I’ve been lost for a while now. Not lost completely, but I would say that I don’t 100 % know who I am anymore, and I’m struggling to determine what I want to do next.

To give a little bit of background, I spent the past 13 years of my life in three long-term relationships, the first of which lasted over seven years. At the time, I had never been in a relationship longer than six months, so when we surpassed that mark I think it had me believing this must be it. We had a lot in common and I felt like we were good friends as well as partners. But realistically, there were a lot of red flags from the beginning, all of which I ignored because I liked him “in that way” enough to believe it was worth sticking out. I tried so hard to make that relationship work that I think I gave up some of myself and my boundaries in the process. And that’s so strange to me. I always prided myself on being very independent before that. Looking back, I think I just wanted it to work so much that I held on where I shouldn’t have until the day I finally couldn’t take it anymore.

The second relationship began three months later, and I don’t think I was ready to get back into one. I had recently reclaimed my apartment, was enjoying living alone again, and hadn’t really had the time to process what I had been through. But sometimes even positive things happen at inopportune times, right? We talked about moving in together a few times over that first year, but I always told him I wouldn’t until he improved his living situation. I cannot even begin to explain here the disastrous state his house was in. But I caved. I agreed to move in a little over a year into our relationship under the compromise that living there would be temporary and sharing costs would help us both get out of debt faster. I had planned to put most of my stuff in a storage, but the move occurred on a holiday weekend, the storage would be closed for another two days, and I couldn’t afford at the time to keep the truck for the additional time. We ended up piling my belongings into a downstairs room.

My new environment made me miserable. My mind was chaotic. If you’re not a person who is strongly affected by your environment, I’m not sure if I know how to explain it other than to say it really affected my mental state. I tried to clean up where I could, and it helped, but I never felt at peace. Eventually, he began making improvements to the house as well, but that too had its own set of issues, and ultimately added to the distress.

Aside from the housing situation, his sister had passed away of cancer the summer following my move-in, and I don’t think he ever got past it. He wouldn’t talk about it, and he increasingly spent his time outside of work holed up in a room playing video games. I held on for four years because I knew he was a good man, and he had a wonderful family who always made me feel a part of things. In the end, though, I realized it wasn’t fair to him or to me to hold on for such reasons when I didn’t feel the same type of love. But of course I made a mess of things upon my exit.

The third relationship began almost immediately, and it seemed like it was going to be good for me. He was younger than me, but he said wanted to do a lot of the same things I did, and I was ready for adventures. Plus, he made me laugh a lot, and that’s always a good thing, especially when you’re stressed. And in the beginning, I spent a lot of time stressing! Dealing with the aftermath of my recent break-up was hard, and I was feeling out of sorts with my living situation – I spent the first five months of our relationship at my sister’s until I saved up a little and found a suitable apartment.

He started out very supportive through it all, like my own personal cheerleader. For instance, I knew I had to figure out how I wanted to handle my debt load, and he helped me commit to getting out of debt. It still took me a while for me to take action, but I finally accepted what I needed: getting a second job. Of course, once I began working 25-30 extra hours a week, all that changed. Where he was once supportive, he became very critical of me, often disagreeing with the way I chose to handle (or not) things. Maybe he meant well, but he was a creature who lacked emotion and it really got to me in the end. He was the one to end it, but I think we’re both the better for it. I know I’m a lot calmer these days, especially now that I’m debt free. Well, unless you count that beast of a student loan…

I didn’t go off on this little tangent to trash anybody. Even where things ended badly, I recognize a lot of areas where I went wrong as well. I’m far from perfect. But all I can do now is move forward, and that’s what this is all about. I plan to be in a constant state of learning and (hopefully) improvement until I die, and I’m ready to begin taking some positive action toward whatever it is I decide to be or do. But what is that exactly?

I’m branding this year’s blog theme as Year 39 because I turn 39 on March 3rd. I need things to be different. This year I’m going to set more specific goals, even if they’re short-term for now, take more risks, and travel solo, so that I might “re-discover” myself and what I want out of life. I’m not exactly sure where things will lead, but I’m looking forward to the adventures along the way.


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