The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

A Sufi holy man was asked, “What is forgiveness?” He said, “It is the fragrance that flowers give when they are crushed.”

  • One Sufi’s Saying

I have always viewed the individuals that make up our society as a collection of candles. Inside the mind of every man, woman, and child are thin strands of consciousness bound together like interwoven cotton, forming a wick. These wicks are the idiosyncratic and cultural beliefs that guide us; they are the past experiences, thoughts, and feelings that govern our realities and establish how we see the world. Although our individual philosophies, and how we choose to interpret them may vary, they are central to who we are as human beings.

From an early age, we are taught about love and human compassion through the various fables and religious analogies that are passed down from generation to generation. And as we grow older, our physical bodies become the solid foundation of wax that surround the emotional facilities of our wicks, and allow them to burn.

But sometimes those strands of consciousness and cotton can become tainted. Prejudice, bitter experience, and extenuating circumstance can alter our beliefs, causing the flame that burns atop of our candle to flicker and fade. A terror attack against innocent people can cause our belief structure to shift away from tolerance, to wariness and fear. A failed relationship can break our heart, and cause us to treat the opposite sex in a derogatory manner as we attempt to hide our own fragility. A statistic, or series of unfortunate events can transform our perception of a racial subclass from an equal, to a violent, seemingly lawless community. And a difference in the ideals and expression of love can make some of us feel uncomfortable with the idea of a man loving another man; or with a woman falling head of heals for another woman.

When these experiences taint our wicks, our flames diminish, and the light that we shine into the lives of others fades. Regardless of whether these bigotries are developed consciously, or not; when we stereotype, judge, vilify or disparage, we cast a shadow across the lives of the people around us. When too many of us allow our flames to flicker and fade, the world around us grows dark, and becomes a very scary place.

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Agh. Let’s pause for a second. That last comment sounded fucking bleak. It almost as if I’m trying to paint a dystopian world view as a way of expressing concern that too many people are being caught up in bigotry and hate. As if I am subtly suggesting that too many individuals have allowed their fires to fade, and that we’re living in a world ruled by intolerance and darkness…

Despite my candle analogy being an ideal that I have long believed in, I’m beginning to realise that I have only ever been partly correct in my thinking. For the past few months the posts on this site have been deeply introspective in nature; I have erred away from writing about the more contentious topics that occupy much of my thought processes, and focused instead on the idea of self. In doing so, I have come to realise that while there is a candle that burns in the minds of every man, woman, and child; there is also a rose garden that blooms within our hearts.

Love, tolerance, and human compassion are attributes that blossom within the souls of men and women who open their hearts to the world and risk having their rose gardens trampled; and who chose to allow the fragrance of their humbling moments to radiate and compliment their light, rather than diminish it.

Confused? You should be. It’s taken me months to come to this conclusion, and even as a write it out it still sounds like the ill-thought-out ramblings of a madman. So, let me try and explain…

I’ve said time and time again that I am a humanist. I believe in people. But I’m also a realist. I don’t believe that it is possible to live in a world without hate. The idiosyncratic nature of the individual means that we are inevitably going to find someone that we just cannot connect with. But if you are going to hate; then hate justly, and express your hate through love. Don’t hate someone because they are different, or because their views run incongruously to your own. Hate the person who diminished their own light and cast shadows into the world by attempting to destroy the rose gardens of their fellow man and woman. And love the people that they sort to hurt. Bask in the fragrance of their humanity, and show them that even in their lowest moments, they are beautiful. By doing so you can help create a world where tolerance trumps abhorrence.

If a terror attack robs the world of innocent people, don’t condemn a religion. That’s bullshit. Condemn the misguided individual who twisted their understanding of series of teachings to fuel their own rage.  Rise above their actions and use the fragrance of the flowers that they have crushed to build a world devoted to compassion. If your heart is broken; find the courage to love again. Don’t withdraw into yourself and rob the world of the flame in your mind, or the roses that bloom within your heart. And if you cannot accept that a man can love another man just as much as two members of the opposite sex can love one another, then seek him out and learn what it is that makes them so hopelessly devoted to his partner.

If you don’t, and you feel the need to vilify, disparage, or segregate based upon an individual’s beliefs, anatomical makeup, ethnicity, or the love that resides within them without seeking to understand who they are, then you are an arsehole. And you don’t deserve to shine light into their world, or to bask in the aromatic fragrance of the rose gardens your own insecurities and intolerance seeks to destroy.

People often think that in order for the world to experience love, change needs to occur on a grand scale. We turn to governments and leaders and ask them to make decisions about the rights of sub communities, or to dictate who it is that we should direct our angst towards in moments of great tragedy. But this kind of top down mentality towards human compassion and understanding is wrong. Real change comes from within us. It comes from helping to rebuild the rose gardens of those who have been hurt, and in allowing your light to illuminate the shadows caused by those who choose to stunt their own flame through anger and parochialism.

Whether we choose to accept it or not, the truth is that we are all connected. Every man, woman, and child on the face of this earth is both wonderfully unique, differently the same, and perfectly imperfect. If you struggle to accept those who you don’t understand, I implore you to open your heart and your mind, and learn how to accept rather than condemn. One of the reasons that I have always loved the analogy of a candle is the that as beautiful as its light may seem; it will burn far brighter when inverted. The same can be said for the way that many people, myself included, perceive the world around us. An inversion of thinking; acceptance as opposed to abhorrence will allow us all to burn brighter than we ever thought possible.

And if you step into the rose gardens of those who you have hurt, or who have hurt you; take a moment to breathe in the alluring fragrance of forgiveness; then help them tend to their damaged hearts, and cultivate a more tolerant world.

Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

  • J.K. Rowling

August 28th, 2016.

Remember the date. Because it’s important, and I’m going to come back to it a few paragraphs from now.

In 2015, I lost a friend to suicide. In 2016, I lost another. The passing of my friends devastated me. To lose a loved one is always a sobering experience. To lose them prematurely because of mental illness is earth-shattering. I have always believed that a family is defined by much more than biology. I consider my friends to be a band of brothers that I love so dearly that I am willing to sacrifice anything to protect them. The knowledge that two of those brothers could be so affected by mental illness that suicide became their only hope of salvation breaks my heart.

I know what it’s like to feel low. I spent years feeling angry, confused, scared and alone. And for the longest of times I never believed that I could feel any other way. I used writing to express myself, and created this website as a means of trying to work my way through the endless fog inside my head. And yet despite spending years writing endlessly about my periods of self-loathing and misery, I never actually hit rock bottom. I came close. But the people I cared about had always given me hope; they were my reason to carry on, even when I felt like giving up.

And then on August 28th, 2016, my life fractured. I lost the girl that I believed I was destined to grow old with. In doing so, I lost my happiness, and the desire to be Chris Nicholas anymore. On that day, I hit rock bottom so fucking hard that I didn’t want to write, or eat, or be anything. And then fate kicked me while I was down, taking away the certainty of printing my sophomore novel with the publisher who had produced my debut piece.

Until that day, I had envisioned a life where I would marry my partner and create a living from writing books. When I was down, or angry, the knowledge that I had a woman who loved me and a future brighter than I deserved spurred me on. Her love brought a smile to my face when the demons in my head were trying to eat my alive. So, when she left, and my battered body collided with the unbreakable surface that is rock bottom; all I could do was lay in a damaged heap and cry.

As I cried, my parents asked me if I was going to be OK. When I told them that I didn’t know, they asked me something that made the hurt I was experiencing feel so much worse. My mother and my father looked me in the eye and asked:

You’re not going to hurt yourself, are you?”

In the darkest moments of my life my parents were so concerned for my wellbeing that they were worried that I would try to harm myself, or that I would take my own life. My mental state was so fractured that they were frightened that after years of moving through cyclical battles with depression, I was going to give up.  I told them that I wouldn’t. Until that point in my life I had been petrified of death, and even though I had been down, I didn’t ever want to lose myself. But what I didn’t tell them was that in the months after my partner left me, the thought of no longer existing had crossed my mind.

Agh, shit. I’m getting all teary. This isn’t the easiest thing to talk about. So, let’s take a brief interlude for a moment. I want to clarify a few things. I don’t want your pity. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, or to be concerned for my state of mind. August 28th, 2016 is the most important date in the history of who I am not only because it’s the day that I hit rock bottom; but also, because it’s the day that I stopped running from my demons and began learning how to overcome them. In the months that have passed since, I have used my heartbreak and devastation to build the solid foundations of a happy life. It hasn’t been easy. I have had to confront my shortcomings, and learn to love my flaws. But in doing so, I am beginning to become the man that I should have always been.

This post isn’t about me. It’s about you. And the people you care about. It’s about talking openly about suicide and mental illness, and starting a conversation by saying:

My name is Chris Nicholas, and know what it feels like to lose someone that I love to suicide. And I know what it is like to feel so worthless that the idea of no longer existing becomes a viable means of coping with pain.”

Maybe in doing so, I can encourage someone else who is going through what I did, and what my friends did, to reach out and ask for help. Maybe by sharing my lowest moments with you, I can encourage you to lend your heart and mind to someone who is trying their hardest to fight their way through the hells of a life plagued by depression, anxiety, or whatever else, giving them a reason to live when all hope is lost.

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The World Health Organisation estimates that 45% of the global population will experience mental illness of some form in their lifetime. Of those that are diagnosed with a mental disorder, a staggering two thirds will never seek professional help. When you factor in the percentage of sufferers that remain undiagnosed, and that 90% of people who take their lives experience mental illness; and that suicide ranks within the top twenty causes of death on a global scale, the need for a societal change to how we perceive suicide and mental illness becomes apparent.

The bullshit inference society has created that says that mental illness, anxiety or depression shows a weakness of character is wrong. You are not weak for feeling down. You are not alone for feeling fractured. There is no shame, stigma, or dishonour in admitting that you need help. Mental illness is a fault in your psychological makeup caused by a chemical imbalance inside of your brain that you are in no way accountable for.

Take it from someone who has stood on the precipice between life and death and found the strength to survive: it is alright to not be OK. It is alright to feel unwell; or to be angry, or scared at times. That doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. What isn’t alright, is for our society to continue to lose so many lives to self-harm because we’re simply not doing enough to help those in need.

When I hit rock bottom I found a peace in myself that I never thought existed. Sure, falling from grace hurt. I lost someone who I had believed would love me for the rest of my life, and in doing so I lost myself. But I talked to my loved ones, and they listened with endless patience as I cried myself through the hurt and attempted to find who I was once again. Had I not have known what it was like to lose people that I love to suicide, I may never have found the courage to confide in them, and to get out of bed and face each new day.

Through conversation, my friends and family saved me. And I guarantee that if you ever find yourself feeling as low, and as worthless as I did, your loved ones will do anything in their power to help you through too. All you need to do is cast aside the stigma of mental illness and ask for help; or to offer your heart to someone you know who is going through difficult times. Once you start a conversation and remove the perception of weakness and fear that surrounds mental illness, you can find hope, compassion and love within your peers.

When I began to talk, I realised that the people around me weren’t afraid of holding a conversation about my depression. I had just been so angry for so long that they didn’t know how to approach the subject without pushing me further away.  They had been waiting for years for me to open up and tell them why I felt the way that I did. And, maybe if I had of confided in them earlier, I wouldn’t have lost as much as I did. Maybe I wouldn’t have had to hit rock bottom and start over again.

I used to be a boy who suffered from depression. I called myself a world eater and a wolf as a means of inspiring the strength within myself that I needed to keep fighting when I felt like I was falling apart. Since August 28th, 2016, I have become a man who calls himself a world eater because by doing so I can inspire strength within others when they feel as worthless as I once did. I don’t feel down anymore. I don’t feel angry. And I have just two regrets in my life. The first is that I didn’t speak out about how low I felt sooner. And the second… Well, I think that goes without saying.

To anyone who is struggling through anxiety or depression right now I would say this: It is alright to not be OK. And you are not alone for feeling broken. You’re with me; and millions of other individuals who make up the estimated 45% of people who experience mental illness in their lifetime. If you ever find yourself standing on the precipice between life and death, searching desperately for a reason to continue to live; I want you to reach out and take the hand of someone that you care about. Do what I did: cry. Cry your fucking lungs out. And when you have no tears left, talk. Let your loved ones help you find yourself once again.

If you’re not ready to talk to the people that you love; then use this page. Talk to me, or the other people who will read this post. Share yourself, and find solace in the knowledge that no matter how low you may feel, you are never alone.

Authors note: On November 17th, 2015, my friend Jason lost his battle with depression and took his own life. Since his passing, his brother Ben has been working tirelessly to raise awareness for anxiety, depression, and suicide prevention. In June of this year, Ben will be riding his bike around Australia, covering more than eighteen thousand kilometres as he attempts to encourage others to talk openly about mental health and suicide. Ben’s courage in the face of adversity and heartbreak has been a huge inspiration to me, my friends, and family. If you would like to follow Ben’s journey, or offer your support: you can find more information here at www.rideforjase.org

 

I need a moment to compose my thoughts before we get started. This post marks a turning point in the evolution of who I am as a man, so it’s important that I try not to screw it up…

There are certain topics that cause a writer a degree of apprehension whenever he (or she) approaches them. Trying to articulate how these concepts, realities, or situations alter your perceptions, or define who you are can be daunting.  For me personally, I have always struggled to broach the subject of death. I have battled against anxiety and depression in the past, and openly acknowledging that I will eventually die used to leave me feeling petrified.

Which explains why it has been a few months since we last talked about death here at The Renegade Press.

In that time, my life has changed more than I ever imagined possible.  I’m not the man that I once was. I’m not ruled by a fear of death, or the melancholy feeling of failure. I hit rock bottom. I had my face stamped into the dirt, and my humility exposed to the world. I lost something amazing, and I crumbled. Badly. But in my lowest moments I learned that the depths of my own fortitude are endless. I beat depression, let go of my ego, and now I’m learning how to walk after a lifetime of forcing myself to crawl.

Alright. I think I’m good. Let’s do this…

I was recently told that the only certainty in life is death. At the time, I viewed the idea as a pessimistic way to look at the world. But the more that I have allowed myself to consider this notion in relation to my own life, the more I am beginning to realise that there is some truth in the sentiment. It may sound incredibly macabre to view the foundations of our reality as so fractured and unstable that our inevitable demise is the only solid platform which we have at our disposal to build a life upon. But the truth is that understanding our own humanity, and the inescapability of death allows us to grow, to be happy, and to cherish the time that we have on this earth.

Oh, yes. This is a post about death; but it comes with a twist. It’s not a depressive, or self-depreciating diatribe oozing with anxiety and fear. Instead, it’s a big fucking swing at complacency; and a way for me to stand up, beat my chest and say that I’m not afraid of dying anymore.

As a society, we continuously remind ourselves of the fragility of the human existence. We sit glued to television screens, or stream endless content when tragedy befalls our fellow man or woman. We seemingly revelling in the idea that a life can be dramatically altered, or taken away in an instant. When a loved one passes, we console one another with observations about the fragility of life, and the preciousness of the gift that we have been given. Yet, despite openly acknowledging the metamorphic nature of our existence, we still allow ourselves to try and build upon the shifting foundations of space and time, assuming certainty where there is none.

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The only certainty in life is death. So, rather than chasing dreams that can evolve or be abandoned at a moments notice, wouldn’t it make sense to establish the underpinnings of who we are on this fact, and work backwards to establish our values and beliefs? Wouldn’t it seem logical to confront the inevitability of our demise as a means of asking ourselves what it is that defines us, what we truly value, and what it would take for us to pass away with the knowledge that we have no regrets? So many people spend their entire lives desperately scrambling to find their place within a world of uncertainty and change, afraid to acknowledge that one day they will die. And that when they do, they will not be defined by the possessions they own, the job they have, or the money in their bank account.

One of the greatest failings of the modern man is that we convince ourselves over and over that the materialistic shit matters. We do so because it’s tangible. It’s a way for us to touch something we have earned, or to show it to a friend or lover and say that we have lived a successful life. It makes us feel great for a few moments to bask in the superficial. But that instant of gratification fades, and no one will ever be defined by something so shallow. When we die, we are remembered for the experiences we shared with the people we love, and the way in which we brightened the lives of those around us. I know that probably sounds like a bunch of contrived bullshit penned by a hopeless romantic. So, let me put it like this…

…When I die, I want to look back on my life and know that I achieved the things that mattered most to me. I want to be able to say that I was loved; and that I loved unconditionally. I want to know how wonderful it feels to be someone’s father, brother, son, lover, friend, enemy, and entire world. I want to be shaped by the experiences that I have lived through, both good and bad. And I want to be able to say that I have had a positive impact on the world around me.

I would like a few other things too. It would be great to say that I wrote a best seller, or that I earned enough money to live comfortably without the fear of financial ruin. I’d like to have owned a fancy car too. Who wouldn’t? But if I had the choice between owning a Lamborghini or holding my newborn child in my arms for the very first time; the car would become meaningless in an instant. There’s a reason that people talk about money, cars, and possessions as dreams.  They are something to aspire to; but they’re not a necessity. Love and happiness are. They are the framework of a life well lived. Without possessions, you can still live an amazing life. Without love and happiness; you’re going to be fucking miserable.

When my life fell apart I realised how often I was sacrificing my own happiness to focus my attention on trivial and incidental shit. It became apparent that my pursuit of perfection and possessions was exacerbating my fear of death because I was subconsciously creating a life governed by anxiety. I had lost sight of what really mattered most. And as I looked around at my friends and family I realised that I wasn’t alone in my mistakes.

I saw couples who I knew were madly in love growing apart as they pushed themselves to buy a bigger car, or a better home, rather than allowing their love to blossom simply by acknowledging that they already had everything they could ever need within each other. I saw strangers sitting in silence at bus stops, their eyes fixated on mobile devices; desperate to feel connected to something or someone, but too afraid to share a moment of intimacy or awkwardness with the person sitting right beside them. And I saw that so many people were lost and afraid because they felt like they had no purpose. When all they needed to do to find themselves was to accept that one day they will die, and then work backwards to understand what mattered most to them in that space between birth and death.

This post is a swing at complacency, because that is exactly what we as a society have become. We are so complacent in ourselves that we take the people and experiences that matter most for granted; failing to realise that possessions, followers, or moments on instant gratification don’t equate to happiness. We’re neglecting to acknowledge that we are shaped and defined by the moments we share with our loved ones, and the way in which we touch the hearts and minds of the people we meet.  We feel contentment in community, and experience true joy through love. So, don’t be complacent. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on the trivial and neglecting to nurture yourself. Accept that one day you will die, figure to what it is that matters in your life, and make the most of the time that you have while you still can.

If you love someone; show them. If you have a child; hold their hand and teach them to grow. Cherish every moment, opportunity and experience that you have between birth and death. Because even something as certain as our inevitable demise is uncertain in its timing and deliverance.

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to catch up with Franki from Hamline University’s Lit Link for a conversation about life and writing.

It has been a little while since I had participated in a formalised interview, and I had forgotten just how much fun it is to really reflect on who I am, what I have achieved, and what it is that I want in my life.

If you have a few minutes to spare, you can read the interview in its entirety below.

Hamline Lit Link

This is a Q&A with Chris Nicholas. Chris Nicholas is a twenty-eight-year-old author and blogger from Brisbane, Australia. With over a decade of writing experience, Chris won his first writing competition in 2011, appearing as the winner and panellist of the Heading Northing Young Writers Competition at the Byron Bay Writers Festival. Since the event, he has entered numerous competitions (with varying degrees of success), had works featured on websites throughout America and Europe, run a weblog, published his debut novel, and completed a manuscript for his sophomore release.

How did you first get into writing?

I started writing in my final year of high school. I was seventeen at the time and should have been studying for my final exams, but every time I sat down at my desk to study I would suddenly find myself absentmindedly creating character profiles, plot points and endless pages of horribly punctuated stories.

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Imagine that you are standing before a rose garden. In front of you a series of stems rise from the earth and reach towards the heavens above. Some are tall; some short.  Some are straighter than others, and a select few carry more thorns than the rest. Their petals are in various stages of bloom too. Whereas some are wrapped up tightly in sepals, others have opened and allowed their oils to warm in the sun, emitting a fragrance that smells divine.

Imagine kicking off your shoes and stepping into garden. If you have a partner, or a child, or just a friend that you wish to take with you, then grab their hand and ask them to follow. Feel the dirt between your toes, and the heavenly scent on your tastebuds as you carefully weave your way through the maze of stems and thorns. Now imagine finding the perfect rose; a flower so striking that you sink to your knees and stare at its beauty. Its blood red petals are fanned wide to soak up the sun; it’s tantalising scent is unlike anything you have ever smelled before.

To the left of this perfect rose is a smaller flower; not quite in bloom. To the right of it stands a withered flower with petals falling towards the soil below. As you shift your gaze from left to right, you can’t help but feel as though the perfect rose in the middle is made even more magical by the two surrounding it. It’s as though you’re seeing it at the pinnacle of its existence. Had you arrived a day earlier, it may have looked more like the flower to the left. Had you of arrived a day later, it may have begun to wilt and die.

Alright. Enough with the visuals. You’re probably wondering why I’m asking you to conjure up images of blood red roses and soil shifting between your toes. It’s a new year; the fifth in the history of this site, and the angry boy who started blogging is now a grown man with a deep love of analogies and flowers (one needs to only click back through previous posts to find countless images and references to roses, peonies, etc.), and for the first time in my life I feel as though I understand what it means to be in bloom.

Yep. You heard that right. The writer who has spent years calling himself a wolf and tearing apart anything in his wake just mixed things up and labelled himself as a flower. Confused? Well, I can explain. But first we need to go backwards so that we can then go forwards…

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Every year between Christmas and New Year a group of friends and I return to our home town and host an annual cricket tournament. The event has been running for over a decade, with two teams of twenty men chosen based on the suburbs we lived in as children. In our younger years, the tournament was merely a way to bring together friends that had been separated by time, geography and walks of life. But nowadays both teams have lost members to mental illness and suicide, and the day is used as a means of touching base and talking openly about issues in our lives that we may never have been brave enough to discuss in our youth.

At the 2016 event, I found myself standing alone with a friend when he looked at me and asked me about a few of the darker days that I have faced in recent months. We talked openly for a while about loss, change, and what it is that we value in life. I told him that I had shed a lot of tears in previous months; but that I was happy, I just wished I hadn’t had to lose so much in order to find myself. When I finished speaking he smiled at me and said:

“I’m proud of you Chris. You’ve been through some shit. And a lot of your friends have worried about you over the years. But we love you. You’re family.  And it’s good to finally see you coming into yourself.”

“Thanks,” I said, feeling my heart break at the realisation that I had been so lost in life that my friends had been concerned. “I guess that sometimes we just need to go through a little bit of shit before we can grow.”

In the days since the event I have replayed the conversation over inside my head on numerous occassions, casting a look back at the evolution of who I am, and the metamorphosis that has taken place inside of my heart and mind. As a boy I was fuelled by anger, a fear of death, and a deep jealousy of anyone who achieved more than I did. I wanted to pen a best seller and become the greatest writer of my generation so badly that I turned myself into a horribly bitter person in my quest to succeed. I worried my family, bared my fangs, said terrible things about others, and lost my own happiness and smile.

But as a man I have learned that just because someone else is achieving, it doesn’t mean that I can’t; or won’t. I have learned that anger and jealousy breed anxiety and depression, and that neither I, or anyone else is defined by their faults and failures. We are however, defined by our friends and family, and the impact that we have on the lives of those around us. Our successes are measured not through making a best sellers list, or through earning a million dollars. They’re measured through the smiles we leave on the faces of strangers and those we care about.

Sometimes we just need to go through a little bit of shit before we can grow…

And we grow at different rates. We bloom in different seasons. And some of us experience more shit in our lives than the people around us. But just because that perfect flower in the rose garden isn’t you today, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be you tomorrow. Life isn’t a race. No one is born as a rose in full bloom; and every flower is as unique as our fingerprints, or a snowflake. We grow in the dirt and we’re shaped by the unique realities and experiences of our lives as we reach towards the heavens above, making us perfectly imperfect and beautiful in our own idiosyncratic ways. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone but ourselves, because no one else has experienced the world as we have.

Sometimes it can be easy to focus on the negatives in our lives. For me it would be easy to fall into my old thought patterns and to say that after a decade of writing I’m still not the best seller that I thought I would be. Or that I became so bitter that I drove away the love of my life and lost a publishing deal. But for every darker experience that I have lived through, feeling as though life was pushing me into the dirt, I have also had some amazing moments of sunshine. I published a book at the age of twenty-six; I fell in love with a beautiful woman who made me genuinely happy, and who I was ready to give my life to; and I still have a family that supports me, and loves me unconditionally. Together that combination of soil and sunlight, along with a little rain has allowed me to grow, and will continue to do so for as long as I live.

I am still waiting for my moment to come into bloom and flower into the best version of Chris Nicholas that I can possibly be. And even though I have been fortunate enough to watch so many people around me blossom, the time just hasn’t been right for me to do so just yet. But it will come. Each of us will eventually become the most beautiful flower in the rose garden; sometimes it just takes longer than we anticipate for us to bloom. But just because you aren’t that breathtakingly beautiful flower today, or just because you’re going through some shit; it doesn’t mean that you can’t, or won’t bloom brighter than ever tomorrow.

If you ever feel as though you’re not the person you thought you would be, or that life has pushed you down into the dirt. Just remember that you’re not alone; you’re with me, and millions of other people across the globe. Our time to be in bloom will come. And when yours arrives I promise that you will be breathtaking in your beauty, and that you will blossom into someone so incredible that your friends and family will fall in love with you all over again. Sometimes we just need to go through a little bit of shit before we can grow. And sometimes we just need to take a deep breath and remember that one day we will blossom. One day it’ll be our turn to be in bloom.

“It doesn’t matter if you fall down; get the fuck back up.”

  • James ‘Buddy’ Nielsen

I have always viewed each post on this site as a chapter in my life. Once a piece is written and published, I move on to the next, making a conscious effort not to look back at the works that I have already completed. But over the past five months I have been moving through a period of introspection, confronting myself with the darker aspects of my personality, and forcing myself to read through the chapters of my life that I have transcribed and shared with the world.

During my readings, I stumbled across a post called Bellicose; a piece in which I likened my own life and creative evolution to boxing. At the time, I thought that I had been through some shit; I believed that life had knocked me down and that I had learned what it took to get back up. But I was wrong. I had never even stepped into the goddamn ring. I was just a mouthy boy who thought that revelling in pain would ultimately make me a stronger man. I was forcing myself to be bitter and angry for the sake of art, and in doing so I altered my reality by opening my heart to hate and shutting out the opinions, thoughts and feelings of others.

But a few months ago, life really did knock me out. In the space of a month I split from the woman I want to marry, and learned that the sophomore novel I had spent over a year creating would no longer be put into print via the publishing house that produced Midas. At the time, I was a mess. I have never felt as low as a did when my lover walked out on me; I cried myself to sleep for weeks, and felt a pain inside of my chest that hurt worse than anything I had ever felt.

Losing my lover was a right hook that blurred my vision and saw my knees buckle; losing the publishing deal was the left jab that sent me crashing to the floor where I lay dazed and confused, staring at the ceiling wondering how the hell my entire world had just fallen apart.

At first the answers to the questions I asked of myself were difficult to come by. Self-analysis can be a horribly confronting experience, and something had broken inside of me. But as I lay motionless on the floor of my bedroom staring at the ceiling through teary eyes, I began to realise that despite spending years forcing myself to feel pain, I had never allowed myself the opportunity to learn from my experiences. I was still the same emotionally fragile boy that began writing in his room at the age of seventeen, I was just hiding behind a moniker of a wolf because I was afraid of becoming the man that I should have always been.

I used anger to shield myself from the world, and in doing so I lost the most important person in mine. When she left, my heart fractured into a million pieces and I fell harder than I ever thought possible. But I eventually picked myself up off the floor, stared at my reflection in the mirror, opened my heart and mind, and allowed myself to learn from the pain of loss. When I did so I realised that for 27 years I had ignored my own wellbeing and left my soul to wander on its own in search of fulfilment while filling my head with anger, angst and bullshit.

Alright. Let’s take a quick interlude and allow the self-pity that seems to be bubbling to the surface to fade. Because this post isn’t about me. It’s about you, and the people around you; and it’s about a metamorphosis of the mind that will prevent you from feeling the pain that I had to endure in order to discover who I really am. When my lover left me, my heart wasn’t the only thing that broke; my ego did too, and while the first hurts like hell, the liberation that has come from losing the later has changed my life.

This post is about not allowing your soul to wander searching for fulfilment. It’s about taking a moment to slow down and ask yourself what it is that your soul is yearning for, what your heart desires, and what your dreams in their purest forms consist of. This post is a means of saying that only fools wait until life knocks them flat on their back to realise what it is that truly matters to them.

For me personally, my soul has wandered for 27 years in search of happiness. Sadly, that happiness has always been right in front of me; I was just too caught up in my own self-loathing to see it. But after losing everything and having to rise to my feet once again, I can say that from this moment forward there are only three things in this world that matter to me; and I vow to never allow my soul to wander in search of them again. Those three things are my happiness, my family, and the woman who taught me what it means to fall hopelessly in love.

Expressing gratitude for the first two is simple. Happiness is a choice; life is a gift that should be celebrated every goddamn day, and even the darker moments that we experience are opportunities to grow. If I hadn’t of hit rock bottom, I might never have learned what it is to be a man, or how to pick myself up off the ground when life knocked me down.

My family have stood by me and loved me since the day I was born, and now that I’m becoming a man, I can be there to help them when they fall, just as they have with me. I’m making a conscious effort to show them that I love them at every opportunity, because as wonderful as life is, it can change in a heartbeat, and I don’t want to them to ever doubt that I care.

And then there’s the girl… I don’t know if I’ll get my happily ever after with her. I probably won’t. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t love her unconditionally and cherish the wonderful moments that we spent together. I gave my heart to my her the very first time that we met, and it’s hers to keep until we both grow old and wrinkly. I would love to become her husband one day, and be the man who cares for her when she is sick, holds her hand, or kisses her head while she falls asleep. But even if I never get the opportunity to be that man, I know that a small piece of our souls will be intertwined for the rest of our lives.

OK. Here we go… Here comes the part that’s all about you and those you care about. I’ve shared my vulnerability with the world, and now it’s your turn to do the same. 

Are you ready?

Every holiday season people across the globe usher in the new year by creating resolutions: promises to themselves and their friends to focus on self-improvement in some small way. But those resolutions are quickly forgotten as the reality of our daily lives makes us forget what it is that we are trying to improve within ourselves. So, this year I want you to try something different. I want you to abandon the notion of a resolution, and make a promise to yourself, and to your loved ones instead. Promise that you will no longer allow your soul to wander in search of whatever it is that it yearns for. It doesn’t matter whether you are searching for a partner, a career, a family, an experience, or just to rediscover the smile that you’ve misplaced. Promise yourself, and those around you that you’ll discover what it is that makes your heart beat, and your soul complete, and chase it down with everything that you have got.

At the bottom of this post you’ll find an image that I urge you to take and share with the people you care about. Complete the sentence and tell them what it is that your soul desires. Open your heart and tell them what matters to you, and share your aspirations with them. And then ask them to share their hopes and dreams with you. Help each other strive towards your dreams and become the change you wish to see in the world. Don’t waste another holiday season creating a resolution that fades; create a conversation and a goal to make your dreams your reality instead.

And if you are someone who has been knocked down by life, and haven’t figured out how to get back up; consider this post a helping hand reaching out to you. Get up off the floor and figure out what your soul is searching to find, and then start building a life that is worth fighting for.

Life is a beautiful gift. Celebrate it, and cherish every single day.

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“A true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”

-Elizabeth Gilbert

I used to believe that I was a man who had been blessed with the gift of intellect. I spent years convinced that I was the smartest person in any room; often closing myself off from the opinions of others. I would gnash my teeth at the slightest hint of conflict, and reveled in my ability to push my own agendas onto others, whilst belittling theirs. Yet while I thought that I was a magnificent mind perpetually on the cusp of achieving great things, the truth is that I was a bit of a dick. I bruised egos, hurt feelings, and let down the people closest to me.

During these volatile years, I was tolerable at best, and a horribly bitter person at my worst. I convinced myself that I was the most important individual in the world, and I forced myself to suffer through a fear of death, anxiety and self-loathing because I believed I would become a stronger writer and a better man through doing so. I repeatedly told myself that I deserved everything, and that the people around me, who had never walked through the hells that I had, deserved nothing.

I was so angry at everything, and everyone. And I was so afraid of asking myself why that I never confronted the bitterness festering inside of me. I was afraid of death, and petrified of failing. I didn’t have a place in the world; I merely existed in my own reality of anger and unjustified resentment. So, while I pushed myself as hard as I could to chase my dreams of becoming an author, I tore other people apart so that I wasn’t the only one hurting.

I was so lost in my own sickening reality that not even the girl of my dreams was spared from my bitterness. There were times when I was so proud of who she was, and all I wanted to do was tell her I loved her; but when I opened my mouth all the wrong words came tumbling out. I broke her heart. And eventually she broke mine back; walking out of my life and forcing me to look introspectively at the monster that I had become.

When she left, I realized that I wasn’t a man of intellect after all; nor was I ever the smartest person in any room. In fact, it turns out that I’m the furthest thing from intelligent, because I knew that she was my soulmate from the very first time that I saw her; and yet I was so goddamn stupid that I pushed her way.  Blinded by my own illogical quest to make her love me, I could never see that she already did, and that she spent our entire relationship holding my hand and asking me to stare into the mirror of her soul so that I could see and become the man that she saw hidden inside of me.

She could see the man that was buried beneath the anger and loathing; the man that still loves her unconditionally, and with such intensity that a smile still spreads across his face at the faintest thought of her.

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She is the first person who ever made me realise that I am not as intelligent as they are, and the only person in this world that I would give up everything I have just to spend one more day with. She is the woman that I want to travel the world, create beautiful memories, and grow old and wrinkly with. But because I was too afraid to look into the mirror that she held before me, I’m no longer the man who gets to tell her how much he loves her when she succeeds; or kiss her forehead and tell her everything will be alright when she is feeling down.

Agh. Alright. Let’s take a break for a moment. Because this is starting to sound a little depressing and my eyes filling with tears. This isn’t supposed to be a post about sadness or loss. It’s supposed to something positive. I fucked up. I fucked up really badly and I lost the woman I want to spend my life with. But one man’s loss can be another’s gain, and the whole point of writing this is so that people can learn from my mistakes. 

It took losing everything that I have ever wanted to finally become a man capable of looking at himself in the mirror. I had to give my heart away to a woman who left before I could find the strength to acknowledge my fractures and flaws. But by learning how to be open with myself I have come to realise that while I spent years believing that I had overcome depression and was healthy; the truth is that I was on a downward spiral of poor mental health caused by my own incessant desires to become the greatest author of all time, to make my partner proud, and to bury my own heartache regarding issues such as the death of friends and my crippling fear of being unable to provide a beautiful life for the girl of my dreams.

I had to pay a terrible price to find the courage to confront myself, but by facing my own reflection I have learned how to lay to rest the demons of my past, and how to be happy. Shit, I’m even starting to love the man that I see staring back at me with grin spread across his face, making me wish that I had of found the nerve to face my own demons years ago, rather than waiting until I lost my soulmate to do so. Because as great as it feels to be staring at the man that I should have always been, there’s still an element of heartbreak in seeing your reflection in a mirror that was once held by your soulmate, but now sits dusty and alone in the corner of a room you once shared together.

Since finding myself I have just one regret left in my life; and that is that I can’t go back in time and start over with my former lover. I can’t take back all my screw ups and my flaws and sweep her off her feet. If I could, I wouldn’t be the angry, bitter man that I was. I would be the version of me that I have become since she left; the man that she always saw hidden beneath a veneer of angst. And instead of saying all the wrong things I would simply say this:

Hi. My name is Chris Nicholas. And you don’t know it just yet; but I fell in love with you from the moment that I saw you. And if you give me a chance I promise that I will spend my life doing everything that I can to make you smile. If you want me… I am yours now and forever; because you have stolen my heart, and I hope to God that you hold onto it for the rest of our lives.

But I can’t go back in time, and I can’t tell her just how much I miss her. There are so many wonderful moments happening in my life every single day that I wish I could share with her, but I can’t. Nor can I share in the great moments happening in her life either. And while that breaks my heart, I can say this to my readers: find your soulmate; hold their hand, and stare into the mirrors of each other’s souls so that together you can change your lives.

If you have already found that person, give them a hug and a kiss and tell them that you love them dearly every single day. Let them know that they mean the world to you, because no matter your circumstance; the cost of love is priceless and there is no greater feeling in this world than being told that you are loved, and that you are beautiful. Just as there is nothing more wonderful, or fulfilling than finding that one person who you value, and adore more than anything else in the world.

Don’t do what I did. Don’t wait until you have lost the woman (or man) of your dreams to become the person you should have always been. Find your soulmate and stare into their mirror and become the very best version of you; then take their hand and make one hell of a life, jam-packed with wonderful memories together.

To the woman with the little blue hearts… If you ever read this: I miss you. More than you’ll ever know. I’m nothing without you.

“Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I used to be really afraid of death. For as long as I can remember I have been petrified by the knowledge that life is finite, and that each passing year brings me closer to the inevitable moment when I pass away, drifting into a state of eternal nothingness as my body turns to dust. Throughout my teenage years and early twenties, I would lay awake at night crippled by fear as I contemplated my own morality and questioned what kind of legacy I would leave behind when I died. I suffered panic attacks, cried a lot, and often felt isolated and alone.

At times my anxiety was so great that I was afraid of my own birthday. The annual event marked another step towards my death, and as I grew from a boy, into a teen, and finally into a man, the fear that I felt towards aging grew with me. I became afraid of the world, and petrified of leaving it. I was so fearful of being forgotten that I turned to writing as a means of creating a legacy that would allow me to be remembered long after I was gone.

Writing became an act of solace, and a means to combat my anxieties and fears…

…At least initially anyway. But as the years progressed and my creative skillset improved, I allowed myself to be driven by my fears and wrote with a maniacal obsession that became all consuming. Before too long I wasn’t just writing to fight fear; I was actively seeking to create anarchy inside of my own head because I believed that in doing so I could push myself to become a greater writer, and a stronger man. In my desire to outlive myself through my works I sacrificed friendships, destroyed careers, lost the love of my life, and became so closed off to the world that my own family questioned whether or not I loved them.

Eventually I became so caught up in this cyclic state of fear and anxiety that I pushed myself too far. In an effort to overcome the demons I was actively creating and allowing to live inside of my head, I lost sight of who I really am. I became angry and bitter, and while I wasted years believing that I was becoming a man; the truth is that I have spent my life hiding behind masks of wolves and world eaters while trying to convince those around me that I am strong. But I have been weak; and the only person that I ever fooled was myself.

Since The Renegade Press began four years ago I have received an endless stream of correspondence from readers who have been genuinely concerned for my health and wellbeing. I have always written from a place of pain because I thought that to be a great writer I needed to accentuate and exacerbate the fractures within me. But my loved ones and my audience saw that I was capable of being so much more than a bitterly angry little boy with a quick wit and a tendency to lash out at anyone and anything that he feared, or didn’t understand. When they looked at me they never saw the strength of a wolf that I envisioned they did. They saw a man who was hiding from his own insecurities and lying to himself.

They were right. And I was wrong.

Anyone who has been following this site for a little while will know that a few months ago the woman that I want to grow old with walked out of my life. She left because the man that she fell in love with had become so caught up in a frenzied desire to become a wolf and a world eater, and to fight away his fears that he let her down. Despite loving Sofie with an endless depth, I was so driven by fear and fuelled by a horrid desire to become more that I made her feel alone and question just how much I actually cared.

I cared more than she ever really knew. The proudest moment of my life was when I published my debut novel in February 2015 and she gave me a hand written letter telling me how proud she was, and how much she loved me. It wasn’t until she left that I realised I had spent almost two years pushing myself relentlessly to produce another manuscript just so that we could experience that moment together again. In doing so I destroyed everything that we had, and everything that she had expressed within that letter. I thought that in order to make her love me I needed to continue to allow my fears to drive me to become better. But I didn’t. I had my entire world in front of me, and she already loved me. I was just too stupid to realise it. I still have that letter; and I still read it from time to time.

Since she left I have walked through my own version of hell; taking time away from writing to rediscover myself and put to rest the horrible traits that I had allowed to fester within my heart for far too long. In doing so I have discovered an inner strength that I never knew I was capable of possessing. It hasn’t been easy, and I still think about her every day, but I have had to let go of the person that I’m going to love until the day that I die. At the same time, I have learned that despite best efforts from both parties, my sophomore novel War will no longer be released by Meizius Publishing.

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At first I crumbled, and I cried. I have spent years wanting nothing more than to marry the girl who stole my heart from the very first moment that I saw her, and fought desperately to recapture that moment we shared together by producing another book. But losing her and learning that I will be parting ways with my publisher has made me stop for the first time in almost twenty-eight years and actually question just what the fuck I am actually doing with my life. In doing so I have come to realise that I’m no longer afraid of death; I’m afraid of experiencing an un-lived life.

As I walked through the hell inside of me and experienced the cacophony of disharmony that had consumed my mind, I realised that I was allowing myself to be driven by fear, rather than being led by my dreams.

I know that sounds like a bunch of bullshit written by a man trying to open up himself and be vulnerable with the world he lives in. But what I am trying to say is that I have finally figured out the answers to those harrowing questions we all ask ourselves, and which until just recently have eluded me: What is the purpose of my life? And what is my endgame?

The first question was actually surprisingly easy to answer. The purpose of my life, and yours, and everyone else’s is this: to be happy; no matter what happiness looks or feels like to you. The objective of the entire human existence is to be happy; and to be led by your dreams, rather than pushed by your fears. Since realising this and letting go of my fear of death I have learned how to smile again, and the importance of slowing down to enjoy life for what it is. I have come to the realisation that I don’t need to pen a best seller in order to consider myself a successful writer; by having just one person read this blog, or pick up my book, I have already exceeded my own wildest dreams.

The desire to drive myself to the dark places I once longed for is gone. Because of this I’m not the man I was a few years, or even a few months ago. I’m not a wolf or an eater of worlds, nor am I ever angry anymore. I’m happy; and for the first time in my life I can say that I am genuinely proud of the man that I have become, and will continue to become from here on out.

As far as my endgame is concerned… She first appeared on this website as the inspiration behind a post titled Landscape, and is the only woman that I will ever write about. She will continue to be the most exquisitely beautiful person in my life until the day that I die, and although I don’t know if I’ll ever see Sofie again, I still consider myself the luckiest man in the world. Because of her I know how it feels to fall madly in love with another human being, and to want to spend every day of the rest of your life making their world just a little bit brighter.

I would throw away everything for that girl. I would give up writing, pass up all my earthly possessions and walk through hell every single day from now until eternity, just to see her smile.

The eater of worlds is dead; killed off by his own fears and insecurities. But in his place stands the real Chris Nicholas; the one who became lost inside of his own head for a period of time and forgot what matters most in his life. That man is a writer, a lover, a brother, a son, and a friend. And most importantly, he is happy.

I don’t fear death anymore; I fear looking back on my time here on this earth and realising that I missed out on so many wonderful opportunities because of such a naïve notion of allowing apprehension of the inevitable to destroy the wonderful gift of life that I have been presented. I don’t want to grow old having squandered my time, or having lived an un-lived life.  No matter what happens from this moment onwards; whether I ever publish another book, or have the opportunity to grow old with the woman with the little blue hearts; I can say that I am happy, I am proud of the man that I am becoming, and that I know just how wonderful it feels to experience true love.

After my time walking through the hell in me I have learned not to be driven by fear, and that my dreams are as simple as they are powerful. At just twenty eight years of age I have my happiness and I know my endgame. What else could a man ever want?

A few months ago my partner and I bought a puzzle. We were in a bookstore stocking up on novels and she turned to me and said that she’d love to buy a puzzle and spend some time sitting down as a couple and putting it together. Ecstatic just to be spending time with her, I agreed, and we brought home one thousand little cardboard shapes that when aligned together in the correct sequence would show a view of the Amalfi coastline. I thought it would be easy. And that it would be fun. But while she could effortlessly match pieces together and allow the picture to take shape, I struggled horribly just to find two interconnected pieces, swore a lot, and eventually gave up.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but that puzzle wasn’t just a way for us to spend time together, it was a symbol that represented my life, who I was, who I am supposed to be, and just how much I love the girl who sat patiently with me while I steamed with frustration at my inability to perform the most simplistic of tasks.

Agh. I need to stop for a second, and just get something off of my chest… Before I go any further I just want to acknowledge that what I am about to say is going to hurt so fucking much. By the end of this post I’ll be an emotional wreck. I’m about to tell you that I screwed up. Bad. And that I’m a fake. Because despite all of the pretentious bullshit that I post on this site, I’ve only just figured out who it is that I really am, and it took losing the woman that I want to spend my life with to realise that.

For twenty-seven years I have been trying to piece together the puzzle of Chris Nicholas. During that time I have been sitting in the darkness of my bedroom staring down at thousands of little cardboard shapes spread across the floor that define who I am, struggling to make sense of how they all fit together. I have been a son, a brother, a writer, a friend, a student, work colleague, and so much else. Yet I have never really understood how one piece of my life was supposed to fit into the next.

And then I met Sofie. I met this beautiful woman who was so much smarter than I could ever be. And before I even asked for her help, she came into my bedroom, switched on the light and sat down opposite me and helped me to start sorting through the little pieces of me that were scattered across the floor. I watched in amazement as she found pieces of who I am that were connected, and slotted them together, slowly allowing a picture of my life to take shape.

It took a long time; two years in fact for her and I to work together and take the little cardboard shapes and put them together, but as each piece fell into place I began to recognize the picture that was taking shape. It wasn’t really the image that I had imagined, but who was I to question the universe and the way that my life was destined to unfold?

I saw a wolf, bearing its fangs, with what looked like the world clutched between its paws. It looked strong; fearsome even, and I saw Sofie standing beside him with a look of astonishment on her face. As I looked at the picture positioned between us on the floor, something inside of me changed and I became the beast that I saw staring up at me from the half completed puzzle. I saw a monster, and I became him. And I have never fucked up so badly in my life.

I started to call myself a wolf; and I became headstrong and stubborn. I saw the world held within the paws of the beast inside the puzzle, and I tried to follow suit. I pursued my writing with reckless abandon, amassing an audience and producing a lot of self-indulgent bullshit. And all the while, Sofie watched me with a slightly bemused look, and kept putting together pieces of my puzzle as though she didn’t understand what I had become, or why I seemed so angry.

Then, just over a month ago she left. She told me that she was tired, and that I had let her down. So she stood up, and walked out of my life, taking a single piece of the puzzle we had worked so hard to create with her. I cried a lot that day. And I’ve cried every day since. Because when she left I stood up and I shifted myself into her place, and looked down at the puzzle of my life from where she had been sitting and realized that we had created an ambigram; an image that when looked upon from different angles shows an entirely different picture.

Sofie wasn’t putting together a puzzle of a wolf, or a world eater, and we were never putting together my puzzle; it was ours. From where she had been sitting the image that stared up at her wasn’t of a vicious beast bearing its fangs; it was me: Chris Nicholas, down on one knee with a smile of pure joy spread across my face. In my hands was a box, not the world, and inside of that box was a piece of jewelry designed to be worn on her finger that said “I want to spend my life with you.” From this angle she didn’t look bemused, astonished, or afraid.  She was happy, and her lips were pursed together as though she was about to make this version of me the happiest man in the world by uttering one simple word.

From where she had been sitting, our puzzle was complete; except for the final piece that she had taken with her. I had spent two years looking at what we were creating from the wrong angle, and while she was piecing together an image of a future filled with happiness, my own stupidity made me believe that in order to provide for her I needed to embrace the devil inside of me.

For the past month I have spent my time sitting in the spot where Sofie used to sit, staring down at the image of her and I with a huge smile spread across my face, and tears streaming down my cheeks. It’s a beautiful image, and one that makes my heart flutter. When I close my eyes and imagine the future it looks just like the image in the puzzle of us, and knowing that is so bitter-sweet. Sofie is the only woman I will ever write about; the only woman whose achievements I will ever celebrate as greater than my own; and the only woman that I would ever want to love and spend my entire life with.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get a chance to see her again, but I hope and I pray every day that eventually our worlds will collide one more time and she can come and sit down on the floor beside me and place the final piece of our puzzle; the one that represents my heart, into the image of her and I. If that day never arrives… Well, at least I can say that I spent two wonderful years with the woman that I love more than anything. The memories that we created together will last a lifetime, and the love that I have for her will continue long after she has forgotten about the time we spent piecing together the puzzle of our lives.

Now that I have seen life from the other side of the ambigram, I know that I don’t want to be the devil anymore. I want to be the man in the picture that Sofie has always been able to see. The hopelessly devoted romantic, down on his knee, allowing himself to be totally vulnerable in front of the woman that he loves more than he has ever loved writing, or anything else. I screwed up because my perspectives were all wrong; I was never meant to be a wolf, I was only ever meant to be a man, and a lover to the most incredible woman that I have ever met.

I’m writing this to say that I’m letting go of the love of my life for a little while. Because as cliche as it sounds, sometimes when you love something (or someone) you have to set it free. But there will not be a day that passes where I don’t look at the almost completed puzzle of us and whisper a silent prayer that she comes back and we finish what we started together. I have never wanted anything like I want a life with her; and I have never been so willing to be vulnerable and unafraid to embrace who I am. In the past month I have realised how wonderful my life is, and how hopelessly in love I am. For the first time in my life I know exactly who I am, and exactly who I want to devote my life to. And while letting go hurts like hell, I have never been more proud the man that I have become, or more determined to be the person that I should have always been. 

Two years ago I met Sofie. She was so beautiful, and I knew that I loved her from the very first time that I saw her. She had this smile that was just infectious, and the most intoxicating love of life that I had ever seen. I used to make up excuses just to talk to her, and somehow, in some way, she fell in love with me. Not long after we met she went to Europe, and we spoke almost every day that she was gone. She’d get home after a day of travelling and text me as soon as she could, and I would wait in eager anticipation to hear from her, and know that she was safe.

When she came home, we started dating. It wasn’t easy. She was so loving and kind, and I was the angry boy that I had always been. I let her down; over and over again. I would prioritise my writing over the woman that I loved, and when she asked me about the future I would try to play down just how much I thought about it. I never told her that the reason I would kiss her tummy in the middle of the night was because I dreamed of having a family with her. And I never told her that I loved her so much that if I ever had to choose between writing and her, she would win every single time.

I always assumed that Sofie would know how much she means to me. I just expected her to realise and understand that I would do anything for her. But I was so bitter about my past that when I opened my mouth to tell her that I was proud of her, I would screw it up and say the opposite. She made my heart swell with joy so much so that I began pushing myself harder than ever to become a writer that she would be proud of; but I was so foolish that I never even realised that she was already proud and loved me with the kind of love that lasts a lifetime.

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I recently had an epiphany in which I realised how much I had taken the woman that I love for granted, and how willing I am to devote my life to her. But before I had a chance to tell this wonderful woman that I wanted to spend my life with her, and move in together, and help her reach her dreams, we parted ways. I broke my soulmate’s heart, and I took her for granted for so long that she eventually pushed me away forever.

Many readers may be asking why I am writing this. It’s far from my usual style. But there are two reasons why I needed to do this. The first is that I want to take a short hiatus from blogging. I have been pushing myself so hard to become someone that the woman I love can be proud of, that I have devoted far too much time to delusions of grandeur, rather than to her. I want to take some time out to stop and smell the roses in my life, and appreciate just how much I have to be grateful for.

The second reason is that I want to acknowledge just how much I have let down my soulmate and my best friend. When I think about the future, there is only one thing in the world that I want; and that is the girl who has given me the two greatest years of my life.

I don’t know if I will ever get another chance to be a part of Sofie’s life, and I fear that I won’t. But I do know that the love that we have for one another is more than a passing fancy. It’s the kind of love that lasts a lifetime and never diminishes with age. It took me twenty-five years to find the person that I want to spend the rest of my life with, and it took me another two to finally tell her how I feel.

If I have to wait a lifetime for her to let me make amends for all of my mistakes, then so be it. Some things are worth waiting for, and I know in my heart that I want to make Sofie smile every single day for as long as we both shall live. I am so sorry that I ever pained her, or made her feel alone; she is and always will be, the apple of my eye.

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