Lightbulb Moment – Thomas

Maggie is right, I’m already seeing red flags with Tom. They came up quick. Whole freaking fields of red flags.

I bet they were there the first time I spoke to him but I don’t recall. Chances are high that I ignored them the first time I spoke to him in favor of him checking my boxes.

But that’s ok because Tom has landed pretty squarely in the friends or FWB (if I ever have that) category.

The light bulb moment with Tom had a physical effect. I really felt a difference – like a spool of tension unwinding – a spool I didn’t even know I had. I thought that was pretty interesting.

I quickly liked that he’s communicative and I don’t need to say much. He’s intelligent and interesting. Very fit, tall and handsome. When I was first looking through a relationship filter, I didn’t like that he didn’t really seem to want to find out more about me – he loves to talk about himself, his child and his x. Ad nauseam .

The talk around his x is aggressive and vicious because they are in a very contentious custody battle and she’s a violent alcoholic. It makes me uncomfortable since I don’t know him well enough.

Those were the two things that hit me clear across the forward with Tom.

When I thought about my intentions toward him differently, it changed the entire way I felt about him….I don’t care if he asks about me and my life because I can already see he’s not ever going to be that person, so why even try and go there? Why would I feel neglected or rejected that he’s so busy being worried about himself? I’m not sure he realizes or cares how self involved he comes across. I’ve always taken a mans “disinterest” as a reflection on me but I know, at least with Tom, it has nothing to do with me. As soon as I told my anxiety that we would not be chasing Tom, despite the fact he was a man who checked many of our boxes, anxiety had a little pity party and left the room! I loved watching her sashay right the fuck away from me and literally had a physical sense of relief! I don’t need Tom to be any more or less than what he is. Maybe we have sex, maybe we don’t. It’s all good because, no matter what, it won’t have any legs as far as a relationship. Maggie taught me all about reframing a long time ago and it’s one of my favorite tools, I just forget to use it

The second thing, right on the heels of the first, was I realized I was uncomfortable being pulled into his life drama without getting to know him first. This made me think over how much I like to “get right to relationship” and learn everything up front with someone. Maybe it’s because of the situation and I was disinterested in the adversity in his life but I tend to think it’s because I just realized it’s way too much too soon. These things SHOULD take time. I would now prefer they take time. If I’m paying attention (like I am recently) I realize he’s just telling stories about himself, he’s not getting to know me or probably even sharing anything more or less special than he shares with anyone else.

One other thing, and this has been a very slow realization since Tony – people do have normal relations with their x. I wanted to, I just can’t. But when I hear such violent reaction to an x I am uncomfortable. I think I realize that either end of the spectrum is unfamiliar to me: I didn’t have the absolute possible worst experience of the best. I don’t understand, or embrace, either. I find it difficult to accept a good working relationship with an x as much as a violent hating relationship. This wasn’t a light bulb as much as it’s something I feel needs to be explored more deeply. If I were to get into a decent relationship and the man had a calm and friendly relationship with his x, will I be threatened? Good for thought. This comes up again with Mike for sure, as it did with John a I wonder how a good co-parenting relationship works and why they don’t dislike their x. Again, nothing to resolve for the moment, but I realize there’s more to uncover here.

Where do things currently stand with Tom? I hear from him when he’s interested in engaging me, otherwise I remain quiet. However this moves forward, or not, is just fine.

I almost can’t believe I’m saying all this.

Latent Thought

Since anxious attachment is top of mind I started going back through all the dates etc the past 5 years.

I actually found one that didn’t start in anxious attachment! Yay me! 😂🙄

Just before Tony and post Bobby, I met Adam.

I enjoyed meeting Adam each week and we always had a good time over the course of about 6-8 weeks.

For certain, I recall the beginnings of the anxiety and I also remember directly asking him about it.

His answer was: I don’t want more. Clean. Simple. Straightforward.

I remember how I felt about it – not happy, but really clear.

I wanted to like him more but he almost never communicated with me in-between dates. He was great at planning a date and being 100% in and focused on me during a date, but nothing else. It had started to frustrate me because I always want more. I want to know where I stand and he had made a big deal about me getting tested, but then didn’t ask for exclusivity – the two didn’t add up.

So it ended.

I forgot all about it because the start of Tony was around the end of Adam.

Why can’t they all just communicate like that? What is it with most men that there has to be so much hesitation and ambiguity?

Makes me nuts.

So Much on my Mind

Right now I feel like a could write a book. I’m no good at short versions of anything and so much has been churning inside of my head lately I wish there was a way to get it out as the thoughts happened and into the blog. It all seems so logical when I’m thinking of it, but when I go back to write it, so much seems to slip away and I end up not knowing where to start.

I felt like light bulbs have been turning on all over the place lately. I know it’s all tied up with my current situation in dating. I’m having a moment like I haven’t had in a very long time. My libido is back in full blast and it absolutely wreaks havoc on my good intentions to have better behaviors while dating.

The difference is – now I know it. And I realized I can do something about it. Maybe not the something some might prefer me to do (not drink, not have sex, not date kind of thing). I now realize if I decide to do the things I do, all I need to do is accept responsibility for what they are at face value and stop putting so much more time and wasted effort into wanting them to be more than they are

I’ve simply got to learn to accept that I can have sex, drink, be ridiculous and WALK AWAY once it’s over.

I’m going to stop feeling bad about myself after I make questionable decisions. Berating myself and becoming more anxious is serving no purpose. I need to own it.

The pressure my attachment anxiety puts on me in these dating situations has to stop. I’ve started having conversations with my anxiety similar to the way I would speak to Trixie if she ever materialized (god help us all).

Sound silly? Maybe. But if talking to myself is what it takes to own my behavior and course correct then so be it.

My dating cup is running over and I’m letting it. I feel like I’ve uncovered something big and want to see if I can put thought into practice.

My whole life has been spent looking for male approval. I didn’t get it from my father. I didn’t get it from husband. The first time I felt really and truly solid about myself the “approval” came from the wrong place (married men). In hindsight, I don’t know if that matters to what I have learned. I don’t think the man himself or the situations make any difference to what I took from them. In hindsight, I learned so much about myself and what I needed to feel good in relationship. If I had been more capable of controlling my emotions, these could have been all positive experiences. Maggie and Nichts recently have me thinking about how to reframe what I’ve been through and how I see my past. In all my recent writing about dating, and digging through my past, I finally realize I can stop needing a man to make me feel worthy.

I actually do feel worthy now. I feel alive and powerful more than ever in some ways (and weaker in others). Maybe I didn’t arrive at this place from the traditional “self-love” approach. Maybe I just filter things through my male-approval lens to understand them because that’s how I’ve always seen the world. I think I needed a solid round of decent dates, some quick turnover, some great sex as well as some rejection to realize I’m actually ok. It’s a normal cycle to be rejected one way or the other in dating. I never learned to accept it and still find myself worthy.

I realize I can. I can own the rejection and move past it. I can own the sex on first dates because I wanted it. I am doing my best balls-to-the-wall to push away the anxiety.

I don’t even know if I am making any sense. Like I said, it all sounded so solid and so crystal clear in my head and getting these thoughts into words has proven difficult.

I know I’m going to be fine. It doesn’t mean I won’t struggle with learning how to slow down, not push for more at the wrong time or with the wrong person. It doesn’t mean I won’t obsess a little or overthink situations. Those are just things I do. I just don’t need to overdo them.

Each man / situation gave me a light bulb moment this week so they will each get a post: Mike, Thomas and Charles (yup a new one!).

I can honestly say I’ve never had this kind of clarity around dating before. I feel like I’m seeing myself for the first time. Somehow I think I’m on the edge of something bigger that’s yet unidentified and in front of me. I feel in control in a way I have never experienced before.

It’s good to be on the edge. It’s liberating. It feels like Trixie level excitement without the crazy. Is that a thing?

I guess we are going to find out if it is or not. And hope I’m not feeding myself lip service.

As The Small World Turns

There must of been some strange alignment of planets or something this past weekend.  I feel like all the people I met were some sort of 6 degrees of separation.

Saturday night was fun and I was worried I wouldn’t sleep because my mind was on Mike.  Didn’t happen, I was fine.

Woke up Sunday and checked my last dating app for messages, and lo and behold, an oldie came back.  Well, not that old, I suppose I matched with him at some point earlier this year and we moved to text, but then he ghosted me.  Anyway, since I’m in a mood over ghosting lately, I wanted to engage and I replied to his Hello.  When he asked if I remembered him, I said all I recalled was that he ghosted me.

The phone rang.

I didn’t connect the two, I just didn’t answer a number I don’t know.  Of course it was him, but it took me a moment to realize this.  He called back.

Long story short, we were on the phone for about 3 hours or so.  Why?  I felt like I had nothing to lose and the conversation was entertaining. I had already determined in my mind he was just going to ghost me again.  I wasn’t invested, I was bored.

The conversation was well worth my time.

Tom is  super easy to speak to and I barely have to say a thing other than to prompt him to tell me more.  Turns out, he has a large cache of women friends (he balked when I called them a harem) that are around my age and all single.  Some he met when dating and some have been friends a long time.  There are 3 in what he calls his “circle of trust”.

We talked about dating in general, and since I had already bucketed him into the “no-potential” zone, I was pretty transparent about how I felt and my recent experiences in dating.  As we were talking, about August in particular (I did not mention his name, but did mention a uncommon characteristic that hes an Olympian), he said “Oh, is that Auggie?  My friend so-and-so has been screwing around with him on and off for months! I nearly fell of the chair!  Once he realized I potentially datesd the same pool of men as some of his “circle of trust” he went through a few more names and yes, yes, and yes – I had dated them all at one point or another!

This made me feel fabulous!  He had the feedback from his friends already and they all turn out to be bullets I dodged, perhaps a bit earlier than they did.  I forget who is who of the men, but one is a manic-depressive and comes off his meds (I think it was Auggie), another one is a serial dater and a narcissist and the third had another host of issues.  By the time we got through all of them I was hysterical laughing.  I couldn’t believe how there were 3 other women, who knew Tom, who were all exactly like me, who had dated the same men.

But the best part comes next.  They estimate, in our area, that the ratio of attractive, accomplished women is about 25-1.  Every man can meet literally dozens of single women in his type.   That statement alone made me feel validated.  I know many of my readers who are not from cities anywhere the size of the city I live in and cannot understand how the dating platform here is so vastly different than any other city in the USA, but it is.  There are just too many single women.  You know how much better it makes me feel that I am just a number to some of these guys?  How can anyone really end up being special when the man (who has his own plethora of issues and circumstances) has so much choice?

Maybe the number is inflated, but even at 10-1 it makes dating here a real chore.

I didn’t really give it a thought when he suggested we meet. He was coming to my town to pick up his daughter and I said he could stop over and hang out on the deck with me. When he arrived he brought farm fresh eggs from his chickens and peaches from the orchard across the street from his home.  He wasn’t what I expected, though I am not sure I had given it much thought.

He didn’t look exactly like his photos but not exactly unlike either. He is handsome but there is something about him I can’t pinpoint as not entirely appealing.

We had another great time chatting away on the deck and at one point, when he pulled me close, I was almost surprised. I didn’t get a feeling he was interested and I was entirely ambivalent. He had spent the last hour talking about his daughter and his farm and showing me photos. It was a little tiresome. Again, can’t pinpoint it but a super contentious relationship with his alcoholic ex, little relationship with his older teen son, and almost a worship like behavior regarding his 14 year old daughter. I watched video of her driving a tractor, riding multiple different horses and walking in the woods. As he was going through all this my memory kicked in as I had heard it before.

So he kissed me. I haven’t had a no-tongue kiss in so long and I’ve always thought it just plain weird. He had a combo of tongue and no tongue but not great. Meantime, he was so worked up by me it surprised me. His cock is huge as it pressed against my lower back.  I was somewhat curiously interested.

But frankly, more like maybe having Tom as a male friend. I couldn’t handle him full time. He just talks way too much for me (can you even believe I’m saying that?!!). I may want to fuck him but I’m not sure how I am actually attracted to him.

I also thought it was quite funny that he doesn’t understand why he’s still single. He claims he helps his girlfriends with their dating lives from a male perspective but I wonder if they tell him the truth? Or I wonder if this is like a little bunch of gossips? I’m intrigued. What if he was my male friend and could tell me what the hell I’m doing wrong? I would keep this going just to get some feedback.

He text goodnight and good morning. He’s a decent man. The truth is I don’t know what I feel for him, its not clear which is unusual.   Is that because I’m attracted to Mike and stuck there? Or is it just Tom himself or the strange chemistry between us?  Who knows at this point.

He called me last night and we had a nice talk. The night after that it got sexual and I got an unsolicited dick pic. It’s a beautiful thing, his cock. Would love to fuck it but I didn’t get the thrill I usually get when I’m all excited over the man.

Not long after I hung up the phone, Mike text.  It was late and unusual that either of us were still awake.  He was horny, I knew it instantly.

We had phone sex which was pretty hot.  I haven’t done that in so long and it always turns me on.  Everything leading up to the phone sex was baby this and baby that.  I hadn’t heard from him all day.  I had an orgasm and fell immediately to sleep.

I text Mike good morning Tuesday because it was his birthday.  He told me he didn’t cum last night because he was saving it for me.  That’s about it for the day.  Chances are high this happens again and I don’t know how I feel about it.

I do know where my brain is pressing me to go though…and since I have spent so much time and so many words thinking and writing about my anxious attachment, I see it crystal clear.

Mike has text Monday and Tuesday night for phone and face time sex. Did I do it? Yes, both times. I enjoyed myself quite a bit and it’s been a long time since I’ve watched a man do this. Bobby and I did it all the time way back when. Did I do it because I want him to like me more? Nope. I did it because I wanted to feel good.

The problem isn’t in the action. The anxiety creeps in the next day when I don’t hear from him and my brain goes haywire wondering why I haven’t heard from him.

My inner voices sound like this:

Why can’t he just text and say good morning?

Does it really matter?

No?

Good, so get on with your day.

Ok.

A few hours pass and checks phone.

He still didn’t text

You know chances are he won’t text. He will text at some point but not when you need it.

This makes me crazy.

But it doesn’t matter, you can wait.

Ok.

Night falls. And still no text and the debate rages for a minute or two in my head. My anxious girl wants to text him and know “what’s going on Mike?! When are we going out again?” My secure girl says “does it matter? Who cares? Next”

This cycles for only a couple of minutes then disappears.

Until it doesn’t.

One night he texts just to say goodnight. The next morning my brain processes that as “talk to him” so I text. After a few back and forth, I ask when I’m going to see him again.

I’m so angry with myself. He’s already proven to be entirely inconsistent. It’s not going to change. He’s not a “fuck yes” for me so why do I care? (I actually think I’ve figured this out a little – wait for the post!). He explains why he can’t this week and I already know his plans Cause he’s already told me! I don’t even have the time myself to see him SO WHY ASK M???? Why???

Now my brain is in flight mode and I’m fighting to stay there. Disconnect from him, don’t worry about when he texts. Don’t have phone sex regardless if you want it or not. Just don’t. All sorts of don’t. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I see it. It’s all clear. I am very well aware of what is working and what’s not and it’s a matter of self control. Just wish I had more of it.

Big Words: Desperation, Communication, Attachment (part 2)

I’m sure this has happened to everyone here at one point or another….you write a post and it’s a long one you’re super proud of…and it disappears into the ether.

Ugh and double ugh.

Luckily the WordPress gods got half of the post and I only have to get through the second half. I’m bummed because I think it was one of more well-written posts and I had jokes. Ha.

Yesterday I intended to write about the 3 huge words that can mean different things to different people under multiple circumstances.

I’m confident in my evaluation (of myself) in regards to being desperate (I’m not, even if it seems that way sometimes) and having anxious attachment syndrome (I do, working on that).

The last part of the post was probably another 1k words addressing that last big word: communication. Maybe WordPress saw fit to give your eyes and head a rest from my babbling for a couple hours!

I’ve really been thinking hard about communication since the John match some 5/6 weeks back. I am always open to feedback on my communication style since it’s probably the single biggest challenge I have had in my entire life.

Clearly, I don’t lack the ability to communicate well. I’ve always been intelligent, articulate and well-spoken since I’ve been able to speak. My issue is always in delivery. Pace, body language, facial expressions and in particular, tone. My character is not well represented by my tone of voice and I often, including in writing, leave a bad taste in people’s mouths or they misunderstand the message I am trying to communicate because I don’t deliver in a way they can understand.

How you communicate is almost more important at times than what you communicate.  You need to know your audience.

After a lot of heartfelt soul searching and, believe it or not, I looked backwards for my answers. They were pretty clear.

I grew up in a time that the word “hyperactive” wasn’t a word applied to a child’s  behaviors. I was a very busy and over active child needing a whole lot of attention. A mother who was too gentle beyond words, a disinterested father and an era where the only label that could be applied to me was “bad” did not provide the healthy outlets I needed for all my energy.

Why was I so overactive? Why couldn’t I sit still and keep my mouth shut like other children? I must have learned very quickly that they preferred to ignore me and I began yelling and screaming for attention I wasn’t getting. I probably didn’t know how to explain as a small child what I needed or wanted. So, I acted out. That netted my mother taking me to doctor and doctor to “fix” me and calm me down. Ultimately, since there was no solution for my “badness” they put me on a drug that my mother told me was reserved for the criminally insane: Ritalin. Since then, based on the research I’ve done, I think my mother made that shit up to tell a better story, or make me feel bad, who knows. The drug was prescribed as an ADHD drug for “maladjusted children” long before the ADHD was mainstreamed.

My mother quickly took me off the drug. I went from a vivacious, active, verbal child to non-verbal and staring at walls. She would rather have hyperactive. Her hippie cousin (this is the 70s remember) suggested a “natural” type of doctor who might help and my mother was desperate at this point. Today we would call that doctor a nutritionist! He told my mother to stop feeding me so much sugar and for rewarding good behavior with candy. He also suggested my mother put me in activities to burn out my energy rather than expecting me to comply to the “children who are seen and not heard are good children” belief.

My mother found relief. I was active, involved and out of the house most of the time doing my activities. She would drive me to Timbuktu if it meant she got an hour of peace. We still couldn’t see eye to eye because I became independent quite quickly – she wasn’t expecting that and definitely didn’t like it.

If it sounds like I understood any of this as a child, I didn’t. This was how she told me the story for as long as I can recall.

I learned to communicate by screaming, yelling and making a fuss because I didn’t get the attention I needed from my parents.

Doesn’t that sound like Trixie has been around for a hella long time?  Yup.  I thought the same.

I didn’t improve my communication techniques for a long, long time.  It took many, many negative outcomes and scoldings before I really understood how to behave, and how my parents expected me to behave.  When I didn’t behave, I was beaten.  Spoon, belt, hand, basically whatever was closest.  This physical abuse didn’t stop until I was 16 and I recall the day quite clearly.  It was the last day my father laid a hand on me.  I don’t recall when my mother stopped cracking spoons over my head.

Years later, when I recounted these stories my parents reply was “If your father ever really hit you, you would be in a hospital.  Those were nothing more than love taps.”  Eventually they denied it ever happened and said I made it all up.  Perhaps the first time I knew I was being gas-lighted (before gas-lighted was a word).

I didn’t begin to understand I could control my tone until I started to work.  Again, it took a lot of mistakes before I began to understand the difference between assertive and aggressive tones, how not to be bossy but authoritative.  But, learn I did, and very well.  I learned how to take what I perceived as my biggest failure as a child, my worst possible trait, and make it an asset and my ultimate strength.  This is how I became successful, I now had the communication style to communicate my ideas in a way that moved me forward instead of hindering me.  I became a valued employee and a really good leader.  I gained some pride.

Of course, there was still the personal component.  My parents style didn’t change and I married a man who was both my mother and my father combined into one.  Looking back, I married for familiarity and because I had anxiously attached.   Even then, my life was sort of pre-planned in my head and the x checked my boxes.  I didn’t understand that I never really saw him for who he was until we were already together for over 18 years.

When I look back, I believe the only romantic relationship I ever had that wasn’t from an anxious attachment was my first long term boyfriend, Randy, when I was 15.  Every relationship after Randy was formed in anxious attachment.

When children came along, the tension between the x and I as well as my inability to always control my tone, led to  my children often calling me mean.  Of course this is quite upsetting to a mother, but I am sure it is true.  Nowadays I try and explain what they hear isn’t always mean.  They have taken their fathers approach of zero confrontation whenever possible (which is probably common among teens).  They are just beginning to understand that when they ask for what they want/need, with confidence, they may be able to change the outcome.  They still don’t like my tone most days, and certainly don’t like when I go up like a bottle of pop and yell at them for one mess or another they have made.  I’m still learning how to be a better parent and communicate in a language I don’t really comprehend (teenage boy).

I view my inability to communicate appropriately as a young child and through to adulthood within my personal life as the outcome of anxious attachment.   That’s where it all started.

So here I am, at 51 years old, basically in the same situation.  I am crying out for attention and I am not communicating appropriately in order to eliminate, or at least avoid, my anxious attachments. I feel like I have never had a solid foundational relationship in my life that wasn’t founded on anxious attachment and that may be the reason I feel such a deep emotional hunger that I have to make my needs known loud and clear in order to get what I need emotionally.  I am most likely perceived as clingy because I am seeking a sense of safety from someone who isn’t able to ready to give it to me.

And then there was this in one of my google searches:

“While it may seem that an anxiously attached person would seek out someone who was nurturing and available, oftentimes they wind up being drawn to a person with an avoidant attachment style who has trouble meeting their emotional needs. While this sounds paradoxical, their intense emotions complement the missing, actually suppressed emotions of the person with avoidant attachment.

They reinforce each other’s adaptations in the painful dance of their interactions. 

Although it is painful to re-experience this insecurity, people often feel compelled to recreate the emotional climate of their childhood.”

So how do I manage my communication and behavior in order to get where I need to be?  How do I learn how to have Secure Attachment when I don’t recall ever feeling that way in my entire life?

This ain’t gonna be easy.

 

Big Words: Desperation, Communication, Attachment (part 1)

Morning my friends!

Many thanks to all of you who take time to give me insight and advice. I always love the feedback, I never construe it as negative and, in general, unless you are consistently poking at me, I don’t take any offense.

In particular, Jana’s comment from last week resonated with me and I had vacillated between replying directly to Jana’s comment and writing a post reply.

Obviously the post reply won.

First and foremost Jana, thank you. I always appreciate everyone (my whole tribe of faithfuls: KDaddy, Sassy, Morava, Gone, Nich, Maggie, Ann, NBrat) who takes their own time to thoughtfully comment on my blog. It means a lot to me.

So here goes – not everything is in direct response to Jana’s post, but it’s where the seeds were planted for this post.

Quite some time ago, someone on my blog identified anxious attachment syndrome. The first time I heard that on my blog I didn’t know what it was, so I did some research. There is no question I have anxious attachment. Much later, when I went to my therapist, it was one of the first things she identified and wanted me to work on getting back to my inner child so I could determine why and where the anxious attachment syndrome started. I didn’t want to do that work with her at the time. My focus with her then was all about healing, letting go of Tony, learning to be a better parent and building back my confidence. We didn’t ignore the fact that my inner child was crying for help, we did talk about root cause often, but I struggled – and still do – with therapy that makes you go back to childhood to view situations you can not change. Especially when it involves my dead Mother. I do not want to change my perception of my mother because I can no longer discuss any of it with my mother.

I know I am not willing and not ready to take this backwards view. I may never be.

My therapist and I spoke about that. Would I forever be damaged if I didn’t find the roots and forgive myself and the people around me for why I developed anxious attachment? Would I be able to forgive a depressed and anxious birth mother for being miserable her entire pregnancy and affecting my gestational period? Would I be able to forgive my father for loving my mother So obsessively he accepted the fact she wanted children or she would leave him, so he conceded but had no desire to actually raise a family? Would I forgive my mother for the fact that she gave up her life to deal with a depressed and mentally unstable and demanding mother as well as a hyperactive child (who in the 70s was undiagnosed and considered “bad”). Can I forgive them?

Yes. I have already forgiven all of them.

Do I want to think about and try to better understand how those forces built an anxious attachment in me that was created in childhood and then cultivated over 22 more adult years in marriage?

No. I don’t.

I know I have anxious attachment syndrome. But I also believe, as did my therapist, I don’t have to go back to move forward.

I do have to learn my triggers, understand the signals my body gives me and stop neglecting the small voice that says “you are not enough and you deserve less”. Or, more often, “you’ve done something wrong.”

I think, if nothing else has ever come across clearly on my blog – the one thing that has always cut through is my direct and transparent honest about myself.

With that said, this blog is an actual real time blog. I blog entirely top of mind and you all get to look first hand at my craziness, happiness, depression, anger, joy, elation, confusion and frustration. I put it ALL right here in the best words I can find to share with you. I don’t edit myself. I write what I think and how I feel.

Does it come across as desperate many times? Yes.

I am not exactly desperate anymore. I’m sure of this. Do my words sound that way? Sure, I can see that.

But you get a birds eye view of how my mind is churning through every available path and avenue. The choices I can make. The roads I should and definitely should not travel. You’ve seen where Trixie (and her friend Tricia) live. You watch me fold and unfold and refold the same towel a thousand times – fueled by my nervous anxiety.

I felt I needed to be clear about where I am today. I am in a better place than I’ve ever been in my life. My life has taken the best path since February 11th, 200 days ago. I am a drug addict, I have to count the days my head stays straight on my shoulders and I continue to make better choices for myself. I know this.

Right now, I do not believe any man is going to derail me. Do I get sad and frustrated and angry and write about it in the moment? Yes, I do. Because you help me suss out things I didn’t want to see when I wrote the post. Coming back to the comments is like revisiting the crime scene. I have to go through the action again (in my head) in order to reply to thoughtful comments. When I do especially “bad” things – I write about it because it’s the last way I have to hold myself accountable. It reminds me I wasn’t listening to my better senses.

I loved my therapist. I think she did an amazing job in the time we had. I was a big fucking nut to crack in under 4 months. She cut across and gave me tools to manage my family, Tony, getting back to work and developing new relationships. I wish I had more time with her but – as life is – I don’t have the time or money to see a therapist. In place of that, I’ve been educating myself and consuming self-help books by the handfuls, like MMs. It would be ideal to have the resources I needed to stay in therapy for a good long while. It’s just not going to happen right now in my life. I have time for one dedicated “activity” outside of work – my choice is fitness over mental health (assuming there was a therapist who worked in the evening or weekends). This is my choice in life. I’ve learned not to swallow a whale right now. Trying to fit any more in (structure) is going to be too stressful for me. Therapy shouldn’t be stressful. But trying to find the time and money right now would cause even more anxiety. I am fully comfortable with my choice.

There are two very divided schools of thought about how to manage anxious attachment. I always thought this to be be super interesting because the tactics are so opposite one another. And you all definitely reflected the two schools of thought in the comments!

One thought is figure out how to love yourself first.

But the other is – practice. Date as many people as you can and practice identifying and managing the anxious attachment.

Do I love myself? I’m trying. I’m absolutely in the best place I’ve ever been. I consciously work on positive self talk and creating good habits. I will probably always struggle with some form of “I’m wrong, I’m not good enough or please love me and don’t leave me” but I am working on my three worst fears that create my anxiety. Am I desperate? No. I’m not. I experience desperation and rejection within the dating scene, but I am not desperate. I can be alone. I have filled my life with healthy and happy people and habits.

So, along with the agreement of my therapist, we discussed allowing me to practice managing the anxiety through dating. If it became overwhelming I was to stop. And I did – for short periods – if it wasn’t serving me. And now, twice in 200 days I had two back to back events I wrote about that got my goat and I became frustrated. I experienced the anxious attachment in its full form and for the first time in my life I RECOGNIZED my behavior and subsequently controlled it.

That’s a win in my book.

Should it be controlled from the start? Yes! I hope to make that happen. But in the meantime, I’m super proud I had maybe 2 24 hour periods where I worked through it and acknowledged what I felt. I sat with it.

post script: somehow, half this post was cut off and lost. I will try and re-create the second half tomorrow so I can address what I’ve discovered about communication.

Small World

Today was a good day.

The kids and I had a family photo day at a beautiful location. They were not happy about it but we haven’t taken a serious photo in probably 10 years. We knew the photographer and the kids loved her style. She took some seriously fabulous shots. I was so thrilled.

The day was really perfect for an outdoor shoot in a large park. We found some beautiful old stone buildings and the scenery was really just beautiful. My kids hate stuff like this but they did it for me. I so rarely get them like this and I loved watching them interact with one another.

2 of the three agreed to a lovely dinner with me so I treated them to a special place. We were all dressed so nicely it was just wonderful to be out with my boys in a nice restaurant enjoying them. I wish all 3 came, but one can always be difficultly about eating out so I didn’t push him.

After dinner I met a friend at a local bar we’ve been to before. I was all done up for the photos so I felt pretty amazing. The scene was quiet as compared to other nights but we enjoyed talking to one another. The funny thing was, there was a couple next to us where the husband approached us when his wife went to the bathroom. He was simply being friendly and chatting to us. When his wife. Some back she joined us and we quickly hit it off.

The husband, Dave, was flirting around the bar finding other women to come join us and he found two more women similar age and the five of us started chatting and laughing. It was so much fun to meet strong, attractive women that just wanted to be friendly. One woman was exceptionally attractive and had been standing by herself for some time. We welcomed her into our fold quickly and she was so thankful and admitted she didn’t have many girl friends so came to the bar alone just to get out.

She’s very attractive and I can see other women being threatened by her. We started talking and one thing led to another and….she went to HS with Mike! 😂. She looked at me funny when I said I had gone out on dates with him and said – hang on – we are IG friends! She pulled up his IG and handed me the phone to look. Just him and his daughters – BUT – he was clearly very active that evening with IG stories. I hadn’t heard from him all day, so it just cemented the fact something changed for him as he’s had no issue previously sharing his escapades with his daughters.

This woman also showed me some interesting messages he sent her back around Easter. This would be right around/before he moved out. He clearly was trying to interact with her, but she thought it was weird as they were not friends and he was kind of being very friendly out of the blue “Hey! how was your Easter ? Did you have a good time with the kids? “.

She was concerned that he was still married and didn’t hear anything through the grapevine that he had separated. I told her our story and that I had been to his apartment. She wants to ask her friends who know his wife and see if she can find out any more info.

It was pretty hard for me not to shoot him a text with some sort of comment about ghosting me. I was drinking and we were having fun and this came out of left field. Sure, I was curious. I want to know more.

But I forced myself not to care so much about it.

Yea, the twinge was there. It sucked seeing a social media post of him with his daughter from an hour before when a few days ago he would have been sharing the moment with me as well.

I let it pass. I repeated my mantra for when I begin to get overwhelmed and want to act out. I too a deep breath. I continued to focus on these new women I met.

Then I forgot for some hours.

Until I got home. A bit buzzed. And it hit me again.

It was so hard not to write him. So hard. But I didn’t. There is no point. None. He knows what he’s doing. He’s not dumb. It’s intentional either to slow us down or to drop me. Either way, I have no control. No matter what I do, I’m not going to get control either. So I might as well stop obsessing.

I don’t doubt I will have a restless night of sleep. This will be on my mind.

But I won’t do anything about it.

The In-Betweens

I guess it’s been around 3 weeks since I matched with Mike in my swiping frenzy.

Before meeting Mike, my friend gave me a stern talking to about taking a long break from the apps. My short break was too short according to her.

I listened for the moment and deleted 3 of the 4 apps, including the one I met Mike on. I was still in conversation with the other two men on Hinge so I left it open. Plus, Mike seems to be hanging in – I don’t really know for sure.

I thought about what my friend said and took it to heart. I’m really busy and don’t actually have a lot of time to date. Vetting the strangers is tiresome, but well worth the effort because my choices have been good. I don’t want to expend the time because it’s so frustrating but I want the outcome. We know there is no output without input.

Much like a diet or exercise.

So, of course, I realize I am only going to get what I put into it. I have been consciously trying to put positive vibes out into the universe.

I’m just tired. I want a guy I can text chatter with during the day. That I can have a phone conversation with once in a while (not an every night thing). That I can rely on to contact me each day, and not wonder when or if it’s ok if I make first contact today or tmrw and how long should I wait in between text? The dating rules suck but they work.

I feel a little queasy because I haven’t heard from Mike in a day. He was communicative enough while he helped his daughter moving and especially when he got stuck in an airport for 24 hours. But during all that he never said he wanted to see me again. I spoke to him once on the phone and he was perfectly fine and normal, so it must be his overall text style not to write much because he’s chatty in person.

Will I be upset if I don’t hear from him? Sure, of course. Just like John. But it won’t kill me and I actually have a bit better feeling there are guys out there for me – my person is somewhere! I just wish it was easier.

Does he like me enough to continue or not? And why does he have all the power? At least in my head. Why do I still feel like inferior goods?

There is something I haven’t identified because MANY men have done the same thing with me – the excitement, how cool I am, how strong, smart, beautiful etc. I have virtually always impressed in the beginning – but do I give off some weird crazy eyes or something? Do I have a vibe that says “stay away from this nutjob?” I don’t compliment people when I don’t mean it and the compliments I receive are entirely CONSISTENT. So they can’t all be faking or lying – there’s truth in there. They all are quickly attracted but after a second thought they back off.

I don’t even know if I am making sense I’m babbling so much. It’s just been bugging me all day because I haven’t heard him. Ultimately I recalled he had a big day at work yesterday and I ended up texting him later in the day to see how it went. He answered promptly with no fanfare. I frankly asked if he would like to go out again and he said yes.

I suppose I shouldn’t have. I’m so transparent. I just want to know.

I may never be good at dating. My brain just works in an organized, methodical approach. Black and white. Yes and no. I always need an “answer” and have trouble with grey (in life, not at work though). Interestingly enough, Mike is also a Virgo. I made a joke about his methodical approach for things and he agreed with me. But then I also teased about him quietly judging and being critical about everyone and everything and he looked at me with surprise (like “you caught me!” Surprise) and have a big laugh. If he’s anything like me as a Virgo – he’s absolutely judgey (quietly).

Anyway, let’s see what happens with Mike and if I can settle into his cadence or follow his lead for the time being. If the other app, Hinge, nets anything – well then, great. If not, it is what it is for now.

Sorry for the ramble but that’s what the blog is here for! Happy Friday!!

The Next Thing That Can Go Wrong

Looks like I am gluten intolerant.

Just as I’ve been working to eliminate foods that are difficult to digest or cause bloating in an effort to reduce my fistula leaking, I ate a big bowl of pasta.

Eating a big bowl of anything is unusual for me these days. My portions are teeny tiny and I can’t eat and drink too much at the same time. I’m passed 3/4oz now, so I have the appearance of eating more normally, just very little at one time.

The fistula is yet another thing I have to live with and eventually share with a partner should that ever come. The goal is to control the bloating as much as possible to reduce or eliminate any leakage and I’ve gotten pretty good at immediately determining foods that irritate. The nutritionist told me 2 weeks ago to begin reducing gluten and that has helped, so I think when I ate this bigger portion of pasta my body wanted to revolt.

I woke up at 4am doubled over in pain and my stomach sounded like The Predator – literally. My son heard it and said “Mom! That’s the predator noise!” And found a clip. It’s exactly right.

I’m not sure how to add an audio link but that’s the noise.

So it looks like I have to go commando and pretty much eliminate gluten. Like I don’t have enough shit to deal with (meant in every literal sense of the word!).

I can’t eat rice which stinks, and it seems I can manage one piece of Dave’s Killer Bread once in a while as long as it’s not every day, but what else do I need to eliminate?

Other than the one bread, I don’t eat bread.

I know I can not tolerate pasta now.

I have been eating these BelVita biscuits because they are easy way to get my carbs and fiber in but they have to go to, just in case.

I don’t eat cereals and snack foods.

I honestly think I probably have most of the worst gluten offenders out of my diet already so it looks like biscuits and pasta now come off the menu too!

Guess I’ve got a lot of research ahead of me – any experts out there?

How to go Slow?

I don’t know how to do this. I know this. You know this.

I also know it’s something I need to learn now. As in right now.

I have a potentially good thing right in front of me with Mike. I want it to stay that way without overwhelming it with intensity. Any good relationship I know, that lasts, doesn’t start in flames.

Is it already too late?

I question if I have ever had a normal relationship. Something I haven’t forced forward or have forced upon me – because of one or the others passions, jealousy or expectation. It’s sort of frightening as I think about it.

I just want normal. Like really normal. I’m not saying Mike has to be my forever or even long term. I just want a nice guy to date. something that looks like: He likes me, I like him, there is a level of trust and commitment (unsure what that means exactly but feels like it means I can expect him to always call the next day kind of thing and not have to worry he suddenly disappears overnight).

I guess the situation with John affected me more than I realize. Not John himself, he’s utterly irrelevant. The fact I met a man I could envision dating nicely and I allowed it to get carried away too fast.

So, what have I done any differently this time? I still had a too-long first date. We had passionate sex on dates 1 and 2. And….that’s it. Not saying it’s right or wrong but that’s a short list of potential errors for me. I’m normally over my head before date 1.

What’s more important is what I’m NOT doing this time. Communication is at his pace, which can be erratic. Ok, fine. I don’t love it but I am going with the positive self-talk and telling myself “he WILL check in.” I am not revealing every crack and crevice of myself such as my sexual history (we had a brief talk, nothing in depth, I kept it light). No talk of my surgeries or breakdown. No talk of my x or any affairs. Nothing REALLY important. Nothing HEAVY.

I read something about “Baggage Bonding” which means bonding over your previous issues with marriage or relationships.

On the other hand. We had sex. Multiple times. Unprotected sex. That needs a conversation. I know I’m not having sex with anyone else. I suppose I can simply say to him “wrap it up” if you plan to be having sex with others? He has repeatedly said he doesn’t want more than one woman. I don’t take that at face-value because I don’t KNOW him well enough. He may even mean it. But it’s too soon to expect he knows it’s what he wants with me.

I keep repeating to myself: Keep it light, Madeline. Let it develop naturally. Let it be healthy. Mike doesn’t need to satiate some deep hole within my soul, he is a lovely addition to a currently calm and balanced life. I’m doing my own soul work and I’ve been pretty successful in the past 6 months.

But how do you do this after you’ve had such hot sex the first two dates? How do you also get the simmer? Have I already jeopardized it?

I read some articles that all say “have a serious discussion” but this seems pushy to me. I don’t think I want a serious discussion, I just want to know if he wants more, or not. I don’t know how to ask.

And maybe all of it’s in my head and I’m already thinking too forward too fast.

I really just want to get it right for once.