I fucked up

Hey dad, I fucked up. I spit in the face of True Love, and I lost my girl. I didn’t care for the movie “High Fidelity,” but I am experiencing some facsimile of it, with an uncertain ending.

I see that I mentioned this breakup as some minor sub-point in my last email, but it’s really eating me alive. I’m really committed to my fitness and my work, but I’ve thought things like, “Great, so I can be all ripped and rich and alone.” I didn’t mean to lose my girl, and when I add it all up, I just don’t think we should be apart anymore; none of the reasons seem very compelling to me. Moreover, we ran into one another last Sunday (not yesterday), and it was just so romantic. I was sure we would immediately back together, but she texted me two days later informing me otherwise. Now, it appears we’re back to her pretending I don’t exist, and my pretending that’s OK.

I feel so confused. I miss her so much, but she made it sound like she’s making a good use of her time and developing herself and her interests. I’m happy for her, but I just love her and hate being without her. Ostensibly, she’s distraught that I’m a decade older than her (now that we’ve been together 2-3 years…), but in reality, I’m in pretty much excellent shape for anyone of any age. Not to mention, as you taught me, we never know how long life will go. That reaper is always lurking.

Anyway, I have remained steadily focused on my fitness and recovery from my spasms/pain/neck thing and on my work. I have been going to boxing once or twice a day — it’s a fierce workout! I finally went back to yoga the other day, which I used to think was hard work, and it was like…boring. It was good, though. I needed to stretch and slow down. Plus, I wanted to send my girl a video of me descending the stairs so she’d know I went back to class: Another point of contention was that I had quit going to yoga right when she had moved her membership back to our shared studio. She still goes there but not the same location as me.

When she broke up with me in May and didn’t talk to me for a month, I was crushed. I saw where we had fallen into a handful of bad habits that didn’t foster a loving and caring relationship. For instance, she had invited me to visit her parents, and I just didn’t feel like adjusting my routines for a few days. I mean, COME ON! I just needed light encouragement, maybe. Or maybe I needed to be dumped so that I could reflect on all my little shortcomings and missteps. When we got back together in June, I really tried to show her how much I love her, but I also saw us fall back into the same patterns right away. I wish I had been more cautious in getting involved again, but within two weeks, she was falling asleep on my couch, while I stayed up late studying. But, I mean, what’s so bad about that? I miss having her asleep on my couch. If she were here, I’d be snuggling her, not writing to my dead dad. I am almost certain that would be more fulfilling.

Anyway, that’s not an option right now, and I feel pretty much like out of hope and like I just wasn’t good enough at being in a loving relationship to deserve one. And I feel like I was so fortunate to have my girl, but now she’s gone. And though just the other day, she_felt_ like my girl and _talked_ like my girl and _acted_ like my girl, she “has decided that we should not be together.” And maybe I’m parsing words too closely, but the whole thing feels like intentionally depersonalized to make it more palatable for herself. And that just seems so wrong and unromantic. I want to be with her because I love her, and I love her because of the totality of whom she is to me and whom I am with her–everything else is just details. Right? If we can’t have romantic relationships based on unadulterated desire, what’s the point of any of this?

Man, I didn’t mean to ramble about all this, but here we are.

Dad, dad. Dad. It’s too bad you got yourself killed, but I see how easy that shit is. Especially when you DON’T ADEQUATELY ASSESS RISK AND VERIFY CONTROLS. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you caused the problem or failed to prevent the accident while we were in flight, but man, we just let some rando airport mechanic work on it. You really should have taken any aberrant engine behavior or unexpected sounds more seriously. Of course, I only have that opinion deep into my career that heavily involves assessing risk and examining risk mitigation strategies. I have you to thank for all this, dad. Left to my own devices, I think I would have liked to be a cartoonist or professional rockhound or some other sensitive boy job. But I was so young so who knows.

All I know for sure is that the one constant in my life has been the experience of traumatic loss. And maybe redemption and recovery; still working on those. But I know the feeling of losing love so well, and I was just thinking the other day that I feel like maybe I didn’t get adequate attention following the accident, leading me to alienating myself by just separating myself from the group to go listen to my walkman (discman by then, of course). I think this was my way of crying for help or for some kind of connection or respite or solace, but I feel like it was [reasonably] perceived by any group to be more or less anti-social behavior, to be avoided. Thus exacerbating my experience of alienation.

And don’t get me wrong, I grew up in Texas, so I know that if I want to belong, it’s up to me to assimilate. I’ve just never been excellent at all facets of assimilation. I will do my best to perform academically or athletically, but I’m not typically inclined to join in on the social activities. I’m too tall and weird for being part of anything. I became a loner, but I do know how to love–with my heart. I don’t know how to break it all down into matrices for quantitative analysis. I only know how to love with my heart and to want to be with the person I love, but I’ve tended to not take romantic relationships very seriously as long-term vehicles. I’ve figured my partner would really get to know me and get tired of me being the way I am, which I guess has now happened. But now I see that a lot of the way I was being was just …preoccupied.

Ever since this godforsaken neck spasm thing began, it has held the majority of my attention span captive. It’s hard to ignore intense pressure in the middle of my neck/head/shoulders that obstructs my breathing and frequently causes a visible jerk in my larynx. But I’ve been working like a motherfucker to get rid of it. Today, the teller at the bank asked, “May I ask you a personal question?” “Sure, I replied.” She proceeded to ask how I “stay so fit.” I told  her I exercise a lot, and when she asked how I could have the discipline, I explained that I have had a chronic pain condition that really only abates when I’m moving and warm. I struggle to sleep, but when I’m about 20-30 minutes into a boxing class, I’m like fully alive.

This past decade has been very challenging for me, physically. It was just about exactly 10 years ago that I had “the incident” and began having this feeling that something was wrong inside. And while the pain and bad feelings still linger, I feel like I have come along way. I used to feel so hopeless and spend hours on my heating pad every day. I used to know life was passing me by while I lay on my floor or in bed, feeling scared that I was slowly rotting away, going from appointment to appointment, from PTs to chiropractors to neurologists to rolfers to osteopaths and round and round and round.

In 2015, after my last girlfriend finally broke up with me (for totally legitimate reasons), I finally started going to yoga, pretty much daily, and it started me on a path of rebuilding confidence in my body. Very slowly. Man. I think about how I would like feel that I was making progress and looking good, but I was also so easily scared and rattled. And it wasn’t just in my head! One day in class, I lost my voice doing an updog. I felt something sorta snap in my throat, and I was limited to a whisper for several days.

I know my girl was eventually put off by the way I have become as a result of living with this condition and the limitations I impose on my life because of it. I know it’s made me boring, and that shit breaks my heart. I’m so proud of myself for being dedicated to getting well that I have become totally preoccupied with physical fitness, because I still have the spasms. And I *still* feel like only exercise opens me up a little bit to where I can calm down (or have a parasympathetic response, as my trainer puts it).

At the same time, I really like being active. I don’t love that I have had to suffer for years to have this appreciation for my body and physical fitness, but I think a threat to my ability to exist and move comfortably has been a highly motivating force in my life. I have learned so much about biomechanics and patience and just everything. I feel like I merit great love and satisfaction in life, and I guess that’s why I feel like I *get* the love and then burn through it, by being too much of a burden, even though I sincerely put in my best effort. But I know I could have done better. You can always do better, try harder.

I fucked up.

Hey dad

Hey dad, how’s it going? It’s weird to write you, on account of your being dead and all, but I just wanted to say hi. It’s been just over 26 years since you’ve died, and it’s just been hard for me to let it go.

This year, I really wanted to talk to you, to let you know what my life is like, but it’s weird because if you were around for me to tell you about my life, it wouldn’t be anything like it is. It’s funny because I remember you as like a fun and happy-go-lucky kinda guy. You seemed really smart to me, back when I was a boy, but I bet I’d judge your intellect as less impressive now. I’d probably judge a lot about you because I judge everything–everything and everyone. The day you died was the most formative single day in my life. Up until then, I was a privileged little jerk. Like you identified months before your passing, back when I was in 7th grade, I was not on a great path. I just wanted to be cool and to like work as hard as I needed in order to get A’s and B’s or whatever. But when you died, I immediately had to navigate many more complexities of life, and the experience of grappling with your passing really taught me a lot about taking care of myself and the importance of pursuing my interests and passions.

I have so much more I want to say, but it’s almost midnight. I’ve been trying to get to sleep ….well, I haven’t… I’ve been *meaning* to get to sleep earlier, but I keep on staying up working until 2 or 3 am. I’m so tired from sleeping so little, and I’m additionally just exhausted from dealing with chronic pain for years. It’s this whole thing I don’t really have the time to explain right now. Maybe I’ll write more later, but for now I should get going.

I should thank you, though. Leaving aside the sorta sad lessons you taught me by going off and getting yourself killed, you and mom really gave me a great childhood; one that allowed me to be a privileged little jerk for several years. Moreover, you helped foster my interests and helped me develop into a critical thinker. I remember all the times you or Jimmy used to drive me to the city library after school so I could navigate the Dewey Decimal System and the card catalog to write random-ass research papers. I think back often to how that speech class that taught me how to make outlines was one of the best pedagogical experiences I ever had, and I attribute my command of outlines and my thoughtfulness to the support you showed me by dropping me off to pursue my independent studies. That was really a great experience, and I wish I had a way to show you all my accomplishments and challenges and everything so you could see that I have really done my best to make something of myself, despite significant challenges along the way.

I miss you and wish you had lived. I was always afraid I’d lose you, and I lost you the worst way a person can lose. I really wish you had been more careful.

p.s. my girlfriend dumped me like the day after the anniversary of your death. She was great,  and I miss her. Unfortunately, I think some of the effects of losing you have stuck with me and made it harder for me to like “share a life.” Plus, this chronic pain thing I mentioned is really a downer for people who feel comfortable inside their bodies. I’ve been working for 9 years to get out of pain, and I’ve made some progress….but it’s slow. Unlike my many digressions, which come so easily. Take care of yourself, dad.