Success, Defined.

18 Oct

https://www.flickr.com/photos/schoeband/8723023344

Five years ago, I owned a home and my mid-twenties’ dream car, was on a management track at my firm, and had a six figure income.

I also was in the midst of ending an exhausting relationship, working 60 some hours each week, and spending most of my “down” time in a doctor’s office or the emergency room. A beautiful life—at least in the eyes of those industry leaders who had successfully paved the way for young guns like me to make a living.

During that time, I idolized those who were consistently making huge sales and rubbing shoulders with some pretty fabulous people because of that. I had a newer model of the BMW I owned pinned to a photo board in my office at home (which I spent little to no time in), and I poured over my prospect list every few hours, every day. I was good at my job, and my clients loved me, but it was never enough. I needed what they had—the sales manager’s condo in the city, the owner’s seemingly perfect family life, a corner office with a wicked view.

I worked so hard to be a mover and shaker that I ended up burnt out and angry—feelings of jealousy and hate were easy to come by, and I resented everything and everyone around me.

I remember a brief conversation I had with my sister during that time where she blatantly told me the East Coast had changed the core of who I was. In addition to becoming a bitter workaholic, I had also lost quite a bit of weight. Part of that was on purpose, because I felt pretty strongly that everyone in the city was about four sizes smaller than I was at that time—the other part just happened. I left the house so early for my two hour commute that I didn’t eat breakfast, I worked through lunch, and worked too late into the night to eat dinner, most nights.

My sister was concerned—but most of the people I interacted with in business each day could care less. I started to realize that I was striving for a success that others had defined for me. The house, the car, the income—the life, right?

But what about my health, my passions, my time?

I’m not the first person to have this realization while trying to catapult up the corporate ladder in their twenties—I may be one of the few who is still in the same career after that realization, however. It took me years to sift through what it was about what I do that kept me going, day after day. The potential for extraordinary income, or was it the status that can come from working with high profile clients? It certainly wasn’t the long hours or pointless Monday morning training meetings.

I was drawn and kept in business by what I provided to my clients—how they were able to change something in their thinking in order to reach whatever success looked like to them.

I spend about an hour with each one of my clients the first time we meet, trying to understand what it is they need and how I may be able to help them achieve that position in this life. Most of what I do is planning through education, even though sales are an inevitable part of implementing that plan. I realized I was so caught up with the sales portion, I was overlooking what I truly loved about my career choice. I had to figure out a way to create that space for my clients, make an income from doing so, and not be hitched to the nonsense that can be the corporate side of my business.

Those closest to me and even some of my clients had encouraging but scary advice. Go out on your own—I heard it loud and clear. But I ignored it as long as I could. Although my working years have all been based on commission earned, the thought of starting something from the ground up was paralyzing.

Eventually, I ended up in partnership with two of my colleagues. One was beyond successful, but equally miserable in our oppressive firm environment, and one was simply along for the ride. The latter didn’t last more than a year, but we—the successful ones—kept on.

And we argued, a lot.

Even though I was free of a shit environment with nearly unreachable quotas in support of someone else’s dream business, I was still working hard toward someone else’s version of success. He wanted a practice that served a certain demographic, and I wanted one that served another. He had a different relationship with money than I did, and we were hard pressed to meet eye to eye on that topic in any aspect. He said I owed him respect—I said he had to earn it.

About a year in, I took two weeks away from everything—something I had never done in my almost eight year career—and thought about what my next move would be. Should I leave the industry altogether, or do I just separate myself from him completely? Was there a happy medium that would serve everyone’s needs, or were we doomed in working together.

I had worked hard in the business—lost friends, gained clients, ruined relationships, and bought too much crap to give up on the dream. But who’s dream was I after? Clearly, it was his, not mine.

My business remains intact, but now more on my terms. I operate on somewhat of a disruptive model, working with clients no one else will take, and charging them well below what I am worth. I have time for my other passions—writing, non-profit support, the occasional happy hour—and I don’t work more than 30 hours each week. I am content here, although my bank account would beg to differ. This experience is different than the last, and each morning I have to remind myself why.

Before I could get comfortable with creating my own vision of a practice in this industry, I had to let go of everything I had been taught by this industry. I don’t frequent country clubs for my clients—because my clients aren’t there. I don’t get concerned that my full sleeve of ink will deter wealthy prospects from working with me—because the people I want to work with don’t care. It isn’t my partner’s practice to build, it’s mine. I took me too long to understand that I define what success is, and it is unique to me.

As I sat on my bed one early morning a few weeks ago, I read through a handful of recent e-mails from clients. Some were asking for meetings to update me on their progress, and others were sending along the name of a colleague who could use similar help. In the quiet of my morning routine, I felt sad, but grateful. I wanted this experience with this business years ago, but was quickly blinded by the somewhat misguided focus of my peers. But as I realized just how much each e-mail had a tone of thankfulness, above all else, I felt so blessed for the opportunity to do what it is I am meant to do.

Taking on the risk to create what I want in a career that is built on a foundation of money and status has been a freeing experience, despite how terrifying it can be, day to day. I spent too much time climbing the mountain someone else created, I couldn’t envision my own. From an outside perspective, it may seem like I’ve taken a few steps back throughout this journey, but I’m not convinced that is the case.

I’m simply starting at the foot of my own mountain, climbing at my pace and on my terms, and I know the view will be better along the way.

Warning: Expiring Soon.

24 Apr

When milk spoils, it turns into a putrid mess of funk that no one wants to deal with. 

It stinks; the carton bloats. The thought of unscrewing the lid to pour what is left of an otherwise lovely compliment to my morning cereal turns my stomach quicker than most other disgusting things. I do my best to utilize every drop prior to its demise, but with life getting in the way of a normal eating schedule, I often fail. So there is sits – raunchy and ready to be discarded. 

I have known for quite some time that I, too, have an expiration date – thankfully I don’t bloat, though. Two years seems to be the magic time line, imprinted on my soul as a clear warning that things will get tricky soon, and the necessity to deal with whatever situation is about to be flushed down the proverbial sink is on the horizon. I have been able to sense it for as long as I can remember – feeling the same as that poor turned milk. Funky, in the worst way.

My career is a perfect example of my need to move on past this critical two year period. I have not been in the same position longer than that, ever, although I will say I have stayed with the same firm for a few months past, when necessary. As I approach the two year mark with this last endeavor, I start to engage in potentially rot-worthy thoughts. What’s around the corner? Am I supposed to stay or is it time to go? Is this the “one” that will exceed my natural time frame? I am admittedly unsure for this particular journey, but as the weeks slip away, I am violently reminded that seasons of change come for me, in big, dramatic, emotional waves. 

And I am upon one of those seasons, yet again. I have been since the beginning of this year, without acknowledging it until recently. Except this season does not seem to be for one specific life event, but instead is a shift in every aspect of my life. Relationship, career, location, health, awareness. The whole shebang – I am craving big, dramatic, emotional change.

It has been an interesting ride up until this point, on all fronts, respectively. Some have been easier than others, and some have challenged me beyond what I thought I would ever be capable of handling. It is quite possible I have yet to handle any of it, but here I sit, still breathing and still moving, as much as I want to let it all go. I’ve often wondered if any other human gets as bored or as uncomfortable or as stagnant as I do, and so systematically that at month 23, shit gets ridiculous.

A peach in a sea of potatoes – an odd ball struggling to make sense of happenings that simply aren’t meant to have logical meaning. Potatoes aren’t affected. Only the peach. Left with bruises and dents, visible to everyone on the outside; terribly painful on the inside. I want to run, but here I sit, still breathing and still moving.

My two year warning comes with such a fervor it is impossible to ignore. At times, I can’t determine if it is something I create, because I am used to shifting at this point, or if it is truly an intuitive call to action. I am uncomfortable because I actually need change; I am uncomfortable because I think I should be. A coin toss seems to be the only viable determinant in this plight – leave it to probability, instead of my slowly rotting gut. Yeah, that sounds about right.

As another day rushes by, and more questions are formed, rather than the needed answers, I retreat inward. Quiet, dangerously depressed and oppressively cut off from the potatoes who want and need my attention. They seem to never expire, and a bruised peach envies that super power. So shutting down is the only choice I feel comfortable with, digging in to the boredom/discomfort/discontentment to figure out what exactly is happening and what exactly is needed to move into my new season, whatever that looks like.

A peach, in a sea of potatoes, I sit, rotting. Raunchy, and ready to be discarded.

Artwork.

24 Jan

The good in life bleeds together with the bad, the uncomfortable, the painful, and after some time, it is difficult to determine what is what. An overwhelming, messy questionable blur of circumstances—one life experience connects with another, erasing the lines of clarity. Our existence, then, ultimately creates a piece of art; wildly misunderstood, but priceless as it stands.

Is your life a masterpiece? Mine, most certainly, is not. Yet. I used to dream big—outlandish, unreasonable and highly unlikely visions of grandeur. A professional twenty-something with connections that would impress even the most connected well-to-do acquaintance. A gifted writer, on her way to a second published work, reaching the masses of equally downtrodden millenials with stories of defeat and subsequent triumphant returns to grace. An envied partner—the kind of girl you want to spend your most precious moments with, share her with your group of friends and cared for family members, someone you simply could not live or breathe without. These things, I am not. My work of art is stained with mismatched black and gray images—plenty of experiences, but none that fall in line with what I had imagined for myself. As art, it fits the bill of misunderstood, but I question its worth.

I struggle with being relevant. In the work I do, in the company I choose to keep, in the writing I choose to share. Does it matter to anyone? The answer is generally and simply, no. My frustration I suppose is focused inward—not on those who don’t understand or bother to care. I desire so much, and accomplish so little. Health issues aside, I am fully capable of meeting my highest potential, even those inconceivable images of grand existence. But, I sit here behind the safety of this screen, pouring out my disappointment through this keyboard. Voiceless. Unable to project out what I need for my life, despite what the universe has decided to jam down my throat in my short time here. I want to change the world, but can’t seem to beat down the depression that weighs down my soul, and motivation, consistently enough to make that happen in a powerful way. I wonder what a girl is to do in this spot. Lord knows I’ve tried to figure that out, failure after failure, and nothing manifests as a solid plan moving forward.

I speak about my rocky path without fail, and I think it has created a life lived in past experiences, as opposed to looking onward for more. I know there is more to see, but it is so hard to wipe the sleep out of my eyes each morning to grasp that image clearly. I wonder if my intentions are shoddy. I question whether my purpose here is what I believe it to be. Is that shifting yet again? I am unsure that’s a manageable change at this point. I am exhausted, wrought with a deep sadness bred from dissatisfaction and brutal disappointment. I put too much weight on others to perform what they promise to perform, and end up worse off, even after preparing myself for that disappointment. Frustration floods in, and I am more and more helpless to fight it off. Days sweep by and nothing changes. Weeks, then months. It’s all the same. I fight to get out of this cycle, but it stays with me, turn after turn.

I want to look back on these years of my life and think that I accomplished something of worth. Not tied to monetary gain, not tied to the world’s view of success, not tied to anyone else’s bull shit. I want to stand on my own two feet, solidly planted on firm ground, and be proud of what my piece of art resembles. It’s acceptable if no one else sees the beauty in the blacks and grays, or understands the flow of experiences together in one powerful form.  It is only pertinent that I feel a sense of positive emotion when I view it. I don’t know what it will take to get there, but I know, at this present moment, something must shift direction.

There is more to see here, even if I can’t figure out what that may be.

Imagineers

19 Jan

ImageMidday naps are the best thing to ever happen to me, just about every day. Whether I sneak in 15 minutes or a full two hours, my early morning wake-ups generally require a break at some point before the sun goes down. I climb out of work clothes, into sweats and crash like I’ve never experienced sleep before. I have an inkling that if I skipped these glorious shut-eye moments of bliss I would be able to rest fully at night, but I digress.

Naps. Awesome.

Today’s installment presented an incredibly odd dream, which, for me, is pretty standard. Check previous entries if you’d like to discover what my brain looks like in REM (spoiler alert: there are robots and lasers, to boot). My dreams range from terrifying to hilarious, to the point I wake up from hyperventilating in fear or laughing uncontrollably. Some dreams I remember, and some I don’t. I never know what the purpose is behind those I do keep in my mind, but they are always epic. Today was no exception, except that I think I understand why it happened, even if it took me a moment to realize it.

People—from my past, present, and apparently future—flooded one huge bedroom. A scene from Eyes Wide Shut, if you will, without the creepy masks or code word, thank goodness. As with most of my dream recollections, I have hard a time remembering all the minute details, but the big chunks are concrete. A man in black pajamas, pin-striped even, held a list in his old, wrinkled hands. On the list, each of our names, in order of when we met. It didn’t make sense then, but dreams usually don’t in totality. The profound figure calls out each of our name, one by one, asking for us to conjure up in our minds what our ideal “other” looks like. If we think hard enough, he says, they will appear.

Sure enough, one by one, beautiful women enter the room, in a puff of smoke and what seemed like fairy dust. I have fairy dust in my dreams—don’t judge me.

Most of the participants were male—I assumed this exercise in fanatical conjuring was for them, not me. I have who I need and want, all wrapped up in a very attractive, very intelligent, very bearded gent. Thank you, Universe (it took you long enough). But the guys present—I only recognized two faces, but somehow knew, as we do in dreams, who was with me. Past lovers and previous failures. Maybe failures is too harsh, but you know what I mean. Those who “got away” without commitment, without an adult-ish conversation about true feelings, without a shred of dignity—they got away. They were there, with me, engaged in this magical manifestation of what our true desires spoke so clearly in that moment. I was so distracted by the request from the wrinkly-handed man that I forgot to complete the task. I just saw women flooding in, for the benefit of the men alone.

In my awe of the moment, it took me what seemed like hours to realize that each of those women were me.

Black hair with a hint of faded red highlights, sun-kissed skin and dark eyes, a full sleeve on her right arm and other strategically placed tattoos scattered across her naked body. She looked beautiful, confident and calm, knowing the purpose of her visit, and without hesitation, she met her imagineers one by one, leading them away, just like the aforementioned movie. I sat in awe—fully clothed myself, somewhat disturbed by the marathon of me’s strutting in, oblivious to my—our presence.

This wasn’t a sex dream, although that probably would have done me some good this afternoon. Instead, it was my own mental manifestation of worth and value, as it stood years ago. I was needed for one thing—not conversation, not whit, and certainly not companionship—the one thing I defined myself by without fail with each and every one of them.

A quick side note, if you’ll stay with me: Rarely does my forever partner enter these types of dreams. He has his moments in other ways, but these dreams are of a different origin… one he is not meant to be a part of, at least in that world. I know his place, and it is far above the others who enter my mind when I sleep. I get him in reality, and that is truly all I need.

Back to the imagineers.  I fought so hard for some of them—vying for attention in the most degrading ways, giving up a part of who I was each and every time. I wanted them to love me, whether or not I loved them back. In most instances, love did not exist there, but I needed to feel it from all of them, one by one. The world dropped them into my life in such a direct way it was hard to overlook in those moments, and difficult to move past once they decided I was too emotional/needy/whiny/chubby/quiet/sassy/smart. They all taught me a specific lesson in the time we spent together, however short. If it was a lone evening, I understood. If it was two years, I understood. The lessons learned from these men (a term I use lightly here) pushed me forward, even if I had to take a million steps back to get there.

The dream was beautifully seductive, even if no action was taken. Seeing myself come into that room, drenched in nothing but pure confidence was so powerful, knowing I truly had control of those situations, even when I felt used and subsequently pushed to the side.

I have only been that radiant in real life once, and that is now. He allows me to be who I need to be, consistently, whether it is emotional/needy/whiny/chubby/quiet/sassy/smart or, the all powerful bitchy. He gets it, and I appreciate that fact. I am thankful for my power nap this afternoon because without it, there would be no realization necessary today—the understanding that I no longer need those imagineers in real life, but an appreciation of what they gave to me in their prime.

Another side note—This is simply a recount and immediate reflection of the happenings of today. Writing was put to the side, as I get caught up in trying to make my reflections feed into the hearts of others and I lose, at times, the purpose of my post. So take this with a grain of salt, knowing full well it is not intended to be the best written piece of work I have provided my readers, simply a journal entry for my own benefit. Next time, we’ll be back to poetic robots and lasers. Don’t you worry.

Good Morning, Bitch.

18 Jan

Ah, the urge to run—far removed from the commitments, the obligations, the job, the people. Drop everything and jet off into the unknown of a new city, a restless heart screams so loudly at me this morning. The sun is just peeking over the horizon with a chill in the air that would make any normal human want to stay in bed as long as possible, but here we are. Uncomfortably ready to go.

Some days, it is difficult to ascertain the exact situation that prompts my flighty approach to the day.

Boredom?

Dissatisfaction?

Annoyance?

All viable options in this tense moment. The deep desire to jet off is not necessarily focused on getting out of this tiny, cramped apartment—I simply need a break from the inner workings of my mind. She’s batting around destructive ideas to break the mundane cycle that’s been my focus for weeks, and we have come to a proverbial head. Ping ponging back and forth are grandiose fantasies of the unknown, something drenched in excitement, dripping with newness. A fresh start, even if it means a thousand steps backward. Her voice is so loud in this moment, I can hardly hear anything else.

My need for a productive day, plugged in and demolishing to-do lists that are a mile long, is overshadowed by her screams for indulgence, in anything. Get lost somewhere, anywhere, with or without someone, disconnected and careless. Reckless, even. A dangerous tone sweeps from ear to ear, but there is a beauty in her melody. I have missed her, despite how fatal she can be in her awakening.

Why is she here, now? It has been months since she has shown her beautiful face, last seen in my dreams, seducing me with thoughts of deviance and destruction. The images she provides of untouchable things, experiences draw me in so quickly, so fully, it is difficult to ignore. My happiness is deeply rooted in a foundation of respect and trust, and she is well aware. So why, then, is she here, now?

That simple fact is her inspiration to show her face. Tempt to the point of no return. Damage what she can in an amazingly short period of time. Leave the ruins for me to riffle through, desperately trying to understand what just took place and how a rebuild is even remotely possible. This is what she does when life gets comfortable, when things are too easy.

Sweep in with a vengeance. Fuck my world into oblivion. Disappear back into the dark corners of my mind. No note of explanation, or apology for screwing up an otherwise calm scene—she’s a bitch, and she’s a master at it.

If I stop and take a moment to grasp what is happening before she takes hold, it is evident she’s been awake for a while now, brooding in her dedicated space in my mind, waiting for the slightest doubt to creep in. She thrives there—breaking down the tiniest circumstance into a million pieces of sharp discontentment, creating a whirlwind of chaos in mere seconds. And now, here we are. Contemplating the unthinkable, dangerously close to the edge of what I know will destroy everything around me.

A new desire emerges—to quiet her down. I have never been good at it, but know what is necessary. Such a challenge on a cold, lonely morning, but she needs to be put back in her place until the next wave of bull shit rises up. I am more than this, more than her. She can’t lead me, as hard and as often as she tries.

She doesn’t own the space in my mind. It’s rented, with a lease nearly up, and she knows it. I take my time in kicking her out completely because, in all honesty, I enjoy her as my muse. Letting my mind wander into the known darkness I have experienced time and time again is what she wants, but it will stop there. A moment of clarity comes, as it always does, acknowledging her omnipresence, waving a hello, and quickly moving past. She will come again, and be welcomed when she does, but her rightful place is not at the forefront, but in the shadows. Banished back until I need a reminder of who I truly am again.

There’s more to see here, with and without her.

Embracing Emotion

12 Jan

Something inside me broke last night, as I sat in a chilly theater, just five minutes into one of the best films I have seen in quite some time. I am not sure that is saying much, as going to the movies is never a high priority for me—I would much rather be snuggled up on the couch in my sweats if I am going to indulge in two hours of anything, not a theater. But there I sat, with tears dripping down my cheeks, unable to control the emotional juggernaut that was derailing an otherwise enjoyable evening. I often wonder where my emotions stem from, as I am admittedly at either a negative 14 or a 27—on a scale from one to 10. It is not only exhausting, but embarrassing at times, as I have a difficult time controlling the onset of those extremes. In that theater, I kept removing my glasses and wiping my eyes with my scarf, trying desperately to breathe, understand what was happening and why, and keep my desire to weep under wraps. I should have stayed home, that much was clear.
I sat in between two of my closest friends, even though our relationship together as a crew has diminished over the course of the last few years. We have each had trying moments—crises of faith, if you will—but not once have I questioned their loyalty to me and our friendships. I have been less than available to them fairly consistently, but when we do get together every few months, it is like nothing has changed. Six years of laughter and bitching and jokes and tears flood the restaurant booths we occupy for hours, and the hugs given at the end of those evenings are always meaningful to me. But during the two hour cinema experience, I felt out of place and awkward in their presence. Not many know the extreme versions of me, and the negative 14 that was taking hold of my night could not have been comfortable for either of them. But there we sat, together, taking it all in.
A sweet voice rang through the speakers as the plot unfolded on screen, the words simple but profound, speaking directly to my emotional core with each sentence delivered. As much as I had a desire to run away and hide my eyeliner stained face from the world, I knew I was meant to be there, and with these two gems acting as pillars on either side. To my left and to my right, they sat quietly (I think) enjoying the independent film, and were accepting as I apologized every three minutes for crying like a baby as the story opened up. It seemed neither cared that I was moved beyond words and beyond self control, but I could not stop the “I’m sorry” from oozing out of my mouth. We parted ways directly after the movie ended, and I drove home in silence. After tossing and turning most of the night, I woke up feeling less embarrassed, grateful for those who know me well enough to let me be me, even in public, and even at a negative 14.
Our emotional core is such an integral part of who we are, and when it is stifled, either through our own concerns of acceptance or others’ desires to quiet that part of us, we end up losing out. It has taken me years to begin to both understand and be comfortable in who I am, extremes included. If I limit myself to only the one through ten range, I limit everyone else’s experience of who I am. Although that may be the least awkward for that specific moment, it is an inaccurate depiction of me, as a whole, and cheapens who I am each and every time. I laugh, loudly. I cry, hard. I get pissed off, dangerously. And above all, I love, deeply. Hiding that away from the world does nothing but build up impenetrable walls that take an army to break down. It is impossible to live in that space for an extended period of time, I know that well.
My suggestion for this day is to embrace what comes—whether it be sadness or joy, comfort or discourse, pain or pleasure. The tears I give up in those moments eventually return me to a place of calm peace, subduing the intense waves for a short time until the ocean that is my soul decides to act up, again. I live for those quiet moments of reflection and self growth, and without enduring the turmoil, I am incapable of reaching them. So today, ride through those waves because on the other side is something beautiful.

Laugh loud.

Cry hard.

Try not to get pissed.

Love deep.

Fucked in NYC: A Lesson Learned

3 Jan

He rang my bell, each and every time we met.
Smokey hotel rooms with drawn shades buried deep within the city, we had but one purpose. Indulgence.
I would set my arrival to be slightly ahead of his—I needed a few moments to myself to prepare. This consisted of only a quiet pep talk, reminding myself I was good enough, at least for the 24 hours we would spend together. I would line my lips with balm, touch up my mascara and blush, adjust my blouse so that cleavage was noticeable, but not overwhelming. Quick swish of mouthwash and then a sip of water I had remembered to retrieve from the airport coffee shop on the way to baggage claim. My hair was never what I needed it to be, but in all reality, I knew he would not notice. My luggage sat on the edge of the bed, opened and tossled, as to give the illusion I had been there and comfortably so for hours. The scene was set for his arrival, and my heart raced.
A text asking for the room number came. I responded, but with a bit of a delay as to not seem so eager. A knock moments later, and our evening began. There was a forceful kiss to start, then conversation. Work is good—check. School is a pain in the ass—check. Family, fine—check. Fifteen minutes after he breezed through the door, we were rolling around in the sheets. Passion flooded the 200 square feet room we were sentenced to for that short time frame so much that my head would spin. I wish we had more time together, in these secret rooms, holed up together without anything to do but one another.
In those moments, he was everything to me. I was nothing to him.
My thoughts were consumed by our encounters, weeks before they took place. Clients were sought out with purpose, as to have another reason for being there. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him he was the sole driving force behind making the hour and a half flight to his town every few months, even if that was the gross truth. I would travel in work clothes, heels included, in the off chance he made it to the hotel before I arrived. I wanted him to see I had an agenda, outside of our time together. He never made it there before I did, and he would not have thought twice about it if he had. I was being used, but had no desire to not be. Despite that awareness, validation came with each visit.
I felt desired—beautiful in those moments and for a short while after. I always wanted more, but settled for what he felt comfortable offering. Not much more than powerful sexual attraction and the unprecedented moves toward releasing it. For nearly a year, we entertained our deepest, darkest fantasies with one another, shut off from the world in those smokey urban hotel rooms. I willingly breathed it all in.
I fell in love with the idea of him during those months. A man who needed nothing more from me than my body, to do with what he pleased. He did that well. The balance in my checking account mattered not—the car I drove, the career I poured my soul into, my writing—none of it crossed his mind. I was able to feed his addiction, even if he wasn’t aware he had one, and equally he fed mine. I needed to be needed, in that capacity alone, and our arrangement worked well. That is, until I fell for him.
I stopped communicating after I shared my true feelings, asking him to give more to me than the torrid 24 hour romp sessions. His lack of response screamed rejection painfully in my ear, so I let it go. The idea that we would ever be more than what we had become seemed childish, and, to an extent, selfish on my part, and walking away was easier than continuing our secret affair. The phone calls stopped. The inappropriate texts ceased. I worked toward rebuilding myself, without him and without the idea of him.
It was one of the greatest struggles of my life, but in that process, I found some thing better. A love for myself that replaced the desire for lust with an affinity for love. He taught me so much in those short visits—how to let go of the shame surrounding my deep sexual desires, how to be present in those moments, how to embrace passion without fear. He unknowingly showed me what love should look like in that department, and I never doubted his feelings in those moments. He taught me that the one aspect of a relationship I had always focused on could be unspeakably beautiful, but was not the whole story. I found what I was looking for with him, even if it hurt to do so.
A transition from lust to love changed my life, for good, and some day, I will thank him for his instruction. He guided me away from living my life in secret, and provided me the right mindset to catapult forward. I will never regret our sessions, as they were the most enjoyable therapy I will ever receive. Thank you, city dweller, for sharing your time with me, and allowing me to share myself with you.

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