“The intensity of my sensations has always been less than the intensity of my awareness of them. I’ve always suffered more from my consciousness that I was suffering than from the suffering of which I am conscious.”

 “The life of my emotions moved early on to the chambers of thought, and that’s where I’ve most fully lived my emotional experiences of life.”

 “And since thought, when it shelters emotion, is more demanding than emotion by itself, the regime of consciousness in which I began to live what I felt made how I felt more down-to-earth, more physical, more demanding.”

 Fernando Pessoa

“The Book of Disquiet”

 

I was telling Massimo about all the times she broke up with me, yes times, plural, with an “s,” but he didn’t give a shit, just told me to suck it up.

 

“Forget about her, she’s not worth it. She’s not who you thought she was.”

 

Who is ever really the person one believes them to be? I thought, especially when you are in love with an idea, a fantasy. Believing another will somehow conform to a pre-established set of qualities I have created in a delusion of who I think they are remains a purely selfish act without rival.

This interchange with Massy was the standard, macho, dude-to-dude therapeutic identification with about as much validation as I could expect.

 

“Go find another chick and bang her.” He continued.

That’s the cure. Just land another one, especially with a big ass. They’re all over the place. It’s a medically proven fact.”

 

I locked eyes with Massy and was silent, holding back a grin and fighting the urge to participate in this.

Here was another one straight form Massimo’s famous textbook: “How to remain unconscious during and after every relationship with a woman and not lose an ounce of mojo.”

For him my experience was a textbook case, another scientific case study in how to cope with the bizarre and unpredictable behavior of women.

Fact was, I couldn’t listen to any of this and I don’t know why I engaged him. That’s false, I actually do know why; in the midst of his flat-out invulnerable sensibilities and ninja compartmentalization skills, I was able to glimpse my soul.

 

So I went about doing some soul-searching.

“Tell me about all the times she broke-up with you.” I asked myself this time.

 

Maybe if I established some distance from that part of me that fell in love and weathered the storm, I could gain some insight. I needed a better vantage point. The emotions I was feeling came up formless and amorphous with milky flickers of light the source of which I could not locate.

I needed to ask myself questions, get some answers, be transparent, move the veil aside, open the lid and feel around deeper under my usual motivations. I had to play differently with that searchlight and train on my insides, maybe find and expose the feminine part of myself I willingly handed over to her. I had to stop wavering and meandering in a lost field. Awareness is one thing but hearing it all at once is another.

Who is that psychiatrist? He wrote about the archetypes, broke with Freud because he was too spiritual? Carl Jung. I read in his books that falling in love for a man means unconsciously giving the female part of his soul to a woman and, to boot, you don’t even realize you are doing it. It’s all unconscious, genius. And it all happens, hook-in, line and sinker, the whole deal before you can blink. Who is this woman living inside me? I’ve never met her. At least she could show some compassion and introduce herself instead of fleeing the scene, embroiling me in a passionate love affair that I gave my all to only to have it mysteriously end and leave me in a quarry hammering rocks.

The first time I heard this I’m thinking, wow, that gives a lot of guys a pass, gets them a scientifically valid justification for infidelity. Massimo is taking that one to the bank. I’m sure wives weren’t too keen on CJ back in his day.

When I really think (here I go again thinking instead of feeling), you know, take the lid off my damn ego and rummage around below it somewhere, I find there was something mysteriously magnetic, and intrusively compelling, a vector-specific drive I could not control, forcing my hand, pushing me hard, operating deep in my gut, way down in those hollow visceral chambers. Or was it my heart? I don’t know how to tell where it’s coming from but one thing I’m clear as day on: my will could not stop the desire and it was not coming from rational thought.

What a heavy trip and after all this bliss and monumental misery in the space of days, I have to say I’m pretty sure that’s what happened.

I started thinking of love as a jam I get myself into. It’s like finding beauty in nature and searching for myself and another at the same time, following a siren-call towards mating bald eagles in the distance and mysterious sunsets and shimmering streams sensually caressing against fluorescent rock formations and right when I’m immersed in the whole spiritual tranquility of the thing I’m lost and can’t find my way back. The path disappears, the scene changes at dusk to an ominous fairy tale where hidden creatures lurk.

So I started doing an autopsy of the relationship and made sure I didn’t go too far back. I don’t mind dissecting, in fact, I love it and that’s not just a metaphor. I’ve covered a lot of ground over the years dissecting every square millimeter of several cadavers and I’m grateful and honored to have been able to do that. What I’m talking about is different, though, and I’m kind of nervous and insecure about it, because my dissection takes the form of intellectually tearing apart emotions so they are not what they seem. When it’s all opened up and I peer into feelings a point emerges where I can’t even recognize them as feelings, and I wonder if they’re even coming from me or from someone else.

There were a few clues along the way, artifacts animated, vestiges and pathognomonic signs fingerprinted on the glass that grew into flares of realization. These kept coming back to life. The carousel revolved around a center post of love while feelings jumped on and off the ride. Christ, why did I put up with that? I don’t have that many lives left and right now the smell of formaldehyde is getting to me.

So I went back to the one I remembered best.

Taking into account my proclivities towards distorting emotions, I realized I’m not sure where these are coming from or if they’re even coming from me. After all, this feminine shadow wields mystical tools, so I better first quote my man Fernando Pessoa and then put these emotional thoughts down on paper.

 

“ In each of these sensations I am someone else painfully renewed in each indefinite impression.”

Fernando Pessoa

“The Book of Disquiet”

 

There was a moment where togetherness felt like floating on a tandem raft drifting on light rapids, manageable and exciting and this inflatable raft nuzzled against the massive polished rocks, brushing and touching with the inside pressed into both our bodies like an inflatable organ finding its blood flow.

Where, in the vigor of a fantastic dream, each other’s voice became a pilot light soothing the insides like a swallow of small-batch bourbon. We painted together and talked about poetry. We read searing and beautiful passages aloud where words became numinous with an electric eroticism.

 

I will be the rock and the driftwood your waves can brush against. You create, in me, such beautiful, smooth and fascinating shapes with your tide.

 

That happened, and that won’t be erased. No matter what usurps passionate moments some things I can’t forget.

By the second time she broke up with me (and even later there would be a third) I had moved from sadness that-now joined an emotional state I was unfamiliar with.

There were three in all, but it felt like a million small assaults, a cumulative barrage where the unexpected became the rule.   These incidents flogged me in moments when, guard down, I least suspected a blade sinking into the flesh of my heart.

I’m getting all these emotions now. Used to be I was pretty concrete about feelings: hungry, ecstatic, angry, sad; nothing too fancy, nothing too complicated just the standard flow of ups and downs. The emotions I was feeling now I couldn’t even name and they were trying to take me down. These were body blows, Mike Tyson uppercuts, blindside targeting headshots in a football game.

Maybe they were always there and I put them deep in hidden compartments and passageways and drowned them with bourbon and distraction.

So I keep asking myself now: I’ve got this chick living inside me and I’m handing her off and I don’t even know it and it affects my soul and then things go sideways and all I can do right now is live in it and try to describe it.

I’m searching for this person and there are yearnings and desires that somehow forecast and create this person for me. That’s what it feels like, like maybe this person didn’t exist before my unconscious drives and conscious desires created her. The thoughts I nurture become my reality. I guess that’s why all those people, billions of them, get down on their knees.

And then I deliver an essential element to her, I don’t even know I’m doing it and now she has it and she doesn’t really know how to handle it. In fact, not only does she not know how to handle it, she’s careless and reckless with compassion lacking. She’s kicking it around like a hackysack.

 

All right.

Are you sick of my shit yet?

I’m gonna continue to try and describe it.

 

A buoyant levity (or was it confusion drawn out and jagged?) upended grief and after the topple I lived inside a lurid, trembling curiosity. A tender and restrained interest coated the balance beam of my confidence creating a slick surface.

That’s what it feels like, if I try to intellectually describe a feeling. I feel like my confidence was shattered, shredded. Everything I did with her seemed to work. Actions and words pulled two people together into a flourishing spiritual connection. Was it all bullshit?

It was true until it turned on its head and then what do you say to yourself? How do you take the next step? Do I really want to reinvent myself?

A refrain echoed, calling me to move out of stillness. Was it a call to control? I no longer know which of my behaviors are irresponsibly manipulative. I can’t tell. I simply swear every one of them is tinged with large swaths of desire for courtship, and for me, that chivalrous drive is an element, polished and pure in my innermost recesses recalcitrantly emblazoned as love. I was dealing with this. I was listening to my inner voice. I was exposing this otherness living inside me.

Then, as if in the cross hairs of a sniper, I was struck fast. I remembered the joy we both felt, a few days before, after re-entering a connection that had been needlessly and ruthlessly discarded more than a month before, by her own fears. She had been living in those fears her entire life, but now, with their attachments fastened on our shared memories, the absurdity and dichotomy of her escape took on a comic hue. A tragically comic pallid light opened awareness in dreams and in the drama of our own experience; even in the deepest segments of my sorrows there was a dichotomy splitting the timbre of my nighttime sobs into both laughter and desperation.

Wow, where did that come from? I’m not gonna lie. I cried. Even after lateraling my feminine alter-ego I churned out some vulnerable insights. There I go again thinking about my emotions instead of experiencing them. I can’t tell if I’m dealing with intellectualized feelings or the emotions themselves. There is a masquerade. Emotions cut-through with intellectual embellishments travel a higher road along the ego’s territory submerging the actual emotions, disowning them like they belong to someone else. Are the thoughts of feelings contorted along the rational terrain of my awareness really emotions or am I deluding myself?

 

This is where Massimo comes in handy.

He said:

“ Let’s get a bottle of some good sipping tequila, we’ll talk about it.”

“You’ve got a find a way to forget about that shit, push it away, pretend it doesn’t exist go find someone else.”

 

Massy was reminding me what not to do. His psychological insights always amaze me. Pure, unalloyed emotions not experienced directly, not lived through, are repressed and they lay in wait always. They do not dissolve in the lap of Patron. They bite back.

Massimo always reminds me that you can repress these difficult feelings by creating all manner of thought games that shift and twist emotions into something else, something now different or distorted from the pure singular emotions that are born inside me right now. It is those, and it is then, at that instant, that I need to understand them, right when they are in their virgin state poised to teach me.

The truth is, those emotions come from the hollow chambers down there somewhere in the animal, in the instinctual terrain that wants to procreate and propagate the species. That’s what I keep trying to rummage around and find. But it is a nether-region without words without logic, only music with flourishes of art’s dizzying and immaculate silent presence.

We can’t find those after tequila and a long conversation with Massimo. It’s an inside job. Once I go that route those feelings are lost in the best macho male-speak.

So the second assault did not come as a surprise, yet, it acted as a paradoxical disintegration while we appeared to be riding the crest of communal bliss. You just can’t know another person. The light hits her hazel eyes and our sustained gazes, like pillowy visions of carnal union, sever truth as it tries to cross between us. A high-amplitude attraction hides sentiments where fear of abandonment or lack of trust smolders and damages the infrastructure two souls have constructed. Behavior mirrors the attraction while fear conscientiously works behind the scenes. The attraction could not be contained between us so how is that a problem? Friendship and common interests fed a wealth of compatibility drawing from vast sources inside both of us. Arousal for her, in a moment powerless to repress, becomes the tipping point for bizarre destructive strokes, brilliant in their cruel honesty, and sabotage, surfacing like a silent snake-strike out of the blue, an ambush that took my legs out on the way to a honeymoon.

Something in me kept coming back for more. Was this love? Was it manipulative, selfish, ego-driven love (representing actions outside of love’s purview) where my cracked center, injured and dragging, yearned for a conjoining glue to repair what only I could fix myself? I had faith but it had lost its bearings in a fog of my receding belief in love.