On Saturday I was still living in a fantasy, and I went to see Gareth again, for the first time in about a month. The sex was great, as usual – he really is a beautiful man, exactly what the needy inner child in me wants. Seeing him again was something of a spiritual experience, as he fed that neediness in me more than any drink ever could. But of course, the experience and the pleasure had to end eventually. When I came home on Sunday afternoon it took a while for the comedown to start, but once it did, it was horrific. Yesterday evening I felt so low that I couldn’t leave my bedroom. In fact, I could not stop crying. Thoughts of suicide and drinking and self-harm crossed my mind several times. I missed Gareth’s arms, and I was scared that I would have to be alone forever. I had tried to get him to agree to see me more regularly, to take me out for meals and be more responsive like he used to be when we first met. But my tentative suggestions were obviously not designed to make a difference. I can’t change Gareth’s personality any more than I can change the world.
Realising this last night brought me to the lowest place I have ever been in, because letting go of Gareth means that I have to let go of a lifetime’s fantasy. All my life I’ve fantasized about being taken care of by the archetypal big, strong man. Gareth, when he came along, fit the bill nicely. Not only is he physically very masculine – he acts like a real man too, drinking beer and driving cars and listening to guitar-driven rock music all the time. He is nothing like me whatsoever, which is precisely what attracted me to him. He is what I secretly think a man ought to be. He is the ‘great dark man’, in Quentin Crisp’s words. He is just a fantasy. I can’t have him all the time, only for brief nights of passion once every month or so. God, the passion is good when I’m in the midst of it. With Gareth I have learnt to enjoy sex for the first time in my life. But that enjoyment has turned into an addiction. It was an addiction from the very first moment I met him. He represents all the things that I think I’m lacking in life: he has a solid career, money in the bank, his own home, the epitome of a manly body…he is the person I have always dreamed of. And he will be my ultimate destruction, if I keep on acting out with him.
It’s funny that while all of this goes on I come to the chapter on enlightened relationships in Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’. According to Tolle, we are all addicted to the fantasy of a romantic relationship. When we meet someone who represents what we believe we are lacking in life – someone who tends to be the complete opposite to us – our egos cling onto that person and invest everything in them, to the point where we would rather die than be without them. Is that not what I have always done in relationships? Again, I seemed to know the answer before I ever came across this book.
The ego gives us a false sense of self and tells us that our survival and happiness is dependent on external things, whether they be money, material things, drugs or romantic relationships. What does Eckhart Tolle think constitutes a truly enlightended relationship? It’s hard to tell – I probably need to read the chapter again – but if I think about it deeply, the answer seems to be that only two enlightened people can form a truly lasting relationship. If Tolle is to be believed, I don’t need a relationship with someone like Gareth at all. Gareth represents the clinging to external things that has driven me to insanity – I’ve fallen in love with his body, his masculinity, the things that he does and the things he doesn’t do. I haven’t fallen in love with the person underneath all that, because I don’t know that person at all.
The big realisation from all of this is that the man I’ve chased all my life is what has caused me so much unhappiness. Tolle seems to say that true happiness cannot come from a man or a woman – it can only come from a person. Which means that I need to start looking past external gender and think about the spirituality that exists in the people I’m dating. Where am I going to find people who are similarly spiritual to me? I’ve always had it at the back of my mind that I would be better off dating in AA, though the fear of breaking a taboo has put me off so far. I haven’t properly tried dating in AA yet, so I can’t say that it doesn’t work for me. It just seems really coincidental that a book which has nothing to do with AA talks so much about the kind of spirituality that I’ve only ever found in AA. If I really want to be in a relationship, I guess I need to be with someone who understands the things I’m talking about. Until I find someone like that, I have to remember that I will be OK. Tolle says that whether one is in a relationship or not, one has everything that one needs to be joyful and at peace right now. And I’m beginning to believe him.