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.

Tag: writing

276

On the evening celebrating my 27th birthday, just as my friends arrived, I received a call from my father that I needed to fly home immediately. My grandmother had a fall and was in the hospital. There was nothing the doctors could do for her, she was unconscious and probably not going to wake up, but I should see her one last time before the inevitable.

I’m not sure if we ever get better equipped at dealing with death. Does it become easier as more and more of our loved ones leave us? Is “easier” the right word when we’re simply numb to the pain?

I’ve always been slow to process my emotions. Compartmentalising always came so naturally to me. I found myself dissecting the situation like an unfeeling robot, and drew the unpleasant conclusion that death may in fact be a relief for her, and the rest of us.

She was 93 and had been suffering from dementia for the past few years, her condition worsening as time went on. More recently she would call me by my cousin’s name when I came to visit. With the exception of my mother who undoubtedly loved her the most, her four living sons have spent the past decade pawning off the responsibility of taking care of her, passing her around each family in rotation so they could split the burden as much as possible, in a manner deemed tolerable to their wives.

Maybe death is harder for our atheistic generation, when we all “know” that nothing happens after. Although the older I get the harder it is to be dismissive of religion entirely. I simply know of too many individuals far more intelligent than I will ever be who have found ways to maintain faith despite evidence to the contrary, that I can’t help wonder, and however reluctantly, begrudgingly, submit to such possibilities, because to claim otherwise would be unbearably arrogant.

In the final days we took turns holding her hand, my mother calling for her with a desperation that weighed heavily on us all. We did our best to remind her she was loved, and would be dearly missed. It’s strange how death can bring people together, how goodness can sometimes be found in the middle of hell.

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275

I miss you and I hate you for that.

A part of me always knew there was no happy ending in store for us, but I imagined that I would find contentment along the way, and for a while I pretended that would be enough.

When you said you loved me, I could tell you meant it in the way others pretended to mean it. I sometimes wonder how I ever found the strength to leave you, when so much of me wanted to stay. I refuse to acknowledge that I ripped myself open for you. But it was the last time I ever let anybody in.

There was an easy charm about you that you pretended to work hard for. Maybe you even convinced yourself that it was hard, just so you could take the credit. You viewed the world through a different lens and you were convinced your version was superior. I would never have been enough and you knew it. We would have ruined each other in exquisite ways. You would have enjoyed every minute of it.

She bores you, you’d never admit it, but you know it. You’re sick of the way she looks at you. Whatever part of your ego that she once satisfied with her presence now finds her mediocre and taxing. You could have done better, you’d never say it, but you know it. With every kiss you feel your affections fade, until you barely remember why you chose to stay. You made the choice, long ago, that you would always stay.

It could have all been different, we might have never crossed paths and you might be happier for it. I brought you so much pain and so little joy to compensate. I don’t know how to truly convey my sincerity in a way that might move you. I thought I left you for new beginnings, but perhaps they are only new mistakes. New people to disappoint, more hearts to break.

 

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.

 

270

Look, it wasn’t really fair but no one ever said it would be, did they? No one promised you that this life was going to be made up of dreams come true and memories worthy of romantic comedies, the kind that was cheesy but he would reluctantly sit through and secretly enjoy but never admit to.

No one ever said you deserved to be happy. Happiness was a luxury not a right, something to yearn for but never to keep. Something to hold onto but still be cursed to witness it slip away. A chance to climb only to fall further than you ever did, each time testing the strength of your ability to keep your heart beating. She stopped calling. Some people never want to be mended. Some get tired of being saved.

Sometimes the deepest wounds don’t bleed at all. No one notices when you’re vulnerable to the sharpness of air. How I can miss it. The sharp edges, the reminders to stay unkind. You and your smug perfect smile. Your carefully curated messy hair. The ability to leave me behind. The cleverness to forget my name. I was never so much the one that got away as the one that forced you to change your number. I called once so I could hear your voice again. It wasn’t what I remembered.

I had a childish naivety that was incompatible with reality. I urged you to reconsider, even though I really did know better.

What was the purpose of staying lonely? What does it mean if they prefer solitude over your company? How extravagant must your failures be to have provoked such opinions?

Why are you still here? He might actually miss you if you had the decency to die young like you promised.

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.

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.

262

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

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

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

261

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

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

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

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

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

260

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

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

259

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

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

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

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

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

258

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

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

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

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

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

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