Football Party with 6’4″ (part 1)

Why is this post significant?

Because its the first time I felt any genuine joy and happiness for a length of time, the kind that you can’t help but grin ear to ear.

I’ve been in a spiral since April of this year, it all came to a head in August as my job was ending, Tony was treating me poorly when I still believed in him, and my kids were just on my last nerve.  Its when I made the final decision and payment to go to Mexico for the surgery.  Once that decision was made, it was like a door slammed on any sense or will to live.

The only person I pleaded with to help me was Tony, and he wasn’t capable.  To be fair, he wasn’t the right person.

I should have sought help and I didn’t, but now I am slowly recovering from 4 months in a pretty dark place.  August-September- October are still surreal.  November was finally the time I began to hold my head up somewhat.  I know agreeing to the party was risky because the day could come and I would be “too tired” or “depressed” to attend.  I challenged myself with this by inviting a friend for Thanksgiving – which was an immense help because she was a second pair of hands and took the pressure of the disappointment with my family not helping me.

Thanksgiving day was nice.  I was able to tolerate all the foods and had a taste of everything.  I loved having the company of my friend.  My Dad loved having my eldest home from college to watch the game with.   It was a nice day overall.

For the Football game the next day, my friend had asked her boyfriend and I asked Rob, so we were a party of 4, which also made it impossible for me to back out.

The party was hosted by a cousin of mine with a large family.  I am very lucky to always be included because my mother was an only child and well-loved by her cousins.  This particular part of my mothers family is my favorite.  They are such a big, loving family.  Not perfect by far which makes them all that much more relatable.  Good people through and through, generous, kind and loving.  I should spend more time with them and have it on my list of “must-do’s” for the future.

There is a large football game for about 2 hours, then food trucks, tons of food, a dessert table and a real-live Santa for all the children.  All the single “kids” get presents and sit on Santa’s lap.  My cousins hire professional photographers for all their parties so every moment is captured and everyone can come away with their family photos and share on Facebook.  My x and my kids never liked the party.  I never understood why and eventually we stopped going because I was miserable when they were with me.  I have gone alone to some of the parties since just before divorce because I realized they were ruining my ability to have a good time – I was always sad that I didn’t have “my own” family to share it with so sometimes I would shy away if this was how I felt in past years – but I made a point to have “my squad” this time around.  Even if it was just friends and a 3rd date!

I couldn’t help but laugh and smile from the moment I walked in.  My cousin, who helped me greatly through the entire trauma, had spoken to her family and they knew I had been sick – so no one asked a lot of questions.  Rather, everyone was just happy to see me and complimented the weight loss and happy face.  All of my cousins were so loving and welcoming, and there are so many of them, that I found it impossible to be unhappy for any reason.  But the best part, was the company I brought.

Rob played football and was a star athlete. My boy cousins were teasing that he would have to play a lineman since he was new, but he was quickly put into the QB position and they won the game.  I was in and out to watch the game (it was freezing here the day after Thanksgiving) and saw a couple of great plays – but more importantly to me, I saw him laughing, interacting and having fun with perfect strangers.  He wanted to be there.

Inside, my girl friend and her boyfriend were chatting up all my cousins and playing indoor games.  I didn’t have to worry about taking care of anyone except myself!  No matter where I turned there was a safe and secure, warm and happy feeling.  We stayed much longer than I thought I would.  The best part, I got an amazing professional shot with Rob and my cousin posted it on Facebook.  Normally, I wouldn’t post any man, but I just didn’t care.  We both look happy in that photo – and its the perfect capture of the feeling of the day.

I was grateful.

I have forgotten what gratitude feels like in my depression and trauma.  I had been happy for moments, but not true, unfiltered joy the way I felt on November 23rd.

I would like to say the feeling carried through, but the depression is too great a weight as well as my physical recovery.  I slept for 2 days post the party.  But, I think that was ok.

After the party, as we were driving home, my friend decided they wanted to come back to my home for a drink.  I told Rob he wasn’t under any obligation to stay with me, but of course I would love if he did.  He agreed.  We ended up having a few more cocktails at home before the boys decided the Elks club would be a good idea!  I couldn’t believe I was going there again!  Turned out to be packed to the rafters, like a local Cheers bar, and the guys could watch multiple games while the girls chatted away.

I was really exhausted by 11pm and asked Rob to take me home.  I knew I would be too tired for much, but a few kisses goodnight would be a sweet way to end the day.

A little more than that happened and I don’t know what to make of it.

And, I’m trying not to put much more thought into it.

 

Hello There 6’4”

I met Rob on Match. He is super handsome, 6’4″ and a widow. We moved from text to phone and his voice was dreamy. He made me laugh. Definitely enough reason for the first date.

He was having knee surgery so we had to wait to see how he felt, but he claimed he was bored and needed to get out of house so we ended planning a relatively fast afternoon date.

He is better looking in person than his photos and his smile and laugh are infectious.

But, boy, was he hard to talk to. When I feel I’m talking too much I will let the conversation slide to a natural pause. He didn’t seem to fill it easily, even though he seemed aware he should. Somehow, we made it through 3 hours or so together and while I felt parts of conversation were a bit always or unbalanced, I liked him. He was genuine. He is one of those people the “good guy” just comes out of.

Rob was married a long time and lost his wife to cancer last December. He said he knew instantly when he met her in college that she was the one he would marry. She died in a short time after diagnosis and was only 45. Their children are a 16 year old girl and 13 year old boy. Rob said they had a happy, solid marriage. I questioned his readiness and he told me he was ready. He said he is lonely. He spoke to his children after he met me to let them know he planned to be dating. I don’t yet know how I feel about this situation or if I am walking into a land mine. He strikes me as a very genuine man. When we left the restaurant, he grabbed me, pulled me in close, strong hands right up into the back of my hair and kissed me hard – enough to take my breath away.

I will have more of that, please! It was a lovely surprise because I didn’t know what to expect.

One of his favorite things to say is “it’s easy.” Make a left or make a right. Look up or look down. One way or the other. It’s easy. After he explained his life philosophy to me I tried to explain I’m complicated and he rebutted me (and that has happened again and again now). He had said he realized he needed to move forward and didn’t want to be alone, so it was “easy” now.

I waited post first date to hear from him and he made plans quickly for a week later. We set a date but not a place. We spoke once or twice on the phone and vague, intermittent texting but I still got the impression of conversation being difficult. It wasn’t flowing. But I liked him, so I wanted to try again.

The week before our second date he called me to say there was a glitch. I assumed he would cancel, but no, he wanted me to join him at a town event he was hosting at an Elks Club.

Ok, people, at this stage in my life no one is catching me dead in the Elks Club and definitely not for the PAL (Police Athletic league – sponsors local town sports). Before thinking (not good, impulsive Mads) I offered to trade him a family football event if I committed to the Elks. He said he would play football with my cousins even if I didn’t make it to the Elks.

We agreed on the Elks for our Saturday date and the football party for the day after Thanksgiving

He had pulled together and event for the local Dads to get to know one another better because Dads are not as good at socializing as the Moms in his opinion. I suppose he felt that strongly when his wife died as well now that I’m writing this.

He offered for me to being friends, which is also complicated now that I’m not working. Which friend would understand the Elks Club, and who I would also want to spend time with knowing he would be socializing since he was the host. I said no several times and he kept asking. He claims he really wanted me there and I would change my mind about the Elks. Plus, he was inviting his college friends so my friends would have someone to keep company with. I ultimately asked a friend what she thought and she was like “why not!” 3 days later she asked what the Elks and PAL were all about so I figured that’s a sure sign this will be funny if nothing else!

We went to the Elks and it was pretty much what I expected, all men around a bar and pizza/wings chatting in a social hall. We found him easily and met his friends. He is outgoing and gregarious and easy on the eyes. He bought our drinks, introduced us to his friends and chatted. He was interrupted and called away often. It didn’t bother me because we were entertained. It bothered my friend more because she didn’t think it was appropriate for him to leave me alone for so long on a 2nd date.

Let’s be honest – it was a weird second date – but I wasn’t fussed. In hindsight he really wanted me there and made it clear multiple times with “please come” during the week before. He didn’t hesitate to put an arm around me or hug me. He was the host and he is popular. The joke really became that every time he left the table another man would come over to speak to me and tell me a story and “what a good guy” Rob was. By the 5/6th person my friend and I joked Rob was paying them to say that!

Eventually she wanted to go to a regular bar so I found him, tapped him on the shoulder and let him know we were leaving. He tried making his way back but people kept pulling him in different directions. My friend didn’t want to stay so I had to defer to her and put my coat on to make my exit. He said he would be there in 5 minutes.

He was.

He brought his married (even taller and just as handsome!) friend to the bar and the 4 of us had a fun time for a bit. The two of them clicked and left together. We closed the bar around 11 or so and neither of us realized we were the only ones left. We walked to my car and he didn’t leave me until 4am. We kissed, a lot, and talked even more. I wasn’t ready for much more. His hands explored but I wasn’t ready to expose the bandages so I needed him to stop which wasn’t easy. I don’t actually know where the time went or how we passed that much time together. He just didn’t leave. He said it felt so good next to me. Eventually, because we had to leave as we both began to get too sleepy, he asked me to come home with him.

I said no.

That’s like 1000 bonus points for Mads leaving Trixie super confused!

His kids were home. I don’t know the home situation regarding his wife (their bedroom?) and it wasn’t right. Add in my wounds and having to explain that shit at 4am. Nope. I wanted to do more, my body was screaming for more (which is great, happy to know it all still works!) but it was time for one of us to break off.

It was sweet. It wasn’t the crazy mad butterflies I had with Dan (R) or Tony (Bennett). This was a little like a high school crush you don’t want to mess up when you finally get the chance.

I would liken it more to a slow dance. You don’t want the song to end, you enjoy the dancing while you can, but eventually you just part.

Not bad for two dates.

Next up, football party history!

Why I’m Dating

So here’s the thing -most people will say “you’re not ready because you haven’t learned how to love yourself.” Or any version of the “you’re not ready” theme.

You may be right. Maybe I’m not. But no one holds the one right answer. And this is what my therapy is for. Also why I’m writing again.

I believe we are built for relationship and I have been lucky enough to find a therapist who believes this at the core of her practice. We are not meant to go it alone and we all have our versions of that. You can be in relationships with God, husbands, lovers, parents, children etc. Some of us work better as partners and I am one of those people. Honestly, to hear a professional say it has finally put me at ease. Yes, I have learned to be alone and care for myself but it’s never going to make me fully satisfied. I don’t need to sit alone to figure that out anymore.

The therapist and I arrived at dating being an option as we talked about “what does normal life” look like for me going forward? I know I am not the same person I was last year or earlier this year. I have been forever altered since April and its aftermath. The trauma of the surgeries completed something for me. I didn’t want to die. But I don’t know yet what I want to live for.

The conversation turned to how do you start living again? What did you do before? One of those things was dating. My therapist thought there was no harm in doing something that could make me feel good about myself again.

Dating wasn’t the only thing. But this post is about dating and I’m trying to cram a shit ton of thoughts into 1000 word posts and be cohesive. It’s probably not working.

Anyway, I digress.

I turned on Match and Bumble. Got rid of Bumble fast because it worked well at work, but less so at home. Match wasn’t great but ok. Started the conversations and realized I needed to come up with a “story” because NO ONE leaves it at “I’m taking a break from work.” They think there must be another reason. Why do they need another reason? Let it be. I don’t even know you yet!

On another note, I also have to finesse my “executive exit story” according to my outplacement group. Same damn thing as dating. Everyone wants an explanation.

I’m trying to be funny, I’m probably not.

Anyway, so I match easily enough and I set up two dates. Both men are named Robert Thomas …. (something Irish). That’s a full on formula for texting mistakes right there. Both like to be called Rob. I was hoping one preferred a different nickname.

Rob 1 is 6’4″ and he gets his own blog post. He’s a widow. 👍🏻 just clearing that up quickly.

Rob 2 was about 6′, never married and a cop in the city. Not usually my match type but I missed his profession in his profile. By the time I asked, he had already shown he was kind and intelligent and I didn’t get the inkling he was typical of a city cop. We really clicked on the phone. His communication style matched mine. I was excited to meet him. We had a nice date but I wasn’t totally attracted. Something fell flat. We kissed goodnight which nice. We text a little after the date (I always say thank you) and I never heard from him again. That was that.

The bigger deal with both first dates was going out at all. I don’t really leave my home even for errands. So to shower, do hair and makeup and dress is truly a big step for me. Plus, I have to learn a whole new way of eating and drinking since the sleeve. I had no idea how I would manage being out. It’s common to have a lot of weird side effects from gastric surgery so I could get foaming mouth, hiccups, burps, farts, nausea and a whole host of things just from sipping something too fast or eating the wrong thing at the wrong time or eating and drinking together.

These dates allowed me to learn the ropes as it were. To get my public “story” down pat. To ease back into natural communication. I wasn’t expecting to find anything, but was hoping to have a nice time and adjust to being alive. I accomplished that and I’m glad I listened to the therapist.

You all also know how dearly I love my Prosecco. Well, that’s out, possibly forever. No bubbles. And, with a teeny tinsy tummy alcohol will affect me differently. So we are all about white wine and seeing where our limits are. Sipping slowly and making sure we feel good.

The First Downslide

It wouldn’t be a Madeline story without a serious dash of crazy seasoning. But I promised honesty.

I saw Tony last in April. I don’t recall if we spoke on phone subsequently or not, probably. But the last text was mid-August. Full stop. My last text said:

“I am having surgery on Sept 7th that I don’t expect to recover from and since you have decided to be such a jerk and I won’t recover you can expect my letter to you and your wife then.” I was furious at him for being a douche when I was dropping my son at college after I supported him through dropping off two kids to college. He could have been kinder. I should have been less crazy, but that sets the scene.

And I blocked him for a while until I went to Mexico, hoping I would hear from him because he knew the surgery date and my birthday were around the corner.

Needless to say, while fighting for my life, I finally stopped focusing on Tony.

Until I started to feel better and talk about it in therapy.

As my body healed and the new meds kicked in, the desperate addiction I felt towards him increased. I knew myself well enough to know trouble was brewing.

But I did all the right things. I called friends. I diverted myself. I even went on a couple great dates (those stories will follow and were therapy approved dates). I finally felt happiness, real and true, outside my home with my family the day after Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving day and the subsequent party took all the life out of me. I slept for 2 days following. My cousins hire professional photographers and post literally hundreds of party photos.

To step back to provide context: my x never enjoyed these family parties. He didn’t want to play football with the cousins (boys and girls) he didn’t like to socialize and every year became a struggle. I love this family and would do anything to be included and they always were inclusive to The x and my boys. But towards the end of marriage I gave up on being included. I’m still surprised at all the times I said no and they asked again.

So when the guy I met asked me to a strange second date I quickly said “I will trade you for a football game!” The whole story will follow but, god bless his heart, he was so excited to be included.

My cousins are short – the girls are under 5′ and the boys under 5’8″. So I made a joke to my very serious boy cousins that I was bringing a 6’4″ athlete who could be QB (knowing full well I would never live it down). Everyone he met said “oh! Your Mads 6’4″!” And that’s all they called him all day. 6’4″. He loved it.

He was the star of the game so my cousins loved him. He’s gregarious and wonderful so it was super easy.

I was really happy that day.

So what happened to being out Trixie?

I admit I check often if Tony and I are friends in FB. It was the only social media we remained connected on. He shut it down for months but opened it last week sometime.

My social media stopped when I went in the hospital. But now I had a reason to open it because the photos from the party were fabulous. My cousin tagged me in all of them and they post to my wall.

There is a beautiful photo of 6’4″ and I together. We look like a couple. There’s photos like that with my cousins too, but I know they are my cousins. My cousin also tagged all of 6’4″s football hilights with my name. And they made comments under the photos about 6’4″ doing me proud on the field.

Today I saw Tony had unfriended me on FB. I went into shock. I couldn’t think and my reaction was to reach out. But he has been deleted from my phone for so long I truly could not recall his phone number. So I sent a text to his two emails and they didn’t come back with “delivered”. I scoured the internet with phone combinations for 40 mins until I hit it. I really couldn’t recall it. I called from my phone and it went straight to VM. I called from the house phone and it went straight to VM. I was blocked.

I called where I thought he was working and got as far as reception and hung up and called my friends and admitted my cray.

An hour later he replied that he was flying home, couldn’t text or talk now, and I was never blocked. I apologized and said I overreacted and he asked what prompted it. I didn’t answer.

Will he text me tmrw? I don’t know.

I made it through 7 months of not seeing him and 3 full months or more of no contact and I lost my shit the instant I felt rejection.

My friends say it’s because I have the photos with the guy up and he doesn’t want to see things like that. I interpret that as he doesn’t want me happy. I get confused. Why now? What’s the big deal of FB friends when we don’t communicate any longer?

But it hurt and flipped the Trixie switch.

My call with my therapist is at 10am tmrw. But what can she say that I don’t already know? Why do I keep doing this to myself with a man who clearly doesn’t want me. Or any connection with me.

I have to get to the bottom why rejection causes Trixie to trigger. And I want it to stop. I want to stop thinking about him and wanting him. I can believe he gave me the world and it was lovely but I have to also believe it’s gone for good.

I am angry and embarrassed at myself. And worried about him reaching out to me soon.

I was doing well. But my little child, Trixie, stomped her feet and wanted to know WHY now….why take me off FB now. It was a small and innocuous connection. But it was something to me. And now I’m hurt all over again.