I’m sure there are more reasons to count why blogs are started nowadays. I was brought to this point by a string of events and am starting this journal with clear intentions listed out in my about page, which you can read there. This post is to share and get caught up to today, the day I’m taking my new journaling practice digital and public for anyone who may find comfort in not being alone.
Like many others seem to feel, 2016 has been terrible, and although I didn’t know it at the time, my story started taking it’s turn on New Year’s Day, January 1st, 2016 at the stroke of midnight.
I took a trip with my girlfriend of almost 9 (yes 9) years to celebrate NYE with friends in Time Square for the first time. We actually had incredibly lucky arrangements to avoid all the bad and only get the good of the night, but that’s another story.
After the trip I got back to being engrossed in my business grad school applications and work for a while until my girlfriend expressed that she had gotten her hopes up that I would propose to her on NYE even though I had always clearly maintained that marriage didn’t feel right for me yet but that I was happy and wanted to stay with her. However, the prospect of moving for grad school without a the commitment to forever weighed on her nerves and on my conscience.
We began conversations about whether we had a future or not and I went to counseling to help me work through the big decision looming in front of me: propose or breakup. My introspection had me questioning whether my aversion was a flaw with me that needed to be overcome, or if taking such a big next step without the level of confidence I wanted would be foolish and hurt us both even more in the end.
This went on over several months as I agonized over something that would profoundly affect myself and the most important person in my life for many years, and hurting her was the last thing I ever wanted to do.
I received acceptance to a couple really great business schools and we celebrated amid the tension of the uncertainty of our future. Now I also felt the weight of the additional decision between my two favorite schools.
About a month later, I was off to attend one school’s weekend for admitted applicants to help get a better sense in comparing the two programs. While I was there evaluating whether it was the right place for me, something else happened. I started to see myself in school, I met others who had accomplished so much, traveled and seen so much more than I, had lived independently and had a secure sense of who they were on their own.
One of those nights I returned to my air bnb, trying to imagine Carly joining me on this adventure, and again, something just didn’t feel right enough. I still couldn’t say what was missing. Did I need to overcome my own fear and doubt and just take the leap hoping for the best? Was there something needing work or really missing in our relationship? Had I never really gotten to know myself on my own to make such a big decision? After months of trying to fix and solve the problem, I broke down under the weight of the inevitable conclusion.
It didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter which of those things alone or in combination was holding me back. The truth was, that although she was my world and I was happy with her and no one had done anything wrong, it also wasn’t right enough for us to continue on together. I would have to say goodbye. I spent the rest of the night unconsolable and the next day quietly trying to hold it together through the end of the school visit.
She had scheduled the week in between my two school visits to visit a friend out of town. When I returned from the first trip and my terrible revelation, I was not ready to say goodbye and didn’t want to put a cloud over her time with her friend. Instead, I tried to appreciate what I knew was some of our last time together and had a very tender night.
The week she was out of town, I was able to reflect alone, observe whether the decision held up back home with some time, and try to build up some courage to have the most excruciating conversation of my life. I set my intention for the night I would pick her up from the airport.
When I picked her up, I had a strange feeling of missing her from her trip, and another feeling of anticipatory missing her after our relationship was about to end. I could feel some distance from her during the car ride home, I wondered if it was because she was feeling the uncertainty of our relationship or if she had come to the same conclusion I had. I found out as soon as we set her bags down in her place.
“Babe, I don’t feel so good about us,” she said.
I didn’t explain what I had been thinking over the last week. It didn’t really matter at the moment. We got to the same destination. Instead I hugged her, sobbing, apologizing that I knew I hadn’t always given her my best which she deserved, and sorry that it was over. She hugged me back, reassuring me that I hadn’t done anything wrong, and that she didn’t regret our relationship.
The rest is a bit of a blur. I know we each continued to apologize that it was over, thank each other for the care and support we had given each other over the years, and say that we only wanted nothing but the best for the other.
I told her I guessed I should give her my key to her place and she hadn’t thought of that but agreed. I also told her I guess I should gather any of my things. As I started to get my things, she asked me if she was making a mistake. I told her no, but didn’t tell her that I was planning on doing the same thing that night.
After things were gathered, we said our final goodbyes. Telling each other that they deserve the best. She hoped I would find someone who would make me so happy, but that she wouldn’t have to see it. I told her I hoped she found someone who she would be so happy with, as long as he wasn’t taller than me. She laughed a genuine laugh that was muffled through grief and said she couldn’t promise anything. I told her I knew that, considering almost everyone is taller than me. Another little chuckle from her and I made my way towards the door for the last time, thanking and apologizing to her again.
As the door closed, we both said goodnight in a way that didn’t feel natural or right. I listened to the door close and lock for the last time and try to let it sink in that I’d never be inside her place again, that I’d never walk that hallway, that it was really over now and that I was no longer hers and she was no longer mine. That I was single, that I was alone for the first time in my adult life at the age of 29.
I tried to keep myself occupied for the next month by reconnecting with old friends still in town, continuing to work on school applications, and finding out what all the dating apps that people had been talking about were like. I felt that there was no point in stopping to grieve the loss, that in order for me to move forward or even become the different type of person required for Carly and me to be right in the future, I needed to be out there doing new things and meeting new people. In addition to that, the truth was that being alone was incredibly painful and I was constantly desperate to have someone else around.
Berkeley & choosing
I got back in tough with a handful of friends in Columbus and ended up using dating apps mostly to make friends. I went on a few very casual dates and not wanting to mislead, I shared the truth of my recent relationship openly when the subject came up.
Kels, Randy, Kels and Erica, Katelyn, Julia
Quitting VS, getting ready for the move and the letter to Carly
the move and waiting
summer session and making tons of very impressive and down to earth friends who I fell in love with
Great around others, but as classes began and I spent more time working alone I couldn’t focus on the work but only realizing ways that I took Carly for granted and didn’t appreciate her enough. Floodgates of tears, guilt, sadness, writing first song, isolating began. At this point I was crying most days and most nights.
learning how to be a student for really the first time. Being given assignments on subject before they were taught. New teaching methods. Also having unhealthy expectations and punishment of myself. Expecting to work hard and feel on top of things but not and progressively feeling that I would be lucky with all Bs, then all Cs and just to pass and get to stay. Feeling like I couldn’t afford to to anything but stress out even though it wasn’t productive.
Lost in class and on my own. Not the only one, but I still felt like I was the most lost and helpless. Others accomplishments and composure. Feeling that I didn’t belong to be there and I wasn’t capable of even passing the program. That every past success or accomplishment on my resume was only accomplished by the people around me that I worked with and that I actually was completely incompetent on my own. The type of feeling that was reenforced at home without Carly and seeing ways that I had been a kind of parasite to all the love and support that she gave me and I felt like I didn’t equally return out of weakness.
Constantly feeling behind and barely managing to catch up at the last second for every quiz or assignment. Unable to manage my time. Feeling like I couldn’t afford to buy the books I needed. Feeling like I couldn’t use my new computer and phone as well as others to get things done quickly and easily. Not as fast at writing or creating presentations as group partners.
talking to Rach and mom for hours a week and starting therapy – trying to use support instead of meds
new place, stress, living alone and why
visit from Kels
crippling anxiety of failing, calling for hours a day
actually feeling ok after completing each final that I did well enough to pass
CIM, other friends arriving, furniture visit, bringing mom out to meet friends.
packed building, clubs, recruiting, social grouping really picking up, PreTerm MORS I didn’t seem to be able to get into and enjoy the material and interactive exercises as muh as everyone. I felt that I might just not be cut out for the business world. only relief was being around others in any capacity, socially or to work or study together.certain that I completely bombed my MORS final.
almost aceing the quant courses finals
Fall quarter classes starting, feeling lost again immediately
hopelessly lost, waking up in sweaty panic
Rach bringing car, mom to bring her back.
Already too late, I couldn’t do coursework, I was talking to Joe and could see the fear in his eyes from how empty I was as I described how pointless trying felt anymore. Spoke with Prof who also said that there was no light in my eyes. Her and Dean Fran said that medical leave was always an option. While my family was there all I could do was cry and shake and tell them that I didn’t know it was possible to feel this way. That I didn’t want to kill myself, but I didn’t want to keep living either. Much like my breakup with Carly, I kept telling my mom and sister that I was sorry for needing their help, thanking them for their help, telling them I loved them.
Finally getting to meet with the psychiatrist to talk about medication. Was hoping so bad for a quick fix. After I’d taken the intake survey about how I was feeling and met her in her office I was expecting her to talk about the options of plans to keep me at school.
Instead she showed me a image of a depressed brain next to a normally functioning brain. The normal one was lit up with yellow and orange activity while the depressed one was black and blue. She explained how the deficit of chemicals in the depressed brain inhibit a wide range of cognitive function and why I shouldn’t be so hard on myself for feeling like everything was so difficult because I had essentially been trying to run a marathon with a shattered femur.
Then she pulled out what turned out to be the results from the intake survey I had taken outside her office. She explained that the results were scales for depression and anxiety ranging from something like 1-30 each, with 1-10 being mild, 11-20 being moderate, and 21-30 being severe. For anxiety, she told me I scored a 27, securely on the high end of severe almost high as the scale accounted for. Then for depression, I might be remembering this wrong because my brain wasn’t working very well, but I think she said that I somehow inexplicably managed to score above the upper-bound of 30.
Her recommendation was not to stay and start medication, but to enroll in a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and then an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).
I was a failure, I was weak, I couldn’t do it, I was giving up, I was lazy, all my fears and worst thoughts about myself were confirmed. I didn’t deserve to be among the people I’d met and fell in love with, and now they would know it.
I got some pretty strong anti-anxiety pills to hold me over for the next few days while my family researched and decided on the health clinic options, necessities were packed up, we drove the car that was just brought up for me to use to Ohio, and I waited to begin PHP/IOP back in the house I lived in in high school.
I had taken a bigger step backwards than I ever in my wildest dreams could have imagined.