Driving Off a Bridge and Other Fears

The end never happens how you expect. Sometimes the end happens when you expect, or where you expect, but it’s never quite on the dot of how to expect it. Sometimes this is okay. Endings can be good things in Life. The saying goes, “Every ending is a new beginning.” However, sometimes endings are not okay. Sometimes they are a storm of uncertainty, confusion, and sadness that leave you swerving in their wake and flinging yourself into a river of unknown.

One of my top three fears is driving off a bridge into a river. Another is not being good enough. Endings are good at making you feel like you’re not good enough. That you’ll never be good enough. That you just can’t reach that certain something

The clock reads 3:43am. It’s late… or early, however you want to think of it. I haven’t been able to sleep since I went to bed. I’ve been crying from the bruises. And now, when the tears are finally dried up, I still cannot drift into any sort of slumber. Even a restless snooze would be good at this point.

I ran off a bridge yesterday. I went full-throttle, end-over-end, head first into the brewing water below. The free fall took my breath away. The impact buckled me into a fetal position. The frigid water mingled with the tears of my depression. Yet the worst part was having no understanding of how such a terrible accident could take place at all. The knowledge that the roads were completely dry. The knowledge that there was nothing I could have done differently — whether change my speed or take a different route or bring out the snow tires — to change the impending doom.

Sometimes endings kill you. I didn’t die when I went off the bridge, but the feeling of drowning has yet to subside and neither have the icy prickles to my heart making me numb. I remain in the car, watching the water rise, half-hoping the end is quick and painless while also searching for a way to escape.

Giving up on the things you once treasured can be far harder than simply letting go. Letting go of the person you are, the person you want to be, and the person you thought you were being directed towards. The You of your wants and dreams.

Somewhere between the road, the bridge, and the river below I lost the will to care for which of these two I want to fight.

And I feel lost in my loss.

I’ve mentioned Wilbur a few times over the past couple months. I’ve considered before why I didn’t discuss him more on Peonies ‘n Mint. I mean, I had full posts on my relationship with Army and even posts dedicated to the Golfer. But why not Wilbur? The answer is simple: there was no need to discuss what was, in all aspects, a very content relationship. I wrote of Army at first because I wasn’t aware of how I could feel after X. Then I began to write of Army in an attempt to hide my discomfort and agitation in a relationship that wasn’t completely fulfilling. Ultimately, my Army posts were a comparison of life before and with him. They may have had some substance for those who were processing a broken heart, but to someone who was truly happy they were only fragments of what a relationship could be.

Wilbur is different. I would find myself spending time with him and just marveling that I was able to do so. To write of him would have been bragging. Boasting of my happiness. There was no reason to boast or brag, there was only the want to remain content and comfortable in a relationship of warmth. Caring and understanding and appreciation were our lone bunk mates, I didn’t need the Internet’s help in being happy with this man. I just was.

Wilbur and I took things at a slow pace at the beginning. We explored one another’s minds by questions ideologies, beliefs, histories, etc. Anything we could get our hands on, we made it our mission to discover in one another. We discovered neither of us are perfect by any means, but  we were okay in our faults together. We confided in one another, we talked about anything and everything, and before we took our relationship to the level of “exclusive” we were best friends.

This was something I promised myself before jumping into the dating scene again: I would be friends first and a couple second. It is too difficult to attempt to build a romantic relationship when there is not a foundation of friendship. With Wilbur, this never became an issue.

One of the happiest moments in my Life resonates in my mind. It is the moment I knew I wanted to keep Wilbur in my life. Past being a date. Past being a friend. We play Ultimate Frisbee with a group of friends every Monday during the warm months of Michigan. One particular Monday, over a month into dating one another, I returned home after Ultimate to find my right knee twice the size it should be. I played harder than usual that day, in shoes that were far past their expiration date.

So instead of showering and keeping to the usual Monday tradition of heading to a friend’s house for a movie night, I settled down to Netflix and kept myself in bed. Wilbur texted me and asked if there was anything he could do to help but of course I said no — I’m always afraid of appearing weak in front of people. (Remember those faults I mentioned…)

However, a half hour later I heard a knock on the front door. I stumbled my way to see who it was and guess who? Wilbur stood in the doorway with a half bottle of Ibuprofen and an ice pack. Knowing M and I had just moved into the new house, he thought we wouldn’t have the needed supplies to take care of a swollen knee. He was right. And as soon as I accepted his offer, gave him a quick hug, and thanked him profusely, he left. Gone. He didn’t expect me to cater to him or thank him like most guys I’ve dated would have hinted. No, he was a complete gentleman and simply wanted to make this random girl he liked feel a bit better. It worked.

I don’t think the smile from that October evening has left my face. Until the Bridge, that is. The water wiped the smile away pretty quickly.

In the following months Wilbur exceeded all my expectations in the person I prayed to date. He was kind, he was generous, he apologized, and he forgave.  One of the most meaningful traits: we prayed together. Perhaps only for meals, but we discussed our faiths with one another at depth. We discussed a lot at depth. He questioned his future and he wondered at mine beside me. We didn’t know where either of us were heading, but for now, we were happy where we were. We questioned why some things had happened in our pasts the way they had. We became one another’s confidants.

Or at least, that’s what I thought. I was happy. He said he was happy. He acted as if he were happy. And then all of a sudden…


The Bridge.

He was no longer happy.

He said I’m not the One. He doesn’t feel that connection with me. “We don’t have chemistry,” was how he put it. He is worried that my feelings surpass his and that his might never catch up. He’s not sure why; I’ve cared about him more than anyone he’s dated ever has and he feels completely happy with me but yet… He doesn’t want to go forward and find out his feelings don’t grow, can’t grow. He doesn’t want to hurt me in the future, so he’ll just do it now. Less investment.

I could have handled those excuses. In my head, all that he was saying was, “You’re good, but you’re just not good enough. There’s something about you that’s just not there.” Are those not the same words Army used on me? I think I would have handled the situation better if Wilbur had ended there. Got up, no goodbye, no hug, just left with me wondering what more I could have done and never having closure to what I thought was the best relationship I’d experienced. I handled it fine with Army, I could have done it again.

Instead, Wilbur continued. He told me he doesn’t feel as if he deserves happiness in his life. He confided that there might never be someone for him, that that’s his fear.

This. Broke. My. Heart. This, these words. How am I supposed to continue on grieving a relationship where the real reason we ended was because the best man I’ve ever met believes he is unlovable? The chemistry thing just blew up — he’s doesn’t feel I’m not the One, he feels there is no One.

Let me be the first to say, if there were ever a person who deserves happiness, it is Wilbur.

Ben Higgins, this man makes you truly look unlovable.

I am a big girl. I know how to express my feelings, I know what I want, and I go for what I want. I’m a strong, independent woman. I pride myself in my strength because in the past it has always been me, in the end, to have to push myself into being okay and happy.

This marks the Free-fall. I felt strong during the Free-fall. I voiced my disapproval of his decision. I told him I didn’t agree. I showed him that this situation was not one of my choosing.

Unfortunately, I tend to think of what to say after I’ve had some time to think. I shared these disagreements with Wilbur but I had no real reasons as to why I disagreed. I’m not sure it would have mattered to him anyways — its like he has a mind block — but it does matter to me.

Wilbur believes we have no “connection” or “chemistry”. That’s what he said first. I think I laughed. I hope I didn’t, but I might have because that  is absolute bogus. In the context of relationships, chemistry is a complex emotion that two people get when they share a special connection. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) It is the impulse making someone think, “I need to see this other person again.” — that feeling of “we click.” Wilbur and I have this. We like being together, we like doing activities with one another. Or at least he led me to believe he felt that way; he told me so only Friday that he did. This is because we have similar interests, but it is also simply because. Plus, beyond just having a connection with one another, we also are attracted to one another. I still get butterflies when I catch him looking at me and he appreciates my appearance any chance he’s given. Pardon my lack of etiquette, but Wilbur saying we have no chemistry is total BS.

I do agree my feelings for him are farther along than his. I am aware of this. I am also aware of the fact it has been only five months. Five good months, but everyone progresses in relationships differently. This is why I hadn’t told him the exact extent of my feelings; this is why I hadn’t told him that I love him. Why put pressure on a happy and healthy relationship? I was more than willing to bide the time, see if the tides might come together in some sensible way. I have no doubt that given the time, our feelings for one another would only strengthen and grow. I am in no rush for this occurrence, but I still have no doubt that it would have happened.

He is worried we were moving too fast. If he had communicated this fear with me, if I had known, now that I know…. there are so many solutions. There are so many ways to make us work.

I’m pleading to the water below. To the moving River before I’m washed away in it.

I don’t know if Wilbur is afraid of being in a successful relationship because it limits options, scared of a potential future of dating someone long term only for it not to work out, or if he honestly has a block disabling him from believing he deserves happiness in his life. It might be a bit of all three. And this, this is the Impact.

Relationships are something Wilbur and I were never afraid to discuss with one another. I know his past and having this knowledge makes the Impact so devastating. How could someone so wonderful think so poorly of himself? What was done in the past that it has been brought into our relationship, darkening the light that we have and casting shadows on what we could be? Those close to him say his ex “screwed him up.” This is heartbreaking. Not only because it literally has caused Wilbur to break my heart but also because it is unfair.

It is unfair to me. It is unfair to our relationship. Most of all, it is unfair to Wilbur.

And so here I am, after the Impact, waiting in my own personal River of despair. The sinking is happening much longer than I would prefer. I want the hurt to halt. I want to not think about it, him, us anymore. I want to be there in what I can only imagine is a very confusing and conflicting time for Wilbur. And yet, I need to take care of myself too. I’m the one in the car. I’m the one who can’t decide what is worth fighting for more in her perspective views.

The one thing I keep questioning as the water around me rises is Wilbur saying we aren’t meant to be together, that he can’t be happy. This could be true, most definitely. Every relationship is either going to succeed or fail for a number of worthy reasons. However, only Friday we had a moment alone together that crushes all of the air out of him saying this…

Friday we attended a concert of a friend. We went with House and enjoyed a few hours with good company and good music. Afterwards, Wilbur asked if I would like to spend more time together which I replied, “Of course.” Our plan was to go back to my place and relax to a movie. M and her boyfriend inquired if we might want to watch a movie with them as that was their plan as well. Wilbur said sure at the concert, but once we were on the short distance between the concert and home, he confided to me he’d rather just spend time with me. As we hadn’t seen each other alone in a few days, I completely agreed. So we took to watching a movie alone and catching up on our week’s events and lives in general.

During this time, I turned to Wilbur and asked if he was happy: happy with us, happy with where we were. He responded with no hesitation that he was. No thinking, no debating, no battling behind his eyes as to whether he should say Yes, No, or begin a discussion that we had ample opportunity to have.

I asked this question after two weeks of him appearing rather distant from me. Week 1 I was ill with the flu and I wouldn’t have wanted to see Wilbur anyways in fear of giving him the bug and also not wanting him to see Sick Ashley. (It’s definitely not a pretty sight.) I questioned his distance, though, at the end of Week 1. Another opportune time to discuss with me what seems so abrupt from yesterday. Instead, he said it was an argument with his brother and difficulty at work that had him on edge. And on top of these two issues, he visited the doctor and was scheduled for surgery in February. Worried over the recovery time, the inability to be active during that recovery time, and the finances towards the surgery only added to his stress level. He explained this as we entered Week 2 and I made it my mission to take a step back in an attempt to not add to his stress.

On Saturday he seemed to have a bad day. I picked him up for dinner with some friends and he told me right away that he was a bit stressed and that if he was quiet throughout the night it had nothing to do with me. He made sure to quiet any discontent I might have even when he was suffering inside. This is the kind of person he is. Asking if he was sure he wanted to still go, he replied definitely and we had a fun evening together.

Throughout the evening Wilbur inquired if I might want to see a movie if we returned home in time. He had looked up times for 5th Wave, a movie he knew I wanted to see as I am in the process of reading the book. Unfortunately we realized en route that we would not make the movie time and instead discussed watching something on TV. It was only 9:30pm when we returned back to his house so there was time to do so. However, when we came to the driveway he turned to me and asked if I was okay just dropping him off. He wanted to just head to bed early after feeling so awful all day. He asked if it was okay, if I was upset at him. I replied I wasn’t upset at him at all but that it still sucked. I didn’t like that he had to go through these feelings. I didn’t like not knowing how to help.

We kissed our last kiss goodbye. If I had known then…

He sent me a text message about an hour later reading, “I’m really sorry about tonight. I think the world of you and appreciate you very much.”

I kept reading through that text message yesterday, trying to decipher the hidden message between it’s two short sentences that led to the Bridge and Impact. The message was the first few drops of water the River pushed into my car.

The tears of confusion are what keep its level rising higher and higher.

Why did he go out of his way these past few weeks to make sure I knew he wasn’t being distant from ill feelings towards me but rather in life in general? Why want to be alone on Friday when he was given the opportunity to be with friends? Why stare me in the eyes and tell me he was happy with us? Why send that infuriating text message Saturday night if he didn’t expect to be with me anymore?

Everything Wilbur has said over the past three days is contradictions. Yes, no. Me, not me. Happy, unhappy. Life, feelings. “To be or not to be,” that really is the question, Hamlet. And soon enough I’ll be Ophelia, drowned in my own maddening thoughts.

As I daze off into my own slippery mind, I am thankful of the people who are in my life. M is an amazing friend who does not push me to talk when she knows it is not my way. My parents wiped away my tears and allowed me to recant the same things written in this post over and over again, expecting my mind to run itself tired and hopefully sleep soundly. House friends have reached out in understanding and concern, not fully comprehending why things are processing the way they are either.

One friend brought me back to God’s word and connected yesterday’s church sermon with this difficulty in Life. The sermon centered around using God as our GPS in life. He will always set us on the direction meant for us. Sometimes we head off towards dead ends using our own man-made compasses, but when we falter in our steps and realize where we went wrong, God directs us again.

I have felt from the very first date with Wilbur that God led me to him. He is the exact person I prayed to meet. He has faults. He has baggage. He isn’t perfect and there are a handful of things that drive me crazy when I think about them too long about him. But… I don’t care. I’ve never cared. I’ve only ever wanted to encompass him in love and caring and respect knowing that is what I need as well. He means the world to me, and since I have the same problems in my own right, how could I ever downgrade the person he is for the flaws he carries? All in all, we were working through our issues, together, one step at a time.

Or at least that was my intent.

I saw a quote last night that I would like to share:

An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming.

This has made me think: did I stumble over this quote for a reason? Is it directed at me? I’ve been sick for months, I’ve had personal problems with friends, I’ve felt difficulties for awhile, and now Wilbur.. I only have to wait for the arrow to finally be released, right? But no… My stresses are nothing I cannot handle. So I think this quote found its way to me for another reason.

I’m thinking this is for Wilbur.  His stresses seem to be escalating at an alarming pace. The only constant he has are his relationships. His family is the steel core, his friends the feathers, and the razor-sharp tip? I’m presumed to think it is me. Me. It’s me, Wilbur! The target is Happiness and all of us are helping you fight through the strain of the pull-back and when Life finally lets go, it’ll be the effort you put into focusing your aim at the target that will provide you with either success or failure.

The fact remains, though, that even if your aim is on-target, without a part of the arrow you’ll never fly true. If you lose the feathers, your aim will go off course. If you lose the core, you’ll never get anywhere. And if you lose the tip, even if you hit the target, you won’t stick. The arrow will fall right off, doomed to lay on the ground until you have the nerve to enter the shooting range, retrieve it, and attempt reattach a tip to the strong core.

Why in the world would someone not take a chance on the strong arrow already before them? An arrow provided by God in the expectation that it’ll be shot. I feel as if the opportunity is being tossed aside, and one day in the future the shooter will realize exactly how easy pulling back that arrow, firing, and making a perfect bulls-eye could have been. One day in the future might be one day too late.

I can be dramatic here, right, blogosphere? I can tell all my woes and wishes to the Internet and the only impression someone can make on me is a small Like or Comment. I’m not too worried about believing my interpretation of this quote is exactly how I just portrayed it.

And the fact remains, Wilbur will never see this post. He’ll probably never even seen this quote. He’ll never wonder at its meaning and ask me to explain my thoughts. He’ll never know, and I’ll never have an answer on whether or not he thinks archery might be a good hobby for him to partake. I don’t know if he cares to think about how I feel or what might God be trying to tell him. But, in time, God will get through to him and I hope that there is still an opportunity for him to find peace and happiness in his life.

Even if it is not with me — though I definitely feel like it should be at this moment in Life — I hope he opens himself to what he ultimately deserves: pure and utter contentment.

3 thoughts on “Driving Off a Bridge and Other Fears

  1. Life truly does take us in directions we just can’t understand at times! Letting God be our GPS is right! Thanks for the reminder! And the quote is awesome!


  2. Pingback: No Rhyme or Reason

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