“The bartenders smile widened. His ugliness was the stuff of legend. In an age of affordable beauty, there was something heraldic about his lack of it.” – William Gibson, Neuromancer
I’m obsessed with failure. The devastation of failure reveals so much more than the cleanness of success. It’s where all the interesting stuff happens. I want to know how people bounce back from it, the methods they use to pick themselves up, and if they register it as a ‘failure’ really, or are smart enough to understand when it’s a redirection?
Love often feels like a pattern of failures for me. Coming into contact with the stickiness and irregularity of our shame in order to keep something perversely magical going…. while it sounds tragic, I’m learning to see the comedy in it.
I can keep friendships alive for decades, it seems, and even if they’ve been broken I can understand what it takes to mend them (if the need is there). But romance, in the typical sense, feels so foreign to me. It requires me to trust a different part of myself.
How to explain… understanding love is more in my chest and top of my head; friendship feels more evenly distributed. That rush of devotion that comes with love seems breakneck, unsustainable – but maybe that’s just me responding to the one way that culture lets romance happen.
It took me so long to find the words for why my last relationship came to an end. The commitment and action was there. We made promises and embraced our vulnerabilities. In spite of that, something wasn’t quite connecting.
Months afterward, I think about why it didn’t work and I’m only just now understanding. I could see that I was the more work obsessed, the more ambitious, so I condescendingly thought I was better at life than he was. It was wrong that I expected so much from him – but I didn’t want to return it.
It made me see a darker, more clinical side of myself that I didn’t like. Something a bit desperate, egotistical, needy. Perhaps looking into that hollow space was too much for me. I thought giving too much of myself would be “selling out.” I became guarded while trying to do the opposite.
But something about it still feels valuable. The more practice I get, the more I’ll realise what helps me to be selfless. I’ll understand what my boundaries are and trust them instead of fumbling blindly. I’ll understand where I break – and how to recover. I feel like a bit of a puppy, an embarrassed child. Romantic feelings about someone else are always a bit painful… that hesitance for attachment. Hopefully it’s more like growing pains than anything else.