Serendipity

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

Tag: relationships

294

It dawns on me that you would no longer be the boy whom I remember. In the end I’m mourning a soul who no longer exists, perhaps never existed at all. There are days that I forget your name, the sound of your voice. I no longer remember the way you kissed, I suppose it was tender. I don’t remember the way that you smell, but I remember I liked it. I don’t remember the way you fucked, but we left marks to celebrate.

All I really remember is the pain. A pain all consuming that it blurred my sense of reality, a pain so deep that death appeared less frightening. All logic dictated that my heart was still a functional organ, diligently beating, cycling blood through my body. You shouldn’t be able to feel a heart, yet I felt it. A searing, red hot sting, I felt it tear into pieces with every word, crushed by the weight of your apologies.

Sometimes I miss the pain, not in a masochistic way, although perhaps a little. But truthfully I miss the way you broke my heart so completely. One must love completely in order to be broken. But we grow and we learn and we never open up quite so sincerely again. We put up walls or at least some respectable fences. We leave one foot out the door, for safety.

I don’t miss being young but I miss the innocence of our youth. I miss saying I love you without caveats. The days of saying words like forever and meaning it, the way only foolish children could do. The days of never worrying about the future, as it was simply too far out of reach. When the greatest crime was the assault of a stranger’s perfume lingering on your shirt, not a lipstick stain.

I suppose, in a way, you still complete me. I may have been a different person had you not kissed me. Would I have been happier? My heart lighter? My soul unobstructed by the weight of your transgressions? Who would you be? Who would you have broken instead of me? Would she have recovered more elegantly?

Would she still wear her heart on her sleeve?

293

I still underestimate how much people mean to me, even after all this time. You’d think I’d be prepared by now, I should know how to cut my losses, stop hurting myself over people who never think of me at all. Wouldn’t that be the saddest thing, if you never thought about me at all.

Maybe that’s why I pretend we meant more to each other than we really did. It’s been four years since we spoke. Long enough for memory to become unreliable, and I was never a reliable witness. Maybe that’s why I pretend you never loved her. It’s easier to tell others you’re in a loveless marriage than to believe you might be happy in a life without me. The truth is, I know better than anyone that a man as calculating as you would never fail a question as big as marriage. You were always far too clever to sign yourself up to a life of defeat.

Or perhaps the truth is far more wretched. That you carefully considered the possibility of me, the wasted potential of me. You wrote a pro and con list, you reviewed my deficiencies and concluded that I was a disaster waiting to happen. You’d rather be bored than to suffer at my unpredictable hands. I never learned how to put you at ease. I excited you, I terrified you, but I was still only a stranger in your bed, never noticing you could only fall asleep alone.

Now you kiss her good night before retreating to separate rooms. You say “good morning darling” with the same ease as I pour my first coffee. You both promised the counsellor you’d remember to say “I love you” with more empathy, whatever the hell that means. You close your eyes and still you think of me. Your gin soaked breath tracing the curvature of my spine, your hands gliding along my shoulders, your lips on my skin, remembering every groove, every imperfection. Every scar, every near miss. The smell of my hair, the taste of my lips, the bitterness of unspoken goodbyes. Still you miss the shadow of me, yet you never grieve.

292

There are days when it is easier to miss you. Then there are days when my whole body aches for you. Days when tears stream silently as I sleep and dream of you. There are times when I wonder if I actually miss you at all, or simply a memory of you – my own distorted recollections of a man far more impressive than the truth could ever live up to. The kind of man who wouldn’t have abandoned me out of fear, the kind who had conviction and loyalty. That man would have stayed and loved me as a friend, as I have stayed faithful to embellished memories and searched for bearable imitations, chasing feeble flames to feed the flickering wicker you left behind.

There was a time when my smile could brighten up a room for you, when your gaze would always be the first to find me, claim me as your own. There were days when your smallest gestures were enough to hide the shame, mask the pain, make existence tolerable again. Those were the foolish days when we both practised smiles, feigned passion, and mistook our pride for intimacy. Those were the brief moments of honesty, when you weren’t afraid to admit that you were choosing her out of guilt rather than love. But if the guilt is powerful enough, who needs love anyway?

I scrutinised all your wedding photos, searching for a semblance of happiness, the vaguest promise of contentment you sorely deserved, but all I found was a mask on the brink of collapse. Your strained smile, her clasped hands, choking on meaningless vows, promising to love someone forever when you couldn’t love her a moment. Man of her dreams. You couldn’t bear to crush her fantasy, disappoint so many. You at least have the decency to pretend.

Because who are we without our masks? The cloak of civility masquerading as decency, the voice you put on for polite company, the jokes you tell with variations, distinctly catered to different guests. The way you move your body, the urgency of your kiss, the bruises you leave, the people you hurt with names you no longer remember. Do you still remember me?

291

Were you happier before or after you had children? Does correlation imply causation? Are you really happy or do you just think you should be? Am I really happy or just afraid of seeming ungrateful? Do you complete me or will I never know what that feels like?

He’s never had to fight to be heard so he always assumes he should be. If he can’t win the argument he’ll simply deem it is over. He acts like walking away is the rational adult thing to do, and when he’s ready to make amends, I’ve been quietly seething in resentment and chosen my hill to die on.

I didn’t know it was possible to have this many fights about nothing. I’m so tired of existing in this perpetual state of purgatory. Some days it’s not just failing to be on the same page, some days I’m not sure we’re even reading the same book. Some days I want to erase him from my story altogether and start over. Try again. If only it were as simple as hitting refresh.

When I get complacent I start to look for creative ways to self destruct. Happiness is the enemy, then you have something to lose. I’d forgotten how to love without one foot always out the door. Always watching, waiting for the other shoe to drop. When do you intend to fall out of love with me? I’d like a memo please, add an alert to my calendar. Maybe we could have a zoom meeting about it? Schedule the break up like one of your conference calls. Be efficient about it, leave a five star review.

It feels like we’re stuck in a warped simulation set to boring dystopia mode. Some alien child created us for a social studies assignment and forgot about us after handing in his report. Or maybe Earth is the universe’s version of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. We’re the trashiest reality show in the galaxy and aliens have been laughing at us for eons.

Most days it all feels futile. Chasing a lost dream that only ends in heartache. It’s never a question of if your heart will break, merely when. Does he leave you with a splatter of youth left, a chance to recoup your losses? Or do you grow old together until one of you gets to plan the other’s funeral? Write your vows and obituary at the same time, be efficient about it.

He says he loves me but I don’t believe him. The more he repeats it the more I convince myself it’s a conspiracy. Mostly it doesn’t feel like we’re together because we love each other. Most days we’re together because it’s better than being alone. Mostly he says what he must to tick the boxes. Most days I let him think I believe it too.

280

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I think I was always destined to find my way into kink, it just took a lot longer than I would have liked, for various reasons. I remember being 16, exploring sexuality for the first time, losing my virginity to a boy I thought I loved, and wanting so much more than just the traditional vanilla lifestyle he seemed content to thrive in. I wasn’t even sure what I did want, only that it was far from whatever he could offer. What he considered passionate lovemaking bored me to tears. I wanted to be broken, he thought that meant I was.

I understood that monogamy was the norm, yet the idea of only being able to share intimate experiences with one fellow human was far from romantic, it depressed me to the core. I knew I didn’t want to marry him, have boring sex in missionary position twice a week, and live happily ever after in a house in the suburbs, surrounded by a white picket fence.

I didn’t know quite how to explain this in a way that didn’t hurt his feelings. I suggested that he try seeing other people, expand his experiences (secretly hoping that maybe if he fucked enough people he could get better at it), but he wanted only me. It made me wonder if I was selfish, or cruel, or simply incapable of love, at least the sort that everyone else seemingly wanted. 

When I eventually grew tired of pretending, and broke his heart unceremoniously, it felt like I had set myself free. I rushed to seek out new experiences with others, and in my eagerness to do so, inadvertently broke his heart a second time. I wish I could have known better. Years later when a boy finally shattered me, a part of me believed it was redemption. Ah, so this is what it felt like. I’m sorry, please forgive me, I’m sorry. 

It’s hard to explain why I’m utterly enamoured by someone who loves to mark my body with bruises. It was different this time, he wasn’t a boy cautiously testing the waters, weary of hurting me. He wanted to hurt me, and he knew how to do it confidently. I don’t like to submit easily, which makes the power exchange all the more thrilling for the both of us. I was no longer shamed for my deviance, he cherished and actively encouraged my perversions. When I expressed my desire to be tied, he had no qualms with me exploring the wonderful world of shibari with others.

This is what I had always known that I wanted, all along. A trust and connection so deep that didn’t feel threatened by other meaningful experiences. Someone who understood me and my desire to grow beyond the boundaries of our own intimacy. It takes time and faith to build the sort of trust that allows for such a bond, and I’m still always torn between wanting to share this aspect of my life and feeling like I should hide it from the world, as if it could be used against me in some way. But I like the life I’ve built, the friends I’ve kept, and the past no longer haunts me.

I am bound to him, yet I am free.

269

Watch me destroy my own happiness. I can tear down the foundations on a rainy day and leave you out to dry. Wipe her lipstick stain off your cheek, kiss the crimson away till my lips are bloody. You and your pride, both of us struggling for air as our egos compete to drown the other. My stubbornness, my inability to let anything go, did you really find that endearing once upon a time?

How could you ever have loved me? Flaws and warts and all. Every imperfection is sharpened like razor but we both got so good at pretending. I could almost have believed you were the one. You could almost have been my salvation. We might have been able to save each other if you meant all the lies you were saying. I would have given everything for them to be true.

I told you all I had was a bunch of sad stories, and I had learned to hide the bitterness with a sickly sweet smile that reached my eyes. He taught me how to smile with my heart broken wide open. You never cared enough to notice the cracks. My darling, sticks and stones may break my bones, but love will never hurt me.

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..

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

249

It takes a special kind of toxic selfishness to alienate someone from those who love them the most. It takes a total absence of empathy to resolve to a level of possessiveness that can only be explained by deep insecurities. You absolve yourself of all your mistakes by claiming that you were wounded, but weren’t we all? No one has ever escaped the tragedy that is life. No one has ever lived a life without loss, without pain. But suffering does not entitle you to wound others. Your pain does not excuse the pain you deliver, two wrongs don’t ever make a right. Some mistakes can never be forgiven. Death does not release us from all our sins.

There is terror to be found in arrogance. The sort of egoist who will only think of themselves, their love for you is merely an extension of their narcissism. You make them feel good, so they love you because you make them feel good. Your existence enriches their life, you exist to make their life better. You don’t understand the difference yet, but you will. You think a love composed of romance is foolish, I think your love has no substance.

I understand the appeal, it would be hypocritical for me to assume I would make better choices under the same circumstances. I have made worse choices before. There is a level of perverted comfort to this experience, when they have carefully manufactured your surroundings to make you feel that you’re the centre of their whole world. What more could you want than to be the centre of your lover’s universe? There is no escaping this sort of infatuation, we all fall.

But darling I see cruelty in his eyes, you see it too. You could have said “I love him, damn it”, and I would have understood, I would have done my best to. But how could you love a monster? You have to absolve him, you needed a defense more than he cared for. It wasn’t difficult to recompose the narrative. It’s always easier to blame someone else.

I understand, but I guess I had still expected better. Some betrayals are worse than others. Some cut you to your bone. You bleed even when you’re smiling. But I miss you still. I miss you so much I think I might be dying. You’ve always told me I’m sentimental to a fault, you’ve never been wrong about me. But I could never change, I never want to. Once upon a time you would have understood the hurt. The best thing about people is that they change. The worst thing about people, is that they change.

247

There’s a reason I haven’t apologised. There’s a reason I feel entitled, even angry, still. When I loved I left no doors unopened, I was ready, ready, ready for you to come in, to make me a home. The epitome of love is not selfish romance, it’s not two people kissing under the rain in a rose garden. It’s family, it’s beginnings and promises of a lifetime to come, I wanted the sort of love that would ache.

We did not meet so young, we did not have perfect excuses for our failures to be more than what we chose to be. You had no excuses left, I was running out for you. Every day was another day that you refused to change, which in a way was choosing to not be with me. Every day you took another step away from me and I’d run to keep up, I loved your shadows.

I have learned to keep my tongue in cheek, to win less, because small victories are not worth celebrating, especially alone. But I did not know how to let you go. I had forced myself to erase the concept of a life without you. Now I am trying to re-imagine this new life, but it is not as beautiful as my first design. I drew you perfect.

There must be fifty ways to leave your lover, but I know only one. Break your own heart, shatter it to pieces, make them watch. Tell them you still love them, and it’s slowly killing you. Tell them you won’t ever love like that again, no more, no more. I dream of happier endings but I don’t tell you anymore. No more, no more. My heart’s been broken but it doesn’t hurt anymore. No more, no more.