You can hear the soft hum of the transistor radio from here. You lay in a ditch as the sun beats down over your helmet. It’s been weeks of war, you’re famished for what you had at home, but you must win, so on your belly you crawl.

The sun is fading as you come upon a house with the enemy’s markings all around. This must have been his digs, you swear you can smell his scent- feel his footprints. You’re in army gear, you have your ears perked for ANYTHING. Any bit of information that would make you get the inside look, and defeat. You’re taking mental notes of everything you’ve seen, leaving no trail behind you, trying to move closer to the catch. You’re dirty, and exhausted- and the longing to not want to care anymore is extreme. You believed someone else’s words to get here, and you let all the ‘evidence’ build up, and sadly- it’s all evidence that amounts to nothing. You stand up, you shrug your shoulders and you take off your helmet. No one’s shot at you, you realize. There’s been no bullets flying over your head, only one radio you stole from the garage, and a few people who said, “I know he probably did this.” And you? Feel like, a –total- idiot.

 

My friend Seanathon recently told me a story I hope he doesn’t share. He had a tough breakup with his girlfriend at the time and in angry words she told him how she had done a certain sexual act with someone else. He was devastated. Seanathon’s not one to give out personal stories, so I know when one comes? It’s usually well-prepared-gold. It’s usually of deep meaning. “Do not go searching for the things that hurt you further, no matter if someone else finds it, or you stumble across enemy lines- cut the cord, and let it go.” I know, a lot of us do this. We break up with someone and especially when there’s a huge amount of doubt and dishonesty that occurred in the relationship, nothing seems out of the question. Suddenly because you can’t trust him, he screwed the entire female lacrosse team. Suddenly, he’s the one laughing when you point something out and you take another look and shake your head… circumstantial evidence- that amounts to nothing.

 

We swap stories like battle wounds, don’t we? Someone emailed me from GMG and talked about how she caught her ex in bed with another guy, and he asked her to join. I can’t even imagine the balls, (all four of them,) it took to look his devastated girlfriend in the face and ask her to buy-in to his cheating. The sadder thing was, is that she did and years later she still feels the pain of doing something she knows that would do nothing but hurt her. She thought that maybe by accepting this side of him, he’d grow to love her more. He did, for a while. But she grew less to herself. This is what happens when we compromise who we are for someone else, or winning with them.

 

I’m convinced that maybe, someday- I’ll get it right. I won’t have to to look back the next morning, with a revenge-induced-hangover, and think, “why the hell did I let myself get pulled into that last night?” I bought in, and that was my responsibility. I looked, and that was my responsibility.

 

Sometimes, we put ourselves on our knees for others. (We know the outcome of this.) Other times, we put ourselves on our knees for no one but US. The outcome here- is the same. Martyrdom benefits no one. We have plenty of other things we could be doing, and that I could have been doing last night instead of reading something and allowing myself to become  incoherently depressed. My favorite guy even consoled me.

 

The best things in our lives are those that step up when we lose track. They come over to your former house and pack up while you sit at the kitchen table crying so hard that you ruin your contacts. They kiss you and hug you and tell you that you’re the best mommy in the world, (despite forgetting sunblock at the park.) They call you and remind you of your drive, and intelligence. And sometimes- they hold you, even a year after you swore to god if you saw them again you’d rip their eyeballs our and play hockey with them- thank god you didn’t- because you needed those eyes to show you that you were unforgettable, and they still cared. And out of all of these, the relationships that encourage, empower, and articulate who you are and who they know you can be- affection aside- the most important relationship we have, is with ourselves. (How many times have we heard this?) We take ourselves for granted, and we throw our emotions around and assume we’ll just clean it up later, without any thought to how it’ll make us feel then- we take for granted that things do matter, and the pain we cause ourselves cuts deepest of all.

 

You can convince yourself to move on, and mostly- you do. You start dating again, and you kiss someone else for the first time in a moment of thrill and regret, realizing- the touch of their lips on yours will never be the last. (So you take off your shirt too- because really while we at it?) … J (laugh with me.. this is funny.)

 

But in all seriousness, you move without moving. And suddenly the surprise of finding people that want to call when they say they will, and want commitment, scares the SHIT out of you. It’s like going from a deserted island to a convention of trekkies. They seem foreign and strange, and you wonder what kind of speak they will hit you with- or what technology they’ll pull out that’ll lure you. Your ears are still perked, and this isn’t always a good thing. Your fighting back for the very things you wanted, and you have NO IDEA why. Suddenly people are calling and you’re thinking it’s all just a little too much- more than you wanted- and with everyone around, you still feel lonely. I describe this as sabotage. You use yourself as a weapon, if he doesn’t want you? How could anyone possibly want you, right? And so.. you talk more, and you kiss more, you think more and you FEEL more. You push and pull, and suddenly a text goodnight seems a little less strange, and you take more nights alone- and you stop feeling like everyone is out to ninja-kick you. But you’re not sure.

 

And that, in all honesty? Is where I am. Sometimes, I’ve kept the people that have been the worst out of fear of not having them at all, and the good ones? I immediately try to find something wrong with- because, I’m probably somewhat unstable and mentally handicapped when it comes to decent men. I don’t think this can be perfected with, ‘the right guy.’ Because seriously? They’ve all seemed like decent guys, (even the one who only hung out with 18 year old girls.) His issues were front and center, so I thought- there must be little under the surface- I became comfortable with blinding, horrific, trainwreck issues, (as long as I could see them.) Every guy says, “I’m not him, baby!” And that’s epically true- they never are. But those who immediately go into defense mode usually have something to prove- maybe they’re the male version of me- maybe there are two kinds of people in the world: Those that have been ninja-kicked, and those that have not. Either way, at this age- most of us have experienced the evilness of a huge breakup. We seem to accept the wrong, and hide the good. We’re always expecting a hail-mary-pass in the last quarter to hit us in the face. And I’m convinced that if you weren’t on the field- that wouldn’t happen- but getting off the playing field? Is something I also completely SUCK at. I’ve been turning down second and third dates lately, and turning down a vacation request, (no joke.) Because I want this time, even if it’s week by week- to figure myself out. I don’t see the benefit of finding another hand to hold right now when I’m waiting for the the one behind their back to be holding a machete. It’s not about meeting the right one- it’s about trusting your instincts again- no one can prove that for you.