Me, Myself, and My Shadows

I’m usually not forgetful. Really, I’m one of those odd characters who remarkably recalls something that happened six years ago in a fleeting moment. But yesterday – I could not have been more absent-minded.

I won’t make excuses, but this week has been superbly busy. One of our biggest issues of the year is in the making, our office is moving to a new location next week, I’m on the mad search for a new apartment, I’m running daily, attending a happy hour or two, Skyping with Mr. Possibility extremely early or late my time or his, and you know, this, writing daily blog posts. Not to mention some Twittering, Facebooking, Tumbling, and when I’m lucky, maybe getting seven hours of sleep.

I’m not complaining – I consider myself extremely lucky and blessed to have a life that’s full, that’s ever-evolving, that’s full of the best things a city could offer: great friends and grand adventures. Nevertheless, sometimes with so much going on and residing in a place that encourages less rest, hard work, and more play – I’ve found myself a little off my A-game recently.

Case in point, after work and after viewing yet another vacancy on the Upper West Side, I made my way to the gym, excited about releasing all of my stress with a healthy four-miler. When I arrived, I was happy to see a moderately-empty place and a treadmill readily available for me. I rushed to the locker room to change so no one would take my coveted machine before I had time to dress down and throw my hair up. After putting on my running shorts, I discovered not only had I forgotten a sports bra, but also a hair tie and socks. For a successful, focused sprint, all three of these items are necessary – even if the ladies aren’t exactly luscious, they do deserve and need support.

Frustrated with my forgetfulness, I did a few reps to relieve stress on the abs, arm, and leg machines, and then decided I was brave enough to brave the semi-chilly weather outside. After dropping off my gym bag and Longchamp at my temporary apartment, I hit the pavement…well, running, of course.

Though the sound of my own feet beating the road matching the beat of the music usually soothes me and clears my head, last night, I just couldn’t get the rhythm. I wasn’t losing my breath, but I also wasn’t finding my clarity. Out of my zone and continuously burying myself further into my worrying fit, I felt someone behind me. Suddenly on guard and wondering if it was possible to be unsafe at what I consider an early hour, 8:30, I quickened my pace without glancing behind. Though it was only a few seconds, the moment that passed seemed to be in slow motion, but as I turned the corner, I realized the shadowing I noticed was not an intruder, but just my own shadow.

Somehow, on the edge of the park where I was running, the way the street lamps mixed with buildings hovering above caused me to not only have one dark reflection, but three: one behind me (what I saw), one to my left, and one in front of me. I’m sure this has happened to me a dozen times without my recognition, but on Central Park West in that experience, I couldn’t help but watch my threesome of shadows come together as the light changed as I moved.

Symbolically, I felt like I was witnessing my past, my present, and my future mold into what those things make up: me.

Twenty minutes later, walking back to my apartment and stopping for a much-needed Greek yogurt (current food obsession), I thought about how much of what causes me anxiety or worry is stressing about the things I can’t change. And most of those headaches have to do with wondering what will happen in times I’ve yet to experience. Like on May 1 when I move to an unknown location or when Mr. Possibility settles in New York for an extended period of time, after several bouts of traveling. Or where my byline will appear six months, a year from now, or the networking event I’m attending in a few weeks. And then my forehead scrunches up in such a way I’m sure I’ll have wrinkles there one day (we’re ignoring the fact I already sorta do) -I struggle with letting go of what was. Like the friendships that just aren’t the same anymore or the people I should call more, but don’t. Or the battle I have to apologize for pain I caused years ago, when in reality, the wounds are healed, and if not scared over, they’re most likely disappeared forever.

But worse than wrestling with all the places I’ve been and all the places I hope to go, I often forget to value the place I am today. Though I remind myself (and I’m often told) that the only path leading to peace is not really a paved road at all, but the spot I’m standing – I’m often too busy running away from it to realize its beauty. I’m too scared of the past sneaking up on me, too concerned with where I’m going, that I rarely see how all of the pieces come together, effortlessly, in their own way and right, without much trouble at all.

I don’t really believe there is a way to fully release our experiences, nor do I think it is healthy. We must take from our own educational past to continue to grow, and we must have something to go toward, if we’re going to get anywhere. But without accepting, and dare I say, loving the person we are right now- the past and the future don’t matter.

A few steps before my front door, on the phone with my mom, I stopped in the middle of my block, and took note of the shadow before me. Wildly stretched longer than I’ll ever be or would ever care to be, I saw the shape of my body. Without any distinctive features or coloring at all, I didn’t resemble myself – but I knew the street reflection was me.

It was me, myself, and my shadows. With the most important of the trio not the shades of dark and light surrounding my feet, but the part that was real. The part that would still be, even when I walk inside, and leave the rest behind.

No Almost About It

Similar to the dating scene in New York, when you find something that’s incredibly tasty, surprisingly no-hassle, and relatively inexpensive in the city – you keep coming back for more. Such is the story of Corner Bistro.

Tucked away in the West Village at West 4th and Jane, Corner Bistro is the definition of a hole-in-the-wall joint. It’s dark, even mid-day, only accepts cash, and you’re lucky if your waiter does more than grumble at you. It is always, always packed – as it should be. Out of any burger I’ve had in my life, it is the absolute best. It even beats my dad’s – and to pin the olive on top of the bun, their signature burger is a mere $7.

When I discovered this well-known, not-so-hot spot, I instantly became hooked. A week or so ago, when I found myself with a craving for their menu, I gathered three friends and caught the train downtown. A few Blue Moons, three orders of burgers and fries, and an hour worth of catching up later, my friend J decided the next destination would have to be a gay bar less than ten mini-village blocks away.

Happily filled with booze and burgers, the crew trotted toward a hidden address, bumping into Sarah Jessica Parker along the way. While we were appropriately star-struck, it didn’t last long – this is New York after all. If you didn’t pass a celebrity here or there, then you obviously are not going out enough and spending far too much time in your far too small apartment. On the way, we stopped by a pet store to admire the $1,000 frenchies, the $1,200 Cock-a-Poos or Bossi-Poos or Cava-Poos, and then finally made it to the one place to admire the trendiest of all – the Village Drag Queen. With eyelashes curled to the 9’s, liner that goes on for miles, and a push-up that pushes whatever-that-is higher than my ladies are resting – this Mr/Ms was a force to be reckoned with.

Not to mention, s/he was the Bingo keeper. Yes, gay bar bingo. Apparently, sweets, it is the newest thing.

It is also a serious game, even if the commentator walks around flirting with anyone who doesn’t have a vagina, which luckily for him/her is the majority of those in attendance. When I casually asked a neon-wearing gaggle of gay men where to get Bingo stampers, they promptly informed me they brought their own and that I could find golf pencils on my table. Oh, well excuse me  – I thought i looked pretty slammin’ in my blue sweater dress and heels, but apparently not. At least in terms of gay bingo, anyways.

My group pitched in together and bought three cards to split amongst the four of us. We decided if we happened to win the $1,300 jackpot, we’d split it evenly. A few days before, I had given in to the pleas of one of my closest friends to watch The Secret, which is great for giggles, if you feel inclined. While I think the message is true- tell the universe what you want, believe you’ll get it, and you will – the documentary was not well-done. With beer and three mimosas swirling in my tummy thus making my lips a little looser, I encouraged my friends to believe we would win the money. I figured if I’m going to lead my life by a secret I already knew, why not let my friends in on it, too? In my early evening haze, it seemed like a strategic approach to gay bingo.

Twenty minutes later, we were one little box away from winning. By this time, I had told them my reasoning and all of us were suddenly on board, convinced that by having faith, we suddenly had a super weapon against the rest of the players. We had intentionally placed the universe on our side. As if we were waiting to meet our unborn child or on that phone call, offering us our dream job, we lingered on the bingo board, each gripping our inadequate pencils and drinks eagerly.

And then Mr/Ms Village Drag Queen called B9. A man with a high-pitched voice and a blue stamper screamed “Bingo!” We needed B8. We almost won. We almost had the universe at our fingertips.

But what good is almost? The Southern saying, after all, says almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. There are rare  things in life where not hitting the goal, but getting close to it, is just as powerful as reaching it.

In thinking about our loss, I considered all of the things I’ve experienced that were best defined by almost. Mr. Idea was almost the right guy for me, minus a few vastly important characteristics and interests. I almost had that national freelancing gig at a consumer publication, but my tone wasn’t right for the mag. I almost fell asleep at midnight, at one, at two, but couldn’t stop stressing out from my overflowing to-do list. I almost ran five miles, but I gave out at 4.8 out of nothing but utter boredom. I almost achieved that toe curling orgasm, but couldn’t get right there, right where I needed to be.

Almost: It is almost worse than failing in the first place because you know how near you were, and yet, so terribly far away. And yet, it is a word I use constantly.

“Yes, I almost went to that show, but…” “Oh, I almost went out with him, but…” “Well, I almost got that byline, but…” “I almost signed up for that race, but…” “I almost came home early, but…” “I almost initiated The Talk, but…”

Almost, but what? Is almost an excuse or something that we actually experience? If something doesn’t work out, if we don’t sincerely care to do something, if something is not quite what we want, if something is not within reach – then it doesn’t work out, we don’t do it, we don’t have what we want, and we don’t reach it.

It isn’t a matter of almost, it is a matter of fact.

But it doesn’t mean almost doesn’t count – in fact, I’d like to think it always does. Thinking about almost is a way to realize our worth and what we’re capable of. If we just about got there, if we just about found the right person, if we were the forerunner for a great Bingo board win, if we knew we probably could have gone longer and harder – then we know what we’re made of. We know and we believe what’s inside of us – because if we can just about get there, one day, we can definitely get there. No almost about it.

(That is, as long as we have a fancy stampy thing)

What I Should Have Said

There are some perks to a blog – especially for a writer. It is a place for me to vent, for me to discuss topics in liberal opportunities, and a way for me to help others learn from the experiences I share. Blogging has been around over a decade and it has proved a successful platform for publishing companies, wannabe-authors, and anyone who could function on WordPress, Blogspot, or other platforms. While certain studies show the momentum behind blogging and being a blogger may have lost some of its cache  in an overly saturated market – if you want to find a community of supporters and other writers, it is rather simple.

If you’re not convinced, just ask me.

When I started Confessions of a Love Addict mid-September last year, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into. I clicked publish without a plan, without any intention of promoting the blog anywhere but Facebook to my friends, and came up with the idea as a way for me to work through past relationship issues. I became interested because I knew the way I approached love was unhealthy and I was allowing the presence or the absence of a man control the way I valued my self-worth. Because writing isn’t just my job, it is my passion, and in many cases, the best therapy I could ever invest in. And blogging, of course, doesn’t cost anything.

So why not? Why not blog?

What I forgot to consider when divulging the intimate details of my life to all who can click and Google was the fact that my personal life doesn’t just pertain to me. And the issue with a blog primarily about relationships is that the whole definition of a relationship is that it involves two people.

And thus, admittedly there are also two sides to every story. But my side, the way that I felt, what I thought, and what I learned is public knowledge. Sometimes, sadly, some of the things I’ve been comfortable enough to share on this space with mostly strangers, I haven’t been brave enough to be as honest about with the men the posts detail.

This downfall on my part is forgetting that the Mr’s read these blogs. Not so much with Mr. Possibility – for he’s known me since after this blog began – but with the men of my past. Some of which, months and years after the end of our relationship, discovered my insight into what we shared. While I’ve made a vow to never man-bash, but to only detail the benefit of each relationship, part of finding the good is discussing the bad. The things that weren’t enough, the things that I realized I didn’t want, the moments I knew when I was settling, those dreams that I knew would never come true if I remained in a stagnant, dead-end relationship with a Mr. Wrong that would never be Mr. Right.

And those things, for men I used to talk to daily, make love to consistently, and open up my heart, my soul, and my life to – are difficult to hear. Probably harder to stomach. No one wants to know that they couldn’t bring someone happiness or that contrary to every romantic comedy, storybook, and sitcom – love sometimes is not enough. No matter how many first stars or lucky pennies we wish upon.

I’m quite positive some of my exes will never dial my number or call me up when they’re in New York after reading the pages of this blog, that somehow has infiltrated and changed my personal life in vast ways. As much as it has helped me become a stronger woman, opened up new opportunities for me professionally, and given closure and a new friendship with certain former loves, it has also burned some bridges I wish still stood.

But that’s the thing about the truth – sometimes it hurts.

In fact, unless it is what we want to hear and improves our current situation, the truth is often the hardest thing to accept. When you realize you weren’t meant for someone and they realize it too – walking away becomes a game of roulette, who will dodge first and admit what feels like failure? When you know you’re staying in a relationship for the wrong reasons, but don’t want to cause pain to someone you once (and probably do, and always will) loved – how do you break it to them, without breaking them? When you understand someone is with you for the comfort you give them, not the undying knock-you-to-ground passionate love you deserve, how do you demand more or pack your bags?

Since these relationships – I’ve adapted the honesty is the best policy mentality. I’ll partly give credit to this blog, some to my own growing maturity, and some to the lessons I’ve mastered from the past and how they’ve translated into my present. Perhaps if I would have voiced my opinions, yielded to red flags when I saw them rise, and given up on a love I knew wouldn’t last – I would have saved myself some heartbreak. Or more importantly, come to the rescue to the men I wasn’t fair to, instead of thinking they were only there to rescue me. Maybe it is all of those honest, truthful things I should have said that would have meant more, in the long run, than all of the things that I said to save feelings, face, and heart.

Really though, the thing that will save us all, that will make our relationships meaningful and sincere is learning to say when enough is enough, when love is worth the fight and when it’s not, and when we realize there are better things that can be found. And accept that the person you need to focus on, the person you need to be the most honest with, the person who needs to read your blog the most – is you.

Because everyone else will always see what you say as a matter of opinion, regardless. No matter how honest you are. Even so – tell the truth anyways. They say it’ll set us free or piss us off – I think it’ll do it a little bit of both. And frankly, that’s better than hurting others and lovers more than is necessary. And more than a post on a blog could ever do.

My Never-Ending Story

I like my men tall, charming, and successful. I’m not picky about industry, though the majority of the dudes I’ve been involved with have been in the business sector. I’ve dated American and foreign, and a month younger than me to ten years my senior. I’ve fallen for a man in a minute, while some have had to grow on me. They have all been different in the matters that matter, but they have one distinctive common quality:

They’re all storytellers.

Some of them took this trait to the extreme – telling little white lies instead of entertaining tidbits, but most just had the art of captivating me with their tales. With inviting body language, energetic hand gestures, and wildly vivid eyes that change as the story continues – I’ve always had a knack for picking men who have factual (or at least I hope) anecdotes and want to tell me about them. The attraction I have to a storyteller may be due to my career or the fact that I try to listen more than I speak, but I think it could even be more juvenile than that. As simplistic as it may seem – I just like stories.

As a child, I became so fascinated with storybooks  and reading that I eventually started writing my own. They were bound with string and detailed the adventures of my childhood pets, Wilma and Indiana (after Indiana Jones, of course). Or about day-to-day errands, vacations, or what I learned in school. Though my life has changed since I was seven years old, I haven’t stopped cataloging what I experience or how I feel – it is the reason I have dozens of diaries and the reason this blog exists. So maybe a storyteller attracts another storyteller – even if the way they express their affairs differs.

Nevertheless, while the loves of my life have been talented in giving the whole story and always in a little-over-the-top way, I have always had trouble with one part of storytelling.

The ending.

Every writer, every speaker, every anything that delivers a message must have some sort of conclusion in mind. We all enjoy the beginning, the obstacles, the intrigue, and the passion that goes in the rising plot – but the question is always, what happened? Or how does it all come together? Does the guy get the girl? Does the girl find that man she thought she wouldn’t find? Does the lady land the job she wants? Does the man find something to bring him happiness that’s not his career? Did he cheat again? Did she forgive him? Does she die of some unknown disease? Does he get out of the tangled web of destruction? Do they live happily ever after?

No story is complete without an ending – or is it? Is there really such a thing as an ending at all?

In the next few months, my life will be changing, as I’ve observed it does in continuous three-month cycles. The start of May I will move into a new apartment – though because it is a New York market, I’ll have no idea where exactly I’ll be until a week before. Mr. Possibility will return yet again from a stint overseas and the plot we’re writing in our interesting story will continue to thicken as time and talks progress. I will travel extensively this summer with projected international trips and a homecoming to the South to attend my first of five weddings this year. And then there will eventually be an end to this blog. I’ve set a goal for a year of writing daily – which would make my last post on September 19.

Maybe with all of these transitions happening -leaving an apartment I loved, the final return of a man I adore, going on those trips I always lusted after, and knowing there will be a day without Confessions of a Love Addict – I’ve been thinking about endings. They say all good things come to a close – but I’d like to think that actually things really do last forever. And not in the sense that with each ending comes a beginning, but that anything that was ever important or significant doesn’t just leave you because it’s presence isn’t as prominent.

All of my storytellers are not acting across from me at the dinner table or sharing my bed as they once did – but I remember their stories. I remember their faces and they way they could make me laugh in all the right places. I remember what it felt like to fall in love with each of them and how it felt to fall out. And those apartments I’ve had over the years – from King Street in North Carolina to Manhattan Avenue in NYC – I remember the addresses. The keys have changed, the people who visited me have too, but there are certain things that never do.

And those are the stories.

Maybe that’s why I find myself as a modern-day historian – as all journalists are – documenting the world and my world as I see it and experience it. Remembering what was is the reason I’m where I am today, and why I’ll make it where I’m going tomorrow. The characters and the analogies adapt to our settings and the verbs that keep us going, but our stories remain. Chronicled in the back of our hearts where we keep the most intimate details, on the URLs of WordPress, or packed in cardboard boxes in our childhood homes – whatever we’ve experienced isn’t just deleted from our histories. It doesn’t end because those stories make us us. They give us the background for our foundations and the flashbacks we constantly entertain and learn from.

So why did I worry about happy endings with each of my storytellers? Why did I think I would have an ending at all? My story, much like the stories of every woman, every man who has ever been, isn’t based on the final sentence on the final page of the countless novels that make up my journey. It’s not about the moment when everything is concluded and decided, or when my future husband and I tell our story of how we met or got married or had children. Or when I achieved the corner office or the byline that I sought after. Or how the pieces finally came together and that was that.

Because my story is ever evolving, ever-changing, and never-ending. And it certainly isn’t concerned with such an ending, when it is only just beginning.

Worse Than Being Alone

At the time in our lives when we met one another, Mr. Idea and I needed one another.

He was in a job that didn’t respect him or give him the opportunities he deserved, and with a severe dislike for driving (especially curvy roads), North Carolina was no place for this native New Yorker. I was struggling to keep myself together my final semester in college, fighting away the fears in the pit of my stomach that I’d never make it where I wanted to be, and saving every nickel and dime that came my way. I had not been given the position at the newspaper I had eyed since I was a freshman, which kept me out of the office I practically lived for the last three years, and on top of wanting out, I somewhat felt like a failure and an outcast from the world that meant everything to me.

And so, Mr. Idea and I leaned on one another.

He reminded me of my talents and ensured that bigger and better things were waiting for me in the days and addresses I couldn’t imagine. I kept him confident that his Southern stay would come to a close and he’d find himself doing more of what he wanted in a place and a company that knew what they had when they had him. In a matter of weeks, we went from strangers who met on a semi-blind date to inseparable. I literally could not imagine my life without him and the way we clung to one another was definitely not healthy, but at the time, it was the only thing that felt right.

But that sense of need that so easily translates into a sense of urgency, kept me back more than it pushed me forward. I was so afraid of losing what I had found – Mr. Idea – that I did anything and everything I could to keep him around. I said all of the right things at the right time. I was never late but not annoyingly early. I supported him and stood by him, even when my heart begged me to question my intentions. I gave him the benefit of a doubt when he would say or do things that weren’t appropriate by my own standards. When he wasn’t interested in sex night after night, I tried not to take it personally and hoped he’d come around.

As our relationship progressed, I watched him turn more and more into someone that I knew I didn’t want to be with. All of the red flags were obvious, the signs were pointing to the exit, and I couldn’t help but wonder what else was out there. But for a while – I didn’t go. I didn’t leave. I didn’t walk away. I remained exactly where I was, miserable and feeling like I lost myself more than I had discovered some great love. But why?

Because it was safe.

When you’re in a relationship, when you finally find that man who isn’t deathly afraid of commitment, and actually wants to call you his and have you call him yours -there is a wave of relief. The guard can come down, the negotiations and convincing can stop. And that feels good. It feels comforting. It feels easy. Especially in my case, at a time when Mr. Idea and I were both unstable, it became a safe harbor, an arena where we could be accepted and not worry about “that part” of our lives, when all of the other parts were jagged.

And so, as many people do, I became comfortable. I knew I had someone there when I needed to be reassured. I knew I had someone to depend on. I knew that even if he wasn’t exactly what I wanted, I had wanted him at one time, and I thought maybe, he could grow into someone I couldn’t live without. I knew that I had prayed for love and I had been sent some sort of love, so why would I throw it away when problems and incompatibility outnumbered the good and the synced? Every time I felt the urge to hit the road, I remembered how difficult it was to be on my own, how much I hated being single, how much I didn’t want to face everything in my life alone – and I’d stay.

It wasn’t until right before I moved to New York that I had a great realization that I wanted to do my journey to the big city on my own. I wanted to say I did it just for myself, by myself, and in the right state of mind. And as much as I loved Mr. Idea and as badly as I wanted something to work out or for him to transform into my Prince Charming, I knew I couldn’t wait for it. No matter how awful being alone felt to me.

And what I found, after months and months of convincing myself I made the right decision about ending things with Mr. Idea, was there are worse things than being alone. One of which is being single in a relationship and having the only purpose of that union to be a bed of comfort, not a bed of joy. I was with Mr. Idea and I was committed, but my heart couldn’t get there because my mind was too worried about messing up the safety I found with him, and in return, I never was myself. And when he started becoming himself, I realized he wasn’t the man I wanted – but his presence kept me from facing the world single. Even if I was already singular as it was.

A few days ago, after a very long healing period for him, he extended a ring of friendship. He doesn’t read this blog (and I don’t blame him), and he doesn’t care to know about my Mr. Possibility – but he did want me to know what I meant to him and what I will always mean to him. In attempting to be a mature adult and explain to him verbally what I’ve discussed in this blog, he said:

“You never needed to be anyone other than yourself – you would have kept me even if you were a wreck – because Linds, you were at times. Or if you decided it wasn’t what you wanted sooner, I would I have forgiven you. Please, don’t ever be anyone other than the special person you are, because it is beautiful and I will always love that about you.”

So even with my charade, even with putting on my happy face to keep my comfort around, I had not fooled him. He had known my intentions in the relationship and what I hoped to gain. He wasn’t oblivious, even if I felt like I was being sly and strategic to keep my safety net around. Maybe he had felt single in our relationship too, or maybe he was at a different point in his life than I was, even if we both were unsteady.

But the thing about being unsteady and wanting to find structure in another person is that the more you look outside yourself to build the frame, the less dependable it will feel. But when you venture out into the shaky world, no matter how shaky you may feel when you’re single, you’ll come to find that while you thought you needed that protection or added support, the one thing you need more than anything else…is yourself.

And one day, you may just find someone who doesn’t need you to be comforted or vice versa, but they simply want you.