Ask Polly: ‘Holly Craps, Who the Hell He Thinks He Is?’

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Dear Polly,

Hello, I am 22 years old girl from the other side of the world. I see that the dating problems are all the same everywhere, and it’s sad. I don’t want to end up like the most 30 years old ladies that don’t know what love is, how to cherish themselves. I don’t want to end up alone.

On the Christmas day, my relationship ended. Because there was missing the sparkle. Just like that, sparkles. He ended up wishing me all the best, because he doesn’t want to ruin my life with his own depressive periods, caused by his Mommy. On Christmas he was alone at home in his room, and I was celebrating with my family in other city. I didn’t know that his family is not celebrating and I was speaking how awesome is to be loved and to be with the people you love, and how I miss him.

On the next morning he ended up saying that he doesn’t want to be with me on New Year’s Eve. He said that he doesn’t want to ruin my life, to disappoint me, but he did. Holly craps, who the hell he thinks he is? Thinking about only his own ass! Looking at you, praying for help, kissing you passionately, hugging you like nobody else. Hearing that the best he has is me. Finding support for this relationship everywhere, making everything to see the happiness on my face.

The same one is waking up on 25th to tell me that it is not like before. One big nothing.

For 25 years old man, he knew what he wanted, he made plans for our future. I liked it. I loved it. I love it. So, dear Polly, why he is pushing me away? Why and how his happy eyes became sad in one night?

Even alone, he knew that I am there for him. How you can call it love if you can end it in a night? What is love? What is happiness?

Best wishes from Bulgaria,

Sad Girl

(Sorry for my English)

Dear Sad Girl,

The dating problems truly are the same everywhere. If the emails I get are any indication, all over the globe, people are saying “Holly craps, who the hell he thinks he is?” to themselves, every day of every week of every year. “What does love add up to?” they ask themselves. “One big nothing,” they answer.

Or as Livia Soprano puts it to her grandson on The Sopranos, “The world is a jungle. And if you want my advice, Anthony, don’t expect happiness. You won’t get it. People let you down. And I’m not naming any names, but in the end, you die in your own arms.”

“You mean alone?” he asks.

“It’s all a big nothing. What makes you think you’re so special?”

I say “It’s all a big nothing!” a lot. You have to master the Livia Soprano gurgle-voice to really nail it. She spits it out like it’s a personal insult to A.J. Who do you think you are, to expect more than this? Who are you, to demand happiness from this world? What makes you so special?

And of course, she’s right. Even if you find love for a while, there are a million ways to lose it. Chances are most of us will be alone for a big part of our lives. No one will be kissing us passionately, hugging us like nobody else. Happy eyes will become sad in one night. People will let us down.

There is no way to heartbreak-proof your life. People change their minds. One day, you are everything. The next day, you are nothing. Sparkles go missing and are never found again.

At times like this, though, it’s important to know WHAT MAKES YOU SO SPECIAL. You can’t just have a vague idea. You have to know exactly who you are and what you believe in. You have to know how you want to live, even if it is all a big nothing. That takes time.

I know I’m going out on a limb, but to me, part of what makes you special is that you’re the kind of person who reads an advice column in a language that’s not your own and then pours out your heart in that same language, even though it’s hard to do. That shows bravery and openheartedness. When you’re unafraid of showing yourself, mistakes and all, you bring happiness to other people.

And now a few people out there, when faced with perplexing behavior from someone who’s supposed to love them, will say to themselves, “Holly craps, who the hell he thinks he is?” They will say this in what they think is a Bulgarian accent, but it will actually be more like a hybrid of German and Mandarin Chinese. And if you heard them, you might think they were making fun of you. That’s how it is when you’re trying new things and being openhearted: Someone might laugh. Someone might imply that you’re foolish. That’s how it is when you go looking for love: Someone might hug you like nobody else, then change his mind in one night.

That’s okay. Happiness comes from knowing that it’s beautiful to try anyway. Happiness comes from knowing that being brave is important, no matter how your message comes across. You try, and you are brave. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. What matters is your bravery.

Feeling comfortable in your own skin, understanding yourself as a quirky entity with major design flaws who still deserves everything under the sun: This will be your true source of lasting sparkles. You will have sparkles, with or without a boyfriend, once you embrace exactly who you are and what you want from this life. It takes a certain kind of audacity to believe in happiness, to believe in love, to believe that you are special.

For smart people in particular, it’s no small feat. If you’re not someone who can bumble along, mindlessly metabolizing the world’s skin-deep jingles and regurgitating them in your own signature brand of empty cheer (“One day at a time.” “Let go and let God.” “Sky’s the limit!”), it’s not a small thing to believe. It’s not a small thing to expect happiness. It is audacious and greedy, just as Livia Soprano suggests.

And it’s embarrassing to try and fail. It feels pathetic, to be cherished and then abandoned. It’s devastating, when someone changes his mind in one night. But humbling experiences are opportunities to rediscover what makes you so special. When you’re staring straight into the face of “It’s all a big nothing,” something breaks free. The part of you that clings, that clutches and won’t let go, that gives a depressed guy with Mommy issues the power to dictate your worth: That part crumbles away. Suddenly you can see a desperate 25 years old man clearly. Maybe he doesn’t know what love is or how to give it without wanting salvation in return. Maybe he’s a sinking stone.

Love can’t happen between two people who are sinking. The sparkles that come from “Can you save me? Will you save me?” go dark in a matter of weeks or months. Real, lasting sparkles come from one person, a person with the audacity to believe that happiness will be hers in spite of great flaws. Real sparkles are generated every second of every day, from one side of the world to the other, in crowded subways and in one-bedroom apartments, on rainy days and in shadowy corners of a cold room. Real sparkles can be found right here, right now. Consider making yourself a cup of tea. Consider how loved you are, right now, even though he’s gone. Consider the sky, framed by tree branches. Twenty-two years is not a long time. You might not find love for a while, but you can believe in it anyway.

Make that your work now: Finding sparkles. Suffering opens a direct path to sparkles. That’s what the jingles don’t tell you. Heartbreak and loss bring their own kinds of sparkles. Admitting that it’s all a big nothing brings sparkles. If it’s all a big nothing, what is left?

There is this chair, this drafty room, the raindrops on the window. There is this gray winter morning. One of my favorite songs by Pinback has the line: “Here’s to the pranks we never pulled, and never will.” There’s something sad but also comforting about admitting that there are things you will never do, admitting that there are limits to what you can become before your time runs out.

Today, the second-to-last day of 2014, is a good day to toast to the things you’ve never done. Here’s to the things we’ve never had a chance to say to each other. Here’s to the things we never tried. Here’s to the sparkles that we didn’t notice. We were surrounded by sparkles this year, but most of the time we couldn’t see them.

We can’t do everything. But let’s find more sparkles next year, okay? Let’s look very closely, and notice them, as much as we can.

My 5-year-old daughter just walked up and gave me a picture she drew. “This is a horsey and he’s looking for the yellow heart-diamond, up on the hill. He’s saying, ‘Can I get up that hill and down again? Can I? Can I? Can I?’”

I know that sounds made up, but it isn’t. And honestly, at first I wanted to say, “Look, I can’t talk right now.” But then I remembered that sparkles sometimes get in the way of efficiency. Sparkles slow things down.

So I stopped and looked at her picture of a horse. “Do you think he can get up that hill and down again?” I asked her.

“I don’t know,” she said. “Maybe not.”

You don’t need to know why he left you. Knowing why won’t change anything. Knowing why won’t make your doubts and fears go away. You will always have doubts and fears. You will never know what comes next.

That’s okay. Just look for sparkles. They are everywhere.


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Ask Polly: ‘Who the Hell He Thinks He Is?’