I never felt complete without it. Ever since childhood, there were subtle encouragements, affirmations that I should feel that way. It was sanctioned, normalized... for a woman, at least. She could not feel complete and truly happy without a man by her side and romance in her heart. I became addicted to romance, but I saw it as a healthy addiction. It had positive outlets; love poems, stories, dreaming, crushes. No harm done, right? During my teenage dating phase, I always made sure I was with someone who claimed to love me back and treated me decently. It wasn’t until I fell in love with someone who didn’t love me back that it became a bad addiction; one that could hurt me. And it wasn’t until then that I became so thoroughly addicted that all of life without a hit (a glance, a conversation, a smile, a wayward hope) became washed out, dull, empty. Incomprehensible.
wrote much to describe it back then, but even though I was plumbing its
depths, in a way it was shallow, reflexive, animal obstinance. I was
convinced it was something high and lofty, expanding my spirit, touching
everything, giving me panoramic, bird’s-eye sky-sight of the whole
world. But it was also a contraction, a compression of the whole world
into a single person. Even my Self was lost in the crush of the
I felt it was the highest pursuit, the intensity of all of those love
poems and romantic stories finally made manifest in my own life. There was no better reason to be steadfast in suffering, and in my mind, I
could do nothing but
be steadfast and hold onto my feelings. They were a part of me. He was a
part of me; thoughts of the most random subject would eventually find
their way back to him; I had conversations with him in my mind. But when
these conversations occurred far more frequently than those in real
life, I felt depressed and worthless. I wasn’t loved in return because
it was difficult, perhaps impossible, for him to love me. Something was
wrong with me. I wasn’t interesting or confident or cool enough. I was
ashamed of who I was, yet addicted to what gave me that shame.
was fully aware of my state of addiction, but didn’t want to stop. It
was a test of my will, of the depth of my feelings; a way to prove that
my love of romance was not hypocritical, not counterfeit, not in vain. I
was addicted to both the experience of being in love and the
possibility of fulfilling it. Perhaps there could be some change, some
break in the cycle, some amazing victory. A moment where he understood,
he reciprocated in the same way.
The dream of that moment fueled my addiction.
I see that the Endless Mystery of His Feelings and Actions that I wrote
hundreds of pages about could be reduced to a single line of code. That
I was engaged in a struggle for which there could be no victory. I was consumed in masochistic reflection that
convinced me that my Self could be re-made if it was un-done; re-shaped
into someone who could get me what I wanted. But this only made my Self
assert itself even more, like a red stain soaking through a white metal
mesh screen of a bird’s cage as it flies against the sides and bleeds.