August 25th, 2015

happy girl

Finally, a Decision

While driving to work this morning in a half-asleep stupor, my iPod shuffled to Faye Wong’s Chess Piece. It is a song about a woman who is trapped in an unhealthy romance with a man, to whom she has relinquished her sovereignty, and who dictates her emotions and sees her as a pawn, not a leader. She is under his control; she is a pawn in his game of conquer and rule; and she is defenceless with neither an escape plan nor the necessary strength to conceive of one.

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I woke up this morning and the first thing on my mind was G – more specifically, the extent to which I have surrendered a significant portion of my sovereignty to him. Lately I am beginning to get the sense that this thing with him is reminding me a lot of my relationship with NEB, a.k.a the only guy who has ever broken my heart, and it is becoming increasingly clear why that is the case. With every additional attempt from my end to see him that corresponds to a non-committal expression of indifference on his part, I lose more of myself. The dynamics between us have ceased to be equal, or more or less so, a long time ago. I am now the pursuer and he is the pursued – and this is not the way things should be.

This is actually really important. This is everything that I have worked at and worked for and protected myself against ever since I had my heart broken in 2007. It isn’t even so much that NEB broke my heart as much as it is about the kind of weak, pathetic, disgusting person that I became when I was with him. I was desperate to be with him; he was all that I cared about; I saw myself through his eyes and I allowed him to dictate my sense of self-worth and self-respect. I became a disgusting doormat, weak, spineless, clamouring for the attention of someone who was, at best, unsure of whether he wanted to be with me, and at worst, almost certain that he didn’t – or couldn’t – love me; and despite incontrovertible evidence that it was not a good or healthy relationship (to say the least), I continued to throw myself at him. In the end, I was left in ruins. I was destroyed. He annihilated my pride, my self-respect, my dignity; I had nothing left at the end of it. I was so lost, in fact, that I found myself in a highly dangerous situation with a man who was almost two decades older because I thought that possessing the sexual interest of another would restore some of the things that I’d lost; I was wrong. If it weren’t for the fact that I was still pretty innocent back then and immediately felt uncomfortable when this man in question began to physically signal what he wanted, I would have ended up doing something that would almost certainly make me feel incredibly dirty afterwards.

There are alarming similarities between this situation with G and my relationship with NEB. Back in late 2006, I was drowning in my anti-law school angst and I did not have any confidence in myself, certainly not in my abilities – I did not feel smart, I felt like a fraud, I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere in law school. NEB, on the other hand, seemed to have almost everything that I didn’t – intelligence, for one, and an appearance of ease with and around law school (both in terms of the academic and social aspects). I thought he was more intelligent than I am and so I worshipped him; I yearned for his approval; and I fell in love with him rapidly, unthinkingly, thoughtlessly, recklessly.

I fell primarily for G’s intellect. While I don’t think that I’m intellectually inferior to him (it’s been almost 10 years since my days as an angsty law student and I think I’ve grown up quite a bit since then; also, the Cambridge PhD definitely helps reinforce my belief that I am extremely intelligent), there is definitely a warning sign embedded in what I’ve said about how I’d never met anyone like him before. It means that he is a novelty; it inflates, unfairly or not, his innate attributes and makes them seem more important or impressive than they really are in my eyes; and to some degree, it renders me unable to completely see him as a person, but rather, as a representation of something that I’ve always desired but which I’ve never been able to possess. The playing field, then, is inherently imbalanced, because I think I subconsciously worship him – which has shades of my conscious worship of NEB. And to me, anything that reminds me of my relationship with NEB is dangerous and unhealthy.

Until G came along, I don’t believe that I had been in a similar situation ever since I finally moved on from NEB – a situation, that is, in which my interest in the other person far outweighs his interest in me…or at least, that is what it feels like. But my instincts should count for something, shouldn’t they? My instincts, in fact, should be determinative of the entire inquiry. During the process of moving on from NEB, I developed a self defence mechanism that, upon detecting the slightest expression of disinterest or a change of heart in the other person, almost immediately kicks in and bails me out of a potentially hurtful situation by pulling me away from it. In other words, I don’t bother with guys who can’t be bothered, who don’t make an effort, who is constantly - constantly - hot and cold. In fact, I don’t even hang around long enough to allow him to have the opportunity to be indecisive.

What has G done to me then? It is an odd situation. I thought he’d be in Berkeley by now and so I didn’t really bother to be circumspect or careful; I figured that the choice was already made for me, so I could just do whatever I felt like, even if it meant delivering all the power to him on a silver platter, because whatever hurt or negative emotions that I can’t presently name weren’t going to last long anyway.

I was wrong. I inadvertently fell in love with him – I am in love with him – and it is costing me. I am experiencing a perfect moment of clarity now (which is why I’m even writing this at my work desk), completely unencumbered by my unreliable feelings and emotions, and it is clear and transparent as water that I am in a bad situation. I want him more than he wants me. I care about this more than he does. When it is time to say goodbye, I would be the one trying to convince him to make it work, and even if, by some miracle, he agreed, it would be from a position of inequality, and I would constantly be wondering at the back of my mind whether he’d changed his mind – kind of like what is happening right now.

There is a lot of truth and sense in my mom’s advice to find a man who loves me more than I love him. Of course, one always strives for parity in these matters because one is stubbornly idealistic for no good reason; but she is actually right (how annoying). I am stupidly in love with someone who hardly ever makes plans with me, who’s said repeatedly that this romance between us ‘has a specific end date’ (quote unquote), who’s amazing and affectionate when we are together but aloof and nonchalant when we are not. I kept making excuses for his behaviour and kept falling back on the temporal nature of this relationship (or whatever one wishes to call it) and the struggle between feeling and knowing, but…but I have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. There is too much at stake, and this is costing me.

I should have had the talk with him on Sunday, but since I chickened out, let’s not dwell on missed opportunities and look forward. If he is absolutely certain that he doesn’t want to pursue a long distance thing (I’m not even sure if I want to), then I am going to end it. I am in a bad situation, and my pride and self-esteem and self-worth and dignity, these critically important attributes that I spent almost a decade building back up after NEB destroyed them, are worth more than the attention, affection, and adoration of a man, no matter who he is, how much I enjoy being with him, and how intense my feelings are for him.

This is a matter of principle. I do not let a man treat me badly because I am better than that and I deserve better. I have no idea when he’s leaving for Berkeley (apparently his visa has been approved but he needs to wait for the physical copy to arrive) but whatever it is, I will talk to him sometime this week and I will resolve it, one way or the other, once and for all.