The Path Back

Recovering from heartbreak, Rob Vogel looks at how he moved beyond it and what it took to open himself up again.

Recovering from heartbreak, Rob Vogel looks at how he moved beyond it and what it took to open himself up again.

Why is it that people are afraid of loving others, when all they want is to be loved themselves? I grew up living with my mom, grandparents and uncle. Everything any child could ask for, I had. I had family members who supported and nurtured all I was involved with. Even so, as I entered my teenage years, the realization struck that there was something missing from my life.

I had a couple of girlfriends during high school, and connected with them on a social and physical level—never emotionally. I thought that was normal, that guys just don’t get attached the way girls do, and that loving someone was just a phrase used to describe caring for someone and wanting to spend time with them. Then, I found the Internet. I guess I had always known I found men as attractive as women. Now I was given an avenue to secretly explore those feelings without worrying about being known. It was the comfort of knowing that they couldn’t see me that lead me to finally going out to the clubs where I had the chance to meet Dave.

I think I may have fallen in love right then and there. I didn’t even know his name. He had blonde hair, blue eyes, and an amazing smile. I felt like I had known him for years by the time our conversation had come to an end. This led me into my first gay relationship. I had never been so happy. I still wasn’t out, yet it no longer mattered to me. I loved someone, and they loved me back, that was all that mattered in my world for almost a year. Then reality struck. He decided he was going back to his ex of 3 years. I was devastated. I had no one to turn to, no one to talk to, and just buried all my emotions at the bottom of my psychological luggage, seemingly never to be seen or heard from again.

During my relationship with Dave, I came out to my family and friends. They were all amazing and accepted me for who I was. I could not have asked for anything more than what they gave. On the dating front, I could not hold a relationship for more than a month or two before I eventually broke up with the person. I met some great guys, and left each of them with no more than some sorry excuse that it just wasn’t working for me. The truth is that I was afraid of caring about someone so much that they could hurt me. I missed out on several potentially amazing guys, just because I had been burned and was too stubborn and too hurt to ever let someone in again. During those five years I even found myself pursuing guys that were already taken. This way I knew that they would have no interest in getting serious, and I would never have to worry about the eventuality of attachment which comes with dating.

Then, I made the mistake of falling for one of those taken men. He was older, had a good job and was in a relationship for a couple of years already. We had realized that we had a lot of shared history, going to the same schools and living in the same neighborhood our entire lives. We would talk several times a day, and see each other almost everyday, either for lunch, dinner or just to hang out. I don’t think I even realized how guarded and jealous I was becoming of his relationship until it finally destroyed our friendship. Once again, I had let my heart pursue someone who still cared too much about someone else to want to be with me.

At this point, I had decided that I was never again going to get serious with anyone, and that having good friends, and a loving family would be enough for me. I started developing a nice core of gay friends. I went on trips with them, went to dinners with them. I was done with relationships, done with being hurt, done with all the work that goes into caring for someone and allowing them to be a part of your life and allowing them to love you back. Casual dates and good friends were all that I felt I needed.

On one of evenings spent online chatting with friends, I came across Jay. Jay and I had spoken a couple of years before while he lived with his boyfriend. They had recently broken up and he moved back to live with his family until he could get back on his feet and move out on his own again. He said he wasn’t looking for anything serious, and that was exactly what I was looking for. We talked well into the wee hours of the morning, and then continued the conversation the next day. By the time he had come in to see me, I already knew there was going to be some-thing more there than just a casual date.

He was great from the moment I met him, and I was determined to push him away. I threw every excuse I had at him, and yet for some reason, he kept fighting for me. I realized that he truly cared about me, and that he wasn’t scared about opening up to someone even though he had been hurt so badly before. Our separate routines eventually joined into one, and we have been living together for almost a year. I love him, and cannot imagine what my life would be like without him. So it seems time does heal all wounds. Maybe not fully, but enough so that you have the capacity to love someone again. It does take time, sometimes even years. I’m glad I gave it a chance because I have yet to find anything else in the world that can make me feel as good as when I love someone.