really, I’m fine

I keep meaning to write — really, I do… And then I go into a funk because it’s rained for like six days straight and I might lose my ever-loving mind if we don’t get some sunshine and a high pressure system soon.

So here’s what’s going on (as might relate to this blog):  not much.

Meaning:  my life is busy and full, as usual. I enjoy time with my girlfriends and family, spend a bit of time at sporting or other school events with my children and occasionally do some work around the house. Or pay someone to.

This last weekend, I clicked through a link in my Facebook feed and found myself answering some questions and ultimately realized I was in the process of completing a profile on a dating site. Momentary freakout… because as excited as I can get for the vision of my partnered / mated life, as good as that feels to imagine / remember how amazing love can be, I still can’t seem to get myself excited about the prospect of online dating. It just feels like so much work! Still I hit “submit.” And I was fine. The world didn’t come crashing to a halt… nor did the heavens open and angels sing.

The next day, I happened to be in a place where there was a psychic. Okay, I drove to a place because I heard good things about a certain psychic. So I sat down for a few minutes and found myself becoming quite emotional as I asked about this “other half” I’m eager to meet and share my life with. The psychic looked at me with my teary eyes and said, “You need to focus on your own happiness right now.” And this was my exact in-that-moment thought:

It’s not that I’m unhappy; I’m just really sad.

Because, unlike what we’re taught when we’re growing up, happy and sad are not polar opposites; they are not mutually exclusive. I’m living proof that it is entirely possible to be happy and content with life, and to be sad that there’s one part that feels … well, frankly… cursed.

The psychic said of my experience with Lee:  “That experience had a purpose — it was to give you a glimpse of how great love can be.”

To which my response is:  “F&$# that! I didn’t need a trial run or a dress rehearsal; I was ready for the real thing…and for it to last.” He also assured me that it was very real — for Lee, as well. And that he got scared. Which was like, DUH.

(All of which should probably make me question whether said psychic is really psychic, because it was approximately as informative and “true” as a daily horoscope. But some days I take comfort where I can find it.)

At any rate, the next day I checked my new dating app, read a few messages, looked at the potential matches within my parameters (scant) and, then, I unceremoniously deleted my profile. Because even though I’m pretty happy most of the time, I wouldn’t say I’m feeling vibrant, in love with life or excited at the prospect of meeting new men.

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dating in the time of trump

You haven’t heard from me in a while, and for good reason(s). Work has been insane, I’ve been on a 30-day cleanse (no fun!) and, candidly, I’ve just seen too much mean come out of the woodwork lately… which brings me to today’s topic:  How can one date in the time of Trump?

When someone who has made incendiary remarks against blacks, women, Muslims, Mexicans and others is in the highest office in the land, some people suddenly think it’s okay to forget what their mammas told them. Remember “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”? A lot of people seem to have forgotten that.

The news is full of hate crimes and half-truths. People are more polarized than I can recall and, given that dating sites can be somewhat akin to social media, I just don’t feel the need to put myself out there for insults or debate based on different ideologies. I guess I’m feeling a little sensitive. I’m not interested in encountering any more negativity than is already out there, so taking a break is a move to protect my energy.

In fact, I went on several dates with a guy who said he’s normally conservative, but wouldn’t be voting for Trump. Then, post-election, he said he did vote for Trump. About two weeks after the inauguration, he was telling me how amazing he thought I was…and all I could do was honestly tell him that he was disqualified. You see, if he thought our now president was doing a good job, I’m pretty sure we didn’t share enough common values to have a serious relationship. If, on the other hand, he was having regrets about his vote, I wondered how he was so idiotic he didn’t see it coming. There was no winning at that point.

On the flip side, it seems like it could be a great time to easily sort out those who share my feminist, pro-choice, inclusive values (read non Trump supporters). Maybe this would be the best time of all to give meeting new men a go. In fact, I recently saw an article discussing the most successful group of daters on OKCupid:  proudly liberal women. If I’m not mistaken, the data referenced was for a younger group than I’m in, so I’m not certain whether the same is true for my demographic.

But let’s take this a step further — we have to talk about sex. Sex is inherently political. How so? Let’s play out a scenario:  Let’s say one is on a hot and sexy date, and both parties are eager to engage in a romp. What about protection? Who is responsible? What happens if, despite precautions, one becomes pregnant? You see, certain conversations need to take place before getting jiggy. For example, I can’t conceive of sleeping with someone who was anti-choice. (Pun intended.) And I firmly believe, at my age and station, that a man who has already had a family should take the step of getting a vasectomy — it’s simply the chivalrous thing to do.

Meanwhile with work, children, life and a new hobby — demonstrating / protesting (while proudly wearing my fuchsia pussy hat) — taking all my time, who has time to date? So, for now, the resistance is my boyfriend.


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!