Anger Dump

Recently I told my therapist I have been struggling with de-coupling the past from my overall positive present. I want to put the past to bed; label it, stick it on the shelf of past experiences… but not exactly sure how. I’m struggling with this “labeling”. After some digging on her end, she discovered I still haven’t fully explored all the feelings from the split. Specifically: anger. I had no trouble recounting the events of the split and describing the sadness I felt. However, when she asked if was angry I struggled. While my answer was an easy “yes”, it was really hard to enunciate/expand on the anger. Upon reflection, my guess is that anger implies an acceptance of a mistake; an understanding that the relationship wasn’t right, and that I was complicit in some way (deciding to be together, pursuing in the first place, something like that). Regardless, she suggested I explore the anger a bit… to vent in some way. So, I bring you: the Anger Dump.

She let me down. She was not perfect for me. I poured my heart and soul into her and she told me it was not enough. That’s bullshit, man. I gave everything I knew how to give and she wanted more. With time, I could have given even more… but I was not given the chance.

I invested so much in her. Time. Money. Energy. Despite this, she walked. Even when she was telling me I wasn’t enough, I told her I would work on myself, I would try to be even better if only she would engage with me in therapy. I would do anything. It’s pretty debasing, in hindsight, and that’s pretty shitty.

She was constantly down. She had hopes and dreams that she wasn’t equipped to pursue. The inevitable failures upset her. The failures were inevitable only in that she didn’t try very hard, didn’t pursue in-depth. She half-assed everything and then would cry when it didn’t work out in her favor. As her loyal cheerleader, I would be there to catch her on the way down. I expended so much emotional energy boosting her back up, and then helping her come to a solution… solutions that were *never* followed up on.

Case in point (how to choose just one?):

Dance — she was a trained dancer. She wanted to be a professional dancer. To do pursue this career, you have to go through a grueling audition process. It helps to have connections, which requires endless networking. It’s a lot like trying to become an actor, which we all know takes years. She would lament the fact that she wasn’t succeeding as a dancer, while not putting in much time to pursue it. She would settle on an audition she wanted to do, then “cram” dance classes for the 2-3 weeks before it. Inevitably, she wouldn’t get a gig because she hadn’t been training year round like her competitors. Cue tears. Cue world is ending. Cue me consoling. Cue me lifting up. Rinse, repeat ad nauseam. Want me to put you in touch with my friend’s partner who works with like 30 dance groups in Chicago and has offered to put you in touch? Yes? Ok! Have you followed up with her yet? No? Ok, I’ll stop asking.

Art/stationary — she had talent as an artist. She wanted to make something of it. She liked the wedding industry. Settled on a wedding invitation “business” (spoiler alert — the business never eventuated). Spent weeks and weeks planning her move — endless conversations with me about what it would be. Step 1: start an Instagram page! Ok so how is this going to lead to your career? It will build your portfolio and then you plan to reach out friends offering your services? Great! Months later: hey, your page is looking really great, how are you feeling about it? Do you think it’s time to reach out to some friends? No? Ok, I’ll stop asking.

Yoga — now you’re interested in yoga? Great! What are your plans? You want to become a teacher? Great, here’s thousands of dollars for a yoga teacher training course. You want to practice on your free time? Sure, I’ll volunteer for that in my own free time! You want me to go to your trial class at the studio? Couldn’t be happier to do so! Congrats on graduating! What’s next? Cool, networking at other studios and putting up fliers for yoga in the park sounds like a great idea! Hey, how’s the networking and fliers going? Oh, haven’t started yet? Ok, I’ll stop asking.

Cue endless self-doubt. Cue anger at me for trying to help. Cue tears. Cue consoling.

Rinse.

Repeat.

Fuck

that

shit.

Not sure exactly where I will go from here but for now I’ll just see how it feels accepting and acknowledging the anger and her genera shittiness in this regard and see how I feel moving forward. At the least, it’s been helpful to realize that in my next partner I am looking for confidence and competence.

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The End v2

It’s been one full trip around the sun
Since I started this humble blog.
Another trip has now begun,
And this time with far less fog.

Now that more than a year has gone by,
I no longer ask myself why.
No more wondering what could have been,
or taking my sadness out for another spin.

17 months after the fact,
The past doesn’t have me trapped.
I boldly embrace the future,
With all of my wounds sutured.

It’s strange to say but I’m happier now than before
And if she came back I wouldn’t accept an encore.
In fact, she no longer even crosses my mind
And in other endeavors, satisfaction I find.

2018 was a huge year.
Personal growth, confronting fear.
Embracing many a new experience.
And anything I find curious.

I’m running out of words
To express just how profoundly different I feel.
Just like a chick growing into a bird,
I have spread my wings and discovered that the sky is real.

—–
Day… who cares!

Data Dump

As I move past the one year mark, I am feeling more content and whole than ever. I will be deleting out all the old notes, thoughts, and near-blog-posts from the past year off my phone as a semi-final act of closure. I don’t need or want them anymore, but want to put them here a) for posterity and b) as an exercise in closure and seeing how far I’ve come.

So without further adieu or context…
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Future- scared about my timeline. I want a person but it’s going to be a long time. I can see my self having issues getting close to someone again… how can I ever “know”?

Now: need help processing emotions and what actually happened. What do I do next? Should I try to fight more? Push her to therapy? She was just so straightforward and FINAL. But I can’t help but have doubts due to what she said for her reason for the decision.. that it was because of me/what I said in therapy about not wanting to be in limbo. At the same time tho it’s hard to want to fight for someone who sees you crying on the floor and still leaves.

It’s just so weird. We have had problems but there has always been a committment and a will to learn and grow together. Suddenly the commitment is gone?
————————
Title: Ouch
I sat and cried on the floor
While she kindly said “I just need more”
————————-
Mornings are the hardest
Brain is vulnerable
Mind is groggy, emotions are more raw.
Facing the fresh day- alone. The house is silent.
Get shit together, ready to go.. am reminded there will still be no one here when I get home. I am alone.
————————
Years of investment, getting to know someone. Knowing someone just as well as you know yourself. Then it’s gone?
We used to talk about how close we had become… how we had become one person.
Am I now half a person? No I am not.
But I don’t want to have to be one person by myself again. I never wanted that. Life was fuller when two people were one.. and I can’t help but feel empty. Feel the space in my heart, my mind, my home, my life, where my other half used to be. “My other half”.
———————–
On emotions: I have concerns when I feel okay at times.. I don’t want to/shouldn’t feel ok! But I also have to fight it when I cry and actively work to suppress sad thoughts… so I do want to feel ok?
It’s unsettling that I’m feeling okay now.

Other musings- there is some excitement here; I know there could be a better fit for me. At least someone who shares more interests at a topical level. I like being social so dating could be fun. But it just *really sucks* to have invested so much time into someone only to have to start over again. I can’t imagine doing it all over again
————————-
I do my best to not think about her during the day
Bc every time I do
The tears come out and my composure goes away

But at night it’s a different story
(need a rhyme w story)
She’s in my dreams,
Good or bad
I inevitably wake up feeling sad
————————–
Regrets
We never truly clicked.. but we had commitment to figuring out how to make it work. This is fully on her for giving up that commitment.
How can not have regrets though? The period between when she told me she was questioning and the split. It sucks.

Maybe if I showered her in love it would have changed things. Maybe if I reached out instead of retreated… if I had never asked for space and she had thus never stayed elsewhere for a week. But at the same time, she had her chances. She never told me it would be okay. She would never commit to wanting to make us work. She showed compassion, but not commitment. So how could I have acted any differently?
I would have acted differently if I knew it was going to end like this. I wouldn’t have been as mopey during the 3.5 weeks, I would have tried to fight more.
But at the same time, she saw me struggling, she saw me cry, but that didn’t sway her. I doubt there was anything I could have done or said to change her mind.
————————
How can I not be angry? How can I not hate you?

I poured my heard and soul into this marriage. Into building us. Yes, it took me a little while to get going but I did. I worked hard and I made you, us, this relationship my center and my focal point. You think *I* didn’t doubt us? When things were crazy and we were fighting, you don’t think it never crossed my mind to look for someone better? It did, but I didn’t want that. I wanted to make US work, to figure out how we fit together.

And you, on the other hand, encounter a feeling of us not being right and what do you do? You stew on it for three weeks, you don’t allow me to engage with you on trying to fix it, you never go to the couples therapy we both agreed would be helpful.
You fucking ran away and tossed us out. Fuck you.

You never allowed me to work with you through the feelings; to view those feelings as our problem instead of your problem.
————————–
I often have the visceral reaction of just shaking my head in disbelief. It’s been wearing me down.
Wake up sobbing
I will get little bursts of sadness. Little 30 second spasms of tears
Other times I’m fuming
Sometimes I am hopeful of the future and finding someone who’s a better fit for me
Most of the time I am drained and just want to sit quietly
More and more often I feel a sense of humongous surrealness. We are going through a divorce! A split your money, argue over your possessions, only happens to your uncle DIVORCE!
————————
Maybe I had that period of depression last year because of her. Now that she is gone I feel lighter. Everyday tasks seem important, and cooking and running errands give me a sense of accomplishment. Could be just that I did less of these activities w her around though. But generally I think there is a link. I have been spending more time with a friend who has a zest for life. He gets excited about trying a new beer, jazzed up about learning a new fact about current news, animated debating local politics, eager to hang out with friends. These are all things I also enjoy but did not get a chance to savor w her. She sat around a lot. She didn’t have a drive to figure out a career or vocation. Despite my pleading, she never really got excited about going to bars or restaurants. She preferred to sit at home on her computer. She preferred to day dream about the future and about fanciful trips, vacations, other countries to visit. But what about the hear and now? Why not embrace the moment, the place we live in? I am doing more of this now and it feels good.
Whether this is all true or not, I don’t know. But the lazy depression I felt in the past has been wiped away, at least for the moment.
———————-
Had a feeling for the first time today: it was a period of my life that is now over. It had a lot of good times. I learned a lot about love. I grew a lot. Sense of appreciate for the experience. And a look forward to the future. Not everything is linear. I will have a happy relationship, it just didn’t turn out to be this one.
————————–
Spring has sprung
and not a moment too soon
Winter has been flung
And with it, all the doom and gloom

Time to turn over a new leaf
And let all your flowers bloom
Life is just too brief
To not find a new favorite tune

So enjoy….

What will summer bring?

New leaves are sprouting
and birds are singing.
New beginnings are shouting
Just wish I knew what they were bringing.

The birds are alive
And the trees in bloom

A long hard winter has passed
And with it the dreams of yesterday
————————–

Day 402

Australia

My dream, my passion, my planned future is gone. And I’m not talking about my ex wife…
I’m talking about Straya. Oz. The land down under. Australia: my own personal promised land.

I have had a relationship with Australia even longer than with my ex. It started ten and a half years ago in February 2008 during my junior year of college as I set off on my first ever international trip. Seeming to follow the go big or go home mantra for trying new things (my first ever flight, the year before, was from the Midwest to Hawaii), my first international trip took me from Ohio on a 24+ hour voyage to Perth, Australia on the near exact opposite side of the globe for a study abroad semester through my college.

Sparing the details, I had an amazing time. Drank too much, studied too little, but bonded with new people over a shared experience in a new land. Started learning the basics of a new culture and widened my worldview. Probably typical of most American college students who go abroad, I came back from my time abroad in love with my host country and dying to go back. Senior year of college, while full of its own trials, tribulations, experiences, and memories, was also tinged with hints of nostalgia for Australia.

Lo and behold, lightning struck twice. Through a cultural program I participated in during study abroad, I was offered the opportunity to come back to Australia after graduation. The circumstances of my potential return seemed crazy; I would be going to a small country town in the middle of nowhere, playing Australian Rules Football with a local amateur team, and working in a grocery store on a 12 month visa. Little other details were provided other than I’d need to leave two days after graduation in order to make the timing work. Going to an academic-focused college, with friends accepting what seemed like big time, real world jobs, plus being someone who at the time was not a big risk taker, this all just seemed like a complete jump off the deep end. But I was directionless and Australia was my north star; the pull was strong.

That’s how I found myself moving out of my college apartment, unpacking and storing all my belongings in my childhood home, and re-packing two big ol rolling suitcases for a new adventure in Australia in 48 hours. Fulfilling my dream of returning almost exactly a year after I left.

I look back on the next year in Australia as one of the best in my life. It was a hugely formative experience; similar to my study abroad experience but on another level in that I was truly alone. I was a all by myself in a vast country, in a town of 2000 souls on the remote southern coast. Throughout my year I struggled with direction, finances, loneliness, and injury. But I fully immersed in a new culture. Picked up vital travel and independent living skills. Built the foundation for post-college life, beginning to put together who I was as an adult. Made countless fun memories, lived through crazy adventures and made absolute, ride-or-die friends for life along the way. I gained a deep appreciation for and understanding of Aussie culture. Their good-natured, kind-hearted, never-take-anything-too-seriously mindset resonated deeply with me and I felt home.

Needless to say, by the time my visa was running out a year later I was in no rush to leave. After six months down south, I had moved back up to Perth and had created a life for myself. I was established and, while still grinding to make ends meet, I felt settled and eager to continue exploring the city and Australian culture. I had friends, a job (several actually), a killer apartment with a balcony view of the ocean, and a new girlfriend. And while I can’t say everything was always rainbows and sunshine, my dream of living in Australia was my day to day experience. The very city I had romanticized post-study abroad was now my home! But laws are laws (let me tell you, Australia’s immigration laws are no joke) and it was time for me to go.

So for the second time in as many years, I found myself back in the American Midwest experiencing reverse culture shock and moping around wishing I was back in Australia. Except this time it was even worse because all my friends were now a year into adult careers and I was living at home with my parents, unemployed and directionless.

Fast forward several years and I had “made it”. I parlayed my limited work experience into several different gigs culminating in a good job at a tech company in Chicago. Throughout the journey from depressed unemployed kid living at home to tech-bro yuppie in the big city, Australia was always in the back of my mind. In lonely moments, I thought of my Aussie friends and all our fun memories. In tough patches at work, I thought of happy times from my Aussie jobs. In good times, I thought of my ex-girlfriend and how much I wanted to share the moment with her. Nostalgia for Australia was always right there under the surface, ready to bubble up in any quiet, undistracted moment. There was definitely a grass is always greener effect going on, but it was what it was.

Eventually these nostalgic feelings were given an outlet as communication with the old Aussie girlfriend mentioned above increased and blossomed into a real relationship. My love for Australia and Aussie culture now once again became a part of my day-to-day life. Over the next five years as my wife and I grew in our relationship, I learned more about Australia than I ever thought possible. I was also able to make three more trips to Perth to see friends and in-laws, totaling about a month and a half in total time.  I think it’s safe to say I became an honorary citizen. Or at least a cultural ambassador!

My wife and I agreed that we would end up in Australia. She could not be away from her family forever and let’s be honest, I preferred it there. Australia was the “settling down” point… when we’d have kids and buy a house and become real, live adults. While we wrangled over exact time frames, I was content that that my future was Aussie. The move was my goal post; everything I did at work and in my career was aimed at acquiring the necessary skills and job title that would make getting work in Australia feasible. Visa and immigration costs, as well as the general cost of starting from scratch in a different country, were never far from my mind and the chief savings goal (not a house, car, or retirement, to my later chagrin).

Then came the split. Relationship over. Dream destroyed. Future clouded. Due to restrictive immigration laws, it is impossible for me to immigrate to Australia without a “partner visa”. My nearly ten year involvement with the promised land was over. We were no more than 1-2 years away from making the move.

Over the past year I’ve grappled first and foremost with the sudden loss of my partner and best friend, my ex-wife, as detailed periodically in this blog. But I’ve also had to contend with the fact that the door on Australia has also shut, and that’s been a tough pill to swallow. In retrospect it’s a bit humorous but I’ve had to follow the same getting-out-of-a-relationship tropes with Australia, like unfollowing all Perth and Australia-centered Instagram accounts, taking down Australia related pictures and art from my apartment, and removing checking Perth news outlets online from my morning routine.

As with the break up with my ex, the past year has brought some closure on my break up with Australia. Or if not closure, acceptance. I am lucky to have made friends with some incredible Australian people. I’m a better person for the cross-cultural experiences. And I’ll always still have Australian Rules Football 🙂

Day 364

If you really want to go down a rabbit hole with me, check out my old combined post-grad and study abroad Australia blog here

Piano Face

Seven months after the fact

I still occasionally crack.

The tears well up in their usual place,

Remembering her delicate face.

My heart used to thump when I saw it:

When she played piano

When she was freshly showered

When she puttered around in her pajamas

When she concentrated hard on a puzzle.

Now I can barely remember her smile…

But that delicate face used to make me melt,

And it’s all I see as the tears are falling.

I don’t know why they continue to come calling.

I think it’s because she made my heart grow larger than it had ever been

And now all that extra space is empty, and I can’t say when it’ll be filled again.

Day 219

I’m in a Rut

I am functional and focused on moving on. I am doing all the right things; I’m focused on me and working to develop friendships and hobbies. I’m putting thought into who I am and who I want to be. For the most part I’m enjoying life and the newfound sense of freedom. I’m definitely on the road to recovery.

But at the same time, I’m in a rut. I come home from hanging out with friends and I’m lonely. I see other friends having fun on social media without me and I get depressed; why didn’t they think of me (although I didn’t text them either)? I have dreams where my ex comes back to me and in the dream, I’m happy. These dreams worm their way into my brain as seeds of hope for us. This woman dashed my hopes and dreams, rejected my love and commitment, and yet there is a piece of my brain that holds on to her. That assumes we’re just on a break and she’ll be coming back. It simmers under the surface, bubbles to the top when my mind is blank or I’m day dreaming.

Having these feelings makes me exasperated… makes me feel like I’m not moving on fast enough. There is no logical reason to hold out any hope for her after what she did, but it’s still there deep down inside despite my best efforts. I assume it will go away with time, but I don’t like it.

Day 200
(wow)

The Anger Stage

I supported you financially for five years. I paid all all rent, all bills, and a decidedly large chunk of your classes and courses. I worked full time, you part time and then only occasionally because getting your dream careers started took time. You sometimes contributed for groceries but then would get upset about not having any money and I would reassure you that I could cover them, that you should save. I worked continuously so you could pursue your passions.
–You said you needed someone more generous at heart.

Fuck you.

I supported you emotionally when all your schemes and projects failed. I invested all of my emotional energies into being your shoulder to cry on, and your therapist. I spent countless hours consoling you and doing my best to help you gain confidence and meaning. I stayed up late, got up early, did everything I could to help you feel good. I wanted to pull my hair out at times but more than anything I wanted you to be happy.
–You said you needed someone more kind.

Fuck you.

We got into fights in the early days because our personalities were so different and we dealt with conflict in different ways. But over the years I changed my entire worldview, my inner personality, and my outlook on life to better understand you and be aligned with you.
–You said you needed someone who was more like you.

Fuck you.

When you started doubting us, I asked you about our wedding vows. I asked how you could have stood before me and your family and read wedding vows, since you were claiming to have never felt 100% sure of us. Didn’t you take those seriously? I did!
–You said, “to be honest I don’t think I really believed the vows myself at the time”.

Fuck you.

We were in love for five years. You were my everything. Bringing you joy and happiness was my #1 goal, and became my chief hobby. I lost myself in you. I gave you everything I had and still had more to give if only I was given the chance.
–You gave up on us three weeks after first telling me you were having doubts. You didn’t do me the courtesy of even trying; you never got around to scheduling that couples therapy appointment…

The last time we saw each other, to sign the divorce papers, I had prepared some things to say. I knew this was the ultimate moment, the climax of all our time together, of our entire shared life, and that we would never see each other again. I wanted to make sure I expressed to you what you had meant to me, what you were leaving behind, and how what you were doing made me feel. I knew if I didn’t think things through ahead of time and write them down, I would fail to speak clearly and regret it. Reading these final words to you was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, and by far the saddest.
–While I sobbed through the words you also cried softly, but you said nothing. After ending our five year relationship you had nothing to say. You came prepared with nothing to tell me, no closure to offer. You told me you’d write me a letter, that would explain everything and give me more information on the decision you made. You said you’d write my parents one too. Six months later the only thing that’s been written is this blog, by me.

You’re a shitty person. It’s too bad I have so many fond memories with you, because I am becoming decidedly less fond OF you.

Fuck you Annabelle.

Day 179