A Realistic Understanding

For the first time ever, I have started to better understand some of my motivating behaviors.

I suppose it’s a good place to start.

I keep a running list of what bothers me about myself so I can speak to my therapist. I ask myself questions when I pass immediate judgement on people or situations why I might be lacking the necessary empathy to better understand. I just didn’t know what to do with some of these thoughts.

My list of questions has included:

Why am I always so critical, often times even unintentionally. I take things very personally. Why is income such an indicator of, not only others worth, but my own self worth. I have high expectations for myself and those around me. I don’t listen well.

One part I have just come to understand is that my impressions of money come from the way I was raised. My father and mother put a lot of importance on earning money and having a reputable job that was not “blue collar” like my father. My father owned his own business and my mother managed the money. While we lived in a beautiful home in a great town, a child doesn’t really understand that. I just understood I didn’t have what the other kids around me had. Their parents afforded them luxuries my mother wouldn’t entertain. My friends families went on what felt like extravagant family vacations. If they wanted to shop at the mall, their parents gave them a credit card. I want allowed to buy Jordache jeans. I remember going away to sleep away camp, which is costly and certainly not something every child gets to do, but my clothes, my bedding and even the food my mother sent me with felt inferior. I didn’t get the care packages every other week that the other kids did. We were not poor by any means, we just lived in a moderately wealthy town and the friends I made just happened to fall into the wealthy category. My childhood didn’t feel unhappy to me, but now that I am forced to look back to discover why I measure things the way I do, I realize I was often times unhappy and I became a very jealous and competitive child.

While my father didn’t drink, he was a workaholic and I have my drive from his example but also built in from my birth father. Drive was one of my best qualities. I never associated workaholic to another form of addiction. I tried my entire life to win my fathers love. A father who didn’t want children and only agreed because my mother did and he wanted my mother. I didn’t know I was fighting a losing battle coupled with a personality that was inflamed my father. He wanted a bright child, but not smarter than him, despite the fact that he knew my education was important.

I have only just realized that working harder and earning more money always won accolades from my father. I didn’t even realize this by the time I was an adult. I do remember him scoffing at my college degree and that I would never know a hard days of work sitting at a desk. I distinctly recall years later, after a month of coming home from work in a black car at 10pm every evening, my father telling my mother he didn’t realize how hard I would have to be working. He didn’t know I heard him say that to her. I guess I didn’t know it most likely added fuel to the bonfire of my drive to succeed and “show him” I was valuable. And if value was hard work and money, I could show him that and he would value me.

So much of this makes sense to me. Why I equate self worth with money and achievement. And how money and achievement must be linked to drive and determination. I willed success at one point in my life and was literally able to achieve it through sheer determination. I never allowed myself the opportunity to fail, because failure meant my father would no longer value me.

And, in turn, I have learned not only that I don’t know how to value myself when I’m not earning money, living in the right town, in the right home, buying what I want, spending what I want … but I don’t value others who don’t measure wealth and achievement the same way I do.

I get that all this time it sounded like I was a spoiled brat, and sure, compared to most I probably am. I didn’t know why it was so important to me and could never understand why I placed such importance on it.

While I comprehend on an intellectual level what I’ve learned and discovered here, I know I don’t have the tools at hand to change my world view yet. Strangely enough, this was an area that Scott taught me to view slightly differently and I began to truly questioning what my issue really was. Why wasn’t it ever enough for me?

What if it still isn’t enough? What if I continue to judge value based on income and ambition?

This is easier said than changed.

Second Sense

I heard from him.

I was surprised, but not surprised.

Before we broke his daughter was trying for a bar tending job she really wanted and she got it. She was so excited and I was happy for her and wanted to give her a little something. I had been telling him for months that she needed a real leather belt, so I figured this would be a good gift. I purchased it before we broke up.

Then promptly forgot about it until it was too late to cancel it. That’s fine. The girl has no strong adult women figures in her life and zero female encouragement, and she needed a belt. I knew the sentiment would be welcome.

The belt finally arrived mid week this week and I received a sweet little text from her. I replied with positive encouragement and a note about how I knew she would do well in the future blah blah.

The next morning, I received the first communication from Scott:

I was surprised at his text, but it was thoughtful. It didn’t set me back which was more surprising to me.

The next day I received another text from him asking for my referral code to buy a Peloton. I replied with the code and nothing else (I get money for the referral so I wasn’t turning it down!).

I was due to see a friend that evening and she’s fabulous with makeup so I asked her if she minded doing my makeup and taking some fresh photos for me so I would have updated profile pics for the dating apps and social media. While I was in her chair getting glam and we were discussing him, she asked what I thought and, before I realized what I was saying, I said I knew he would be reaching out again.

So that’s when it hit me. I think I knew, maybe, after the first text. But I knew, certainly, after the second. My gut told me that he was struggling with the reversal of me not reaching out to him as I had done almost every time in the past.

I went out with my friend and didn’t give him texting me another thought. Of course we spoke about him, but more about how I was ha doing it and what I was feeling and how I was taking one day at a time. I said that when he sent me the second text, something inside me released him.

Perhaps it was knowing that he missed me or that he cared. Or that he hurt. Maybe I needed the validation. Quite likely. Either way, I had noticed a small shift.

As it also happened, during the day I had my therapy appt and it was very constructive as I started to realize I had bigger fish to fry than Scott. I am facing serious life challenges ahead and can’t afford to have a partner who is anything less than supportive right now. Just like I would at work, I need to prioritize. I can date and have fun and find a fun partner to pal around with during the summer if I want, but my focus needs to be on what I’m doing with my home and career and I don’t need additional turmoil.

Of course the moment you put these things into the universe, the universe likes to throw in some twists and turns.

Scott text again this morning.

I haven’t replied. I will reply because I am not an asshole. I just don’t know what to reply. I miss my friend. But, I am not going back into relationship with Scott. Full stop. I am not going back into relationship with Scott.

You may feel I am being harsh, but the text doesn’t ring true to me and like all things Scott, I can’t pinpoint why. Maybe because he’s told me he’s never cried a day in his life and certainly not over a woman. Maybe because he’s told me he’s never had a broken heart. Or maybe it was the look in his eyes and face those last days and moments when he was so shut down to me.

Tell me what you think about the text and what I could reply that is kind and leaves a door open for a friend, in some future.

It’s Over

This is going to be long and painful but it’s got to come out.

I wish I had a psychologist write this for me so it didn’t sound like such an attack but at this point I don’t even care about his triggers. I am pretty certain now I’ve been gaslighted. I tried so hard those last 2 weeks to the point I felt my entire person slipping from me and it was like watching my 22 year marriage in fast forward and all at once – for joy to utter despair and losing myself just to make someone like me – which meant giving myself up – and even then, that person wasn’t going to be happy with me.

……………….

Dear Scott,

There are so many things I saw as potential, but the things that stood in the way were things you felt defined you which is a pity.

The immaturity, the drinking, the smoking, the codependent relationship with your child and the utter complacency about work are things I’m just not interested in being a part of. These were not the picture you presented to me when I met you. The real fact of the matter, the part I think you are angriest about, is that you couldn’t keep up the facade you sold me on. And then got mad when I called you out on it. It all turned in to “I’m not the man to change” when the man I met was all about change. The man I met wanted to be a better man, not a bitter and unloving partner.

I will never forget how you told me I was the pinnacle of everything you ever wanted. That you felt you hit the lottery with me. When you said that to me, just as when you fell in love with me, you were hiding major parts of yourself from me. So the man I (thought I) was falling in love with isn’t the man I was with at the end.

I didn’t know you smoked or how heavily you drank. I didn’t know that you no longer had peer friends to do activities with, that your social circle consisted of children. I didn’t know that the reason women were jealous of your daughter was was because you have a codependent relationship and treat her like a spouse rather than a child and the lines get very blurry. I didn’t know you were so complacent to sit in one job until retirement despite the fact you are one of the smartest men I know. I didn’t know that you enjoy the fact that you are the “brute force” guy at work, the one they send to go knock some guys over and scare people and you love it. I didn’t know how much anger you held deep, deep within.

You spoke about all the brilliant activities you did: golfing, concerts, hiking, biking, fishing etc. I find out that many, if not most, of these activities are your so called “legends” and stories of old. You haven’t done many of these activities with any regularity since you’ve moved to VA almost 8 years ago. Your entire life revolves around bar and drinking activities.

What’s even more disturbing to me is when you say that most of these activities you have only done drunk, including sex. You actually highlight how drunk you were in any given activity with a badge of honor. But then, you don’t want me to call out an alcohol problem. You told me that you can’t recall the last time you had sex without being drunk and you certainly never had slow sex. You didn’t know what “making love” even meant.

I asked you point blank more than once if you smoked and you said you stopped. Then you said only cigars occasionally. Then you said you would stop all cigars. Finally, in the last argument, you told me I needed to accept your smoking. I’m not going to accept your smoking. I gave a very clear boundary you chose to break right in front of me and then tell me it’s “no big deal” and try and manipulate how I should feel about it. You lied to me about you smoking in general, saying you didn’t smoke at all initially. Then you continue to lie to me about smoking less and trying to quit all together. Finally, when you are faced with me being upset that you crossed my boundary, you unfairly turn it back on me with other arguments and state I “take a bucket of pills ” to reduce my anxiety. Maybe if you asked questions you would know I don’t take any pills ever during a day to reduce anxiety. I don’t anesthetize myself the way you do with alcohol or smoke. But since you don’t know how to ask questions, you wouldn’t know this, you just make assumptions from the pieces you have heard or seen. Turning an argument about cigars into something entirely different is your way of never being accountable for your actions. Not once in our relationship have you said “I’m sorry my action has upset you” or “I was aware this crossed a line”. It’s always “because you do this I do that”. Every action has a justification in my behavior, you can’t seem to find accountability for your own behavior with anything.

You are so smart, so funny and so engaging and yet you hang out with children. You claim “this is how we do it” yet I know of no adults anywhere who do this. You do this because you don’t have any peer friends. Everything revolves around a bar and alcohol. You go into a bar and literally drink as fast as you can to get drunk – that is an alcoholic and immature behavior. Kids do that. When a man who is nearing 50 is sitting there slamming down shots and trying to hide drinks in his jacket to get them out of the bar at the end of the night, he’s a drunk. More than once a week you call me slurring you’re words at 930 at night, Scott. Is this the man you want to be? I thought you were a better man than that. I think you can be. But the more you hang around with children or hang around in a bar the less chance you grow up.

Maybe you like the fact that they don’t challenge you. They don’t talk about anything important. They entertain the nonsense you bring up. They can talk about the random inane nothingness that fills most of your chatter. Unimportant information. Talk about big dreams that will never materialize like gay bars and weed stores. I notice when I am around if I talk about something more serious that anyone is engaged with, you go blank and bored, and people notice. You want to be an entertainer. You want to act the fool. That’s fine. Be a fool. Just not with me. I want a grown up. A man who acts like a grown up and talks like a grown up and behaves like a grown up when I’m out with them. I don’t want to worry about being utterly embarrassed by being with the local drunk. About your child making sure I’m driving you home. I want a man who can speak about important things, who doesn’t feel a need to advertise his salary so he can get a stimulus check, who considers drug dealers and thieves amongst his “friend” group. No judgement you tell me. Well, yes, I have a lot of judgement. You surround yourself with these people because they don’t hold you to a higher standard. They don’t require you to be a better man.

Speaking of your child. I love Lauren, she’s such a lovely spirit. I feel so bad she hasn’t had a decent mother. You have done so many good things for Lauren and I do think you have done a great job of being both mom and dad and being there for her. You have a great relationship. But, You aren’t doing her any favors being her best friend and bar buddy. you wonder why women are jealous and Ive explained this to you before but here’s the right word for it – you are entirely codependent with your child. Stop with the “we” and start living the “I”. You are a 47 year old man. You have a lot of responsibility for yourself, own it and stop acting like your daughter is your spouse. You are unintentionally putting all that pressure on her for your lack of a partner – she’s filling your void whether you realize it or not. She always feels bad when you are alone and she wants you to be happy. Every choice you make in your home doesn’t need to be run by your daughter, you can make these decisions, stop treating her like an adult spouse/partner. It’s unhealthy for her to have such an enmeshed relationship. You’ve taught her how to not respond emotionally and that it’s ok for an adult parent to be an alcoholic. Is that what you want for your own child? Do you know how to make independent decisions? Sometimes I wonder as I rarely hear you say the word “I”. It’s like you can’t think for yourself. You can sugar coat that all you want and say it’s just language, but the psychology of it speaks volumes – you just don’t use the personal pronoun. I was given all the leeway in the world to speak to your daughter and her boyfriend until it no longer suited you, until you could use it against me in anger. You send mixed messages. You were very clear at the beginning that you wanted someone who would be a good mothering influence in her life, well for me that means I don’t go drinking and getting drunk with her boyfriend and watching him take advantage of mine. So the fact that I defended you suddenly was used against me. I simply suggested to her boyfriend to buy you a bottle of scotch because he lives there 4 days a week and you are so generous (and I told you this story the next day because you were too drunk to tell you the night it happened) and your daughter tells you her boyfriend won’t come around because I “yelled” at him. When I told you what I said to him and his reaction, even you thought he was a little shit. But when your daughter tells the story, you throw it back at me a WEEK later. It’s shit like this Scott That shows me me you I can’t trust you to be consistent. When I said I did not “yell” at the child, you said it’s his perception. But when I say your angry with me, my perception doesn’t count.

This is how I know I’m being gaslighted. I can highlight numerous occasions now where you adjust stories to suit your argument.

You told me many, many times I’m the most important woman hands down – until I’m not and need to be “smacked down into my place”. That’s how you treat me. I’m the Queen until you decide I need to be put down a few notches. And when you decide to smack me down, you manage to do it so well, because my insecurities allow you to get right at them, the door opens wide and let’s you right in.

At first I thought every time you said “what do you want to do” or “whatever you want” it was because you really meant it or because you really were trying to lease me but now I’ve come to learn that’s not it at all. It’s because you are simply a people pleaser and you don’t even want to be. That’s where all the “we” nonsense comes from. You think every single thing needs to be aligned on. You can’t start any thought with “I would really like xxx, what would you like?” Everything is open ended. This way, when it doesn’t turn out the way you prefer, you have something to complain about because that’s not really what you wanted anyway. So when you don’t choose the restaurant, it’s much easier to complain about it because you really wanted a different one, but you were not clear about it. Then, many times when I make a decision, it’s not what you really wanted to do and “you did it for me” and were unhappy about it. That’s not flexibility. Talk about being a martyr- you don’t even see yourself up on the cross.

You believe you are clear about things, you believe you say them over and over. You even have these fabulous knack of “I never got to finish my sentence from 6 months ago”. It’s famous. It’s now legendary as you would say. You believe, you really believe, you never had an opportunity to speak your piece. Or that I haven’t heard you repeat the same unclear, ambiguous messages over and over. Doesn’t matter how many times I ask you to clear it up, it’s always the same “just relax” or some form of it.

We have no intimacy. We speak about the most mundane, daily things. Things you can’t speak to any stranger on the street. I hear you tell anyone and everyone the same stories you tell me. How does that make me special? Where is our intimacy? The only form of communication is functional. There are rarely engaging questions from you. I have repeatedly asked you to be more curious and you come up with millions of reasons why not, and still don’t. You don’t know how to have emotional and intimate conversations.

I broke your trust? Supposedly I wrote to my therapist? Here’s the thing you got caught out about, I never write to my therapist other than to confirm and appointment. I have every right to communicate with my friends about anything. You asked me not to communicate to you what I speak to my friends about. So I stopped. Yet, you read something over my shoulder out of context and I broke your trust? I would have clarified or even shown you the text but your stonewalling – another favorite abuse tactic of yours. Once again, had you just asked what you saw in the moment you saw it I would have shared. One night in bed I asked 3 times what Lauren was texting about so late at night and you kept saying nothing, but kept texting – so it’s one for you to have conversations I’m not a part of but not ok for me.

You do not want a mature woman. You need a young girl who wants to go out and act the fool at a bar with you and Lauren’s friends and get drunk and smoke. You want someone to run around and play with. Someone who doesn’t have family ties and will only be bound to you. You don’t like roots because you have none.

I tried to sit this week and speak to you. I tried to set aside time. I kept my tone of voice even. I stayed on topic. I know for a fucking fact I did everything right because by God I wasn’t going to fail this time. And I watched it happened like a scene from a movie I’ve seen a thousand times, but this time I knew it by heart and this time I knew I had no part in the movie, where before I was mistakenly playing a part in your drama. We can’t have a discussion can we? There isn’t one thing, not one single thing, I can bring up that you won’t counter with your own justification. Not one thing you will take actual accountability for.

………

That’s my first brain dump. There’s more to come. I really need some help and support to pull myself through this one. If you’re out there and you’re listening. Stick around and give me all the feedback you can. But not just “get out, be strong” I really want some solid feedback if you have it. I keep feeling like I’ve missed shit along the way. I know this letter isn’t really something you can feedback on because it’s not detailed enough but o think I might write some examples to get your opinions

What Still Lies Between

Now you have most of the good stuff so it’s time I get through the pieces that are still floating in my head as challenges.

This part I find to be my self -talk-therapy. I’ve got questions to suss through and I often find myself stepping back from Scott to think: can I do this?

Here’s my running list of what lies stuck between my heart and my head ….

Attraction and Sex: The attraction piece is not fully vetted. I do find myself becoming more attracted to him and wonder if that’s from familiarity.

Sex has improved although there is still some sort of missing component for me. I get turned on by Scott, that is never an issue (so there clearly is an attraction) but at some point during the act, I become too aware that I might not like something. We have started talking about this a little more because I believe he senses it as (from me) well. I’m having a hard time with orgasm. He’s gotten me there a couple times, but not enough for the amount of time we are together. I’m afraid because I’m frustrated I’m not asking for more oral sex and he’s not offering. Our sexual styles are very different. He is so very far behind my more skilled partners that it worries me. Perhaps it’s not that he’s less skilled, it’s just less in sync with me? Either way, something is off.

Part of me balks at talking about “how” I like to have sex. I can absolutely say what I don’t like when it happens, but guidance on what I do like I find much harder. It’s not a recipe. I hate being a teacher with such a passion (my baggage from my marriage) and frankly I’m a horrible teacher. He’s not super intuitive and because early on there was way too much I didn’t like about his style that I’m going to guess he’s holding back in some ways.

I think this is the greatest challenge.

Bravado/Bragging/Gossiping: Without writing a novel and being over descriptive (which I know I tend to do) I’m just going to list a few of the consistent behaviors he exhibits:

He can sometimes behave very immaturely for a 46 year old man and he tends to spend too much time with much younger people in a different place in life.

While he thinks he avoids drama like the plague, he in fact, invites it in. It’s the sheer nature of his personality to pretend not to be involved when he is entirely involved. Like not gawking at a traffic accident and perhaps then even causing your own. He attracts drama. This one I understand. I know this because it’s shit I’ve done with men. But he doesn’t just do it with women but also the kids he hangs around with.

He doesn’t think he brags but he does. Pride is ok when it’s subtle. He wants people to know what he’s accomplished and he needs the affirmation. I am not used to anyone talking about themselves in this manner. I find it very off-putting and don’t really know what to make of it.

The gossip – that’s something I’ve never done and it really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. He talks to a lot of people and feels like he keeps his most personal information close to his chest. He just doesn’t realize he reveals all of himself in so many other ways than the actual words. To compound this, his 24 year old daughter is busy telling everyone anything else he hasn’t told them. He does the same thing in his personal and professional life. I have my close friends or family (and of course this blog) that I share personal info with and even then, not always outright. Maybe I’m just not as friendly and open. His job allows him enough down time (breakfast breaks, coffee breaks, lunch breaks) that it’s ripe for water cooler gossip. Again, I’m not used to this amount of free time in an office environment.

I know that sounds demanding and I’m not sorry about it. I want him to act his age with or without me beside him. He is super intelligent but the problem is being surrounded (in his social life) by a different class of people than I’m used to. If you don’t think class systems still exist, you’re nuts. And I’m not talking money. This is only related to behavior. He may have been born a hillbilly but he doesn’t need to act like one at 46.

This is a fine line. Where he lives and where I live are very different. When he’s up here with me he exhibits NONE of this nonsense. He sees it won’t fly here. My concern is seeing how much of this is ingrained in his personality. What’s the saying? You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy. Still unsure about the overall impact of this one so I do my best to sit back and absorb what he shares with me with as little judgement as possible.

Socioeconomic: now this is the one related to money. Seeing how he lives was eye opening. He has a great life and does earn plenty for what he wants from his life. This is partially due to location and partly due to ones desire for things/experiences. I’m happy I got to see this first hand. He’s not cheap by any means. The word (we both) came up with for me is Bougie. It’s the same exact word Tony used for me. I have certain ways/things thats I’m Bougie about. I turn my nose up when someone/something isn’t held to whatever that Bougie standard is for me. The good news is I realize the $ is a figure, that’s it, a $ figure. It doesn’t define anything. Sure more money opens more doors but Scott doesn’t care if those doors open for him. I’m still trying to figure out how much it matters to me. Spending time with him in his lovely home, in his life, showed me I really need to evaluate how I truly feel deep down about money. I’ve been spoiled and jaded a long ass time. This remains ultimately unresolved but is no longer a check against Scott if that makes any sense.

That’s pretty much it – not so very different than the initial feelings I identified with him, but softened by the fact he’s such an amazing person and cares for me so much. I need to work through these so they don’t come back to bite me as resentments later – that much I know from my bad marriage.

I do often feel a pull towards him emotionally, I really like him for so many reasons. The negative ones listed above seem to have a pretty firm grasp on me and will certainly require working through. I’m just attempting not to let them override the deeper sense of satisfaction.

Frankly, the biggest red flag in all of this I haven’t even listed because I understand it and think it can be possible, though improbable. Scott fell in love too quickly and already sees our future together. I worry that he’s doing a bit of a dance around my personality because he sees what he wants to see instead of seeing what’s in front of him. Then I question that because he will stop me when he doesn’t like a behavior of mine and I think “oh, he really is taking all of me in and accepting me.” The jury is out on this until we have time under our belt. I hope he doesn’t have too much of a fantasy of me built in his head that, as we spend more time together, comes crashing down into a reality he wasn’t expecting. Only time will tell.

What it Feels Like to Let Go

Since that day in September where I truly decided I was going to give Scott an honest chance, it’s been nothing but easy happiness in our relationship.

As KDaddy rightly suspected, I’ve said some things that are not so nice, and Scott seems to take them in stride and find a way to talk to me about them. One thing that absolutely has not happened is Trixie surfacing. She’s got no place here and no reason to surface, but somehow I also know I’m prone to be crazy. The single most recurring thought I seem to be having is “I would like to see this work” which, in turn, provides my brain with enough pause to keep my mouth (mostly) shut and make better choices. Something has changed in me that is preventing my normal self-sabotage.

Sure, it crosses my mind that I had dating lethargy and little success this last year. The fact that I’m at such a low point emotionally due to my job/financial situation also causes some concern. I don’t think I’m with Scott because I’m settling, bored or lonely. I think I’m with him because he is slowly stitching together the napalm blasted hole in my heart left behind by Tony. Scott makes me feel good about myself and is unencumbered by a marriage. None of the previous men I’ve spent longer amounts of time with were free to pursue me. Each of them took so much from me, and while I felt I was getting something back emotionally from them, the fact was they were taking more than I could ever receive. I truly didn’t realize how damaged I have become, how high the walls were built. I thought I was wide open for relationship and kept making excuses why this one or that one wasn’t right for me.

I really wasn’t ready and didn’t see it. I’m a bit unsure if I’m truly ready now, but Scott is able to somehow see and understand that I’ve been emotionally unavailable and has been patient with me and whatever pace I’m going.

He also says he’s in love with me.

On our first night together at his home, as we fell into bed, the “you know I’m in love with you, right?” came out in such a rush and with such forceful intent that I knew he was really trying to hold back, but the emotion overwhelmed him entirely. I think he was so worried about what I would say or do that he began to sort of shrink back from me. I pulled him close, whispered “I know and I can feel it” and then we “made love” for the first time. He became emotional again during sex and declared a clear “I love you” and we absolutely shared a tender session. Afterwards he sort of offhandedly mentioned he wasn’t used to sex like that. Sex where he was so close to someone and could feel how the other person shared a strong emotion or bond with him. He said he never wanted to feel that close connection before. I didn’t press, I listened and we soon fell asleep. My feeling was he was very anxious about his declaration and then subsequently surprised and pleased with my response.

We had a lot of fun while at his home and I was very comfortable. I’m not going to write about his daughter as there’s still some story there to uncover about how she really felt. Generally speaking she was watching me like a hawk and very angry her cats needed to be locked in her basement apartment the entire time I was there. It’s a beautiful 1 bedroom apartment in a walk out basement. They had plenty of room. She called it animal abuse. He’s told her that’s how it’s going to be when I’m there, full stop, no negotiation. So, like I said, more to uncover there as she separates how she feels about her cats and how she feels about her Dad having a woman in his life.

We didn’t do most of what we planned to do and spent a lot of time just enjoying each other with simple activity. Making dinner together. Sharing coffee on the deck. Taking a lot of walks. Binge watching a show after the half marathon so we didn’t have to get off the couch. Some nights at the bar. Some nights at home. I’m repeating myself by saying it was easy but there’s no better word for it.

I didn’t want to leave when it was time to go. I felt tugging at my heartstrings and I almost cried. By the time I made the 5 hour train ride home and settled in, we had agreed he would come to me in 2 days and spend a long weekend

So we have basically spent the last 2 weeks together full time. I’ve never done that with any man besides my x husband.

I’m sure I’m going to think of a thousand things to write and forget a thousand more, but the real point is we are still smiling and still wanting more time together. Because of the distance we have both explained to our children that they can expect house guests for some time as we figure things out. Talk about a big step for me, the boys only ever bumped into Tony. They are not thrilled about it but they understand why it’s going to be this way.

I did have a conversation with Scott about exclusivity. You just never know these days. I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been anyone else for him since he started seeing me again this summer, but there was for me (though I didn’t say) and I wanted him to know I considered this a monogamous relationship. He “formally” asked me to be his girlfriend as silly as that sounds. I just felt better having a clear Conversational about exclusivity. The reasons are multilayered but include not wanting to take something for granted, wanting to give it proper identification in my own head and, I believe, give him peace of mind as he mentioned “whatever this is” several times to me. I did want him to know that this is a relationship, we are in it. The last night I spent with him at his home I felt like there was a moment where he was about to cry (it was dark and I couldn’t see, but I could sense the change in his voice) when he said he didn’t want me to leave because he was so afraid I would never come back, that it would be the last time. He was almost holding his breath when he said it. I could be very wrong, but I don’t think so – he was scared and the exclusivity conversation gave him a solid foundation. I’m in this with him, I don’t want him thinking that because I’m not in love with him that it doesn’t mean I’m not committed to our budding relationship and seeing how it grows and where this leads us.

That was a bigger step for me than I thought it would be.

Scott is a learning experience for me. A really joyous learning experience. I like how I feel and I like how I’m acting. I feel in control and happy. I don’t blurt out every thing in my head and share every dark secret, and I’m not lying either should he ask a direct question. He is just so very different from me that he takes some getting used to and the more time I spend with him the more I like him. It’s not easy for me to relinquish my imagined control of situations, and he tells me I still do it, but I can feel him gently navigating me and that feels ok to me.

Something Comfortable

I really thought I would have written more by now, but you know how life suddenly fills up the space and the time seems to disappear.

The time with Scott morphed into something other than the full, fun schedule we had planned. Something so much better. The high level view is I arrived on a Tuesday and we went to his local bar (he was so excited about this because no girl has ever been to his watering hole), we ran earlier than anticipated on Thursday, then we were dead on the couch for 2 days after the run so decided to stay home. From Friday until Tuesday we did a whole lot of nothing together. I ended staying until Wednesday. By the time I got home, he was fixing to drive back up to me by Thursday.

Was it the most exciting, heart-pounding never-want-this-moment-to-end time? No. not even once. That excitement isn’t present for whatever reason and I think I am going to have to accept that. I would love to have those butterflies again, but I think I’m just fine without them. More importantly, even without that excitement, I didn’t want to leave him. I found myself in his space fantasizing about how I was going to fit in – which is novel for me – prior to Scott, my feelings have always been how will this person fit into my life. Certainly not the other way around.

The strangest things happened to me during this trip. I let him tease me – like really give me the business (my x teased cruelly so I am very sensitive to teasing). For instance, I’ve been complaining about an extra 10 pounds and he picked me up one day and “oofed” loudly then exclaimed “there’s those 10 pounds!” And promptly cracked himself up. That comment could go way wrong and I found myself shocked in a funny way and then laughing because I knew this man was happy with me just the way I am. He makes jokes and facial expressions I just don’t like and in my head the comment is ready to fly, but it sits in my mouth, unmoving and unwilling to be released into the spoken air. Instead I step back and look at him with wonder at how comfortable he is with himself. Now he tries to crack jokes he knows I won’t laugh at because he finds my absence of reaction even more humorous. This has had the opposite effect on me, causing me to laugh when I don’t think the joke is funny but I think the fact he’s trying to make me “not laugh” is funny. For whatever reason, I do not want to unleash my normal negative commentary and actually find myself thinking before I speak so that I don’t hurt the man who is doing nothing but trying to please me.

This wasn’t a thought with Tony. With him I never had to think about it because he didn’t have characteristics that made me wonder if he was the guy for me. I wanted to be good to Tony because Tony was emotionally good to me. But Tony pales in comparison to Scott’s treatment of me. Never thought I would say that to be honest. I would be a fucking fool not to give Scott my full effort. I think that’s what’s holding back most of my negativity. What I find fascinating is how I recognize it. I see or feel something I don’t normally like and my heart/gut/brain (I don’t know which) have a sort of physical switch I hear in my head that says “don’t” he’s just silly and it’s harmless. A lot of times it says “just who are you trying to impress?”

We made it through 8 days, I went home for 2 nights and he was up at my house again for the past 3 nights.

We are both still smiling.

That’s pretty amazing, right?

Heading towards something new

I wrote this from the train headed towards Scott. It’s a long train ride, almost 5 hours. I would be happier if I didn’t have a migraine.

I have vacillated a bit over what I’m feeling. I want to believe I’m excited to see him but it doesn’t quite feel like excitement. At least, not the kind I’m used to. This isn’t white hot burning butterflies out of control excitement. This is new. I honestly don’t know what to call it. It’s a good feeling. Sort of like knowing what a good meal is going to taste like, comforting.

I am looking forward to being with him for an extended amount of time. I have no doubt we will have fun. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be comfortable. I don’t worry that he will pressure me to behave or do anything I don’t want to do, he won’t even have an expectation. Or, perhaps if he does, he probably won’t let it show. His entire goal will be my pleasure and comfort over the next week.

You heard that right – one week. I knew I was going to need to see Scott on his home turf to begin to understand if this relationship would have legs. I knew we needed some time that wasn’t feeling like vacation time. The opportunity presented itself and I took it.

We will be spending a few days at his home and then a few days in Washington DC. We are running The Virtual Chicago half marathon together on Saturday. This is a good example of how far he’s willing to go for me – the half marathon was something I wanted to do for myself because I needed some focus to pull myself up from a spiraling depression. When he heard I was doing it, he wanted to join me. He is a sincere athlete and will have to hold way back to run with me, but it’s all he wants to do – to do this together and share the experience. I admit, when he said he wanted to do it with me I was really pleased. Then he suggested we run it around the National Mall in DC and, while I’m terrified to run outside (because I just don’t), I love the idea of being somewhere so iconic to mark my first half and being with someone who is going to derive as much joy (and pain) from the experience as I will.

I wish I was the kind of hyper excited I used to get before seeing Tony or Bobby. I wish I felt those butterflies. Once in a while there is a little twinge of something, I wouldn’t call it the butterflies, but it is something. I know without a doubt I will be happy around him – the question remains: is that enough for me? Is it enough for anyone? I just don’t know.

I still consider the fact we are from different socioeconomic classes. I’ve been doing a LOT of reading about that and it’s well written about that it’s a pretty difficult struggle for most couple to overcome this kind of hurdle. I knew I wasn’t imagining things when I feel this way. Socioeconomic diversity is a real thing and a thing that can cause either partner to be unhappy for different reasons. The only way I am going to determine if this is a real-world challenge or a just an in-my-head challenge is to spend time with Scott, especially on his home turf.

I will also be meeting his 24 year old daughter. She is the light in his life and he’s so excited for me to meet her. She’s so happy for him that she’s excited to meet me as well. I think it’s strange and sweet all at the same time. It will be a first for me. They have a very tight relationship. She is lacking a mother figure and I think he sees what kind of influence I could be on his daughter. I don’t feel pressure right now because I don’t know what I want in this relationship other than for us both to enjoy one another.

He went crazy cleaning his house and food shopping for me. His daughter has cats and boy do I hate cats – so there was a big effort in his part to remove all signs of cat hair from the place. I am terrified of all cats so I hope his daughter doesn’t think it’s “cute” to let the cats out of the basement. That won’t go over well for anyone. When someone comes to my home, of course I prepare in much the same way but I have a feeling my home starts in a bit more organized place than his does. He’s been a bachelor for a few years and I know he doesn’t like it. He often hints how he doesn’t bother with things at home because he just assumes his “woman” is going to want to change things. In a way, he’s quite compliant to the traditional roles of man/woman in a relationship which is, in its own way, charming. I like this, it works well for me. He will always care for me.

We started talking about love languages but didn’t get too far other than retaking the quiz and sharing results. I was surprised that acts of service wasn’t his first or second love language as he often comments about the lack of what others have done before me. His top love language is quality time followed by physical touch and then acts of service. Interestingly enough, words of affirmation fell off the top of my list for the first time ever. I suspect this is because I’ve learned to affirm myself in so many ways. I realize I don’t need as much from a partner though I still love to hear it. Also, Scott says so much positive affirmation for me that I find it a little unbelievable. I can’t recall if Tony did it this much or not. I don’t think so. I actually wish he would pull back on the compliments a little so that they felt a little more true. My face, hair, outfit or whatever can’t be perfect every single time but that’s pretty much what he says if I so much as self-flagellate. My traditional go to moniker is usually “handsome” when I’m attracted to someone and I find myself holding this back with him and I feel pretty crappy about it. It doesn’t ring true to me. Little things like this tend to occupy my thoughts when I’m away from him. I’m really trying not to let them consume my thoughts.

In between this nonsense I am happy to be heading his way. As I get closer I am starting to feel a little excitement and I know when I see the happiness on his face I will respond in kind. I know we will have fun, laugh, be silly and enjoy one another. I feel like we can be friends together. I know this is all a great start.

I am so confused …. (part 3)

I think I got most of it all down and out now.

There are more good qualities than challenges with Scott if I was counting. I’m just not sure how the weighted average works out.

After we went away for the weekend and I agonized for a while as well as solicited advice from friends. I dug deep into what I was feeling and tried to explore why I was so predisposed to these thoughts and feelings. I came up with some answers and on some I’m still empty handed.

And it may surprise some of you …. but I firmly decided I was going to give it a go with Scott.

I just needed to wrap my mind around it. I was clear of the potential pitfalls but all of my friends, and I do mean all, unanimously voted for Scott. They know all of the struggles I’ve had and continue to go through and just felt that I deserved someone who adored me with no questions asked. And he does. He really takes me for who I am. Perhaps if there was one quality above all that I treasured in Tony it was this one. Scott has exactly the same quality.

He takes me for who I am knowing I struggle with his job/income and the stereotypes assigned to government work. He doesn’t know about the attraction piece, though we have talked about the disparity in class briefly. He acknowledges we started in very different places and have had significantly different life experiences. He treats me as if I am a prize that he never thought he would win and often seems to be in awe of me.

He has already told me he would move heaven and earth for me if I would just let him.

Scott is a good man. He tells me he has a mean streak that he doesn’t like about himself and I see that coming out as arrogance right now, but I believe him when he tells me, I just haven’t seen it. I can tell his defenses are down around me and I am allowing mine to begin to come down as well. Once I make up my mind about something, I go all in.

I do worry that I’m not always so nice and I can be a bitter pill to take. He seems good at deflecting this quality in me and it tends to have me loosen my reigns – which is very unusual for me. He doesn’t dig in in opposition to me but instead tries to offer alternative viewpoints without pressing me. My need to be right all the time is much less aggressive with Scott and this is unique. A little example of this is when we were walking along on our way to lunch on our weekend away, I stopped suddenly and said “we are going the wrong way!” He said he was pretty sure we were not. As per my usual always-right self I declared “I really think it’s the wrong way!” He asked me to trust him and I looked at him and rather than insist yet again, I just said “ok.” The funny thing was it stopped him in his tracks and he worried that now I would give it to him if he was wrong. I promised him I wouldn’t, that I did trust him and even if he was wrong it was just a little walk on a beautiful day and didn’t really matter. I meant it too. I handed over the reins. I let go. And, of course, he was right. He was also very relieved which was quite funny.

That was the first time I really put my trust in him. The next time was the long ride home in my car. He drove and I was able to fall asleep for a little bit. That’s a sure sign of trust with me. He told me much later how happy this made him because his x-wife and his x-affair partner both hated his driving. I know these are two very little things, but they are important to me. When I don’t need to be in control and I can let go I am happier. I know this for a fact after Bobby and Tony, but it takes a special person to get me to change my behavior. I don’t give up being right all that easily.

I can’t change the job/income situation and have to work towards complete acceptance, and I am trying. I know I’m a snob when it comes to this and part of that is the by-product of living in a wealthy area. Going backwards in income was never a welcome thought before now. I am truly unsure where this lands for me so we will have to see. In an early relationship, this has no bearing so I’m letting it go.

I hold out hope that I will become more physically attracted to Scott. I can’t force this so it’s another thing I’m letting go of. Sex has improved. Our sexual cadence is much, much slower than when I’m very attracted to a man and he doesn’t push me. I only hope he doesn’t feel like I’m not attracted to him. I don’t want him to feel this from me.

After the weekend away and my subsequent decision to give it a real shot with Scott, he came to spend 3 days at my home. We went to a winery one day and the next day we did a bunch of nothing together. He was thrilled I watched football with him and asked a lot of questions about his favorite team (until I fell asleep on his chest!). I made him breakfast and lunch and I think he enjoyed being waited on a little. I don’t think he’s gotten very much positive attention in his life and I get the impression he’s always been the giver. I like to be able to do these small acts of service for Scott because I know how much he appreciates them. We had a fabulous dinner out over the weekend and there’s no shortage of laughter and easy flowing conversation. It really does feel natural with no pretense.

So that’s two long weekends in a month in which things consistently improve. I’d say that’s a win in itself. We text often every day now and talk most nights. A relationship is beginning to form in its own way.

New things I’ve begun to notice and I’m trying to work through:

If I like it, he wants to like it right away too. While this is great, I want someone who maintains their own identity. I decided to run a half marathon and he immediately chose to run it with me. I like a certain type of music and he wants to listen to it all the time with me. I like wine and he will drink it with me. I like shellfish and he will eat it with me. None of this is bad, I just don’t want him morphing into what he thinks is the perfect man for me simply to attract me.

He compliments me constantly. Nothing is ever wrong with me (except he thinks I’m snobby too, who wouldn’t). Again, not sure what I think about this. Of course I want to be all the things to him but it falls flat when every word out of his mouth is how beautiful and special and amazing I am. Again, not really a negative but for some reason it’s overkill?

The last piece: I notice he doesn’t really ask me a lot of open ended questions. He is very in tune to me and pays attention, but he doesn’t seem to try and get to know the way my mind works. Rather, he goes for the outward things like my favorite food, wine, exercise (he joined Peloton because of me) or music. These things he nails because he watches me closely. Tony dug around. He asked about my family, my past, my education, why I liked some things and not others, what I dreamed of, what my sorrows were. Scott seems to be focused on how to please me. He often notes that I ask him a lot of questions and some of them make him uncomfortable to be so vulnerable but he likes opening up to me. But he doesn’t really come up with his own questions. I’m not sure how much this matters right now, we all move at different speeds and Tony’s matched mine exactly in that respect. I think Scott wants to to reveal myself in my own time without his prompting. This has actually made me realize I may not tell him everything (I can actually thanks George for that lesson in fact). Maybe he doesn’t need to buy the cow just to get the milk. I’m not exactly sure what I think of this but there’s a part of me that’s glad he isn’t probing further since I’m not ready to be that far into relationship with him when I’m still tenuous in some respects.

Maybe my reticence is because I may still have walls up. Maybe it’s self-sabotage. I don’t really know. He wants to please me so badly it’s amazing to me, but maybe I don’t want to feel like I’m continuously taking advantage of his crush on me. I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I do feel a certain amount of reticence for an unclear reason.

Next week I will head down to his house for almost a week. With the distance between us (and the cost that brings) it forces longer visits and I think it’s worth seeing Scott in his own surroundings. He’s super excited I offered to come to him and wants me to meet his adult daughter. I have no doubt we will have a great time and I’m looking forward to having more continuous time with him. We will have a mini weekend getaway as well as we’ve decided to run our half marathon around the National Mall in DC. That was his idea and, as hard as it is to impress me, he really doesn’t fall short in this area.

Maybe my lesson is about finding balance. I’m certain there is a lesson in here with Scott. I’ve got a good thing I intend to let run it’s natural course with no preconceived notion of duration or “what’s next.” I’m opening myself up to this pretty great guy and seeing where it takes me.

So there it is, the whole Scott story in a big word dump.

I don’t know what’s next but I can tell you I’m looking forward to seeing him and spending an extended amount of time with him next week and I’m happy to take it slowly for once.

I am so confused….. (Part 2)

For the first time, since Tony, I was so confused about how to move forward. The difference now is that I’m not in love with Scott so the overwhelming emotional component is missing – so why am I so conflicted when my heart isn’t involved?

I finally realized through my reading on intuition that it was because my gut was involved when I didn’t even know it. The battle I had been waging was between my gut and my head, rather than my heart and my head. That’s interesting.

While I’ve detailed so many of his good qualities, there are several that have concerned me from the beginning. I know before I wrote this how shallow some of them sound and all I can say is this: I was raised very differently from Scott, we did not start from the same place and life experiences shape us.

Scott was born into a poor family in the Midwest, the actual backwoods. His family kicked him out in 7th grade and he had to stop school and earn a living. He was married by the time he was 18 and she was pregnant. Knowing he needed to make a change and support his new family, he joined the service for 4 years. Some time after service, he realized he needed more than selling cars or working in warehouses so he went to school and obtained his Bachelors degree. Some time after that he began working for the government and subsequently earned two masters degrees, one being from Columbia. He was in a long and failing marriage that produced two daughters. One who he is very close to and one who doesn’t speak to him. Post his divorce he became involved with a married woman for 3 years. That relationship ended entirely about 6 months before we met. Like me, they were always on and off and he dated during the years of the affair. He owns a home and is stable financially. He has come a long, long way from an uneducated kid from the sticks.

I was raised with everything given to me and my education was expected as well as paid for by my parents. While I made missteps educationally, I fell into management and had pursued a career that was lucrative until 2018. You know I’m spoiled and have been around middle class money for my entire life. I never really struggled to put food on the table the way Scott did. My arguments with my x revolved around how much money I should spend on vacation. I am not frugal and always believed I would earn a pretty decent living. I bought my home post divorce and was going to be able to contribute significantly to my kids college educations. Once I left my role in 2018 and had surgery I never regained my financial or career footing. However, my expectation of my own income and financial situation never faltered, not until very recently. I admire ambition and career success that nets a large financial gain. Since my divorce, that has always been a significant attraction because my x was willing to allow me to bear the financial burden of the lifestyle we were living and I never wanted to feel that way again. Money and earning potential had become much more important to me post divorce because of my experiences during marriage. It actually became a dating qualification. I had grown used to some luxuries that I provided to myself and I didn’t want to give them up. I had fought too hard for status.

Scott works for the government and, as everyone knows, the government caps salaries no matter how good (or bad) you are at your role. Because of this, the government employees also are known to rest on their laurels and do the minimum required work once they pass a certain time in the job. The private sector would fire incompetent or lazy employees, while the public sector tolerates this for some reason and makes it very, very hard to fire someone. The stability associated with a government job as well as lack of incentive breeds a sort of laziness that’s commonly known. This is NOT Scott by any means, I am just trying to set the stage. Government employees also work very standard hours. You put in your 40 hours and not a minute more because there is no incentive to do so. This also creates a fabulous work life balance because the hours are dependable and stable. As long as the employee is willing to sacrifice earning potential, a government role isn’t a bad one to have and why most people never leave them despite their apathy towards their jobs.

Of course I am over generalizing as well as stereotyping. But, based on my experiences, this sort of apathy does exists and breeds a sense of arrogance in government employees. They know they can’t get fired, they know they only need to put in the minimum effort and once they reach the ceilings of their roles, they become big fish in small ponds and that creates a whole other sense of bravado. And this IS Scott. He’s at the top of his game and will likely be in this salary pool and role for quite some time until his boss leaves. He has no desire to go after more because he likes his 40 hours a week and is satisfied with his salary. He has come from nothing so where when is today is a great achievement and it’s ENOUGH for Scott.

But Madeline is wayyyyy more judgmental coming from corporate America and the private sector. Where the harder your work the better potential for financial gain. Where hours and work/life balance are irrelevant. Where you get bonuses, perks and promotions that you and everyone around you equate with success. Where you never assume you are safe or stable so you work harder in the hope it offers some protection when the layoffs come.

With those explanations, the divide between Scott and I becomes evident. He is a big fish in a small pond and definitely has an arrogance and bravado because of it. He also has a lot of time at work to chatter and gossip (I tell him he’s a wash woman and he admits to it). My experience as a leader has taught me not to gossip at work or even be perceived as a friend to all my employees. Scott says the government doesn’t have barriers like this – everyone is friendly with everyone because some people never change level but are age peers. Scott is satisfied with “enough”. The biggest criticism from my marriage and even my children is that it’s “never enough” for me. And that’s true.

I perceive it like this, if Scott is as good as he brags to be (another quality I do not like at all) then why doesn’t he leave and go make double or triple the money he claims he can make in the private sector? He says it’s because he doesn’t want to work any harder – he did it enough when he was young and he’s satisfied with what he’s accomplished. I thumb my nose at this since he’s only 46. I feel he’s too young to be so complacent.

But, that me. He’s happy. He’s satisfied with what he has and what he’s achieved. My fear is that my judgement, which has always existed (it’s not new, I’ve always felt this about people) is never going to go away and I may ultimately resent him the way I resented my x for never wanting “more”. I do feel he should be proud for what he’s achieved from where he started, but I don’t feel a man should be done at such a young age.

That’s the worst of my snobbiness out of the way. It covers almost all the qualities I dislike about Scott: lack of drive or ambition, arrogance/bravado (big fish in a small pond), gossip, braggart and the stereotype of a government job personality.

Unfortunately, there are other concerns.

I am not especially attracted to Scott. I thought he might grow on me but he isn’t. He’s not ugly by any stretch of the imagination and he’s very fit and pretty rock solid. He even has most of his hair! He is a bit short for my taste but still taller than me so I’m trying to let that one go. It’s just his overall appearance isn’t “doing it” for me. Combine this with ok sexual chemistry (not horrible but definitely not great) and I’m worried we have a toxic combination. I don’t find myself wanting to call him handsome or wanting to explore his body. Sex has improved but he has already told me I’m the best sex he’s ever had. He has been patient to learn what I like or don’t because sex in the beginning was close to bad. I’ve had some seriously amazing sexual partners – so should I be worried? My older friends tell me to forget about this. If sex is good enough I should be fine. We are getting older not younger. He never pressures me sexually but he really isn’t intuitive. He fumbles more than I would like for someone who claims to have had many partners. I hate being the leader because it leaves me with no desire. This one combined with the job situation worries me.

We come from different classes. Should this matter in this day and age? I didn’t think so exactly but I can see it pretty clearly with Scott. Being raised in a city or suburb of a city versus the middle of the country just creates a whole different person. Can you change that? Probably. He surprises me with some things like understanding some fashion brands but then there are other things that I just don’t get. Like shooting squirrels and throwing them in the grill. I’m unsure which divides can be crossed and which don’t matter. He’s also just lacking that “cool-factor” because of this. Again, not sure how much it matters except that sometimes he really does come across as a hick and I feel a little embarrassed. Luckily he has never done this in public, only in private.

Scott can also irritate me pretty quickly. He often starts stories in his head and then finishes them out loud, leaving me to decipher what he’s talking about and me getting frustrated with an unclear story. For someone as smart as he is, it’s all book smart. He definitely has trouble getting his thoughts out of his head in a cohesive manner.

His humour is a bit low brow for me. Reminds me of my x but I can manage this. He does come from the middle of the country.

So it’s sort of like 3 big negative buckets:

The job/ambition and the type of behavior a government job has created in him

Attraction

Class

I thought I was getting this out in 2 posts and clearly I can’t. So the rest has to wait for part 3!

I am so confused….. (Part 1)

Let me get out the dilemma very quickly…..I began talking again to Scott who I determined “wasn’t for me” for good reasons. I know this man REALLY likes me. The talking continued, then we met again for a night, then we ultimately spent a weekend together and had sex. You can read out my initial meeting with Scott here.

And now I’m stumped. I’m so confused.

I don’t know how to write this post exactly but I need a word vomit right about now. I have so much stress in my life right now that I have a persistent and near-debilitating headache every day. I’m hoping this will remove at least one stressor.

Do I write a pro and con list? Do I approach this like I would a business problem and remain removed and analytical about it?

My greatest fear is that my predetermined notion of the man I’ve been searching for is not allowing me to give a perfectly good man a chance. I’m also worried I am leading him on if I continue to see him when I already have concerns over certain personality traits.

Recently I was doing some reading on gut feelings and intuition and a little light bulb went off and I acknowledged something. Scott removes a lot of anxiety from me and I don’t know how. I feel safe and loved with him. I’m calm, happy and content. I don’t feel any of the traditional dating pressures to behave a certain way or look a certain way – I am totally myself with him. I believe a lot of this is because I didn’t really care what he thought of me because I didn’t see a relationship with him working out longer term.

Intuition is based on understanding something instinctively without the need for conscious reasoning. Soon after I met Scott, I fell into analysis paralysis regarding the possibility of relationship with him. I thought of so many reasons he wasn’t right for me while ignoring, perhaps, some less obvious natural feelings. It didn’t help that we only had a few dates before Covid quarantine started and the relationship became fully virtual, and there was no physical interaction.

I’m going to try and lay these out to have a bit of a brain dump. I suppose its a pro/con list in a way.

Scott has all the best qualities of what I loved in Tony. Many are even better. With Scott things have been easy and comfortable. He has seen my not so pretty side because, early on, I had determined he wasn’t for me and didn’t care how I presented myself to him or what he thought. We laugh so much over the dumbest things. We can talk for hours about nothing. He is beyond thoughtful. He would do anything for me. He is always focused on me and I can feel how much he cares. Anything I like he is willing to learn about. He wants to please me. He worries about me. He loves my body despite the scars and age. He’s smart. He has very little, if any, pretense. All of these traits were obvious right from the start and kept me wanting to give him a try.

My initial concern about the early relationship was that the combination of these qualities makes me feel amazing, but I wasn’t sure that I had feelings for the person making me feel good about myself. In other words, I liked how Scott made me feel, but I’m not sure I really liked Scott as a person. After about 6 weeks of quarantine it became apparent to me that I didn’t really like Scott well enough to continue speaking to him – and I knew he really wanted more from me. I couldn’t continue to be unfair to him.

So, I broke it off and I felt relief when I did, so I know that was the right decision at the time.

At some point during my surgery he reached out again and we began speaking. Slowly at first, with an up-front conversation in which I was very clear I could not offer him anything beyond friendship. I am not obtuse enough to think that he didn’t believe there was still a chance of more with me, but I convinced myself he’s a big boy and it was his choice to play with fire.

One weekend as we were chatting, and I wasn’t feeling so great about myself and my situation, he said “I will be right there as soon as you ask” and I said “ok”. This is no small ask – he lives 5 hours south of me. But, he jumped in his car and he came to me. We spent an evening laughing and having fun and he slept in my bed with me. He tried once to kiss me and I insisted that couldn’t happen. We remained on opposite sides of the bed for the evening and had a lovely Sunday before he left to return home.

A couple weeks after that, I had to drop my son off at school in his state. I was further west of where he lived, but he wanted to come meet me before I headed home. He came over once I finished with my son and we spent another evening together. Once again, a fun and laughter filled evening, sleeping in the same bed. Absolutely nothing happened this time except that he held my hand everywhere we went.

After this trip, communication increased and once again became daily by text. I was talking about my birthday and complaining about not having any vacation this year. He suggested we do something together and I agreed to spend a weekend with him, away.

The short version of the weekend was we had an absolutely amazing time. We acted like a couple the first two days, despite the fact we were not having any physical interaction beyond hand holding. But, by Sunday morning something changed for me and I initiated sex. When we were done, he said he was so happy because he wanted to be able to have sex with me “just once more” and if it never happened again he would be content because #lifegoals. The day we spent together Sunday was different from the preceding two days, now we were behaving like a couple and I was enjoying it. Where he had previously gotten on my nerves after about 18 hours together, here we were on day 3 and I didn’t want it to end. I was feeling something very different towards Scott, and it truly surprised me.

After we arrived home and parted, the analysis paralysis began. All the reasons I didn’t want to continue with Scott before were still there – they hadn’t changed. But a new feeling had surfaced, one I haven’t felt since I met Tony: contentment. I felt content, at ease, satisfied and low key happy with the time I spent with Scott.

I began an agonizing two weeks of torturing myself on if I should continue with him or not. I did not want to hurt this man twice. He is so good, so kind and so into me that it would be horribly unfair. My headaches grew so bad by this point I needed migraine meds. I was unfocused and becoming increasingly unhappy. Scott isn’t to blame for any of that – my life is in a shambles for some time now and adding the relationship conflict on top of being without a job for a year was beginning to wear me down and create a permanent anxiety I was having trouble ignoring.

The crux of the conflict with Scott is this: I finally met a man who fills almost all of my emotional bucket (maybe actually all of it) and creates some unidentifiable feeling within me, yet there are characteristics and circumstances I am so hung up on that I can’t seem to get past them – and they are not exactly changeable characteristics or circumstances. Even if they were changeable, I’m pretty sure Scott isn’t interested in changing them. We have a disparate view on one very important quality for me: career and ambition.

Where do I go from here?

(Well, we go to part 2 for now lol)