Monday, June 28, 2010

A Series of Parts: Part 3

So, Dear Followers, have you been wondering what happened in March? Well… we met, we talked, and we both walked away with a shared respect and love for one another that only two people that shared nearly a decade together could have. All is well in the world and I got all the closure I so desperately needed and now live a peaceful existence knowing that I’ve neatly closed this chapter in my life.

Well… in the fantasy world in which I do not live, that would be lovely, wouldn't it?

Here’s what really happened -- in my reality.

March, Week 1:
Two weeks after our text conversation, March arrived. March -- the month he said he would contact me when he got back into town -- the month we would meet in person. I spent the first week waiting patiently for a text from him telling me when he’d be back like he promised.

March, Week 2:
When the 2nd week ended I was still optimistic. After-all, it was just the 2nd week. I thought, maybe he was coming back in the last week of March and was going to wait another few days before contacting me. That seemed very reasonable. And so I waited... patiently.

March, Week 3:
When the 3rd week ended, I began to get anxious. My patience started to fade.

March, Week 4:
I watched the calendar. I watched my phone. I flinched every time I got a text. March 31st came and went, and it was over. I never heard from him. EVER.

I came up with many excuses such as,

Maybe he didn’t come back in March because his plans changed.

BUT if that were the case, wouldn’t he write to say that he wasn’t coming and ask that we postpone our meeting for the following month instead?

Maybe he found my blog, it pissed him off, and he didn’t want to speak to me ever again.

BUT if that were the case, why not tell me he found it. I really can’t see anything here that would bother him. I mean, yes, it’s his life too that I’ve poured out into the world but I’ve always felt that this blog tells MY story, not his, and therefore really isn’t any of his business. I write about the ways we didn’t work, but mostly in an indirect way, and I try, at least, to explain that we share responsibility for what happened to us. I don’t mean to paint a picture of him as a super villain and if he thought I did, I would hope he could ask me about it. OR, maybe he found the blog, got pissed off, and decided I wasn’t even worth talking to for any reason, ever again, even if it was to say that he was pissed.

Well, no matter the reason for why he didn’t contact me, I never heard from him. And this, my friends, broke my heart all over again -- at least for a little while.

I was sad, angry and heartbroken. And then I became more angry than anything else. "How could he do this to me?", I thought. What would propel someone to dick over someone they loved for so many years? If indeed he was scared of seeing me or talking to me, then why not just say so and say he wasn’t ready yet. That I could I understand. That I could accept. Dicking me over just to be a dick? That I can’t accept.

So for most of April I felt like I had a flashing neon sign permanently over my head that read, “FUCK YOU,” that went off whenever I thought about my ex.

Kinda like this:

This really just about sums up how I felt throughout most of April.

But then again, despite being angry, I also felt like he had given me some kind of gift. What gift, you ask?

The gift of being a True Asshole.

I know this sounds weird, but maybe he took the saintly way out by hurting me to help me. It reminds me of those scenes in sentimental movies where the little boy has to give up his beloved dog because he can’t care for the dog anymore and knows that the dog will have a better life living on the family farm than with him and he goes, “Go on! Get out of here! I don’t want you anymore!,” while choking back the tears as the dog runs away. I felt like that dog.

I felt like he was telling me, “I’m just going to hurt you if we see each other. It’s going to be painful and re-open old wounds and will most likely hurt us rather than help us. So go on. Get out of here. I don't want you anymore.” Maybe that’s why I never heard from him. I’d like to think this is the reason. Maybe he did what was best for me.

I also know his limits and quite honestly, expecting him to tell me that a meeting between the two of us would be hurtful or that he wasn't ready for it, is totally uncharacteristic. He never confronted me much before about deep emotional issues when we were together, why would he now? And as my mother once said, “He’s got his head so far up his ass that he can’t see daylight... so I don’t know what you expected.”

And so, I never heard from him again and this I believe had to be the best thing. Because when all is said and done, I loved him for about a decade of my life, good or bad, right or wrong, it was love, it was real, it was my life -- and to see him now might bring all that back to me in a way that makes me forget why were apart in the first place. (And I really don't want to forget.) Maybe he knew that. Or maybe he doesn't give a shit. Maybe he was afraid of what would happen to him if we were to meet. Or maybe he truly doesn't give a shit. Whatever his motives, he never contacted me and I have not heard from him to this day. And I'll never know why.

So what did I do in March, besides wait by the phone? Well, in addition to flinching every time I got a text thinking it might be him, I did a lot of things. I ran my first race. Remember? That was a huge and incredible accomplishment. I am so infinitely proud of that and it got me hooked on running and racing.

What else did I do in March, you ask? Well, friends, I began to seriously date. Yes, date. And I like to think, that with or without closure, March was a success in so many ways.

Dear Followers, our regularly scheduled blog will now resume. As you can maybe tell, I’ve had a busy a few months and I really needed some time to make sense of everything that happened (and didn’t happen) before I could write it all down. Now that I’ve done this, I’m happy to pick back up where I left off and catch up with my blogging family (The Rules of Breakup, Champagne Before Breakfast, It Never Rains in Seattle, According to Me, and The Secret Dreamworld of E) along with many other wonderful bloggers and readers whom I’ve missed dearly.

Now that I’m back, I plan to regal you with tales of my foray into dating as a 32 year old girl who hasn’t dated since she was a 19 year old girl, how I’ve tried to honestly come to terms with my lack of closure, and what life looks now -- moving forward and moving on.

Much love to all of you out there. Thank you for reading.

-- Le B

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Series of Parts: Part 2

Part 2

When we last left off it was February and I had just sent a text to my ex. It read, "It's been a year and I think I'm ready to talk. Will you talk to me?"

I sent that text and immediately said out loud, "Fuck it.” And I meant it. I was relieved. I finally did it. After all the hemming and hawing and should I or shouldn't I's. After all the agonizing over whether or not I had any right to communicate with him at all, ever again, I just did it. Whatever happened next would prove to me that he was either, a) an asshole who would not respond to me at all and then I could finally just say, “OK, he truly doesn’t give a shit,” and move on with my life; or b) the good guy I deep-down knew he was; the person who cared about me and would always take my calls no matter what.

After I sent the text, I proceeded to stare at the phone for all of maybe 10 minutes. Because 10 minutes was all it took for him to respond.

HIM: “I would like to. Were you thinking over the phone?”

And there he was, in real time, punching keys on his phone somewhere, communicating with me. It almost felt like we were talking. This was a different feeling than the rare emails we had exchanged over the last year. This felt almost… intimate. It was the closest we had come to talking to one another in over a year. My heart was racing. I was scared. But I also felt somewhat reassured. He existed after-all. He didn’t fall off the face of the earth like I felt he had. He was somewhere; maybe sitting in an apartment (maybe his, maybe someone else’s), or his car, or a bar about to perform a show or maybe just about to attend one. He was living some kind of life somewhere out there in the world. He was alive and on the other end of my phone.

Now, I wasn't entirely sure that he had moved already.

ME: “I heard you moved. Are you still here?”

And then I waited, imaging he was just a few minutes away. Perhaps we would meet that night or maybe even the next.

HIM: “I'm living in LA now.”

Ouch, that hit me hard. He was really gone.

ME: "Why didnt you say goodbye? I’m really hurt to have found out the way I did."

HIM: "I’m really sorry."

I was hurt, and well…I wanted to hurt him back.

ME: "Well I guess that's it then."

HIM: "Well I’d like to talk still."

We then proceeded to go back and forth and in the interest in his privacy, I won’t re-type every word. So here is a recap of what was said (please bear with me, I hope this isn't too confusing to follow.)

I said: I couldn’t believe he didn’t care to tell me he was leaving, I had wanted to talk in person, and now I didn’t feel like there was anything left to say.

He said: He didn’t think he deserved to be made to feel guilty because he had intended on telling me, and would still like to talk. He was glad I got in touch with him and wanted to meet me in person.

I then felt like I had to explain why I didn't reply to the last email he wrote me back in November. I had always felt badly about that and never explained to him why I could no longer correspond with him.

I said: Since it took so long to respond to my emails in the past [he had been taking 2-3 weeks to reply to the rare emails we exchanged last year and the wait was gut-wrenching], waiting to hear back was too painful and that’s why I didn’t write back. I said I had no idea if he would respond. I also apologized for sounding bitchy earlier.

He said: He was sorry for making me feel hurt (regarding the lag in email response). He explained that this was still hard for him, but his failure to communicate with me was not a result of not wanting to talk, he just hadn't felt capable of it. He was sorting things out, he said. He added that he hadn't officially moved yet and asked if I would be ok with talking to him next month in person when he’s back in town.

I knew that meeting in person would be the best thing for us. Since so much time had passed, a phone call just wouldn't be enough. A meeting would be the best way to deal with him. Kinda like a band-aid -- you just gottta rip it off.

ME:“That’s a good idea. Next month in person, I’d like that. I think it will be helpful to talk. Goodnight.”

HIM: “I really do too. Thanks for getting in touch. I feel better being in touch. Goodnight.”

And that’s how it ended; we said “goodnight” the way we did every night for years. And that comforted me. We were finally in contact and I felt like I was well on my way to closure.

Next month we would talk in person. I would face him for the first time in over a year. Finally, I felt like I would put all of this to rest. I lay in bed that night feeling relived and picturing our meeting.

I imagined that it would be civil, calm, focused, and respectful. We would trade stories of what our lives were now like since both of us (at least on my end) were different people and would surely have so many things to share. Our meeting would certainly be heartfelt, maybe even tearful, but in the end we would hug each other and say goodbye. Maybe we would keep in touch after that. Maybe it would take another year, but perhaps we would even be friends some day. We were two people who helped shape one another into the people we were today. Two people whose heartache over the last year also shaped the people we would become in the future. Somehow we would respect that, we would share it, and we would continue to grow as individuals who still held a great amount of love and respect for one another, but who knew they were better people without one another.

And then I fell asleep, with March just 2 weeks away.

Now, Dear Followers, let me dab on some red lipstick, take a deep breath, and brace myself to write the next part. Because if you agree that I was getting a little bitchy in my texts, just wait and see what I have to say next.

Photo above by Jerome ESTEVES

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Last Few Months In A Series of Parts

Hey, did you ever meet my friend Ian?
He’s a computer hacker.
He helped me erase your Myspace page,
And your band’s Myspace page,
And your Facebook page.
Happy networking, asshole.

---- Munchausen by Proxy & Zooey Deschanel, "Yes Man"


Back on February 16th, I celebrated the One Year Anniversary of my breakup. To celebrate, I triumphantly got on a plane on that very day and flew out to California to spend a whole week with my bestie and her family.

BUT.... about 1 week before that day, I was casually perusing Facebook when I came across something that totally rocked my world and set a course of events into action that, to this day, I rue.

My ex and I are albeit barely linked on Facebook, in fact I deleted him and almost everyone that we had in common -- which the exception of just a few -- a month into the breakup. So because we had someone in common, that one person commented on a link to a blog interview my ex gave and therefore, through the magic of Facebook, that link showed up on my Homepage. (Isn't it so lame that we talk in FB terms like this? ...sigh...). So there I was, sitting at home, minding my own business, and I'm faced with proof of his existence.

There it was. Right there. In my face.

I could not just skip it and move on. I just could not.

A better woman might have closed her laptop, said, "Hmm, whateves...", and went on with her life. A better woman would not have taken maybe 2 seconds to think it over and then proceed to click the link and continue to read every single word of the interview her ex gave.

And so yes, I am not a better woman. I'm a crazy woman.

Normally, an article where he recites stupid answers to pointless questions about his band wouldn't be that big of deal, but they were his words. His picture. Proof that he exists. Reading the words actually sounded like him, I could almost hear his voice, and that to me was a big deal since we have not spoken in over a year, no text messages and very few emails that never end well. And so I poured over each word, like I was consuming each and every one.

Reading that article made my heart race. It was like some kind of bad accident you see on the road and can't stop looking at. Or, more to the point, it was masochistic. I knew what I was doing would upset me, and it would most likely set me back. And it did.

Because what I read was this, he doesn't live in Chicago anymore. He moved to fucking Los Angeles. He moved. Left the state. And for reasons that I didn't understand at the time, I proceeded to take a GIANT leap backwards accompanied by panic and as much as I hate to admit it, I experienced the kind of hysteria that I felt in those first few weeks of the breakup.

After about 2 days, I regained my senses and came to, and when I did, I asked myself, "What the fuck just happened here?!"

I think that with him leaving, I felt like I would never get closure. He was truly gone. What was worse was that I felt like I meant absolutely nothing to him after all. He didn't care to let me know he was leaving the state and that, as mad as I am at myself about this, made me feel awful.

I talked to friends about it and I heard many different perspectives. My bestie couldn't understand why I was so upset. She thought that it was really not anything to get upset about, after-all we were broken up, he didn't own me anything, not a goodbye, not an explanation, nothing.

Other people though, thought that he should have said goodbye. That I deserved at least that. That after 9 years I deserved something. Was it respect? Or was it something else?

These questions reeled in my head, over and over, and I felt a million things.

And so, one night, after 2 days of feeling sick over the situation and arguing with myself over whether or not I had any right to be upset, I finally picked up the phone, and propelled by pure adrenaline, I sent the very first text message to him in over a year. It read, "It's been a year and I think I'm ready to talk. Will you talk to me?"

Dear Followers, Part 2 will soon follow. But first, I'll need a cigarette before I write the rest.

Lots of love to you all, I'm very happy to be back.

Le B

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thank you, Phil Collins.

Back when I started this blog, I was reminded of an episode of This American Life called "Break-Up" that I heard on NPR the year before. This episode was about a writer named Starlee Kine who, when going through a heart-wrenching break-up, found a way to deal with her loss by taking solace in the ultimate break-up cliche: The break-up song.

In an attempt to make herself feel better, she wallowed in the sappiest songs about heartbreak she could find and decided that the next logical step was to write one herself. To do that, she turned to the one person she felt could understand her particular brand of heartbreak and help put her feelings into song, that person was, who-else, but the great, Phil Collins.


When I started blogging, I went looking for the episode, found it online, and listened to it... twice. At the time, it got me thinking about what people turn to when they're going through something difficult and how they make sense of their world when it's upside down.

Starlee Kine turned to break-up songs and then decided to write one herself.

And I turned to blogs and then created this.

I've always felt like her story spoke so deeply to what this blog is about. There are so many ways to wallow, commiserate, and be sad when you're dealing with loss, but then eventually by way of all that loss you can create something out of it (like a song or even perhaps a blog), or understand something about yourself that you never saw before, or become something even better than you were before. It's really true, just ask Phil Collins.

Phil Collins actually became "Phil Collins" by beginning his solo career with a hugely popular, and deeply personal, album that he says was based in the break-up of his first marriage. Let that be a lesson to us all.

So I encourage you, Dear Readers, to listen to this episode because you aren't alone. You've got me and, of course, as always, the masterful king of the heartbreak song, Phil Collins.

Listen here: Episode 339: Break-Up and click "Stream Episode."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Spring!

Have a good day today, my fellow, Easter candy-loving, bloggy friends.

Eat Peeps and celebrate Spring; rebirth, new life, renewal and all that jazz.

Le B.

Images: cute overload, emdot, Per Ola Wiberg ~ Powi, Ale Paul

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Symbolism of Start

Hello, Dear Readers.

I know I've been absent for some time now, but hear me out.

Some interesting/panic inducing events have transpired in the last month and for the life of me, I just couldn't write about them. All these thoughts and emotions and opinions have been like bouncing rubber balls ricocheting off the walls of my brain and I haven't been able to collect them all, sort them out and make any sense of them. I'm trying though, and I'm feverishly writing a whole string of posts to explain the goings on of the last month.

But before I delve into all of that (which, believe me, is pretty interesting stuff) I'll start off with a post about how the word START took on a whole new meaning in a very unexpected way.

Me, the most nonathletic person you've never met ran a 5 mile race through the streets of downtown Chicago; sweating, panting, and almost crying to the finish line.

A few months ago I signed up for Chicago's Shamrock Shuffle 8K. This, my friends, was huge since I am not an athlete at all. But in the dead of this Chicago winter, I was running along the lake in 20 degree temperatures with wind chills in the teens, and I loved it. Sliding over ice, running in snow, and with each time I ran I saw myself accomplishing more and more. And I also got to do this amongst my incredibly supportive and wonderful running partners/friends.

Running became a very clear and definable accomplishment. I was able to measure my progress by city blocks. On my first day, I barely made it one block without having to stop and walk for a little while. On the next day, I was able to go 2 blocks. And before too long I ran a whole mile without stopping.

So on race day, I was not only proud that I was actually there, ready to reach a goal I worked very hard for, but I felt a different kind of pride I didn't expect. When I was standing in the Start corral amongst the nearly 30,000 people waiting to run, I felt the race take on a symbolism that I hadn't been aware of until I caught sight of the giant, red Start banner in front of me, the city skyline behind it, the lake to my right; when I saw that word, Start, I started to get teary, emotional, choked up and then I felt this huge smile cross my face and for a moment I thought,

"How the hell did I get here?!"

It's almost as if I was outside myself, looking down, and trying to recognize the person standing there, in Grant Park, with a number pinned to her shirt, wearing a pair of uncharacteristically professional running sneakers, about to careen through the streets with a bunch of strangers.

I never would have thought I would do anything like this a year ago. Or even at any time in the last 10 years of my life. And that's the thing that was so surprising; I always wanted to do this but I never believed that I could.

I always wanted to be a runner. I remember driving along Lake Shore Drive on my way to school and seeing people happily jogging along the lake and thinking, "Oh, I wish I could do that. I want to be someone who does that." But I never did.

I always wanted a supportive group of friends that genuinely encouraged me, and me them. And I'm slowly building that.

I always wanted my own musical tastes independent of my ex. And that's evolved too.

Somewhere deep down, I also wanted to write. And here I am.

And as superficial as this sounds, I wanted to be the kind of girl who could effortlessly apply eyeliner in a super 60's cat-eye fashion and rock a red lipstick. And now I do.

It's as if, for the first time in a long time, my identity is really coming into focus. I'm picking and choosing the things I want in my life and I'm getting them. I'm not just wishing and hoping and thinking and sitting on the sidelines and imagining some kind of vision of myself that I wish I was. No, I am that person now. Or at least I'm beginning to be.

And so, looking at the Start line was like looking at the start of something bigger, like the beginning of myself and I think the emotional swell that I felt at that moment was very mixed; it was happiness and pride in what I've been doing this year, seeing it as the start of my life, and mixed with some sadness too, sadness that it took so long for it all to actually START.

When I crossed the finish line I was exhausted and relieved. Relived not because I finished, but because I finally started.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Happy Birthday to My Humble Blog!

Dear Nine,

Remember when you were born? Aww... I remember that day. Sitting in my parents house, tears streaming down my face while recounting memories of my breakup and feverishly trying to figure out html code.

Remember my first post?

I never thought I'd ever write a blog and I certainly never thought anyone would ever read this one. But it's been a crazy year and you've been one of the great things to come out of it. Through you, I reached out to a wonderful group of supportive fellow bloggers and readers. And, because of you, I started writing my own short stories; another thing I never thought I would do.

Thanks for showing me what I can do.

So, my humble little blog, you've been awesome. And to celebrate your awesomeness, I baked you this banana walnut bread. Enjoy.

Le Bonhuer

(Photo by me. Banana walnut bread also by me.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

One Year Later

365 later...

When I was in thick of this thing, maybe 1 month in, and the shock wore off, I started scouring the internet for answers. I read breakup blogs, support sites, and just spent a ton of time getting myself out of my own head by reading about other people. On one of the nights I was reading random stories, I read about this woman who had spent the last year going through a divorce. She wrote about how it took her about a year before she had begun to really move on from it and she refered to the last year as “a tough year” but now she was doing much better. I thought about that phrase a lot.

“A tough year.”

Reading that statement felt like I was reading a prescription. To get through a breakup all you need to do is get through one tough year. Take one year and call me in the morning.

My one year is over and, yes, it was a tough one (to put it ever so mildly) but I made it. All the ups and downs and bad choices and good choices. I had to fall down and get back up again. And I want to say to anyone going through any kind of a transition in their lives, be it a breakup, a divorce, grieving a loss, or any kind of major life event that shakes you to the very core, that it will get better. Time does heal all wounds. You will be okay.

I swear it.

I never thought I’d be okay, honestly. I never saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I thought I would feel the way I did forever. Not every day was horrible and not every day was easy, but I had to do a lot of work.

My identity was so tied into my relationship that when it was over I had to figure out who I was all over again. I’ve said it before, my relationship framed my 20's and that was a substantial chunk of my adult life. Those years defined who I was and still am. Learning to be an individual on my own was a daunting task with a very unsure outcome. But throughout this year, I have learned how to be on my own.

My circle of friends is completely different (worlds apart actually) and I love that. My new home is all mine. It's warm and comforting and bright and sweet and I love that too. It gives me proof that I can start over. I can rebuild a home for myself. I can push myself outside of what is comfortable and meet new people and create new and meaningful friendships. I can be a good judge of character and make good choices. I can start over.

And so therefore, it is 365 days later. I was awarded my ONE YEAR chip on February 16th.

I spent that day traveling to the sunny, cheerful, and warm west coast to spend a week with my bestie, her husband, and their amazing son, my little nephew, Mr. O.

We will be baking a cake, drinking champagne, making each other laugh, eating vegan bacon cheeseburgers followed by nauseating amounts of holiday-themed candy, and thinking about this time last year when I got off a plane 4 days after my breakup and I asked her, "Will I ever feel better? Will I get through this? Will I ever be okay again?"

I didn't believe it at that time, and I couldn't have predicted it then, but the answer was yes, yes and hell, yes.

P.S. To read more about this past year's anniversaries take a look here:

Photo by Ugo Rondinone.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day, Dear Followers.

Celebrate your awesomeness.

I (heart) you big time.

Le Bonheur

So have some flowers,

a sweet little pupski (I'm currently babysitting this little cutie),
some candy hearts,
some macaroons,
a beauty product indulgence (loving Benefit's Poisetint right now. a perfectly bright, fresh pink lip stain),
some John Hughes romance,
do your eyemakeup totally crazy,

and be awesome because you so totally are.

Photos by danske and miss_yasmina,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What's next?

Photo by Old Sarge

I've been feeling very strongly that I need the next "big thing" to happen. Be it moving to another state, changing my job, or going on some kind of adventure. And by adventure I mean that I'm thinking of visiting the strange and faraway place called MAINE. Ohhhh... scary. For realz, I really want to see Portland, Maine. It seems like the place for me, not sure why, but I've grown obsessed with it. I keep wondering if it will be my next home.

So in this spirt of moving on, I'm working on some kind of momentum towards my goals. Step 1: Finishing my portfolio and CV resume to hand off to my contact at an architectural firm in Chicago. It may not be the job for me (plus I do really want to move out of this area) but at least I'm getting it out there and seeing what kind of response I get. I got this started last weekend and I plan on finishing it this weekend. For me, this is one step closer to at least trying to make some big changes in my life. It's something that has been hanging over my head for a while and once it's done and out of my hands, I can move onto Step 2; meet with my school counselor and research more design jobs outside of the midwest.

Taking these steps and figuring out a plan for my future makes me a little anxious. I want so badly to get closer to my goals, but doing that makes them real and when they are real they are that much more vulnerable. What if it doesn't work out? What if I don't get a job outside of Chicago? What if I get my dream job and I don't like it?! All this is scary stuff.

But I know that I have to try, because I don't want to waste my time wondering, "What if...?" If this breakup has taught me anything, it's that I can't just wonder about what might happen, I have to go for what I need, or want, and see how it pans out. Good or bad, at least I tried and that's so much better than safely wondering about what might happen while life passes me by. Good or bad, reality is so much better.

And so, I have to make these goals real and give it a shot. Perhaps publicly posting my intentions on this blog will make my future plans tangible and will hold me to them. Or at least I hope...

So, Dear Followers of my humble blog, have you begun thinking of the next big thing in your life? Are you working towards any specific goals right now? How's it going? Are you feeling motivated or anxious? Or both?! I'd love to know...

P.S. Doesn't Portland, Maine look dreamy? After I've done some job research, I'm going to reward myself with a trip to Portland. I simply must find out why I'm so crazy about a place I've never been!

Photos by acadia62

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chocolate Pudding Limbo

A disjointed, little chocolate pudding narrative that I had been writing got me to realize that I am in dire need of a worthy accomplishment.

Here's what I mean:

Finding myself craving chocolate pudding about a week ago, I decided I would accept no imitation, store bought pudding wasn't going to cut it, and so I ran out to the convenience store across the street for some Jell-O instant pudding mix which I then made with soy milk. I ended up with cold, chocolate goo. It tasted awful and in the trash it went. Very sad.

A week later, still on the pudding kick, I found a box of organic pudding mix and had high aspirations that this just had to be better than the icky Jell-O. Well, it wasn't. The result was more pudding-like, less like goo, but it never got that skin on the top and it kinda tasted like carob, like healthy pudding. I ate it. All of it. Albeit begrudgingly.

Then after a few mediocre pudding cup experiences, I decided that if this whole pudding thing was going to be put to rest, then goddamnit I was going to have to make it from scratch. I flipped through my much beloved copy of "The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook," the first cookbook I bought when I started cooking. If you don't know about it, it's pretty fantastic. It's from 1975 and was a cookbook that came out of a commune in upstate New York. It's not too culty, but actually just a little, and complete with grainy black and white photos of hippies picking cabbage and stirring huge vats of tofu curds and whey.

Regardless, the recipes are incredibly easy, simple and delicious. The pudding did not fail to impress, in fact is was great and pudding-like, not like cold goo, and even had that skin on top. At last...

And with that, I ended the Chocolate Pudding Narrative and thought to myself, "Umm, so what?" I couldn't figure out the point of the story.

I think I could probably have created an analogy here that relates dating to making pudding; you might have unsatisfying attempts before you find the right combination. But I think the moral is a little more straight-forward than that. I was absolutely beaming after I tasted this pudding and considered it an accomplishment and it made me realize that what I've really been craving, besides pudding, is a true accomplishment, not pudding-related.

At this point, I'm feeling slightly like I'm in limbo. The breakup is over, its been nearly a year, and although I've blogged about closure and letting go recently and how that's been difficult to come to terms with, I've been feeling more and more confident that I am letting go and that I'm very close to getting past this.

So that leaves me feeling like, well... now what? I spent a whole year blogging about a breakup, getting through it and starting over, and for a long time I felt like it was the only focus in my life. But now, it's over and that feels a little strange. I'm somewhere in the middle of being in it and getting over it. I bounce from place to place and in the middle I'm finding that I'm not really accomplishing much.

I have a great job which I don't totally love, but it pays the bills and leaves me the time to do things like travel and is flexible enough to allow me to cultivate a wide range of obsessions and make ridiculous amounts of chocolate pudding for one person. But I'm not really moving on at the speed I'd hoped to move.

I wanted to move out of Chicago last year and pursue a job in the field I went to school in, but the rebuilding of my life sucked up a lot of my time and energy and now that my life is well underway, it's time for the next thing. It's time for a change, it's time for some new accomplishments, and going forward means that my future accomplishments really can't continue to be pudding-related.

Dear Followers, if you are feeling a pudding craving coming on, try out New Farm's, its delish. And by the way, I'm a big fan of celebrating accomplishments, no matter how small or pudding-related, because even if they are small, I bet that each little one is going to get you closer to something bigger. Or at least that's how I like to see it.

New Farm Vegetarian Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Mix together:
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cornstarch

Then add 3 cups soymilk, mixing constantly. Bring this mixture to a boil over medium heat, still whipping constantly until the mixture thickens, then lower the heat and cover. Let boil gently for 5-10 minutes.

Remove from heat and whip in:
3 Tbsp. soy margarine (I use Earth Balance, it's the best.)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Pour into individual dishes and cool in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Counting from Nine

If you've been following along here, you know now that my relationship lasted just one year shy of a decade, nine years. It ended on February 16, 2009. On that day, the life I had lived for nine years ended too and that's when I began starting over.

Each day after February 16th that I woke up, got out of bed, took a shower, got dressed, worked my job, ate food at various intervals, and then retreated to my room at night, was an accomplishment.

I remember the end of the first day at my parents house (where I moved to after I moved out of the apartment I shared with my ex), I was sitting in bed and I thought, "Okay, I got through the first day, this was Day 1, and I made it." Each day that passed was one day further away from the breakup, one day further from the end of that 9th year, and so I started counting from nine.

But the idea of counting off the days goes a little deeper. It began shortly before my break up.

One night, while I was still living with my ex and we were in the thick of the breakup negotiations, I was in a panic (per usual) and my mind was swirling with emotions, images, questions and dread and I knew I had to get all of those feelings out of my head and somewhere else. So I picked up my laptop, opened a blank page, and starting typing up my stream of consciousness. When I was done, I typed the date at the top of the page, February 3, 2009. After I dated it, I read it. The words were sad and painful and it was all there, on the screen and out of my head. When I read those words over again and I looked at the date, I thought:

"This is how I feel today, but someday it isn't going to be today anymore. I won't feel this way forever. Tomorrow it won't be February 3rd anymore."

Just thinking that made me feel a little better. I realized that what I was going through that night was going to be in the past and that the next day would be, perhaps, a small percentage easier. In my mind there was an inkling that time was going to pass and someday enough time would pass where I would feel better again, and not so fractured. That's when I started to think about recovery, the passing of time, and documenting what I was going through.

A few weeks after I moved out, I started this blog. The phrase "time heals all wounds" was something that I clinged to then and so I began counting down the days, then the months. I documented almost every month like an anniversary. I was documenting the passing of time and the changes that came with it.

I also had a sense that I needed to try my hardest to not dwell on what happened, because I could very easily argue with myself about who said what and who was wrong or right, but if I was going to get past it then I had to focus on how I perceived what happened to me, and to us, how I was going to deal with the ramifications of it, and what I was going to do in my life to change things and make my life better. And so that's what I've tried to do here. I also felt like there must be other people going through the same thing and I wanted to connect to them, which I have, and this has been one of the greatest outcomes of this blog.

Recently, I read what I wrote on February 3, 2009, and it was painful to read. It feels unbelievably raw and personal to post it here, so I won't. I'll keep it to myself, but I will say that I realized then that what was happening to me was heartbreaking, but I also knew what was best for me. I knew something had to change and when I shined a spotlight on the mess we had made, we both knew what had to happen. It was very difficult and we loved each other right up until the end. It was only after I moved out that I started to get angry. Angry at him for not giving me what I gave and angry at myself for not voicing more of what I needed, and so I wrote about it here. Writing these posts has helped me work through so much and, in a way, continues to help me find a voice that I felt I lost.

I realize that I may never know what he thinks of our breakup or me. And in the end, getting him to understand me or getting me to understand him wasn't the goal of the breakup. It isn't even why I started this blog. I did this for other reasons. I did this to help me and make my life better, and that's all I have control over; and not him or his perception of me.

So this is how Nine was born. This how I came to the conclusion that I had to recover somehow and I had to connect to other people in the same boat. Meeting you, Dear Followers and Readers, has been a hugely supportive part of this process. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me and for encouraging me and listening to me.

Today is February 3, 2010. It has been one year from the night where I discovered that words were going to help me recover. Thank you, Dear Followers and Readers of my humble blog, for reading them.

And I can say today, beaming with pride, that tommorrow it won't be February 3rd anymore.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Distraction Device

Tomorrow night, LOST begins its final season.

finally.... the world breathes a collective sigh of relief....

I didn't start watching LOST way back in 2004, when apparently it first aired. I had no idea what it was and was never interested in watching a single episode. My obsession with LOST began, as many other obsessions in my current life, with my breakup.

I even blogged about LOST back in March when I proclaimed that LOST was my binky. I started watching the show in January of 2009 and when the 100th episode aired that April, I was caught up on ALL 5 seasons. Yes, that means I had watched 100 episodes in just 4 months. To me it was like my own personal distraction device. Back then, getting into that show was something that helped me get out of my own head and focus on something else, something other than the breakup, the difficult choices I had to make nearly every day, and the emotions I was constantly cycling through.

I remember the days when I would be talking to my best friend about the most recent breakup negotiation and I would end the conversation with, "Okay, well thanks for listening. I gotta go now, I need to watch an episode of LOST." That's how it was back then. I watched an episode after coming home from my many bin buying trips, after calling my parents to figure out when I was going to move in with them, and right after I called the movers and set the date for my move. After every painful thing, I watched LOST because it calmed me down by focusing my mind on something else and allowed me to lose myself in its complicated, wacky, wonderful, suspenseful, confusing interconnected world.

LOST was my binky once. It was my "distraction device." And now that it's back, nearly a year later, I'm very glad that I no longer need it as a distraction anymore. It goes to show just how far away from this time last year I've come. Plain and simple, it served its purpose at a particularly unpleasant time and now it's one of my absolute favorite shows which never fails to be bizarre and entertaining and sometimes feels a lot like Twin Peaks. And on that note, I am pleased to share my most recent discovery, all the Twin Peaks episodes online. Enjoy.

So, Dear Followers, did you have a "distraction device" to help you through a tough time? What was it? I'd love to know, because I know I'm not alone.

P.S. If you'd like a distraction, it never fails: Watch Lost (or, of course, the wonderfully bizarre and complicated, Twin Peaks).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Letting go and holding on.

I've been thinking a lot about what to write lately. Basically, it's been a much tougher time than I would have anticipated and I haven't been able to find the right way to explain it here, or even to myself. So in the interest of documentation, here goes...

The breakup began around the beginning of January last year. For a long time I designated January 5th for when it all began. I'm not sure exactly if it was that day, but January 5th always seemed right to me. I didn't move out until February 16th, so that's when it will be officially the One Year Anniversary.

So to commemorate this time last year, my subconscious has decided that every night I have to have some kind of dreadful, nightmarish, gut-wrenching dream about my ex; every night since New Years Eve.

Every. Fucking. Night.

Why? Well, maybe I'm paying off some karmic debt. Maybe I did some really heinous shit in another life and now I'm being punished. Or maybe, it's a reaction to the fact we haven't seen each other or even heard each other's voices for a whole year and well, that just feels weird, and in all honesty does seem sort of unnatural. I don't know. I just know that these dreams are pretty unpleasant and they definitely keep him at the top of my mind when I really just want to push him back.

Having these thoughts and dreams gets me sucked right back into wanting to contact him. I often become absolutely convinced it's time. I even have a whole scenario for how our first meeting is going to be. What to hear it?

OK, so I call, no, I text a simple message that just says, "Meet me at X place at Y time. It's time we talked." Nice, right? Simple, to the point, no drama. So then we meet and I walk into the place and I am looking awesome, looking 10 times better than he could have ever remembered me. Then I sit down in front of him, he bursts into tears, takes my hand, apologizes for being such a DICK, he then tells me that he knows that he didn't handle the aftermath of the breakup well, that he knows he wasn't considerate of me, and he is totally ready to participate in a shared narrative of what went wrong and what he and I have learned in this past year and how we've both grown as people, blah blah blah. Then we hug, say goodbye, and wish each other well. And there it is, folks, closure. I will have said the things I needed to say, heard the things I needed to hear, and with that I will have closed that chapter in my life and moved on knowing that we loved each other once, it mattered, it was a big deal, we are better off without each other and we can both go on to live separate, yet fulfilling, lives.

Okay so let's take a minute to let that resonate. Sounds good, right? Healthy. Adult. Cerebral.

Well, here's the thing: That. Is. Fucking. Crazy.

That shit is never gonna happen. Ever. It just isn't. I've alluded to wanting something like this from him, and he hasn't participated. Besides, how often does anything happen the way we picture them ideally happening? I would probably either, (a) trip on my way through the door, (b) burst into tears and humiliate myself, (c) throw something at him and run out, or (d) blurt out some string of incoherent words in fit of hysteria; take your pick.

So if my ideal closure fantasy isn't going to happen, then I really need to let it go. But it's hard to do. There are times when letting go feels so close, but things like holidays, birthdays, and especially the breakup anniversary muddle my brain and make me think that the thing I need the most is not to "let go" but to talk to him, and that's the opposite of letting go; that's "holding on." I sometimes get so close to letting go that it makes me nervous and all I want to do is hold on. And by holding on, I mean that I want to acknowledge that he exists outside of my memory and what I really want is to know that what I participated in for one year shy of a decade (my entire young adult life to date) actually mattered, happened for a reason, and was not some huge colossal waste of my time. In the end, I want to hold on because letting go feels like it all didn't matter, or that it didn't even happen at all.

I guess what I'm really looking for is validation. Validation that all those years mattered for something. But I have a feeling that letting go doesn't mean that those things didn't matter, I think letting go means that those things don't matter anymore. And that's a tough thing to admit. It's hard to say that something so big doesn't matter anymore.

I can tell myself a million supportive, smart things about how letting go is up to me and not dependent on him, but still the draw to contact him is very real because of that nasty little word that hounds so many of us going through breakups, "closure."

I, and I think many others, believe that in order to let go you must first have closure. But here's the thing about closure, it's only something that both people have to be willing to give, you both have to want it, and I'm guessing it takes a great deal of effective communication. And there I think is where my plans fall apart. Communication wasn't our strongest quality. So what makes me think that we could communicate now? What makes me think that something magical would happen now, one year later, that would make us both effective communicators and logical, clear headed, non-emotional, purely friendly individuals coming together for the greater good of this thing we call "closure?"

The answer is that nothing magical is going to happen now. We are who we are. And since that's the case, then I should let go because I'm not going to get the closure I want.

But maybe, someday I'll get a different type of closure. Maybe it will include him, maybe it won't. I have a feeling that whatever it is and whenever it happens, it won't be my ideal closure fantasy, but whatever it is will get me closer to letting go.

In the meantime, I'll keep in mind that I'm doing the best I can, I'm moving on with my life, the last decade wasn't a waste of time, it made me who I am today and for all intents and purposes I really like who I am today, and it also taught me some valuable lessons in how to be a better partner and what to look for in a future partner. With a lot of support from some of the wonderful people in my life (you know how you are) I can remember that closure and letting go is something that has to come from within me and not from anywhere else. And when I feel like I'm getting closer to letting go, I will fight that pull to hold on.

So, Dear Followers, how do you perceive yourself "letting go?" What does it look like to you? Do you think you need closure to let go? Or, are you doing fine without it?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hello, 2010.

When the clock struck 12:00am on January 31, 2009, I had a reaction I didn't expect.

I breathed one big Sigh... of relief and then I cried, just a small bit. I felt a surge of emotion I didn't see coming. I got emotional not because I missed my ex at that moment really, but because I was just so relieved. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my chest. I made it through the year. It was over and I really felt like I accomplished something huge.

The whole year of 2009, starting within the first week of January, was centered around the breakup; getting through it, dealing with it's aftermath, and trying to let go of it. It was a year that both changed me in so many positive ways and was also very hard. This time last year, I could never have imagined what happened was going to happen. I had no idea what my life was going to be like, who I would meet, where I would live, or even who would remain in my life and who would be gone. It's incredible to think of just how different everything is now.

My relationships with my family, my best friend, and everyone else for that matter, all got stronger as a result of me being totally honest with myself about my relationship and what was happening in my life. I hadn't been honest about my relationship before, I was in it and I was trying to stay in it without really facing it. Remember my post, Stockholm Syndrome?

So, 2009 is over. I learned a lot, I cried a lot, I laughed a lot, and I started a new life.

Hello, 2010. Nine is moving on.

Not sure who this image is by, but don't you love it? It seemed fitting.


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