I guess the thing that surprises me the most is your classification of us as exes. Really? When did we date? Was I so devastated every time you told me how embarrassed you are of me or how worthless I am that I simply forgot about all the dinners we had and movies we went to? Was I so flummoxed by your seeming inability to express any variation of “please”, “thank you”, or “I’m sorry”, that I just spaced out all the times you wished me happy birthday, or merry Christmas? Maybe every time you responded to an invitation for intimacy with emotional abuse my memory blocked out a really heartfelt conversation we had or some amazing lovemaking right after? It must be. Like that would make some sense then why you’re always so disappointed with how I fail all your expectations.

I may be a lazy alcoholic manic depressive mess pissing my life down the toilet faster than anyone could imagine. But at least I’m honest with myself. And you for that matter tho I don’t really owe you anything. I tried really hard for a really long time to make something real happen, but apparently you’d rather believe something actually did and I fucked it all up by myself. By either or our interpretations, is it any wonder I don’t care about anything at all now when what I cared about most went so poorly for me? There’s a bunch more I could say, but let’s be real, you don’t care, about me, about my feelings or what I have to say.


“What do you mean you said I would be there on the 14th? I have the Symposium on Badass Women I’m chairing with Angela Merkel, Serena Williams, and Greta Thurnberg later today, you expect me to just immediately fly to Manila to negotiate the biggest deal in our company’s Southeast Asia portfolio tomorrow? … I’m on the A12 motorway near Gouda heading to The Hague as we speak… No, no, that’s why I scheduled it for the 18th? My 8’s looks like 4’s? How did you even get this jo —-” Moooooooo!

The call dropped simultaneously with the explosion of the airbag. Everything was fuzzy for a little bit. Then a knocking sound coming from the window. “Je hebt mijn koe geslagen!.” You rolled down the window. “What? I don’t speak Dutch.” “I said, you hit my cow!” “What cow?” “That one!” as I pointed to the moaning bovine on the road. “I’m sorry, I didn’t see her.” “You didn’t see her?” “I’m…I’m sorry.” I took a pause, breathed in deep. I saw the small cut on your forehead. “Are you okay?” “Yeah, I think so.” “Ok, wait here one moment.” I closed my eyes and starting rubbing my hands together rapidly. You watched in incredulity as I walked over to the cow, performed some reiki, and she got right up. A quick look and a not-so-subtle snort in your direction, and she was off back to the pasture none the worse for wear. “Let’s get you over to my office and fix that cut up.”

After I pushed your car off the road, we headed across a field towards what looked like a small warehouse. “Welkom to my cheese farm.” “You’re a cheese farmer?” “Well, yes, among other things. I produce the traditional Dutch gouda from a recipe I learned from the former proprietor of this farm.” “Oh, I love gouda cheese.” “Not goo-da, how-da, ok?” “Right, got it.” “Ok, why don’t you take a seat here and I’ll clean that cut up.” “I have to get to The Hague tonight for a very important event and my rental car is destroyed, can you call me a cab?” “Who needs a cab, I’ll take you there myself. Now, hold still, this might sting a little.” It did.

“Ok, follow me, and I’ll take you to The Hague.” “But the road is in the other direction.” “We’re not taking the road”, I said, as I pointed to my houseboat docked nearby. “But its only about another 45 mins drive from here!” “Well, I don’t have a car, and you don’t have a car, so we take the scenic route.” You stepped on my barge; it was cozy, clean and uncluttered. We floated down the Gouwe til it ran into the Hollandse IJessel, and followed along that. As we approached Gouderak and Moordrecht, I said “Here, take the wheel, its your turn.” “I’ve never driven a boat before, maybe you should keep going.” “You hit my cow remember, you owe me! It’s easy, I’ll help you.” You took the wheel, and once you had your bearings, took a look around. It was beautiful here.

“You did a great job, Captain! May I relieve you as we reach the end of the Hollandse IJssel?” “Ay Ay!.” We headed west on the Nieuwe Maas. “Up ahead you can see the skyline of Rotterdam, one of our most modern and metropolitan cities. And over there is the Erasmusbrug, which we call the Swan.”

At the delta of the Nieuwe Maas and the Oude Maas we continued west along the Het Scheur past Rozenburg and Maassluis where it becomes the Nieuwe Waterweg. As we passed Hook of Holland, I said “We’re now approaching the North Sea. If we head southwest we would find the English Channel and the coasts of the UK and France. Perhaps another time. We will head north and to the east to Den Haag.” Which we did, docking in Visserhaven. “Ok, where is your event at?” “Its in the downtown area near the Binnenhof.” “Well, here’s your bike, lets get going.” We crossed through the Scheveningse Bosjes along the Scheveningseweg until we arrived in the Centrum district. “Here we are, I’ll drop you off here, but may I ask to take you to dinner tonight after your talk?” “That sounds nice, give me your number and I’ll call you when we finish.” “Ok, I will go wait over at the Magic Coffeeshop nearby.” “Whats so magic about the coffee?” “Well, its not the coffee.”

After the symposium, we walked to the nearby Tapisco for some tapas. The waiter came and and I rattled off some Dutch that was incomprehensible to you. “I hope you like cheese.” “Well, I’ve been travelling all day across the waterways of Holland with a cheese farmer, so what do you think?”, you said with a wry smile. “Is your husband intimidated by you jetsetting around the world and giving talks with international female luminaries?” “I don’t think I would have gotten where I am if I had a husband. Are you intimidated that your travelling partner gives talks with international female luminaries?” “Intrigued, yes. Intimidated, no.” The waiter came back with our drinks. “Are you familiar with Trappist beer? There are only 13 monasteries around the world that produce it, five of which are in Holland. I ordered you La Trappe Witte, the only white Trappist ale produced anywhere. For myself I have a Tripel, but I’d say you should have an Enkel or Dubbel before you try the Tripel.” “Why, do you think I’d be Tripel sheets to the wind?” I let out a small chuckle. The beauty and the brains were eminent, but this wit….” The waiter returned with our tapas. “Ok, so starting here on the left, we have some almonds and olives, bread with olive oil, fuentillezjos quesa, queso de cabra añejo, and queijo Sâo Jorge, which is a Spanish sheep cheese, Spanish goat cheese, and Portuguese cow cheese. And here we have some mushrooms with macadamia nuts, and here, my favorite, patatas bravas. If you still have room maybe we can share a crema Catalana for dessert. Enjoy!”

After dinner we rode our bikes back to my barge. You were flying out for Manila the day after tomorrow, so I asked you if we could spend your last day here together. “Ok, make yourself at home, the cabin is yours Captain.” “Where will you sleep?” “Someone’s got to take us to Amsterdam!” While you slept, I took us up the west coast and through a mouthful of canals. Too bad you were sleeping. There was an observation I wanted to make to you about the canals; the one thing I’d want you to know about the Dutch if you learned nothing else. As your American football coach Vince Lombardi had said: “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” And who has done more than the Dutch, blessed with a land sinking into the sea and constantly flooded by some of Europe’s major rivers. Blessed, not cursed, because out of that situation were born innovative land reclamation projects that inspired and unified the nation. We didn’t just make the best out of what we had, we did that, and then we made more of it. Well, it was a very good day, no dwelling on missed opportunities. I docked us at Westpoort, and nodded off at the wheel, and began to dream.

I woke you in the morning with a plate of eggs, fruit, and my signature gouda. “I think you’re ready to try it.” “Don’t get me wrong the cheese is fantastic, but these eggs are incredible!” “It’s my mother’s recipe, maybe someday I can teach you.” “I’d like that.” “You know, I’ve really enjoyed your company. I know its only been a day, I know you tried to kill my cow, but I’d like to thank you for allowing me to accompany you on your travels.” “I’d like to thank you for being a gentleman. And a damn good travelling partner too!” “Well, when you’re done eating you can shower and change. I picked up some clothes for you, I hope they fit.”

I decided to ditch the bikes for this trip. We’d take the metro instead. First stop, the Rijksmuseum. “Dutch artists can boast about their legacy as much as any in Europe. Here we will see Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh, all Dutch!” “Van Gogh, he was the one who cut off his ear for the woman he loved, right?” “Yes, quite strange, no? When I think of a beautiful woman, maybe even one such as yourself, I want to experience her in full. I need my two eyes to drink in her beauty, my nose to become intoxicated with her perfume, all my ten fingers to explore the contours of her body, my taste to, well, of course, taste her, and both of my ears to make sure I don’t miss when she assigns me new chores!”

We left Rijksmuseum and walked over to Vondelpark. “This is a beautiful city, and really, such a beautiful country.” “We Dutch get overshadowed by some of the bigger European powers, but we have so much to offer. I’m glad you see that.” We walked by some tulips, every color of the rainbow. “If you had come a little later, in the spring, I would have taken you to Keukenhof, where we could see millions of the beautiful flowers in bloom. But here, perhaps these will suffice.” I picked and handed you one of every color.

We walked through Amsterdam, hand in hand. Not much was said. Not much needed to be said. We had an early dinner at Hearth, then rode the metro back to my boat. There was a silence as we boarded. Maybe neither one of us knew what to say. I looked at you. You looked back. I grabbed your hand and I leaned forward and you leaned forward too. We kissed. Nothing could be more perfect. I led you back to the cabin, and slowly undressed you. This was something worth savoring. I laid you on the bed, kissed you again, first your mouth, your cheek, your beautiful neck. I whispered in your ear, “Ever hear the story of the Dutch boy who plugged the leak?” And you felt me. And I felt you.

Fijne Valentijnsdag.

When you hate yourself you can’t love others

There’s a post I came across here that is sad because I loved someone like the person who wrote it. This was a person who could not love themselves. They were so focused on their own hunger for affirmation to fill that emptiness that they completely ignored everything I gave – which was so much – and for a time afterward, I ended up feeling like I wasn’t even human (that empty and depressed), where before meeting them, I felt pretty content and had healthy self-worth. It was like the life was sucked out of me.

It made no sense because I know they loved me (in their own limited way) but were just so absorbed in their need for affirmation from whoever or wherever that they crushed the very person who was already there giving it to them and trashed something they later regretted.

I learned from this, realized it was partly my fault for not having better boundaries, and did the work to heal from what happened. I also left them behind and miraculously, all the pain slowly dissipated the further I got from the last time we talked.

“It wouldn’t have mattered who” this person said in their post… that is the problem. It does matter who. People are unique and all valuable. And attention/compliments are shallow and fleeting markers of any person’s worth.

After all this I put zero value in compliments. I feel indifferent to them now, not because I don’t believe the compliments can be true about me or that I have low self-esteem, but because after going through what I did with this person I question everyone’s sincerity or reason for being nice or helpful to others, especially if there’s a flirtatious or “funny” vibe. I am kind and thank those who say nice things but don’t put much stock in the words.

This person I knew wanted to hear others say they were attractive, appreciated, etc. not just a normal amount but constantly. And this person only gave others compliments because they were fishing for them themselves. That became clear later on, after I’d already been subtly put down and dismissed enough times when I was trying to connect genuinely with them, then found out they were carrying on in attention-seeking ways with others while being selectively cold to me. It broke my heart. There are no words for what it felt like to be there for someone and to trust them, then to be slapped in the face like that when I least expected it.

They told me it was because they didn’t feel good enough. I never understood and probably never will – why would you want to make another person feel that way? One you “supposedly” love or care about? I guess people can really be that different in how they “love” or relate to others. It’s sad. But some people just aren’t good for you, and no amount of effort or love can change that.

We get it’s not about us when others do this kind of thing. It’s about their own issues. But it still can do damage to relationships and healthy people won’t put up with much of it. As I ultimately did not.

To the author of that post, if you read this… even if you’d had an abundance of those things back then, attention, compliments, etc, I am pretty sure it would not have opened your eyes – that person had it all from me and with every gesture I made, still acted like I was irrelevant until they knew they couldn’t have me, then… suddenly they had “screwed up their chance” and felt bad for themselves, while somehow skipping over showing any sort of compassion for what they had put me through. The irony, to me, is how straightforward it would have been to not screw up. It took an immense amount of energy to crush my heart like that because I’m a pretty resilient, loyal, and compassionate person.

I noticed in the post that the author did not express any sadness for what the other person they lost their chance with may have experienced. Only for themselves.

The person in my case didn’t seem to see me when I was there for them, and then after they destroyed everything good we had, they wallowed in self-pity. What they did not do was try to fix any of the damage or voluntarily apologize. That would have meant a lot but… it just didn’t happen. They didn’t even seem to see my pain in the end which was very difficult to experience.

Over time I gave many chances but after being hurt or confused beyond what I could handle, I reached a breaking, door slamming type of point. I had felt tons of compassion for them over time and forgave and tried again and again, but once they trampled me one too many times I stopped feeling bad for them and started seeing straight about how bad it was for me.

After too many unbelievable experiences I knew I just couldn’t ever go back. After enough time, I truly knew I didn’t deserve any of that. Nobody does. It can be worked through but only if the other person wakes up, repents, and truly changes… which there is about a .05% chance of happening. People changing, that is.

If you push someone away who loves you (or fail to “see” what is obviously there till too late) – that’s on you. Not them. They should not have to chase you down and fight you to get you to see reality. That’s not how healthy relationships work. That’s drama. The way you see yourself, your level of confidence, etc., no one else can fix those things. If you hate yourself, you need to do some deliberate, humble (as opposed to self-pitying) soul searching because until you learn to see outside your head and realize that a) you are loveable and unique and b) so is every other human (equally, objectively, though we are all hopelessly subjective about it) you will be incapable of loving others and even without meaning to, can really hurt them.

And sidenote, if you are addicted to hurting others to maintain or boost your own self-esteem or get something out of putting people down that’s twisted, and I hope you leave good people alone until you can get your act together.

Thinking you’re so different from others, that there’s something wrong with you – if that’s inside of you already everything you see will confirm it. And looking for external evidence to disprove the negative lies you believe about yourself is one of the most efficient ways to self-destruct. Believe me, I know.

I wish I had lots of love and affirmative words to say to people who have similar qualities to the one who hurt me or the author of that post, but I said them all before and learned the only thing that truly works with someone in that place is tough love and saying it how it is. Stop blaming what is outside of you for where you are, take responsibility for what is behind, and do better moving forward. There is a spiritual enemy out there and the root of all dysfunction = lies and fear as opposed to truth and love.

People are people. To be loved you must love others. No one is going to swoop in and rescue you from yourself. No human. Maybe a higher power, if you seek and have faith. But it’s time to wake up. Learn to truly see people as whole human beings in their own right, not attention, sex, or compliment machines there for your benefit, and have empathy for them the way you wish for it yourself (and probably already have had a normal amount you just didn’t see because you were looking for something else at the time).

This person probably has no clue how I felt for them. They may think they know. But they have no clue. They may have a sense they screwed up but… they will never know the full extent. I am pretty certain of that.

In the meantime, I have accepted I will never be the same… but I am doing well, and I will not make the same mistake again of letting myself be hurt in the name of love. What I thought was love must not have been, because love does not treat others the way I was treated, not on purpose, not accidentally, not ever.

Real love isn’t confusing and it doesn’t hurt. Lust, emotional unavailability, ego issues – those things are false substitutes/ obstacles to real love and destroy the hearts of good people.

Good luck to anyone this may be relevant to.

PS – I did not reply to or name the post I mentioned because this isn’t exactly a reply, just sparked by it, and I do not want the person who wrote the post to think I believe they’re exactly like the person in my situation because of course I don’t know them at all. I just noticed some similarities in some of their phrases and themes that arose with the person in my life.

I’m sorry

Hey! I hope that you’re doing well these days. It’s been awhile since we’ve spoken and I just wanted to say that I really miss the friendship and connection we had. I know I really hurt you and I don’t think I can
ever fully forgive myself for that. If you want the honest truth, here it is: I started having feelings for you and I didn’t know how to deal with them. You then started to hint to me that you felt the same way and then I got scared.
I’ve had a really bad track record with relationships and I didn’t think I could go through what I went through with my last relationship. I have a lot of insecurities that I need to deal with before I ever get involved with someone like
that again, I really hurt my last boyfriend because I just couldn’t trust him and it ended up costing me the relationship as well as the friendship I had with him. It killed me.

I’m always feeling like I’ll either be replaced, forgotten about or that someone will find someone they like more than me. It’s something that really hinders my relationships and I knew if I let things continue to the next level I would
start taking out those insecurities on you and ruin our friendship. I couldn’t put you or myself through that again, which is why I started to avoid you. I’m really sorry that it had to be like this and even more sorry that I hurt you so badly. I never intended to and I hope you forgive me. I wish you nothing but the best in life, you are truly a great person. It makes me sad to think that we could’ve had a life-long friendship, but I have only myself to blame for that.