Whoever coined the phrase “It’s always darkest just before dawn” is a philosophical fucking genius… or a shitty scientist, since it’s not technically accurate. Either way, it sure is metaphorically true.
What you’re about to read is a true story. The names and dates have not been changed to protect anyone, because fuck it. I would like to share the following candid details of the last 8 years of my life with you in hopes that somehow it will encourage you to make positive life choices.
You see, I believe that every one of us manifest and live in our own personal heaven or hell. I’m not talking about white clouds and pearly gates, or fire and brimstone; I mean that we make a series of conscious and subconscious choices every minute of every single day that result in us being in the state of existence that we are in at any given moment. Some people believe these choices are guided by God, some believe that nature is taking its course, but one thing that we all can probably agree on is that free will comes into play.
As an example: You can choose to close this page right now and never read another word of this blog, or you can choose to continue… nobody is stopping you from doing either. The consequences of either decision are not serious, but I do encourage you to press on because this shit is about to get really embarrassing in a second.
Ok, enough hype… let’s get started.
I broke up with my last girlfriend 8 years ago and have spent the last 8 years a single man… And when I say “single”, I mean that I have not gotten past the first date with anyone in 8 fucking years – nearly 1/4 of my life.
The fucked up thing is I chose this.
I have made one irrational decision after another over these past 8 years to essentially cock-block myself. And for what? Mostly because I was so egotistic and delusional in my mid 20’s that I actually thought I deserved a super model/comedian/astro-fucking-physicist who could leap tall buildings with a single bound and perfectly grill me a medium rare steak with her laser eyes. My standards for date-able women were through the goddamn stratosphere.
When I broke up with my last girlfriend, I thought at the time that it was because I was in my mid 20’s and afraid of commitment. She was talking weddings and babies, and I just freaked out one day and called the whole thing off. I told her that I didn’t truly love her, I never could, and that she would be better off finding someone who can. Harsh, I know, but I was completely turned off by the thought of us growing old together, and I didn’t want her to waste any more time or tears on me. I did care about her, and simply considered it a dose of “tough love” for both of our sake.
Now I realize that fear of commitment was not really the problem. The problem was that she simply wasn’t good enough for me. That might sound terrible, but looking back, that’s what I was really thinking. I considered myself better looking, smarter, and more talented; so in my mind, she didn’t have enough to offer. Honestly, I still believe this to be true, but I ended up taking it to a whole new extreme, as I often do. The relationship lasted for four years, though, because she treated me like a king, and the sex was steady and took little to no effort to initiate. Does that sound like true love to you?
Oh, and did I mention that I haven’t had sex in 8 years either? Because I haven’t had sex in 8 years either.
I didn’t want sex clouding my judgement while on this ridiculous mission to find this unrealistically “perfect” woman, so I have remained abstinent. My plan was to simply avoid all sexual contact of any kind until I felt 100% comfortable with who I was and what I could contribute to a relationship, then find this “dream woman”. I concede, part of the reason was to avoid hurting another woman by letting her fall in love with me before totally shitting all over everything that she believed to be real, but mostly I was just being selfish.
Sure, I could be getting laid by random skanks – I’m a decent enough looking guy who’s capable of creating an online dating profile and paying for dinner – but that’s just not how I am wired. I was cursed with this nonsensical need to feel stuff about a girl before I’m willing or able to have sex with her. I’m a guy who doesn’t seem to get that his primal purpose on this Earth is to procreate, not have feelings.
The first couple of years into “My Epic Quest to Die Alone” (as I now call it), I was perfectly happy being alone and abstinent. I had 3 girlfriends from ages 15-26, with very little downtime, and desperately felt like I needed a break from the shackles of a relationship to smoke pot and play video games all night, every night. No longer was I going to let some girl plan my Saturday for me. Fuck that business! Regular sex was just not worth the price of freedom anymore. Too many men make decisions with their penis that tie them down, and I was no longer going to be one of those idiots… one of those loved, sexed, happy idiots…
Eventually, of course, the loneliness started creeping in. It started as just a Friday night thing, on my birthday, or when I had a really good day that I wanted to share with someone who would be happy for me; but eventually I found myself longing to be held, kissed and loved, more deeply than I ever imagined.
After 4 or 5 years of this, I developed a numbness to those sissy feelings. I would go about my day like a soulless ant, moving from task to task without ever really thinking about being loved or held again. Sure, I had some super fulfilling hobbies, like smoking pot and playing video games, but I had come to terms with the fact that I was going to die alone, and was simply existing.
“Foreveralone”, as they call it on the internet. The title was normally reserved for people who have no chance (in their mind) of having a significant other because they are physically hideous and socially inept. It’s a seemingly impossible endeavor to them, so at some point in their lives they just gave up trying. I, on the other hand, was just being a fucking idiot; sabotaging my own love life at every turn in the name of freedom and refusing to settle.
Before I set out on “My Epic Quest”, I was so obliviously headstrong that I actually thought depression – clinical depression – was nothing more than a product of a weak mind. “Pffft… I certainly don’t have a weak mind”, I’d tell myself. I was seriously convinced that all depressed people needed to do was simply “snap out of it” and go find happiness.
Then, 6 years in, my dog (and best friend I ever had, Petey) died in my arms, I was laid off from my job, and I quit a pack-a-day cigarette habit cold turkey; all over a span of about 3 months.
My life was now a steaming pile of shit and I had nobody to blame but myself. No girlfriend, no job, no sex, no money – my savings was blown on moving across the country and back for a “dream job” that I quit after only 3 months because it “didn’t feel right”. I ballooned up to over 270 lbs. at 6’3”, and like many introverts, only had a couple of friends. Aside from the new puppy I adopted to fill the void left by Petey’s passing, I was completely alone and absolutely miserable.
Ah… so, THIS is what depression feels like… I fucking hated it.
When Petey died, I made a promise to him and myself: The next dog I get would have the coolest little life I could possibly give him. I made a number of mistakes with Petey in his early years, some of which I believe contributed to the incurable liver disease that he eventually died from, so I owed it to him. After 14 months of unemployment, I started working again, and I refused to let my puppy (Bob) share the same daily routine of sitting at home waiting for me to return, so I found full-time dog daycare for him.
That’s where I met Rose.
The first time I saw Rose, my heart bungee jumped through my body. I felt my stomach knot up and my knees weaken as it traveled down to my toes, back up into my chest and wedge itself in my throat, briefly preventing me from speaking, then back down again for another trip. Not just because she has a pretty face and a tall, slender frame; but also because she has the aura of an old, weathered soul that only comes from fighting and winning some serious battles in her life and lives past. Attractive? Check… Check PLUS.
I had spent about 7 years talking to women asexually up to this point, so when I met Rose I was not at all prepared and had no fucking clue how to talk to her. I spent the first few interactions uncomfortably laughing at her jokes and fumbling over the few words my stupid brain could manage to spit out. Every time I left the daycare after seeing her, I left feeling like a complete idiot. I’d get in the car and sigh to my dog, “Well, Bob, I really fucked that one up… AGAIN…”
There were other problems too; I really liked this daycare facility for Bob, and thought Rose was 10 or so years younger than me; so rather than screw it all up by being the fat, creepy, older guy who hits on the pretty, young girl behind the counter, I worked really hard to suppress my feelings for her.
Then came a charity dinner to benefit a cause we both held dear, sheltered animals, and I was invited by the daycare owner to join their party. I knew that meant Rose was going to be there, so I was very nervous leading up to that night, but when I arrived I was absolutely petrified. I was thrown a little curve ball too; it seemed a friend of the daycare owner was trying to hook me up with her daughter. I was flattered, but not at all interested, so when we filed into our seats I slowly slithered my way back to Rose so that I would be seated next to her and across the table from the matchmaker’s daughter. Success! I managed to sit right next to Rose and had nobody on my other side, so she got my undivided attention. “Now, just don’t fuck this up”, I told myself.
I totally fucked it up.
As usual with Rose, I was fumbling through the conversation, sweating like crazy. The only thing I did right that night was ask a lot of questions, so I really got to know her better. But of course, at the end of a pleasant night of getting-to-know-you chit chat, I couldn’t muster up the courage to ask her out. I walked to my car with my head down, furious with myself. That’s when I knew that I needed to do something. I wasn’t sure what that something was, but waiting around wasn’t getting me anywhere, so I had to make some changes.
Even if I were to take the leap and ask her out that night, I had very little to offer. I was overweight, depressed, broke, and a total pothead at the time. That wasn’t the real me. I was someone that I didn’t like, so why would she like me? I needed to be someone who a girl like this would want to get to know better; someone I was proud of. As my boot camp Drill Instructor would scream, “It’s time to unfuck yourself!”
It was, indeed, time to unfuck myself.
Over the next 10 months or so I worked really hard to get back to a healthy weight. I stayed on a strict low carbohydrate diet, walked a few miles every day, and toned up with body weight exercises at home. I also quit smoking pot, and made an effort to contribute to society in a positive way by mentoring young people online – everything from parental dispute advice to suicide watch.
I was finally becoming someone I was proud of. Not just back to the old me, but a new and vastly improved version of me. Remember, before “My Epic Quest” began, I was a selfish, arrogant asshole.
Then one day Rose sent me a Facebook friend request. “JACKPOT!” I thought. This was my chance to really get to know her. Oh, but I was not prepared for what I discovered as her Facebook friend.
It turns out this girl is not only beautiful, smart, funny, strong and caring, but she had just finished up her Business degree requirements, and I discovered by reading her blog posts that she is an incredibly gifted writer, so she’s driven and talented too. I damn near expected to find out she has laser eyes at this point… “Ok, that’s the final straw”, I actually said out loud to Bob. “If I don’t ask this girl out, I will be kicking myself for years… maybe forever. It’s time to make my move.”
I started out by liking her status updates and blog posts, leaving encouraging comments that she seemed to appreciate. Everything else aside, I really love her writing, so it was very easy to be encouraging. I probably laid it on a little thick, but she doesn’t get much feedback, and I wanted her to know that I really think she has a serious talent and like her work a lot.
I eventually mustered up enough courage to send her a private Facebook message with the intention of striking up a conversation. “So why don’t I see you at (Bob’s daycare) much anymore?” I asked. This led to a four hour online chat that was exactly what I had longed for with her. We laughed, I cried (over my dead dog, give me a break!), and we revealed much more about ourselves and our past than I ever expected when I sent her that quick message. At the end of that epic chat session, I finally asked her out.
She said yes.
I did it. I stopped waiting around for my life to magically come together on its own and made shit happen. I totally unfucked myself. Not for Rose, but largely because of her. She inspires me to be a better person and I’ll always be grateful for that. Will we live happily ever after? Who the hell knows… My real “quest” was never to land an amazing girl like Rose; it was to be the kind of guy who I am proud of.
(Late edit: I actually ended up changing her name after she read this post and told me that she was uncomfortable with her real name being used. Sorry, Rose!)