When I was in high school there was a boy whom I dated who was absolutely gorgeous. I wouldn't think so now, as my types have seriously changed since I was in junior English( he would now be way too pretty boy for my taste, but at the time I was crazy for blond boys in Polo shirts). I think it was maybe our third time out and I felt what Molly Ringwald must have when in Sixteen Candles she got THE guy at the end. You remember the scene when they were on the dining room table and there was a birthday cake and the kiss? It was astounding to me that dorky-old- me was dating a high school deity. I was dizzy from the altitude sickness and overwhelmed by the oxygen differential that occurs when a mortal dates a resident of Mt. Olympus. The date progressed and we were doing lots of kissing. I think the term for it was "making out". Yes, we were making out( Do they still call it that?). And this deity started getting pushy about moving things to the next level. I stood firm in my resistance. It was too early. I didn't know him well enough. And I didn't want him to think I was a slut. So I continued to say no and he continued to push for yes. He grew tired of my noes and so he, between passionate kisses( as passionate as a 17 year old boy could be) began a different tact. He gave me the highlights of his sexual CV. Seriously. He did this. He began to tell me all the gorgeous and popular girls in my high school that he had slept with. The terribly and surprising and horrifying thing is that his who's-who of high school actually worked on me. I was impressed with his impressive list of girls. I wanted to be on that list (any wonder I have needed years of therapy?) and so I slept with him.
I think of that boy and his tactic and the horrifying results of his sales pitch and how it actually worked on me, I think of it a lot. And when I think of it, I feel ashamed. I feel VERY ashamed. I don't, I will also admit, ever think of the actual sex act ( it was not worth remembering). When I think about it I feel baffled by how this guy came up with this method and if he used it on other girls and whether it continued to work for him. I certainly hope he had no further success with it. I really do.
I started to think of this shame-filled memory just yesterday. It came to mind after I was contacted by a big media outlet. If I told you who they were you would know who they are, you would know immediately. There is nothing obscure or local about this media source. And as soon as I thought of this big moment for me( for such a media outlet to care what I had to say on a given subject means a whole lot to this dork-o-potomus). I know it seems strange for a moment of success to lead to such a shame-filled memory, let me explain why. See, when that success happened I was feeling accomplished and somewhat proud of myself. I started to think of some recent events that improved my CV. I was feeling that these accomplishments were in fact making me a more worthy and lovable person.
I began to think of some people in my life who haven't loved me as much as they might have, and chief on this list is a man that I long loved who was very much like my father, only in a different suit and different state. This man never saw my worth even as I inflated his. And whenever I accomplish anything BIG I think of him. The first time I published a short story I thought of him. When I graduated from college I thought of him. When I went on to grad school and graduated I thought of him. You name the accomplishment I have achieved, any of them, and there is a co-morbid memory of this guy and my wondering if he would love me now that I did x, y and z. Whenever I ask myself is an achievement is big enough for him to make him love me the answer is always the same. No, it is not big enough. I tell myself that the day will come when I will achieve something that would make me deserving enough for him to love me (not that I want him or love him).
I asked myself the usual question this morning when I got the news, would Henry love me now that this media outlet cares about my opinions, and I had the usual answer. He still wouldn't love me. There is, in fact, nothing I could do that would ever make him see me as worthy or lovable and that is about him and NOT about me---I know that and yet I still try to achieve enough, do enough, accomplish enough and be pretty enough for this man who is no longer in my life to love me. And the truth is I don't want his love any longer, I really don't. I am so very lucky that he is long gone from my life. But he continues to remain, in some ways, an introjected arbiter of my worthiness. It may be that because he is so like my father and that my father is dead that he is, at this point, the living embodiment of my father's dissatisfaction with me. Maybe that is why even as my father is dead, Henry's disapproval lives on in me. And as long as Henry lives and I live and there is me trying to achieve, there is hope that I could some day be worthy of my father's love.
When I thought of the sex-history CV of my high school Casanova, and saw that this morning that I was doing the same thing again with Henry---I felt sort of sad. I felt sad for the me that I fell for the first résumé and even sadder that I have felt the need to continue building the second one. And I suppose I remain baffled why the first one worked and the second one never has.
Henry, if you are reading this( and I know you never would, even if you knew about my blog, you wouldn't want to gratify me by deigning to read something I wrote) I want you to know that I am worthy, lovable and, dog-gone-it, people like me. If you would like further verification of my worthiness please read the comments attached to this post. I feel sure that my lovely friends will happily speak to my worthiness and happily give me glowing letters of recommendations, if you require them(you might need go back to olders posts to get a sense of how my friends see me). Maybe that will help.