The statement for this piece was written two and a half weeks ago (on January 13, 2015) and is proof that I’m really terrible at predicting my own future.
Coming out of my tumultuous autumn relationship in Chicago, I guess you could say I was kind of a wreck when I got back to Florida. And although the circumstances of the day it happened were somewhat unusual, it certainly didn’t seem like much of a coincidence for me to relapse so quickly. I started this new painting before I even had a week clean. And while the general premise of the painting is one that I’ve had in my head for months, the rest reflects the time in which it was painted.
Here’s how I spent December: I came down to Miami with Nicole; shipped her back to Chicago ahead of schedule and cancelled my pseudo-plan to return to the Midwest to reunite with her anytime in the at-all-immediate-future; I went to Jacksonville to rekindle my relationship with Heather; Heather declined to immediately jump back into it with me, saying she wanted to take it slow; I drove down to Palm Beach County for another one of my drug-addled ex-girlfriend rescue missions; I relapsed; I went to Sarasota and started painting this (the initial sub-caption was “nothing ever quite goes my way” but I later painted over that); I returned to Jacksonville, where Heather was now interested in picking up the pace but I, nevertheless, proceeded to start fucking up a storm; I started to feel better and I wrote a new sub-caption, incorporating the title: “Life can’t always be RAINBOWS AND PUPPY DOGS but I guess it goes my way often enough. (I certainly have a lot of sex at people).”
By the time it was finished on January 3rd, I definitely didn’t feel like “nothing ever quite goes my way.” I mean, how could I think that when I’m fucking a different girl every night? That sure seems like things going my way. And, honestly, while being promiscuous isn’t always the most fulfilling, in this case – right now – I’m pretty happy. Maybe it’s ‘cause I got so much other stuff going on with my art and ‘cause I’ve been so productive lately and ‘cause I’m not in a dysfunctional relationship anymore but… I’ve been on a pretty good streak of happy lately. And all the sex (and feeling attractive and desirable) is most definitely bolstering that. It’s a big part of it.
Heather and I hit the pause button on our relationship a week ago and are planning to talk about it / evaluate our feelings tomorrow. In writing this (and revealing the extent of my recent promiscuity) I’m almost certainly going to be destroying what little shot we had left together but maybe that’s what’s supposed to happen. I’m also seeing another girl with whom there’s been no discussion of exclusivity but who – nevertheless – probably won’t be super excited to read this. I’m supposed to meet up with her tonight and am planning on putting all the cards on the table with her as well.
So now that I think about it, I really shouldn’t publish this until I’ve had these two conversations. And I won’t. Which is to say: by the time you’re reading this, I’ll have already had those two discussions and there’s a good chance that I’ll have inadvertently hurt a lot of feelings and will be feeling pretty shitty about myself. Life’s definitely not gonna feel like puppies and rainbows by this time tomorrow but I guess that’s okay but – fuck – why does love have to be so exclusive? Why do the concepts of love and sex have to be so inextricably connected? Why can’t I be in one (or two) relationships and still have sex with other people?
WHY CAN’T I JUST HAVE EVERYTHING THAT I WANT?
It sounds so dumb when I put it that way – like I’m such a spoiled little brat – but, shit… I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be nice?
Rainbows and puppy dogs, right?
So – as I mentioned – that statement was written in early January. If you’ve been following me, you probably have an idea of how it all played out. I told both girls that I was sleeping around and couldn’t be exclusive. And then last week, while on a date with a girl I met at my art show, I fell in love with one of that girl’s friends and wound up in an exclusive relationship. (That in itself is kind of a funny story but I’ll get to that later).
Coming very soon: images of (and statements for) three new works, including two from late last year that are among my biggest to date. We’re talking giant pieces with long, detailed, embarrassing, fucked up stories. I’m excited!
Fun fact: I first tried to paint “Rainbows and Puppy Dogs” in the spring of 2014, got frustrated with my inability to paint a dog, went in another direction, and wound up with this piece.
“Adventures Per Minute” is how I felt in early April. From the moment I woke up until I crawled into bed each night, I was busy. Traveling back and forth between Jacksonville, Delray, and Sarasota; givinginterviews and being photographed; attending the premiere of the movie I starred in; directing a music video; setting up exhibits; making and distributing fliers and meeting people; selling prints at One Spark and Spring Fest; fucking; designing albumcovers and merchandise for some of my favorite bands; making more money than I’ve ever made in my life; and (of course) painting – at parks, at friends’ houses, on the streets, at punk shows, on rooftops, and at galleries.
It was just outside one of those galleries that I started this painting. Passers-by would stop, compliment my work, and ask how I was doing. That sparked the first small caption: “HOW AM I? I’m standing on a stool, paintin’ funny faces outside the gallery that sells my paintings for all the moneys. So – yeah – I’m okay.”
At the other end of the canvas, I elaborated: “I have everything.” And I really do. I’m not super rich just yet but all of my needs are met and then some.
I went back to Sarasota with the intention of trading in my van for a bigger one; it was my last stop before I finally took my show on the road outside of Florida. I changed my mind about the van but had quite a time back in that city where I (sort of) grew up. Things were messy – not only with friends in Sarasota but in my “adoptive” family’s house up the road in Bradenton. Drugs, lying, screaming, stealing… it was all around me and it was starting to fuck with my head. I don’t often feel “triggered” and – for the most part – think it’s sort of a bullshit concept. One afternoon in particular became an exception. I was on the back porch painting when the weather started acting up but there was no way I was walking back into the house. I took to the top corner of my canvas and started journaling:
It's been ten days [since I last wrote on this painting]. I'm on the porch in Bradenton. There's a tornado warning. I don't care. That'd be cooler if I actually thought it might hit. I would totally shoot up right now if I had drugs in front of me. BUT I HAVE THE MONEY THESE DAYS.
My best friend (the one that used to shoot heroin) - he started shooting heroin again. And smoking [and shooting] crack. I had him Marchman Acted soon as I got back to Sarasota. Everyone's pretty happy about that - and I've been buying into it too. But let's get real. Nothing has changed. This is just getting started. And it's gonna get a lot worse. I kind of think he's gonna die soon. What should I do? Drag him around the country with me? That's a lot of responsibility. And what would he do all day everyday?
And I love Abby too but her situation is even tougher, more hopeless.
I was talking to Heather about some of this and she asked me if I'll "ever get to live for myself." But I'm more independent, disconnected, and uninvolved than anyone. I do "me" constantly. But I grew up a fuck-up with other fuck-ups and what little I'm able to do these days when this shit goes on - I need to. Sometimes I'm the only one that can. I can't live without people anyway. It's all part of the package.
It's all worth it, I think. Even when it hurts a lot. And makes me wanna put a needle back in my arm. I don't think I will but, for the second time since I stopped, I really want to. This shit is dangerous.
And I haven't even gotten into the other shit that's eating me right now… My phone is ringing. What kinds of decisions am I gonna make today?
I feel safer in this house with drugs, screaming, CPS, threats, lies, theft, etc. than at Morgan's ('cause she's got roommates) and this [house] is the only place I don't feel like an intruder.
I paused and thought about all the good things that had happened lately – and the specifics of some of the bad… I brought the pen back to the canvas.
Life is sad and tragic and funny and beautiful. I'm usually having a pretty good time. I laugh and smile a lot. I don't want the people I care about to die. Or to live without knowing happiness.
Up to this point, I hadn’t given any thought to what I was writing or how it might be received. I just let it come out, even when it occurred to me that I might need or want to remove Abby’s name at some point. But after I finished that long journal down the left side of the canvas, I remembered that I was creating art and that I had intended for this to be a joyful painting – a celebration of the wonderful, exciting things happening in my life. “I need to balance out all this dark with some the light I experienced leading up to this.” But (in my soul, not my brain) I really only felt compelled to write the darker (more recent) stories. I decided to phrase everything in the present tense.
I am standing in an alley while my friend smokes the last of her crack before I take her to the police station, from which she'll be transported to detox, under court order. I picked her up in an empty parking lot.
I am dropping my "sister" off (with everything she owns) at a drug dealer's house. An hour ago, she attempted to transfer custody of her daughter to me. I still live in / operate primarily out of A VAN. We hugged and I told her to not be a fuck-up.
I am back on Adderall [after a month without] and I think the dose is too high now and I'm too in my head and having thoughts like these: [An arrow points at the long, sad, I-wanna-shoot-heroin, my-friends-are-dying journal].
I needed my positive adventures to balance the painting and convey what “adventures per minute” had meant to me initially. But I had already told those nice stories on my blog. Repeating them here felt contrived. I did it anyway but in just four short sentences – covering One Spark, the music video, the film festival, and painting on rooftops. A few days later though, I had another adventure. But one that I didn’t want to be the first thing to pop out at someone. I hid it against a dark blue backdrop. It says: “I just PRETEND (consensually) ‘raped’ a girl that identifies as ‘gay.’ It was pretty awesome. I like her.”
So THAT sort of raises some questions and probably warrants a whole exposition of its own but this statement’s already long enough, I’m writing this in Atlanta, and – you know – I got some more adventures I really ought to be getting up to right about now so…
On the drive back to Jacksonville tonight, I wrote in my journal. At one point in the process, I felt like I’d had a major breakthrough. Now – just a couple hours later – I’m not so sure. In either case, I think it’s worth sharing. And (above all) what matters is that I was feeling tremendous anxiety when I started and (at least a semblance of) peace when I was done.
Journal: Christmas 2013
The last time I made a playlist was July. The music I like gives most people anxiety but it’s an extremely rare occasion when it has that effect on me. But I’m feeling way too fragile right now to risk hearing anything that I’m not totally prepared for. I need really to be comforted right now and I’m counting on this music to do it.
We just hit the part of the highway with no lights. I’m writing in total darkness now.
Heather’s so sweet. I know she never intends to do me any harm. That’s why it’s hard to leave her. I don’t know if I understand love so – sadly – it has to be a practical consideration.
I know I can’t ever be alone. I fall in “love” way too fast. So if I’m gonna be with someone, it should (probably?)be her…
She’s not great at making me feel loved, which is something I desperately need. But maybe that sort of thing goes both ways. Maybe a girl that was better at making me feel loved would also be great at hurting me if/when she wanted to. Fuck. I can be (or am) such a fragile fucking baby.
I met this girl in November. She took in the whole story behind Autobiography and pointed at the girl in it. “That’s your mom,” she said.
I didn’t like that. I’m pretty sure my disgust registered on my face before I could even think to mask it. With a smile, I responded: “I reject that. I don’t agree at all.” I had just met this girl. What the fuck?
“That’s fine,” she said. “You can reject it. But it’s still true.”
When I shot down her interpretation, I meant what I said. But – of course – she’s fucking right. As much as it’s killed me to realize that and as much as I hate to admit it.
When my mom used to constantly badger me about how much I hated her, I’d tell her I loved her and ask her to stop. I really didn’t hate her. But I kind of do now.
It’s one thing to have an intellectual understanding that your parents did their best – and to use that to “forgive” them. It’s another thing to really make sense of everything emotionally, connect all the dots, and really get a grip on it. ‘Cause when you realize now that I’ve realized that it’s not about the individual incidents of especially fucked up shit that she did, it’s about the life-threatening defects ingrained into my every fiber that she cut in and fucking cultivated for years… It’s about the fact that every time I feel rejected by Heather in the slightest, I wanna run away from home all over again.
I told Heather again yesterday that she hadn’t done anything wrong – we’re just not a good match because she doesn’t have the kind of affectionate personality that I need to feel loved. She responded that she loves me 500% and didn’t I know that? I told her that I had that information in my brain but that I don’t often feel it. Shit – how could I?
No one’s ever gonna be able to do anything that’ll make me feel loved all the time. Just as my art (which is really just the maintenance of my (relative) sanity) is a full-time job, another person couldn’t possibly give me what I need unless that was their full-time job too. Or – more accurately – were on call 24/7. ‘Cause a lot of the time I need to be left alone to “work” (paint, write, or do various backend business-of-art or website kinds of tasks). But the second I need love, if [insert the name of any girl I’ve ever been with here] can’t deliver exactly to my specifications in that instant… well, then IT’S NOT WORKING AND WE’RE JUST NOT RIGHT FOR EACH OTHER.
So – contrary to my understanding up ’til this moment– this is on me more than it’s on Heather and it’s not some incurable defect that she needs to be solely responsible for maintaining an awareness of and behaving accordingly (because she “signed up for it” by getting involved with someone who’s so openly an emotional basketcase). I need to step back in these moments and remind myself of these things of which I need to be reminded. Still, if she’s my partner, she does need to be “in it” with me and make a little more of an effort to actually express that love she says she has for me. She can be pretty cold. And in some of those moments, there’s not gonna be anything I can do to not feel unattractive, unloved, and unwanted. Worthless, and undeserving of love. This new understanding of myself won’t always be enough. Sometimes feelings are more important than facts.
This is a real breakthrough for me. Right now, in this moment. It’s not the only one from the last 48 hours though.
Driving to Manatee from Jacksonville, we had another of our four hour drives without speaking. Not in as hostile a way, but things were tense so I kept busy as she drove and, when I took the wheel, she slept. Then, when we got to the Owens, I went in alone without a goodbye. (We both just looked at each other, waiting for the other to initiate it, as I collected my things from the backseat). Then she went to her parents’. I did my thing with the Owens and with my friends in Sarasota and we didn’t see each other for two days. We didn’t spend the holiday (which means nothing to me but something to her) together. The few texts we exchanged were not especially productive.
I opened up to some friends yesterday and acknowledged that a lot of the problem – what I felt – was sexual rejection. I’ll decide in an instant, at anytime, that I want to fool around, make some gesture toward that, she’ll shoot me down for whatever reason, and I’ll feel like shit. In her defense, I know where and when she will/would be in the right frame of mind for that and I rarely act on it because it’s when I’ll usually be busy working. Our schedules are wildly different and I need to work on compromising mine more, seeing as hers is handed down from a company and mind can be whatever the fuck I want it to be. It sucks but I feel constantly burdened with a need to be productive and I’m rarely willing to set aside and stop working because I’m terrified that I won’t be able to get back on course fast enough once I’m free to pick back up.
“It’s harder to be yourself than it is to be anybody else.” My problems are so petty, small, and (really) within the bounds of my control. Still, they’re monumental monster motherfuckers and THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES WITH WHICH ANY HUMAN BEING HAS EVER BEEN FACED. I say that jokingly but it’s equally true and false. It’s real and it’s a struggle that won’t ever end. It’ll only morph and evolve. As I do…
I got away from myself and the other “breakthrough” to which I alluded. I was talking to some friends about this stuff yesterday and the response I got went from “you gotta end it (for your own sake)” to “you gotta end it (for her sake).” At one point in the conversation, the feedback I was getting, the direction that the conversation had taken, and the things coming out of my own mouth had me feeling like the most sociopathic, seriously damaged, selfish mental case on the planet. I felt like a calculating monster with an impressively evil skill-set, who was so distinct from normal people that he didn’t even have the slightest idea or awareness of what he was doing or the full implications of his decisions and behavior. I felt sicker than I’ve ever felt – like I could be some murderer, smiling at the cameras.
I probably could be. I just remembered – I had been thinking about conscience just earlier in the day. Some friend of Clifford’s murdered his girlfriend and then turned himself in. What a sap, I thought, when Mclane told me about it. What a weak human being.
I considered it further: I would never do that. You buckle down and live with the secret. No good comes from that confession; just move forward, asshole.
Well – not really. He needed to be caught; I mean, he’s clearly dangerous. But if Ikilled someone, Ishould just move forward… Learn from my mistake and accept that the consequence for my actions is having another fascinating story that I can’t ever share with the world.
WHAT’S WORSE THAN THAT?
So… that’s what I wrote as we made our way back to Jacksonville tonight. I probably started around 9pm and put the pen down a little after 10…
I looked in my other notebook at the pieces I have left to add to the website and – given everything I wrote about tonight – one of them jumped off the page and struck me as being a perfect fit.
(Relatively) early in my stay at Tranquil Shores, we got an assignment, in art therapy group – to make a figure of our “inner-child.” Like most of my inner-child stuff, I focused on myself at age four.
This thing isn’t totally devoid of substantive meaning but – obviously – this wasn’t an especially probing assignment. It was mostly fun though and I felt pretty pleased with myself when I finished it.
When I typed up my journal entry, I linked to a few entries which struck me as relevant.
Autobiography: watercolor cartoon (regarding codependency, rejection, and self-esteem)
After I journaled, I felt well enough to skip around and listen to songs that would have made me nervous earlier in the night. One of them was “Debt” by Pipsqueak, the acoustic band which was initially just the kid that sang in Snuggle (and – more recently – Murmurs) but now has a second member, playing cello and also singing. It was great before and it’s great now.
I used one of the frames I got the other day for my most CONTROVERSIAL(!) painting – Toilet Humor. When I shared a photo of that, I got one particularly succinct response: “Crap.”
That (I think) is fair. Sort of. As a standalone image, it kinda screams, “look at me!” and (arguably) little else.I added a link to its entry on my website, with the statement I had written. That’ll clear this all up!
My critic’s response: “Still crap.”
I guess I understand but, at that point, I no longer thought it was fair. I said as much and added that it’s clearly something I put a lot of time and thought into it. She said it’s contrived. In a sense, that’s true. It wasn’t natural; it took a lot of strain and effort, not because it was bullshit but because it’s difficult and scary to work with and write about something that’s got such potential to hurt (or at least offend). And that’s especially true when your audience is online. Truth be told, it even makes me so uncomfortable that (as tempted as I was) it took a little while to compel myself to actually re-read the statement. There’s nothing easy about “Toilet Humor.” And if it’s insulting to my critic’s intelligence (as I was also told) she must be a whole lot smarter than I am.
The point I’m really getting at [I have one, I swear!] is that, while I absolutely stand by the piece, it isworth mentioning that it’s one of my very first; is totally unlike the stuff I paint these days; and that that’s (I think) both good and bad. On the one hand, “rich kids care about politics”; I’m too caught up in my own nonsense to wanna make any kinda statement beyond my “artist’s statements,” e.g. “Today I threw an emotional shit fit and then painted a bunch of funny faces about it!” [My regular “go-to” when I wanna make fun of myself and my art. Pretty spot on, right!?]
I poke fun but that part of my process is really important to me, I’m glad I do it, and I need to do it. But the value of work like “Toilet Humor” is that it forces me outside my comfort zone and (I don’t think) that’s ever a bad thing. And I don’t mean to say that I’m tackling issues; I wasn’t off on any irrelevant/diversionary social or political rants. Like most of what I do, it’s thoroughly personal.
Which brings me to my piece from today, ”Shit Fits / Funny Faces.” (It was bound to happen sooner or later, if only because I think I’m hilarious).
The “shit fit” that gave rise to it had nothing to do with Toilet Humor. It takes a lot more than criticism of my art to send me into a downward spiral. That only happens when something really serious goes down. You know – like A GIRL NOT PAYING ENOUGH ATTENTION TO ME FIRST THING IN THE MORNING WHEN WE WAKE UP. Or, um, somethinglike that anyway…
Hey, Heather! Look! I’m talking about you on my website again! JUST LIKE YOU (implied that) YOU WANTED (or at least liked?) (I think!?!)
(I love you).
Up next, I have a canvas that’s more than twice as big as any other I’ve ever worked with. I got it for just thirty bucks!
It was an assignment in the group session on the morning of my coin out [the ceremony to recognize successful completion of an inpatient treatment plan]. (It’s worth noting though that completion of my treatment plan didn’t mean the end of my inpatient stay; it had already been decided that I’d stay on, with a new treatment plan). “Using your non-dominant hand, draw a picture of the body part with the most sensation right now,” we were told. “Then ask it about the feeling and let it answer.”
My face was tense. My whole head was. I asked why.
‘Cause I’m scared of everything. I don’t wanna coin out and I upset Heather last night and assumed the worst so I could cancel everything but it didn’t work ’cause she’s not mentally ill, she’s smart and sweet, supportive, thoughtful, and wonderful. But I need to ask her to be more direct ’cause that “goodnight” could have really fucked with me. You did good not just letting it go, Sam.
Presented without further comment ’cause I’m a mess right now.
This is how bad at relationships I am: I wait until twenty-four hours after things start to get better to share my painting from when things were still fucked up – thereby risking that they get fucked up again. Actually, that’s bullshit – I don’t think this is going to fuck anything up. I’m just not comfortable sharing this ’cause I think it makes me sound petty and immature. I don’t need to write a statement for this piece because it’s got all the text it needs right on the canvas. Here’s what it says…
I didn’t cry. Well, no, when it got bad, I did. But pre-addiction, if I cried, it was usually fake. To show a girl how hurt I was. It was emotional manipulation. But at my worst, I’d break down and cry. Then I went away to treatment and I watched other people cry. But I didn’t. Still “in,” a year later, I started. Like all the time. I was a mess but I was getting better. Then I “got” “better” and I stopped.
I have an idea for a cartoon. It won’t be hard to make. People will like it. But I just wanna cry. But I don’t do that anymore. I can still force myself. I can fake it. But I don’t do it for real. I’m not holding back tears because I’m not in the kind of emotional state in which they can even begin to form.
The question of “what I wanted to do for my birthday” never came up. Maybe that’s my fault, but there were already other plans and I didn’t want to be disagreeable. Am I being crazy though to feel like I should have never been in that position? Is it unreasonable to think I should have been asked?
She’s not at all mean or selfish. She had good intent. But this gets to what was under my skin the other day. That we just might not be on the same page. We might not be right for each other. And that’s what I’m actually upset about.
On the ride home, I wanted her and told her so. She said she had to be up early for work in the morning. I guess I understand that but – at the same time – it’s my birthday and I guess I sort of thought she’d want to do whatever for me. And it makes me sad that she didn’t just want me the way that I wanted her.
I don’t think it’s supposed to be this way. I think something’s missing. She says otherwise but I can’t imagine that she gets what she needs out of me / this relationship. Which is why I feel guilty whenever I bring this stuff up. It’s not like I’m so great.
This is the story stripped of all its detail (at its vaguest). I write that way for myself. To keep the focus on my feelings. Even though I know it’ll be less satisfying for anyone else. Less “entertaining.” I enjoy an audience but I won’t cater to it. Not with this kind of work anyway.
I enjoy the sentiment of self-pity but not when its point of origin is with me. This feels like self-pity and it makes me feel embarrassed.
I wonder what I’m saying without realizing it. What I want this to say (or think it says) and what it actually says are probably wildly different. [I’m probably an asshole].
So that’s the text on the canvas… Have I embarrassed myself enough for one day? Great! Here are links to the other pieces in what might as well be considered the “series” to which this one belongs.
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 meloveher more… If that’s the case though, I don’t think it was conscious].
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.
has borderline personality disorder and a heroin problem. In 2012, he got clean, discovered art, and traveled the country, painting and writing. Three years later, he went back to heroin and quit painting. He's currently hard at work trying to get clean or kill himself (depending on the day).