Now that I spoil myself lavishly, I understand how small of an effort that is for me. I know how it feels to treat myself this way and I want to do it for those I love. When I get less than my small but constant expressions of love, and I’m willing to give so much more, I can see where I’m wasting my efforts.Read More
Modern dating tends to include texting, messaging, and social media. It’s really hard to not stalk social media or hope every text or call is from the only person you really want to hear from. When my kids are home, this is easy. I can get into housework, or yard work, leaving my phone on vibrate in my purse. It takes a huge amount of effort to not search for a profile, hoping to see a smile or what he’s up to.Read More
I had to learn how to be treated with kindness. I am lucky enough to work with gentlemen. Their natural behavior is kindness, compassion, and empathy. When they extended politeness toward me, I had to learn to accept it. I had to learn how to accept an offer for a drink. I had to learn how it feels to be listened to and valued. My opinions matter at work in a way that I had never experienced at home.
And now I have to learn normal dating patterns in a healthy relationship because what I know has always become emotionally abusive.Read More
I'm doing my job by being the crazy stalker ex girlfriend that really doesn't work anywhere else. I'm a Billing Specialist. It's a hybrid position that was created as an idea. I was put in place and it has kind of evolved into what it is. It's client facing finance. It's customer service. Whatever it is, for this company it is me and I love doing all of the things a crazy stalker ex girlfriend would do.
Reviewing the Contracts
We look over contracts and want to make sure what they have paid covers the cost of what we offered. We want to see if there's wiggle room to maybe reduce services and lower costs. We want to see if it's worth the time and effort to really go after someone for the debt.
You promised forever and you are going back on your word by taking the love that was promised. I usually take this moment and try to remember the real moments of love and connection. I want to remind myself that it was really special at one point, so I don't get bitter. I like to push them away but let them leave. I don't want to be the one to end it because I want to know that I did all I could until the very end. I've learned that about myself. I can't be another person to reject them because in the end I still care and love them, but maybe it's not enough. Maybe I hold too tightly to the good and purposely ignore the bad. Most of the time the bad really is terrible.
I get to call customers repeatedly. I get to leave messages and voice mails. I send emails. I've faxed and mailed invoices. Every day, until we're paid, I get to reach out and make myself known.
Sometimes it's about an outdated contact. In those cases I do a Google Search or check LinkedIn. I've texted someone from my personal cell phone. I've even checked someone's personal Facebook profile to make sure they're still around all in the name of getting a payment.
We all want to know, right? Where are they? Who are they with? Are they just as heartbroken as we are?
I'm not asking anyone for love or validation, but I get to beg them to pay us. I ask repeatedly for what was agreed on. You signed a contract. We gave you what we promised and now you owe us.
I suppose this could also be about getting closure but I've learned you can't get that from an ex.
In collections, you document each interaction. You want to know when you called and what efforts were made. That way, when you enact your collections leverage, you are justified.
Toward the end, the good and the bad are measured and weighed. We want to know when the scales tip and it's no longer worth the effort. We want to know what was good and what was accepted because of the good and is the good still there? Is it even enough?
Your Lesson Here
The lesson is this stuff works in collections, but not love relationships. I'm at a point in my latest relationship where we've pulled so far apart that I can't imagine being able to fix it. I'm seeing that I need to acknowledge and cherish the good but let it go and move on. I'm back in self care mode, and it looks like the perfect time to be the crazy stalker ex girlfriend, but I'm trying to keep that focused and restricted to work. I'm trying to not keep dibs but I want to know where he'll go from here. In quiet moments throughout the day since we last parted, I keep telling myself not to do all that I want to because that will drag out the pain instead of healing it. I keep picking up my phone to read our last texts and start texting something new, only to put it down and remind myself that I will be okay when I decide to let go and move on.
I will hold each cherished memory and balance it with the bad times. I'll take the masterpiece of who he is off of my pedestal and strip away layers I added to see the truth of who he was and areas I need to work on that I could only see in the hindsight of my relationship with him. And I'll be alone for that healing and recovery because that's also part of honoring who we were and the memory of the babies we shared and lost. I don't have to stop loving him yet. He doesn't have to be here to experience that either. I can release him moment to moment and day to day.
I suppose that lesson for you is more a lesson for me. Tonight there will be whiskey and a cigar on my porch. I'll read old texts and have a good cry. Maybe even watch some of the shows we watched together. And tomorrow will be a new opportunity to remember to love myself in spite of what I might be feeling.
For the first time, I was given a topic to write about. The person that made the suggestion is close to my heart and at first I was eager, even excited to write about love, trust, commitment and patience. It should have been easy to bang this one out and call it a night. It was a Friday night and I was home alone, enjoying the quiet with the television on (really rare) and the many app alerts from men that honestly thought I would want to meet them in a way that was clear to me was just to fulfill a sexual need.
I wasn't feeling love. At one point a man asked why I was being so mean to him. I told him he sounded like he just wanted to feel the back of my throat and I wasn't interested. He kept trying to guilt me into seeing him and he stopped when I told him I didn't know how else to explain he was making me feel like a whore. I could have blocked him, but he would never learn, and he'd just find me on another app. (It happens often enough now.)
I wasn't feeling trust. I couldn't trust the men I was talking to that wanted to spend time with me last night. There was the beautiful attorney with auburn hair and blue eyes. I could totally trust his intentions when he messaged "DTF." He got to the point of what he wanted from me. There was an offer for Netflix and wine and another for Netflix and a massage. I laughed because I have Netflix and Hulu at home and I can save the gas, and know that no one is secretly hoping to feel for my missing tonsils by the end of the night.
My commitment last night was to my New Year's resolution of taking care of myself because I wasn't in the mood to make someone else feel better than I wanted to make myself feel. It wasn't a complete bust.
Patience looked like a phone call last night. I had a conversation with a man that was all over the place and left me laughing so hard. He admitted that he wasn't putting his best foot forward and his one sided conversation did require patience. Once I settled into the idea I wasn't going out with anyone, I decided to stay in and took off my makeup and clothes, enjoying a night in my underwear on the phone and sipping tea. At one point he told me I was intimidating. He said it was my looks, and the way I wear my clothes and string along words. I told him I was determined to find someone smarter than me and he said that is why I will never find a date. I'm asking for too much. My patience paid off because that observation made my night.
But it's morning now and a good night's rest with a phone that was on vibrate all night has it's rewards and I'm feeling a rosy glow around the world right now.
2017 is greeting me with a transition from being in the moment to envisioning a romance that lives on beyond the days held carefully in routine and imagination. I'm exploring in words because the depth of such a reality hasn't hit me yet. But it will. It's been many years since I've felt romantic love that gets past infatuation and isn't bound by a commitment stronger than fickle feelings.
My obsessive observations are fun, but they always dance in the fascination of infatuation. These are moments when I will notice details about a man I'm interested in to the point that it's creepy. It's a happy place where I'm willing to look at the many things I find intriguing but it rarely means I've given him any thought beyond objectification. I have not at this point decided I would care for him any more than I would care for any other human being. But thinking of him entertains and excites me. It's not a friendly practice.
Infatuation is a phase in a new relationship where I am willing to look deeper than friendship and see what feelings can be grown. It's a place where I make that initial choice to imagine more than friendship. Everything about the person I'm into is amazing and if it isn't, those amazing parts more than make up for it.
This is where I might entertain giving another man a baby. No, I don't want more kids. If I find the one I want to keep, I may reconsider it, but I can't tell you how many men around 35 see my mothering as sexy and want to put a child in me.
There's a time when infatuation fades into the feelings of love. Loving someone is a choice. When infatuation fades and the excitement gives way to reality, his behaviors that were once okay can start to bother me. At this point, I choose. At this point, would I be happier walking away (I don't actually walk, but try to push him away)? Could I be happier making space for his shortcomings, and loving him even if he's annoying me? When I decide to be open in vulnerability, I am making a decision to allow someone in.
When infatuation fades, I'm faced with a new choice to love someone. This is when doubts and fears become a choice to believe. I put my faith in the person I'm trusting with my heart. I'm deciding that even though I see so many things I can't ignore in him . . . Even if my doubts and irritations are yelling at me, I still need him in my life. I would rather live in a world where I get to make space for him and the ways he fails my expectations than go another day without seeing or talking to him.
Love is a choice. You decide what you want to do and those feelings follow where you allow them to go. This is where I might compromise and consider bringing a new life into this world.
I overthink all of the time. It's a superpower but it's not always a gift. I rarely accept things at face value and I'm often thinking of what was said, and holding it up to what I know. I want to understand everything and my curiosity never stops. When I have even a moment of doubt, my trust takes a step back. Yes, I've been cheated on. A few times by different boys. I always offered the men I loved the benefit of the doubt. I wasn't a cheater, so maybe he could be faithful to me too. In theory. Hopefully.
In reality I offer my trust to a person and put my faith in their belief to be committed to honor their word. I'm at a place where I understand how much it means to me to be transparent and I try to offer the truth at all times. It means you see my good and bad, but I'm not going to be ashamed of that. And I recognize that even in my bad, I'm a harsh judge on myself and do what many think and can relate to.
In my marriage I lied a lot about money or how I spent my time. It was never about cheating. It never occurred to me to cheat. It was a lie to cover my shame in choices I knew wouldn't make him happy. He couldn't trust me and so he'd look at my grocery store receipts. He'd find my $25 Amazon gift card because that deception was how I partied. But he couldn't trust me.
For that week when I had a boyfriend (is it terrible that I can laugh about that now?) there was one night with hand holding and snuggling. There was laughter and I felt like I trusted him in that moment and that was a gift. I felt so much peace in his arms. In hindsight, he never trusted me. He gave me his nickname at first and it wasn't until the day before he broke up with me that he gave me his actual name. He was born in the states, but his roots are in Palestine and he didn't trust that I would accept him for who he was. At one point he started dozing off and I picked up my phone to troll Instagram and Facebook. I was off of the dating sites and I did field a text from someone wanting to flirt. I let him know I had a boyfriend and that was the end of it. He wanted to see what I was looking at and what I was doing and it wasn't until he ended things that I could see how much he distrusted me.
Sometimes you trust your heart, even when you have a hard time trusting other people. Save your energy on a pity party because this is a choice made in the excellence of your own pure heart. And Lord help me, this is where I know having another child would be the right thing to do. I trust a future with a person that I want to share my life with.
I make commitments to myself daily. I'm committed to creating space for self love. I'm committed to only putting things in my mouth that make me insanely happy (food joy is a reality). I'm committed to creating a life I get to live with excitement. Commitment to anyone outside of my kids . . .
I was committed to my marriage and while I had a boyfriend I was committed to him too. It's not just the word I give. At the end of the day, when the world fades away, all I have is my word and the strength of it is how I show up in this world and that matters to me. Commitments aren't based on a mood. They stand firm no matter what you feel.
When I committed to my marriage, it was all that mattered. I know marriage often talks about honor and obeying as part of that commitment. I felt I honored my ex, even if I didn't trust his leadership more than I trusted mine. Obeying him wasn't what I wanted to do, but committing my heart and my body to our marriage was all that mattered. I felt it was enough, and while I can admit I was wrong, I still believe a marriage is about the two people in the marriage. It's spouse and spouse, and that doesn't include siblings and parents and friends.
Commitment means I show up no matter what I feel like doing. It means I love you even when I don't like you. It means I find ways to be attracted to you when you can't find it in yourself to love who you are enough to take care of yourself. It means what I might feel in any given moment takes a back seat to how I want you to feel when you are the person I choose to love and share my world with. Commitment is about duty and it's where I find my honor.
This is a hallmark of parenting. You commit to taking care of another person. I don't know any parents that stop being a parent after 18 years. It's a lifelong thing.
When I started taking classes at Glendale Community College, I was just out of high school and I didn't have a car. My Dad was picking me up and dropping me off which meant some days a class was cancelled and I had to wait. Or I had large time gaps in my day and I would just hang out on campus until my next class. I wrote a lot of sappy poems. I wrote in my journal. I sat in the cafeteria and found comfort in hot tea and soup. I would wait on the front steps of the school in the heat or the rain, and I remember telling myself to be patient. Just wait.
When my kids were born, I had to live on their schedule. Eating, sleeping, awake and crying, awake and playing, gassy, happy, angry . . . Their world dictated my response and I was never happy about it. I loved being a surrogate because feeling like a single parent with an infant was hard on me (because I prefer being selfish).
When my marriage ended, I found peace in patience. From March 11 when I was told my marriage was over, there were ups and downs and I fought hard, and not well, but I found patience for him. I convinced myself that no matter what, when he was ready to snap out of it, I would take him back and we would work on our marriage. That lasted until February 12, almost a year later.
I learned patience and found comfort in knowing it would be over one day. That day came when I changed my mind about what I wanted, and the transformation that has taken place has required patience with myself. In dating I meet many men that have been through a divorce and when we talk, I can see the heavy burden that I felt while waiting. The day I filed for divorce was a celebration for me. But the scars of a life that was planned and celebrated together has it's own process of mourning. I'm in a great place, but it has made me question how much is too much.
If you love someone, is there ever a point when you have been patient enough? I stopped being patient with my ex. I was more committed to being a wife than being his wife and I realised it was no longer important to me to wait for him. But where do you draw the line when you're in love? Do you look for a line to draw? I don't think I could. I grew up in a home where love meant you are self sacrificing every moment of your life if that means the person you love feels it. My parents might have lost their shit from time to time, but I grew up taking their patience for granted. It is something I've tried to internalize. I want to be that person in life and in love that was modeled, to the point where I now get to decide I won't help anyone by being a martyr to someone else's happiness through my self sacrifice and patience.
Patience is waiting even when you have no idea how long you'll have to wait. Patience is enduring and finding strength within yourself when you know you can't find it in the person in front of you because they are relying on your strength, sustained by your patience.
It's not an easy road. Sometimes I imagine the rewards because they aren't always going to land in my lap. When I put my faith in a romantic relationship, I believe it won't fail me even though to this day, every single one I believed in has failed me. Would I do it again? Abso-freaking-lutely. The rewards of being in love are worth every possible risk and moment of blind faith. The ideals of commitment I hold close to me are strong enough that I can believe someone else would hold them just as closely to his heart.
I'm making space for my next romantic love. When my ex was leaving, I made an effort to put family pictures all over the house. I wanted to remind us all of who we were as a family. When he moved out they stayed for the kids. I told them I would take them down when I painted the living room. That was my commitment to them and seeing these pictures for all of this time is an exercise in patience. I brought my boyfriend home and while I felt fine hiding him away in my bedroom, I'm sure it had an effect on him, even if it was unspoken. It probably influences why I'm never home if my kids are gone.
This weekend I intend to be home for the most part. I have taken the pictures down and washed the walls. I will start taping the trim and I will begin priming and painting my living room. I will finish changing the last room in the home I shared with my ex because it's time my little house becomes my home again. It will be a meditative celebration of change and it will be a space I will be excited to be in again.
I went to an empathy workshop.
I was at an empathy training workshop last night and the real lessons kept hitting late last night as I was finally dozing off around 3 this morning. It was a class that found me through the MITT network of classes I started in July. Through discussion and working on ideas and concepts with others, I get to take notice of my actions, and make changes. I get to see how I look at the world around me and really understand how narrow minded I am. I get to break the confines of what I've always known to experience all that can potentially be.
My judgements kept me from empathy in my marriage.
I was hard on my ex. Ending the relationship the way he did because he wanted happiness and found it in other people throughout our marriage was something I crucified him on. Over the last couple of years as I really got to look at my life, I understood the value of my happiness and I can see that I was depressed through most of my marriage. I loved him. I just wasn't happy with myself. I've learned that happiness comes from me. I can't borrow it from someone else. I can't take from who they are. I get to make my own and while I can offer a smile, I can't put it in anyone else. Being apart was a gift but I was so attached to my role as a wife that I looked for my happiness in other ways just as he did. The reality of his action in a marriage of our mutual inaction was a gift and without malice I can see the ways in which he fought for our mutual happiness. I can no longer blame him for the many ways he gave me more than I asked for in the life I now get to live.
My self guided tour spends a lot of time in selfishness.
Through a self guided transformational exploration of who I am, I no longer find my value in what others think of me. They have no point of reference in judging me and have no idea how to value me. I am not my college degree. The time I took to earn it was a challenge and it was emotionally rewarding, but it's a piece of paper and means little in my job search. I'm not my relationships. There is value in my relationships, but my relationship with myself means more than my relationship with anyone else. I'm not my looks. I like attention as much as the next person, but being a sex object when I feel so much better about my thoughts and ideas that are often ignored is never a good feeling. I have a large brain and feelings!!!!
As a wife I was very selfish and couldn't see it without empathy.
I was rebellious in spending in ways that made me happy, justifying it as household necessities, knowing he wouldn't see it that way and hiding all evidence of that debauchery. For both of us, it was about control. I did it in small amounts I felt could be justified. He never saw the value I did and saw all of it as the deception it was. I wanted my home to be a place I wanted to escape to, and he wanted to escape from it. I sucked my time and energy into side projects like making soap with fat and lye. Or learning all about keeping bees and chickens. I would garden and do all I could to ignore the chaos and the lack of support I felt in my own home. I would read books back to back so I could check out of reality and school became a priority. He wanted connection and found it in other people and I always held the idea that I did nothing wrong in isolating him because I did it in learning and ways that I felt were important to me and my family and I didn't devote energies to other people and that meant I was faithful, right?
Last night in an empathetic perspective shift, I realized that he was looking for something to pull himself out of a marriage that wasn't satisfying to both of us. For him, it meant walking away in the ways he needed to. For me through my attachments to being the wife I wanted to be, it was on my birthday this year when I decided something so terrible and irreparable had happened that I could justify the end of a marriage, because being rejected and abandoned for 11 months wasn't enough. It was such a bad situation for both of us that something so drastic had to happen to justify walking away.
Empathy means I get to be vulnerable and release both of us.
I learned that through empowering myself, I have become the bully I felt he was being to me. I get to take notice, and stop being aggressive when I know fighting back is a choice. I know I can defend myself and I no longer need to. I shifted my perspective just enough with the help of someone else, I was able to forgive him on a level I didn't realize I had not forgiven him yet. I went through months of repeating to myself, "Iforgivehim, Iforgivehim, Iforgivehim." But I finally released the rest last night and it was just a perspective shift. No crying. No ritual or prayer. Just a shift that let me release my ego, disconnect my emotions from thought, see it with new eyes, and let the fuck go.
Without empathy there is only selfishness and a commitment to being right and it is a pattern I took into my last relationship.
I had a boyfriend for a few days this week. I don't actually write about my relationships until they are at the point where I am ready to release them. I hold close what I intend to keep and the moment I start writing, I know they may see it and not like what I have to say and walk away. With each of them, I've already seen enough to feel he's not the one. It's like a last ditch effort for me because the most attractive thing I could hear is "I've read your blog and it's what makes me like you so much." It was something I would have never heard in my marriage and it means probably more than it should now. I heard that in the last week and it was the most intense and short lived relationship I've had since my marriage. There was one night that is a gift I will unwrap in memories for a very long time.
The workshop I signed up for was sent to me as a message on Facebook and I got the alert while next to the man I was with. I brushed it off, but the next day signed up anyway, fully knowing that I may be with my boyfriend, but also knowing there was a chance I wouldn't be.
How I met my last boyfriend.
Wednesday of last week I was doing my usual right and left swipe on a dating app. There was a man that was dragging out the conversation with a sentence a day for a couple of days. I pushed and almost asked him out that night, giving him room to be dominant and actually do the asking. He did and it was immediately attractive, even if the face in his profile picture was in shadow and hard to see. We ended up meeting at a bar, and as I learned from a friend that shared the workshop with me (as we continued our night at an epic viewing party in Beverly Hills we crashed), that was when I started rejecting him.
Rejecting and pulling him closer was selfishness.
It was that first gut check reaction when he stood next to me and said hello while I was looking in a different direction, and I flinched when I saw him. It was in the ways he moved closer to me and I moved back. It was in leaving and using my tone of voice and body language to flirt with another man, through innocuous conversation right in front of him. It was as we were walking to our cars and his parting kiss was rebuffed in my excuse about public displays of affection. It was in celebrating and laughing at going home by 10, asking my friend that works at the bar about that beautiful man I wanted to get to know better and a Facebook post that was a direct dig at the man's character.
Stopping my dysfunctions is something I get to work on.
Somehow the next day I went out with him again. I loved his dominance in telling me he would pick me up. I was talking to two men about him. At one point I wanted to date them but ended up sticking them in my friend zone. They told me I should go and I was deciding against him before giving him a chance the way I did to them. I had nothing better to do and so I met him on a second date.
But he was so good in so many superficial ways.
The physical chemistry was there. He had a body I could cry over. (I might have when things ended.) The third date was following a familiar pattern and when he asked me to date him exclusively, I said sure. I mean, he was my first actual date that got a second date since that beautiful but barely understood Italian man back in May. I had coffee, and hugs in the week before, but those weren't dates as much as meeting platonic friends I would never meet again. It was easy to date him exclusively. It followed the pattern of my boyfriends in Junior High. Being his girlfriend meant no one else could steal me away. Being my boyfriend was cool because no one else was asking me out. I like to focus on one love interest at a time anyway. Everyone else was just mental aerobics in bouncing from conversation to conversation.
We didn't really talk and I never allowed him close to me emotionally. I said yes to all he asked of me, without really considering the image of the future he had in mind. He gave me a poetic moment and it just chipped away at the ice around me. I nearly melted at his words and given time and really given the opportunity to step away from my judgement of him, it could have been special.
I rejected him in the ways I talked about him.
I told family and a couple of friends that I had a boyfriend, but the reality was I knew it was temporary and described it as such to everyone that I talked to about him. I only told my family because I wanted to spend New Year's Day with him and invited him to join us. When my kids met him, my youngest had a gut check that didn't trust him (he blamed it on the shape of my boyfriend's nose), my oldest hid from him in the bathroom and his bedroom and my middle son gave him a classic autism dismissal. He was a non person to my kids because they knew he was good enough for me, which he really was, but not good enough for them. I actually told them this. The reality is he made me want to be selfish and enjoy him, going against my better judgement as a mom and not putting my foot down and saying no when he asked about meeting my kids. At the time he said he wanted to grow a full relationship and make me his woman and start a family and all of that. Instead I prepared them by saying they didn't have to worry because he'd never be their step-dad because I didn't think he was good enough for them. I get to look at that on it's own. This was me rejecting him again.
The day he rejected me was when the cost of my rejections of him broke over me.
There was a dynamic shift and Tuesday night after we were exclusive for maybe 5 days, he broke it off because he wasn't comfortable with my male friendships that he saw as disrespectful. And I didn't take it well. I mean, I could see the jealousy and the ways that it would have grown into an abusive relationship because there was nothing deceptive in my friendships when I was clearly choosing (and simultaneously rejecting) him. His rejection was immediately seen as a gift because he was able to walk away when I knew it was right, even if I really didn't want him to. But he let me go before I was ready for him to.
I don't usually cry for the men I talk to and date. I see the lessons they leave and there might be a bit of sadness, but rarely tears. This was different. This was rejection and abandonment. This wasn't me seeing him on a moment to moment basis, but actually imagining a few days ahead. I had this disconnect between what I knew wasn't a relationship I was really invested in and the emotional pain from the loss of it. I didn't beg him to take me back but I let him know I didn't want to lose him. It was the first time since I started dating that I meant it more than I wanted to.
Last night I was getting ready to leave and sat on the floor of my shower crying for a relationship I never wanted to grow. He was fun, and I loved the way it felt to be in his arms and the many other things he made me feel, but I was objectifying him completely. The moment I felt it was mutual, I felt a familiar ache that had nothing to do with him. I felt in the reflection of my rejection all of the pain I must have given him and I was shattered. There was a lot of good in him but in my rejection, I never closed the distance to really appreciate him. He was tender and affectionate. He was tall and I really loved his body. He was capable of taking care of himself, even if I saw the ways in which I would live his life differently. He was mine, and then he wasn't and that wasn't a choice I made for us.
I was still blinded by my selfishness.
I left the workshop feeling like I needed to give myself empathy to put the relationship and all it was supposed to be ahead of the things that were important to me as an individual. After a reality check from a friend in the many ways I was rejecting him, I knew I was being an asshat and not giving him an ounce of the empathy he deserved.
Last night I went to the workshop I had a feeling I would be at anyway. I signed up for the class knowing that even though I had a boyfriend, the relationship might not last that long. I don't know that I would tell him any of this. It's not that I'm showing you all I am an asshole. I'm okay with being authentic. I'm not really a nice person all the time. Some people think I am because I can be, but it's a choice. Part of me wants to make him feel better about the ways I rejected him. I know that it is about relieving guilt and not for him. Part of me wonders if he saw it because until it was pointed out to me last night, I really couldn't. Part of me wants to give him the power of his rejection. He made an empowered choice for his life and I need to give him that. The rest of me wants to honor the many ways he affected me and taught me to shift my perspective, even if he has no idea he did.
It's amazing what stories make sense when you go through a situation and what a perspective shift can do. In the class, I learned that empathy isn't draining if you exchange it with vulnerability. Seeing things with compassion, understanding and love is a gift I get to give to myself.
Hopefully you can learn from me too.
Think of a person you have a hard time seeing eye to eye with. Give voice to your frustrations. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel. Then flip it. Ask what they would say you are doing to make them feel the way they do. Look at them with love. There's a reason, or maybe there was a reason that they mean enough to get under your skin. See their world the way they do and let go of the idea you are valued for being right. That is what empathy looks like and in my case, it's got a heavy dose of guilt.
In the last several Bumble right swipes, I decided it’s not enough to be tall and beautiful and smart. I want a warrior dragon slayer. I’m a warrior dragon slayer, so why not expect to find someone just as powerful and intense? Yes, I prefer tall men. I’m flexible enough to know I might find a man that could change my mind.
I have a thing for beautiful men, but I’m more sapiosexual and given the right connection, I can find something attractive in just about anyone. I just prefer to be shallow.
I want deep conversations. If I can delve as deeply in writing to the internet through this blog, I can imagine how much deeper I could go in communing with another person. I crave that connection.
I was texting a man . . . a beautiful man. It was a conversation that could have become more than words. The cost wasn’t a value that I could appreciate. As juicy as he was, his juice wasn’t worth my squeeze. He looks a lot like he could be a warrior dragon slayer but he’s not mine. Imagining what we would fit like made it clear to me what I’m after. I’m choosing to iron it out. I welcome feedback. I can be intimidating and maybe I’m asking for too much. I’m still going to ask for it.
I’ve had issues with my kid’s schools yesterday that I got to handle today. This past weekend a friend of mine asked, “how are you holding up?” That’s what friends ask. I’m a warrior dragon slayer. I don’t hold up, and I can’t hang in there. I handle it. I fight like a girl.
Last night and today I have had two conversations with grownups at my son’s schools that irritated me in apologies to the point where I responded with, “it’s done. What are your assurances that this will not happen again in the future?” It was rude of me. I cut them off. But it’s where I am. I won’t sit in their victimhood of a situation they are accountable for, but had no control over. I’m a forward moving force.
It was and still is a Mom morning between what I get paid for. I don’t need help but the idea of being supported appeals to me. I was responding to a text this morning and I’m sharing my edited side because I was shooting off a quick misspelled missive. I’m expanding on the rest of what I said because I’m not ashamed of what is in my heart and on my mind. I like him enough to offer a certain level of protection through his privacy. Yeah. I like him, but it’s not enough.
You want a powerful woman that can put you in your place and challenge you. You want my strength and my courage, but you’re asking me to ignore my needs and that means I won’t be coming from the place of power you find attractive. I need a warrior dragon slayer.
A warrior dragon slayer is fierce and dominant.
I don’t expect him to pick a fight at every opportunity. Any trained fighter knows true strength comes when we know what we are capable of, and still choose to dissolve unnecessary fights. It’s part of discipline. You know you can lay a man out, but you feel the responsibility not to. At the same time, I know that by his side, I walk in safety. Confronted with another man’s interest, he doesn’t sulk in a corner or react in anger. He knows I can state that I’m spoken for and he’ll stand quietly as I handle myself, willing to step in at any moment. He’s confident that I wouldn’t offer my time to him unless I wanted to. He can pull me into a kiss that makes me weak and I won’t have to worry about falling. He can carry me when I can’t stand. Not just physically, but emotionally. He’s my safe refuge.
A warrior dragon slayer can be open in vulnerability.
I can cry before him and he feels there is safety in crying in front of me because I am his strength and vulnerability is a shared expression of trust. He is secure whether I’m ready to express how I feel or not, and I feel safe in pouring my darkness, my insecurities and doubts into him. I know I won’t break him with my burdens and he knows I have it covered, but sharing the details is enough and he doesn’t need to take what I carry, but he’s willing to.
A warrior dragon slayer is faithful.
He defines himself through a warrior’s loyalty and it’s defined by his sense of duty. I never feel like he’s looking at me as his discount prostitute, only created to satisfy his needs. He understands that I don’t need him but want him and my desire is a gift. He sees there are other options but repeatedly chooses me, just as I would choose him.
A warrior dragon slayer is a leader.
It’s not enough to lead through fear or intimidation. A leader inspires his team to reach their fullest potential, exceeding their limits because he’s capable of seeing the heights of their abilities beyond their vision of themselves. As much as I lean on his guidance, he relies on my support, growing forward and together in the ways that are world changing. Every moment and breath in our existence matters because we are not following someone else’s path, but slashing through the jungle on our own. He sees that we're a team and he can't use me to get ahead because he's only as far as we can get together.
A warrior dragon slayer knows how to interpret what I don’t say.
He’s in tune with me, willing to decipher what I don’t say. He’s willing to learn what he doesn’t know. He can stand in silence and I know he’s proud of me because of his quiet strength and the way he looks at me. He’ll have the desire to take care of me, but refrain from doing anything that would crush my wings and freedom because his need to take care of me isn’t greater than my need to take care of myself.
A warrior dragon slayer can take care of himself.
Figuring out life was hard when I first had to do it on my own. It’s still a struggle and I did it with support from my family. I’m a single mom that brings home the bacon, cooks it, cleans up after it and still manages to take really great care of myself. I hold it together when my kids need me and when I get to go to their schools to show them that their mother is a badass warrior dragon slayer. I support my family and friends within my capacity and the man I claim as mine has to be willing to see life exists outside of himself. My warrior dragon slayer will be able to take care of himself and my addition to his life won’t be work. He won’t be work.
That’s not too much to ask, right?
I was blocked last night. I totally deserved it and it made me laugh. The moment passed and the reality of what I did hit me at lunch today. Last night my Tuesday night sitter quit on me. I was dealing with ex texts in the afternoon. I had a costume to help with and pumpkins to carve and I just wanted to get off of my feet. I was mothering my boys all morning and running late, so I picked up my lunch and my hangry moment pointed out that I cared more about feeding myself then I cared about getting blocked by a man I was kinda into. He was beautiful and tall and smart. He was a feminist. It didn’t make me ignore the parts I didn’t like. I just felt like I didn’t have to see him enough for those parts to bother me. We were chatting for about a week and I asked him out only to get a delayed acceptance. It wasn’t a no, but a not now and it irritated me.
I’m very used to having men eager for my attention and when his busy life meant dinner with me would be on hold (when clearly people eat dinner every day), I had a tantrum. I’m not the type to yell or fight. My ex used to joke around with his friends that I am not a black woman because I don’t feed the rage that most women (in general) fight with. I’m too calculating for that. My initial tantrum was a teasing nudge. The full-blown tantrum was to set my inner psycho free in all the terrifying ways.
Really, he asked for time. If I were advising a friend, I would say to continue flirting with and dating others (advice given and taken). I don’t get exclusive unless it’s something we’re mutually committing to, but flirting and giving up my kid free time are two very different levels of amazing to be reached. I would have said to give him space. Forget to text for a few days. Make him wait on your response a bit. Let him see that his response was read but answer it hours or days later, and not immediately. But I ignored my advice.
It’s not the first time either.
The first time was when my last crush became more work than fun. He was uncomfortable with my open adoration. I liked how uncomfortable it made him when I looked into his eyes like I might actually see someone who was worth my time. It’s rare and I treat that as the gift that it is. If you’re special to me, you’ll know it because so few men are. The day that I was bored of the push and pull, I remember writing a blog post that was solely focused on the amazing I saw in him, leaving out the bits that I’m not sharing here either. I did it to push and nudge him and it was too much for him. I was looking for a reaction and I loved the reaction because I couldn’t continue caring for him. I mean, I care, I just couldn’t see myself falling in world shattering love with him. I had reached a plateau and it was going downhill.
My standard is high. He has to be capable of treating me better than I treat me. He has to be a warrior dragon slayer because I am and he has to be able to handle the tough parts that I hold. I never saw myself being able to pour my darkness into him because I never imagined he could hold it. He was beautiful, and smart. He was creative and driven. But it wasn’t enough, so I pushed and nudged until he walked away. I think I was hoping there was enough grit for a reaction from him, but he reserved that for others. It was like he couldn’t trust me with his demons any more than I could trust him with mine. I hear he’s happy with someone else now, and that really does make me happy. I wish him all the best, and can appreciate that I was amused. I grew. He was never the one for me.
The man from last night was never going to be the one either. I might have considered a few months of frolicking fun, but beyond that . . . I couldn’t see him ever meeting my boys. It was a lot to ask me to wait on a dinner when I needed that visceral gut reaction that I can’t get through a device.
The way I pushed them away was similar. I found men that couldn’t accept the amazing I saw in them because they probably couldn’t see it in themselves. When you can't see your amazing, someone else's view will only feel bad and be rejected. I can't shape their ego that rejects what I see and it becomes bigger and more terrifying than they could dream of. I was offering a kid free night to sit and enjoy company because he must be amazing for that alone, but he has to have so much more for something deeper that I just couldn’t see in either man. I handed them the ways I was intrigued and amazed and threw out scary words like “I could fall in love,” not actually committed to that idea myself. And I waited. And I watched. And my intensity burned them and they stepped away, both admitting it was “too much.” I walked away in laughter, probably giving the impression that I was shattered. I enjoyed their rejection and there's something wrong in that.
The bigger question is why would I do something like that? Why would I be so attracted to men that were visibly less confident than I am? Why would I push them away with affirmations of their beauty only to enjoy their rejection because I wasn’t transparent enough to say to them that I could see they weren’t reaching the bar I set above them and they probably weren’t interested in it anyway, and we could be friends. What is it about me that wants to kick their legs out from under them when they aren’t able to meet my expectations. That is the part that bothers me most.
At the end of the day, I’m taking a hard look at my motives. I’m seeing the why and the how and I don’t love what I see, but I can love myself despite it. It’s like wanting to hurt something because it’s cute. It’s a psychological phenomenon that I play out in the men I am kinda but not entirely into. It’s my way of balancing their good with my aggression in a way that distances myself and won’t really hurt them. Okay the guy from last night probably thinks I’m going to stalk him now, and I can’t stop laughing at that, but it wasn’t meant to traumatize him.
I think it's the parts I see in them that reflect what I used to see in me. I was insecure as a wife. I didn't love myself. I didn't look for my reflection in random mirrors. I didn't believe I hold all of the amazing that is me. My oldest had this moment a few years back. He had just transitioned to a school for autistic children and in the beginning, he was being a bully to the other children that were lower functioning. He had been bullied by neurotypical kids at his previous school and when he moved, he saw in them what he was teased for and in a repeated cycle, continued the abuse as an abuser empowering the victim within in a way that was broken and hurting others. I'm hurting others as a temporary salve. It's wrong and I need to stop it.
I’m intense. I’m empathic. I’m a bit of an old soul. And I love that about me. It was incredible to see so many articles I could identify with filtering through my Facebook newsfeed today. It’s like the universe is pointing at the ways I was dodging a bullet I didn’t even know was coming by reaffirming the ways I am a powerhouse that needs grit in a man that can polish my rough bits.
He needs to be tall and beautiful (because I’m shallow). He needs to be smart (for when I’m intense). He must be a warrior that can take my dark because I have large doses of dark daily and most men aren’t asked to hold it because I don’t think they’re capable. That says more than it should about the men I’ve dated or the one I married.
There have been many bad dates. There was one that was really special and then it turned not so special. I'm thinking of that night here, but you can read how it ended here.
There's excitement that looks like piles of discarded dresses and jeans and that mini skirt that will wait for the next date because I'm not that kinda girl on the first date. I could be, but I'm not. The search for the perfect outfit matters tonight. What I wear matters because what I look like matters. More than that, he matters. This is more than boredom or opportunity. I like the sound of his voice and the way he smells. I like the way my mood shifts and optimism is born with the sound of an alert from my phone telling me he thought of me and has something to say to me.
I brush out the curls I tried to iron in and it's a big puffy mess that ends up getting flat ironed again. I ignore the random flyaway strands that stand erect on my head like an electrified halo, and focus on my makeup. I don't want to wear too much but I need to wear enough that when I look in the mirror I'm not looking back at my Dad. I end up wiping it all off and starting over because in my excitement, my smokey eye looks like I was sucker punched and I want him to want me, not pity me.
I perch on the edge of my bed, completely ready, except for my shoes. Do I wear the ones that are comfortable? I could go night hiking in these if he wants to prolong our dinner date. Do I wear the heels that offer solid footing? Do I wear the strappy stilettos that I already imagined framing his face by his ears? No. That will wait for the night with the skirt that I will keep yanking lower even though I know how short it is before I ever put it on. I decide on flats so if he decides to take me on an adventure, we don't have to make up for my poor wardrobe choices.
Looking at the clock, I end up taking off the long dress and slap on jeans with a low cut top that would go well with the stilettos or the boots because really, part of me wants him to imagine these shoes right next to his ears too. I look at the clock and there's a whole hour before I need to leave and I realize I'm failing the girl stereo types in my excitement.
I take the time to get caught up in an episode of a show that makes me feel things and I regret it as I'm blinking away tears and hoping my makeup won't run because touching it up would make it feel caked on.
We meet at the restaurant where I forget to wait for him to open the door for me. I like the way he stands next to me and the air in the room is charged because one touch on my arm or his open palm on my lower back sends warmth through every inch of my body. I follow the waiter to our table and start pulling out my chair before he has a chance to because I forget that some guys want to do this too.
He sits next to me and our conversation flows into his passions and hobbies. Hearing him talk makes me want to share and I jump out with my excitement and I'm calmed almost immediately when I feel the warmth of his palm on the back of my hand and look into his eyes, getting momentarily lost. At the same time, talking constantly might mask the fact that I can't understand most of what he says. His dark hair and thick accent are so sexy to me. My thoughts ramble faster than I can speak and I get a little tongue tied. I try anyway and my words stumble in a heap right before me. I feel the weight of his solid thigh now resting against mine and his gaze is intense and a little hungry. My mouth is suddenly dry and I nearly knock over my water only to see his quick reflexes save the day and his amused laughter washes away my anxiety because in that moment my clumsiness is secondary to the way his amusement makes me feel. I appreciate the fact that I don't drink on a first date and try not to laugh at the party foul it would've been if I had ordered that Cape Cod.
Our meal arrives and suddenly I'm not hungry. I knew I couldn't handle an entire gluten free pizza on my own, but I didn't realize I'd get so full so quickly either. I want to pick at my food and watch him eat because he's ravenous after a long day at work. I'm lost to the smile on his face and the smell of his cologne mingled with the scent that is uniquely his. He looks at me like I've just ordered food I don't plan to eat and there's a moment when I understand why men don't understand female quirks and I decide eating what I was hungry for is better than wasting a meal because of nerves. It's a pleasure filled moment when I'm surprised by textures and the unexpected spice combinations make me want to savor each bite. With the first taste I'm lost to a sensory moment of textures and an infusion of herbs that demand my full focus. Eyes closed and odd sounds coming from me, he can't contain his laughter and the sound rocks me out of my food joy bliss with a smile that doesn't even care about what might be between my teeth.
As we eat, our conversation winds down into what you would expect from two people really comfortable in each other's company. Our meal is finished and we're turned toward each other, side by side in a booth. His arm is more resting on the seat back of the restaurant booth than touching me but I still take the moment to move closer to him so I could feel the warmth of his body. I laugh at a joke, unsure if it was actually funny or not and inch closer and he takes that as his cue to pull me closer, and tilt my chin up for a gentle but chaste kiss.
We leave the restaurant and he walks me to my car, holding my hand like I might get lost without it. I put my purse and leftover pizza in the passenger's side and he leans down for another kiss. His hands are warm and solid, but not demanding in his embrace. His kiss is gentle and while he's exploring, he's also very responsive to my reactions. He opens my car door and this time I let him. I'm seated and he shuts my door, leaning in for a last kiss once I lower my window to say good night.
And that was when I decided he'd get a second date.
It was halfway through the third date that I could start to understand what he was saying and I chose to end it.
One day someone special will ask me out. He won't assume a date means I want sex, although if I'm saying yes to a date, I've already decided I would potentially be okay with that. A spin on the dance floor won't mean he has freedom to touch my derriere. He'll be tall. He'll be beautiful. He may be a ginger, but I love blondes and brunettes too. More than that, he'll be smart and able to shift my perspective with an observation. For now, I'm content dating myself and seeing friends that don't want me for sex.
I saw it again. I imagined myself bumping around a kitchen with a man. We were chopping produce and washing hands together. Unlike last time, I imagined the man I keep having small talk conversations with. I felt the flush that I had when a friend pointed out I was blushing on Saturday. Wow. Just wow. And a healthy dose of an epic YES! It was just a moment and a momentary fantasy that isn't even committed to one person. The big deal is that there is a fantasy that involves something more serious than a single date. It's more serious than the crushes I commit to. It's about no longer being content with being a loner and opening up to the idea of sharing my free time with someone else. That is a huge deal.
Right now my boys are banging and crashing and playing and being happy in their shenanigans. I still can't see myself inviting anyone into our brand of crazy, but the moment came and the fantasy was real for a moment or two, and I imagined an actual person. Take that, anti-social tendencies.
I say this, but I've made solo plans for tomorrow night. Old habits die hard.
But there was a conversation . . .
What I said was, “I’m a lightweight.”
He said, “oh, a cheap date.”
I said that just last week when sipping a margarita and surrounded by friends.
What I thought was, “I don’t drink on the first date.”
What I should have said was, “are you asking me out?”
Instead I said, “yeah” and walked away, lighting up the room with a smile.
It’s that moment when communication is established in a glance. You take those first steps toward me and our hands reach out for a handshake. Your hand is warm and heavy and it holds me firmly but delicately. I'm surprised by the shock of electricity that thrills me and wonder if you feel it too. It’s unflinching eye contact that takes in your smile and the slight tilt of your head that tells me there’s something you can’t ignore about the way I’m smiling at you. I lose my confidence just enough that my predatory gaze is more silly and lost and I feel it but it’s okay because I see my trust in this moment reflected in your eyes. It’s a conversation about everything and nothing and it hovers just out of reach at times, but both of us are stubborn in our refusal to let it end. Both of us have things we need to know and share and it looks meaningless because we get the meaning in how we respond to each other rather than what we’ve barely said. A meaningless conversation is marked by your profound observation. You unleash the intensity of my gaze and I look away because I’m not ready to let you know how deeply I’m affected.
There’s a moment when an invitation is accepted and you’re sitting next to me, our legs barely touching but I’m burned by the heat of your leg against mine in places you aren't actually touching. I bask in the warmth of your smile and love the way the butterflies flurry at the sound of your voice. It’s a deep caress in hidden places.
It’s the way my words reach out through my hand on your hand or arm and the way my actions are mirrored by your body and we turn toward each other, cutting off outer invitations because in this moment you are all I want to know and I’m encouraged by the power of my smile that is forcing one on your face. You brush errant strands of my misbehaving hair out of my face and your touch is tender and I have to stop myself from leaning in to you.
We’re sitting close enough that the gentle fall breeze makes me wrap my sweater around me tighter but it also carries your scent and it’s masculine and sexy and unique to you with cologne that can’t hide the divine glory of the heaven you smell like to me. It’s the smell of fresh sweat, a response to the nerves I make you feel and that feels like power. It’s heady and exciting. It's your scent memory becoming an amazing sensation that silly descriptions could never carry.
It’s time to part ways and we stand. We look at each other with an edge of longing and you wrap your arms around me in a hug, and I’m dwarfed in who you are and it’s safe and warm. Too quickly, we part and I leave, wondering if I I'll see you again.
Can I just say that you are very beautiful? Yes. You did. You asked and answered your own question and left me room to not reply. Unless your profile is incredibly compelling, you’ve offered an out so I can ignore you with a clear conscience.
You’re awesome . . . blah, blah, blah . . . I’m looking for a serious woman that is trustworthy, honest, faithful . . . I believe in a long term relationship that leads to marriage . . .
Um, can we start with coffee? I’m not trustworthy. You poured your heart out to a random stranger and hoped I would be happy to jump into the trust issues you just outlined for me. My honesty would break you. I believe in long term relationships. I’m open to remarriage. I just won’t walk into your expectations and try to jump at the chance to appease you when you approached me based on one of my vapid selfie moments. You realize smiling at the camera means I’m looking at me, loving what I see, and it has nothing to do with you, right?
You’re a beautiful woman, I’m willing to get to know you.
Thank you. That’s great for you. It’s not mutual. I do commend the confidence. It's usually very sexy. Just not in this situation.
You are a true beauty, and I read your profile, it was a nice post. You are beautiful just as you are and you are surely God’s gift to man.
I’m on the site to meet someone willing to hang out. Lines like these make me feel really uncomfortable. Just no. It’s like going to the mall for a bra and the sales associate is hard selling their panty sale and spritzing you with their latest perfume so she can nail down that sale as well.
Has anyone told you how amazing your smile looks?
No. Never. Your profound observation is complete news to me.
Love your eyes, and lips. Wow. I’m not on here often and I don’t often message people . . .
Thanks. I don’t need to know what you normally do. I want to know what makes me different, and I’d prefer it if it was about something I wrote, rather than what my looks did for you.
After talking back and forth a bit throughout the day: I just finished a run.
Awesome! I used restraint. There was no mention of how much I love watching men run. I said nothing about his CrossFit body being God’s gift to me or that a man on a run is actual poetry in motion because I’m at midlife and that looks like a horny teenage boy when you’re a woman. It read more like, “that’s great. I bet it felt amazing.” Followed by his picture in his boxers and nothing else. Is there some unspoken language about post workout selfies being the moment to pimp out your body? He’s not the first to pull this move. I’m missing something, right?
Me: Hi. Thank you for such a kind compliment. I really don’t date men that are 20 years younger than me. (Because that sounds nicer than you aren’t my type.) But I have a 10-inch cock. Good for you. A really long descriptive version of his idea of what kind of sex I want, even though all I gave him was a Hi and a thank you . . . And that’s how he got blocked.
These are the 5 Languages of Love. What is yours?
Yeah, like I’m not going to get to know you first. It’s like asking me to tell you what my turns me on so you don’t have to take the time to get to know me.
Hi. Do you want more kids? I think ours would be beautiful.
No. Just no.
Hi. I’m sure you get this all the time, but you’re gorgeous.
I do. It doesn’t get old. Thank you. Buh bye. Or you know, offer more than what your visual interpretation of me is.
Hi. I hope you’re great in bed.
I am! I am great at stealing blankets and I snuggle to the point where you will feel pushed out of bed until I get sweaty. Then I want space. I don’t snore anymore because weight loss will do that, but I can pretend to sleep and we can have a snore off. I don’t eat crackers in bed, because wheat has a vendetta against me. And cutting wheat out of my diet means I can’t Dutch Oven you and win in a competition, but I won’t stab you in your sleep if you have a playful moment and want to share that kind of laughter. I have a great sense of humor that way. Oh, you mean the other way? You’ll never know because you started the conversation by treating me like a discount hooker.
I can relocate to meet the woman of my life if this goes well with us on here.
Thank you so much for that “Under Pressure” earworm. I need to know that your independence means you won’t be relying on me to fix your broken pieces. I’ve gotten really good at standing on my own two feet but I have no interest in carrying someone and your love quest feels like need.
There was an interesting (read scary ass shit) moment that was Facebook based. There was a comment I made on a friend’s post. Her friend then put in a friend request I started ignoring. He then started liking my public profile pictures and commenting on them. I started to email him to find out what this creeptackular moment was about. He said he was reaching out in friendship and I’m friendly. I okayed his request. Then he suggested he could help me raise my kids. He could help me financially and see if love grows. Yeah, he got blocked after that. Just no.
How to impress a girl?
At least one picture with your full face featured. Not you and friends where I get to guess whose hotness I’m talking to . . . Not hiding behind sunglasses where I get to wonder what your eyes look like. I want to see if I can trust your gaze. Dress up. I want to see if I can bring you to the next wedding I plan to go to. Jeans and a t-shirt that fit are a must. Trust me when I say a well-fitting t-shirt is enough to let me know if you care about your body as much as you want me to. And leave the half-naked pictures for when we get there in the conversation. Some surprises are worth the wait. I want to try really hard to believe that your decision to wait for me might mean you aren’t actually the man whore you are trying to be in your misguided transparency.
This time with online dating hasn't been as horrible as the last two times. I mean, yes, there's already one boy I'm sure has plans to catfish me. There are the few really bad examples of humanity above. But there have also been really nice men with absolutely no chemistry for me to feel. Besides, I prefer to meet people in person. But you knew that.
I think the best part of online dating is seeing what works and what doesn't. Oh, it's not like that's new here. I had fun with this before, right here and here. There are dates lined up but they're nothing I'm over the moon excited about, but I'm open to being impressed which is totally new. I'm also willing to cancel for time with a friend, which I already have.
I am an intense person with a million things running through my mind at all times. This is my 255th post since I started blogging February 23rd of this year and I run out of ideas sometimes. Shocked? Me too! I mean, yes there are posts that brew and mature for a few days before I hammer them out. I post from my phone. I've started posts on napkins in restaurants when I take myself out and show myself a good time. It's a thing. A lot of ideas come from the people around me. I'm kinda between muses right now. There's a cost to the life I get to live. I want to be picky and that means there is more chaff than wheat on any dating Sunday. I milked that first crush in February for all he was worth. There's nothing left. The second one . . . he brought out a compassion in me that still wants to protect him. It feels unfair to pick him apart for you when I know it made him uncomfortable. I write about conversations with friends, but a muse is more about the romantic feels that run through me. It's about the excitement and wonder that make me feel like I'm a 12 year old.
In boredom, I signed up for a dating site again last night. No, I don't think I'll find my soul mate hiding behind a keyboard. It's just a numbers game. In person, because I'm an open person with a friendly smile, I meet people. I might have 3 to 4 men introduce themselves to me on a weekly basis, and I might actually exchange contact info with one or two a week. Or none, if I'm in a mood. But when online, those numbers jump. The last time I was online was only a week. The time before that was about two months. As of right now, I have 72 likes and have had 18 email conversations since signing up less than 12 hours ago. It's just about the numbers and last night I was avoiding housework.
It's also a matter of what types of men will approach me and that is a subtraction equation. I'm thinking of a conversation at the Mondrian with a man that told me the farthest distance for a man to travel is the one to lean in to kiss a woman. He told me it doesn't take much to discourage a man. I've been thinking of that. There are so many men that reach out to me, but I tend to give them a hard pass. I suppose if your net is wide, you have no real fear of rejection. Someone will eventually want to jump into your nets. These are the creepy ones that end up getting blocked. The special ones have been the ones that started as a conversation and not as an approach. Online dating builds in a barrier to hide behind. There's safety to be a jerk and there are many of them. I get to weed through that! Yes! It reminds me what to avoid in a way that I can see special when it lands at my feet and looks at me intently.
I'm not looking for a planned relationship online or anywhere else. I feel it's about making a connection that you are willing to contribute to. It means things develop organically and with mutual contributions toward the same goal. I can't go in and say what I want because if I'm going into anything, it's with the goal of finding that path together.
Online dating is about the fun of flirting and there's a bit of shade because I let my snark demon run wild.
Him: Do you like to dance?
Me: Not at all. I'm a total wall flower. (Because I saw his pictures and I'm really not interested but I keep the conversation going because I can. Yes. I love dancing. Just not with you.)
Him: Do you want more kids?
Me: Nope. (The reality is for the right person, I might consider it. The reality is I'm not talking to the right person.)
Him: You're so beautiful.
Me: I know right !? . . I mean, thank you. (But wait, you didn't mention how smart I am! --> And then there's silent pouting.)
Being online is also to remind myself of the bad.
Of course, my first night back would include another picture of a penis. It was a surprisingly large endowment. Like, if I were to keep a picture to send in response to the unsolicited many that come from online dating, his would've been it. He said he was tired of starting relationships with women that were later afraid of his package. I believe him but he tried to set the hook before I was committed to the bait he was dangling.
There was a boy. We chatted. I even said I'd be willing to meet him this week. I also said it would be in a public place and I'm taking it super slow. He kept insisting he is open to me staying the night and I should bring a change of clothes for the morning. It's not my speed and he didn't hear the direct and suggested ways I tried to tell him.
I can say, "you're beautiful, but beauty isn't enough."
I can think, "sure, I'd love to see where you keep the bodies."
I was even blatantly honest. "I have had no problem handing out the great "O" in the past. It seems to be a gift that doesn't even require much effort on my part. Receiving it is another story all together and a very sad one. If I'm going to go there with anyone, I want to know that he's so amazing, I wouldn't be let down if my gift isn't returned."
He kept trying to circle the conversation back to my spending the night when I never committed to going to his house. That was when it was clear he really wasn't looking past my smile and the direction I was intentionally walking our conversation in and that's how he lost his first date. Sucks for him because I love taking myself out and I'm always guaranteed a good time.
Being online is about my reality check.
I hear that I'm gorgeous and a goddess. I hear they want to spend time with me and get to know me. A short while in when they think I've heard what I needed to hear, their true intent comes in. I had a conversation with a friend a few weeks ago that went like this:
Me: Boys are always nicer when they want my attention and affection. They don't turn into douche bags until I get bored or my intensity scares them.
Him: Boys are nicer when they want female attention in general and it's not when you get bored it's when they get comfortable.
Me: Profound observation. I accept it. It's truth.
There's always a really hot military man stationed somewhere looking for love. He wants earth shattering romance so when he's discharged, he can move wherever he finds her and start a life based on communication established through emails. He's fit and dutiful. He's amazing. I'm not looking for a pen pal, even if they are really great at starting a blazing romance with their words. Yes, it's hot. But it's also a hard pass. I thank them for their service and admit that the idea of him moving to be close to me is too much pressure. . . Even if he is my age . . . Even if I am the most beautiful woman he's seen while travelling the world in service. I grew up with my Dad's PTSD, thank you US Army, and I refuse to learn to navigate that if it's a choice.
Reality check: I may be able to finally see a future with a person that can get past the first date, but he has to be beautiful. He has to be amazing. And I need to see him in person because that's where my intuition can sniff him out. I live from the gut.
Being online is about stretching for me.
I've always been into men my age or slightly older. I'm at an age where I'm too old for the men my age. They're in their midlife crisis and I don't look like a bad decision waiting to happen. Or he just isn't beautiful to me. I'm shallow, but you know this. I'm intense and not afraid to call you out when you're living in your fear. I won't call a man names unless he's trying to hurt me and I'm losing my cool. Okay, I've only called one person out like that and there's history there with enough knowledge to know what buttons he could push and not the wisdom to keep from doing it. Only a few men in my life have brought out my softer side and it's always curiosity for me until I've swallowed his bait so deeply that when he yanks on his rod to set the hook, he's pulled my guts up through my mouth. It's not pretty but it's great fun to blog about.
When I'm not the fish being baited I'm more on the prowl and I imagine being a playful kitty. My cat that claws me also has moments when she is a straight up murderer. Small lizards, birds and rodents are never safe around her. Her kills look like play time until she eviscerates her kill and devours them completely. Then she innocently licks her paws clean. Would you trust a cat? Would you trust me as a cat?
The actual stretch for me is in dating younger men. I married a man a little younger than me. My last crush was a few years younger than me and it was a stretch. When you aren't really contemporaries, the shared pop culture references can seem like a huge gap. I'm determined to teach my boys pager code for when they hit that age and they need to connect with a cougar. (So very kidding.)
I'm online to get comfortable with being a cougar. Seriously. Younger men can be beautiful and passionate about life. They're likely to really try to impress me with the verbiage in their texts. They assume I'm much more high maintenance than I am. It's cute when I don't feel like I'm being rapey. I love the look of younger men, but I start doing the mental math. How old was he when I first started having sex? How old was he when I had my first child? How do I not feel creeped out or afraid of the day I might one day meet his friends, family, and gah! His mother!!!
Last night the youngest man was 25. In May, I was shocked by an 18 year old that wanted to play show and tell with me. Last week I got a kiss on the cheek from a younger man. A beautiful man. I didn't lean away, but I didn't lean in either and I should have. Last week I couldn't but I choose this stretch because I refuse to keep living in regret.
I handle what I need to. I put my boys first. I'm no longer afraid of goodbye because I'm not leaving me. I'm a single mom. We're made of powerful stuff.
At the same time I'm really great at mothering until it's a bit smothering. Especially for the guys I like. They're all beautiful but they tend to be unaware of their amazing, a little bit geeky and insecure. I kinda like building that up. The ones that are confident and beautiful are fun to look at but I never want to keep them. What does that say about me?
I'm online dating again. I assure you, it'll only be for a few days because I'm sure I'll meet someone that catches and keeps my attention in person soon enough and he'll remind me that I don't really need the abuse landing in my phone because boys don't like it when you turn them down. Some even have full blown temper tantrums because that will totally change my mind about not being interested. This new person will walk into my life and shift my perspective and I'll see his amazing. He'll be beautiful and even hypnotized by my intensity as well as unafraid of my words. I won't say he'll have the ability to handle me. That implies a wild nature when I'm only a woman open to meeting the right man.
I love receiving gifts, but sometimes it's not the right fit, or you wanted a different color, or the gift in no ways satisfies your wants or desires. It's terrific when we have a gift receipt. We can find out the value of the gift. We can make an exchange or return. We don't have to keep what we were given. Yesterday I found a gift receipt and I didn't even know what I had before I found it. During part of my Advanced class, I really took a look at my parents. At the end of the day, I had a good childhood. It might have been cold in some ways. Dad would shut down and sit inside of himself. Mom was physically affectionate but as I got older, her affection looked like encouragement to be better. I've accepted that I may never reach who she wants me to be, and I only ask that my kids are loved and loving others because of how that feels. There was a space of disconnection. I love my parents, and they've given me all that they thought was best for me, but I had to look at how they shaped my ideas of love and connection.
Let's start with my Daddy issues.
Dad is a war vet and he lives with PTSD. His war experience is never farther from him than yesterday. Emotionally, he is disconnected. It's not something I'm angry about. It's just what I grew up with. I realized I tend to feel like he can't see me. He's in his head so much that he can't see me. He stands bravely, but I've always known the fear he lives in. I spent my adolescence, declaring to myself that I can't live in his fear or face his demons. I just can't let them control how I live. I spend a lot of time on the town alone. I don't always remember to lock my door. I don't carry the taser he bought me. I refuse to live in fear. At the same time, I've been afraid of deep relational connections. I've been afraid of letting people in. I've been afraid to dream big and expect greatness.
Dad has kept things at a distance. He doesn't share who he is outside of his faith and maybe it's because he can't see his value outside of his faith. This summer he kept asking my kids, "What do you think of Grandpa." I finally said, "I need you to be strong for them, and not question who you are. You don't need acceptance. You need to just be who you are and get your answers by who chooses to be around you. You tell me you are the son of the Most High God, and I need you to act like it. My sons are learning who they are from those around them." He once tried to share his experience of Vietnam with me. I don't remember what he said, but he remembered the look on my face and uses that as an excuse to hide who he is to protect me . . . to protect him.
This showed up for me in a way that I could see how every man I've ever dated was emotionally unavailable or stunted in some way. I have always been attracted to men that feel like I did when surrounded by my Daddy's demons. His fear . . . His emotional distance . . . His superficial connection . . . His need to control that made love feel like obedience and service to him. I found his gift receipt and I don't need it anymore.
And now, my Mommy issues.
The Basic class showed me that I never appreciated what it was like for my mom. She came here from Thailand as a teenaged mother, not knowing the language and leaving her entire family. She was in a controlling relationship, but she's strong, and for years, her strength looked like distance, and angry yelling. It looked like financial independence and generosity toward those less fortunate. She had three daughters, back to back (just like I did), then I was born seven years later. I was the surprise. I came along after she had settled into who she was as a mom. She had gotten comfortable with finding her financial independence and stepping outside of my Dad's need to control. I barrelled through her body, giving her stretchmarks and messing with her thyroid. When she wanted to make medical decisions at my birth, it was vetoed by my Dad and the doctor wouldn't follow my Mom's wishes about her body. She never gave me anything other than a sense that I was a cherished and treasured child. I got hugs and kisses. She bought me everything she could. I married a man so much like my Dad, that when he left me, my Mom knew exactly what I needed, but never gave me a deep heart to heart about what she felt.
My Mom is emotionally distant, but she does it out of love. I have no idea about my Mom's history before she met my Dad. I asked a cousin about it and his response was the same as hers. There is so much pain in the family past that they need to protect me and will not say anything at all. What I know is that they grew up extremely poor in the countryside in Thailand. My mom had to work by free climbing up coconut trees. She never went past elementary school and yet she came to the states and earned an A.A. Degree. She lived in such a way that she needs to protect me by hiding who she is from me. There's an emotional disconnect.
The way I see my mother in my romantic relationships is I tend to want to get lost in the history, the desires and dreams of the man I'm dating. I hide my desires, putting myself last in getting to know them. I mirror what I want from my Mom. I want to be seen and sometimes I don't feel that I am. I never doubt that she loves me. I don't feel a deep connection, and I fight for that with my boys, often giving them more transparency than others think is appropriate.
What this means is . . .
I can look at this. I can see what it means in my life and how it has created who I am, and I can decide that yes, I had a loving childhood, but I'm still trying to fill gaps that were created in me. These gaps aren't things that my parents did wrong. This is more that my parents were unable to be who I wanted or needed them to be and now that I see that, I don't have to keep filling those voids in others.
I can see how the circumstances of my parent's life never allowed them to fully express who they are. I grew up with so much empathy for others and a total disconnect from myself. Part from my parents . . . Part from my suicidal years (1993-2006). There are things I feel so deeply that the only way to survive has always been to shut it off. If I don't allow myself to feel, it can't take me deeper than I can stand. I hide in my smile. I hide in my confidence. I hide in not allowing others to see who I really am because my darkness might be too dark (thanks Mom and Dad). They didn't have a choice. I won't suggest they should do better because I know they did the best they could. I'm certain that my Dad must have grown up with love as a barter system because I'm learning unconditional love now. It comes from choice. It comes without a cost or expectation and it's independent of the ability to be disappointed.
I understand that the distance from my parents in hiding who they are is because they still need protecting from what life has offered them. It's not at all about me.
I've had so much kindness in the last few days. I've had so many people give me their love from the gut, with openness. They're just as raw and gutted as I am right now. I'm seeing how I've been in my world, trying to fix parts I didn't know were broken, and shutting out decent people.
A week or two ago, someone at work was opening a door for me, but I opened the other side because I'm not used to this kindness.
Wednesday, a man looked me in the eyes as I was opening up about my bruised parts, and he told me I was beautiful. I could feel the zit growing on my cheek, and the tears streaming down my face, and my face was in an open and ugly cry. But I was beautiful to him.
I had someone feed me. He offered food. As simple and human as that is, he offered food without expecting anything more than the company I offered. And I keep trying to mother him. What does that say about my mommy issues?
I found my gift receipts. I know the value of what they've given me and how it looks in my life. I'm taking it back and deciding what I'm committed to creating in my life. It's going to being brave, courageous, and heart led. It's already pretty epic.
I'm not a giver of second chances. Not in romantic relationships. Once upon a time I tried it. It was a guy that I was friends with first. As friends, we shared so much of who we were. He even held my hand through a breakup with someone else. As a couple, he wasn't the right fit, and trying a second time was for him. There was a shift in the relationship. My friends were all guys. I wanted him to have his time with his friends so I could hang with mine. I didn't want him to meet my friends. He wanted my time apart to mean I stayed home to wait for his call. He would call while I was with friends and I made fun of his attachment to me. I didn't want to be with him and I was sad that I had to tell him this and he couldn't see that I turned into a mean person because I wasn't happy. For the record, I was also a coward that couldn't own up to what I wanted out of our relationship. I just couldn't get back into the idea of "us" because I had accepted we would only be friends. I was so immature that friendship with my ex meant he was my go to when I was looking for a punchline. It didn't help that he liked me more than I liked him. As a couple, I tend to be intensely obsessive. I want to know every detail about him and I want to enjoy his company. I'm such a believer in the good of who he is, I give every opportunity and spend way too much time hoping he'll see my amazing and want to be with me just as much as I want to be with him. It never goes well, and by the end, he's pushed me so far from him I finally take the hint and wouldn't want him back. I mean, typically. In theory. I couldn't tell you what my reaction would be tomorrow because I just don't know. Lately my relationships look different because I'm different.
Right now, I'm all about my alone time and company is great, but I have to be convinced that the person I'm talking to would improve on time I really like spending alone. The other day at work a woman asked if I'd like to join her group. It was kind, but I declined. As friendly as I can be, I prefer to sit alone, doodle, sing and be the happy pariah. In the past, I always jumped head first into romance, and I gave so much in relationships that by the time it was over, he was long gone and I was being that puppy that couldn't drop the toy. Those feelings linger so long because I really love falling in love and I can appreciate the good, milking it for every racing heartbeat and fluttering butterfly moment. I like the many things a relationship will make me feel.
Once I turn away, I'm done. Once I accept the romance is over, we'll only be friends, if that, and that's all I want. It means I've stepped away to heal damage we caused. It means I've opened up to the possibility of a new romance somewhere in the future. It means I'm able to appreciate the good, and really examine the bad for once. But I'm done. I wasn't always nice about it. Once I was asked for a second chance and I told him I didn't have the Jesus juice he was looking for. He was calling me his "goddess" and I told him I'm not the one that gives second chances or mends broken hearts. (I keep telling you I'm not nice and as you can see, I have a tendency to be so wrong.) I used to change perfumes when I changed men. It was a scent memory I was leaving behind. I'm not nearly as dramatic anymore. Now it's a moment to moment decision. Can the person in front of me improve on this moment, or can I handle this on my own? The guys that I walked away from recently weren't relationship kinda guys. They were looking for something physical and I wasn't. Then there were the two crushes I've had this year. They were just that and entirely perfect in what they were. And sometimes a muse is just a muse. I don't know how I would react to a revisit from Mr. He's Hot and So Not Into Me, or my latest crush that was too kind to get a silly name for my objectification moments.
I'm starting to wonder about my stance. I took a stand in my late teens and early 20's, but I've lived through so much during the marriage where I only dated my husband. I recently had a moment where a memory from 18 years ago revived desiccated butterflies I thought were extinct. How can a memory make my heart race and my stomach flip in a way that doesn't feel like heartburn? I related the moment to a friend and she suggested, "it's good to be excited and reconnect. It's been a long time, people are different. It'll be like meeting someone new and different at the same time." I have to believe her. She puts up with my horny teenage boy moments and laughs at the midlife sex drive of a celibate woman.
There was a boy. That many years ago I was just a girl. He was beautiful and intense. He was so driven and ambitious. I was immature. I needed to go through my bad boy stage and work out my Daddy issues and he was smart enough to not get into my craziness. As intense as I can be, he was too intense for me. This doesn't mean I need to find him and insist on a do-over. Maybe one roll of quarters in my crazy arcade is enough for any boy. The point is the memory of him shifted things just enough. This may be one of those many revolutionary acts of starting over in the middle of your life. Like starting a new career, you get to revisit a romance with the perspective of someone who actually knows what they will and will no longer accept in relationships.
I'm still figuring out what I like and what I want and I'm not actually planning on giving up my "date myself nights." I treat myself really well and I'm really looking forward to my five kid free days this week.
Two of my sisters have grown up and reconnected with their first loves. Each one of mine ended badly enough that my "what if's" were answered and never need revisiting. I've thought about every significant relationship I had before I got married and decided months ago that they weren't worth the data of an internet search. It helps that I always had a thing for guys that my friends would always warn me about, and often dumped guys that were too nice. It's a quality I like now but if I dumped them, I wasn't very nice about it and may have thrown words like, "little bitch" around. I couldn't come back from that if I wanted to. I learned those lessons and the memories are a strong enough repellent.
What about all of those versions of Mr. Almost, and Senators of Maybe Someday? I don't mean the men I politely said I'd meet for coffee even though I was more interested in watching clouds float through the sky. I don't mean the ones I had no interest in. I mean the boys I really liked, and wanted to spend my free time with. I mean the ones that I looked forward to seeing. Could I revisit that? There's no one that I've held a torch for all of these years, but I was struck by a memory. For the first time since high school, I'm wondering about the possibilities about a second chance at what I passed on the first time. I may be open to the idea of a second chance. But I'm not sure I have an answer to that or that I could come up with an answer at the end of this post.
I would need that moment and that person to decide if it was worth the risk to revisit a memory. I would need to decide if my memories are sugar coated versions of reality or if life has made a mediocre painting less than it used to be. Maybe I'm over thinking my needs. Maybe I just need some time alone with gelato.
Gluten free is easier and feels better than eating wheat. Food that makes me feel like death is coming for me through my digestive tract is evil. Even if it is buttery and flaky with sweet marzipan filling. It should be illegal to make sugar free foods if you can't make them taste better than the idea of starvation. Meals should be based on taste and hunger. Anything that makes me want to brush my teeth to get rid of the taste should not be considered food. Yes, I've tasted sugar free snacks that tasted far worse than toothpaste.
We're all looking for something. It might be a pinata with a blindfold. It could be your keys that are just chilling in your door. It could be sanity in the bathroom where you can lock the door and hide from kids. I bet you've spent some time looking for a sock or two and just decided to accept your role in the House Elf Liberation Front (if you don't know Rowling, just know there are libraries for people like you). If you're really lucky, you have help looking for that ever elusive g-spot, even if it is just a girlfriend sipping a bloody Mary and describing the journey over dinner with lots of giggles. I'm looking for company, but it looks like I'd rather be alone.
I did it again. I tried online dating. It lasted less than a week this time, but the horrible feeling was just as fresh. I'm in a different place from the last time and I didn't get pulled into the needs of others. I was able to distance myself in some ways, but at the end of the week, I felt just as violated. There were a few decent people online. We just wanted different things. They wanted a forever partner and I'm not her. Two out of three men wanted me to get sexual because I was willing to say hello. It was usually, "Hi. Sex tonight?" Sometimes it took a few texts before they were comfortable enough to treat me like a discount hooker. I wanted someone to stretch my perception, make me think, get my heart racing and give me peaceful moments. It was too much to ask.
Laugh at my Freudian slip. I did. The not gorgeous doctor stopped talking to me after this. It was going so well as we talked books and museums. The person I was thinking of was worth the slip up.
I'd rather be alone than go through all of this again . . .
Sometimes they are friendly for a while until they subtly ask for a picture, and not one you would be willing to share with the world.
I was up front with my shallow side. I like looking at beautiful men. I like watching them run. I may or may not have taken a few detours on my way to work to watch that lovely poetry in motion on Chandler. It's a public service they perform and I will be that public audience, shamelessly. I mean, there is a point to that really close relationship they seem to want with a bench press, and it's for me, right? Except, I won't dehumanize him to his face unless we mutually arrive at that point and I haven't gotten there. He has to be amazing. He has to be worthy of that next crush (#4 in 16 years, because I was a faithful wife). For now, I'd settle for someone willing to jump into my intensity.
There is a dating app that looks like a really great idea. You get to see people that cross paths with you. The problem is most of those people worked near me or at the same company, or they lived in my neighborhood. It's all fun and games until you are looking over your shoulder on a Perrier run at your local 7-Eleven. I got a "hello neighbor, it's nice to meet you" followed by, "let me bring you something from the store" in the same evening before I fully wigged out. I live on a street that is 3 blocks long. I made the mistake of naming it, and now I'm slightly paranoid every time I drive past the house he carefully described.
He ignored me after this and later the next evening I deleted the profile and the app because the gravity of my tiny one way street with no parking really sunk in.
And then on my way home tonight I met a beautiful hipster with blue eyes and a terrific smile while walking home with Kid3. I may or may not have seen him topless through his bedroom window and I might have missed offering the neighborly suggestion for drawn curtains at night. I can't remember his name, but the look that was friendly and not predatory tells me I really don't belong online. At least when looking for company. And no, he's not the one. He looked really young.
Being in the moment is something I intentionally work for. It shouldn't be work, but it often is. I can tell when I'm not in the moment because time is never doing what I want it to. If time seems to slow to a crawl, I'm living in the past. I'm looking at what was and trying to remember it presently and boredom and apathy settle in and around me. When time is flying and I don't have enough of it, I'm living in the future. I have too many things to do and too little time to accomplish my goals. It's not enough time to read or write or tackle my latest project. I have some deadline that hovers and obscures this moment right now. I worry about some imagined deficit and have a hard time remembering that I usually have exactly what I need and it falls into my lap at precisely the moment I need it to. I had a brief conversation this afternoon and the statement I heard was a simple reflection about the difficulty of living in the present. My response was about my daily goal to live in the moment and "BE." I try to be and do epic shit daily. It's a happy place to find yourself in.
Once I started heading home, I really had to think about what that means, because as I was driving home, I wasn't in the moment. I wasn't present in traffic. I wasn't aware of the car I was in or the music on the radio. My thoughts were on the back patio at work with my favorite sweater holding me and the muted heat of the sun barely caressing bare flesh. I was observing soccer players in the nearby park and appreciating the beauty of the mountains and superficial conversation with company I always enjoy.
I started to wonder what being in the moment is really about. Is it actually a subjective concept? I mean, I was at home, with a dog begging for belly rubs and a cat hoping for a canned meal treat and my mind was reliving and exploring what happened an hour prior. Was that my moment though? I was physically with my dog and cat, and my kids were gaming loudly inside, but the moment I held onto was being lived again in my head. I was able to savor and hold the memory and I didn't rush through it. I didn't feel it slipping by too slowly. I was present in the moment of a memory and that memory was a moment of peace and joy.
In the last few days I've been flirting here and there. It's been silly banter or lingering looks and I can appreciate it for a moment, but any longer and I look away. I'm really not interested. I'm playing with online dating but I'm not taking it too seriously. It's really become an audition to see if there might be someone beautiful enough to give up my alone time but I know the answer before I even swipe. I even let my cat swipe for a while in an effort to be that lonely cat lady. True story. I recognize it as a moment with a stranger that highlights other moments I've had in recent months, and those moments are too tempting to fall into with tender affection and slow observation. In those moments, I'm in the past, but that past still brings a bright joy to the present and those moments are my present moments because of the joy assigned to them.
It's not a moment in the past where I am lost to a dream that I'm trying to change. I didn't carry expectations that became resentments. It's not a future I want to create. It's a moment in the past that still shades my present in rosy tones and floral scents. It's stepping back into a moment that makes the present moment beautiful and hopeful. The moment can be subjective. Right now could be right this day, or right this month, and I imagine it can be the beauty of a good year. It's a moment. It's now. Now can last as long as we allow it to.
And I'm still wondering how long right now is supposed to last.
Last night my really nasty side came out and it was messy and ugly and all over someone so sweet, that it really was a violation on my part. I was in a place that was so uncomfortable that in noticing where I was, I noticed what I was doing, and the guilt and shame are still all over me. This is about releasing offenses so I don't arm myself with them to injure another person. There are some things in life that feel huge and out of control and I find ways in which to feel like I have some control because that makes it easier for me to accept and navigate messy feelings. When I was a surrogate, it was my control over my contracts and records that helped the out of control areas. I agreed to everything in the contracts, so when IVF cycles and hormones made me feel crazy, I had something concrete to focus on. There is so much that intended parents have to release in terms of pride and trust and I wanted to reciprocate that in having them choose obstetric doctors. When my ex left, he took all of my contracts because of some imagined support battle in the divorce that hasn't happened. In that moment when all of my records and photocopied checks were gone, I felt powerless and violated. I felt like the signatures that held so much trust and hope were taken from me. I have to release that.
In the last year I have gotten several text messages from my ex that looked like screenshots of our conversations that he was sending to someone else. Very likely he was sharing my worst side with the woman that replaced me in his life. What it felt like was a huge betrayal of trust, and it was done repeatedly. It's still done, but I've gotten to a place where I ignore it because there is nothing I can do about it. It's a violation, but I'm powerless and so I release the idea that I should have power over it.
Yesterday we were together to go over child support. I was in a room full of people that were forced to share a room with their ex-lovers. It was tense and comforting all at once. We started discussing our incomes and it became clear to me that I take a lot better care of myself than he did. He noticed the ways in which I was doing well, and I thanked him for reading my blog. He insisted people from the church family we shared will send him text messages to show him what I'm up to. I stepped over that betrayal in that moment. I appreciated the fact that I have no idea of what he's up to unless our sons complain about something, and I was grateful that I no longer feel the need to spy on him. I'm usually busy being happy with the epic things that fall in my path.
When the calculations were made, the child support payments he would have had to make were so small I decided to let it go. In that moment I felt peace and saw it as extending grace. I looked out the window and could see the building I worked at in January. I remembered a few happy encounters in the kitchen with a slow smile and amazing pectorals and the view that so much peace was found in. I asked if the attorney could see the ocean from there and he said he could on some days and it was a moment of respite from the tension of the morning. I was smiling. I glanced over and saw my ex had angled his phone and was recording me. I smiled and said hello to his camera, and I was amused for a while. It's not the first time I've been an unaware subject for someone's private viewing and I'm sure it won't be a last time. I have caught enough camera phones directed at me that it doesn't bother me for the most part. This age of smartphones brings out the particularly creepy. I didn't feel violated by this at first.
I was on my way to work and singing happily and even caught the food truck at lunch for my usual breakfast (2 eggs over medium, bacon, avocado and tomatoes, with cheese sometimes). It was a good moment. As the day wore on, Facebook reminded me it was 16 years to the day that he proposed to me. My internal harpie started reminding me of the ways I was promised growing old together. I started thinking about our trust and how utterly it was destroyed. It was so much emotion, I couldn't keep it off of my face, and people I work with noticed. I felt so violated in the picture or video that was taken of me. I became a sideshow of someone else's design and the peace I felt was taken and mocked.
After work I saw a smile. It was beautiful and carefree. It followed me home and I later used the beauty of that smile to reflect on my pain and sorrow and it became a source of frustration and highlighted a rare lonely moment. I wanted to hurt the beautiful thing I saw and when I realized what I was doing and why, the guilt and shame tortured me through sleep and disquieted dreams. This morning I've been searching for self compassion because there's not much more to offer outside of an apology to make up for what I did.
Old patterns emerge when I'm feeling especially low and I've had it suggested enough recently that the idea of getting lost in someone else's happy trail made me consider online dating again. I'm not sure how fully I'm jumping into this. I went over my dating tips and the dating tips from my friends, and it doesn't sound as amazing a distraction anymore. I'm releasing these offenses and broken agreements that keep suckerpunching me at random times. I will find grace when I'm not expecting it and look for beauty because I always find it. But there should definitely be some shenanigans tonight. There will be stretching out of my comfort zone. There may even be another dress involved.
I had a conversation with a desk mate today that keeps echoing and resounding softly every few hours. It won't give me space, and that usually means I have thoughts to explore. We talked about my walk again. She laughs every time she sees me walk, and she calls it a model walk while I counter with, "it's a mom walk." She sees it's different and worth a conversation. Another co-worker started following me to videotape it, but stopped because I walk too quickly. It's transportation but it wasn't always. Over a year and 3o pounds ago, I was the abandoned wife that had given birth to seven babies. I was afraid to smile at men because I was afraid of my ex's jealousy that I explored first in this post. I didn't spend time out with friends, because the rare moments of solitude I had were selfishly spent alone because I needed the rare spaces I had. When he left without warning, I was shocked and my self worth plummeted with the life we created together. I didn't have a job, not really. I was working part time, without benefits and I hated what I was doing. At one point I quit my job for one that fell through completely. I didn't have close relationships because it was hard to build them in the isolation I lived in. Within days my ex had a new special friend he was sharing his secrets with. She would take his phone to text me the many ways I failed as a wife and mom and woman and person, and since she didn't know me, it was clear that she was only repeating what my husband had told her. It's a miracle that I didn't fall into one of my deep depressions and the reigning emotion I fought was rage. I'm sure you could imagine why I was angry.
I relied heavily on faith. I woke up in the middle of the night and fell asleep with a prayer on my lips. I woke and prayed. I was determined to be a wife, even if my husband refused to be my husband. In January I had an encounter that shifted things just enough. There was a man. It's always about a boy and those posts were all tagged "crush watch." It's almost a hobby to fall into careful observations and entertain myself but it's only happened here with an apology here, and my latest crush here (sans apology) since 2000.
He introduced himself to me a couple of times in our first encounter, and I had the distinct impression I was attractive to him. Naturally, I freaked out. I went into the script that kept me faithfully waiting all of those months. I told him that I was still married and not dating because of all of the things I believe marriage to be. I did all I could to scare him away in that first meeting. Over weeks he would become my first crush in 16 years through opening doors and appreciative smiles. I started this blog right when I accepted that I liked looking at him and men in general. I still think of him fondly, but it was more about the shift he gave my perspective and the first few blog posts on this blog inspired by the way he made me feel (February and March in the archives). Since then, I've remembered what it was like to have several people let you know you are attractive in the span of a week. I've regained my confidence in walking up to a complete stranger and letting him know how beautiful he is. Beautiful doesn't mean I want to keep him.
I still believe marriage to be a choice to commit to one person for as long as you both live. I still feel that you make a choice every day to be a spouse, and the feelings always follow. I feel you give it 110% daily because unconditional love means you aren't expecting anything as a barter, and you're not holding back with expectations of something to lose. As for my marriage, I have accepted that without my permission it ended when my husband decided he was done, and almost a year later I accepted his decision with a choice of my own. I decided I had taken enough abuse and it was time to offer myself the love I kept trying to extend to him in forgiveness. I stopped offering forgiveness as love for him and offered it as love for myself.
The point is I felt so low. I felt ugly and believed I was based on what I was told. On my birthday I stepped out of my car in the heart of Hollywood after a night of crying. I had just decided my marriage was over because both of us had walked away. I decided he had taken the last free shot at me because I was done being his doormat begging him to walk on me and wipe his feet on me. A woman stopped me on my way to work and told me I looked put together. I cried on the spot and she held me. A complete stranger allowed me to fall apart and then held me up. I was shattered. There was something in her offering that was prompted by the grace she saw in my walk.
The walk was one I had in my early 20's. It was confidence. It was feeling each step in the sway of my hips. It was trusting my body and knowing I didn't have to watch for my step. It was a head held high, and walking with my arms swaying because when you are happy, opposition is your friend. My strut was gone during my marriage because I didn't want to encourage others to look at me. It slowly came back and it was one of the first ways I began to remind myself that I love myself. That, and dancing in front of a bedroom mirror. You don't do that?
There's a current-ish crush. It's more fun distraction than anything. I haven't offered my unmasked self to him, even in friendship. My love and devotion is reserved for me and my sons. I'm learning from Stephanie Kwong about self love this week and what she has said is inspiring my latest doodles and some of the thoughts running through my mind.
She explained that loving yourself includes: self acceptance, self forgiveness, self respect, self trust, self receiving, self compassion, self permission, self appreciation, and self celebration. I mainly walk in confidence, spoil myself with pedicures, take myself out and go hard on selfies. There's lots to be learned.
I started writing down what I love about myself, but again her questions really gave me perspective. I love my sons unconditionally, but do I love myself unconditionally? Do I give myself conditions, or do I love myself in spite of my ugly side? Can I name my ugly side, or do I pretend it doesn't exist? Can I give others my whole self? Do I only allow others to see and love the mask I offer, or can I give others complete authenticity? Can I love myself the way I want to, in all the messy ways?
Can I love myself when I'm being stubborn and not releasing what isn't meant for me?
Can I love myself in sweats and without make up on the second day of my period with zits that I've picked into scabs?
Can I love myself when I feel like I'm being selfish and withholding from my kids? I will always feel like I need to give my kids more than I have for myself, but can I see the value in giving in to my desires as well?
Can I love myself through guilt and shame? I had a friend point out that the difference between me and everyone else is that we all think the same thoughts, but I feel bad when I'm thinking unkind things, even if I won't give voice to these thoughts. This makes me a nice person. Can I love the fact that I have a hard time being mean?
I'm committed to move like I love myself. I'm committed to act like I love myself. I'm committed to speak like I love myself. I'm committed to eat like I love myself.
I shared this with my Facebook family the other day. . .
I'm in a committed relationship with gelato.
I'm into Italians lately, but this one is special because I'm willing to splurge on it. I make sure it's comfortable in the freezer. I take it out and it shows me a good time. . . A really good time with sounds that would make you blush. Our moments are special and I'm quite smitten. There's no room for ice cream or frozen yogurt in my life. We're exclusive.
Can I one day offer my love to another person in transparency and trust? (Today is too much to ask.) Can I be as open in person as I aim to be in my writing?
I'm still having fun dating myself. Last night I went to the Broad Museum because I had tickets I reserved and sat on for close to a month. It was Thursday so a free night at the Museum of Contemporary Art was next. I drove to Philippe's for dinner, but wasn't actually hungry yet and walked to Olvera Street which closes a lot earlier than I remember and Union Station which really is beautiful when you aren't in a hurry. I walked back to Philippe's in the dark and really appreciated Santa Monica for their police presence and the safety I feel there.
In line behind a group of three, their third wheel was beautiful. He was tall and had one of those smiles that I would draw if that was my skill set, but as you can see, it really isn't. He dropped a pencil and didn't notice it, but I handed it to him and nearly melted at his smile when he said thank you and told me it was his lucky pencil. In that moment, I could see myself getting to know him better, but then thought about the amazing night I had just lived through, and decided that no, it's a hard pass. In fact, I knew then that I was going to pass on everyone.
In the last couple of months, a really great friend pointed out how shamelessly my flirting looked a lot like teasing to a high school boy. He remembered his interest and I never really thought about it. I thought it was just him and he was being silly because our conversations are still a little flirtatious. Sometimes. Rarely. And then there was a second memory from another man, and it was confirmation that I couldn't ignore. I flirted and teased in high school, but this was out in front of everyone and never on a one to one basis.
The latest one remembered me as never shy, happy and full of laughter. He remembered my smile. I felt bad, having had to really look at his face and our mutual friends to place him. I didn't remember him. But there was something flattering about his memory, even if he really didn't know about my depressed moods, and loner tendencies. The idea of reconnecting seemed fun . . . Once I got passed the fleeting idea that I may or may not have been someone's 20 year old jizz rag mistress. I liked the idea of him wanting to show me a good time and cook for me. But I also like knowing that whatever I choose to do alone or with friends, my juice is always worth the squeeze.
Last night was a great night. Wednesday was also pretty epic. I went to the beach after work. I watched a seal family frolic in the ocean from the pier. I enjoyed a meal alone, next to a table with two gorgeous men who were complete pigs, but fun to watch. I walked to the promenade and ran into the same two men, shared a little about each other and I moved on. Then I walked the Promenade, had a chocolate scented cigar (do they make dessert cigars?) because I needed the reminder of why I quit smoking all of those years ago, and I sang out loud on my way to my car. Still got the same stares. I even got smiles, and no one approached the crazy person singing to herself, so it was a win all around. It was a really great night. In fact, I spoil myself with the good times I have alone.
I'm still not dating online. That was a massively disappointing lesson I needed to learn. This doesn't mean I don't get asked out. He has to be beautiful and smart. I need to feel like he would make my alone time a gift I would offer rather than a sacrifice on my part. I'm not dating people. I'm dating myself. I love dating myself.
I eat like I love myself. I don't diet. I eat what looks good and I savor each moment with my food. I buy myself jewelry. I enjoy eating alone with a book, or journal, or my phone. I love walking through museums and stopping at what calls out to me, because a lot of it makes no sense and I won't linger. When I want to brighten my day, I'll buy myself flowers and I know I don't like baby's breath, so it's never included in my bouquets. I love being alone. I don't want someone to take me out because I'm so great at showing myself a good time and there's a chance going out would make me feel like my time was squandered.