Fourth Chances

Fourth Chances

It has been a while since I have been deep in the belly of online dating. But like summer camp, the streets of London, or the lake where I spent summers in Minnesota, there is a bit of nostalgia. I spent so much of my life scrutinizing and emailing and flirting and texting and drinking coffee and making out that now, in retrospect and on occasion, I see my online dating years through a romantic haze of sentimentality. And when I feel the urge to go back online, I click a folder on my desktop and open one of the book PDFs I wrote during that period. While 4AM Friends is the grimier of the two, The Direction Of Home is the book that I feel is the most rational and clear-focused. Not so much of a continuation to 4AM but more of a companion of sorts. Like what American Horror Story season 1 was to season 2.

I read the stories and it transports me back to that time when I was spending 80% of my waking hours either on dates, fishing for them, or building flirtatious relationships. And whatever warmth the nostalgia instilled is quickly whisked away when I begin reading those words. The stories just feel heavy, like there is always this dark and ominous rain cloud just in the distance. Like feeling everything is about to fall apart for the worst with each paragraph. And again, I don’t like it. While the writing was good for me, going back and reading the stories years later is important.

I have always said that it’s important to document why relationships end. Time can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Time can either make the pain fade so we can learn to move on with our lives or it can obscure just how terrible a person truly was. But when you’re in it, when the pain is seething through your eyeballs, one of the best coping mechanisms I have learned is to write it out. To just mash away at the keys until you can’t make out the words. To write until it doesn’t hurt anymore and then keep writing. Write until the sadness and sorrow are definable. Until you come to conclusions and you have articulated every emotion, no matter how ridiculous it may sounds. Write for you and only you and write until you find a way out.

Save this. Hide it away in a secret journal locked away from friends and family and forget about it. Forget about it until you feel like returning to the person who time has obscured, then go back and read the words you cried out into the screen at two in the morning. Read the pain and relive the moments and then reevaluate whether or not someone deserves a second chance at letting you down. And while I might believe in second chances, I know that they almost always come back to bite you in the ass. And rare is the occasion when someone makes a life-changing revelation and has learned how to appreciate the amazing person you have become. But we all have a journey and if that means you have to go back and get hurt a second, third, or fourth time then so be it. And people will judge you and they won’t understand why you continue to believe the lies and they won’t get it. But that’s okay. You are the only captain of your boat and if you have to sail through rough waters again to learn your lesson then that is your course and no one else’s.

But don’t forget your past. Write it down so you can go back and revisit those moments. So time doesn’t get the opportunity to lie to you with romanticized memories of the few good days and what could have been. Your journey is your own, but only a fool goes back into the storm not having learned the lesson.

About author

Christopher Gutierrez

Christopher Gutierrez is the author of several books on love, sex, and relationships. He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Deep End, in addition to running Deadxstop Publishing. Since 2006, he has given hundreds of speakings at colleges, coffee houses and universities all over the world.

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