Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris. Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.
– Catullus LXXXV
People have so often asked why I have so many tattoos, and as recently as Wednesday night, if I were getting yet another one. I think I’ve reached a stage where I can readily admit that I should probably stop getting tattoos, even though I’ve been thinking about covering up an older one, because it no longer means anything to me, and because I’ve never stopped being addicted to the pain. Alcoholics use sex to help them overcome their addiction; I use one form of pain to deal with another. Yes, the pain. The oh-so-exquisite pain.
Clearly, I have a problem.
Lately I’ve begun to think about all the mistakes I made during the ‘young and stupid’ days. About 85% of all my actions over the past decade have been met with the same reaction: What have I done? What the fuck was I thinking? Why didn’t I get out of it sooner? And yet the mistakes continue to happen. As the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy”; so in my case, it should probably be “100 times bitten, 200 times shy”. Not that I’ve made 100 mistakes in the past decade, but the number is probably close anyway. Why is it that we can never learn?
Maybe we do learn a little, but the next time around we make the same mistake, and hope against hope that things will be different, and history won’t repeat itself. But then if we’re making the same mistake, won’t the outcome be the same as well? And no matter how much we snipe and gripe about getting our hearts broken and bang our heads against the same wall, we always end up going back for more. So do we really not learn, or are we just addicted to the drama and the pain of it all? The oh-so-exquisite pain?
God knows I’ve made enough mistakes to fill an entire Library of Congress. God knows I’ve sworn never to repeat them, and that I’d rather hurt myself before hurting anyone else. And yet here I am now, making what could be my biggest mistake yet, but with neither the intention nor the discipline to put a stop to it, and at the same time hoping to come away from all this unscathed — or at least alive. It’s either wishful thinking, or just plain masochism.