Fools

If we rush in, call me the greatest fool. Are those wise men in love at all? Do they know what it’s like volunteering to drive through the night just to catch the morning light in your eyes?
If I’ve learned anything in my life it’s that love is utterly irrational.
Love left me terrified, dumbfounded, hysterical, completely incapacitated, and the happiest I have ever been.
Am I such a fool to love? No. I would be such a fool to have lost you.

Continuing.

I once wrote a letter. It contained my deepest thoughts and feelings about you… and I never sent it. I wanted to, trust me, but ultimately, it’s now tucked into my journal—the pages torn from being carried around for so long—and it’s going to stay there, invisibly so.

I think I wrote it wrong. I think I was right to leave you be, but again, I was wrong to believe that letter could change something. I’m not sure what it was; that you’d finally understand why I was so hurt, that you’d empathize and feel for me, or that I’d convince you to love me.

But I couldn’t do that to you. Deep down I knew the truth—even if I couldn’t live with it. Even if they were the most powerful words I’ve written, I knew they wouldn’t move you. Maybe that’s why I stopped writing—if I couldn’t make you feel, I couldn’t make anyone feel.

Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for people to not talk after a breakup. We rely so heavily on a partner to be there, and then one day they’re not. Even when we are restricted from communication we seek that rush from our ex’s name popping up on our phones—even when we claim we don’t. We want their attention, their love, and we want their time to be our time once again, but with one slip up, we crave more.

That’s the tip of the iceberg of my fears in reaching out to you. If I told you I didn’t spend hours upon hours thinking of the right words to say leading up to that day, I’d be lying. However, that day, somehow, the words poured out of my fingertips. Completely different ones than you’d find in that letter, but ones that felt right. As always, things were so easy when it came to you.

They weren’t romantic and they didn’t plead or explain more than you needed to know, but they were honest. They told you what was going on, explaining that it wasn’t an option for me to reach out—that I couldn’t be more grateful for you to exist because of who you are and what you did for me.

I had no fear in your response—unknowing that I’d ever get one. I didn’t need one because I knew the words did nothing but good for you and me. I felt good, but I have never felt so great to read the reply. I felt pardoned of a crime I spent sentenced to for one year; a crime you now wrote that I never committed.

I tortured myself for that year. Countless time was spent wondering what I did, how things ended in that way, and how imperfect I really was, but you said it wasn’t me or anything I did. Things just had to be that way because they did and I believe you now because I’m unable to write a different reality.

On the phone we once talked for hours about space as a metaphor for relationships. I told you how gravity is my favorite force because it’s infinite. Everything is pulled towards everything, but sometimes other variables get in the way of two objects meeting.

I told you then that if you were a shooting star (which you are), that all of the objects you pass are attracted to you, as you are of them. Sometimes you’ll pass an object and feel such a strong pull that you’ll loop into it’s orbit. Sometimes you’ll pass an object and never see it again.

Life has moments that must be appreciated in the now because we’re unaware of so many of our orbits. If they’re lasting, then we must appreciate the objects that pull us so. If they’re fleeting, then that short time was an infinity among itself.

You thanked me for being who I am and helping you to see who you are. Our two-text interaction was the capstone to everything we lived—the months of sleepless excitement, the days of butterflies throughout our bodies, the hours of video chat dates—all timing down to two texts.

Just as you and I continue on, so will the words you find here. They’ll describe new eyes, serendipitous moments, and other adventures of the heart, but our gravity will always be there, shaping and moving us, even invisibly so.

Day 17

I watched the sunlight sneak around the blinds and slowly creep along the white walls beside the window. We always smiled at the way the light casts long shadows from our picture frames, like they were slowly waving at us before we woke enough to speak a word to each other. But this morning, just as the light touched a picture of us, my heart dropped.

It was you and me at your cousin’s wedding. We were “big cheesing,” as you called it, and you were holding me—exactly how you had me all night. My hands were in yours as we greeted your extended family or your hands were around my neck as we danced to every pop hit, throwback, and guilty pleasure they played. The smiles were real and the picture was no lie—it was bliss captured in one moment.

It was the future I saw because it made sense. It was your family, with me, and our happiness… I thought you framed it to remember that… to know it would happen. And now I don’t know what more you could have wanted.

I shouldn’t have watched the sun through the blinds, knowing where it shines, but I’m not sure what else to do. I don’t sleep and there’s not much else in the apartment to look at anymore. I should take the picture down. I’ll do that later today.

My days have felt fake recently, like I’m living the life of someone more dramatic than myself. I drag my feet to work and zone out in front of the computer. It’s not like me to realize I haven’t eaten anything… oh, well, it’s 3PM. Yeah, it’s not like me to realize I haven’t eaten anything at 3PM.

I don’t care what plans I am, or more recently, am not invited to. There are either fewer happy hours in our friend group these days or I’m just not included in them. But I get it. I’m not happy for many of my hours, sharing friends is complicated, and I’d rather not bring everyone down anyway.

I’ve avoided my phone recently, which I guess is good. There’s a sting when I look and see no notifications—not that I’m hoping to have one from you—that’d probably make me throw up. Instead, I’ve been looking around more.

Today, I noticed the full moon start to rise as I left work. I don’t know what it is about daytime moons, but they remind me of the summer from when I was little. There was no school, no work, no stress, and no plans. I was living for the day and to start anew tomorrow. I wished for a day like that.

When I get home I sit and tell myself I’m going to read or apply for jobs, but I don’t have the effort for either. Instead, I throw on a useless show meant for someone utterly addicted to television and allow my brain to rot. We used to call this place a home and now it feels like a cemetery for my former life.

I shower around 9PM, thank god, and I remember I told myself I’d take that picture down. When I walk into our room I hold the frame for a minute and wonder what thought it was behind your smile that would have you leave me like you did. I place it on the floor of the linen closet and climb into bed, anticipating the thoughts that will surround me as I try to sleep tonight.

I know I’m not okay, but I’m better than I was yesterday. Every day is easier than the last, until one day really screws with me, but I’m generally getting better. I wonder how you’re doing all the time. I shouldn’t, because of the circumstances, but I know it can’t be easy for you, even if you’re pretending to be fine.

We loved each other, and fought, and made up, and loved more. With every high was a low I knew we’d get through together, but now that we’re alone, I just want the best for you. There were secrets in our lives only we knew, and no, that shouldn’t keep people together, but that’s still sacred to me.

I’ll admit I still love you because our memories are hardest to let go of… and I’ll admit I don’t want to let go of them either—I just want them to be older memories that I can admire from afar. You were my person for so long that I forgot what it’s like to be my own and re-learning that is why I struggle.

As I lay, I look around and realize you’re not in this room anymore. I think I feel a little less haunted because of it. The moonlight is creeping across the now vacant wall we occupied like a paintbrush over canvas and I wonder if tomorrow will be good or bad to me. Just as I wish for the good, my world is swallowed by dreams of the summer and full moons rising before nightfall. I dream of your face, smiling, and suddenly, of nothing at all.

How to Manipulate Anyone into Loving You

I say this all the time: I am so grateful for the people who surround me. When I’m with these people I feel justified, challenged, and loved. The comfort that comes with finding those who match what you are looking for in lifelong friends is like finding a dozen soulmates you can be yourself with, endlessly.

So, how did this happen? I’ll get into it, but fortunately for me, it runs in my blood. My greatest credible example comes from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, in which my great-grandfather’s business model is featured.

Business men are learning that it pays to be friendly to strikers. For example, when two thousand five hundred employees in the White Motor Company’s plant struck for higher wages and a union shop, Robert F. Black, the president [my great-grandfather], didn’t wax wroth and condemn, and threaten and talk of tyranny and Communists. He actually praised the strikers. He published an advertisement in the Cleveland papers, complimenting them on “the peaceful way in which they laid down their tools.” Finding the strike pickets idle, he bought them a couple of dozen baseball bats and gloves and invited them to play ball on vacant lots. For those who preferred bowling, he rented a bowling alley.

This friendliness on President Black’s part did what friendliness always does: it begot friendliness. So the strikers borrowed brooms, shovels, and rubbish carts, and began picking up matches, papers, cigarette stubs, and cigar butts around the factory. Imagine it! Imagine strikers tidying up the factory grounds while battling for higher wages and recognition of the union. Such an event had never been heard of before in the long, tempestuous history of American labor wars. That strike ended with a compromise settlement within a week—ended without any ill feeling or rancor.

Carnegie, D. (1940). How to win friends and influence people. New York: Pocket Books.

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed the National Industrial Recovery Act, which allowed employees to form unions and petition for their rights. This meant that all good business leaders should have been preparing for walk-outs. Black was not president of the White Motor Company until 1935, the year the company’s strike began, but by that time there had been hundreds of strikes in the U.S. for him to learn from.

Being the heart of The Great Depression, the guy could have ruined the lives of those strikers. He could have used his power to hire new employees at the same wage as the strikers. He could have moved on, leaving all 2,500 workers to unemployment, and yet, he didn’t.

Black understood that his best move was to learn from the mistakes of other companies in order to stay afloat. From a human to human level, what was the greatest concern for the strikers? Well, what better way to learn than to ask them himself?

Providing activities for his employees allowed Black to step in and talk to the strikers in their environment. He got to understand their needs and kept his employees’ minds off of their struggles while resolving the real issues at hand. His tactics were authentic and real and effective.

Maybe Robert F. Black knew it’d cost him more to train 2,500 new men and gave his strikers baseball bats so they would stick around. Maybe they would even feel guilty that they’re enjoying themselves while their families became closer to starving with every passing day. It’s possible… but I don’t believe coercion was Black’s tactic. I believe he wanted to be a good person and get what he wanted.

Black was accommodating for his employees; he created carpool programs, learned people’s names, allowed anyone to enter his office, and opened the workplace for women to take their husband’s positions once deployed in WWII. He was approachable, he cared, and he retired as a beloved President.

Be it nature or nurture, I understand why my great-grandfather did what he did. I believe it was incredibly brilliant from a business perspective to end the strike as early as possible, but on a human level, the guy aligned his actions with how he understood his strikers wanted to be treated.

Now, my word choice in the title of this piece is purposefully problematic. Manipulation is the use of control over another person to influence change in their favor. This means a manipulator understands what brings a person to act, and uses that as leverage to get what they want. It is a dangerous, dangerous word that leads to the despair of at least one person, and the inauthentic satisfaction of another.

It’s hard to see manipulation when you’re in the middle of it, be it from one side or the other. When you want something, you want it, and that may be a blinding goal to some, especially when the manipulator sees their manipulation affirmed in action.

I often take a step back to see the course of my actions and ensure that what I am asking of others doesn’t cross their desires. I think it’s something everyone should do because it’s so easy these days to make others feel the way that we want them to feel, not the way they would otherwise feel (especially to the people we know and care about most).

I am easily manipulated in romantic relationships. I know I am, and I often allow it to happen because I want others to be happy. What I am learning more though, is that giving people what you believe they want is not giving people what they want, especially if you don’t get what you put into your relationship; friendship or otherwise.

To get back to the big picture, how can one manipulate another into loving them? From one side, or the other, you can’t. You can only be your authentic self and allow whatever comes into your life to be the real thing. There are no shortcuts, but you can be a good person who levels with others in order to understand their circumstances.

I believe that’s how I managed to scrap together the best people in the world. My friends are the glue to my universe, and I try my best to let them know I feel that way. I didn’t have the quality of friends growing up as I do now. They were hard years with sprinkles of good, but were years I learned how friends shouldn’t treat others.

As I understand myself more, I see the goodness in others that I strive to have myself. There’s a quote that goes, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” As I grow, I’m beginning to see how true that is of every quality I want in myself, and how acting by example keeps me in the lives of those I refuse to lose.

Maybe that’s how my great-grandfather felt about his employees. Maybe his circumstances didn’t limit his ability to learn from others. After all, the actions of Black’s employees were as significant a movement as Black’s efforts to settle the strike.

The View

I think of you when I’m up here.

I believed I would find a person who always made me think of them when I travelled anywhere, and now I do, without you as mine.

You’re in the breeze and the view I thought I’d share with you. You’re in the sun and the ground we would have made ours.

You were the one who I believed in, and now the breeze is empty, the view is mine, the sun rests behind a cloud, and this ground belongs to no one.

Still, I think of you when I’m up here, believing in things that once were.

Update.

I write, but here is the complete background as to why I write. The following is an honest reflection from the most major turning point in my life. It’s longer than I wish it was, but I believe many people will be able to relate, and nobody talks about this stuff, and that should change.

In college, I experienced a stage of depression that was only seen by me, alone, when my friends, professors, coaches, staff, anyone, was not around. I created a lonely world to carry in my shell of a body behind a smiling mask. It was caused by years of neglect to my mental health from loss and less than great luck, all out of my control.

What was in my control was the way I acted in response to all of these terrible things. I believed that if I pushed through with a happy outlook that they would just go away. I didn’t know what to do otherwise and it worked for years—until it didn’t.

Fast forward to the summer before my junior year of college. I was home in upstate New York. It was beautiful out every day, but a voice in my head told me to stay in my room, all the time, so I did. I avoided responsibilities I should not have, but that voice told me I didn’t deserve the things I once earned: a scholarship, social life, happiness. In my head, I was living the life someone else should have, so I drove around aimlessly or stuck to the couch.

When August came around I understood that I couldn’t go back to school in the physical shape I was in and pass as a runner for (one of) the best collegiate running programs in the country. The only apparent solution to keep the life I was living was to put myself in harms way and hope an injury would prolong facing the reality that I could no longer compete as a Division I athlete.

(Side note: If this was a movie, like so many others who have gone through much worse than I did, this moment would be the one where I find someone to confide in who tells me it’s all okay, so I lace up my shoes, dig deep, and make the Olympic Trials. However, my life is not a movie.)

That was the summer I hit my lifetime-low. I can’t go into details, but I did the most stupid stuff all to avoid my actual illness. I screamed at the top of my lungs and broke down when I failed at… failing. I couldn’t do anything to avoid my mental state anymore.

My family couldn’t afford the university I still had two full years to complete, but this was the one thing I could not give up. I am ashamed to say I put on my mask for one more grueling week and buckled up on the long drive to PA.

After my parents and I moved everything into my dorm we went to lunch. They originally planned to leave after, but instead, I broke down in the diner not too far from campus and told them I couldn’t run. The looks I received as I said for the first time how depressed I was were not of embarrassment or disappointment, but complete and utter understanding. Instead of scolding me, we sat for hours in the car outside the diner brainstorming ideas. The first was to talk to my coach.

I have always known that my parents love me. I knew they would do anything for me, but this was the first time I understood it. It was the first time I felt like I had people on my team in my world of lonely.

I talked to my coach and explained how I felt. I explained how I tried to be the mentally tough athlete she thought she recruited, but how I failed. I explained how much I love the team and how I would do anything to help in any way I actually could, and she… understood.

In any of the ways I imagined the conversation, I never thought this actual outcome would happen. I know she was upset, but she didn’t say anything that would hurt me when I was at my most vulnerable. She set aside her frustrations to help me, told me I was not the first athlete this has happened to, and together, we figured out what we could do to keep me around.

The woman is one of the best coaches in the running world. Point blank. She is a huge reason why I went to Villanova in the first place. However, I’ve been on her chopping block before. It’s not a great place to be, especially when I felt like most misunderstandings were miscommunications. But humans are emotional creatures and she did everything to protect her team in the way she believed best. Knowing how truly understanding she is when someone’s life is breaking down in front of her, and coming up with a solution to help, just shows how good of a person she is as well.

I became the cross country and track team manager for my remaining time at Villanova and I loved it. Despite being offered to keep my scholarship through senior year, I couldn’t. The guilt of taking money from an athlete who put in the effort was too much. Instead, my parents and I figured out how to pay for my degree after giving up my scholarship (hello student loans). Giving up the scholarship was a big blow to the younger Amanda inside, who worked every day of high school for that opportunity, but it was what present day Amanda needed. And those efforts brought me to where I was in the first place, so it was not a complete loss.

Despite all of this track talk, I still had real demons to take on. They were the voices that kept me shut in, even though my academic future was secured. I had one person at school who I wasn’t afraid to be me in front of. She was my professor from second semester sophomore year, and somehow, unexplainably, I slowly opened up to her about everything. Her name, for the sake of her privacy, is Anna.

Anna was young and cool, but brilliant and had herself together. She accidentally swore once in class, then laughed about it, and I felt how real she was. I don’t remember how I began to open up to her, but over time, I could be crying in Anna’s office one minute and laughing in the next. She never judged me, but told me when my head was lying to me. She also suggested therapy.

I had been to two therapy sessions before, and they didn’t do much for me. I was skeptical and really concerned that the listener would judge me or tell someone a dark secret to ruin my life. But when Anna suggested it, she was more or less saying, “No, you’re doing this,” so I signed up for counseling at my college’s health center.

When I had my first session I walked into (let’s call her) Nicole’s office, sat down, and bawled. I cried for 10 minutes before we properly introduced ourselves. She was young and adorable and I couldn’t help but to feel as if she didn’t know what she signed up for. I felt as if I was going to ruin every one of her Wednesdays with whatever baggage I’d unload in that room.

However, that was a voice in my head. That was the illness trying to hold on to the things that would keep it alive. Nicole told me that. She went through all of my concerns, even about being in therapy, and over time, we went through more issues that I even knew I had.

I had days in Nicole’s office that were solely dedicated to happy things. Real happy things. Days when I didn’t cry. I looked forward to every Wednesday because Nicole allowed me the space to say what those voices told me, and break them apart to their figmented reality. Some days were harder than I ever thought possible, but possible they were, and I’d dash to Anna to tell her about my progress and thank her for suggesting this in the first place.

It couldn’t have lasted. Nothing does. But I was in such better shape when Nicole told me that she and her husband were moving to Texas. I was happy for her—it’s where she was from and where she wanted to settle down. I took the following semester off from therapy, which is also when I took screenwriting.

I loved screenwriting. The quirky formatting came naturally to me and I could place little parts of myself in these stories with any outcome I wanted. In this class, I was creating a reality of any shape I liked. The idea of being a writer never occurred to me before this class. Stories and communicating were abstract concepts before I studied Communication, which is part of why I loved it.

I went to the bookstore and got a journal that felt like it’d always been mine. I could finally give purpose to my insomnia and write in the middle of the night when I’d normally stare at my ceiling. I could whip my phone out any time of the day and jot down something short just because it came to me. Writing opened a door where my demons could leave their footsteps in ink on a paper in front of me, then trot off and never return to my brain again.

I don’t know if I was really good because I never wrote before. If I received a compliment I thought about a quote I heard about good writers being mentally unstable people. I loved writing, but I didn’t want to reveal to the world how injured I was. So I kept it to myself, until I finally let it free.

During my last semester of undergrad I took a Voice & Diction class. We practiced the way we speak to articulate better in the case we were ever to perform or speak publicly. For one assignment we could write our own speech or story. My heart started glowing for the first time in years.

I performed a piece I wrote based on a modern day “Catcher in the Rye.” Before that class, the story was never going to leave my laptop, and suddenly it was in the minds of every person in that classroom. Their applause felt more real than any crowds’ while standing atop a podium after Track and Field Nationals.

During dinner at the cafeteria that night, one girl from that class came up to me and told me how much the piece meant to her. She told me I had to share it, and to keep writing. It was one girl. One girl who didn’t know me changed me forever.

Later, I posted the piece to Facebook. I received notes from the most random people I never believed would care, but did. I realized there was something there, so I kept writing. Some pieces felt better than others, and most stayed saved as drafts, rather than free for the world to read. I was just happy to have found something that makes me happy.

So I write. I write about things that are hard to write about. I write about private things, fictional things, and things that are such small details of life and all I care about is telling a story that relates to others.

You might be asking, “So why did I read this?”

Good question. I didn’t expect to wake up and bust out this piece for three hours on this Sunday morning, but if you have noticed (or haven’t), my blog has been down for months. Voluntarily (sort of).

This piece exists to remind myself, and to remind you, that you should never give something up that means the world to you. Even if I don’t make a profession out of writing, doing this makes me feel good. It alleviates my anxieties, it grounds me, and it makes me feel connected to other people who live similar lives.

We don’t talk about things like mental health as much as we should, but that’s only part of why I’ve written this. I’ve written this because nobody should make you feel like something so (truly) healthy for you is not. I’m writing this to say that I gave up writing because it was misunderstood by my partner. That it was easier to shut this blog down than to fight about why I needed it.

I write about personal things—things from my past—but I am a human that is so much more complex than the words you’ll find on this page. I’m different than these words. They are stories. At times they are my platform to vent, but only venting after I let a story sit in my draft box for months, ensuring I want that to be available to anyone.

I write about love, but writing about love does not mean that I still live in those feelings. Sometimes I do, but in a weird way, like I have digested the story and it is now just a part of my past.

If I am romantically with someone, I am wholly with that person. I am grossly loyal and believed doing anything for my partner would help me feel loved. It didn’t. It’s one of so many little things I now know, but this is who I am, and sacrificing myself to secure ~less than myself~ in a relationship is something I will never be able to do again.

So I write, and now I’ll be around a little longer.

Orbits.

I wanted you to contact me. I wanted us to cave again, even if it meant distance and heartbreak and confusion again. That was better than longing for something I cannot see.

No, it’s not fair, and yes, everything would have to change, but it’d be worth every ounce of trouble for me to have you.

The way I felt about you made me question if I ever loved before. And living beyond my time with you was like watching a shooting star blaze by in the night sky and then watching the void just for a glimpse of something more miraculous to come.

I don’t know how to handle my life without the light you gave me. As my life screams signs pointing to you, I wonder if your life returns arrows in my direction.

I closed this chapter with you. I thought it was over and my lesson learned, but what if your orbit centers near me? What would we do if our star illuminated the world? What if we could see and it was all clear?

Aches.

It was an old ache. An old, rumbling, roaring noise of an ache. The kind of war-wound type of ache you only know exists if you live through the pain and it’s slight recovery from the living hell of your life to the feeling that lingers and acts up when the weather does.

You were that ache. You left me different and there’s no denying it, and I wish you hadn’t, but you did.

Like the thunder of a summer storm, I felt the pain shuttering throughout my body. It started in the cavity of my chest and burned slowly to my throat, to my knees, and out to my extremities.

I watched my body decay to my feelings for you and acknowledged my embarrassment to myself when I admitted it resurfaced. I missed you, and there was nothing I could do to fix this old wound without gashing it wide open.

And that’s where I stand now. Wounded, but living. Living, but aching.

From AG with Love

I’m not sure you care—if you’re even reading this—but I had to put it out there because I feel the last of our cords wearing down. They were once wound so tight together that we couldn’t tell which half was yours or mine. Then we tugged, and pulled, and tore what was only our own until our knot was beat and bent and thin, and slowly, but surely, breaking.

We could never see what bound us, but the last of whatever it was is almost gone, so these are my last words to you—if you even care—if you’re even reading this.

I once wrote to tell you about the handful of things I know for certain. There are only a few—I wrote them all in one list—and then I stated that everything else is an educated guess. The final one was that you are beautiful. I promise that has not changed, in any sense of the word. I hope you feel that way every day.

I once wrote you a letter. I finished five pages around 2:30 in the morning the day after we stopped talking. A very good friend told me to wait on sending it; to see if I still felt as if the words on those pages were ones you needed to read a week later. A week passed and I still felt that way, and yet I couldn’t drop the letter in a postbox.

One month later, I went to a tiny, corner cafe to read the letter, expecting to find myself with different emotions than the ones I had that drove me to write them, but as I sat at this tiny table by the door in this tiny cafe, I felt everything. As if I would find answers why, I glanced around and saw nothing that said anything. A friend met me at this tiny cafe and read the letter. She cried, and I felt like I ruined her morning, so we spent the rest of the day bopping around the city making each other feel better. If anyone, the friends we open up to are the ones who deserve the world and all of its happiness.

I didn’t realize it, but I carried the letter with me for the month after as well. It wasn’t until a week ago when I was frantically searching for my wallet before driving home from someone’s house that I saw it. I froze for a second, taking in the picture as a whole. The girl I’ve been seeing saw me hesitate, and I felt her curiosity just as I reached around once more and miraculously pulled out my wallet. She didn’t know, but you were in that room then, and as we left and closed the door, you didn’t stay there. You came with me this time.

For the past week my closest friends know I’ve been struggling to not think about you. One has encouraged me to cut every tie. So I don’t think this letter is intended to start a dialogue between us. I’m not sure if it’d help either of us, not that you need help. I don’t know much about your life anymore, which is strange to think about, but I imagine you don’t need help.

There were months that I knew your every move, or somehow made them with you. You would FaceTime me on trips to the grocery store before pregames or out on the beach in Santa Monica. You showed me the landmarks in your city and drove me to the special spots you go to think. I loved those times, as we thought maybe one day we’d do them together for real. But that’s all they were—thoughts.

I won’t go into the details you probably remember, just know that I’ve come to appreciate that time for what it was. That what you said was true. That it was real.

I won’t apologize further for how you were hurt in the end. You know I will feel awful, indefinitely, for what happened, but I didn’t intentionally do anything to harm you. Maybe the timing was ironic, and maybe this is cryptic, but I never exaggerated or lied to you or my friends. I have no idea how what happened to you occurred, but the end of us left me shut in the dark with guilt I should never have been burdened with.

My intentions were never less than to make you the happiest person in the world, as that’s how you made me feel. To question that, you must have questioned everything between us, and that is sad because what you said was true. It was real.

I’m not sure if you care—if you’re even reading this—but I had to put this out there because I need you to know I care. I remember so many of the little details and looks and feelings that I question how you don’t—or refrain from allowing yourself to.

No, I’m sorry this post does not exist to start a dialogue. Nor does it exist to make you feel anything less than loved. We never talked about it—love—except for that brief conversation at 3:30 in the morning.

I love everyone in my own kind of way for little things or larger things, and I’m so open about it. But you… You I loved in a way that lingers. A way that makes you appear around Philly, in music, and on drives, especially.

I won’t confess my undying love for you because it’s not there, but I know it could have been. I hope the feeling that sparked us is still out there somewhere—maybe in an alternate universe—but I hope it’s there.

And as for you and me, I guess this is it. You were the greatest glimpse at something I wish to find one day.

Drugs and Love

Why do we subject ourselves to lesser versions of love than the one we deserve?

When I say this, I mean, why do we openly refuse what our gut tells us and instead, accept the lies our heart bleeds out? The question is confusing and comes with endless variables per each person’s situation, but the answer is the same across the board: We need comfort in who we are.

We seek out “a person” to be our go-to—the one we tell everything and anything to—who would never leave us. Humans are social creatures that need our emotions justified outside of our heads and the person you choose to be that “one” often does exactly that for you. In fact, the crave we have in being with our romantic partners can be very similar to using a drug.

Whether you are someone who needs help tying your shoes or knows the best move for every situation, there’s give and take in each of your relationships that often makes you feel like you’ve invested who you are in someone else. That person who compliments your needs and personality has become part of your identity, in the eyes of you, them, and, often, others.

If that relationship becomes threatened internally or externally, one or both partners resort to a defensive mode that can be exhausting or motivating. Whichever style, the way in which both partners react can tell more about a relationship than any moment that happened during times of little to no stress. It is this time that each partner can choose to sacrifice and invest part of themselves to better the situation, or take from the situation, or do nothing.

No response is inherently correct, depending on what caused this defensive mode to trigger, however, I’ve noticed a particularly unhealthy pattern between my friends’ and my own relationships that needs to be addressed.

The negotiation for control can be a huge benefit in a relationship. I know that I can be pretty malleable when it comes to control—preferring to pay for drinks, but being utterly passive about picking a place to patron—and I believe that’s the case for many people. When you’re in a relationship you understand what your significant other enjoys and dislikes in the negotiation for control.

This is an amazing thing humans pick up on, as it can lead to one person inherently stepping up for certain things they enjoy, and backing down for others, leading to the happiness of the unit. However, that knowledge can lead to an abuse of power in the hands of a partner whose intentions are not aligned with the best interest of a relationship.

We date people who know us more in depth than a lot of our friends, even if our relationship is newer than our friendships. It’s important to break down our walls, but we do so at an invite-only vulnerable state that takes quality time to build (I emphasize “quality” because with lesbians these days, that can be days). That invite has no return address, and sadly, sometimes you don’t know the recipient as much as you think you do.

I believe this is why we’re reluctant to take action on our friends’ advice. There’s no way our friends know our partners like we do. We communicate the highs and lows to them, but not all the small things that really built the relationship into what it is. So how can our friends’ suggestions be better moves than what we think?

I once dated someone who never really wanted me, but sought my attention. She knew what words to use to keep me and would give me just enough breadcrumbs to survive, but I was never really satisfied. Despite my friends’ warnings, I stayed because I thought that when I got the whole loaf I’d feast on happiness. That day didn’t come. Due to something unrelated to my dissatisfaction in the relationship I broke up with her—an action I never wanted to take after all of my efforts to make things work. I felt like I lost time and half of my heart, but after a lot of healing I realized that living off of scraps is no way to live at all.

I’ve also been one to know what to say to keep someone around. Without truly bad intentions, I’ve lived through the motions of a relationship that would lead to happy days and okay days. Frankly, I don’t think it was a conscious effort, and my friends knew I wasn’t sincerely happy. I just didn’t want to be alone again, so instead, I said what I knew to say to keep the relationship going. I used the knowledge of who my person was and what she needed to satisfy enough, until it wasn’t enough.

It’s not easy to admit, but I believe we all go through moments like that. They’re messed up, I know. But it wasn’t until after the relationships were over that I realized I was happier; my fear of being alone wasn’t shielded by my relationship at all.

Being single isn’t easy 100% of the time. Like I stated earlier, humans are social creatures who seek out companionship for a reason. We need it, but we don’t need to be stuck where we’re not progressing.

Studies show that relationship breakups lead to the same brain responses of drug addicts going through withdrawal. This is serious stuff, and we know what heartbreak feels like, which is why we don’t want to go through it at any cost. The healing process takes, god knows how much time, and we lose part of the identity that we had with our significant other. Frankly, it sucks, but that is not to say that holding on is an easier method than finding someone who you are generally happier to be with and if your relationship is meant to end it’s going to end at some point.

Life is too short to settle, to fight, and to contemplate how our lives would be different if our relationships were different. I’m not saying all relationships are perfect all the time, they’re not. Some take work—individually and as a couple—but work to change anyone or anyone’s heart about you doesn’t stick for good. So maybe our hearts are trying to prevent us from hurting in the present, but it’s our gut instincts (and our friends) that knows if that effort is even worth it.

Who are we kidding? We all know a Kavanaugh.

I write about subjects that do no harm because our world can do enough of that to us. That said, this is different.

There are fewer than a handful of times in my life when I recall being mad. It’s a repulsive emotion to me—one where I feel my blood boil, I am quick to judge, and would act on impulse rather than contemplation. All of that said, I would regret not taking the time to write this piece, as am so near-maddened with how some of our Senators reacted to the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing.

I would like to say we are solely facing a bipartisan issue in the Senate again, but sadly, on Friday I found myself staring at disturbed, old white men fighting for the wrong side. Their position was so evident that it couldn’t just be to protect their party’s representation on the Supreme Court… they believed what they were saying because they had to belittle this case. Because they are Kavanaugh’s.

Before I talk about the real issue that this is a systemic problem in our society, here are some hypotheticals.

It is possible the Republicans believe Judge Kavanaugh couldn’t have actually done the deed. Maybe it is ridiculous that the FBI has to investigate, but every victim should be allowed that right when claiming something so sensitive. And I don’t think our issue stems from Kavanaugh’s innocence at all.

Maybe it is the innate belief that the representation of these Republicans’ collective opinions is a longer-term for gain for our society over Dr. Ford’s long-term loss. However, if that is the case, they are wrong to think so due to the vast scope of what this case represents. Perhaps they only see this as one case, but I personally view the majority of Republicans choosing to dismiss Dr. Ford’s claims without an investigation as an attempt to silence every victim of sexual abuse, male or female. I don’t think their intention is to do so, however, that is what repeatedly happens in our society and silencing a victim is a historically dumb idea that has long-term consequences of allowing cycles of abuse to continue in a culture.

I became unable to grasp that these well-respected men frankly do not care about the voice of a woman enough to grant time for the FBI to investigate this case. That they are putting their political allegiance ahead of a citizen they are supposed to represent, thus letting every victim suffer and become silenced once again. If these Senators were after due diligence, time wouldn’t be a vital variable in the pursuit of the truth. However, they know it is possible that Kavanaugh did this as a kid because that happened all the time (~it doesn’t reflect on his character now,~ ~if he’s a bad guy, I sure as hell am,~ ~etc.~). Instead, they hold themselves at a higher, and lower, standard (thank god for Sen. Jeff Flake for some leeway here).

This issue brings to light a systemic problem Deirdre M. Bowen writes about in this powerful piece about the barometer of appropriateness for prep-school adolescence. It’s an amazing story, but you don’t need knocking over the head to get it. I don’t need to tell you that people, often young males who come off as gentlemen, take what is given to them, and then some, when it comes to girls. It’s not all men (I’m not hashtagging), but historically it’s a gender thing leaning this way. I’ve seen it, and I bet you have too.

Throughout my life I’ve seen privilege in action (sometimes it benefits me. Look—I have a freakin’ blog—that’s how much of a voice I am granted). My alma mater holds an unfortunate stereotype that students of a certain status can get away with actions that should carry stronger consequences. I bleed blue and white and scream, “Go Cats,” but I know that stereotype can be true. Barstool Sports sparked the “do you know what my dad does” meme for a reason. Those Chad’s and Brad’s exist all across the country and they’re exactly who Bowen writes about. Our cycle has not ended with Kavanaugh’s generation. Anyone can still be upstanding, charismatic, and of good faith, and still do bad things with horrific consequences.

I don’t know if Kavanaugh is guilty. I actually think he is probably a decent guy, even if I don’t agree with his political beliefs, but that does not grant him immunity from his possible history. Abuse and discrimination should be a thing of the past that somehow sneaks its way into the present every day. If he is guilty, that is exactly the cycle that needs to be stopped.

There needs to be change. Ultimately, that should be the end of abuse and discrimination by those who commit those actions, but I want to take whatever progressive steps possible until that is a reality. Our society shakes our fingers at such a fearful force that nobody would dare apologize for their misdoings years later—even if that’s how it should be, even if the actions never should have happened.

This is the issue I struggle with most because I want justice for victims and for abusers to acknowledge their wrongdoing—I want authentic apologies and regrets without anyone having been cornered. I sadly don’t think that day will come, because many don’t care enough or believe they harmed anyone. Their reputation and saving face is worth the risk of holding a dark secret until the day they die.

So what can an individual do to enact change when they’re on this side of the conversation? (I feel like my professors would have something ridiculously intelligent to say here). Other than voting in your local elections for who you assume are decent people and becoming more politically active, we need to be more open to communicate our issues. We also need to learn who these creeps are. When I say this, I’m kind of cringing at myself. I’m not blaming a single victim for not speaking out—we call Dr. Ford a hero for a reason—but our power is in our voice, and while that’s a terrifying thing, imagine if every monster knew they had to face the consequences of their actions. Imagine if it was the norm to speak.

I like to think I could do this if I heard an abuser of mine was running for a position of power. Much easier said than done, especially when society silences and even punishes victims. However, we opened this gateway of communicating and we can’t stop now. Accompanied with the sadness that it happened, I get the greatest sense of pride when a victim of abuse stands up because I know that person is facing his or her demons. It is about time we all take small steps to become our own heroes.

I sat down four hours ago and busted this out. This piece is probably full of errors and inconsistencies (send ’em my way and I’ll correct asap), but I am dedicated to researching this more because I am progressively angry about this issue. I want to hear alternative arguments for the other side and come to a better understanding about it all. I also want to come up with better solutions than suggesting victims come out of their comfort zone. I understand what it is like to not have the voice I am so grateful for now and know it is wishful thinking that the fear of speaking out will dissipate overnight.

In the meantime, if you are facing issues at work and can’t talk to HR in your company, there are organizations like BetterBrave that work to stop sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. There are also people in your life who care about you and would help if they knew something was wrong. And if you don’t think you have a person like that, I will. I’ll at least talk to you about it with your absolute confidence.

I truly believe that the first step to solve any issue is communicating it—I sure as hell feel a lot less mad. We take such large chunks of problems to swallow alone that we often forget that we’re generally all in this together.

There was a time during the Presidential election cycle of 2016 when I couldn’t face social media due to the supersaturation of political posts. I don’t want this post to be that, and I understand there are other important worldly events going on. An earthquake and tsunami hit Indonesia, claiming over 1200 lives, a 13-year old kid in Philly was arrested for wielding a toy gun, hell, even Cardi B is having a bad week. And those are just some of the topics that are being talked about… Imagine the ones that are not.

Still, a lot of people having an opinion, even a shared opinion, does not necessarily mean we wouldn’t make progress in a conversation about the Kavanaugh issue. Let me know what you’re thinking, or where I’m ill-educated. I think we can really get somewhere.