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.

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.

In The Chem Lab – Part 3

One day of amazing connection and fabulous conversation and I’m left floating on a cloud.

Until I’m not.

Two days post our conversations brought Radio Silence from the Magic Man.  Nothing all weekend.  I know he’s flying out to Chicago early am so I sent one small text and left it at that.

I watched myself again, trying to analyze what I was feeling and why.  I feel disappointed and sad, confused, but since its much too early to care, just left empty.  I haven’t lost the bit of self-realization I gained, but two days after, I don’t find any more motivation than I had the day of the call….in other words, I am still sitting on the couch doing a bunch of nothing, except (at least) capturing whats going on in my head.

There was no intentional attachment but I clearly become more hopeful than appropriate from one day of conversation with a man I never met. Is this because it’s so special/infrequent/desired? Does the chemistry between us affect the attachment part of my brain?

I wonder what it is. I’m really trying to understand myself here.

About a month ago, I connected with Tom and had a similar initial experience. We had a fantastic, long phone conversation and I found him appealing and interesting on many levels. Then I shuttered the explicit sex talk.  However, Tom, like Matthew, never got me laughing and he never moved from chatting to asking me out. Humor wise he was less dry than Matthew, definitely more manly, but I don’t recall the gut connection I got so quickly with the new Magic Man. It was a day or two of good, sincere connection with Tom and then random text here and there until I finally wished him good luck after a month of not even asking to see me.  Part of me think I will hear from him again, randomly, in the future.  If I don’t, its fine.  If I do I will ask him what his intentions are.  I’m not afraid of some strangers opinion of my needs and why I ask about their intentions, too many of them lie.  At least, I’m not afraid to say what I think any longer.

Both Tom and Magic Man are older than 55, which is a bit out of my normal age range (since dating, I have preferred slightly younger men).  Both highly successful, wealthy career men.  Could this just be a different type of nonsense I’m experiencing?  Are they more wise to the ways of some women that they invest quickly hoping for an early payoff?

Let’s think about what I’ve learned:

  • Length of initial conversation is irrelevant
  • Good physical looks start an attraction but it’s not what makes my heart skip a beat in conversation, that’s all in my head
  • Tone of voice, cadence and delivery of conversation matter greatly to me. I am quickly turned off by lack of intelligent conversational skills which draw out my own ability to banter.
  • When I am confident and sassy, my “rules” relax (for instance when is it ok to start speaking about sex and when does it make me uncomfortable?).

Have I somehow conditioned myself to expect the behavior of a married man  – is that kind of attention different to a single man, or is the communication cadence going to be different?  The only feedback from single friends is I invest in someone too early, but not that I shouldn’t expect good communication behavior.  Magic Man seems to have to same cadence I do, which is perhaps what makes the butterflies take flight.

This leads me to another thought – did the communication style remind me of Tony?  Well, yes, but only in hindsight.

Today I didn’t necessarily come away with lessons as much as questions. One day of conversation isn’t enough to evaluate or analyze more than I already have. I think my point in writing these 3 posts was to recognize that chemistry will happen and no list of requirements will determine if it’s there or not. The list serves as a platform – initially men need to meet some of my criteria to move forward or I find them unappealing almost immediately. Once the criteria is met, chemistry has to happen on its own, there’s nothing I can do to create it.

In The Chem Lab – Part 2

Friday afternoon the air outside was bitter cold and I found myself reflecting on an earlier conversation with my bff. I was comfortable and bundled in blankets and the thought that Matthew wasn’t right for me continued to nag at me. I didn’t want to make a rash decision to end what hadn’t even started, nor did I want to continue something that I was already feeling leery over.

I started to think about why Matthew seemed right to on paper but was falling short in person. I pulled up my relationship requirements list and took a stab at it. He hits many of the criteria, which isn’t an easy thing to do. But there was an undercurrent of something that just wasn’t right. The magic wasn’t there.

I dismissed thoughts of Matthew for a while in favor of going back to the dating apps. I had the intention of deleting and taking a break as I had a few men in the pipeline that had started conversations recently and I had enough. I deleted Match, OKC and POF. Then I got to Bumble and noticed the one man I swiped right on earlier that day had sent a fabulous reply. I engaged despite the fact he would make a 4th man I was chatting with when 3 is generally my limit. I often break rules faster than I make them.

The man quickly asked for my number. Now, I have a bit of an issue with men around my age – they LOVE the phone. I neglected to truly understand this because I was dating a married man. Tony called quite often but also spent a considerable amount of time on text – why? because he was in a situation where it wasn’t wise to be calling me but he wanted to stay connected. I loved how much we were connected. I am definitely over the top when it comes to communication, which isn’t for everyone. But older men seem to want to get the 1st phone conversation out-of-the-way quickly and I want to vet them a bit in text. But I gave my number and requested he text first.

Soon after, he text and we started a rapid fire conversation.

I had an a-ha moment and started to pay close attention to my cues (which is hard to do in the thick of a getting to know you conversation)

*Chemistry Lesson #1: easy banter is organic, it doesn’t come from longer or more conversation, it’s instantaneous. I can’t create it.

We text effortlessly and quickly back and forth about family, life and vacation. Easy, peasy. I was laughing to myself when the phone rang in my hand because I knew it was a matter of time before he called.

Over an hour and a half of conversation flew by. Laughter on both sides was obvious and immediate.

*Chemistry Lesson #2: I just learned that no matter how good my punch line in a story is, if the right person isn’t engaged, I don’t even want to laugh at my own jokes. We laughed with one another, repetitively.

*Chemistry Lesson #3: when I’m laughing, I’m relaxed and happy and tell my best stories. I don’t have to think about creating conversation. Topics are endless and interesting.

The first call ended with a promise to call again soon.

*Chemistry Lesson #4: I couldn’t stop thinking about him after the call, but then he text to tell me he couldn’t stop thinking of me and my heart skipped a beat.

He called back that evening and we spoke another two hours. Do you know we even spoke politics, race, marriage, relationship, child-rearing and divorce. The cadence was easy and I wasn’t fearful of what to say or how I said it. I literally felt my blood rushing through my veins and felt like the woman I was when I met Tony: confident, sexy, sassy and self-aware.

*Chemistry Lesson #5: my confidence is nearly unbreakable when I feel secure. (Self-reflection: how do I do that all the time, and on my own?)

I had something like an out-of-body experience during this conversation as I watched myself morph from this depressed, sad, pathetic woman into all that I was. I felt my energy change. I felt desire rise. It made me feel like I wanted to do something again.

I felt excited.

Please don’t interpret this as me wanting to get married to this man tomorrow. I’m simply having my own epiphany. This feeling has only come twice before in the past at least 9 months: once when I went with Rob to my family party and once when I saw my latest resume after multiple iterations and self-doubt (future post). So 3 times since Thanksgiving I truly felt myself again. This incidence forced me to realize its starting to happen more often (which is good), albeit very slowly. It also caused me to take notice of the physical cues I’m giving and receiving so I can be more intentional and mindful of what makes me feel strong, happy, confident and capable.

It made me desire to feel good again.

I know it’s not up to this man to make me feel good, but I am taking what’s in front of me at the moment and running with it.

The conversations uncovered a mass of similarities and likes between us. He joked and asked me to marry him and by the end of the conversation he said he was already in love once I said “fuck” without thinking twice about it. We didn’t address anything sexual or even hint at it through all the conversation until the very end….when he asked if I would dream about him. The teasing was gentle and silly and only made me want more.

*Chemistry Lesson #6: there must be other cues I am ignoring when other men say things very similar and I don’t like it or my guard goes up.

We said goodnight.

I waited for the good morning text that didn’t come. I sent one around 10:45 and we started another round of banter, but the morning took off on a purely sexual twist and quickly led to a phone call. However, my son entered the room and he heard me say good morning to him and automatically changed the subject (I was thankful for that). We spoke for about a half hour. He had to jump off phone to make his plans for the day, we text a little bit more and went our separate ways.

But, just before he stopped texting he sent a cock shot.

It stopped me in my tracks! One because it was beautiful and two because I wasn’t expecting it.

Unfortunately, I knew I had to set down my rules, as I had done with Tom.  I did it a bit differently since there was chemistry, I told him he shocked me into speechlessness, but we couldn’t do this before we met.  Now,  I haven’t heard from him all day, and even though I know he’s with family its sort of a downer but I’m optimistic.

Let’s see what the days ahead bring or not. Of course I would be sad if it came to nothing but I had a lightening bolt of a moment: it will happen again. I will feel the magic again, or at the very least, parts of the magic again. And it’s been so long, so very long since I’ve had hope of any kind that I cherished this interaction with this man. I want to be in this moment for a while so I wrote about it and shared it with you. I want to find myself again and for a very brief time speaking to him, I saw her. Her light was strong and bright and blazing.

It’s been too long dull and it startled me that she showed up out of nowhere like that. Now I know she’s still in there and I had almost started to believe she was lost to me entirely. My heart has been playing cruel tricks on my mind because it’s battered, bleeding and broken. But maybe that’s finally starting to heal.