where am I going with this?

I honestly don’t know.

I thought I had a good concept going with failedatforty.com — a good story and one with potential legs. For example, I could have been “fierce at forty-one,” or “failed to fierce” or “failed to fabulous.”

But, truth be told, I had started dating by the time I thought I’d be ready to do these things. And I’d started to begin thinking about my professional growth again, which meant I didn’t have as much time or energy to spend here. And I didn’t feel fierce at all. I felt…soft. Which was not only unexpected, but also without alliteration.

Unexpectedly soft. That’s how I felt in a relationship with a manly guy with manly man energy. And — I know it sounds crazy — I loved it! I’m sure my guy would have laughed and joked, “soft as nails!” But I know he enjoyed being man enough to match my strong-willed energy. Strong on the inside, soft and flexible on the outside…it was like that thing Joan Armatrading sings about in her song Willow:  “strong, straight, willing…”

So, I’m not sure I feel all that soft anymore, really…neither do I feel fierce. Maybe sometimes. Occasionally fabulous. Perhaps I’m failed to fabulous? I guess time will tell…

In the meantime, I’m just going to keep dropping in, sharing some about thoughts about relationships, dating and being when the mood arises.

Let me know what you think.

let’s break up again

Hollywood has made a killing on romantic stories of first dates that happen over and over again.

And so, while lying in my hammock on the first lovely day of spring, remembering fondly its role in the courtship between me and my first boyfriend after becoming single again, I began musing on what I thought was a brilliant idea:  We had broken up so lovingly, maturely, beautifully…why couldn’t we break up over and over again? Why not spend one more beautiful, perfect, last day together — knowing that maybe we aren’t quite right for the long haul together — but enjoying and celebrating the love and affection we still have for one another. What could be wrong with that? Perhaps I should start on the screenplay!

So as I was remembering and musing — you’d think I’d know better — I dialed his number. To my surprise, he answered. And I rambled on for a bit about all my girlfriends thinking I’m a damn fool and how much I missed him and that I’d brought my hammock out and I told him my idea. We chatted a bit and then, as we were about to end our conversation, he asked, “So, do you want me to come over?”

And he did. And we talked and snuggled in the hammock for a bit and he said, “I’m going to take you upstairs and [this part is really not fit for print] and then we’re going to dinner and then I’m going to bring you back home and we’re going to [do that part] all over again.”

Now, y’all know by now how much I like a man with a plan. And especially one who can execute on the plan. Well, we did exactly as planned. Except for the part where he paused and told me that the only thing that could make it better than it was already was if we were in a committed relationship. And when I told him that I still couldn’t say, “YES!” to that, I know he was disappointed.

As we said our good-byes that night, he looked me in the eyes and said, “Now don’t call me again.” And I haven’t, even though I still think he’s wonderful and will miss him.

I’ve since told a few girlfriends about this, and they’ve all nodded and repeated, “mmm, breaking up again” knowingly, like it’s a thing. So apparently this is no novel idea. Apparently, for years, all around me and without my knowing it, people have been breaking up again and enjoying it! Like so many other things, I am a late bloomer when it comes to enjoying the benefits of break-up sex.

None of this brought up difficult emotions for me. I’d made my peace with where we were at — and I still think this guy is a terrific catch!

And then, earlier this weekend, I saw a little film (again) called 500 Days of Summer. Months after breaking up, main characters Tom and Summer find themselves at the same wedding / reception and she falls asleep on his shoulder on the way back to the city. She asks him to a party that weekend and, at some point that evening, he realizes that she’s engaged to a new guy…and he’s devastated.

That’s when I realized that I was Summer and he was Tom, and inviting my former man back into my life for a day may have given him false hope of reconciliation and was, probably, actually kind of cruel…and that hurting him was the furthest thing from my intent.

Toward the end, the two leads run into one another again and, in the course of their conversation (I may be paraphrasing here), Summer, now married, says, “One day I woke up and I just knew.”

Tom:  “Knew what?”

Summer:  “All those things I was never certain about with you.”

And I guess that articulates really well what so many of us are looking for:  certainty, something to which we can say YES!

Oh well. Lesson learned. But I’m still toying with that screenplay idea, Hollywood.

p.s. If you haven’t seen the movie, do — it’s a tale wonderfully told. Besides, who can resist Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel?

proud of us

If there’s one thing I can say about my recently ended relationship, it’s that I am so proud of the way we conducted ourselves. I haven’t always been able to say so, and I’m just so glad to see how much I’d grown:

  • I stood up for myself when it was called for.
  • I broke down and allowed myself to cry and shared what I was feeling in the moment when it was the right time to do that (i.e. when it was authentic to what I was feeling).
  • I accepted and admitted where my baggage needed some tidying up, and was willing to see it, own it and make some changes in my own behavior. And I was willing to draw the line and say so when the baggage wasn’t mine.
  • I argued well and respectfully.
  • I was genuine and truthful.
  • I gave love a chance. I was present with an open heart and mind.
  • He was a gentleman and employed excellent manners.
  • He showed discipline and adherence to principles such as honesty, respect and justice.
  • He allowed me to be a bit of a princess, but let me know where the line was.

I’m not saying I don’t have room to improve. I certainly witnessed / experienced areas within myself that still require some healing or some work. And I’m going to nurture myself and take care of those things and go on with life and, some day, new relationships.

Right now, I’m just grateful and happy to have experienced a truly rewarding, respectful and fun relationship. I feel nothing but love and respect for my recent ex …which is more than I can say for my ex ex! I’m proud of us and the way we cared for and supported one another, and it’s a blessing to be able to look back and feel that way.

what’s wrong with you, girl?!

If there’s a single phrase I’ve heard more than any other in the past few weeks, it’s “What is wrong with you, girl?!” Insert the cuss word of your choice before “wrong” and you would likely sound just like any number of my girlfriends.

All of this in reference to my letting a perfectly decent man go because I wasn’t ready or something wasn’t right or whatever that feeling of unease I was having that was telling me that I needed more time to find balance within myself. It’s difficult to place just what it was anymore, in part because their shocked expressions have made me question it all. I’m a Libra; I weigh all input and feedback. Let’s summarize by saying my breakup has been unpopular amongst those who met my former beau.

Even the response to my recent guest post on The Plankton clearly demonstrated a bias toward hanging onto a good relationship, even if it’s one I was not, at present, fully capable of appreciating. The pendulum of public opinion, it seems, has clearly swung to the Mr. Good Enough camp.

The problem with this, of course, is that Mr. Good Enough wants to be prized — he doesn’t want to be just good enough or for so many of his gifts to go unnoticed or unappreciated by someone who is unable, at this moment, to fully embrace them. Surely Mr. Good Enough for me is Mr. Over-the-Moon Love-of-My-Life to some ecstatic woman. And he deserves that.

Unlike many of those vocal girlfriends with whom I’ve been spending time, I already have children. I’m not on the clock; I don’t feel a biological imperative to settle in to the first relationship I find after my divorce. In fact, I think something inside me was biased against doing just that. A part of me hopes to see a little more of what’s out there — even if the only purpose that serves is to show me how great I had it.

I’m not looking for perfection — I would have been willing to fully embrace the relationship if I had been absolutely certain that it was right. But I wasn’t 100% in it. And it would have been wrong to try to feign otherwise.

the fear

Having gone to bed the other night blissing out as love, abundance and sweetness, it was super weird to wake the next morning feeling abject fear; a fear that took a long time to shake; fear for no immediate or apparent reason.

When one wakes feeling something like that, one has to wonder:

  • What was I dreaming, just prior to having woken, to feel this way, so incredibly different from how I’d fallen asleep feeling? And, if that’s the case, I’m glad I don’t remember my dream.
  • Is it possible that, in digesting meat I’d eaten the night before, the chemicals of their fear were what I was experiencing? Not kidding, I’ve wondered about this before and it makes me contemplate eating a more vegetarian-based diet.
  • Was it my body releasing some of my own deeply buried and previously unprocessed fear, peeling back yet another layer of the proverbial onion?
  • A counselor once told me that it’s natural for us to relive the moment of our birth when we wake — could that have been it? Was I really in such terror as I exited the birth canal? Seems reasonable that I might have been.
  • Or is fear just that healthy sign, as I read in some email or blog recently (I’d link if I could find it), that I’m moving the right direction? Am I? I think so.

Whatever the case, it seemed like aeons before I was able to pull myself together emotionally. Luckily, life, children, work and even the laundry forces me to keep going, even when I’m more inclined to cower in the corner.

At some point, the feeling dissipated…but the weirdness of it all — waking up feeling so 180 from where I was just hours before — stayed with me long enough to inspire me to write about it. Do you ever feel that way?

hurdles and sweetness

I recall a year ago when every single baby step along the way to dating seemed like a colossal hurdle:  there was simply getting a date, and then going on a first date enjoyable enough to be asked on a second and — with the low barriers to entry in online dating — actually experiencing the follow-through of a second date and so on and so forth, every new hurdle higher and more effortful and seemingly impossible.

For a long time, I wondered if any of it would ever seem natural again. And then suddenly it did and was, and a first kiss and third date no longer seemed like milestones of sorts and, before I knew it, I had a lover and boyfriend and relationship.

When I look back on these hurdles that once seemed so impossible, so beyond my ability to leap over them, they are faded and shrunken and have no particular significance to me any longer. And then I realized when it all changed:

At some point, late last summer, I decided to stop looking for love and to stop looking for abundance and decided, instead, to fill myself from within and be love and be abundance. No longer was I seeking. Rather, I was enjoying and sharing. And, of course, that’s when love and abundance seemed to happen in my life. If and when masculine energy appeared in my life, I simply enjoyed it and the way it allowed me to feel feminine. I recognized it, appreciated it, expected nothing more of it — and then attracted more of it. It wasn’t about effort or ability. It was about being. And, with this simple shift in energy, things changed.

I suspect that might explain why a man who had clearly told me on more than one occasion that he didn’t view me as a potential romantic interest kissed me one night. And then asked me out again. And kissed me some more.

For some of my long-time readers, you’ll recall my epic vision board endeavor of early last year. I had no husband, partner or job, and all the time in the world to dream and meditate about all the ways in which I wanted to change my life. I packed that damned board full of so many hopes and dreams and desires that there was no way I could ever have implemented or embraced it all at once…at least not without having gotten a lobotomy.

Somewhere along the way, I was able to distill it all down to two fundamental concepts:  love and abundance, two simple words / concepts that represented the greater whole of a full, rich and joyful life that I wished to create. And I’m proud to say that I feel I’ve embraced these states of being pretty well, for the most part.

I haven’t created a vision board for this year. Meant to. Allowed myself to let it slide. And I’ve decided to try to add just one thing for the coming year. You see, I’m happy with being love and being abundance. They still fit and feel good to me. Yet, if there’s just one other thing I’d like to add, it’s sweetness — I want to bring more sweetness into my everyday existence, recognizing those stop-and-smell-the-flowers moments all along the way.

So, three months belated in sharing with you all, that’s my vision for 2012:

  • Be love.
  • Be abundance.
  • Be sweetness.

And I know, in so being, I will also draw these things to me.

my dating story

Earlier today, The Plankton was lovely enough to post a little something I’d written about my recent relationship and break-up. I was surprised at some of the commentary it received, and reading some of those comments really made me think about the entire dating experience:

Months ago, actually about a year ago, I started dating. I think I thought I was looking for something special. I think I thought I’d be ready for something special if it came along. I think I thought I’d end up going on three or four dates with a few different blokes before deciding to share more time with a single one among them. I think I thought I’d have some varied experiences against which to measure a man. I think I thought it would all begin a little more slowly. I think I thought it would take time to meet someone special.

So no one was more surprised than me when a gentleman asked for an exclusive arrangement early in our dating relationship. And it turned out he was pretty darned great!

Looking back, I’m a bit surprised how quickly a few weeks became a few months and then suddenly it was six months. And, looking back, I had no idea how difficult it would be to keep my life in balance with children and other obligations, especially starting a new job. And he, too, started a new job and, rightfully, wanted a supportive girlfriend…which I was sometimes available to be.

From what others tell me, six months seems to be a new magical number in adult dating, one I hadn’t realized before. That’s apparently when things “get serious” or don’t. And, life being what it is, I realized that I’m just not ready for a serious relationship right at this moment. Even with a great guy. I haven’t really dated or had any other relationships since my (obviously) unsuccessful marriage.

I’m not sure I was mentally or emotionally prepared to fully embrace the possibility that the very first person I really dated since my divorce could be the person with whom I’d want to spend the rest of my life.

My failed relationship lasted, give or take, a dozen years. And, despite the ambivalence I feel about having a serious relationship right this minute, I do genuinely desire partnership and hope to find the mate with whom I’ll spend the rest of my life. Given my family’s genetic make-up, that could easily mean spending more than forty years with someone. So I’d like to consider carefully, take my time, and be healed and whole enough to make a better choice than I made last time around.

I think I could have gone on dating and enjoying and being with a man — this particular man — for much, much longer, in a sort of dating status quo. If he’d asked, “Do you want to stay together? Do you want to continue to spend time with me?” my answer was simple: “Yeah, for sure. You’re wonderful. Why wouldn’t I?”

But he was looking for a different answer to a different question. He wanted to know: “Woman, are you as crazy about me as I am about you?” And he was looking for a resounding “YES!”

I still believe it’s possible that my “Yeah” would have grown into a “YES!” over time. I didn’t need the knock-kneed, butterflies-in-the-stomach feelings of infatuation to care deeply for and share physical excitement with this man. I wasn’t seeking perfection. I was willing to take time to allow my feelings to grow and blossom naturally.

In the end, he thought I’d had enough time to know. My having been honest about how I felt, he chose to venture back out there in search of that woman who is absolutely, positively crazy about him. And I can’t say that I blame him…because who among us doesn’t want that?

there you have it

I think those of you who follow here can tell that I’m fairly real and genuine. One moment I think I’ve forgiven and moved on; the next I’m behaving badly out of lingering blame and resentment.

These are realities for the divorced, and these are the things I choose to share here. I don’t dwell in them. It’s not my whole life. But it’s the sliver of me you get to see for visiting here.