laundry and loneliness

I was doing the dishes, my mind wandering as it often does in the circumstances, and I remembered a little incident from when I was about 13.

I was at my mom’s house (my parents were separated, soon to be divorced) and she said she thought it was time for me to learn how to do my own laundry. I was stricken; I may have cried. She dropped it.

I actually like doing laundry now. So what was that reaction about?

In recent years I’ve realised that I never felt like I had much emotional support from my parents, and they were both emotionally distant, though in different ways. Imagine that a baby’s parents are killed in a car accident leaving a child-free but dutiful aunt and uncle take on the responsibility of raising her. That was my childhood.

The laundry thing wasn’t about laundry; it was about my mom doing something as part of taking care of me and threatening (utterly without malice) to take away one of the few bits of support I had from her. It was about learning to be independent because no one else is going to help.

I guess I don’t often notice feeling lonely because lonely is my normal.

Dark Ages 8: I start to lose control

Towards the end of January and after a little over a year together, Bad Boy and I “took a break”, but I didn’t yet know that this break would be permanent. In fact, I was convinced that we would be getting back together within a couple of months. He had even proposed to me at one point and I had accepted, sort of. I don’t know why we took a break rather than just breaking up.

When I started dating, I brought low self-esteem, sexual shame, overdeveloped and misplaced loyalty, and a fairly foggy sense of self to what turned out to be a search for validation from guys. I’m sure I learned something from every guy I went out with — some lessons were easy and some were painful.

But the corrosive damage that Bad Boy brought to my life and my self-esteem is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced, either before or after. In the months following our split, I lost myself, and I’ve recently realized that I still haven’t completely healed.

A few weeks earlier, when Bad Boy and I were looking for someone to sell us some acid, I had met Badger. Within a day or two of splitting with Bad Boy, Badger and I got together. I remember very little about him beyond the fact that he was cute. We were together for three weeks, during which time we made out but never slept together.

I had some painful foot-in-mouth moments with him, including saying something like “When Bad Boy and I get back together…” As soon as it was out of my mouth, I knew I’d said something stupid (I still thought it was true, but I appreciated that it was probably hurtful). I broke up with him right before his birthday which was right around Valentine’s Day.

A week or two later, I went on a trip to a big city with my family, but ended up mostly doing my own thing. Apparently, my thing was looking for live music and acid. I’d asked an acquaintance at home if he knew where to score; he told me the name of a place, but no one there had heard of it and I wondered if he made up the name to fuck with me.

I went to a gig and met a German guy who was visiting. I joined him at his table and we hung out. He had found another club that was interesting and I agreed to go with him, and the thought occurred to me that going somewhere I’d never heard of with someone I’d just met was maybe not the best idea ever. But we got to the club and everything was fine — except that I felt out place because I wasn’t wearing head-to-toe black and was insufficiently bad-ass.

Later, I found a disreputable looking guy there (I assume I chose him because he was the scuzziest looking) and asked him if he knew where I could get some acid, and he said he’d hook me up and we made plans to meet. I turned up but he didn’t, which really was the best possible outcome.

German turned out to be completely OK, and we actually kept in touch for a couple of years though we never met up again.

Dark Ages 4: Small Town and a busy New Year’s Eve

I must have met Small Town in the fall of my first year of university; I don’t remember, nor do I remember much else about him either. I was interested in him because I was alone and he was interested in me. Even then, that seemed like a poor reason.

Small Town was about three years older than me, with a young and very unplanned child in his ex’s custody. He liked to go to the bar. (My first underage drink had been with Tall a few months earlier at a restaurant, and a little while later we got into a bar. Tall facilitated my meagre underage drinking but never had a drink himself; I got a mild buzz and felt like an idiot.) With Small Town, I got into the bar despite still being underage, drank and even enjoyed it a bit.

I slept with him a few times during our two months together. I wasn’t a virgin, and in a relationship you have sex, right? ‘Sex’ and ‘should’ again.

By the end of December, I was over it. Truthfully, I had never been into it in the first place. I stopped by his place early in the evening on New Year’s Eve, we had our talk, and I was a free agent in time for the parties that evening.

Party number 1 was at Buddy’s place. I had met Buddy a year or two earlier and we been friends for a few months. Eventually I figured out that he was interested in me, but for once I didn’t reciprocate at all. Still, he kept hanging around expectantly. At Buddy’s party, I met Dude. I enjoyed chatting with him, but it didn’t go anywhere.

At party number 2, I met Bad Boy. He was good looking, confident and flirty. I was hooked.

In the space of less than six hours, I had broken up with Small Town, missed or ignored two opportunities in the form of Buddy and Dude, and thought I’d made out well when I ran into Bad Boy. Little did I know the direction things would take from there…