Is there any coming back from certainty?
Well here I am now 34 unmarried and childless, perfectly embodying those millennial traits. As a child of 3 divorces I made myself a promise a long time ago, that “if” I ever got married It would only be once. I had to be sure. Well at the beginning of my thirties I could honestly tell you that I had never been sure, never met that person I knew my life would never be quite complete with out. Fast forward a few years and no I can longer say the same.
To this point I have tried to keep my blogging to the lessons I have learned rather then the stories they emanate from. This one will be different, this one is about the story, in no small part because if there a lesson worth learning here, I have yet to figure it out.
I was once engaged, by then end of my twenties I had a fiancé and a mortgage, after several years of engagement I had made exactly zero wedding plans. One surface level issue or another always left me procrastinating, it was too much money or just not a good time right now. These were the BS lies that i told myself, and anyone who’d ask. I have never been a religious person despite being raised Catholic so “living in sin” wasn’t any sort of bother to me, what was the rush. That mentality just one of many overlooked red flags waving in my face begging for attention.
The truth that only the end and hindsight would show me, was it was that long ago promise made to myself demanding to be kept, he wasn’t my one, and I knew it, even if I didn’t want to admit it. I’ve never broken a promise I made to myself, not even through conscious effort to keep them, something inside, my subconscious always drives me to keep them.
After too many unhappy years together truths could be denied no longer my fiancé and I called an end to things leaving all that red tape to be untangled. The break up period went as normal, had my brooding period of self reflection, and reflection of the relationship as a whole. Hindsight was 20/20 as it so often is. I learned much and fast, making up for lost time I suppose.
Armed with all my new Information and ready to carve out a new life for myself I reluctantly returned to the Meat Market, which is my term of endearment for the dating scene. I then was living in a small town only 5000 people reside there, and if that and being over 30 didn’t make the dating pool shallow enough, I also came from a large family further slimming the pool. On top of all that there was little left for me in that town, I needed a new future somewhere that felt possible and my home town just wasn’t it, it never really had been though the town seems to have its own gravitational pull, many leave, few escape for good.
What all this amounted to was the Internet was my best chance at finding someone, so for the first time in my life I tried online dating. The horror stories of online dating left me more then a little nervous going in, and all I really knew for certain was nothing had worked so far. I had no intentions of finding anything serious or lasting, my goal was simply to meet different people, broaden my horizons, try and get a better understanding of what was going to work for me.
I tried a paid sight first, one that required authentication of pictures trying to at least avoid being catfished. Money well wasted as it turned out, after two months, too many offers for friends with benefits and my ex’s profile being among the first to pop up it was time for a new hunting ground. Now this is were the story really begins as everything preceding this point came with a lesson. A friend of mine had some success on POF so despite the horror stories I’d heard of that specific site I gave it a try.
I set up my POF profile, complete with a few little traps to help me identify certain “undesirables”. Now society tells you that over 30 and unmarried you should be pretty much desperate. This is old world thinking, with the rising divorce rate and the millennial trait of prolonging or even forgoing the idea of getting married and having children your options are anything but limited. For the briefest of moments insecurity had hit me, over 30, I didn’t want kids, nor someone trying to save my soul, no desire to parent a man child, and on top I’m a smoker. It felt as though my options would be pretty bleak. The opposite proved true, there was no small shortage of interested “suitors”. Unfortunately well all you want is one fish it is hard to see the right one when overwhelmed by the whole school, and it seemed any ready to jump on the boat where ones I wanted to throw back immediately. Online dating was a different game and a change in tactics seemed necessary. So for the first time in my life I changed my stance from prey to the hunter.
Becoming the hunter was a game changer although terrifying in its own right. On one hand I felt more exposed, opening myself up to the dreaded rejection. I kept my nerves mostly calmed by reminding myself that it didn’t matter how many people turned me down I only needed one to say yes if it was the right person. I spent countless hours reading profiles, many of them said no more then “ask me” or “will fill out later”. Those became immediate dismissals for me, I found if that was all the effort someone was willing to put into their profile it made me wonder how much effort would they actually put into a relationship.
It took 3 days of going through profiles just to find someone who seemed worth sending a message to, the very act was terrifying especially being the first time I had done so. It felt like eternity awaiting a response, second guessing if one would ever come, I felt vulnerable, a feeling I’ve never been comfortable with. It didn’t take long for my fears to be abated, a response did come sparking a conversation.
I had made myself a set of rules to follow for online dating, no giving out my phone number until conversing for at least a week and then only if there was potential for connection present, no meeting in person for 1-2 weeks after that and only if I felt reasonably sure that who I was meeting wasn’t some form of sociopath. If I did manage to make it to the meeting point I was to provide my own way to and from a public and reasonably safe location. I broke every one of these rules.
We only texted for a few days over the app before I gave him my phone number. The infatuation for me at least began before I ever heard his voice or saw him face to face. I am a Sapiosexual, and he had a beautiful mind. I still remember the anticipation preceding every returned message, the electric like excitement every time I heard my text tone, hanging off every word he typed and marvelling at how so much of it paralleled things I had thought or said. I also remember the nervous excitement of when he asked if I wanted to talk on the phone for a few minutes, which turned into four hours that felt like minutes and ended with us bumping up our first date by a day deciding neither of us could wait any longer.
Out first date was magical, not your standard dinner and a movie kind of date. I bought myself a smoothie prior to meeting up and we opted to for a simple walk in the park. We had an instant rapport and easy flow of conversation, the walk in the park turned to a change of location to a beach more walking and talking then we hiked up to a look out point where we shared our first kiss. Sparks flew quickly answering the question of whether or not we had compatible chemistry. The sun set yet parting ways was an eventuality we weren’t ready to face so more locations talking and kissing continued on, the fireflies were out and thicker then id ever seen them in my life adding a little majesty to the evening. For the first time in my life I experienced things I thought where no more then Hollywood BS, I actually trembled, my knees shook, and my legs turned to rubber. The connections I felt intellectually, emotionally, and physically where stronger then any I had ever known. It wound up being early afternoon the next day before we inevitably parted with out hooking up, though we agreed on exclusivity before the dates end.
We started as long distance, but with efforts made on both our parts the miles between us were of little concern, aside from the fact that absence makes the heart grow fonder which only added to my already out of control infatuation. In the days, weeks, and months to follow my feelings only deepened, and I felt happier then I can ever remember being. It felt for the briefest of moments that after the long dark night the sun had finally risen in my life, the world opened up and I revelled in the possibilities.
He met my best friend and some of my family, I met his brother and some of his friends. We had our little summer adventures exploring beautiful spots in nature, enjoying hikes a few drinks and most of all each other’s company. There was talk of finding a place together, planning out when we would at least start looking. There was an easy natural progression and nothing ever seemed forced and for a moment it truly felt like happily ever after wasn’t too far off. I fell harder and faster in love then I had ever before and my heart opened in ways I never would have thought myself capable of.
Our wonderful summer wrapped up with a Labour day weekend camping get together with his friends. It was an amazing weekend filled with cold drinks, good food and great company. Now looking back on it I would describe that weekend in two words, ignorant bliss, as I never would have guessed what was going to follow. It turned out to one last grand hurrah, though neither of us knew it at the time. As I reluctantly went home afterwards I remember feeling happy and at peace, awash in the glow of new love, already looking forward to when ever we would meet next. The future felt so bright, and now if I could go back to our parting I would give him one last kiss, and say goodbye, because in a sense that is the last time I would see him alive.
The next couple of days we texted back and forth, and everything was great, until mid day Wednesday, I was at work with only an hour and a half left in my shift when I got a phone call on the store line. It struck me as odd immediately because they paged me by name rather then simply paging my Department as normal. I picked up the call and on the other end was a social worker, she had told me that the man I was seeing had been in an accident and that he had told her to call me and tell me he was ok.
I know shock hit me for a moment the endorphin rush kept me in a serene state as I began rattling off questions she did not have the answer to. I got the hospital name from her at least and contact information. It took about ten minutes before the shock gave way to the flood of worry. I was on the way to the hospital with in 15 minutes of receiving that call having slammed together an over night bag just in case. The drive itself was about 3 hours normally, I reached the city at rush hour and I managed to forget my credit card back home making hospital parking even more of an ordeal for me. It was nearly four hours before I would actually lay eyes upon him. Those four hours were torturous, what if questions swirling around in my head, my heart felt a little like it was going to explode and my throat felt like I swallowed a golfball, I knew nothing beyond that I had to see him. For all the things I feared for him the reality was worse then imagining. Though it would be over a year before it all came to light.
I stepped into the emergency room I could see his foot had a cast, then a full length leg brace topped that, laying atop a plastic board that hinted to the back injuries he sustained. The most worrisome of all was the washed out grey colour of his skin, especially having scene a healthy tan just days earlier. His dad whom I had not met yet was sitting in room watching over him, I stumbled out a very awkward “hi I’m the girlfriend” at which point His eyes flickered open and the awkwardness went up a notch as he said “hey…. my dicks not broke.” I laughed, relieved to see in the face of it all he had kept his sense of humour. Though his injuries were so numerous I would later go on to joke that I didn’t realize that was the whole list. In the beginning he seemed the same just injured. I doubt I’d have handled it half as well, I deeply respected his force of will and strength of spirit. It made it easier for me to be positive about it, I believed in him and I believed in us I thought that it wouldn’t be easy but we would come through the other side of this stronger for it.
The injury count started at 37, 17 of which where broken bones including 5 ribs and 2 spinal column breaks as well as the bone holding his ankle in place, add in the torn ACL and injuries to his hand and it was clear his mobility would be limited for some time to come. Somehow I think I took that harder then he did, at the time he was counting his blessings to have survived, while I was already fretting for him, knowing his active and outdoorsy life had just taken a severe blow, and how many things he loved it would be a long time before he could do again. Still though I only saw it as a bump in what promised to be a long and potentially still happy road.
I tapped some vacation time so I could be there, for him but for myself as well. It was easier not to worry when I could see he was alright opposed to hours away. My initial thinking was at least I could keep him in good company until he got to go home, though it would turn out to be 3 months later before he would be discharged.
The next few months were hard but still rewarding, I came to visit him in the hospital as often as work and life would allow. I’d bring him a stash of cookies or cupcakes nearly every time I visited, simply because I knew he was suffering and in our time apart it helped me to feel like I was doing something. It wasn’t much but it helped ease my control freak nature in a situation where nearly everything was beyond my control.
It would take two months and some rather disheartening news before his mental state took a downturn, but when that pendulum swung it swung with full force, and he was placed on mental health watch. Despite knowing it was an issue neither our medical system nor WCB seemed to care about his mental health. Even now I look back and wonder had they actually done something when the problem presented itself would the outcome have been different.
With in weeks of this the first signs of falling were already swirling in my mind. When I expressed my concerns or what later turned out to be stark premonition, he reassured me that my fears were unfounded. Even then I knew the seeds that could sew our destruction had already been planted, but I wanted to believe it was up to us whether or not they would bare fruit.
The next year together was increasingly hard, looking at every next bend or small piece of his life reclaimed might be enough to turn the tide but all he seemed to get was worse despite his many efforts. I watched him die, not all at once but a piece at a time. With every part of him that faded away so too did parts of us I had so deeply cherished. By the end our relationship had devolved to a couple of texts a day, and I saw him maybe once every couple of weeks despite now only living ten minutes apart. Even when I did see him I missed him, in body he was right beside me but everything else seemed long gone. Our relationship had become like sand, the harder I tried to hold on the more slipped through my fingers.
Even when we broke up I started the conversation though it was a final plea for more, all I asked for was words, even that was too much to ask. A clear sign that breaking up was the right move. My heart had already been breaking a piece at a time for a year, clinging to false hope that there was any real coming back from this. The end didn’t seem to change much except for one thing, what last shreds of hope disintegration to nothing and his death of self became even more real to me. I wish I had been merely heartbroken, the overlapping feeling of anger, betrayal or otherwise have left that a little easier for me to cope with, the memories that fill my mind would be the bad ones. Instead what filled me was grief, my mind clinged to the happy times, the good memories, and the thoughts of what could have been. It has been said that no one wants to speak ill of the dead, seems I don’t want to think ill of them either.
Grief seems to have a more lasting effect, in it life seems to lose It flavour, living is no more an accurate description, more simply existing, just going through the motions. Grief is heavy and you carry it with you everywhere, after enough time has passed you might forget your carrying it, but it’s always with you. At least that is my experience with losing my brother, he’s been gone for over half my life now, but I still miss him, I still wonder about the man he would have become, and the who I might have become not affected by such a loss. It is said that time heals all wounds but I have found in some cases it merely dulls the pain.
As much as I know I am grieving my ex, I can’t deny the fact that I am also grieving myself, in my self grief I have found a new stage one I suppose to replace the anger stage which seems to elude me. That stage is fear, fear for the connections I may never be able to build with another again, fear for the feelings I’m not sure I will ever be able to feel again, fear for what has and will become of me, lastly fear the walls that have built around my heart will never again crumble and fall for another.
Moving on is never easy though ultimately necessary, because with it with out you life goes on, it’s keep up or get left behind. Aside from that in my own way it’s my attempt to honour the memory of the living dead that once was my paramour. I believe neither the man he was nor the man he turned into would wish me to spend the rest of my life pining away for what once was but never will be again. I don’t want that for myself either, it would not be fair to either of us. In my attempts to move on the changes in me have become increasingly more apparent, though it is still too early to determine their permanence. I have given up on the notion of ever being married, my belief in soul mates or “the one” seems to have all but disappeared, and I no longer hold any faith in life’s platitudes like “everything happens for a reason”, “life will work itself out.”, and even “it’ll get better.”
It seems all I can truly do is try to keep pushing forward and recognize my mind may change one day, that somehow this dark path may one day emerge into light, but I do so with out the hope of these things ever happening. To have been so sure and yet so wrong has shaken my faith in certainty itself so even if I ever find certainty it’s hard to believe I will ever be able to trust in my own certainty. Any lessons not previously learned that I could possibly see are horrifically depressing and so I will simply close with…
There is a silver lining in my dark clouds, my story isn’t over. The battle between feeling and reality continues to wage. It might feel over, it might feel like I should just throw in the towel, but I know well enough to know that isn’t reality. There a many blank pages waiting to be filled, only time will reveal what those pages will be filled with, honestly I couldn’t even hazard a guess where I will be a year from now let alone 5 years from now. Even if I could guess I wouldn’t because I have found one certainty in life as sure a bet as death and taxes is that time makes fools of us all.