A Disabuse of Distance

“I feel like you’re the most attracted to me when I’m being distant,” they said. My mouth, agape, a wordless cave, no sound in the awe of truth. This person I’m seeing, they’re right. I see distance as a challenge, that if I win your love and affection, it affirms that I am worthy of those things. My life has been an unwinding trek in the past of most resistance to love. I write about love and have pathologized my experiences to a pulp, but the truth of the matter is that I am responsible for my own choices. And while they are unsurprising given how I learned love, I am responsible to change or accept what I become aware of.

An astrology book informed me that my Venus (the planet ruling love and romantic partnerships) is in Aries or “detriment”. Detriment means the station where the planet feels least comfortable. For the planet Venus, it feels least at home in Aries or Scorpio. Couple that with how my moon opposes my Venus– meaning that the 11th house (where my moon lives) is opposite my 5th house (where my Venus lives). Astrologists say this positioning increases my need for love. A famous example of this is Robin Williams. This is a mythic’s way of saying I crave love so much it physically hurts, and I am profoundly uncomfortable with that. It shouldn’t take stars or mysticism to heal some throbbing in my chest, but it does. It does because it is easier to read books and buy crystals and get tarot readings and rant to a deaf god about this than to, perhaps for the first time, acknowledge the emotional carnage of my childhood– how it douses the very way my heart moves.

I don’t write about my parents a lot. This is intentional. They are private people. While I leave these thoughts sprawling on the internet, it is unfair to drag them through that process. And I’d sooner be labeled a problem-ed child than hold them accountable through this medium. I’d rather break my heart than theirs. What I feel comfortable saying is that I learned love as a dangling carrot always out of reach. There was always someone more in need of it, more worthy. Second best was the best I could hope for, and how dare I fancy myself so grandiose as to be a priority in someone else’s life? Selfish, arrogant girl thinks she can inflate her importance to people!

My first language was distance, and I’ve never forgotten my native tongue. It’s the accent that echoes throughout my personal life. I relish platonic love because I believe it’s the best I can do. And physical intimacy was learned as an act of power and transaction. My body became a weight station people visited on their way home. I splintered what is normally found in a romantic relationship into bite sized pieces that have left me close to starving. But I constantly fear that any more of me than bite sized will overwhelm people. Or worse, I reveal all of me, and they flee. So I’ve casually dated and rarely invested my emotions or expectations into people. I’m independent! I’m a free spirit! And while those are true, I’m deeply protective of myself, and I view commitment and genuine closeness and a major liability. It drastically increases the odds of injury.

Last night, the words came to me, “It’s not that I don’t believe in soul mates, I just don’t think I have one… romantically. I don’t think the universe has that for me.” There was never a time I didn’t feel like a extra piece of a puzzle that doesn’t fit anywhere, a wayward sock without a mate. I tell myself it’s fine, and it is. I have incredible friends, and I love my family. I boldly seek the things in life that set my soul ablaze. But I settle with affection. And those who withhold it from me are the ones I find the most attractive because that’s what’s familiar.

Laverne Cox said that for a long time, she dated men who treated her terribly because they reflected how she felt about herself. I love me from the outside. I think I’m a good friend and sister and daughter and gym-goer. I work hard and can work a room with zest and cheer. But I also think I don’t deserve good things and don’t know how to keep them. I think I am a princess on the outside and a fire-breathing dragon on the inside, and I am still disabusing myself of my favorite past time– beating the mental shit out of myself. You wouldn’t recognize me by the way I talk to myself. And while it’s gotten way better, I just passed that burden off to my crushes. Because if I seek someone unavailable, then their rejection reinforces my existing beliefs about me.

I’m not writing this to punish myself. I’m doing it because if anyone, even someone I dislike, felt this way, I’d tell them it wasn’t true. I’d tell them to level up. And if I believe someone I don’t like deserves this, why don’t I? I don’t have to give someone all my words so they can rearrange them to spell “exit”. We are all a series of messy rooms hoping that someone will us and not judge the clutter. My mess (literal and figurative) isn’t a character flaw. It makes me human. I write that, but I don’t fully believe it yet. I write yet with hope, with conviction that I deserve better that what I’ve settled for saying “this is enough” even with the universe is prying it away from me. Like a child desperate for her parent to stay, I coil myself around the legs of people trying to leave. I bargain with the universe as it says, “Respect yourself as much as I respect you. Love you as much as I do. Some people are only subtracting space without adding value.”

Last weekend, I got a tarot reading. The first card the reader pulls is strength. She points, “this is you”. Feverishly, she doles out one card after another, “You’re going with the flow too much. You accept whatever is offered. ‘Oh this is fine. That is Fine.’ You’re good enough to choose. You don’t have to wave your hand in the air awaiting someone to pick you.” The cards keep flying into the geometric formations she whips through with finesse. Her lips squeeze tightly against each other in what probably is a performance of pensive thought. “I don’t get this in and out with you. You’re not living a life as big as you are, and it’s strange that other people recognize your strength more than you do.” Do I believe in psychics or astrology? No more than anything else. But even if I just paid an intuitive lady some money for life advice, I’ll take it. I do that with my therapist every other week! I know I’m stressing about this more than I need to, and it shouldn’t be this hard. It doesn’t have to be this hard. I always make things harder than they have to be.

I am still learning how to empty my hands enough to receive love. I’m trying to de-busy myself because busy is a distraction from doing the real work. And most of all, I am learning to be patient. Both with myself and this process. The “goal” of this work isn’t to find romantic love or be in a relationship. It’s to have an easier time living in my own head every day. Because I can do all these things, and still be self-partnered. That’s ok. I have a really great life as is. I’m happy and healthy and have things I never dreamed I would have– like an HBO Now subscription. This is not about the things I can’t control, but the things I can. The eroticism of distance is one of them so I am working on changing that.

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