Letter to the Army

Nine months ago I met someone who changed my entire outlook on life and love. He was sweet and endearing and funny and, above all else, he looked past my exterior and fell for me, all of me, Ashley. We began seeing one another on a weekly basis, going out, enjoying one another’s company. And somewhere in between the joking and the laughing and the conversations, I fell in love with him.

Last night, he broke my heart.

There’s something odd about the way love works. People always say, “All you need is love.” but in reality, sometimes love is not enough. For Army, it seems that the latter is true.

I had this gut-feeling that something odd was going on in our relationship. Until about three weeks ago we were on a regular routine of date nights, weekend festivals, and monthly theater outings. Somewhere in the business of life and friends and dating, a key part of our relationship was lost. I’m still unsure what this key is or was, so I’m not positive on how to ever come to a concise closure on our relationship. As soon as I heard his voice asking to come to my house, I knew. I just… knew.

Army no longer felt he was at the mentality (I believe he used the word “level”) of providing me with my needs in terms of a long term committed relationship. Perhaps he felt I was rushing the relationship too quickly. Perhaps he was frustrated by not knowing what exactly I need and how he should supply the necessary energy. Perhaps he simply needs some time focusing on his new job and the stresses of finances. Or perhaps he’s just selfish and no longer wanted to consider two people when he could just himself. Whatever the case, he has every right to feel the way he does. That is how relationships work after all.

There were two people involved in our relationship though. And this was not what I wanted. In all honesty, I’m at a complete loss for words. When you love someone, and especially when you’re in a relationship with that person you love, all you want is to do right by him or her. The “needs” I had were not what I deem unreasonable: a hello and goodnight every day, care enough to ask how my day has gone, and be happy to be with me. For the majority of our relationship, my needs were met. And I was ecstatic; I was in love.

I do not want or need more at this time in my life. I’ve been on the track to marriage, and at this point in my life I’m not ready for that anymore. I have so much more I want to do with my life before I start a family: pay off my debt, travel the world, buy my own house. The only thing I wanted out of our relationship was time together, and I definitely didn’t need an ample supply of time; just enough to know I was worthwhile to someone.

When Army left me last night, he had tears in his eyes. That might have been the hardest part of the entire break up. Actually, even though the break up was very emotional, it was not incredibly dramatic. There was no screaming or begging. We simply talked. And sat. We were mature and, if anyone had been watching, it had to be obvious how much we care for each other. We sat together for over an hour. He held me, I held his hand, and we just talked. Him more than me, I suppose, but it had a strange calming air to the entire event.

Our talk consisted mostly of how much we enjoyed being in a relationship together. He told me he loved me, loved being with me, and that he always enjoyed the time we spent together. It’s simply something with him — it has nothing to do with me — and he’s lost on how to fix it. “I’m f***** up,” he said. He just isn’t ready for the same kind of commitment I am, he said. He tried to make it clear how he felt: that it was unfair of him to continue leading me on and treating me how he had the last few weeks when I could move on and be with someone much better than himself. I suppose, in his mind, he broke my heart to ultimately heal it.

That’s a difficulty too, though. I think he feels as if I wanted more from him than what we had. I didn’t and I don’t. I simply liked being with him. I liked having him as a companion. As a friend. That’s what I ultimately love about him; he is my friend. A true friend is hard to come by nowadays. You know, someone who you want to involve in every event, share secrets with, complain to and rant with. Someone who shares common interests with you and who is fine with not doing a damn thing other than vegging out. Someone who’s smile alone can make your entire crummy week vanish. That is what is most hurtful about losing him; I’m losing one of my best friends.

Even with the mature way we handled ourselves, I have so many questions left unanswered: where did we go wrong? Is there someone else? What could I have done better? Is there a way to compromise our levels of needs? Can we continue being friends one day? I think I did ask these things, or perhaps he even mentioned them, but with all the thoughts swirling in my head yesterday… I have no memory. All I remember is the hurt of losing him in my life.

The memories I do have are ones of happiness throughout our few months together. Out of all my relationships, I can honestly look back on mine and Army’s and have no regrets. I mean, breaking up obviously means there must be some regrets, but I don’t know where and when they occurred. I thought our relationship was pretty solid.

Before I met him, I was just living day by day. I enjoyed my life, I enjoyed my past relationships to a degree, but what Army and I had… It was what I needed to revamp my lifestyle. I needed a friend and he came at a dire point in my life. As I said, he helped me re-see how great life can be.

Now, I’m not saying I foresaw a potential future for us. I don’t think I ever looked that far ahead. Because with Army, I didn’t need to. I was satisfied with where I was in the then-and-now and there was no reason to put stress on an already happy and healthy relationship.

As with all relationships, when I say we were happy and healthy does not mean we didn’t have our issues. We were different people with vastly different backgrounds. He is moody and impatient, I am emotional and (sometimes overly) social. Yet, in the grand scheme, I do not believe that our personalities and histories negatively impacted our relationship. At least, that’s how I am going to look at our past. I think our opposites attracted, making us stronger as a couple and threw us out of our comfort zones to make us stronger individuals.

And (I’m chuckling to myself) that’s probably not a great way to look at it because it only confuses me more. I’m just not sure where we went wrong.

As these thoughts literally fill my entire mind, I have come to the following conclusions:

  • I do not need a boyfriend to be happy. I am plenty happy on my own. However, being with Army made me happier. That is what I cannot get over; I’m going to miss him absolutely because he makes my life a little more bright.
  • This break up is not what I wanted. I never once considered ending out relationship. I may not have been happy over the past few weeks but I thought it was just a rough-patch.
  • His decision to end our relationship weighed heavily upon his relationship maturity level and not on who I am as a person. I was the best girlfriend I could be to Army, and with that thought I am at least a tad bit proud.

In time maybe we will come back together as friends in the least, or perhaps we won’t. The possibilities are unknown, and though that terrifies me, the unknown is better than knowing someone I deeply care about is unhappy with their life in some respect due to me.

In the end, there’s always a new beginning. I’m not sure what God has in store for me. At this time, I do not want to dwell on what could have been (though I know, especially at night, I will). No, instead I want to look forward and jump into the unknown with no parachute.

There are two things I know for certain though: I’ll be okay. Just not today.

New Year, New Possibility

Isn’t it weird how things seem to pop up at the most random times and in the most inconvenient (yet in some regards convenient) ways? I have been stressing this past week. I have been stressing hard. One of those weird, random “things” has happened to me and though it’s actually a great opportunity, it gives me a heavy heart.

Last week I was approached by the owner of the winery where I work. The winery is actually a side business for him; he actually is a farm broker who owns his own business called Heartland Agriculture. He wondered if I might be interested in taking the role as his personal assistant…. and I have decided to accept his offer.

I didn’t actually think too much about the proposal until I went home and spoke to my parents about it. I mean, I am ridiculously happy at Shadowland. I love the people I work for and with, I love being surrounded by everything wedding-related, I love having the ability to be creative, I love being about to blog — I mean, seriously, I just love the job. Working in the wedding industry has always been my dream, and I was lucky enough to enter my dream straight out of college. How many people are able to say that?!

1

The only issue with Shadowland is that it is a very well known and respected wedding venue. Awful, right? For a young girl with social needs, though, this is a problem. At Shadowland we have weddings Friday, Saturday, and Sunday every week from March to October. In 2014 we had 60 weddings with events thrown in almost on a weekly basis. I didn’t mind this summer when I was single and not ready to mingle, but now with Army and the prospect of every summer weekend taken in 2015, I have been worrying a bit on what this prospect held for my budding relationship, and my social life in general.

The other downside to Shadowland is the income. I am very lucky to have been offered a full-time gig right out of college, but the work done at Shadowland is tough. We work our butts off, usually working at least twelve hour shifts on event nights. This means a typical week in the summer averages around 55-60 hours, and we are salaried. With no benefits, as the facility is technically a nonprofit, this hard work sometimes seems too much to handle. Not that I’m not up to the challenge, but there is virtually no possibility of advancement either. So we exhaust ourselves to the promise of staying in the same position indefinitely.

2

At Heartland, I will be expected to hold a 40 hours work week, but with no weekend expectation. I also, on top of a pretty good starting salary, am offered profit sharing and paid vacation. I actually can see the end of my student debt when I crunch the numbers (something that is obviously VERY important!)

The work itself will also be something new to me; it requires me going back to school for a realtor’s license and developing new job skills I have only touched upon in college coursework. This concept actually excites me — I’ve always enjoyed learning something new.

The Bossman also made the statement that he is interested in discussing my dream to build my own wedding venue someday. He even suggested partnering with him and building it on the winery’s property someday.

So here I am, being torn in two directions. On one side I have Shadowland:

  • I love the people and the responsibilities of the job.
  • I make a good paycheck, but have no benefits.
  • There is no room for advancement.

And with Heartland:

  • The income and benefits are amazing.
  • Advancement opportunities are virtually unlimited.
  • My ultimate goal may be achieved.
  • I won’t have a big social aspect in the job, which is disheartening as I love people.

In all reality, the pros outweigh the cons tenfold, but still…

3

I mentioned I was stressed. That is because I have decided to take the offer with Heartland and leave Shadowland. Now I have to tell my good work friends my decision, and I am dreading the move. There is so much I was looking forward to with Shadowland in 2015! However, there is a little piece of me that is beyond excited for a new beginning with Heartland and now possibilities of my future.

Wish me luck; I’m sharing my news tomorrow…