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  • Well, here it is. The grand accounting.
    This is gonna be long-form, so bear with me. Or, don't; this isn't really for you, it's for me.
    Here I sit, just over a month shy of two years since I physically and mentally collapsed under the weight of my body and life.

    A day, my late, beloved grandmother's birthday, that will surely reverberate through me until the day I die.
    It started off fairly awful before it got worse.

    The work part:
    I was in the middle of a work project, one I'd fallen behind on, one that I really liked but had been not paying the proper attention to. I ran a small business with my ex, and I was going to build a fancy interactive piece that was going into a museum.
    The kind of project I love, in short, and the kind of project I was going to need to stay sane. Creative and challenging.
    But the implementation was messy. There were technical issues that created motivational issues that created timing issues. It seemed like everything was coming to a head.
    Mostly because things were coming to a head.
    So I did what programmers do: the multi-day sleep-deprived push to make deadline. Three days, an hour or two of sleep a night. Logic problems that were increasing in complexity, fine-tuning behaviors and animation by sheer force of logical will. I'd wrestled the thing into submission early into a sleepless morning, sent it to the client, passed out.
    Upon awakening, I'd received an email: The project didn't run for them (after working beautifully on this end, another stereotypical programmer problem), we'd been fired. Despair.

    In truth, I'd been burning out for years, and my performance was only growing more erratic. When I was young, I enjoyed the job, enjoyed the problems, would gleefully put in a 70-hour work week, then another.
    As the years passed, though, spending 10 hours a day at the task of what I non-lovingly refer to as "arguing with a machine" created more and more self-loathing.

    The body part:
    I decided I'd go to the gym and play dodgeball (yes, I know) with my friends to relieve some stress. Stretching out beforehand, I made the offhand comment that my achilles heel was my achilles heel.
    Ten minutes later, I'd ruptured the damn thing. My foot no longer listened to my commands, the link between muscle and foot severed. Pain. Bewilderment.
    Did the urgent care/emergency room dance.
    Crutches. Giant plastic boot.
    Stay off it for several weeks. Keep it elevated.
    Was gonna glove up for a boxing event two days later. Nope.
    Bought a backpack earlier in the year for some summer hiking/camping. Nope.
    Had _just_ stopped really hating running. Nope.

    The mental part:
    It was at this point I lost my mind for a while. I withdrew. I told myself I wasn't worth a damn thing professionally, physically I was broken, my youth gone, my judgment awful.

    Fast forward two months and I'd broken up with my girl/business partner of five years, leaving her and her daughter. I literally went to sit naked in a field for a week, and while there decided to blame everything on her, decided to paint her as an enabler and constructed a scenario in which the only solution was escape. Which is fucking embarrassing and ridiculous in hindsight, but nonetheless that was the course I decided on.

    I briefly declared fealty to, and entertained running off into the sunset with, a woman who I'd known for years. Right before she declared her love for another I moved into a new house.
    It was there in that house that we (the royal we) languished for a while; some of those episodes are outlined here. I was wracked with guilt, and pain, and struggled to make things right with my ex, but couldn't. I had violated her trust and though we kept sleeping together, that couldn't be re-established. There was a burning ember behind her eyes that never went away, and she took the opportunity to redefine what she wanted out of relationships. This was crushing at the time, not least because that's a totally justifiable reaction. I had caused it, it was all my fault.

    But the libido marched on. I made an dating profile and started to act out in that way. Slept with as many people in those six months as I had the previous 30-some years of my life. Had no real aims with it, not even simply getting laid, truth be told. Just a means of getting the noise in my head to die down for a while, companionship, a means of hormonal release. I was doing a lot of meditation and the like as well, but hadn't by any means turned the corner into living a spiritual existence. Still haven't, really.

    Right around my birthday of that year I had once again tired of my own shenanigans. Too many nights out, too many relationships that were too superficial, too much chaos. I had basically decided to shut down the online dating and return to a more sustainable life. Sent one last message to the funniest profile to come up in my results. We went out and I laughed, and I laughed again. She left her card at the bar so I met her there the next night when she picked it up. Both nights we made out like crazy people while she waited for her bus.

    It took me several months to weed out the others. I was hanging on to my vision of reunion with my ex, hanging on to the notion that it was too soon to re-commit to someone. I became duplicitous in my dealings. Sleeping with my ex for another three months, going out on less meaningful excursions, all the while slowly realizing that this new relationship was where I wanted to be spending my time. She was funny, smart, adventurous, good in bed, and beautiful and she continued to be all these things.

    By some insane twist of fate, when she started getting serious (for lack of a better phrase) about dating me, she broke up with a guy who was one of the people my now-poly ex was seeing; the discovery of and subsequent fallout from this fact provided a catalyst for this new woman to show a few qualities I continue to be surprised by: understanding and wisdom. These qualities made it easy to be transparent with her, and to bare my soul, which somehow didn't result in her running away from me like the trash-fire of a person I felt I was.

    Epilogue:
    The business with the ex, despite our half-assed efforts, finally became untenable and we dissolved it. Right after we announced that, I got an offer from a company who does work I'm still enamored with in an environment that's fantastic, and the pay is great. I never sent out a resume. I got my dream job without asking for it.

    I kept seeing this new, amazing woman and moved in with her at right around the one-year mark, after close analysis and much agonizing about what patterns appear in my life and my fitness as a partner. One month in, there was a row of some kind which culminated in her yelling: "I don't even know why I'm crying!" at me. Next morning, she woke up and said "I think I might be pregnant." Which beats, you know, having driven someone legitimately crazy in a month of living with her.
    We're due in 60 days; we got married at City Hall.

    There is absolutely no way I could have ever predicted I'd be living this life at this moment. I would have rejected the suggestion. Instead I feel the deepest satisfaction, the most complete happiness and serenity I've ever experienced.

    Every day is a battle to remain present. To clearly see what is in front of me, to not let pressure of any kind build, to not rest on work completed, to be forthright and complete in my communications. To walk in love, as love. If I remember these things, I might just be ok.
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