It’s difficult when an anonymous blog gets read by people who know you.
While I labour under the delusion that my writing can occasionally hit a level of refreshing candour, this blog has also contained the tongue-in-cheek phrase: “I have an enchanted pussy.” I cringe when people discover my writing. I have come dangerously close to ‘online diary’ in the past, and I have been told that no man who reads my inane ramblings is ever going to want to build a relationship with me because I sound like a neurotic lunatic who perpetually plays the victim. The person who said this was only being spiteful to try and hurt my feelings, but he infected me with a spell of writers block nonetheless. Indeed, I have written many things about the following subject, and they all exist in a folder on my computer titled NEVER TO BE PUT ON THE BLOG. After much thought, I’ve decided to post this and, rather than bleat about personas or censor my writing, I’m just going to man up and vomit something straight from the heart up onto the page.
Last year I wrote the following phrase “I don’t have my heart locked in an iron cage, waiting for Prince Charming with the right key.”
It sounds lovely. It sounds like I’m whimsical and hopeful; that I wear flip skirts and ballet flats, trilling through the streets in the sunshine, humming to myself, playfully tipping the hats of small children as I pass them and giving elderly couples in the street a knowing, yet slightly wistful gaze. It sounds like I frequently stare to the top left of the screen, wearing an open expression and a Mona Lisa smile. It’s manic pixie dream girl-ish. It’s something Zooey Deschanel would say.
Unfortunately, it’s bullshit.
The truth is that my emotions have been more repressed than the Christian Right.
I knew I was shutting down but I didn’t know what to do about it. I wrote “What the fuck is wrong with me?!” in my diary, underlined it three times, paused, scribbled it out, stabbed myself in the hand with a pen, drew blood, went to the Emergency room, and cried. Then I pushed a few perfectly lovely gentlemen away, got accused of acting as if “men don’t have emotions”, chugged four bottles of quality red wine, watched reruns of The Office, and clawed at the screen like a wounded panther when Tim and Dawn finally kissed.
Most of that isn’t true.
It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a friend, where I passionately argued that no man truly wants love, that things began to crystallise. I think my exact words were: “Women want love. Men want sex. Every now and then they get love via the sex, but they never set out to find it.”
He stared at me. “You think that men don’t want to be loved?”
“Of course not.”
It was a statement that hung in the air, pathetic, like an overweight trapeze artist. My friend, being my friend, didn’t push it.
Now, fast forward a few months to a coffee date with my ex-husband.
Meeting him for coffee seemed like a terribly adult thing to do. I could describe it by using words like “closure” and “the positive processing of negative emotions”. I figured that we would bond, heal old wounds, and set a bimonthly coffee date for the foreseeable future. It was nice to see him again. He looked completely different, as, arguably, did I. We drank organic espresso at my favourite hipster-alleyway cafe in Parramatta and I sat, slightly bewildered as my closure turned into his pissing contest. For three hours I was held captive for the one-man show entitled “My life is so much better now that CC has left me”.
It amazed me that we had become completely different people, with completely different priorities, who had taken completely different paths. One of us now works sixty hours a week, he is obsessed with money. And cocaine. He chain smokes, drinks a bottle of red wine each night, seems determined to snort the Bolivian economy up his nose, and has become a rave aficionado. The other has stopped doing drugs, barely touches alcohol, runs, meditates daily, and has quit her job to live a pauper’s life from a backpack for the better part of a year. I began to think of the thread that once held us together, a thread that started as strong as Mithril but slowly frayed to oblivion. I stared at him, looking for something, anything. A connection, a spark, a fucking clue that I had shared seven years of my life with this man, that this bodacious raver dude was once my favourite human being in the world.
I got nothing.
It’s pertinent to say now that the reason I had shut down emotionally was a reaction to the end of my First Big Love. We all know the one- the love you feel before you become a hardened, cynical thirty-something. The one that you can experience without baggage. The love where you can make impulsive decisions because you can’t conceive that you will ever be dumped headfirst into the sand. Because you haven’t been truly broken, you soar a little bit higher. I don’t believe in ‘soulmates’- which is something I will talk about in tedious detail in part two- but I did think that I had found the human to stand beside for the rest of my foreseeable future.
The coffee ended with him asking me what my plans for the weekend were. I answered truthfully, “I’m still trying to save money, so they’ll involve copious amounts of green tea, Dylan Moran stand up comedy, and a couch, or makeshift fort of some description. You?”
“I’m getting on the piss tonight. Then I’ve got a party Saturday night. And we are drinking in the city on Sunday.”
If he was trying to make me feel like a loser he certainly succeeded. We bid farewell. That evening, I got a phone call from a friend. My ex had binge rang everybody he knew, desperately trying to find someone to get drunk with, if not Friday night, then Saturday or, in a pinch, Sunday. “He’s had to take a second mortgage out on the house, you know,” she added conspiratorially. “So much cocaine…”
I was sad. After everything we had been through, all that we had seen of each other, I’d like to think that if there was anyone that he didn’t have to wear the mask around, it would be me. Apparently not. I don’t care if he is a fantastical, cocaine snorting, Tony Montana type or a homebody who spends his time laying on an old brown couch with a hyperactive Jack Russell stretched across his belly, but he obviously does. Maybe he can’t take the mask off. Maybe sadness has moulded it to his features permanently and he has really become an ageing, yuppie raver. The only thing I can take from the coffee is that he’s not happy. That insecurity has taken root in his brain and grown like a weed. This makes me sadder than I’m comfortable admitting. Life throws things in your path that can make you or break you. It’s what it does. Your two options are: climb or wallow. That’s it.
I now know that I have walls around my lil’ heart, walls that I wish were shorter but walls that are manageable, nonetheless. That’s all any of us can do with our issues- don’t delude ourselves about their existence and learn to get by with them as best we can.
That coffee date was unequivocal proof that he was never the guy for me. We were left to our own devices for a year and became completely incompatible with each other. I don’t know what that means, but I do know that I can now relax the fortress a little bit because he was never a Big Love, but a blip. A blip that probably should have ended when he had a three month affair with a coltish bartender who had the doe-eyed awkwardness of Bambi walking on ice, but instead limped and blipped on for another three years. Maybe this means that I don’t have to look at every man who crosses my path through a prism of “How are you going to fuck me over and take away my freedom?” Maybe this means that I can put on my flip skirt and swish through the streets, singing softly under my breath and smelling apples in the marketplace, red lips curved into a Mona Lisa smile.