That Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Since childhood it was instilled into me that achievement was the priority in life. Until high school, I had extra homework given to me by my mother. Summers were also spent with homework and in later years, with SSAT prep. Sophomore year I went away to boarding school, and though I was free of her bounds, I was not free of her expectations. It was there that I excelled. I worked hard and actually enjoyed the majority of my classes. To this day I don’t believe that I’ve had an educational experience that exceeded that of boarding school.


In 1997 I headed to college. I wasn’t even close to being an adult. I spent the summer in the bible belt, drinking and having a blast. That blistering August I went to Austin, admitted into Engineering school. There was no doubt in my mind that in 4 years I would graduate with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. By spring I was packing my bags and heading back to the belt. I told myself I was taking a bit of time off, and that soon I would take a couple of classes at a local university before heading back to UT to finish up.


I just couldn’t get my shit together. I returned to UT, changed my major a couple of times and eventually just quit. My heart wasn’t in it. I couldn’t achieve.


The need to earn some money spurned me on to nursing school, which posed no real problem. The career was chosen not out of passion, but pragmatically. I knew I could do it, not hate it, make decent money, and maybe feel like I was doing something that made a difference. I was right.


A few months ago I ended my almost 3 year relationship. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I knew it was the right one. Although it was I that did the leaving, it was no less hard on my heart. In fact, looking back upon my past relationships, I see many have been hard of my heart. I seem to invest a lot of myself and stay in them much too long.


Today she wrote me a long email, telling me about all of the problems the Monster has been having since I left. She advised me against being reckless with peoples lives and their hearts, especially if they have children.


No fucking shit.


As if I need to feel even more guilty than I already do. I never took any of that lightly. I did everything that I could think of to make that relationship work and in the end, it just wasn’t. It’s not my fault. Staying in a toxic relationship for the sake of a kid just isn’t a good idea nor is it the right decision.


Then why do I feel so bad?


I keep trying to tell myself that I’m just on a different path. That there’s great things ahead for me. Adventures to be had. Fulfillment. That some day this will all make sense. That even the greats experienced this as well. That the failure of my relationships is not my failure alone.


Why do I have problems believing it?


I spend so much time reading and learning about human emotion. How to build stronger relationships. What it takes. I believe that the more I read that I can solve the puzzle and logic my way into a healthy and satisfying love, and every time it doesn’t work out I wonder what it is that I did wrong.


I carry the shame of failure with me, shouldering all the blame. I’ve considered that it may be holding me back, but I have no idea of how to lighten the burden. A few years ago I thought I was on my way, but here I am again, feeling the same way and no closer to knowing what to do.