Dating Myself

I took myself to dinner the other day.

Except, I’m poor and cooking is fun, so I made myself dinner, opened a decent bottle of wine and left my phone far away.
I talked a lot. I’m glad my flatmates weren’t around.
It was like going on a date with a good-looking, intelligent, funny partner – only better, because I could interrupt myself whenever and not get into trouble. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
When things went bad in relationships, I’d often resort to meals to sort shit out. “Let’s go for dinner” I’d say whilst meaning “Let’s go for dinner and discuss your depression and the best steps for getting you to deal with it…again.” And then the dinner would be awkward. There’d be huge gaps in the conversation that gave birth to grotesque statements about the weather whilst we danced and skated in a parody of happiness around the issue. I don’t think we ever tasted the meal.
I’d thought I could sort out my issues over my meal.
The nice thing about running both sides of a conversation is you don’t have gaps in the conversation. You never quite end up saying “weird, it’s Saturday and the sun’s shining. I wonder why.” You say stuff like “So this whole pain/pleasure thing that might possibly be linked to self-hatred and masochism” then you interrupt yourself to say “Damn this steak tastes so good! Have you tried it with the wine?” “Yeah I have, and I’m loving the fried apples and onions!”
I’m not burying it. I’m not denying it. Every time I look at my arm I’m reminded. And every time I’m reminded, I want to do it again.
Not for the mutilation: for the pain. For the control. For that little tingle of pleasure that runs up my arm to my spine and sits there, giggling happily.
It’s weird.
My dinner found other things to talk about. Like my writing. Like my studies. Like the next 11 months (and 2 days). I didn’t make plans. I held onto ideas and swirled them with the wine and the steak and the apple and the onion and the sauce. They tasted good.
Once the meal was finished, I headed to the pub. This was a bit surprising: following a date at home, I seldom go out. I’m always “too tired” or “too antisocial” – both excuses for “I’m too coupley”. But I’d promised myself I’d go and I couldn’t disappoint me, so off I went.
I’d hoped to meet people there, people who’d said they’d try make it, but I suspected I’d be drinking alone. I was quite right. I was a little surprised when I walked in and two girls stopped chatting to two guys to straighten their backs and eye me repeatedly. I ignored them (I don’t know why) and ordered a drink.
I realised quite quickly that I couldn’t expect things to happen to me. No one was coming to drink with me, so I had to go drink with them. I found two colleagues having a night off and talking wine: I chased them through a history of cocktails and alcohol as the bar closed and we made a mess discovering just how strong a proper cocktail should be.
And then I stumbled home to bed with me.
And when I woke I realised something: I’m happier alone.
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$1000 flight

My car has an unsightly dent in its face.

It’s quite distinctive now. You can see people dismiss it the moment they see it – unless the lights are on. Pop up lights are fucking awesome.

I discovered recently that – for some unbeknownst reason – the value of a Mazda Astina has risen. Every other car I’ve been looking at has dropped over the last two months. The Astina has gone from an average $1400 to an average $1600.

I could fix my car and sell it for a resulting $1000. Which, as I discovered on Sunday night, is more than enough for a one way ticket to the UK, leaving next Wednesday.

I dislike stuff and clutter. Some of it is necessary. But, if I were to leave, I could sell it all fast. Easily. Not perhaps for an accurate value, but for something. Enough, totaled, for a base in the UK.

A fresh start. A new beginning. To no longer deal with all this crap. To simply say “This is no longer my problem, bye bye.”

To no longer have nights substituting crap games and bbw porn for intimacy and sleep. To no longer wake and long for sleep. To no longer spend evenings knowing one drink would calm me, but one drink won’t end. To no longer fall asleep, exhausted, with wet pillows and twisted blankets.

To spend days smiling, not hiding fears and worries and regrets and anger. To write without wrestling words away from their emotions. To work without calculating how much exactly I can actually use.

When told, Someone simply stated “Well go. You have nothing stopping you.”

But there is something stopping me: Me.

I can’t run away from problems.

Not simply because running away never works. Not simply because it’ll make bigger problems. Not simply because the easiest solution is seldom the best.

But because I couldn’t be me if I did.

To run away and “start afresh” would have one intention: finding myself. Losing myself in order to find me is rather circular and a waste of time. Ultimately, 5 years down the line, I’ll be in a similar situation facing similar problems with similar escapes. The only difference: It’ll be five years too late.

I’ve been told I’m “too soft”. I think I’ve been told that so many times it might make a good tattoo – strategically placed. I’m too soft, apparently, because I’ll keep taking shit from people and just deal with it. Or, try to. When there’s little but shit my way it becomes a bit difficult to deal with it all – one pile at a time please. It makes it hard to see sexy people too.

This is something I distinctly dislike about myself. And yet it’s been something that’s true of me for a little over 25 years. Every time I try to change it, it ends up rearing it’s head in another, sneaky way.

I realise now it’s because I can’t be me if I’m not…accepting? Perhaps that is a better phrase than “too soft”.

Happiness is often linked to selfishness – “You can’t be happy if you don’t look after yourself.” I completely agree with that – “me first” is an ideal required to be your best. I add to it though.

Instead of simply saying “Do what makes you happy”, I tell myself “Do what makes you happy without impairing others’ happiness.”

It switches the focus. Instead of an immediate, almost gratuitous, happiness, it looks at a long-term happiness – a happiness that supersedes the current time and plans for tomorrow.

A friend told me – and I’ve mentioned this before – that “you can’t find happiness. It doesn’t exist as a place or object. You need to make it. Create Happiness.”

Like any creative work, it doesn’t happen overnight. It isn’t easy. You don’t (or at least, I don’t) create a book by starting with a book.

I start with an idea. A story. The plan, the overview. A bit of research takes place, attempting to find places where I might encounter problems.

That’s the easy bit. There’s still no book.

Then the writing begins. At first it seems easy: x number of words? Simple. You just press 6x keys. At y keys an hour, that’ll only take 6x/y hours and then the book is done!

But no.

Because the words have to come from somewhere. They have to be carefully extracted from the contents of your thoughts, stripped of personal emotion and sewn into a volatile narrative.

And hell, that hurts. But finally, you’re done. There is a story, written down with your words. It’s wonderful. Masterful.

But just a draft.

Editing is worse. Editing is reading over your scars and deciding that they don’t add to the story, so they have to go. Editing is finding a scene that dripped down your face as you wrote and finding it lacking in emotion.

Editing is what finally makes a novel worth reading.

But you’re still not done.

There’s cover design, beta reading, publicising, re-editing, re-researching…it begins to feel like there is no such thing as an end. Bookshops, libraries and authors in Porsches prove otherwise.

But there is no ending to happiness. There is no point where you stop and say “Wow! I’m happy! I can’t stop now.”

You simply have to carry on.

The first step isn’t the easiest. The first step is looking at yourself and saying “Hey, I love you.With all your faults and idiosyncrasies. I think you’re awesome, just the way you are – and no one knows you better than me.”

And I can’t take that step with a $1000 ticket. I can’t take that step by running away. I take that step by stopping, turning, taking another blow on the cheek and knowing I’m going to be ok.

———

A post really worth reading: 30 things to  stop doing to yourself.

 

(Also: this has got to be the first post ever to mention bbws, cars, math and writing)