The first year I marked it on April 1st as 1.

The second year when it came up on April 1st it was 2.

The third year I forgot to call it out because we were at the start of a pandemic and things were getting kind of crazy.

This year came, I remembered it on the first of April, but decided not to call it out.

Now anyone that is still holding on four years after a breakup is either just sad or pathetic. It’s way past time to move on. Four years later the people involved are different people. In four years time will be definitely changed people. (Part of the problem, that I’m not going to deal with in this post, is what I think of as the “Ross and Rachel situation”. Media: tv shows, movies, books, play up the angle of soulmates, that when two people are meant to be together it doesn’t matter what keeps them apart of how long; eventually they’ll get back together. But that’s part of a different post.)

Before it started, before I met her, I always knew I was destined to be alone. I knew I was going to live my life alone. I don’t say that to garner sympathy, because I didn’t feel bad about it. I was content, even happy, in my solitude. I get along with myself fairly well (that’s not meant as a joke, sometimes it can be hard to get along with yourself) and I have more than enough to keep myself occupied.

I can try to explain my anxiety over dealing with other people, but it’s hard to make people understand if they don’t suffer from it. I’ve always been described as shy and quiet. It’s easy for others to just say get over it, just talk to other people. “It’s not hard.” But it is hard.

I say this while I’m the manager of a large retail store that employs anywhere from 60 to over a hundred people at times and I have to interact and talk to them on a daily basis. I do it, but it’s never easy. When I have to hold a store meeting and face everyone at one time I will be awake nights before the meeting trying to figure out what I’m going to say and how I’m not going to make myself look like a fool while I’m saying it. Even smaller meetings, like with my managers, three people I’ve know for years and genuinely like and respect are hard. My stomach gets in knots when I have to talk. And worse if I have to deliver bad news. I don’t sleep at nights when I know I have meetings that I have to talk in. My District Manager is always on me for not talking enough when we get visits from corporate, they want you to take them on the tour of the store, talk numbers, rah rah about the company; I’ve never been good at it and I never will be. And again I’ll be up nights before I know of one of these visits trying to come to terms with having to deal with the visitors. But I do it. To some extent. I have the store meetings, I talk with everyone, I walk the corporate visitors through the store. Probably not all that well, I know it’s held me back in promotions and reviews, but I do the best I can.

I bring this up because as I talk about this some of you might point out that I do talk to strangers, to customers, to fellow associates on a daily basis. Yes, I do. Because I have to, because I have to make a living and somehow I fell in retail as my source of income. But when I tell you it’s not easy, believe me it’s not easy. I manage, but the effect on my self is traumatic. It effects my sleep, it effects my health.

I’ve been like this for as long as I know. In school I dreaded if the teacher would call on me to get in front of the class. I’ve never understood people who say school was the best time of their lives. I was never so happy to get out of school. (Besides these problems I was also the kid that got picked on, the skinny kid with glasses that was quiet and didn’t talk so others took that as a sign to push around and bully me.)

As for dating and the opposite sex, just about forget it. Talking to a girl was the most frightening thing in the world. I never dated in school, it was only later that sometimes I managed to stumble my way through a few, but no real relationships for years.

Dealing with people is just not something I’m wired for. Having to talk to strangers can make me sick.

As bad as thing sounds, it wasn’t terrible for me. At home I had a good life. I knew my weakness and decided there wasn’t anything I could do about it. At home I have my books, my comics, my tv shows, my movies, my writing. I was never sad about it at home. (I’m not saying that there weren’t times when I was sad or upset because things didn’t work out due to my inability to talk to others, but I got over them fairly quickly.)

At some point I knew I was going to live my life alone. I would have some friends, but overall I would go home to a house with no one in it. And I was satisficed with that. I never went home and sat around brooding or feeling like I was a failure. I filled my time with what I wanted. Like I said: books, comics, movies, tv shows and my writing. I felt like my life was full, I was happy.

Until I met her. Until I fell in love. She showed me what it was not being alone. What a different future could mean. She held out what I was missing and not even realizing it.

So now when I mark the years since then, I’m not marking the loss of her so much, it’s the loss of what might have been. (There is some of that “Ross and Rachel” soulmate that realizes you were meant to be together and coming back no matter what that lingers, but only some.)

Four years neither of us are the same person. She’s more than likely not a person I would even like anymore, just from knowing some of who she is with now, and I’m probably not a person she would like. We’ve both changed. I don’t expect anything. But what lingers is that maybe I didn’t have to be alone, that maybe there was someone for me.

I don’t sit around thinking about this all the time, or even that much of the time. This time of the year it hits me hardest, just because of the timing.

It’s just some of the time I feel lost. Like I don’t know what I’m supposed to do anymore.

I know again, at least I’m on the way to knowing again, that I can be alone and be happy. I have friends. I have a life for myself, that I’ve created. A life I like. I have things that keep me happy and content. I’m getting back to where I was before, when I didn’t think about what might have been and was happy with what was.

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