Tuesday, December 20, 2011

First verse is the best verse! (Being Single Pt. 5)

I would like to thank everybody who reached out to me after my last post, especially to the two men who told me about their own experiences, thank you for that. I'm back now and those feelings are buried where they belong.

On the Mooooooooooon,

I also got a chance to talk to three of my exes, and it was interesting to see how they responded to it. I was with each of these women for at least two years....

The first ex started a conversation with me via text, genuinely concerned about my well being, making sure I was in a good place, and saying a lot of nice things about myself (She once again thanked me for being so wonderful to her while we were still together and apologized for not treating me as well). She's a happy mother and wife now; she met the guy only a few weeks after we split up, but I was never sore about it. Life is funny like that sometimes. She has normal life struggles and a cute family. I like her husband, and even gave him a guitar once.

The second ex wrote me a long email, not wanting to interfere with my life (she goes on adventures into other countries like a bad-ass, but we always seem to get back into touch). We had a very heartfelt conversation (where she also thanked me for treating her so fantastically), but she also wanted to make sure that I was doing well and was genuinely concerned about me. She's always one of my favorite people.

The third ex, however, decided to take a different route. Her entire text was, 'Well written. Would have been useful information to know before we got together.'. Now my reply, 'I didn't know this was about you.' made her call and explain that she didn't mean to sound incredibly self-absorbed and selfish, she just isn't good with words. I never found out if her text meant she would have erased our entire lives together if she knew I had trust issues (a weird thing for a rape victim to tell somebody), or if she would have attempted to overcome them. Considering her lack of empathy towards me most of the time we were together, I know which one I think it is, but I'm sure she'll let me know after she reads this. I don't know if we're capable of ever being friends again.

But I didn't write this to make one of exes look bad. Ex3 is a pretty cool chick like 93% of the time. I wrote this to talk about my favorite part of the relationship, the beginning.....

I met these women in three very different ways (School, Myspace, Drinking on a Monday afternoon), and all of them ended very differently (Leaving me after she met somebody else, Failed marriage, aborted pregnancy after we split up), but some of the feelings towards the beginning were very similar.

New relationships are about discovery and hope, watching parts of yourself long dormant awaken to new possibilities, and lots of intense sex. You find yourself looking for similarities, trying to connect with this person on every level possible. Conversations run long into the night, your eating habits get thrown off, and your entire brain starts to rewire itself because of this one thing. You start to bore your friends, the ones who don't get jealous, and you might even fall of the face off the earth entirely if you don't know how to keep balance in your life.

Despite the massive difference in the ways these three relationships started and ended, the intensity of the first few months, that elusive honeymoon period, helped to keep the relationships afloat for quite a while. Incidentally, Ex1 and Ex2 both had pretty nasty endings. Ex2 was already sleeping with her next boyfriend before I even moved out, and I think I broke up with Ex1 about six times before it finally stuck (I actually told her the last time we got together that I was only doing it so that I could be mean enough to her for her to figure out for herself that we would never, ever work out. It didn't take very long after that). Ex3 made some interesting choices before we split up, but her complete disregard for my feelings certainly helped me run out the door. In each of these scenarios I specifically remember the immense river of emotions and happiness that comprised our early relationship. I have vivid memories of colors being brighter and everything we did together meant something, like it was fated.

Listen, I'm an Atheist and I love me some Science. I know that it's all chemicals and psychology, but when did that ever make drugs less interesting?

Answer: Never.

And here's the thing. I know that the Honeymoon phase can last. I've seen people recreate those emotions with someone over and over again, each time after it drifts away they keep finding new and creative ways to bring it back. We're all human and full of faults, some more than others granted, but everybody loves being there, so why is this illusion so difficult to maintain?

I remember the exact moment it shattered when I was with Ex1 because she commented on it as it happened. We were driving towards a bank in east Boise and I said something mean and cranky in a sarcastic reply to something. "That's it", she said. "That was the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end, if that's how you want to look at it." I denied it of course, I imagine myself pouting here as I valiantly try to defend the best phase of our relationship. But even as I struggled to defend that Straw Man Ambush, a little itch in the back of my skull told me she was right. And she was right, I already had enough resentment built up inside of me for the bile to start spilling out of my big, stupid mouth. And once that resentment gets entrenched, there's always a film of it resting somewhere and it's hard to get back to where everything looks fresh and new again.

Ex1 was right and it only got worse from there. I put up with some behaviors that were completely unacceptable to me for quite a while. As the issue grew progressively worse the intensity of that conflict erupted into several large arguments, almost always ending with a new profession of heartfelt emotion and a promise of things to change. But promises are easily broken and eventually there was just too much burning resentment inside of me for it to ever work out between us. We wanted it to, but it just wasn't possible anymore.

And here is where I think some of my own problems might lie. Maybe the problem isn't that people do things that build resentment, maybe the issue is learning how to get rid of it once it's there and learning how to live with what's left. I can't imagine that in the 300 years my Grandparents have been together that they haven't had long periods of disconnection. But somehow they just continued to keep choosing to be with each other and to make it work. Part of it's the culture, they aren't called the Greatest Generation for nothing, but there's no reason why you couldn't do it today.

But it's hard. It's very hard. Couples self destruct around me all the time. Eventually you learn to see the signs, but sometimes things erupt very slowly. When my last ex and I split, we hadn't been fighting much at all. Sure we were stressed, but we almost never fought about anything, and we were almost never that mean to each other. At some point we just decided we didn't want to be together anymore and we let the emotions slowly tear it apart until it was gone.We didn't even really fight at the end. It was cold, like the Mooooooooooooooon.

Time to pick a new direction.

And this is the end of Being Single. I've got other things I want to rant about, and this whole 'introspectively looking at the past thing' takes a lot out of a fella.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wake up before reading this one. (Being Single Pt. 4)

Once, somebody got me drunk and raped me. 

This should get a little heavy so I'm going to post some cute pictures of my puppies to help us (me) get through this.

This is Lu the rescue pup meeting our new beagle Frankie for the first time ever last autumn.

I would like to start off by apologizing to all the women I've ever been really close to that I've never shared this story with before: I understand that we talked about what happened to you that one time (twice in one case), but you should know more than most how difficult it can be to bring this kind of thing into the open with anybody, and I've always been a secretive person*.

Secondly, I'd like to address the inevitable idiots out there who only allow themselves to think with their testicles and who consistently claim that you can't rape men under any circumstances: You people are idiots and I hope that you are shooting blanks because you would make a horrible father.

 Okay, here we go.....

 *- A secretive person that tells the entire Internet instead. Don't ask me, I'm just as confused about the things that I do as you are.


My first wife left me in 99. This was before all of my friends were on the Internet with me (they still had real lives and went out and did things, before WOW destroyed EVERYTHING), and before anybody I knew owned a cell phone. My first wife and I were both virgins when we got married and she was only the third girl I had ever kissed, so let's just call this the beginning of my dating life. She also broke up with me in October, so I got to enjoy the last holiday season of the millennium with a shattered world view (I wasn't even officially an Atheist yet!) mired in the past while it seemed like the rest of the planet was looking towards the future. I was young, naive, and inexperienced, which is a horrible thing to be as a man.

The morning after she told me she was leaving me (she moved onto my couch for three weeks because 21 year olds are idiots), I put in my notice at work, immediately started my three week vacation, then started waiting tables the day that vacation was over. This new job would introduce me to smoking, bars, and casual sex; I was finally acting like I was in my 20's. Before the end of the year, and way before the divorce was final, I started seeing this new girl who wanted to keep her virginity, so we had anal sex every other day for three straight weeks. 

Sorry for that visual, here's Frankie the puppy being cute again.

The Anal Girl didn't last very long, not surprisingly considering I was still wearing my wedding ring on a necklace, and my affections wandered around for a while until landing on what would be the first of many new obsessions. She was thin, graceful, talented, and completely interested in casually eating my heart while watching me die, in other words: the Perfect Girl.

But we're not talking about her right now, she's for later, but you have to understand that I had created a life preserver out of this stinking hell hole and it was filled with thoughts of her. Sure, that was a pretty stupid thing to do, but I am also an idiot so it all made sense at the time.

By that summer I was really learning how to drink. I'd buy a fifth of whatever and leave it in the truck, heading down to the local bar after work to drink socially, and then go wherever the night took me (usually nowhere, because I am a fat and angry nerd). I was waiting tables and discovering a lot of things about people and life in general. I had never really been much of an extrovert before (I've always been an attention whore, but that's not the same thing), and I was slowly starting to come out of my shell and develop the personality that most of us are forced to do in high school (Thanks again parents!).

Yes, we bought our dogs a chair to use as a nest. It was always this adorable.

Many nights after my shift was over, you would find me sitting at Old Chicago, beer in hand, with no destination in mind but the inevitability of our own mortality. Everything was so fresh and raw back then, I still cared SO DAMN MUCH about everything, and I couldn't wait to stop that from happening with sweet, delicious beer. The girl of my dreams was driving me insane, and this was before I saw her naked, and I was just starting to realize how different the world worked than I was raised to believe that it did, but I did have one stable thing in my life: My personal code of behavior.

Despite the fact that Perfect Girl and I were still only in the unrequited love stage, both of us thought the other one wasn't interested, we hung out constantly. I had built up this fantasy/game plan where things would all be done 'the right way'. And the 'right way', for those of you who aren't naive 20 somethings with a hard crush, is to stop fucking other people the minute you realize that you want things to work out with somebody, even if they don't know you are interested in them. As a full grown cynic, that sounds silly to me now, but it was everything to me back then. I was so committed to Perfect Girl, that I was abstaining from sex based purely on the vague possibility that if we did ever end up together it HAD TO BE PERFECT, so I just wasn't interested in anybody else*.

She's only ever done this once, somebody must have told her about Snoopy.
Enter the villain of the piece. She was 'older', not quite 30, also divorced, and a bartender at the same restaurant that I worked at. She was petite and thin lipped, and she absolutely loved to prey on the younger guys at work. I'm almost positive now that she was processing her own pain by using her sexuality so aggressively, but it could just be that loved herself some dick and you don't have to work very hard to get a 23 year old to sleep with you. 

Until she met me, which she took as a challenge, and that's when things got weird. I wouldn't see her every night, but when I did she would wait until I was a couple in and then come over and offer to buy me some shots. And I love me some shots, I don't think I have ever turned down shots in my life, no reason to go back in time to change things now. Under normal circumstances she'd throw out the occasional flirtatious remark and I'd fire back with something more or less clever but clearly stating that it would never happen, which is easy to do when sober. Drunk Mikey, on the other hand, will have sex with you in the bar bathroom at closing time while your boyfriend waits obliviously for both of us around the corner (Sorry dude), but I didn't really know this about myself yet. I had turned her down so many times, and we were friends now, right? We talked during and after work, we shared things like friends do, so she knew about PG and I honestly wasn't that worried about it. I was saving myself for the PG and she knew that, she knew what I wanted in my heart of hearts, who manipulates the naive kid with broken heart who just wants things to somehow be normal again?

This was my lap everyday shortly after I woke up for an entire year. I have never felt so loved.

The night that it happened is hard to remember, there was a lot of alcohol involved. She saddled up to me at the bar (or maybe we met there intentionally), and started laughing and talking like friends do. I'm not normally a black out drunk, this incident is one of the reasons why I stop before that happens, but I do know what happened that night: she bought a LOT of alcohol and I drank it.

Somehow we ended up in my truck behind the Office Max across the street. It was shamefully quick and unsatisfying for both of us, which I find strangely hilarious now, the rest is blurry until the next morning, when I woke up angry.

I have always been an angry person, but this was a confused angry. I blamed myself, of course, and didn't react to it in the way that a woman might have. Sure, I was hurt and confused, but as a single man without any strong family ties (my family had moved up to northern Idaho to flee Y2K), mentors, or otherwise trustworthy adults around, I made kind of a mess of things when I tired to figure it all out.

It's okay Frankie, I still love you.

When grown men are taken sexually advantage of in our culture (AMERICA!) there is a lot of garbage that comes with it, and I dealt with all of it. First of all, I was raised in a conservative and passively sexist family, sheltered too much as a teenager, and completely unaware that it was even a possibility for me to be taken advantage of sexually. I didn't even understand that you could get drunk enough to do something that you wouldn't even dream of doing sober. I also didn't know that people would manipulate you into being friends with them so that they could take advantage of you. I had nobody to talk to, I was too embarrassed to bring it up anyway, so I just ended up blaming myself for the entire thing. Which is the opposite of healthy.

And this still affects me today. I didn't grow up mistrusting women, even as a child I knew my mother to be an anomaly, but after my first wife left me without a single warning shot fired (we had one entire fight in our two years of marriage, so I certainly didn't see that coming), and then this event, it didn't take me long to start believing deep down inside myself that women as a sex were simply not to be trusted. When my ex and I split up last month, she was honestly shocked at how many things I just wasn't telling her. It's not that I didn't desperately NEED to share these things with her, or that she wasn't completely open with me, it's just that it was nearly impossible for me to trust her. Relationship after relationship has ended the same way, with women slowly coming to the conclusion that I will never let them in. Sure, I can be warm, friendly, caring, tender, passionate, and intelligent, but inside I am closed off and alone. Always. And it's cold in here, but I've never been able to let anybody else in, I am always convinced deep on the inside that no matter how much I want things to work out that someday (soon) I will be alone again, cast out from the home just like every time. It's a self fulfilling prophecy, I know how it ticks, and I can't stop it from happening again and again and again and again.... Even this last time, there was no fight, just another woman who was simply tired of trying.

And they always keep your dog.

This is the job for a professional, one that I can't afford and probably wouldn't listen to anyway. And even if they ever helped me to untangle this chaos of emotions, I'd still be dealing with a long and cynical history with the opposite sex. I'm not afraid of trying again, I always do sooner or later, but the scars are being built on scars now, and that's hard for all of us.

For those of you who have seen me unload on people who treat rape like it isn't a thing, especially those who try to pretend that a 13 year old boy can't get raped if the adult is an attractive women, now you know why it bothers me so much and I got so angry. For those of you who have heard me say that I've never been raped in those conversations, you have probably never had anything like this ever happen to you before.

Thanks for reading my story. It's okay if you hug me the next time you see me, just don't say anything out loud about this, I have a reputation you know. 

P.S. - Many months later, I tried to salvage some of my broken ego by sleeping with my rapist again. Our friendship was understandably over by then, but we were both drunk at the same bar and I was still raw about it and wanted some revenge sex. She turned me down, of course, and that is the way our story ends.... 

P.P.S. I really miss the dogs.

* - For those of you who absolutely must know what happens, PG and I did eventually admit our attraction to each other, three weeks later part of her family died in a horrible car accident. We didn't make it and now she's happy and very successful in another city while I pretend she doesn't exist (mostly).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Patterns and reflections. (Being Single Pt. 3)

Before we continue on this journey, here is a picture from my mother:

She's being deafly serious.

In others universes, I'm sure there are plenty versions of me who are professors and scientists, but in this one I was home-schooled by a crazy, deaf lady with a third grade education who has been addicted to the Internet since '93 and believes that there is an actual hearing conspiracy against deaf people.* Since I'm 34 I'm going to go ahead and take full responsibility for not furthering my own education and living up to my potential, but childhood can be a difficult self to overcome.

We are fourth dimensional creatures, but we have the greatest difficulty seeing anything outside of the first three. I am nearly blind moving forward into the future, like an earthworm pressing itself through soil, barely able to sense what's about to happen to myself and mostly reacting to reality when it hits me in my stupid face. The past is also difficult. I don't exactly remember being three feet tall, running around the pine tree at my parent's yard sale as a child, but I have vivid memories of those memories and the loss of them would almost be like losing parts of myself, or at least running out of beer (forever).

There is an interconnectedness to the Universe, a certain harmony (with mathematics as notes and vibrating strings as instruments. SCIENCE!) that has rules and patterns that determine our reality. Our species flourished because our big, fat, meat eating brains were more adept at recognizing these patterns and utilizing that harmony for our own ends. Now we have things like metallurgy, twitter, and the International Space Station. Reality is mind shatteringly, almost unrealistically huge and complex. We have developed a powerful set of filters to keep these kinds of things from distracting us eternally, but this is where a lot of secrets lie: on the other side of the veil.

Which brings us to this...

I got this tattoo done after my 2nd divorce in my 20's:

Each insect represented an ex I had at the time of the tattoo, all of them were walking around the single side of the mobius strip to represent the endless replication of the patterns we reinforce into our own lives. My first wife is the one with the biggest ass.

I don't think I intended to place so much determinism into a physical manifestation of my own philosophy, but it is very telling in the dating world that many of us have a "type" or have certain traits that we find nearly irresistible and, damn the torpedoes, we're going full speed ahead. I've tried desperately to find meaning in the choices that I feel compelled to make, feeling that there must be a way to intellectualize this process, but to no avail. And then, instead of trying to piece it all together, I just let my mind relax and suddenly it made lot of sense: everything comes down to sex and violence.

Life wants to exist, and badly. A branch of life decided a long time ago to start consuming other life and it's been nothing since but one long arms race to see who gets to exists forever (protip: NOTHING wins! Energy death of the universe is imminent, try to remember that next time you feel special). Ever since we came along it's been a lot more of the same, just with more flair. Most of the mistakes we make in picking our partners, or in losing our partners, are defined not by our own patterns, but the meta-patterns of sex and violence.

Some lucky animals get to do both at the same time.

Let's take me as a warped example. I have slept with several women who were currently in relationships. I am not proud of this fact about myself but, as I've gotten older, fatter, and unhealthier, this doesn't really happen anymore and I seem to have gained some perspective. It turns out that opportunistic mating behaviors are fairly common in nature, and it was only condoms and random luck that kept me from making those into real reproductive incidents. I was a fairly normal, adult, human male that was given the opportunity to mate without the expenditure of extra calories or responsibilities. This doesn't abdicate any responsibility that I possess for my actions, but it does explain why I felt compelled to do them. Many of our desires and attractions to our mate are programmed into us at a very deep level, and everything built on top of it is always in danger of being unstable. Conflicting tastes, experiences, and cultural influences make it nearly an impossible task to identify an efficient decision making process in the procuring and keeping of a potential long term mate. This is why your picker is broken. This is why you can't trust yourself.

But it also means that it's not (entirely) your fault. Sure, you're a selfish bastard who has to constantly remind yourself that you're not the center of the universe, but so does everybody else. The system is chaotic and flawed. Everybody is somebody else's bitch or asshole. We all try not to be, but we just can't help ourselves.

And I find a lot of peace in that fact. We are all just a complex series of vibrating strings pulsating through the cultural ether for a finite, but stupendous adventure. Meaning is to be extracted.

I think I'll start on that chapter tomorrow.

*-Next week's meeting is going to be at 7:30!