the whole cake

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It strikes me every time I read something from several years ago how many repeated patterns there are in the lives of all the characters involved, including myself. It shouldn’t come as a surprise – I am a certain type of person, and despite changing my surroundings, approaches, and putting up solid boundaries when needed, it does not change the fact that I am the same person at my core, and the feelings with which I respond are essentially the same. It also does not change the kinds of people I encounter in my life, or the preferences my heart (or mind) seems to have. None of this is a value judgment – just observations about how fundamental, deep change is not easy or quick. If it happens at all, it happens like soil erosion – it is happening but isn’t visible to the naked eye or even perceptible for many years.

Autumn 2011 (?) – excerpts from an email

A weekend of major baking (1200 cookies for a PR event at work). I invited a young German assistant to come and help me.

Latest drama: Mal is convinced he is going to die, like a total hypochondriac, despite not actually having real symptoms of anything. All I could do was roll my eyes, even if I wanted to be sympathetic, because 1. what a total overreaction, 2. go to the fucking doctor if you are so scared, 3. he was sooooooo unsympathetic when I had my own much more realistic health scare not long ago and has not been sympathetic or understanding when I have told him about the actual health problems I faced. Eventually he saw a doctor who told him that his symptoms were imagined/psychosomatic. Being the dramatic manipulator he is, he uses even fake health crises to milk what benefit he can get from them. He told me he feels he has had a “near-death experience” now. Oh my god. Seriously. Until they are cutting your balls off and shooting radiation into some part of your body, don’t even talk to me about near-death. He apparently told a mutual acquaintance that if he had been diagnosed with something terminal, he would immediately pack up and move here, as if he had been invited to die at my house. At some point he told me the same thing, imagining I would be flattered that he would choose me as nurse and caretaker for his final days?! Me, being the cynic always believing the worst in people like him, I said, “Oh why… better free medical care in Sweden?” He got offended and said, “No! To spend my last days somewhere beautiful with someone who really cares about me.” I guess that is a nicer sentiment, but note that it is always about who cares about him, what he can get out of it and not about for whom he cares or some kind of mutual care or respect.

Of course I am not supposed to be talking to him at all since my deadline for getting rid of him was September 30. It really had become such a chore and difficulty that I literally had to give myself a deadline. It is beyond difficult to just cut someone off, even someone so destructive and selfish. I have put a lot of distance between us, causing him to call me a “frosty fucker” the other day (haha). I enjoyed being called a frosty fucker so much that I just had to repeat it. It has grown easier, though, because I’ve been working and dashing constantly from place to place – Oslo, Trondheim, New York, Seattle, Stockholm, and will be right up until the end of the year, meaning there is no time to mess around with his nonsense, inconsistency, excuses and bullshit. I sometimes find myself in the position of sort of missing him when we are out of touch for a while, but as soon as I talk to him again, listening to his stupid excuses and bullshit-filled banter, I am back to wanting to forget that this summer happened at all…

Actually being around R (the dentist), I was just struck again, hard, by the realization that it is just so easy to get worn down into a pattern with some people (ML) where you accept and think something, some pathetic behavior, is okay or even normal, which it totally is not. R is open, funny, generous, warm … he barely knows me but he invited me to stay in his house during this extensive dental treatment. We had some great conversations and even greater laughs… and you know, he did not have to do any of that – I was not his friend, but his sister’s, but he still did. I like to think I am a lot like that most of the time. I am not a taker, so when I am taking (like from R this past week), I am extremely grateful and gracious, offer to help in any way I can, offer whatever I have (in this case, I brought a shitload of cookies to him). I just don’t understand people who can take and take and barely register that it might require a thank you.

I was telling R about this situation with Mal, and he laughed and said, “It sounds like an indie movie… full of unknown actors.” It made me think… maybe I should write a screenplay or something out of this ridiculous summer. Then I would at least feel like I walked away with something.

These days, after this stupid summer entanglement and its idleness, I am oddly contemplative/reflective on what it is I really want to do in life… ever since Steve Jobs died the other day and I re-watched his Stanford commencement speech about death (or threat of it) being the best catalyst for taking action in life. Do I want to write product sheets about the Android OS for the rest of my life? No. The last thing I want is a routine life.

…And then on compatibility, with your husband and with people in general. I understand what you are saying about choosing the “right qualities” when you decided to be with him… his stability and some of the more fundamental things. Yes, you might have liked to have been with someone who wants long, deep conversations and shared literary interests, but it is rare (if possible at all) to get a whole package. Isn’t it a matter of what is most important – and how you can get by and relate in the day to day? And I guess, as we may have discussed before, you can get some of the more in-depth conversational needs taken care of with close friends, even if it is still not quite the same thing.

And if love is important – or what makes you feel loved, rather – I just talked to my German assistant about this. She is young, so inexperienced. She asked whether she should wait around for someone if she is in love with them and they just don’t respond to her in kind. I assumed she was talking about Mal (and if she wasn’t, that means she has gotten herself into yet another unhealthy situation with someone else), and it made me so intensely sad for her to know that she KNOWS it is not going to change. She is just an accessory and a “safety/back up” for him. It is not that he does not care at all about her, but that he cares more about himself. Obviously. He is always going to give her a few crumbs to keep her hanging on but will never give her the whole cake, so to speak. To which I almost screamed, “Don’t settle for stale crumbs. Wait for – and accept – only the whole cake.”

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