A field guide to what the fuck is wrong with Johnny’s concept of love – a recollection of a relationship that did not quite break me, but ultimately led me to fail myself.
“I'm not going to tell you the story the way it happened. I'm going to tell it the way I remember it.” — Great Expectations
I am not the hero of this story. I know most people consider themselves the heroes of their own lives, a protagonist despite the antagonist that is life itself. I am guilty of this as well. But in this instance, I would consider myself the villain in certain parts. I am not proud of a lot of the things you are about to read, but I can only speak my truth and hope you will forgive me in the same way I am trying to forgive myself. Parts of this story are sad, dark, and truly pathetic on my end. Please do not mistake the weakness I am about to describe for the person I am today, because that person is dead and buried. I guess that would make this a bit of a séance.
Truth be told, while I have shared bits and pieces of this to people as necessary, I have never laid this whole thing out whole publicly. Note – I’m writing this in different parts so there is the possibility of events being slightly out of order.
Most of my core group of friends has turned over in the past 5 years or so, so other than my lifelong friends (most of whom I left behind in Michigan) – you might have wondered why the number of relationships I have been in has been small and not very impactful.
The reason I am writing this is because I need to give these feelings away. I need to let this pain go and I need to forgive myself and try to salvage the rest of my life. While I have never lost the capacity to love people, the ability for me to form a romantic connection with others has severely diminished. I still hold out hope that the right person could fix this in me, but with every passing day I feel more and more like that ship has sailed.
Please do not hold anything you read against me – I have long moved on from this and I am a much different person now than I was back then.
The story begins easily enough. Boy meets Girl. A boy and a girl live in a house. She just happened to live in the room next door. I will spare you the details of everything else in that orbit, because the other people who lived in that house are inconsequential when looking at the big picture. Boy loved Girl. I am sure you can guess which person I am.
Full disclosure, I was aware even when this began that this person was seeing another person. However, I guess I had anticipated that our love would win the day and fate would bring us together. We spent most of our time together*, grocery shopped, she taught me how to cook, we would go out to theme parks, we slept in the same bed, etc. Even my poetry at the time was uncharacteristically positive. We did all the things that boyfriends and girlfriends do. I introduced her to my family, and I did whatever I could to impress and endear myself to hers. Even at the time it was all a blur, much less trying to remember the specifics over a decade ago.
Anyway, I loved this girl in a deep way that I had never loved someone before. I wanted to marry this person, I wanted to father children with her. As I had gotten older the desire to be a husband and father had started to take hold, and I was in love and lost in the domestic bliss of sharing a household with someone. I have always wanted, and still do to this day – someone to simply come home to. I doubt that will ever change.
*So, on the weekends, I would watch her pack a bag to go fuck another man.
Let that set in. Yeah, it does feel even a little messed up to type that out. The saddest part is that at the time I was fine with it. Yes, it hurt, and yes, it kept me up at night – but I had convinced myself this was just something we had to get through to be together. I want to put a pin in this moment to talk about later. Yes – this is where it should have ended on my end, but I was too weak to leave, and she never cut me loose. This was just a pre-existing condition of whatever type of relationship we had at the time. When you love someone, they are all you can see – not the literal dozens of red flags that are waving at you in between. I felt like I should have known better but I did not. So yeah, sad and pathetic. This went on for months, maybe the better part of a year? I hate looking back on that version of me, because just like you I am screaming “JUST LEAVE”. I could not. You might be asking yourself why in the hell I would bother with a person who was capable of such things, but in all honesty looking back we both had accepted the other’s cards on the table. I just happen to be holding one queen, while she had a full house of Jacks. There is no logical explanation I could offer in retrospect. This is what I had signed up for.
It was not until she woke me up in the middle of the night fucking another man in the room next door – did I finally I snap out of it. Pretty pathetic, right? That is what it took – and it was not even over. The pain was the worst thing that I had felt in my entire life. I guess it is a little different when it hits home. Literally. The hurt absolutely shook me to my core. I was emotionally battered and bruised, and it took me a very long time to move on from that. I was not even mad at HER, I was just mad at myself for being so weak that I ended up in the situation to begin with. I was so much of a mess that I almost gave up on Florida entirely and moved back to Michigan. Sad, weak, and pathetic me.
I want to stop for a second to say something. While I know that there are truly evil and malicious people in the world, most of us are just trying to do the best we can to get by in our lives. We vilify our exes and failed relationships because that is the easy way out. I am good and they are evil – something all your friends and family can relate to. The truth is, not everyone is meant to be together, and it truly sucks when you are the person who is left behind. She was just living her best life, and I must take some of the blame for not having the strength to walk away. I am not bitter about what happened. I do not fault her – save for one small thing that I learned much later on in life. There was a quick and dirty fix to this – but I will come back to that towards the end.
At this point, we had both moved on to different relationships, her with the human version of my alarm clock, and me with a girl who was “Unsafe”, and then another girl who was “Safe”. A kind of peace settled in our distractions, but there was still a part of me that loved her. Even after all of that. Soon enough, we both moved into different apartments that somehow ended up near each other. We had maintained a friendship and would do dinner once every week-ish. I was still hurt but I had a little solace in the life I was starting to branching out on my own. Every time I would see her those diminished feelings would run like subtitles in our conversations, but for the most part there was peace in the land. I continued to write to work through my own pain, and she would read them. She even called me out a few times, but I had emotional and relationship alibis that I could use to explain the words away. Yeah, I was still writing about her, but as a more of a method of escape than wanting to be with her. This is where things get a little dark. Buckle up and try not to judge me.
“And when my prayers to God were met with indifference - I picked up a pen, I wrote my own deliverance” – Hamilton – “Hurricane”
This is the part that I am not proud of. At some point the human alarm clock dumped her. It absolutely ruined her, too. What was our friendly dinners quickly became sob sessions of how hurt she was. She was vulnerable in a way that I had never seen before. Now SHE was broken. I hate that I am going to say this – but I absolutely reveled in it. I will never forgive the monster I became when I would spend time with her to “Comfort” her. She was a train wreck that I could not look away from. At this point, my poetry was on fire and LETHAL. It became an addiction to spend time with her. I slept like a god damned baby. She never even knew.
However, even that leveled off after a very short time. Looking back, maybe our collective hurt had just cancelled itself out. More time went by, and I think even after all of that we had a basis to be friends. Which sounds crazy.
One night, we were at one of her friend’s houses having dinner and a dog needed to get walked – so her and decided to take it out and got to talk a bit about what had led us to here. In the most cinematic part of this story, she alluded to trying to be with me again (Even though I was with someone). I grabbed her, kissed her, and told her she had fucked things up with me, and that was never going to happen. Go me, I guess.
Somehow, even after all of this, she still held some diminished sway over me, and I knew it. That needed to cease. One night, I was invited to dinner to meet her new boyfriend. I stepped outside myself and saw the cycle starting to repeat itself. I did not want to be puppy anymore, nor did I want to be a monster again. At this point, all I could do was turn off all my emotions for a while and pull myself out of the situation. This worked, but came at a great and lasting expense to my heart. I said no, and that was that. I have only spoken to her once since then when we crossed paths at a theme park years later. We even hugged.
Ultimately, I got what I deserved. The pilot light in me had gone out. I have been trying to shake that darkness ever since, and find my way back to being someone that actually produces light – instead of feeding on it from others. I hate that I was even capable of some of the things that I felt while this was going on. Whoever I was at that time was not the person I am now.
I no longer love this person, nor am I bitter to what happened between us. I wish her no ill will whatsoever. We have not spoken in a very long time and doubt we will ever have occasion to speak again. I afford her the same indifference I would any other Human that I do not have a connection to. I hope she stays blissful in her ignorance of me even writing this, and there are only a few of you reading that might piece together who I am even referring to. Most of you did not know me back then. The point of this is not vengeance, because neither of us are the same people we were back then. Everything happens for a reason, and I hope this cautionary tale benefits someone out there.
As the title suggests, this did not break me. This did not ruin relationships or my view of them. On the contrary, I have always been fascinated and appreciative of all the people who get to meet their person. I cannot really explain it, but I can see those invisible bonds between people. I love everyone in my life, and I love it even more when the people I love find love. It seems like most of my friends have found their person, while I have been entertaining less and less opportunities to be with someone.
For the rest of us that have been left behind in this regard – love is an absolute bloodbath. It is a messy thing that does nothing but build us up just high enough to make it really hurt when you fall. A vicious cycle of highs and lows that compound our already existing lack of self esteem and abandonment issues. Being in love with someone is awesome, and I hope it happens for me again someday. I’m just not holding my breath anymore.
Unfortunately, I do not have the patience to date anymore. I have become dominant and assertive in the other aspects of my life – professionally, financially, and emotionally.
Which brings us to now. Recently, I spent a lot of time with someone only to break it off when that spark did not manifest on my end. She is an amazing person. As much as I tried to force myself, and as much as it makes a logical sense to be with her, she deserves better that what I could give her at this point. She offered to be friends, but I know what it is like to be on the other side of loving someone who does not love you back. You always feel like even that miniscule chance is still there. Maybe if you do or say the right thing, that will be the key that will magically unlock the eternal love that they did not even know they had for you! For what it’s worth, I am sorry for being the bad guy.
Back to that pin from earlier… This is the one small thing that I wish that person had done – be the fucking bad guy. Make the other person understand that this is something that is never going to happen and sever that connection even as friends if necessary. Break that person’s heart for their greater good. Rip out their goddamn heart and show it to them if you must. Human beings have a much better chance of rising from their own ashes – rather than escaping the mental and emotional limbo that you are going to leave them in for huge chunks of their lives by keeping them around. Stop being so fucking polite all the time and save them from themselves. If your friendship is not based upon actual FRIENDSHIP and you are aware of this – they are probably treading water and all you are doing is watching them drown.
Out of all the “Love of my life” women, out of all of the “Meant to be together” people – there is only one woman left whom I truly love. She must know this by now, but I doubt I am on her radar. The romantic in me is still convinced it was love at first site, as cliché as that is to say out loud – but I will never forget the moment I first laid eyes on her. I’ll never forget our first conversation. She is the best human being I know and a mirror image of myself. She was able to rise above the pain as high as it has brought me low. I admire her for that. Today, she has become more of an ideal to me at this point that I would not want to sully with pursuit. If you are reading this, please know that I love you and at this point I wish I could have been better for you sooner.