love

4.

Sagittarius Horoscope for September 12, 2011

Your recent period of growth is slowing down — it’s not that you have nothing new to learn; it’s just that you need some downtime to process the things you’ve learned so far. Put new ideas into practice, and start working on the things that you promised yourself you would work on. This is not the time to expand your horizons or try to reach the end of the road. It’s the time to stick with what’s on your plate and finish it up. Follow-through is the final lesson you need to learn.

Nuf said there! Let’s just hope for my sake the “follow-through” comment in this ‘scope speaks to my dissertation and not the mundane tasks I have never successfully followed-through with like keeping up with my laundry, buying tampons in bulk, exfoliating, being a woman.

Here we go, day 4.

In order to procrastinate last night I ate chocolate-covered almonds and watched the Canadian film Trigger with Molly whatever her last name is, Sarah Polley, and Don what’s his face—you know, the three good Canadian actors found in all Canadian films. The movie was fun and tragic and laced with moments of humiliation that stemmed from tricky reunions, alcohol hiccups, group sex, femme-punk music and a nostalgic view of the city of Toronto. Being from P.E.I. I’m a perpetual tourist and found myself yelling, “hey, I’ve eaten there!” to the computer screen more than once. Yes, I’m one of those.

Why am I bringing this movie up? My horrendous thesis of course. So there’s this scene in the movie when Molly (Parker) and Tracy Wright (who just died of Pancreatic cancer in 2010 and whose pessimistic outlook on life made me lonely for laughter) are walking up Spadina arm in arm, in the rain, under one of those see-through umbrellas, and Wright’s character says to Molly’s:

Wright: “This is love: I secretly believe that I’m unlovable, and then I meet you. You tell me that you love me. I love you because you love me, but that has nothing to do with you; it’s about you loving me. I only love you because I imagine myself unlovable, and you, against all odds, love me. And then, at some point, you do something that makes me think that you don’t love me, which I’m more ready to believe than you loving me because I’m unlovable, so I stop loving you; I only love you because you love me, and I’m unlovable.

Molly: What about the other person? The person who loves you?

Wright: It’s the same thing. Everybody is doing the same thing. Everybody thinks they’re unlovable, too.”

Well that’s fucking depressing. But it hits. This is one of the best summaries of the way we relate to one another that I’ve come across. And it didn’t come from Dr. Phil. Fancy that.

I’d be so excited to see Wright’s words delivered as wedding vows, but that’s not gonna happen. Instead, it gets me thinking about loneliness and our expectation that we should never, if we’re succeeding in love, feel lonely. The entitlement that comes from feeling as though we deserve and should have love sounds a lot like the notion that we think we all deserve to live a middle-class lifestyle, have a car, kids, a good paying job, a nice split-level house, travel time, a pension, the occasional mental health day.

The western economy of love. thanks

In this way, Wright’s assertion that “I only love you because you love me, and I’m unlovable” seems bang on. You’re only entitled to love, and love me, if I’m entitled to love you and, at the same time, have you love me. But we’re both never going to be happy with mere love, because we’re not loveable, so let’s seek out more and more to fill our void. Our act of filling (eat more, drink more, buy more, cry more) becomes legitimate—almost our duty. Because we’re so entitled to love in the first place. Maybe the promise of this love makes us continue to seek it out. And when love fails us, we think we failed it, or, that we failed the expectant public that waits for us to fall in love already?

I’m remembering Denise Riley’s The Words of Selves when she talks about the act of saying “I love you” to someone, something that is annoyingly hard for me. Makes me itchy. She talks about the neediness inflected in the comment, “I love you.” A neediness she claims is a violence because it is so self-invested. Of love she says: “any initial ‘I love you’ is barely possible to enunciate without its implicit—however unwilled—claim for reciprocation.”  Translation: saying “I love you” screams out for a response. A reciprocation.

Riley, like Tracey Wright’s character in Trigger, looks at both the giver and the receiver of the “I love you” comment. Riley presumes that to be told “I love you” is to be left with the lover’s expectation that you say something. Silence, after all, would make the lover feel pretty shitty. A pithy “thanks” doesn’t really cut it and is certainly not going to get you into bed, ever. So what do you say?

As Wright’s character explains even if you say “I love you” the believability of the comment is fleeting. The receiver still feels like the comment is a lie. I understand this character in Trigger; convincing myself that no one can love me is easy. Not saying, “I love you” is safe. It stops the bleeding before it begins.

Now, from the point of view of the poor shmuck who said “I love you,” the loneliness of awaiting a response is terrifying. And no response will really calm.

But then again I’ve said “I love you” and I’ve meant it. The consequences have gone by way of the great and by way of the Sylvia Plath, but it always feels scary even if, and perhaps more so, I get an “I luv you too.” Then my theory of unloveability is tested.

What strikes me about both the Riley and Trigger quotes is the concentration on the self. As far as my thesis goes I’m writing my way through this moment when the self and the other meet in expectation. Thinking about rejection, about being misfitted or excluded from the club of acceptance, when a person is turned away or turns away from the social they might feel the shame of rejection and the loneliness of that turn. The gal who has not gotten the response from someone she thinks she needs in order to feel loveable wants to hide because shame itself is shameful. This same gal also might want to turn inward (despise what she believes is despised already), take up mass drinking, Sarah Harmer, no showering, and bacon. A divided self emerges where the gal sees herself from a position of the ideal—the ‘what if I had have gotten the right response’ position—and the rejected position, which felt inevitable anyway.

I wonder though if shame initiates this flip-flop between wanting to protect the self from love, and wanting to be loveable in order to claim the position of the ideal within the social, does loneliness enter here as mediator? Can it offer some other option than “love me or don’t, it all is inevitably crap?”

Maybe. That will take more thought. But it’s something I can safely respond to without more therapy.

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About newdaynewmood

A Lonely lesbian trying to write about everyday life and everyday ways to negotiate the tough political issues therein.
This entry was posted in humour, lesbianism, loneliness, popular culture, sexuality, writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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