My life is one big regret

The problem with regrets is that they keep working backwards. I can regret eating an ice cream cone for dinner, but then it keeps working itself backwards, and eventually I end up regretting not staying in town for residency, regretting that whole sorrowful time during 2nd year, regretting 1st year and all those stupid attempts to change myself, regretting leaving my college friends and going to med school, regretting that whole sordid relationship mess, regretting going to the college I did, regretting moving to the Midwest in the first place... and it keeps going on and on, and eventually, I end up at the age of five, on a snowy hill in a park in the Northeast.

I was so happy. I had my Freezy Freakies with the jet airplanes on them. I ran everywhere; I was so eager to get there that I had to go as fast as I could. And I think to myself that the only regret of my life, the original regret from which they all stem, is one that I had no control over. I wish my parents had not gotten divorced. I wish that we were still a family. I wish that those winters sledding in the park were the rule and not the exception.

I wish that I never had any reason to move to the Midwest, and maybe worked up the courage to ask out that one girl in the row next to me who always was so flirty with me. Maybe we'd go out, and that would turn into something more, and maybe we'd end up married, have some kids, and live in Manhattan, and visit my parents every few weeks.

They'd go crazy over the grandchildren. My mom would be all over them, and my dad would try to teach them something far above their comprehension. And I wouldn't have to spend the rest of my life trying to figure out what a family is. I wouldn't have to spend the rest of my life trying to find intimacy with another human being.

The problem is that when you go that far back, you stand a good chance of entirely changing whom you'd become. I wouldn't be the same person that I am now. I wouldn't have all the close friends that I do. I wouldn't have a lot of things, but I think I'd trade it all. And I doubt any of you can understand how entirely scared I am to leave here. I don't want to move again. I don't want to leave anymore. This is the only home I have; I don't want to give it up.

And all I really want is someone to tell me that it'll all work out in the end. All this moving and worrying and new beginnings, it'll all come up roses. 'This is the second act. Second acts are always full of anguish and tribulation. But it'll all work out in the end.' That's all I'm asking for. It'll be nice to have a new city, new people, new surroundings. I can start fresh. But you see, I never wanted a fresh start. I appreciate it, but it was not what I wanted. I wanted another chance at an old start.

Realizations about my love life

I was reading through the archives on this site. I enjoy it because it comforts me with the realization that all my problems are not new or special, but in fact festering boils on my existence. It got me thinking that for once in my life, I'm thinking different. Oh the situation is unchanged, notwithstanding the crap that has happened in the interval between then and now, But I'm glad that my opinion on the matter has changed significantly.

Because it's one thing to be unlucky in love. I mean, man, I've struck out more times than should be allowed by law. It's quite another thing to abandon hope entirely. Because I've made a few realizations in my life, and they're stupid realizations, but just because they're stupid doesn't make them any less true.

(1) I can't love someone if I don't love myself. I don't mean that in a narcissistic way. I just mean that when it comes down to it, loving someone else requires you to believe yourself worthy of such an emotion.

And along that line, (2) Happiness is something from within, and I have to learn to be happy by myself if I want to be happy with others. Inner joy isn't supplied by others. It's something gained from within. Happiness based on other people isn't happiness. It's no different than drugs or alcohol. It's a temporary euphoria that is lost as quickly as it's gained.

(3) Part of learning to love myself is accepting who I am. This I am working on. I've been working on it for quite some time. A couple years back, I realized that I was trying to change who I was to accommodate the love interests in my life, and that was a flawed strategy. I need to be myself, and accept that I am the best at being who I am. And that means accepting that I'm a private person, that I have a hard time sharing. I'm a goody-goody Catholic boy who'll quite likely remain a virgin for a long, long time. I draw pleasure from small things. I am very nostalgic. I get great satisfaction by pleasing others. I am conscientious. I am full of quirks and foibles and little sharp edges, and that's who I am, and there's no reason to change that or modify it.

Once I learn to accept myself, and to love myself, then (4) quite simply, I deserve to love and to be loved. I am who I am, and that is the person who deserves to be loved, not someone else.

But just because I deserve to love and to be loved, (5) that doesn't mean that I have any control over who loves me. I've been chasing after eidolons, fantasies. I did not learn until recently that finding the right person is more than attraction. It is finding a person that complements me, that is the other half of my puzzle piece in life.

(6) Love is not trying to fill the emptiness in my life with someone else, but it's trying to find someone who'll want to help me fill those holes. Love is not a solution to anything; it's a partnership. I've always viewed my life as empty and lacking, and maybe it is, but I'm not looking for someone to shore up the gaps. I'm looking for someone to help me along.

But the thing that I really came to terms with is that looking for love, real love, is playing with fire. Because the truth to life is that (7) if you want to be loved, you must love. Love isn't a one way street. And I can't be loved without loving. I can't take without giving. I can't expect a person to love me and not to love her back.

I'm still sorting through these little realizations, but I feel like it's time for me to get back into the dating world. And it's not that I have any prospects that I'm working on. It'd be nice if something just fell into my lap (no pun intended), but I think that it's simply a change in my attitude.

So, the short of the story is that I think I'm ready to try to start dating again, and that I'm kind of glad that I've had all this time off from it, in spite of all the shit I had to wade through, because I had some lessons to learn, and learning those lessons was valuable, because learning to accept myself for who I am is probably much more valuable to my existence than some scattered dates that led nowhere and would've caused a lot of heartache.

Thank you

I guess now is a good a time as any to get this over with. I want to just thank some people, and by thank, of course I doubt any of them actually read this site, so I get to thank them in utter anonymity.

Thank you, M. I think that I've never met a person quite like you, and probably never will. You've no idea how much you inspired me to be a better student and a better doctor. You showed me that it's okay to hold myself to a higher standard that what was expected of me. You showed me that being a good doctor is not about smarts, but about heart. I remember when I first met you, I remember smoking outside school between classes. I remember it all, and I doubt that you'll ever comprehend how much I'm in your debt.

Thank you, S, for keeping me running even keel. You had such a fantastic way of putting things into perspective. You kept me from getting unbalanced and tripped up. You kept me pointed in the right direction at all times, as much as I wanted to go the other way. You made me realize that life is what you make of it, and that when all you get is lemons in life, you get to discover just how delicious lemonade is. You made me feel like I was a part of your family, and you made me feel at home. Thanks.

Thank you, R, for rejecting me, of all things. Thanks for making me look at myself in the mirror and see who I really am. You'll never know it, but over the past two years, I've grown by leaps and bounds, far surpassing the other nine years I've lived in the Midwest. You know, it's been a long, long time since I've felt like I'm not pretending. It's been a long time since I've been true to myself, and although you probably have no idea, you shook up my world and forced me to find myself. Thanks for only being a friend.

Thank you, F, for listening. Thanks for never blowing off my ravings and tirades and anger and desperation and sadness and self-loathing. Thanks for letting me be myself, and helping me along the way to discover just who I am. Thanks for always being the person to lean on when I needed a shoulder, and the helping hand when I needed a lift. Thanks for making me understand that it's not what's around you as much as what's in you.

Thank you, K, for being the most decent person I know. Thanks for showing me that there is refuge for the kind-hearted and compassionate. Thanks for making me realize that all the qualities I want in a doctor are things that you can't measure or quantify. Thanks for being a person that I admired, that I could call my friend.

Thank you to everyone that helped me along the way to get to this point in my life. I couldn't have done it without you. Everything I've done, I couldn't have done it without friends to lend a helping hand, an attentive ear, or a shoulder to lean on. There are some people who deserve all the thanks in the world, but I'd rather not thank everyone here.

What I really want to do is thank everyone who held me back, everyone who threw roadblocks in my way. I want to thank everyone who doubted, interfered, meddled, and made a mess of my life. I want to thank each and every one of you who made me contemplate suicide for the first time in nine years. I really, sincerely, want to thank you.

I'm not being sarcastic. You know when you're drowning, you've got to strip off your clothing so that you don't sink. When you're running low on fuel, you've got to pitch the dead weight so that you can go the distance. You know, it's like I've been climbing, and I'm halfway up a wall, there are only two directions to go. And as much as you tried to drag me down, I'm still going up. And knowing that you were there to hinder me, to hold me back, to make my life as hellish as possible, it makes reaching the finish line that much sweeter.