Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Wintereisse - farewell to 35
Last night I felt as if my chest had broken open. The silent and continuous flow of tears of the past month came pouring out as large wailing sobs. Slightly muffled by my pillow but consumed more but the icy darkness around me. So much fucking sadness. Grief sitting on my chest like some evil demon, sinking it’s claws inside, sucking out my will for life and making me earnestly wishing I was dead.
After lying and sobbing silently for about an hour, I decided that my preferred mode of suicide would be to drop a hairdryer into the bath. Since I don’t own a hairdryer and currently have no access to a bathtub this seemed reasonably remote to indulge in as an anaesthetic fantasy of self obliteration. I’ve got a few ethical objections to suicide, mainly involving anticipating the pain of other’s around me. I don’t feel I have the right to cause anyone the terrible pain of grief. So, Hellish as it is, I acquiesce to continue living.
This heart, this broken aching heart is hell. I’m sick of tears stinging my eyes, and I can’t believe that I’m in this much pain. I’m curious about how emotional pain gets psychosomatically located in this strange lump in my chest. I wish I could freeze out this pain. Grow up, get over it and move on. Focus on my work, be a good serious, self contained proto-doctor, not this pathetic undershit, weeping over someone who simply isn’t worth it.
So today I happily acquiesced to Heli’s suggestion that we go and plunge ourselves into a hole cut into the ice of a frozen lake. It is less extreme than it sounds. The hole is right next to a sauna, and today the weather was well above zero (ok mainly only 5 or 6 degrees by 5pm, but she’s gone there in minus 20). I fantasized about the cold waters cauterising my heartbreak, providing some sort of shock to jolt me out of the miasma of grief. And I’d never say no to a sauna.
The first time I happily screamed and laughed aloud at the icy shock on my feet, my legs, my torso as I descended in, and quickly emerged (they have a stairwell into the hole). And, back in the sauna, I enjoyed the round of applause from the stoic elderly ladies, politely impressed at my feat of tourist bravado. The second time, I tried to allow myself to sense what it felt like. The terror as my feet and legs went numb, combined with the sheer thrill of the cold as I resisted the urge to leap off the stairwell and swim around in the hole. Then the strange rush of my blood thickening. Blood thickening – is something I’ve always associated with the cold rush of a dead sweaty panic. Icy emotional stabs from small instances of heartbreak, disappointment, shock. So often I’ve felt my blood runs cold when I sit and numbly grunt at some nasty little shock revelation of betrayal or hurt or absence, but it was nothing like this. I could feel my capillaries contract, felt a really funny internal rush that almost made me swoon. But I didn’t swoon, and remained upright, sensing the weirdness of the cold, the liquid on my skin. Then I raced up the stairs, and stood around – in a strange hysterical high. Such happy numbness, no, not numbness, something else.
My heart is no where near healed, but I’m less of a mess than last night. And my old emotional reflexes seem to be kicking in at last. I hate the consort. Maybe I should hate Abel too, but the consort is an easy target. Because I wanted out, but didn’t think I’d feel this way, because I thought it was desire and not love, because it was seven months and not seven years, because he confused me every step of the way, because he’s a man and I never thought a man would ever hurt me this much (again).
Maybe the latter is the more important point. I always associate heartbreak with women – which certainly sounds more romantic than weeping over a man, but there’s something deeper. When I think back over a lifetime’s habit of coldly describing injuries done to me by men; emotional abuse, betrayal, sexual abuse, coldness, coerced sex, general nastiness, drunken date rape and sexual rejection, I wonder why I haven’t been able to articulate this as a personal injury, but I’ve either theorised it or turned it into some tidy little narrative, where I seem to vanish. I think vanishing is part of the point, and probably explains why such incidences are so annihilating, and why all I want to do afterwards is annihilate myself. To vanish, disappear, feel nothing, say nothing, do nothing, to sink into a hole an never emerge. To be mired, silent in my own deathly misery.
Part of my loves the bullshit in break-ups. The eternal line “oh, yes, we’ll still be friends, of course we’ll be friends, I still love you and always will”. I’m glad I’ve lived long enough to know what a total crock of shit that is. Despite many attempts and experiments at this particular project, I am not good friends with any of my exes. We’re civil, and some of us can even socialise – but the end of a relationship is exactly that. It’s a defeat, a failure, a termination. The memories remain, but the future trajectory is over. And I don’t think it is really possible to remain good friends with someone who has caused or does cause you a lot of pain, unless you’re a masochist, which I’m more reluctant to be lately.
This trajectory of musings came from another silent little bout of tears tonight. I was musing on the feminine grace of the consort, which is what attracted me in the first place. He’s one of the faggiest men I’ve ever met, and a big part of me was convinced he was gay, but repressed – but given my own circumstances, I’m assuming there was a fair amount of self projection involved. But he was and is, incredibly, beautifully and exquisitely feminine, and yet strangely masculine as well. I know I was intensely attracted to the sheer queerness of someone so camp, prissy and girly being able to nail me to the floor with his phallus. But there was something deeper than the thrill of being fucked by a femme, because I’ve been fucked by dildo wielding femme dykes, and enjoyed the odd brief foray into flipping butches too. And I think it was the last deep gasp of my own masochism.
There’s nothing queer about heterosexuality – particularly when the roles within the relationship are so fixed. And between mayhem and consort, the roles were fixed. He, and older man, definitely wore the pants, sex only happened when he wanted it too, and it happened on his terms, where he was the active partner and me the passive. I hadn’t been that passive (not even with a man) since nineteen eighty something, and intensely enjoyed the experience. But for me, what was a fleeting intimate opening into softness, passivity and trust, was and is something entirely different within heteronormativity. I think all of the consort’s exes have been upwardly mobile, middle class, intelligent women. Professional socialised butches of the straight world to his own faffing femininity. But whatever the social roles, the sexual union maintains his own subjective position as a man, even reinforcing it. I had a strong sense that the consort gets off on ‘flipping’ dominant women, and this is one of the reasons why he isn’t gay. His femininity is a ruse, a disarming seduction, a play, and a delightfully queer one at that. Kind of.
What cannot be queer in such an encounter – is that he, socially, ostensibly is a heterosexual man, and the bearer of both subjectivities. Kristeva’s argument that men can bear the symbolic values of the feminine and the masculine, but women can only ever transvestise ourselves is a timely reminder of this paradox. Men are imbued with an internal subjectivity, that of masculinity, at their core. Women aren’t, at least not when we start messing with the phallus. My own exquisite delight at being fucked, being filled with a penis – was a delight at being filled with the phallus, at collapsing myself into a skin, a layer, a shallow carapace for this cultural figment. I wasn’t even ‘feminine’ in this, merely a part-object, an embellishment of another object. The play of seduction, he was feminine, insisting on pursuing and seducing me, and expressing disdain or aversion if I tried the same trick in return. This hurt a lot, but also contributed to my feelings of ‘victory’ when I could finally feel him inside me. For him – I guess the victory was in seducing a top, in having a profoundly articulate dyke begging for his cock, in taking my arm and walking down king street, remapping my very queer cruising grounds as a coupled heterosexist space. I’ve got no doubt about his investment in heterosexuality as a social institution. I have written and workshopped bisexuality for over a decade, but that doesn’t help my feelings of internal betrayal in allowing this to happen. Part of me was intrigued by this remapping, this strolling, this remarking of the territories crossed and recrossed by Abel and I, in the arms of another, entirely different body. Part of me delighted in the sheer queerness of it, and It felt very queer to me, but not in the right way. Becoming the human condom, was a delight, a vertiginous delight of descent, away from myself, from my own subjectivity, and my own confusion. But I feel hollow, hellish and bereft as a result.
I wish I was tougher. I wish I was immune to men, and wanting to be desired and loved by them. I wish I didn’t long for a rapprochement and healing of my own ancient wounds of love and betrayal and loss for the deadmen in my biofamily. I wish, that by cutting my hair and swaggering around grinning at girls and occasionally fucking them, that I could immunise myself against this hurt. This immense stupidity of my own vulnerability, as a woman, as something inscribed as ‘lacking’ in relation to men, that makes any meaningful relationship with them, literally impossible.
I feel weird writing this - and putting it up for the world - and the consort to read. for every paragraph of what seems like impossible bile here - i have 10 tear sodden ink pages scratched out ink bic biro at desperate hours of the night - or the day. sometimes living is total total hell, and I write because to not write means that I suffocate. Maybe one day I'll feel less hurt, less scared, less sad, less fucking bitter. At the moment my hatred, my fury, my frustration is the only thing getting me out of bed each day. that tiny little fire in my belly, stopping me from freezing completely.
It’s not all bad. Reading velvet park, I came across an article about the confusing challenges to health care provision in san fran – generated by the proliferation of transgenderism. Lots of FTM’s are fucking gayboys, or straight girls, or MTF’s, or queer girls, and vice versa. Reading this I imagined a utopia where gender binaries cannot exist – and have been queered out of existence. I image a utopia where gender doesn’t matter – and can be changed like a set of underwear or drag outfits, and where genitalia are freed from the constraints of gender, or sociality, of subjectivity and can salaciously stroll across open fields of lusty willing flesh. Then I regret sending my wonderwand home.