Wednesday, April 22, 2009
And this autumn air reminds How things all slowly unwind Changing times have been unkind To you As these days they slip away We grow closer to our graves Had the best time of my life Without you --Lucky Boys Confusion, “Closer to Our Graves” Ken’s insistence that religion is like a marriage has gotten me thinking. Apparently it got PersonalFailure and, possibly by happenstance, Leigh started thinking about it, too. Probably not about the sort of thing Ken would have liked them to, though. Leigh’s post, meanwhile, got me thinking. I’ve never been abused. Or, at least, I think you’d have to have to stretch the definition of the word “abuse” beyond any useful, working definition to say I have. But I think I can sympathize. I was in the car with my parents over the weekend. My mother asked me if I ever talked to the one I refer to as Her anymore. I said that no, no I don’t. For the most part I don’t want to talk to her any more. She has no place in my life. Even if I did make space for her, she wouldn’t want to take it. This is my reality and it’s one I’m quite comfortable to live inside. Every once in a while, however, I learn some deeply insightful lesson about myself and face an overwhelming urge to tell her about it. I wish she could understand what has happened. I wish she gave a shit. A few weeks ago I had a dream where we were at the same party for some unfathomable reason and I kept trying to talk to her but she kept ignoring me. I woke up feeling profoundly sad. Then I went and played Empire: Total War for a couple hours. And I ate an english muffin. The sadness went away. The weird thing is that I’m pretty sure my sudden bout of sadness was actually brought about by a completely unrelated annual event. There’s a girl I dated, like, nine years ago who tries to reach me about once a year. My preference would be for her to develop extremely selective amnesia. I mean, I don’t want her to forget everything. I just want her to forget me. Maybe some sort of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind stuff would work. Anyway, I’d just gotten my annual communication from her. I was reminded of the people who I wish would still talk to me but don’t. And that was what brought me back to Her. I believe that’s why I ended up waking up at 7:30 on a Saturday morning and playing Empire: Total War. I hinted at my conflict about this in a post a couple weeks ago. For whatever that’s worth. So let’s go back to that conversation with my mother. “You know,” my mother said, “I think you need to find someone who actually cares about you for you.” “I think she did,” I replied, “She was just too busy worried about looking right and being daddy’s little princess.” “That’s exactly what I mean.” I thought about that. She told me she loved me. She also told me that she would probably emotionally check out one day and I wouldn’t know until it was too late. The one from my deep, dark, past tried to convince me she loved me, but she was only trying to manipulate me to stick around/take her back/whatever the hell the goal was, there for her own benefit. And, yes, when someone you haven’t spoken to in at least four years sends you an email and claims to know where you are in your life and that they know you extremely well, chances are they don’t actually give a shit about you, just about you believing that they care. Especially when they say that they want to hear how you’re doing and then don’t actually bother to ask anything. Between that time nine years ago and Her there were a string of girls I thought were the greatest thing in the world who didn’t have the time of day for me. Since Her I’ve mostly ended up smelling the crazy about twenty minutes in to the first date and backing slowly away. I also met someone else I tried to turn in to that one who was way too good for me. I started to wonder if it wasn’t somehow my own fault. I took the “Dysfunction” demotivational poster to heart. I hit the point recently where I was done making excuses. I don’t miss Her any more except when I have random dreams. When that comes up it goes away soon enough. But I still didn’t want to start a new relationship. It was weird. I’d meet some woman somewhere and start talking to her, then be secretly relieved when nothing happened. It was like I was just going through the motions so I could pretend like I was trying, pretend like I was making progress. I didn’t want to make progress. I wanted a story to tell, nothing more. I realized that I’m not ready to hear another woman say she loves me. Ever. Nine years ago a girl told me she cheated on me because she loved both me and the other guy. Truth be told, if she’d just gone off and did what she did I’d probably be in better shape. I’d wanted out of the relationship anyway. It was almost Seinfeld-esque. I wanted to break up, she didn’t. I finally had the ammunition to get rid of her. Or, at least, I thought I did. I mean, she’s still trying to re-connect based on the fact that she “loved” me. On one end I have love as “creepy, clingy, cheating stalker chick.” On the other end I have love as, “I could be gone tomorrow and you won’t have a clue.” In the middle I was simply unloved. You know what? I tried. Especially with Her. I tried as hard as I could for as long as I could to convince her she didn’t have to leave. I tried to convince her that it was worthwhile for her to stick around, that it was possible to trust me. Like I said, I’ve never been abused. Mistreated? Sure. Abandonded? A little. Lied to? Certainly. I blamed myself for it, too. I stopped looking for happiness because I started to believe that being lied to and mistreated would be my lot in life. I divided the female gender in to Golden-Haired Women and Gomers. I stopped expecting to find happiness. And I heard a lot of people tell me that a relationship with god worked on the same principles. No wonder I no longer find that a compelling argument. I tried as hard as I could for two decades to be a good Christian. In the end it brought me nothing but pain and the distinct impression that god did not give a shit about me, assuming god even existed. Add to that a long-overdue critical assessment of the underlying assumptions of Christianity and a simple application of Occam’s razor and the final step is inevitable. I do wonder, though, if the people who claim that Christianity is like a marriage and I simply didn’t hold up my end of the bargain have ever been in a shitty relationship. I wonder if they’d change their tune while they tried to figure out why that beloved person didn’t talk to them anymore. There, too, is that comforting little lie that human love is imperfect, but god’s love is perfect and always there. It’s not true. I hung on with god a lot longer than I should have. Somehow, though, I still retain hope that I’ll meet someone who actually does care about me. I just don’t have any intention of meeting her in church. I’ve had enough of that kind of love, thanks. I mean, how much abuse do we have to take from an indifferent god before we start saying, "Maybe it's not actually me..."