the first time ever, that doesn’t seem impossible.

252

It takes so little to ruin a person. All you have to do is know where it hurts. Pain doesn’t always dissipate with time, only if you’re lucky. Not all of us are blessed with the ability to forget, some like to hold onto the past, because it’s the only part left that means something. Some like to think it might come back one day, wishful thinking is the only thing holding them together.

There is a fire and a dullness in drunks, they know they burn everything around them so they try to drown themselves. If you’re the reason that everyone who loves you is constantly hurting, you do your best to kill what hurts. Being dead can be easier than being sober. Letting things break is always easier than fixing them. Breaking ourselves is easier than putting it back together. People rarely take responsible for the mistakes that matter. We won’t even own up to the little things, those small white lies we tell to make life easier slowly become our reality, eating away at what’s left, crooked pieces and emptiness.

There is an anger and sadness in him, you mistake regret for remorse. You feel obligated to love him because no one else would, not if they knew the truth. You are the only good part of him left, he made you for worship. Then comes the time to collect, you lose yourself in the glitter and lights, the magical life, the envy of your peers. He builds you up so high you don’t dare to fall. You know you’d break into a million pieces and he wouldn’t stay to pick them up, he lacks the patience.

There is a loneliness in his company. No one remembers how to feel when the chemicals wear off. Your eyes glaze over each other at dawn and you forget how to talk, are we still supposed to be nice? There is a meanness to him, and you try to dull his sharp edges with easy comfort, only to end up bloody. There is a darkness to him, the wrath of a narcissist. I keep telling you darling, this story won’t have a happy ending.

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.

225

I think what saddens me the most about truly desperate people is the sobering truth that there is no one left in this world who cares for them. It surpasses social hierarchies and class systems, we simply live in different realities. I know for me personally there are people who love me enough that even if I went down the wrong path, if I screwed up unimaginably, if I committed inexcusable crimes, they would still try to pull me back to my feet, until I found myself again. I know people who would give me second chances even if I didn’t deserve them, simply because they remember a time when I did. I know this because I feel the same way about them.

To know that there are people out there who don’t have this, who either never had it or no longer have it, makes my heart break a little. To imagine that it is possible to completely alienate yourself from the seven billion other inhabitants of this planet, to have wronged every person who ever trusted you until they no longer tolerated your existence in their lives, is the most depressing life I could fathom.

This does not mean I feel like I have a free pass to fuck up, to hurt others, quite the opposite. It makes me want to work harder, to be good to my people, to share my happiness with them, and put myself in a better position to help if I ever need to.

When I was little my mother used to point out those who led less fortunate lives, and forewarn me that if I didn’t study hard enough, I would end up just like them. I hope that if I ever have children of my own I could teach them to work hard because if they do, they could make life better for those people. That they can find meaning in life by making the world a more beautiful place.

It can be difficult to see past ourselves when we’re lost in the hustle and bustle of the city, when we’re busy crunching numbers and paying bills, but try not to lose sight of what is really important. To be able to share a good life with someone you love is such a blessing. To see them smile, to kiss their face, to hold them when you’re sleeping, those precious moments when the lights are out and you can hear their heartbeat. To stop chasing happiness and be happy in the present moment is a luxury not many can afford.

I see the big picture for the first time because of you. I see children, I see laughter, I see family, and I see love. I can feel it in the air when you say the words, I can lose myself in a kiss. I can imagine a life filled with joy and kindness, I am no longer terrified of boredom. I am no longer terrified of anything. Because I love you, I fucking love you.

223

Teach me how to fall out of love again. Rewind the tapes, swallow the darkness, the lonely nights, the dinners for one and empty bottles of wine stacked up on the kitchen counter. Snuff out the scented candles, watch the roses wilt, take my pills on time but only half of the time. My head is pounding and my hands are shaky again and no phone numbers saved in favourites to call against the deafening quiet.

Delete the photos, the messages, remove the love notes stuck to the fridge by magnets I found on holiday when I was missing you. Forget the pillow talk, the sweet whispers, the smell of your hair, the way you like to run your fingers down my spine, I refuse to hear your heartbeat.

We’ll walk in opposite directions, go back to our own homes. You’ll forget the way coffee should taste and go back to spiking yours with too much sugar. I’ll go back to filling mine with too much cream and we’ll both stay unhealthy in our preferred ways only this time I won’t be there to nag you into calling me crazy.

Let go of my hand, cross the street before looking and hope today is your lucky day. Watch the leaves fall in Autumn, don’t think about our first kiss, our lips never touch, you never feel the tingle of my passionfruit lip balm. Untangle my hair from your sink, wash your sheets until you can’t remember the smell of my shampoo and throw away the over-sized shirts I used to wear to sleep.

Tell her we were no more than sweaty bodies tangled in summer nights, that it was more lust than it was ever love, that you only called me baby because you didn’t care to remember my name. Wipe away the tears I never shed for you, rip up the concert tickets we never bothered to book, throw away the ultimatums we never laid on the table, bury the happy ending that was never written. What never was will never hurt you again.

211

Is it possible to miss the person you could have been?

Who would I be if we had never met?

Maybe my hands would be less shaky when I touch his skin, and I would relish his warmth and forget the world when he tightened his arms around me, instead of pushing him away whenever it felt dangerously comfortable.

Maybe I would have less scars on my body, and it would be easier for him to mark me. But to be honest I don’t think I would have stopped if you hadn’t told me you would stop loving me if I didn’t learn to love myself a little bit more.

Maybe I could listen to that damn song without crying or drifting into wishful thinking that somehow, miraculously, you were still by my side and we were still something, anything.

Maybe I wouldn’t waste any time thinking of different ways to hurt you should we ever meet again. Weren’t you the one who told me “we always hurt the ones we love”? Well darling I’m still hurting, so I guess that means you loved me the most.

If we had never met, perhaps the words I love you wouldn’t bring me to my knees. I wouldn’t be terrified of wanting permanency only to discover that I was only ever meant to be temporary. I wouldn’t be frightened by the possibility of happiness, I wouldn’t associate pain as a necessary part of that equation. I wouldn’t smile at him like I knew a secret, there would be less sadness in my eyes, and I would not doubt myself every time someone showed me a hint of affection.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that if I had never met you, some other boy would have taken your place. My heart would still be unceremoniously broken, just in a different way. Maybe we don’t matter as much as we think we ought to. So none of us are really villains because none of us are that important. Maybe we only hold on so tight to the hurt because we are not ready to admit that our love was never as unique as the stories we were promised. We never meant as much to each other as we said we did.

And yet, I miss all the things we never said.

207

The problem is the profound influence he had on me, his ideas forged me into part of who I am. I am no longer able to separate the girl I was before I met him with the woman I became after he left.

He understood me, the parts of me that even I didn’t fully understand. I had spent most of my life subliminally championing the idea that being misunderstood made me interesting, but it took him seconds to dismantle my mask. I wanted to be mysterious, but he refused to give me that courtesy. I despised intimacy, he found a way to get close anyway. We found in each other something that completed us, we loved each other when we were both unlovable. I built myself a new home with his arms wrapped around me, and I thought forever was a promise meant for keeping.

But waking up in the morning to that empty bed, all that space, I felt like I slept on needles and every piece of my skin was burning. All my mistakes came hammering down, drilling into my brain and hell is the special pain I had invited into my life, hell is knowing I am no longer permitted to speak your name.

186

It’s funny how quickly things can change. Your favourite cafe has caved to the new competition that opened next door, and I am too afraid of your shadow to visit mine. I still drink coffee but I never add sugar anymore; some days I taste more bitter than black espresso.

It was the way you chose to remember me. We sat in mutual regret, two stupid kids who fell in love with so much enthusiasm we didn’t know how to fall out without falling to pieces. I fidgeted with my sleeves, waiting for you to speak, to make an effort, to put some substance into the words you kept repeating. I still loved you enough to believe you could change, even when you couldn’t look at me. Maybe because you knew you couldn’t fix your mistakes, and you saw our meeting for what it was: an empty gesture; salt on my wounds. I will pretend you felt shame.

It was the way you sighed, it caught me off guard. Years of regret frozen in the solemn air, lingering,  the world was locked in slow motion, and I couldn’t cry anymore, my tears had hardened. There was pain in your eyes too, and I was responsible, I made sure we’d suffer together. I would trade our most colourful memories for one last miserable fight with you, to disagree violently and unapologetically, to scream and shout and show no mercy, to remember you in more than just faded mistakes.

I waited for you to fall asleep while I rested my shoulders on your chest and counted your heartbeat. I heard you mumble an awkward apology and realised I would never learn to forgive you. Maybe because if I don’t hate you I might have to actually feel something and that could kill me. Maybe because I would trade all our memories together just to remember what it feels like to be whole again. Maybe because I am in love with this pain, this exquisite pain of being incomplete, the intoxicating allure of feeling broken.

 

185

The morning after, I woke up, kissed him on the lips, got dressed, and cooked him breakfast. Fried bacon, poached eggs, sausages, and toast. He ate in the living room and I watched him through last night’s smudged eyeliner and an even murkier memory, I settled for confusion. I didn’t want to know. I did not need things to be clear. I kissed him again at the door on his way out.

Four months later a friend offered me an escape to another city, and as we huddled in his driveway to share our last cigarette, I asked him “Is it rape if I said no?” He stared at me with a look of horrified comprehension and I realised what I’d done. I wasn’t his manic pixie dream girl, I was just a whole new level of ‘fucked up‘.

I don’t know how far back we would have to trace my mistakes to find out when it all went wrong. Maybe it was the first time a boyfriend insisted even though I wasn’t in the mood. Maybe it was the second time, when he mistook struggle for desire. Maybe I stopped caring after that, and accepted the sickening feeling in my stomach every time he touched me, like I’d swallowed something rotten.

Maybe it was the boy who thought a movie isn’t complete without a quickie and the obligatory request for my phone number, even though we both know he’ll never call. Maybe it was the boy who was kind enough to explain that he was attracted to me, but in a purely physical way. I was expected to take that as a compliment, so I did.

Some point along the line, I made a point to stop caring, I told myself the past didn’t matter. If I cook him breakfast, then it was just a regular date. If I don’t cry about it, then I’m not a victim. If I don’t have nightmares, then it never happened. If I never see him again, then I will learn to forget his name.

Four years later in a hotel room halfway across the world, I locked myself in the bathroom because I finally remembered and I forgot how to breathe. I felt his hands wrapped around my throat, I had rationalised to myself over the years that maybe he couldn’t hear me. Maybe if I had yelled instead of whispered, I wouldn’t feel guilty about delegating blame. I have studied the scar on my leg often and rationalised to myself that I was never innocent, but maybe I could still heal one day. Maybe it was just a bad dream and I will wake up soon.

But four years have passed and I have not been able to sleep without his shadow in my bed, and the scar refuses to fade. I am still waiting to be left alone.

179

Freedom is exhilarating, but not everyone is built for it. We’re all monsters, underneath our fragile skin and brittle bones, we hide our lies with pretty words and a well timed nod of approval. We don’t have the strength to let go when a good thing is over, so we grip tighter, tease the strain and hope for a miracle. We know miracles don’t exist, but we hope for one anyway. This hope is what kills us inside, slowly, then all at once.

Freedom comes at a price, but most of us fall into our comfort zones and forget how to leave. We get so used to holding the same hand after a while we’re not quite sure if we love that person or the familiarity of them. When we settle down we settle into someone else’s skin and it makes us weak; no person was designed to bear the pain of two living souls.

Freedom is being in control of losing control. There was always the part of me that craved danger because the feeling of losing control is so intoxicating. Life and I have a long standing suicide pact and sometimes I wish someone else would pull the trigger. But there are mornings when I wake up feeling like a new beginning, feeling like less, like I am losing myself yet I am becoming so much more in the process. The beauty and the addiction lies in the transformation, in your flesh, in your eyes, in places no one can see or touch or even imagine.

I have been alone for too long, settling into my own skin, realising all my flaws and wondering how anyone will ever love me, wondering if I will ever love anyone the way I love freedom. I’m stubborn, I drift, I indulge my own bad habits and I bore too easily. Love never felt like coming home, love never made me feel safe. Love was heartache, love was living from a suitcase, love was running, love was careless, and love never came back for me.

 

178

Somewhere in between growing up and growing old, my life became a constant struggle between who I am and who I used to be. A part of me wants to be at peace and proud of myself for making it this far because lord knows this journey hasn’t been easy, then there’s this other part that knows I could be a better person but I no longer want to be.

The crazy part of me that he wanted to tame, the wildness that never went away, that part of me wants to disappear after graduation and go on a big adventure. But the sensible, logical coward in me would stay for the financial security and stability and I am watching myself become boring, so boring. I watched the child in me plant these seeds and waited patiently all these years for the flowers to grow but now that they’re blooming, I’m the one pulling them out.

I don’t fantasize about killing myself anymore but the petty part of me is still fuming and resentful for everything that’s happened, and sometimes when the rage slips out I am shocked I could ever contain this madness in the first place. I’ve grown to love my scars and be comfortable in my own skin, and I know that being alone isn’t the same as being lonely but god I miss touching you, I miss being touched.

I don’t know who finally killed the part of me that knew how to dream, but somewhere in between growing bitter and growing cold, the magic disappeared and I’m sick of waking up to nightmares. It’s as if my mind has been ripped apart and put back together so many times, you told me what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger but you forgot to mention being stronger is not the same as being whole. I will never be whole again.

177

This is how you kill someone: You don’t talk to them, you pretend they don’t exist. This is how you killed me.

10 months later and I’m still erasing your existence, throwing away things that you’ve touched, letters that I wrote for you, presents you gifted to me back when I was still your treasure and life was not so unforgiving. I thought I left you behind in that one bedroom apartment and all the memories would be kept there, but two summer flings couldn’t shake the chills you left inside this battered heart, they couldn’t steady my heartbeat.

Spring cleaning always ends with me deleting more photos, and keeping the ones I might want to look at one more time some day, just in case. The more buttons I click the more I realise that somewhere deep down I never stopped caring about you, but I no longer recognise the happy strangers in our photos. I don’t know what I’d give up to see you again and hear you say my name, tell me I’ve been dreaming, tell me I’m worth saving. Eight months ago you saw me at the back of the bar drinking myself into the corner and you said I was a fallen angel and you were too corrupt to be my home.

Five months from now I’ll probably be too busy missing you to notice the sweet boy who served his soul to me on a silver platter, and when I forget to catch him, our mistakes will finally have new collateral damage. 10 months later and I still hate hearing your name, the wounds you left never healed completely and your words still sting. I am struggling to find untouched skin that hasn’t been marked as your territory, and I’m too busy keeping the blemishes you left to let anyone else kiss me.

Ten years ago the decisions I had to make didn’t all feel like fatal mistakes, and not every step was seeped in your poison. Two months ago I thought I saw you in the streets, it was only a shadow, yet enough to make me weep. 12 months ago you began to fall out of love with me, I saw the signs before you even knew, it wasn’t the first time I’d seen love dying. 10 months later and I am your paper ghost, scratching down our hopeless stories so that some day you may grieve for who I was, who we could have been.

This is how you kill someone: You love them,  then you leave them. This is how I’ll kill you.

175

The first time I went to your apartment neither of us expected me to stay the night. I ran down to the convenience store and picked up a $2 toothbrush but left make-up stains all over your pillow case. When I woke up, a part of me panicked when you weren’t around, but you came back and handed me the best coffee I’d drank in months and the taste lingered long after I drained the cup.

Since you’ve been gone, I sit alone in my room, hands wrapped around myself tight, no mascara stains, no foundation masks, and I’m wondering if her skin feels the same. I wonder if she knows how to move to your rhythm, are you in sync? Does she know you hate it when she messes up your hair, does she kiss you the right way? Does she taste different or does she remind you of me anyway? Does her hair smell like girly shampoo or that strange coconut brew I left in your bathroom on purpose? Does she put bubbles in your bath, and does her laughter remind you of the ocean?

Since you’ve been gone, I’m not so picky anymore. You know, loneliness has a way of nipping that fucker right in the bud. I settle for strangers who know how to sit in comfortable silence, and when they joke about hurting me I almost wish they weren’t empty threats. These days when I think of your smile it reminds me of summer dreams and wildfire, loving you was the most exhausting fantasy. I bent and I twisted and I shed my own skin but none of it was ever good enough, I was never what you were looking for.

Since you’ve been gone, I’m trying harder to be a good person, you know I’ve always wanted to be a good person. But you and the rest of the world keep reminding how much easier it is to be selfish and mean. Cruelty is how you stayed alive, we’re both survivors, and if that’s the string that held us together why did you blame me for falling? I’m not waiting for an apology and I don’t expect anyone else to pick up these pieces. It was vanity, it was weakness, I was narcissistic enough to believe that if I unraveled in your arms you’d be kind enough to catch me. I was trying to prove a sorry point, but all you saw were tears and blood. You’re not coming back this time; there is not enough skin left for you to love me.

 

174

I miss you, in a Sunday morning don’t wanna get out of bed because I dreamed about you and I think if I keep my eyes closed, your face might come back to me again kind of way. In a Friday night staying up till 3 AM and blushing as I read screenshots of our old messages kind of way. In a wasted Saturdays writing about what we could have been kind of way.

I miss you, the way that you could make me laugh till my belly was aching, and the way that your eyebrows would scrunch up when you had to wipe my tears away because you truly couldn’t bear to see me sad.

I miss you, whether it’s hot summer days, or cold winter nights huddled next to the fireplace, nothing I do now feels as right as our first spontaneous trip to the beach. You pulled me into the freezing water and silenced my protests with a kiss. We left mismatched footprints in the sand and that was the first of many sunsets we watched together.

I miss you, your calloused hands from playing the ukelele and the way they used to graze my skin; I used to be your favourite instrument. Your smile, that god damn charming smile that made life look easy, you smiled at me like I was your reason for living. You set my world on fire with that smile and I loved the way it burned. I laughed as black smoke filled my lungs and it all crumbled to ashes.

I miss you, your uncanny ability to cook everything to perfection, your extensive knowledge on every unimportant subject I could ever imagine, and the way you simply cruised through life, without ever questioning the absurdity of our existence. You were always meant to exist in this way, you were a drifter not a doubter, and you never intended to stay.

I miss you, in a I hate your fucking guts but I still want to kiss you a thousand times kind of way. In a I don’t know whether I want to slap you in the face or push you to a wall so I can make out with you kind of way. In an embarrassingly primitive, it makes me cringe to say your name kind of way. In a you hurt me terribly but I still fucking love you kind of way.

173

It wasn’t personal.

I know, that sounds like bullshit. I know, everything is personal. But it wasn’t about you, in the end. It was just me, my broken heart, my bruised ego, my anger, my pain. You couldn’t see what I felt, and I was grateful for that. It is hard enough being sad without witnesses, I don’t think I could have survived the shame.

I was trapped under your shadow and there was no escape, no redemption. Your selfish fantasies swallowed me whole, and life began to move on without me. Have you ever experienced anything so horrifying as time passing by without you? You became the centre of my universe and gravity took its sweet toll. I was a trophy on your cabinet, and mornings were your curse. It’s hard to ignore the rainy days and the masochist in me continues to indulge in sad songs that remind me of you. But it doesn’t hurt the same now; it reminds me I’m forgetting you. The presents you bought me are scattered across the house, I pretend I don’t notice.

The sun rises even when you’re not here, and the moon is as beautiful as the first night we met. It is winter again and I’m beginning to miss your warmth, the feel of your skin pressed to mine, your hot breath, your whispers, your lies. I miss your lies the most. I wonder if you’re finally alone in the big empty house you’ve chased all your life, do the echoes make you happy? When your hair starts to look more like clouds than the sun, will you dye it? Your eyes will blur, you will need reading glasses, but you won’t be reading to me in bed anymore. Your shadows will start to look taller than you,  you’ll find yourself lacking in good company, and you will recall my words. I left you, remember? She won’t stay for you either, deep down you know this.

Your empty compliments left me exhausted, constantly chasing your praises, trying to be good enough. But now I don’t dream of the foolish boy who broke my heart and I don’t curse the universe for letting it happen. I am grateful, did you know that? You made me stronger, did you know that?

It feels so good to say I am happy now without being anxious that I will jinx it, or scared that it will be snatched away again. It is different this time. I am a sinner not a lover; I am no one’s beggar queen. I have walked through hell with a smile and endured the longest nights, the coldest memories, but damn it, he was right, there is always hope. I have found my own happiness and I intend to keep it. I have done things I’m not proud of, but pride is the enemy, pride is the mistake. I have been bent but I am not broken, I am stronger than those who knocked me down.