I quit smoking. I left Berlin, hotbed for smoking anywhere and everywhere that it is. I came to Lisboa to finish my third and final month before submitting….succumbing to the yoke.
I will get myself clean before going back to Canada. I will get myself clean before putting my head down and shutting up. I will get myself clean before I go pay back all that good karma of living so recklessly and “finding myself” these last post-Chelsea years.
And that’s what it is -post-Chelsea, not post-Marijo. Not post-Anne. I lost Chelsea, who loved me unconditionally. I have been so fixated on Marijo but she never loved me unconditionally. Marijo was too wise for that, even though she got start-struck by me and my sole purpose and intentional focus. She wised up real quick when that focus and drive she fell in love with became disproportionately fixated on her.
God how I sinned against her.
And then spurned by her I attached myself to Anne like a parasite. A weak man attaching himself to a strong woman’s vain twilight hopes of having a family. I look back at my weakness and willingness to use those weaker than me and I feel disgust. I never want to be so weak again.
I think I am still willing to use people again if need be. I just want to make sure I use that malevolence and ….charm, in a more intentional way. I don’t want to use it against women. Or men. I want to use it against people who know we are in contest. And then only as a last resort. I competence rather than artifice and the naivete of others to be how I make my way in the world. I want my cunning and wiles (such as they are) to be the fruits reaped by contenders who will appreciate the artfulness and not be left stunned and in disarray at how their best –their pearls– were spit upon for selfish egoistic self advancement.
I look back and see human wreckage. I’ve taken what I want from women. From those women gullible, naive and/or idealistic enough to be duped at least.
No more. I will make sure their eyes are open. If I can’t open them then I will walk away.
And of course I realize wryly that it’s all well and good for me to repent and rehabilitate now that my ‘victims’ have endured/are enduring the brunt of wasted hopes and wasted years. I used to take pride at how I was on good terms with all of my exes. I can’t do that anymore. I look at the last few women in my life and I see indifference/getting on with life at best, and….something else at worst.
I sinned against Marijo. I have known this for a long time. A spiritual sin against someone so perfectly matched to my soul that I felt I might have to pay penance for several lifetimes before I might have her essence welcome me again.
And if that weren’t bad enough, my penance to her was at the “altar” of my relationship with Anne. I saw Anne as the fitting punishment for earlier transgressions. I spent a year self-flagellating with her, trying to conform my heart and soul to a new life that wasn’t my own and my health suffered. I felt like I couldn’t even stand up straight and I was scared that I was going to cripple myself by continuing down this road.
And then there’s the elephant in the room, Annie.
Annie, who loved me so purely and so dearly while I pined after Marijo, missing the latter with the vain goal of co-mingling my weakness and inadequacy with her optimism and idealism. I haven’t even addressed Annie. I have kept her compartmentalized out of a sense of respect. She loved me so dearly, so purely, and all I could think about was another woman.
Marijo. Annie. Anne. They all have names. They are all lives touched by my brutish, unrefined demands. Sodomized by my insecurities, they allowed themselves to be victimized by my emotional rapefulness [sic] because they didn’t know better; because as they were struggling to keep their own heads above water they only saw the polished tip of my iceberg and not what floated me -not the generational pain, narcissism, hurt and legacy of past impetuous, rash and calculated actions.
There’s an idea that I don’t like per se, but which is nonetheless salvational: “None of us get away with anything.”
I realized this when I cheated on Anne. Even though we might lay cuddled, there was always something between our tightly intertwined bodies which prevented ultimate closeness, and the only thing which ameliorated that distance was coming clean about my infidelity. Poor girl. Poor lovely, unassuming young girl who was five years my senior. She wanted so badly to believe that her investment in me would pay off that she forgave me.
No. That’s not true. Forgiveness implies an even playing field. She was DESPERATE. I knew this. I knew I could act a fool and get away with it. And still, when I came clean it was only because I found my conscience -atrophied, jelly-like invalid that it was- irksome. I wanted to hold her closer for my own selfish indulgence, and the last good thing in me was screaming at me in its weakened state, “NO!”
I told her. She forgave me…not like she had a choice and my cuddles were as close after that as I needed them to be, no longer impeded by that thing I had been neglecting to feed and nurture.
If we can shut a yappy creature up and get ourself some respite, very often we will settle for that instead of a proper solution.
What a horrible state of affairs if that yappy creature whom we wish to toss only the merest sustenance to is our conscience.
Oh ladies who have loved me, I am so so sorry. I have wronged you so egregiously. I took what you freely gave at your most idealistic, and demanded more with no recompense. I am disgusted with myself.
I am haunted too. I am haunted by a selfish thought. The thought that is haunting me is this idea of 3. Three. Three women in your life. Three loves. That’s all you get. That’s all anyone gets. I look back on the women in my life trying to piece together who I loved, and who I didn’t actually love but who I just saw as an idealized projection of what I wanted. I hope to God the count is less than three. I hope I meet the love that will be so redefining in its depth that it will shift the goal-post and make me realize that everything I experienced before was just a shadow of the immaculate now where I find myself in union with a hopeful, unjaded feminine sweetness that loves me like Chelsea loved me, unconditionally.
That future is uncertain. I have thought about becoming a priest or turning to homosexuality over the last year because honestly, what do I have to offer the women I want; the sweet young women that I want, aside from rapaciousness and plunder?
And so I have become a man of faith. Perhaps all men of faith are motivated by a self-awareness of the transcendental nature of their error. I see my transgressions -for better or worse- as arithmetic figures to be punched into the perpetually tabulating equation of human suffering and misery. My act of faith is to absorb as much of that suffering as I can without letting it pass to the weaker around me who fall in love with me because of token, gestural demonstrations of strength and poise.
No, from now on I will shoulder the burden instread of passing it to them; not because anyone is watching and I am trying to get laid, but because I have learned experientially that the only way to redeem my suffering, to redeem the hurt I have inherited, is to minimize the suffering around me. And I so dearly need that respite so that I can become.
And here is the faith: If I do this, I trust that whatever happens will be the right thing. If it turns out that it is three strikes and I am out for women to love me, then I will take satisfaction that this is but one life and there will be another to get where I’m going.
If it turns out -God willing- that it has only been two, then I swear by everything that is holy that I will have the wide open eyes to recognize that beauty and not take it for granted like I was wont to do in the past. I won’t coast, but will work every day to make it better until it kills me.
If it is three I have already had then there might be another way…
My wandering vagabond lifestyle up to this point has been a blessing and a curse, but whatever I can say about it, it has made me choosy and refined in how I go about suffering. I want so badly to suffer for something with my enlightened perspective of how deeply meaningful suffering can be and how to shoulder it for the benefit of myself and everyone around me. I want to have my back against the wall and have people depend on me.
And I will get it…if I’m meant to in this life.
I have difficult years ahead of me. Lots of credit I have been living on that has to be paid back. I am going to pay it back with a smile on my face. And if I have to buy a pack of tobacco to bolster me now and then, then I burn away my health and beauty gladly.