i felt like me today

The new year — despite all the political crazy that comes with it — has definitely brought a shift in energy for me, and I so needed it! I’ve been slowly getting better… a lot of “two steps forward, one step back” kind of progress. Still some total meltdowns. And today, I felt unexpectedly confident, buoyant, … normal… like the me I was a year ago, before I got caught in grief’s powerful undertow. And I noticed and acknowledged this amazing feeling.

Since the new year, I’ve been reading a much-needed resource on meditation and practicing sometimes twice a day. Getting back into this self-care routine has helped. Then, a recent bout of despair led me to an entirely new insight about a story I tell myself… You see, I’m one of those children who was “an accident.” (My children, by the way, are both blessings who arrived on their own schedule — language is powerful — and I’ve always wanted two children.) So, even though my parents were and are loving and are still very much a part of my life, I must have translated this knowledge to something along the lines of feeling unwanted. That’s a painful and lonely realization — but, having had the realization, I can finally begin to do the work to let go of that baggage.

I’d already been working on releasing loneliness, aloneness and other adjacent sort of feelings that seemed relevant to the shit storm of triggers during Dec. 2015 through Feb. 2016. Probably some shame and abandonment, too, and hella anger. After hitting on the unwanted emotion and doing some meditation and tapping to release it, something shifted and I had an entirely new perspective.

Today’s positive mental health is definitely cause for celebration, but I have more work to do… Here’s something I’ve learned over the past year:

There’s no way around grief. You have to feel it, sit with it, wade through it. Even so, there comes a point where thinking about it triggers an automatic response in the body, which the body becomes addicted to, and then the chemicals in the body generate the thought and it becomes a vicious cycle. Lee’s departure was a big trigger for this pattern in me. Despite the months that have passed, it felt like a fresh wound and an ancient scar at once. My body has become addicted to feeling the heartache — and to break the addiction, I’ll have to use my brain as well as cleanse my body of these chemicals. I’m also going to check into a trauma acupuncturist who was recommended by a friend, because that’s what I’ve felt around my heart — a deep, unhealed trauma. I like the thought of asking for help in this way.

Now, I’m off for my nightly meditation.

And get ready… after being a sad sack for the better part of a year, Momma’s getting her mojo back!


sayonara 2016

2016 will go down in infamy as the year that kicked my ass. I can honestly say I’ve hit emotional rock bottom — I’ve broken into tears probably more days than not, including ugly crying in bars with girlfriends; I’ve struggled to truly experience the upper register of my emotions, including joy, happiness and gratitude; my body has not supported me in wellness; and where I once felt sweet and feminine, I’ve more often felt brittle and bitter. My efforts to pick myself up, dust myself off and “get back out there” have been short lived and uncomfortable, as I’ve ridden wave after wave of grief.

I think about love and hope and, almost immediately, I feel the pain of loss and heartache in my chest. Of course I want to find my partner — I want my happily ever after, however unrealistic that may be. And contemplating how long it took to find something so good, that it could be another five years of searching… I just don’t know that I have it in me. Especially knowing there’s a chance I could hurt as much as I’ve hurt last year. I would like to never feel such heartache again.

I’ve also endured entirely too much well-intentioned advice and relationship maxims — among them:

It’s a numbers game; you’ve just got to keep at it.

Uh, hello? If you’ve been following, you know I’ve been single again for nearly seven years now. That’s a lot of dates. I haven’t counted. I work up my courage and psych myself up to get out there and meet new people. But I’m really over it. I want the next man I kiss to the be my last first kiss. And I want it to be wonderful.

When love comes around, it won’t look anything like you expect it to.

Lee didn’t look anything like I expected him to. He didn’t act anything like I expected. Our relationship did not transpire like I expected — it was better. Any it was partly because he was so different and we, together, were so unexpectedly good that I believed I may have found what I’m searching for.

Love won’t show up on your timeline.

I took a year to work on myself and heal after my ex and I split nearly seven years ago now. I had been looking for nearly five years by the time I met Lee. One could have said the timing was bad, given my ex’s recent death. That it was so unlikely was, perhaps, just another reason it felt so real.

Forget chemistry; make decisions based on how you feel.

While I would tell you now that Lee and I had great chemistry, it wasn’t instant. Our chemistry grew as we got to know each other and developed feelings for one another. We seemed to enjoy many of the same things and share a great deal in common. I could envision him by my side in nearly any situation.

In other words, I knew I was on the right track a year ago… Now I’ve got to muster my courage to try again. But first I’m going to take some time, reset my energy / vibe, work on getting my body healthy enough to support the mental work I need to do.

2017 will be better. It has to be.

 


let’s call the whole thing off

Since … when? the election maybe?… I’ve been going through more anger, sadness, disillusionment. I understand what it is — yet another wave of grief — though I don’t quite ever get used to it and I am somewhat surprised that I’m still feeling it so deeply.

My body isn’t helping me. I’ve been fighting off a sinus infection, cold and other maladies for a couple of months, too, and I feel constantly exhausted.

There was one fabulous day when suddenly I felt well and energetic and I re-hung the curtains, bought a nice area rug and re-organized my bedroom, where the closet had been expanded and the room repainted, and I thought:  “This is my lovely retreat and I want it all to myself!”

The feeling was short-lived and I succumbed to round two of a head cold. Meanwhile, I was dating a fellow or two casually and so I kept things going, though without much enthusiasm.

On Thanksgiving, I thought about first meeting Lee a year ago that night in a mountain town. The first week in December, my neighbors hosted a party — the party I’d left early last year to go on my first official date with Lee. The second week in December was the anniversary of my ex’s death. A year ago today, I was on a flight to paradise with Lee… and so on. The memories keep flooding back and, as much as I try to keep things in perspective, I am saddened.

The holidays are a lonely time for a single parent, when all the focus is on ensuring the children feel loved and have something special under the tree. There is no one “special” in my life to shop for and plan with, and no one shopping for something special for me.

Instead, I got new brakes.

Last year at this time was sad, too, but I had a trip to the sunshine to look forward to — and, even if I didn’t know it at the time, life was about to get truly, spectacularly beautiful…for a period of approximately two months.

I desperately want to feel that hopeful again. I want to feel loving and loved, sweet and feminine, like the partnership part of my future is not so bleak as the present… because all in all, I have a rich and wonderful life.

So today I sent a text ending things with the fellow who really seemed to hope our few dates would turn into a relationship. He replied, “I really liked you.” And I wish I were capable of feeling something back. I just don’t feel sweetness or desire or… or anything for  him or anyone else I’ve met.

Amidst all of this malaise, I am aware that it is but a moment and that I will feel less bleak again soon. I know the best way out of it is to focus on myself and my family. I will hope again. But, in the meantime, I need to remember how to love my life, just as it is, again.


how I fell

It’s laughable, really, how quickly we can fall and for what reasons. I could give you a nearly endless list of the things I loved about my last boyfriend. But when a friend asked me a different question recently — how did you fall in love? — I thought back to those milestones in our courtship that brought me closer to him…things I’m sure he’d laugh at if he only knew:

  • One of his children is gay. It was one of the things I learned the first night we met, and I knew when he told me, the way he told me, that we shared certain values and perspectives on parenting.
  • I asked him what the worst job he’d ever had was. “Castrating hogs,” he said, and something inside me melted. Knowing he’d grown up in a rural community performing hard, gory work gave him a boy-next-door quality and made me feel familiar and comfortable around him. Despite his middle aged physical manifestation, I could clearly see him young and tan and shirtless, in work boots and jeans, a blade of grass dangling from his lopsided smile.
  • Once, very early in our relationship, I mentioned something about the college funds I’m saving for my children. He said, “You mean you don’t need me?” Swoon! “I didn’t say that,” I replied, “We just may want to postpone the nuptials until after the FAFSA forms are sent in.” And we laughed together.
  • I told him about the research facility at which a relative works and, before I could get into the details, he said, “Did you know they’re aiming a laser at the bottom of a mine looking for neutrinos?” Actually I did, but how many guys are smart nerdy enough to contribute that random fact into a conversation?!
  • Sledding.

Of course there was so much more, but I guess you can boil it down to my being a sucker for a liberal, compassionate, hard working, breadwinning, nerdy sort of guy who still likes to go sledding.

 


the bachelorette taught me how to date

I’ve always been a monogamist. Sure, while dating online, I’ve gone out and met a series of guys around the same time…maybe even had a few dates with several different men. But then it always seemed to become clear which one I was going to date, even if only for a bit, even before any of them asked me to be exclusive.

For that reason, it’s always been a little bit difficult to watch those Bachelorette scenes in which she talks about how much she’s looking forward to going out with (let’s say) Randy, getting to know him better, feeling the chemistry, etc. And then, not 20 minutes later (even though it’s probably a whole 24 hours in real life), she’s expressing nearly the exact same thing about Dave. And there are several guys who she thinks are great guys and she can’t wait to get to know them all better. (We, the viewers, can clearly see otherwise, so the trick is to attempt to suspend disbelief.)

At this moment in life, I’m still getting over heartache. And I know the best way to move forward and get over it is to date. So I’m taking The Bachelorette approach. I’m super clear to everyone I meet that I’ve been through some difficult stuff over the past year, that I’m mostly over it, and that I want to take my time and get to know them slowly. And I’m not going to let myself get pulled in any one direction too quickly.

I have met several guys and I am nearly in the same place I was about a year ago (except then I was getting over the ego wound I called Brad, rather than genuine heartache) — I’m going in fairly indifferent, no expectations, working to keep a positive outlook. I find it my best default position. I’ve had some really fun dates — and with some guys I am genuinely excited to meet again:  there’s the East Coast Jewish guy, the local Irish Catholic (even with the stereotypical O’lastname), the traveling salesman who’s good for a fun dinner out every few weeks. All are so very different, and yet I’ve found a certain comfort and connection with each. No Lees in the bunch — yes, I still compare them all to him, but I didn’t feel what I felt for Lee until our fifth date — and our fifth date was a five-day trip!

Whether there’s a keeper among them is TBD, but there might be one among them who will finally help me get over that last guy for once and for all!


that happy

If you had told me a year ago that I would soon fall for a short, bald, portly man who felt like sunshine, I would have called you crazy. But fall I did… for a man I refer to here as Lee.

Even before we’d met, I sketched out a vision of what I wanted, in terms of lifestyle and a mate:

  • Regular travel — especially opportunities to adventure, ski or escape the cold midwestern winters.
  • Good food. A prospective mate must love sushi. And wine. And my cooking.
  • Some toys… I’d love a boat, enjoy biking, paddle boarding and more.
  • Experiences with someone who enjoys live music, theater, cooking and says “yes” to fun of all kinds.
  • A partner whose income as, at minimum, equal to mine. (I’ve had to support a man before. I did not enjoy it.)
  • And, looking ahead, I want his children to be at least as old as mine… because when mine are off to college, the heavens open up, the hallelujah chorus plays and even more travel and fun can begin for us as my / our children are off chasing their own dreams!

I never imagined I’d find all these things, even if in a package I didn’t expect — or, at first, appreciate. But he was persistent, kind, generous and thoughtful, not to mention intelligent and a ton of fun! He said yes to me, up until it was a no.

And, now, if you asked me what I want in life, I’d simply refer back to the time Lee and I spent together and say, “I want to feel that happy.” I honestly can’t imagine feeling more happy, content and fulfilled. Lee dotted all my i’s and crossed all my t’s; we seemed like a near perfect fit.

If it sounds like I’m crediting a man for all my happiness, that’s simply not true. I am a happy person because I’ve shaped my life and psyche to cultivate and nurture my own happiness. But there’s something to be said for finding someone with whom to share it all…

I’ve had to work extremely hard to get past the hurt, grief, anger and disappointment of the loss of said relationship. I’m finally moving on, meeting new men and allowing myself to have fun on dates.

So far, there have been no Lees…but I’ll know I’ve met someone special when I feel that happy.


death gives our lives structure

I’m paraphrasing here, but I heard a sentiment today on a podcast that said something like, “death gives structure to our lives.” I wrote it down on a slip of paper, tore it off the pad and shoved it into my pocket as I left the office earlier.

Here’s why it stuck with me and I was compelled to bring it up:  To optimize choice, it’s suggested (based on computer algorithms) that we consider 37 percent of our options and then chose the next best option we come across. You can apply this to searching for a mate, a restaurant for dinner, a house…

But I’m in my mid forties. My life is, ostensibly, half over. And, as I shared with my children the other day, I am driven by fear. Meaning:  I am not driven by fear of water, fear of heights, fear of sharks, fear of injury… Nay, I am driven by fear of not experiencing all I want to experience while I am still physically able and alive. But, in truth, it is less fear than lust for life; I have already experienced so much more than many around me:  I have water skied, slalomed, knee boarded and tubed behind a boat; I have yet to wakeboard. I have paddle boarded and surfed in the ocean. I have also downhill skied, hiked, biked, learned karate, run, skated, tried and enjoyed many flavors and textures of food and drink… I have traveled, but not everywhere or even to every continent. In short, I am somewhat driven to experience as much as humanly possible.

Why call it fear? Mostly to contrast a “healthier” fear to one of my children’s sometimes limiting fear of heights.

By the same token, I am not afraid of living / spending my life alone. My desire for partnership is stronger than my fear of embarking on another round of online dating. If there is fear in my quest for partnership, it is only the fear of not giving my children what I believe so strongly they deserve:  a loving and healthy relationship model.

So these are the thoughts in my head as we embark on vacation number two for the year… I will embrace adventure for myself and for them, I will use my vacation time, and we will all get on an airplane no less than three times a year to explore all the wonderful places to see, meet all the people there are to meet and thrust ourselves into the world with abandon.

And then, when we come back, I will brave yet another round of online dating and see if I might be able to apply this 37 percent algorithm somehow. You’ll be the first to know!