Hello everyone. As I begin this doubtless long entry, it's monday morning. It's been an interesting and mainly pleasant last while. This is despite my decision to break off my relationship with Janet last night. That wasn't pleasant at all but could have gone far worse considering my complete inexperience in being the one to decide to end a relationship. It simply became more obvious as we continued to talk via Skype that she just wasn't the right match for me. I found that our conversations were getting shorter and shorter. I thought I could live with that in a partner but have come to realize that this is one area where I frankly can't compromise in as much as I thought I could. When you have more substantial conversations with even newly found friends than you do with a significant other, it's definitely a warning sign of dissatisfaction down the road. Over the past while, the glow of at last finding someone who was actually interested in me was increasingly overridden by doubts about our suitability for each other. Actually going to see each other would be prohibitively expensive given our similar financial situations. One of the real dangers of such long distance relationships is that over time, the chemistry just fades away. I've experienced all of that now. While I could have hung in there out of the thinking that I might never find a more ideal partner, this would have been dishonest of me. I no longer felt love for her above the esteem and affection I have for a good friend and had to set things right. I've been passed up by enough people to know precisely how painful it can be.
This is the first time that I've been the one to break off a relationship. Both Rebecca and Janene decided that they no longer wished to be with me. I can't say that it's a very enjoyable experience being a dumper. One has to face some pretty ugly truths about the limits of lasting worldly love. I thought myself capable of living happily with pretty much anybody who truly loved and respected me. That just isn't the case though. Whoever I end up with simply has to have good conversation and communication skills and also share some similar interests or there just isn't going to be enough common experience to keep things going. She took it remarkably well. I think she had the sense that things had changed. For all my intelligence, I had absolutely no inkling that Janene was about to ditch me like she did that Easter Monday which feels like forever ago now. It looks like Janet and I will remain friends while each of us looks for a relationship to pursue hopefully somewhat closer to home as well as to the kind of partner we're each best suited for. Because she's approached her life in much the same manner in terms of values, she has built up a real place for herself in her community much as I've at last begun to here. She has become a very welcome, reliable and needed friend to many people there. It just doesn't feel right asking her to step away from all that before life circumstances otherwise force her to move on. This is particularly true in the case of her best friend Lori. Janet adds tremendously to the scope and possibilities of her life. She's quite a bit more child-like than Janet in terms of mental capability and must also come to terms with losing her sight. In both her and Janet's case, I find it far too easy to take a kind of friendly stance which veered dangerously toward the more fatherly stance Gandalf had towards the hobbits. Perhaps, that's what Janet wants or even needs in a partner. That's for her to determine. For me, it's very important that I'm with a lady who doesn't evoke such feelings. We've got to be equals. Unfortunately, when it comes to intelligence, I'm faced with the reality that most women I'd take an interest in simply wouldn't be interested in me. Most of them anywhere near my age are already spoken for or are hooked too deeply into our society's need for material wealth to even give five minutes to a permanently unemployed guy on an overly ambitious creative quest. While I could now at least offer a safe and secure home to a life partner who's in a similar financial situation to mine, that's all I can bring to the table outside of my own reasonable outlook, optimism, patience, easygoing nature and good character. These assets have certainly gained me a number of good friends and despite everything, I still find myself hopeful of eventually finding someone who proves to be a better fit for me and wants to take things further. There are plenty of other circumstances which place people on ODSP or outside what passes for normal life. Certainly, I've met people with other mental deficiencies whose ability to converse and basic good cheer were unimpaired. However, especially if I'm going to do the long-distance relationship thing again, it's pretty vital that conversations be stimulating and that we have more common ground regarding interests than I did with Janet. Sadly, a similar moral outlook and religion just isn't enough. It sounds so damned shamefully elitist, but it is nonetheless true for me.
I guess I've come away from this knowing more about my own real desires for a life partner as well as my own limitations when it comes to what I'd be willing to settle for. Good conversation is more of a must for me than I thought. Having been dumped twice, I've never really looked at that aspect of myself so clearly before. Like everyone else, I too have hopes and dreams that I'm unwilling to part with. It's an ugly truth to find that someone who you like, respect and admire lacks what your sustained worldly love requires. At last, I believe I can truly better forgive Janene for walking away from our engagement. Was it the prospect of having to earn all the income unless or until I came up with something creative which I could sell? Was it all the art she did which I would never see and could therefore not appreciate? I guess I'll never know. Whatever it was, I now have a greater understanding of the pain she went through even as she utterly devastated me to the point where I nearly attempted suicide. We took things too far to avoid that indescribable pain. Thankfully, due to that distance between Janet and I, neither of us were hurt badly. Both of our lives have been pleasantly added to. I needed and craved that sense of being wanted by a woman as more than a friend, of no longer being alone in life in that way. Through finding Janet, I've come to better appreciate the friends I have who now include her. Paradoxically, despite this experience clearly showing that my range of possibilities for stable life partnership is more constrained by my own requirements than I would have thought, I find that I have more hope of eventually finding a better match. I at least have the fortitude and sense to act if things don't feel right. Janet has proved to me that there actually are women out there who might find me worth exploring possibilities with. I'm not quite in a completely hopeless situation. Realistically though, I know my wait will most likely be a long one. Until a woman who meets my criteria comes along though, I simply have to keep hopeful, happy and patient. I'm also comforted that I haven't become so jaded that I'm completely beyond being swept into something. I'm still human after all. Exploring love's possibilities always comes with a cost. Compared to my last two serious relationships, I've gotten off remarkably lightly this time. I hope Janet eventually finds someone who has the resources and approach to give her a good and happy life companionship. I of all people know well the frustration of being overlooked due to a disability. The temptation to jump at any opportunity for love no matter how unsuitable or likely to last can probably only be understood by people in a similar situation.
For the record, here are my current known criteria for an ideal life partner:
1. She must be able to engage in deep and meaningful conversation. Words and ideas are at the very core of my life and my significant other needs to have the ability to communicate and explore such things at least as much as my friends do. She needs to be able to communicate her thoughts and argue her case well enough so I don't feel in danger of railroading her thinking. I don't care particularly that she have a formal education equivalent to my own. I've frankly met secondary school dropouts who have taught themselves as much or more than some of us with degrees have ever learned about the nature of real life. The desire and capability to explore ideas and discuss rationally are what I'm after here.
2. Over the years, my faith has become more a part of life. I don't think I could entertain the possibility of marrying someone who doesn't share at least a healthy respect for my religious convictions. I'd very much prefer to find someone who would enjoy going to church together as a couple. It's become an important enough part of my own life that I'd like to share it. It should be something which draws us closer rather than separates us. That blocks not only non-Christians who want no part of church, but also blocks the more extreme kinds of Christians who think poorly of all non-believers, reject modern life utterly, frown on anything not mentioned in the bible, jump to idiotic conclusions about modern culture/art, or think the world's nearly at an end and it's about damned time too. I try to find the good in games, movies, music, people, and life in general and want a lady who will enjoy these things with me. It's still not completely outside the realm of possibility that I would come to love and marry someone of a different faith or an agnostic. After all, had Rebecca not fallen in love with me despite my agnosticism at the time, I wouldn't likely be a Christian today. All things being equal though, I would far rather find someone of similar core beliefs.
3. She should fit in well with family and friends. A serious relationship is a package deal. There's no getting around that. I need to find someone who can partake in activities and get along with my family and friends. Someone who feels uncomfortable or begrudges having to go to family functions ought to look elsewhere for companionship. Mine have supported me through a lot of the worst times in my life. I simply won't hook up with someone who has no use or respect for them. While it's still possible that I might be convinced by a partner to move away to somewhere new, I'd really have to be sold on the idea. If we did, my friends would have to be welcome to visit and I'd expect us to go from time to time to visit them as economics and life reasonably permitted. People get into all kinds of trouble when they allow someone else to remove them from their support network and cut them off. I would never do that to a life partner and won't allow that to happen to me.
4. She must be able to respect how I've lived my life. Instead of banging my head on the brick wall barring job access for people with my disability and particular gifts, I've chosen to take advantage of the economic security and place society has offered me. Were the opportunity presented to me, I would cheerfully work for my living. However, despite sustained attempts supported by a government agency, I simply can't find my way into the labour force. I've therefore made my peace with that reality to the best of my ability and chosen to find alternate means for contributing to the good of others while still enjoying life and keeping cheerful. It hasn't been a short or easy journey. Should my circumstances change dramatically, I would absolutely be willing to work in order to support a married life, help keep a business run by a spouse afloat, etc. Under these rules and circumstances, however, I've figured out that I'll end up feeling far happier, contributing more, and feeling more productive doing what I'm doing. Should opportunities come up, I'd cheerfully volunteer three days a week just to be more a part of the community and feel more productive. Just get me there and back safely. If you can't get your head around that and respect my voluntary efforts to contribute to a society which can't see its way to rewarding me financially, you have no business getting serious with me. Respect has to be a two-way thing right from the start. I've got a hard-working family plus a lot of fully employed friends who have managed to make that leap. I'll stand for nothing less from a potential partner. Rebecca had no respect for what I did voluntarily and thought I should do nothing productive or contributive towards society if I wasn't going to get paid for it. I'll never stand for such a situation again. We're not going to last long if you can't see beyond the world of dollars and cents. Even if I at last find a way into the labour force through some miracle or other, I don't plan on turning away from the projects I've started.
5. I've learned what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket. I did that too much with Janene thinking that we'd be starting life together in a new place and everything would therefore be different. I would have gone with her absolutely anywhere and had no reason at all not to fully trust her. My friends and family were ready and committed to supporting her also and were as shocked as I when she suddenly pulled my less lonely future out from beneath me. None of those people have a true sense of what that put me through despite their best intentions and efforts. I intend to make certain that from now on, there's always enough of life not dependent on a relationship that I never go through such a long vicious downward slide again. That was just too painful and doubtless more rough on those closest to me than I fully realize. In other words, there's going to be more to my life than our relationship. Deal with it or get lost.
6. She needs to have a basically optimistic and cheerful appreciation of life and of people in general. Five years is long enough to have spent walking on eggshells and doing damage control. One thing I really admire about Janet was such a positive attitude despite the rejection she has faced in life. It really hurts me to now have to count myself as part of that rejection. However, if she didn't have that basically cheerful good attitude, I never would have explored more serious possibilities with her in the first place. Especially when you live on something like disability support, the benefits of such a fair-minded, level, patient and positive approach to people are incalculable. People who focus all their energy on society's shortcomings and discount their blessings aren't doing any of us any favours. I'm no longer a member of the ODSP Fireside list. It has some very useful information and clear-headded considerate people on it. However, far too many of its members simply spend all their time bitching and complaining. I can't be part of a group stacked so heavily in that direction and refuse utterly to be with a partner who can't find reason for happiness in life. Don't get me wrong. There are days when I'm angry and plenty of reasons for anger and bitterness in this crazy world. However, spending all your time angry just pushes people away from you and eats you up inside. I've been as far down that particular road to destruction as I ever want to go. An ideal woman for me must be able to see the bright side of life most of the time.
7. She needs to enjoy touching and physical affection. That's certainly something I want to experience from a lover again in life at some point. I saved it for last because it's only really meaningful after the rest of my criteria have been established and we've built up the appropriate level of trust, respect and genuine love we can have confidence is going to last. I'd rather have no relationship at all than go through another one which simply can't last due to improper construction. I was quite willing to go through the rest of life without sex had the rest of Rebecca and my marriage been at all salvageable. I felt that this was a part of honouring the commitment I had made. Even in marriage, sex should never be considered an absolute right. That kind of intimacy is a precious gift. Personal space should always be respected. However, if you don't appreciate physical affection, you really ought not to fall in love with a blind man to begin with.
That covers the basics pretty well I think. There's certainly a little wiggle room on these but not a whole lot. Due to the happiness I've found here over the past while, I'm strong enough to get out of what isn't working for me. Hopefully, I'm also strong and kindly enough to do so without hurting anybody too badly. I'd really prefer it if my own happiness in a relationship didn't come at someone else's expense. It should be all about building up hope and possibility for each other and for those whose lives intersect ours. Perhaps, in this self-centred world, that makes me too much of an idealist. I've heard it all before. I just can't make myself believe that this is such a fallen world that quantity is the only way to go in the love department. Women are simply worth more respect than that. Even if that weren't the case, our consciences, our very souls are worth infinitely more respect than that. I dearly hope and wish to find a life partner who I can experience stable growing married love with. Not, however, at any cost. For me, there are things I won't stoop to and things I refuse to give up. If that condemns me to singledom from here on out, so be it. Thankfully, God has blessed me with the ability to patiently hope that this isn't the case. I'll keep open to realistic possibilities. I'm making new connections and new friends these days. There's a whole lot more cause for hope than before this Summer.
This Autumn hasn't been devoid of activity either. I've had a remarkable Thanksgiving weekend. On Saturday, I was contacted about a text book for game designers which I had bought and found to be largely inaccessible due to restrictions placed on the pdf file. To my surprise, the author himself contacted me. It was terrific to hear from him. He was very encouraging. Through his efforts, I obtained a copy of the book which I'm able to easily move through and read. Nothing forced him to go to bat for me, a complete stranger. However, he found enough kindness and faith in me to do so. I've plunged into his book a fair way since then and dearly wish it had been one of the first ones I came across. It's great in that it provides a good overall order in which to do things. I've never really had that and will benefit in many ways from his experience and thoughtfulness. Anybody who is seriously planning to design a game would do well to get Fundamentals of Game Design 2nd edition by Ernest Adams. It's geared towards computer and video games but what he says easily applies to other kinds of games including what I'm trying to create. The other very helpful book was one I found on www.audible.com called Reality is Broken Why Games Make us Better and How They can Change the World by Jane McGonigal. The psychological in sites she provides will serve my project quite well also. I have a whole lot to read, learn, and think about over this Winter. I also have a somewhat better sense of the scope of what I'm trying to do. Even the design document and process is going to take at least another year and possibly two. It's so important to get things nailed down before you go much further.
There have been other good times also. I attended a Thanksgiving party held by members of my church. Despite difficulties hearing due to my illness, it was still very enjoyable and added greatly to an altogether spectacular Thanksgiving weekend. Seeing the family was also fun. Everyone was in good spirits and the dinner was just wonderful. Occasions like that have a way of sticking nicely in your head.
I was also very pleased to have Reverend Chong drop in for a visit one morning. He was a part of the group that I went down to Grand Rapids Michigan with during the Summer for the multiethnic conference. It was great just having him over for a friendly chat in here before heading off to the Dam later that day.
It's Tuesday morning now. I've had a broken but apparently sufficient sleep. Saw the doctor last week and he seems to have hit on something helpful. He suggested I try saline solution sprayed into the nose to clear my stuffiness. Who'd have thunk that salt-water would be as helpful as it's been? Later on this week, I'll be fasting and going in for standard blood work. Everyone says I should lose more than a few pounds. Guess this will be a start. There's also groceries to order and laundry to do. A nicely busy week to help life keep moving along after the breakup. King of Dragon Pass has proved to be every bit as marvellous as I could have hoped. I've already spent hours playing that game. What's more, they're still updating and adding to it. Once some of the rougher aspects of Voiceover access have been polished in the next update, I'll have to try doing a Blindcooltech episode about the game. Meanwhile, I can thoroughly enjoy playing it as I engage in other aspects of life. More blind people are hearing about the game which pleases me no end. I hope the developers are getting lots of feedback.
Doubtless, more has happened over the past while which I have neglected to blog about. It seems a lady who found me on Audioboo is interested in getting to know me further. She goes by the nickname buschic and it seems to be very well earned. She doesn't tend to fit in with the blind community often having different and at times unwelcome opinions. I had a couple of short conversations with her. She seems nice if a little rough around the edges. She seems to be quite interested in me and is thankfully a whole lot closer than Janet was. I could actually see us getting together without going bankrupt. She can certainly carry on a good conversation. Apparently, she considers me cute of all confounded things. The older I get, the less applicable that word seems to me. Given what I've just been through though, whatever happens will take its own time. I've made that pretty clear and she seems alright with that. She'll clearly make for an interesting friend with her radical opinions and justifiable anger considering even the fraction of her experience she has related to me. but whether she fits into the rest of life is a question to be explored slowly and with care. I tend to favour the patient diplomatic approach. She strikes me more as someone who'd charge into a situation and take no prisoners. Somewhat like my good friend Steve Murgaski in that respect. She's apparently spoken briefly to him on some occasions but doesn't know him that well. She makes no secret of her mental issues which at least speaks to her honesty. They're somewhat different than what I've had any experience with. While that at least means things would be different, it still tells me that caution is a good idea. Frankly though, it is damned refreshing to actually have a new lady to even contemplate getting to know. A pretty sharp change of pace from the usual months which stretch on and on between the occasional serious female interest I've experienced. Mustn't let it go to my head. Ah well. Life continues. I'll be off to the Dam pretty soon. Had a delicious brunch which turned out perfectly. No egg on the counter this time. I find that I very much look forward to finding out what the topic for the week's forum discussion after the dropin will be. So far, I've managed to contribute a little to the discussions. It at least makes me feel productive at the end of the day. Hopefully, the dropin will be more eventful for me than the last one was. More people seem to be coming which has raised the noise level considerably. Think I'll take my full set of gear including my portable speakers. If I'm going to be sitting around for hours, I may as well have the ghost of a chance of hearing what my netbook says in there. Who knows? Maybe, some of these new youngsters will have a bit of healthy curiosity. I can hope.