Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Most Selfish Thing

Life has a way of changing on you. Sometimes the changes are predictable, sometimes they catch you by surprise. Sometimes the changes are so big that you feel that a piece of you is starting to fade. You may feel your dreams and goals starting to shrink away from you, just out of reach. Your only option is to change your dreams or change the situation.

Both things are hard. If you change your dreams, you're transforming who you are and reassessing what you need to be happy. If you change your situation, you may have to leave a big part of your life behind, and you have to be prepared for that. Either option is attainable, but really, you have to accept any repercussions to make it work.

I couldn't change who I was. I tried, but I couldn't keep who I was and what I needed on hold any longer. And sometimes it takes time for you to realize that about yourself. But I also realize that it's inherently selfish to make that decision when it also affects someone else, someone you love and care very deeply for. Unfortunately, you can't make that kind of decision without being selfish.

Last night, I broke up with my girlfriend Stacey. We've been together for three and a half years, three of which we'd been living together.

Since our very first date, we knew we had something special. We were mapping out our future lives together on the second date. We dreamed of living in Europe, of adventure and travel, of a big house together, of a life shared between two successful professionals making their way through the corporate jungle together.

Six months later, we decided that we couldn't bear to be apart any longer. We moved in together and we were happy.

Of course, there were growing pains. Any relationship that moves to the next level has them. Up until last night, we were still trying to find the best way to live together, to make each other happy and secure. In many ways, we were successful, in others we were not. Maybe in any relationship that process never ends, but I can only speculate.

We had a lot of very happy times, particularly on vacations. We saw some amazing things together, holding hands, being comfortable in who we were and in each other. I think we were always at our best when we were on vacation.

Stacey has always been there for me. She's always been caring, and supportive, and loving, almost everything I would ever ask for. She was the first person I brought good news to and the first I turned to when I needed a shoulder to cry on. We just fit together. We didn't always agree, but she was always willing to talk about it. She knows me better than almost anyone in my life.

The last year hasn't been easy on either one of us, and we both came to realize that our plans for the future were different for the first time. The circumstances were out of our control and affected us in different ways. Things spiraled to the point where we separated briefly in April.

Since then, we've both been trying to find a way to reclaim what we once had. We were both committed to this. In the end, Stacey was sure we could make things work while I felt that if they did, in the ways that she could accept, I would be losing something bigger than our relationship. I would be losing myself.

Stacey's has a lot to be proud of and a lot to be thankful for. Unlike me, she's already done a number of the things that I still have as life goals. She had already out-partied, out-achieved, out-traveled, and out-planned me before we'd even met. She has more friends than I'll ever have, a prestigious job, a bright future, and goals that are not only achievable, they're already in the pipes.

She's going to have a very comfortable, fulfilling life ahead of her, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I wish her both happiness and success, and I know she'll have both. And if she'll let me, I still want to be a part of her life, even if it is in a smaller way than before. Nothing would make me happier.

Stacey, I will always love you. And I'm so very sorry it had to be this way.



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