I Still Can’t Escape My Memories Of You

I skulk slowly past your house in the shadowy cover of night, on my way to the humble bench that was once, not long ago, our chosen meeting spot.  I don’t need to see you.  It makes me feel better somehow just to know you’re close, that if I wanted I could see you at any moment.  Most of the time I’m suffocated by the idea of your constant proximity, but realistically I know that once you’ve gone I’ll grieve for you as freshly as I do now. 

It’s a breezy, oddly temperate February evening.  Perfect for our former rendezvous here, a simple wooden seat around the corner from where you live.  You waited patiently, laughing at me as I ran up to squeeze you close, holding me while we joked and giggled until even the raccoons scurrying into the bushes looked at us askance.  We always lingered long past our agreed upon curfew, shivering as we clutched on to each other, strolling through quiet, quaint small town alleys.  I was never willing to go, craving just five minutes, then five minutes more, on and on, both of us swept up in the rush of giddy newborn love.  I’ve never been happier than I was on those simple evenings.  

Now I sit here alone, staring up at the all too familiar streetlamp, the eucalyptus trees that lead me to recall inside jokes, banter that only makes sense to the two of us.  The breeze picks up – dry, brittle leaves slap the ground around me like fat raindrops.  I’ll never see eucalyptus again without wondering where your heart has made its home.

Being here brings back a time so innocently joyful that I suddenly choke on my own memories, so I hurriedly rise and begin to walk.  There’s not much respite there either, but at least the streets hold other past nights in their grasp.  The bench was only ever yours and mine.  I don’t know if I came here to feel soothed or tear myself apart all over again.  I’m neither – instead, agitated and defeated in the same instant.  It’s maddening to stay with my emotions, so move I must.  

My antsy feet take me to your darkened, eerily silent street before I quite understand what’s happening.  Lucky for me, this is an early-to-bed sort of community.  No one is awake to peer out from the curtained bay window of a cedar-shingled beach house and see me lurking uncertainly in the center of the road.  I don’t know what I’m doing here, why I have no will to let you be.  Slowly, I pull my beanie down low over my sorrowful eyes, shove my hands into my jacket pockets, and let my body melt into a crouch.  My head hangs to my chest, burdened with the weight of unspoken hopes and lost chances.  I almost hope for a pickup truck, manned by some drunken fool, to whip around the corner and end my desperation, but I know it won’t.  I almost hope for you to somehow sense my presence, step out your front door to enfold me in your arms, and end this intolerable pain.  But I know you won’t.  

(Originally published on ThoughtCatalog.com)

How To Love A Woman Who Has Had To Survive On Her Own

She’s a special person, the woman who never had any help.  She is strong, independent, and protective of the life she spent so much effort building.  This means that loving her – and earning her love – is nothing if not a challenge.  It’s not simple, and you will absolutely have to prove yourself before she lets you truly see what’s inside.  Put in the work.  She is worth every bit of effort you devote to her.

You may find her resilience and intelligence incredibly attractive, but please, do not waste her time.  She cannot stand the idea of yet another person letting her down, of having to navigate the emotional wasteland you leave behind when you throw away her heart.  Yes, she expects a lot from you, but that is only because she expects the same from herself.  When she’s in, she’s all in, and she is weary of false promises and men who fill her head with pretty lies about the depth of their love.  

She demands emotional stability, maturity, someone who is willing and able to meet her halfway on all things.  Understand her history.  Understand her past.  Take the time to get to know why she operates the way that she does.  Then you will see the many hurts, the disappointments, the reasons that she blocked herself off and learned to only trust herself.  No, she does not suffer fools, but if you don’t find that appealing she is not for you.  She has been through enough to cut off anyone who squanders her time.  

You must work for her because so many who came before you tricked her into opening herself up, only to leave her high and dry at the first sign of difficulty.  They never took the time to find out who she is deep down and celebrate it.  They did not nurture her, cherish her, or make her feel safe.  When she let down her guard in spite of all that, she learned the hard way that none of them were ever going to change.  

The worst crime you can ever commit against this woman, this strong, graceful being who built herself from the ground up and has never leaned on anyone, is misleading her.  If you are not committed, respect her enough to walk away and make room for the person who will be.  

Once you show her that you are not going anywhere, once she lets herself love you, honor her vulnerability.  Respond in kind.  Show her the parts of your soul that not many get to see.  By demonstrating your trust in her, your steadfast involvement in the relationship, you will in turn earn reciprocity.  Show up for her when she believes no ever will.  Be her partner in all things, and have her back even when she does not need it.  After all, she’s never had someone there to help.  She may be fully capable of standing on her own, but often she gets weary of doing it all alone.  The burden is more than she bargained for, but she’s never had any choice but to carry it by herself.  Be her unexpected relief.  

Earning her trust and her respect takes time.  The only way to make her believe you’ll stick around is to prove you’ll put in the effort in the first place.  Be steady, be secure, and just show up.  Show up every single day.  Stay when she figures that you’ll run.  Talk to her instead of dismissing her fears.  Respect her space, set reasonable boundaries, and listen to what she needs from the relationship.  Communication will set you both free.  

Be patient with her, and you’ll see that what blossoms between you is worth all of your effort.  Nothing truly lovely comes with ease, but that’s okay, because you’ve won the affection and companionship of a very special person.  She may be used to surviving all alone, but that doesn’t mean she prefers it that way.  Be her excitement, her joy, and most of all, her partner in life.  Give her the steady love she’s always wanted.  In return she will give you more happiness than you ever imagined.  

(Originally published on ThoughtCatalog.com)


Sometimes The Only Thing You Can Do Is Let Them Go

There is nothing more painful than looking at the person you love beyond what you thought possible and knowing that you cannot make them stay.

You can hope that they do.  But you can’t force a damn thing, and you can’t make them continue to want you, or to love you.  The way of the world is a fickle one, and it rips happy hearts apart like afterthoughts on a cruel whim.  You can stand there, breath caught in your throat, raggedly exhaling your aching affection, and they could very well turn and leave you in your empty shock.  It is terrifying, and yet we come back to the brink over and over again. 

It’s a process that requires immense vulnerability, throwing yourself into love and hoping for the best, losing despite every desperate effort, only to go there with renewed optimism all over again.  The heart that continues fighting to find the correct love is a resolute, stubborn heart indeed.  

But maybe it’s time to try something different now.  Perhaps instead of fighting, you let it go.  You open up space in your heart for yourself and begin to give all that love to the person who needs it the most.  There is not much that you can control in this life, but you can make the conscious decision to put your energy and emotions into whatever you like.  Your soul and your worth are far too magnificent to keep cooped up in an oppressive prison of heartbreak and regrets.  Breathe away the keen sorrow of your attachment.  Do your best to think of your tender loss not as a finality, but a way to open yourself up to new possibility.

You cannot make them stay, but you can decide to let them go.  The stark reality is that you have absolutely no control over their feelings – if they choose to leave, there is nothing that you can do.  It is out of your grasp … and in a way, that’s incredibly freeing.  You have no responsibility to be anyone other than exactly who you are.  The difficulty of navigating this freedom is in accepting the situation as it is and truly letting go of ego and perceptions.  

Be ever so gentle with your sweet spirit.  It is aching, and you are allowed to sink into the tenderness.  Let the feelings come and go and course through you, even though at times it feels like you cannot bear another moment.  Breathe and know that it is only temporary.  Everything is fleeting, nothing ever remains constant, and you have such a short time to live your unique existence.  

Try your best not to use that time clinging on to people or situations that, despite your deepest genuine efforts, must develop in a different direction than you hoped.  Strive to find the peace that comes with releasing expectations.  When you need to process your pain, do not rush to numb it.  Let it come, let it go.  You are whole entirely on your own, with or without them.  Don’t forget that, and if you do not feel that you are, then turn your energies towards making yourself the joyous, loving, free and completely soul that you absolutely can be.  

Releasing them is not losing.  It’s not failing.  It’s simply a shift of life, which is constantly moving and changing.  Trust that it will all be okay even if it does not always feel that way.  Eventually you will find the home your heart seeks – in yourself.  

(Originally published on Thought Catalog)


Remember This When You’re Wishing You Never Met Them

Sometimes it feels like it would be easier if you never met them at all.

If you hadn’t met them, you wouldn’t know what it’s like to lose them.  What it’s like to know the way they feel, smell, and move, and then force yourself to try and forget it.  You wouldn’t be hurting so deeply just because you have to fill the empty space in your life that they left behind.

It’s valid to feel this way.  You’re in pain and you wish more than anything not to be.  It can be incredibly excruciating to lose someone not because you’ve stopped loving them, but because it’s just not working. You’re allowed to experience every single emotion that’s coursing through your body, no matter how quickly, no matter how much they might contradict each other.  It’s all real and it matters.  

Remember this.  Remember that no matter how painful everything feels in this moment, it will get better.  It always gets better.  Think back to your past experiences and remind yourself of how you thought that old hurt, too, would never end.  Focus on how wonderful it felt to heal, to find happiness again, to realize that you finally no longer cared.  That you could remember the person who once broke your heart and feel no regret over what transpired between you.  Remember how good it feels to get over it and wish them nothing but happiness for their future … even though that future isn’t with you.

It doesn’t make the pain any easier in the moment, but you have to keep going with the knowledge that it absolutely will get better someday.  

Take all the love and effort you poured into your relationship and pour it back into yourself.  Nurture your health and give yourself time to heal, to find your way back to who you are.  It will not be easy, but you owe this to yourself. 

The truth is, maybe it would technically be easier if you had never met them.  You could live in ignorant bliss of the joy and then eventual heartbreak they’d give you.  The lows wouldn’t exist if you’d never felt the highs … but you can’t go through your entire life that way.  What’s the point of living if you aren’t growing and changing?  

So breathe – just breathe, let your emotions run their course, and be kind to yourself.  You deserve the love that you’ve been giving everyone else.  Keep it for yourself for a change.  Your beautiful heart deserves nourishment.  

(Originally published by Thought Catalog)





Coping With The Realities Behind The Millennial Fairytale

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was told she could have everything. She believed what she heard. The world was there within her reach, waiting for the moment she stretched out her small, optimistic hands.

There were dreams and schemes and fairytales, all very well in concept. Praised constantly but given no practical tools, she floundered in unfamiliar waters. Ironically, she’d done much the same when actually learning to swim, forever traumatized when thrown in and expected to fend for herself.

She was a product of an era that encouraged children to dream big and shoot high, but which gave them no clear path that enabled success. Some got lucky and found a way despite the lack of foundational stability. Most did not, and many stumbled into adulthood with jaded hearts and a sense of desperation at inheriting a world not particularly kind to dreamers.

Whenever she had the courage to express her doubts and fears, she was told she’d figure it out. They all seemed so sure of it, she supposed that she must behave in kind. The path she chose had only a marginal chance of success but she had no idea what else to do. No one sat down with her and helped her determine other possibilities. She was out there on her own, a tiny boat tossed amongst the waves of an uncertain economy, with a brain that was capable of much but could not settle on any one thing. It was both her greatest asset and most tragic undoing.

It didn’t much matter what her passion was because no one taught her how to overcome her fears. Every time she conquered one, a thousand more arose in their wake. It terrified her. She was always sensitive as a child but circumstances forced her to squash her emotion, to push it down, to forgo curiosity in favor of chasing perfection.

A parent must never underestimate the effect that their every word and action has on their impressionable offspring. Perhaps if she wasn’t paraded around by her mother when she was young, bragged about for this and that, then she wouldn’t have felt the need to constantly achieve more and more in order to matter at all.

When she reached adulthood, she was still stubbornly chasing the same “passion” despite having lost her ambition and drive long before. There seemed no alternative. How could she devote so many years to one goal only to forsake it? She did not know how to do anything but pursue excellence, and to let go of something that clearly no longer served her still meant failing. If she did that, she lost all sense of self.

No one ever told her that there’s no shame in failure – in fact, it’s necessary in order to learn. Most consider it crucial to their eventual success.

But that little girl – no, she was given no whisper of the notion that mistakes were normal, even welcome. She was promised that she could climb to the highest heights, but when she readied herself for the journey, there was not a path to be found. Faced with a shadowy chasm full of the unknown, she faltered. This wasn’t part of the story. No one explained the guidelines. All she knew how to do was follow the rules as closely as humanly possible. That was supposed to guarantee her success.

It was all a massively horrible lie, she soon discovered. There was no magical path and the rules no longer got anyone anywhere. A special kind of creativity was required to keep afloat in the world she entered.

She began slowly, confusedly carving out a route for herself, but without any idea of who she really was or what she wanted. There were countless missteps, dead ends, and return journeys to familiar ground. She cried into her pillow frequently, and on the nights that she felt particularly alone, life forced her to get uncomfortable and dive into intense self-study. It became the only way she understood how to grow and change, little by little, in the most necessary of ways.

Today, she is still resentful of the world left to her and her peers by the generation prior, the parents who promised the moon and then left them crumbs. She’s well aware that her path will never be a simple one, but she’s learned to appreciate the joys along the way. The fleeting instability of life is not lost on her. It may not always be easy, but better appreciate it while it lasts.

She’s far from alone, and this gives her a morbid sense of comfort. Everyone she knows was spoon fed this Millennial fairytale and most face the same predicament of confusion and groundlessness. For what it’s worth, they will muddle through together, and eventually perhaps discover their own iteration of a happy ending.

(Originally published on ThoughtCatalog.com)

The Procrastination Method

How do you manage?

He asks.

How do you keep going

When it feels like your soul is breaking into bits

You can’t breathe

You can’t move

All you want is for existence to cease

When you forget that sometimes it’s all okay

Good, even

How do you survive?

Weather the storm, so to speak.

He smiles wryly, sadly.

I know he’s downplaying his desperate need to understand what I do.

I’m not sure I can explain

But I try my best.

Well, I sit there

With the pills

With the booze

With the pain

And I talk to myself

Like a nutso.

It’s all I know to do.

I say,

Not tonight.

Just go to sleep.

See how you feel tomorrow.

See how you feel in the morning.

And if you still feel like shit

You can do it then.

What’s the rush?

I pause, shrug.

That’s really it.

And so far, I’ve never felt as bad in the morning.

So far, he repeats. 

Yup. So far.

What if that changes? What if one day it doesn’t work?

A bead of sweat formulates just below his hairline.

I stare at it, fixated.

Shrugging again.

Hasn’t happened yet.

That’s all I’ve got.

I can tell he’s frustrated, that he thinks I’m lying, holding back…

He can think what he likes.

It’s not my responsibility to convince him of how I survive.

It is my responsibility to keep doing it.

Until I don’t.

The Struggle Was Worthwhile Because It Led Me To You

I was a bit flippant tonight as I defended the virtues of the single life.

I should’ve told you the truth – that single is okay, single is fine, but single is nothing compared to how happy I am with you.

I’m still frightened by all this. Forgive me. It’s been a long time since I opened my heart to someone who treats it with the care it deserves.

It’s been even longer since I was able to speak so honestly with a man about my fears without any sort of judgment or conflict. You really don’t know how special you are. It’s rare to find a human who is unquestionably kind through and through.

If I have my way, I’ll never be single again.

That’s what I really want to say to you.

I know we’re in the honeymoon stage. I know it won’t always be simple. I know that relationships are difficult no matter how much two people care for each other.

But for the first time, I’m in a functional partnership with an adult. I can tell you absolutely anything – I know this because I basically have. You accept it all without condition. We talk and I find myself easily saying things I’ve never spoken out loud before. Not only do you listen, you aren’t bothered in the least. You express yourself and you aren’t afraid to tell me how you feel.

You are literally everything I’ve wanted that I thought couldn’t possibly exist.

I was lonely for so long. Sure, single was necessary. I had to grow, to change and work through the painful truths of my past. It was all preparation so I could be ready for love when it found me. All that I ever wanted was to find that person who made me understand why it never worked out with anyone before.

That all sounds well and good, but I don’t know that I believed it could happen. Every time I let myself think it might, I met a rude awakening.

Then you came along and suddenly, quietly, simply … you were … it. I tried not to dive in too fast, because I’ve made that mistake before. I wasn’t fooling anyone. No other man held a moment of my interest from the moment I met you.

You gently claimed me without any pretense or assumptions. You wanted me, and I wanted you back, and incredibly that was enough. It is enough.

Now I understand it all.

If literally nothing else comes of this period in my life, I won’t care. I am here because I needed to find you. The universe brought us together. If that sounds crazy, so be it. I’m not concerned with what anyone else thinks of our happiness because I know in my gut that it’s the real deal. You are lovely, and I’m not letting you go.

The truth is that I don’t miss being single. Not one bit.

I’ve waited for you my whole life, and now you’re here. And I’m stunned with gratitude.

I will never, ever take you for granted.

(Originally published on Thought Catalog)