Ghosts of girlfriends past. Part 1

Right, I’ll do something else now. I’ll re-visit a few of my short-time and long-time girlfriends (don’t worry, there’s not many of them!) and do a short summary of it. I might turn out anything from hilarious (mostly the first ones) to very serious crap. Anyway, I’ll do it because it feels like something I want to do.

Girlfriend #1: The first kisser

Who was she?
I was 12 and she was 11. She was the prettiest girl in elementary school. Albeit a small school, I can’t believe I managed to pull that one off. But hey – we just kissed. We were kids after all. She loved Micheal Jackson. Her whole room was plastered in Micheal Jackson posters. When MJ died in 2009 I sent her a message about it, but I felt she didn’t really give a shit any longer. I guess not all stick to their guns, so to speak. Can’t blame her for it though. She kissed me in the dark while at a birthday party once. We shut the light off and pretended to play hide and seek. I think she kissed me even twice. It rocked.

Why did you date her?
She was pretty. That’s about it. I liked pretty girls, and I still like pretty girls.

Why didn’t it work out?
Well, after a while she decided to drop me and be into someone in her own class. I was actually a bit depressed about it. The I forgot all about it. She called me one afternoon and wanted to break up, but didn’t have the heart to tell me. So, she made me spell it, dropping one letter at the time.

When she graduated high school and the school newspaper had a short introduction about her, it was mentioned she once had a very short boyfriend. I didn’t really prefer that funny remark (still don’t).

Where is she now?
I think she lives in Oslo. She has a small child. Older guy perhaps? That’s about it. She’s on my Facebook though. Not really someone I mingle with daily. She’s still stunningly pretty though.

What would you like to tell her?
I hope you’re not dumping boyfriends by making them spell the letters any more. And the guy you dumped me for is so fucking fat now. Your loss. 😉

I remember we watched this, sitting on the floor at my parents house – holding hands. Good times though.

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Ephipanies

It happened about a month ago. I was standing in line for BBQ’ed chicken at the supermarket. My only stop at this supermarket for almost a year. Funny that. You passed in front of me, and looked me in the eyes just briefly. Just like me you were unsure if you knew me or not. When I walked back to the car I was almost convinced I knew who you were. I couldn’t shake the feeling of warmth you gave me or how beautiful you looked. Something told me I had to find you. So, I looked you up and sent you a message on Facebook. “Was that you I saw?” You replied that it was. I suspect we both had a good understanding about who we were looking at, but this is Norway after all. We’re not Americans or Spaniards after all. We just don’t stop and talk to strangers unless we are absolutely sure we know them.

We couldn’t stop talking after that. We met again shortly afterwards. Two adults, a six year old and a three year old dog. We talked for two hours while your daughter and my little dog ran around playing. Without hesitation you invited me to come with you and your little family to a family park with lots of fun rides. It’s those places you can’t really go to unless you have children. Everything felt so natural and right. Not once did it feel awkward. It was the best day I’ve had for so long. As long as I can remember. And you know why? Because I felt normal. I felt part of society again. Considering my age it was the right place to be and the right thing to do. And I was with you. I didn’t feel like a nerd sitting at home writing novels. I didn’t feel lonely walking somberly alone with my dogs in a suburb full of happy families. I didn’t feel down because I was drinking beer with lonely guys above my own age staring down their failures in life. I wasn’t scared I might end up like them any longer. I was happy because I felt normal. I was in a family park, doing family things. It didn’t feel awkward because it wasn’t my family. I felt part of it. It felt right. I can’t thank you enough for that day when everything felt right for me. You included me on your family trip without hesitation even if you didn’t know me that well. I can’t thank you enough for trusting me and for giving me the chance to prove myself. I do not know what I have done to deserve your trust so quickly, but I will never abuse it.

I am yours now. I was hit by a lightning and I will never be the same. So, I’m tearing down the walls I have built around myself once more.

To quote Jeffrey Sinclair in Babylon 5’s War Without End Part II (even if it is corny 20 years down the road);

All my life I’ve had doubts about who I am, where I belonged. Now I’m like the arrow that springs from the bow. No hesitation, no doubts. The path is clear.

There is only one question I need to ask you. I think I know the answer, but I am still nervous about it. I feel like I have burned my hand once, and afraid of doing it once more. I think it will be alright. It feels like it will be alright.

And even if all fails, I will still remember the day when everything was alright.

Chapter 8: Confessions and Lamentations

I had just settled into a new house when I met her. I felt more settled by then. Not so emotionally upset any longer. Trying to focus on the future.

She was my age. Very pretty. Local. Two kids. At first I was a bit cautious considering her age and my desire to have my own children. It didn’t take long until I asked her about it. Turns out she didn’t understand what I was asking her the first time around, but a month or so later she confirmed her intentions; she was open to have more children. Because of me. She asked me what I would do if she said no. I replied I couldn’t be with her if that was the case. She cried for a wee bit and said she would go through this once again (pregnancy) for me. I couldn’t believe how someone was so caring and warm as to do that for someone else. I was the happiest I could ever be. Why wouldn’t I be? Everything seemed to fall into place – and quickly.

And so, I got involved. I spent time with her son at 17 and even more time with her wonderful 10 year old daughter. We had Sunday breakfasts together. This is what having a family felt like then. It was great.

However, I often had periods of depression. Often every other day. The IVF had not yet left my thoughts, and I struggled with it. However I was cautious letting her in on everything. She was very open about her problems towards me. From what she told me, I understood she had been mentally abused by two very unstable assholes. For the most part we spoke about her challenges with work, education, money and past experiences with men. I tried my absolute best to find solutions to her problems. I turned my mind inside out trying to find ways she could move forward. From her job especially. In the end, she told me she never asked for my help in the first place…

By February she had some form of mental breakdown. I adviced her to get a sick leave from work and try to gather her thoughts. Looking back (even though I asked her a few times if this was the case, or if I was the problem) she had most likely changed her mind about children. A bit before this went down, there was a few days where we thought she was pregnant. She got her period at the last possible moment. I was actually happy if she was pregnant even though it was way too early. You can plan and arrange an family all you want, sometimes it just doesn’t work. So, to hell with that. To hell with planning. I didn’t care if it was too early (which it was) or whatever. She was scared as hell, and during one conversation one night – she gave hints that she would have an abortion if she was pregnant. It broke me down completely. I imagined this being my only chance at fatherhood, and she wouldn’t go through with it (and from her point of view, I can fully understand). So, during one chat late at night using Snapchat, she gave another hint she had changed her mind. She didn’t want any more children anyway.

It put me in horrible situation. I had gotten attached to her and her little family. Something I really tried to avoid by asking her up front. It didn’t look like she actually understood the pressure she put me under. Considering she was so honest with me about her problems, I had also been gradually more honest with her about mine, and openly spoke about the IVF and the fear and sadness of not having a family. While I understood her, she didn’t understand me – and it felt like she was actually using it against me. Her depression and issues was acceptable, mine was not.

One of the last time I talked to her, she sent me nasty Snapchat messages saying I was mentally unstable and finishing a sentance with; “….and all the sick things you do”. That was it for me. Not acceptable. I sometimes wonder what these sick things were. I once drew a person in Snapchat with ponytails. Another one was a joke where I compared three kids to three beers (sometimes the third beer is the best). Best I can think of really.

In the end, if this is what she got from me, I started to really wonder how crazy these ex-boyfriends really were if she thought I was like them. But then again, she once told me she sometimes simply said “things” she couldn’t “control”.

So I decided to break it off. I had to. She had changed her mind about the foundation of our relationship. Afterwards I felt like I had been in some kind of fight. I felt physically beaten up. I was the lowest point I had ever felt. I sat in my chair at home and held up my arms like someone about to be beaten up would do. Begging for mercy.

There’s a few things you have to be rock solid on in a relationship. Children is one. It’s simply not a subject you can change your mind on. I was standing firm. It’s a dealbreaker. I want my own children, and I will break up with anyone who says they don’t want children or a family. Simple as that.

I didn’t deserve this one. Not any of it. It hurt me greatly. Not just that she changed her mine about the most important subject a couple can discuss, but how she used my most personal confessions and feelings against me – accusing me of being mentally unstable.

A request was taken for weakness. So I let it bleed and set it right.

Lonely Nights

In my field of work I meet a lot of lonely people. The state of loneliness is something I care much about as it got much to do with the fact I’ve seen what it’s about. I’ve been there, and experienced it.

Loneliness comes in many different ways. I can honestly admit I am lonely as I write this. I am lonely in the sense I do not have my own family. I do not have a wife or a girlfriend, and I do not have my own children. But I am not lonely in the sense of having friends or family or being busy socially. I am. I have always had a family for example. I know many people who do not even have that. What I do know is how it feels like not to have any friends. If you feel lonely, and an increasing amount of people do, I hope there is some comfort in this little break from my usual chapters.

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If you find yourself lonely, it’s up to you to get out of it. How to get out of your state of loneliness is up to you. I ended up lonely because of a poor mix of education, shyness, low confidence and other unfortunate choices. It can happen. If you have friends and ignore them for whatever reason, they will in the end forget about you and move on. If they are not to your liking, that is fine, but then you need to find someone else. Otherwise, you might end up lonely.

I realized I was terribly lonely at some point. At first I didn’t know what to do with it. But I knew why it happened. Not being accessible to friends and pushing them away, not taking the same path as them, not going to the same school or taking the same course. Moving away to work in a heavily female oriented choice of work. Using the internet way too much, spending long hours in front of the screen. The reasons were many.

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I blamed the internet first and foremost. But in a moment of clarity I decided that it could also be the internet that would get me out of the mess. So, I started to hang on out in chat rooms specifically for my home town – daily striking up conversations with locals. Up until that point I had kept my chats worldwide, focusing on finding people with the same interests – which I could only find in other countries. I lay that to rest. It was through these (now) vintage social media channels I developed friendships. I soon got invited to parties. I had never really been to any parties before, but I decided to suck it up and go. From there on I met my first girlfriend and made friends I still have to this day, 15 years later.

Creating a social network from scratch takes time, but it’s doable. In 2016 you can use Facebook to connect with old friends. I’ve done that too. Many friendships have blossomed due to my usage of social media. One of them was a childhood friend which I had not spoken to for almost 20 years when we started to hang out again. Friendships can be created at your work as well, if you let yourself be accesible to it. One of my best and trusted friends is a co-worker. And let it be know that friends online you have never met but know and trust are also your friends. Why don’t you buy a ticket and go see them? You don’t need anyone to take you there – you can take yourself.

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Even if you can’t seem to make friends right away, don’t let that stop you from doing things you want. Like travelling, going to the cinema, or seeing your favorite band on stage. I’ve done all that alone several times. Not because I am lonely, but simply because I want to live and experience stuff. If no one wants to go and see a rock band with me, I will simply go alone. Do not let anything stop you from doing what you want. Dare to put yourself in a situation you may at first find awkward. If you feel uncomfortable, bring a book. I’ve done several trips alone – foreign and domestic. When I told a previous girlfriend that I’ve been going abroad alone she was shocked. She would never have dared to do it. Why? Screw it! Just do it! You won’t regret it. Some of the best travel experiences I’ve had – I’ve done on my own. It doesn’t mean I’m lonely, it simply means I do not need others support or companionship to have a good time.

I travelled around Norway last summer and decided to talk to a girl on the same sightseeing boat as me. I admit I was hesitant at first, but I did it and did not regret it. She was from Atlanta, Georgia, and we ended up having dinner together that evening as she was also travelling alone. You simply need to step out of your comfort zone. Many will think none of all of this, and talk to anyone. Others will be physically sick by only thinking of it. Instead of withdrawing, accept that you feel this way, and mentally prepare yourself to do it anyway. Take that step. Next time it won’t feel as bad. Then do it again, just don’t do it once a year. Being social takes practice and you just lack training. You may have that sort of shy personality, but remember; you can alter your personality traits – it just takes practice. I used to be quite afraid of talking in public until one day I decided to see if I could leave that behind and simply talk in public without being afraid. It took a few years and it took practice, but it was doable and it was far from my hardest project either. It pays off. I can speak in public with ease now.

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Stop comparing yourself to others. Show them the finger (mentally) and understand that they are just jerk offs like yourself in one way or another. Be up front with how you feel, and accept it. Decide what to do with it, and make a plan. Loneliness is common. Do not be a perfectionist – I know I’m falling into this trap many, many times myself. I demand much of myself. So do you. Don’t let it become something that pulls you down just because you haven’t reached to where you want to be yet.

Do what feels right for you. Do not be afraid to fuck up. Everyone does. So you speak to someone, and then they shy away from you? Not your fault. Try again. Accept a no and move on. Greet yourself with compassion. You fucking rock in your own way, and you know it. And if you suck at first, just try again. And again, and again.

Chapter 2: What can I say – I come from Tuborg and Sleaze Rock

Between early 2004 and the summer of 2006 I tried to be more traditional. That is, if binge drinking during weekends are traditional. I have a feeling it actually is in this country. I was never too keen on drinking when I was in my late teens or early 20’s. It was another thing where I deviated from my peers. After my girlfriend dumped me in January of 2004, I decided to re-think a couple of life choices. I felt my way of doing things wasn’t not working out.  So I decided to start drinking like the rest of the country. I was drinking to get over her, to get over myself and to change myself into something else. I was tired of being me.1280666-16

I was 23 and obviously had issues getting over her. I grew my hair long, tried to look “rock” and even sported the odd drunk eyeliner-look once I was wasted and started to feel inspired by Motley Crues book “The Dirt”. Heartbreak and drinking; what others experienced being a teenager, I was experiencing for the first time in my early to mid 20’s. I was catching up. Was it the raddest time I’ve had or was it the sadest? I am not sure. My best friend was 18. We went nuts, but usually never in danger of wrecking ourselves or anyone else. Perhaps just normal Norwegian weekends for young people. Except for the eyeliner and the hair. People had trouble understanding that part. I once entered a room full of countryside stereotypes in the middle of nowhere with my hair spiked up, and black eyeliner smeared across my face. The room went dead silent. I liked it.

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I started college August 2005, and drank more than I studied. Surprisingly, it didn’t really make my grades suffer. Considering the amount of time I invested in my field of study, the two-year course was either too liberal and easy or I was simply much smarter than I thought. I have a sneaky feeling it’s was the first, but I will pretend it’s the second.

Girls wasn’t going my way. I had a few offers, but I didn’t find them interesting. One had a boyfriend but had a strong interest in cheating on him. With me. I said no. I actually have morals. Another was, to be blunt, dumb. I was quickly done with my business there. Another one was so desperate for a boyfriend she could have picked anyone. I aborted that one too. In early 2005 I met a very cute girl from the other side of the country. She was a student in my home town. She sent all the right vibes and the more she drank, the more clingy she got. Up until specific physical contact. I should have smelt a rat when she pulled out when I tried to kiss her once. I had gathered up all confidence I could find up until that point and was 99% sure she would kiss me back. She didn’t. She was a new type of breed for me – a tease. I understood later that many female students around 20 years old have often gotten involved in serious relationships during their teen years and have no interest in doing that again now that they are free and off to college on their own. So they like the flirting, but pull out once you actually make a serious effort. That happened a few times those years.

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The more time went by with trying my luck and failing miserably, the more bitter I got. One of the more nasty mistakes you can make as a single guy. But who can blame them when I was so wasted I could hardly mutter a decent sentence when I met someone out on town. So, I gave up and went back to being untraditional. I went back online (but I was never really away). MySpace was cool and so was this foreign girl that got in touch with me. Considering my experience with American girls, this felt instantly right. She was foreign after all. Foreign meant foreign and not Norwegian. I was truly convinced I did not understand Norwegian girls or how to talk to them. And I was just as convinced they did not understand me either. We just didn’t get along. Nothing had changed since high school. If I was to go somewhere with girls, I had to go foreign again. And so I did.

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Chapter 1 | Lifestyle choice: untraditional

I am not someone who does anything the traditional or stereotypic way. I always had different hobbies and interests than my peers. I was a teenage-geek and I didn’t even know it. I was the one who overdosed on an epic five-year 90s sci-fi show saga called Babylon 5 and spent countless hours talking about it online. I cried like a baby in the bathroom when the last episode aired. I was the one spending hours chatting online (who remembers mIRC?) to Americans and Brits before most could even get themselves online. I was into Aerosmith and rock n’ roll when everyone else was listening to the Backstreet Boys. I wore my TNT shirt with pride when TNT wasn’t cool (they still not cool though). I wasn’t pulling my pants down or put some kind of skateboard cap on my head to act like some kind of weird countryside wannabe New York gangster. Oh yeah, perhaps I should have done the pants though. I had no sense of fashion and the girls stayed the fuck away from me. In other words, had no luck with any girls in my hometown(s) or in my own country until I was about 21. Not that weird really. I was never around. Never out. Never at parties. I didn’t know anyone for them to invite me anywhere. No one knew who I was anymore. I had alienated them all in my geeked out interests no one else cared about. I wasn’t even keen on riding a moped! I would rather stay home to watch Formula 1.

Speaking of friends, it wasn’t until I started talking to a girl from Texas online that I finally found one. I think it was 1999 when I first started talking to her. Maybe 1998. My childhood friends were long gone in another direction than me by that time. I didn’t really care. They bored me.  She didn’t. She loved Babylon 5 after all. Her name was Amber and she was my American counterpart. Insecure, shy, lonely and had a thing for science fiction and rock n’ roll. There was no one like around my parts. A sparsely populated country have its flaws. I had to stretch across the pond to find someone.

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Being a lost and insecure countryside geek can be lonely and frustrating, but it can also open doors many mainstream people are not able to open. That’s why I found myself all alone on an American Airlines Boeing 767 heading to Texas in July 2001. She was my dearest friend, and I wanted desperately to see her. My mother was two shaken heartbeats from a heart attack when I left that morning. Don’t worry. Boyfriends that got in the way, excessive pot smoking, counterfeit money and semi-criminal behavior set aside – it all went well and I came back in one piece. Since then, being the untraditional way that I am, I have done many things that means much to me personally. I am quite pleased. Maybe it is like how someone told me recently; that those of us who went this far with our online presence (merging it with reality ) back then can now benefit greatly from it. I know I am.

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I couldn’t do education traditionally either, so I went with healthcare. A typical female type of work. Then I went to college and chose Educational Research (Pedagogy). Another semi-female type of work. I aced that one by the way. First and only time I’ve gotten an A on anything. With healthcare I spent years working nursing homes. Fact is, I was rather good at it. I had a knack at professional care. I had a talent for working with elderly and children all the same. I spent almost three years working at an elementary school as well. To say my co-workers have mostly been middle aged women would be an understatement. But, I don’t do anything traditionally, in case you still didn’t realize.

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The only traditional choice in women I did was dating a girl from my hometown. This blog will be about relationships and failures so why not mention it. She was a lovely, pretty girl with lots of naivety. I loved her like a dedicated pushover. I was 21 and she was 18. We stayed together for two years or so until she wanted to do something else. Or perhaps sleep with someone else. She was 20 and bored of me. I can’t really blame her for that. I was in love and rather boring.

So considering women, it was back to untraditional. And so the story begins.