As I am making my way through The Art of Asking, some things hit me harder than others. One of them was something Amanda related in the book, but it was actually Neil who had said it. It’s about not believing in falling in love. I wrote my thoughts right there on a piece of paper as I sat on a bench in Bethnal Green park, having spent the afternoon at the Spitalfields Market and the Old Truman Brewery (where I purchased several items, including but not limited to a wonderful steampunk-like mechanic pocket watch and a poster of two male British constables kissing; I have utterly spent all my cash, was left literally with a pound and a few pennies, which I then proceeded to give to some buskers just outside the Columbia Road Flower Market; I also ended up in a store named Duke of Uke, a place dedicated to ukuleles, where I seriously considered buying a ukulele, even though I can’t play or sing; eventually I decided not to, maybe I will find something cheaper back in Poland, but I did leave the store encouraging the clerk to check out the Ukulele Anthem; I wonder if he did).
When he [Neil] started to trust me, he told me that he’d believed for a long time, deep down, that people didn’t actually fall in love. That they were all faking it.
But that’s impossible. You’re a professional writer, I said, and you’ve seen a thousand films and read a thousand books and memoirs and know real people authentically in love. What about John and Judith? Peter and Clare? Did you think they’re just lying? And you’ve written whole books, stories, scenes where people are deeply in love. I mean… I just don’t believe you. How could you write bout love if you didn’t believe it existed?
That’s the whole point, darling, he said. Writers make stuff up.
(Excerpt from Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, p. 175-176.)
That part about Neil, about how for the longest time he didn’t believe people actually fell in love, that they were just faking it… that hit a nerve. It felt familiar. That’s how I feel a lot of the time. But why? Why?
Because I’ve never been in love myself? The kind of love that people write about in books and songs? I’ve always felt like they were exaggerating for the audience, lying, faking. Like it was not possible to feel those feelings they were describing. Don’t get me wrong, I know of love, but it’s always the non-sexual, mild kind of love that people have for their mothers and fathers and siblings and friends, and yes, even for their favorite rock stars whom they never met. But the kind of love described in love songs and romances, the kind of love the entire world is professing and celebrating… that always felt fake to me. Impossible.
I’ve felt affection, attraction, infatuation. And often enough in those cases I called it love, never actually, really believing that that‘s what it was. And I doubted others’ ability to love, as well. I was projecting my own disbelief, my own inability, onto them.
And frankly, I still do.
There are still moments when I just don’t believe in love. Affection? Yes. Desire? Hell yeah. Lust? You bet your ass I do believe in lust. But love? Love seems phoney.
Maybe because sometimes the entire human condition seems phone. Life seems phoney.
I seem phoney.
The Fraud Police never sleeps. It’s in my heart.
Am I really unable to love?
I thought that I loved M., my childhood friend. But we were just kids back then. Looking back, it seems like I told myself I loved him, just because I wanted to love someone. Anyone. And he was a safe bet. If he could never loved me back, it was just because he was gay, and not because I didn’t deserve his love.
If you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes your truth.
But deep down, I knew. I knew I was just faking it. For the longest time I wouldn’t tell anyone. I kept a diary, and that’s the only place I ever expressed the fake love I’ve had for my friend. I’d conjured it up for myself, and I fed off that phoney love, nursing my heart as if it was truly broken by this unrequited feeling that I never actually felt.
I did love M. I loved him as a friend, and nothing more. But I wanted to be in love so desperately that I convinced myself otherwise.
The same thing happened again and again. I always seemed to find someone who’d become my close friend and whom I’d secretly place as the object of my love which never existed. The love that never was. How fucked up is that?
I’ve never told that to anyone. I am scared.
A few years ago I came out as pansexual (or bisexual to people I didn’t have the patience to explain the concept of pansexuality to). But I’ve been wondering if the prefix a- wouldn’t be more adequate.
Maybe I’m just incapable of loving.
Or maybe I just never met anyone I could love.
Or maybe I’m just not good enough to be loved, and by extension, to love myself.
I am here with my heart open, inviting, welcoming, and nobody ever comes in.
No matter how many times I’ve been attracted to or infatuated with someone, no matter how many times I told myself it was love, no matter how many times I tried, there was never anyone who’d want me. Who’d be attracted to me. Who’d be infatuated with me.
Maybe it’s just easier not to believe in love in general and to tell myself that that‘s why nobody ever loved me… than to admit that I’m simply unlovable.