Leaving it on the Page

By: Brenn Colleen

 

I’ve been described by my friends as a bit of an ice queen. Numb to the frivolous feelings that most women gravitate towards because I’ve learned along the way that they are merely attractive distractions. Temporary illusions, at best.  As a writer, my plan of walking through life with just my laptop, and a moleskine notebook, by myself, and for myself has been temporarily interrupted . By a man, of course. Isn’t that always how things seem to go?

To brief you on my dating history, I have to be honest, and admit that it’s not as tragic as I make it out to be in my head. I’ve never been much of a stranger to attention from the opposite sex, possibly to my own demise. I have a string of exes that try to double back every time mercury is in retrograde which pretty much turn me off to the idea of dating in general. For the most part, guys have always been around and willing for whatever the reason. Sometimes attached to good intentions, other times with bad intent, but that’s the expected duality of life, right?  As a recovering serial monogamous, I always figured my mountains and valleys in this love shit were pretty standard.

More often than not, I’d date some dude, he’d claim me as his property, I’d fall hard anyway, and inevitably zombie through my days as a codependent counterpart. Like some stupid, unrecognizable fembot. With all that said, it’s important to point out that all of that is the exact opposite of what I always envisioned for myself. I’ve only truly been hurt by own expectations thus far. These past two years I’ve rebelled against all of that shit. That chronic compromising version of myself that puts the wants and needs of my man before my own. The side of me that turns into an emotional terrorist that can hardly think straight because I’ve gotten so wrapped up in someone else that I can’t tell where I begin and they end.

If I were being embarrassingly honest, I’d have to confess that I’ve used men as a bit of a social experiment more recently. I’d entertain them, but only when it was convenient. I convinced myself that I could never truly care about a man the same way they seemed to take an interest in me. I was sure they were all one-dimensional disasters. With more daddy issues than the women they go out of their way to manipulate. If that wasn’t the case, then they were so predictably elementary that is was too boring to bare. Both possibilities turned me off, and so I opted out of the whole game. I was officially in a place where men were no more or less than simple creatures that I’d yet to make sense of; or be impressed by. I mean sometimes they were good to look at but usually only until they started speaking. Sure, it hurt to change, but it excruciating not to.

On the flip side, I had time to zero in on what mattered most to me, writing.

I published my first book, wrote a documentary, completed my first script, then rewrote it, and rewrote it, and rewrote it, and rewrote it, and so on. I even got a significant start on my second book. Inspiration and momentum were flowing freely without the daunting distraction of men. But then, I met him.

The kind of man I’d rave to my friends about wanting back when I could still remember what it felt like to want. Almost as if he were created from an algorithm in my mind. Perfect in this painfully imperfect way, and I wanted to know everything about him. Fascinated by the way he saw the world and even more taken by the way I forgot about the world when I was with him. The more I learned, the more I liked. He was different. Isn’t that what we always say? I had to proceed with caution but nonetheless, I had to proceed. I couldn’t help it. There was something else there, and I needed to know what it was.

So, now what? Now I pretend that I don’t harbor the kind of trust issues that are impossible to conceal? Do I posture as if I’m not terrified at the thought of morphing into that retched unrecognizable version of myself again? Should I pretend I’m not so fucked up by experience and observation that I’m actually capable of caring? As if I haven’t already fallen in love with my purpose. How do I act as if I haven’t grown to cherish the woman I’ve become, not in spite of men but despite them. The trouble with pretending is, I’ve never been any good at it.

I’m left with only one option. To be unapologetically honest. To say, I’m cold but capable of thawing out at the right temperature. That it’s complicated, and confusing, and that my past relationships still haunt me and fuel half the shit I write about. That I’m not living wrong, but kind of in the middle, in some distorted riddle. Shit, that wasn’t supposed to rhyme.  More than anything, I’m ashamed to admit that I forgot what it was like to feel, and that if I inevitably fuck this up, I’m forever grateful that he’s reminded me that I can feel, and be felt, if even only for a moment.

Or maybe I’ll just write it down and leave it on the page. After all, I’ve gotten awfully good at suppressing my emotions. So, let’s just keep this between us, for now.

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  1. This spoke to me so much. I suffered from “the fear of being alone” after becoming a widow as the sweet age of 24. It took me to ugly places with men. Ugly because I’m not sure who I was. Then I cancelled them and decided to just do it all for me… now I’m with someone who clearly loves me so much, but I’m sometimes crippled by those dark times. I wish you light & thank you for sharing.

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