Thursday, 13 November 2014

Saved By Dysfunction

So why do I think that you’re not supposed to marry them?

Some men are born bachelors, some achieve it, and 40% have it thrust back upon them by the divorce courts within 20 years. I was born that way. It really is that simple.

Other people like to shame us bachelors-by-birth-or-choice with an endless stream of guilt-trips: I’m scared to commit; I can’t be open and vulnerable; I’m selfish / self-centered / narcissistic / adolescent / insecure; I can’t handle a real woman; I’ve been hurt and won’t get over it / move on; I think there’s going to be better offer tomorrow; I can’t trust; I’m scared of rejection; I’m frightened of taking a risk; and lack the faith that I / we could Make It Work and wouldn’t Just Be Another Divorce Statistic. In the Bad Old Days, I even heard veiled suggestions that I was gay - but that kinda rolled off my back like a duck.

While I share the views of many writers in the Manosphere about the issues involved in dealing with women, those are more like reasons other guys should be cautious. For me, being single is prior to all that stuff. It feels genetic: I’ve always been a Bachelor Boy. It’s got nothing to do with trust, or experience, or not meeting the right woman, or any other cliche. It’s as fundamental as the way I grok philosophy and logic: it’s not something I worked at, like my deadlift, it’s something I discovered I could just do. I can do single.

Some men can do single but still spend a while married. Then they get the divorce papers, find themselves strangely neutral about it, return to their natural bachelor state and live happily ever after. Why wasn’t I one of those men?

I did dating (“relationships” would be far too strong a word) because that’s what I was supposed to do - like going to work and paying taxes - not because I got some kind of good feeling. I was going through motions I didn’t really understand. Even sex, which I knew I was supposed to be doing, and learned how to do better. (Don’t do that: it turns it into work.) Look, I’m having sex, this must be a real life. The sex was real, but the life wasn’t.

I was swamped by the pain and emptiness of the whole ACoA / Alcoholic thing, which filters and distorts every other emotion and motive. “Nothing makes it all better again”. (I’m convinced that The Craft was originally a film about heroin that got re-written as a witchcraft story.) Nobody and nothing can ease that pain, and nobody and nothing could make me feel as if I belonged. That empty feeling never goes away, though it gets easier to ignore. Many things can make it worse, but nothing and nobody can make it better. Drugs, sex, cuddles, sharing, hobbies and booze are anaesthetics, not cures. Imagine living Meteora every day of your life.

This sabotaged every relationship I had with anybody and anything. I was really using them to make me feel better, not for any mutual-benefit stuff, which is what relationships are supposed to be about. Nobody could give me what I needed, which was blessed relief from that pain and a sense of belonging somewhere with someone, and which is an impossible need for anyone to meet. My socialising was driven by the need to keep up appearances: look, I’m having supper with someone, this must be a real life. I got drunk while doing it, and that was a temporary distraction. Women didn't make it better, but added to the list of things I had to deal with. They made sex possible, and sometimes sex was a time-out. Not always.

I realise now that I was saved from a horrible fate by all that dysfunction. Because it was impossible for anyone to give me what I needed emotionally, and because I made the mistake of getting good-enough at sex, I was never going to feel as if any of them was a Special Someone who made my Life Feel Complete and with whom sex was something I really, really wanted to go back for more of. I wanted there to be someone like that, so I could stop hurting, but there can’t be, and dysfunctions aren’t easily fooled, so I as always going to be… underwhelmed. If they did stick around for any time, they quickly discovered I wasn’t who they had fantasised me to be, and though the phrase didn’t exist then, usually departed with “you’re so not who I thought you were”. The closest I may have come to how regular guys feel was the LTR in my late 40’s, the one both of us stayed in for way too long, and the closest I ever came to Beta thinking and behaviour, was after that pain from the dysfunction receded, partly from sobriety and the 12-Step program. Fortunately, my Inner Bachelor kicked in and got us both out of relationship that was doing neither of us any good.

But none of that was why I didn’t get married. There are plenty of messed-up ACoA’s, co-dependents and generalised screw-ups, who are in messed-up marriages. (It’s a trap needy people can fall into: attach themselves to the first person who shows any signs of loving and caring for them.) I just knew it was something one should not do, the same way a sensible person eats their first Big Mac and knows not to have another. The same way anyone knows not to jump from tenth-story windows, or that snarling dogs should be left alone. These are things your body knows, not your brain.

If you don’t understand, you’re not a born bachelor.

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