I don’t think you know me.
That’s my fault, not yours. And maybe I’m wrong. But I think that I’m right. I think that I’ve spent so long in my life suppressing my emotions and showing people what I think they want to see that I don’t think there’s a lot of real me left. I’m not actually sure which one I am. Am I the loud, obnoxious and scathingly sarcastic asshole who hangs out with my gamer friends and mocks everything and everyone? Am I the confident, calm and kind but firm boss my employees and coworkers see? Am I the impatient, loving authoritarian I am around the kids? Am I the adoring, loving and compassionate husband I am when things are good with us? Or maybe the distant, cold and completely disconnected stranger I am when things are bad? Am I a combination of all of those or are they all a fraud?
Can I be honest? I don’t really know. When no one is around I don’t really think about myself. If I’m at home alone (a very rare thing) I’m playing a video game or cooking or painting or cleaning or watching a movie and I don’t spend a single second reflecting on myself, who I am, and what I want. I just don’t. I think that might be the craziest thing about me in a sea of craziness. This little journal experiment is the most I’ve spent thinking about my own personality in as long as I can remember. I’d rather just find a problem and solve it. Or distract myself effectively enough to not worry about it.
So then the question is this: Is there anything to think about? Have I built a wall to keep out the part of myself that feels emotion? What am I doing right now? Is this actually an honest self-assessment or am I just writing this for an imaginary audience? Do I think you’ll somehow find out about it and read it, and am I skewing what I say towards manipulating you as you read?
God that’s fucked up. But there’s probably part of it that’s true. I think every single thing I do is manipulation. Every time we talk whether online or in person, every time we have sex, every time there’s any sort of interaction I’m trying to control outcomes through what I do and say. That’s why I’m not thinking about myself, because I’m too busy thinking about how to affect everyone else and get them to behave how I want them to.
And it’s not even like it’s for my benefit. I do good, I really do. With Kristina I helped her to be a better person. I taught her how to speak to employees, how to communicate with management, how to run the account, and helped her with her personal life. I got her my job after I left and that was 100% me. If I had shown any doubt about her they would have given it to someone else. And there was nothing in it for me. There was no sexual aspect (you’ve seen her) there was that mentor/mentee relationship but really that was it. I manipulated her for 2 years into being a better person.
So what am I doing with you? I know for the past month I’ve wanted to punish you. Even when we have moments of being almost okay I don’t really want you to be happy. I want you to regret what you did and I want to be more important to you than the goddamned junk you fill our house with. I don’t think I am. I mean yeah, I’m more important than any one or even any hundred things but as a whole I think I lose. If it came to cleaning it all out and living in a cabin in the woods you would say no thank you and live in an apartment filled edge to edge with crap. You’d finally be that hoarder you always feared becoming.
But at the same time I want you to be better. I want you to love our life and to love me and to love yourself and it frustrates and angers me that I can’t affect that. I want to believe that you have a mental illness but I also want you to be stronger and I want you to be better than it. We all have mental illnesses. It’s the human condition. But they can’t be a crutch. And I feel like at some point you give in to your shopping impulses and do so BECAUSE you have been diagnosed. You’re able to distance yourself from your decisions by saying that it’s not your fault. I know you feel guilt and shame and anger and sadness but you STILL DO IT. That’s the problem.
What if I would have kept cheating on you and been diagnosed with a sex addiction? That probably could have happened, I think most men qualify for that diagnosis and if I didn’t firmly control it I would very easily be able to engage that impulse to a ridiculous degree. Would that have been enough to excuse my behavior? Even once? I think that if I ever had or ever did cheat on you again our marriage would be over. You would be gone. And yet I have to keep forgiving you, over and over again. I hate that. I hate that I DO keep forgiving you and getting burned again. I hate that you get to keep all the shit you buy and even the mention of getting rid of it causes you to panic. I hate that I don’t get to go out and fuck every woman I meet who shows even the vaguest interest in me. I hate that I don’t WANT to do that. I hate that I DO want to do that. I hate that if I did, it would be to punish you because I want our marriage to end only slightly less than I want it to work.
I guess I can’t blame you even a little for not knowing me after our 12 or 13 years together. I’ve been with me for more than 30 years and I don’t know myself. I wish I did, because it would be a hell of a lot easier to figure out what I want.