Chapter Fifteen – Reality Check

by Christine Wild

I like to present myself as a smart-ass, a cynic of sorts, like I have seen and done it all. It feels like swagger. I am acutely aware this is a front, yet I still very much like it. I do not like to face that I am in fact a hopeful optimist. It does not go along with most of my beliefs or mottos. I truly do think that people are capable of the worst and Hobbesian in nature. I cannot however shake the overpowering gut reflex that makes me believe that people strive to be good. This striving is not instinctive; it does not come naturally. Yet there is something to be said about guilt. It would not be there if we did not, as individuals who take part in social relations, strive to be good people. There would be no such thing as remorse. Yet there is, and time and time again we regret not having been better people. We regret having lied, played games or succumbed to the easy way out—which by the way most often ends up being really complicated.

I have to stop here to exclude sociopaths and psychopaths and the likes, but also just mere and simple assholes. Some of us, clinically or otherwise, are simply incapable of being good, or have no intention of it. It is therefore also difficult for the rest of us to tell between the true assholes and the accidental ones. The ones that were that to you, at that moment, because they were too weak or did not know any better. I like that I still believe in people. I like that I have difficulty believing (accepting?) that some people are true assholes. I am afraid off course that it will ruin me. Do not misunderstand: I am a pretty good judge of creepers, thieves and generally badly intentioned strangers. I am afraid of misjudging the ones close to me, mostly men. How much understanding is healthy and necessary for the betterment of humankind? How much is simply naïveté or delusion?

 ***

We were in the crowd. His hand grazed mine, moving on to hover over my ass, up my arm and past my breast. We were surrounded by people who could not ever know what was about to happen. He grabbed my hand, hiding it ever so subtly away from curious eyes. He looked at me intensely, in split seconds. Next thing I know, his hand, the one grabbing me in the club, was down my pants, into my underwear. The transgressing hand knew exactly what to do. I held on to the sink in the handicapped stall we were in, like my life depended on it. And it somewhat did. No one had touched me like that since I had had my heart broken. No one had wanted me that intently. No one had, for better or for worse, crossed lines and taken risks for me. His kisses were intense and profound. He bit at my shoulder and shoved and pulled. I almost fell to my knees. I think I was screaming; it felt like I was. It was about 3a.m. and we needed to get back to catch the last bus. As we squeezed ourselves out of reality, maneuvering the cornerstones of our daily routines, we somehow ended up in bed. We had been so aroused by the many obstacles to this inevitable outcome that the scene entered into an alternate world. This world was a place where the wrong thing was the right thing. This place allowed for the expression of deepest, darkest desires coming into existence. Something we had both secretly been starving for so long, occurred. He was deep inside me, both through his intense gaze and literally. I wanted all of him. I wanted to feel him revel in me, like I was reveling in him. We had been but estranged fantasies up until that night. The intensity was feeding my addiction and I lost myself.

The next morning I wanted more, and more and more. The addiction was taking over me yet again. He had obligations to attend to. Real life needed us both back. It dawned on me after I closed the door on him that I had done it again. For someone who is so loyal, and bent up on her own principles, I had allowed someone to break the very rules I stood by. I would never cheat. I have never cheated. I have been cheated on, and never let it shake my trust in faithfulness. Yet it was not the first time I had made someone a cheater. I generally avoid pursuing taken men. I am not a home-wrecker. I do not however have scruples sleeping with men who intently and actively pursue me, no matter their status. The tension between these two facts is hard to qualify. I am a free agent, and as such can do whatever the heck I want. If they show no guilt in the immorality of their actions, why should I? I have never pursued a man who was taken and committed. I have conversely dragged back into my bed men that had cheated on their girlfriends with me previously. They had shown no remorse. That is how I explain my ethics to myself. It is important to note here I am not talking about married men. I do not know why it makes a difference to me, maybe I still believe in some remnants of the institution, but I will not knowingly sleep with a married man.

Now I do not know whether he had cheated before or whether he would again. I do not care. I know what he was for me: an escape. He was the distraction I needed. It is highly likely that it was mutual in that aspect. Nevertheless it does not matter to me to know whether he, or any other person that has cheated with me, is an accidental or a true asshole. I would never consider them worthy of my time, love and affection. They did not strive to be good; they never apologized for doing their doings. They wanted more. They thought because I had moments where I needed things like them, I was approving of their moral etiquette. Well, I am not. Mostly I needed an asshole to show the strength I had wanted from the men I did care about, and in some sense I needed to be an asshole myself. Here’s a toast to the douchebags: you come in handy sometimes. Thanks for that. Yet I know that that was a decision I was making consciously, a defense mechanism I was performing. I know the strength, or balls that these men displayed were but fake appearances, a beautiful masquerade.

This is all to say that it is very easy, and sometimes necessary to be an asshole, accidental or otherwise. What is easy though is not what is real. Life is messy, complicated, difficult and senseless. Life is about contradictions and tension. I was with cheaters when I needed strength for myself, when I need to be reinsured in my capabilities, in my attractiveness, in my worthiness. Isn’t it strange how those sexcapades never do quite accomplish anything other than distraction? I did not feel better inherently; they did not help me become anything other than who I already was. I just got to turn off my brain for a while, live in the moment, forget. When it all came back rushing into my head, I had renewed my energy. I had given myself the strength I needed for myself. This is why I think no one is ever responsible for anything other than themselves. You are only ever as strong as you chose to be. So love yourself. Take care of yourself. Do the wrong thing that is the right thing. But strive to be good, strive to be proud of the person that you are: because you only ever get to be yourself.