I was lost, but now I’m found.

1333 Pine

“Oooh, I had a fight, now I’m going to blog about it.”

That’s how an ex of mine once tried to mock me in the middle of an argument. But she wasn’t far off from the truth – I do use writing to sort through my thoughts and come to terms with difficult issues. But I don’t reveal all, I turn my thoughts inward and cloak the specific events in a veil of privacy. I don’t have any desire to air my (or anyone else’s) dirty laundry in public.

Sometimes, though, the truth needs a voice.

My last girlfriend sometimes treated me amazingly well, but just as often she treated me like shit. She was beautiful, uniquely creative and astoundingly insightful, but she was also young, immature, afraid — and as a result — exceedingly self-absorbed. Our relationship bounced schizophrenically between incredible and terrible.

I can’t lay the blame on her for the way things ended; several times during the summer I reached a point of breaking things off. But I’d made a promise (to her and to myself) not to kick her out of my life, and so I forgave her each and every time she hurt me.

I’ve been talking with a friend recently about relationships; and we’ve been wondering why we stubbornly refuse to let go of the difficult situations, why we put so much energy into what should be mostly effortless in the first place… why we don’t see these problems as signs that the person we love just might not be the right fit for us.

The frustration builds, waxing with each fight, waning with each good moment, to a crescendo, leaving two good people torn away, silent, at odds. The end came suddenly for us, on a night meant to be a happy celebration of her summer, as the anger and frustration that had simmered for weeks boiled over. Our relationship was always a passionate, intense one – whether loving or struggling – and it ended in an explosion.

. . .

On my daily morning walks, I pass a reminder of the summer, a sight that, for just a few moments, focuses my mind on everything that’s happened over the past six months. As today’s a month since she left, I’ve had a lot of moments to reflect.

And I’ve found that where I erred was not in forgiving her (though perhaps I did pardon her prematurely for some things; a few recent dreams clearly corrected my belief that I’d excused everything she did.). I erred in not realizing that the difficulties we faced with each other meant we were not ready for each other. I erred in not letting go of the idea of a relationship earlier in the process.

Part of that’s just me; I can be quite stubborn about the people I love, because I often see two people in one: the person right in front of me, flaws and all, and the person I believe they can be. Seeing the potential in a person and loving them for it, however, doesn’t mean I need to live in a relationship with the actual turmoil of their present self.

(And here’s when I disclaim: there’s the present me, flaws and all, and I have lots of them; and there’s the potential me, the person I want to be. I’m just as messed up as the rest.)

I won’t regret my decisions, because amid all the chaos of the summer we had many beautiful moments, memories that make me smile. I grew wiser as a result of both the good and the bad, and shared experiences new to us both. And we didn’t know the future, we both tried in our own way to make things work.

But I am sorry for how it all played out, and especially how the summer ended. That’s what the object at 1333 Pine reminds me, that I made mistakes, we made mistakes, and they cost us our love and our friendship.

. . .

As I prepare for my journey back to the east coast, it’s time for me to let go of the past, to make a clean break and move on — not from people, but from the fears and beliefs that have held me back.

Many traditions signify transition through symbolic acts – taking on of names, discarding objects of youth, journeying through the wilderness. So as I feel myself moving away from the habits and concepts that have troubled me for so long, I’ve been getting rid of everything without personal value to me, discarding whatever material objects I can before I move.

I feel lighter, freer, as if with each thing that goes I have one less invisible burden weighing me down.

And in February – just before I started my last relationship – I wrote the story of where the name Mila came from. I think now’s the appropriate time to let go of my old name and adopt my chosen one, as it celebrates the best of me and encourages me to continue the work I began with my book of photography and poetry, Joyful to Hear, into my next project – writing The Heart & The Law. I like my birth name, but this one fits more closely right now, so from this day forward I will be Mila.

. . .

I’ve spent the last year casting about in a sort of limbo. It began in August of 2008 when two events occurred within days of each other: my grandmother died and Gaiam eliminated my position.

But despite two failed relationships, nearly going broke many times, a chaotic and difficult summer, a day in jail and the legal trouble that will affect me for the next year, something changed in August. I don’t feel like I’m casting about any longer.

Personal crises knocked me out of my groove – prompting another ex to write after we broke up:

“When I re-met you, you were in an amazing space in your life. It’s a big part of why I fell in love with you, and all I want for you now is to be able to realize that space again, your strengths, the amazing things about yourself.”

But what I didn’t expect was that new personal crises – all of the events of the past year – have slowly built me up, taught me new ways of seeing and responding to the world, even as I made mistakes over and over again. So when the biggest of these, the events of August 3rd and 4th, jolted me, I found myself not off but on-track again. Despite the troubles that loomed over me, I felt like myself again.

I was lost, but now I’m found.

Nobody really knows how to unravel the threads that connect us all. I look back at every moment I can remember in the past year, and I see my mistakes and my successes, but how could I have acted differently? At each moment, I represented who I am admirably, and where I erred I can now take the wisdom of knowing I erred with me into my future. Where I hurt anyone – myself or others – I feel sorry for my ignorance.

But I feel no regret for any moment save one: the one I can’t remember, the moment that ended a friendship.

Mila (Jacob Stetser)

Mila is a writer, photographer, poet & technologist.

He shares here his thoughts on Buddhism, living compassionately, social media, building community,
& anything else that interests him.

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  1. Nobody really knows how to unravel the threads that connect us all. How true. Most of the time, we don’t really know what draws another person to us.

    Jackie Stetser