Stop, Drop, and Roll

Recently, I made my first trip to Ikea.

For those of you outside of New York, Ikea is kind the place to go for young professionals with a little budget and the need to find furniture for their tiny apartments or rooms. Though I’ve been in the city for a while, I had yet to make the trip to Brooklyn to see the massive warehouse of  boxes filled with a million parts. The reason for the cheap price point is partly because everything you must assemble yourself – an experience I’m sure I’ll blog about when all is delivered to me soon.

Mr. Possibility and his car (a rarity for someone to have here) made the journey to Ikea with me, and after taking a trip down memory lane eating in the Ikea cafeteria, which is similiar to the food and feel of college, we walked around the maze. I carefully checked off the furniture I needed to buy, deciding how functional it was, and how much space it would take up. I thought about my color scheme and I considered the investment I wanted to make into something I’d ultimately put together with my own two hands. I wondered how long I would have the items and how reasonable I needed to be versus how trendy or modern I wanted to be. We went from bed to bed, laying on each, deciding which one was too soft or too hard. I briefly looked at frames until I decided I didn’t quite need one, but could do with risers. I fell in love with a dresser with a lovely Victorian mirror, but then realized it wouldn’t even hold half of my lingerie, much less my t-shirts and such.

Four hours, several unexpected and great phone calls, two hot dogs, and a denied card later (cashiers shouldn’t try and charge you four consecutive times for a large sum of money), I’m riding back to Williamsburg with Mr. Possibility and my mind is racing.

It’s running as quick as the cars speeding by us, but not nearly as swiftly as he’s driving. It’s running through a series of memories I’ve experienced over the last few years, through all the changes I’ve endured, and the many places I’ve called home. It’s running through all the men that have been and the love I’ve been lucky enough to experience. It’s running through the purchase I just made, the money that flew away in a split-second, and it’s worrying about one day not having enough. It’s running and running and part of me wants to scream at Mr. Possibility to stop. To pull over. To come to a screeching half. To let me get out and let me run and run, run far away from wherever I am, and wherever I’m going, and just rest.

To stop making decisions and stop wondering if they are right. To stop spending money and maybe even stop making it. To stop putting my heart out on the line for someone with possibility because with that, they have the possibility to rip the line underneath me. To get this fire out of my heart by stopping, dropping, and rolling into a miniature ball that’ll protect me from any pain. Any anxiety or lack of hope or disappointments.

But as he looks over and puts his hand on my knee, stealing a kiss on the side of my head while traffic comes to an actual stop – I smile at him and breathe a sigh of relief. Fire isn’t so bad. The flames have varying intensities and the best ones aren’t extinguished instantly. They may burn and they may scar, but fire keeps us alive. It’s why we worry. It’s why we doubt or we question. It’s why we feel vulnerable and why we cherish each day.

Without fire, there can be no life. So you can stop and you can drop. You can roll away from growing up or distract your mind from racing. But wildfires don’t stop or drop, but they do roll. And they will catch up to you, somewhere along the way. Even if it is on the expressway back to an apartment you’re living in with someone for just a few more days until the next chapter of your life begins.

With possibility.

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And the Storm Will Rise

There are certain things people say that you’ll never forget: the first time a man tells you he loves you (even if he’s merely a boy at the time), when someone ridicules you publicly, or when you have a heart-to-heart with your mom, not as your mother, but as your friend. I remember each of these moments in my own life, but if someone were to ask me my favorite, most memorable phrase anyone ever said to me, it’d be:

“Well you’re like a Southern summer storm in the middle of August, aren’t ya, now?”

I can’t tell you the woman’s name, but it was a friend-of-a-friend at some family reunion I attended in North Carolina when I was 17. Having only been in my presence for about ten minutes, this older lady decked out in pearls and with nails so perfectly manicured you’d think she lived in a salon, literally nailed who I am in fifteen words.

For those of you who have not had the privilege to experience a thunderstorm in the Southern region of the United States – I hope you do someday. They are beautiful. Out of nowhere, unforgiving gray clouds encircle the endless sky, enticing bursts of sound and light in every direction. The rain with a scent so intoxicating, so vibrant you yearn to step outside to inhale as deeply as you can. But, if you’re educated by the ways of the countryside, you dare not step off of your porch, but allow the storm to capture your attention from afar. Leaving the security of your steps would be quite risky and with the aging Oak trees swaying helplessly in the sweeping winds, you can only imagine what they could do to you, the barefoot and sticky with sweat observer you are.

And then, almost as easily as the storm came, it leaves. Its noise, its electricity, its saturation, and its perfume trail off into a space beyond the Blue Ridge mountaintops you’ve never crossed. It is only then, when the branches rest from their dancing, the daffodils face the sun as it breaks through the clouds, that the real beauty reveals itself.

As everything comes back to life and still at the same time, and the color returns to the fields and the atmosphere…an echoing silence that’s as vivid and consuming as any sound on the Earth, captures the Southern afternoon. It’s simply quiet.

Perhaps the lady didn’t know what she was saying to me when she called me a summer storm, but something tells me that with her accent and the way she sipped her sweet tea – she did. When a relationship comes to a close, when a man leaves me before I’m ready to be left, when I don’t hear from a guy who I was convinced was intrigued by me, or when I feel like I failed at something I thought I deserved, I hear her words ringing loud and clear in my head.

Am I really as messy as a summer storm? Or is love the storm we all chase after, but never quite catch?

When I’m falling in love, I see myself enveloped in a tornado, shaking around aggressively, feeling the rush of lust wash away all of my fears, all of my insecurities, and capture me in a breeze I can’t (and don’t want to) fight. Instead of hiding behind a door, I dodge through it. I tease the storm with my laughter, with my ever-believing, ever-childlike spirit, and I feel unbreakable, unstoppable, and full of a fire I know could never be drowned with rainfall.

Until of course, I hear the thunder.

Or it shakes the ground so violently that mud splashes up against my calves. And lighting strikes a breathless few feet away from me, and though they say it never strikes twice, I start to remember what it’s like to feel the sting of heartbreak, to have that feeling in places you didn’t know existed that tells you “It’s over. It’s just so over.”

And like the same sweet child who ran to escape the unexpected summer rain and the disaster that often followed it, I dive back into my safe place with my hair and my cheeks damp, my mascara creating paintings on my face, and as if I wasn’t soaked enough – I cry. As if I wasn’t messy from the outside free-for-all I just came from, I shield my eyes with my grimy-hands, smearing the wetness even deeper. So deep it feels like it becomes ingrained in my blood and pours out of the hole that I hoped wouldn’t be put in my heart…again.

When I love, I love intensely. I love powerfully and profoundly. I make no excuses for how I feel and I give away pieces I should probably keep to myself – but I do it willingly. I do it with the rush of a hurricane, the destruction of a tsunami, and the intensity of a volcano erupting.

And I do it over and over again. With each and every single man who is lucky enough to be loved by the likes of a Southern summer storm.

In going through this journey, as raging and unpredictable as it seems to be, I thought I may lose some of my splendor. Some of that unyielding optimism that makes me believe my Mr. Right (who may be a Mr. Northern Storm, perhaps) exists, of that passion that helps me string together words and fight my way out of any disaster. I thought maybe, that tailwind that so many men, so many friends, so many people have often said they get mesmerized by…would leave with the addiction.

But then I realized, the best part of the storm isn’t the storm itself, but the calm that follows it. As much as a mess in a dress I am at times, especially when I’m drowning in a flood of new love, being a little cyclone means I find my peace eventually. I accept that no voyage, where it be one I travel alone or with a first (or fifth) mate, is ever safe from rocky waters. That while the storm will always rise, it will also fall – and it is there, you test your lungs and your legs out for size. And with the same strength that made the winds blow, the rain fall, and the leaves rattle and shake in all of the relationships I’ve experienced, I’ve been just as sturdy to stand after they were over.

To stop being a hot mess for a hot minute. To ring the water out of my hair and wipe away the stains on my knees, in between my toes, and on my fingertips. To step out of the drenched clothes and slip into something dry and warm. To open that backdoor and feel the summer breeze float through my ringlets.

And let myself inhale not only the end of the storm, but the colorful promise illuminating the sky. The one that makes you remember no matter how much hell a storm gives you or how much hell you are – there is always something waiting in the horizons you can’t see, in the cityscapes you always wished were in your view, but never quite were.

That somehow, no matter how detrimental the raging waters or how threatening the daunting clouds were – we’d never trade them for anything. Because without the storm, we can’t appreciate the sweet stillness that comes with the sun.

P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is making Valentine’s Day more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.

All of My Exes Are Closer Than Texas

I’d like to have a word with Mr. Zuckerberg.

No doubt the man will go down as one of the geniuses of my lifetime, as someone who greatly impacted the way people communicate and connect worldwide, and possibly, thanks to the movie, as a somewhat royal jackass – but sometimes, I wonder what life would be like without Facebook. For something so incredibly new – a mere seven years old – and already seem like such an important part of daily life for millions of people from Africa to Australia, is wildly impressive.

There are indefinite pros and cons to the technological revolution that makes sure connectivity is not just an option, but rather a saturation into normalcy. Do Facebook or Twitter serve as a novelty anymore – or are they officially acceptable methods of communication? Or if you’re anything like me, tools for stalking ex-boyfriends? Or those who I wish would have become boyfriends? Or both? Why is it that all of my exes aren’t far, far away in Texas, but super close on Facebook?

When Mr. Zuckerberg created Facebook, his idea was to keep people in touch -and perhaps he never thought implementing a section for “relationship” status would be as paramount as it is, but somehow, a single change or update has the power to completely make or totally break my day. And my confidence.

But worse of all, it can make me feel like every man who has ever loved me, I have loved, or was just momentarily a huge part of my life, has moved on. And here I am still stalking their Facebook.

Just from searching through the many social networks I’m signed up for, I can easily update you on the many Mr’s:

Mr. Faithful – still on the way to becoming a chiropractor, in a serious relationship with a gal I don’t know for over three years now. For Halloween, they wore matching outfits and during the many blizzards, they played outside each time. And took pictures.

Mr. Rebound – currently living in Chicago, accepted a great new job that he loves and was recently promoted to a higher position. In a relationship, though not sure for how long, with a lady who looks strikingly similiar to him. He appears to be balding, as well (she isn’t, for the record).

Mr. Fire – preparing for a move in May, seemingly still madly in love with the girl he posed in pictures with (in a hot tub, to be specific) a day after we broke things off. Still a hotshot in the sport he loves and apparently managed not to get pulled over by a cop for speeding a few weeks ago. And, both he and his Miss pulled for the Steelers last night.

Mr. Temporary– newly engaged, owns a house (wow!), and working in the school district he always dreamed he would. Looks like he recently got a puppy and has updates about what he eats, thinks, and breathes. Riveting, really.

Mr. Disappear– living in the same city and though he’s nearing the big 3-0, has yet to receive his Bachelor degree, and is in a relationship with a woman who is quite pretty. He happens to be completely bald, has a season pass to Nascar races (cringe), and hasn’t upgraded his taste in beer, so he’s still milking Bud. Ugh.

Mr. Smother – excelling in his career, residing in North Carolina, and recently started a relationship with a lovely blonde. Strangely enough, in the years that have passed since I cut things off, he hasn’t changed his profile picture. Not even once.

Mr. Fling – finishing up school after a medical bout and as charming as he is, has the ladies parading his wall constantly. I don’t blame them. And sometimes, I join them.

Mr. Idea – absoultely no idea  (no pun intended). He removed me as his friend, so thus communication paths are closed.

Central theme from the majority (minus one, actually) of these profiles? They have all entered into new relationships.

For most, the pairings are serious and they seem very happy with their new significant other, regardless of how significant I used to be in their life. A handful of them I still talk to, two or three I’d rather never speak to again, and maybe one I still wonder “what if” about. Regardless of how I feel toward these characters, I’m still connected to them and any information I want to know is at the reach of a click or a keyboard.

Well, maybe not any information, but the kind that makes me question what it means to really move on.

In an age where we’re bombarded and alerted to things we want and don’t want to know about – when can we officially say we’ve let go of any possibility, any longing, any angry or depressed sentiment, and have let the past be the past? Is it when we no longer feel the need to know what’s going on in their lives or when images of them newly in love don’t rock our hearts anymore when they show up on our feed?

For most of my exes, when we initially parted ways – I had to remove them from Facebook, block them from Gchat, delete every last email we exchanged and their phone number, stop following them on Twitter, and if we had a mutual friend that wasn’t that important to me, I’d go as far to ax them as well. I simply couldn’t bear to see the man I deeply cared about or allowed deeply in me…happy.

Or maybe not happy, but living their life without me. Okay, happily living their lives without me, while dating other people, and I was stuck being single. Because I wasn’t enthralled in the fire of a new romance or nearing happily ever after – anyone who once titillated my heart or my lovely lady parts – wasn’t allowed to be either. Because if they were in love or found someone they were interested in, that meant I hadn’t moved on and they had beat me in the mourning process. But relationships and especially the time needed to really let go of someone isn’t a competition or a race to the alter.

Or is it?

The measure of success after a relationship comes to an end isn’t determined by how quickly or easily you move from one bed, one embrace, one relationship status to another. It’s not measured by how much it hurts or doesn’t pain you to look at someone else experiencing romantic bliss sans you. Moving on isn’t defined by clicks, minutes spent stalking, or if you’re still intrigued by what’s going on in someone else’s life. Most living things are curious and if something is at your disposable or available through the world of webs, it’s natural to take a peek. If anything, it’s expected.

But instead of dwelling on the fact I’m single and dedicating an entire blog and year (or years?) to my life figuring out how to be content in my solo shoes, I’ve started asking myself a simple question:

Do I want to be that girl? Do I want to be the gal by his side? The one making out with him in a hot tub?

And that answer is even more basic than the question: no. I may not be falling head over heels, dreaming up visions of my future children, or deciding if I want chicken or fish, but I’m happy. Without a man. Without validation from another person. Without having to change my Facebook or make status updates about “my hubby” or how my boyfriend did something incredibly sweet.

Instead, my life, my Facebook, my social networks are about me. About the life I created for myself without depending on someone to build me up, boost my confidence or ensure me I could, in fact, reach my goals. I captured them just fine on my own – and frankly, wouldn’t have it any other way.

So regardless if everyone else is secure in their coupled-up oasis, for me, I know I’ve moved on, I’ve let go, I’ve released the ghosts of boyfriends-past because I don’t want to go back. Maybe more surprisingly, I’m not entirely focused on moving forward – but rather, setting my status, my updates about the things, the places, the people, the current life that means the most to me.

And that life, is just fine without someone writing on my wall, wearing matching outfits with me on Halloween, without having to fake an interest in the superbowl, without someone proposing to me, or inquiring about my whereabouts. It may be complicated at times, but it isn’t open, and it isn’t an exclusively non-exclusive relationship. It’s totally undefined by the Book of Faces or Twitterverse. It’s a life that I hope my exes stalk, so they see, regardless if you have a partner or you don’t, you can still find a love that brings you happiness. Even if it’s your own.

P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is making Valentine’s Day more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.

Flirting With Fire

Growing up as a fireman’s daughter, I was taught to steer clear of many things. Open flames, matches, fireplaces, ovens, and campfires, along with anything flammable. My father warned that fire, when it runs wild and uncontrollably, can destroy all in its tailwind.

And in those worse case scenarios, where flames engulf people – it could leave their skin, their touch, their feelings…numb.

As a child, the reality that if I played with fire and couldn’t stop it from growing, then I’d run the risk of not being able to feel my fingers was terrifying. Or maybe my toes, if they got too close to our woodstove. Or my elbow, if I accidentally dipped it in boiling water. Though I was (and still am, really) fascinated with the beauty of orange embers circling the air, I was very cautious and careful with how closely I teased their enticing flames.

But then, as all children do, I grew up.

And instead of literal blazes, the fire that I not only flirted with, but ignited and kept alive, was more in the form of men. These men, who at times lit up my life, and then also extinguished my hopes – were a lot more difficult to resist than the fires I was attracted to a decade before.

Maybe I should have known better and listened to my father, but I ended up proving him right. Sometimes, when you get too close to dangerous warmth and it burns you, a part of your heart and a fragment of your soul, feels like it dies. There have been moments, weeks, months, and even years, if I’m honest – where I was convinced the connection I had with one man, would never be sparked again in another. That because I was burned, I had these scars, these wounds I was still licking – and my heart wasn’t capable of allowing someone else in. Or my body wasn’t ready to make magic with another guy, until the ashes from the previous one were lost in the breeze.

But to have that passion and the velocity that can only come from intensity, is it worth flirting with fire? Is it worth risking the numbness we have all felt and we all fear? Is there a reason they don’t offer “grown-up” fire safety classes?

My newest co-worker, H, is what most people would identify as firery. She is brazen, bold, and when she walks into the office, she makes it known. She sits behind me and throughout the day, I hear her sales calls where she makes jokes with clients, and I’m constantly giggling at her energy. She has a way of lighting up the room – even on a Monday, and that’s saying a lot.

Last week, this firecracker pranced in and declared that she was jealous. One of her male friends had introduced her to his new girlfriend at a benefit they were attending, and at the point where she was to reach for his gal’s hand, she found herself dumbstruck and for a reason she’s yet to determine, she felt the green envy monster creeping its way out. Now, maybe this means she has feelings for her friend that she didn’t notice previously or she wasn’t prepared to know he was taken, regardless; experiencing jealousy wasn’t a bad thing for her – but a good thing.

With excited expressions and gestures, she said “I haven’t felt jealous in such a long time! I had forgotten what it felt like to feel like this…and it feels so good to feel something.”

At first, I was a little confused by the statement – as every dating book and article in any magazine I’ve read advises us to steer clear from envy, but then I thought about it. And I realized that after being numb or closed off from relationships or hiding from the opportunity for something more, there comes a point where we realize, we can feel again. Often times, when we’re not even trying or looking for it.

While physical flames that run rampant and uncontainable through forests and tend to piss Smoky the Bear off are irreversible, the fires we build with men we love can be destructive, but not permanent.

Sometimes, all it takes is a second, a glance, an encounter, or a simple brush against your hand – for you to recognize those third-degree burns, maybe weren’t so third-degree after all. That maybe, the band-aid can be taken off and you don’t need to run yourself under cold water, trying to put out the burning around your heart. Because perhaps, without realizing, you’ve healed yourself.

A large part of this journey and why I decided to embark on it in the first place was that I knew I needed to let go. Since I started dating at 15, there were (and admittedly still are), lesions from lost-love that I couldn’t let mend. Places in my heart and in my attitude that were scorched from the many men who I thought would love me endlessly, and merely turned out to be just another chapter in the book I don’t know the ending of.  And the saddest part about it was that I wasn’t even interested in repairing the burns. Somehow, my battle wounds gave me comfort as much as they gave me pain. In some respect, using the excuse that “I’m just numb” to any relationship, to any possible love, protected me from taking a chance. And if I did happen to go out on that limb and it broke, I could simply claim, “Well, this is just what happens to me. I find the fire, but it always gets put out.

Well – not anymore.

Because now, I know I can feel. And I know I can be burned. But more importantly – I know I can survive. Just because passion can grow and then wither away in an instant, it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth feeling it in the first place. Nor, can anyone, regardless of the burn degree or how widely the fire spreads – be forever numb from the flames.

No matter how hard we try or fast we run or how careful we are above our stoves or while making s’mores – the fire will always catch up to us. And if we’re lucky, we know that maybe fire isn’t such a bad thing but more so, a friend. Perhaps if we allow it to glow, first inside of us, giving us the courage to blaze new trails alone – one day, the love we’ll find – in ourselves or with a man, could be powerful enough that we stop being afraid of the flames. And maybe flirt with them, just one more time.

P.S. If you’ve linked to Confessions of a Love Addict, let Lindsay know for the “Support” page. Email her.

The Love-That-Got-Away: Mr. Fire

I’ve been trying to figure out all day how to begin this post and each and every single time I sit down to start it – I find myself lost for words. As someone who was born with a pen in her hand, this is out of the ordinary.

But then again, if I really think about my relationship with Mr. Fire – being speechless seems pretty fitting.

We all have that guy in our lives. The one we meet in some peculiar way and instantly, our whole world comes crashing down around us. Each barrier we set up to keep our hearts and bodies safe is utterly destroyed, and suddenly, we’re standing there exposed and vulnerable to any and every charm this man throws our way.

Mr. Fire and I met my sophomore year of college through the student newspaper, where at the time; I was serving as Lifestyles Editor. For whatever reason, I was on a local history feature kick and was intrigued by a bagel shop that had been in my college’s town for decades. After doing the central interview, I needed an extra angle from a current student who worked part-time at the shop. The place suggested a guy whose name I couldn’t spell to save my life, but somehow finagled my way to his Facebook – and three messages later, we had an interview set up.

He snuck up on me (much like the relationship that followed) by coming in the backdoor of our office and when I saw my friend M’s eyes light up, I knew he must be somewhat attractive. I spun around in my chair, tilted my head to the side, smiled, and said, “You must be Mr. Fire.” He nodded, went into a long speech (as he usually does) – and within a few seconds, I was hooked.

He was tall. He was funny. He had character. He was active and fit. He had a large group of friends. He was open. He made me feel comfortable. He listened. He challenged me. And about a week later, I found out he was a great kisser too. Our first official date was to a concert I had press passes for and he served as my “photographer” for the evening. As we attempted to dance to the music and he wrapped his arms around me, a little glimmer of hope inside of me said, “Maybe this will actually turn into something real.”

Our courtship or relationship or whatever you call it (we never defined it) didn’t last very long, but the impact it had on me was significant. The chemistry we had was so bursting with passion, with energy, with this complete connectivity that I couldn’t deny. He finished my sentences and widened my viewpoints. He had so many of the amazing qualities that I always desired in someone. And of course, when he kissed me – the world, literally stopped. It truly enforced that some people are meant to come into your lives, regardless of how long they stay, and change you.

During the time we were together, a lot of huge things starting happening in my life, for the better and for the worse. I went to my interviews in New York and he assured me I’d have killer success, and he also managed to keep me on the phone for two hours each night I was there (a huge feat for a New Yorker-wannabe like me). Before the interview for the position I’d eventually be offered, he sent me a “Go get ‘em Tigar!” text message that I kept long after our relationship ended. He encouraged my goals and told me about the trips he’d take to see me during my summer in my most favorite place on this planet. He may have even mentioned Versace and that made me fall for him a tad bit more.

And then, my dad went through one of the most difficult periods he’s ever gone through, and even though it was Easter break, Mr. Fire spent an hour on the phone checking up on me and ensuring that I was okay, breathing, and safe. Having experienced more loss in his own life than anyone should have to endure – he knew what page I was on.

When I returned from this horrible experience, he literally drowned me in gifts, food, and attention. He chased after my legs when we snuggled on his bed and tucked me into the inevitably inviting nook we all crave, and I was surrounded completely by just him. He picked me up in his kitchen, spun me around, and told me Don’t you worry. It will all be okay.”

And all was well and promising, until the morning it wasn’t.

I had spent the previous day at one his games (he played on a club team on campus), met his mother, and then went to a party to celebrate their victory. At the get-together, he seemed cool, distant, and unusually unaffectionate. Most of the time, he was always finding an excuse to touch me, wrap his arms around me, or steal a kiss –even in front of his friends or teammates. After one-too-many beers, we ended up back at his apartment, where in all of my 5’7”-glory (heels on, of course) – I demanded why he was acting so funny. When he failed to respond, I returned with half-rage by attempting to leave and walk home if he didn’t want to be around me. To this, he responded by scooping me up, calming me down, and making me fall asleep.

In the morning, I rolled over, looked up at him and apologized for acting ridiculous and questioning. To which, he stroked my head, kissed my forehead, and said the words no girl ever wants to hear from the man she’s falling hard for: “Linds, I think we’re moving too quickly.”

In a matter of days, everything I thought we were building together was all-but destroyed. At first, he needed space. Then he decided he could only talk to me on the phone, text message, and Facebook, but not see me in person (to which I replied: “Are you out of your mind?”). Finally, I decided we shouldn’t talk for a week so he could get his mind straight and figure out what he wanted.

And in the end, he didn’t want me. Because I was going to New York and he was staying overseas for a month over the summer – literally putting us on opposite sides of the globe – he thought it was best we didn’t explore a relationship. He also reassured me he wasn’t interested in anyone else and couldn’t (and wouldn’t) be dating anyone seriously….

…until a day later, pictures of him and another girl showed up on Facebook. And not just any girl, a girl I had been introduced to, hung out with, and he had made fun at some point. At the time, it was absolutely devastating and made me feel like the biggest fool in the entire world – but within time (like a few years), I forgave him. They are still together, nearly three years later, and seem incredibly in love, and for that, I’m happy for him (at least somewhat, anyways).

Before I graduated and moved my way to these big, bright, shining lights I love so much, we ran into each other at a neighborhood bar. We were both in serious relationships at the time, but he said he “at least owed me a beer,” and I agreed, but added, “And an explanation.” Over the course of several hours, we discussed what he felt, what went wrong, and he apologized profusely. At some point, he said, “I always regretted how I treated you, but I didn’t feel like I had something to offer you with your New York dreams. I know you’re going to go far and I don’t know how to be just a part of that.”

I’m not sure if this means he wasn’t “man” enough to step up to the plate or couldn’t handle a gal who was going places, but it does mean that we simply weren’t meant for one another. No matter how much passion, how much fire or intensity, or possibility I saw for us at one point – if someone can’t take you for who you are and love you, pride aside, they aren’t worth it.

He is an incredible man who I know will be successful in whatever he does and in whatever marriage he enters – and I hope when he thinks of our time together, he smiles. He remembers the energy. The love-that-got-away from both of us. And somewhere, down deep where we hold our most precious and sacred memories, I know that our flame of happiness and of hope that we sparked for each other – remains lit.

The Blame Game

As I’m preparing myself to go back through all of my important relationships, I find myself spending a lot of time parked in memory lane.

Now, for some of these relationships, enough time has passed and the initial sting of the end has long been gone and relieved. For others (or really just the last), the memories are incredibly vivid and the wounds are far from healed.

Thinking back on the men who have entered and exited my life, who I’ve loved and lost or let go, I’ve tried to figure out what patterns I’m continuing and how to learn from them. While the Mr’s have varied in looks, ages, occupations, and duration by my side – the way I’ve reacted after each relationship is basically the same.

I’m an active player in The Blame Game.

Somehow, when a relationship comes to a close – regardless if I ended it, he ended it, or we ended it together, I always seem to blame myself. If only I was more attractive, he wouldn’t have left me for her. If I would have slept with him, maybe he wouldn’t have moved on so quickly to her bed. If I would have given him another chance, maybe we’d be together and it all would have worked out. If I wouldn’t have said what I said or freaked out or over analyzed, maybe we’d be in love. If I wouldn’t have been so inquisitive, maybe he wouldn’t have felt smothered, and that I was “too much.”

If only I wouldn’t blame myself for everything that went wrong.

I catch myself saying sometimes, “You’re just not good at relationships.” Which is far from the truth because I don’t really think someone can be “good” at relationships, nor can they succeed or fail. Love isn’t like a test, a career, or a goal to reach –but more so, just something that naturally progresses in your life. Technically, no one is “good” at relationships until they find their person, but even then, it is not all smooth sailing, rainbows, wishes, and butterflies. Truth be told, relationships are work. Being a pro at them would mean you’re unaffected by arguments or struggles, and that’s not really a healthy union in the first place.

As hard as it is to not feel guilty for the end of a relationship, there is never a one-hundred-and-ten-percent person to blame for why things fall apart. To say you have no part or complete part is not giving the relationship or the love the credit it deserves. And, it is selling yourself way too short.

My mother has told me for many years, so eloquently, “You can’t screw up what’s meant to be, Linds.” While those words may not seem like much, they have comforted me in many dark hours, hysterical fits, and analytical trances. One of my favorite books is The Alchemist and in it, there is a line that says something along the lines of: when you’re truly meant for something, whatever it is, the universe aligns to make it happen.

So really, regardless of why a relationship went astray, who made a mistake, who fell out of love, or what argument caused the last straw to break the relationship’s backbone – all is working out just as it should. Even if we think someone is The One and for whatever reason, fate decides to craft a new plan; we can rest assured that something better is in store for us.

A lot of my recovery is based on speaking differently to myself and thinking more realistically and positively about old (and to-be) loves. Instead of blaming myself for the end of my significant relationships – I’ve discovered that turning around the approach can help tremendously.

Mr Curls broke my heart in the seventh grade, but I moved on just fine. Mr Faithful had my heart for three years, but after quite the epidemic, I learned to completely let go. Mr Rebound served his purpose and introduced me to college, but we’re able to be friends now with ease. Mr Buddy and I went down a path we probably should have steered clear of, but now we talk almost daily. Mr Fire may be the one who got away, but there is a passion (that doesn’t upset me anymore) that’ll remain…probably forever. And as for Mr Idea, though I may have sincerely fallen in love with him, what I learned was more important than our romance.

So who’s to blame? A little bit of them, a little bit of me, and a whole lot of fate.