Tim

I have recurring dreams about being in a romantic relationship with Tim Ferriss. This is not by choice, but it is my reality nonetheless. While I’m not attracted to Tim Ferriss, I do like and admire the version of him I have been exposed to, and so I suppose that accounts for some of it. But he’s, not like, you know, Guy Martin. Or David Tennant. Or Sufjan Stevens. He’s not even Jason Mraz or Elon Musk. He doesn’t capture my fascination or make me giddy with joy. He’s just a very steady, positive, peripheral presence. Somewhere between Andrew Huberman and Seth Godin. I’m just having fun listing people now.

They’re not sex dreams about Tim Ferriss, exactly, although there is sex; they’re specifically about having, developing, maintaining a romantic relationship with Tim Ferriss. I don’t recall ever having that kind of dream about anyone else. Only Tim. Always Tim.

That’s all. No conclusions. Just thought you should know.

Throttle

I’ve been living in a double bind for quite an extended period of time and I’m only just admitting it to myself.

Whilst languishing in denial, I’ve tried all kinds of mental and emotional gymnastics to work myself around the trap, but I think I’m going to have to concede that I can’t move forward without true and actual resolution.

When I think about the toll this has taken on my life in the past few years, I wince, because it hasn’t been spiky and dramatic, but it has been chronic and profound.

I have denied myself clarity, peace, joy, desire, love, decision; All Good Things. Not entirely, which is how I got away with it for so long. And probably not even as much as many people deny themselves those things without ever even knowing any different. But I did know different. I have known so much more of All Good Things than I have allowed myself to experience these past few years. And I’ve been disappointed, honestly, that I haven’t been able to access them in their full vibrant ferocity. I’ve missed them in my life. But I hadn’t really considered that I was throttling the supply. Or rather, I had considered it, and I judged myself innocent. Isn’t that always the way.

Nearly seven years ago now (the anniversary is approaching), I fell in love with – what – the image of a man? And then, when faced with the facts that, firstly, I had indeed fallen in love, and secondly, pursuing a romantic relationship wasn’t an option, I made the decision to just let myself, in all my crazy fucking glory, and in complete absence of reason, love that image as hard as I fucking wanted to anyway. And, boy, did I love hard. And, boy, was it excruciating. And, boy, was it enlightening.

Through that Love, I found God. And I don’t mean I found belief, or faith, or understanding, I mean I felt God. And not a God that’s going to be confined by any petty ideations. A God much vaster than anything I could conceive of. A Reality much richer than I’d ever thought possible. A Universe more minutely beautiful than anything running through my dreams. It was everything I’d ever wanted and more.

For a while I didn’t know my love was wrong. By which I mean I still lived in the paradigm where the point of being in love was to get something, and I still believed it was possible to get that thing. To be with the man I was in love with. And so I reached emotional heights unlike anything I’d known before, not only with full permission from myself, but with encouragement, because I took it as confirmation that this meant it was ‘real’.

Eventually, that illusion cracked wide open to make way for something more expansive. I shed a lot of pain, a lot of patterns, a lot of lies, a lot of limits. Everyday living was a psychedelic experience. I gave up clinging to the notion of a traditionally romantic outcome and instead explored the nebulous boundaries of this free-flowing Whole New World.

For a while that was good. And then it was fine.

But he never went away. I kept doing the work, healing the broken parts, giving up the attachments, integrating the lessons; all on the assumption that one day I’d reach the natural conclusion of this revelation and be permitted to go onto the next stage of my journey, without him. Because he was never there, anyway, right? He didn’t want to be a part of this. So why the fuck is he?

At some point, it didn’t seem fine anymore. I started to deny myself, because, even though it never felt wrong, it surely couldn’t be right.

And this is the crux of the matter. I am trying to live in my integrity. I’m trying to live a life true to myself. But he is literally the benchmark for my integrity. He is my ‘full-body yes’. If I need to think about what certainty feels like for me, I have to think of him, because nothing feels more certain than that. Everything I know about how I want to live tells me to follow that feeling; to trust that intuition that he is All Good Things. Not to chase an outcome; just to be true. But at the same time, following it feels so fucking intrusive. He didn’t want to be a part of this. How dare I make him?

And, what’s more, if the truest thing isn’t true, how can I trust Truth anyway?

No wonder I’ve been stuck on this one.

I hope I’m feeling brazen

As soon as I typed the phrase “I have a tendency to hyperfixate on people“, a voice in my head said you’re gonna have to write about Polaris again now.

While my parasocial celebrity fixations are largely wholesome and harmless, my real-life fixations have most often been of the variety that could be labelled toxic. Mainly because my brain loves the drama of emotionally unavailable men, and literally can’t get enough of the fucking chase. Give me obtuse statements to obsess over the meaning of and it’ll keep me occupied for days. Give me imaginary hoops to jump through to get you and I will be gleefully bounding all week. I genuinely enjoy it. It excites me. It’s fun. But, I mean, it’s also clearly interacting with my childhood trauma. It’s not healthy, and it invariably leaves me with the same feeling I get if I binge eat 800g of chocolate. Alongside the inevitable carnage, obviously.

Polaris exists at the intersection of these two breeds of hyperfixation.

For a brief moment in time we had a paper-thin, at-a-distance reciprocal connection. During that time, I recognised the familiar sensations of a very powerful hyperfixation developing, only at that time I just called it love. And honestly, experientially, hyperfixation is love as far as I’m concerned. Who knows what it would have become if allowed to run its course.

Much like Guy Martin, I found myself sort of uncomfortably attracted to him, because I couldn’t quite figure out what to make of him and thus couldn’t decide if being attracted to him was an acceptable course of action. Over the years I would come to understand; acceptability was entirely irrelevant. Reading his messages made me feel like the fourth minute of Hot Knife by Fiona Apple, on 1.5 speed, loud and through good headphones, and the sensation didn’t wear off on the rereads. If I still had access to them, I’m willing to wager I’d still feel like that. I was, and always will be, profoundly elated that he ever existed in the same Universe as me and I got to know about it.

And then he bounced, so naturally, the chase was on. Why did he leave? Was it something I said? Let’s analyse every word and figure it out. Was it something wrong with him? Let’s list all the fucked up things about him that might exist that could account for this behaviour. Am I a worthless piece of shit human and that’s why he disappeared? Probably, but maybe we can convince him that you’re not if we carefully craft some sort of outreach initiative. My faulty programming had a fucking field day strategising the hunt.

But that’s just the surface level. Simultaneously, something deeper was happening. Something…spiritual.

The day after my first message from Polaris, I wrote a song. I’ve written quite a lot of songs in my life. I don’t exactly write them intentionally – they just sort of come out of me sometimes, when they’re the only adequate way to express myself to myself. I don’t know what to do with most of them, so they get stuck in the limbo of just being a vocal melody that I’m too scared to reveal to anyone. That’s what happened to this song too. But when I started this blog and I needed a tagline, the only thing that seemed right to use was a lyric from that song: following the flow, the flux, of living, breathing days. I always thought I’d change it because it was a lyric, not a tagline, but nothing ever rose to supercede it. That line neatly encapsulates my intention in a way I will fail to if I actually try, and for the purposes of this post, it demonstrates that Polaris awakened in me something I’ve been trying to nurture ever since. His impact endured.

Thus, my life is demarcated by Polaris. Before and after. The way I’ve chosen to live; the discoveries and recoveries I’ve made; the things I’ve created…everything I’ve become beyond who I was before can be cleanly and unequivocally traced back to him. That should be a fucking uncomfortable statement to make, but it’s not. Polaris was a hyperfixation. But Polaris was also a soul-changing event. Polaris was divine intervention. If you’re sensing biblical vibes here, then yes, I am living in the year of the Lord.

There hasn’t been a day that’s passed since I ‘met’ Polaris that I haven’t thought of him. Which is quite the fucking achievement considering I forget my own son exists sometimes when he’s with his dad. I’ve never met this person – as far as I’m concerned, he has no physical form. Yet, long after I was starved of any new Polaris-related input, there he is. It isn’t about him. It could be about him, too; he might be as magnificent a human as I believe him to be, I simply do not know. I had to learn to live with the agony of not knowing. Fucking Schrodinger’s Star. But I don’t even remember him at this point. He’s just a nebulous mass. It’s about what he represented for me. And will probably always represent.

So many things converged to create the experience I had with Polaris. It was nothing short of magical, and it was also too fucking much for my human self. It obliterated me. And then it transformed me.

And because I am who I am, if I was going to transform, then it only made sense that it would be through connection with another human that I would access that transformation. But this was certainly not how I imagined that kind of thing would go. And, my god, what an awkward aftermath.

In Spirit

My last post made me feel a little bit vulnerable. Like I wanted someone who actually knew Adam to tell me it was okay to talk about him like that. Like the idea of showing it to them made me want to crawl into a hole and cover myself with mud.

I have learned throughout my life that I am highly unusual in the way I experience love, and the way that I communicate about it. This is mainly because love to me is – very viscerally – an intense, free-flowing, transcendent, abundant, radically inclusive sensation. I feel it powerfully, for lots of people, at lots of times, and it isn’t correlated particularly to whether anything ‘warrants’ it. The way I experience love, on a day-to-day basis, is the way other people describe love when they’ve taken mind-altering substances. And, unlike Adam, instead of learning to embrace it, allow it, and let it flow through me, I encased it in layers of sickening shame from a very early age so that it had no choice but to explode out of the fissures at inopportune moments.

So now I am weird.

And I often worry about coming off as a creep, or intruding where I’m not welcome, because of how many times I have tripped over my own clown feet trying to navigate the dichotomy of intense love and intense fear living in the same house. My house. My confusing, inappropriate house.

It may be that I never learned to operate the dial that people have, to moderate their feelings to appropriate levels. Maybe I don’t have a dial. Maybe I don’t even have a switch. I spent a lot of my life trying to hide my whole house-full of flashing feelings under my skirt with a flushed look on my face. Constructing an artifice of unconvincing stories to justify my awkward stance and panicked, darting eyes. It was exhausting, ineffective, uncomfortable, and really, really weird.

By the time I met Adam, I was enacting a life experiment; to accept and integrate my radical version of love. And I was being pulverised by it. But Adam was the first person I met – possibly the only person I’ve ever met – who embodied that radical version of love. And so I learned it was not only viable, but also vastly preferable to anything I had ever known before. And so I kept going.

Nearly six years on, I’m comfortable that how I love is how I want to love, and it’s pretty easy for me to allow that. Until I have to walk on these creepy clown feet. But at least I’m there in spirit. Which I guess is where he is, too. Begging the question: Does it actually even count at all if you’re only there in spirit?

Impossible possibilities

One day, in the autumn of 2017, I was sitting in the cafe of the local library with my boyfriend and our few month old son. My coffee was too hot, we didn’t have much to say to each other, and I was scrolling through Facebook.

The world around me went quiet as I lighted upon a post from someone I’d stayed with in Texas, back in another life. I went still and silent for long enough that my boyfriend asked me what was up.

“Adam died.” I said, quietly confused and surprised by the words coming out of my mouth.

“Who’s Adam?”

Who’s Adam? Who is Adam? Who is Adam to me? Who am I to Adam? How do I categorise Adam? How do I answer this truthfully? How do I answer this accurately?

“You know, the guy I was…kind of…seeing for a bit in Austin.” I came up with.

“Well you weren’t really seeing him, were you?” he scoffed with a note of condescension and maybe defensiveness. He was right, though. I was not seeing him. That wasn’t remotely the right word. In reality I had probably spent less than a week staying with Adam and his housemates. Was I supposed to say the guy I had a fling with? The fucking holiday romance? Was I supposed to bypass that entirely and just say one of the people I stayed with? Someone I used to know? That all felt ridiculous. I needed something to portray the level of intimacy we’d shared; the multi-layered nature of our connection; the importance of our encounters on the trajectory of my life. And, honestly, in that moment, now that he was gone, I needed to feel like I had, in some way, at some time, mattered to him as much as he mattered to me. There wasn’t an adequate explanation for who Adam was.

Adam was the person I stayed up watching documentaries with until 5am the first night we met. Who I wordlessly exchanged dirty foot massages with long past 2am the night after that. Whose bedroom felt like the safest place I’d ever been. Who surprised, disarmed and utterly baffled me with the understated sincerity of his kindness toward me. Who shone a light on the absurd depths of my sense of unworthiness, and simultaneously made me feel worthy by association. Who pushed my boundaries in really uncomfortable, wholesome ways, with such expert grace and gentleness that the experience was enchanting. Who showed me what love could really be like, even though we were both in love with other people at the time. Adam was probably the best person I’d ever met. Adam was the person I most wanted to be like.

Over the next few days I quietly pondered how the news impacted my life in no tangible way whatsoever, yet gently rocked me at my core. How, if I ever returned to Austin, it would now be distinctly lacking. How there was no longer any place in the world I could go to find him. How his absence made the world worse, not just for me, but for so many people who knew and loved him. How, of all the people I knew, in a very objective sense, he was very close to the top of the list of people I would least want to die. How it didn’t change any of the memories I’d made with him. How, in many ways, he didn’t feel any more gone to me than he had been for the past two years, and that had never really bothered me. How, actually, I felt free to feel closer to him now. How, actually, he didn’t feel gone at all.

I also battled with my ‘right’ to grieve for him. And, even moreso, my ‘right’ to feel close to him. My ‘right’ to talk to the air around me as if he was there. My ‘right’ to feel guided by his non-corporeal energy.

And then I wandered through thoughts of destiny and fate. What if I hadn’t left Austin? What if I’d gone back? We wouldn’t have had a successful long term relationship, I was pretty sure of that, but what if I could have altered events just enough that he wouldn’t end up on that road in that car at the exact moment a drunk driver came along? Is that how much of a knife-edge we all live on? Or did all roads lead there for him?

Adam was an extraordinary human and, for that, he was blessed with the love and admiration of many people. To me, he was a full-spectral oasis of radiance in a desolate wasteland of disconnection and missed opportunity. To him, I have no doubt, I was just another person he chose to share some time with. It didn’t mean I didn’t matter to him, but the relative importance of me to his full, open-hearted life could never match his impact on my own.

For years now, I’ve sat with that understanding, and I’ve continued to feel close to him, and guided by him, and I’ve made sure to consciously allow that for myself despite the ever-creeping guilt when I think about the people who really lost him.

And he’s made my life better. Sometimes he plain made it bearable. Remembering him, and imagining him with me, imagining what he might say to me, drew me forward through a lot of tumult. And I doubt I would have given myself permission to do that if he’d been alive. And so the world’s loss has, in some ways, been my gain, which feels perverse. Then again, had he been alive, perhaps I could have heard what he’d actually say to me, and that would have been better. Perhaps this is just a story I tell myself to make it okay.

Last night, for the first time in a very long time, I felt drawn to find the video of a song he recorded the week I arrived in Austin. And, as I watched it, I sobbed. And I let myself feel true fucking brutal loss. Because I’d been there, with him, in that room, and he’d pulled that mattress down from the wall while I stood in the doorway. And he played me that song, and I was relieved to honestly say that I liked it. That was the version of him I knew. That was the version of him I touched. That was the version of him I kissed. That physical body, those exact human cells, immortalised in moving pixels. But he’s gone, and I miss him, and how can someone like that just be gone?

And, even more selfishly, I sobbed because I’m at a place in my life now where I’m so much more ready for a man like Adam to grace me with his presence. I couldn’t make the most of the time I had with him when I had it. If he were alive, at least I could fantasise about the possibility of reconnecting.

Maybe that was always the heart of it. I always knew what he was, and I knew I was on the way to it. And, regardless of what form it took, I wanted to be able to stand face to face with him when I got there. But he doesn’t have a face anymore. He’s not a man anymore. So I can’t.