Monday, October 31, 2005

New Tattoo

So, I’ve decided on a new tattoo. It’s an original piece, done by an artist I met online, who goes by the name sickntwisted. If you are a fan of movies like Corpse Bride or The Nightmare Before Christmas than you will likely enjoy her art. You can visit her website here: sickntwisted’s website.

This is the piece I will have tattooed onto my right inside forearm (yes, I have the artist’s permission). I’m going this because I need a reminder of Heather. Well, not so much Heather herself, but of the mistakes I made in my relationship with her. Yes, she is my ex. We used to live with each other, but she left me some time ago. I’m not too sure how long ago it was. A year and a half, or two and a half years, something like that. I don’t remember for sure the month, just that it was vaguely late winter/early spring.

I’m not one of these people who likes to celebrate “black” anniversaries. After all, I figure if something hurt me that badly once, why on earth would I go out of my way to relive the pain every year. The first pain you can’t avoid; it’s caused by someone else, and is beyond your control. The repeated annual wallowing in the misery is self-inflicted.

However, I feel it is important to learn from your mistakes – otherwise, what’s the point. I have learned from my relationship with Heather, and have made adjustments in my life. My first mistake was willful blindness. There were signs when she and I first started to connect. There were warnings, issues that came up that led me to believe that she was not the right match for me. But I deliberately shelved and ignored my concerns. I guess I was too afraid of being alone, and too afraid of never finding someone to permit myself the level of inspection that was required.

When Heather and I first met, she was dating someone else. He lived up north, about 2 hours drive from the city, and they saw each other only sporadically. At the time, I had no romantic inclinations towards her. Oh sure, I wanted to have sex with her, but those feelings were hardly sporadic. I also wanted to have sex with her best friend, with her mother, and with her brother’s girlfriend. I’m a guy. We want to have sex with pretty much every woman we meet.

We started to hang out together, saw a lot of movies, went for walks, etc. We were seeing each other more and more often, and I found myself thinking about her a lot. I knew I was running the risk of falling in love with her, but two things were holding me back. First off, she was seeing someone, and at the time I would not allow myself to break up a relationship by being an accessory to infidelity. Secondly, I was 15 years older than her (well, 14 years, three weeks and 21 days), and I wasn’t about to be the seedy old guy who went after the young girls.

After a while, Heather and her boyfriend broke up. She told me about it afterwards, as we were going for a walk up her street. She told me that he was broken up, and extremely sad. She told me that, before they broke up, she would hate how he always wanted to hold hands, and that she found that unattractive. He was the kind that wanted to cuddle and hug, and she thought he was weak. This bothered me, because I knew that I am the kind who likes to cuddle and hug, and hold hands as I walk with someone I care about. I knew that this was a fundamental difference in our personalities, and yet still I pushed that aside, and ignored those thoughts.

The second realization did not come until after we had broken up. I made the mistake of require too much from Heather. When we were apart, and we came together, I always showed Heather that I was pleased to see her, and make sure she knew that I missed her. She was not like this with me. We would be apart, pursuing different interests, and when I came to see her, she would continue what she was doing, talk with others, etc. for five or so minutes before coming to see me.

This bothered me a lot, and I tried to explain things to her. I told her that I needed her to be as happy to see me as I was to see her. When she did not do this, I would become sullen and upset, because my needs were not being met. I did not feel like I was important to her anymore. Now, bear in mind that at this time, I did not see what affect my needs were having on her.

We broke up on a Sunday evening. She had been out all day with her friends from the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms). While I was interested in joining myself, I could not at the time because improv was on Sundays, and I wanted to improvise more than I wanted to be in the SCA. I had gone home after my class, and was waiting for Heather to come home after the SCA meeting.

She called, and told me she was going out for dinner with her friends. We had been having a rough patch of the past few days, and I told her that I thought it was important that she come home so that we could talk. I wanted to get things out in the open, explain myself to her, and hear what she had to say, and try to come to an understanding. I felt that she did not understand how I felt, and I felt that I did not really understand how she felt.

She told me no, she did not want to come home yet, and that she was going out with her friends. I emphasized how important I felt our conversation was, but she was adamant. I capitulated, and said fine. I would come out for dinner with her, have a night out, and then we could talk at home later. She told me that frankly, she didn’t want me there, and hung up.

I was shocked, surprised, hurt, and very angry with Heather. I felt we had a real huge argument brewing, and I was stewing in my juices, waiting for her to come home so we could have it out. Bear in mind, I loved her as strongly as ever, and thought we were going to have a huge blowout, but the thought of leaving her – or of her leaving me – had never even entered my head. I’m like that. Once my love and loyalty have been given, they’re given forever.

She came back later that evening. Before I could even start, she told me she was leaving me. She was angry, and wasn’t going to listen to me. She told me that we were over, and she was going, and that was that. I was devastated, and her words broke me. Utterly. I wish I had been a stronger person, someone who could have stood up to that kind of pain, but I folded immediately. That much pain was too much for me. Needless to say, I didn’t exactly sleep that night.

The next day, after work, she came back to see me. She apologized, and told me that she didn’t want our relationship to be over. She cried, I cried, we kissed, and we made up. She told me that living away from home was too much on her. She didn’t like the stress of having to pay bills (the childish side of me has to point out that I not only provided the lions share of our incoming income, I was also the one who actually made sure the bills got paid), and having to worry about money. She told me she was going to move back home, but wanted to continue to see me, to date me.

She said she just wanted things to go back to the way they were before we moved in together. And I believed her.

Over the next few weeks, we walked together, we talked together, and we went out to see movies together. But she was distant. I was so afraid of losing her altogether that I didn’t dare question her, probe, and force her to give me solid answers. The frequency of her visits dropped off, and she didn’t stay as long as before. One day, she told me she did not want me to hold her hand anymore.

That’s when I knew it was over. But there was still one more hope. A foolish and vain hope, I admit. Before the breakup, we had planned on going on holiday together to the Chicago Improv Festival. We were going to go with Gary and Laura and some other friends. She didn’t want to come along, but I talked her into it.

In Chicago, I proved once again that I still had not learned my second lesson. The group of us were taking the El together, off down to see some shows. I told Heather that I wanted for the two of us to go together, and split off from the group, so that we could talk. She refused to go, and ran up ahead to catch up to them. The feeling of dark and black depression I felt at that moment was the worst moment of my life. I cannot express the depths of that emotion, the horrific bleakness and churning feelings of emptiness.

I guess that was pretty much it at that point. After a long, long while, the pain had faded enough for me to start to examine our lives together, and to figure out what I did wrong. That’s when I did learn my second lesson. My mistake was that I gave too much of myself to her, that I relied too much on her validation, her attention, and her love. In doing so, I was needy, and that neediness and perceived weakness is what drove her away.

In the long run, I came to see that we were not right together. I’m not getting all macho bullshitty and saying like I don’t miss her or that I’m better off without her. Not that. I am saying that our relationship could never have lasted, because I made mistakes, and she was not capable of dealing with my mistakes.

And like I said before, I don’t like to repeat my mistakes. So the tattoo goes on as a reminder, and as a memorial.

3 comments:

Kim Ayres said...

My immediate thought was "wouldn't a fridge magnet do?" as a tattoo seems a bit extreme, but then that's a very glib remark.

That need for validation from my partner is vital for me. I'm emotionally very intense, and need to feel close, physically and emotionally. In the past I have scared women away, but with my wife, she's the same way so we feed and satisfy each other, and have done for nearly 15 years now.

Getting your needs met, while being able to meet the needs of your partner is a very powerful lesson to be learned. Just make sure that you post a picture of the completed tattoo when it's done!

Rach said...

Ash-

I have been you!

guile said...

corpse bride is a wickedly gleeful banquet of morbid invention :)..