Day 73: The Man and the Distance Between Words

IKEA.png

I dreamt of Beautiful again last night.

I really don’t know why. I haven’t thought of her in weeks. I don’t miss her. And ever since I wrote my post on social media being the devil, I am proud to say I’ve stayed strong and since then I’ve unfriended her on FB to avoid seeing her posts and I’ve had the self-control and self-discipline to not visit her blog in some vanity-driven quest to see if she’s missing me or writing about me or what a big mistake this all was. I’ve done the necessary steps, I’ve taken care of myself, so I really wonder what ingredients had to be mixed together to create the cocktail of last night’s dream.

I remember it starting off with me, Beautiful, and my group of friends all at Chinatown in NYC, one of our favorite late night hangout spots. We’re looking around, checking out shops, I’m holding her hand. I see my usual martial arts supply vendor and decide to take a look around. I see the dao I was working with during my martial arts retreat and get excited. I start to swing it around and test it, I happily tell her all about it and the kind I bought and the history of the weapon but she seems bored and uninterested, so I put it down and we keep walking. Then it’s my favorite part. The food! Chinatown is a glorious budget smorgasbord for the adventurous. I remember wonton noodle soup, xiao long bao (soup dumplings), har kaw (crystal shrimp dumplings), siopao (okay that’s a Filipino word but it refers to Chinese meat buns; my favorite are the white siopao with ground pork, mushroom, egg, and Chinese sausage), beef tendon, bubble tea, and salt-pepper squid. She isn’t eating and I notice this. We remove ourselves from the group and duck into a side-street to talk, only she isn’t saying anything. I want to know what’s going on. Why she’s giving off so many strange vibes but not saying what’s wrong. She tells me she needs to go back, take the night, and we can talk in the morning.

I stay out all night and don’t get back home til sunrise the next day. I am nervous and fearful of the call. It is afternoon now and I still haven’t heard from her. Anxiously, I text her ‘Hey, love’. The phone rings. ‘Hi [my name].’

That’s all I need to hear. I know what’s coming at the end of this conversation. She never used my name. It was always a nickname, or if not, it was ‘Baby [my name]’ because of how lost in my interests and hobbies I get and how adorable she thought it was when I was so giddy and excited. Like a baby. Her baby.

I’m sitting in my living room and as soon as I hear her say my name I start bawling. I’m kicking at the coffee table between heaving sobs. ‘Why,’ I ask. ‘What happened to us.’ But this is my dream. This Beautiful only know what I know. So she says only what I can answer for her. 

‘I don’t know.’

Like I said, I don’t know why this came up again. I’ve been doing really well; better than I could have expected actually. It’s hard to think that the events that hurt me so much, the events that pushed me to create this blog, happened only 73 days ago. About two and a half months have gone by since she left me and since I started this journey of reflection and growth. It’s hard to envision two and a half months when I’m writing on average 1.000 words each day that goes by. I’ve never written this much before and certainly not at such a consistently maintained pace. This has definitely helped me process things and get over the hurt much quicker and more effectively though. I’ve never talked through a breakup or had such a far-reaching opportunity to share my story. Even though I don’t talk about it as much and I’ve been able to move on to discussing other things, the simple matter of writing has taken everything that could have hurt me in my head and poured it out through my fingertips. I’ve expelled so many doubts and worries. Each word I type puts more distance between me and her. Maybe this is why I have so much to say and why I want to say so much.

Still it is very clear I am not immune to pain. There will of course be obstacles, as there are in anyone’s path. I still think I am happily and healthily over her and the breakup. I just think I can’t deny I miss having someone. That is right now the hardest part. The fear of being alone. When you’re with someone, you don’t really spend much of that time envisioning when and why you’ll grow apart. You only hope that if it happens, you’ll know why. People can change, that’s a fact. For better or for worse. You hope that each time a relationship fizzles you are strong enough and humble enough to take what you can out of it and be better next time. But when it seems so right and so strong…and you’re left with so little to go on…you fear you lost your progress.

It is unrealistic and vain to think ‘I did nothing wrong’. ‘It was all her, none of this was me’. I’m not saying I could have changed to save the relationship, I’m saying I could learn from this too of what my shortcomings were and how I could continue to improve. I did not get that conversation. And to be honest, I don’t think I ever will. Partly because there is nothing left for her to say and partly also because she has neither the strength nor the awareness herself to know. I will have to grow on my own, I have to be courageous to face each new opportunity and hungry enough to keep learning. I certainly fear and hope I won’t be alone forever. I hope I learn enough to realize what it is I truly seek and am able to recognize when it is in front of me. I hope I can learn from the mistakes of the past and avoid them in the future.

Her and her pain feel more like the Boogeyman than anything else now. Just a reflection of a primal fear embodied in a more modern and more attractive face. The nightmares will come. But we all know that eventually we wake up. And today I wake up to a work day that consists of nothing but a longer than usual drive home. And afterwards, I’ll be meeting a friend at IKEA. It’s time for their annual crawfish party. Maybe I can dream of that instead.

Day 73

Man: 55 Loneliness: 18

Day 65: The Man and the Work Invasion

Invasion.jpg

Not to sound too melodramatic, but my workplace is being invaded by hostile forces and they threaten my very peaceful existence.

I know I’ve mentioned before that the travel is beginning to take a toll on me with work and how relieved I am that we are looking to hire more people in my department so I can spend more time at home. But I didn’t know that meant that they had already found someone and that she starts…wait, what…yesterday?!

Yep. My boss failed to mention that the new hire, a former manager of one of our travel agencies, was already here. Did I greet this news with elation and gratitude? Was I overcome with feelings of relief and joy? No. I very quickly realized that what I was looking at was the main threat to my otherwise agreeable arrangements.

When I’m on the road it is certainly very difficult to maintain some semblance of a normal routine. I lack the rigidity and uniformity that allows me to thrive on consistency and rely Passenger.gifon expectations for the next day. I don’t get to go to practice as often as I’d like, I spend more time eating and drinking out, my sleep pattern is shot, and I am often isolated for long stretches of time in the afternoon and evening. But on the bright side…I am often isolated for long stretches of time in the afternoon and evening. It’s a tough life but for someone who needs to be alone in order to recharge it can be…very Zen. And it gives me plenty of time to reflect on the day and formulate my writing better.

What I wanted in a new addition was someone to assume some of the burden and load of travel, but assume that mantle on their own. I was not anticipating that my boss would decide that she would still need to shadow me in this respect. I had no guidance when I started. There was no mentor, no book, no protocol. I walked into stores very unassuming and timid but have learned to command with my presence, share my knowledge, and establish urgency and necessity in their compliance. So what if I choose to reward myself for driving the distances and spending the long hours and repeating the same lessons over and over with you know…say…a work day that ends at 4 and an afternoon movie. It was one of the pleasures of setting your own schedule and traveling of your own accord with very little overhead.

But next week I find myself mentor, guide, and chauffeur for our new hire. I am to pick her up from our headquarters and transport us from here to Connecticut to Boston Airport, fly buffalous to Buffalo, then continue to drive us from Buffalo to Amherst and then Syracuse and then back. Along the way I am now responsible for showing her the ropes, shuffling her from store to store to hotel to airport to store to store to hotel to store to store to hotel to store to home, and bringing her…oh lordy…to dinner. We’re going to Buffalo. BUFFALO, NY. Do you know what’s in Buffalo? Yeah, that’s right. BUFFALO WINGS. As in, Anchor Bar, the origin of the buffalo wing. I wanted to go there. I recommended it. I requested it. ‘You know there are better and classier places in Niagara Falls to go to. I’m a foodie.’

God I hate that word. I don’t use it, by the way. I would never refer to myself as one.

‘Okay…uh…what do you recommend.’

‘Oh I usually eat at the Hard Rock Cafe or the Planet Hollywood.’

…sorry….what…

I wanted less travel. Not group travel! Oh god. What do I do. I’ll be very British about it. I’ll grin and bear it. Chin up old chap and all that. All because of the promise that after this, she’ll be ready to go on her own, I’ll be on my own, and everything will return to normal only with less travel. But if she starts staying in stores longer than I do…she’s gonna make me look bad.


Now that we’ve tackled the foreign invasion, let’s talk about the homefront.

Do you know what I do when I’m at headquarters?

I’ll admit it. Nothing. Hahah. I call consultants when they need help. I answer emails to work-aloneput out fires. My boss has me do some reports, check in with some stores, do a few Skype sessions. Otherwise I’m at the company bar or playing arcade games or walking around or writing. My most productive writing has always been during work! Since I work on a laptop I get to be highly mobile and move around the building. My boss is used to this and knows this so she never really quite knows just what all my busy work amounts to. Hey, being on the road is tough. The rare times I am grounded are a luxury.

As we are not traveling as of yet, I find my solitude threatened by her constant presence. She ‘shadows’ me as I furtively try to write in secret. She observes how I spend most of my Go Away.giftime in our leisure deck. She laughs and smiles and says she finds it amusing and refreshing but I do not know this woman. I do not know what she is thinking. I do not know if she is threatening this arrangement. It doesn’t help that she doesn’t have a laptop or phone yet. That would at least tie her to her desk. But what would it say if I’m not right there as well. Should I be concerned that she is able to relate more easily and readily with my boss. Whereas I could only casually ask about how her son is doing and how school is, they are sharing mother stories of girlfriends and high school shenanigans and the difference between the eldest and the youngest. We are creatures admittedly of consistency and habit and change does not come easy and this is certainly the biggest change in my work so far.

I know how I sound right now. I’m not proud of it. I don’t like having a new coworker. I don’t like not having the distinction of being ‘the only person in my department’ as I would often half-complain half-brag to friends and family. I don’t want a travel companion from work (don’t get me wrong I’d loooove a travel companion in my personal life). I don’t want people to find out how good I’ve got it back at headquarters. She threatens all these things. But if I’m not too harsh, she does represent a lightening of the travel load. She represents the possibility of the same amount of work being done by two people and thus less for both. But god I hope my boss doesn’t see how much free time we have.

It’s okay. I got this. I can handle this. I’ll train her, she’ll go on her way, I’ll go back on mine. I can do this.

Day 65

Man: 48 Lonelines: 17

WAIT WHAT?! SHE’S HIRING A THIRD PERSON IN TWO WEEKS?!

 

 

Day 62 Supplemental: The Man and the Lie

Cake Is a Lie.jpg

Yeah the truth is after a string of particularly…uninspiring….prompts, suddenly the flood gates open up for ‘cake’. Go figure.

So aside from reflections on the natures of cooking vs baking, ‘cake’ immediately brought me back to a video game I used to play with my brother. There hasn’t really been an opportunity to divulge too much of the extent of my interests, but I am definitely a big video gamer. One of the games I used to play was Portal, a simple to grasp yet intricate to master 3D platforming game with a very adult sense of humor.

Portal Man Left.pngDuring the game your character is constantly encouraged to continue to progress by the promise of a cake by GlaDOS, the game’s snarky passive-aggressive antagonist. Spoiler alert: it is through eventual progression in the game that you come to realize that ‘the cake is a lie’, meaning that the reward does not exist and there is really no hope of escape or completion.
GlaDOS is not the friendly AI assistance you thought, everyone is dead, and all hope is lost. Wonderful.

This is supposed to be a disappointing thing. You’re supposed to feel betrayed and lost and in fact nowadays within the online and gaming community, the phrase ‘the cake is a lie’ is often used to express feelings of frustration when promised rewards turn out to be false or nonexistent.

But…I don’t see it as such. I mean I did, but recently with the things that have happened and with this opportunity to reflect, I realize that…I didn’t want the cake. I knew the cake was a lie.

If we start off with the assumption that the cake is a lie even before finding out it is, aren’t we more prepared for the ending? The best case scenario is that we are proven wrong, the cake is real, and we get to have it and eat it too. The worst case scenario is that we are right. So…shouldn’t we want to believe the cake is a lie?

I think the nature of optimism vs. pessimism is really what we Portal Man Rightshould be talking about. We are bound by our expectations and our greatest frustrations and obstacles arise when our expectations are not met. From the day we are born we are constantly promised things to remain optimistic and hopefully, inspired. We are told in school to do well because we can expect to get into a good college which promises a good career with good pay. We are told, here at least, that the ‘American Dream’ is to own your own land and build your own success and that if we do this we are good Americans and can be happy. But because of the nature of my blog, let’s focus specifically on optimism vs. pessimism in relationships. Here is my thesis: in relationships, a certain measure of pessimism is healthy and indeed necessary for happy, lasting unions because it prepares us more realistically both when single in the search of a partner and when joined up with someone and dealing with their shortcomings.

We are constantly bombarded with movies and literature and song and images of ‘perfect love’ and ‘perfect relationships’. But when we grow up on a diet of sticky saccharine sweet romantic comedies and catchy pop songs we are ill-prepared for the bitterness of reality. And even then, reality isn’t that bad, it’s just that compared to what we are fed, it certainly falls short of expectations and depictions.

Growing up I read Romeo and Juliet and The Princess Bride. I watched You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. I listened to Lionel Richie and Bryan Adams. And though they are very period-specific examples, we all know that the themes and promises are timeless.

We are conditioned to be optimistic that we will find our soulmate in the world who will intrinsically and immediately understand everything that motivates and encourages us and pleases us and it will come naturally and easily to them. We are promised, in so many of what we consume throughout our years, that a happy relationship is free of the turmoil and misunderstanding that we see in our failed relationships and the failed relationships of those around us. We can expect that following the natural progression of the ‘cute meeting story’ and then the ‘complicated love-interest obstacle’ climaxing with the ‘misunderstanding that must be resolved’ we end up with the boy or girl of our dreams and that the hardest part is to find them and the rest is well…’happily ever after’.

We would like to say that pessimism and negativity is poison to the otherwise happy recipe of the relationship but actually it is our own optimism and unrealistic expectation that could inevitably lead to our demise. It is because of our optimism that when we have a rough day at work and come home and our partner is not immediately attentive and receptive and does not immediately understand what it is that bothers us that we feel betrayed and disappointed and thus even more frustrated. The promise that we have been chasing is that we should never have to explain ourselves to our soulmates. That the person we are meant to be with should be perfectly aligned with our interests and hopes and expectations and that it should be a matter of fitting perfectly instantaneously and permanently.

But if we look at the objective reality of the world, we see that optimism could lead us blindly down the least constructive path. We have to understand that there are more than 6 billion people in the world. And that the max extent of the amount of people we can meet within a certain timeframe in our lives that would be conducive to family making and a future is only a fraction of a fraction of a percentage of that amount. We must also understand that our own desires and interests can change and shift over time. That we are not static points in space and that we are also learning and developing and therefore capable and in fact prone to inconsistency. So if we are constantly over-optimistic and unrealistic in our expectation and our belief in the reward, the ‘cake’ per se, we can become increasingly frustrated and downtrodden when every opportunity that arises seems to not fit our mold.

But if instead we choose to approach the world with just a bit of healthy pessimism, we are free of the burden of perfection and expectation and instead can enjoy the pleasures and surprises of life and relationships. If we learn to expect that our partners will come with certain flaws and shortcomings, when we eventually discover them they are not as big a deal as before and we find the uncanny ability to calmly analyze and decide if it is in fact the worst thing ever or something that, it turns out, we can live with because we are able to see the larger picture now. If we are capable of viewing relationships and love with just a tiny bit of pessimism then each and every time we find a similar interest, similar hobby, or find we share the same values and hopes, it is the proverbial ‘icing on the cake’. We can enjoy more and be disappointed less if we understand that optimism and expectation can actually be the enemy of love.

I know this may sound unappetizing and it may seem like a surprise to come from a professed ‘bleeding heart romantic’, but believe me I have found that a spoonful of pessimism can certainly help the medicine go down. I think many of my past relationships were marred by unrealistic expectations on both ends. The media fills us with promises and we make promises to each other that often times we don’t really know if we can fulfill. And when we do that we hurt ourselves more than help the relationship. I’ve learned to want to love someone without having to idealize them. I’ve learned to still want to be in a relationship without wanting it to be perfect and ‘falling out of love’ with the idea.

It’s okay that the cake is a lie. It’s okay that the union of two people can never be as perfect as the wedding cake is on that special day. After all, what is that cake made of. The beautiful, smooth, perfect covering is fondant. Basically edible Play-Doh. It is artificially pounded and stretched and molded and plastered onto the cake. The two happy blissful idyllic people on top are stiff and plastic dolls. It’s okay to expect that the person we are with will be imperfect because once we realize that, we understand that having troubles and problems is not a unique situation to us. Personally, I’ll take my cake with a little bit of salt from now on.

Day 53 Supplemental: The Man and Daily Prompt; ‘ Miniature’

Koi.jpg

One of the hardest parts of transitioning from being in a relationship to being single again is realizing how much bigger your world has become.

When you are single your world is only as big as you know it to be. It comprises of your experiences, emotions, lessons, people, places, etc. With nothing else to put into perspective you find that you fit within your world in a comfortable way. You are not a big fish or a small fish and your pond is neither big nor small. You are simply a fish in what you believe is the only pond and you fit. Your proportions are equal to everyone else and you are contented to simply swim from one border to the next with plenty enough to discover and explore.

But when you find someone and embark on a relationship, you have to realize that you are not only dating that person and learning more about them, but you are also dating and learning about their world. See she is not just another fish in your pond. She is a fish from a whole different pond, and now your waters flow directly together. In the blink of an eye, you are exposed to double the amount of space.

This is okay, however, because as a part of a pair you are now also double the entity, and therefore able to handle it all and remain in the same proportion. She brings with her her own set of realities, expectations, experiences, and stories. You contribute yours. Her interests can become yours and yours can become hers. You are suddenly exposed to brand new people, places, and things. Your pond has gotten wider and deeper and the two of you exhaust your little fins racing from one end to the other.

Keep Swimming.gif

Unfortunately not all relationships last forever, and sometimes two fish who seem to have swum together forever may find at one point that their streams will lead to different waters. The problem here is that, while she may be gone, the world she left behind isn’t. Your pond has permanently been touched by her presence. You will always now be aware of how much deeper and wider everything has become. Whereas before we may have been comfortable in our world and our size within it, we now find ourselves feeling much smaller in a world that feels much bigger.

I never knew about bouldering before I started dating Beautiful again. I never considered skydiving or hiking or any of the other many things she introduced me to. And I know I did the same for her, introducing my own interests and worlds. I find myself now realizing just how much more there is than what I knew. She may not be here anymore to be by my side as I learn and grow and experience but I don’t need her. We don’t need another to feel equal enough to the world we inhabit. Beyond simply just continuing to explore the things she introduced me to I find I am now more curious and inquisitive and exploring things neither she nor I had done before. Archery for one. More travel another. Even relationships have become new things for me as I deepen my relationships with my friends and family on a level I only once ever thought to reserve for someone I was dating.

Pond.gifSee there is only so much we as individuals can ever hope to explore and accomplish in one given life. The most inquisitive and explorative of us will find frustration at our limits and resent the infinity we cannot be a part of. The complacent and comfortable will become resigned to their borders and never develop their own incentive to grow beyond. The only way to really experience as much of the world as we can is to allow others to come and make their ponds part of ours. Whether or not they remain with us to explore it is an entirely different matter. Even heartbreak and loss needs to be experienced in our lives.

We can spend our time angry at those who left us. Allow ourselves to be consumed with anger and disappointment at those who have left us behind with this vast and violent rapid. We can dwell on those who built up false promises and hopes and threw us in unfamiliar waters.

Or we could recoil in insecurity and self-doubt. We could continue to feel small and insignificant in the face of the new world, the world of being alone where you once were not. Find a comfortable reef to hide away in as the world continues on without us because we feel incomplete or not large enough to take on the new challenges and stories that await our fish.

MiniatureOr we could grow bigger on our own. Consume. If our world has become larger than we must grow to meet it. Consume everything. Experiences. Stories. Knowledge. Love. If you ever played that computer game where you start off as a tiny fish and as you eat more and more you grow larger and larger until you can take over the entire pond you know exactly what I mean. Our worlds need to grow and we need to grow with it. People come and pour more water and we cannot just content ourselves to be small or hope to find someone else to make us bigger. We must do it ourselves. We must consume with energy and enthusiasm and the most powerful feeling of being entitled to grow.

You have to remember, have to realize, your pond can always get bigger. There will always be ways whether you choose to or not to have the borders of your world stretched and reshaped. You can always get bigger. You can consume and meet the same pace as your world. But even when the person who made your world bigger leaves and you feel less than equal to the world, you have to remember, you never actually shrunk. You have always been the size you are. You don’t get smaller. You get bigger. When you are left alone, you are not smaller than the person you were before. Your world is bigger, and at the very least, you are the same size fish you were before you met her. Which means you better get out there and consume everything you can. No one deserves to feel like a miniature of themselves in a life-size model of their world.

Day 52: The Man and the Triumphant Return, Post-Retreat

It is a strange feeling to be back. I actually got home late last night and with no real time to transition from the retreat world to the real world, I find myself on the road again already, traveling in eastern PA for the week. I am writing as much for the benefit of the blog and my own personal reflection as I am to record the immense amount of knowledge and wisdom I have gained over the past three days for future reference. I hope also that what I have experienced and learned I can share with others who might also benefit from it.

Eagle Village.jpgThe shift in mentality, physicality, activity, and awareness is almost jarring. For the past three days I’ve been completely unplugged. Not isolated or removed, just unplugged. The location was actually gorgeous. In Southbury, CT the school rented a couple cabins. We still had shelter and light and running water but we consciously chose to leave all our technology in our cars, locked away, to use sparingly if at all. I personally chose to go on a complete withdrawal from it all to ground myself again. There is a purposefulness that is wonderfully fulfilling and totally absorbing when you choose to focus your entire day on only a few certain tasks. Not that there aren’t ways to capture that sensation in our everyday lives, but imagine having a full day devoted to only the things you choose to do. To get up early because you want to feel the sun rising on your face during morning meditation. To fill your lungs with cool air and feel the wet morning dew on the grass as you begin your practice. Sharing a breakfast with people who are fully committed to the same goals and values and motivations as you are. Feeding off of that energy, that vitality. To rush back to the hot sun and be completely oblivious to how the hours melt away as you practice. We would take sporadic little breaks to cool down, drink some water, have some fruit, and we’d be back immediately, wanting to learn more, enjoying and valuing every moment as an opportunity to learn and improve and grow. A full day of personal, physical, and mental growth. We practiced until the sun would set and then, as a group, would find a local restaurant to have dinner together. At the school back home, there is a protocol of Interiorinstructors, assistants, and students. And even within the students, there is of course a ranking of seniority among the higher and lower belts. But on a retreat we wear no uniforms, bear no distinctions, and within respectable reason of course, honor no separation. It is only here that I can have a beer with an instructor or play pool with some of the assistants. It is here, learning something completely different and unique to the retreat experience, that seniors and juniors find themselves on equal footing and able to learn, practice, and spar on equal grounds. At night those of us who have not yet tired of the day’s lessons will find some private secluded areas to continue our practice, share knowledge and advice, and prepare for the next day.

I did not once think of Beautiful or of relationships or loneliness when I felt at all times surrounded by such engaging company. My body was too busy to feel lethargic and sad. My mind was too excited to wander into distracting thoughts. I find the first day back too numbing. It is busy but it is unfulfilling. I think a retreat is always a wonderful idea and it doesn’t necessarily need to be for martial arts. You can retreat within your own home to write, to sing, to draw, to feel, or to not feel. What I have come to realize is that the effectiveness of a retreat is not measured during its own time, but in the time after. Can you capture that feeling of peaceful and serene purpose and carry it with you back in the real world. Can each retreat slowly find its way into your daily heart until you feel it in every waking moment. That is the Zen. So the first goal, above retaining what was learned and practicing it physically, is to retain what was felt mentally and recreate it in every new morning. That is where I start my post-retreat journey.

Retreat.jpg

This week will be dedicated to sharing the lessons I learned from my weekend. During the retreat we focused on two new aspects of the martial arts practice that are not normally taught in the regular curriculum of the school. The first was Yin Meditation, a form of deep relaxation and stretching meditation much like yoga that focuses on benefitting the internal organs, emotions, health, flexibility, and relaxation. We learned and practiced various poses meant to stimulate certain organs and emotions and I will share the poses, how to do them, and how they relate to the very deep and complex world of Chinese philosophy and meditation. I am currently beginning a 100 day challenge of Yin meditation to see how my body and mind change from the regular practice of these poses for specific purposes. I will also share the martial aspect of the retreat, where I am very happy to say I was able to learn a new skill that has always been on my ‘must-learn’ list. I am a huge weapons enthusiast and I love being able to practice as many of the traditional Chinese weapons as I can and over this weekend we learned the double broadsword. Oh yes, that’s right you martial arts fans and nerds out there, we learned how to wield not one but two of the Chinese daos, considered among the family of traditional weapons of kung fu as the ‘General of All Weapons’. I am particularly keen to share my experience and insight into this practice not as it pertains directly, as I do not think I am neither qualified nor equipped to even begin to explain or illustrate the principles, but I am excited to share my insight as to how weapons apply to martial arts philosophy and how that can apply to the nature of relationships as well.

Martial Bear.jpg

Oh yes, I’m back, I’m energized, I’m inspired, I have a goal and a reason and a purpose, and I cannot wait to share.

Day 52

Man: 36 Loneliness: 16

Day 41 Supplemental: The Man and the Social Media

In an attempt to reach beyond my own self-interested and self-centered experiences, I want to try and reach out through the very self-indulgent surface of memory to extract some value for you.

My experience with all this can be summed up into this.

Devil.jpg

After a breakup, social media is the devil.

Cut all ties.

Don’t go where you don’t belong.

Let’s break this up into parts.

Part 1) What is true does not matter. What matters is what is now.

  • This is the first thing I must learn to reconcile with the breakup. After we broke up and I read those posts about her and her ex, my reality was upended. I questioned what I believed and what I knew. I remember all the sweet words and promises she and I made to each other. I remember all the things she told me about him and what she needed and was not getting. Was it all lies? Because if it was true, then I must be worth even less than that. I was wracking myself with worry and self-doubt. How could she want him again? Didn’t she tell me this, and that, and didn’t it all mean he was bad and I was good? I concerned myself with the possibilities. Either a) she lied to me about him or b) she told the truth and ultimately it just didn’t matter to her. I never considered c) which is…
  • It doesn’t matter. What you have to understand now is that whatever she said before, whether it was true or not, is the past. What matters are the words she says right now. It is not your job to investigate the truth. It is not your job to convince her or yourself of what is reality. The reality is that you two are not together, and the words she speaks are now not for you anymore.

Part 2) There is nothing here left for you.

  • The second part of social media and breakups is you sometimes wish to see some sort of signal from your ex. You want to see some sad post about how poorly they are taking it. Or maybe see some clearly over-compensating pictures of some crazy party they went to to try and get over you. You want to believe that there is still more to the conversation and that your ex will somehow convey to you that this was all a mistake. So you spend more time on their social media than you did when you were together. Every picture, every word, you wonder if it was somehow meant for you.
  • It wasn’t. It isn’t. It won’t be. You know what, in fact, leave social media altogether for a while. Let the little buzzing of third-degree acquaintances gorge themselves on the corpse of your relationship while you go out and remind yourself of the things you did before the relationship. The truth of the matter is there is no secret code to get someone back. No one is going to get back together because of a tweet. And the more you visit, the longer you stay, the higher the chances of you seeing something you shouldn’t, or wouldn’t want to see, and it causing more harm than help. Believe me, because this leads us to

Part 3) You are better off unfollowing each other on social media. Because

  • No matter what happens, you’re going to feel like crap. Is your ex’s life going terribly? Is their feed now filled with despair and sad memes? Are they going out each night trying to drown their feelings in cheap vodka and even cheaper thrills? Do you think this is going to make you feel better? You are watching someone you once loved and cared about self-destruct. You will either feel shitty because it hurts to see someone you care about hurt themselves or you’ll feel REALLY shitty because of the brief moment you let yourself actually enjoy watching that. You’re better than this. You’re a good person.
  • You lack the genuine capacity to be happy for them. The truth is, in a breakup, what is essentially being said is that these two people will have better lives separately. And the truth is, usually at least one of you does not want this to be true. So you do not want to see how happy your ex is with their new job. Or that they are moving to a new city. Or even worse, you do not want to see them happy with someone else. I know this from personal experience, but even from third party observation. One of my friends is friends with her ex. Who recently got into a new relationship. Do you know what we talked about that day? ‘God this is so typical of her. She’s not good in a relationship. It’ll end in flames. But I wish her the best.’ Yo. No you don’t. Don’t kid yourself or me. Noble gestures need noble actions. If you want to honestly wish your ex the best, do so and then never concern yourself with what her best becomes, because it isn’t you.

Paragraph

Listen, do as I say and not as I do. I wish I could tell you that I do not still sometimes check her blog to see what she says. I wish I could tell you that I do not sometimes quietly relish that while I am trying to move on (albeit recently with much trouble) she is mired in regrets of the past, even though her writing also reveals how little she is cared for. It does hurt me that the man she has lost herself to did not even remember her birthday and that it characterized her special day more than the efforts of her friends, family, or even me. I wish I could say that I do not still sometimes think back to the words she only spoke to herself and compare them to the words she so freely shared with the world about him. I am a work in progress. And if you take these words to heart, I promise you I will too.

Social media is the devil.

Day 41: The Man and the Confession

I have a confession to make.

I am not a good person. I am likely to succumb to all the same base moral flaws and shortcomings of any man.

One of them being vanity.

I would like to think I am above all this, but I am undeniably human and therefore prone to all the follies of man.

I like to think that there are others who think of me, speak of me, and I would like to know what they are saying.

Beautiful always kept a diary. In fact at our one year anniversary in college I gave her the diary that she uses right now. I never asked her, nor did I pressure her or even insinuate I was interested, but she willingly and enthusiastically gave me the special privilege and honor to read her diary once a week. It was like being given the keys to her inner world, one that I was interested in as one who loved her and wanted to take care of her but doubly so because it was also a world I found out I inhabited. I reveled in reading about my adventures in her mind. I saw how she saw me, I counted my victories and my losses. I knew exactly how she was remembering our relationship. I was the hero in her story. No one had ever written about me before, and I loved the version of me she had created for herself. As much as I wanted to make this not about me and more about learning how best to be there for her, I found myself spending most of my  time reading and re-reading every one of our interactions.

Beautiful’s voice had always been soft and light. She had yet to learn how to assign weight to her thoughts and desires. Reading her diary helped me to take a temperature reading of our relationship. The deepest, heaviest, most transformative conversations of our relationship were between me and the pages of her book. I would read, absorb, inhabit, her thoughts and then speak to her. In this repeated manner over the years I became able to anticipate her thoughts and needs. No one knew Beautiful better than I did, and my words spoke directly to her heart. I had made her heart second nature to mine, and I could read her heartbeat in her eyes, her voice, her touch, and yes, especially her words.

Words that, when we met again last year, seemed to tell me she was unhappy. That she was in a relationship that did not understand or satisfy her and that she did not have the voice to leave. I want you to understand that all I saw was her unhappiness and dissatisfaction. There was nothing that made me think she wanted me back and I said nothing to tell her to leave. I told her, as I always have, the truth of what I saw in her heart. That she wanted more, and felt she was receiving less. That she needed to be reminded of what she could be worth and could demand of one who loved her.

When she appeared at my door, in the rain, the night she left her ex, I was in my bed clothes. I had no idea whatsoever what had transcribed or why she was here. But I let her in, and she spoke more than I think I’ve ever heard her say about the truth of her heart, and for once I did more listening than talking, and then I held her close to me, tightly, through the night, as she cried for him, for me, for herself.

Then we got back together. And I was surprised to see how much of her voice she had found and developed. She was clear, eloquent, direct with what she wanted. I didn’t have to try too hard to know how she felt because she had learned to give of that freely and openly. Our relationship blossomed and grew fast in the past year.

I was surprised, but excited, to find out that through all these years she had kept her diary and had kept up writing in it regularly. But this time, because she was more able to speak about the relationship, and because we were different people, this was to remain her diary. It would have chronicled everything since our breakup. Every bad decision. Every failed attempt at romance. Every shameful hookup. And the story of her three year-long love with her ex. Things that were vital to her growth. Scars that needed to be felt and growth that needed to be fulfilled. And thoughts and situations and memories that she did not want me to know of.

I think you know where this is going. I told you I was not a good person. I am vain and self-interested.

One weekend while her family was away and we were sleeping together at her place, I took her diary and read it in the middle of the night while she slept.

Yes, there were the nitty gritty of things she did not want me to know about. Yes there were memories and stories of her with others that hurt me to read. But honestly, all I really wanted to do was to hear more about myself.

I went to the dates that corresponded with our reunion. And, I am ashamed to say, I read her diary. I voraciously took it all in like I did back in college. The words were so similar. The emotion so familiar. She told of how over the years the one thing that never changed in her life was how she felt about me. How excited she was for this second opportunity. How different it felt to be with me. Both familiar but also better. She acknowledged how different our passions and hobbies were but she was appreciative of how enthusiastically I was willing to try out her interests and accompany her on some of her excursions. She talked about feeling wanted again, feeling like a priority, being with someone who understood her so deeply and profoundly.

I broke a key part of her trust for my own vain purposes, to hear the words she spoke to herself about how much she loved me and how happy she was to be with me again.

Publicly, she also now maintained her own blog. It was primarily pictures and videos of her pet bunnies and food she made/ate. Nothing ever really about relationships, so it was just a fun read.

Until we broke up.

And then, one day, it just…poured out of her. Some sudden wave of inspiration and want drove her to write publicly and openly.

About how much she loved him.

About how much she missed him.

About how, through everything, he was the man she truly loved, and how everything had been a mistake.

Post after post, day after day, from here to Australia, so many beautiful and eloquent and open thoughts about him. Words she had never said about me to herself or to anyone.

And I am a vain man.

So I read them.

So my second confession must be that I have to admit that a good number of these wounds that I now suffer were self-inflicted.

I was vain, and thought she would ever still want to write about me, and I hunted down her words, and I opened up the possibility for me to be hurt because I openly and willingly looked up a place where I did not belong to read the words of one who did not love me.

I couldn’t understand it. Words that she would only ever say to herself about me, she was saying the same and more to others about him. Were her words about me ever true then? She didn’t even want to let people know we were back together so soon after out of respect for him, to let others believe she was going through the appropriate grieving process. There are people who never even knew we had gotten back together and broken up because of how delicately she managed our relationship. But she wanted the world to know about the man she loved. The man who, she told me in private, in person, and in her diary…no, you know what, it doesn’t matter what she said. That’s not the moral of this story. And if I keep focusing on that, I’ll keep driving myself crazy.

I confess that I am a vain man. That I would betray someone’s trust to feed a need to fuel my ego and believe that there are others who think and write of me. And I confess that my vanity has caused me my own great pains and that I do not know how to take control of this self-inflicted pain.

Day 41

Man: 25 Loneliness: 16

Day 41: The Man and the Wind

The wind never apologizes for being late.

Against Wind.gif

They don’t call it the Windy City for nothing. So far while I’ve been here I’ve noticed that when you are walking through the city in the shadow of its many skyscrapers the air is funneled through these buildings and creates breezes at the base. This creates an unpredictable wind pattern for many Chicagoans and tourists and the way that each group deals with it has been quite interesting.

The ones who are used to it know when to lean into the wind and when to turn away. The tourists, well, they fight too much.

Those who master the wind know not to concern themselves with where the wind is going or where it’s coming from. They don’t concern themselves with trying to predict the wind or control where it goes or when and how it blows. They are able to live with the wind.

You have to learn to bend. The reed that bends in the wind is stronger than the oak that breaks in the storm.

People, relationships, things, they all get caught up in the breeze. They are whisked around. And if you stand too firm, if you never learn to yield, you will get hit, hard, every time there is a sudden gust that upends everything.

Reeds.jpgI was too firmly planted. I thought that to yield meant to surrender or to give up. I dug my roots far and wide and deep. My foundation is strong. I know who I am, what I want, what I love. But the wind is always stronger and I never learned how to bend.

A very common sight back home whenever there is a strong storm is afterwards you’ll see these huge, massive trees completely uprooted. The wind just tips them over because they are so large and so rigid. Often times you’ll see that these were mature trees with very large and complicated root patterns. If you ever venture into the woods you’ll know what I mean because you can see examples there too. Very heavy old trees toppled to the side and you can see just how intricate the roots had become. If you never learn to bend, like the tree, it will not matter how deep your roots go. You will fall. And when you do, all that your firmness has accomplished is bring up even more dirt, upset even more roots, and cause even more damage when you do. These are then the people who are around you who look to you for support and who support you. These roots become your passions and hobbies, which all take a hit when you lose yourself each time to hardship. The wider and more expansive your root system becomes, the more important it is for you to learn to bend with the wind to protect this delicate network from exposure and harm.

I wanted to become a teacher when I was younger. I never entertained any other career possibilities. I put all my eggs in one basket. Applied to one school. One program. One purpose. Through luck and work I made it through with my single-mindedness and I found myself as a high school English teacher right after college. I thought I was set and was getting ready to settle into my career. But the job did not fit my expectations. I was Ka.jpgnot doing what I loved or thought I would love. I was not in the school system I imagined teaching the level of students I expected. I did not know how to handle adversity and so after one year I left. And because I had never learned to be flexible I did not know what else to do or who else to become. I fell into a job as a travel agent because it was available and because it also would have given me the chance to travel and explore the world. But I am not a salesman, and I do not like the front lines. So once again I was ready to uproot myself and do something else. I would have been switching careers and companies three times in the past five years. But luckily I learned of this job within the company and now I am still in the travel business with all of its perks, still with the same company I was when I started, but now I am doing something that speaks to my strengths and passions, travelling across the country to all of our stores educating and training consultants in the field. The wind was strong and I was ready to snap. I was fortunate enough to at least bend slightly enough to give myself enough room to find this opportunity.

I wanted to be with someone. I didn’t concern myself with how I was finding these women or what I was looking for. I wanted to be a man in a relationship and the cost of the pursuit did not matter to me. I made woman after woman my projected ideal, trying to chase something I could only vaguely imagine. I was pursuing a goal with no shape or form, like trying to catch the breeze in your hands. It didn’t work with all my past relationships, it didn’t work with Beautiful, I didn’t get a chance with Bird, and normally I would have been jumping against the walls crawling out of my skin with panic and frustration. This did uproot me and I did snap and I have felt like my roots have been exposed to sun, wind, rain, and predators.

I am slowly learning to become more flexible. I am learning not to concern myself anymore with where the wind blows from or what it brings along with it. I let the wind blow because I know I cannot change it and I am prepared for when it does. I know when to lean into the wind, because there will be times when it will try to blow me off my path. I have my roots to plant me and remind me to stay the course and to stick to my foundations. I know when to yield to the wind because no gust is permanent and sometimes I must let it have its way, weather the storm, and know that it is better to bend and still be standing afterwards than to not and end up taken down.

Every obstacle, every opportunity, every Nicolas Wind.gifbeautiful woman who enters into my life, they are all gusts of wind. I do not have to control them, I can simply be and learn to appreciate the cool breeze on my face.

Oh Nicolas Cage, you magnificent bastard.

 

Day 41

Man: 26 Loneliness: 15

 

Day 40 Supplemental: The Man and the Daily Prompt; ‘Maybe’

A timely daily prompt to remind myself to look optimistic amidst all the recent loss and struggle in my life. A prompt to remind me of the positive and freeing powers of Maybe.

Being in a new city for the very first time is exciting and an opportunity for exploration. With so much city to see and so much time to see it in, I feel spoiled for choice.

I am enjoying a freedom of possibility that I have not relished in a long while.

It starts simply enough. I am in my rental car after visiting my one store for the day and I am hungry. So I get to choose where to eat. Maybe I eat at the mall I am already at. There’s a Panda Express here and believe it or not, there actually aren’t many of those where I’m from. Or maybe I get something by my hotel. It is an hour’s drive from Schaumburg to Chicago and I have not had anything to eat aside from a wonderfully named ‘Stroopwaffel’ courtesy of United Airlines.

Or maybe…

Jimmy's Red Hots.jpg

Maybe I take a page out of Anthony Bourdain’s playbook. Jimmy’s Red Hots is at the halfway point, give or take, between Schaumburg and Chicago. I have no idea how to get there, it is in a more…questionable…area, but it promises 100% pure Vienna beef hot dogs with all the fixins’.

I took a risk. I acted on a maybe. And it was totally worth it.

Red Hot.jpg

The hot dogs have an incredibly satisfying snap and bite. The flavor of the meat is able to penetrate through the generous toppings of mustard, onion, relish, and hot peppers. There is something to be said about unapologetic tradition. Let’s not fool ourselves, the establishment has seen better days. The dogs are still served on sheets of parchment paper with generous handfuls of roughly cut and deeply fried potatoes. There is a gritty, natural, naturalization process that turns someone who eats here into part of the city and its culture. I am strangely and uncharacteristically okay with the oil on my fingers. The open air dining area is hot and I am standing against the counter. But I can see the image of Anthony Bourdain munching on his red hot, with his arms against the same counter, and the same smile that I smile to myself. ‘This is food, this is history, this is life.’

Dinner was no maybe. Dinner was set. I’m in Chicago! What do you do your first night? You go to where it all began. Pizzeria Uno. Home of the deep dish.

Pizzeria Uno.jpg

Let me tell you, I am a big eater. I can put it away just as well as the next guy. Do not let the place fool you. Do not underestimate these pizzas. That pan goes into forever. I thought the individual was child’s play and that the small would be easy. ‘It’s only four slices,’ the waitress told me.

DeepDish.jpg

I knew I was in over my head after the first slice. I was overwhelmed by the second. This is a heavy pizza. But it was good.

Tomorrow I get the chance to spin the wheel once more. Maybe I’ll stick in my area. Maybe I’ll go further south to the loop. Gotta check out the ‘bean’ after all. Maybe I’ll go to Quartino’s or Portillo’s. Maybe I’ll spend the entire night in my room. Maybe I’ll get dressed and go to the Vertigo Sky Lounge at the dana hotel nearby.

A new city gives new chances to explore ‘maybe’. ‘Maybe’ is not about uncertainty or doubt. It is about the expression of freedom of choice and the luxury of decision making.

And the end of a relationship, after some heavy healing and growth, means that ‘maybe’ becomes ‘maybe her’ or ‘maybe now’. I am not tethered to the painful memories of my past relationship. I am loosening the collar that has hung around my neck and prevented me from venturing out and enjoying the life I have. But here in a city where no one knows me and nothing reminds me of my past, I remember the joy and the pleasure of chance and of opportunity.

I am a free man in a new land. Maybe my next career opportunity is waiting for me in one of these cities. Maybe I’ll find my new home. Maybe the next beautiful woman who walks by me becomes the love of my life. I used to feel weighed down by the gravity of ‘maybe’. Maybe she never loved me. Maybe I am not good enough for someone. Maybe this is the best it gets.

But then again, maybe not.

Day 40: The Man and the Letter to Beautiful

Dear Beautiful,

When we were together I used to write you love letters on the 23rd of every month, in honor of our anniversary. Then, beautiful amorous words poured onto paper like sweet nectar. Every month, every Christmas, every Valentine’s, and every birthday when we were together you knew there would be a handwritten letter tenderly, lovingly folded into a heart hidden somewhere for you to find, with the scent of my cologne sprayed onto the paper to help guide you. No matter where I was, or where you were, my words found you and on these most important of days in the timeline of our love, you knew I was thinking of you.

Happy birthday, to the one I used to call my dear, sweet, beautiful girl.

I find the irresistible urge to write to you still, though these words taste bitter and are more like poison than nectar. They are tinged with the stain of heartbreak, deception, but not loss. I cannot feel I lost you now, like I lost you so many years ago, because I know the truth, and the truth is you were never really mine these past six months. I find that my mind is still overrun with thoughts of you, though I can no longer relish in the memories. You run through my mind with spiked shoes, and your steps are clumsy and heavy.

College.jpgI want you to know that I do not hate you. I know you must think I do, and I know you would wish it to be so, for hate is so much easier to deal with. If I hated you, you would never have to worry about me. You would move on, think me a lost cause, and never concern yourself with the chaos and havoc you wreaked on my mind and heart. Hate is simple, because I know what hate is like. I have written off so many people in my life because of hate. I throw away their memory, I write off their names, I forget their face. And you, you would be excused for it all if I forgot everything. You think it would hurt you for me to hate you but the truth is hate is a poison you drink yourself while hoping it kills the other. The truth is you left me in the wake of your destructive departure and ran off to Australia. You left me here surrounded by memories of you while you pushed me out of your mind and pretended I was better off without you. That may have been true, and maybe perhaps my life will be better without you, but it does not change the manner in which you left, and the nature of your departure. The truth is you have not concerned yourself with me since you returned because you have been so focused on loving a man you convinced me was no good for you. You will have convinced yourself by now that I want nothing to do with you, that I do not want to see you or hear from you, so you will not reach out to me, let me know you are home. You will think that because I hate you I want nothing from you and this will free you to move on, forget the pain you caused and focus on the pain you feel of having lost someone you chose to walk away from. I never asked you to leave him. I never needed you to. What I wanted was to be convinced of your happiness, regardless of its source. Yet you made me a fool; you convinced me that I was still someone you wanted, that after all those years apart and all the changes my heart would still fit perfectly in yours.

I will tell you what I will do with all this hurt you’ve given me. I will tell you what plans I have for every fear, every insecurity, every feeling of doubt and insignificance. I will keep every thorny memory you have given me and I will hold it in my hand, tightly, clutching it to my heart, and I will squeeze it in my hand so hard until it burns. Until I bleed. Until my hands are pierced and feel like they are on fire. You cling and you fight and you yell and you cry and you burn with such fire from the pain that you fear you are losing your mind to it all. I will hold firmly onto every wrong you’ve done until the thorns that pierce my palm are dulled. Until the rough edges that callous my palm are smoothed out. Until the dark ashy soot of your hurt is polished and smooth and clean and pure like a pearl. I will hold onto every memory of pain until it burns into the back of my eyes and I will remember. I will remember what you did, what you meant to me, what I wanted to mean to you. I will take all that hurt to remember what love is supposed to be. I will remember so that when the time comes I can save someone else from hurt. I will bear this burden because you have taught me what hurt is and I will know it more than you will ever know and I will use that to save someone I will love entirely and completely from ever having to hurt again. I will take the rough coal you’ve left for me and turn it into a pearl for someone else.

I do not hate you. I love you. I love you like a Cabo.jpgtortured man loves the knife. I love you like
poison. And if you knew how much I loved you, how much I cared, you would be ashamed. I will not hate you. I will not be like you. I will not run away. I will love you no matter what you say, no matter how you protest, no matter what you do or who you turn to. I will love you and you will never know why or how I could love someone like you so much. I have always, and will always, love you more than you have ever loved me or anyone. It was true in the past and it was true now. Because people who love people do not do what you did to me. But people who love people do love and forgive. And I will forgive you. I will hold my benevolence and my forgiveness over you. I will love you as you pierce further and further into my heart.

You never knew me. You never got close to the heart of me. You think I am a man of hate and of spite. And I was, one time. But you were the one who taught me to soften. You showed me that the best way to get back at those who have hurt me is to forgive. Because you never expect that. You don’t know what to do with that. You don’t know how to ask or earn the forgiveness I already give you.

I am content. I am sad, lonely, lost, and in despair. But I am content. I know the purpose of this was to show me again how great love can be when it is real. I know I am a better man capable of better and higher things than what you so desperately wish me to be. I know I am capable of such tremendous and immense love as you have never known nor deserved. I know I can give of myself completely to one who would want me and would do the same.

I don’t look to the past with want. I am eager, though nervous and anxious, to go out in search of new and better and different. I never wanted the past. I wanted to protect it. To savor and appreciate its memory. To have a story for my children, and their children’s children. You tainted our story. You destroyed the garden I built for us over the years. You’ve cut too close to the stem that I fear no flowers will ever bloom where we once stood. You could have at least left me with my own little memories.

Yes, I am weak. At this point in my life I have no more strength to face you. I have barely the energy left to write these empty words to your spirit. Words you will never see. This is the story you have left me with. One of pain and confusion and loss. I have never felt so low. I have never had to throw out everything I once knew and believed in to scrape from the remainder a brand new beginning.

There are still so many questions left unanswered, but your responses would be lies and unsatisfying. Did you ever want me for me? Or was I a pleasant distraction when he could not fulfill your needs? Was I just your anchor while you battled your first year of grad school? I supported you, stayed up with you, reviewed with you, I went to your classes with you so that you would not be alone. Did you just need me when times were tough and he was too busy to take care of you? I was there with you those nights you could not sleep, when worries of unemployment and a career that just would not start kept you up. I was there for you in the broken dusk of your life but when the dawn came you realized you no longer needed me. When you were too busy with work and school and you needed someone to make you feel prioritized and to help you carry your load you loved me. But as soon as the summer came and you had freedom, you were free to leave me and choose another. Was I ever just me to you? Or was I always just a distraction, a better version of him, a supplemental? Did you not ever think of the painful subtle stab of the knife when you would recreate your dates with him through me? You took me to his places. You wanted me to do his things. Have you ever known me, how to love me? Did he wish you happy birthday. Did he remember. Were you disappointed when you realized it was a gift from me.

GummyGift.jpgI bought these candies in Philly, our city, from Reading Terminal Market. You told me you loved these. And when we went together they were closed and you could not buy them and I felt like I had let you down. I don’t even remember the process of purchasing them. But I know I remembered how much you told me you loved them and how much you wanted them. Do not look too deeply into this. I don’t need your pity. I don’t want you. Don’t think I did this out of some desperate attempt to reach out to you because I wanted you back. I am not one to be pitied. My back is strong. I will carry this and soldier on. I am meant for a bigger and better love and you have given me the best that I can offer her. I know the happiness of love and the bitterness of loss. I know one to give her and one to protect her from.

And I promise you, this is the last gift I will ever give to someone who does not love me.

Happy birthday, Beautiful.

Day 40

Man: 25 Loneliness: 15