I recently had a conversation with a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while. The last time we saw each other was October of last year when I was still living in Spain. To say a lot had transpired between then and the present moment would be an understatement. I mean this is 2020 we’re talking about. We had a lot to catch up on. We discussed, in particular detail, the events leading up to the dramatic conclusion of my last “relationship” (If you can call it that. If you can really call anything I’ve been involved in romantically and/or sexually over the course of my life a relationship). For you though, I’ll try to keep it simple (mainly because I don’t yet feel like reliving it again): it started out as a fuck buddies type of situation, stayed that way for several months, at which point—to the surprise of absolutely no one—things began to escalate very quickly until it all came crashing down in a fireball of venom, resentment, emotional abuse, and toxicity.
Now, believe it or not, I saw this coming about a thousand miles away. I saw this coming from the very beginning. I saw in my mind exactly how this would inevitably play out. And yet, I still willingly walked headfirst into this maelstrom because the stupid part of me (who thought I could handle it, who thought that I was in complete control of this careening vehicle) is still much stronger than the smarter corresponding part of me (who can see right through the bullshit—my own and other people’s).
The underlying problem here being that I still romanticize bullshit. I can’t seem to stop. And being aware of this fact, on its own, is not enough to make you change course.
So, what happened? Well, the same thing that always happens: I meet a guy who shows absolutely no interest in me, decide I want to court him (see: bang him), he acts like this could not be further from what he wants, we fuck, we hang out, he ignores me until he wants to fuck again or desires some brief and commitment-free emotional connection, my conquest instincts kick in, and I become absolutely consumed with the task of making him fall in love with me. Suddenly, a switch flips and my only goal, my only focus becomes this person. They can reject me over and over again, treat me like garbage, useless and disposable. Doesn’t matter. This just adds fuel to a fire which burns me alive from the inside out.
There is nothing more enticing than a person who withholds affection.
So far, I’ve never failed at getting exactly what I think I want once this manic drive takes over me. They fall in love with me. But, as it turns out, that was never what really what I wanted. I didn’t want their love, I just wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of attaining it. I grow to resent them. Decide I’m done with the whole thing. Eventually, we both burn up in the process. I discard their charred carcass—my idealized image of them—from my mind entirely and abandon ship.
Now most people I have been with have been varying degrees of asshole. This last person, though, was really, truly a piece of work. He’s the first person I’ve been with that I no longer speak to and will never speak to again no matter how many times he reaches out to me.
This relationship got so bad that it not only scared me, but my friends as well.
SO bad, in fact, that my friends felt the need to stage an intervention. Somehow, they managed to get me to come hang out with them alone. They told me they were worried about me because they never saw me anymore, because the shit I was telling them to rationalize all of my distance and flaking and continued association with this guy was totally insane. They told me that I was in an emotionally abusive relationship, that I needed to get the hell out of it, and that they would do whatever they could to help me.
It still took me three fuck you’s and a global pandemic to leave him.
And I didn’t even really like him. Honestly, by the end of it, I hated him—and myself. I was just so entangled in my own obsession and insecurity that I convinced myself everything that was happening was ok and that I could leave anytime I wanted to. That I was really just entertaining this whole thing for the sake of psychological intrigue.
Well, I won’t lie to you. I did learn a hell of a lot about myself and about what makes other people tick during this whole affair. Some scary shit.
I learned to recognize this pattern that I repeat time and time again. I learned that this pattern is potentially much more dangerous than I was really giving it credit for. And, I finally began the process of accepting that I have much less self-control than I thought; in fact, I might say I am out of control entirely.
I mean I almost moved to France with this guy. (Yes, that is a real thing I just said). I would lie there after sex, feeling good, feeling wanted, feeling that rush of oxytocin—mistaking it for love. Recognizing it as a mistake, as a chemical deception, yet still convincing myself that this feeling was probably the best I would ever do. That maybe I should just settle. This is what happiness, love, and acceptance feel like, right? If we moved to France, away from my friends or anyone who knew me, then there would be no one to question my behavior or decisions or choices. No one who could confirm what I already knew: that I was being gaslit, controlled, coerced away from the company of friends, treated like shit, that I was putting myself within dangerous proximity to a rage that was really just one step away from physical abuse.
And yet, without the pandemic forcing me to leave the country, I don’t know if I wouldn’t have gone back to him. Against all better judgment, against the advice of those who cared about me.
Would I have? Really? I don’t know.
Let’s analyze this shall we?
Why do you keep repeating the same cycles when you know exactly how they will end?
We can take this back to the beginning if we want, to the source of all disfunction: childhood.
After I told my friend this story she said, “Wow, you really have a thing for guys who are obsessed with you, don’t you?”
I laughed, but that hit me in a pretty deep pocket of denial and self-delusion that I was unaware existed up until that moment.
You see, I thought I was the obsessive one. And that is true. But I also seem to seek out, or to naturally gravitate towards people who initially reject me, but who, with a little charm, become enthralled with me. Then, I suppose I can have the satisfaction of rejecting them (I think that must be it? I dunno, I’m still working this out as I go).
It’s attention seeking behavior and it is deeply rooted in a household full of anger and emotional detachment that was largely lacking in affection. Yep, you got it. My parents didn’t hug me enough or pay enough attention to me. Classic. Ok, so maybe this is unexceptional, banal, not exactly interesting nor does it inspire great sympathy. Nonetheless, it instilled within me this pathetic, yet predictable habit of desperately trying to convince other people to love me. We could go into how, as a child, I used to ask people I barely knew–or even total strangers–for hugs, but that’s just sad and I’d rather not.
Alright, ok, so we’ve found the basis of this behavior. It explains a lot about me, but it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Let’s give credit where credit is due, let me shoulder some of the responsibility for who I am as a person. I haven’t exactly done anything to try to alter or fix this facet of my personality.
I’m 27, and I am at least somewhat self-aware. I spend a whole lot of time hanging out in the dank depths of my subconscious trying to figure it all out anyway.
So, if I see the problem…why can’t I make it go away? Or, why won’t I?
I don’t know…arrogance, a bent towards self-destruction that I attempt to conceal under the guise of curiosity, a lack of self-control, fear? You name it, I’ve got it.
There you go, that’s more like it. That’s the key.
I know I’m young. I have time left to figure things out…I guess.
But I find it all ridiculous and terrifying.
And I don’t want to be like that anymore.
I don’t need to tell you that this year has been an extremely isolated one. That goes without saying. But with that loneliness has come time for introspection, for soul-searching, for shadow work, etc. etc.
I’ve been trying to at least try to improve myself, with varying degrees of success. In some areas more so than others.
Alone, my creativity has thrived, it seems. I’ve been writing more consistently than ever before, I picked up the guitar again and started playing it every day. So, I can say with some confidence that I’m getting a lot better at these passions of mine.
And I’m realizing that this is what the fuck I do when I don’t have a romantic, or sexual, or whatever, partner in my life complicating things. I fucking create and improve and grow.
However, it’s much easier to cultivate external strengths and skills than it is to effect real, internal change.
I guess, then, that my next life goal is to figure out how to transfer this dedication to the pursuit of external talents over to inner strengths as well. To finally stop engaging with these toxic relationships. Break the cycle of self-destruction. To learn to search for and accept partners that I can be a healthy person with—a person who nurtures herself and evolves—instead of just obsessing over dismissive or abusive people simply for the sake of exploring the limits of my capacity for bullshit and pain.
Curiosity is a bitch.
I’ve always been fascinated by psychology and that has gotten me in more trouble than I can ever express to you. I attract crazy and negativity and neediness and brokenness like no other. And it’s not because opposites attract. People aren’t magnets.
And I will entertain a shitty relationship knowing full well how it will inevitably end—in a collision of wills and hearts and human suffering.
Just because I want to intimately understand the why’s and how’s of the psyche, of behavior. And because I struggle to control the compulsions that drive me towards annihilation.
Do I trade intimacy for chaos? For anger and rejection?
It all comes back to that thread.
Narrow it down to a pinpoint.
But knowing does nothing
And nothing incites no action
On its own.
You have to force yourself to try and go against every fucking instinct,
Every learned behavior and reaction.
You’re an addict any way you look at it.
But not only
Do something about it.
I’m begging you.
I want to be happy.
I want to stop romanticizing the dark and dangerous.
Confusing it for artistic fuel. It is only fuel for fire.
And fire burns without remorse
Without conscious thought
With only the desire to continue its path.
Walk far, far away.
Don’t look back.
Is everything inside you caustic?
Will you eat away at yourself until nothing is left?
What will you do?
You wrote this while drinking.
The irony is not lost
We are two people.
Capable of everything that exists
Between Good and Evil.
Decide where you are
And where you stand.
You cannot remain forever in the desert.
It is no promised land,
I know it’s vast and hard to navigate,
But you have to keep moving.
You are the harbinger of your own change,
Death or Resurrection.