You should probably do something better with your time.
NB; This is part of my CB therapy. It’s one-sided, it’s biased, it’s self-pitying, it’s my mind and nothing else. If you happen to know me and happen to know anyone I allude to, then take it with a horse bag of salt. There’s so much left unsaid and so much probably overstated. That’s the nature of externalisation based writing therapy.
Welcome to my journey. It’s not a great tale of heroes and adventures. No great prose on the human condition. Nor is it a window into a philosophical or even theological insight. It’s just the words of a lonely traveller, who is travelling a path of his own making. It occasionally crosses well-trodden tracks that he decides to follow, and on occasion even follows a common thoroughfare with others
No, this is the tale of one being who feels all alone. No matter how far he travels, how bright his lantern, how warm his fire, accommodating his hospitality nor even how inviting his conversation or infectious his laughter – few give to him what he felt he gave so freely to many.
Born into a family that should never have existed. A marriage brought about in a new world, where people were incentivised to leave their traditional homes and start a new life in a place with a different culture, language, societal expectations and overall way of living. Introduced and brought together by well-meaning, but misguided, individuals. The couple were united before either had an opportunity to determine their own minds.
As this author now knows, doubt is a seed. It can sprout into two forms. With attention, care and light it can become a force for curiosity and exploration. Often, though, it is shunned and kept in the dark. Being resilient, it survives and crawls it’s way out. Like a voracious poisonous ivy with tendril roots digging their way into every crack of your being, establishing itself as a force to be dealt with at every instance.
Barely a year after the couple were thrust together, he was pulled into the world. Medical incompetency had failed to note the mother to be anaemic, her body weakened and unable to trigger the natural process on its own. It was a violent intervention that caused a new doctor to pay attention, and pull the child out, stillborn and almost a month late, but revived and with attention, it survived.
From a young age, he was different. It wasn’t just living in a town where the locals suffered xenophobia and this family were the first outsiders to enter their community. It wasn’t the fact that he was the firstborn son of the firstborn son – a position that came with duties, responsibilities and expectations before he was even able to walk or talk. It was deeper than these things.
He struggled with language. He was inundated with noises and words, with various dialects and colloquial nuances, none of it made much sense to him, the words did not fit with how he observed the world. He refused to talk and tried to escape inside his own head instead.
Sent to school, they tried to teach him the language of the land. After all, how was he to communicate with the locals? So they taught him to read, and gave him books about magical places and wondrous things, and he loved them, a world made of words they might be, but that he could convert to one he could experience within his head.
He still refused to talk.
The family and the school were both very religious. They tried to instil in him a great many things – trust in a higher power, faith, reverence, an ethical and moral framework – this is our way, they told him, you must be one of the flock.
He did not fit in though. His family were seemingly always angry and disciplined him daily for non-compliance with some rule or another. Often he was left unsure as to what he had said or done to attract the wrath of his self-described loving parents. He was ‘punished’ at every turn – for things he may have done – but also for the things his sibling had done, his cousins had done – in fact, the entire family below his age was his responsibility – and every infraction of theirs was his to bare.
Each infraction came with intense screaming of the disappointment in his actions, in his being, in his very existence and the words were accompanied to the swish and the clap of a corporeal punishment – via sapling branches, canes, leather belts or wooden spoons – and that was just the mother.
Often upon the end of a twelve to fifteen-hour shift the father would come home to be recited the events of the day, and have him dole out his own punishment – screaming was not his way, growling was. Low, deep and menacing – like a lion, before it strikes, his words would sound logical and questioning, but the tone was challenging and daring. The punishments were akin to those of mothers – if he was lucky. Often, it was felt that a punishment that ingrained a lesson in the boy would be required – having his arms tied up behind his back and to the bed-frame so he was forced to kneel on the rough carpet and gain carpet burns; having dried beans placed beneath his knees as he was forced to maintain a straight-back posture of military precision with his hands, fingers intertwined, behind his head for an hour. Every infraction of the stance met with a caning across the legs …
After a while, he was being ‘punished’ that often that he started retreating further into himself and removed himself from the attachment to the pain. His reliance on the bonds of family withered away – and soon, he realised that no matter what he did, he would always be facing this wrath brought upon him by the need to make him a ‘good man’ through the ‘love’ they had for him.
By the age of seven, he had already learnt that the world was not a friendly place. His parent’s love was painful and scarring, his neighbourhood was filled with kids who bashed his head into a truck wheel and sliced open his chest with a knife for being a dago – for being the wrong shade of white. The local constabulary would have fun pulling him over to search his bags and pockets because “you never know what his kind are up to”, the teachers were frustrated by the “dumb foreign kid who just doesn’t understand basic things” and even the parish priest was quick to tell him that God had many plans for many people, but my kind shouldn’t expect much.
As he departed primary school to enter secondary college, he was enrolled into another religious private school – this time an all-boys college run by a sect who had committed their lives to the religion and to upholding the faith. They too were free with a cane or a walnut-lined rod – though the infractions were now of the kind labelled “insubordination” and “heresy”.
Not seeing a way out of either situation, he decided to enrol in the seminary college electives that were held during the school year as two-hourly sessions on either side of the standard school curriculum timetable. He could not possibly be considered the patriarch of his family if he was in the service of god, could he?
At 14, he ran away from home. Initially sleeping over at a friends house, he was found by the parents, so he ran away from there and lived in the streets for a few months. Found by the police one night, not knowing who or where he was – suffering either a breakdown or a drug overdose-induced amnesia, he was hospitalised and due to the public health system, his parents were contacted, and with the blessings of the child protective services and the police, he was handed back to the parents. They, in turn, demonstrated their love and protection by removing his bedroom door, locking shut his windows and monitoring him continuously – so as not to have him go again.
At 16, with the law leniently allowing him to make his own decision – he ran again. He found a share house and lived with people he had never experienced before – gays, lesbians and even a transsexual male. He couldn’t afford school, so got a job at a grocery store where he started out on the front-end, then groceries before joining the management programme.
He continued his theological studies by correspondence – possibly because the subject matter at the time (comparative theology) was truly interesting him. He rose quickly in the programme from storeman to dairy and freezer management and was in-line to become a fill-in store manager by the time he became eighteen. The staff he worked with were mostly blue-collar workers – they were the stereotypical retail staff who worked hard during their shifts and partied harder when they came off. There were great bouts of drinking, many 420 sessions in many public and private places, and encounters of the friendly kind.
Oh, he tried to fit in, but he was awkward, never had the social training, never really felt like he belonged – the only reason he liked structure was because he could work out how to play inside the boxes.
People still confused him. He didn’t understand how others made friends and connections. He didn’t feel like one of the “boys” and he obviously wasn’t one of the “girls” – the only time he didn’t feel judged was when he was with the “gay” crowd – where gays and lesbians and drag queens and people who were transitioning were all accepted and he was just another stray who was accepted as part of this greater group.
During this time – he wasn’t looking after himself, he drank too much, ate too little, slept even less and ended up a gaunt, jaundiced anorexic. Which probably contributed to the workplace injury he suffered a few months before his eighteenth birthday. He ripped the muscles of his lower back and dislocating his right hip and leg.
Once again, the public health system looked after him, and yet again, hospitalised and stuck in bed, they reached into his emergency contact information on the system and connecting him to his parents who were contacted and took him back to their place to recover.
Once again, he was subjected to their ‘love’ and oppressive ‘protection’. He was stuck in a situation where he could not move or talk without their overview, their disapproval or their need to correct his behaviour. He turned to harder drugs and was yet again found by police – unconscious and unresponsive. Hospitalised, he was in a coma for 6 days before coming out – only to find himself amnesiac and surrounded by people who claimed to be his family.
It took a few months for his memories to come back enough that he felt like he was who they said he was. Yet it still wasn’t right. He took on a part-time job and went back to high school and with some help from a friend, managed to get out and move into a youth shelter and finish his school certificate.
Moving out of the shelter, he moved in with a group of friends who were into spirituality, and tried, yet again to fit in there. Only to find that they did not want him to – not really. Moving share house, he met someone. It was unexpected. Miraculous. Every time he was near her, the energy almost visibly crackled across the air to each other’s skin. She claimed she felt it too. She visibly breathed heavily when she was near him… and she rejected him – nonetheless.
It wasn’t the first time he had been with a woman. His earlier romantic encounters had all been failures as well. Sometimes they were his fault, he simply did not know how to cope or interact. The names of regret – Maria, Rebecca, Helena, Fiona, Donna, Flo … the latter was meant to be special, there was meant to be a connection, instead, she raped him, and then publicly shamed and ridiculed him.
It was the first time he had felt this ‘thing’ – a kind of “animal magnetism”, this “twin soul” or “other half” magic feeling that people had spoken about … and she claimed she felt it too … so why? Why was he rejected? He didn’t understand, she wouldn’t explain it … and it just served to re-affirm what he already had experienced throughout his life … he was an outsider, different, strange, unrelatable and most of all … unlovable. At every turn, people seemed to go out of their way to hurt him.
There was another woman at this time. She was not “his type”. He was not “her type” either. Neither looked upon the other favourably upon first impression, but they treated each other cordially and with respect. Over time, a friendship of sorts formed, and they began spending time together, much to the chagrin of her boyfriend. Through what can only be described as a comedy of errors, they started misinterpreting each others actions and signals, to the point that the other thought they were interested … and over time, they became a couple.
He had told her that he was different. He warned her that he felt like he could equitably love multiple people at the same time. That he was able to love in ways that seemed different from what others had described. She told him he was crazy, and that he had better love only her, or he was out.
It wasn’t romantic, nor easy. It seemed that the relationship was doomed from the beginning. One thing after another threatened the union – yet it somehow survived. They learnt to communicate, sometimes through screaming and sometimes through logical conversation. They learnt to compromise and to negotiate and to live with each other. Their love grew. They became happy. She gave him affection, she gave him love, he gave her his heart and great sex and orgasms like she never had before. It was good for a while.
At the 7 year mark, she ripped out his heart. She told him that she wasn’t in love with him anymore. She wanted someone else. The boy next door. She wanted to give it a try with him. To do that, she needed him to no longer be part of her life.
He collapsed with grief. The one person in his entire life who had shown him love and affection and acceptance … had just pulled it all away from him.
The next few weeks were hazy. He doesn’t recall much from that time. He recalls that she had moved back in with her parents, and that was rejected by the boy – turns out the boy was gay – and somewhere in there, she returned to him, contrite and apologetic. He recalls being the best man at a friends wedding. He recalls securing a property and telling her that if she chose to, she could join him and co-sign the mortgage. She agreed. They bought their first home together.
Twice more over the years, she repeated the heart-ripping manoeuvre. Once when she was overseas for work and told him she was dirty dancing with a man in New Orleans and was pulled away by her coworkers. She said nothing else happened, but the implication was left that if her coworkers weren’t there, that may have been a different story. Another time, she had a crush on a work colleague – she tried to hide it from him, but he knew … but it went away and for a few more years they were seemingly OK. Again, it wasn’t the acts. It was the betrayal of demanding he go against his nature and stay monogamous while she played with flaunting the rules. More than that, she took her love away.
She began a part-time postgraduate degree at this time. She threw herself into it with fervour and worked at it every non-working hour she was home. He supported her in every way he could. He assisted with research, cooked, cleaned, made every attempt to ensure she had what she needed in time, space and technology. Yet, over time – she would rather spend any remaining free time playing computer games than interacting with him.
The distance between them grew. She didn’t seem to notice. He tried to talk to her about it, but she dismissed it as him being overly sensitive. He complained about the lack of intimacy and sex, and she told him off for not being supportive and realising she was busy and tired.
He was tired. He was trying to love her with everything he had. He was trying not to connect with other people and be what she wanted him to be. Yet, here she was telling him that he was being unfair. He didn’t know better. He accepted it. He let it go and brought it up again after a few months, then six months after, then only once a year …
In the meantime, he had carved out a career for himself – it wasn’t planned, nor was it easy, but he worked hard, he pushed himself past the anxiety barrier and kept striving for more. He managed to reach the higher levels of his industry and was working on an international level – something that everyone had told him was impossible for someone like him. He regularly undertook sixty-hour weeks and spent much of his free time reading and learning and chasing.
Then one day, he just … broke.
There were probably a number of factors in play here. Sure he was overworked. But that wasn’t enough by itself.
He had contracted epiglottitis. He had stated he was very sore and had a fever, but was told to “stop being a baby” by her. However, after losing the ability to talk, coughing up blood, struggling to breathe properly and only through writing a note to her, he begged her to take him to the emergency room, he was hospitalised and told that he was lucky – if he had taken pain killers and gone back to bed, he may not have awoken in the morning. That jarring event of sudden mortality was probably the first part of the problem.
Years earlier he had been misdiagnosed as having panic disorder. He was provided with a range of drugs to deal with it. Turns out, that he had depression. The drugs simply didn’t address it, and the brains chemical makeup was altered forever. That was another element.
Then they investigated the throat and found pre-cancerous growths. A full check-up also found polyps in his bowel and they tested as cancerous as well.
The brain just said enough was enough, and it just broke.
Through all this – she seemed concerned but unaffected. Then one night, she killed his heart yet again. “I no longer find you attractive, I don’t want to sleep with you anymore, I don’t want to be with you”
He was devastated.
He knew she had a crush on her current boss. She thought he didn’t – but by now he knew the signs. However, his mind was broken, his heart was crushed, and he wasn’t able to think anything else but the same thing he had thought all those years ago … he will always be outsider, different, strange, unrelatable, unlovable, and even those closest to him will go out of their way to hurt him.
He isn’t sure what happened after that. they somehow remained together. His mind recovered, with substantial cognitive, medical and pharmaceutical therapy. Things seemed to be ok. Every year, he would raise the topic of love, affection and sex – and every year she would make an effort for about ten days before returning to what could only be called inertia.
Yet the only thing in the universe that truly is universal is entropy.
Over time, he tried, tried to be what she wanted. Tried to have her be what he wanted, what he needed.
It made no difference. She didn’t change. She didn’t make an effort. He grew increasingly unhappy. He kept trying for a decade. You may well ask why. The answer was simple. No one else had ever accepted him. No one else had ever loved him.
Two years ago, he returned to an old thought. He once believed that he could love more than one. He believed that he was not only capable of it but that he could do so with equity. Was he the only one? Were there others?
He researched, and once he managed to wade past the swingers, the open-relationship and the other types that essentially amounted to essentially wanting to have sex with others, he finally found them and the term he was seeking – polyamory.
He researched, he found literature and he recognised himself in there.
He broached the subject with her. He discussed what the last decade was like for him and that he would like to explore this side of himself as she had become all but asexual. She agreed. Not at first. Not without hesitation, but agree she had. She helped him set up his dating profile and all seemed ok. She only had one request “don’t tell me what you do with them”.
For the second time in his life, he felt that tingle. It was an attraction. It was electric and magnetic and impossible to ignore. She was young. Half his age. She was there to be interviewed for the graduate programme he was responsible for running. He had to avoid her. He had to, because every part of him wanted her. He knew it was impossible. Other than the obvious impropriety of the employer and employee dynamic, he also knew one thing that was repeatedly proven to him. He wasn’t loveable. He was not the person people wanted. He was never going to be someone like her, regardless of age, would ever want.
She sought him out and wanted to speak to him about his roles. He noticed her eyes, and that her pupils were dilated. Her lips were moist. No! He thought he was projecting. So he called one of his previous years recruits and asked her to discuss her experiences with the company.
She was hired. She was given the choice of two roles and chose the one under him. He organised her rotations to be with strong women. He wanted to give her the best chances in this male-dominated industry. He placed her and he avoided her.
At the end of the year, they found themselves at a vendor event. The type of end of year event where the bar becomes open and everyone becomes a little more liberated to speak their minds. That’s when she approached him. That’s when she told him, “I fucking want you”.
He was in shock. He wanted to believe her, but she was too drunk, he reasoned. His paternal side kicked in and he looked after her and got her back to her room safely. He didn’t hear from her that weekend.
Monday. They talked. She was still interested. They arranged to connect up in a week’s time. They did. It was magical.
Partner one, because of his stupidity, discovered who partner two was. It hurt her deeply. She didn’t want this. She didn’t want him to continue. He had to make a choice. It was one or the other.
Partner two has a boyfriend, who isn’t poly and is angry. The boyfriend hates him. She doesn’t want to leave the boyfriend. She doesn’t want to stop with him either.
It’s been a year since then.
He has joined partner one in therapy and a weekend workshop, but there’s been little change. It’s not that partner one has not made an effort to show her affection, or tell him she loves him far more often than she ever has, in their 25-year history, but the one thing he craves – her desire, her romantic submission to him – she can’t seem to give. She spends her time being near him, but never truly with him. She is always distracted by a game or something else.
He has told partner two that he loves her, that he will look after her, if she but only wants him. She tells him she loves him too. But she won’t leave her boyfriend. He feels like he was being used for the sex. He let himself. He didn’t want to lose that connection. He is afraid that he may never get it again.
He has now separated from partner one. They have agreed to a four-month separation where they will only meet up once a week on Sundays. He hopes that this will either affirm her love, and reignite her fire for him, or it will prove what he has already concluded.
He goes out to a speed dating event. He makes a connection. She seems to feel the same. She ghosts him. Proof.
He goes to a meetup. He asks a girl out. They catch up and have dinner. They go to a cocktail bar. She ghosts him. Proof.
He goes to an event. He makes a connection. They meet. They pash. They make a date to consummate. She cancels. She ghosts. Proof.
He makes a connection online. They talk. They laugh. They exchange numbers. They organise a time to meet. She never shows. She doesn’t respond to texts. Proof.
This is what my life looks like. I haven’t talked about the slight Aspergers, the ODD, the MDD and the dissociative effects it creates when I am not on my medication, nor any of the other medical issues. Right now, my lack of love and connections is what’s consuming my mental and emotional bandwidth.
Yet for all of this, I think I’m ok. I’m not a psychopath, I’m not bitter. I’m just a guy who doesn’t understand. He has love. He has desire. He just doesn’t know what it is that drives people away from him? When I ask, I am told it’s not me and that I am great.
Yet, the pattern repeats.
When I am the only common factor, what else is there?
I think that I am coming to the conclusion that as miserable as I am alone, I am more miserable in a relationship where I am not wanted or desired. Time will tell I guess.
Just me, this fuck-tonne of baggage and no silver lining in any of them.
Since writing this, I’ve been trying to see if I could resolve things with partner one. But unfortunately, this weekend came to a réalisation. No matter how I feel, no matter what I want, the reality is that no amount of love I have for her – it is not enough.
I have been asking her for so long to give me what I need. For so long, I have tried to forgive and forget the times she hurt me … but I am tired of hurting and crying all the time.
Ultimately, I feel that she is interested in me as a friend and a confidant, but not as a lover. My trying to get her to be what I need is never going to work. I realised that no matter how much love, no matter how much hope, no matter how many wishes – we are never going to resolve it – at least not in the immediate future.