They tell you as a writer to write what you know. It’s not that I set out on a path of vaginal cobwebs---it just happened that way---by choosing emotionally retarded or sexually deviant men over the years, paralleled with idealistic notions of love and romance portrayed in 1940’s films. My travails into premature spinsterhood was emphasized by broken promises, disappointments and misunderstandings. Compounded by my own emotional vocabulary comparable to the board game level of four letters (Scrabble). My trust issues percolated just below the surface with fear of intimacy and abandonment.
Since my late teens I went from abusive relationships with men 10 to 20 years my senior to intoxicated sex with the rare gay male friend, parlayed into fantasy relationships in my early 30’s upon moving to New York City. Which at the height of AIDS graduated to abstinence and later celibacy. My last casual relationship was with an impotent man (unless silicone was omni present) who still lived at home (fully aroused when watching the Playboy channel). When I caught him one day masturbating to their televised, artificially enhanced, shiny naked bodies---our fragile year long relationship ended, and so did my self-esteem as it was marred in cellulite. That finale edged me towards abstinence and into fantasy relationships.
My aptitude for fantasy affairs was born when I was 5 years old twirling around a silver clothes line pole holding the imaginary hand of my “man.” We'd end the dance with a kiss---my innocent tongue reached out to lick the salty, cold metal, as my blue plastic Cat glasses clanked the pipe. Immediately, my notions of men became eschewed as they took on an air of an inanimate, lifeless object. [photo above at six years old]
Likened to a romance novel unfolding, my imaginary ideal of love resurrected itself a quarter of a century later with a handful of fantasy relationships. They were rich with sexual gratification (in my own mind). Literally carrying on a romantic conversation with my latest conquest that escalated to sexual encounters. They were fueled by suppressed longings and an inability to communicate my attraction in real life (unleashing imaginary escapades).
The last fantasy relationship I had was with Ken, a young George Clooney type who worked at World Gym in Lincoln Center. In time, the disinterest and endless rejection from my object of affection, would eventually slap me back to reality. That is after I realized my lovely wasn't able to wake-up and smell the obsession. The hope of my affections being returned would ultimately go unfulfilled and the heartwrenching discovery became apparent, that once again, I latched onto unrequited love.
Ken interest wasn’t in me---but rather a heavily painted, faux bronzed gym tart with implants. I wasn’t dissuaded. To me he was strong and solid like a rock---unmovable. But unknowingly, internally, he was shaking in his Nike’s. His silent strength emerged when he was still, quietly listening to me, and for the first time I felt understood and accepted. I thought during those seven months we had a special, equal, honest connection. Unfortunately, I was so excited by it, (becoming an exuberant puppy with men I’m attracted to) I couldn't contain myself and wanted to share with him every aspect of my life (without peeing on his foot). And in turn he became overwhelmed.
I felt that I had so much to offer and searched years for a man that could handle it, that my unexpressed emotions poured into him. The only way for me to stop the overflow was to step-back and give him and myself---space. Only a few days after we stopped talking did I realize that I appeared "needy." Maybe I was needing to be heard by someone familiar who would just listen. To be understood, accepted, and liked for who I was---by a man.
But a week later the abandonment set in and I crumbled. In an attempt to cloak my emotional collapse, I grappled with small talk, but Ken was swiftly doing sets, and the more he pretended I was invisible, the more desperate I became. I couldn’t bare the hurricane swirling within and it being Easter weekend---searched for the nearest church.
Barely able to contain my psychological and emotional convergence, I scurried down Ninth Avenue and leapt up the stairs of a church at 55th Street. I found myself weeping at the foot of another man----a priest, begging him for clarification. With sorrow spilling from my heart, I cried uncontrollably and in between heaves and puffs of breath asked, “Father, every time I find a man it’s unrequited love---no man ever loves me?” With a halo of candles burning behind him, he replied matter-of-factly, “You have to love yourself first.”
Those detached words of wisdom didn’t bring comfort or understanding, and I staggered drunk with sorrow to the M11 bus home (where I would rekindle a late night rendezvous with a Trinitron sized David Letterman).
Except, Ken’s rejection was so severe, it sent me to the cold white tiles of my bathroom floor. Symbolically, the bathroom where one cleanses, the primal pain of lovelessness throughout my lifetime surfaced as I sat hunched on the floor in the shadows of a night light. Trying to muffle my howls (from the other tenants), I cradled myself behind the closed door. The portal of pain became uncontrollable sucking me into a trance of one question to God, “Why doesn’t anyone love me?” That mantra reverberated through me as I rocked myself looking desperately for answers.
The emotional breaks of past loves (post abusers); Stephen, Michael, George, Marcello, Leonard, and imagined ones; Roy, Blaire and Ken---had ruptured. Looking at pictures of myself in a variety of ages and stages spanning my life---no longer a young, taunt filly. I realized I spent my youth wildly---and wept for the girl I used to be.
Is that me? Such a beautiful, young creature. Why didn't I see it then and love her more. Have I lost my youth? I didn't know what it looked like when I had it. Now I see--it was me. How could I have wasted so many years wondering what's wrong with me?
Believing I was too fat, too homely, too crooked, too loud. Now I see her as thinner, prettier, and all the crooked lines have disappeared. What a fool I was to spend her so recklessly.
While laying in the hammock of my loneliness I cried uncontrollably for quiet some time. I reached for my journal to write what was unearthing. I wrote about the loneliness I felt. It was then I observed my own mind, it wasn't cluttered with the obsessive thoughts of a man. The fantasy obsessions were for many years a distraction for the lack of a man----the void of love in my life. Without the daily pining over a man whom didn't want me, my dejected spirit, negative feelings of self-worth and unattractiveness became intertwined. I was finally alone with the emptiness of my own heart and mind. The more I scribed and reflected, I began to put the pieces of my emotional and psychological puzzle together.
I had many fictional relationships begin and end in my mind. Each ending was as traumatic as in real life. Aware of my regrets and mistakes, with each termination learning more about myself. I'd jest with my siblings that I was the only person to have a relationship, and cause infliction upon myself without ever touching or involving the other person. The fantasies protected me from a partner with unsuspecting sexual dysfunction's or diseases, feared pregnancy or the dreaded, awkward confrontation of clearing out your clothes or his (and asking for the return of apartment keys). It was less messy. Only one partner was hurt. One side of the story (literally). And after I woke from my hypnotic obsession, I'd wonder what I ever saw in him anyway.
As a writer I found the paper helped clear the dead wood hanging around the attic of my heart and mind. An emotional eruption gained momentum with each memory unleashed and re-lived. In order to write about it I had to re-experience it. During a moment of being stuck in a deep fog of emotional pain from the past. I came to realize while walking through the fire---that somewhere along the way I stopped needing people. The endings of important relationships, the loss, the deaths stacked upon one another until I closed my heart and stopped needing and loving others. In the interim it was safer to fantasize relationships. Ending a fictional relationship was still hurtful for my young heart, but less permanent. The obsession was created as a need to not feel any more pain or loss---I was already filled to capacity and needed to empty.
The vessel I searched my lifetime for, to pour my love and adoration into, wasn't a man after all. I mislead my heart in a continual quest for "the one" who could handle such powerful love and devotion. The prose tumbled around my soul while I waited for him. I had so much to share with this creature, where was he?
The years of suppressed emotions saddled with the inability to communicate laid dormant no longer. As I hovered over my laptop rewriting the past, the sorrow and pain surfaced. A cluster of tears dripped from my eyes and through them I found my way clearly. All the experiences and words I absorbed until that point imploded onto the page. The paper morphed into my vessel. I poured all the love, sorrow, regrets and heartache into those pages; strong enough to handle the abundance of painful words. In its silence---effortlessly absorbing the overflow of what I could no longer contain. Unconditionally accepting everything I offered.
But the more I wrote….the more detached I became from men and relationships---as the work became my lover---the memories and experiences became my muse. The reams of white cotton 24 lb. Strathmore paper parlayed my way to celibacy.
Trying to quell my sexual desires the first year of abstinence was the most difficult. The second, somewhat challenging but fulfilled by conjuring up liaisons. Years three to five were satisfied by porno….
And what I notice now after living without the warmth of a mans hand, is that the more I’m in my head as a writer---the less I feel my body below. A disconnect emerged. The less physical touch I experience---the less time I invest in (presumed) dysfunctional friendships or relationships, it severs my connection with other humans. I’m not sure if there’s a way of going back. As I still sense the trappings of inadequacies, the older I become, the more beautiful younger women appear (affirming that without enhanced procedures my days are numbered).
So instead my thoughts drift off to prayer and God (the ultimate in imaginary figures), imagining a better life, and what I want to accomplish. I ponder how iconic religious figures, whether Jesus, the Pope, Dalai Lama or Buddha dealt with the lack of intimacy that comes with celibacy. In 2007, new Mother Teresa journals surfaced, one inscription read, “….I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness, coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. (If I am) The Child of Your Love….you have thrown (me) away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no one to answer — no one on whom I can cling — no one. — Alone…”
Is it harder to walk this life alone, independent, and seemingly self-contained---then committing to the pain and sorrow brought by exploring and loving another? Or will we as humans always crave the love and closeness of another, whether we are celibate or not.