Saturday, 5 February 2011

Trouble or loneliness?

So, dear reader, I am alone again, naturally.

(Notum bear-eh: I say alone, but really, that is pretty unfair on my lovely friends, who would never leave me alone. I am very lucky to have the best friends a girl could possibly ask for. Elaine, Millena, James, Kaye, Rachel, Jen, Rosch… I would be sunk without you lot, so props and mad skills and all of that stuff, and sorry that I’m always, always whinging.)

Bits of last year – because of true love - were the happiest of my life. Other bits were a horrendous, tangled web of romantic nonsense, which hurt my head, my heart and my stomach, and which have chewed me up and spat me out and left me stranded on the shore of misery like Kevin Costner at the beginning of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, minus the terrible accent. I had the most lovely, beautiful, wonderful, kind and sweet relationship of my life, which had to end for reasons that I know are good but which I’m still railing against on a daily basis.

I feel like I must be way too old for this kind of stuff now. Heartbreak suits teenagers, even 20-somethings can get away with it. I’m nearly 35 now, middle-aged by Biblical standards, and this look is getting a bit old. I fear I am becoming ridiculous. I can see some of my mates rolling their eyes at Johanna and her latest romantic escapade, fondly, to be sure, the way parents roll their eyes at errant teens who are freshly in love twice a week – but still it stings like lemon on a paper cut, and still it makes me wince. No-one wants to feel ridiculous.

See, the thing is, for most of my grown up life, I’ve wanted the thing that proper feminists aren’t supposed to want – the thing it seems shameful to admit. I’ve wanted to be in a relationship. Fuck it, let’s be honest… I’ve wanted to get married. I want my happy ever after. Don’t we all? (Really, that’s a genuine question – don’t we?) It’s not that I don’t feel complete without a man (she protests too much, perhaps). I have a life, I have a job, I have friends, I’m perfectly capable of ferrying myself home at the end of a night without wanting to slit my wrists from the loneliness. But when I am in a relationship that’s working, I am happier. I love having someone to share things with. I love getting messages from someone who makes me feel special. I love being able to spoil someone I love. Is that really so wrong? Do I have to give back my Cynthia Heimel books now?

But… of course… when I’m in a relationship that isn’t working – as all relationships inevitably don’t, after a while – that’s when I’m at my most miserable. Well, that, and when the relationships come crashing to an end. I hate feeling like my emotions can be controlled by other people that easily, and I hate feeling so trivial, that the main things that make me so miserable, or so happy, are affairs of the heart. Shouldn’t I have that aspect of my life under control, in some way at least, by now? Shouldn’t intellectual and political and charitable things play more of a leading role in my emotional life? But then, at the end of the day, what is more important than our connections with other people? Not much, really. So maybe I should stop beating myself up about it.

I’ve found myself wondering recently if it’s me. Do I set my standards too high with what I expect from relationships? I feel as if – apologies, ex-boyfriend – I am constantly being let down by men. And I like to think it’s pretty rare that a person feels let down by me. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but I don’t think so. Relationships – and by that I mean with everyone, not just with men – are the most important thing in my life. That’s why I do everything I do, because, for all my Sartre-esque posturing, I love people and am fascinated by them and I want to understand them and be good to them. True, I’m terrified of talking to them when I don’t know them, and tend to turn that into a joke (a joke I take way too seriously) about how I don’t want to talk to people anyway cos they all suck… and that is a stumbling block, but still…

My interest in people is why I love psychology, it’s why I’m a counsellor, it’s why I work hard to be a good friend and to be welcoming on the board I post on, it’s why, when I’m in a relationship, I try to be the best girlfriend I could possibly be. I don’t understand why other people aren’t the same. Why other things seem more important to them. It baffles me and I keep not being able to believe it, no matter how many times I encounter it.

Sometimes I think I’m sane and it’s everyone else who is flaky and useless and sub-standard. And other times I think I’m most probably a scary, demanding bitch who people are lucky to have run screaming from. Perhaps what I want from a relationship doesn’t come from a place of generous sanity – perhaps it comes from insecurity and a desperate, pathetic need to make everyone – anyone - like me.

But then I always end up thinking – so what if I have got high standards? I really think I would rather be alone than have to compromise over the things that I think are basic decency and sense. I may change my mind about that at some point in the future, but for now, I’m comfortable with that. As Chandler once said to Monica – you may be high maintenance, but I like… maintaining you. Ok, so I’m currently maintaining myself (minds out the gutter, boys), but the fact remains that I don’t see high maintenance as the dirty words that others seem too. And – again with the protesting too much – I think I’m actually a lot more chilled than I may come across as being at times. Who knows.

I wrote a couple of big, posturing blogs last year about how I was going to take a year off men. And I really did mean it, though it didn’t work out that way – something I am very glad of. I’m wary of making another such promise as I’m in no rush to make myself look that daft again. But I do feel like something has changed in me, at least for the time being. I could not be less interested in men at the moment. My current life is jam-packed full, and safe, and quiet, and that is a real relief to me right now.

Things are ok, mostly. I go to uni and work on Mondays, I work on Tuesdays, I have uni Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, I work Saturdays. I go to yoga Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I try to go to the gym once more than that every week. I might go out on a Saturday night, and I do my best to make sure I can spend Sundays on the sofa with my home girl. It’s quiet and nice and there’s no complications in my head. It’s a little boring at times, and there are quite a lot of evenings when I find myself crying, a lot. But at least it’s not hard emotional work.

So it seems that, as far as romance goes, there are two options: trouble, or loneliness. I’m not sure which is better; I’m not sure which is worse. For now, though, I am going to stay inside my house and lick my wounds. More updates as and when, I’m sure.


  1. well I love you just the way you are, and I'm sure someone out there wants to have that privilege too.

    Keep writing, Keep loving, and keep looking :-D

    x x

  2. Life is always a work in progress, a friend told me. Keep going Jo!

  3. I like your site. Thanks! Here is a true story of mine in return.

    Lisa Nicole Lopes had premonitions about her own death, but she wasn't able to avoid it, despite the early warnings. I feel that I can relate to her, but I dealt with similar suspicions (of my own) differently than she did and I, unlike her, am here to tell you what I did to survive my first encounter with The Reaper.

    Lisa Lopes was better known as Left Eye (a nickname that a boyfriend gave her because he said that her left eye was lazy). She was one of three singers in the 80's band TLC. Her premonitions about her own death and subsequent untimely demise are well documented, because Lisa and a crew were filming a documentary in Honduras during the time. Left Eye Lopes spoke on film about her omen, and again after a car that she was riding in had run over and killed a young boy. She lamented that the spirit that killed the boy was actually aiming for her but had missed.

    Lopes paid for the little boy's funeral and did what she could to comfort the lost lad's family. Apparently Left Eye was right about the spirit that haunted her, because a month after the boy's death, Lopes died in a car crash (in Honduras). This time she was driving. Lisa was the only one in the vehicle that was wearing a seat-belt, but she died... and everyone else survived.

    After hearing a story like this, some would say that it was Lisa's time, and that there wasn't anything that she could do to avoid it. Had I not gone through a similar situation, I might agree. But since I did, I don't.

    There was a time when I felt like (my) death was close to me. I ignored the eery feelings for awhile, chocking them up to pessimism, but eventually I faced the strengthening force, first by admitting to my self that it existed. Left Eye got this far, but recognizing spirits isn't rocket science for god's sake. You have to fight shit like this, not freeze like a deer caught in the headlights!


    It was 1986 and I was in Davenport, Iowa, when I finally decided to face the Reaper before he faced me. Since the Reaper has no face, I'm speaking figuratively.
    I was sitting on a bar stool when a fellow came in asking if anyone wanted to get a tattoo. We chatted, and before too long I was the customer that he was looking for. We left the bar and went to a little garage space that he tattooed out of. The scene was totally unprofessional, as far as tattoo shops go, but since I was a carny (carnival guy) it wasn't anything new to me. I stopped the artist from apologizing for the place and we got down to the business of picking something out to tattoo on me.

    There wasn't a lot to choose from, no walls of colorful flash or volumes of designs just a single, thinly filled, loose leaf binder. Having never wanted a skull tattoo, I surprised myself by selecting one with a black rose between it's teeth. "That's the Black Rose Of Death tattoo," the needler told me. "Perfect," I proclaimed! "It's just what I need to fight the reaper. Put it on my left arm where I can keep my eye on him.¨

    I believe that the left represents the spiritual side and the right represents the physical side, so my tattoos are placed accordingly. One month later, in Chicago, I was stabbed (in the heart and stomach) to death. The doctor that saved me, said that I have a new birthday and... I still have that tattoo, too.

  4. To the spiritual hobo - I'm glad you like my site. And thanks for your story - hurrah for the healing power of tattoos! Am glad you survived.