Sitting at a brewery in Evergreen, Colorado.
I’ve got my dog with me after an unexpectedly lost 10-mile hike – and we’re recovering here: me with a beer, and Juno with a questionable water bowl that has other dog hair floating in it. (Sucks to be a dog sometimes.)
Anyway, I write pretty frequently about love in recovery. Mostly, because I suck at it, so I write to make sense of what I do that always ends in heartache.
That being said, let’s cut to the chase: it’s been a rough weekend.
Between Hurricane Irma potentially wiping out my grandparents home in Sanibel Island, and my aunt and uncles home in Naples – there’s stress in my family.
Selfishly, my childhood summers are wrapped up in Sanibel. I spent a month or two there every single year from 9 months – 24 years, and the reality of that whole island being destroyed – as I write this – is hard to grasp.
The people who have been there forever – their homes. The ice cream shop “Pinocchios,” the Bubble Room restaurant, our bike paths, the lighthouse and the cafe near it with the same waitresses for the past 20 years.
I was never more content than in Florida as a teen – it became an expected concept – to have it. I brought my best friends there, my boyfriend.
The possibility of not having it reminds me how fleeting things can be: how you can have this sense of security and it can be taken from you in an instant. The whole construct of security, which humans crave, reshaped in a storm.
Don’t get me wrong: others have it way worse. I know that. I’m thinking of them. But, that’s not my reality at this moment. And my emotions are still valid.
I’m not attached to the things of this island – I’m attached to memories. In truth, I could give up all my stuff, my whole apartment today if we all became nudists and moved into log cabins – with just a twinge of resentment before utter release.
I don’t carry “things” with me, except memories. I don’t move with much. I just start over.
Maybe that’s in part due to my eating disorder – eating disorders have a way of disassociating you, and so I don’t know that I ever really formed an attachment to things because I was always self-absorbed and preoccupied with being sick.
But, I carry memories because they are associated with people. And I carry people around with me everywhere I go – too many to count.
Which leads me to this post.
I’m emotional over Florida – but I’d be glossing over reality to say that the emotion isn’t simultaneously connected to my current love life – and that whole concept that things so often end in the middle of a sentence or a paragraph, with little warning – or is that even true?
If you choose to have a home in Florida, and make memories there, then you sign up for this potential hurricane destruction. If you choose to be involved with someone who you know is likely incapable of giving you what you want, then aren’t you just waiting out the inevitable?
I’m hurting today because I feel like these ‘safety constructs’ we build are so often dismantled suddenly, and leave us startled – wondering why the hell we didn’t avoid it in the first place, or why we let ourselves keep on with it.
I wrote about this briefly in a post last month – about a person I was dating. I effortlessly called out the fact that I knew it’d end.
Well, it has.
And how easy it is to write things in place of live them.
Perhaps it’s because it ultimately translates to yet another failed attempt at a relationship – and at this point, it’s embarrassing to have to clarify yet again, that the person in pics or in conversation – is no more.
It’s like I can feel the eye roll of half my friend group and parents. The nonchalance in their response. “Sorry Linds! That person wasn’t right for you though, so maybe now you can focus on you and just stop dating for a little while.”
”YEAH GOT IT. THANKS. I KNOW I SUCK AT THIS AND NO ONE TAKES MY RELATIONSHIPS SERIOUSLY ANYMORE.”
I don’t even think I take them seriously anymore, especially after the break up with my ‘real’ ex a few months ago.
I kissed this recent man in May by a creek in Boulder at 3am, and I woke up and texted my best friend the next day with a big “LOL” because even the day after, after 5 hours of conversation, I knew he was never going to be what I wanted out of a relationship.
… And yet it went on.
He was physically attractive to me: looked like my ex. He was in the same ‘fields’ as my ex in terms of environmental sustainability, which is attractive to me. He was adventurous like my ex – both living in multiple countries and dreaming of the same ‘van life’ I want. He was unconventional, like my ex and me – not wanting a wedding, constantly talking of lives in tiny homes or RVs, traveling more than we sat – both of them introducing me to experiences I’d never had before (nudist camping, orrr blues dancing nights, orrr why people save their piss to help the garden they’re growing.)
This new guy was deep and thoughtful to others – like my ex.
We spoke the same love languages – unlike my ex and me.
We communicated better than my ex when we had our first argument.
I check-marked having the same love languages to ‘progress,’ and began to take it more seriously.
However, what I failed to acknowledge per usual, is that they both are dreamers – and dreamers are dangerous because they often dream alone – unattached. And in reality, they both didn’t know what to do with me once they had me – a truth I realized more quickly with this new person.
He had a child: which confused me into thinking he’d be more ‘responsible’ or ‘ready for something permanent with someone else.’
It didn’t. Partners get knocked up accidentally all the time: it doesn’t change the two as individual people – and being a father at 27 was not what this person had wanted, and being a single dad at 28 was a tragedy he tried to avoid – and is still grappling with when I met him.
Being a single parent who knew his freedom to explore on any given month – unencumbered – was over, left him in a place where it seems all he can focus on is the day he isn’t obligated to stay here, or obligated to anything or anyone.
He was no more ready for a new relationship than he was with being a single dad.
As he said to me recently: “I didn’t mean to have a family young, but I had one anyway. And I grew to love it once my child was born. I had accepted it, I loved my little family and was happy – even though it stripped me of the freedom I’d always enjoyed. But, then she left me, and everything I thought I had was gone. Now, I’m a single parent who never wanted to be a single parent, and I’m tying to figure out what I’m doing and how to be a father who doesn’t fuck up my child.”
I understood his point, but as my best friend said to me bluntly: “Not your problem. What do YOU want? That is his reality to deal with, not yours. And you don’t have to take that on if he’s unable to give you what you need and desire.”
We talked yesterday, after I withdrew for a couple days – as I do – and stopped answering texts.
He emailed me.
My other best friend, his roommate, called before the email came. “It kills me,” he said. “Because I love both of you. Love the dude, but he’s a fucking lost cause right now, and you can’t put your cards on that. You deserve more.”
It frustrates me, ultimately, because I knew all this. I knew this was a reality from the absolute beginning.
Why did I let myself get attached to it?
Why did I let myself meet the child? Why did I start planning my nights around seeing this person? Why did I do this?
I saw the writing on the wall, and ignored it.
Perhaps, in some way, I felt like it “was fine” because I continue to talk to my other ex often.
As it goes with my life – overlapping one human for another – asking one to fill this need, and another for another need.
Never truly having one to fill most needs – and being seemingly incapable of doing it for myself.
I read that email and cringed. The way I interpreted it as a whole always comes back down to the simple fact that in whatever way, I wasn’t enough for this person to keep.
“He’s just not that into you.”
You can use pretty words all you want. All the justifications in the world. But, ultimately, I continue to be with people who are “just not that into me” at the end of the day, and maybe it’s not me – it’s them. And they don’t know what to do with me once they have me.
But, do I do this because I still struggle with self worth? Is it because I no longer have an eating disorder and in turn don’t feel as valuable without my bones? I don’t know. At some point, it just becomes a habit – seeking out the ‘unknown’ human, with their mysteriousness and their selfishness.
You fight for what you want. You fucking fight for it.
I fight for recovery every day. I fight to stay present in a world that demands distraction.
Perhaps, you have to fight for yourself every day too.
People are not the answer. And you have be careful with whom you share your life with.
I am exhausted with flings, and the insecurity of dating someone who I know isn’t ready to be what I need. I am mostly exhausted of defining my present existence via another person.
I have to take ownership over my choices, and I continue to date people who are ‘adventurous’ but seemingly unsure of the long term.
What about the consistency of being with someone who you know truly wants you?
What about the reality that you can still have all those ‘adventures’ with someone who is as equally as ready and equally as emotionally capable of being with you?
What about valuing yourself?
I’m a catch for someone. I’m full of life – bursting at the fringes – and I’m authentic (as one can be). I’m a caregiver and I’m active and I’m down to do anything once. I’m full of ideas and creativity – brimming the surface – I’m always moving.
I’m a good partner because I’ll support you to the ends of the earth.
But god damn, you have to want it.
And I have got to stop searching for it in the wrong ways – take heed of the realities before they get to a point that I feel hurt, as I do now.
I am signing up for this each and every time.
I make excuses that it’s different because momentarily, I feel validated. Whether it be from a “new experience” or 5am late night creek talks, I feel validated. Like someone chose to spend an inch of their time wrapped up in me.
But, relationships aren’t just one big validation ring.
The successful ones are between two people who make a choice every day to be there and show up – regardless if it’s not what they wanna do.
It’s rolling with the punches of someone else’s life – and them wanting to do the same.
Sometimes, my eating disorder thoughts and beliefs still fuck with me – even in recovery.
Relationships seem to be the last effect of years of not being in touch with myself – giving myself away a piece here or a piece there.
I don’t know that I’ve found a way to be content with just myself. Clearly, I haven’t.
However, life is so short, right? It’s so short. What are we doing when we stay in relationships that aren’t giving us anything but insecurity or that feeling of burden when sad?
Sadness is a burden. I don’t want it because I invited it.
My best friend will be dead 10 years in a couple days.
The tears I cry for him are what I always want. The tears of grief: a reminder that you can love someone so god damn much that you’re willing to keep crying over them.
You’re okay with still being hurt. You don’t avoid it – you hurt to feel them. Hurt to feel near to their existence – so that they never die that second death.
Hurt because whatever they truly left you with was real.
I want that kind of love again; the completeness of bad and good.
I want a little bit of everything this life has to offer with someone – and I don’t think that’s asking too much.
So, I’ll keep going – and for once, maybe go at it alone. Until I know I’m healthy enough and sound enough to stand up and bat for my life, and a real relationship with another human.