Tag Archives: rejection

Alone on Valentine’s Day

14 Feb
Source: Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America on Flickr Commons

Source: Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America on Flickr Commons

The post has been and gone. My message box is empty. The telephone remains silent. What else could it be but another typical Valentine’s Day, a manufactured marketing ploy by cake, card and confectionary companies to maximise profits. A day in which it seems that the entire world scrambles to find some smattering of affection and goes overboard with public displays of affection to prove just how ‘special’ their relationships are. And yet, in spite of my deep-rooted cynicism of the whole tawdry thing, I can’t help but take my outsider stance as proof of my own failure.

With the exception of a few years in the mid 2000s, my Valentine’s Days have been pretty miserable. I’m either a definite singleton, or I’ve been in an unhappy place with the person I’ve been seeing, and the whole thing becomes an overpowering chore. In the past I’ve sent cards to women that I’ve been harbouring crushes on, but the overwhelming silence and/or rejection that follows means I am no longer likely to do this. Its kind of creepy anyway, especially if one does it anonymously, and in our days of psycho stalkers one has to be mindful of respectful distances.

This year has been harder. I’ve been dreading it for months, and that hasn’t subsided. Mostly because I found myself falling for someone last year, and those feelings have refused to shift in spite of all attempts to do so. Unrequited love is a painful pleasure – the euphoria of intensity of feeling is at loggerheads with the excruciating agony of rejection and rebuttal. Its not as if I’ve had my affections spurned before, I have, but the way this has been handled and where it has ended up doesn’t make sense. It’s perfectly possible to remain friends with someone you’ve declared an unreciprocated interest in, or had a relationship with. And it isn’t like I haven’t made inroads into moving on from that relationship either, but you can’t help how you feel, and I’ve no desire to bury those feelings because they’ll just sit there stewing and eventually will erode anything else that comes along. Better to be honest, to embrace them, to see what happens.

I suppose I must have had a tiny hope that perhaps things would change. That this wonderful woman that I still have a bubbling chemistry with, might have taken a (second) chance on us, but instead its gone the other way and I’m deeply saddened by the extreme measures taken. Not because we don’t get on, not because we don’t like each other, not because we couldn’t actually be friends, but it strikes me because of all of those things. The positive attributes are exactly the reason why she isn’t talking to me. And that’s especially awkward because our circles are closing in on each other and eventually paths will cross in the flesh again. As long as she’s happy and doing what she wants, that’s all that really matters. My personal happiness isn’t dependant on her, but she definitely brought a great deal of happiness to my life. I just wish she was part of the 2017 me, a much improved take on the person she knew. Though every bit as sincere.

Damn regrets. I tried so hard to keep a safe distance only to find myself slipping deeper and deeper into a vat of affection until I was washed with love. I always seem to fall for the wrong person. People who live impractical distances away, or have unworkable schedules. Social and economic backgrounds and thinking that struggle to accept mine. People who are also damaged, kindred spirits, who are hell-bent on rejecting something with potential because it scares them – only to seek out the same sort of damaging relationships that have ruined their lives and selves in the past. I’m trying not to be that person anymore myself, trying not to repeat my mistakes.

So today I allow my mind to wander for a period through bittersweet sadness, heightened by an unnecessary silence. I distract myself with music and writing and memory. I’ve no friendly benefits to claim, no cuddle buddy to snuggle up to, no human touch. I don’t really know any better. So you can take your Valentine’s demonstrations and keep them to yourself. Unless that is, you want to share them with me…

My Valentine (imagined)

13 Feb
citylights

City Lights (1931)

Dear woman in my dreams – the one who caught my eye and my heart, and who has bewitched me. Would that circumstances allow. But they don’t. And so I must conclude that you don’t exist. At least I assume you don’t. I don’t appear to exist within your world, so logically you must be a figment of my imagination. Shared exchanges, looks and words, are all simply the product of my over-active mind, along with the still-ringing emotions, heartbreak, and confusion.

I don’t believe in using this one day of the year to focus all one’s amorous energy, it should exist on a daily basis. But there’s something about this whole farcical ritual that demands we give it attention, acknowledge feelings and sentiment that is in danger of going unremarked. Sitting here, my thoughts return again to you, as they do so often, dear Figment. An admiration from increased and needless distance, an honest heartfelt affection, an affinity denied. A love that has been battered and neglected but has not died. I cannot let the day pass by without giving voice to this pained desire

I don’t make wild promises of everlasting devotion, or make grandiose gestures I cannot possibly meet – manipulations of expectations that doom us to failure. I seek not to control or bind the recipient of my affection. I will never ask you to do something you don’t want to do. I can only tell you that I care for you more than I have any right to, I love you beyond the point it hurts, that each day without you diminishes me. It’s a mistake letting you know I care at all, that I’m still here. But if we’re honest, you’ve always known that. You’ve always known my sincerity, however much you deny it. There is no hidden agenda, no falsity, no leading you on.  At some point today you’ll think of me too, and you’ll wonder.

The problem with being the recipient of a valentine, particularly when there’s an anonymity involved, is that one never quite knows how to respond. What if you’re wrong about the identity, and you say the wrong thing to the wrong person? What if you missed a clue, messed up? What if they’re exactly the person they claim to be, and all your fears are unfounded? What if being sensible means that you miss out on something special for the sake of something safe?

I could pretend I felt some other way, but what good would that do? I could lie to myself and to you, tell you that I feel nothing, but eventually that will come back to haunt us both. I have nothing to be afraid of, I have already laid myself bare before you, so humiliate away with your silent rejection of the whole of me. Deny the truth that we both know exists – my futile affection isn’t without foundation…

But dear Valentine, you exist only in my mind, so there is no point in me singing your praises, declaring adoration, or vowing passion, platitudes and pleasure. It is redundant for me to appeal to your emotions, and call upon you to open your shuttered heart. The clock ticks ever closer to the day when it will all be too late, when I am finally lost completely. Until then you live on in my dreams – beautiful, wonderful, unreachable – and I remain (unreciprocatedly) yours.

The thing about the movies… 

19 Dec
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)

The thing about the movies is they perpetuate an impossible promise about people. They suggest that hope doesn’t die,  that redemption is always possible and reconciliation is only a meaningful glance away.

They tell us it’s OK to bombard and harass our exes to get their attention. They teach us that we should never take no for an answer. They delude us into a belief that there is one magical moment in which our futures are clinched.

Loneliness is a temporary state and secret admirers are waiting for us to see they exist. Friends are waiting to bed us if we’d only look up. Mistakes happen and are admitted. Lessons are learned. Changes are made. And everyone gets a happy ever after.

They don’t teach us the real pain of rejection. The crippling agony of feeling for someone until it hurts and them feeling nothing back. The way a photograph,  a sound,  a scent sends us into a spiral of pain.

All those happy endings tell us pain is an illusion, worth it,  that we’ll find release and understanding. But that’s not always life.

Films may give us a warm sensation of acceptance, and optimism,  but they don’t warm our beds or our bodies. They don’t satisfy the craving for mental and physical stimulation. When they end, we can hit replay and experience it all over again. When our relationships end we can’t do that – we can spot the things we did wrong,  what should change,  but we don’t get a second shot,  no matter how strongly we feel about it.

So much of actual life involves the absence of hope. We’re programmed to think we’ll get what we want,  a perfect partner, one who accepts us and who we can feel for completely. Life is about compromise and imperfect people and chance. Chances are you won’t find a happy ever after,  you’ll be let down by those you focus on.

I’ve stopped hoping. I’m still feeling. I ache. But it doesn’t matter. No words from well-meaning friends and observers can mend me. Time doesn’t heal – it just lets you remember differently: perhaps you’ll forget, maybe you’ll remember. For a while I was alive – more intensely, more fully than ever before. Now I am as Cesare, sleeping through my existence. I want to feel again. I try to feel. But no conversation, no interaction, no thought hits me in the same way. I have loved before, but it was not this.

I heard a voice in the darkness and my brain fired up, every spot on my skull spluttering into life, a cacophony of sound and sensation. A Vertov stimulus. A euphoric beginning that builds but gets no release. A nitrate fire fills my head, and nobody can prevent the combustion.

Being gaslit was easier than this pain. This pain that will not end. That I cannot control. That leaves me spent.

Cinema teaches us to be voyeurs, to watch complicit other people’s relationships, to engage vicariously with their worlds. But that is not this one, a world in which we have ceased communications, in which my name is no longer on your lips, in which our time isn’t even a memory. I am the spectator, unable to view, forced to replay the memory of a past, seeking a conclusion denied, a sequel impossible. These remakes and reboots are pale imitations, the casting feels wrong. There’s no chemistry on the screen. The characters lack conviction.

I don’t want to be a script doctor, helping other people’s stories flow. I want my own story, my own happy ending. I’d take the grief if I thought that was next. From childhood the screen says: boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy gets girl back again. This act 2 has fallen flat, I thought you needed space to make your own film, but we should have stopped sizing each other up and just collaborated. I know there will be no act 3 for me, and I sit in the theatre, watching a darkened screen with tears cascading down my cheeks. I accept everything about you, I love it all, I see your potential and I’m proud. I wish you could see and accept mine; I’m worth the investment – the hard work has been done already. No cinematic edits to colour the narrative needed – I relish every frame of the rushes, the raw material from which something magical is constructed.

No blue pages to take account of my changes, no pink to rework the ending, no yellow to line up the next installment. Oh for a romantic comedy to accompany our heartfelt drama. But its all dreams, fantasy and wishful thinking and no amount of rewriting can change your mind…

 

Another solo Christmas 

11 Dec
Merry Fucking Christmas. Billy Bob Thornton down on his luck in Bad Santa (2003)

Merry Fucking Christmas.
Billy Bob Thornton down on his luck in Bad Santa (2003)

I’m used to it, don’t get me wrong. I haven’t had a happy couple-y Christmas season since 2008. Two further ones spent during a relationship were difficult to say the least. But most of the last decade I’ve found myself sitting down with various groupings of my family, finding myself increasingly awkward and retreating into myself as the season and big day itself goes on.

Christmas for me, as it is for many others, is tough. There’s always a risk of depression hitting (I see from my notes I took a massive downer last year), and coupled with my solo status the moods can get very bleak. As everyone else in my vicinity is coupled up, and/or with families of their own, I feel very much like an outsider.

Platitudes around all the things I should be happy about, how you never know what’s around the corner, and how they’re all there for you, really doesn’t help. I tell you I’m happy alone, but I’d love to be waking up in the arms of another on Christmas morning, indulging in festivities, and draining the port after dinner and watching Doctor Who while snuggled into a lover’s bosom. Each of you that has this has no grounds to attempt to console me or those like me with words because you have what we don’t, and what we crave.

I’m set against the idea of winter affairs because they play out against the high pressures of Christmas and Valentine’s Day, skewing our expectations dangerously. But, ye gods, it’s fucking lonely out here. Everyone engrossed in capitalist overkill, making wild love declarations, and playing at fucking happy families. It doesn’t matter that it might all be bullshit, you get to pretend. And I bet for at least some of that time, being with someone else really makes your holiday.

It’s doubly hard after glimpsing the inside of a relationship again. My suspicions that it wouldn’t last til Christmas were well-founded as it turns out. But my bought of genuine heartbreak in its wake has left me vulnerable, untrusting and more alone than ever. And it means this year I’m even more likely to retreat away from everyone else.

Don’t confuse this with depression though. It’s hard seeing other people happy, or pretending to be, when you’re not where you want to be. I’d much prefer to be sitting in a field with my dog Bowie as company than sit at my folks’ with the siblings. Not because I don’t love them, but because it just reminds me of me. Makes me self-aware. If the right person offered, I’d disappear like a shot.

I’m not doing presents this year. Please don’t give me any. And I wont give you one in return. It isn’t needed. I need less stuff, not more. Give to someone else, give to charity, give to yourself.

Being rejected because of who I am – because of the way I am – has killed a lot of ego, the same ego I had just begun to accept (and once you’ve been properly replaced you know the problem was you and not them at all). I know I’m a lovely person, would make a great partner, but I don’t think anyone is prepared to put the little work in it actually needs to sustain an ‘us’. I’m a bit top heavy – there’s more work at the start as my barriers break down. But I’m not a bullshitter, I don’t lie, and I’m not going to impose my rules and ideology on anyone else because that isn’t healthy. Communication, trust and picking your battles are paramount. Why is that so hard to accept?

There’s what, two weeks to go before Christmas. I’m unlikely to have this turned around before then. No new relationship. No hook-up. Not even a date. And so the frustration of the fantasy continues. And don’t even get me started on New Year…

Adventures in dating: Chapter’s end

18 Oct

I’ve been feeling down again the last week or so. “No change there,” I hear you mutter.

Guess it must be more than usual as its been commented on by various family and friends. Which doesn’t happen too often. And as usual it is the cumulative effect of various unhappy occurrences which are to blame. Part of it is the come-down following a period of personal happiness.

Recently I’ve let someone in again in a way I haven’t in years. I let down nearly all my defences and let them witness the complete extent of my fucked up head. I’ve healed so much this last 12 months, from the psychological and emotional damage of the past, that to do this is no small thing. I have learned to trust again, to give myself over to someone else completely, to think about possible futures. I have learned what a normal healthy relationship feels like.

And yet it has all come to an abrupt end. And I’m saddened. I cared far more than I let on, far more than I realised. Timing is everything. And I messed that up.

That I’m not worried about my secrets becoming public knowledge as a result of the given trust is a huge step up for me. But I’m already feeling a loss, because I think I’ve mis-handled everything badly. I’ve said too much, too late. I played my cards close to my chest for too long. I’ve been so caught up in the intense emotion and connection that I didn’t give it the time to breathe it needed. I misinterpreted and was misunderstood.

Relationships demand trust and compromise if they are to succeed long term. And it must be reciprocal.

There are stages in dating when you make decisions – shit or get off the pot moments when the next few months or years are decided. I think I was still deciding, because there was potential the last time I saw her. Or so I thought. Heck, I still do if I’m honest, even though I know now that it will never come to be. I have to move on. I will move on. But I remain deeply affected. I can’t switch my emotions on and off like a switch.

A good relationship should be mutually beneficial, should be supportive, should be exciting and tender. I also think it should challenge us, our hopes and dreams and beliefs. It was all that for me and more, and continues to challenge my thoughts in its aftermath. Already I miss its safety, companionship, intimacy, and possibilities. I was excited as I let my mind adjust, accepting that I was in a relationship and actually felt connected to another human being.

And this in part explain my morose state of mind. The grieving process begun. I’m so tempted to just curl into a ball and shut out the rest of the world and lick my wounds. But I am so thankful, because I know I picked the right person this time. I just wouldn’t have picked this moment to stop.

Today I’m uncertain, but its probably not the end of our story. I think we could be friends. If the timing had been better maybe we’d have remained lovers. But for now the chapter has reached its end.

Wintertime Love

14 Dec

A couple of weeks back I was chatting with a friend about our experiences of the dating scene, and they happened to suggest that this time of year is perfect for finding a potential mate. The colder, darker nights and run up to Christmas seem to encourage folk to put themselves back out there – something about new years and fresh starts.

A fair enough proposal, but one I was somewhat more cynical about. It strikes me that December and January are as likely to see a relationship end as to begin. After all, all that fresh meat must be coming from somewhere – I find it hard to believe they spend the entire year happy in a solitary state before bursting forth with the dying days of the current 365-day cycle.

I certainly wouldn’t encourage anyone to start a relationship in December. With Christmas looming there’s going to be an expectation for gift-giving at a time when you’re still just beginning to get to know your new beau. That’s potentially a lot of additional pressure. And spending small fortunes to impress and then being promptly dumped as January is ushered in is a rather bleak prospect.

I’m jaded though. My first ever girlfriend proper was a wintertime romance. We’d met I think in the September and were dating by October. Because she was my first its tempting to be a bit more rose-tinted about the whole affair. It was as intense as anything I’d experienced before and for six weeks or so we had (I thought) a great time. As December ushered in though she set off for foreign climes with her family, departing on a lingering kiss and promises to stay in touch.

I think I might have given her a letter before we parted. I wrote endless letters in those days, something I don’t do nearly enough now. At any rate, a week or so later I received the distinctive thin blue envelope of an Airmail delivery, and devoured the pages of teenage longing. It was all very positive, and I’ve still got the letter in a box of old correspondence somewhere.

I dutifully wrote back. Fortunately I don’t remember a huge deal of the content, but it was no doubt overdone with promises of love and commitment at a time when I didn’t fully understand the tinglings in my loins. It also didn’t help that I was very fond of quoting poems and song lyrics in my letters, often not really understanding the innuendo that was contained therein. I know that at least one lady received a note with bits of Monty Python’s “Sit on my Face” scribbled in my precise penmanship! Oh dear… I mean, I get it now, but then I didn’t understand. I can only apologise for my inadvertant smut-peddling retrospectively.

With that in mind, you won’t be surprised to know that when she came home I was met not with a “Honey, I’m home” phonecall, but instead a pronounced silence. I’m pretty sure I wrote back trying to get a response… In the end it was a mutual friend who let me know that I’d been quietly dumped. While all my friends copped off with her friends, I was left unspent on the reject pile.

So winter loves to me seem to be full of promise, excitement and anticipation, only to leave one dissatisfied. A bit like so many Christmas presents…