Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Burying the relationship

I think part of the reason I devalued the importance of the relationship itself is that, on most objective terms, it always was a stinker. There were so many things wrong with it.

It began while we were working on the same project in Melbourne. Of course, this meant that it was conducted in secret. Worse, it occurred while she was still living with her soon to be ex-boyfriend and I was still dealing with my feelings for my previous entanglement. It heated up quickly then cooled off again almost as quickly when I returned to Sydney at the end of the project.

Intense? Yes. Robust? No. Tempestuous? Yes. Doomed to failure? Almost certainly.

I ignored all these things. I was fascinated by her - addicted to her as surely as to any drug.

I don't regret what happened next. The prize on offer was so glittering, I had to take the chance. What I didn't realize was how thoroughly hooked I would become.

Only too late did I realise I had no exit strategy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

On category errors and delusions

We had a relationship of sorts. It was hard and brittle. It broke.

Obviously, I am deluded about something.

Not so clear is exactly what I am deluded about.

On the surface, at least, I accept that my relationship with her disintegrated long ago and there is no hope of repairing it.

Yet, even though I know that, I can't shake my desire for her.

Why? Why do I persist in desiring a person that has no desire for me?

Perhaps part of the reason is that I have been committing category errors - I have been attributing to her, qualities that were actually properties of our relationship.

So, for example, I loved her for responding to my desire. Instead of regarding that response as a property of our relationship, I regarded it as intrinsic to her.

In this mindset, when the relationship withered, nothing important disappeared because all the important things were intrinsic to either herself or me.

This undervaluing of the relationship probably explains why I was never able to accept her desire to be just friends. If I had placed more value on the relationship as distinct from the person at the other end of it, perhaps the relationship would have survived, or at least, been given a decent burial.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A false trichotomy

Her. Something else. Or, nothing.

That trichotomy is, of course, false.

There is something else or there is nothing.

That is all.

Thus far, the something else has turned out to resemble something very close to the inverse of her.

The last apparently nice thing she did for me was nearly 9 years ago. She called me to say farewell, prior to one year overseas. I guess it was better than leaving without saying goodbye. She saved that (non-)act for one year later when she resigned from our mutual employer.

The last compassionate thing she did was, 5 years ago, when she sent me a note informing me in 11 short words of her marriage 6 months previously. It wasn't particularly pleasant news, but I do recognize she told me because she thought it might help me let go. That I didn't is my bad.

The fact that this barren reality has barely dimmed my desire for her is testament to the intensity of the core experience which is the foundation of my obsession - a wonderful weekend of intimacy. We didn't have sex - we never had sex. But we did spend a very fine weekend getting to know each other, most of it in bed.

That experience remains the most complete mind fuck of my life.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mammal @ Candy's

So, I danced again.

You just have to see Mammal live - these guys are easily the best live act I have ever seen.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Some old words and some new

She is not my friend
She is not my enemy
She is not the one

I was never completely at one with her
I will never be at war with her
But, I am not quite yet at peace with her

Monday, October 22, 2007

One battle too many against a phantom

The problem with conceptualising my situation as a contest of wills with her is that it assumes that from her point of view she is expending emotional effort to resist me. That she is denying me access to something that exists and that would fulfill my desire, if only she would grant me access to it.

I think what I haven't properly internalized is that there really is *nothing* there to desire. It's not just she is denying me access to it - there *really* is nothing there.

I think I know why I make that basic psychological mistake - it was (apparently) there before. Surely, it is there now?

That's why my desire for her is different to a desire for Salma Hayek - Salma never had a thing for me.

Now, I can tell myself that she has nothing for me, but I think that subconsciously I have never really accepted that.

Of course, that has to change.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A contest of wills?

In recent posts I have expressed scepticism that I can fix my problem with will power. The basic problem is that it is really hard not think of pink elephants when asked not to.

We are both locked in a contest of wills: she refuses to give me anything and I refuse to give up. More particularly, I refuse to give up my desire - I gave up any expectation of realising my desires long ago.

Releasing the expectations had the beneficial effect of eliminating conflict between us - I kept out of her way. But I do think that it had the paradoxical effect of wrapping the desires in a cocoon where they became insulated from the hard knocks of reality.

Why do I hold so strongly onto desires that are unrealisable? Why can't I give these up too? I don't really know the answer to that.

Perhaps I should try to find out.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

15 seconds

4 days later, those 15 seconds seem a long time ago.

As I walked from the hotel where my classes had been in the morning to the lunch area in the main building, I was paying attention to people coming the other way, just in case she was one of them. As I boarded the escalator I looked up to see her boarding at the top. She appeared to be rubbing moisturiser into her arms as she looked at nothing in particular, absorbed in some thought.

My reaction was a visceral one. There before me was a sight that I had longed to see for years with no expectation that I ever would. A sight that seemed so familiar. Here she was again, this time from a slightly different perspective from the ones I had seen her in the day before. Each perspective, like a different phase of the moon. I remember that look, I thought to myself. In that moment I knew exactly why I haven't been able to let go.

My stomach churned, on the one hand I was delighted to see her again, on the other I was painfully aware that she probably didn't want to see me. But I couldn't bring myself to pretend I hadn't seen her. Nor could I bring myself to call out a full throated hello. So a quiet "Hi!" escaped my lips as we passed each other. I wasn't looking directly at her, but I got the impression that she was trying to look anywhere but in my direction. My heart sank. How had it come to this?

She disappeared behind me. I don't think I even looked around to catch a last glimpse.

The next day, I decided to avoid the main building altogether and lunched at home instead. I pondered whether I should go to the night's social event. If she was there it would be awkward and distinctly un-enjoyable for me to be so close, yet so far. On the other hand, I figured that since she was quite unlikely to attend, I may as well go and enjoy myself. I was right, she didn't attend and the evening turned out to be good fun, the highlight of which was an amazing magician called Phil Cass.

Writing oneself into letting go - I don't think so

During a good discussion last night with a couple of my friends about the way I am choosing to deal with this we covered some of the ground of recent posts. In particular, we discussed the pros and cons of such public introspection. If anything, I became more convinced that it has more benefits than costs. One friend agreed that the act of writing does influence how one thinks about things. He asked me to consider whether I could write myself into a decision to let go.

This is an interesting question but at present, I am somewhat sceptical about this being possible. The problem is that once I have let go, writing anything at all ceases to make sense. It seems unlikely that one could write something so convincing that all further writing becomes pointless.

I know I can't write myself towards my desired state - reconciliation with her. I think writing does help to moderate my emotions towards a stable, if not particularly desirable state. I just don't think I can get to an emotionally empty state which is what letting go looks like from here.

Yes, people will tell me that in that state I will be free to enjoy other things in life. There is a point to that, well illustrated by "The Cat Empire" gig I went to on Tuesday.

The Cat Empire have a very energetic style of music and performance. The Metro was packed and everyone - and I mean everyone, was bouncing up and down to the music like there was no tomorrow. Introspective little me didn't actually feel like dancing so I went and stood against a wall so that I wouldn't get jumped on and observed the concert from there while I reflected on the day's events. It must have looked strange to those around me, but not dancing by the side wall seemed less obvious than not dancing in the mosh pit.

But that was Tuesday, near the centre of a recent storm. I know I will get past that and I will dance again - probably as soon as next Friday at the Mammal gig - "Hell Yeah!"

Duck, Beer!

I spent a very enjoyable night last night celebrating two friends' engagement while drinking beers at the Opera Bar. Since I had only just started draining an Asahi when everyone decided to leave, I decided that rather than scull the beer I would put it into the pocket of my jacket.

I was reminded of it later on when I stepped off a step and the beer splashed down the inside of my jacket. This was quite an odd sensation. I took a mental note that I needed to remember not to throw my coat onto the couch when I got home.

After the cab ride home, I bid farewell to my friends with talk of plans to visit an Austrian schnitzel place in Gladesville with a mutual friend at some point in the near future. I inquired as to whether there would be Beer Duck at this place, a reference to a legendary evening in Melbourne last year where an attempt was made to consume a duck curry with a sauce so hot that mere contemplation of its consumption required alcoholic fortification - hence the name Beer Duck. I was assured that this was unlikely.

Thus comforted, I returned to my apartment and as I bent down to unlatch the securing bolt at the base of my front door, the beer promptly poured itself all over my front step - Duck, Beer!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Introspecting about introspection

The topic of whether or not she reads this blog came up with a friend today. As far as I can tell she doesn't but I actually don't know. My friend expressed horror - how much more awkward do I make things by writing this stuff in a forum she could, in principle, read.

Personally, I don't think this really matters much. This blog makes absolutely no difference to the quality of my relationship with her - its been beyond stuffed for way longer than I have been blogging about it.

However, his questions lead me to think about the reasons I blog this stuff in such a public forum. Why do I do it? This is actually quite an intriguing question for me. There are some simple answers, but the more I think about it, the more complex the answer becomes.

One simple answer is that it acts as a release valve. Instead of obsessing about a communication I'd like to write her, a communication that I can't send because to do so would constitute unwelcome harassment, I write it here. I am pretty sure she would prefer that I didn't write these things in this forum, but quite frankly this is really more about my reaction to her than it is about her, so my willingness to care about this is fairly low. Is it still harassment if I write it here? I don't think so - I am not asking her to read this stuff and if she doesn't want to read it, then she can remain blissfully unaware of it. Also, since we have very few mutual acquaintances, the chance that someone will bring up my posts in conversation with her are somewhat remote.

It is true, however, that I want her to read this stuff. I'd like her to know what I am thinking. I'd prefer that she knows what my actual feelings are rather than hiding behind a pretence that I am somehow over her. I am not over her, and probably never will be. Better she knows that, I think, than to lie about it.

My thoughts are literally a conversation with the world outside trying to explain, and perhaps justify, why I think like I do. In explaining it to the world, perhaps I will better explain it to myself.

These posts are, in my opinion, brutally honest about what I think. This is somewhat ugly and some might say undignified. While this is true, I don't care about this either. In a sense, these posts help me set boundaries for where my feelings and thoughts go. Thinking in public helps ensure that I don't stray too far from socially acceptable positions.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Last Day of Our Acquaintance

The conference is over for me, so it seems somewhat fitting that my final image of her will be that of Tuesday when we passed, almost silently, on opposing escalators.

I can't say it better than Sinead O'Connor, in her song "The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance":

This is the last day of our acquaintance
I will meet you later in somebody's office
I'll talk but you won't listen to me
I know what your answer will be
I know you don't love me anymore
You used to hold my hand when the plane took off
Two years ago there just seemed so much more
And I don't know what happened to our love
Today's the day
Our friendship has been stale
And we will meet later to finalize the details
Two years ago the seed was planted
And since then you have taken me for granted
But this is the last day of our acquaintance
I will meet you later in somebody's office
I'll talk but you won't listen to me
I know your answer already
But this is the last day of our acquaintance
I will meet you later in somebody's office
I'll talk but you won't listen to me
I know your answer already
I know your answer already
I know your answer already

postscript: It is perhaps apt to note that this song appears on the album "I do not want what I haven't got".

Now there's a thought.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

In response to The Other One

Until Monday, I hadn't seen her for over 9 years. Then on Monday she appeared at a conference run by my employer. Presumably, she'll return to Melbourne on Thursday and then the chance of an accidental crossing of paths will be much reduced.

I am obsessed with her and we both know it. A long time ago, she tried to let me down gently but at some point decided to just ignore me.

In purely rational terms, I understand why she had to do that and I know that if I was in her shoes, I'd do exactly the same thing.

But understanding it rationally doesn't make my feelings go away. They just are. And, as far as I can tell, always will be.

In the interest of maintaining a shred of dignity, I do try very hard not to impose myself upon her. I haven't managed to do that perfectly, but all things considered I think I have done it pretty well. Blogging helps, since I can write things here that may otherwise have ended up in a pointless e-mail to her.

I think the sad truth is that she is afraid of my obsession for her. Given the strength of my feelings, I really can't blame her. Stating this so bluntly sounds like a threat but this couldn't be further from the truth. I bear no malice or jealousy for her or her husband. At one level I do accept that it is over.

Yet, the feelings remain.

I wish we could talk to clear the air, but if I am honest I know talk wouldn't solve anything. She has absolutely no place in her heart for me and if there is one silver lining of these past few days, at least it is now screamingly obvious.

Perhaps the sheer physical reality of her rejection of me will knock my rose-coloured glasses off and help me let go. One could hope. But the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I caught sight of her today tells me otherwise.

Intense. That was her word for what we once had. Alienation is my word for what remains.

Acting like strangers

On my way up to Level 10 @ lunch today, I passed her on the escalator going the other way. I let out a kind of strangled "Hi!", not wishing to make a scene but not wishing to maintain the pretence that I hadn't noticed her.

I think she looked up but I got the impression that she was deliberately avoiding eye contact with me, but I don't know that for sure. I think it is a reasonable assumption that she was avoiding the common areas at lunch so as to minimize the chance of running in to me. If that is what she was doing, I understand.

I think I know why she has to treat me like a stranger. We are, after all, strangers.

And yet, it hurts. It just seems so unfair that we have to be strangers.

Of course, that is just from my view point. From hers, it is unfair that I don't let go. I want to empathise with her, I want to understand things from her point of view. I want her to explain it to me. But an explanation requires communication and communication requires more intimacy than she is prepared to grant me. So I am left to infer her attitudes towards me from the way she treats me. It's pretty clear - she wants nothing to do with me.

I know I can't change this, but it stinks just the same.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Unexpected

I had always wondered what it would be like to bump into her again. I wondered if I'd recognize her. I wondered how she'd react. I wondered how I'd react.

So, now, quite unexpectedly, I know.

Attending a technical conference sponsored by my employer today, there she was.

I said hi, she replied. I expressed my surprise at seeing her and then moved away to regain my composure. I probably shouldn't have gone back to try to engage her in conversation because I knew that was doomed to failure. But, of course, I did. We exchanged pleasantaries again, but the awkwardness of the situation made further conversation impossible for her and for me. So I said my goodbyes and walked away - for the last time.

There is an invisible wall between myself and her. All there is left for me to do is ponder the question: what colour should I paint it?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A better mousetrap

The other one is right, of course, to caution about premature fixation.

I have always thought fixation is like a mouse trap. It has both a triggering mechanism and an arm of destruction.

The trick with mouse traps is to make sure that the triggering mechanism is sensitive, but not too sensitive. The other trick is to have an efficient re-arming mechanism.

If fixation is like a mouse trap, then mine has a somewhat erratic trigger and is a complete bugger to re-arm.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The fascinating mystery of it all

Above all else she was, and no doubt still is, a deeply fascinating person.

Everything about her fascinated me. I had no idea what made her tick, but I was prepared to spend a life time finding out. There seemed no better way to spend a life.

I think part of the reason I still think about her is that I was never cured of my curiousity about her. She was mysterious from the day I met her, grew more mysterious the closer I got and remains mysterious now that she has gone.

So, I guess I shouldn't complain - it seems the mystery I craved will remain forever unsolved, forever a mystery.