Where do I start?

At the beginning. Since I was a little boy, I have always been full of love. My mom used still tells me today, “I miss that little boy who used to come hold my hand or who used to come jump on the bed with me and lay on my stomach.” I remember doing those things. Another thing about me, is I have a vivid imagination and memory. I don’t forget anything that has happened that means a lot to me. I can remember clothes people wore on specific days, the way it smelled outside, and when I close my eyes I can repaint memories on a canvas in my mind. These canvas’ flow all throughout my head, and unroll when I seek them out. Its a blessing, and its also a curse. When pain comes, these canvas’ unravel in the wind which blows  them around. Little by little though, I can roll them back up again. 

This morning I was looking through my phone before I went to a meeting for work, and sitting in the car I came across a note that someone who was close to my grandmother told me. My grandmother had terrible Alzheimer’s and it claimed her life eventually. I remember visiting her when I was little, and she wouldn’t know who anyone was, even family. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease, because it makes the people you care about a shell of what you remember them to be. There is no turning back. But what my grandmothers best friend told me was this. She sat me down and talked to me about my relationships and the people I had seen or was seeing, and she said, “Evan, your grandmother and your grandfather loved each other very much. Your grandfather had to go out west and your grandmother decided to stay in the east and thought that this was the end for them. She thought that it would be fine and she would find another person eventually. But she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t be without him. And moved everything she had out west, started a family, and lived a very happy life. And you know what she told me when I asked her why she did it? Evan she said ‘You know its great when you can’t live without the other person.’” Sitting in the car this morning, that hit me really hard.

Things haven’t been easy lately. They aren’t easy at all actually. My grandmother was a very wise woman, and I can see what she is saying. You know, its really easy for people to not express their feelings about what is going on in their lives because they are afraid of judgement, criticism, and most of all, fear of being vulnerable. I have said it before, my writing isn’t about holding back or fearing, but it is about growing, and living. I cannot live in fear of what will happen, what might happen, or if something in the past will happen again. Fear consumes your emotions. All I know is that the best way for me to combat my fears is to make them known, mostly to myself. I am tired of the stigma that men aren’t supposed to show emotion, that the tough guy is what you should be. Its stupid. Show your emotions, and you can still be a tough person. I have always been taught, that if anyone hurts or touches the women in your life, you knock them to the ground and you make sure they know thats not okay. Thats a little bit of the southern blood in me. Treat the women in your life right, the proper way, and protect them all the same. 

That song up there, for the past couple of days I have been listening to it on repeat. I just close my eyes and listen. I never get tired of it. The song accurately moves along with the emotions I have been feeling. Hemingway once said “All people talk of it, but those who have had it are marked by it.” I sit here writing before you marked and branded by it. I can’t get it off my mind and while sometimes infuriating, I have come to accept that its going to stay there. The hardest part is knowing that the only way you can show love, is by actually not showing it. Not doing what every fiber in your body wants to do. I struggle with that every single day. After being used to something for such a long time, and being able to be imaginative and creative, being caged in sinks the heart. What would you do for it? Would you walk to the ends of the earth for someone if they needed you? Would you drop the world for them, just to be there for them? Would you sacrifice? I debated writing today about sacrifice, but the word has a twinge of negativity. But really, what am I doing? I am sacrificing. Every day I wake up and know I have been dreaming about it because of the way my body craves it. It longs for it again. When I am busy it puts the feelings away for a while, but you can’t stay busy all day, and when you have down time, it hits you like a truck. I hate silence. It picks me apart. But how am I dealing with it? Every night I sit down and write countless pages of letters, not here, dumping everything out. Memories, feelings, everything. It is only after I write those letters that I can actually fall asleep, and there have been some late nights recently. I can only hope and pray for things to come. It all goes back to what I was talking about earlier…what would you do for someone you care about? The true test…time. Time either tears things apart, or reveals your inner strength. This is not easy for me, not one bit. In fact, this is probably one of the first times where I have had the pause button pressed. I have had all sorts of advice, move on…give it a couple weeks…do this… do that…prepare yourself…but what do I think. Because in the end, isn’t that what truly matters? Of course, yes. Here is what I think plain and simple. And call me out on this if I don’t act accordingly, and punch me in the face. I look in the mirror, and recently I have seen a little light inside of me. No I am not a quaker. I am, the most committed man you will know when I want something. I will do anything, do everything even if it means massive personal sacrifice to get there. I do this because I can see the light in me, and the light in the future. Those who have told me to go on cannot see this same light that I can, but I know better. Since the beginning, I have not thought of anyone else, looked at anyone else, dreamed of anyone else, and this is how I know what its worth to me. This man, writing to you right now, is blind to anyone else. In these pages I could have written about how I hated this or that, how things got messed up because of someone else or blame people for things. No, thats not a man. A man looks within to find things they can hold onto, things that they can work on, and opportunities. Basically since I was in high school I have been in relationships. And for reasons, they didn’t pan out. I told you before I am scared of being alone. Thats the dead truth. But now I sit here in my room alone, and I am trying to embrace the silence, the piano keys playing over and over again to my favorite song. I am learning about me, and me alone for the first time. What scares me, what motivates me to start again, how I can pick myself up and dust myself off. Its easy to live life when there is someone else there you can lean on. But when thats no longer the case, you learn a lot about yourself. My sister, a very wise girl (which pisses me off sometimes because her advice is so good) told me over the phone that “Ev, you have the chance to really work on yourself and make yourself an amazing amazing person.” She’s right, Kelly I love you and thank you for always being there for me. I will never forget the countless hours we spent together this summer in complete awe of the world. My sister is very right. And, I spend this time reflecting on myself. Its a hard thing to do however, look at yourself and really pick yourself apart. But this is the only way we grow and improve. I am doing this for me. I have spent so much time in my life with other people, and don’t get me wrong I love doing that because I know I was meant to love like crazy, but you lose bits and pieces of yourself sometimes. I went into one relationship after the next, when I was ready and sometimes not, and I am not sure thats the best thing I could have done. So here’s my opportunity, my chance to sit down with me and have a conversation with myself every day. Most importantly, I can have conversations with God. It sticks with me and gives me peace when I know that he only gives us as much as we can handle. I know that not everyone believes in God, but after some of the things I have been through, it is hard for me to see a light without him holding that candle. He has given me my characteristics: drive, unexplainable love, stubbornness, imagination, and I thank him for them every single day. There is something peaceful about laying down in your bed at the end of the night and talking to him and thanking him for everything, even though some of the things that are going on in your life aren’t exactly what you want. But I do thank him for them, because while I walk around blindly and humbly, and cannot see his exact plan, I can see clearly the test. We aren’t supposed to understand why things happen to us until much later in life, when we can see the way things have unfolded and really come to terms with things. Life is a surprise, dont sneak around the back door and blow the party. 

For now, I will continue to spend my time writing, letting the ink on paper soak up everything I am feeling, and looking at myself long and hard. I am making efforts to bring back that little kid in me that I remember so well. Life can beat down on you, and you have to make hard decisions. But what we can all strive to show is courage. For me, its no longer an option not to. 

Next time I see her, its time to take a walk with my mom, and hold her hand again. 

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project