I was twenty-six and though I had dated a lot and experienced more first dates and forgettable kisses than most, I could not seem to get over this one girl. It was no longer massive pain, but it was still there. It was like a sore tooth that you could avoid by purposely chewing on one side of your mouth. But every once and a while a kernel or crunchy bit would come in contact and send a zinging pain down your spinal cord. This specific girl had walked out of my life years ago. But from time to time I found myself feeling that unpleasant zing, that reminder that pain was there waiting for me just beneath the surface. Being a writer, I enrolled myself in the one free and fool proof course of therapy that I knew, writing. I figured I would start at the genesis of my serious dating life at age twenty-one and sort of discover where I went wrong, or what I was missing. Surely in jotting down my past memories and reminders of breakups and crying in bed, some sort of cognitive solution to my problems, or rather a pattern might emerge. So I blazed through chapters recalling good memories and painful conversations I thought I had forgot, all in pursuit of healing and revelatory catharsis. Two months later I had finished the manuscript of what would become my first published book, “I’m Trying Here: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Misadventure.”
Had I arrived at this expectant plateau of renewed understanding? Was I a changed man, now destined to settle down with the love of my life? Not exactly. I was still single. I was still the oldest nephew at family gatherings without a wife and kids. So what good came from all this? Was this just a reminder of my shortcomings and the fact that “the one” had gotten away? The short answer is no. In the process of recording five or so years of my life I realized a few rather essential things. I realized that we all make mistakes in relationships. We all have regrets (even those people who fervently claim that they have no regrets), and we are all trying. I also came to realize that my path no matter how thorny and sinuous was its own unique journey, a journey that would eventually lead me to the girl that I would end up with.
Nearly two years later and I am still single, still not making jokes with J.K Rowling in our weekly cocktail parties about author problems, but I am happy. I am trying. Has the girl that sort of smashed my heart completely vanished from my mind? Not completely. But now instead of an aching tooth that pokes at my nerve endings from time to time, the discomfort I feel is like a fleeting itch I can’t get to until I remove my sock. I hate hearing the phrase “Time heals all wounds.” But it kind of does. And at the end of the day, I am not left with sorrow and ache. I live by the adage of Sir James Mathew Barrie who said, “Let no one who loves be called unhappy. Even love unreturned has its rainbow.”
So I’m not saying everyone should write a memoir of their dating experiences. I am just saying a little reflection can help you realize that it will all be okay, and that we can either remember the fear and destruction of the storm, or glance back and see the beauty of the rainbow that is left in its wake.
Have you ever had a failed relationship? Have you ever felt inadequate? Or have you ever been sick of trying? If so, you should check out my book. Surely we have had different experiences, but in hearing other people’s stories, sometimes we realize how similar our plight is with another. We all yearn to love, we all want to catch a break, and we all hate rejection, and we are all trying here.
There is one month left of my Kickstarter. Please check it out and share with others. You can pledge as little as 1 dollar, and you can pledge 15 and get a signed copy of “I’m Trying Here.”