Tag Archives: love

To Err is Human, to Forgive is Seemingly Impossible

Let them think what they liked, but I didn’t mean to drown myself.  I meant to swim till I sank– but that’s not the same thing.


There are times in life when bad things happen and you’re powerless to stop them.  In fact, you can’t even do anything to fix the aftermath.  All you can do is just look around you and see all the parts of your life strewn about in every direction and cry because it’s not what it used to be.  Sometimes you have to sit and do nothing but cry and rage and feel sorry for yourself and the life you used to have until you’re too empty to cry or rage or brood any longer.  But what I’m unsure of is, what do you do after that?

Something happened to me about 7 months ago, and I’ve been raging and crying and moping ever since.  I had so much sadness and anger inside of me; I felt betrayed, hurt, and hopeless.  I was distinctly aware of this feeling that nothing would ever make me happy again.  I might smile or laugh or feel better for a while, but I could always feel my anger stirring deep inside me.  It would manifest in really strange ways, catching even me off guard.  I hated everything and everyone.  Everybody was a piece of garbage, and I wanted them all to suffer like I was suffering.  I wanted to tear everybody down and thrown them into the disorganized piles of shit my life had become.  I wanted to fight them, physically fight them, and stamp on their faces until their noses dripped snotty, mucusy blood.  I wanted to pull their hair out and make them understand every shortcoming and flaw they had to the point that they felt too horrible to live.  I think I wanted a world in which everybody was so ashamed of themselves, they killed themselves.

Now what the fuck does that say about me?

As time went on, my anger abated more and more.  It became more centralized, focused on a few main players in the tragedy that had become my life.  I was central among the people I hated.  I hated myself, my actions, my emotions.  I hated waking up every morning and looking out of my same odious, miserable eyes.  I couldn’t get out of my head, no matter how hard I tried.  At times I could sense I was speaking to somebody, and I could feel my mouth moving and forming words, but I didn’t know what I was saying.  I was going through the motions of life, trying my hardest to look like a happy, regular person.  But on the inside I was seething with anger and trying desperately to hold back tears.  All I wanted was to die, just to avoid spending another day as me.

Fast forward to last week.  Last week something came over me and I decided that happiness was a choice.  Forgiveness would come in its own time, but who was I really punishing by being miserable?  I was punishing myself (the victim); the person who I truly blame for what happened is not a physical part of my life.  It exists in another realm, untouched by my hatred and living unpunished for its offenses.  So why should I be miserable?  I set my focus on overcoming my own misery, and letting go.

It has not been easy.  I was good for about three days, and then one small thing triggered me and I fell to pieces.  Clearly if something so small could topple me, I had rebuilt myself very poorly indeed.  But imagine my frustration when I was right back where I started, in a cesspool full of everything bad and destructive.  So that’s where I’m writing to you from now, my dear reader.  Just at the shore of that cesspool, trying my best to scramble back up to the top.  I want to feel warmth and sunshine again.  I want the company of other people to be a cool breeze on my warm cheek.  I don’t want to recoil from interaction anymore.  I guess what I’m trying to say is,  I want to be happy.  But I don’t know how.

Lately I’ve tried to find strength in a quote.  It’s the quote I started this post about, from Joseph Conrad.  It means that even if you know going into something that you will fail at it, the crime isn’t in not succeeding, but in not trying.  So I leave you, struggling as I was when I started writing, with another quote.  This one by a Mr Samuel Beckett.  May it see you through better times than it has seen me.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.



The Awkward Duckling


Lars and the Real Girl

I watched this movie again the other night.  I’m not sure I could tell you why, I just really wanted to see it.  Without giving too much away, the story basically goes that there’s this guy who is too shy or anxious or whatever to date humans, so he orders a sex doll.  He doesn’t ever have sex with her, he just wants to love her.  He pretends she’s real and he takes care of her and gives her a really wholesome background.  Sweet in a Harold Pinter sort of way.  (I guess what I mean by that is that, to me, Harold Pinter plays were always kind of these oddball works… these sorts of stories that really shouldn’t come together, but end up working.  I don’t know how, they just do.)  This should not be a beautiful love story, but it is.  There’s this guy and he’s just too fucking scared to do anything.  He’s paralyzed by this innate fear that he can’t even identify.  So he falls in love with something that can’t hurt him.

And what gets me most is this one scene.  He brings his sex doll girlfriend to church, because he wants her to blend into the community.  He brings her around to meet the important players in his tiny little life, and they all stare at him like he’s a nutjob (which he is, but come on, have a heart.)  Then this one lady, in a big ‘fuck you’ to all the judgmental members of the congregation, takes a floral arrangement from the church and gives it to Bianca, the doll.  She sets this big arrangement right on the doll’s lap and says here you go, welcome.  Lars (the guy with the crippling anxiety) looks at his girlfriend and delivers this one heartbreaking line:

“Those are nice, huh? And they’re not real, so they’ll last forever.”

And there you go.  In one line he explains his entire delusional, psychotic relationship with an inanimate object.  He’s too scared to love something that can leave or die, so he loves something that can’t.  I think, on a lot of levels, I’m like him.  I grew up taking care of myself, with divorced parents who were too busy trying to hurt each other to pay any attention to me.  It set this precedent that you’re alone in this world and if you need help, you’ll be let down.  It’s hard to love something that can hurt you like that after you’ve already been hurt a million times.  That’s the biggest struggle I’ve ever faced in my life.  

But, like Lars, I keep working toward overcoming that fear and anxiety.  It’s hard not to feel like you’re perpetually waiting for something bad to happen, but you gotta just keep trying.


The Awkward Duckling

Once Upon a Time

My roommate got a shipment of boxes from her storage unit.  They’d been packed up for over two years, and she had no idea what was inside them.  Eagerly she tore into them, disemboweling carton after carton and strewing their contents everywhere.  One box was a set of dishes from her deceased grandmother, another full of scarves and hats knit by her mum.  When she came to a box full of notebooks and diaries and photo albums, she let me look through all the pictures as she read entries from her journal.  They weren’t even my memories but it felt good to relive them.  She talked about boyfriends and dreams (both literal and figurative) and places she traveled and friends she’d made and lost.  She’s not much older than I am, but it seemed she’d lived a thousand lifetimes in the time it took me to live one.

Eventually we unearthed pictures from her marriage, and we looked at her wedding (a courthouse ceremony) and her old apartment with her husband.  In her wedding photo she was wearing jeans and a blue shirt, and she didn’t even take off her coat.  Pointing to her hands, she said ‘Look at how tightly I’m gripping Bill.  I was scared.  I think I knew even then this wasn’t a good idea.’  But she did it, and she lived it for a while.  She read me an entry from her journal about falling in love again after her marriage, and then dug out a framed photo of her and her husband the first time she met his parents, and just looked at it.  I asked if she wanted to keep it and she said she didn’t know.  Later I saw her stuffing it under her bed, not willing to have it out but unwilling to let go of it entirely.

We talked a little bit about her marriage that night.  She said it fell apart because he changed too much.  He stopped going out, stopped socializing, stopped taking an interest in her life.  She asked him why he changed so much, and all he could ask was why didn’t you?  In retrospect it’s easy for her to see all the places it went wrong and all the ways it wasn’t going to work, but at the time I think she just wanted to be happy.  That’s a universal theme, wanting to be happy, but when you’re fighting to preserve a happiness that was never really there, you’re fighting a losing battle.  It begs the question of ‘is this what I really want?’  And it’s hard to know the answer.  Sometimes you want something because it looks good.  Sometimes you want it because you’re told you should (that’s how my mom ended up marrying a gay man.)  Other times you want something just because it’s easier and less lonely than going without it, even if it’s just for a little bit.

The only real solution to this conundrum is to take the time to get to know yourself.  I used to think it a horrible cliche when people would travel and ‘find themselves’, but now I think it’s the best thing you can ever do for yourself.  You don’t have to travel to find yourself, but you need to have an open dialogue to understand what it is you really want.  For me, I want a partner I can grow with.  I want somebody who will tell me what is or isn’t working for him, and will be open and constructive in finding a solution.  I want one who will be honest and have integrity.  I want one who will be faithful and loving all of his days.  I would never ask of another person what I myself am not willing to do.  For my part, I am more than willing to give what I ask, and I try to.  I really do.  I’m not always successful, but I try.  And when I fail, I try again.  And that’s all I can ask of anyone else.

So thanks to you, B, for the life lesson in men and marriage.  I’ll take the advice nobody ever gave you.


The Awkward Duckling

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death


I have become overwhelmed by nostalgia.  I’m drowning in memories, and some of them aren’t even mine.  There’s this feeling, this want for something that you can never have, and it feels like hunger or thirst.  I’ve had that feeling most of my life, a gentle thirst, but in the past few months I have been consumed by it.  And the sad part is, I’m so busy looking ahead all the damn time that even when I was living those moments I crave now, I was too caught up in the ‘what’s next?’ of life to enjoy them.  It seems unfair to desperately want something you didn’t give a shit about when you had it, but that’s life I suppose.

Maybe in some way this is a weird cosmic shifting.  I don’t believe in much, but I believe in the universe, and I think maybe it’s trying to tell me to get my head out of my ass.  All my life I’ve been preoccupied with the next step.  I’ve never enjoyed what I had until I left it.  Nothing felt like ENOUGH until I’d gone on ahead and felt the void.  Like leaving a warm bed in the middle of the night, and you can just feel the emptiness around you.

I could liken myself very aptly to a character you might know.  Benjy Compson from The Sound and the Fury.  He has no way of articulating his thoughts, and he barely knows what is happening around him, but by God he knows when something is missing.  He couldn’t give a shit about what’s there, but when something goes away he knows it.  That’s what I feel like.  I feel like Benjy, too dumb to realize what I’ve got until I can just feel a cold, empty space where it used to be.

I don’t really know what to do with this feeling, except to scrap it and start again.  The only real solution is to just push forward and fill your life with stuff that feels meaningful.  Try to make new memories and new friends and new families to fill that big, hulking, empty space.  I can feel it, though, closing in on all sides.  Pressing down on me, weightier than anything I’ve ever felt before.  Suffocating me little by little until I’m ready to give in to a calm sleep.  I know I have to fight against it, and to let the panic wash over me until I can surface again and regain my breath.  But it’s so hard.  As it gets colder, and the days get shorter, it feels easier to let it wash over me, and it feels more tempting to succumb.  To just give in and stop being anybody.

But that’s not what I want.  What I want is to find meaning, and passion, and purpose.  I want to love fully, and work diligently, and to make my way through the world with purpose.  The only purpose I’ve ever felt truly passionate about is helping people and animals to make better lives for themselves.  I try to focus on that, but it’s hard to hang on when you get turned down time and again by the ASPCA and rejected for volunteer opportunities (‘we’re over staffed, but here are our upcoming programs!’).  I feel good when I’m useful, and lately, I have not been useful.  And so I don’t feel good.

Work, as a means of making money, means very little to me.  Office drudgery and the like are the anathema to everything I hold close, but it’s an inescapable evil.  I need to make money to pay my bills and feed myself.  I know that.  But getting up and going to the office and coming home again just doesn’t cut it for me.  So what’s a gal to do?

I’ll answer my own bit of rhetoric by saying a gal is to do precisely what she likes.  YES, you have responsibilities.  You must, before all else, meet your financial obligations.  But from there?  You find what makes you happy.  You spend as much time doing it as you can.  And, if you’re really lucky, you find fulfillment.  And now, I’m off to find mine.

Wish me luck!


The Awkward Duckling

Even the Heartbreak is Soon Forgotten

My title comes from a William Faulkner quote: ‘what’s sad about love, Joe, is not only the love can’t last forever but even the heartbreak is soon forgotten.’

Before you think something has gone terribly, terribly wrong in my life, let me assure you I am very happily in love with my wonderful boyfriend. But I’m still full of heartbreak.

My mum, my wonderful, lovely, space cadet of a mother, is splitting up with her third husband. I’ve never much cared for husband #3. I wasn’t that keen on #2, either. (I should mention #2 is my father). By far her best husband was #1, but unfortunately for my mother, #1 turned out to be gay. That’s not something you can save with marriage counseling. That’s not to say #1 was without fault: he can be selfish and at times a bit shortsighted, maybe a little too immature for his ripe age. But he stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Where do I begin with husband #3? They dated 8 years before getting married. Even after the wedding he suffered a perpetual case of cold feet. A divorcee himself, he had three kids with his first wife, and they never fail to ignore and disappoint him. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why he is the way he is. Cold, distant, a self-appointed martyr with no sense of gratitude. Essentially, he’s kind of an anus.

My mum moved in with him at the start of my second year of university. There was no room for my brother or me, and so we maintained a friendly but distant relationship with each other. She was so wrapped up in her life with husband #3 that I couldn’t bear to remind her of my existence. She’s the type who needs that nuclear family dynamic, two parents and a few children to replace them when they die. She completed husband #3’s nuclear family, and I was just the outlier, orbiting but never quite a part of their solar system. I’d be lying to you (and myself) if I said it wasn’t hard, but it was what she needed. My brother and I alone were not enough, we were not a family. So we let her go.

Four years later and that carefully constructed world we gave her up for is collapsing all around her and I can’t do a thing about it. And even if I could stop it, I know I shouldn’t. I know husband #3 isn’t capable of being a good husband as he is right now, and I’ve seen his unwillingness to change. I can’t force him to change, I can’t make him the husband she ought to have. All I can do is let her know I love her and that she deserves better. But that doesn’t stop me from crying when I think how sad she must be. I can picture her curled up with a mug of tea, her eyes puffy and red from crying, and all she wants is to go home to a man she loves and who will tell her everything is going to be just fine.

My first tip off that husband #3 was no good was when I saw firsthand his penchant for excessive drinking and, more alarmingly, drink driving. Until I met him, I had never seen a man crack so many cans of watery domestic lager and knock them back in a few gulps while driving his car in reverse through a construction zone. I had also never seen a man drink so much he barged in the house shouting about naked bitches at the pub and getting punched in the penis. I had never seen a grown man get so drunk he toppled himself over by gesturing too hard and knocked himself out on the bar. Not until husband #3.

My second tipoff that he was a little shit was when I noticed how cranky he would get when my mother did nice things for him. She’d make him dinner and he would stomp in the kitchen and sniff at the steam coming off the hob snarl ‘what’s that? I don’t like that. I don’t want any of that. I’ll make myself something else.’ Then fifteen minutes later I’d see him with a heaping plate of whatever she had made. Dickhead, right? And it’s not like this happened once or twice. This happened every single time I came over for dinner. Surely he can’t be that picky of an eater. He’s the same man who combines all his Christmas dinner (pudding too) onto one soggy plate and shovels it in. So where does this need to be punitive come from?

My going theory is that most people who are consistently nasty are simply projecting outwards an internal unhappiness. It’s hard to be pleasant when you’re so busy hating yourself. Unhappy or not, I have no tolerance for that sort of behavior. I’ve demonstrated my intolerance for his snippy and snide demeanour any number of ways: direct confrontation, passive aggressive questions, storming out, pointed stares. Nothing works, nothing sinks in and makes him ask himself ‘am I behaving like a bell-end? Am I a giant walking dildo?’ Well let me answer that for you, husband #3: yes. You are.

Inevitably they reached a crossroads and my mother made the deliberate decision to diverge from the path he had been dragging her down. Twelve years of being together, four spent married, and they have reached an impasse. I don’t want to make this about me. This is about my mother and her hard life choices, but I have to admit, her failure of a third marriage terrifies me. My father has also recently destroyed his third marriage. I can’t believe that’s all there is in the world. I need to believe a relationship can work and survive from start to finish. The lifecycle of a romantic relationship cannot be meet, fall in love, break your heart. I cannot believe that. But that’s all I’ve seen. All my parental and familial examples of adult life have been ‘what not to dos’. I really need to know what to do. I guess, for my own sake, I need to be strong and trust my heart. I will not repeat these mistakes, and I will not destroy my relationship with the person I love more than myself. I can’t.

So to my mom: I love you, and you will be fine. To my dad: thanks for the tips on what to avoid when looking for a spouse. And to my boyfriend: thank you for being you.

e.e. cummings Quotes and Stuff Like That

In my foolish adolescence I held quite tightly to the trite sentiment of the e.e. cummings poem about being yourself in a world where everybody is trying to get you to be somebody else. As I’ve grown older though, my tenacity and resilience against this pressure seems to decrease exponentially with each boring, repetitive day. God knows I try, but I’m well aware of the fact I’m fighting a losing battle.

You wanna know something? I used to have a lot of dreams. I wanted to be somebody, if not exactly good, then at least somebody interesting. I wanted to move to France or Greece or Italy and I wanted to be a playwright and I wanted to fall in love and I never wanted to fall out of it. I wanted a romantic life where I spent the day at cafes and museums and the nights drinking beer and feeling happy. It’s not glamour I ever wanted, it’s satisfaction. A sense that when I die, I’m not going to be mad about it because I got my money’s worth.

If reality doesn’t kill aspiration, I don’t know what does, but it sure as hell isn’t kicking around here anymore.

Going back to my opening point: e.e. cummings is a little shit, and you shouldn’t believe him. I’m going to go so far as to say don’t believe any poet. Except maybe the dark ones. Sassoon was dark. You can like him, I suppose. But the others are bullshit, and they’ll fill your head with lollies and plump breasts and pudding. There’s no such thing as ‘doing you’ (that’s what the Americans say, right? ‘Hey girl. You do you. Fuck ’em.’) There’s doing what you think people think you ought to do. That’s about it. Trust me, I should know; I’ve spent more than a few late nights moping over my lager and thinking about what a relief it would be to encounter a swift death.

Do you know what l’appel du vide is? If you don’t speak French, probably not. (I don’t speak French either, but I know this one. I know it because I have it, bad.) It’s this feeling you get when you’re up really high and you want to jump off. When you’re driving over a bridge and you have to fight with yourself to keep from driving through the barrier. It’s that feeling you get when you look at a blade mixer and you feel the oddest compulsion to stick your tongue in it and turn it on. Morbid? Oh yes. But I’m feeling a little macabre these days.

Anyway, the reason I bring up l’appel du vide (or as it translates in our native language, the call of the void) is because the more I try to work out who I am vs. who I think I should be, the stronger that call gets. In the interest of full disclosure, you should know l’appel du vide is not the same as being suicidal. The thought of dying repulses me. I don’t want that. What I do want is the option to turn it all off. But then, I want the same option to turn it on again. And that is not something you get when you’re dead.

And I’ve digressed. Again.

The basic nub and gist of what I’m trying to say is that I want to be me, but I want to be the best version of me I can be. And a lot of me is being lazy, forgetful, a little bit dumb, kind of inconsiderate, insecure, neurotic and, quite frankly, greasy. That’s kind of my core right there. Not so pleasant, is it? So when I stop to think about it, I am forced (forced! There is no way around it) to look closely at myself. Can’t say I’m that keen on what I see. That’s where all this conflict comes from. I don’t want to fight with myself, and I don’t want to feel external pressure to be anybody but me (‘Are you sure you want to wear that?’, ‘You’re still in bed?’, ‘You’re kind of a dick’, ‘You’re a bit thick, aren’t you?’). I can’t help it though! That’s my natural state. That’s what I sink back down to. It’s my driving force, and if I don’t want to be any part of that, then I have to, out of necessity, fight myself. It drives me mad. It’s like being at war with yourself and everybody around you, only nobody else knows it. I want to pull out my hair and cry and wail to God ‘why aren’t I cleverer?! Why aren’t I more motivated?? Why can’t I be put together and rational?? Why, for the love of God, do I sometimes wake up crying???? Give me the strength to control my emotions!’

Maybe I’m a little melodramatic.

Maybe it’s about forming the right habits. Maybe getting out of bed when my alarm goes off instead hitting the snooze button (literally) twenty times would do me a world of good. It could help me start to redefine some of those natural characteristics. Maybe they’re not nature, maybe they’re design. But that isn’t going to stop me from being insecure. That’s not going to quell this low level of anxiety I feel when I think about life abstractly (in a way that goes outside my 9-5.30 job, that transcends commutes on the tube and enters a new realm of love and dreams and personal fulfillment). Is it?

Fuck if I know. If anything, I’ve confused myself further. I’ve completely lost the thread of my own conversation. What I want right now is to lie in bed, have a cuddle with my boyfriend, and watch some Netflix. But life is ever persistent and I must traverse the world further into the drudgery of forward movement if ever I should hope to do anything.

That was a whirlwind of emotions, wasn’t it, lovely reader? I’m sorry I dragged you on this aimless expulsion of estrogen and neuroses. You didn’t need that in your life, did you?

You know, sometimes I think it’s the end of the world. And sometimes, it’s just raining.

I Am One Sad Duckling

The boyfriend sprung some alarming news on me this morning. He has a potential offer to go on tour with a large musical… for ten months.

Yes yes yes, I realise this is a huge opportunity for him. And of course I want what’s best for him. Bottom line is, I’ll support him no matter his choice, but where does that leave me? Without my boyfriend for almost a year.

He’ll get time off here and there and I’ll go out to see him as well, but I am so accustomed to falling asleep next to him every night that the thought of being apart for long stretches of time makes me want to bawl. And worse still, a huge part of me is terrified to ask what that means for us if and when he leaves. What if he wants to end it while he’s away? Or what if he falls for somebody else simply because he is around her constantly and not me? These things terrify me. Nobody told me that once you found the love of your life you might lose him. I am not prepared for that.

I called my father, of all people, to whinge at him about the whole affair. He gave me that bullshit ‘qué será, será’ speech. I don’t believe in that philosophy. You want something? Fight for it. You love something? Protect it. But at the end of the day, if the best thing for the person you love is being without them for ten months, you have to do it, even if it potentially jeopardises your own happiness.


And yeah, I’m a bit angry about it. Since the day I realised I would fall in love with him (and I remember that day very well), everything I’ve done, I’ve done with him in mind. I’ve considered how things will affect us, and how I can make it work with him. And he just nips right off for ten months. Yes, it’s great for him, and no, I don’t begrudge him that opportunity, I just wished he’d show me how hard the decision will be for him. And yeah, in all honesty there’s a part of me that wants him to turn it down because he can’t stand being away from me for that long. And yeah, I realise that’s unfair, and I wish that part of me didn’t exist. But it does, and I hate this situation.

Fuck fuck fuck.