That, I believe, was an actor’s suicide note.
One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
Could you hold this boulder for a minute?
I’m “Chasing Amy” today. If you haven’t seen the Kevin Smith film, do so. It’s about a guy who destroys an irreplaceable friendship with a guy he’d known since gradeschool and with whom he’d built an enviable career as well as the love of his life with an absolutely unique woman by having such a terrible idea that only a brilliant man could dream it up. Afterward, he’s always looking for the one that got away. It’s a funny and brilliant work.
In a less concrete way, I’m also chasing an Amy.
Except mine doesn’t exist and never did.
(Here, dear reader, I must ask your indulgence. Here, I must ask you to set aside anything you think you know about my actual lovelife and the actual women I’ve dated and/or loved and/or known in the Biblical sense of the word. This piece is not about real people in the specific. This is musing about my reactions to, observations of and interactions with a wide variety of women, including characters from fiction and film. It’s about women I’ve met, women my sisters and mother know and tell me about and maybe I’ve met them and maybe not. This is about what I’ve read and seen and heard as much as it is about my own experience. In fact, this is a singular attempt by me to look at myself and my interactions with women in the abstract, to extract the personalities in order to validate for my own feelings and desires. Much of what you will read below has nothing so much to do with fact in the observable world as it has to do with trying to get at an insight into my own feelings about the world. This is as much about my psychohistorical relationship with my imagined maternal figure and my early childhood guilts being reinforced by the Southern Baptist Church upbringing and my strained relationship with my father as it has to do with any reality or particular woman. If you attempt to analogize to an actual relationship, your conclusions will necessarily be wrong. For one thing, this is a snapshot of who I am today. Whoever I was in the actual relationship will bear little resemblence to the man who writes this, having had the actual relationship experience and grown or became mired.)
The earliest recollection I have of sexual feeling was as a lad upon seeing a teenaged girl clad in a 1950s black one-piece swimsuit; she wasthe daughter of one of my father’s closest friends. My first crush was in 6th grade, about age 11. My first love was age 16, a classmate.
However, the classmate was not my first real love. My first real love was an imaginary person, crudely formed by my teenage mind, and projected upon a perky, short blonde. That classmate, the actual woman, is now very fat, very bitter and very gloomy. That classmate, the actual woman, is bitter because she didn’t get what she wanted and is gloomy because she didn’t want what she had. As a result, she comforted herself with food as to the former and defended herself from disappointment with the resulting fat as a barrier against the latter. I see her from time to time and, mostly, act like I don’t recognize her. It’s too sad. I know and understand her grief and pain all too well from far too many perspectives. I was never more than a brief glimpse in her life story, not even enough for a footnote. She “doesn’t recognize” me, either, and never has.
My first real love, the imagined one, would never become fat, or addicted in any way. Unlike my classmate and myself in real life, my first real love, the imagined one, always got what she wanted and always wanted what she had and was never bitter nor gloomy. Sometimes, perhaps, she would pout, giving forth a moue of fine porportions, a pristine moment of chrystallized preciousness that makes one love her all the more. Shove 50 pounds of bon bons into her mouth? Never! My first real love was a woman who walked off movie screens, toasting a glass of champagne ” Here’s looking at you, kid”. No sense letting the Nazis drink this bottle, Sam. A kiss is still a kiss.
Needless to say, she wore a black, one-piece 1950s swimsuit.
Here’s where things get a little complicated. The real classmate went on to date a jock, with whom she fell madly in love, but lost. She went off to college and got married and had kids. No wonder she’s gloomy. The classmate I imagined and clothed in my crudely teenaged amalgam of film and fiction went on as well, now as the torch I carried well into my marriage. The imaginary real love underwent renovations as I dated a busty brunette and a tall slim blonde and a dumpy but brilliant grad student and then, the woman who I would marry. More real women, imaginary women walking within my projections, and a morphing imaginary woman.
This is about the time drinking started taking over my life and I started stuffing all these emotions about love and sex. Here’s where my willingness to insight and growth stopped and my obsession with oblivion grew.
Damn, I hate reflection.
I did learn a few things during the subsequent years. One was that it wasn’t just the imaginary woman I crafted, it was also love itself. My actual experience of love was very different than what I had — and sometimes still — imagine. I loved my wife. I still love my exwife, despite the fact that we never speak. That admiration and reliance and many other things I experienced, though, simply were not the romantic love that I received and accepted from fiction, television and movies and poems and God knows what other sources. So, now there’s real love and the love that I imagine that is an alloy of a great many myths. I have some form of both of these with the real women in my life, the imagined women in my life, and the one imaginary woman who constantly changes with my ideas and feelings appropriate to my age and experience and mental health.
That is further complicated by the several “me”s that populate my world. There’s the real me, the me that people observe and experience and the me I imagine myself to be. All three of these guys have all of those different love relationships with all three real and imagined women.
Fucked up stuff, eh?
I don’t think I’m the only one. In fact, I think I describe a commonplace in our culture’s society.
I think this commonplace is the source of much misery. I think the “gaps” between the real people, the imagined people and the imaginary person, the “gaps” between love and imagined love and imaginary love as well as the gaps between the real individual, the perceived individual and the imaginary individual all cause a very great many of us guilt, hurt, loss, pain, discouragement, angst.
Clearly, if the real us could have some real love with a real person, that would be a good thing. I think this rarely happens.
Worse, I think that even when it IS HAPPENING, we’re so busy putting the other overlays of imaginary and mythic thinking/feeling on top of what is actually happening to our real selves and our real loves, we don’t recognize it and can be just as unhappy with the “gaps” as when our real selves are out of sync with our real others.
In other words, I think that when the real you finds the real them and has real love, we are just as apt to fuck it up and be unhappy with the relationship.
At the very least, I think this is what I do and have done. I’ll leave you and the rest of American culture out of it. I’m already doing all the projecting and transferrence I can handle.
My morphing imaginary love object looks more and more like a Playboy bunny. However, the real me never asks out a woman who looks like a Playboy bunny. Such women really really frighten me. However, just as $30 million would make me more handsome, 140 IQ points makes you more beautiful. This causes a problem. I don’t so much date women who I find attractive as I date women who are attracted to me; I find my attraction later.
This is not to say that I have not dated some very attractive women. I think most of them would admit, however, that they are not Playboy bunny material. As time goes on, I project and transfer more and more beauty from my imaginary love onto the imaginary woman I’m dating and experiencing. Thus, the women I date tend to become more beautiful the longer I date them. If they dump me, they become a veritable Venus on the halfshell rising from the sea.
As my self esteem gets lower or depression sets in, I tend not to ask anyone out. Since this is nearly always the case, I tend to date only women who really want to date me. I tend, at those times, to date only women who are SO interested in dating me that they are willing to storm the barricades of my obtuseness, climb the battlements of my defenses, slash and burn their way through my inner barriers to intimacy and finally grab me by the penis and shout in my ear over the screaming of my scared six year old inner boy: “fuck me, you ignorant jerk!” .
Kind of makes you just tingle with the thought of asking me “How’s that working for you?”. Supress your inner Dr. Phil, please. This is MY blog and it’s about ME and all y’all can just shut yore mouth.
The imagined real women I’ve dated all know this feeling of me being the boulder they had to push, Sisyphus like, up a hill, over and over, fruitlessly.
When my self esteem is stronger, it’s even worse.
My self esteem tends to get stronger when I’m actually already dating someone. Since this is nearly always someone who has cleaned the stables along with Hercules, I’m feeling pretty good about myself because someone was willing to go through all that trouble to hook up with me and my imaginary lives, all of which I imagine are transparent to everyone who sees me.
The trouble here is that my self esteem doesn’t seem to want to linger at fair, middling, good, excellent or superior. My self esteem doesn’t seem to even slow down at those points. I tend to go from “shit” all the way to “godlike” in a fiery arc. As I get more comfortable in my dating experience, and especially as my sexual desires begin to be met, I grow much more confident. As in: “no man can compete with me and even married women want me.” as in “rich, witty and irresistable to ALL women.” As in even Playboy bunnies no longer scare me. Well, maybe not quite that far.
I have a vague recollection of one and maybe two women in my life complaining of this, but nothing important, I’m sure.
Here’s another bit of the trouble. As I get more and more confident and have this sense of godlike invincibility and irresistability, that becomes more true. There are women out there who like confident, smiling, happy men. Imagine. They become the woman who is willing to smash through barricades. Even the obstacle of the other woman already in my life. That other woman always seems a little surprised that a woman would do just as she just did TO THE SAME MAN.
But I am not that SAME MAN. I’m the confident and irascable high self esteem John, not the depressed and feel like shit guy they rescued.
I’m no longer interested in being endlessly fascinated by their every dyspeptic pronouncement.
They, on their part, are interested in doing the rescue thing and I no longer need rescue. They are interested in fixing up a good, used car. Now, I’m a bright shiney sports car that needs no fixing, that wants to fly over the curves and hug the road at high and thrilling speeds.
All these aggressive women out there want me, why is it that the main love in my life at the moment seems to be waning? She wanted me more than I wanted to be left alone and now that I’m even better than I was when she first wanted me, she wants me less, not more.
If there just weren’t those other women out there. That’s the problem. The solution? Me. I must quit flirting. I’m not flirting, I’m just being happy and confident. You’re flirting. No. THEY are flirting, not me. I ignore all that. No, you’re flirting. Fuck this, I’ll go flirt. Why not? I’m already paying the price.
And, the relationship breaks down. As the relationship breaks down, my self esteem shatters. Again, no lingering slide down through superior, excellent, good, middling, fair, poor. From godlike to shit.
And, just to help that along. The one dumping me, chasing me away with impossible demands, parting friends, whatever, gives that just a little shove. Here’s the plans for fixing you I once held; You have the following deficits I was going to shore up; you will never learn and all chance you ever had for happiness is disappearing as I turn my back and disappear into the distance.
If there’s a sucker born every minute, there are two codependents born in the same time period. A new one comes to smash my barricades and I start over the same pattern.
And new imaginary “me”, a new imaginary woman and a new imagined woman is born along with a new and imaginary love.
And, here’s what bores me.
I’ve been here before. I know all this stuff. Today isn’t the first day I’ve had these ideas and feelings and analysis. I go here often. To no avail. I’ve described a friend of mine as someone who knows everything and understands nothing. This is stuff I know, but my understanding, intellectual and not emotional understanding, does not lead to any change. I don’t emotionally “own” this insight. My understanding is intellectual alone. If I did understand this on other levels, I’d change the pattern. I’d decide that doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result over and over was tedious and self destructive and that it was time to do something different and get a changed and more advantageous result. I’ve tried thinking myself into a new way of acting and that’s not working for me.
I simply don’t know how else to proceed.
All the other ways of going about the business of love and relationships, no matter how they may differ, seem to have very similar if not identical results.
One of the more successful methods, different from mine, that I observe is to refuse to have a real love and/or relationship. I know several people who don’t date at all and don’t want to. They have their imaginary self, imagined love and their memories. That’s it. They never have the rush of a new relationship and a new sex partner nor the high of feeling confident and fulfilled, but they never suffer the fiery hell of a relationship in flux and shambles, leading to a pit of burning lost love excrement up to one’s nose. They “win” by not playing. In my opinion, they have put life on hold and in my opinion this is a fate worse than death. It’s also the option I believe I am most likely to choose.
Another method I observe is the “put up with shit and settle for what you get” method. This mainly consists of living in a grey shell of a life with a partner you no longer care for, but believe is about as good as you’ll be able to do so what the hell. Ugh. Can we say “marriage” boys and girls? Sure you can. I believe most marriages spend a certain amount of time in this place, if not always. This is not a likely choice for me, but I don’t rule it out.
In the face of all the evidence that this is radically impossible, I believe there is a theoretical situation in which a real woman can share real love with the real me. I believe the obstacles to this situation are as follows: I don’t know the real me and I don’t know real love and I don’t know any real women.
So, as counterpart to the post of a few days ago in which I imagined how women of differing ages dump the men in their life, here’s men over the decades:
I want to fuck your mom. (20s)
I want to fuck your younger sister. (30s)
I want to fuck your daughter. (40s)
For every beautiful babe out there, there’s some guy tired of taking her shit. (50s)
I told you I was bored.