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No one goes here anymore. That's ok. Things change. People move on. Platitudes.
I'm 26. I have a degree in political science. I worked for government departments in co-op placements. I had a long-term girlfriend/live-in partner. I had a band that was good, kinda active, and somewhat known locally. I speak in jumbles now.
Coherence is difficult for the troubled.
Since I graduated, I've gradually deconstructed myself, failing to build positive momentum, branch outward and move forward. I worked in a burger restaurant, and lost confidence in myself. I didn't do much to build on my schooling. I separated myself from my friends, hanging out with the girlfriend (Charlotte) and overindulging in marijuana. We hated our jobs, and were terribly lazy. Our plus side was that we were dreamers, and we dreamed, and had a kind of comfort and fun in each other. We grew very attached.
Perhaps things would have turned. But in January of 2012, she lost her job. Suddenly, our only employed income was my shift-manager job at said restaurant. Simultaneously, that job became stressful and difficult. My relationship with the ownership deteriorated. Girlfriend failed to engage in much of a job search, became discouraged and depressed. We were broke, bored, ashamed, lost. Our apartment became a mess - we lost the energy to clean it.
This scenario continued. My thinking festered. I turned negative, and inward. I thought awful thoughts, and couldn't express them. I didn't want to crush her, I knew she was fragile. But she let me down. And maybe I let her down too. After all, I wasn't supposed to be a burger cook, working bad hours for little money coming home greasy and smelly. I thought I'd move on to something truly rewarding and engaging. But I didn't. I was distracted, had low confidence, was let down by her failures, and used negativity as an escape from responsibility.
She planned a return to school. I saw this, cruelly, perhaps foolishly, as an escape. Almost five years, and I wanted out. I felt trapped. I wanted freedom, as much as the idea felt cruel. I felt ripped in half. I loved and resented her, and couldn't escape the poison of my thoughts.
It's been 6 months since I "ended" it. We moved out of the apartment, but stayed friends. This, of course, invited drama. Immediately there was physical tension. We even kissed. Kissing that was safe, because we were done. Kissing that was dangerous, because we so obviously weren't.
We had been defining parts of each other for many years. She was bombastic, I was reserved. In the time we lived together, and especially as we deteriorated, I lost myself. I lost myself to her troubles, and to my own. Ending things outed my troubles to my family and friends, and I felt a change was occurring.
A couple weeks after the breakup, we had sex. Cue the awkward aftermath, where she believed we were back together, and I thought we were not. Horrible fooling with emotions, arrogance in assuming we could be immune.
The next month, we finally drift apart. Hurt sets in. In the background, business is slowing at work, and I'm feeling more disgruntled. I feel I should focus on my professional self. I begin to, but I'm sad at the same time.
And then I meet a girl.
Her name is Benny. Fun facts: I meet her at a Halloween party, five years after meeting Charlotte at a Halloween party. She adds me on facebook the next day, and messages me - same routine. Physically, she's totally different - a skinny redhead instead of a chubby blonde. But she's sassy, and quirky, and cute.
I have the hardest time dating her. This throws me for a loop - I was pretty confident that there was at least one thing I was good at, and that was being a boyfriend. But I bungled, and my self-esteem went down.
However, she was quite forgiving. And, in some ways, quite sad. She'd had a rough time lately, too. Rougher even. She lived at home. She was on medication. She was kinda crazy. She wanted to change cities, and take up voice acting. She had a job.
Oh, but about a week into our relationship she was fired. Then she got another job, and was fired shortly after getting it. Wow.
So there I was semi-bungling a too-soon relationship with yet another unemployed woman. I found her appealing, but along with the other problems a very huge problem emerged: I began missing Charlotte severely. Benny couldn't possibly compete. It wasn't nearly the same. It couldn't be. Not for me, anyway - Benny told me I was the best man she'd ever been with.
After two weeks, she told me she loved me.
I resisted saying it back, knowing in the back of my mind it was soon. But, a couple weeks later, in a moment of weakness, I said it back. I told her I loved her, and it wasn't quite a lie. But I missed Charlotte, and I knew I couldn't love Benny the same way.
Charlotte began talking to me. I resisted, but responded. I couldn't shut her out. We had talked about crushes, talked about other people as if we could handle it. But when push came to shove, oh dear.
I'm 13, she's 13, 2013. We were all about 13. Bad luck.
Big messy revelation explosion: December 30, 2012, Charlotte issues ultimatum that I cease to be with Benny or cease talking to her. My heart is torn. I feel love for both. Benny is unemployed and in love, and put off planning her move to a different city and future because here was this dream boy. I like her and I feel for her. I haven't been able to get myself to end things. Without conviction, I say to Charlotte that we must cease to talk. She is surprised and in shock. It's not what I want, but I'm stuck.
Same day, Benny learns that Charlotte and I have been talking. Like a horrible avalanche of sad revelations, my mixed feelings pour forth. I'm freshly broken-hearted, and my enthusiasm for Benny tanks. She's blindsided and devastated.
Stubbornly, awfully, I insist that things aren't done between Benny and I. I'm in denial and feeling guilty, and that I haven't been fair. I say I want to take her to dinner, New Years Eve. I regret it as I hang up the phone.
The rest of the day, I nearly call it off. But I'm torn to bits. I can't do it. I meet with her, and things are tense. She's upset, and all the enthusiasm I can muster is somewhat weak. We almost make it to dinner, and then another ultimatum: can I tell her that I won't go running back to Charlotte?
And I can't tell her that.
And so she walks away.
And I realize how awful this is, and I chase her. But when I catch her, I break again, and she walks away again, even more upset. And I don't follow.
I walk back to my house, where my friends are celebrating new years. I feel lower than shit. I explain briefly how things blew up. They concur with my simple sentiment that it was too soon.
I fucked with Benny worse than anyone had before. The guilt is wrecking me, because I really did care for her, and I wished her no harm. It was an impossible situation, brought about by my inability to be emotionally honest when it was truly important to be so. I should have broken it earlier, but I have a deep and sweet heart and it just was too much.
The few days after new years are dreadful. I feel terrible. Insanely, I text Benny. I want somehow to work through what happened. And I do. I explain myself. She is mad, but understanding. In fact, she is downright forgiving. See, she knew I was sad and troubled, so she was willing to be understanding. She even says she could give me another shot, if I'm willing.
God help me, I leave the option open. But I tell her I can't be with anyone right then - I tell myself I'm choosing to be alone for me, but really, I'm delaying the resolution of mixed feelings.
Fast forward to January 10. I still hadn't talked to Charlotte. But I wanted to. I thought I was seeing things clearly now. I thought, my god, what have I done? Charlotte was amazing, and she loved me so much, and in spite of everything I love her to death, and things are different now, and if her and I can make a real commitment and work on our problems, we can live the dream.
Keep in mind: I still have the same restaurant job, which I loathe, and my loathing is clear, and a lot of people at the restaurant are pissed, and the restaurant is having severe problems. So that's bad. But I'm consumed with my personal soap opera. Very briefly, between Jan. 5-10, although I am immensely sad at having lost both the women I loved and loved me, I realize that I should really be focusing on myself and my professional development, which in the two years since I graduated I let slide almost entirely, save for a spattering of job applications and a mere two interviews.
So I talk to Charlotte, Friday the 11th, 2013. That same day, Benny texts me, saying she's had time to think, and that she couldn't trust me again, and that I'm a spineless jerk. I think "well, I guess that's done with", and I don't respond right away. Then she hears from someone else that Charlotte and I have talked. She is livid, rightly so. Her and I exchange a brutal series of texts, which seem to constitute the end of us.
Oh, the kicker - these texts occur while I'm having a beer with Charlotte. A date that she suggested, so that we could just relax and try enjoying each others' company. Somehow, we have a fine date. It's tense and weird, but familiar and fun. We don't know how to act, or what to do. We go back to her place, drunk, and there's no way we could avoid the spectacular outcome. The sex had always been great. Tears are shed. It's almost like we're back in love.
The very next day, I feel a dread. I'd made a mistake. All the old stress came flooding back - a monument to most of a year spent desperate and depressed and broke and sad and wallowing. Doubt consumes me, and with it guilt. And I think, what am I doing? I need to focus on me! My career! My professional self! Why did I do this?
Benny is devastated, I hear through the grapevine. I haven't the balls to talk to her, I'm too ashamed, and I assume she doesn't care about me. In reality, this prompts a breakdown in her. I still don't know all the details, but they involve calling a mutual friend and talking about suicide, and shaving her head (her beautiful red head of hair, which I had complimented most sweetly). Hearing about all this makes me sad and guilty.
Charlotte senses my hesitation as we proceed to hang out more. She understands, and is quite hesitant herself. But who are we kidding - there's love there, and we could both fall in if we let ourselves. But I can't. I'm broken. I feel I should leave her again, but I also feel that that would be the most cruel and unusual thing to do.
It's one thing to break both the hearts of the two women who love you. But to break both their hearts again, by switching to the old just to dump her? Madness.
This goes on a month. Mentally, I'm tortured and torturing myself. I struggle not to dwell, but I dwell. I tell myself not to let it distract me or keep me from working on my professional self; in reality, the quality of my work suffers, and my efforts to find other work are hampered. I know this, and my guilt increases, and my fear. I feel myself breaking mentally.
February 12, 2013. Multiple times in the past month I'd been on the edge of ending it, but I just couldn't pull the trigger. I'm weakening. I'm forcing myself to continue, impossibly, because of guilt or doubt or attachment or who knows what. Still, I go to her place. I finally say the words, that we should end it.
But I can't leave.
I feel like a puppet with my strings cut. I'm stuck. I break. I sit there on the edge of her bed. She tells to me to stay or go. I sit there.
She needs to sleep.
We sleep side-by-side, and I slip back into the old mode. I'll let things continue. I'll see where they go.
I hadn't told my parents that Charlotte and I were back together. They'd been trying to help me in my career search. I'd talked to them about that. But I was weighed down by the secret. Why didn't I tell them? Because I knew they wouldn't approve, and I felt guilty. I wanted to make them proud of me, by getting a better job, and by improving my life, and I thought I'd make a final decision regarding Charlotte and then come to them confidently with that decision.
My mother and I have planned to have lunch February 13. You might guess where this is going.
From Charlotte's place, we proceed in the morning back to mine. Funny story: we moved to the same neighborhood, five minutes apart.
We're in a daze due to lack of sleep. Charlotte has a serious professional event to attend. On learning this, I feel a stab of guilt for messing with her. She needs to get laundry done. I tell her she can do it at my place. Her place doesn't have it on site.
She's at my place. Her laundry is in the washing machine. In an insane and nostalgic move, we make pancakes - a quaint and heart-wrending reminder of the domestic situation we shared, which had been bliss in between all the pain and failure. We're cooking pancakes together, despite the brutal night.
My phone had died. I plug it in. I see missed calls from my mother. I receive another.
She's outside my house. She hadn't gone to work, instead she had come right to see me.
Cue dread. Cue collapse. Cue awful.
I go down, tell her that Charlotte is there. She says she knows, and will wait in the car.
I go back to Charlotte. The pancakes are on the stove. She knows I hadn't talked to my parents. I tell her I need to go. She dreads this dreadful situation, and I can tell. She can tell my will is breaking. She can tell my heart isn't in it.
I feel awful that my mother has learned about the situation this way, and this time. I want to explain, but she doesn't want to talk about it. Lunch is emotional, awkward, and painful. I reveal sad things about guilt and longing. She doesn't know what to say anymore; her and dad tried to help me through this tough time, and I ran off with Charlotte again, and well, I made my choice and couldn't or wouldn't talk about it until forced, and that just was what it was.
Charlotte is distressed. She waits to hear from me how things are. She missed her professional event. She didn't eat the pancakes. She took her laundry to the laundromat, and accidentally threw the detergent into the dryer with her clothes. Chalk that up to heartbreak.
I come out of lunch a mess. I feel like I've let down everyone who loved me. I've lost the will to try with Charlotte. I call her on the phone and break up with her. I call her on the phone, while standing outside her house. I force myself to do it. I launch platitudes that even I don't believe about us moving on and finding new love. I said goodbye. It's as though it's hardly my voice anymore. The day before Valentine's day, the broken love in my heart died.
I received a short, terse, one-way phone call from my father. He said that my mother went home after lunch, too distressed to return to her job, and that he had never seen her cry that way.
I called in the evening, and left an apologetic message. I felt I had a lot to make up for. I felt that I had fucked up a lot. I had fucked up a lot, for sure.
These events precipitated a mental breakdown. I have certainly experienced that in the last 6-8 weeks. It's been terrifying and awful, and certainly a difficult and exasperating thing for my friends and family. I haven't sought professional help, but it has crossed my mind.
Regular events and symptoms:
- Overwhelming waves of panic, fear, anxiety, and regret
- Physical manifestations: talking to myself, erratic behavior, convulsive and impulsive movements, vocalizations (I've documented a couple cases of this on my phone in terrifying video)
- Written litanies of negativity and self-loathing
- Selective mutism: unbelievable quietness and social awkwardness, especially at work
- Inexplicable and obvious mistakes, brutal indecisiveness, inability to concentrate or act quickly, clumsiness
- Sleep problems: waking up multiple times every night, waking up in cold sweats, panicked moments at night, odd middle of the night behavior (one night, I got up, put on my winter clothes, and walked listlessly around the block for no reason at all)
While all this has been going on, some people have been trying to help me. However, because I'm in such a state I haven't been able to capitalize on their efforts the way I feel I should, and that also drives my guilt. I loath how difficult it's been for me to do the things that I know rationally would likely make things better for me. I've been a despondent flake at the worst possible time, and my own anti-social nature is playing out badly.
Did I mention I was broke? Oh yeah. I'm not in huge amounts of debt, but I am in debt, and my income is hardly keeping me above water. In any event, the business I work for is failing, their past financial and other decisions coming back to haunt them. At any point, they may sell the business, and we may all be fired. So there's that looming too, and that's made the already shitty work environment much worse, because even the people who barely cared care even less. I'm supposed to be a leader there as a shift-manager, but finding the will or energy to carry on with that role is quite nearly impossible.
I'm consumed with thoughts of how things could or should have gone differently in my life, which is utterly useless to me, except in the sense that I can now build off of what I've learned. I struggled, but I'm alive. I wrote this all out so I could share the story, without caring too much who reads it. It's here now.
I tell this story so I may cease telling this story. This is honest, pained and painful. It will never cease to have been.
Guilt and shame make me resist attaching this to my name. But hey, it is what it is.
And now I need to detox.
This post was edited by Bunk on Jun 03, 2013.
I graduated Honours BSocSc Maj. in Political Science (Co-op) and Min. Philosophy Cum Laude in December 2010, and promptly got a job at a nearby burger restaurant. It's around the corner from where I live, and was started by some former roommates of my partner. I applied for some other jobs, but nothing panned out. I didn't mean to stick with the burger shack this long. On the other hand, it has been a lot of fun working there - the business has a good thing going and I'm happy to try and help it continue its success. I'd earned the trust of the business enough to be promoted to manager in September - a new challenge, with its own rewards.
Personally, I felt like I was drifting earlier this year. I attribute now it to post-school letdown and winter blahs (the winter in Ottawa grinds me down a bit). For years, school was the thing I was dedicated to, and it motivated and organized most of what I did with my life. Now that that external motivation is gone, downtime has gotten me working through what motivates me internally. A year of meditating on this, and doing the leisurely things that school intermittently trampled, has gotten me feeling lucid, at ease, and enjoying this wild trip of a life I'm living. My partner, if I may gush for just a moment, is also amazing and I'm lucky to share my life with her (almost four years now).
My future is still a jumble of possibilities, and my apartment is still a mess, but my head is perhaps at a better place than its ever been. I wrote on this site during some bad times, now here's a shout-out to the good.
I wonder something. I wonder if, if we work together, we can always fight off the lethargy that we both fall into sometimes. I wonder if we can push each other to reach our full potential; if we can help to really set each other in motion. For as much as we control our own destiny, we respond also to those around us. Can we pull each other out of the traps that we fall into, and keep each other free to discover the beautiful things life has to offer? For we both understand that it's the moments of passion, elation, beauty and creation that make this life worth living. And we both get dampened by the negative side of our imagination and by the dull necessities of unwanted motions. And thus I wonder: can we keep each others' souls alight?
Or am I just living in a naive dream right now, doomed to someday wake up?
Imagine this if you will.
A few years back, I was running around, playing some tag-like game with a bunch of younger cousins who were visiting. During the course of my running, I venture into the neighbors yard, onto their deck. I look around from my high point, then take a running leap toward the grass.
A second later, I'm on the ground, dizzy and stunned. I get up stumbling, and the back of my head is bleeding profusely. What happened was, my head sailed right into my neighbors' clothesline (caught me right in the eye, which was black for days). I was whipped backwards, and my head snapped right onto the edge of a cast iron deck chair.
I remembered this story the other day, when me and my girlfriend were for some reason comparing bizarre injury stories. I'm proud to say this one took the cake. She re-phrased it perfectly: "you got clotheslined by a clothesline."