Friday evening, after our successful lunch date, Andre sends me a text to explain why he doesn't believe we're a good match. The gist of it is: you're not emotionally available. Mind blown. That's the way I describe the men I date and now this descriptor was being used on me. In response I concede that this may be very true.
Now it's Sunday and I'm sitting in my apartment with the strangest feeling I've ever had, but perhaps one I've unconsciously been trying to uncover for a lifetime: I'm emotionally unavailable. This feels honest. It really is me and not you. I've been hiding away in my beautiful apartment in St. Henri because I have contracted what I can only deem "escapist fatigue". I can't escape anymore but what's better is I don't want to. Holding myself to one place has meant feeling through all the garbage I'd normally escape. It'd seem a little masochistic or irritating to just sit home and feel feelings if I hadn't become forensic where my own myths and stories are concerned. I'm getting to know them. I'm intimate with their shape and colour. I'm learning to detect when I'm lacking sleep, when I'm actually hungry, when I don't like someone, when I'm being manipulative, when I need a muse, when I'm really sad, when I'm hormonal, when I'm projecting. I mean, most of the time anyway.
I like to sketch the mean voices, make strange charts, trace the messages around a pièce of paper.
I've also been dating on the regular: AKA painfully wading through intimate experiences with a familiar mix of submission, rejection, vulnerability, confusion, expression and strengthened self-awareness. There was a magazine editor in the spring who took his turn at burning out my desire. First with his nervous, performative sex, then with the reason for it: he would have to "deal" with my book. I wouldn't normally show someone my entire life's work, but after seeing me on a dating app, he'd pursued me through Facebook and I viewed him as a possible professional connection in the local (and minuscule) literary scene. So I met him. And shared my book because he said he could help me. What he meant by "dealing" with it, now that he'd put his penis inside me, was that the sex with other men I'd described in the book was an issue to be "dealt with". A self-proclaimed feminist, he said this to me with a book by bell hooks staring at me from his bedside table. I felt immediate shame. And anger at myself for feeling shame. Then more shame, and a desire to defend myself, to say all the sex came from pain! I'm not really a whore! I was lost! They didn't matter! This was how our romantic weekend began. It devolved further into multiple shame spirals. Like, this is what dating can be like for me!
The following week when he told me he felt triggered and threatened by some things I'd said (reminders of his ex-girlfriend), I struggled to keep my head straight and not puncture it with dark, evil thoughts about how unworthy I was. I gripped at my those thoughts, babbling to my friend as we walked down the street for lunch, "I have to say it all, I have to express it or I'll get sick, or I'll get sick, I have to write about all my shame, or I get sick, I'll get sick...". I resented the fuck out of that man for a month but later felt grateful for the spring cleaning and the extra space I needed to sit in my own mud. Any man who was interested in me for real would have to be cool with my book and my level of transparency. That's just the kind of artist I am. Or so I thought.
(to be continued...)