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Sexual Frustration

 

Right now I am more sexually frustrated than I can remember ever being at any other time in my life. It's gotten to the point that I can barely focus on anything else. I'm seeing every single girl I look at as a potential partner and thinking about every single thing I do in terms of "will this impress women?"

 

Every day when I wake up I check my e-mail and hope that some attractive female has replied to a message of mine on OKCupid or sent me a flirtatious note on Facebook. When they inevitably haven't, my heart sinks a little deeper and I have to tell myself to suck it up and stop seeking validation this way. "You're awake! You have things to do today! Stop worrying about it!"

 

I stumble my way through my morning routine and head out the door. As I'm walking the half-mile stretch of highway to the nearest bus stop I'm passed by hundreds of vehicles on their way to wherever. There might be one or two of us on our feet, doing things the hard way. As my eyes glance over the cars behind the crosswalks I subconsciously check the seats in every single one of them to see if the occupant is an attractive female. "Are they looking at me? Am I invisible? Chin up! Onwards! We mustn't look depressed!" When I arrive at the bus stop I look to see if there are any women there. "Are they attractive? Are they showing any interest in me? Is there any way to make a connection?" It's too early in the morning for small talk... Again, on the bus, I make eye contact with the girl sitting accross from me with her headphones on. She smiles back sheepishly. I grin faux-knowingly and turn my gaze to the front as she goes back to reading and blocking out the world. It's impolite to stare! "Is she secretly as longing for connection as I am? Is she stuck in her hellish commute and job, day in and day out, surrounded by the same boring faces in cubicles, dying to find mutual release with the right man? Does she come home to an empty apartment every evening wishing there was somebody there to hold? Am I even on the radar here?" The voice of reason sounds: "No, you're probably just projecting your own feelings onto strangers. These people all have their own friends and lives. Their routines are comfortable to them! Look at the way she's reading her paper and sipping out of her thermos. She's built a life for herself and this is just a small part of it. She's probably got friends on the other side of the world and a cohort of co-workers that go jogging on the trail together after lunch. I'll bet she even has a loving husband and children to come home to after work. It's YOU that's going home alone today! Sure, some of these people are frustrated too, but they've had their sex. They're worrying about life's other issues now while they stare out the windows. Can they pay their bills? Are their friends in trouble? They can't possibly be feeling this sexual intensity the way you are. Grandpa in the corner there? Nah... Being 26 sucks. Damn these hormones!"

 

When I get to school I have 15 minutes to kill before class starts. I spend this time buying a muffin from the clerk at the cafe. She's kind of cute, but she's way too chatty and dresses like a magazine model. When she says "have a nice day" what I really hear is "you look like a nerd so I'm going to assume you have no social skills and think it's cute that you probably assume I'm interested in you when I tell you to have a nice day, but I'm way too cool to actually give a crap about you so I'm just going to accompany my words with a plastic customer service expression as usual." It's easy to just play the awkward nerd and let her think what she wants. She doesn't need to know the truth, that I really DO want her attention and to be the gossip of all the other fashionable girls gathered around the corner sofas with their Uggs and pink cellphones. I know they're superficial, I know they're not wholesome, and I know they stand for everything I hate, but just once I want to be the object of their lusty games. I want to be desired! I need to get a grip...

 

Sitting in class you already know what I'm thinking about. Inevitably none of them are at my table. As the alpha dork all the other insecure dweebs flock to me. I don't want to be friends anymore. I don't want to talk about Dungeons and Dragons and the Starcraft 2 beta while licking pizza off of my glasses. That was my past life. I want to move on! I want to get laid! I'm too old for this crap now! I mention relationships and loneliness and they stare at me awkwardly the way a normal person would if I brought up quantum mechanics. One of them chimes in: "Isn't that what the internet is for?" There are snickers... Whatever, they've probably just buried their own feelings of intimacy too deeply to relate. I would know, that's what nerds have to do. I'm a little envious since I'd be able to focus better if I could re-bury my own issues, but the cat's out of the bag now. I lost my virginity and I only want more.

 

The older folks always tell me that college is awash in dating opportunities and that I should be taking advantage of this wonderful time in my life! Well, it's just not working that way. I can exchange longing glances around the room and even chat it up with the ladies, but it never leads anywhere. There's always a reservation. They always have a boyfriend or they're too busy, or they're not really interested in meeting outside of class. I'm scaring them off somehow. I'm just that weird 26 year old guy that doesn't belong in any of the 18 year old circles. I don't wear American Eagle clothing or gel my hair. I don't walk or talk or smell the right way. I'm just not in touch with whatever it is that these girls want. It's even worse in the group projects. I'm a teammate and nothing more. Communication by e-mail only. Contact limited to in-class meetings. I end up doing all the work by myself. And then there are the wholesome studious girls that I actually want to get to know. (And not just have sex with) Are they even sexual? They just crank out assignment after assignment, write their notes down furiously, and ignore the crap out of me and every other guy in the room. I truly just don't get it. There are clearly some discrepancies between the sexes and what they both want out of life.

 

Defeated, I come home and go through the usual string of flirtations and missed connections along the bus-lines (women, not the buses). I'm so pent up with frustration that I log on to my dating profile before I've even taken my shoes off. The girls at school aren't interested, so maybe somebody my own age will be? I send out my messages, some short and witty, some direct and insulting, some long and riddled with seriousness, some interested and encouraging, some confident and bragging, some blunt and sexual, and some goofy and indifferent. Surely something's bound to work eventually? The women almost always read my messages and view my profile, but I rarely hear back from them afterwards. They must be looking for bigger fish. Men with cars and degrees. I can't help but be frustrated with my past.

 

At the very end of the day, usually around midnight, when my tasks are completed and my frustrations addressed in vain, I check my e-mail like I did first thing in the morning. After staring at an empty inbox, knowing that the world has gone to sleep and that nobody has reached out for me I can only avoid crying by tabbing over to some porn and masturbating in a futile attempt to relieve my emotional burdens through physical release.

 

And so the days have gone...

 

Eventually I turned to other activities, the adage being that I just need to get out more. I took up rock-climbing, and I love it! I can't wait to improve and put some real muscles on my body. (My subconscious mind of course seeing this as a potential way to attract women) I joined the Seattle Mountaineers and went on dozens of hikes all over the state! It's a hit, and I keep coming back for more! (Nevermind that there aren't any women under 40 on these hikes) I even started running the school's Outdoor Adventure Club! (Over 250 members, 20% of which are female, half of which don't already have boyfriends, all of which want to know what they missed at the last club meeting because they didn't show up, and none of which see me as anything but "that guy you have to talk to to sign up for stuff") I took up yoga as well, and it's been a great thing for both my mind and body. (and hey, now I'm surrounded by healthy women that give me worried looks whenever I so much as glance at them!) Eventually I took some salsa dancing classes, which did wonders for my confidence! (Of course, getting rejected by every girl that I asked to go clubbing with afterwards didn't help much) Hell, I've even been getting up at 4AM on the weekends to take 4 buses to go volunteer in the mud and rain for Earthcorps! (Surely this level of goodwill reflects on my character as a good person... that women would want to date?)

 

So here I am, back in school and getting my 4.0s, sitting on this wonderful life that I've built for myself and looking better than ever... ready to die for lack of intimacy. It's funny since everybody tells me I'm doing all the right things. "I just need to have some patience and it'll come!" Well, it's been 6 months since my last sexual encounter, and there was a 25 year dry spell before that. For an active 26 year old male I am GROSSLY undersexed. It's getting bad. REALLY bad. I'm going through friggin' convulsions at night and tripping over my own words when I talk to women now. My desperation is scaring them off, but I can't even hide it at this point. I can hardly focus on anything anymore. I need a release or I'm going to EXPLODE! This is the only suitable outlet I can think of right now and I need to feel like I'm doing something about this. I need to feel like somebody cares! It doesn't matter if they actually do or not. Hopefully getting this out of my head and onto the internet will allow me to finish my assignments, to send the e-mails I need to send, to talk to people without letting my mounting frustrations get in the way, and to carry me through to the next day without doing anything profoundly stupid.

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Validation

 

It's gotten worse. I had to drop one of my classes last week because I was spending too much time obsessing over my loneliness and not enough completing the coursework. At 20 credits I was already pushing myself pretty hard, but I still feel like I would have been able to manage it if I'd just had the willpower to not think about my desires so damn much. I'm resisting the temptation to beat myself up too badly over this 'failure' so that's not really the issue, but it does highlight how powerful these emotions are becoming in my life and why I need to do something about them before I go back to being a depressed train wreck of a human being á la 2007.

 

I've been doing a lot of soul searching, and I've come to the conclusion that this is mostly an unfulfilled need for validation. Sexual frustration is definitely a part of that, but the whole thing runs a lot deeper. I'm not sure how to break it down exactly, but I feel that the amount of praise and encouragement that I receive in my day to day life is disproportional to the amount of work that I actually put into it. I know, I know, who DOESN'T feel this way!? It just seems to be particularly prevalent in my situation. Let me back up a little...

 

When I was down in the dumps a few years ago I felt like I had nothing to live for. I had no friends, I had no job, I had no money, I had no education, I was out of shape, I was depressed beyond reason, and I didn't even think I had a future. I was ready to give up. I played video games and slept for months on end because I didn't even have the energy to kill myself. It took a good counselor and a miracle to help pull me out of that, but what really did it for me was the restoration of hope. Once I was shown that I could have a job, and I could have friends, and I could get in shape, and I could go back to school I started to have something to live for again. I started to put some effort back into my life and I needed to believe firmly that my goals were attainable in order to KEEP putting that effort into it.

 

I've reached those goals now. Well, some of them. I'm back in school, I'm back in shape, and I've found some anti-depressants that really work for me. It's the friends though... The connections I still don't have, and the overwhelming desire to make up for the typical progression of sexual experiences that time and depression have robbed me of. Despite all I'm doing I still feel disconnected. At some level I feel like the goals that I've been believing in are just a lie and that I'll be alone and isolated for the rest of my life.

 

When I step back and look at all of this it's pretty ridiculous. I live with two roommates, not alone! I spend all day at school, surrounded by young, ambitious, energetic people! I run a club with hundreds of members and spend countless hours of my life managing meetings and sending e-mails and chatting with people. Hell, I'm even the guy encouraging them all to talk to each other and make friends so we can build up interest in events! It's not like I'm too shy or anything. We even went to Sky High this week. It's a friggin' TRAMPOLINE GYM! I mean, how cool is that!? So here I am in the midst of making these connections, coordinating things with drivers, doing backflips into foam pits, filling out liability waivers, playing trampoline dodgeball, orchestrating the whole thing, and being swept up in this social whirlwind of happy excited people! After months of planning this should have been a day of huge accomplishment for me, but when it was all over, and I was back in my apartment by myself, I felt even worse than if I hadn't done anything at all. It just doesn't make sense.

 

It's not like people are completely ignoring me either, I have lots of little conversations throughout the day. My roommate will notice me in the morning and we'll have a brief "what's up?" chat. My cousin will ask me how I'm doing on Facebook. My therapist (yes, I still see one) will give me words of encouragement. My Mom will call to ask me how I'm doing. I even have casual chats every day with classmates and professors that I know when I see them in the hallways. To an outside observer I probably appear downright popular! It's just that none of these interactions ever lead anywhere. I don't know anybody well enough to even be comfortable texting them a joke, or asking if they want to go out to lunch, or anything like that. If I fell off the face of the planet I sometimes wonder how long it would take for anybody to even look for me. There's just this HUGE disparity between the life I'm living and the friends that I'm actually making, and I don't know how to account for it.

 

A dark realization that's dawned on me recently is that I might be the one doing the excluding. I might be the one judging people and deciding not to pursue any friendships... "She's too stupid, it'd be impossible to have a meaningful conversation with her" or "He's into drugs and partying, so we don't have enough in common to be friends" or "That person is too busy so I won't bother asking them to go do anything." Even worse, I'm still not really comfortable hanging out with people I don't know one on one. I still HATE akward pauses and having to get to know somebody's nuainces before I can feel comfortable being myself around them. This is true as much around guys as it is around girls. I don't have any "bro's" or groups of buddies that get together regularly. I almost feel like anything I could do with other men I'd be more comfortable doing alone. I don't know if it's competition or a little bit of homophobia or what, but it does inhibit me from reaching out at all. I feel pretty guilty about it actually since the societal norm is to have a group that you belong to. Again with the sexuality, I'm much more concerned about forming bonds with women. All of my frustrations might just be boiling down to this line of thinking:

 

"If you're not an attractive single female who's interested in being intimate with me then I have no interest in getting to know you and will discredit any validation I receive from you. Since I don't currently know anybody that fits these requirements I feel terrible about myself because I have no 'genuine' validation."

 

My god! Am I really that shallow? Am I really that entitled? It's a horrible conclusion to be coming to, and it makes me feel like a monster, but that appears to be the way my brain is working right now. Maybe there's something even further down that I need to address before I can move past this. Could it be that finally obtaining sexual satisfaction would suddenly make me start appreciating everybody else more? Is it really that simple? That doesn't quite seem right, almost like justification. I really don't know what to make of this anymore, and I need to go to bed...

 

Help! Tell me what to do about myself!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Week in Review

 

On Thursday I was feeling completely overwhelmed by all the stuff I'm doing, the lack of interpersonal connections, and my general confusion with how best to live my life. I decided I'd allow myself to dump all of it out here on Friday when the week was officially over, but today I don't seem to be feeling things with nearly the same level of intensity that I was just 24 hours ago. It's funny how we go through cycles like that.

 

At any rate I feel like I ought to give myself a chance to acknowledge everything I've been accomplishing lately. I'm telling myself this is for self-validation, but I also have a feeling that I may just want to brag a little. I'll go ahead and tackle my ego issues some other time... ;-/

 

So... Last weekend I went up to a lodge in the mountains for an outdoor first aid course. We spent three days running through a bunch of scenarios involving various types of injuries, medical conditions, and terrain.

 

On Monday I finished all of the assigned problems for my engineering physics class and wrote about 400 lines of code for a programming project. At the end of the day I went and did yoga for an hour.

 

On Tuesday I took the bus downtown to see my therapist, attended my physics class, and went to the rock-climbing gym for a couple of hours in the evening.

 

On Wednesday I met up with some members of the Outdoor Adventure club and distributed some of the free passes that we've contracted from the local climbing gym. I then attended a meeting for an upcoming "Relay For Life" fundraising event before heading to my programming class in the evening.

 

On Thursday I handed out some more climbing cards, landed a tutoring job interview, and went to a Bollywood club meeting where I learned how to play Carrom and tried some basic bangra dancing. I then had another physics class before going out to dinner with my mother.

 

On Friday I took the bus downtown to return a couple of exercise balls that had deflated on me (I use them as chairs) and to get new shoelaces for my worn out hiking boots. I then attended a physics lab and spent the evening rock-climbing again.

 

I'd elaborate more, but in 4 hours I will be getting up and going hiking.

 

Seriously... Alex... you're doing enough. Be happy with it! The validation is starting to trickle in. You may even find intimacy somewhere in there!

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Lost

 

My depression is getting pretty bad again.

 

Today I've been feeling... adrift... vacant... devoid... absent... lost... purposeless... washed out... all the more so since it's been raining. What really took the wind out of my sails was the response I got from a girl I asked out to salsa dancing recently. When I called it a date she freaked out and sent me a nasty message about how I shouldn't trick women into dating me through the guise of other activities. She even mentioned how she'll be hanging out with 4 other guys this week and how that didn't imply that they were all dates either. I don't know, maybe she's right, but what really stings is being shown how far off from reality my social assumptions have become. It was stupid of me to think that one of these over-achieving, athletic, "the world is mine," graduate student types would want anything to do with me in the first place. They have all manner of guys flocking to them on a daily basis. Why would they ever pick me, with my lack of a job, car, or degree? I'm just a "deadbeat" or "creeper" or whatever they write me off as afterwords (if they even bother to write me off). It hurts to know you don't match up!

 

And so here I sit with my slow-moving life. Since I dropped that class a few weeks ago I've been catching up on all of the work for my other courses. I finally got it all done, but now I feel like I have nothing to do. I could go practice the piano, or teach myself how to cook, or get out the tools and books and learn how my bike works, but I just don't have the motivation to do anything new right now. It just seems so... daunting. Especially when I don't have anybody to do it for. (I don't seem to count myself) Eventually I just wound up playing video games. It's funny how my entire life used to revolve around them, and now I find them so shallow and pointless. I used to get my sense of worth out of my ability to defeat other people on the internet, but now I see that it doesn't mean anything. Would any ambitious young women care? I seriously doubt it... So my desire for intimacy has slowly been molding me into a presentable package and propelling me towards adulthood. Video games are out, and I miss the times when I was captivated enough by them to blot out the rest of my life. I have yet to find any other coping mechanisms that can do that for me.

 

Eventually I ate a salad, ran 6 miles, and vomited it back up.

 

I'm feeling a little better now, but I still can't shake this feeling of total emptiness. I spent some more time sending messages out to people on OKCupid, but I have no reason to believe they'll be any more successful than the last 100 or so. I also have a suspicion that I didn't get the job from the interview I had on Monday. I don't have any explanation for it, but there's just this awful, overbearing, unshakable sense of failure in the air. It's strange, my phone died yesterday and I was mostly just frustrated at losing access to the calendar since nobody ever gets in touch with me anyway. I spent some time browsing around Facebook looking at the lives of my "friends" and realized that if I fell off the face of the planet it would probably take weeks before anybody noticed or cared. That's a terrible feeling to have, and I'll admit it's even brought up some distant thoughts of suicide in a "what if" sort of way...

 

It's times like these when I want to be in a dependent relationship and have someone tell me what to do. I need someone to show me how everyone else finds the motivation to go on living their lives. I need someone to take me out into the social world and show me how to make the connections everyone else seems to have. I need someone to call me on my s**t, tell me what I'm doing wrong, and help me find my way in life. I'm ready to just give up. I don't want to be in control anymore. As a guy I know I'm supposed to forge my own path and be confident and stoic about it all, but I'm losing that ability. I just don't know what to do with myself anymore...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I like the way you write and express your thoughts.

 

Just a note, it really DOES suck to find yourself on a date when the guy didn't make it clear it was a date. I understand feeling "tricked" even though I know that wasn't what you were doing. Sounds like she freaked out because it was happening with lots of other guys too. Don't take her reaction personally, she was ramped up about the issue where it might not have been a big deal otherwise. Also, I guarantee this happens all the time--after all, it happened to that girl 5 times this week! It's not just you, and it's not so much about your social assumptions being far from reality as it is about ALL people getting mixed up between flirting and friendliness. Girls and guys alike misinterpret other people's signals. Be very clear when you're asking someone out that you are interested in them and want to take them on a date, that way you can disperse any confusion from the get go.

 

Sorry about your depression coming back I can identify strongly with your last post because you sound exactly like me when I get into a funk.

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I don't usually like posting in people's journals as it feels like I'm intruding, but I was just wondering .... how are things going, LP? I hope it's not all bad?

 

Capricorn, if I didn't want to share my life with others in the hopes of garnering insight and encouragement then I wouldn't be posting here in the first place! Things are actually going pretty well right now. I got a job, people are getting more involved with my club and rock-climbing, and the weather's getting a whole lot nicer! I'm overcoming a lot of negative assumptions, and I might even have a date or two this month! I think I'm just gonna ride on the momentum of my successes here until I run into trouble again. Thanks for asking!

 

I have spent the last 3 nights working on an incredibly wordy journal entry about my last (and only) relationship. I've got a lot of unresolved thoughts in that area and I think it'd be nice to try and express them here. I hope the size of the finished post isn't too daunting! I'll probably be done with it here in another hour or two. I've already spent way too much time thinking about this stuff...

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Thanks teabee!

 

Oh how the tides come and go! I'm actually wondering about this in a slightly different context now... Online dating. Not one, but TWO of the women that I messaged a while back on OKCupid have gotten in touch with me and it sounds like there may be dates in the near future! However, I haven't actually used the word 'date' in talking to them yet. Is the fact that I've contacted them through a dating website and I'm saying flirty stuff like this enough? :

 

"That's fine about the bike ride and I guess we can just play it by ear. Escaping for a day with an attractive lady is what's really important! "

 

"I'm also participating in Relay For Life from Saturday evening to Sunday afternoon, but I'd be happy to go walking, cooking, or cuddling after that as well.

 

I mean, I feel like I'm clearly expressing my interest to these women and setting the stage for dating, but then again that's how I felt about the girl I mentioned before. Wouldn't it be weird at this point to say "PS: This is a date right?" It's stupid that I'm confused about this, I know, but I'd rather ask here than make any more blundering errors on my own. Anyway...

 

Kayla

 

To date, I've only ever had one girlfriend, and I feel like it's time for me to talk about her...

 

Looking back she really hit me out of nowhere! I was at a pretty low point in my life and I don't think I was fully aware of what was going on or ready to be with her when it first happened. We met at a film festival. It was a big event sponsored by the Mountaineers which showcased some cool videos on kayaking and surfing. We noticed each other from accross the room and she eventually came over and sat down, not in the seat next to me (she later told me she was too shy!), but 2 seats away. The man 3 seats away told her that he was saving her seat for somebody else, which forced her to sit right next to me instead. I still can't believe it worked out like that! Anyway, we spent the next couple of hours chatting and watching the films. I got to know her a little and learned that she was in the army reserves and was looking for things to do around town. She had an interest in doing stuff outdoors and had decided to check out the Mountaineers after the film festival. I was already a member so I gave her my number and suggested she call me some time to go hiking if she decided to sign up! I was a little nervous since I wasn't used to talking to girls, and I ended up kicking myself for the rest of the evening for not asking her for her number instead! I spent the next couple of days coming to terms with my defeat and glumly decided that I'd learn from my mistake and ask the next girl out properly...

 

Anyway, after a couple of weeks had passed and I'd completely given up hope she called me out of the blue! I would have been elated if it hadn't caught me completely off guard! Nervously I fumbled through the Mountaineers website and figured out a couple of hikes that we could go on. I was actually glad when the conversation was over because I'd managed to arrange something without screwing it all up somehow. When the day came I managed to pull it together and we met up with the rest of the Mountaineers group for the hike. Kayla and I, being the youngest ones there, started off at a faster clip and picked up our conversation where we'd left it off a few weeks before at the film festival. We talked about all the usual mundane stuff, where we were going to school, what we were majoring in, how many siblings we had, what kind of music we listened to, etc. and again I was happy to just be having a conversation without screwing it up somehow. The entire time there was this sort of dread that I'd run out of things to talk about, and to this day I feel that way whenever I'm around attractive women.

 

My god she was fit! I could hardly keep up with her and while the beads were pouring off of me by the time we reached the summit she was still wearing her sweater and didn't look like she'd been working at all! This made me feel pretty inadequate and for some reason I resolved then and there that I could only be her friend since I just wasn't man enough. Such strange and clueless thinking now that I look back on it! (I had also decided that at 18 she was too young for me, since I was 25, but that also later revealed itself to be complete nonsense.) However, it was a recurring theme in our relationship, at least for me. I really didn't understand why she liked me, and was always worried that she'd wake up to the physical disparity between us and move on to a stronger guy, like any of the army men she was doubtlessly surrounded by when she was on duty.

 

Anyway, there at the summit we took our group photo, had our lunch, and made our way back down to the road. Whether she liked me or not, I was still happy to have gone out and done something with her! We hugged each other goodbye and spent the next couple of weeks staying in touch via phonecalls, texting, and AIM. (A little less nerve-wracking than talking on the phone, presumably for both of us) At this point I was starting to feel a lot more comfortable with her and it had been discussed that we did, in fact, both like each other! I then suggested that we go to the zoo together and hang out some time.

 

June 23rd, 2009. I have never before had such a memorable day at the zoo or possibly in my entire life. After parking and getting our bearings we started walking around, chatting, and seeing the sights. Before either of us knew it we were holding hands. We were both feeling pretty giddy and a little self-conscious about it, but the entire world seemed to be fading away into the background. Everything was so light and warm and we couldn't stop looking at each other out of the corners of our eyes. I'd heard of chemistry before, but wow, I had no idea! It was becoming hard to focus on anything but her and I felt the need to escape from the rest of the crowd so we could be alone. We wandered into an exhibit on caribou or something with one of those attached theaters with the benches and the videos that loop endlessly. We sat down by ourselves and I pretended to watch the video for 3 seconds or so before I turned to Kayla. It was just pure instinct. I'd never done anything like this before. Gently, I took off our glasses and her headband and placed them all aside. I stood back up and ran my fingers through her hair and then we were kissing. I felt her all at once and picked her up and held her to me and we were kissing again. The day before I hadn't believed in heaven, but right then I had died and gone to it. It was the greatest feeling of my life! After... 5 minutes? An hour? I couldn't say... We walked back out and moved about the zoo in a daze. We somehow ended up sitting on the steps by the elephants and she was guiding my hands down her shirt from behind her. This was in broad daylight with people coming and going, but neither of us cared. We were both so hungry... She had packed a picnic too! We went to a park outside the zoo and laid down by each other while we ate our sandwiches. We cuddled up there for a while under the sun and everything just felt so right! At the end of the day she drove me home and we made out in the car before saying our goodbyes. We were both ready to go further, but considering we'd both just had the first kiss of our lives that afternoon we decided that might be moving a little too fast!

 

Things picked up quickly after that. When neither of us had work or school we'd get together for hikes or movies or extended make-out sessions at my apartment. We couldn't keep our hands off of each other! It's funny, since I'd always imagined my relationship style would be slow moving, patient, and old-fashioned. I mean, heck, I'd made it to 25 as a virgin so why not just wait for marriage at that point right? Well, that all went out the window pretty quickly as the animal reality of it took us by storm. We spent as many nights together as we could get away with. Not having sex at first, but just curling up together under the covers with our clothes off. I had never known the warmth and heft of having another body next to mine and it was an amazing, recharging, life-affirming experience. We must have spent days doing nothing but holding each other and exchanging pillow talk. I could have just laid there forever, and that was part of the problem...

 

After a while I started feeling like I couldn't keep up with her at all. There was one weekend in particular where we went on a 12 mile, 4000 foot elevation gain hike after having already spent 2 days together without any sleep. Kayla's lust for living was voracious, and I wasn't sure if I was really the right guy to match it. I started having doubts and nitpicking about other things as well. She was still pretty inexperienced socially and I often felt like I had to lead the conversation the entire time I was with her. I began interpreting that as a lack of common ground and came to the conclusion that our relationship was mostly sexual and doomed to failure. My depression was also acting up, and the demands being placed on me at school were pretty high. Looking back, I think a lot of it was the shock of having this wonderful girl essentially falling into my life out of nowhere. I didn't even know how to deal with it! After a couple of weeks I decided I needed to dump Kayla for my own sanity. It was one of the dumbest decisions of my life... I could tell she was hurt when I tried to explain it to her over lunch, and I felt like a total jerk as I walked back home from the restaurant. I was a total jerk. I still haven't fully forgiven myself for abandoning her like that.

 

Anyway, the days went by and it slowly dawned on me that I really was going through a depressive spell. I'd been quick to make assumptions about our relationship. I began to realize what a good influence she'd been in my life and how much I truly missed her. I felt like I'd already burned my bridges and screwed up my chances like I had when I gave her my phone number that first night at the film festival where we met. Again, I was adrift in my old life, hoping I'd learned from my mistakes and wouldn't screw things up like this with any other girls in the future... Then out of nowhere she called me! I wasn't sure why she'd given me another chance, but I vowed to make it up to Kayla and to stick with her for as long as I could this time!

 

We met at a little restaurant near the college I attend and I surprised her with flowers. (Something I'd never done before!) I wanted it to be a meaningful gesture so I got her a bundle of these little pink things in a basket which she could plant later. I had no idea if things could go back to the way they were, or if she'd just throw them in my face, but I figured it was a gesture that couldn't hurt with making amends... And she loved them! As soon as we met up again it was almost as if she'd chosen to forget we'd ever been apart. I cautiously kept my distance since I wanted to acknowledge that her feelings might be hurt, so I ended up sitting accross the table from her. To my surprise she got up halfway through the meal, told me to "get over here" with an affectionate tone and squeezed right up next to me on the bench. It finally dawned on me right then that she possessed a very VERY strong admiration for me and was willing to tolerate all of my flaws and accept me for who I was as long as there was a chance we could be together again. I don't know if it was just the innocence of an 18 year old girl or if she really did see something special in me, but I recognized it as a powerful connection worth cherishing. I was determined to do things right this time around!

 

After that day everything just started falling into place, and neither of us wanted to look back. We started spending more and more of our time together, and each day was a new adventure. It was like something out of a dream! We'd go to concerts in the park and dance in the crowd! We volunteered for EarthCorps together! We walked along the railroad tracks, jumped over the fence, and had lunch along a private beach! We went rock-climbing! We ran! We swam! We hiked! We did yoga! We hung out in coffee shops and played board games! We went up into the mountains, spent a day picking huckleberries, came back, and baked a pie! We spent 4 days backpacking through the North Cascades! We spent a weekend at the beach flying kites, making sand castles, and watching the stars! For her birthday we took a ferry to the Olympic Peninsula, saw a play in the woods, came back to a nice restaurant in downtown Seattle, and spent the evening strolling along the waterfront! We made love! Everything was just so damn perfect...

 

But as the saying goes... All good things must come to an end... As the summer was drawing to a close Kayla was mobilized by the Army to Fairbanks, Alaska. We both knew it was coming, but what can you do? We decided to just have fun and make the best of it, but when the summer was over it was obvious that we both... Dare I say it? ...Loved each other. Now, I haven't had any other relationships to base this off of, but it seems like the connection that Kayla and I had was unordinarily special. I have a hard time imagining that any other relationships will ever be the same for me. (Not that I can get any dates these days anyway) Is it just that the first flame is always strongest? Is this how everybody feels about their first romantic success? I have no way of knowing for sure, but just as I wasn't prepared for it to happen at the beginning of the season I don't think either of us were completely prepared to give it up at the end.

 

We're still in touch now, but there are several thousand miles between us, and it's hard to say exactly how that's changed things. We still talk on the phone every few weeks, and I sent her a scrapbook for Christmas with pictures of all the stuff we'd done together. There's no denying that we still have feelings for each other, but neither of us really wanted to do the long distance relationship thing when she left. She'd told me from the beginning that she just wanted to have a fun summer together and didn't want me to feel tied down when she left. In turn, I told her not to wait for me and to see if she could find a nice army guy up there in Alaska to keep her company. My sentiments were mixed with feelings of loss and jealousy of course, but I really do want whatever's best for Kayla, even if it means we can't be together anymore...

 

The months have gone by and while we've both made it clear that we're moving on with our lives and looking for other people to date it doesn't seem to have happened for either of us. I suppose she could be pulling the wool over my eyes and sleeping around in the barracks or something, but she really doesn't seem like the type to do that, and while it'd definitely hurt to find out it'd ultimately be her decision anyway. Admittedly I could understand it. I certainly don't think I could survive the winter in northern Alaska by myself when there were other options available!

 

I've run through countless 'what if?'s in the time that we've been apart, and the frustrating thing is that I can't predict what's actually going to happen. In my fantasies she'd come right back here after her current assignment ends this year and we could pick up where we left off with a kiss at the door and knowing grins on our faces, but I doubt it'll be that straightforward. Even if she does come back our experiences have triggered a sort of sexual metamorphosis in me and I can't help but wonder now what it'd be like with other women. I'm feeling the classic male struggle between commitment and freedom, and Kayla is the kind of girl I can see myself spending the rest of my life with. Ridiculous and unsubstantiated I know, but I just have this feeling sometimes... I'd hate to marry the girl and then abandon her out of unsatiated curiosity a few years down the road. I feel like I need to get it out of my system now! I need to hook up with other women while I still have the opportunity to so I can commit myself to her without regrets when the opportunity presents itself. But this is stupid thinking... There's absolutely no guarantee that I'll even have the opportunity to reunite with Kayla, and we're both young and inexperienced. She's only 19! How could she possibly know who/what she wants out of life yet? She'll probably be a completely different person just by the time she's my age. Planning for anything at this point is ludicrously silly, but that hasn't stopped me from thinking about it...

 

In actuality the girl's up there kicking some serious a** right now. She just won a solider of the month award and she's training for the soldier of the month competition. She's also going through an optional combat medic certification and often works 24 hour shifts at the hospital while taking college courses online. She's redirecting her energy into her ambitions and that's going to take her to some amazing places in life. I can't help but feel proud of her in a bit of a fatherly way. Just as a parent raises the child that they love and watches them go out into the world I'm seeing the girl that I love going out into the world to discover herself and accomplish. Also like a parent, I miss her greatly and want to see her and hold her on a regular basis, but I'm glad that she's spreading her wings and living her life. I don't want to be the one to smother that and bring her down with my own desires.

 

She has a few options at the end of the year. She could stay up in Alaska, transfer to an army nurse training program in Texas, or come back here and become a civilian. It's hard for me to admit it, but I think the army's been a good thing for her. It gives her a purpose, a drive, and a measure of her own abilities. It's even helped her socially since she was apparently a shy, studious, girl with few friends in high school. I'd hate to see her abandon such a fostering environment just to come back to me. I've even told her as much, but it's hard to let a girl like Kayla go without knowing whether I'll ever see her again. I want what's best for her, and I'm afraid that isn't me.

 

In the meantime I do a lot of thinking about these things. I'm lonely and want to move on, but I'd hate to be the one bringing 'ex' issues to the table, and what if I moved on too quickly? I'd feel horrible for leaving her up there in Alaska by herself and letting the dream die for both of us. How can I know it's a dream for her too? I don't anymore, but she loved me! I could tell, and now all that's left is uncertainty. The bar has been set very high, and now I'm just lying here all alone looking back up at it!

 

Who knows...?

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"I'm also participating in Relay For Life from Saturday evening to Sunday afternoon, but I'd be happy to go walking, cooking, or cuddling after that as well.

A small tip if I may? The flirting you mention is all good, BUT I would leave out the part about "cuddling" at this point in time. I'd mention cuddling when face to face after a few dates and knowing her a little more. Maybe it's just me and being out of touch with the dating scene for so long, but if a guy mentions cuddling right off the bat before having met me, I'd be a little spooked, lol. (But then again, I am very old school, so it may not apply these days, lol).

****

Kayla: All I can say is that she sounds like the most amazingly, gorgeous and wonderful person anyone could ever wish to know. Whatever the future holds for you, I do hope she is a part of it in one way or another - even if it's only a lifelong friendship.

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Thinking Too Much

I'm going to try to write this message in 15 minutes or less. This is partially because I need to leave for yoga class in 15 minutes, but also because I've been spending far far too much time dealing with my thoughts and emotions lately. I've been doing nothing but browsing, reading, and posting on ENA for the last 6 hours. I think a little self-analysis is a good thing, but this is getting to the point where it's neither healthy nor normal.

 

It's getting in the way of everything else. For instance, I've been trying to read through this book by Margaret Atwood called "The Year of The Flood." I've had it for about 3 months now and still haven't finished it. Granted, I'm a slow reader to begin with, but it's frightening when I think about all the time I must have spent staring contemplatively out the bus window pondering something else with the book sitting wide open on my lap. I'm just not able to focus on anything else when the emotions seem so much more pertinent...

 

Perhaps it's the novelty of it. Perhaps I'm finally rebelling against all the words and numbers I've surrounded myself with since childhood. I'm discovering my other half, learning to use my right brain, and becoming complete. Even the computer games that I used to think about all day and play all night have lost their luster. 5 years ago I wouldn't have given my emotions a second thought, but now I'm being overrun by them. I'm afraid of adding up all the hours that I spend in contemplation every week. I'd guess it's in the realm of 20-30. I wonder what the norm is? Do people confine their thoughts and analysis to the time they spend sleeping? In the shower? Watching TV? Driving? Eating? Exercising? At what point do normal people abandon their thoughts and focus on what they're doing instead? How many people are truly able to just be, neither thinking nor doing? Where should I draw the lines in my own life?

 

And now my 15 minutes are up... I've failed. I hope to return with insight!

 

.

.

.

 

Hahaha, yeah right! I do feel like I should bring this driveling back to reality though. Something concrete...

 

So, this weekend I attended a "Relay For Life". It was a fundraising event for cancer survivors where we formed teams that were supposed to have at least one member on the track at all times for 24 hours from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday. I had signed up for a team from the community college that I attend. On the day of the event I loaded up my pack with tents (yes plural), sleeping pads, food, clothing, first aid supplies, and everything else we might need and hiked out to the track where the event was being held. (Nobody had offered me a ride, but I do enjoy showing off how much I can carry...) When I got there I discovered that nobody else in my group had done any of their paperwork or fundraising so our team was pretty much disqualified. I ended up signing up at the registration tent as an individual and spending the night by myself. So much for getting to know anybody... I suppose I could have gone over and played volleyball with the highschool girls or tried to fit in with the track and field stars, or hung out with the soccer moms and nascar dads, but I just wasn't feeling it. I was feeling more like a lost soul. I was that weird 20-something bearded guy with the tent in the middle of the field by himself. Too old to fit in with the participants and too young to belong with anybody else. So I did what I do best; I pushed myself as hard as I could in a different direction. I started walking. 10 laps, 20 laps, 30 laps, they started flying by! And what was I doing while I walked in quarter mile circles over and over and over? Thinking of course...

 

So there I was soldiering on by myself with nobody to stop me from solidifying my negative assumptions, reinforcing prejudices, and beating myself up with vicious self-talk. I had to just keep redirecting these thoughts into my feet... 40 laps, 50 laps, 60 laps... I was watching all the younger groups on the field having their fun. Flirting, lying in hammocks together, playing games, chasing and holding each other. The hormones were so thick it was hard to breathe. Why hadn't I ever done anything like this when I was in highschool? Why had I always chosen to be by myself even then? The DJ was playing some sort of game with them and several couples started grinding up against each other so hard that he had to turn off the music and tell them to stop. I was envious, but it was forbidden to me. I had to focus on something else... 70 laps, 80 laps, 90 laps... I was putting all of my fury into this thing. I was walking faster than everybody else on the track. My shoes and legs were encrusted with dust and my thighs were so sore I could barely stand up straight, but I had to keep going. I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I stopped. Why had nobody noticed me? Why couldn't somebody stop me, hug me, talk to me, encourage me, anything! There were tears in my eyes starting to mix with the sweat. I had to reach oblivion. Night did come eventually and I stopped myself at 106 laps. More than a marathon. I'd never walked that far in my life. I crawled off to my tent unsure whether to feel triumphant or defeated.

 

Morning came and the event drew to a close. There was an awards ceremony for the winning teams for fundraising, total distance walked, most creative t-shirts, whatever, I didn't really care. I packed up all my stuff and shambled out of the parking lot, secretly hoping somebody would roll down the windows of their SUV and offer me a ride home. Nobody did. I really let that get to me. I got cleaned up and tried to catch some real sleep for a few hours. I had a date to go fail at:

 

 

 

It's the putting myself out there, doing my best to connect, and coming up with nothing that really really hurts. I'm left with no outlet for these things. No friends to talk to on the phone, no classmates that I can connect with, no relatives that want to talk about anything but my 'successes' and my new job and how happy they are with my school progress and things that look nice on a resume but have nothing to do with how I'm feeling. This is the first time I've even talked about this stuff with anybody else, and I'm only doing that by making my journal public. I'm still here, in my room, by myself. My thoughts are still just circulating through my head and becoming sour and bitter as I turn them over and over again...

 

I always have this feeling that I need a conclusion, or a plan, or something before I can let things go and move on to something else. With unresolved feelings I never have that, and so I hold onto them and become paralyzed. They become so much more vivid and enticing than, say, my flat, stale, irrelevant physics homework. I'm giving them too much power over me. I'm going to lose everything I've worked to achieve if I keep this up. I'll fall back into a depressing hole of despair and self-pity. I can't let that happen, but I'm losing the energy to resist. What's the point in anything I'm doing if there's never any tangible payoff?

 

I need to start meditating again.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Progress

It's been a couple of weeks since I've written anything here, and that's good since I was able to get a handle on my emotions for a while and focus on my coursework instead! There've been a lot of positives to be thankful for in my life lately as well and the validation is really helping to keep me going. I wish I didn't have to rely on it, but I'd say being acknowledged is really the basis of what makes me feel good about myself. It's when I'm slogging on with nobody around to witness it that everything starts to seem so pointless!

 

So... I got the tutoring job that I interviewed for last month! The shifts are based on seniority, so I'm only getting 7 hours a week, but my foot's in the door for summer and fall quarter and it feels great to finally be working again! I also got nominated for some sort of president's award thing for getting straight 4.0s over the last few quarters. My parents are predictably more excited about it than I am, but it is nice to be getting some sort of distinction for my efforts! I've also been getting back into running a bit more. I discovered a trail near my apartment that goes through the woods so I don't have to jog on the street so much. I'm hoping to get in even better shape this summer and it'll probably be great stress relief too if I can make a habit out of it. Most importantly, I even had a date on Monday! It wasn't particularly exciting, but it's the first time I've been on a formal date without getting a ton of bad vibes in... Well... It's the first time! We were gonna go see a movie tomorrow, but she texted me today and said she had to cancel. Time will tell if that gets rescheduled or if it was just a polite excuse, and I'm honestly not even sure if I'm attracted to this girl, but hey! It was a successful date! That's progress!

 

When I sat down to write this I was originally going to whine some more about my inadequate personality and jealousy of others, but that's not quite the mood I'm in at the moment. All of this comes in cycles, and I'm sure I'll be feeling strongly enough about my shortcomings to continue working through them some other time. Right now I am choosing to be satisfied with where I'm at!

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Routine

 

I'm in a bit of a mental fog lately. I already mentioned that I tend to think too much, but it's been absolutely overwhelming me lately! I desperately want to sink into the comfort of a routine and not allow myself to think about anything else, but my mind continues to wander. I sometimes wonder how people do it... all the tedious, monotonous, predictable jobs that they stick with for 6 months, a year, 5 years, or even their entire lives! How can they find solace in this work? How can they escape their inner demons and focus on the task at hand for that sort of duration? Am I abnormal in my inability to commit to something like that? My emotions seem to shift so dramatically that I'm just never in the headspace to focus on the same things any two weeks in a row. I go through cycles of productivity and restlessness and they tend to balance each other out, but that's taking a toll on me and I want to feel like I have more control!

 

The hardest part of this is attempting to ignore my desire for intimacy. There doesn't seem to be much I can do to force the issue, so I'd like to be able to ignore my sex drive and focus on my educational and fitness goals instead. So many other guys seem to be able to set that aside at school and take their studies seriously, but I pretty much have to wait until I get home before I can really learn anything. Whatever the teacher is yammering on about or we're supposed to be doing in class is always overridden by thoughts of the cute girl at the next table in her tight shorts, or the fiery red-head accross the room in the v-neck. And as if these distractions weren't enough they seed thoughts of dating and loneliness and my future and everything else I'm going through to the point where physics or programming or tutoring or whatever I should be focusing on aren't even on the radar.

 

Like I said, I'm completely falling victim to this and it isn't helping anything. It's not like dwelling on sexual energy or life frustrations is going to reveal any new solutions, so I want to just let it go. I want to be a robot! I want to put all this unnecessary stuff on the shelf and power through my routine until I have my degree and a car and my six-pack abs and feel like I'm actually ready for the dating world! I want to put all of my objectives into my day planner and worship it without yield until I come through on the other side. I need black and white thinking! I'm not finding any intimacy so I want to just give up on it for a while. All of my thoughts, even now, of holding and being held and sharing smiles in private and lying down in the sun together it's all just MADNESS. It serves no PURPOSE. It's tearing me apart and I want to be rid of it! I want to think about some other culture or life perspective or anything to get me out of the present moment. I'm becoming a complete mess. I want control of my life! I want to be stoic and power through it! I want to regiment my life into a focused routine, turn the brain off, turn the willpower on, and wake up for the results 2 years from now...

 

I've had enough, now how can I stop fighting myself like this!?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Updates

 

I could have sworn I already wrote about most of this stuff, but I don't see it anywhere, and there are some major things going on in my life, so I might as well mention it all!

 

Interestingly enough, I don't feel like writing a whole lot because I'm in a good mood. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but I've realized I have a 'problem solving brain.' I focus a lot on the negatives in my life because they're things that I can theoretically mull over, work on, and fix. The positives in my life don't present me with any challenges. It doesn't feel like there's any more work to do, so I move on and ignore them. People tell me I need to spend more time self-affirming and going over what I've done, so I suppose that's what I'm doing here.

 

So where to begin? Hmmm, let's go about this chronologically. So I made it through Spring quarter with a 4.0 in my intermediate programming class and a 3.7 in engineering physics. That ends my 9 month streak of perfect grades, but you know... worse things have happened in my life.

 

I also had a bit of a social success a couple of weeks ago. I got along pretty well with a girl on one of the Mountaineers hikes I attended and ended up inviting her to a board game party my roommate was planning at our apartment. I was expecting her to be busy or tell me she'd get back to me and then flake out or something like that, but to my surprise she actually said yes! We all had a reasonably good time and now we've texted back and forth about maybe doing something on the 4th of July. I must confess I'm not really attracted to her, but it's at least good to finally be making friends after reaching out and failing so many times.

 

Anyway, after school got out I took the train down to visit my dad in Vancouver, WA. He was pretty happy with how I'm doing, which is a major relief after all the tension (mostly financial) there's been between us in the last 10 years. While I was there I met up with an old gaming friend of mine in Portland and we went hiking together. We both shared our women troubles, and he suggested that I write a letter to Kayla telling her how I feel. It seemed like a good idea, so I typed up a draft on the computer and had my dad's girlfriend read it over to see if it sounded appropriate or not. I've been wanting to tell Kayla how much I still love her and want to be with her even though I don't know what the future holds for her or where she'll end up after her current army assignment. Aside from a few little things I've said on the phone I've been holding back and letting her make her own decisions since I don't want to be needy or manipulative. I guess in my own conservatism I'd neglected to let her know I still had feelings for her! Everybody seemed to agree the letter was a good idea, so I went ahead and wrote it out by hand on some stationary my dad gave me while I rode the train back to Seattle.

. . .

Since then, I've been talking to Kayla by phone and e-mail, and she's let me know she got my letter, is going to write me back this weekend, and has "feelings that are just as strong for me." That's not a guarantee of anything, but it's good to know I'm still wanted, and at least emotionally not as alone as I've been feeling!

 

Oh, I also had the first beer of my life while I was in Portland. It's something I've been wanting to confront for a while, and I'd promised my friend last time I saw him that I'd drink with him the next time we were together. (I brought the promise back up, not him, lol) So... It was gross, and I'm not exactly turning into a raging alcoholic like I'd feared. Now that I know I can it'll be nice to have a drink once in a while at social gatherings though without feeling like an outsider.

 

Perhaps the biggest current event in my life is the exercise routine I've been putting myself through. As I've stated in my last journal entry, I wanted to have discipline and a routine to help me divert my focus away from all the mental anguish. Well, I've outdone myself:

 

image removed

 

As you can see, this summer I'm going to kick my own ass. I want to get in rediculously good shape so that I can feel confident in my own body. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't doing this for Kayla or other women I'm hoping to attract. I want to be sexy, so... Running twice a week (starting at 6 miles), biking twice a week (15 miles to the climbing gym and another 15 miles back), climbing twice a week (currently working on v2-v4 bouldering problems), yoga twice a week (ashtanga), and push-ups/sit-ups 4 nights a week (starting at 9 sets of 8 push-ups and 9 sets of 10 sit-ups). So far so good, but this certainly isn't easy! I'm spending most of my time stumbling around in a nice, mellow, endorphin fueled stupor. It is making it easier to forget about all my worries, so I think I'm on the right path.

 

Here's hoping I can remain positive and make it through this! Wish me luck!

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  • 2 months later...

And Now She's Gone ...

 

Summer quarter ended, Kayla took two weeks of leave, and we got together again! We walked through the arboretum and Japanese gardens, rented a canoe, hiked up Granite Mountain, went to a trampoline gym, went climbing, rode bikes, ran, ate ice cream, salsa danced, watched movies, ordered pizza, went skinny dipping and snuck into the hot tub after hours, rode the ferries to Bremerton, saw a play in the woods, watched an IMAX film at the Seattle Center, attended a yoga class, and had an amazing shrimp scampi dinner at my parents' house that I prepared for her birthday while they were out of town. It was all frighteningly perfect.

 

I also learned that she's had a falling out with her parents, she's been sleeping with several other guys in the army, she broke her reserve contract so that she could go active duty, and I may never see her again.

 

Oh well. We've had our fun. Now she's changing into a different person and we're going our separate ways. I should be angry or upset or sad or something, but right now I just feel numb...

 

I'm not too concerned about losing her to the army since I essentially already had. It was good to see her again, but the long distance thing just couldn't work. What concerns me the most is that it might be another several years before I find an active girl that's willing to give me a chance like she did. Back to the brutality of online dating I guess. Yippee...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nothing Ever Changes

 

I feel like I'm right back where I was last year. Sure, I've taken lots of steps towards my future, but it still seems so damn far away...

 

I'm still slowly working my way through school. I still have to push myself to exercise and socialize. I'd still be a lot more comfortable sitting by myself and playing computer games. I still feel weak, even though I KNOW I've gotten stronger.

 

The crux of it is dating, just like it's always been. I can't emphasize enough how huge of a fixation dating and intimacy are to me since I'm so inexperienced and everybody around me seems so well versed. It even culminates in social situations. I feel like I can't relate and people try to ignore and exclude me in subtle ways because I'm so different than they are.

 

It really hurts. For instance, there's a girl at my school who's loosely involved in the club I'm running. She's been bugging me to go slacklining for a while now and we finally went with another mutual friend. For 2 hours or so we ended up taking turns on the line and chatting about relationships. Well, they did anyway... I almost felt like leaving at one point because I was just standing there watching them chat, only making eye-contact with each other and flat out ignoring anything I bothered to say. A few days later I responded to something she'd posted on Facebook about trying out the Bikram yoga studio she goes to. I tried to make arrangements, but as I was riding the bus to get there I texted her and she told me she'd forgotten all about it. She did show up anyway, but immediately went into the practice room and laid down on the mat without saying anything. I tried to talk to her and she responded in a librarian tone about how I should go sit in the beginner area. Anyway... I've been doing yoga for 3 years now, but this was the first time I'd tried Bikram, and I actually ended up suffering from heat exhaustion and having to leave the room. (Just breathing had become difficult since it was 110 degrees!) The staff helped me out, propped me up in a chair, and gave me some electrolyte solution to drink, but my 'friend' just continued her workout like nothing was happening. I wanted to just leave, but I still had to get cleaned up. I saw her in the lobby on my way out and we finally talked for a bit. I asked her if she wanted to go grab dinner, but she made some excuse about having to clean up the studio. It wasn't anything like: "Sure, but you'll have to wait a bit for me." Anyway, today she posted something on Facebook about getting all the folks from school together and playing ultimate frisbee. She listed around 20 people and I wasn't even on the list. (Despite the fact that I've known this girl for a couple years now and I'm running the "Outdoor Adventure Club" that would be most interested in hosting an event like this). Whatever, I guess I'm just not cool enough to hang out with her. I try to reach out and make friends and this is the way they treat me...

 

There's also another story from last week that I'll just copy and paste here:

I'm off the bus headed to meet a friend I haven't seen in a while for her birthday. So what's this place called again? Hmmm, the Little Red Hen? Alrighty here we are... Oh that big dude outside must be the bouncer, lemme get my card out. *Big dude scans card discerningly before handing back with an approving look and a nod* Neat, success! He probably thinks I do this all the time... Okay now, WHOA it's crowded in here! Look for my friend, look for my friend, she's not here, crap. I'll have to find a seat. There are no seats. Double-crap. Alrighty, damn, I'm such a dork with this backpack on. I'll have to find a place where I can stand around and look chill without blocking anybody. Hmmm, leaning up against this wall will do. Alrighty, now what? Oh, I'll play with my phone, check my e-mail, pretend I'm texting all of my friends because I'm so popular, erm, whatever. Standing, standing. Ah, people watching! Everybody talks about people watching. *Scan the room* Hmmm, I think I'm the only person here by myself and everybody else is just sitting or standing with the friends they came with. Nobody is really interacting with anybody new. Ha! They're all just PRETENDING to get out and be social! Okay hmmm, the dance floor. Everybody's terrified of it. There are a few girls dancing with each other and a couple guys dancing for 10 seconds or so with unsure expressions on their faces before fading back into the crowd. Geez, this whole PLACE is PACKED with people who want to have fun but are too scared to! And all these other guys standing on the periphery with beer in hand trying to act cool. I'm really not alone am I? Haha, I haven't been missing much all these years... Okay hmmm, beer in hand. Maybe this will all grate on my nerves less with a beer. Who am I kidding? I don't even know what to order! *Checks phone again as a stalling tactic* ... Okay *gulp* time to go over and check out the bar. What do I want to order? Hell if I know! What do they have? Do they even have menus? How does this work? Hmmm, those cups say Dos Equis. *Bartender lady walks over* "I'll have a Dos Equis." She frowns and says something which I can't hear over the nerve-shatteringly loud karaoke hip-hop. "WHAT!? I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" ... "WE DON'T HAVE DOS EQUIS. WE NEVER HAVE!" Oh, durrr. *I point at the cup with the Dos Equis logo* ... *She points at the menu that I somehow missed sitting right beneath me* Oh, hmmm, none of these mean anything to me since I don't drink. What the hell, we'll try this Fat Tire stuff. "I'LL HAVE A FAT TIRE!" *She takes my card and looks relieved that I've finally ordered something* ... *She hands me my beer* ... *I wait for my card* ... *Why isn't she giving me my card back?* ... *Okay really what the hell?* ... "IS THERE SOMETHING ELSE YOU WANTED?" ... "YEAH I WANTED MY CARD BACK!" ... "OH, YOU WANT TO CLOSE YOUR TAB?" ... Thinking ... *Ah, so THAT'S what a tab is!* ... "YEAH" ... I walk away embarrassed, but with beer. Okay now what, ooh a chair's opened in the corner! *I sit down* More people watching I guess... Or I could read this book while I drink my beer. *deliberating* That's it, I'm going to pull out this book and start reading in the middle of this bar as some sort of character statement. I'm daring to be lame! Wait, this girl next to me appears be by herself too. *We start talking* ... *It dawns on me that she's even more anti-social than I am* ... No, I don't play World of Warcraft, sorry ... "Yeah, it's neat that we met each other and had this conversation so we didn't have to feel awkward by ourselves. Maybe we'll meet again some time." (Probably not, but whatever.) ... Oh, hey, there's my friend! Oh god, she's dancing in the middle of the room. I guess I have to go say hi there... *I walk up and wait for her to notice me* ... *She sees me, throws her arms up in the air and screams with joy, then jumps on me and hangs from my shoulders, then gets back down and does the whole thing all over again. She's clearly already had a bit to drink.* ... "Uh, good to see you too! Happy birthday! How've you been?" ... *She introduces me to the other friends surrounding her* ... "I'm so glad you made it here Alex! Oh, and this is my boyfriend..." Really, you're pointing at THAT guy? The douchebag looking double lip-pierced hipster dude with the two sizes too small fake-ripped black jeans? *hipster dude gathers his hipster buddies and walks away* ... "So he's the lead singer in a band (she's swooning). What do you think of him?" ... I already know I hate him, but I'm only making judgments ... "How should I know? I just met him!" ... "Well we've been together two weeks now, we're so happy together!" ... Yeah okay, I'm barely part of her life, so I shouldn't be letting this affect me, but I'm starting to know how the friends-zoned nice guys always feel when the girls they know make stupid dating decisions. Oh well, time to dance! What drink is that? A vodka-tonic you say? *slurp, slurp* Hey that actually went down pretty easy! Her other friend is offering me one too? Okay I'll drink that as well... Hey whad'ya know my inhibitions are gone! I'm dancing with this girl. She seems impressed, we're grinning and swinging and she's explaining something about how yoga makes people better dancers. Hey wait a minute, I've met somebody new here and I'm already having FUN with her! *And in comes the boyfriend to pull her away from me and affirm that he really is in fact her boyfriend by extracting a drawn-out mouth-to-mouth suction from her face* "Sorry dude, I didn't know you guys were a couple!" ... *I walk away not sure whether to feel defeated or satisfied* ... You know, I think I'm ready to go home now. *I walk outside past the hipster dude smoking in a circle with his band buddies and call a cab* Wait, the hipster guy is a SMOKER!? All that talk from my friend about health and nutrition and being good to yourself and acting as a wholesome inspiration when she was my yoga instructor, and she's dating a SMOKER!? I guess I never really knew her. Anyway, my cab's here. Goodbye folks. What an invigorating and emotionally twisting environment! If this is the dating scene then I'm not sure I'll ever understand it. I think I'll go back to my exercise and video games for a while...

I really shouldn't be letting this sort of stuff get to me. I should be rolling with the punches and being emotionally strong like a guy is supposed to be, but that's just not how I am. I'm a pathetic needy nice guy who will never get what he wants no matter how hard he tries to change. I feel so unwanted that I'm wondering if people would even care if I killed myself or disappeared or something. Even posting this here, I want, no... NEED somebody to acknowledge my efforts and existence, yet I know I'll just be glanced over and discarded like I am everywhere else. The online dating is especially brutal just like I predicted it would be. I rewrote the entire thing to try and reflect all the changes I'm making in my life. Here it is, woohoo:

 

 

link removed

 

I've spent about a dozen hours so far browsing through profiles to find people I think I'd be compatible with and composing friendly/witty/random messages to all sorts of women. Only one of them has even bothered to reply, and she didn't ask me any questions or leave any opening in the conversation to hint that she might be interested. I swear to god the next time somebody gives me a cold shoulder I'm going to shove them to the pavement while their back is turned...

 

I'm exactly back where I was. Bitter, resentful, hopeless, lost, confused, and angry. I just want things to change, but no matter how hard I push this mountain simply won't budge. Winter is coming, and for me that means seasonal depression. I'm totally screwed. I can't keep this up.

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  • 1 year later...

Another Year

 

Has it really been over a year since I've posted here? I guess I gave up on the journal and started posting in the regular forums instead. Apparently I only use ENA when I need help overcoming emotional challenges. I suppose that's how I treat my relationships with other people as well... I could call it pragmatic, but anti-social is probably a closer description. At any rate, I've been thinking a lot lately about journaling more. I practically forget who I am if I don't keep track of the various truths and fragments of my life as I'm living it. When I'm down and doubting, I need a way to remind myself of the things I'm capable of overcoming. It takes perspective. This involves more than just venting. The good things must be recorded as well! Only when you know yourself at both ends are you able to find a reliable center.

 

I know I've had MANY thoughts running through my head which require expression lately, but as I sit here at 1:00AM, the day's demands having been met, I'm suddenly at a loss. Perhaps I can hold on to one thought per day, and write it down here every evening. It's 2 months early for such New Year's resolutions, but I've never been particularly good at following conventions. Yes, let's commit to it!

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Balance

 

School's really got me stressing out lately, even though I'm doing quite well. It's the implication that software programming will always be demanding this much of my time that frustrates me. I find myself surrounded by and working with people who just don't seem to know or do anything else. I can fit in well, and I'm technically quite adept (I got the only perfect score in my class on the last assignment), but I want there to be more in my life to look forward to than a career. I've fought tooth and claw for the last 4 years to establish a healthy, balanced life for myself, and now my choice of profession seems to be demanding that I unravel all of that. I have this fear that when I graduate and start looking for jobs, I'll tell the software firms that I apply to that I'm looking for part-time work, and they'll simply laugh at my naivete in assuming that's even an option in this industry. The fact that so many other nerds willingly give themselves to these companies is just depressing. It's like they've been living such focused and isolated lives for such a long time that they need to be in a workaholic environment to keep years of pain and loneliness from catching up to them. It's a coping mechanism I used to use myself, but I don't think I could numb myself to the world again like that no matter how much they're paying me.

 

These feelings have been building up for a couple of years now, but they were really exacerbated by my current group project. My teammates are the most devoted people I've ever worked with. I'm used to having to take charge and get all the work done myself, but these people are practically making me look like a slacker. I just want to hug them and tell them to stop taking all this nonsense so seriously! It's only school... I'm not really into partying and celebrating all the time, but even I think we all need time off now and then to have fun!

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Two Days

Ha! Well that certainly didn't last long. Perhaps daily entries aren't going to work out so well for me...

 

My head's been swimming with thoughts lately, but I seem to have found a lull in the storm, despite remaining incredibly busy. I've been thinking a lot about the nature of stress lately, and realized that most of it stems from the decisions we have to make. We get so caught up worrying about what we should, have to, or are going to do in the future, that we forget about what's happening right in front of us. After all, the only action we can take is in the present moment. Sure, planning itself can be an action, but I think most of us tend to overdo it, instead of going with the flow and relaxing into the task at hand. Even in life or death situations, there can be zen moments when people make peace with what they have to do, millisecond by millisecond, and stop worrying about everything else. Perhaps there's fear that by doing this we'll get so swept up in our daily routines that we'll lose meta-awareness of our longterm necessities and goals. This is bull * * * * . The stress will always be there if you want it to be. Just focus on the next step. For instance, I need to go brush my teeth, and I'll figure out the rest after that.

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  • 8 months later...

I just need to write.

I'm going to compose this as a free association. No rephrasing, no re-reading, no real structure. Why? Well, for starters, it's been the better part of a year since I updated this journal and there's too much to cover in a systemic fashion, but more importantly: Nobody really gives a damn . Nobody but a few lost souls on the internet will ever see this. There's all this worry about privacy and information security and the joke of it is that nobody is really looking for me anyway. The breadcrumbs are all there, I haven't covered my tracks. People I know in real life could find this if they bothered to look for it, but they won't. That's what's really been troubling me lately. I could keep going about my daily life, making career and education progress, reaching physical goals, being the best person I can be, and coming home alone. Night after night for years and years. Not only is this entirely possible, but still no one would care. There could be another 20 years of wrenching loneliness and agony ahead of me and it would earn me nothing. I would not come out of it entitled to a loving relationship or a circle of caring friends. The only constant would be that I still had to go to work and support myself. The world just doesn't care. I would know. I've had days when I couldn't help but weep openly on the bus out of panging realizations of loneliness. It's dark outside, and the scattered souls of the working world are sitting in the corners talking to their loved ones on their cellphones in any number of languages. I get a few sideways glances, but nobody stops to ask me how I'm doing. Nobody comforts me or gives me a hug. No beautiful woman walks into my life and gives me reassurance that it won't always be this way. It's just me and my thoughts as I walk the miles home alone. Miles because the bus system is terrible. Yet another example of how little we care about each other. Even in left-leaning Seattle we'd prefer to vote down improvements to public transportation and to skimp on the tools that enable the lesser classes to get from point A to point B. I spend 20 hours a week sitting and staring out the window, or standing around being asked if I have any spare change while I wait 40 minutes for my next ride. I've had enough of this lifestyle. It can't be good for me anyway.

 

I'm moving up in the world, at least the way society sees it. I've got a full-time paid internship now. I make $16/hour, more than I've made at a dozen other jobs. I could afford a car now if I didn't have to go back to school for a year this fall to finish my degree. It's a good thing, but it's a terrifying thing. I see men in the cubicles around me mumbling like the stapler guy from office space. Some of them have been there for 35 years. Lord knows how they got the rings on their fingers, because they sure don't seem to have much else going on besides work. They worship Unix like it's a religion. There are dusty piles of old books and unfinished projects from 20 years ago stacked along the walls. Real world Dilbert strips acted out all around me. I enjoy the logic behind programming, but living this lifestyle may be damaging to my soul. I want my future to be more than this. I want more than fleeting moments with my loved ones and the occasional weekend getaway to round out my life. I want to climb mountains. I want to travel to the corners of the world with a beautiful woman by my side and the vigor of youth to propel me! That world seems to want me to bury my nose in a computer screen and accept my role in life as a hapless nerd. Yet again, nobody will care if I do, nobody will guide me to a better way. I have to find it myself, but I certainly don't want to be there by myself. I've had enough of that.

 

I'm still rock-climbing. I go to the gym by myself 2-3 times a week. My friends have moved on to other things like it was some sort of silly fad, but I'm sticking with it. I want to be good. I want to go to Yosemite and climb the nose of El Capitan and then some. I want to perfect my body, pit it against nature, and escape my mind. Physical exertion continues to be my primary source of relief. I play video games still, but no longer to be competitive. It's a sedative really. When my brain is focused on the task at hand I don't have to stop and think about how lonely I am sitting by myself. This loneliness, it follows me everywhere. I have to smother the calendar to keep it from seeping in at the idle gaps. Like water, it always finds a way in. When I'm brushing my teeth, taking a shower, trying to fall asleep. I fight it off by playing games, listening to podcasts, taking care of unfinished errands, cleaning, but it always finds a way in, and I feel awful in the midst of a life I should be proud of.

 

What really triggered me this weekend was when the leader of yet another Mountaineers trip informed us that the glacier climb had been cancelled. After passing their crevasse rescue and rope travel evaluations I've been dying to climb some real mountains this year, but every single trip has been getting cancelled, and I'm going stir crazy. It's not even so much that I don't get to go climbing, but that I don't get to immerse myself in that community. I need to belong to something, to have consistent friends that I see on a regular basis, to have people I can rely on. Let's be honest... To meet women I'd like to date. There just aren't any out there when I gather the energy to look. The link removed groups are all flooded with hopeless middle-aged men looking for connections of their own. There are a few women too of course, but they only show up with their boyfriends. I just don't understand the disparity. Even my yoga class has gradually been turning into a chat circle for middle-aged housewives. Where are the single women in their 20's and 30's? Maybe I don't want to know... At any rate, online dating sucks every bit as much as it did back to 2007. They all act like queens and ignore you with no consideration in favor of other men. If you manage to wrangle one into a date it inevitably turns into a walk around town while they yak about themselves and make fun of everybody else. As lonely as I am, I don't want to live with that. I just want somebody wholesome and loving. Somebody with a smile on her face and a willingness to get off her butt and go try things. Somebody I can have a serious conversation with. Somebody I can hold and love and reassure and feel like a man around. Something I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever truly have. I'm trying so hard but it feels so hopeless. Thoughts of suicide drift through my mind, but I know I've got too much to live for. Or do I? Is that just what everybody tells me? It would certainly surprise them all if I gave up now. But they don't know the pain I feel on a daily basis. How badly I crave to be desired. To cuddle and sift her hair through my fingers as we fall asleep together and not alone. It's such a basic human desire. When I've proven myself capable of so much else, why does this have to be so impossible for me?

 

I'm just whining here. Most people have it a lot harder than I do, but the pain feels so real regardless. I need it to stop, and I don't know what to do. There just aren't any women there for me. I've typed it into the ether, and now I'm going to throw my hands up in defeat for another day...

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Hi Alex! I think once you finish school you'll find that life improves. Probably most of the women you're interested in already have degrees and they might feel "superior" in some way, which gives them the "right" to let their self-absorbed proclivities take over and "yak about themselves and make fun of everyone else." Once you've gotten out of limbo and get a decent job or even perhaps enter graduate school, I think your prospects will get a lot better. If you're really lucky you might meet someone before then, but if I were you I wouldn't have any expectations/hopes (sorry that sounds dark) until you finish your degree. Trust me, I have 3 more years of pharmacy school left, and I am prepared to continue my life of social solitude throughout that period. When I make an effort to socialize I'm always disappointed and I'd rather be alone doing what I want (like you with all your activities) than spending time with people with whom I don't connect.

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I'm afraid you're right M. How's school been going?

 

I'm almost certain there are bright happy futures waiting for us if we can just hang in there long enough, but I'm afraid I might not have the momentum to carry me accross that finish line. Every day of this internship I show up, sit down in front of my monitor, and ask myself "What does any of this have to do with relationships, physical contact, or emotional validation?" The connections to my longterm goal of being with a loving partner are so distant that I have to stop and wonder if I'm merely imagining them.

 

The activities I do on my own ground me to reality and help ward off insanity, but they're losing their potency. I'm running out of passion for my own life, and that's terrifying. I guess I need to find the energy somewhere to switch it all up yet again.

 

Another year of loneliness sounds awful. I can't even imagine having three ahead of me! Sorry, I know that's not very reassuring. I'll do my best to endure if you will too!

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Trust me, I have reservations about my current career path too, but I do think that both of our fields are practical and in your case a CS job will give you the needed stability to start a family one day... We can't expect that every aspect of our lives be fulfilling, but we can hope that most aspects are a means to a greater end which help contribute/drive us to our ultimate life goals...right?

 

You're an attractive, active. smart, thoughtful person... I wonder if the women you're targeting (21-26) are still a little too young to realize what a catch you are. They're still in a bad boy phase and/or looking for the perfect soulmate...They haven't realized that the soulmate rarely exists and that bad boys are just that: bad boys. Maybe you should start seeing women a little older, like 27-32 range. By late twenties most women have figured out their priorities and the qualities they hope to find in a partner, and those qualities are more likely to line up with what you have to offer. Lots of them will feel like they blew their chance at love and would be thrilled to be with someone like you.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Realization

 

 

So here I am in Austin, TX sitting by myself in a fancy hotel room overlooking a terraced pool on a warm summer evening, feeling sorry for myself. I'm morose because I know that if I put on my swimming trunks and waded in I'd just continue feeling sorry for myself in the water. No beautiful single women would spontaneously show up out of the blue and swim with me like in the movies. In fact, just now a small family and their kids have shown up and shattered the fantasy anyway. If it wasn't the kids it'd be some fat, balding, middle-aged business man attempting to relieve the stress of his existence, or some oblivious old retired couple out for an evening stroll. Anything but single women really. I think they must be an endangered species. Where does one find the rare remaining single woman in her native habitat? Apparently not at hotels (see above), on airplanes, buses (I tried, but she has a boyfriend), in employee cafeterias (we're engineers...), at climbing gyms (all guys), attending outdoor movie nights (all families), on the tops of mountains (super hardcore guys), attending high school reunions (they're all married), at yoga studios (all guys in the Vinyasa 2 class FFS!) or anywhere else my life has ventured this month. The fact that I'm surrounded by happy couples all the time just adds insult to injury. I have to smile and chat and get on with my life like it doesn't bother me, but I end up crying myself to sleep every damn night.

 

 

It dawned on me today that I have a bigger problem intertwined with all this loneliness and pent up sexual tension. I was reading a book on the plane where the author described a beautiful, snowy, moonlit landscape as he was driving along with his friend. However, he was so caught up in anger and negative thoughts regarding his recent divorce that he hadn't noticed the scenery at all until his friend pointed it out to him. This is my life right now. I'm doing so well and experiencing so much, but I haven't allowed myself to stop and look on the bright side of any of it! I've been so upset with my singledom that I've allowed it to eclipse everything else that I've got going for me. After all, I'm eating more than a small third world family every day just to refuel the calories I've burned adventuring through the amazing state in this privileged country that I'm fortunate enough to live in. I've got incredible family that take care of each other when so many others have to go it alone (not just in romance). I've impressed a world-renowned company into paying my way on their first ever business trip for a junior level intern. I don't know why I feel so entitled to have a relationship. It's all just whining, and after years of letting it build up, I need to let go and detach from it.

 

 

Let's just rephrase the whole thing: Here I am in Austin, TX sitting in a fancy hotel room overlooking a terraced pool on a warm summer evening, and that feels pretty good.

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