The First Surprise

Ever since A week ago Sunday I’ve been pretty mellow. Whatever was eating at me, which probably included some PMS, has passed. I am overall less anxious.

I am bummed about Mike. Yep, I still think about it. Is it obsessing? I dunno. Maybe. I am starting to believe it’s just the way I process stuff. Maybe I can’t change that, maybe I can. I still really don’t know. I only know I can control the behavior. I made a last attempt, despite my better senses, and invited him to a party this Saturday. He replied immediately, said he was interested, and then said he had to see what his kiddo was doing. It took him 4/5 days to get back and decline. I suppose at least he’s polite? Ugh.

I also suppose that’s the equivalent of sticking a needle in my eye for a man I’ve only gone out with twice. I shouldn’t have done it. He’s past his expiration and I need to stop.

But it does eat at me. I just wish I knew why with these guys. What is it that I can’t seem to make it past the start? I don’t think it’s sex, I just don’t agree that’s the deal breaker for seeing someone or not again. I believe he met someone else around the same time as me and she’s a better choice for him. Or whatever. Who cares. I need to stop thinking about it.

Tom continues to check in mostly daily. A good morning almost every single morning and then a random evening check in. I will reply like I reply to any friend. But the minute I sense he wants to get sexy I just stop. Sure, I would love to go out with him and give him a sexual spin per se, but I’m not interested in the phone sex with him. He can’t seem to find time to see me and I never ask. If he says something like “I wish I could kiss you right now” I usually say “me too!” And it drops.

At one point over the past weekend, when I was drinking, he sent a text to ask if I was having fun. I replied that I was drunk by that point. He replied with “nice” and then sent a video of his daughter taking a riding lesson. I was seriously like WTF? I write back “Very nice. But if I’m telling you I’m drunk, the last thing on my mind is watching a video of your daughter.” I truly didn’t think he would write again after that little dig. But he did and laughed it off.

That’s the end of the better selection of men the last month. I am bored, frustrated and tired of looking for Mr. Right.

I was scrolling again but matches are non-existent these days. I was surprised to see my first match, an oldie but goodie: Rob.

I reached out to say hello and ask how his kids were. He replied and said “we should get a drink!” So I called his bluff and said “let’s go as friends!” He agreed. A few days later I asked when he wanted to get the drink? I was surprised he made a plan!

We met a week ago Thursday at a local bar and had a fun time. Since I didn’t have any investment in him this time around, I was able to keep the conversation humming along. If I had still felt like he had potential, I may have been frustrated he didn’t ask a lot of questions. He remembered more than I thought. When we left we have an amazing makeout session in the Parking lot. I could feel how excited he was. He felt different than last year, much more confident.

We parted amicably and I sent a follow up text later: how about we are FWB, it could be fun. He replied with an absolute yessssss and 10 exclamation points. Said a few more positive things out thinking it could be a great things and I said goodnight. He said he will ask me out again. That was a week ago. It hasn’t crossed my mind. But it was a nice surprise.

I think I can do it now, FWB. But only with certain men that have no long term potential for me.

I’m still frustrated about Mike and bummed no one can just be honest about what happens.

I know all of this sounds like I’m only focused on dating but it’s not even close. It’s just that I need to write about dating as it’s the most frustrating thing that I can’t handle alone.

Relief

I can’t even begin to tell you the immense relief I felt when I woke up this Sunday morning.

The anxiety, the trepidation, the overwhelming sadness I have been struggling with for 2weeks seems to have lifted. I literally feel lighter.

I didn’t understand what was happening to my mind and body the past couple weeks. I was really afraid I was internalizing the dating rejections worse than I was allowing myself to believe since that’s a typical trigger for me.

But it wasn’t. Everything I wrote about lightbulbs and a better understanding of myself is true. The gears have shifted.

Then, I thought, how could the one incident with my boys send me flying over an edge and free falling to the point I felt crazy, hyper and needed an emergency call to the therapist.

It didn’t occur to me until I woke this morning, happy and peaceful. I lie in bed trying to understand what felt different. I was sleeping in my sisters home after a big birthday bash for her the evening before and I was definitely nursing a little hangover. I had this feeling of emptiness and joy, literal lightness.

I started to think about a few things since my brain seemed to be less foggy and muddled. I felt something within my grasp but couldn’t quite articulate it. It wasn’t until I had a almost 3 hour drive home that my mind cleared the way for me.

It was exactly 1 year ago on September 7th I had my elective surgery. I had come through, what I thought was, the most debilitating period of my life and was in a long, painful spiral downwards. The surgery was meant to give me a reset, to take back one thing in my life that I could control. Of course, we all know that’s not how it worked out for me. My emotional breakdown turned almost fatal.

I know, very well, I buried Mexico. I don’t think about it. I don’t want to think about it. I buried it in a chest somewhere deep never to be opened again by anyone. Ever. I mean it. I don’t want to discuss it or go back to it. It’s such a dark period for me that I just know I will never want to revisit it and experience the pain again. I have always been good at pushing things away and I can keep this one buried deep.

So what’s left when you don’t address the pain? Shame, embarrassment, guilt, sadness and a whole bevy of other assorted negative feelings.

The biggest and most painful of those is shame. Shame for what I did to myself. Shame for what I put the ones I loved through. Awful, terrible, gut-wrenching shame. It’s one of the few feelings I don’t often experience. I never felt shameful about my affairs I don’t think I’ve done much in my life to be ashamed of. I believe the past two weeks my mind is trying to dig up / relive / let-go of something from that time a year ago. Because it’s so suppressed it manifested as physical warning signs.

It didn’t dawn on me until I woke up from from trepidation and anxiety that I had been harboring so much shame within, but I know now that’s the feeling I’ve been struggling with. Shame is such an ugly word and it feeds the inner voice that says “I’m not worthy and I’m not loved”. I had just finished listening to a Brene Brown book where she spoke about shame – she says – in order to cut shame off at the knees you need to talk about it.

When that little nugget of advice came back to me I knew that was exactly what was about to happen. Somehow my body knew before my mind (it always does I just never quite understand it). I felt so loved and cherished and adored being around my sister and her family and friends (and my birth father) that shame had no room to keep corroding my every thought.

To make sure I kept shame at bay I also spoke to my sister and her mother. I explained that I had been feeling shame for the past year and that what I did cast such a shadow over the happiest time of her life (she got engaged the day I had surgery). I was so disgusted by feelings of shame that it was making me weak and ill all over again. They both reinforced how much I was loved, forgiven, and an important part of the family. That I wasn’t bad, I had just done something wrong.

My body was telling me it was time to move from shame to guilt. Guilt is ok. I did a bad thing. But I am not a bad person.

I cannot change what happened, but I can make reparations and take a new path. A path to a stronger, better me. A better parent, sister, friend.

I’ve been taking all those steps and doing so quite consciously. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished and even more proud that I just squashed some shame like a bug.

I’m still relieved, even 2 days later. No more panic and anxiety.

I knew something big was coming.

Unlocking myself hasn’t been easy, but I’m getting there. Reducing shame to guilt is a big step forward. I kept thinking something was going to happen TO me, but instead, something happened because of me.

Lightbulb Moment – Mike

Oh, Michael.

I like you.

But, you are inconsistent at best. You’re great when we are together but I can’t be left wondering what’s going on in between.

You’re a nice guy. I believe you want to see me again, but you haven’t continued as you started and that’s always been an issue for me. An issue I couldn’t manage in the past.

But I think I’m ready to tackle someone like you now.

Maybe.

You check all my boxes x2. You are so fucking hot I can’t stand it. You have that freaking cute and silly factor that so many just don’t. Your Daddy style is off the charts. You’ve got it allllll in my book. We laugh and laugh and laugh and I’m so happy when I’m with you.

And, I know, you love it when I’m around you. You can’t fake it.

But…now I see you don’t really ask me a whole lot of questions. Nothing important. My life, my emotions, they don’t resonate for you. One thing I learned from Tony was that he cared about me deeply. He knew everything about me and he paid a lot of attention. He was my friend. If you were ever going to work, you would need to show me some of that, and you haven’t in this past month.

I equate that to disinterest.

That used to mean I would have to try to pull it from you. Thinking I could actually get it! 🙄. I now understand I shouldn’t bother. If you like me enough, you will come back again and again. I had to sine this light into my own dark corner of needy and anxious attachment and realize you are, more than likely, not ready to give me what I need. I knew that the moment I heard you were only separated, yet I tried to quiet the voice and shut the lights so I can ignore the truth.

Sorry, can’t do it to myself anymore.

Maybe you stick around for great sex, if some of the things you said are true, like you don’t like multiple partners and prefer just one.

Maybe you never give the emotional connection I crave.

I don’t need to force it. I realize how precious the laughter between us is now. It’s good enough to leave it be what it is. Maybe something. Maybe nothing.

Chances lean toward nothing, so with that, I’ve squarely put you into the “whatever will be will be” category and my job is to keep you there. I would love to see if there’s anything there. If there’s not, then there’s not and I am going to be ok with that.

KDaddys comments have literally been like he’s in my mind this week regarding you and how I want to approach this with you.

If you ask me out again, great but when/if you don’t, based on some mysteriously made-up timeline my anxiety comes up with, it ISN’T the end of the world. I can’t let my anxiety decide to let this relationship go off the rails before it’s even out of the station.

I cannot be an architect and build an imaginary relationship with you.

I cannot be a detective and uncover clues about where you are, who you are with and why you are not with me.

I cannot create a problem just to insist on a solution.

I cannot. I am going to find an additional mantra for my meditation because you get to close to unlocking anxiety’s door and I need to keep that shit on lock down.

This isn’t easy for me because, well, you check too god damn many boxes, without even realizing. I wish we could just have a conversation to clarify “what are we doing here?” I wish you could be honest.

I wish, take a deep breath and then, I reframe and remind myself “does it really matter?”

Just yesterday you told me you bought me a bottle of my favorite wine – which surprised me. You’re thinking of me? Don’t you buy a girls favorite wine when you plan to see her again?

My friend said don’t read into it, maybe you’re even lying. But I’m not built to be quite so cynical. I would like to think you saw it, thought of me, and figured I would be with you again, at some point. That’s good enough for me and I don’t think I’m reading too much into it.

You’re a test for me, Michael. A test I hope I don’t fail because it means I get hurt fooling myself.

So here’s to you being a better man than some of the others and being honest with yourself as well as me.

Let’s enjoy each other.

Let me learn what casual dating with no expectations feels like.

Cause laughter and sex with you is something I just want more of.

The trick is to remember I don’t need it.

Lightbulb Moment – Charles

I haven’t written about Charles yet, but the outcome is more important than the path taken to get there.

Charles was the last of the three frenzies swipes I met around the same time on Tinder. He was engaging immediately. Super interested. While this used to be my absolute favorite reaction in the past, now I proceed with caution. Anyone who tells me that I’m “all that and bag a chips” before they even met me now concerns me. Charles is really into me. I get it, I must be his type. But he’s already too smitten and I feel myself backing up before even getting started.

Charles checks all the boxes, just like the last few. Tall, handsome, educated, super-fucking-fit, intelligent and communicative. Kids similar ages. Nice parenting style.

He is handsome and fit on a level that I haven’t actually come across before. I would say men like Charles haven’t generally been interested in me, I was always too heavy.

Like Tom, he’s another talker. I can’t get a word in edgewise. He’s not interested in me, he’s interested in the idea of me. A beautiful, fit, intelligent partner. He’s described several of my physical attributes more than once so I know exactly what he likes. For him it’s all physical, I’m not really even sure how much it matters to him that I’m intelligent, a Momma, or have a career.

Sound like anyone you know?!

This light bulb hit me so hard when I realized that’s exactly how I process people!

The idea of someone. Not the person themselves. Do they check my boxes? People take time to get to know. I’m so busy checking all my boxes I overlook the actual connection or, more than likely, imagine a connection is there when it probably isn’t.

The next thing I realized: I am ALWAYS going to see myself as heavy/bigger. Always. It ain’t gonna change. I was curvy slim and athletic through my teenage years. Gained too much weight in college but lost it all in my 20s through 30. I didn’t grow up as a heavy kid or young adult so I don’t carry the same baggage as someone who has been heavy all their life. But once I had my 3rd child 17 years ago, the weight skyrocketed. Sometimes it also went down, but mostly I was well heavy for 10 years. The last 7 years somewhat less heavy. As you know, the weight seesaw finally tipped me over the edge. I was done with it. Being slim suits my perception of myself. I am more comfortable and confident in my own skin. What I’ve come to realize was the weight-shaming I thought I felt all those years is a real thing. Men talk about it to me now because they assume that I’ve always been fit and skinny. I can’t believe some of what I’ve heard from them – and now these are the men I attract.

I am under 130 pounds these days and way to skinny for my own taste (as well as anyone who knows me) but I’ve got health issues I can’t control. My bones are out but are now tightly wrapped in sinewy muscle. As long as I don’t move a certain way, you can’t see the loose skin (and there’s plenty of it everywhere).

Here’s the thing – never, have I ever, in my life been called skinny, lean or thin. Never. Maybe once before I got married. Maybe. But every bride loses weight before their wedding. Now I attract men who like skinny, toned women. That’s what they look for. Skinny. I can’t reconcile that word with me. And all of them, John, Mike, Tom and Charles speak about their dislike of heavy set women. They speak with disdain as well – they don’t understand how these people “let themselves go”. Guess what? I get insulted.

Even though I hated being heavy, fought with weight issues my entire life and chose a weight loss surgery, I still feel insulted by their discussion surrounding weight. And comparing me as a sexy, fit woman who takes care of herself as compared to “those heavy women”. Little do they know.

They have all touched my arms, shoulder and hips with delirious attention because the bone and muscle are most prominent on those areas. You would think I like this after all I’ve gone through to get here, but I’m finding it a bit repulsive in its own way. I can’t exactly explain. I believe I feel shame for being heavy and making the decision to have weight loss surgery and it’s not something one speaks about in early days of dating, if ever.

This all feels weird to me and is a side effect I could never have anticipated.

That was a long meandering way to explain the light bulb. I realize I am never going to tell my whole story to someone until I’m pretty solid in a relationship. Maybe not even ever. Im starting to subscribe to the thought that not everything needs to be revealed from my past. I’m too concerned about what a man thinks at the same time I’m trying to find a confident way to explain my wounds. I have no doubt – and maybe I’m wrong here, but this is my gut check – that a man who is so visually attracted to my “perfect thin, muscular body” (their words and it happens all the time now) is going to find issue when the clothes come off because I’m not what they expect.

The good news, I guess, is that the feeling of being insulted also makes one a bit defensive. I’ve started to think “fuck you and your ideals about a woman’s body because I am so much more than my scars”. To the point, with Charles, I found a way to tell him what was under the shirt he hadn’t lifted.

I’ve just explained so much without even telling the Charles story!

I suppose I better do that in a separate post.

I’m going to be living with my wounds, my history, my mistakes for the rest of my life. They made me the person I am today and will shape the better woman I am still becoming. I can’t revise history, but I don’t have to have verbal diarrhea anymore either. My interaction with Charles made me realize there are going to be people along the way who don’t deserve the story from me by way of explanation of my wounds. I cried in front of John when he asked what the bandage was about because of my own insecurity over how it would impact a yet undetermined future relationship with him, totally emotionally presumptive on my part and, ultimately, entirely wasted on someone who wasn’t going to be invested anyway. Charles wasn’t going to get that from me and nor will anyone else. I am glad it happened with Charles first because I wasn’t invested and I got to have a bravado I don’t often have.

We all have our preferences. I get it. John, Charles, Tom and Mike are all similar – very invested in physical appearances. I can’t allow this to bring me down any further than I already am about myself.

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.

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.

A Second Date!

I did hear from Mike the next day, with an offer to come to his house in the later afternoon because he couldn’t get me out of his mind. I declined because I had to get my workout in and do my Sunday night thing before the week started.

I didn’t reach out, But he had by noon, and I was pleased to see the text I wasn’t really expecting. It was a nice change. Maybe it’s also because when he left, I didn’t have any negative gut check. I was going to be ok either way in any case and I already knew that. It’s a first for me in a very long time when I like someone as much as I liked him out of the gate.

He’s perfectly chatty in person, well-spoken, gregarious and funny. But very, very dry and direct in text. No subtext, insinuation or flirting. This could be another reason I’m not so immediately drawn in. The men I get engaged with tend to be very well engaged in text, I feel like it’s a real conversation. With Mike it’s a bit perfunctory.

And I think it’s ok.

Each night there’s been a goodnight and most mornings a good morning. Maybe an exchange of one text and then I hear from him around lunch every day, checking in. Very simply something like “hey” or “how is your day?” I will answer, ask him how he is and then I don’t hear much back if anything. I am not tied to the message on the phone or the alert chime, but I’m happy when I look down and there’s a message.

I moved from being uncertain about his continued interest to certain. I don’t have to do anything and I will hear from him to check in. Even when he is with his younger daughter or his friends.

He was clear about his plans for the week and weekend while we were together Saturday so I wasn’t really expecting anything from him this week but on Tuesday he asked me over for Thursday. To his apartment. To cook for me.

Knock me down with a feather! This is another first. I forget I never really had many “dating” relationships. Very few. He lives close, we both know we want to have sex again, and after tonight he is with his daughter at her college until Monday night. Of course I accepted. I was due to head to my cousins at the beach this evening but I can always go in the morning.

The strangest thing is, I’m not excited. I mean, a little, of course. But there are two specific reasons I think my little heart hasn’t beat out of my chest yet:

1. I am freaking nervous about having to discuss the wound. I have decided to be proactive by saying: I had major abdominal surgery last year and I’m very sensitive about some deep scarring. I keep a bandage over the worst part of it. I debated if I also include the massive weight loss and why my belly looks like it does and figured I can just write it off the horrible surgeries. What do you think?

2. Here’s the kicker fam, he’s separated and not divorced.

Ugh. A big old ugly ugh.

He is in his own apartment, she works and he works, they are dividing everything in half so there is (seemingly) very little to argue over, she is keeping the house free and clear. They are at the very beginning of mediation.

I’m pretty sure I’m so scarred from Tony that it’s the reason my heart and head won’t engage fully with Mike. Don’t get me wrong, I like him, I could like him so much more, he’s simply at the beginning of his journey and no one has a crystal ball. But history has taught us that most long marriages (he’s married 22 years, separated physically for 6 months) need space after the marriage ends. We need to learn about ourselves before we enter into another commitment.

We could go along happily for months and he could even get divorced in that period and there’s still little Chance his first out of marriage relationship could last. I know this.

Which sucks. Just sucks.

My friends think it’s fine to date him and keep him at arms length IF I can keep my feelings out of it. But, can I? Am I capable? My track record sucks.

I also don’t want to talk to him about it, which I normally want to do. Even when John rejected me I had a desire to “know” why? Just why? I wanted to talk about it. With Mike, I don’t want to take the chance I will hear words that I fall for like “who knows what will happen, I really like you” or “I only want to be with one person and I already know what I need.” Tony fed all of that to me and I believed past the point of belief. I don’t actually want to engage in any serious conversation with Mike. Or any silly and intensely flirty conversation that leads to actually liking him too much. None of this “do you miss me?” Or “did you dream of me?” Nonsense. I don’t want to fall for him so I can hit my head on the pavement some more.

So if I can keep him at arms length….can I remain detached enough to enjoy some company and dates and relax for a bit? Or am I doomed to run head first into another disaster?

This is, admittedly, the very first time I feel cautious. I have never felt a sense of (almost) fear of allowing myself to feel anything other than what I’m getting in the moment. I really don’t know. I just don’t know if I’m capable of it and built to have all or nothing.

For the moment, I will see him and enjoy the evening. I will bare my belly and may end up where I ended up with John (I have convinced myself that was the reason, it’s sunk in and stayed as self-blame). He may think it’s horrid and become turned off. Or not. If that’s the case, I will wait til he asks me out again. I feel like I have a better handle on Mike than I did on John.

We shall see.

Oh – and there it is – a text from him checking on my commute and my arrival time to him. And a little Maroon 5 clip. He can be a little cute I suppose.

I will keep you posted.

Hinge

So I’m going to try a new dating app called Hinge. Tinder is too much for men who are not serious, Bumble is ok but I’m frustrated after John, and Match is downright disgusting.

So far, I like the app. You have to post 6 photos and there’s 3 questions to answer which can range from funny to serious. There is some required info and some additional info you can add. The filter system is overall better than the other apps. I’ve seen lots of new faces and some older ones from the other apps too. We shall see how it goes.

I’m not pining over John and it may sounded like more than it was since I wrote 3 posts, but it was no more than a good connection he’s not interested in pursuing. That sucks, but such is life.

What did I learn?

There is, in fact, another man similar to Tony in values, communication and behavior. I think that’s what caused the most excitement because he’s the first I found.

My boxes can be checked and I don’t have to compromise. However, it may mean a very long wait for another good man to pop up.

He reinforced that my physical “requirements” in a man are flexible if I feel like there is decent substance. He was 6’1″ but super narrow from his face all the way down – I have always preferred more meat on man. Sex was just fine with a small penis, because he was very good. It definitely isn’t as immediately pleasurable as it is with a larger penis and requires some additional work, but it was nice to learn that doesn’t need to be as heavily considered (and yes, I’ve had almost all large men in my life so I was a bit jaded.).

He was ambitious, kind, emotionally generous and fun. He was a great Dad. He travels often and love the lessons learned from travel. I know my list is long but somehow he checked all the right boxes in the right combination.

I agree too much texting and talking before a date is detrimental. But only because it seems the men can’t manage it – I love it and don’t see how it really matters. I also don’t agree in an immediate meeting without a proper vetting. So I will go back to making good choices and only move forward with the ones I really find appealing so I’m not wasting my time.

So here’s to hoping there are other Tony, Bobby’s and Johns out there who are ready for relationship. And that I can find them through all the flotsam and jetsam of the dating world.

Dating

As the months have passed sitting in my own space (9 months now!) I have had some of my most self-aware moments. I’m not claiming sudden enlightenment, but I do have a new sense of self and can feel my strength and belief in myself coming back to life. I admit, this was a long time coming and it feels great.

As I’ve said before, there was no great epiphany, no secret sauce, no magic pill. I just did it. One step, one day, one molecule at a time. I practiced, failed, tried again and kept going. I paid attention to details I had let pass me by before. Small life details I didn’t have time to notice. I learned to take a deeper breath and hold it before exhaling. As this started to happen, as I took better care of my mind and body – I finally started to heal.

I am much more tentative than I have ever been in my life, I carry some fear around now. I am terrified of losing the tenuous grip I have on my new found sense of self. I am terrified of failing again. Believe it or not, I am hesitant to fall in love again. Maybe a little fear is good and will calm me down and perhaps make me a bit more kind and patient (two things that are not exactly strengths for me). Maybe I can label the fear as learning to be humble and demonstrating gratitude. I think this is something I need to work on.

As I’m sitting here thinking about where I am in my journey and where I’m heading, it occurred to me that dating has fallen off my priority list. It was never a “need to do,” but it’s always been “want to do.” Now it’s “I don’t actually care at the moment if I do or don’t, it will happen in its own time.”

I think I put it out into the universe after that last bad date. I was chastising myself for choosing to go out with someone who had red flags because it just showed me I was more interested in the going out part than the person themselves. I have plenty to keep me busy that I don’t have to waste dates. So a few weeks or about a month has passed where I didn’t engage in any relevant way on the dating sites. Sure, I looked and swiped right a couple times, but never really found what I was looking for. It became background chatter.

I still want a partner and I still believe I will be even better to myself if I have partner – I am certain I am made to be in relationship rather than on my own.

The difference is now I feel a sense of calm that my future partner will come to me when it’s meant to be. Knowing that is frustrating because I wish it was sooner rather than later, but I do believe once I’m healed I will be putting out the right vibes to attract the right partner.

I know what I want, I had it with Tony. I know I can’t recreate that, but I can certainly look for some of his hallmark characteristics. He definitely was a bit of magic sauce, the way he loved me and made me feel about myself. I may never get over the lingering heartbreak and sadness of losing him, but I can put it firmly behind me and look forward to what’s right for me. I now know I can do this.

I’ve met a couple men over the past months that ignited a little spark in me one way or the other. Rather than get depressed that those men didn’t work out, I’m taking the lessons and bringing them forward. I know natural banter is really important, as are decent social/dating skills. I know they have to really be into me and demonstrate it. I know they need to be tall (enough) and handsome (enough) to rev my engine. When these gears click, I slide easily into the next gear without thought. I can feel the difference between a natural and easy conversational cadence and one that requires me to make too much effort to sustain over time. I know I need the man to have children because parenting is supremely important to me. I know he needs to be invested in his job. I can find out all these things pretty quickly – and when they are missing, I don’t try and go looking for them anymore. I simply exit and move to the next, or as I’ve done more recently, just take a little break for a bit.

I had neglected to realize how important physical activity was to many men but I’ve rectified that in my own life and now even look for someone that is more active.

I still have my long, long list of requirements but I’m trying not to use it as my shopping list and instead stick to the above initial cues. If we can have a date where I feel good about our banter and intellectual and physical connection, then I’m all good. It’s been slow going, but I’m now ok with that.