More Imperfect Than Not

Yesterday I set out to write a review of the last year of my life, from a professional standpoint, and in the process I came to the realization that I'd actually had a pretty good 2019, creatively speaking.

So now I'm going to try to do the same with my personal life.

It's New Years Eve, and I'm alone. This is my own doing. I had two big breakups in 2019, one platonic and one romantic. In the long run, I think they were both the correct decision. In the short term, they've hurt like hell.

I came into 2019 homeless and having not had any kind of romance in my life since the dissolution of my last relationship in the summer of 2017. I was crashing on my best friend's couch, and using Tinder as a tool to stroke my ego by accumulating matches and then never actually contacting anyone.

My preliminary resolutions for the New Year were easy: find a place to live, and actually be proactive about using Tinder to meet and date cool people. And, with any luck, meet *one* cool person I could settle down with and with whom I could hopefully be splitting my rent, by the end of the year.

In February, I moved into a beautiful, dream apartment overlooking train tracks, the ocean and the mountains. That it is squarely on the boundary between Vancouver's needle district and industrial land, and a block away from the city's prime streetwalker's stroll, is immaterial. Ditto the fact that my truck was broken into, and my mailbox, soon after my arrival.

The view is spectacular, and I will sell a kidney to pay the rent before I move out of here.

(My best friend helped me move in.)

In March, I found out that my dog, Lucy, had cancer. Rather, my best friend found out. Luckily, we caught it early, and after surgery, recovery, and the cone of shame, Lucy has recovered just fine. But it was scary nonetheless.

In April, I decided to go back on the antidepressants I'd shunned the summer before. Long story short, I was sick of being a dick to people I cared about. This was a good decision and I regret it not at all.

My goal for 2020, as in every new year, is to earn enough money so that I can treat my mental health care as a necessary expense, and not a luxury item. This is, sadly, not a sure thing, even in Canada--but there is so much I would do, if only I had the funds.

Also in April, I started to see someone, a beautiful, funny and engaging woman named C whom my boot camp instructor had introduced me to.

(I'd given up on Tinder after a couple of months. I'd dated around, and even hooked up some, but I was sick of the swipe life already.)

What attracted me most to C was that she was genuine; she was secure in who she was, and made no apologies, but she didn't take herself too seriously, either. We laughed a lot, on our first date, and for seven months afterward.

I had, more or less, a dream summer. I camped and traveled often, with C, or with my best friend, or by myself. I went on more adventures than I can possibly describe here, and I did a lot of writing, too.

Still, something wasn't working.

I couldn't give myself, fully, to C. I was and remain terrified of getting my heart broken again, and I didn't want to put myself at risk unless I was sure that C was the one.

And I wasn't sure. So I limited my time with C to one or two days a week, and kept a part of myself walled-off and protected.

All the same, I knew that I liked C and enjoyed spending time with her, and I recognized that I would never be sure about anyone, so long as I didn't give myself fully.

So I tried to give more of myself. And I tried to make changes to my life that would put me in a better position to be open to a relationship.

One of these changes meant losing my best friend.

This was really hard, but I believe it was necessary. I'd been in a more-or-less platonic partnership with my best friend for years, and it wasn't fully satisfying to either of us.

Certainly, from my standpoint, I'd come to rely on her to an unhealthy extent. And I'd come to suspect that as long as I leaned on her so heavily, I wouldn't want or need to make myself emotionally available in a romantic relationship.

Moreover, it was clear to me that I was holding my best friend back from something better and more fulfilling, too.

I hoped that this platonic breakup would give me a better chance to be present and engaged emotionally with C.

That I'm alone on New Years should tell you how that worked out. Last year I was partying with my best friend and our friends. Up until a few weeks ago, I had NYE plans with C. But a few weeks ago, I pulled the plug on that relationship, too.

I'd told myself that if I just gave it time, I would fall in love with C. But no matter how long we saw each other, I never felt sure. And I still don't really know if that's because she wasn't right for me, or because I just didn't open up enough.

In my experience, when you break up with someone, you feel sadness, sure, but there's also some measure of relief. It sucks to break someone's heart, or even just disappoint them. But when you do it, it's done, at least. You can both start figuring out how to move on.

I'm still waiting to feel relieved. And I'm still trying to figure out the moving on part.

I miss my best friend, of course. And I miss the friends that she got in the break-up. And I miss C, too, and sometimes I wonder if I've made a mistake.

But I feel that it was a positive step to become more self-reliant, no matter how scary the prospect might be. I feel that there's no sense in stringing people along or promising something you can't or won't deliver.

I know that I hurt people this year, but I believe, in the long run, that we'll all be better for it.

What I don't know is how to move forward from here. The idea of putting myself out there still terrifies me, no matter how lonely I am sometimes.

I know I have a lot of work to do, and that sooner or later I'm going to have to force myself to take risks again.

Sooner or later, I'm going to have to allow for the possibility that I'll get my heart broken.

I guess, if I look back on where I stood a year ago, and where I am now, I've taken some steps forward, and I've taken steps backward. I'm in a different place than I was, but it's not clear yet to me whether it's a better place, or worse.

Maybe all I can do is keep moving, and trust that, ultimately, I'll wind up where I want to be.

I hope that's true. I've lost a lot this year, if it's not.