Life, Love, and Loneliness
Yesterday was Tuesday. For some people it was also Valentines day.
It’s not like I am a cynic or anything, but I will say I’m glad I wasn’t faced with any sort of overt celebration of anything during the day yesterday. I worked both my main jobs yesterday, so the day ended up going by rather quickly, and uneventfully. Overall I’m pretty ambivalent about the whole Valentines day thing.
The other day, on Google+, one friend posted an item that I spotted when another shared it… I’m copying it here for you to check out.
It’s easy to forget. You’re at a restaurant with your friends and they’ve brought their wife, their husband, their boyfriends and girlfriends. They’re laughing and talking and drinking–maybe their hands touch. They smile at each other and they seem so happy.
And you try to be happy too–but you feel sometimes that you are all alone. Maybe you wonder why you can’t find someone like they have, maybe you did have something like that and through time and human mistakes (theirs or yours) you lost it. Maybe you’ve already convinced yourself you aren’t worth it. No one will love you like that.
So the flowers never arrive. The cards are passed over your head. The chocolates are only for you in front of the T.V. with your favorite movie or your favorite game. Or you’re just going to sit here and drink and pretend that you aren’t thinking about getting up to punch that one guy who keeps singing that stupid love song every half hour during karaoke night.
It gets heavy. You think that you’ll always be alone. You think that it’s your fault. You think that you don’t deserve it.
You do. Every single person–even if it’s just a little while–deserves to know they are loved.
There’s someone out there waiting for you. It might take a bit, but don’t give up.
And if you’re lonesome while you are waiting, know that I love you. It’s not the love you want, but maybe it’s the little love you need to get you through until tomorrow.
So don’t forget–because it’s easy to do–someone, somewhere, loves you.
I posted a response, the first line of which read ” have you been reading my diary?”
It was a joke. Mostly. I don’t have a diary. I have this blog, which is actually read by a couple people here and there. I added a few other thoughts in that comment on G+, and as the thoughts simmered with me over the course of the day I decided I should post about it here. Some of these things I touched on during my talk in Portland last year, some of them I may have eluded to here in the past, but maybe this post will wrap them up all together with a nice bow. Or not.
You see, year ago, back when I was still very much a “fat dude”, I had resigned myself to being alone. I had been in a couple relationships through my 20’s. and by few I mean .. a few… as in two, maybe three? I maybe dated one or two others, but there was nothing of much significance. None of them lasted very long really. Even back in High School. I had a girlfriend for a brief period in 10th grade, and another briefly in 11th. In my early 30’s there was another couple of brief attempts at relationships that didn’t go anywhere.
See, for the most part I kept getting into these relationships for the wrong reasons. I was picking these women not so much because of my feelings for them, but rather based on feelings I thought they might have for me. I’m not saying there wasn’t attraction on my part, at least on a physical level. But beyond that, they didn’t last because … well for a variety of reasons. But as most folks that have struggled with weight issues can tell you, you often find yourself in a relationship with someone not because of your feelings for them, but because of the idea that they have feelings for you. And you end up telling yourself, probably on a subconscious level, that it’s good enough, because deep down you are afraid. Afraid of being alone. Afraid of looking at your own true feelings. Whatever, but you get so wrapped up in the prospect that someone might actually like you that you “settle”. You accept it as good enough, because to ask for more, to find someone that likes you that you also like… well, that’s just not gonna happen. So you take what you can get.
I know that’s what I did. It was safer that way. After years of being in the background, never being the guy that turns the girls heads when you walk in a room, after the rejections, the jokes, the looks… you settle.
It got to the point where I actually had resigned myself, I made the conscious decision that was going to grow old alone.
I would joke about it of course, in that self-deprecating manner so many of us become adept at. I would say I was going to be that old guy, sitting on the front steps watering the grass with the hose. I’d be wearing my Bermuda shorts with black socks and sandals. And I would threaten to spray any kids that got too close to my lawn. That was joke part, see, cause I never wear sandals, let alone with black socks.
Yea, the idea of that actually coming true pretty much sucked. But I believed that’s how it would be.
Then I met “her”. To this day, I don’t know what it was about her that just… well, it sounds cliche… but she turned my world upside down. Here I am, my mid-30s and this was the first woman in my life that I actually pursued. And despite being near my heaviest weight at the time of around 340, I actually started “wearing her down”. Sort of. We developed a strong friendship right away, and before much longer we were in to a relationship, sort-of, but it still wasn’t normal.
We had met through a group activity I was involved in at the time and so we ended up with pretty much the same social circles. But things were very different between us when we were with friends versus when we were alone. I found ways to rationalize it to myself, because I … I was happy. Here was someone I liked that seemed to like me as well. She was the first women I could say I loved. To this day, those times together were some of the best I’ve ever had. I should have known it wouldn’t last.
The fact that she ended up with a guy that was less than half my size, well – let’s just say that it didn’t do my self-esteem any favors.
I was in a tail-spin. I went through a period of depression where I lost nearly 50 pounds in a matter of months. Not a weight-loss method I would recommend by the way. As I recovered from that, the weight came back with a vengeance and I was soon over 350… then 360… and before long my heaviest ever, somewhere over 380.
A few years after that, I fell back in to the habit of getting in to a relationship based more on how I thought the other person felt, not because of what my own feelings really were. And of course that didn’t last. It wasn’t much longer after that I made the decision to have bariatric surgery.
By about 6 months after surgery I had lost well over 100 pounds and was feeling pretty good so I started trying some online dating. Met a few very nice women. Was briefly involved with one woman who was recently divorced. She was very accepting of my having had surgery and we had some good times together, but after a couple months we both came to the conclusion that neither of was “ready”. It was too soon after her divorce and too soon after my surgery.
It was nearly 8 months later before I would try again, and after a number of near misses, I met someone that I clicked with. We had a whirlwind of a relationship that lasted over six months when … well… in her words, it was something to the effect of how I wasn’t making her feel wanted. I think I knew this, but after thinking about it more I realized it’s not because I didn’t want her, but more because I’m “broken”.
I’m not saying that to be self-deprecating or anything. I mean it in all sincerity. I don’t know how to be in a relationship. Yes, there are certain things about relationships that are instinctual I suppose. But there are a number of things about being in a relationship that have to be learned. And maybe that’s what the whole dating ritual is about… from high school on up. It’s practice. It’s about doing something over and over in order to learn how to do it better. It’s gaining experience. And despite the relationships I was in, I did have, I don’t have that experience because they were all the wrong sorts of relationships. They were relationships I was in for the wrong reasons, they were relationships I wasn’t ever really fully a part of.
Part of what I a good at (I think) is being a friend. Going back over the decades, when it came to women, I was “the nice guy”, the guy that hangs out with you at the bars, hearing you talk about the hot guys on the other side of the dance floor. The guy sitting there realizing that there likely isn’t anyone in that group of women on the other side of the dance floor looking over and talking to her friends that way about you.
Don’t get me wrong here, I am blessed to have the friendships I do. I have friends I love dearly, that I know love me. Friends I know I can turn to for help just as much as they know they can turn to me. No, it’s not the same. Friends are fine when your feeling alone, but loneliness is a whole ‘nother story.
There’s the saying “it’s better to have loved and lost…”, sometimes I’m not so sure. Sometimes I lean more towards “ignorance is bliss”, but I can’t change the past.
So instead, well right now I’m keeping myself occupied. Occupied working too many jobs for too little money as I try to build a new career for myself. I continue to take steps towards an overall better life, do things to try and improve myself on various levels. And eventually, if I’m lucky, that’s going to include a relationship with someone.
In the mean time, I hope you had a nice Tuesday.