2013 was my Epic Clusterfuck Year. I like to process it that way, because it gives me hope that other years will better. There’s no other way to describe it. I made some serious mistakes, and the drama caught up with me, and I hope to never go through that again.
I wish to reflect, but I hope I’m not coming across as whiney. My problems are my responsibility, I deal with them in my own way, and hopefully the point of this blog is not to complain but to look upon myself in the mirror as harshly as possible and grow from it. Hence I’m sharing.
I was travelling in January of that year. It was nice but it wasn’t my most confident time, seeing everyone else settle down except for me. Though I had fun. Some fun in America, that is. Then I completely embarrassed myself with a friend in Hong Kong. After that, I felt the need to rush into Internet dating. Two websites: OkCupid and POF. I’ll write about OkCupid next post. Mostly it was POF. Seems to be a fairly popular site in Shenzhen and China and Asia; I’ve met Chinese and foreigner women alike over that year.
Generally speaking, while Internet dating is obviously growing more mainstream, people who are into it tend not to be the cream of the crop. Me included! Some people are simply too busy or shy to pick up at the club or meet through mutual friends or whatever more natural methods, and other people are the desperate socially-awkward who use websites. I’ve been lucky enough to meet the cool people, for the most part. My luck was about to run out.
I lowered my standards, I admit it. I accepted anyone who would have me, and I paid the price for that.
It all started with a woman whom I shall now refer to as The Stalker. I won’t even think up a name.
She was a bit older than me, very thin, an independent businesswoman with various streams of income. You’d think she would have her life together, but you can never know for sure.
It was standard fare at first. Met up and went to dinner and walked in parks and went to some parties and got to know each other. She stayed at my house on occasion. It was supposed to be causal. I wasn’t looking for a deep relationship, and I said as much. We did specifically talk about it; we agreed we weren’t going to be boyfriend and girlfriend. I bloody had that conversation, I truly did. Like that ever works.
That spring, my beloved old flame Julia came to visit me from abroad. I was so excited. And I had to be completely honest and told my new date that a previous girlfriend was to stay at my place and I think we should break things off. Nothing romantic came of Julia’s visit, although I was extremely happy to see her and show her around my current life. Well, it was as good an excuse as ever to get over this woman and move on.
The first time The Stalker came to my apartment crying, I had no idea what to do. What a terrible feeling. Was I guilty of some horrendous crime? How was I supposed to handle this?
When she started demanding that we meet once a week, it was initially just annoying. I wouldn’t necessarily mind staying friends, if it was natural and organic, but she made it into this chore. And I’m busy; I don’t see most of my friends as often as once per week so why should I focus so much more attention on her?
I tried my best to gently push her away. While simultaneously letting her down easy. She begged me to be with her for three months or she’d die or something. I said no way. That’s ridiculous, that’s not how it works. I still answered the phone, replied to her messages, read her rambling emails, and met up from time to time. This lasted months and months and months. It didn’t work at all.
This strategy to let her down easily was a bit ill-conceived.
This ‘friendship’ I was stuck in was no fun at all.
Suicide threats in particular are a real downer.
Before I get into the suicide threats, here’s a funny convoluted story. Coulda’ been a sitcom plot:
Some people just attract chaos to them, you know those kinds, for some reason they always have a dark cloud of complications hanging over them (I dare hope I’m not that kind of person). So The Stalker had a sort of stalker of her own. There was some creepy guy that would call her and harass her, that was her own issue from before she even met me.
She decided to tell this guy that she married me. Then she asked for my help. I’m not above pretending I’m in a relationship with a platonic female friend so guys at parties won’t hit on her and so on, that can be a thing, but the lengths this particular deception went to were getting ridiculous.
There is no sucker in the world like me, I can’t believe I agree to things like this.
It’s like this. Chinese people really like to take wedding pictures. More than they like to have actual wedding ceremonies. You see these studios all over the place, where they seemingly take pictures of the couple in European cafes and pirate ships. So she paid a photography studio and I spent a hellish 5 hours waking up early and going to this studio and dressing up in their wardrobe. She promised it would only be two hours. My lord I hate having my time wasted. Hours of makeup and changing clothes and going outside and faking smiles. I can’t believe I had to have a cheerful face through it.
She always was a black hole of time. The endless conversations all night. Morosely and silent long walks to bus stops. Making me meet her at train stations after her random disappearances. She loved taking my valuable time – time I could be doing something productive and happy – and making it all about her darkness.
If she thought this photo session was some way to seduce me, she was way off. It really pissed me off. After it was finally over with, the more I thought about it the more I realized how stupid I had been to get in this situation.
Later she gave me the picturebook thing and they were jut cheap remnants of the stupidest memories ever. She put them on her Facebook or something, I made sure she didn’t tag me, and I went along with it for a while.
Occasionally she’d buy me gifts, like clothes. I didn’t like that either , it made me uncomfortable. She wasn’t going to win me over, ever, and if only she could accept that and moved on long ago. Instead of letting it turn out the way it did.
Eventually, the tension between us grew worse and worse, and she ended up contributing to the destruction of another two relationships. After more threats of jumping into the Meilin Reservoir and a mysterious stint in the hospital – and due to my personal history (which I shall not get into here) I cannot help but take seriously – she decided to randomly disappear from Shenzhen for weeks at a time and scared the hell out of me. I didn’t know what to think; was I responsible for this woman’s death and should I let it haunt me forever? Or was she toying with me and wouldn’t I be better to just not give a fuck?
I told a certain girl I quite liked, a girl I really had a chance with, that there was this drama surrounding me. Trying to explain why I was a bit down, a bit less fun lately. I told her an ‘ex’ of sorts had been talking to me constantly about how she wanted to die and had recently vanished. It turned out to be a mistake to share this information. I’m too damn honest. Suffice to say, the girl I liked didn’t appreciate hearing that.
It is my own fault it didn’t work out with that girl I liked, but telling her such a thing sure didn’t help.
Many months later, with a girl I liked even more, I was currently resigned to meeting The Stalker for the horrible once-a-week dinners. I was trying to get out of them. I was still trying to find a way to let her down easily, without all the talk about dying and broken hearts and subsequent month-long disappearances wandering through China. I’d suggest we meet less often, once every two or three weeks. Ween her off of me. “I cannot accept,” she would always say. Meanwhile, the girl I really liked asked me where I was always going and I had to tell the truth. I tend to get myself in trouble when it comes to the truth.
Not that there weren’t a thousand other relationship problems. It’s like this: the girl I really liked was the type who would take my phone out of my hand and look at my messages. That in itself shows major trust issues. Then she would see messages from The Stalker, and it would be very hard to explain. I’d swear that I quit seeing The Stalker, indeed I’d try, and then I’d get sucked down again and caught in my lie, and this happened a few times over and it became such an epic fucking mess.
Nothing I did ever worked. I begged The Stalker to go to a therapist and take antidepressants. She claimed she did. I don’t know if she actually did or not. I don’t even support antidepressants, but when a person repeatedly says she is going to kill herself and she has nightmares and says can’t be away from me, what the hell else can I do? I need to get on with my own life. I can barely take care of myself. I certainly have enough mental problems and challenges in finding my own happiness. This problem needed to go away by any means necessary, it needed to be someone else’s problem not mine.
I gave her MDMA, of which I only have a limited amount. I suggested she go find pot, and apparently she did. Then she had a major family tragedy, a death, which greatly exacerbated everything. I’m very sorry about that, I am. But I’m just not the one to comfort.
Every time I checked up it got exponentially worse, with no positive end in sight. An accelerating spiral of darkness in my life that I didn’t need, that I didn’t mean to get caught up in. Perhaps I’m a cold bastard of a person, perhaps I should have just helped her with all my heart. Or, perhaps I should have simply left her alone long ago and cared not what happened to her next and not let her suck me into this shit.
What can I say? On the one hand, I take depression and threats of death very seriously. On the other hand, for my own depression’s sake I need to avoid negative energy.
Or, maybe I was lying to myself all along and I liked dragging out this conflict and the truth is I’m masochistic.
So many ways to psychoanalyze.
Whatever the initial motivations, the situation dug itself deeper and and deeper and it was getting harder to dig myself out. When she made friends with my ex on Facebook, I was frustrated and expressed so. Then, when she moved to my neighborhood I was extremely concerned by how she was upending her life to revolve around me.
I had moved elsewhere by then, now living with a roommate, which is a whole other story.
The final straw was when she came to my new workplace unannounced. I wish I never told her where I worked. And this was at a time when I was making great progress in my career, and I didn’t need this extra stress on top of it. The office may or may not suit me and my writing, I’ve already dealt with my own creative limitations in such an environment. That’s on me. But looking over my shoulder from that day on certainly didn’t help.
The evening she came to my job was a clusterfuck indeed. It was one of the last times I saw her, it all came to a head that night. Finally.
I was already struggling with other problems in my life and it was uphill struggle enough to be happy and positive. Then this.
After the surprise of a sappy face waiting for me outside the office, I let her follow me all the way to my subway station. We talked and talked and talked for the Nth time, and I didn’t want to talk at all. In a fit of self-directed rage, I resorted to punching myself in the face (this kind of thing always leaves embarrassing bruises later that are hard to explain), and then she tried to hit herself with a wooden board found on the street and I wouldn’t let her and she cried and cried.
I came across a police officer and tried to tell him in Mandarin that she was in danger of hurting himself. The officer proceeded to completely ignore me and only told her he doesn’t speak English and directed her to not cause trouble with foreigners because he doesn’t want to deal with foreigners. Great policy of internationalism in this city, right?
The most important thing to me was that THERE WAS NO WAY SHE WOULD SEE MY NEW APARTMENT. I wanted to go home, and she said she wouldn’t be alone or she’d go crazy, and I couldn’t handle it. After one bout of sprinting away and then she chased after me, I attempted to bolt again. She grabbed my jacket and I took it off and let her keep it and she screamed for me and I ran as fast as I could in circles until I was sure she was gone. And I finally went home. What a night of emotional exhaustion. Fuck. I hate nights like that.
Never saw that jacket again. A shame, it was a good one I’d had for a while. Brought it all the way from the States.
Really, how pathetic of me. I’ve never run away from someone like that in my life
I nervously awaited the next terrible encounter, but I never did hear from her again. I emailed her cousin in a heated exchange and seriously suggested that her family should take her to a mental hospital. I’m very sorry, but she’s not my responsibility and I’ve done all I can. I couldn’t do anymore, I just couldn’t. That’s what family is for. That is not what I am for.
That turned out to be the end of it. After weeks of silence, it sank in that it was the end, and I felt relief. I felt an intense worrisome as well, but when I finally convinced myself that it was all over I could only conclude that there was no point in having these strong feelings any more.
I will never fully understand why that happened. I guess all my irresponsible serial dating had to catch up with me one day, and I was due for some extreme drama. I was playing a dangerous game for too long, and had to get an unlucky streak at some point. That’s just odds.
Yet, what I really don’t understand is how any women would become so obsessed over the likes of a subpar guy like me. I know I’m obviously no great catch, come on.
Perhaps it’s a simply Chinese cultural situation. She’s over 30, worrying about being a leftoever woman, that kind of thing.
I bumped into her at an event several months later. I was very scared to even say anything. Our eyes met and turned away. I felt ashamed and angry all at once. I wanted to get the hell out of there, but I had to keep up appearances. She didn’t approach me or make a scene or anything at all, mercifully.
I caught her outside as she was leaving, and said, “I’m sorry how it turned out. You look good. I’m happy for you.”
“Okay bye,” she quickly said with an overbearing smirk, brushing me away from her and her friend and speed-walked away from me.
That is fine.
I don’t wish anyone any ill will. She was a mess and I’m sorry for that. I don’t know if anything positive came out of our meeting each other, probably not, and for now I can only hope it’s long over with.
I don’t wish anyone any ill will, but I would be happy if I never see her again.
What. A. Fucking. Year.
Meanwhile, in the midst of such experiences, I’d been telling myself that I didn’t want a Chinese girlfriend. At least not someone from mainland China. The cultural differences were too grave. I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’, the proverbial expat loser who was settling to marrying a local Chinese woman. Not that there’s really anything so wrong with that, it was but my own choice.
I did meet others on POF from time to time, and I’ll write about it later.
On the subject of long-term girlfriends, however, there was someone else on my sights. Someone not Chinese. Someone cooler. Someone closer to my own culture. Someone right for me.
Next up, a romance.
Of course, it didn’t last. Sigh… It could have been great…
Next: Carmen, the Philippines