Blog by Yessica Maher, los Angeles Native.

She explores life after marriage, starting a career in her late 30's, relationships, breaking cycles of abuse, online dating, self care, fertility and depression. 

It's all over the place, but so is living. 

What you are telling me is . . .

In my restlessness last night I called my cousin and told him I was due for shenanigans.  I went to his place and he took me to a barcade.  We grew up together and he's the same special guy that talked me through a night of self discovery here.  There were figurines and dolls that were all about the 70's and 80's all over the bar and walls.  I saw all of the classic arcade games that we used to walk to 7-Eleven to play when we were kids.  I picked out songs, three at a time on the jukebox and loved that it reminded me of all of the nights we hung out at my place or our favorite pool hall.  Of course we were in a bar with other patrons and they played their preferences which I had never heard of and I had this moment of realizing that if the music is setting the tone, I may be overthinking things. Before I got hitched, I had a bunch of guy friends and not many female friends.  It's not about female drama I needed to avoid. It was about friends that wanted to be around me.  They accepted me and all of my damaged parts that allowed me to destroy a few of my female relationships.  I was one of the guys.  Apparently I still am.

I was at the bar with my friend when a few hours later we were joined by another friend I had not seen in over 16 years.  The hugs were huge and it felt like home.  It was a night of catching up and being silly and for a while I found that confidence I had when I was in my 20's.  During the laughter and catching up and selfie sessions being posted, there was a moment of jealousy from a significant other directed at me.  I had lost touch with my snarky side, but she was ready to play.  I'm not sure if I regret that right now but it opened a discussion about our current relationships and the people we're talking to.  The conclusion is we're all doing what works for us because in our damaged ways, the people we've chosen fit the needs we have. We've found the right fits for our dysfunctions.

None of us are in a serious or committed anything with anyone.  It's all very casual and in the moment.  We're not complicated people and very straightforward about what we want but as we talked, I thought about the many ways people will always tell you want they want, assuming you aren't too focused on your selfish needs and wants.  You watch the actions, listen to the words, pay attention to the body language, and don't over think it.

We all crave attention on some level.  We want to be seen and heard and looked out for.  The things we'll do to get that itch scratched will always vary.  On a daily basis, I will walk somewhere just for the attention.  It's not really a walk.  I strut. There is one foot directly in front of the other, and it throws me off just enough to pretend I have more junk in my trunk than I do.  I walk with my posture straight and making eye contact.  I don't just step.  My steps are forceful and intentionally overconfident.  I focus on where I'm going and when I catch someone's eye, they get my friendly smile.  A smile can make a scowling woman smile back because you're slightly less threatening. Usually my ear buds are in and I'm listening to something upbeat and I step to that beat. Sometimes it comes with catcalls, but often it's just a look and that is enough.  And then there are times when the stakes are higher and I'm nervous and clumsy.  It happens.

Is the attention worth the cost?

The attention we crave means we'll take a call from someone we would be okay not hearing from. We'll justify it by thinking we're polite people. For me, it meant online dating for two whole months instead of quitting after the first week and the second bad date.  For the guys, it means answering calls and texts just to show the women that won't leave them alone that they can be jerks.  They purposely made the women in their lives jealous and called it a taste of the dish they were being served.  I don't bother trying to get someone jealous.  They care or they don't.  Sometimes I don't care enough for the small things to matter.  It's wasted effort.  When I decided I was done with someone I told them I was done and if they kept reaching out, I blocked them.  There's no reason to give someone else that much authority over the joy I tap into.

If you really want it, you'll do what you can to get it.

We consistently put our time, energy and money into things we value. You call or text someone you want to talk to.  You ask them to join you when you are doing something or doing nothing because you want to be around them.  You tell them what you like and hope what you said was what they heard.  You make time or you make excuses and there is an answer in that if you pay attention.

What remains unsaid or unseen can have it's own library to study.

There are parts of who I am that I withhold.  Last night was so freeing but it threw into sharp contrast the parts of who I am that I keep hidden.  As transparent as I am here, and elsewhere, there is so much I hide, and it was so clear when I was with old friends and not holding back.  I feel it's about protecting my vulnerabilities but also about not frightening away others with other things. I can be intense and I'm not always nice. I'm constantly turning over a million things in my mind.  There's always a thought or reaction that I'm gauging.  Where does the conversation pause, and is it a comfortable silence? Do you feel like enough was said, or do you need to explain deeper or is withholding about trust that has yet to be earned?

What do you see in the body language?

Once I get past the beauty I'm ogling, I want to see what the posture says.  Is this person relaxed or is he a bird ready to fly away and why does he feel this way around me? Is my confidence intimidating or am I being mean and it's more than he can handle?  Is he reaching out for my hand or is he keeping polite distance?  Is he turning his body and head toward me? Is he looking away for the most part and reaching blindly because he's afraid of the rejection he might see in my face?

Are you invited in or being pushed out?

In this area I'm a bit cynical.  I have had some meaningful and beautiful relationships, but I've also had plenty of guys try to treat me as something they wanted to play with.  I listen for the familiar script that I've come to expect first. I really evaluate how I'm being approached.  Is it late at night and he's lonely? Is it just before lunch and he's gotten through the bulk of work and has a few minutes to kill before leaving for his hour and he doesn't want to start a  new project so I'm a distraction? Is he trying to see how I'm doing, or is he hoping I can make him feel good?  I pay attention to what is being said and I over think his motives because I do want to know if I've been crossing his mind just because I'm always on it or if he's bored and lonely and he needs me to fix that.  I don't always reach out when someone crosses my mind unless the moment becomes a while and then they deserve to know they've held my attention.  I've been known to shoot off random texts while letting them know they don't need to respond.  I want to see the spaces I'm invited into.  Do they want to tell me about themselves or their ideas and dreams, or is the topic of conversation generally superficial? Am I invited into his circle, or am I far removed from the people that mean something to him?

You'll always be told where you stand and what you mean, but you have to pay attention to what isn't being told to you in addition to what is.  Try not to paint their monologue with the colors of your desires and decide what you are trying to take away from what you do share.

Music

Wild Fire