Cute Guy on the Sixth Floor

Cute Guy on the Sixth Floor

By TBF Ambassador: Andrew Davie

A few years ago, I don’t remember exactly when, I walked to the elevator bank on the sixth floor of my apartment building. A Post-It note was stuck just above the buttons to summon the elevators. It was a solicitation from someone in the building who wanted to get to know “The Cute Guy on the Sixth Floor.” I can’t recall if the solicitor signed their name, but they did include the floor on which they lived. 

If this had happened before my ruptured brain aneurysm, regardless of whether I had been the cute guy in question or not, I would have had an emotional and physiological response to the note. While I’m extremely fortunate to have very minor physical issues after my injury, the way I process emotions like joy and sadness has been blunted. Through Somatic Experience Therapy, I’ve learned to cultivate subtle indications of said emotions. I like to imagine my emotions to be skittish deer who I’m trying to encourage to let me feed them by hand. Anyway, growing up, I always imagined I would get married and start a family. It seemed like an appealing prospect that would motivate any of my decisions. 

The first year of my recovery, I began to imagine that without a family of my own, anything I would do would be hollow. Most of this thinking was conditioned by the culture and generation in which I grew up. When I had my injury, I went through a depression because suddenly this very important goal seemed either unattainable or no longer relevant. Not to mention, my sex drive was eliminated. Even if I wanted to begin a relationship, it would be difficult without emotional and physiological responses. However, this didn’t stop me from returning to the online dating realm. 

From the age of 18 until 38, except for a few months to a year here or there, I had serious girlfriends. Most if not all of them were candidates for marriage at some point. Fortunately, none of these relationships worked out. I say that in hindsight and because had any of these relationships endured, I might not have been at Ronald Reagan Airport the morning of my aneurysm. 

Nonetheless, the first three years of my recovery were difficult for a lot of reasons; one major one was I kept trying to replicate who I used to be which meant finding a partner. Just before COVID, I went out on a date with a very attractive, funny, and compassionate woman. Sitting across from her at lunch I could intellectually recognize that she was beautiful, and I should be physically attracted to her. However, I felt nothing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just dating. I had no problem recognizing that something was objectively beautiful, but the emotional response I had expected to accompany the conceptualization wasn’t there. Over time, I was able to reconcile these changes. They may never return to the way they used to be, but I am comfortable with the way things are.

When I decided to begin my counseling program, I was open to the possibility of a romantic relationship with another student, but I also knew there was a very real chance this wouldn’t happen. Going into the school year, I was open to meeting people but that’s all the expectation I had. 

At some point, I might be able to have a romantic relationship with someone, and I haven’t closed the door on that opportunity, but it’s no longer a necessary component of my future. Recovering from the aneurysm allowed me to reflect and address how I viewed the world and my place in it. I have tried to rebuild my life to become the best version of myself; in some ways, it resembles who I used to be, but in many ways, it does not. It took a few years for that to be OK, but now that it is I’m making the most of my second chance.