Thursday 26 June 2008

How I Shut Down All Emotions- And How They Turned Up Again

I'm going to let you in to the confessional.
Over two years ago. My confession, so I think I can.

Crushed: Father, I said a prayer once. And I think it came true.

Father: Right... What was the prayer?

Crushed: Lord, make me feel nothing. And I think it came true, kind of.

Father: I wouldn't say you feel nothing. That doesn't seem you.

Crushed: No, I feel something. I get up, I get down. I get excited, I get depressed, I get annoyed. That's not what I mean. What I mean is that everything feels dead to my touch. Like I've totally shut myself down. A lot of the time, I really have no idea what I feel, though. Like there is nothing connecting me to anything any more. I feel like I'm the living dead.

I made this prayer shortly after I had left Claire.

I think at this point, I did shut down a large side of my emotional existence. I went to paying for emotions again. Basically, this was always the attraction to me of Ecstasy and Cocaine. You know what the price is. You get every positive feeling that exists, and it's totally under your control. YOU are in total control of EXACTLY how you feel at any given time.
So it's much easier to shut down your natural emotions.

The Love drug and the Power drug.
Designer drugs, are emotions bought off the peg.

The next year was a strange year- ultimately it led to total ruin, but somewhere along the way were signs of a POSSIBILITY I could somehow be redeemed.

Firstly, God decided I didn't need two things screwing my head up. I deserved to stew on the abortion for a bit, but I was granted some closure on Joanna.

I got a letter. And when I opened it, I was shocked to say the least. So shocked I was rolling up twenty pounds notes, before I'd even finished reading.
It was from Joanna.

She was getting engaged it seemed- she was a trainee primary school teacher now- and she just wanted to see how I was.

At the end was an e-mail address.

So I e-mailed her and also included my mobile number.

When she called, I recognised her voice straight away. Soft, warm, slightly hesitant. Always full of a certain anxiety, a slight unsureness of herself. She'd not changed. Got wiser, yes. Calmed down. But she was still the same in so many ways.

I wasn't. She noticed I'd changed. Funny, because you'd have had to have known me really well. Most people I meet even now, that I knew back then say 'You've not changed, not at all. YOU'RE still exactly the same'.

Only the Baker thinks I've changed over the years.
This was several years ago now, and as we shall see I'm not now the person Joanna was on the phone too then. But I wasn't the person she'd shared a bed with either. And Joanna was always incapable of hiding the truth

'Oh, you've changed. I can hear it in your voice. There's a hard edge you never used to have.'

I was honest 'That started after we split up. A lot's happened since. I doubt you'd even like me if you met me now.'

'Don't say that. You must still be that person somehow.'

I don't remember much more of that particular conversation. I remember more of the one we had the following weekend- she rung me while quite drunk.
This bit, was the bit that mattered to me.

Joanna: I haven't told I'm ringing you- it's none of his business.

Crushed: Well, I'd agree.

Joanna: But I do feel guilty. Because you were my first love.

Crushed: And you were mine.

Joanna: But do you think you can love two people? Because I think in a way I'll always love you.

Crushed: Yeah, well, I'll always love you, love you to my grave. I've never loved anyone since, I'll never love again.

Joanna: Don't guilt trip me, Crushed. You make your own decisions.

Crushed: Oh do I? Just like that? OK, we'll say no more about it. It's true, but it doesn't matter, does it? It's not healthy dwelling on it. Would we even fall in love if we met today for the first time? Or were we too young? Hey, I don't know. I'm a bitter twisted Cokehead now, and you sent me off down that path to start with, that's all I know.

Joanna: Well don't be, then.Because I DID love you, and part of me still does.

Anyway, we decided that it probably wasn't best to continue in phone contact, but we would continue to write to eachother.

In some ways, this really did help. Getting to start seeing Joanna as a friend kind of drew a line under a lot of my demons about her. And I felt comfortable still being in love with her. She sent me a passport photo, which I carried around in my wallet. I used it, to remind me. Anytime I was starting to develop feelings for another woman, getting Joanna's picture out and looking at it for a few minutes would always lead me to shake my head and think 'You're not Joanna.'

Most of my letters to her were about clubbing, my music purchases, football, etc. Hers were about her teacher training and her sister's pregnancy.

Yes, she was helping me. Helping me build my barriers up to impregnable levels.

And so things went on.

Until October 2002. October 2002, I met someone I really liked. Lakvinder. I met her at God's Kitchen on the dance floor. In fact it was a wordless meeting, I simply stretched my hand out to hers and took hold of it. It was her eyes. Blue. Turned out they were contact lenses, but the novelty had really stood out to me.

I don't know. Looking back on it, I can see I LET myself fall in love with her- to a certain degree- because it was safe.
Her marriage would be arranged and if she ran off to shack up with a white guy she met in a dance club, from what she said, it sounded like we were in honour killing territory. I could sit there in my flat and discuss with her how we were going to secrete all her stuff back to mine and her family wouldn't be able to find her, but let's be honest, none of that was ever likely to happen. She didn't like the idea of an arranged marriage, but she didn't want to lose her family.

And I always knew that deep down. Or did I?

The decision I made was to buy one last bulk lot of pills- 100 pills, to sort my debts out- and then stop doing so much clubbing, and focus more on Lakvinder.

Ah. Well.
Water under the bridge now.

You know what happened.

With my case going on, I dropped Lakvinder from my life. I also stopped writing to Joanna.

While the case went on, I pretty much just stuck to 'arrangements.'

And yet, here, in this time of my life, I actually saw, for the first time, a kind of glimpse of the girl I really wanted.

She kind of... grew on me.
Someone I worked with. Because she was just nice. Not stunning, not stunning at all. Just nice. A nice person. Lovely smile, not a photo smile, a giggly smile. It wasn't her looks- her nickname was Peppermint Paddy, after the Charlie Brown character.

But one of my colleagues picked up on it, noticed the way I looked at her 'It's not your usual purring look, the look you give when you're mesmerised, it's more a pained look, like it hurts you to look at her. And you don't call her honey. That stands out. You call all women honey, so it stands out when you don't. You make every effort to make her feel you have no interest in her. Which is totally out of character for you.'

Well of course. I gave several excuses to myself 'Not really fair to her with the case going on', but really, the real facts were I still essentially saw looking good on my arm as being the only real attraction of a 'serious' relationship, and at a deeper level, I was just frightened of taking a risk on someone I might actually fall in love with.

Her friend came up to me once and said 'What do you think of Xxxxx?'
I said, I thought she was a good person. Her friend replies 'She is. I just feel sorry for her, because I think she gets unhappy about being single.'
I shrugged 'Well, there's lots of blokes to choose from in this company. She shouldn't have too much trouble.'

Funny isn't it? One of the few women in my life I really did want, and I never even asked her out for a drink.

As I say, water under the bridge. It wouldn't have mattered anyway. I doubt she'd have waited two years for me, and I wouldn't have wanted her to.

When I started off on my holidays, I was seeing a Brazilian chambermaid from the Hilton, who used to tell me lurid tales of the several propositions for sex she received from guests. Seemed to me she did more shagging than cleaning.


Two years is a long time.
And as I said, you miss the sex, but the intimacy more. But you learn to close it down- or I did anyway.
I'd be a liar if I claimed I went all my day releases without popping to a massage parlour, but hey, I'm human.
Twice. And to be fair that's the only time I've ever paid in cash for a sexual service, and given the circumstances, it's not something I'm ashamed of.

It was more when I returned to reality in 2006, that I found a whole world- the world of women- that I was totally scared of reconnecting with.

Basically, I had huge fears that I was a little out of practice. They say it's just like riding a bike, something you never forget. That's what bothered me. Because I had a bike as I kid. But I've not ridden one for so long, I wouldn't dare to now.

Well, it was partly true. It didn't take me long to hook up with someone- admittedly I wasn't aiming high- but let's just say I ensured that during the World Cup I had been waiting so long for, that I had something to do whilst not getting drunk.

And yes, I WAS badly out of practice. I'm not going to get into too many sordid details, but let's just say, I might have forgotten the geography a bit.

For about a year or so, I was a bit like a dog on heat. You don't need to know this bit, you already do.

Anyway, by early 2007, I was starting to come to terms with the obvious;

1. If Crushed is shagging a women, it generally proves that while he might LIKE her, he is confident that there is no danger at all of his actually falling in love with her.

2. Crushed will go to great pains to create safe ways of spending time with people he COULD fall in love with, but is reasonably confident that no romance can ever possibly take place.

3. Crushed is a total slag in some ways, but actually has huge Catholic guilt issues about seeing women he idolises in sexual terms. Or women he feels protective about.

Two situations had kind of proved this. One was that a girl I'd known a while was having relationship problems. I kind of thought she might as well have a fling with me, so I invited her for a drink 'just as friends', but with ulterior motive...

I have to say, that ulterior motive fast disappeared.

By the end of the night, we'd both cried on eachother's shoulders, and I'd lost all interest in her romantically, but gained a friend.

And soon after, I gained a flatmate.

Yes, it's D I'm talking about.

The other episode which was certainly an eye opener, was my brief relationship with an Iranian girl. This actually took place during the life of this blog- right at the start, though you'd have to read closely to realise this. In fact, the chances of me ever stating on this blog that I'm seeing anyone are slim to non-existent. That's one area I WILL always keep private. I do the same in real life, in point of fact.

The problem was something I sussed early on. Two days after we'd starting seeing eachother. Something very crucial about her first sexual experience. And it affected her outlook. She'd been used by a lot of men since, just for sex and it showed in how she thought relationships should be.

When we started sleeping together, I was adamant that initially, it should be in a non-sexual sense. OK, I have done quite a few one night stands, but in relationships, I actually think that sex shouldn't take place for at least a couple of weeks. She took this as a sign I didn't find her attractive. And in fact, she became quite pressuring.
The more she pressured, the more I was put off having sex with her, so the more she thought she was unattractive, it became a vicious circle.

And in the end, I just had to say, I can't do this.

She didn't take it very well.
She kept sending me abusive texts for a month or so. Some were really nasty, in fact.

Of course, as I now realise, the sex- or lack thereof- wasn't the issue. We'd have worked through it, if there was something else to work on. Perhaps a deeper issue was she preferred to spend her evenings watching the TV. I HATE the TV with a vengeance. It really is something you only do out of total boredom, unless it's CSI or football. Or an election. Or maybe a sci-fi/fantasy film.

No, blog and the pub. Let me blog, I'll be finished by half nine, then we go to the pub together.
Always seemed to me to be the best way to spend weekday evenings.

And lastly, and I don't mean this in a nasty way, but intelligent conversation was decidedly lacking. Hell, when we went to see Last King of Scotland, she's never heard of Idi Amin. I think most of you can probably guess the sorts of things I like to talk about.

You'd have thought I'd have learned to avoid Claire type women, wouldn't you?

Seemingly not...

And of course, I still hadn't QUITE got my head round the fact that basically I spend my life in fear of a New Joanna appearing and me collapsing to my knees in adoration.

And here's the funny thing.
I HAVE come to terms with that now.
Through blogging.

I'm not quite sure when it happened, but I like to think everything kind of happens for a reason.

Not even quite sure how I came across it. I came across a blog that just mesmerised me. Why? Was it political? Philosophical? No. But it was very well written. Clearly written by an intelligent, thoughtful, emotive and most importantly NICE person. And one who showed their human side to the world. Flawed? Yes, but they admitted it, and in doing so made strengths from those flaws.
She wasn't Joanna. Not a New Joanna. She is herself, not a pale imitation of someone else. But she had that quality, that special quality that Joanna had. That rare ability to turn even her flaws into blessings and virtues. She was pure. No other way to describe it. Not pure as a puritan is pure, but pure in the way Joanna was. Just incapable of being nasty.
I'm really not sure I can quite explain it. But just reading that blog, I had this feeling I'd not had in years.

The story of how I ended up in contact with her is bizarre, convoluted and perhaps it doesn't need going into.

But did it change my life? Yes. Yes, because here I was, protected by distance and so many other factors, yet able to enjoy totally honest conversation with the type of woman that deep down, I see as being the ideal.

And she told me lots of truths about myself. Oddly, she was able to understand my own thought processes and the logic behind a lot of why I do what I do and think what I think, in a way no woman has since Joanna. Excepting D, maybe.
And most important, was how it made me feel. I suspect she had an idea, she's very bright and very good at sussing things out.

The point is, being 100% certain that nothing romantic COULD ever happen, actually meant I didn't have to suppress anything. Free to get a warm fuzzy feeling every time I saw her avatar, without anything in my life being under threat. Free to sit around eagerly awaiting her e-mails, because I COULD actually let myself look forward to receiving them.

I suppose it enabled me to confront my fears.

Or some would say, not really. True, I can have no idea of what this person is like in three dimensional reality. Probably never will, either. But I'm not sure it matters.

What mattered, I think, was that I actually felt more about this person, someone I've never met, and probably never will, than I felt about the vast majority of the women I've been with in real life.
More importantly, I wasn't getting anything out of it. I wasn't responding to an infatuation on her part- there is none. She has a perfectly happy satisfied life on that score, I think. We always kept it on simple friendship terms, because essentially, that IS actually how I see her. A friend who allowed me to privately project certain emotions on to her, but kept that to myself, and as long as I did that, I had a good friend in her.

I thank her for that.
Because in a very real sense, I think she allowed me to escape from a lot of baggage.

Of course she's the type of woman I fear. But I've found a way NOT to be frightened of women like her.

Of course some would say it's not healthy that I'll only allow myself to get close to someone I might actually like when protected by the impossibility of it turning into something.

Maybe there is a fair bit of Mariolatry involved. Only in this case a real live Mary answers the prayers.

Is that enough for me? Maybe.

She started to heal me, and that's what matters. Since last October, I think I've started to be able to FEEL properly in that way again.

I think I'm still pretty fragile.

But I have more faith, I think.
And more importantly, I know now what it is I have faith in.

I believe there are women out there worth loving.

And I've also realised that I'd rather have a woman of the type I've just described as an e-mail buddy-nothing romantic involved, then a real life relationship with the wrong type of woman. I actually find the e-mail friendship I've just described more rewarding, more pleasurable than ANY real life relationship I've had since Joanna.

And I wouldn't be able to have that sort of relationship with that person in the flesh, I don't think. I wouldn't be able to let my barriers down.

I don't know where this leaves me. Right now, I'm happy with things as they stand. It's one of the things I like about blogging.
I do find it far easier to let bloggers in, in a way I can't with real life people, except close friends, friends who were close before 2004 in most cases. There are a few exceptions, well, one, D. I've erected my barriers that high.

There you are. Entry after 2004 is only possible online. Hmmm.

In fact, I'm in IM now with another blogger and I think the conversations we have are way more frank and honest than I'd ever be comfortable having with someone in RL. Again, purely platonic. But I feel safe with them. Trust is something I just can't do in RL.

I don't know.

Right now I don't think I'm QUITE alive again in RL. Not still the living dead, but maybe the living semi-resurrected. I think I'm fully alive as Crushed. And I think Crushed IS bringing real me back to life. I kind of live THROUGH Crushed. We're kind of Siamese twins now. Not sure we'd survive the separation.

Maybe one day someone will get past that huge wall I've erected. Not here on the net, in Real Life.
Or maybe I'll get a dog.

The dog is probably still the more likely option.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. One definition of neurosis is the inflexible repetition of behaviors, or patterns of behavior to rectify a lost chance, a trauma, or some ugly thing or another.

I don't think that applies to you, actually, but if you find yourself having the same kind of difficulties with the same kind of women in RL, and the women you can connect are only those who are distant (arranged marriage, cyberfriends, etc.) you might want to change that, someday. But if it continues for a longer period of time, and you're not happy with it, you might need help in changing that.

I've had my own Joanna, and know how devastating she can be. But I also realized life has fairly compensated me for the loss. Maybe it will compensate you too.

Anonymous said...

Another of your very honest posts. Your conclusions could well be wrong but at least you are trying to work it all through.

And I wouldn't be able to have that sort of relationship with that person in the flesh, I don't think. I wouldn't be able to let my barriers down.

It will happen eventually, even if it's just with a friend. As I have said before, you are a work in progress. One day it will all come together.

Anonymous said...

Think you under estimate yourself Crushed.

Anonymous said...

Hehe I love the sight of someone having a mental breakdown in public.

I hope you haven't any razor blades in the house otherwise you might do your self some harm.

Anonymous said...

Have no idea what that last comment was about, you've always struck me as quite stable with perhaps eccentric views that in other times are either genius or heretical, but I have my own eccentric views as well.

Most people live purely on instinct, stimulus-response, stimulus-response, don't they ever think? And you think. You weigh historic fact, scientific theory, and observations about the world and make predictions about behavior, patterns, and the future. You do that quite well on a macro-scale, that is Crushed, there's little room for quirks and uncertainties when you're thinking like Crushed. But I think in many ways in your personal life you still live by instinct, and in relaying this history of women, you're asking us to accept that quirks about women and sexuality are an intrinsic part of you, not to be reasoned or questioned. Crushed would never expect us to accept the inexplicable. Think and reason through this, don't be a victim of instinct and patterned behavior.

Anonymous said...

From your comments here I think you are healing and Crushed and RL you will merge. You will get to have the same levels of trust and friendship in RL.

RL friends you can look them in the eye and know what they are thinking ;-)

Anonymous said...

Give yourself some slack crushed. Never talk down on yourself, thats what you got friends for ;)

I'm glad however that you feel like you are trying to find your way back to becoming you again. Thats what friends do, bring out the best things in you which others dont take time to see.

Life sometimes leaves us bitter, but never lose your faith in life, in love, in others, and mostly, in yourself.


Anonymous said...

X-dell- The term neurosis is hard to define, interestingly it's literal meaning is a nervous disorder, even though it's more often more complex than that.

I think 'highly strung' would be a good description of me.
There are certain character facets I show, which if taken to extreme, would ressemble neuroses, I'm sure of that, mainly in terms of patterns and categorising. A tendancy toward control freakery, maybe.

One key problem always is, is I always need to feel complete control over my life, and I seem to attract women who when they say share your life mean share YOUR life.

I think everything happens for a reason. thee things happen to guide us down certain paths.

jmb- I already have that relationship with my friends, but then again, I trust them. Its different. What I'm talking about here kind of ticks the boxes here in terms of allowing me to feel that full devotion to someone of the opposite sex, without it frankly scaring the shit out of me.

Nunyaa- Maybe. My close friends think it really is about just having avoided the right type. The Baker says its very simple, I go for the easy options- as in the ones who don't play hard to get, and then get surprised when I find that they're too emotionally demanding.

Baht At- I can see why you have many friends in real life.

Helen- Oh, he's part of the new unholy alliance of the autistic and the fruitcake. Wouldn't worry about him. Sometimes he amuses, I delete him.

I'm actually quite a hyper person in RL, no doubting that, but ultimately I tend to be comfortable with things that make logical sense. I don't tend to be comfortable with things I can't logically define.

But there's often very little rational about my love/sex life, that's for sure. For the most part, it was written by soap opera writers.

I think I have become more rational about it of late, mainly because in some ways, up to now it has tended to be the bane of my existence...

CherryPie- I actually show great levels of trust to my close friends, they have free access to my flat.

And I have what you describe with them, and they with me.

Thing is, I trust them. It's that extra border, a lover who is also a frend. There's a part of me sees that as a conflict of interests, in an RL sense.

Crashie- Friends of course know you. My best mate always says it's easier for us to understand eachother because we've known eachother for ten years- in other words, we knew eachother when young, we made friends before we'd learned to cover our weaknesses.

I actually don't think I AM tht bitter. Time was when yes, I was. Back before 2004, I think I was very bitter. Oddly, I'm not now.

And it's always good to have people with you on the journey. :)

Anonymous said...

Re deleted comments: The Blog Angel says delete and ignore.