I am a nurturer, an empath and an emotional healer, always have been. Unfortunately, my role model for male/female relationships came from my own parents’ highly volatile and dysfunctional marriage. I grew up getting off (though I wasn’t able to see it this clearly) on relationship angst, Sturm und Drang.
As a little girl, I was attracted to the needy, the wounded, the weird and the neglected. So-called normal friends did not interest, and absorb, me in the same way.
Perhaps I was, albeit unconsciously, trying to give my self God-like powers in order to escape the dreadful feeling of powerlessness (over my father’s health, my parents’ frequent and nasty, even violent, arguments) I experienced at home.
But the long and short of it was that I befriended children as damaged as I was, if not more so – and they, as powerless at home as me, often adopted the Bully Role as their way of coping with a terrifying family life. And, because I was gentle and kind and, for the most part, non-aggressive, these hurt little ones often turned on ME.
When I started dating, my nascent lust was inevitably stirred by the nasty bastards (whose back story usually contained some horror which I felt it was my role to help them heal), and I only felt that a relationship was true if I was flying on combined adrenaline and agony, intense joy and insecurity, threat and threnody, pain and pleasure.
The uncertainty of such bonds made me feel alive – but it was a fractured and radioactive aliveness; and, although I did not see this until much, much later, it was always accompanied by ‘drugs’ (sweeties and chocolate when I was a child and young girl; alcohol and cigarettes when I was older).
The damaged human being, in each case, was every bit as much of an addictive substance as anything I was sucking, chewing, quaffing or inhaling!
I thought love was having my head messed around with. I thought love was trying to save another from his, or her, own inner damage. I thought this state of affairs was vibrant and romantic and pretty amazing and powerfully erotic.
My ex-husband conformed exactly to the type I have described above – and I fell for him in a terrified whirl of lust, doubt and insecurity. As with all the others, I thought I could help him heal (not realising that some people actively enjoy pain), make him whole, ease his troubled soul…
Same old, same old!
And yet, a huge shift has been underway over the past three or four years – and, now divorced, I can say the following for the first time in my life:
I have had more than enough of relationship angst – and I no longer see anything remotely sexy or attractive about troubled relationships with damaged people. They are not romantic and exciting. They are a fucking drag! It is not up to me to heal the childhood cuts and bruises of others. Nor do I have to accept the status of emotional punch-bag to justify my part in the relationship dynamic.
I am no longer feverishly running over the moors near Wuthering Heights, calling with sick passion for my Heathcliff. I am not Catherine Earnshaw, and I never was. A wild spirit does not have to call the birds of sadism and cruelty into its life!
Incompatible is not erotic. Incompatible is lonely and starved and sexually difficult. Glamour which is only skin deep is, or can be, dangerous. Good looks, if allied with a tormented and twisted inner self, are not worth even the first kiss – and any relationship which costs more than it gives is not worth the emotional money.
I am in no hurry to relight the candle of man/woman love – but, if and when I do, I shall be bearing the following in mind:
I shall want someone compatible, someone who enhances my life; someone who takes responsibility for his own emotions (as we all, eventually, have to); someone who is a radiator and not a drain; someone with whom I have a strong bond and at least some interests in common; someone whose attitude towards, and enthusiasm for, adventures (be they geographical, mental or sexual) matches mine; someone who is wild at heart at least some of the time, and has an independence of mind which means healthy gaps are a pleasure and not a source of anxiety; someone who is not attached to another woman or women – and someone who loves and desires me just because of who I am and not because he needs to suck my essence in order to refill his own leaky tank!
We all are one way or another – but we can learn to recognise inner damage’s effects; we can learn to work through it and ensure, in so far as we can, that it does not become the threat-of-erupting-volcano which devastates, and ultimately destroys, all too many intimate connections.
And we can recognise that another’s inner pain may well be channelled into, and expressed through, dark desires and acts, rather than the over-romanticised view we are all fed of passionate love-making and unbreakable love!