Old Lessons, New Loves, and Wet Toes

I used to think that love was powerful enough to do anything. I thought that if I could show someone how much love I had to give, that they would see how amazing I am and would thus shed all baggage and we would live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, this is not how human psychology works. Yes, I can throw my love all over a man, but unless he wants to receive it, I might as well be lavishing all my attention on a pet rock. I learned this lesson the hard way, of course. Not just by being the person who was trying to use love to help a person change, but also as the closed-off person on the other end of affection. Years ago I once dated a man who tried to move the moon and the stars for me, but I just wasn’t having it. I look back on that relationship and see that I was so emotionally shut down that no amount of love in the universe could have forced me to open my eyes to what I was doing, which was using any excuse to push him away.

Love may be powerful, but the human psyche is stronger. If a person does not want to give or receive love, there is nothing you can do to change that. It can be a hard pill to swallow, especially for someone like me. I think it is part of my DNA to want to take care of others. I once took a personality profile for work and got ISFJ, and the career section was all about helping others: teacher, therapist, social worker, and so on. I have an innate instinct to care for others, and when it comes to romance, that instinct goes into hyper over drive.

Having come to terms with this harsh life lesson, I am approaching my next relationship differently. I recently started dating someone. This person has been in my life a very long time, and I am ashamed to report how neglectful and blind I have been of this relationship. How could I have overlooked what has been right in front of me for years? Now that I see the light, I am committing to making this work between us, because I think it may be my only shot at learning to be truly happy with my life.

Folks, I am dating myself.

You read that right. I recently had an epiphany: I have spent so many years throwing my love into other people that I overlooked the simple truth that I should have been throwing love into myself. One of the things that helped me come to terms with this fact is the movie Lola Versus, about a woman nearing 30 who gets dumped by her fiancé just weeks before their wedding. We aren’t privy to much of their relationship before he leaves, but the aftermath of the breakup is no less devastating.

What I loved about this movie is that it is not your typical rom-com. Lola is not an entirely sympathetic character, and her ex is not a total cad. Instead of cheesy music montages and grand gestures, we see Lola self-destruct as she wades through the waters of gut-wrenching heartbreak. After her engagement ends she is a self-centered, confused, possible-alcoholic who endangers her friendships with her behavior. We don’t get to see much of Lola pre-dumpage, so it is hard to say if this is who she in her relationship, but this is definitely who she is turning into.

Lola, in her downward spiral, is no loveable Carrie Bradshaw. However, that’s not the point of the movie. Lola is real, she is human, and she is trying to figure out her next steps. Although her ex-fiancé does not have much screen time, he is also painted in a very human light. There is no villain in their love story; there are no fingers to point. All we have are two people who have issues and are trying to make sense of them.

Towards the end of the movie, Lola realizes her behavior is destructive, and begins finally starting her healing process. We see her at yoga and finally unpacking her things in her new apartment. She is beginning to settle into her new reality with acceptance and hope. She begins repairing her relationship with her friends. You can see she is beginning to find peace.

One of my favorite scenes is of her and her mother.   Lola says,

Remember how much I loved Cinderella as a kid? What a sick fucking kid. It messes little girls up because we become obsessed with shoes and then we think that some guy is gonna come put them on our feet.

Ah, Lola, you hit the nail on the head about what is wrong with so many women, including myself. We wait for a man to make us happy, when we should be buying our down damn shoes and putting them on ourselves.

The last scene is of her birthday party. She is turning 30, and her friends and family have gathered at a park to celebrate. Her ex-fiancé shows up, and they greet each other warmly. He tells her he misses her, and wants to get back together. He said the time apart has made him realize how much he loves her.

Does Lola jump into his arms as a cheesy upbeat 60s song plays in the background? Does the camera pan down at them from the sky, as they fly into each other’s arms and embrace in a majestic kiss?

Lola, with wisdom and kindness, tells him that while he spent that time finding himself, she spent that time obsessing over him. Now she is at a point when she is attempting to find herself, and she isn’t ready to think about getting back together. And in a touching scene, he understands and accepts that.

Ladies, it is time to start dating you. I won’t lie. It is hard being single sometimes. Every once in a while I get on to OkCupid with a ghost account just to remind myself that I am not the only one alone and hoping for love. In case you are wondering, I do realize how pathetic that sounds. What else can I do? I am still mourning the loss of my baby, and my heart is still recovering from one man. Last week that man told me he is moving to Germany, effectively shutting the door on any chance we may have had in the future. There is nothing like moving to another continent to terminally end a relationship.

With that news, there is nothing more to do than start moving forward, dating myself, and seeing where that takes me. However, this does not mean I am going to be a nun. I actually had a coffee date yesterday with a man I met in New Seasons. In an old school meet-cute, I accidentally got right in his way down the drink aisle. I apologized, we laughed, and after a couple minutes of banter, went our separate ways. Five minutes later he caught me completely off guard when he found me in another part of the store and asked me if I want to get a cup of coffee sometime. I said yes, and he gave me his number.

I held on to it for two weeks before I decided it was time to take a step forward and get in touch with him. Cause, you know, like YOLO and stuff. Seriously, though. I figured it was just a cuppa joe, so what was stopping me from having a nice conversation with a new friend? Yesterday we met at a cute little place in Sellwood and had a great time. He has pretty eyes and nice forearms. (Yeah, I’m into manly strong looking forearms. No judgment. It’s just my thing.) The coffee date was the perfect “dipping my toes into the water” experience, and we plan on grabbing a bite to eat this week.

Love may not conquer all, but I definitely believe that the more I love myself, the better of a person I will become. As I date myself, my goal is to try new things, figure out what I like (I can finally admit I prefer TV over movies and coffee over alcohol), and build enough confidence so that my heart matches my head. This means that my heart will finally and truly believe what my head knows to be true: that I’m pretty damn awesome, and worth taking a chance on. If a man can’t see that, the fault lies in his eyes, not in me.

Let the dates begin…

Until next time ~ B

 

 

 

 

 

How Searching for Perfection and Happiness is Akin to Putting Your Head Up Your Arse

 

I am 31 years old, single, and have spent the last eleven years looking for love.  I am ashamed to admit that throughout this process I have been guilty of always looking for the next best thing.  I would hit rough patches and wonder if the grass over yonder is just a little bit greener.  This also applies to my professional life.  I have yet to hold a job that made me happy and satisfied.  Why have I been such a fickle creature?  There are many reasons, but I think two big ones are the distorted ideals of Perfection and the Destination of Happiness.  These falsehoods have ruled my life for far too long, and I feel like I’m finally at a place where I recognize the detrimental depths of these flights of fancy.

I have spent years searching for the perfect relationship.  I always thought that when the “right” man came along, things would magically fall into place. It would be easy and fun and amazing.  No conflict, no fighting, no need for real sacrifices.  We would buy a house with a porch swing and a big back yard.  Our kids would be smart and beautiful.  We would be that couple that other couples wished they could be.  Over the years of men and heartbreak, I continued to create this ideal in my brain, like my own private Pleasantville.  Due to this erroneous train of thought, when conflicts popped up in relationships, I would immediately wonder if that person is right for me.

He and I are fighting- this must mean we are fundamentally incompatible. Time to break up.

No wonder I’m still single at 31.

Now that I’m older, and somewhat wiser, I have realized that “perfection” does not exist. There are no perfect people, perfect relationships, or perfect anythings, no matter what society likes to tell us via rom-coms, Hallmark commercials, and beauty magazines. People, myself included, are so focused on finding what is perfect, that they are missing the beautifully imperfect things, and people, right in front of them.  Clinging to the concept of perfection is tragic defense mechanism that allows a person to justify surrounding him or herself with chasms of emotional distance.  Perfection does not exist.  Period.  The sooner that someone comes to terms with that, the better off he or she will be.

If there is no perfection, it stands to reason that there is no Destination of Happiness.  A Destination of Happiness is the notion that happiness is only reachable if certain things come to pass.

If I could just get that job/house/baby/car/husband/wife/etc, I will finally be happy.

How many of us have had that conversation with ourselves? How many people are always looking for that one thing that will fix their lives and finally make them happy? I know I am completely guilty of this. I thought that when I found the perfect man and had my perfect relationship, I would finally be happy.  It would be what “completed” me.

(Fuck you, Jerry Maguire)  

Except happiness is not a destination.  Life has constant ebbs and flows that bring peaks of happiness followed by canyons of sorrow. That sums up my entire experience in 2013. Up, down, up, down, like a psychotic yo-yo. When I stumbled down the deepest ravine of my life four months ago, I wasn’t sure how I was ever going to climb out of it. I’m pleased to report that I am slowly making my way out of the darkness and feel like I have some decent footing on my climb up.  But it hasn’t been an easy ascent and I still have a ways to go.  Even when I reach the top, it won’t be a Destination of Happiness.  Something will bring sadness or anger, unhappiness or fear.  That isn’t pessimism speaking, that’s the reality of life.

With no Perfection and no Destination of Happiness, what is life about, anyway? Well, life is about whatever you make it to be. If one constantly looks forward to finding the next best thing, or maintains the mindset that if only he had this, or she had that, then life is going to be a constant battle.  But if one can discover happiness in what one has now, then he or she will have the ability to find happiness no matter what life brings.  The truth about life is that you can plan and prepare and think that you have everything under control, but you don’t. So focus on the now, on what brings you joy, and let that soak into your pores and your cells and the deepest parts of your being. Live with that, and you can live with anything.

If there is no Perfection and no Destination of Happiness, what does that mean for relationships and finding love?  The fact of the matter is this: sometimes relationships are easy, and sometimes they are hard. Relationships require work and sacrifice. There will be times when your partner frustrates or angers you. There will be times when you wish they would just shut up. There will be days when he doesn’t pick up his dirty laundry or leaves the toilet seat up.  There will be days when she doesn’t want to watch another football game or would rather marathon Netflix than learn to sleep in a tent.

But there will also be other days, days when he bring you donuts at work, and she makes your bed, and he rubs your feet, and she scrubs out your stained dirty wine glasses.

And those are the moments you realize that your partner is pretty amazing.

I had a conversation yesterday about sacrifices in relationships, and how do you reach that balance where you aren’t giving up too much of yourself, but doing enough to sustain a healthy partnership. It can be a difficult dance trying to figure out where to draw that line. But at the end of the day, I think that if two people care for each other, then

whatever you give up should be worth less to you than the person you are with.

For example, let’s say you are an avid snowboarder. You love it so much you would do it daily. But if you get married with kids, you don’t have that same kind of freedom to drive off to the mountain on a whim.  So what do you love more- your wife and kids, or the freedom to snowboard whenever you want?

Another example. Let’s say you are a blogger and use that outlet to process your emotions. You love to write about whatever you want whenever you want, but your partner does not like your dirty laundry aired on the interwebs, no matter how anonymous it may be. What do you love more- your partner, or your freedom to write?

There is a disclaimer in all of this, being that if the person in your life is asking you to give up and change everything about yourself, that is plain unhealthy and you should run for the hills. However, if that is not the case, then you should ask yourself if the requests and sacrifices are reasonable and worth it.  I know that I am willing to give up or change some of the things I enjoy for the right person. It’s not perfect, but you know what? I’m okay with that, because

there is no such thing as perfect.

It is scary to make big changes. It is scary to give up things and make decisions and sacrifices. It is scary to let someone on and be vulnerable.

But you have to want it more than you are afraid of it.

So, ask yourself these questions:

What is it that I really want? What is it that I am willing to give up? What does my heart say?

Only you can answer those questions.  Take your time and do it right.  These are some of the most important decisions you will ever make.  As you think it through, make sure to drop Perfection and the Destination of Happiness.  If you don’t, you might as well just stick your head up your arse, because you are setting yourself up for a really crappy future.

Pun intended.

Until next time ~ B

The Power of Words

Words.

Words are powerful.

Words are uncountable.  According to Oxford Dictionaries, it’s impossible to truly count how many words comprise the English language.

These uncountable words hold the power to control, command, influence, enlighten, and destroy.  In prose, words can tell stories, transfixing the reader into another place and time, into someone else’s mind, into someone else’s world.  Words can show us the meaning of life and love, filling our souls with droves of emotions.  Words can show us the meaning of hurt, filling our beings with sadness and anger.  Words can be so strong that they alter our being, molding and shaping and changing us in ways that were unimaginable.

This holds true for words communicated between two people, except real life words hold the most power, because unlike words read in a book or a poem, words between people are purposely meant for the other.  Words that are directed towards a specific person are no longer in the safe world of fiction;  these words are real, born out of the relationship you hold together.  Because of this, we must be careful with words, because once they pass the lips and become audible to the intended audience, there is no taking them back.

I was going through some papers a few days ago and came across this:

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It’s the ticket stub from ZooLights.  T and I had gone there just days before the miscarriage. It’s one of my favorite holiday events, and since he had never gone, I was extra excited to attend that year.  My happiness was subdued, however.  I noticed he was staring more at the children running around than enjoying the scenery.  I felt myself become defensive, scared that he was too overcome with fear and anger about my pregnancy to enjoy himself. I thought he saw the kids as a reminder of his impending doom.

As we made our way back to the entrance of the zoo, we stopped for a minute to look at one of the displays.  He said something, and I can’t remember what his exact words were.  But I remember my response:

“Who knows, maybe this time next year there won’t be a baby.  We won’t be together and I’ll be blogging about you behind your back.”

I also can’t remember his response.  I think he might have laughed and said something snarky.

I think about those words, born out of my own fear and trepidation at the journey ahead.  Those words were spoken out of a need to protect myself, and were intended to push him further away.   If only I had understood when I spoke those words that no matter how much I tried to keep my heart safe, that he already had it in his hands, and I just needed to let go and trust in him and in myself.

Words used carelessly, as if they did not matter in any serious way, often allowed otherwise well-guarded truths to seep through.
― Douglas Adams

Instead, I used words to distance myself, as I had done many times before.  The words I spoke that night are not the only ones I wish I could take back.  I told my best friend the night my cat was sick that I didn’t want to be with T anymore.  I told T the day before I had my miscarriage that I wish I would just have a miscarriage to make all the stress go away.   It breaks my heart that I said those horrible things out loud, and they came to pass.

It’s been three months since the words that I unleashed upon the universe came true.  I lost the baby, and I lost T.  Sometimes I wonder if the universe saw that my negativity and decided that it would make my words come true and teach me a lesson.  Perhaps the universe wanted to make me reap what I was sowing.  Rationally, I understand that this is not reality.  As an atheist, I understand there is no higher power directing my actions or causing things to happen to me.  Things just happen.  That’s the reality of life.  I did everything I could to be a healthy expectant mother, but I was at the mercy of biology and nature.  There was nothing I could have done to change the outcome of my pregnancy.

Words.  Words can be poison and they can be medicine.  They can break a heart or heal a heart.  Words allow us to verbally communicate with each other in a way that no other species on earth can.  Yet, we humans are often to careless with what we say to each other.  We don’t think before we speak.  We don’t truly understand the strength our verbal discourse can hold over ourselves and others.

 “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” — Rudyard Kipling

I saw T last weekend for the first time about two months.  We got together to talk, to finally say all the things that had been brewing during our time apart.  When he walked into the tea shop, my heart skipped a beat.  He was as handsome as ever.  We hugged and kissed, and I breathed in his familiar scent.  He was wearing the shirt I gave him for Christmas, which was a beautiful gesture on his part.  He handed me a paper bag and said he got me a gift.  I was excited and opened it, only to find a janky broken Sex and the City collectors edition magic 8 ball.  I can’t remember the reason why he owned that.  I think it was something about it being worth money someday, despite the fact it didn’t work.  This was something I had teased him about just a few months prior.  When I pulled it out of the bag,  I laughed; partially because it was funny, and partially to cover my disappointment that it wasn’t a real gift.  Nevertheless, it was a good icebreaker.

We ordered our tea and began catching up.  There was an easiness and a nervousness in me.  He seemed different.  I realized later that he didn’t laugh that night.  Not the laugh I remember, anyway.  The infectious one that makes his face become more alive, the laugh where his eyes light up and their corners crinkle just enough to show his joy but not give away his age.

There was a heaviness instead.  A maturity that only comes with surviving a battle of a certain magnitude.  He talked about everything he is doing and all the things he has planned.  As the words tumbled out of his mouth, I felt happy that he was taking care of himself, but soon I realized that he really is moving on without me.  He is living life, enjoying himself, and healing what has been broken.  And when he is ready to date again, it won’t be with me.

At one point, we stopped talking and just smiled at each other.  It was a comforting smile, but a difficult silence.  I had so much I wanted to say.  So many words on my tongue, enough to fill an ocean and perhaps spill over into another.  Words that were pouring out of my heart and filling me up, so many words that spread down through my legs and jutted against my toes, words that bubbled up to the crown of my head the through the strands of my hair.  But my lips remained pressed together in silence, as all I knew I could do was smile.  Words, at that point, were useless.

He reached out and touched my arm.  I scooched in and he kissed me, and I wondered how something could feel so natural and foreign at the same time.  Natural because we had kissed a hundred times before, ever since he lit the upside-down firework and he picked me up and kissed me in the parking lot after the 4th of July.

Foreign because we are no longer those two people who embraced in perhaps one of the best stories of my life.   Because now we are two people who then went through one of the worst stories of my life, and the innocence we had that night was buried under the rubble of stress and emotion and words that we can never take back.

Instead of allowing the words that were brimming at the surface of my being to begin seeping out of my pores and past my lips, I said something meager and weak like, “I’ll always want the chance of a first date with you again.”  I knew that were was no place at that table, no room in that teahouse, for anything else.

The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” –Ludwig Wittenstein

He nodded and said okay.

After tea, he took me to dinner, and then dropped me off at my car.  We kissed goodbye, and he thanked me for coming out.  I said, “Talk to you soon.  Or sometime.  Or whenever.”

As I was getting out of his car, he said, “Don’t forget your bag.”

“Nope, I’m leaving that with you.  The next time you give me a bag, it will have a real gift in it,” I quipped.  I shut the door and got in my car.  I began driving before the tears could come, before I had too much time to become sad before I got home.

Because I knew that there wouldn’t be a bag with a real gift in it.  I knew that we wouldn’t talk soon.

Those are the kinds of things you say when you are parting with someone you care about, and don’t know what else to say.  You want to have that hope that there will be another cup of tea, another upside-down firework, or another first date.  But you know, deep down, that it’s over and you have to start driving away and leave it all behind you.

So that’s what I did.

My evening with T did two things for me.  We were able to tell each other that there was no more anger or resentment, no animosity or hard feelings.  We had gotten past those feelings, and now only had warm affection and respect for each other.  We gave apologies and explanations, and said all that needed to be said. Everything that needed to be said, was said.  There are no words left.

Where do the words go
when we have said them?
― Margaret Atwood

The other thing it did for me was show me that I need to move on.  I need to stop living in the past, because just like my words during pregnancy didn’t spark vengence from the universe, I know that no matter how much regret or hoping or wishing that I do, nothing will bring them back, either.  Nothing I say will fix this broken relationship.  Words may have the authority to start and end wars; they may have the power to cause hurt or create joy; words may have the strength to alter the course of your life.  But words cannot change the past, and words cannot create love where there is none.

Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words.”  –Rumi

It’s difficult to let go of life’s “what ifs.”  But I have to.  I really can’t live as this century’s Miss Havisham.  I have to find new words to say.  I have to find a new song to sing.  As I do so, I will remain aware of the energies that I am putting out into the universe.  Not because I think there is a vengeful and petty deity waiting to use my words against me.  No, it is because I don’t want to have more regrets, especially regrets over things I have said.  I want to be mindful of the words I give to those around me.  I want to harness the power of my words to create happiness instead of pain, to move me forward instead of remaining stagnant.  My words are my future, and only I can decide what to do with them.

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.”― John Greenleaf Whittier

Ask yourself, “How will I use the power of my words to better my life?” It may be the most important question you ever let leave your lips.

Until next time ~ B

I Danced, Because I had Nothing Left To Lose

I left the house ready for a wedding.  Dress was on, hair was curled, and makeup was dark.  I felt as confident as I was going to get for that evening, threw a smile on my face, and headed to a downtown Portland ballroom that overlooked the city.

I returned from the wedding exhausted.  My hair lost most of its curl, my eye makeup had begun to creep downward, and my feet ached from a night of dancing.  I hopped in the shower and let the hot water wash over me as I scrubbed the eyeliner and mascara off my eyes and wiped the sweat off my body.  I took a little longer than needed, absorbing the hot steam into my pores, relaxing my already sore muscles, and thinking about the events of the evening.

It was a beautiful wedding.  Not just the venue, which was gorgeous, but the entire event was amazing.  It was one of those weddings in which you could really feel the love and energy into the room.  The bride was beyond stunning, and the groom, quite handsome in his suit, looked as if he would float away from happiness.  She walked down the aisle to Coldplay’s “Til Kingdom Come,” more radiant that I have ever seen her.  The look on his face as he saw his future wife walk towards him and their new life together was priceless.  I feel so lucky to have shared in their day.

I did my best to focus on the event unfolding in front of me, an event I have been looking forward to since their engagement.  It was hard to focus, though.  I wish my former love didn’t creep into my thoughts so often.  In my defense, it is incredibly difficult to focus on someone else’s nuptials without thinking about your own trials and tribulations in love.  I was one of the very few single guests, surrounded by sea of couples, young and old.  Much to my chagrin, the DJ peppered a few slow songs throughout the evening, one of which was Adele’s cover of “Make You Feel My Love.”   I watched as the aforementioned couples made their way to the dance floor, hand in hand, and celebrated their own love.   To say it was bittersweet would be an understatement.

I hate to admit how sad I felt at moments, my chest heavy with longing and regret, wishing he was there with me.  I also had to put on my game face around all of the babies.  It’s a special kind of difficult to see couples with babies at a wedding after the events of the past few months.  Naturally it made me think of all the things I was looking forward to, until that last week of December when I first lost the baby and then lost the fella.  I tried to brush those thoughts away immediately and just enjoy the evening and the new friends I was making.   All things considered, I think I did a pretty good job.

And then I danced.  I danced my heart out, as if the world was my stage and this was my grand debut.  I danced till my heart pounded, my breath was short, and sweat had to be wiped from my brow.  I danced and I laughed and I let myself feel truly happy for the first time in months.  As we said goodbye, the bride told me I was one of the photographer’s favorite guests to shoot because I had a huge smile on my face at all times.  The bride’s smother came up to me and told me how great I looked on the dance floor.

I went all out up on that stage, because I had nothing to lose.

As I sit here typing this, the energy is leaving my body and the wind is howling outside my bedroom window.   I must close my eyes soon, but first I need to put pen to paper and purge these ruminations from my mind. I thought about happiness as I drove home.   As much as I felt envy for the bride and groom on this day, I realized it wasn’t just their wedding, but their happiness that I long for, and I won’t reach that kind of happiness with a partner until I find it on my own. I am a prideful person.  It is one of my greatest faults.  It is time to put pride aside and become the best version of myself that I can be.  I have work to do.  I have things to fix.  I have demons to slay.   I have actions for which I need to atone.

Just as important, I need to dance more.  I need to laugh daily.  I need to find my own joy, because no one will bring it to me.  I need to discover new things and meet new people.  I need to stop allowing the past to interfere with the present.

My first order of business I have already accomplished, which was a solo trip out of town.  It was something I have always wanted to do, and finally just went for it.  I will definitely be planning another trip soon.  The second order of business was not bringing a date to this wedding.  Although I had options, I did not want to bring someone just for the sake of having a date.  More importantly, I wanted to prove that I could enjoy myself at a wedding as a single guest.  I could find happiness alone.  And I succeeded.

Tonight was a small step in the right direction, but it still a step forward.  I can do this.  I have to do this.  I don’t want life to pass me by.  I don’t want the chance for love to pass me by, either.   I am truly doing the best I can, and while there are still many struggles ahead of me, I saw a ray of hope in myself tonight.  A small glimmer that said, “you’re going to be okay.”  And that is something that I will try to hold on to.

Until next time ~B

Aside

Tonight I Had A Brush With Suicide

Tonight I had a brush with suicide.  At around 9:00 pm, our neighbor knocked on our door and said she needed help.  Her fiance had left, she hadn’t taken her Paxil in three weeks, and she wanted to slit her writs in the bathtub.  She said she couldn’t reach her son on the phone and didn’t know what to do, but she just wanted to make the pain go away.  She said she was afraid she would hurt herself.  She kept apologizing for bothering us.  We told her to stop apologizing, she was doing the right thing, it was not a bother, and we were going to help her.  We got dressed and just as we were leaving the driveway of our complex, we ran into her son who was on his way to check up on her.  We told him what was happening and he followed us to the hospital.

She cried and cried on the way over, talking about her lost love and how she can’t go back to her house, and how she doesn’t want to go on anymore and doesn’t know what to do.

My mom sat in the backseat with her while I drove us over.  As I listened to her tell us her story, I fought back my own tears.  I could literally feel her pain, as I recently suffered losses myself.  I could feel her heartbreak and her loss and understood her desire to make it all go away.

I know how you feel, I thought.  While I have never been on medication for a mental health diagnosis, I have reached some incredibly low points.  Five weeks ago I stood on the Astoria pier alone, having left my then-boyfriend sleeping alone in our hotel room. I looked up at the Astoria-Megler bridge that spans the Columbia, joining Oregon and Washington together.  It is a daunting bridge to look at, and I watched the cars drive north, disappearing into the night, leaving only the faintness of their tail lights as proof they ever existed.

I stood there, defeated.  It was barely one week from my miscarriage, and the baby’s father had grown suddenly and incomprehensibly distant.  I could feel the end of my relationship speeding towards me like an out of control freight train.  I wanted to disappear into the night, just like the cars were, and leave all of this pain behind. 

The next morning I found myself back in the same spot.  Once again, I stared at the bridge.  Once again, I had left him sleeping in the hotel room, but this time, he was my ex-boyfriend.  The previous night, after my solo trip to the pier, he finally admitted he wanted to break up with me.  I was grateful we got a hotel room with two beds, and after a few scant hours of sleep, and I watched the sky grow lighter through the crack in the draperies.  As soon as I deemed it light enough, I threw on my clothes and walked back to the spot I was in the night before.

What is to stop me from climbing the bridge and jumping into the icy river? 

I stared hard, feeling like I would almost do anything to make all of the pain and memories go away.  The breakup.  The miscarriage. The feeling that I was completely and utterly worthless.  That clearly I had nothing to offer him now that there was not a baby, so he was free to find someone who was worthy of his time.

Looking up at that bridge, I have never felt so small and insignificant.  So unworthy of love.  So alone.

I just stared for an unknown period of time.  The air was frosty and my breath was visible.  I watched boats anchored out in the water.  I watched the tourists walk hand in hand down the marina.  And I watched the cars.  Hundreds of cars, filled with people who have their own troubles.  I knew that jumping off that bridge was not the answer.  I knew that jumping off that bridge was something I would never do.  But I won’t deny that as I stood there, I felt like there was nothing left for me.  It was the lowest of the low.  And perhaps if I didn’t have the most amazing family and friends waiting for me back in Portland, I might have seriously considered the worst.

But I knew, deep down, that even though it felt like I had just lost everything, I still had everything waiting for me in a small little duplex that overlooks a cranky farmer and his dahlia fields.

I wanted to tell all of this to my neighbor.  That I understand the pain, I understand what it feels like to hurt so bad and all you want is it to go away.  I wanted to tell her that I know it hurts because she still loves the man who left her, just like I still love the man who left me.  I wanted to tell her that I don’t know how long it will take for her heart to heal, because I’m still working on mine, but I believe it’s possible.

Instead, I silently fought back the tears and took her to the ER.

She is getting the help she needs now.  I am grateful we were there to help her, and she seems to have a loving son and friend who took over for us at the hospital.  I hope she will be okay.

Mental health and suicide continue to be stigmatized in our country.  People are judged for their thoughts and feelings.  They are judged for taking medication for a chronic condition, as if it is any different because it’s above the neck and not below.  Depression, anxiety, and similar mental health diseases are hard and painful and continue to be viewed in a negative light.

I will admit it right here, right now:  I am depressed.  I am in counseling.  I don’t know if I will need medication.  I hope not, because I don’t like being on medication of any kind, but that is a bridge I will cross if/when the time comes.  And while I would never commit suicide, I understand why people do it.  I understand feeling hopeless and unworthy, two of the worst emotions of the human condition.

We all have our demons that we carry with us, the “devil on our backs” as Florence and the Machine describes it so eloquently.  Perhaps if we were kinder and gentler with ourselves and others, those demons would be a little easier to deal with.  So educate yourself.  Get informed.  Be kinder.  Think twice before you want to judge another human being because he is on an anti-depressant, or she is feeling like there is nothing left to live for.  Life is hard enough without having anyone to rely on, so be someone that can be relied on.  Be someone’s support.  You never know when someone is going to need it.

Until next time ~ B

Modern Greek Tragedies And My Very Own Trojan Horse

Breakups come in all shapes and sizes. Some are quick, some are agonizingly slow, and few are easy. I’ve been the breaker-upper and the break-upeee. Neither is a fun place to be, although if you are the one doing the breaking, at least you are in the position of power and are likely ready to move on already, if not very soon. When you are the one being broken up with, you feel helpless, alone, and sometimes a little bit crazy.

Regardless of which shoes you are in, various emotions are likely to occur. Sadness, anger, regret, second thoughts, missing that person, or hating that person, and eventually when enough time as passed, you feel next to nothing for that person. It has always amazed me that the men I once thought were “the one” I now have zero feelings for. Men I once shared everything with, my hopes and dreams, my love, my body, are now not much more to me than a stranger on the street.

I find the act of falling out of love to be such an interesting phenomena. Love is so important to me, and sometimes it is still difficult to comprehend how you can fall in love and then fall out of love. Even when there is so much evidence in favor of a split, it still feels weird to know that I was once intimate with a human being that is now sharing the same kind of intimacy with someone else.

Love, relationships, and breakups are just the worst, aren’t they?

My most recent relationship fail began at New Years Eve, when we officially split, but didn’t really get signed, sealed, and delivered until this past weekend. I can say without a doubt that it is over. When our last conversation ended, I sat on my bed, letting the reality sink in, my chest heavy with a thousand pounds of sorrow, but my reservoir of tears empty, completely bone dry from three weeks of emotional output.

I sat there, drained of energy, hope, and tears.

I have nothing left to give, so much so that I have no remaining tears to shed.

On Monday, I walked around with a funny feeling throughout my body and soul that I was having trouble expressing in words. Yes, I was tired, sad, hurt. Yet with the bulk of the anger dissipated, I couldn’t identify that unknown emotion until late in the day, when it came upon me as a slow realization.

The unknown emotion is defeat.

I have been completely defeated.

When I saw the two pink lines on my pregnancy test last November, I entered into an emotional combat, and the final battle climaxed this past weekend. Exhausted, weary, and defeated, I hung up the phone, emerging from the battlefield covered in emotional ash and soot, heart and soul in tatters, somewhat shell shocked, but completely resigned to the reality at hand.

In my mind, I imagine it like that ridiculous moment in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves when somehow Kevin Costner and his mullet managed to survive his fall from the trees. Except I didn’t have Morgan Freeman waiting for me when I hung up the phone.

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Per his request and my promise, I will reveal the least amount of detail regarding our final battle, and I will use an analogy in an attempt to describe this misfortune. In some ways, I feel like this entire experience with him, from first date to break-up, has been like a Greek tragedy. In six months we experienced elements of a long-distance courtship, then an ambiguity of feelings, which somehow morphed into a declaration of love, then an accidental conception, a struggle to navigate what the new life with baby would be, only to miscarry and fall apart.

We cared for each other, and then we hurt each other, and then we had to figure out how to pick up the pieces of our lives separately.

The final act in our drama consisted of what I can only describe as the gift of a Trojan Horse. He set me up by delivering the package on purpose, thinking that it was something I was searching for. When I opened it, I felt so hurt and betrayed, and then he jumped out, thrusting a sword of words into me that I had no idea was coming.

It was never a package I should have opened in the first place, but I was feeling sad and lonely, and thought it would have something inside to make me feel better. Like the unsuspecting people of Troy, I unearthed the contents of the box to see if I could find something for my future, and instead I was blindsided by a trap I didn’t see coming, one that was set by anger and self-righteousness. And when the Greek onslaught came, I had very little fight in me left. The hope I had been holding on to was then set on fire, and I watched it burn down to nothing but a pile of ashes.

Monday, with four hours of sleep, I walked around choking on that smoke and ash, feeling the defeat penetrating deep into the cells of my body like an unidentified virus I just couldn’t shake.

While today was easier, the feeling of defeat still lingers on, and I feel it may haunt me for some time. We are over. So, so over. We cannot, in any way, fulfill each other’s needs. And frankly, I don’t want to be with a person who sets me up with a Trojan Horse that he must have known would absolutely kill me to see, just so he can prove some kind of point to himself.

And it did, it absolutely killed me. My head swam, my hands trembled, and my stomach and chest burned.

To add insult to injury, he used the opportunity to call me creepy.

I am going to digress just slightly to tell a quick story told to me by a friend of mine. The story goes that he was out at the bar trying to chat up a group of cute girls, when one of them called him creepy. He told me he was so upset that he drove home in tears. I remember thinking to myself that crying over being called creepy by a group of women who were likely nothing more than vapid bitches was overreacting, but instead I offered sympathy because he was my friend.

I now understand the distress he felt, because being called creepy, especially when your intentions are otherwise, is more hurtful than I thought it would be.

And that is the thing, isn’t it? Intentions. My second to last ex-boyfriend kept using the word intentional during our breakup. He would say, “I just need to be intentional with my actions. It’s time to start being intentional. I need to think about my life and start being intentional in my professional and personal life.”

I absolutely despised the word intentional for some time after that experience.

But now, that word is taking on new life for me. The intentions behind a person’s actions can reveal more than the actions themselves. Perhaps the Trojan Horse was his way of enacting revenge for me going back on my word about adding personal details to my blog. However, after the Great Social Networking Purge in which he deleted me from every possible application, I honestly did not think he would be reading my blog. Nothing I wrote, and nothing I have ever written, has been for him. My blog is not a set-up. My blog is for me. It is a place where I go to write and process my emotions, not set up traps for the people I love. I acknowledge my wrongdoings, but at least I know I wasn’t setting out for vengeance or to intentionally cause pain.

I just paused to read over the last few paragraphs. I realize now, more than ever, that if we never speak again, that is probably for the best. I still care for him, and likely always will. But any feelings I still had of wanting to rekindle our relationship were gutted out of my body during our last phone call. How could I be with someone who intentionally trapped, hurt, and humiliated me? This is likely why Grand Gestures fail so often in real life, because someone has done something so hurtful that relations are beyond repair, and all you can do is go your separate ways.

With the final act completed, the curtains have been drawn shut and the audience has gone home. This Greek Tragedy has come to an end. Looking into the future, I don’t know when I will have the courage to begin dating again. I thought setting a time limit would be a constructive way to grieve and then move on, but this relationship and breakup are not typical. A pregnancy was involved. Plans for a life together were being created. This is different.

I decided today that I will know when I am ready to move forward when the idea of dating will not feel like an exhausting and futile endeavor. Last night, I joined a brand new dating website I found with a really interesting twist to the typical online dating experience. Yet, going through the profiles just made me feel a sense of dread and overwhelming apprehension. In less time than it takes to cook and eat a meal, I created and then I deleted my profile; yet I think I will rejoin when the time is right. There were a lot of nice faces on there, and maybe one of them is the face for me.

Also, bonus points that it is not OkCupid, a website I’m not sure I will ever join again. It has been ruined for me. That is now his territory. I hope it’s everything he wants it to be and more. Perhaps this go around will be much for fruitful than the last.

In yoga, the instructors always tell us to set our intentions for practice (there is that word again). I need to set my intentions for my future. Strength, hope, happiness, and love, and not just love of another, but love for myself. Perhaps when I learn to love myself more, I will find a man who genuinely loves me as well.

Until next time ~ The Modern Tragedy Blogger Brinophocles

I Screw Up, Too (An Apology)

In the interest of fairness, I feel the need to explain that I screw up, too. Shocked that I’m not perfect?  I know, I know.  Me too In all seriousness, I just had a conversation where a lot of my actions were called out, and rightly so.  There are two people involved in a relationship and its demise, and very rarely is only one person at fault.  I recognize that I did play a role in our breakup.  I try to have the best intentions, but I am human and make a lot of mistakes.  So now I will be open about what I have done wrong.  It won’t be easy, and I feel some shame and embarrassment, but I need to write it anyway.  I may not get everything here, but I will write what I can, and will mean every single word of it. My transgressions: When I was pregnant, I freaked out a lot.  I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, and he did his best to keep me positive, but I realize now how hard that was for him.   I was negative, I nitpicked at him, and I felt like I was in a big funk all the time.  On more than one occasion I made him feel like he couldn’t do anything right, and I can’t describe how awful I feel about that.  Especially because the truth is that he did a lot of things right, and I recognize, appreciate, and am thankful for those things. I went back on my word when I told him I wouldn’t put private conversations online.   That was wrong.  Just because we split up, doesn’t mean I need to take back my promises. I made the mistake of calling him out on his personal business tonight.  What he does with his life is none of my concern, and I won’t try to make it my concern ever again.   In an attempt to make myself feel better about my future, an attempt designed to give myself a little bit of hope, I unfortunately stumbled across something that caught me off guard and really hurt my feelings.  Instead of letting it go, I texted him about it.   I was wrong to say something, and I won’t do it again.  He needs to live his life in the way that works best for him. Friday night- Ugh.   I just wanted to have a conversation to clarify things and to get rid of my confusion.  Instead, it turned into a giant clusterfuck that I regret.  I had this entire conversation played out in my head, with different possible scenarios, and then when it actually happened, it was like a train wreck.  I should never have gone over there.  I drove away hurt, angry, and shocked, once again asking myself, “What the hell just happened?”  My intentions for that talk couldn’t have been further from the reality of what transpired, which resulted in the angry blog. What is that quote again about intentions?   The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Actually, it’s something more like

Hell isn’t merely paved with good intentions; it’s walled and roofed with them.  Yes, and furnished, too.  –Aldous Huxley

Sigh. Also, I know better than to say things I can’t take back in the heat of the moment.  I was clouded by hurt and pain (just like tonight) but that is no excuse.  I then added his name to the angry blog I wrote that night, which was uncalled for, as I did not have permission to do so, and like I mentioned before, I also had promised I wouldn’t record our personal conversations on the internet. We broke up almost a month ago, and I have been struggling to let it go.  A part of me has held on to hope, and with that, inadvertently held on to some expectations.  I can’t expect anything from him, nor should I.   All I can do now is give him what he wants, and I fully intend to do so.   I no longer carry hope with me.  I understand its broken.  Actually, it’s shattered, set on fire, and the ashes pissed on. I am an emotional person, sometimes too emotional, and the past three months have been more stressful than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life.  I am still trying to adjust to a new sense of normal, whatever that may look like.  I don’t know where I am going.  I have questioned everything in my life since November 1.  It is hard for me to think back to the fall, when I had a plan and knew where my future was headed.  It wasn’t just me putting up false bravado.  I really thought I had it figured out.  And then everything changed, and now I am trying to figure things out all over again.   And since the break-up I have had to face some negative truths about my life and my past that have me questioning if I will ever be in a functional relationship.  I am trying hard to work on my issues and to become a stronger, healthier, and better person. Going forward, I hope he and I find what we are looking for, whatever that may be.  Neither of us are villains.  We are two imperfect humans who have been through a lot, made mistakes along the way, and now are picking up the pieces after the storm.   All we can do is find any lessons to take with us in our separate journeys. I wish I had some witty or profound way to end this, but I don’t.  My heart hurts, not just because of the loss, but also because of the total mess everything has become. Actually, I will end with something specific, and that is to be careful what you wish for.  Thinking back over the last 3 months, I made some secret and not so secret wishes that I want more than anything to take back.  I said things that I think back on and just cringe.  About me, the pregnancy, and him.  I carry this strong instinct to want to fix it, to take care of things and nurture it back to a healthy place.  But some things can’t be fixed, nurtured, or be healthy again, no matter how much you wish that could be true. That’s all I got. -B