I'm getting into the Metro when she stops consoling me about my shitty week and changes her tone.
"Okay, look, I usually save this speech for my single girlfriends when they turn 40, but I'm going to have to give it to you early."
"I'm only 38."
"Are you ready? Here it is. You work hard on your life, you have good taste, a great apartment. You have a good career, good friends, money in the bank. You're a good writer and, like, life is pretty good, but there's this nagging feeling that it hasn't happened yet, that the man hasn't shown up to complete the story..."
"Someone to give me a hug."
"Yeah! And draw you a bath and ask you about your day and just give a shit."
"Ugh I hate admitting I want those things!"
"It's haaaard, I know, but you know what's worse? Hearing from me that the arrival of this man, and all the promises, is a myth. It's a myth sold to little girls from day one and you keep thinking that if you do all the good things, there's a reward at the end. But you gotta kill the myth."
"Fuck. But my myth feels WORSE because I have the overwhelming impulse to PUSH people away, scare them with big feeling and big mirroring, and then obsess over how to fix myself so I'm worth loving."
"Babe, what if I told you that there's nothing wrong with you? That you're not broken? Because you're not broken and there's nothing wrong with you."
I sit on this for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I think more about that myth and the shape of it. Was it that he'd "complete" me, or was it that he would "protect" me? A puzzle piece or a shelter? That night I had a dream about a father and his children—a booming voice in my dream said the man was supposed to "Self-develop to become a better father". Odd wording, but that's exactly what the voice said. Then there was this long musical piece, almost like the opening credits of a TV show, where the father "danced" on the children in different stages of their growth. Was he protecting them under his feet or trampling them? Maybe both.
Every year for the last 5 years, I search "how to cure love addiction" on Google and find this article on Psychology Today that has a short quiz to find out if you're a love addict then a few suggestions on how to break the pattern. The article suggests taking at least 6 months off dating while you take inventory and learn to love yourself exactly the way you want to be loved: draw your own bath, tell yourself how your day went, make yourself dinner, be a good father, etc. I knew at some point I was going to have to take a sabbatical from romantic love, but I wasn't ready. My most recent Object of Obsession kept providing a mirror, however milky and inadequate, I still craved from time to time. Just today after an editor at a major publishing house wrote to say he found my writing "strong" and the manuscript "unique and literary", it wasn't commercial enough for them to publish—not the right fit, I never feel like the right fit! I'm an intense weirdo! My book is weird! I scare everyone away!—I forwarded the email to my Object to get a reaction. Silence. This is as sure as sign as any that the mirror is all-the-way broken especially since the entire book is about trying to get men to reflect this brokenness back to me.
I actually like that I'm an intense weirdo who scares people with big feeling and big mirroring. I'm a deep and intellectually demanding person. I'm not a companion for the faint of heart—I demand courage and inquiry and responsibility. I want to see the whole thing, all of me, all of you, every corner, even the ugly, dusty, rejected shit. I want to see it all. Where I'm cracked open is where I'm really beautiful, where the really rich, dark mud is housed.
The mud is going up and around me for awhile. I'm forming it into walls and then a roof. I'm going to build a shelter for myself, a structure strong enough to protect me and porous enough to survive a flood. Because the floods will come again. If you're too rigid to let them in, and through, they'll eventually destroy you.
See you in 6 months. xx