Yes, I’m going back to Buffy.
The thing is, I don’t trust your self sacrifice. Because you don’t mean it. Not really. It arises out of the war you’re having with your selfishness, the part of you that says “I don’t care what it costs, I want that,” and while your self-sacrifice might slip, your selfishness is a constant. Your self sacrifice will keep you from getting all the way in. Your selfishness will keep you on the margins, a perpetual stalker, Angel skirting the edges of wherever Buffy happens to be, all mopey and puppy-eyed. Fuck you and your tragic little war.
In that war, there is madness. If that madness was confined to you, well, you brought it on yourself. But it spreads and now I get to be a raving lunatic too. I don’t actually enjoy the lunacy, thanks.
See, I’m not yours to save. Don’t take that personally, the only one with a responsibility to save me is me. There’s no need to worry that you’re so damaged, so dangerous, that you’re going to destroy me. Trust me, if it comes to that, I am more than capable of surviving. I’ve gotten through your crazy up until now; I’ve survived worse than you. Doubt your own ability to survive if you must (because surely that’s the more honest concern) but don’t doubt me.
And don’t doubt my selfishness either. Because that’s where I’m coming from. I’m here because things are better next to you. Simple. I don’t know if I’m good for you. I’ll try, absolutely. Because I’m selfish and if being next to you is good for me, then I kind of need to do what I can to make sure you’re next to me. Usually, that involves being good to you. But I’m not here to save you. I’m too busy saving myself. I trust you to decide if I’m good for you. If this is good for you. I mean, I’d invite you to sit down and compare the weeks when you’re spending time with me to the weeks where you aren’t spending time with me to sort out which go better for you… because I’m pretty sure I know what the outcome of that analysis is going to look like.
It’s a clean exchange. There’s no coercion. Nothing wobbly or conflicted or dishonest. There are no lies here. I want you. This is what I can do. This is what I’m going to suck at. Here’s what I’ll aim for to make the parts of me that are impossible to live with a little easier on you. If you’re going to find the failure in the Spike argument, this might be it (though I am going to contradict myself in a second). He went for coercion, and of the physical variety. Not justifiable.
But perhaps mitigated by the crazy that happens when you love someone embroiled in that war between their selfishness and the meta-conversation about what they think they should feel.* There’s no justification. I’m not saying that there is. But lets tell the truth. We’ve all been there, and there is no kind of madness like mixed signals. What Spike should have done is taken her at her no and walked away. How long do you think it would have taken for Buffy’s selfish to get the upper hand? We know this story. You really want to piss someone off, give them what they ask for.
It isn’t like I haven’t seen this at work. Selfishness of this variety has a price too. The truth is everything costs something. And when you’re talking about a love conviction that runs bone-deep, the highs are beyond belief and the lows are wicked. It costs. But ambivalence costs too. The lows won’t unravel you, but maybe something in you is always looking for that purity of desire.
Not everyone is the same. Not everyone would come to the same conclusion. But for me? Give me Spike and the honesty of his selfishness. Maybe it is going to be a clusterfuck, but at least we’ll be doing it together. At least we’ll be where we are, not divided between our good intentions and the inner animal always pulling in the opposite direction. Trust this, if nothing else. If I’m with you it’s because that’s exactly where I want to be. It is pure selfishness. I’m happier next to you in a thrift store than I would be alone in Scotland. That’s pretty serious, because Scotland is where I am most at home. Nothing else would convince me to let you in.
Meanwhile, I’m not interested in your meta-analysis about what happens ten years from now. If we take care of today, ten years from now will take care of itself. Is your life better with me in it? Do you roll over in the middle of the night and, before your reason can kick in, wonder why I’m not there? If so, you’d better do something about that. Give me your selfishness and show up.
I’ll do the same.
*I’ll talk about that particular clusterfuck later.