The Damkeeper and the Baker

The dull ache that had made itself home in my chest was heavier than usual. With every breath and exhalation it tightened a bit more, constricting itself, adjusting its dense body and making itself a little more comfortable in the nook surrounding my heart. It was alive and it grew, just the same way any ‘thing’ that was alive grew. It needed the same essential ingredients for its survival, which I, though unwilling was bound to keep feeding. I convinced myself I could, at times, hear its hoarse rattling breathing when i stilled my own. It came from deep within; a low grumble, a tremor that I could feel like a shudder through my bones. Slight it may have been, but ever present. It had become a part of my existence, a weight I had to bear with every waking moment. The ache in my chest was like a living lump of coal that I had swallowed years ago that had lodged itself inside me, getting heavier and heavier as the days passed tethered to my heart and living off my grief.

What was the word for a form of love that was willingly given, but not returned? Like a cupcake freshly baked and warm out of the oven, it was made of chocolate with gooey melted chunks of rich goodness inside. It was decorated with a swirl of pink strawberry cream with a casual handful of sprinkles thrown on top. The baker had made these with her heart full, each one a little insight into what was felt inside, for someone. At first, he had taken them gladly, he had savored the warmth and gave smiles in payment. That was enough, at first. His smiles sent sunshine into the darkest of places and sent molten gold bubbling to the surface. His smiles spread smiles to her face, and those moments were enough to keep her heart full. But as time went by, the smiles slowly turned into passing comments; conversation which once flowed easily and smoothly like a river of crystal clear water downstream over the ease of polished smooth boulders allowing transparency into the depths underneath, had slowed down to a trickle of muddy water in damp, cold, wet sand and a desperate thirst hanging in the air. It was as if he had built a wall, a dam, across the river.

She had seen him carrying the bricks but had refused to believe he would ever complete it. ‘I’ had refused to believe that he wanted to, I wanted to believe that his indifference was only skin deep, and that he was good inside to appreciate a person who cared for him so much. Reassurance in our friendship was not something I ever received. And the smiles that never came anymore were replaced by silence. I could not bake any more cupcakes, when I didn’t know whether he even liked them anymore. Maybe the chocolate was too rich, or the cream was too sweet or just that maybe, he had had too many to eat these past few months.

I could only speculate the reasons, though they kept me up at night. The silence was deafening, and in a moment like this is when the Ache had creeped in. It had come silently, one night, starting off as a little cold pebble picked up from he riverbed as the water had started receding. I hadn’t thought too much of it at first, the hope that things will get better was still too fresh and continued to bake. The pebble had found itself a place inside me, and as the months went by, and though the cakes went unreceived, I never even knew if he took a bite out of the last ones I had sent. The pebble had grown, become harder and coarser inside, a living thing with its tail wrapped around my heart. It was heavy, an overwhelming weight in my chest, aching for its thirst to be quenched.

But the dam seemed shut, its walls even too hight to climb and peek over, and there was nothing I could do but sit on its shores and wait until a time when the Damkeeper might let his walls down, quietly longing for a small piece of cake because after all, the cake had been a small yet secret indulgence in his life. I didn’t know if that day would ever come, it was all but a fantasy in my mind, a wishful dream that he even felt the slightest bit of affection for my being. He acknowledged my existence, yes, but I could be nothing more than a face in a crowded bar with whom he nods the cordial hello, or passes a quick amicable hug. But his attention lasts only a few minutes as if he on purpose moves on to the next person in passing. Politeness, should not be mistaken for kindness?

Sunny side up, or Paranoia-over-easy?

There is no escape from the gripping clutches of insecurity. It shadows over you like an eclipse blocking out the light of the sun, wiping away your smiles and laughter within moments. Huge and ominous flying machines cover the sky in your line of sight, foreshadowing the fields of green and turning them into barren wastelands. It only takes one word, one misplaced thought, one drop of ink in your cup of gold and it spreads with veiny, twisted urgency blackening the view out of your rose coloured glasses. The plains were covered in ashen downpour, darkening mist looming over the horizon, there was no sun shining where you stood anymore. It was getting hard to breathe.

Its grip on your chest tightens with every breath you let out, you suffocate in your own irrational thoughts, your brain swirling in a vortex of unrealistic conclusions. You sit in a whirlpool of despair, going over the same fears in your mind a million times, and you begin to question your reality, your relationships, your friendships. You find yourself waist deep in a river of grey matter slime, it sticking to your arms and legs as you struggle to wade through it to the other side.

Your thoughts have become twisted and thorny, tangling themselves up in your brain resisting your every urge to rationalize them. Devious thoughts that were ready to harm your relationships with the people you cared about the most. Lashing thoughts like whiplashes made of double sided blades that was ready to slice the people you loved to pieces. Malicious thoughts that wanted to mutilate your own heart and watch you break, and weep mercilessly into the abyss. Paranoid delusions that created scenarios of exchanges between a best friend and Him; you saw they way he looked at her, she was far more beautiful, and far less in need of your affections. Would they like each other more than they loved you? Why was he ignoring you; why were you left hanging with those two little blue checks for proof of his evasiveness? Had he got tired of your attention, or did he just need some space? Were your friends lying to you, were they conspiring against you, with their heads together, speaking in low voices? Covering up a web of deceit spun in a invisible thread that you felt caught in? The more you struggled to get out of it the more you got entangled in its wires. You irrevocably damaged mind was rearing you up for slaughter, sending you like a bull to its death. Almost like it relished the agony it caused you when it fed you these nightmares.

It was your own mind, fabricating this destructive web, getting your own self trapped in a maze with no way out, each turn leading to a dead end, ending with a painful death each worse than the last. You run blindly feeling your way through this maze, unaware that it is your own mind that is playing the role of the cruel puppet master.

You toss and turn, sending out consistently more erratic feelings and thoughts like rattling pulses out into the universe. You urge with all the hope in your heart for some reassurance, from him, from yourself. You cannot let yourself be submerged in this sticky depraved misery, for that is when you lose your sanity. Knowing in your heart that you loved and trusted all these people, and that they would never deliberately hurt you, gives you a flutter of hope for yourself.

It was the fear of loving someone, and the insecurity of dealing with betrayal in past incidences recurring that made you so irreparably afraid. But could you trust your own instincts, could you trust yourself to even know whether the attachment you felt to deeply for this person was even worth all the struggle to cross the river of muck to the shores of reality on the other side? You look down and you realize that it was the attachment itself that was what you were stuck in, clinging to your body and creeping in to every crevice, holding on to your skin. But you did not need to struggle against it, because you could ease yourself into it and it would embrace you, and you might find yourself in quiet appreciation of being immersed in it…

 

 

 

Boyfriends with Girlfriends.

Why do you fall in love with every new man you find interesting? And why do you only find interesting the men who do not, or could not, give you anything in return?

Ones who made excuses when you asked them to spend time with you, between the ‘yeah, sure lets hang soon’s and ‘oh sorry, i’m busy’s, you never knew if any of these responses were real or just conversation fillers that bought you extra time, to delay the inevitable conclusion to our relationships.

You always started with a spark with these men, an initial attraction, your eyes locked for a split second that felt like forever and a fire stirred inside your stomach as you gazed in embrace. The spark lasted for a few weeks, maybe a month at most, while you broke down the barriers through casual exchange in texts because you did not believe in sexual intimacy without a connection. The text talking was what you were most comfortable with, it allowed for distance, without letting down any of your barriers. You could control what you said, gave you space to plan your sentences. But eventually the cracks start to appear, after a few real-life meetings you start to get attached, form a fictional relationship with this person, formulating made up scenarios and ideals of what could be possible. You let on too much, you go from being interesting and ‘fun’ to talk to, to being slightly needy and too comfortable.

This is the moment these men raise their ears to the sounds of my text beeping, alert in the forest like a wary deer, they stand still in the shadows hoping they won’t be seen by my searching eyes. They moment I get too close they make a run for it, escape. Sometimes gradually, slowly cutting down their responses to one word answers, until eventually you get me to admit that it’s not going to happen anymore.

And this is when I want them the most, my aching heart has been set alight with smouldering embers, quietly turning the remains of my heart to a blackened char. The less you want me, the more I want you. The less attention you pay me, the more I need to be seen. To be heard, and my grip grows slightly tighter with every passing day because I do not want to lose the possibility of all the things I had imagined for us, what we could have done, could have said, could have seen and felt if he disappeared.

You had a connection, yes, but it was fleeting, never meant to last. Why? It may not have been the right time, or place in the cosmos. These men always had other distractions, they were not looking directly at you, their attention was elsewhere with someone else. You were just temporary, something interesting to talk to for a moment and pretty to look at that made them feel good about themselves, while they wiled their time away on their others. It was unfair. And yet it happened every single time, over and over again like an old clock that would not stop ticking in place, stuck in its minute little loop.

They were all in love with someone else. And here I was once again stuck inside the broken clock where time stood still.

Uploading Attachments

NETWORK CONNECTION ERROR.

The server is not responding. Uploads have failed to attach. System failure, malfunction alert, operating system crashing…

REBOOT.

. . .

Restarting your machine may take longer than expected, after all yours is a complex sentient machine. You have to process the data loss and re-evaluate the update.

You may not have realized at the time you began your connection that it was something you wanted to be a lasting feeling. You thought then, that it was just a mutual ‘coalition’ with an air of breezy romance coupled with flirtatious passing comments. Nonetheless, aura of new relationships never fails to excite you; though you may deep in your heart know that you do not have the patience to nurse this long and grueling process, so it may not even pass the initial stage of stolen glances, flurried touches, and butterflies tingling in your stomach, you still find yourself utterly disappointed when you realize the attachment you had been trying to upload has failed.

You find yourself questioning whether you acted too fast, if you made your move too soon? You obsess in spiraling roundabouts of confusion whether it was your inability to wait, to delay the inevitable climactic encounter that would ultimately impact, either with smiles or with sadness, the course of the continuation of your relationship. You look behind you at the road taken, and you are certain that it was not just your own conviction, but rather a reciprocated eagerness to partake in the kairos. So how could it be your fault that the server was not responding. Clearly there had been some kind of unforeseen malfunction, an underlying unmentioned dormant virus, laying beneath the surface waiting for the opportune moment to make itself shown, crashing the server completely.

The virus now had complete hold of the server, there was no way through its firewalls so high that you could not find a way to reach in and reconnect. No matter how you tried, the virus just kept sending in advanced defense mechanisms, the walls got higher, thicker and more and more distant until all connection to the server flatlined.

Your attachments, now fell crashing down. The crash caused more damage to the operating system than expected. You stand there at the foot of its pile of broken feelings, watching the integrity of the system failing around you, pieces falling out of the very floor you stand on, the sky slowly blacking out pixel by pixel, rejection and regret filling in those empty black squares one after another until you are wholly consumed by its sticky dark glue of self-depreciation.

You also understand that though you may have entered into this chaotic simulation with mild intention, a subconscious urge for a fulfilling human connection, had found some eager feeling ready to formulate themselves into a solid program, and you may have developed a sense of blind hope in a glimpse of a possible future. Yet now, while you struggle in the solitary confinement of your own mind, you stare at your demons in the eye facing the dark shadow of what might have been. They ask you why you are just SO unlucky in love? What is it about you that makes you crave a deep affection so profoundly and yet despise the process of its creation so intensely? You wonder whether to blame only yourself in the mistakes of your past relationships, or were your choices mere reflections of an effect after a cause out of the world around you.

Your next step is to upgrade your system, with a stronger antivirus protection, and solid core stability. This update may take months or maybe years to fully complete. Yet you must decide whether updating to an abstinence program would benefit the system’s capacity for forming real personal connections in the future? and would it be worth it in the end?

‘I can’t fix your broken heart’

“I can’t fix your broken heart…” he said, as he ungripped himself from my embrace. Shifting his arm from beneath mine and unlocking his legs entangled in my own, he got up from the bed. As I lay there, clutching the sheets closer to fill up the void he left behind. It was not his fault, I knew. Nobody could fix my broken heart, and he was not the one that broke it in the first place; but I had broken his, years ago.

So maybe the pain I felt now, as I lay huddled in the blankets, pretending to be sleeping, was what I deserved for the mistakes I made in the past. The feeling of being abandoned at the bottom of a deep well, wet and cold all around and the walls so close on every side…You look up and the light is only a small disc in the distance, fading in the dusk. Holding in my tears, allowing the light to completely disappear. Was what I wanted just a stolen moment to feel that deep sense of comfort in the arms of someone familiar, in the wake of the rejection I had faced only a few days ago? Or was it that I was feeling regret in ever letting go in the first place, and I wanted reassurance of the idea that I still exist for you too?

Maybe it was a little bit of both. It was strange business, to be close friends with your ex. Whose newfound happiness in finding himself a new person, who excites him, makes him smile and feel good about life with; makes you so bitter and cynical. I was feeling raw, exposed, vulnerable already. Sore hearted, heavy hearted, after knowing that someone I cared for, did not have the capacity to care for me in the same way. I found myself asking him personal questions, inquisitive, to mask my own sorrow.

“I have never felt happier in my life, with anybody else” he said.

The only words that rung in my ears that night, through a haze of drunkenness, we had talked, argued and I had flung my emotions out, yet they had not dried. Am I resentful that you are happy? Happier than you had been with me? Or was I offended that you had not considered my feelings when you raucously exclaimed of your current exuberant state of existence?… Either way, the words stayed with me, along with a sharp clinging painful fishhook in my heart, a memory of how it felt to lie with you, to feel that closeness again for a moment in time. Just a reminder, that I needed something, or someone, I did not know. Was it your embrace that I crave, or just the idea of your comfort? Am I bitter because I am jealous? Or is it because I do not know whether I could be happy?

I fall in love with people whom I know will not return it, ever indulging the cycle of heartbreak, like a necessary drug. And having pushed you away years before, the only one who deserved the love I should have given, I lie in a pool of self pity and stew in regret, wondering whether it was always a mistake to have let you go…

I hover like a dark cloud.

 

The Fear of Love

There is a fear; a dark, cold, haunting shadow of a being that walks one step behind your every move. It hovers over your shoulder, ever present. It hides, just out of sight, yet always there lurking behind you, waiting for a moment to make its presence known. So that it can come creeping up close to you, with its ice cold, clammy fingers reaching up around your neck, whispering things into your ear. Things that make your throat close up, your heart feel heavy in your chest, your lungs fill up with harsh cold air, and you can feel your heart struggling to beat suspended in a chasm that is your breast.

Once this Fear takes hold of you, it merges itself onto your body. It thrives off of your loneliness and feeds irrational thoughts into your brain. The fear of being unworthy, of loss and heartbreak, of isolation and most of the fear of pain.

For years you’ve cowered away from letting anyone get close to you, because of your fear of the pain from your past. Despite so desperately wanting to love, and be loved in return, are you really able to allow yourself to open up to another person and accept their love as an entirety? Are you capable of letting go of the shadow of doubt and dismay of your past, and be able to count experiences with new and different people as wholly new, with no connection to the pain that you have felt before. Or will that fear, of what happened before may happen again stop you from ever making yourself vulnerable? That the past will repeat itself, scare you away from having any sort of functional relationship in the future?

The fear of betrayal, an oozing scar that never fully heals, of never being good enough for the person who you craved affection from, of ideas that were fed into your mind that you were intolerable, unattractive, loud and ungraceful; made you believe that everyone saw you in this way, even you yourself was convinced of it. Since then you never truly believed when anyone said you were beautiful or enjoyable. Fear infects your subconscious, to thinking its all a lie. You distress through it, pushing these people away, because you feel like you are not deserving of the love and affections of such a person, and conceiving that if you do make yourself vulnerable, they would just stab you in the heart with a jagged shard of your broken trust, and leave you lying in a pool deception. You are constantly unsatisfied, steadily disconnected and wholly empty of the happiness that you dream of. Yet constantly paranoid of caring for anyone, lest they are all mask wearing actors, on the stage that is the tragedy of your life.

Then you tell yourself that maybe it is easier to not love, to only feel anything two inches deep; because people will always disappoint you, eventually they will all hurt you in some way. Is it easier then to not care about anybody else at all? To go on living while barely feeling anything for anyone, is it safer to lock up your heart in a metal box and hide away the key? To make sure that you will never feel pain again, yet you will also never feel love… Why is it so difficult to love, again?