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.

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.

And Now We Wait?

Leaving his apartment was awkward. I thought for sure he would walk me down to my car, but nope. Out to the door and then a finger pointing to the elevator.

That was the moment I knew it wasn’t going any further. Could I be wrong? Sure, it’s possible. However, after all I’ve been through I’ve promised to listen to my inner cues – and they are generally not wrong in the beginning of a relationship.

After a date with a man that was a great date I always knew if they would call. I had no idea if I would hear from John again, despite his repeated words of being a good guy and being so aligned with me. It was a good chemistry but it wasn’t the kind that kept me awake at night. Tony, Bobby, Andrew, Brix (who I flew to CA for), Dan and Dave all come to top of mind as being really excited to seeing them again.

I realized I really wanted to see him again, I wanted to talk to him more and I wanted sex again but there was something stopping me from the “over the top” reaction I normally have. I absolutely had a little butterflies but it was quite moderated.

He had asked me to text him when I arrived home. I knew he was going to see his son for the weekend and we were due to see each other Sunday afternoon (which would have been the first date). But since he didn’t mention Sunday at all, even when I left (no “See you Sunday”) I already felt Sunday wasn’t going to happen.

This didn’t totally eliminate the feeling of being let-down when the conversation had turned into this:

That sounds like a “I won’t be speaking to you today” text.

I was sad but couldn’t help myself so a bit later I started:

No reply to those last text Saturday night.

I woke up feeling like he was going to ghost me and I was both parts angry and sad. He had so much promise and I just want a boyfriend already. I just want to date someone who isn’t attached and who matches my life cadence and he had hit all the right buttons. I was willing to even overlook cock size! 😂. I was so let down this wasn’t getting off the ground and started assuming it had to be me.

What went wrong? Was it the tears or not getting undressed? Was it the bandage and discussion of my surgery’s (which was light and not detailed). Was it just him – he didn’t feel an intense chemistry? I knew without a doubt there was sexual chemistry because we had morning sex and it was great.

I couldn’t let go even though my better sense said stop texting. I didn’t text on Sunday because I felt he was obligated to let me know if he was coming or not if he didn’t want to be a complete waste of a man (I was a bit angry and hurt).

Here’s what I got midday:

As you can see, no further response Sunday evening. I felt mildly better he had at least be kind and text. But this wasn’t the man I was talking to for a week by a long shot. I tried again Monday am with a simple god morning:

And that’s that. Do I believe him? Maybe. Does it matter? He reminded me of Tony in this instant where Tony couldn’t manage me and a drama with his kids sometimes so I would get shut down. Happens that John is exactly same age as Tony and their birthdays are 2 days apart. Is it a Leo characteristic?

I am let down. I had a couple turns in my gut of feeling jumpy to have him text and sad that he wasn’t.

I’m still wondering today but the bottom line is that he knows he needs to communicate with me to Continue. There’s no point in me texting him again.

I do worry it was my scars. That’s going to haunt me. Every man now says I’m so “hot” and my body is so “thin and sexy” and “look at those arms!” And I get it. I look super fit, toned and strong now. It’s appealing to a man who takes care of himself. And a very close friend said my scars would potentially be a dealbreaker – she’s very vain – and she doesn’t know how she would feel. But it’s ugly. And it’s tormenting me.

So there you have it. My “I need to know” is killing me. My tummy gets a little twisty when I think of it – just because it’s the first time in OVER A YEAR I’ve met someone who was a potential.

I do feel lonely now. I do want a partner. But I can’t change the things I want to have in a relationship if I want it to work for me, so that means sit and wait for the next potential and avoid poor choices.

I am sad I haven’t heard from him and it does bother me immensely – perhaps because I see nothing glaring at me that would cause him not to want a second date.

I sent a last text this morning because it’s eating at me. I don’t actually expect an honest reply. But he will likely reply with something.

I probably shouldn’t have sent the last text – when does anyone in these situations tell the truth? But as I’ve been thinking about it I remembered that both August and Tom had the courtesy to say “Thanks, but no thanks” to me and I always say it to a man. He just didn’t strike me as such a player and I guess I missed the cues in there somewhere.

I’m lamenting more over the prospect of an actual match than John himself – which should say something to me. He hit my list attributes one by one and it felt something like a miracle! I will live. It was one date, a great date, and great sex. It also made me realize that no matter how long I wait to sleep with someone my scars are never going away – so I better get that first story/explanation under control for the next time I need to deliver it so I’m not so emotional about it. I would like to believe that someone who really likes you wouldn’t be bothered by my ravished body, but I do think it’s highly possible and I’m going to need to accept when that happens as well.

Adding this at 10am this morning. Pretty clear and straightforward:

Good morning Madeline. Yes, I absolutely owe you an explanation, and every day that passed made it harder to send the message, so thank you for your message this morning. What happened with my boys this weekend just made me think about relationships in general, not really you specifically. You just happened to be here at the time. The bottom line is that I’m not interested in going fast and furious at this point. The communication we had last week wouldn’t have happened if I was here. I was half a world away and the time difference and my free time made it easy and I got caught up. It was really nice though and I enjoyed Fri. I know all this sounds like bullshit, and I would think the same thing if I were in your shoes. I have a million other thoughts but they’re not really important, I’m just not ready for a full blown relationship. I should have said something proactively earlier, I just didn’t even know what I wanted. I’m sorry, you’re really sweet and you deserve the best in the future.

Walk of Shame

I heard from John every minute he had WiFi in the air and as soon as he landed. He landed at 3pm after a 25 hour flight and we were due to meet at 7pm. I was feeling more nervous than anything because I wasn’t certain about him. I mean, there was nothing that rang alarm bells for me but it was the absence of red flags that caught me.

I kept thinking “could someone be so practiced at the chase that they would engage that way?” Generally speaking, after years of practice, I can tell when they are after sex. It’s always obvious. Nothing about John seemed obvious to me.

I got ready. I looked hot, probably the best hot date outfit I’ve ever worn! The good thing about it was that no one but me could get it off. Normally I wouldn’t wear panties either, but I knew I needed to practice a bit of moderation if there was any hope of a second date.

I arrived first and he was soon behind. The strange thing, for me, was that I wanted to kiss him immediately! I wanted to touch him and make sure he was real and there in front of me. He looked just like his photos, and he has a boyish charm. He is very educated, well spoken and an amazing conversationalist. We quickly agreed to eat at the bar rather than a table and he soon pulled me in for a delicious kiss. We shared our dinner, though he may have done that for me rather than what he prefers. I don’t eat much so I think once he realized that he was less concerned about sharing. Our conversation was exactly as it had been on the phone – easy, casual, engaging and charged with attraction. Mid-way through the date he couldn’t take his hands from me. His erection was obvious after each deep kiss. We both like PDA so this went well and nothing was uncomfortable.

The only thing I noticed, and believe me I was looking for what I kept thinking I missed, was he wasn’t overly engaged in my stories to hear then through the to end. He often had a comment or a similar situation to offer up. Even my adoption story – which is completely unique – had a John story to counter it. Seriously, there were no other missteps or obvious red flags.

And, by the way, I caught him adjusting himself as he turned and tried to do it discreetly. Proof that the Dick Adjustor date was just a used douche in disguise.

Anyway, dinner was lovely and he asked to take me to ice cream. The line was long and he was debating if he wanted to wait. In the meantime we found a dark corner and made out like crazy. It wasn’t frenzied on my behalf, I think more so on his, but it was lovely. I hadn’t kissed with this level of passion in a long time. It felt so good to be ignited again. His hands roamed under my dress and he moaned with appreciation. I suggested we get the ice cream and he agreed he needed a distraction to calm down.

The ice cream was fine, he even shared his (mine was just ok) and we had a little stroll. He then offered me a drink at the bar we were standing in front of or to go back to his apartment. I chose the apartment. I knew it was too late to drive home and I had two or three glasses of wine earlier. I really believed we could make the night without sex.

He had a nice, almost brand new apartment that was definitely a bachelor pad. He lives two hours away from his family and friends and had moved out of his marital house and to this location for a new job just about a year ago. You could tell he only hung his hat here and this wasn’t home. He took the new job for the title and I believe he has every intention to moving back to his home-town after a few years. There was a great outdoor patio that we could enjoy and he poured us some wine.

The talking and kissing continued and the wine flowed. The kissing turned into my panties coming down and his mouth on me, which in turn led to me unzipping his pants. I started to give him a blow job and then, ultimately, sat on his cock. The position was so good, and I’ve become so strong, that I was able to climax which surprised me! John is the smallest of any man I’ve ever been with. I wasn’t sure how this would go over for me. I feel bad for saying it, but he was smaller than what I considered average. He seemed to make up for lack of size with his motions. He was an excellent lover. The sex was fabulous. He picked me up and turned me around and took me from behind. His low, guttural sounds were so sexy.

I had managed to have sex with my clothes on. I thought I escaped the worst of it. But when he went back in more wine and came back out to me, he said “you know sex is supposed to be fully reciprocal and that’s how I like it – I want you to be pleased in every way, so why won’t you get undressed for me?” I said I was uncomfortable. Then he said “I saw the bandage so why don’t you just tell me?”

Cue the tears. Not loud messy ones but great big alligator tears just escaped and rolled down my face. Truly, I don’t recall what happened or what I said in enough detail. I know I said I was embarrassed of my scars from surgery (he had open heart surgery and pointed at his scar, which is a straight line and totally skin colored, not nearly the same as a hole in your belly). I believe I also said I thought if we didn’t have sex right away then it would give me a little time to adjust and I wouldn’t be worried it was because of the wounds that I wouldn’t see him again. He shook his head at this and said “did you really think I wouldn’t call again or see you on Sunday?” I don’t recall the rest. I had drank too much and was too upset. It wasn’t a long conversation and I ultimately popped up and offered him a solution “I will put on a big T-shirt”.

I went into the bathroom and came out in my long nightshirt. No panties. He liked this better but it still didn’t give his mouth access to my breasts. I was really stressed about my belly and breasts. My breasts have lost all their shape and just hang there like empty, deflated balloons and the scars are deep and still ugly and create two pouches of flesh on either side of them. I couldn’t get over this. Yes, I had been naked 3 times before with men, and drunk each time, but I didn’t care what those men thought since I didn’t see long term potential the same way I saw with John. I was really scared that a man who does CrossFit and mentions how important a thin and sexy body is to him, would find fault in my belly. It is ugly, I have to admit. And if I was in top facing him, I would be so far out of my comfort zone. I wasn’t ready for that on date one.

But he was. We had sex two more times that evening with my T-shirt on. I’m sure it rose but I had a skin colored big bandage on to cover the worst of it. He never did get to my breasts because I stopped him a few times.

We slept nicely together l, he held me a long time and we separated when it was too hot. I always felt him touching me and he was a great morning lover, all cuddles and then great sexy to follow. I did get on top of him and was surprised I came with a bit of effort, but he said he loved it and would come for me while I was in top – which he said is rare for him.

Now for the awkward part. I had to text my friend to ask how to do the walk of shame properly! I had never actually done it and didn’t even realize it! There was very little sex where I didn’t know what the morning would bring because I was generally with the man for more time. This was clearly a “get your stuff and get out moment”. Until he asked if I wanted coffee, which I accepted.

I sat to drink my coffee while he puttered around cleaning up. It was fascinating. I had never seen a man do this before either! Well, Tony did, but it was at my house. I started to feel like I really needed to get out of there so I changed, brushed my teeth and left. He asked me to let him know when I got home. Something felt off but I can’t quite describe it.

When I’m the Needy One

If you read my blog I’m sure you think I’m needy all the time. But that ain’t so – I’m pretty independent. I manage my home and children on my own. When I’m working I commute and travel long distances. Things get done.

But when I’m sick or sad I’m super needy. And there’s no one that fills Tony’s absence.

I guess it’s pretty normal that when I’m happy and busy that I think of him much less. When I’m sad and depressed he’s at the front of my mind.

A long, long time ago Anne questioned how much I loved Bobby or just loved the experience of Bobby or how he made me feel. In the end, I did have love for Bobby but in hindsight he turned out to be much more about how he made me feel.

I think about that with Tony too. I want to feel absorbed by someone again I want that person to call and tell everything to. I got a job. I got sick. I worked out and did good. Or bad. Whatever. I want to share these things.

So first, let’s get out of the way, I got no answers at the surgeon today because he’s baffled. Now it’s a waiting game. If it’s a fistula it will either resolve on its own (unlikely but not impossible) or make itself known clearly (pain, vomiting, fever). Until then, watch and wait. He wants me to change nothing in my diet or exercise. The only concern at the moment is the skin around the wound is very, very thin and close the bowel and could tear. I just need to pay extra special attention to the wound area as it’s aggravated from the leaking.

I weigh less than I did in my 20s right now. Every day I lose more weight. He says this isn’t the first problem as long as I feel fine.

And, I do feel fine. Other than this damn wound I feel better than ever.

So there’s that. I’m a leaky faucet at the moment.

Oh – and this isn’t exactly related to the VSG surgery. It’s a side effect of any abdominal surgery and there are reasons why it happens in some and not in others. I’ve had multiple same site surgeries and there is a lot of scar tissue and adhesion. There is also some leftover flotsam and jetsam from my childhood surgeries in my body – foreign objects. Never heard that before. But I saw it on the scans and it’s one of the reasons my belly is so disfigured from surgery in 1970.

Of course after the surgeon today I called my family and friends – the Mexico Unit I call them. The ones who brought me through and stand by me and made it clear they love me and want me around. I spoke to them. They listened and offered advice.

But they were not Tony. They don’t love me the same. The feeling isn’t there. I miss being so enveloped in his love. I really do ok on the other days…it’s just days like this….I miss him and how he loved me.

I suppose the good news is – I don’t go looking for that in someone else because I’m missing him. I’m not on the apps or reaching out to anyone else because I feel needy. I just feel needy and miss him.

And I try to care for myself. ❤️

Awakening

Career.

This has been the hardest piece of the puzzle to begin to piece back together.

Funny, because I thought it would be easier than mending my broken heart and mind because it’s where all my strength and confidence stem from. But that isn’t the case.

I didn’t even begin to pull myself together with any seriousness until January into February. I worked closely with the outplacement group and I committed to a once-a-week call with my coach. There was always homework, and while sometimes I didn’t do it until right before the next phone call, I always did it. I surprised myself by finding the coaching supremely helpful in getting my thoughts organized for the job search. There were definitely high points.

I started looking but never fully invested myself. If I was truly networking, it should have been a lot harder than it was. I was taking the easy way out.

There may be a reason for that.

In 2016 when I lost my previous role, I had a dream that everything was going to be ok. I would find a fabulous job and I would hire my own team. The role would just come to me. And…it sure did. Just like I dreamed. I thought I literally found my dream job.

Fast forward to 2018 and the dream job had turned into my worst nightmare. I truly cringe when I think about the year of 2018 in that role. I so desperately wanted to prove myself, prove to my boss he was stupid for letting me go, prove to myself I wasn’t the dumb kid and was worthy of my title. I didn’t realize how badly his snide comments had damaged my normally confident work-self. That hadn’t happened to me before. Work had been my safe zone where I knew I performed. I knew I was good and I knew I could learn and adapt to any challenge thrown my way.

By the time I left that role I was emotionally crippled with the trifecta that year: breakup, job loss, and kid issues. It couldn’t have gotten any worse? Or could it? I took myself to Mexico with a death wish…so, yes, I made it worse.

In any case, I digress, I was explaining why I don’t think I properly invest in my networking. My 2016 job came to me out of the blue, as the two roles I held before that. I never worked “that” hard at networking. Things seemingly fell into my lap.

But this time I didn’t have a dream that told me things would be ok. This time there was no vision or confidence that I would secure my next best role. This time I was scared.

So the only thing I chose to do was to work on myself. The job search became mostly neglected. I set myself up financially to make it though the summer and had started to accept I would be out of work that long. I didn’t drop the search entirely, if there was a low-hanging fruit I picked it. I didn’t chase anything.

And, it happened organically, again. The same way it did before. Someone who knew me and respected me told someone else I was looking for a role and would be perfect for their open role. I had a couple interviews. I secured a full time freelance role. It’s only a 6 month role for half my salary but anything is better than unemployment. The company is on my top 5 list to work for. The department lead knows me for many years and likes me. It was a great opportunity. There are also some full time career roles I’m in the midst of – very similar to my last. Part of that frightens me because it’s hard to imagine jumping back into a frying pan full of hot oil, but the other part knows I am made for those roles and they come few and far between. I’m trying to remain on the positive side and see how they pan out.

So, back to work Monday I go. Am I ready? Probably not. I’m still way too tired all the damn time. My brain isn’t firing at full speed just yet. But I’m going to need to make it work as I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

9 months was a long recovery period. I never thought I would have this time in my life but I am glad I had as much as I did. Time to refill the coffers and get back to reality. The challenge is keeping the peace and balance I have found inside myself when the world is spinning out of control around me.

Hey, Slim

A funny thing happened walking in the city the other day.

A stranger called after me “Hey, Slim” and I knew he was talking to me, but still questioned what he was calling me. When I turned to look at him and he said “looking good, slim” I had a little moment.

I smiled, nodded my head and kept walking. I skipped a little. Me? Slim? Oh hell yes!

It stuck in my head all day that someone called ME slim. Talk about a random boost of confidence.

That tiny little comment helped to free me from a bit of self flagellation about my past body image. I am slim. I am no longer fat. I have to let go of that image and all the negative connotations I attached to it. I have to place emphasis on my future because what’s in front of me is much brighter than what’s behind me.

It drew me out a little bit: I see a slimmer, sexier, brighter future. I’m past the bad and the negative that held me back. I now need to act on the new freedoms I’ve been given. No more binge watching, oversleeping, overeating, lazy habits that have consumed my life.

I’m getting my life back together and that one comment from a stranger made me realize that when I open myself to the possibilities around me, when I stop being led by my negative emotions and my past, I have already changed …. and I’m going to continue on the path(we all know there will be distractions, but they get less important to me every day).

It’s definitely been a month where I have had more self-acceptance than ever before in my life. I am literally starting to feel comfortable in my skin. It started with a good look in the mirror here and my commitment to the 100 days.

Part of me wonders why I have ALWAYS been so worried what others think of me. The therapist (as well as several of the self help books I’ve been reading) believe that the way I was raised in childhood created the lies I’ve told myself. My brain processes, first – before any other thought – “are you good enough? Probably not.” Why I do that I never really uncovered. I know for a fact I never felt good enough for my father but there were many, many times my mother supported me but I suppose the times she didn’t support me (as I was, not how she needed me to be) I continually felt challenged to be be better than I was. There just have been more negative reinforcement than positive reinforcement in my childhood. I have a hard time accepting that because my mom is no longer here to speak to. However, I realize that regardless of HOW I became this way, only I can change this script and start my own positive reinforcement.

My goal this week is to write about the change of heart and mind I’ve been experiencing this month and how I got there. Even I’m surprised – but the simple fact was I took one small action and held myself accountable to complete that one action every day. The commitment I made to myself was 100 days and I can’t believe I fulfilled it, but I did.

I haven’t done as much exercise as I did in March and April, I did slow down, but I have exercised my brain a lot more this month. I did give myself more rest and space this month – but not lazy, lay on the couch days…just less aggressive exercise days. I feel like pieces are falling into place finally and I’m getting a better handle on what I can do to help myself in the future so I never give up on myself again.

My plan is to document my next steps for myself and see where the next 100 days take me. I’m already 7 days in!

No More Excuses – 100 Days of Action

I did it!

On Wednesday, May 22nd I completed 100 days of commitment to creating a healthier life. I beat myself up over 5/6 missed days, but the truth is, I never missed a day of trying – I may have meditated or done yoga those days because I wasn’t well, but I didn’t actually just skip a day entirely. In hindsight, it’s not the days I missed that I was worried about – it was not keeping my promise to myself.

I’ve been reading and listening to some great self-help books lately and one of the statements that stuck out to me was “why do you keep breaking promises to yourself?” I hate breaking a promise to anyone else, but I will give up on myself almost immediately. Well, that stops now. I am putting myself first – and while that might sound selfish to my children the fact is that if I care for myself well, then I can care for them better than I have been.

I have done a really poor job of taking care of myself. When things get rough, I bury myself under piles of work. It took being out of work for 9 months to realize how unhealthy that was. I wasn’t doing anyone a favor. Corporations don’t care. I was burning gas I didn’t have and they weren’t getting the best from me and my job took way too much of my family life from me. I can’t go back to change that now, but I sure can affect what happens go forward.

So here’s what I’ve learned in my 100 days. It’s actually quite simple, unfortunately. There really is no way around it – and not one person said any differently. Everyone’s advice was quite similar:

“You must take action to move forward. “

Sounds so practical, right?

You can’t get where you want to be by wishing for it. Or waiting for it. You have to put in the work. One foot in front of the other, just like that. Again, and again, and again.

“No one else can do it but you. “

No one gets you out of bed or off the couch every day. Only you can help yourself. Get up and get started, Lady. Every. Damn. Day. Show up for yourself.

“Build the habits, slowly, step by step.”

That was a big one. Finally releasing my big-old-type-A personality to do something slowly and steadily, Day after day. Not jumping right into 2 hours of exercise every single day forever, but building up to what felt right, and adding in more as I became stronger. Honestly, I have never been so surprised by waking up thinking: what am I going to do for my exercise today? Now it happens regularly and I feel off when I don’t exercise, even if it’s just a little, very day.

“Just do it. No secret sauce.”

Nike has it right. There is no other way. Stop letting your brain give you all the reasons not to do something and just do it.

“Practice Gratitude”

Wake up every day thankful you opened your eyes. You GET to do this, you don’t have to do this. Life is a privilege so start acting that way.

I needed to replace the negative thoughts with good ones. Consistently and repetitively. How did I do this? I practiced.

I reminded myself over and over.

Long ago, more than one person suggest I meditate. I tried it and blew it off as not for me. This time, I kept trying. I practiced meditation the same way I practice my exercise. I show up and try over and over. Some days I’m more distracted than others but practice makes progress and it’s sinking in. Meditation is simply a way to focus your mind.

I realize I have never actively trained my mind to focus quietly. Sure, I can focus on projects, peoples, conversations etc. I’m good at active focusing – actually I’m so good at it I get addicted and obsessed when I’m super interested. But this is different. This is learning to focus my mind, guide my thoughts, in a positive and purposeful way. I’m retraining my brain and that takes practice. It may take me forever, but hey, I’ve got all the time in the world!

I really like meditation when I let it work for me and concentrate on the guidance. I notice I can apply some of the practice when I’m not meditating – slow down and pay attention to what I’m feeling, where I’m feeling it, why did that feeling come up? If that emotion is not serving me purpose in that moment, I can attend to it later, but for now, learn to package it up and put it away so I can focus on whatever it is I should be focusing on. I also remind myself that my thoughts are not what define me – my actions are. So if I have negative thoughts, I must act with kindness and positive intent. In order to do that, I have to stop and think “is what I’m about to say or do going to be kind? Is it necessary? What do u want to accomplish and how am I going to hold myself accountable?”

I obviously cannot do this when I allow Trixie to get hold of a nuclear bomb and annihilate everything in the way. I need to do this in order to avoid ever getting to such an utter loss of self-control again. I will say one thing about Tony as it relates to this: I do not feel regret for telling his wife. I cannot exactly explain why I felt I “had” to do what I did – but that needed to happen for me for whatever reason. I am sorry it made it so I can never, ever reconnect with Tony again but there are times when I think that might be the reason I threw the nuclear bomb – so I COULD never reconnect with him. I’m not pleased with myself that I hurt a woman who never did anything to me, and part of me knew there was nothing I was going to say or do that would make her want to leave him. I’m not trying to make an excuse, just laying out my thought process. My goal is no more nuclear bombs ever in my life. For any reason.

I threw 3 of them last year. One to destroy my job, one to destroy that relationship and one to almost take my life. I never want to revisit that feeling again so it means I have to actively retrain my brain how to speak to me. That all started with my healthy and positive commitment to my 100 days journey.

So how did I complete my 100 day journey? I had a fabulous exercise day with Peloton with my favorite trainers. I publicized my ride on social media so I rode with many Pelo-peeps who support and encourage throughout the ride and my output was actually a personal record. I bought those huge Mylar number balloons for “100” and took a photo and posted it all over social media. And then, well then I went and got a tattoo! I had been thinking about it for a while so this was my gift to myself. I got the Sanskrit word for “strength” tattooed on my wrist. I never thought I would get a tattoo but I love it! I had polled my family and friends on several words that resonated with me and that’s the word they most closely associated with me. It hurt like crazy but it carries a lot of significance and meaning to me, and reminds me of the fire I walked through to get here.

Bitter Envy

I’ve identified a feeling that’s more deeply seated than I realized and I’m not sure how to work through this one. This is when I wish I could afford the therapist.

I realize I am very, very envious of Tony’s life. One of the reasons I can’t seem to let go is I identified with his life as the life I always wanted.

I don’t know exactly how this came to be, but it hit me hard last night. Add that to the list of horrid traits I have.

Tony has everything I want. It’s making me crazy that I don’t, or can’t, have it and it’s right there embodied in one human. How is that even possible? He works for a company I am proud of and thrilled to be a part of as a consumer. He’s respected and intelligent in the workplace. His children love and adore him and he is willing to lay his life on the line for his family. He liked all the same things I liked, including travel. He was a fantastic lover and communicator and oh so kind and gentle. He cared for me and looked after me.

I hate that I still feel bitterness over my divorce and my poor choice of a husband. My x never gave me what I needed, nor could he – but I didn’t or wouldn’t realize this until so many years later. I don’t exactly feel like I’ve wasted time because I have my family, but because we can’t even parent together, I feel the lack of cohesive family painfully. When I look at Tony’s, or other families that function lovingly, I really feel serious and deep envy.

Compared to the Summer of ’16 when I really thought I had it all – the kids seemed to be adapting to our lives well, I was at the start of a love affair, and being offered what I considered to be my penultimate job. I have actually now accepted my job will change and I have become ok with that. I am so confident in my abilities that it will work out. But when it comes to love and my kids, maybe I lack confidence and it’s why I feel envy and regret?

I did feel like a complete failure last summer, which led to the series of events bringing me to Mexico. But, in hindsight, it was coupled with envy and regret. My lover was leaving to live a life he loved and chose over me, and (all of) my kids were not the loving children I thought I raised them to be. These two things I haven’t fully dig deep enough to eradicate. I still feel pain from these things. And I think it stems from being envious that he is the embodiment of the life I wish I had. I believe it must raise my biggest internal fear that I am inadequate.

What are the chances (and why) that one person can have everything you want so exactly? I don’t truly covet many material things (well, I am a little bit bougie) – but a good life with a loving family and partner who cares for me first – that’s all I’ve ever wanted. I’ve always said his life was perfect and I mean perfect for me.

It’s less so about comparing my life to his. I don’t think I have a bad life and I do feel pride (on some level, I should probably learn to feel more honestly) of all I have accomplished. I just look at his life and wish it was how mine played out (minus the cheating husband). Why am I counting his blessings while ignoring my own? How do I remember to be grateful for my accomplishments and my family without feeling envy for what I don’t have? Is it because I saw it and tasted it for myself – I know it’s out there in human form and I can’t have it? It’s not a vanity thing, not something outward – it was his ability to love so wholly and envelope the people he loved the way he did. I’ve never been part of something like that.

And since I’m spilling my guts I also have to admit to texting him from a burner yesterday and asking him to speak. He didn’t reply. As bad as that is, it could have been worse since I was at Peloton for a studio ride and could have gone to his floor (I’m sure I could find him if I went looking). Trixie peeked out, but was seriously chastised by my better self being afraid of utter rejection if I saw him face to face.

I know talking about Tony is like vomit. But this is my safe space while I am without therapy and I can’t speak it out loud anymore. Even I want to knock myself over the head. It’s been 2 years since he stayed in his marriage and a year since I’ve seen him. But, I always say, better out than in – and these ugly thoughts have to come out.

I am learning meditation and yoga. And, as I mentioned yesterday, I do wonder how people who are great coaches always have the best positive self-talk. It just ALWAYS feels false to me. I can do it for a bit then I’m exhausted because it doesn’t feel genuine. Maybe that’s why I’m not the best parent? Maybe I don’t encourage and instill enough confidence because I’m so negative? I always try and out my kids first but feel like they take complete advantage of me rather than love and adore me for it. Do some people just win the patent lottery? (I actually don’t believe that – I do believe Tony and Kelly are excellent parents and they reap what they sowed so that’s why it bothers me more….I clearly did not sow the right seeds).

My kids say I blame everyone and everything else for my problems? Do I? Do I look outward instead of inward? I thought (and so did the therapist) that I was pretty good at identifying my pitfalls and the error of my ways. Their Dad is a master of telling them that I never accept blame. I will admit I am very good at getting away from it and directing blame elsewhere for many things, but I don’t think I shy away from the important things. I would love to be able to say that my kids and my unhappy home life is all because of my x and his poor parenting skills. But he can’t take all the credit, nor have I ever assigned it all to him. I would love to be able to identify why my home/family life isn’t what I hoped/dreamed it would be. I even shied away from blaming my parents in therapy for the way I was raised and what, most likely, created the girl who never felt good enough. I can see the reasons I feel inadequate and I can sort of understand how those would lead to being envious of Tony’s life – but how do I stop wishing it was mine? (just to be clear – I don’t wish I was his wife or replacing his wife – this is much more figurative than that)

One of these days I will figure out why I can’t let go and learn to love what I have along with loving myself. I just don’t know when.

Non-Scale Victory: Acceptance

In the dieting world, NSV’s are a big deal. You may not see the scale move, but something else important happens and you can consider it a victory.

I’ve had a lot of these in the past month and when I found myself staring my wrinkly, excess skin on my arms and thighs, I decided I was going to forgive myself for the first time in my life.

I was trying on some clothes for outfits as I have a few appointments coming up. As I changed in and out of each I watched how my body moved. There are certain angles, positions and movements that exacerbate or highlight the excess skin. I don’t have that much excess skin, but it’s there and it’s wrinkly and in certain positions it’s very obvious. It bothers me. I think it’s ugly and certainly not natural looking (especially my tummy) I analyzed myself for a while, immediately fretting over how ugly it looks. How a man would react to it? How it made me look older. And and and and.

Then I stopped. Can’t go back and change a decision I made that was surgical. Didn’t really understand the potential impact of significant weight loss so quickly, and maybe even never believed I was going to be less than 160-175 pounds in my life. I look great in clothes. I feel great. I am doing everything to care for my new body. I am becoming strong.

And finally, oh my god, finally, I forgave my body for looking the way it does with its wrinkles and scars and instead told it how happy I am with it’s strength and ability to recover. How it feels so good to move freely. How I can sit any way I want with my legs crossed at any angle and not lose my circulation. How amazing it feels to buy clothes that make me look great, that hang beautifully on my frame, that don’t bind me and cause discomfort.

I looked at this bruised body of mine and reminded myself of what it’s accomplished, despite the damage caused at my own making.

Sure, it’s not natural, my body has distorted and morphed in ways that are not beautiful. But, I never had a perfect body. My first surgery on my bowels was at 2 years old and that left awful, deep and ugly scars. I never had a pristine, scar-less body. Then it hit me: I’ve never loved my body.

And the thought grew.

If I never loved my body, and I’ve gone to great lengths to change it over many, many trials and tribulations – why not just forgive my body? It’s doing the best it can with what it’s been given to work with. It’s getting stronger and more defined every day. It moves in ways it never has before.

Why not accept the best of what I have and stop fretting about the rest? I don’t think that happens over night, but I can feel acceptance beginning within me. I don’t have to, I get to…..I get to wake up every day, open my eyes, and be grateful my body serves me so well.

Weight has always been at the top of my mind. My whole life. Even though I have a whole lot less of it now, it’s probably going to be top of my mind for the rest of my life thanks to all the years of negativity surrounding it. But if I can learn to accept the gift I’ve been given, I believe I can break much of the negative internal loop I’ve created and accept all the new positives I’m creating.