Of Hope and Hamartia

When Love is a Fatal Flaw

I fall in love easily.

Not the kind of love that people are familiar with today, the “voulez-vous coucher avec moi, I’ll act interested in you so you’ll want to have sex with me, ad infinitum et ultra” kind of love, that has become so dominant with toxic masculinity. I’m not an Eros kind of person at all — while I’m not sex repulsed, I am an asexual, so sex has never been a thing that I’ve wanted, except in the sense that pre-asexual me thought that having sex made you “normal”. I’ve never felt that urge.

No, what I’m feeling is more like Philia, blended with Agape, but not quite as perfect or all-encompassing. It still flows from a human source, flawed and imperfect as it is, but there’s something I think the best expression of this kind of love comes from A.S. King’s beautiful novel Ask the Passengers:

“Every airplane, no matter how far it is up there, I send love to it. I picture the people in their seats with their plastic cups of soda or orange juice or Scotch, and I love them. I really love them. I send a steady, visible stream of it — love — from me to them. From my chest to their chests. From my brain to their brains. It’s a good game because I can’t lose.”

While that character, Astrid, might think that it’s a good game, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not. In order for love to work, it has to be reciprocal. If you give something away, you have to receive it back, otherwise, you’re left with a deficit. You’re left empty and hollow.

Sometimes, I think that most people are lucky in how they get to love. They have the one person that they fall in love with, head over heels. Then they have their families that they love, and their close circle of friends. But, for some reason, the universe decided that I had to be different.

I’m not really close to my extended family, lovely as they are. And I don’t have a tight circle of good friends, or a best friend, or a bestie. When I need to talk to somebody at 2 AM because the world is crashing down around me, I don’t have that one person that I can turn to. I turn to Twitter, where I can pour my heart out to a thousand different people, who may or may not be interested in what I have to say or feel. I never know for sure.

Sometimes, I think that my depression might be tied to this kind of loving — the cycle gets kickstarted when I’m drained and tired, and I’ve been loving and loving and losing and losing, and I break. And then I patch myself together, and I love and love and lose and lose all over again.

Sometimes, it can be a real blessing. I talk to lots of people, have friendly conversations, send them my love, walk around in their shoes a little bit. It gives me something to bring back to my writing. It makes me want to understand the world and help people who are sometimes hurting.

But it hurts me. And I am tired of hurting. But it feels like what I’m built for.

Zach J. Payne is a poet, novelist, and thespian; a lover of languages and purveyor of useless knowledge. He is an assistant at Ninja Writers and interns for Pam Howell at D4EO Literary Agency. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram at ZachJPayne. If you enjoyed this article, please click the little green heart.