Saturday 27 September 2008

Heroin Chick

When I was very much younger I had what might be described as an arrangement.

I was twenty one and starting out on working life.
She was considerably older.

And the deal was simple. She cleaned my flat, did my laundry, took me out and paid for my drinks.
And I- had sex with her every night.

That was the deal.

I used to think I was quite clear on the deal, but in retrospect, I probably gave mixed signals sometimes. I guess I did give her affectionate gestures, even public displays of affection when I wasn't actually on the pull, but as far as I saw it the situation was clear and I had clarified it on numerous occasions.

'We're not in a relationship. You are not my partner and I am not yours. We spend time in eachother's company and we sleep together. That's it. That's all it will ever be and it will last till events supersede it. If it ceases to be convenient.'

But she didn't always take that at face value. Every so often she'd say those three words. And I'd tell her not to. I'd get annoyed. I'd tell her I didn't want to hear.

So she'd wait till I was wasted, then tell me, hoping I wouldn't hear, or care, or remember in the morning.

She needed to say it.

And it puzzled me why, why she felt like that. When I obviously showed her no respect at all, really.

There was no way I could ever feel what she felt. It wasn't possible and never could be. I could have listed to her even at that tender age the reasons why, but that would have been hurtful and even at that tender age, I wasn't totally insensitive.

Telling someone why you love them is one thing, telling someone why you can't and never will, is another.

But it was convenient. Let's be honest, I had a housekeeper who got me free beer and all I had to do was have sex that I didn't much enjoy.

Perhaps this set a bad precedent in my life, because since then, I guess most of my relationships have been cleverly disguised versions of much the same situation. The clever disguise was me fooling myself it was something else. Because the people in question were people you kidded yourself you could grow to love.

But you never would.

You become better at selecting people who are more convenient, people who can fit in better, are better at giving you a good feeling, people who you can enjoy better conversation with, share things in common with, even perhaps form a bond of friendship with, but they're not REALLY what you're looking for.

They'll do. Until and unless something better comes along. Or until and unless all the points about them that you really do not want start to outweigh the points that make them suitable for the present.

I guess in most of my relationships, so called, I've kind of unconsciously adopted the position of an employer. Abide by my terms, or I'll employ someone else. My general response to arguments has been to reach for my coat with the clear implication that I'm off to the pub and that I won't be back until the issue has been dispensed with. By that, I mean on my terms. In other words, call me and tell me you give in, or I'll go to bed with someone else. I'm not fussed either way. If you don't want to accept my terms, end the relationship. I really don't care.

But the choice is yours. You can end the relationship any time you want. I won't stop you. It's up to you to make sure you keep offering the best deal, or I'll take my custom elsewhere.

Because really, it doesn't matter who you are. It's the deal you're offering me. And don't you ever forget that.

That's pretty much how I've always played it.
Because that's how it's always been.

I guess now I look back at some of these situations with a bit more sympathy. Though not totally.
Because I do understand that on numerous occasions in my life I have used the fact that someone was in love with me to my advantage to some degree. On other occasions I haven't. I had a male work colleague once who definitely had more than a little crush and I think I was actually quite ethical in how I handled it. But it's a dangerous situation for both parties. And both parties in such a situation can behave atrociously. It is true, I think, that thwarted love can often turn very nasty. People lash out at the one they love for not loving them back.

The strange thing is that now I do find myself in the reverse situation, I actually judge myself for my past actions with much less harshness, whilst at the same time understanding how much it really does hurt loving someone who just cannot love you back.

I judge less harshly for the simple reason that I realise that though I never offered a fair bargain, I did keep to my end of the bargain. I most certainly always did have the whip hand, but what I promised, I delivered.

The breaking of bargains, the truly hurtful and damaging behaviour, that always came from the other side.

And the problem I have now, as many of you know, is I've fallen in love with a friend. Probably now, my closest female friend.

And I'm not sure I really know who it is harder for, I don't.

She is ethical about it, very. She could exploit it, she doesn't.

It's a curious situation. We spend a lot of time together. She's the only person I can say that I say good night to every night. And I will always mail her at lunch from work. She pretty much always knows where I am and what I'm doing, something no other person alive can say.

And we chat about the sorts of things I like to talk about. We have similar interests. It's scary, but aside from dance music, generally we have the same tastes in most things.

But it does bother me, of course it does. It bothers me, because I wonder whether it isn't like a heroin addiction. I need to be periodically dosed with her company, with her calming words, with her dry observations, with that dispassionate, almost prim and proper detached quality she has which belies the strength of her desires.

I was thinking recently of the best way to describe that old saying 'When it happens to you, you'll know.'
Because it's true, you do. You realise that you never knew what you were looking for, till there they were.
It's a bit like if the invisible woman had sand strewn on them so they had a partial outline. And all your life you've had that outline, trying it on people, thinking 'It seems to fit, this might be the invisible woman.'

But no, you're forcing it. One day you find 'THAT's the invisible woman! I'd never have guessed. I really wouldn't have thought that's what they'd be like'.

And yet of course, you're instincts should have told you. Should have told you what the persona of the invisible woman should be.

And to me, it's like a vision of perfection. That high intelligence, that artistic streak, yet quite coldly calculating too. Detached to the point it can almost seem callous, but that in itself sends spasms of the most perfect pain imaginable through you. Her emotions are so understated you hang on to her every word for the clues. They are there and they burn deep, but it's for you to guess, not her to show.

It's that blend of poetic, artistic temperament, of a soft side which lets itself out only on occasions she deems it appropriate, of an icy coolness, a self-control.

And inside, that mysterious fire. That determined independence.

But yet vulnerable and fragile too.

And that clinical, detached, almost masochistic attitude to sex that I find horrifyingly fascinating.
It's odd, because my own feelings towards her aren't in fact sexual at all, really. Strange as it may sound, I imagine her every night lieing next to me on the pillow, but the idea of sex with her isn't overly important. As long as she was happy on that front, I'm not sure it would bother me overmuch how she achieved that as long as she went to sleep every night in my arms.

I do not know whether I want to kneel in front of her, worshipping her as a religious icon or put her safe in a box where the world can't hurt her.

The problem with all this, is this is how I feel. Whereas as to her, it's more of a platonic connection. It clearly has some value to her, but I haven't a clue what that is.
But does it matter?

The problem with things as they are, is that it isn't what I want. But it's all that's on offer.

Now I have talked about this with other people as far as I can. It's hard because I have to respect her confidence. So no one I've discussed these things with actually knows any more than you, the reader. There is no one in the world who could identify the person I am referring to by name, apart from her and myself. As it should be.

But several people have said that I'm 'letting her have her cake and eat it'. 'She's totally in control'.

And I get the point. Because ultimately, this is what she wants. And the argument they make is, that what I want not being on offer, I should walk away, because ultimately, it's me that will get hurt.
And I see the logic.

Because a true assessment of the situation is that she's like a daily dose of heroin. I'm addicted to just basking in her radiance, of feeling the presence of the beauty of her mind, of connecting to someone I feel I connect to in a way I've never felt before.
And that in itself, is something I feel I can't any longer do without.

And in myself it worries me that one day, when she gets bored, or actually does fall in love, well, then it's really going to cripple me.
And till then, I get more and more addicted by the day to her.

And of course, the way I feel about her being what it is, I don't tend to bother with other women so much, or go looking for other women. Even if I did start seeing another woman, and even if I did manage sexual fidelity, I wouldn't be being emotionally faithful. And she wouldn't get precedence. Haydee would still get priority in terms of time. I'd put her above any hypothetical relationship I did have.

Anyway, on Friday, I kind of thought I'd better express to her how I saw the stuation. I started writing an e-mail which was kind of meant as a 'Maybe we have to stop this' e-mail. It didn't finish that way.
I'm not going to show you the full mail, I can't, it's personal and it was quite long, but I'll give you the start, the finish, and some bits in between.

'I don't really know quite what to say to you. But I guess I've kind of
avoided facing logical reality and the consequences thereof.

The reality is that there are certain irreconcilable facts regarding
how we see eachother which are impossible to alter; I will always feel
what I do for you, you will never feel the same. Neither of those
facts can either be changed or reconciled.'

'You have come to be the most important feature of my life, indeed I've
been positively skipping over the past few months.

And underlying all that, I guess, has been an element of deliberate
self deception.

I have literally lived in hope, basked in adoration of you.'

'I love you in a way you will probably never understand. I think it is
probably stronger than it hits most people. C'est la vie. At the end
of the day, it changes nothing and is no good to you. Perhaps not even
good FOR you.'

'But I love you so much it hurts, that's the problem.
It will always hurt. Every day, it will hurt.

I don't want to lose you from my life, I don't.

But in a sense, without that dream, it can only ever be torture.

Ironic, isn't it, that I have sustained myself- and our friendship on
the basis of a supreme act of doublethink. :)'

'The thing is, as I write this, I don't want to lose your friendship. I
spend most of my day longing to hear from you. I miss you like hell
when you're not around.
You are the human being I spend most of my waking thoughts thinking
of. Losing you from my life will feel like a bereavement.

When I started writing this mail I think I knew what I was trying to
say. Not sure I even know that at this point.'

'I can't do it. Can't say goodbye to you, I don't want to say goodbye
to you, I love you beyond conception, don't want to face a life in
which I don't even hear from you.

I suppose there are two things I can say to you; Sorry. And Thankyou.
Thankyou for everything you have done for me.

But Goodbye, I can't say it. Even though I know I should.'

I sent it and spent the rest of the afternoon wondering. I'd said how I felt, that I could see that maybe I should get out of this for my own good and long term sanity. But I'd left it up to her to decide if she thought that best. In other words, it was up to her once she recieved that mail to decide what the best course of action was.

And when she finshed work she contacted me to say she'd read the mail. And her first response, if I'm honest, was just further proof of why I love her. Only she would say as her first response 'You write beautifully when you put your mind to it'.

And I guess I offloaded my worries. And finally I asked her 'Do you want things to continue as they are?'
And that's what she wants.

Fair? Is it about fair?
Must things always be fair?

Because yes, it is a curious mix of pleasure and pain my end. A strange masochistical devotion, perhaps. But I do feel redeemed by it in many ways. And whilst I do realise that the longer it goes on, the more it will hurt when she tires of it, I will still treasure every moment I had with her. Life is finite. I have a finite amount of minutes. I might as well ensure that as high a proportion of them are spent basking in adoration of her, and as low a proportion not doing that, as I possibly can. Why cut off my nose to spite my face? Losing her from my life WILL happen one day, that's true. And the longer I leave it, if I give up the right to decide myself when that is, yes, it will hurt more, I know.

But I believe every extra minute I have with her makes it all worth it.

But there's also something deeper.

Ideally, what she'd want is for us to be friends with no complications. That really is what she wants. She can't give me what I want, but I can give her what she wants, to a degree.
And isn't that what loving someone is all about?

For me to walk away from her just because she won't requite my feelings isn't actually fair. It might be an easy answer, but it's not fair. It's forcing an unfair choice on her, because neither of the options are what she wants and why should she be punished when she has done nothing wrong?

Why should she lose me as a friend for something she has no control over? It wouldn't actually be fair of me to do that.
You don't punish someone you love arbitrarily and unfairly like that.

Loving someone isn't a bargain. It's not for me to say 'Love me back, or our friendship is over'.
What kind of friend does that?

I'm addicted to her, I can't let go of her, nor at heart do I want to. It is like heroin.

And I've realised now, I don't care. I don't care about the rights and wrongs of it, I don't care what tomorrow brings. As long as I can feel the beauty of her mind today and she's happy.

If I get smashed to pieces on these rocks, so be it...


Anonymous said...

*i just wrote a long comment here and my computer crashed! grr*

you are lovely when you are soft like this crushie.. you are an articulate boy - I love the invisible woman analogy..

the early immortalising stages of love - before your lover's mortality - are so rare and beautiful and painful.. easy to know why you are addicted. xx

Anonymous said...

When you work past the crappy part of relationships, that crushing 'feeling' part of love comes back even more intensely, it's like the early feelings are just to tantalize us into starting a relationship. But it does get rough now and then...

Anonymous said...

I think you use this blog as a way of sorting out stuff that happened and absolving yourself a bit..which is good - it's a positive thing.

And we are all little shitheads when we are 21. I behaved like a precocious brat lots of times growing up. Thank God we all do.

Anonymous said...

(grow up, I meant! - not be shitheads) :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, to have had this kind of perspective several years earlier. It is the most painful thing in the world, sometimes, to be the one out of control, to know that they can cut the ties so very easily. There is also a weird appeal to that loss of control, in other ways.
I'm glad you have experienced love-- I just hope it doesn't get in the way of being happy.

Anonymous said...

If only more people in the world could come to this same conclusion, its very mature of you. Cat

Anonymous said...

Kimba- I hate it when Blogger decides to fail just as you post a long comment...

Sometimes these analogies just pop into my head. Not sure what that came from, but I do kind of like it myself.

It really does feel like being a teenage again, I think that's the last time I got like this, that's for sure.

Yes, it's very addictive. And I have an addictive nature...

Helen- It's an interesting point that so far the situation is free from the constraints of a so-called 'relationship', it really is just a genuine platonic friensdship. A very good one, I think, but on my side one which inspires a lot of other sentiments.
I suppose at the moment it has a certain innocent purity to it.

Kate- I became very cynical very young. And there is a sense in which I didn't always know any better.

I think a lot of the time I genuinely did have good intentions, I wasn't just out to exploit people. I thought that even if I didn't quite love them the way they did me, a good arrangement could be worked towards which suited everyone.

I've only realised lately, it doesn't quite work like that.

Princess P- There is, yes. I guess it feels almost like a total surrender of self. You don't care what they do to you, you're just prileleged to be the one who can see that of all the women in the world, they are the one most worthy of truly being adored.

It's almost a religious enlightenment :)

Happy, hmmm. I don't know, sometimes you just have to go with the flow and se where it takes you.

Cat- I think it is about being a bit adult about it. I remember my first love saying 'Can we still be friends? and I said 'No'. But that was stupid. We'd had a powerful connection as friends and I decided to throw my rattle out of the pram because a part of that connection was ending. And it's yourself you hurt when you do that.

We did get in contact again years later, and I realised just how good as a friend she was.

There's a time a place for ultimatums and Love and friendships isn't such a place.