Varied Doses of Hope and Despair…

Erin Schaden
6 min readJun 11, 2024


Isn’t that what falling in love is all about? In fact, isn’t that kind of what love is all about? Maybe it is just me…if I am honest, all my love affairs have been mired in an exhausting hope and anchored in a crushing despair. Mostly because I select the lover badly. It is usually doomed from the start, some ancient agony that I am trying to work out, except the only one who can’t see what needs to be worked out, is me.

It is not in this other person as I so adamantly believe. It is within me, some long ago need that went so unfulfilled that now I feel cursed in some mad search that I cannot stop engaging or doing or insisting is the righteous path.

It is like in the beginning I take the dosage of hope, like perhaps this time, I will not make the same mistake. Perhaps this time, this person who appears interested in me will not let me down, repeatedly. I mean, everyone else sees the issues from the start, it is only me, insanely drunk on my last overdose of hope that blinds me to the reality that everyone else sees so clearly.

And then, as I continue to imbibe the ever hopeful elixir, without my knowledge, it turns. And what was a tasty concoction of hopeful dreams and plans, turns bitter and sours seemingly overnight. And I have a tendency to make excuses for the souring. All in yet another futile attempt to gain love and attention and admiration and respect from a person who is never going to be capable of feeling any of those things for me, or perhaps anyone else, ever.

And so it begins, me taking in the varied doses of hope and despair, never being able to get the combination correct. Failing all the while to see that while hope feels like an ally she is actually the bitch that gets me drunk and disoriented to begin with…it is my relief from reality that sets the stage for my loving delusion that comes later. And later is only ruled by despair. Because there is no other ending to a love story that was faulty from the start.

And I have to own here that I think I fall each time for this torturous combination because somehow I believe that if I beat the odds, the reward was worth the pain. It doesn’t seem to matter to me, ever, that so far, I can honestly say the pain has never been worth the endeavor. Not one single time.

I mean, I have learned a few things along the way. Not that you would be able to notice from my behavior. But I have changed, and I have gotten better. I know this may be frightening, but I actually used to be worse. I was capable of finding hope in the darkest of places, and used it to light up some pretty dire debacles. I mean, all anyone else saw was despair, but not me, I saw a place where hope abound.

I am not sure how many love stories I have left in me. And if they continue to be of the kind I usually select, I am pretty ok with never having another one of those again. But hope blossoms best in the chest of one who cannot stop believing. Believing in something that, so far anyway, has only existed within the confines of her own mind and heart.

And I will own with each passing year, as I watch the parade of misery that spins the revolving door of my office, with the affairs, the lies, the deceit, the abuse, the addiction, I find myself more and more jaded. Are there people out there who honestly love each other and show up and do the hard work together? Creating an intimate familiar that is not toxic? Can two people, in today’s world, ever really trust each other and really give love the commitment it deserves? I mean, people keep getting married, and saying I do, and pledging forever, but I see the carnage, I see the wrecked masses and it makes me wonder. It makes me doubt. More and more with each passing year.

Make that the basis for my reality and then pour my own dysfunction on top of that and what I have is a rapidly failing belief in anything that is good and wholesome and worth believing in. The crisis is real, because it is my reality and many others daily.

I am not sure where we as a species are going. I am not sure that real human connection is ever going to survive technology, when there are so many different ways for us to spend our integrity. So many blurred lines that defy accountability, that obfuscate every tenant and facet of authenticity. We can be whatever we want, whenever we want, and so we become that which our feelings allow in every moment. There is a ready solution for any problematic emotion we might have, and there is always someone out there who will provide the attention our partner isn’t.

The more I see, the more I believe that technology will be the downfall of human relations. It is happening all around us every single day. All of these opportunities and avenues for connection, that we mar and make wretched with each encounter. And with every opportunity passed, we slip further and further into our own delusion that we have power to remedy that which ails us, when in reality, it is just another variant of the hope/despair elixir in renewed form.

I know, not a very cheery thought. And this blog is definitely depressing. But it is where I am right now. I see my own futile attempts, I see your futile attempts…and I see the world become an increasingly distant and calloused place.

Alain De Button said this…

“But seriously, if you asked most people whether they believed in love or not, they’d probably say they didn’t. Yet that is not necessarily what they truly think. It’s just the way they defend themselves against what they want. They believe in it, but pretend they don’t until they’re allowed to. Most people would throw away all their cynicism if they could. The majority just never get the chance.”

And so they continue to apply the varied dosages of hope and despair…as they watch yet another love affair implode or wither as the case may be. And each one dies an ugly death for the same reason…the delusion of benign indifference. All the ways we each fail to appreciate the lover. To fail to see that their love for us is supreme, and life altering and all too fleeting. It is this neglect we each bring to love’s stable, where though there is food all around, we watch our intended beloved starve because while there are many things to eat, they need our attention to show them how. So we remain in relationships where both partners starve at the feast of their communion. Each one needing something from the other that is just not given, perhaps because it is not possible, but I really don’t think that is the case. It is always possible to see the needs of another, and meet them. What really gets in the way is our own dedication to other things, usually our pursuit of that which we think we lack, when in reality, everything we have ever wanted is sitting right next to us, all the while.

And so we continue to supply the varied doses of hope and despair until the love affair dies, leaving the lover who was most dedicated, true and committed, emaciated in mind, body and spirit. And the one who sat idly by while their lover withered away, simply gets up from the table and walks away. Never looking back, never seeing the damage of their cold indifference, and so is doomed to repeat it once more…because all lessons we fail to learn, repeat themselves. Which is embarrassing, well, at least it should be.





Erin Schaden

Who am I? I am all that I write, all that I learn, share and grow. Read and find out? Check out for more.