Just discovered I've been divorced for three months. No-one had thought to tell me. This is almost funny; in fact, I expect that years hence I'll laugh when I recall the moment my ex-wife broke the news that we hadn't been married for some time. In the moment, however, it felt like a slap in the face, not a punchline. Way-hay, I'm a bachelor again. If I weren't so fat that I can barely see my own dick in a mirror, an (occasionally) functioning alcoholic and in possession of a negative libido (I have been whiling away the evenings watching 'Dexter', an American TV series about a serial killer and I relate strongly to the eponymous anti-hero, who has found the perfect girlfriend in a woman traumatised by a previous abusive relationship into an extreme aversion to sex), I am sure that this situation would open up vistas invisible to the species Bridget Jones referred to as 'smug marrieds'. As it is, I can't think of this as anything other than Very Bad News. Perhaps the worst I have ever received.
Love is the most bitter of the many poisoned chalices that an uncaring universe has bequeathed to us, her most self-important creation. Or is that just me? When I reflect back on my life, it is blindingly obvious in the brilliant laser beam of hindsight, that love has caused me far more pain than hate, anger, guilt, shame and remorse combined. The fierce love I bore for my father caused us both anguish that ended, with his death, only for him. The less complicated love I bear for my mother causes us both great distress still, because neither of us knows how to express it. I loved my first wife so intensely that I was unable to enjoy life away from her and, when my love for her burned out suddenly and unexpectedly, the result was a year of abject misery for her and me. Unrequited love, which followed, hurts more than any physical pain short of torture but perhaps it leaves fewer scars than requited love gone bad. And then came true love - ah, true love - how exquisitely crafted it is to cause the maximum level of suffering that a normal human being can bear without breaking.
When I survey my friends and acquaintances, I can't help but notice that my experience of love is not unique. In fact, it seems to be almost universal. Everyone I know seems either to be enduring a miserable relationship, or not enduring it, causing misery of a different sort. A few gay friends seem to have avoided this love-trap but probably I just can't read their relationships accurately. The unconditional love that almost every parent bears for his children causes, of course, more agony than any of the other loves one is required to endure in an average life, and I can't help but wonder whether childless relationships - gay or straight - are not happier. Every misery that my father inflicted upon me must have felt twice as awful to him. When my young son told me that there were only two things he is 'sad of'; when mummy forgot to bring his pirate costume to school one day and the fact that I don't live with him any more, I sincerely wished I'd never been born.
I'd like to say that I'm done with love. That I'll stomp on the treacherous little turd's head the next time it shows itself. But the truth is I am hopelessly, forever, in love with many people and I will go to my grave lamenting all the pain those loves - requited or not - have wrought.