It's been a while. If I ignore the short stub of the update on the interview from January of 2013, it's been almost 2 and a half years since I posted anything. If there's anything I've learned over the years, it's that I need emotional outlets. This blog has served as that outlet during various periods throughout my life, often times during great loneliness and difficult struggles. Over the past few years, my life has been full and I've had a partner to be my emotional outlet. So I didn't post here, because I felt like this blog wasn't necessary for me anymore. As it happens, I just entered another of those difficult times that brings me back to needing the emotional outlet again. I've been with a beautiful, wonderful, and amazing person for 3 and a half years, and that relationship came to a very abrupt end this past weekend.

I'm devastated. I'm destroyed. I can barely function. I've never felt so much pain in my life. All my friends have been telling me how I'm the strongest person they know, but I don't feel that way at all. I'm struggling, and I have no idea how to move forward with my life. I feel so very alone and isolated now. I plan to take time each day, as I grieve and heal from this massive hole in my very being right now, to write my experiences and thoughts down.

Before I move forward though, I should move backwards. There's a lot that hasn't been shared about the past few years of my life, and it helps to bring you up to speed. Jess and I had a wonderful relationship. We met back in March of 2010. We moved in together back in 2011 when she got a job in Menomonie, Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin - Stout. We've lived together ever since. After that first year, change was in the air for Jess' job. She is an academic, and academics go where the jobs are. I'm a software and web developer. My skills are more flexible. I got a piece of advice years ago from my good friend Audrey Fessler. She told me that if the situation arose in which the person I love and I could potentially have to live apart from each other, we should take every opportunity to avoid that. I took that advice to heart and I followed Jess wherever she went. That road took us from Eau Claire, Wisconsin to El Paso, Texas.

We bought a house there together. Jess' job wasn't going to be permanent, but it would be for at least 3 years. We figured in that time, we could improve the house and sell it by the time we left the area. That plan fell by the wayside when we found out that one of her colleague's was accepting a position at Iowa State University. He asked her if she wanted to come with and continue doing research together. We thought about it for a good long while, but eventually we decided that it was a good idea. You see, She had proposed to me back in 2011. We could finally get married.

We tried to sell our house, which didn't go that well since we hadn't built up much of any equity yet. It was very stressful. In the end, we ended up going with a property management service to get the place rented. It took several months to find a tenant, but eventually we got there. So, one year after we moved to El Paso, we headed for Des Moines. With the move, I ended up switching jobs. I had been working from home while we were in El Paso, and while that sounds awesome, it was lonely. Eventually we started settling in to our new life here in Iowa.

That's a very brief description of the last few years of my life. I can very easily say they were the best times of my life. This Saturday at 1:00 saw the end of that. I had just gotten off the phone with my folks. That's when Jess told me we needed to have an awkward conversation, and that's never a great thing to hear. As the conversation began, it was becoming more clear that it was my worst fear coming to life. It was the talk...the breakup talk. At first, I thought maybe she just wanted to get something off her chest. I was completely blindsided when she said that she wanted to move on. It felt like someone knocked the wind out of me. I never saw anything like this coming. No signs had been given that anything was wrong. She never said anything. It was very...very hard to hear.

After the talk, I understandably got emotional. When it got to be too much, I had to leave. I got in my car and drove off and started bawling in the car. I found myself just yelling in emotional pain, screaming "NO NO NO NO THIS ISN'T REAL!!" and trying to see as tears streamed down my face.  I don't think I was in control of what I was even saying. The emotions were that strong. After I drove for a while, I tweeted that my world had ended, and several folks were reaching out to me to support me. I didn't have any destination in mind. I was just driving. I eventually stopped in a parking lot and cried. After a while, I calmed down a bit. She and I eventually started texting, and I decided to come back home so we could talk a bit more. Once I got home, I asked a lot of questions, and there were more tears from the both of us. Eventually it got to be about 7:00 and I decided to go to bed early in the hopes that I could sleep the nightmare away. That didn't work well at all. Jess slept on the couch. I should add, I didn't eat anything after breakfast on Saturday. I just couldn't.

The truth is that she still loves me, but her attraction to me has apparently faded in the past several months. And while attractions and interest in intimacy are cyclical in a relationship, for her, it seems more than that. She thinks of me as her best friend. She says I'm wonderful and an amazing person. However, now she thinks of me more like a sister...which is something you never want to hear in a relationship. My feelings for her had only grown stronger recently, which makes the pain of heartbreak even more difficult.

Over the course of the weekend, I felt as if I was in the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" where memories were starting to vanish, only it wasn't memories, it was my future. All the plans starting to fade away and leave emptiness in their wake. We had so many exciting plans that we had discussed, like going to San Diego Comic Con together, Disneyworld, GDC, making video games together, settling down somewhere, eventually building a house and enjoying our lives. All of that vanished leaving me wondering where to go and what to do with my life now.

Sunday was rough. In the morning, I came downstairs and had coffee with her, but it was through tears. We talked a little, but there was a lot of staring into nothing and silence. We were both pretty numb. I eventually decided to leave and try to distract myself. That lasted for a few hours before I ran out of ideas and came home again. At this point, I was drained and numb. Jess and I chatted more and we both went in and out of emotional states. In the end, I decided that I was going to treat the night as my last night with her. We had dinner and had a drink together. It was the fleeting calm in the storm...a mirage of happiness before the end. This morning, as I left for work, I said goodbye knowing that she would be gone by the time I came home.

Today she left. As much as the emotional part of would love for her to stay here in the same place, the rational part of me knows that's not a good idea. We had discussed that one of us would have to find a place.  So, with that, she's staying at the house of one of her colleague's while she finds a place to live. This is my first night in this place alone. It doesn't feel like she's really gone. It feels like she left for the week to visit her family or went to a conference. I imagine as the days pass, that feeling will fade. While I was at work today, I had many pangs. Little thoughts kept popping up, like "Christmas is just around the corner" only to a moment later remember that I would be alone this holiday season. I would remember that I'd likely never see her family again. I won't get to watch movies with her anymore or play video games alongside her anymore. Just little things that would pop up and sting. Thankfully my work kept me distracted and numb throughout the day.

Now I'm sitting in this empty house, just me and the kitties. It's very quiet, and it feels very lonely and depressing. I used to tell Jess that when we were at stores walking around, and she wandered off, I'd sometimes, just for fun, toy with the idea that she was actually not real and that I had somehow made her up entirely. In that land of make believe, everyone was just all elaborately playing along with my delusion. Of course, she'd come back around the corner and all would be right with the world. Now, I will probably toy with that idea again, only this time, the delusion will be that she is still in my life. I find it weird that a small part of irrational me is like "Maybe it's all just a practical joke gone too far," but when I think through the reality of that, I know it would be completely preposterous.

I know I'm going through denial right now. There's a part of my brain trying to protect me that has me convinced this is temporary, and that she'll be back soon. The rational part is telling me that's not true. I still hold out hope that she'll change her mind. Even though she's hurt me, I'd still welcome her back with no hesitation. I just wonder if time apart will see another change of heart. In the meantime, I'm just trying to make it through each hour. I don't remember how to live alone anymore. That'll take some adjusting.

To add insult to injury, I know absolutely no one in Iowa other than my coworkers. I have a huge support group in other parts of the country. It only adds to the feeling of isolation. To all that have offered support and kind words to me via the interwebs, thank you. You really have helped me feel loved.

I will end my thoughts here for now. More to come in the next days. If you're read this far, thanks for sticking through.