The Long Winter of My Discontent

I talked before about peaking in high school, and that I could never be accused of such a thing.  University, however, is a different story.  It was one of the best times in my life and I had major accomplishments.  I served all four years in student government and, along with my best friend at the time, created an entire empire within the institution.  By our junior year, we controlled all swing votes both inside the Senate and when it came time for a popular vote of the government; we created our own propaganda machine that pervaded the whole population; I was one of the four main cannabis suppliers for the campus and had created a noncompetitive trade guild between us; I had one of the most fantastic girlfriends around.

College was nice.  It was a time to find myself and learn how to work a system that was larger than I had worked before.  After that came life – The System – and as most of us discover, it’s a daunting reality.  As my girlfriend had graduated six months before me and took a job in another city, I went there to be with her and try to find work.  I’d like to say that it was the beginning of the end, but the writing had been on the wall since college.  I just didn’t read it very well.

You see, my girlfriend was Japanese, which meant that a lot of what I was told was what she thought I wanted to hear.  A lot of who she tried to be, she tried to be for me, not realizing that was never what I wanted.  Retrospectively, I wish I had ended it my senior year, when I knew she wasn’t interested in marrying me.  Like a young romantic fool, I kept the faith.  Also because, when we’d fight, she’d tell me to have faith, and keep on keepin’ on.

Her job dissolved and I was lucky enough to find a great job an hour south of where we graduated: Queen City – The CLT – Charlotte, North Carolina.  It was at that time I decided it was best if she went back to Japan and I went on to my new life in Charlotte.  Again, all I got was, “You gotta’ have faith.”  So I did.  And, a year later, after she left for Japan and I was to follow a few months later to experience her culture with her, she abandoned me without any truthful explanation.  When I needed her to have faith, there was none to be had.  I was swindled.  It would take five years for me to learn the truth as to why she left – longer than the life of our relationship.  That simple truth is the one I just shared with you.

But before I got there, she told me in 2007 that she had to focus on work, but she quit her job six-months later.  She told her friends I cheated on her, but I hadn’t.  In reality, she did me a favor, in terms of my life…but at the time, it was like getting gut-shot.  Shortly thereafter, I replaced her with what was to become a series of destructive patterns in my life.  I remember, when I first hooked up with the girl after her, my father said something to the effect of, “So, Joseph got a puppy.”  Harsh.  True.  2007 was a gallows year for me and, to this day, it remains the worst year of my life.

A year after my dream of going to Japan had dissolved, I got a new dream.  I came to Taiwan.  Reasons for that notwithstanding, that’s when the real destruction happened.  It wasn’t bad enough that I was still having nightmares of my ex-girlfriend fucking my friends behind my back.  I had to be in denial of that black pitch eating away at my heart.  I was a man on fire who didn’t realize that everything he touched ignited.  I wanted to burn the world and didn’t even know it.

So, I did.  I didn’t care about anyone but myself – focused solely on myself – and did the “typical foreigner in Taiwan” thing for two years.  I was with so many girls that, by 2010, I had to make a spreadsheet to keep track, lest I feel like a complete douchebag (though, it was a bit of a catch twenty-two).  In reality, that sheet helped me a lot, to understand what I was doing and what I really wanted.  More blessings in disguise.  Though, at the time, there was nothing but self-hate being pushed onto the world around me for my lack of ability to retain a relationship I, in my naive head, saw as perfect.  I turned 29 in the winter of 2012, and that’s when she contacted me, not to explain what she had done, but to solicit my help in a massive problem in her life that she believed I was the cause of.

How did I ever love that selfish bitch?  I got lied to, again and again, and the only explanation offered up – years later – was that she did it because she was trying to be who she thought I wanted her to be?  It took her five years to tell me that?  It was all total bullshit: we just weren’t right for each other – it was that simple.  Being young and stupid, we were both in denial.  But that five years between 2007 and 2012 really fucked me up, because I felt it must have all been my fault.  I had no closure.  So I did my best to close myself off.

To this day, there are times where I (almost) accidentally refer to my girlfriend by my ex-girlfriend’s name.  I had it in my head for so long that she was “it” that I never stopped to think that I might just be a delusional idiot.  And, that being the basis of what I was looking for, for the five years following…talk about a bad idea.  It meant that I became outrageously picky, because I wanted to find what I thought was perfection when, in fact, I had no idea what I wanted because I never understood why I lost what I had!  Girl after girl was wrong for me, because I was looking for the wrong girl.

I didn’t want to settle.  I didn’t want to take a chance on something I didn’t see as perfect for me.  I was too stupid to realize I didn’t know what the fuck that was.  All the while resenting (and, resenting, to this day) friends of mine who kept in-contact with the girl who ripped my heart out and then wiped her ass with it.  Truth be told, it’s one of the reasons I didn’t keep in as close of contact with many of my best friends from college, and we drifted apart.  I felt betrayed, and just as I still have nightmares about her, I still feel my friends didn’t care enough about my feelings on the matter.  In fact, I now realize that my feelings, in general, were irrelevant to many of them – that we were all being selfish as Hell.

But, as my mother loves to say, it was a good learning experience.  I always tell her that, “experience is what you get when you’re busy not getting what you really wanted.”  It’s usually true.  In this case, it certainly was.  However, to be fair, I did learn a long during that Long Winter where my soul burned from the frost.  Am I over it?  Over it at least enough so I can write about it, in pretty full detail, since the events of 2007.  Over it enough so I can stop thinking about her?  Not that over it.  In the end, time passes and we move on.

I remember one of her favorite things to say was how the idea that time healed all wounds was bullshit, and that time just helped you to forget.  Those who know me know I have a memory that never forgets, and as such, I will never completely heal.  My perceptions were wrong, so my memory is now tainted with questions that can never be answered.  I continue to live life and try to let go of the past.  This is just one of those things.  Clouds only have a silver lining when the sun is behind them.

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