It’s been a long time since I’ve posted in such quick succession without announcing a new book or short story, but I feel it’s warranted. Bear with me, because this is personal, the same as the other day.
Ending a relationship is, in a sense, little different from losing a loved one. In both cases, there’s a hole left in your heart, one that can never truly be filled again. It’s one more person you won’t get a chance to see, to talk to, to listen to. One more person you can’t share with. Your feelings, your experiences, your doubts and fears and hopes and dreams, they all have to remain unsaid, at least as far as that person is concerned.
To go through both sorts of loss in such a short span might be too much for one man to take. Especially if that man is me.
For the first time in my life, I could admit to a woman that I loved her. For the first time in many years, I felt happy, at peace, like the dark clouds that had shadowed my life for so long were lifting, letting the sun shine down upon me once again. And then the moment ended.
Oh, it lasted for a few glorious months, but the signs of strain started to show back in October. A mere two days after my birthday, in fact. From then until the week of Christmas, I feel we drifted apart, but I just wasn’t ready to state what was becoming increasingly obvious. And then I did, in the first letter (okay, it was an email, but you get the idea) I’d sent in a very long time. In it, I laid it all bare, or I tried to.
I…was in love. I think I still am. Over the last three weeks or so, we started talking again, but the strain was still there. “Confusion” was the word she used, and I was indeed confused. I knew what I wanted, and I thought I had a chance to get it, if only I tried hard enough, if only things worked out in just the right way.
For me, they never do.
I don’t believe in fate, or destiny, or karma in the cosmic sense. With everything I’ve suffered throughout my life, I just can’t. All that pain, trauma, loneliness, and despair, if there were any justice in this world, should have been balanced out by something decent by now, something more than a few months of joy. As for the idea that all this was preordained, well, I don’t fancy the idea of being cast in a tragedy of unrequited love and a crippling depression that drives me to ever increasing lengths to find “the one” I’m meant to find. Save that for the stories.
I love Avantasia’s The Scarecrow. It’s one of my favorite albums of all time. And I can’t help but feel sympathy for the main character of this metal opera. He’s been broken by the world; so have I. He wants nothing more than to find happiness; so do I. The opening line of the title track is such an apt description of me that it almost brings me to tears just to type it here: “I’m just a loser in a game of love.” That line rings so true it’s scary.
This time, I thought I had won something. And I guess you could say I did, in the sense that I won a reprieve, a temporary respite from the heartache. But now it’s back, because she’s gone.
I don’t blame her. I only blame myself. I couldn’t improve myself to the point I needed to reach in the time allotted to me. I couldn’t overcome all the obstacles in my path. Maybe that’s the wrong way to look at it. My mother, for one, believes that I shouldn’t shoulder all the burden or blame. But…I can’t see any other logical explanation. True, things like love, romance, passion, and desire aren’t logical. They aren’t rational. But the man I am can only look at them through such a lens, and here I am lost.
I’m proud of a lot of moments in what I’m calling my second ever relationship. Thanks to her, I grew as a person, as a man, and even as a writer. I had someone to offer the emotional support I needed, and that improved my disposition greatly. I won’t say she cured my depression, but she certainly alleviated it to the point where I could feel something other than angst or emptiness. For that, I can only thank her, because her affection and attention may have even saved my life. (That may be an exaggeration. At my age, though, and in the mental state I’ve occupied for the past few years, I never know what, if anything, will finally tip me over the edge.)
So I have now loved and lost, as the saying goes. Right now, I can’t say that’s better than having never loved at all. The wound is still too fresh, too raw. In time, it will heal, I know. Tonight, I want nothing more than to send her a text or voice message or even a video full of apologies and pleas. Tomorrow, I may feel differently. But I’ll never forget. How can I? How can anyone forget their first love, even if it doesn’t come until the age of 36?
A long time ago, I calculated that I had, at most, three chances at finding a lasting relationship in my lifetime. I thought this based on a few factors. One, I don’t consider myself physically attractive; I’d rate myself a 3 or 4, and you can’t chalk all of that up to insecurity. Two, I’m a self-described geek, which I, thanks to years of bullying in school, would call another mark against me. Three, I’m not rich, and (barring an almost miraculous occurrence) I never will be. At my age, the pool of potential partners is already low. Who I am only drains it further. Add in the fact that I’m not interested in casual hookups, I don’t want to be a friend “with benefits”, and I would never (due to personal preference) enter into a sexual relationship with someone who isn’t biologically female, and there are only so many possibilities.
Well, I feel I’ve racked up two strikes thus far. Maybe the third time’s a charm. Maybe I’ll get a do-over on this one. Or maybe fate really is a thing, and I’m destined to be alone forever. I can’t say for sure. All I can do is keep working, keep trying to make myself the best I can be, and hope I’m good enough.
No hard feelings, because it’s not her fault. No, I must instead thank her, if only because so many songs now make so much sense. I’ll close with an appropriate lyric from one of them, Shinedown’s “Call Me”:
Call me a sinner, call me a saint
Tell me it’s over, I’ll still love you the same
Call me your favorite, call me the worst
Tell me it’s over, I don’t want you to hurt
It’s all that I can say
So I’ll be on my way