Eradicating the Threat of Happiness (One Bold Decision at a Time)

"Eradicating the Threat of Happiness (One Bold Decision at a Time)." 11/1/13. Acrylic and spray paints, resin sand, ink, food coloring, fabric dye. 30x24" stretched canvas.
“Eradicating the Threat of Happiness (One Bold Decision at a Time).” 11/1/13. Acrylic and spray paints, resin sand, ink, food coloring, fabric dye. 30×24″ stretched canvas.

I was fourteen the first time I got kicked out of the house. The next few years, often enough, I’d move back in with my mom or dad, but never for very long. Fourteen’s when I had my Macaulay Culkin/Good Son epiphany – that I can do whatever I want. From then on, I was done with curfews and rules. When I moved in with my dad, I regularly came home to an empty house – which meant I didn’t even have to come home. Nobody was keeping tabs on me. I liked it. I liked not having to answer to anyone.

The thought that I might not be cut out for “sharing a life” has occurred to me before. I’m not great at making concessions. Doing what somebody else wants me to do instead of what I want to do isn’t something I’m good at. I like being away – in whatever city – and living out of a backpack. It’s an adventure. Nobody gives a fuck where I am or what time I’ll be home. I can go wherever I want, sleep here, sleep there. It doesn’t matter. The last time I did that was in Sarasota, for “No Real Than You Are.” Things eventually got ten kinds of fucked up but that’s a different thing. The being-on-my-own/adventure part was awesome. I had a fucking blast when I first got there.

On our way to Sarasota, a Friday, Heather and I weren’t getting along. Things got better but then, Saturday, got worse. I pitched the idea of “breaking up” for the first time. It got really intense and emotional but we figured it out. On Sunday, she went back to Jacksonville, leaving me in Sarasota for a month to make the movie. Riding around town each day, having places to go and things to do, I felt so alive.  I felt really free. I started thinking about if I’d happier on my own. But I’m not ever on my own. “Pretend for a second that I left Heather,” I thought, “how would that play out?” I already knew. I’d run around for a minute, get into a little trouble, have a little fun, and wind up in a relationship with another girl within a month. That’s how it always goes. I fall in love way too fast. And if I’m going to be in a relationship anyway, it should be with Heather… right? I had to think about that. Why did I love Heather? Of course she’s [insert romantic/positive adjectives here] but if I’m really being honest it’s not about the laundry list of nice traits; a lot of people are smart, pretty, sweet, [whatever]. Admitting it to myself made me feel more self-centered than I’d ever felt in my life. What I most loved about Heather: she loves me.

– “So, Sam – what do you look for in a girl?”

…um…  An affinity for… me.

That’s most of it anyway. She loves me enough (and she’s stable enough) that – should something go awry – she’s not gonna lose her shit or do anything really fucked up to hurt me. If we break up, I’m just gonna date somebody else. And there’s no guarantee that that girl will love me as much or be as even-keeled. I’d have to be crazy to leave her.

That was July. In August, I told her about it. I didn’t know how she’d react, but the next day she said something about being more in love with me than ever. When she says stuff like that to me, my kneejerk response is always “WHAT’D I DO??” Like the answers to most questions, I had to drag it out of her, but she said it was what I had told her the night before. “The thing about me loving you ‘cause you love me?” I asked. “Seriously?” I hadn’t exactly expected her to find it endearing.

[Quick interjection: For the first time, it’s occurred to me that she may have only said she “loved me more than ever” because (in light of what I had just told her) that would make me love her more… If that’s the case though, I don’t think it was conscious].

Shit’s been fucked up for the better part of two weeks. Not in a loud/battlefield kinda way, I’ve just felt seriously unloved. But, yesterday morning, things did get hostile.

I’m not happy and she doesn’t love me – or doesn’t treat me like it anyway – so why the fuck am I even bothering?

Tuesday, Wednesday, and one day last week, I didn’t sleep in the bed. It felt wrong; it was way too intimate for us. I’m not connected to this person – I’m not gonna sleep beside her.

I had a lot on my mind but I didn’t wanna let my emotions call the shots. I was making plans but wanted to be sure that they still made sense when I was a little more relaxed. I wanted to be certain that I wasn’t acting out of anger or hurt. After all, I love her. If I’m about to break up with her, I need to do it in a loving way. It shouldn’t be cavalier – if it’s really what’s right for me then I wouldn’t do it in a way that hurts her. I took some time to sort everything out and when I felt I was in a good place, I told her I needed to talk before she left for work. I let her take her time getting ready and continued to sort out my feelings, in my head and on paper.

“My plan is to move out at the end of the month. I’m not happy, I don’t feel like you love me, and I feel like we’re completely disconnected.” She said she didn’t feel that way at all. If she was upset by this news though, she didn’t show it. That’s perfectly in line with what I’ve come to expect and a perfect example of my biggest issue with her: an unwillingness (or at least hesitancy) to share how she’s feeling. She barely said anything in response; she just stood there. I’d stand silently too, waiting for something that never came, before saying something else or asking her to please respond.

The whole thing just reinforced my idea that we might not be compatible. That we couldn’t communicate. When I ran out of things to say, we just stood there. Even if it was ending, I wanted to be loving. I gave her a hug. She hugged back the same way she always does: just barely. I went outside to smoke a cigarette and she left for work.

I thought about it all day as I painted. I’ve written a lot about it the last few days, but I wrote more on my canvas. A lot of it’s been obscured by paint but – of the (still visible) statements that strike me as having genuine relevance – here’s what it says:

I wanna live alone in a city where no one wants me.  I wanna be a stranger.  I’m so much more interesting when you’ve just met me. I want a recurring guest role (for just one season) in your life. And yours. And yours. I like long distance friendships. I like sex for the first time. It’s only been 9 months I’ve known her. It’s only been ten months I’ve known me. I love her but I don’t know what the fuck that means. What’re the implications? What’s my obligation? Is this about me or about her? If I’m getting an ego again, then I’m a fucking joke. Because I am a joke. I’m fucking Halloween every day. I wanna wake up alone on my birthday. I wanna go days on end. I still don’t know what’s real or right. I’m insane. That’s part of the deal.

Late last night, we finally had a back and forth conversation. “When I said I was planning on moving out at the end of the month, it’s not like I was committing to anything. That was just my notice, if I’m still unhappy. I don’t actually make plans because I have no idea where I’ll be, how I’ll feel, one moment to the next.” In the end, she said if she was gonna make an effort that I had to try too. That I couldn’t still be upset. “I can’t just flip a switch in an instant and be okay. Then again, there’s a good chance I’ll wake up tomorrow and be totally fine.”

Which is exactly what happened.

And today, everything’s been okay, so I’m okay. Today. Right now.

Later? We’ll see… But I’m gonna try and I can already see that she’s trying so I’m hoping for the best.

—–

There’s a good few things that come up in the text on the canvas that I didn’t begin to touch with this statement. But I wanted to push this out into the world already ’cause I’m ready to move past it. The parts that really hold water – I’ll have ample opportunity to look at later on down the line.

—–

I’m not sure I really even accept the concept of a personality disorder but … Do other people really not think / behave / feel this way? I kind of have a hard time believing that. Then again, I go back and forth with it. I mean – obviously – I’m not ashamed (or I wouldn’t talk about it as much as I do) but…

—–

  • Signed, limited edition (#/100) 12×15″ Eradicating the Threat of Happiness prints are available in my webstore. Each print is packaged in a sealed Crystal Clear acid/lignin-free plastic archival sleeve, with a heavy backing board, and a single sheet artist’s statement on the reverse. Shipping and handling is free.
  • The original painting sold January 4, 2014.
  • For information regarding the availability of other original pieces, I’d be happy to send you a current price list or arrange a meeting.

12 thoughts on “Eradicating the Threat of Happiness (One Bold Decision at a Time)”

    1. Sorry if this comes across as a little defensive, but I feel like I oughtta point out that these are my own (totally biased) accounts of everything. And also that – since I use art to deal with the stuff that’s hurting me – those accounts skew negative. She brings a ton of joy, love, and positivity into my life. So far as the other stuff goes, I’d have those problems (or worse) with any girl because – ultimately – they really are my problems. Or so goes my current thinking anyway. (As I’m sure is evident, I don’t really have any idea what’s right, wrong, good, or bad).
      If anything, I think the safest statement would probably be that I might lack the mental/emotional capacity to be in a relationship with anyone.

  1. Being in a relationship is not about being with someone who is compatible with you, it’s about being with someone who will call you on your bullshit and, knowing its bullshit, you will grudgingly accept change is needed and make yourself a better person; its about being with someone who makes you love yourself more than you knew was possible.

    1. I agree for the most part but don’t really know what to make of the first sentence. I feel like we must just be missing each other semantically. When I say “compatible,” I just mean the ability for two people to function together. Like… in the same way as you go on to describe with the rest of your comment.

  2. I think its completely ridiculous for any of us to advise you that there is be-all end-all way to relationships. We’re all practically the same age so how can any of us possibly know? I mean its not like any of us have been married for thirty years and have the “golden rule” pinned down. Also, we’re all different people and what I need from a partner may be entirely different than what you need in a partner. I dont think we’ll ever know or even follow a checklist of items that will differentiate a relationship that is suitable and one that isn’t. (besides the blaring obvious, if you’re in a relationship doing drugs together that probably isnt the most healthy one.)That being said some of my most unhealthy relationships have meant the most to me in my life. Because of those relationships I loved more passionately and fought more passionately than I thought ever was capable and I also ended up learning a lot about myself. I dont think theres ever a wrong answer or a right answer. It’s all apart of life Sam. What it all boils down to is what you want / need at the moment and what you dont. There is always a balance of good and bad and ups and downs. The fact that you are mature enough to step back once in awhile and evaluate yourself and what you need, most likely puts you leaps and bounds ahead of most people in this world. You’re aware of yourself and your weaknesses and i think as long as you have a real time pulse on these things with yourself you will always be ok. You may not have the answer right now and theres nothing wrong that. When youre ready to come to a conclusion, you will know. until then, be patient and aware that obviously this journey hasnt come to an end. This too can be exciting. You dont know the ending of the story, which for me has always been my favorite part. You should also know that regardless of the outcome you have a ton of people following you and loving you. This should give you enough fuel to put on those rose colored glasses when you need them.

    “Life is not like water. Things in life don’t necessarily flow over the shortest possible route.’
    <3

  3. who’s shit do you want to put up with forever? that’s fairy tale love. its natural to question yourself, the state of things, your relevancy to the world, your place in said world, and your chose mates place in it with you. but we are social creatures, that desire and need love. define love? well honestly, it boils down to coming to terms with the idea that you ARE the center of your universe, something you seem to have a decent grasp on. that whole bit about her loving you is why you love her, actually makes a great deal of sense, and feelings grow, change, and adapt. one day you love her, the next you cant live without her, and well, that’s love. you might have it once, you might have it a million times, but when you find the person (and their compatibility can be defined as this) that is willing to put up with your shit for an indefinite amount of time, accept your apologies over and over again, and you are willing to do the same, for the grander sliver of happiness here and there, you’ve nailed it. if she reads this and still loves you, marry the broad. don’t hide from happiness, you deserve love, stability and normalcy as much as anyone. you have a great blog, weird to have stumbled upon it.

    1. After reading this comment (which makes a whole lot of sense) I’m really glad you stumbled upon it too! Thanks for taking the time to share the benefit of your experience (and for the kind words). Both mean a lot to me.

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