Killing Myself Redux, Or What It Takes To Love (41 of 90)

A few years ago, my world was crashing.

I’d met a girl. A fabulous girl. We shared the same interests, the same passions in life. We were Type As who liked the home when we weren’t working. And we liked to drink. And write.

Of course we hit it off instantly and found ourselves in a relationship. Fast. Too fast as it turns out. She was fresh out of a very long relationship and I was just returned from 12 years on the road. Before we knew what happened, we were living together.

It ended. Rapidly. Badly.

And I left. The minute summer came, I climbed in my Pontiac Vibe and set out across the country, determined to change my life (The Year of Action, it was dubbed). I spent the summer exercising, trying to curtail my drinking, attempting to quit smoking.

Mostly, though, I spent the summer calling all my friends and my ex-girlfriends. Asking them for frank assessments of me as a human.

No judgments. No arguments. I actively encouraged them to tell me the things that I was unable to see myself. The resulting three-month trip across the country turned into the Killing Me blog (on MySpace). I wrote about the conversations, the mistakes, the women, the friends. 75,000 words worth.

It was a journey into my head. This helped prepare me for what was coming, although not in the ways I expected. It did help me, when I returned, to realize how much I had loved – still love – that girl. Enough that I was able to let her go. So that she could find her happiness.

A happiness she was able to return to me just a few months later, when my drinking nearly took my life.

Before I even knew how deeply she had affected my life, I knew she had changed the way I looked at how love should work. Here’s what I learned from our time together.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007
“Killing Myself (Home Edition) — Lessons from Appalachia to Me”

I’ve loved in a way that I didn’t think was possible, that was bigger than me and my sizable ego, and that taught me more about the world than what I’ve learned in the 35 years before. Here are the keys as I’ve found them.

  1. Always carve out intimate time in the morning before the day starts;
  2. Never go to bed mad;
  3. Always end every conversation with "I love you" no matter what the tone of the conversation was;
  4. Dance with each other at least once per day;
  5. Laugh with each other at least once per day;
  6. Always make time for at least one meal together each day;
  7. Always carve out intimate time before you go to sleep;
  8. Always make time for at least one conversation a year where you talk openly, honestly and frankly about your own growth, your partner’s growth, your relationship’s growth — and where you want to be in the future.

Added up, those 8 simple steps don’t need to take more than a few minutes of your time — a simple kiss that isn’t a passing peck before you go to work or a few twirls around the kitchen while breakfast is cooking — but they seem to form the basis for the memories and stories and trust that turn a relationship into a union.

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2 comments

  • Ashley Bedwell March 12, 2010   Reply →

    Thanks for sharing 😉 I'll be following steps 1-8 in my relationship with Justin! I think he will like those simple steps too!

  • Brad_King March 12, 2010   Reply →

    do not, under any circumstances, add scuba every day 🙂 these rules are about consciously carving out small bits of time just for each other. not for sinking 🙂

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This newsletter is the outgrowth of The Downtown Writers Jam podcast. What that means is I will collect information about the authors I interview, book happenings around the Web, and other literary events that I find interesting. Without you, I'm just a crazy guy sitting in his office furiously screaming on the page for no reason.
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