Serendipity

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

Tag: spilled ink

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.

288

In the end all that matters is that you chose me once. That you smiled at me across the room and invited me into your life when you were still a recluse. That we enjoyed every moment in each other’s company and you kissed me like a lover who felt like a friend.

That you saw my pain and believed it because you felt it too. We didn’t wallow together but I felt understood.

In the end what matters is this: kindness and faith. Waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel and seeing it shine brighter than you ever imagined possible. That gnawing sense of regret in the pit of my stomach because you’re not here to see it, I so wished you were here to say you’re proud of me.

In the end it doesn’t matter that you chose her.

285

My happiness came in fleeting bursts. It was superficial, forgettable, insincere. I didn’t know whether it hurt me more that he couldn’t see it, or terrified me that he might.

I was dissatisfied, but mostly with myself. My stubbornness, my imperfections, my undoing. My inexplicable need to sabotage and destroy any semblance of stability. I could never make myself believe that he loved me as much as he said he did, even as he was saying it. I felt alone, even when he held me. Especially when he held me. I felt empty, maybe because they’d left wounds too deep. Or maybe I was always hollow to begin with.

I couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that I was wasting this life, this precious, exhausting existence. That every minute I spent feeling ungrateful would come back and haunt me with poetic justice. I never deserved any of it, and sooner or later it would be taken away, which would be unbearable, yet inevitable. I was angry with him for not understanding me, even though I didn’t either. I was regressing, and anger was my defence mechanism. I wanted to be heard even when I didn’t like my own voice.

I fell apart at the last wedding I attended because I had been uninvited to another. Not just unceremoniously removed from a list of invitations, but permanently barred from an entire life. She knew better than to leave him with access to relationship poison, they were ready to remove therapy from their budget and progress to the next phase of suburban paradise. I locked myself in the bathroom stall and sent a drunken message that would never be read. Or perhaps read and deleted to avoid incrimination. Or perhaps read and elicited only annoyance. Everyone had moved on while I let myself be haunted by a kind smile more than a decade old. I could never keep enough good people around to make me better. You could never love me enough to stay past the bad weather.

284

After all this time, you were the one who taught me what love ought to look like.

I’d never taken the time to observe the wonders of nature, the beauty of a well kept garden. It had seemed frivolous, wasteful, time that could be spent more constructively. I was taught as a child to remove myself from unnecessary distractions. I didn’t forget how to have fun. I never learned how to.

Love came in many forms and disguises, but yours was the sweetest. You whispered empty promises until I believed them, and I am still falling for your bad intentions.

There was a small part of me, naive and blindly optimistic, that was sure I could mean something to you even after I was gone. That you might think of me as the girl who loved you unconditionally, until she had to leave to recover all that she had lost in loving you.

I never wanted your gratitude, or gentle thoughts, or even nostalgia. But if I held on tight to my memories of you whilst you let go, how much of it remains real? Was it only ever lust imitating passion? Perhaps I’d unwittingly fantasised my own importance, my recollections of how fiercely we fought for our temporary infatuations being a mere extension of my narcissism.

There was a time when you meant the world to me, but I was only ever a small star in your galaxy. She will make you forget my name. She will make sure of it.

I will whisper my silent goodbyes. I will love you to my grave.

283

Let’s be serious, our generation never grew up. We never had to. There were no wars for us to fight, and we tried not to think too hard about the ones in faraway countries we’d never visit. It was irrelevant, it was nothing we had any control over, so why bother with upset? #War would never become trending. Don’t waste your pixels. Our understanding of starvation extends only to a delayed UberEats delivery, and we treat the mildest inconveniences like life ending catastrophe. Our lives revolve around the same first world problems and petty grievances, intermittently interrupted with the latest shiny object within our budget.

Our parents think they had it hard, or at least harder. Some become resentful, bitter that life wasn’t as kind on them as it was on us. They know it isn’t fair or right to feel this way, but that doesn’t stop them from muttering under their breath “…back in my day…”. You wish they had the decency to keep those thoughts to themselves. They don’t care what you think at all, you petulant child. They belong to the generation that believes emotional trauma builds character. They credit themselves for every achievement in your life but your failures are your own to bear. Don’t you dare burden them with disappointment.

Misery loves company only because it’s so damn lonely. I want you to understand my suffering, I have to make sure it’s equally devastating, or you won’t begin to comprehend my pain. But the world’s changing too fast for us to keep up. Round and round we go, we tell the same stories with new faces who distract from familiar, predictable conclusions. We go anyway. The devil’s in the details.

But you can’t escape the nagging feeling that you’ve drifted from the proper path. It’s like pressing the wrong key in a video game and knowing you’ll never get to the ending you wanted, that you worked so hard for. But you’ve come too far to start over, so you settle for second best. Before you know it your entire life becomes a series of second bests. You settle for less, then less, until you’re an empty shell of wasted potential. You spend the rest of your life convincing yourself that this is enough, and if you’re lucky, you’ll believe it.

279

What was it like to be seventeen? The smallest inconveniences appeared to be insurmountable difficulties. Every emotion you’re feeling for the very first time, magnified until they seemed all encompassing, all consuming. That was the state of my affairs, the day you first smiled at me.

You seemed almost angelic. Not that I’d ever believed in the hippie trippy trash about auras, but some strange energy drew me towards you. It soon became clear that we enjoyed each other’s company, and you were unsure if that was suitable. You had appearances to keep. I had too much baggage, too much gossip that would follow.

I shouldn’t need you to see it in order to be happy with this life that I’ve built. But some stupid childish part of me wishes you would glance back, just for a second, nod your approval, the way you used to wink at me across the room, our little secret. I promise not to tell. She never has to know.

I don’t know what I’m hoping to prove. I never said I loved you. We never dared to dream of it. Maybe it hurts because you refused to give me a chance to be a better person. You simply decided that I wasn’t. That was the end of my chapter in your story. It kills me that this is how it ends. She looked beautiful in that dress. You looked handsome as always in that perfectly tailored suit. How dare you look so happy. The nerve of you, to make me feel happy for you.

Now I know my few remaining friends have given up hope on trying to save me. I know I’ll come up with a perfect plot to piss off the dumb few that forgave me. I’ll burn every bridge before I make it to the exit, I’ll follow you to the edge of the sea. I’ll mark your name in red before I leave, you’ll never get another chance to deceive me.

I hope you lie when you tell people she’s a good wife, there’s no cure for our kind of lonely and she makes you cry. I hope I die young and you finally learn to miss me. It’ll be too late. I burned the olive tree down.

278

I’ve never truly felt like I belonged. People had friends, they had groups, they had their chosen families. I never felt close to my own family and I didn’t know how to be close to others in that way. I was too awkward, too riddled with anxiety. I worried about saying the wrong thing. I worried about the sound of my voice. A mistaken tone. Accidentally offending someone. It would be easier if I never had to talk. Why was it no longer appropriate to remain silent. Why are we obligated to fill in the blanks, always.

I was so tired of the asinine small talk. The needless banter with strangers we wouldn’t spend a moment with if there wasn’t some sort of banal transaction binding us together. The annoying wastes of space you had to speak to on the phone, making your job more difficult by merely breathing. If murder had no legal consequences, more of us would grab a bone-saw. We have violence in our blood, some lose the battle to contain it. Who are we to judge, really? What about the darkest most depraved thoughts you’ve ever had. You’re no better. You could be worse.

I miss you. Losing you makes me wonder if I lost something within myself. The part of me that was worth loving, because you loved me once. You made me believe there were people out there who could see the truth behind the whispers. Now you whisper about me too. I become an anecdote. The wild girl who offered unlimited stories. Who put her life on display for your amusement. She would have died for you. You’d let her.

I hate you. For giving me hope before you snatched it. The illusion of salvation, my bitter dissolution. Watching me shatter for your bragging rights. But you were a victim of your own imagination. You saw something in me that never existed. You tell her I was a mistake and she believes you. I never needed any convincing.

 

274

Some people were not meant to be kept. They feel trapped, claustrophobic. Erotic asphyxiation, minus the erotica. You make them hollow when you try to make them stay. They thrive on the new, the shallow, the promised missed phone calls, the lack of commitment, the paper thin walls of hipster hotel rooms and the false pretence of romance emanating from scented candles that don’t belong to you. He doesn’t want to belong to anyone but himself.

Some people don’t know how to be alone. They choke on anxiety at the idea of a poor conversation, they want so hard to be interesting, but having never overcome the fear of attempting to be anything other than ordinary, they will continue fading into the walls, deeper into obscurity. You never notice them. They’re just strangers walking past, they leave no trace.

Some people want to be remembered. For the good, the bad, and the ugly. Maybe the ugly are always more memorable. Remember the name, remember my name. I was capable of great horrors. There is glory in being a monster. Fear me, fear me, he cries. Then I will no longer be afraid of anything.

 

 

273

Exordium

Despite our bitter dissolution, I can’t deny that he once saved me from myself, and I will always remain grateful for that brief respite of unexpected kindness.

We met under peculiar circumstances. I was lost, certain only of the fact that I must be damaged goods, and desperately searching for anything to prove otherwise. He saw me drowning and reached out a hand, for no other reason than he had been walking by. He had kindness in him once, on that day, and the days that followed, perhaps I simply used it all up.

It was only intended to be temporary, and neither of us knew what to do when we grew accustomed to waking up together in the mornings. I suppose he bit off more than he could chew, and I was still greedily clinging to him for breath. He was always a realist. I should have known then that he would cut me loose if it meant saving himself.

Falling

It was both gradual and all at once. One day we woke up and smiled at each other and that was the beginning of the end.

We were smitten, obnoxiously attached like codependent Siamese twins. It was overbearing and mildly irritating even to friends, but we were too enamoured to care. I believed him when he said “I love you”, despite all evidence to the contrary. I had been so deprived of affection that those words were enough at the time. I let my imagination fill in the gaps. I was too infatuated to see past his carefully calculated responses. He did the bare minimum to maintain us and I was all too eager to pick up the slack. 

Melancholia

My depression wasn’t the only battle, but it was enough to cripple our already fragile foundations. He convinced me to stop taking the pills and felt his own acute despair when his presence proved to not be enough.

It was the lack of purpose, the grind and pressures of university, the constant procrastination and guilt, my repugnant inability to change. There was so little hope,  and he remained the only constant. That must have been unbearable, but he never complained.

The more I believed love could save me, the more he wanted to run. He would never have admitted to it. He never wanted to be unkind.

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I can understand it now, in hindsight, how appealing she must have been. All gentle smiles and grace, an undisturbed childhood and a mother who could compliment without degradation.

I was barely enlightened enough to be in denial, only irredeemably naive.

The more I craved for him to choose me, the more repulsive my desperation appeared. It’s bitingly sardonic that the only thing that might have saved us would have been walking away, but I wasn’t strong enough then.

It wasn’t a lesson I ever wanted to learn. If you’re lucky, a blessed childhood can heal all life’s trauma. If you’re unfortunate, you’ll spend your life chasing the ghosts of your past.

 

 

 

 

272

There’s no organic way for relationships to repair themselves. It’s nothing like a bruise or a cut, when your body can simply clot the wound and rebuild under layers of scar tissue. We live in a world so offensively connected, it takes deliberation to lose touch with someone. Everything you never said can become personal, we take it all so personally.

I imagine you’re the same as always, picture perfect barbie doll-esque. Your lipstick colour hasn’t changed but your lips have become more refined at lying. Silver tongues can be contagious. Clever men can be dangerous, sometimes deadly. You mistake his duplicitous nature for strength. Your mother taught you better than this, so you speak to her less.

I’ve worked so hard to forget you, you’d be sufficiently flattered if you knew. I hate myself for my inability to let go of the past, to let regrets simply be. They fill me up, they’ll break me, I know. I never stopped being fragile, I only got better at pretending. I can’t think of you without my insides aching. You stole the last part of something pure, my misled belief in some goodness in this wretched world. I believed in you, in us, in friendships that could not be broken, in promises that would be kept. Where were you when I needed you the most? I never thought I’d have to survive you.

He builds you up until you no longer recognise yourself. He wasn’t a good partner when she needed him the most. He wasn’t a good son until it was too late. He wasn’t a good man for the most part of living. But he’s good to you. He’s good enough, you keep saying. Does it matter if he has a good heart? I suppose it depends how deep you’re willing to dig. My my, what a pretty grave.

 

268

Then there was you. Always standing tall and seeming so sure of yourself, or at least good enough at pretending that no one noticed otherwise. If they did, your friends were not so cruel as to point it out. You always did make the effort to surround yourself with kind people. I might have been the one exception. Maybe you were having a bad day, a weak moment and I slipped through, all smiles and innocence.

I was never blunt by intention, there was a deceptive lightness in me but you were never fooled like the others. You alone saw the sharp edges that no amount of sun tan lotion and summer dresses could blur. You tried to kiss them away once and I left blood on your tongue, stains on your collar. You knew better after. You knew when to cut your losses.

I miss you the way I miss any old friend. It doesn’t hurt more or less because we had other choices. I can no longer say for certain whether you were right or wrong, only that anger is no substitute nor does it stave away the pain. I hate her for stealing you, but wish her well for loving you more than I ever did.

I loved you like you were temporary, the way some people loved their pets in a calculated manner because they were afraid to outlive them. I was waiting for you to leave since the day you met me. I was content to be your stepping stone, a phase to get out of your system, and then you did.

I hope she keeps your demons at bay and you find goodness wherever you go. I hope you sleep through the nights and she still makes you smile in the mornings. I hope you’ve mastered the art of being alone but you never have to be lonely. I’m sure your children will inherit your good looks and her fair temperament. And when you find yourself reflected in their eyes, you’ll feel a sense of such completeness, you won’t miss me at all.

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.

262

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

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

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

260

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

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