Just when I thought it wouldn’t get any worse, I’m in love

Once again, life threatens to spiral out of control.

This piece will be shittily written, because I haven’t thought out what I want to say, haven’t felt inspiration. But writing is all I know how to do when I can’t rest and can’t get up.

The one saving grace is that this one will probably remain fantasy only. This guy is a consultant that work has hired to teach us something. So he’s my teacher. My first real lust was a teacher when I was fourteen and he was twenty five, young, he was, and in my strange precocious Lolita way, there were charged moments when he wanted me too, almost-consummated, stopped only by his pregnant wife. The dynamic: a happy man living a simple, pretty life, drawn to whatever is dark and wild about me. This repeats, and never has ended well for me.

This teacher is also gorgeous. And nice and personable and patient in that way that I guess you have to be if you make your living selling teaching services. But he is a little younger than me, I think, so now I am the corrupting leader. He is tall and dark, with a beautiful jawline. He is a pilot as well. As in, ahead of me in learning pilot school. A man with almost more balls than me; something I have never had, not really, yet the possibility never fails to inflame me…until they cave in and I see that it was all illusion. But on the surface, he is the perfect canvas for all my fantasies.

This is complicated because I have been living with someone else in a common-law type relationship for years. I don’t love him, but these years have been the best of my life. I have been stable and productive. I think I might be happy, even. Once I understood that my work, my writing, books, would be my one true love in this life (an understanding that came to me in a dream), everything became so much easier. No longer would I chase after the heel of some sadist who waits to crush me. Then, all the messiness and tears and hate and storm fell away.

And we are like brother and sister; we enjoy the same things. I never feel like I have to impress him. I can be my own weird, nerdy self, and it’s ok. We enjoy the same things, the same humor, the same theater. We can sit and watch documentaries all weekend without pressure to go out and do all those things I hate like dancing or going to bars. He tolerates my bitchiness and controlling tendencies with aplomb. He doesn’t really understand my darker moments, because he is basically happy and hasn’t experienced them himself, but he tolerates them. He is also madly in love with me.

And I with him, not so much.

This is cruel, I know. I keep wishing that I could fall in love with him, but I just don’t think that it is going to happen. I tried to break up with him once, for someone else I was “in love with” who turned out to be the biggest asshole on the face of the earth, who mistreated me, but at the beginning, gave the illusion of knowing my darkness. Ditto this for pretty much everyone I have ever been “in love with” before him, except for one.

This new guy, he is…out of my league. He is far too good-looking, and too accomplished, and too nice to be with someone like me. It is like high school or Gatsby all over again, all those tragic books about lusting after the beautiful, developed, sunny girl. I mean, I am pretty, and accomplished, but I’m also nerdy and really sort of a bitch, no matter how hard I try not to be. My temperament, as much as I try to curb it, is essentially wound too tightly. This is the kind of guy who would, after a while, fundamentally not get my need to curl up with a book, why I hate going clubbing with his friends, why I sort of think he is shallow. But he is nice, genuinely nice, and so beautiful, one of those people who seem charmed, who look like the physical embodiment of some metaphor like “sun shines out of him.” Someone who is living happily and luckily. Someone unlike me, maybe a little like what I look like when I try my hardest in front of people who don’t know me very well.

And I know from my work that those people aren’t really like that either, that into every life a little rain must fall or whatever, but still, for them, it is enough of the time really like that, and the rain is so mild; there are people on this earth who are blessed by the gods with beauty and quiet souls, and happiness. And they are so unattainable for wretches like us. It’s like that song/poem:

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
you were famous, your heart was a legend.
You told me again you preferred handsome men
but for me you would make an exception.
And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself, you said, “Well never mind,
we are ugly but we have the music.”

One of the shittiest things about a being a woman is that those kinds of thoughts are forbidden. You can’t admit that you want in that way. That I want his body, but not much of his mind. And that if I really wanted him, I would have to be coy, and flirt, and get him interested. I am not free to pursue, to chase. I am not allowed to have these appetites. I am not allowed to reach out my hand, to take what I want, in the way that men are.

And men like that can go slumming with someone like me, but they get to use women like me, girls like me, and discard us, because we are not good enough for them anyway, because their friends and people they know are all thinking, “What is he doing with her?”

In my secret life, I keep a lover. I stay with my current life, my brother-partner, because we do have a happy life together, and because we are all going to die anyway, so you may as well love whoever is around you who loves you back. But I also keep throughout my life one lover, someone I could never live with, but who I meet with now and again, even sharing my life with, in a limited, secondhand kind of way, through the years, and we love each other in a way that we never could if we had to live together. We meet to fuck, and then to talk, to reenact a shadow marriage of the one we both live out in our daytime lives. We worry about each other and care deeply, but the distance from day-to-day life keeps the attraction from growing stale and the inequality in the eyes of society from interfering. He doesn’t really understand my darkness, but the fact that we are together so infrequently means that it remains fascinating, rather than onerous, for him, just as his sunniness remains fascinating, and not shallow, to me.

Does this make a horrible person out of me? I am not sure. “The bonds of wedlock are so heavy that it takes two to carry them – sometimes three.” I don’t think I’d be upset if the one I live with had someone like that. I’d be relieved that someone is loving him in a way I can’t. He deserves that.

The one thing I repeat to myself as consolation for the mundane, primitive tragedy of wanting something that I cannot have is that the fantasy is always better than the reality, because it is always exactly what you want. It has been claimed that fantasy is worse than cheating for that same reason. Maybe it is best to just leave him a fantasy, to keep my decent, quiet life.

But then there is always that pounding in my gut, wanting more, more, more. It has a life of its own, is a strange, willful creature; my own little demon inflaming my insides. I wish he would shut up, go away, torture someone else for a while, but no matter how I ignore him, suppress him, drug him into docility, he always comes back, with his pitchfork, and delicious little horned feet dancing on my womb.

My first time

Since I’m procrastinating on preparing for Friday’s big work thing, I figured I may as well go ahead and write a little. Mood is not good now, and I said I was going to write about the first episode I had. Probably better to do that than to whine about all the shit that is going on in here now.

I was in sixth grade the first time I had a breakdown. There were signs before that. I was always a moody kid, fearful yet rebellious. I was creative, always writing something. Had a bitter sense of humor for as long as I can remember. In trouble in school (and by extension, with the parents) because I hated it, felt it confined me, was bored. I spent a lot of time thinking how to best antagonize my teachers. There was a blip of a depression in third grade, perhaps three weeks when I didn’t go to school…but at that age they could pretty much make me go, and remain blind to everything else. Public school seemed like the perfect metaphor for the inside of my head: stifling, minute-by-minute torture, having the books I was reading taken away, replaced with government approved readers. I always get the feeling that had I not been in such an external torture chamber, I might have had the inner resources to combat my internal torture. But by that time, the brave, free-spirited waif was long gone.

In sixth grade, I really lost it. I got that pre-puberty growth spurt last bit of baby fat, started to get breasts, and everyone around was starting to get interested in things like clothes and popularity. I got my period that year, which is possibly relevant because they do say hormones change this stuff. But I was still a kid – 12 years old. My school hate was getting worse, though I did have a teacher who I liked, who had a good sense of humor, enjoyed my writing and didn’t make a big deal if it was off topic, and who was content to let me coast through and not make a scarlet letter of my genius IQ.

Side note on that: don’t ever let schools test your IQ. The number will follow you around and haunt you forever. Every year, the teachers would chastise me for not “working to my potential” (on things that I had no interest in, naturally), which would lead to increasingly harsh punishments at home. All because of a stupid number, from a stupid test that I had sobbed and begged not to take at age 6. It’s funny, in retrospect. At the time, I just didn’t want to take that test, didn’t want to be put in special classes. I sobbed and cried, begging not to go, until finally, my father hit me with an iron and made me. The funny thing is that I couldn’t have possibly known at that time what influence that one stupid number would have on my life, yet it seems like some primal, prescient instinct must have taken over me. Sadly, I think that being forced to go there was one of the things that really broke my spirit. After that incident, I just retreated on some fundamental psychic level, lost all my instincts, suffered in silence. One IQ test ruined my childhood.

Sixth grade. The girls were girls, or starting to be. There was one girl who wanted to actually be a model. She got popular. Things started to shift around, both inside and out.

Then, one day, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I can’t remember very much about how it started, though I remember the time period itself better. I finally told my parents I was too sick to go to school, and proceeded to lie in bed for six weeks. I did not eat. I watched television a little each day. I went from my nearly 100 pounds to 85. Cute baby fat was gone. The only relief I had was when everybody had already left the house to work or school, and I was left alone to not really watch morning TV, make it through one more day in blessed silence, in a dark room.

I try to reconstruct my thought processes at the time. I don’t think I was suicidal. I just couldn’t take everything anymore. I don’t remember it being a horrible time – except for the fear that I would have to eventually face the world again. The ringing phone made me sick to my stomach; calls from the school to find out where I was, when I just wanted to disappear, for everyone to leave me the fuck alone and let me rest.

Due to HMO shifting, I ended up with a new pediatrician. She was wonderful, and I am grateful to her for everything. She was a former school nurse who took a special interest in adolescent girls. She was kind to me. She knew, somehow, and managed to keep me from invasive tests for the weight loss, and to keep me out of the hospital. I think she intuited that the problem was school, and my father. He always hated her, I suspect because she was on to how crazy he was. And he was. His own moods were worse than my own, but then he would take them out on us, make us listen while he tearfully and drunkenly debated suicide, drag us on manic excursions for ingredients to make fresh gnocchi from scratch, only to cover the entire kitchen in flour, and then leave to chase some other manic pursuit with equal fervor.

She told me that I couldn’t stay out of school forever, yet knew that I couldn’t confess what was really wrong to her. I think that at the time I didn’t have words for it myself. When I was about 16, she got me a referral to a psych for medication, but at that time, she knew that were I to admit the abuse at home or the depths of my own disturbance, that she would be forced to thrust me onto a child welfare system that would be infinitely worse than whatever torment my brain (or my father) had devised for me. So she didn’t ask. And so, almost two months later, somehow, I just climbed out of things, went shopping one night with my mother for a few new clothes that fit, and went back to school.

It’s strange the details I remember from that time. I cannot reconstruct my mental state. I just don’t remember. I do remember, however, the alarm clock that went off every morning in my mother’s room, the pillow I used to recline on while not-really-watching TV. The carpet. The curtains. The dreaded phone in the kitchen that would ring with some well-meaning schoolmate or teacher asking what was going on. But I do not remember being sad.

I, of course, had tons of make-up work to do. One of the things was to do a biography of someone, then dress up and present it in the first person to the class. I had to do this after everyone else had finished. I was previously famous at the school for doing a similar project in third grade on Jeanne D’Arc (which was excellent due to my father terrorizing me into hours of practice). Everyone expected elementary school greatness from me as Florence Nightingale as well. But I just couldn’t do it. I did the bare minimum. I hated it. Who wanted to be martyrous Florence Nightingale? Not I. (Ironic, as I turned out.)

Was there a manic phase that year as well? I don’t remember one, but it was the same year that the whole class would beg me to write scripts, to write stories, because they were so funny and fun to read. They used to ask the teacher to read my assignments out loud. They loved my satirical version of the Knights of the Round Table, my strange puppet show dramatizing the beheading of the explorer Balboa. (We must have done explorers that year. Snore.) There were times when I was undoubtedly witty, charming. I won writing contests in newspapers. And if I was writing that funnily, that profusely, with that much sense of an audience, then I suspect there was an undercurrent of exuberant enthusiasm there, at least for something. I wanted to spread my expansiveness, my laughter, my spinning-out-of-control with everyone around me.

But I was never really the same after that year. It’s strange, that year is such a cutting point in my life that I think of my life as before that year and after, yet I hardly remember its emotional tone. I know there was rage, I know there was withdrawal; more than that, I do not know.

Things just went downhill from there. We moved to an even more ridiculously white-bread nouveau riche suburb where even my strange talents were not appreciated, no doubt my father’s grasp at respectability and mental stability. I was immediately in trouble with the administration for, god, I don’t know, just being too weird, and I missed my old friends from sixth grade, where, even if I wasn’t the popular and pretty girl, I had a place as the entertainer, the writer, and there were a few other weird genius kids who made me laugh. I never got back the confidence to try to make other people laugh again, to bring them into my joy and expansiveness. My lows, well, during them I was just lonely, but I kept going to school in a fog, knowing that, like the entropy of the universe, even if it was cosmic and essential and of vast weight, it didn’t really matter where I sat and took my broken mind away. I did not speak much; I turned inward, dreaming of sailing ships, theaters, constellations, beautiful men, and colors. I painted my face with heavy and different makeup every day, my appearance becoming the only canvas visible to the outside world of the storm within. My immense manic appetite for the world and experiences, so long frustrated, knew that only more of the same dull disappointment would follow, and learned to content itself with fantasy, more real than any of the people around me at the time.

And I slipped into a semi-existence for the next four years, with only brief, bright points of feeling and shuddering with pleasure or pain – my first sex in the back of a speeding truck on a winter’s night, the cold hard metal of the truck and gears beneath and the hard muscular body of the first man I ever had touched like that; a firework, set off illegally in a manic frenzy felt cosmically, felt at that moment in the depths of my being, as the perfect metaphor for my youth and the evanescence of that mood; devouring the Spanish textbook and teaching myself that language in a month. The next manic blip led to me yelling at the high school principal and leaving school, never to return and complete high school, off to seek high adventure in a tropical jungle. Finally, my rebellious self surfaced for the few moments necessary to save my soul.

But then, after that, I went back into hibernation, and now, whenever I wake up, I am shocked at the conservative, boring, altruistic life I have built for myself. The routine, the ability to see where, if I continue on this path, I will be in one, three, ten, twenty years. I am now far too medicated, and too thankful for the relief this brings, to freefall anymore.

So that is what I remember of the first time I went crazy, the point of no return. Now, drugged into sanity, I guess I should work.

Long time, no write

Yeah, I’ve been busy, sort of. Up and down, as usual, that same sort of sadhappysad that only people with an unlucky constitution or set of stars can know. In my main career, the one I keep trying to buy stability with, I’ve only been half-assing it. Fortunately, I’ve been lucky so far and not called out on anything big, but have a big day coming up next Friday for which I have barely prepared. I am hoping this week will go slightly better, but who knows?

It’s the restlessness that gets you every time…gets me every time. The same restlessness that sent Byron to Greece. I have been doing lots of things, even a lot of writing. But nothing purposeful. Spinning wheels. Maybe it is time to change meds. I have been neglecting sleep for maybe three weeks now. Not totally, but never quite sleeping a normal night. Maybe 3-6 AM, I sleep.

One hard lesson that took many years to learn was for me to not feel guilty for feeling bad. I wish the modern world were more accommodating of people like me, who do contribute to society, but not at a steady, even, work-drone pace. I need these times to admit that I feel bad, to curl up in bed, recover for the next round. It isn’t such a horrible thing. I’ve never much minded being depressed (it’s the mixed episodes that kill me, feeling horrible and no peace), as long as I really can curl up in bed, read, sleep 18-20 hours a day. The problem started when I was 12, and my parents and doctors and the school system, everyone, just kept screaming at me to get up and move. Maybe I’m not made that way. Maybe I (and a lot of us) are more cyclical creatures – having periods of flame and fire, learning languages and producing and mastering professions in short periods. And yes, those times are often as filled with suffering as the down times, the hibernations…but no one needs to add societal disapproval. I can’t help the way I am. I can help all kinds of other things – like not dragging other people down with me, not breaking laws, not taking welfare from others – but I cannot help being who I am. Maybe you wish I were different; hell, even I wish I were different, but I was born this way. I am what God made me, if you prefer.

Getting to accept this, with no blame or stigma, was one of the hardest personal challenges I’ve faced. It took years. It is a story for another time. Bottom line: stigma helps no one.

Again, I am conflicted by my dual nature. My day job, the serious one I chose at the expense of my wild side, choosing at the time to choose a stable life, unlike the one of my manic father, my brother the screenwriter, is slowly eroding away my soul. I thought that by hard work in an alien field, a respectable field, I could buy a respectable woman’s soul. But I can’t. I feel like I am drowning. I hate it. It is not fair to clients.

This weekend I was at the ocean at sunrise. It was breathtakingly beautiful, after a storm, with a confused sea and strange swell. There was a beautiful man there, someone way out of my league, something I know even when I’m manic – far too tall, dark, and beautiful for me. And he was nice. And normal. I know I can never have someone like that, but now that I’m in a serious life, I can’t even fuck him once. Life without that seems unbearably long. Not the fucking, but the possibility, the possibility of adventure.

And this huge thing at my respectable life’s job is hanging over me, and all I can feel is resentment, and avoidance, and I miss my real soul, the one my cruel father understands, the one that buys chariots, and writes, and sculpts. But you aren’t allowed to do any of that where I am now.

Hardly anyone reads this blog, and I have certainly neglected it, but I just now went back and looked at it again after a few months. I rather like it. It is honest. There are lots of topics I want to hit. I think I may write about the onset of my illness/nature/whatever it is. It started very young for me, and really went undiagnosed and untreated for so long that I grew up and only know myself as being like this; normalcy bought by pharmacopoeia never feels quite right. I am not sure if this is good or bad. It would probably be an interesting idea to revisit my first major episode.

What can I do to quiet this thundery thump in my gut? Then, if I did that, maybe I could come back to being Respectable Sara. Sail the Indian Ocean? Hitchhike through Tanzania? Run away? Finish writing a book? The pull of the respectable life keeps me from doing any of those things. Why does it look so fucking tempting? It isn’t. It is full of staid, boring assholes. But they don’t seem as miserable as all the crazy people in my family. They act like adults. But what the fuck do I know about people like that? Maybe they are just better at hiding their despair.