Everyone needs a hobby. I like collecting broken boys.
I wouldn’t have brought it up, but once you’ve seen a pattern, it’s very hard to un-see it, and recently, my vision cleared enough that I couldn’t not see it. What I thought was an incidental thread was, in fact, the underlying and overwhelming motif, repeating and repeating and repeating, dark and indelible and now so obvious that I’m embarrassed not to have noticed it sooner. If I try to unpick it, will that make the whole design disintegrate in my hands? If this is what’s been holding everything together, how can I take the risk of letting everything fall apart? And is it self-pity or self-knowledge that keeps me circling this obsession? Am I seeking comfort in the prison of my pain, or freedom from the fear of it?
The thing about my broken boys is that I not only date them, I create them. I write them into existence. I set them up for the abyss right from the start. My little Hamlets, doomed to suffer and crash and destroy everything they touch, including themselves. They never disappoint and are always disappointed. I give them mothers who don’t love them, fathers who aren’t there, siblings they loathe, adults they can’t trust, friends they fuck over, drugs they ingest in a hopeless attempt to fill the void where love should be, and I make them do terrible things. They rape. They kill. They use up their worlds as their worlds use up them. The best they can hope for is some kind of closure, but they are always, in some way or other, annihilated.
On some intuitive level, my boys know they’re alone. That they won’t survive without love. This is their sadness, and the sadness is so deep, so painful, that it must be protected and hidden and never touched. Sadness underlines their lives, their actions, their wants. Sadness makes them fearful, and fear makes them angry. Angry boys are dangerous boys. They destroy whatever they touch because their touch taints, and anything within their reach must not be worth having. They see life as life sees them.
I know what they want and what they need and what they just can’t have. I wind the barbed wire of words around them in ways they can’t escape, and I place the rusty razor’s edge just within reach of their grasping fingers, and they take it, every time, hurting someone else before slicing their own souls open to get some relief, and we know that all they want is love. For someone to see them. At any cost.
They need love. I need them to be unfixable. Because if they can be fixed, what’s the point of me? And if I can fix them, maybe that means some else can. Maybe they can fix themselves. And then they won’t need me. They might write themselves new endings. They might become free.
In the pattern of broken boys, in that dirty, repeating motif, is me, of course. They’re the past that I constantly mine, digging in the dark of the days when I was them. I can’t help but poke around in the muck and shit, sticking my fingers on blisters and in wounds to see what’s there and how much it hurts. I want to write something I can feel, that smells of suffering and fighting, that maybe…maybe…offers my boys a sliver of a chance, a cruel hope of redemption that they’ll never get. But it’s fun to see them reach for it.
My broken boys have held me down, held me back, and held me up. When I couldn’t look at myself, I could look at them, and I love them for that. Unlike them, I got a second chance. I got out. But I lived the pain I put my boys through. I think that’s why I do it. Why I write and rewrite myself into them. It reminds me of what shaped me, and how I need my dark edge. I need to remember all of it, and I need to remember that I did get redemption, which is why my broken boys must stay trapped. They’re the little Virgils of my own Divine Comedy, forever shut out of Paradise, doomed to guide me through the terrors of inferno and the drudgery of purgatory because they know the landscape so well because it’s really not their fault because that’s the tragedy of it all. They have to suffer, and they can’t escape. It just makes for a better story that way.