The Big Quarantine Lesson

Before anyone else says it, let me say it first – I should have learned this sooner and saved myself a whole lot of heartbreak.

I wrote that George and I played a question and answer game that forced deep conversation. It opened doors that normally would never be opened as quickly in any relationship. It exposed raw thoughts and feelings. It highlighted both the individual and couple strengths and weaknesses. It is not a game to be played with anyone you are no serious about having a relationship with.

George was serious. I was not. I was pretty sure George was going to pursue and I was going to flirt. I was initially in the position of power here.

Until the game highlighted things about George that reminded me why I loved Tony. That fucking game. But I can’t just blame the game, it’s the way I played it. That was my big mistake.

Now, it doesn’t matter whether or not I played the game right or wrong in terms of having a dating relationship with George. I know I played it wrong for having a dating relationship with ANYONE. And that’s where the life lesson was found.

There were multiple categories and questions within each category. Some were harmless, some serious, some sexy and some flirty. But some were deep, like really deep getting to know you stuff.

The questions and answers themselves don’t really matter. Nor does it matter what George and I said to one another or how it ended between us (spoiler alert: covid made the decision, not us). What matters was when George said this can’t go on and I realized how I was going to feel about that (because we had created a false sense of deep intimacy) I had to take a good hard look at myself and understand why I was feeling so anxious and depressed over a man I didn’t initially even want (I can still stare at his photo and wonder if I would be attracted and find myself guessing not) and had never met. I lie in bed for a good two days really feeling sorry for myself. Quarantine did not help this overwhelming sense of depression and rejection. I really took this rejection harder than I should have.

George did say if it wasn’t for covid and we had an opportunity to meet, he would want to start talking again with the hopes of potentially building something. On the other hand, he thinks he’s too needy for a long distance relationship so chances are it’s not the right relationship for him. He never said he didn’t want me, didn’t like me – none of that. I can say, in hindsight, that we are not compatible for many reasons which led to him needing to take a break from “us” anyway. He did the right thing I just had a hard time acknowledging it at the time. My vision has become much more clear with introspection.

So here’s what I did wrong when I played the game – I threw out careless answers to shock because I didn’t think I would ever be interested in George. For instance: what is something you would never do again? My answer: go to a swingers club.

Another one: is it ok to have sex on the first date? Me: Abso-fucking-lutely!!

Shocker. George is basically a prude. 😳😂 He could never quite get past those two answers. He did not like sexual banter in general and I had to pull back on this because it’s a go to for me when I don’t care where the conversation will lead.

Does it matter that I shocked George in particular? Nah. This is about what I learned for my long game. When I thought about what I did – I realized I need to keep my mouth shut. I do not need to shock anyone. I don’t even need to tell anyone any of my personal business so quickly. Especially sexual. I play all my cards early on. I run my mouth. I over-share. I want the man to know everything right away. Let’s jump into the deep end! That has to stop. Like immediately.

Even, perhaps, maybe never share some of the things I’ve done. Do we really need to tell the intimate details of our past? Is that a requirement? Jury’s out on this because I like the transparency but maybe it is the right move.

Ok, lesson one. Learned.

George is very polite. He doesn’t argue or disparage. He tries to understand and appreciate differences in people. He values shared activities with his partner. He values compatibility that isn’t solely based on that white hot chemistry. So much so he won’t have sex until the 3rd date night matter what.

How the game played out here – the question was “what is a bucket list item to do with your partner?” George’s answer was to visit every national park. My immediate reaction: I’m not doing that. Why? Why would I have to stomp on his bucket list item with my own opinion? Because I didn’t think I cared about a relationship with him, that’s why. But what it taught me is that I need to keep my mouth shut. Sure, that’s not up my alley. But a better reply would have been: tell me what interests you about doing that? It opens an opportunity to learn more about the person. I just shut him down and disappointed him. And I didn’t do it just once, I did it a few times with a few things. I think in my head I’m trying to be honest and open about my dislikes, but I realize I can accomplish the same by taking a different path. I could add it’s not something that ever interested me before so the jury would be out on if I would enjoy it or not but I was open to new experiences. Perhaps it doesn’t apply to everything, but it can certainly apply to many.

I also learned, through conversation related to the game questions, the types of activities he likes to do with a partner and I was very attracted to this. I realized it’s been a very, very long time since I’ve done anything shared with a man. I’ve literally had one active date ever since divorce. I don’t think my opinion has changed that a first date should not be a shared activity, I prefer a drink, but it made me realize how much I wanted someone to share activity with. When I thought about the men I’ve dated, it was a quality I had long been attracted to and not acted upon for one reason or the other. It made me realize that date 2 should be a shared activity. Of course quarantine compounds the feeling of needing to get out and be active.

Lesson two: learned.

George is by no means some perfect man I let slip through my fingers. He’s set in many of his own ways and was looking for me to fit that mold and ignoring some of the disparity in favor of the things he liked about me. But he is a kind man who was willing to talk about his feelings and share his thoughts. I know for sure I appreciate this in a man. He is communicative and open. He is funny. He is really smart. A dad. He’s working hard to lose weight and be toned and fit and he’s doing a great job. He checked a lot of boxes (like almost every single one) but at the end of the day, he really isn’t my type. The game highlighted this as well and made me think to go back to my list of requirements and evaluate how I actually interpret them because “on paper” George did check the boxes. In actuality, maybe those boxes don’t define what’s truly compatible for me.

Lesson three is an activity for me: go back and think differently about my requirements and how they really impact if someone will be compatible for me or not.

Bottom line, I learned I need to go into dating a little less aggressively. No one needs to know all my darkest dirtiest secrets right away. And when I do choose to reveal them, it shouldn’t be in throw away comments, ever. I need to be more open about a potential partners likes until it actually happens – again, it doesn’t need to be solved right away in the first few weeks. When I think about how I’ve dated, I’ve put my best physical foot forward: I look good, I laugh, I’m smart, I’m sexual etc – but I don’t think I’m actually playing enough of the dating game by keeping my cards close to my chest until the time is right. I don’t mean to create a false impression of myself, just a less obvious one. I need to hold back more, give less, and be less invested. I have always been an all-in person, every time. That’s how I’ve gotten hurt so many times.

Before I had any in-person dates, I put these words into action. I looked for the right kind of connection and tried to focus less on immediate physical chemistry (at least from text and phone). I focused on the persons background, similarities, lifestyle and all the things that would make us compatible. I listened more. I asked more questions and I offered up a whole lot less about myself. I edited information about my past relationships, health and career – not lying l, just not giving up all the details right from the start. For my career, I learned to say “I have had an amazing and robust career and I’m looking forward to the job market opening back up for my next opportunity ” instead of diving into why I’m not working and how I feel about it because EVERYONE thinks they have the answer for how I should be recreating myself and chasing what’s next. For my past relationships I learned to say “Ive had two longer relationships which I valued but the details are best saved for in person conversation.” And, most importantly, I entirely avoid the sexual flirt and innuendo. If a man goes down that path with a gentle innuendo I can give a gentle one back, but don’t allow any lines to be crossed. I can tell almost immediately when this frustrates a man and it shows me where his mind and probably his intentions fall (however some are better at this game and you can’t always tell).

While George and I were not meant to be more than friends, that game and our interaction (and my mind being so quiet during quarantine) really opened my eyes for how I want to show up go forward. It’s time I grow up and realize I’m looking to play a long game here – and need to find a man who can do that with me.

Dating in the Time of Covid pt 1

Turning dating apps back on after 4 months was certainly interesting. It seems people from all over the place just wanted connection, even if it was virtual. I have played enough virtual games in my life to last a lifetime and, while I don’t rule it out entirely, tend to stay away from such nonsense anymore.

To the delight of my friends, I’ve finally mostly matured in my dating behaviors. I avoid any/all married or separated men. I don’t engage in sexual conversation (there is one exception to this which I will write about). I don’t go backwards (and plenty of these showed up during quarantine). I stick to my “rules” for meeting someone (again, mostly). I try, really hard, to make better decisions about who I am giving my time to – virtually or physically.

I’ve made some mistakes and I recognize what they are. I’ve been ghosted and don’t know why. I’ve text with some crazies and had to block them. I’ve gone on some pretty good dates and some not so great dates. I’ve kissed men again and I’ve had sex. Having sex was a big damn deal since the surgery…..I have a nice long scar from breastbone to pubic bone, but at least its flat and not a big hole in my stomach. I am much more confident about getting undressed, I don’t really care what they think once I decide I’m going to have sex. Unfortunately, I do still care what they think when I like them and want to meet them -I am not sure I can ever get over this fear that I’m too old, not thin enough, not fit enough, or somehow damaged and ugly because of my multiple surgeries.

I have taken the time after this first round of dates to really think about the things that are not only important to me but attractive to me. I learned during quarantine (thanks to George, he will get his own post) that while the jury may be out on a mans looks, certain qualities make me feel intense attraction. I believe this is how I fell so hard for Tony to begin with.

So, lets rewind a little and go back to just before Covid and then early quarantine …..

Scott: I met Scott in February and we went out a few times and spent two night together. He didn’t live here but came to my area for work. He was instantly smitten. We had a lot of fun and I liked him. Physically, I wasn’t instantly attracted but I was attracted enough to his qualities have sex with him. We laughed a lot which I love. He is very funny. We had a good time the same way. We truly enjoyed one another. And he is a good guy. But, there were things in the beginning which I couldn’t quite identify at first. Those reasons became very apparent during quarantine and, while I won’t go into them, it solidified my decision not to move forward with him. I was honest with him that I didn’t think we saw our future the same and we agreed to stop pursuing a relationship. I knew how much he liked me and wanted to build something, he was very clear about it and it was a joy to have someone care like that again for the first time since Tony. But, it was unfair to lead him on and I did the right thing. We stopped speaking entirely for about a month before he reached out. I know he stalks my social media and he saw I was having surgery. We started chatting again while I was recovering and now we have become friends. I hear from him most days by text. He is a good guy, just not the guy for me. I have moments where I question why I let him go, but every once in a while he says something that reminds me, and I’m good with my decision. I like having him in my life.

Jerry: He was the last man I went out with pre-Covid. I had a strong suspicion I wouldn’t be attracted to him in person and I was right. It was very hard for me to find the same connection in person that we established on the phone. We enjoyed 2 nights together in the city, there was some physical activity, but not sex and it wasn’t great. Once we parted we had some text but not much. I guess he felt the same I did. After some time one or the other of us reached out over a Peloton something or other and we remain friends. We have never discussed that weekend.

That was it prior to Covid quarantine…..then I shut down all the dating apps during quarantine. What was the point, I get addicted to virtual talk and I knew this wasn’t good for me – and then I did it anyway! Of course I did. I met another Peloton guy that was pursuing me and to whom I wasn’t initially attracted. I let my loneliness and my idea of an “ideal match” get the better of me during quarantine. I also reached out to an old flame via social media (and no, it wasn’t Tony).

George: I’ve never met George and he lives in another state. He pursued hard to meet me and engage me and eventually I let him in. Physically he was far from my type, but we both got pulled me into a false sense of intimacy with a question game we played. Text turned to talk and face time. We dove deep. Then, we began to debate, almost argue, much too much and too quickly. We both appeared to be similar on the surface, perhaps to want the same things, but we were not a match for many, many reasons. However, I got sucked in to the attention and the “idea” of what George represented. He was smarter than I and suggested a break until we could meet in person. I definitely had a moment of rejection here, maybe more than a moment. It passed and I know, in hindsight, it was a mistake we both made and he was the better person to call it off after a month of overly engaged conversations. The best thing to come of this: I learned a BIG lesson, one I should have learned long ago and for some reason I have neglected to even try to learn.

George gave me more than one gift in his rejection. He doesn’t know this (and I wouldn’t dare give him the satisfaction lol), we still text a bit and have remained friends. George was a man to admire – he has a lot of great qualities and is a really good human being. It wasn’t until it was over and I took a good, hard look at why I “lost” him that I understood how to use the reasons we fell out to my advantage. Post coming.

Mike: This was my fault. I saw Mike on IG and reached out with a joke. He reached back and we chatted on IG. I had deleted his contact last summer for fear I would continue reaching out to him when he was clearly no longer interested in me. Mike is a bit of kryptonite for me. I really like him and he is as close to ideal as I have gotten to since Tony. Even more so than Tony since he’s single. I still don’t know why he doesn’t want me and it doesn’t matter anyway, he doesn’t, and he’s still single. Anyway, during quarantine he moved off IG and text me directly. The small talk turned into a request for dirty talk and several cock shots. I did not reciprocate, but the feeling of let down was awful. I felt like someone punched me, but it was my own fault for letting him back in to begin with. This tennis match went on for a couple volleys before I had to stop. I still can’t help myself with him, I want him like me for chrissakes and he just doesn’t. I need to get it into my head. I haven’t been able to fully help myself from sending him a message here and there on IG, but I never engage beyond light chatter and I don’t have his phone number saved. I need to let it go but he sticks because there’s been no one like him in 2 years. I’m the idiot here. His cock is as beautiful as ever. Sigh.

Tony: of course he gets a spot during quarantine, but not for the reasons you might think. The short version was he continued to come back to my social media, to the point where he followed me. I am pretty sure at this point it wasn’t him but his wife, but who really knows. I finally sent a long-ass message on IG, a really long message, that sounded intentionally pitiful and sad. Listing all the reasons he might want to come back to me and how I can’t really ever live without him. I made it sound as pathetic as I possibly could. Was there any logic to this? No, I don’t think so. It was pretty dumb and pathetic in itself, but it god rid of him (or her) for a long, long time. Then he came back with a flourish. When he came back a couple times I sent a message that says “awww you miss me?” and he disappears again. Then I stopped doing this entirely. I don’t care. Let him look. He’s taken up 4 years in my head and caused immense damage, I needed to stop any engagement even when I tell myself its harmless. I am done with Tony as much as I will ever be done with Tony.

So, there you have all the pre / during quarantine excitement I experienced. The good stuff didn’t happen until after the hospital when I re-opened the dating apps and made the decision to put myself out there again. More to come!

All Kinds of Attraction

*Somehow the original was deleted and I’m too tired to go back and write the entire thing….so this was left in my drafts but I can’t find the original anymore. This date would have been the first in the non-drinker series and happened about a month ago*

So my first “non-drinker” date was John (John3). There are actually a bunch of things about John that would lead me to knock him off my list, but I didn’t in the hopes to expand my dating preferences.

This hasn’t workred before but I am truly attempting to be tmore open minded to what the Universe sends my way.

John is 6’, bald and interesting looking. He wanted to move off the app and into text quickly. Through text I found he had 5 children ages 7-17, is not yet divorced but has been separated for 6 months and living apart, was a naval officer and is a practicing LDS. He’s moved around quite a bit and all his children were born in different states or countries. His wife asked for the divorce but he claims he wanted to work it out and she was unwilling. He lives quite close. He has a very interesting job in cyber security and it seems quite stable and lucrative. There was no crazy reason not to meet though there were a few flags in there I was aware of.

Setting up the date took a few left turns. When we were due to meet he cancelled at the last moment but quickly asked to reschedule. Specifically for a day and time I had already told him I was unavailable. The thought crossed my mind that he wasn’t paying attention. He asked for a coffee date on a Sunday, another day and time I told him I wasn’t available. I was sensing a theme. He seemed eager to meet me.

Turns out, my Sunday plans cancelled and I let him know I could meet. Again, setting the time felt like deja vu because I had already given a window of availability. He suggested lunch and we meet at a local bar/restaurant of my choosing. I knew he was working around his kids and making the time for me, but it didn’t feel right for some reason. I ignored these few things. I ignored them because I wasn’t overly interested in him, more curious.

I arrived first and ordered a glass of wine. When he arrived there I noticed a few things (again, I didn’t place a lot of value on these things individually). He slumped forward onto the bar, arms folded. Poor posture is a real turn off. He grabbed my hand and rubbed it quite quickly. This turned into a hand in my leg. He couldn’t carry the conversation unless I presented the topic. He stared at me (uncomfortably so). And then, I felt it.

Attraction.

Slight, not glaring. I was attracted to him physically. Once I recognized the feeling I started looking for signs. What was it? His eyes, lips, mouth, nose, voice? What? Unidentifiable. Smallish hands made me think small cock. Not the best dressed. Still leaned over the bar. Hasn’t asked me to eat lunch yet. Hasn’t asked me one relevant question. But, it was there. Animal attraction.

So here’s something I’ve learned about myself. My sexuality comes off like a fucking homing beacon. I don’t know why or how but it happens almost every single time. And once my brain senses the chemical attraction I must be like a skunk that sprays its scent and it’s unmistakable. This is awesome when I’m super attracted to someone. Not so awesome when they are less appealing because it reels them in faster than I’m ready. I can tell the difference between someone who is truly interested in me AND sexually attracted to me now and John was giving off sex only vibes despite his few words to the contrary.

Two things happens that could have led to different paths.

The first was when I asked about the breakdown of his marriage. He really played this off as a sexless marriage. He made some speech about sexless being that they only had sex a couple times a month! Wow. He doesn’t even know the meaning of sexless marriage. When I asked him if he ever cheated because of a “sexless marriage” his answer was vague at best. He had a 2 year “emotional affair,” according to him. As it turns out that affair “crossed the line” multiple times – but to limit wasn’t really anymore than an emotional affair. He found may ways to explain off what he had done. He also didn’t seem to want to end his marriage while she did and he blamed that other inability to work through their issues in therapy.

Gee, I wonder why? You think she saw a cheater when he didn’t even admit to cheating? He reminded me of my x in that respect. I was disgusted by this, but not enough to end the date.

The second thing was he wanted to talk about sex and his prowess. This is a sure-fire way to know a man is only interested in sex, they literally can’t help themselves. I also know, as it seems to have been proven, most men who need to talk about it are actually not the best in bed. It’s more bravado and self-affirmation than skill. To have fun with this, I made a point of telling him that men who spoke abut this only wanted one thing, and it put them into a pretty crass class unto themselves. He acted all surpised and put off and made an attempt to not speak about it. But, he couldn’t’ help himself (as a side note, later when we were texting, he suggested multiple times I wanted to “see it” and I had to continue to decline photos).

The long and short of it is, he left and we made plans for a second date. I did not have a good vibe about him but was really curious to see what had so attracted me to him when he really wasn’t even my physical type.

We text for the next several days between dates. He was traveling and insisted he wanted to meet me on his way home. I gave him multiple opportunities to cancel due to travel, but he continually declined. Ultimately, his flight was so delayed that I ended up at the bar we selected as it was closing. I made suggestions for alternatives and he was weirdly stubborn about trying anything outside of a small radius of his apartment. We finally landed on something. But, by the time we did I was angry with him for being so difficult and making me wait due to poor communication (I understand travel causes delays, but he wasn’t clear on his status).

I arrived to the bar first again, and when he did arrive, bag in hand, he immediately kissed me hard. He couldn’t contain the lust in his eyes, body movements etc. He wanted me to pretty much guzzle down my drink and get out of there. I should have left but I was still curious but what sex with him was going to be like since I was so attracted, and that attraction was strangely and stubbornly hanging on. I don’t know why – I didn’t really like him as a person by this point.

In the end, I ended up in his bed. He was pretty lousy. He also had no cock to write home about for all his talk of 9 inches (and, no lie, he quoted his size). I’m such a size queen thats probably what got me into his bed! He asked me how many times I came and I was pretty quick to say “none because you didn’t really spend any time trying.” He then said he was just so tired. But, the fact he even thought I came was fascinating.

Talk about a delusional man. It was evident in the way he spoke about his marriage, his sexual prowess and the fact he actually thought he was a decent guy.

He fell sound asleep after sex and I waited until his breathing steadied before I dressed and slipped out. He text about 30 minutes later that he couldn’t wait to see me again.

Delusional.

I text back the next day to let him know that was never happening again! Nicely, of course. No one likes to be on the driving end of a crap message.

Was it another wasted date or wasted sex? Maybe. I didn’t enjoy myself and its the second time I had sex where, once I started, I was sorry I let it get so far.

(The Douchebag date happened AFTER this date, so I know I have shown slight progress in not having sex I don’t want. I am clearly still pretty screwed up with allowing myself into these situations to begin with)

Douchebag Jim

I’m giving away the ending with the title.  Oh well.

I think I could write a series on this one event, honestly  This one threw me for a loop.  But, I also still haven’t learned to write in an edited fashion and tend to write out every detail, so I’m going to try something different with this post.

This is a GREAT reminder that I should ALWAYS trust my instincts.  I could have done worse, BUT, I still didn’t listen to the little voice inside that told me he wasn’t for me. Before I was sick, I didn’t see so many of the red flags that I pick up so quickly now.  Now, I see them and tell myself “maybe I should give this person a chance.”

Wrong.

I’m doing that because I’m lonely and it leads to nothing.  I am trying to fight this deep seated loneliness (of course compounded by the fact I have no job and that makes me feel worthless) and I do better some days than others.  I am losing my tolerance for these complete assholes lately, and there are so very many of them in the dating world.  Which is also why I think I’ve given the sort-of-too-boring (for me) men a chance more recently – though that hasn’t worked well for me either.

I met Jim (Jim2) just about a week ago on Bumble.  We matched, we text on the app a bit and exchanged numbers.  We spoke quickly on the phone to arrange an unusually fast date.  He lives in the city but was coming to a town close to me for a business meeting and would I consider meeting him for a very quick lunch?  I agreed and found a place for us to eat and would need to drop him at his appointment post lunch.

Jim checked all the boxes, on paper, all but one  – he wasn’t specifically appealing to me because he was a redhead, but I wasn’t going to eliminate him because of it.  When I met him, I was attracted and that was all that mattered.  He was 6’1″, lawyer turned investment banker, 57 years old, moved to the city 6 months ago, 2 older boys in college, ex wife of 10 years lives in another state, charming, very educated, gregarious and ambitious.  Not exactly funny, but we did laugh together.  This was off to a very good start.

Now here’s where I am going to try something different with my writing so I’m not literally mapping out every minute of my dates.  Bear with me if the style is awkward, I’m trying….

Our lunch went well and we hit it off.  He asked me for the next date before he left which was so refreshing. He kept in touch by text, but nothing over the top.  I ignored the little cues I was picking up in favor of the fact he wanted to meet again quickly and I enjoyed my time with him.

So, what were those cues:

  • The kiss was off.  Not bad, just slightly off.
  • He spoke immediately how he wanted a travel companion for upcoming travel.
  • He referenced often how compatible we were too quickly.
  • He mentioned I had great, sexy legs when I was wearing an outfit that you actually could never tell what my legs looked like (with sneakers no less!)

The next day, during text, he told me he had to go to Denver for business and wanted to convince me to come for 2 days to go skiing.  I didn’t jump at the chance, but I did ask my entire tribe of family and friends and everyone thought I should go, assuming our next date went well.  However, I had a lot of scheduling conflicts I would have to move around (an unusually busy week for me) and I didn’t have any ski clothes that would fit, so I had to ask a lot of people to see who might have something I could borrow. We spoke about it on the phone a bit more and my mind began its machinations to move mountains to join him for a coupe days skiing, assuming our second date went well.  The bottom line, if I were to agree to go it wouldn’t be super easy to get it all together, but I could do it.  Skiing was super appealing to me.

The second date was easy too coordinate and came together well.  He chose a wine bar conveniently to where I was in the city (thoughtful on both counts) and had already chosen the second bar we could try.

When he walked in, there was no tingle.  For whatever the reason, I wasn’t excited to be with him.  It wasn’t intentional, but it was an internal let-down for me.  In any case, the night was young and we got to chatting.

Things that went right:

  • We both liked wine and he was happy to choose the wine and made a great selection
  • He is easy to talk to  and seemingly transparent
  • He spoke often about his family and friends
  • He spoke highly of his children and didn’t speak negatively about his x
  • He was full of compliments for me
  • He was publicly affectionate

Things that caused pause and then full-out raised the red flags:

  • He was overtly publicly affectionate, all he wanted to do was kiss.  The kissing went from pretty good to ok, to not good at all by end of evening.
  • He talked so much about his life he neglected to ask about mine
  • He was planning all our future trips together
  • He began talking about sex, despite the fact I prefaced (after his first comment) it wasn’t something I wanted to talk about.
  • He “just had” to tell me how big he was.
  • He kept saying “when you meet so and so”

So, I have to evaluate….if I liked him more would the red flags have been ignored?  I have ignored them in the past for sure.  I would have jumped at the inference in his words – talking about the future together.  But not this time.  Something was off from the first date and it just went more off in the second.

BUT I STAYED.  This is where I question myself.  I can’t seem to just walk away and end a date.  Perhaps in the back of my mind I was thinking that if I was going to spend two days with him skiing that I really needed to be sure, really sure.  At least, thats what I’m telling myself in hindsight.

As we wrapped up our time in the second bar, he explained to me that he had gotten a hotel room because his son and friends had camped out in his 1 bedroom apartment.  This was just weird.  I knew this meant he expected me to stay with him and he had made a predetermination that that it would happen before we even went on  the date.  It bothered me yet I did nothing about it.  We went back, had some street pizza and then I ultimately caved to going to his room.  I knew I had drank too much and didn’t want to pay for the uber.  I convinced myself that he would hold true to his words and not try to convince me to have sex with him.  I made myself quite clear with words, but the action of going to his room is all he understood, right?

The night did not go well and my behavior wasn’t so great.  We crawled into bed and I left on my top and panties and he left on his trunks.  We cuddled and he kept trying and trying to move it forward despite the many times I removed his hands.  Eventually, we fell asleep and then, at some point,  he forcibly woke me mid-night to try again.  This angered me because I wasn’t sound asleep but made zero indication that I was willing to wake up.  I had to physically roll away at this point.  Morning came and we once again cuddled , but then he took my hand to his cock to “show me” what I did to him.  I pulled away and got out of bed.  Time to go.  I had had enough.

Before I got dressed, though, I made an apology.  I had gotten my period and was entirely uncomfortable being in bed with him (partially true – though the greater truth was that he made me uncomfortable).  I also had horrid night sweats and leg cramps that evening.  I was just terribly uncomfortable all around and I did push him away multiple times, and not gently.  I apologized because it wasn’t nice and would leave anyone wondering what they did wrong.   I believe I expected him to then fess up to being overly aggressive with the sex but he didn’t.  He just said he was glad I stayed because I had too much to drink the night before and that I should have shared the details with him earlier.

He came to get coffee with me and get me on my way.  I asked him if he wanted to look at flights while we were getting coffee and got brushed off -I knew in that moment he was done with me, despite what I thought or felt.  Asking bar the flights was intentional, I had started to sense the change from the moment I pulled my hand off his cock.  However, he text me later than day to say he had a good evening and hoped to see me again which caught me off guard.

I waffled.

How much of the evening went sideways because of how I felt, and how much went sideways because he was really a douchebag?

Well, the answer became clear by the next morning.

I replied to his text within the hour and never went back to check until the next day when I realized I never heard from him again.  The text wasn’t in imessage blue but was green.  I  knew I had been blocked.  So I sent it again and it went to green immediately.  I called his number for verification and it went straight to voicemail.  He had sent a text to ask to see me again and then promptly blocked me!

Here’s the thing – it was all so wrong and I had the gut feeling the entire evening.  I was proud I finally didn’t have sex when I didn’t want to and I felt better about myself the next morning.  I should have been more honest and told him immediately that it wasn’t working for me, but I waffled.  I waffled because I am so fucking lonely and its distorting my ability to make better choices.

The night we spent in bed was horrible.  Worse than the night I spent with my sympathy sex guy Chris  .  At least Chris didn’t push me the way Jim had.  During the evening with John, I really got to a point where I didn’t want to be touched or kissed by him at all – YET, I questioned MY OWN BEHAVIOR the next day.

I was pretty angry to realized he was such a douchebag to block me without having the courage just to say “no thanks.”  I don’t understand a 57 year old man being such a complete coward.   Of course, it made me feel like shit and begin questioning myself all over again.  In hindsight, despite his words to the contrary, he was only out for the sex.

Me being me, I sent a burner text the next day telling him what a coward he was.  No point in doing so, but it made me feel better to have the last word.  It was a polite text, mostly.  Then I blocked and deleted his number – not that I would expect a reply – but to be sure I never had any need to communicate with him again.

There was just so much nuance to this date that I didn’t capture in an effort to make the post shorter, but thats mostly it.

What have I learned?

Trust my judgment, I am not usually wrong.  Stop feeling guilty for no reason and stop being coerced because I’m lonely.

 

 

 

Getaway

I haven’t been writing because the truth is there’s just nothing going on. And when I mean going on – not that I don’t keep busy – but my brain feels empty. I feel a bit like I’m disappearing if that can be a thing.

I’m still feeling sorry for myself for all the same reasons prior to the holiday. I ended up so very sick before Christmas that I almost cancelled. The apathy was so strong and layering in a nasty sinus infection made me just lose interest. I was surprised at myself, but that’s where I landed. The apathy created a hole I couldn’t fill. I was feeling like no one really cared what I did or how the holidays went. It didn’t feel important. When I’m not feeling loved I just want to disappear into myself and be left alone – which simply makes it worse, I know that, but that’s what happens.

I ultimately had to convince myself that I would regret not doing all the normal Christmasy things so I found the energy to be present and do the things. I feel sad that the woman who took such joy in these things wasn’t around. A little death, if you will, for the old me. I was there but not in spirit. I’m don’t even think anyone noticed and just assumed I was sick.

Without a doubt I know I need attention. I’m not getting it. Not from my kids. Not from my friends. No partner. No job. A total lack of attention coming my way. It just compounds how crappy I feel. I stay as connected as possible to my Peloton groups because I do get a certain amount of attention there. I’m developing new relationships that start virtually but which I can continue IRL. It doesn’t replace my true long term friendships but it does create a sense of belonging for me. There’s a part of me that is saying “this is a false sense of belonging, you can’t belong to society virtually”. There’s another part of me that says “who the fuck cares, it makes you feel good where you have nothing and no one else”. I don’t know which side of my brain is even right at the point so I do what feels good. It’s a bit like blogging I suppose. Here’s my life in writing and some people interact with me creating connection.

Anyway, not even the reason I started this post. I think you will be proud of me regarding dating. I know I have finally gained a little control over myself. Maybe without all the stressors and pressures of real life I can more clearly see the shit my subconscious has done to me with dating and I’m able to put Trixie on complete lockdown. Not having a feeling of desperation is a relief frankly.

I shut down the dating apps right after Halloween and maybe before Thanksgiving. Somewhere in that period after the last date I had sympathy sex. It wasn’t easy because I needed my ego to be stroked over the holidays and wasn’t able to have that from a partner, even if they were temporary or incompatible partners. In any case, I succeeded in staying off until last week.

I had met Dan around Halloween and we’ve been on a few dates. He doesn’t live here so I’m at his mercy for travel. We already agreed there was nothing more or less to our interactions than enjoying one another. His lack of communication still aggravates me but I generally get over it as quickly as it comes. He shows zero interest until he can meet me and then makes plans. When I’m with him he’s totally focused. We have a fun time. The sex is really good. His cock is literally perfection. There is no depth to our connection.

I caved against my better judgement and asked him what he was doing for NYE hoping he would ask me to join him so I didn’t have to be alone. He originally thought it was a good idea and then decided he would be home (or rather available) with his (older) children. However, he did tell me he was traveling just after the new year and asked me to join him on a short vacation before his work event. I agreed.

So here I sit in the sun by the pool after a weekend of sex with him. He is here for a week and I chose to arrive early Saturday and leave Tuesday. That seemed like enough time to spend with a stranger I wasn’t interested in cultivating a further relationship with.

It’s definitely not easy for me to interact at arms length. I want the romance and silly engagement a love interest brings. But I KNOW that’s not what this is or what it ever will be so I keep reminding myself not to attempt to solicit it from him. I am certainly operating in a strange space. There’s no hand holding, cuddling and giggling. There’s a little of it, of course, but it’s not the constant engagement you get when someone really likes you. There’s a huge part of me that keeps thinking “why don’t you like me MORE?!” That’s the part that wants to see what I can do to engage him more. My common sense has prevailed and I haven’t done any needy moves at all. Not once. That’s why I think you would be proud of me. No tricks. No ulterior motives. I give back what I’m getting. We engage nicely, we laugh together, have really good conversation and we like to drink together. It leaves me wanting more but I think what stops me is I simply know I don’t want more from HIM. It’s a little hard at moments to not be sad I can’t have a normal dating relationship, then I remind myself that he likes me enough to have invited me to spend time in a beautiful resort, all paid for by him, and there’s nothing wrong with where I am right now. This is ok. My person will come.

I can be mostly at ease with him and just talk about whatever I want. I don’t have to worry about how I’m perceived in terms of keeping the relationship. In that respect it’s a bit easier because I’m not always thinking around the corner. I’m just enjoying the time. On the other hand, I can’t be the person I am in relationship that I really like – I like that girl who fawns over her partner and has love in her eyes. I like that connection, the attention and appreciation. I can’t even leave my eyes open during sex, looking into his eyes is just weird. Feels wrong. So I keep them shut, which also feels wrong but it’s the only way I can immerse myself into the feeling of simple sex and eliminate the “need” for heart felt connection. And the sex is really, really good so I am enjoying it immensely.

The whole thing is weird. Not as in wrong, just a new, strange experience. I feel like there “should be” more and I feel like I want more, but my brain is actively overriding my emotion and shutting that shit down to keep it where it should be. It’s an extended booty call.

Learning how to accept comments for face value and not look for more isn’t easy for me. Accepting there is nothing more coming is a new feeling and not a comfortable place for me. However, just like exercise, I now understand I’m going to grow because of the discomfort and that it’s ok to live in an uncomfortable space for a while.

We get on well. He’s really, really good in bed and has the most amazing body for a 52 year old man. He’s not bothered by my scars or loose skin and has clearly told me they don’t matter to him at all. He’s super smart so I enjoy our conversation. I’m not particularly attracted to him so there’s this part of me that wonders how I am managing that disconnect so subconsciously.

So here I am, sitting in the sun even though it’s a little chilly, writing this post and drinking my coffee. About to get motivated to get a workout in at some point today. Not thinking much which seems to be the only way I get through these days of late. Like I said, I feel like I’m slowly just disappearing.

Frame of Mind

It’s been a minute since I’ve written.

To be honest, I don’t have much going on.

Not much is going on. My sister got married and I’m glad the wedding is over and the relationship tips back to normal. I realized I didn’t feel very good through most of this prep. In some ways, I feel like an imitation sister. I’ve been adopted my whole life and never really felt quite like I did during the wedding. I felt like a throw-away, someone she had there because she had to, not because she really wanted to. I felt the strength of her connections with her friends and felt like an outsider. It’s not me she relies upon or me she calls for advice. I’m not even sure how to cultivate a better relationship with her exactly. I don’t get the sense it’s something she really wants – or wants more of. I’m unsure what I want from relationship with her. I suppose it’s just one more person I don’t feel important to and this seems to be a theme in my life.

I was asked to do a podcast, two actually. One was about life struggles and how individuals overcome them and the other is about strong, accomplished women. I finished the first one and found the process super interesting. In the first pass, I understood the interviewer wanted to focus on the Mexico story and travel weight-loss surgery. I was able to tell the sorry quite easily with no emotion and plenty of humor. In the actual interview, there was a significant change to my story because all my emotions were stirred up (made for a very good interview). The emotions caught me by surprise. I have pretty much buried Mexico and what happened to me. The horror of that experience is not something I want to revisit. I acknowledge I carry a great deal of shame for choosing weight loss surgery, wanting to die and subsequently what happened to me post surgery. In particular, I purposely try not to dig too deeply because of the one fact that continues to haunt me: no one came for me. Even when I begged, no one cared enough to come for me. I was dying at one point, I was terrified, and those closest to me couldn’t come.

Logically, I understand why. Emotionally, I can’t address it because I don’t see any other choice but to forgive them and accept what’s happened. They made a choice the same way I made a choice. I don’t think they didn’t come to penalize me, I just think they had other priorities. I don’t even know what I would have done had the tables been turned. Which leads me to a feeling I’ve buried most of my life and pushes me to the outskirts of my depression – I am not anyone’s priority.

We spoke about this in the interview and I definitely had a hard time working through this part of the story. In the end, we edited it out because I don’t want to upset the people who were there for me. And they WERE there. Just, perhaps, not physically. I am worried if I were to ever express the truth of how I felt that I would be considered ungrateful. After all, Mexico was my bad choice and I should live with its consequences.

Since the interview I’ve been struggling with these thoughts because, like I mentioned, I’ve buried them pretty deeply and they simply only cause emotional distress for me. I also don’t see a way to resolve these feelings other than learning to accept what’s passed and move on.

But then there are days, and unfortunately there are many of them recently, where the thought of not being anyone’s priority eats me alive.

My long time closest friend, the Spanish speaker who translated Spanish for me while I was in Mexico, changed all my bandages when I was home, my maid of honor and godmother to my son, is always too busy for me. I never see her or speak to her and I’ve grown tired of constantly asking to see her. She finds time for what’s important to her and I’m not it. Now, if I really needed “help” she would be the first one here. That’s because she finds her own value in helping others. It’s great to have a friend like that, but I love her dearly and would like to connect with her more frequently than once a month. Mind you, I’m not working and I’m very flexible so it’s twice as upsetting when I have the time to spend with her and she basically can’t find the time for me.

My closest cousin, the one who was very busy working to get me out of Mexico and who probably invested the most time in figuring shit out while I was there, comes from a massive tight knit family. Her family will include me in many functions and I love to participate. I’m so happy when I’m with them and I always enjoy myself but I go through some sort of let down once I leave them. I find myself wishing that was my primary family. Once again I feel like I’m on the outskirts looking in.

My kids have really been much better than last year and I am VERY thankful for this change. I try not to push them too far forward too fast because, again, I don’t want to appear ungrateful for the strides they have made. Logically I know kids are kids and boys are boys, but I often feel that I hold no importance. I know this isn’t true and this is just my neediness. I want more demonstrative love and this is just not their way. They really have been good kids lately and I am trying not to put them down in any way because of my own neediness.

I still don’t have a job and there has been NOTHING to be found. I am so over my head in debt for the first time in my life that I am beginning to feel panic rising at the back of my throat. I keep telling myself I just need to get through the end of this year and things will change. I will find a job and be able to pay down my debt. It’s the first time EVER that I am truly scared about the debt I’ve created. People keep asking “what will you do?” And this is becoming frustrating. I don’t know. I don’t know what I will do. Am I wasting time not “doing something else?” I don’t even know what that can be. If I have to become a realtor I would rather die. I am good at my job and want to stay in my industry and would even consider relocation. There are just no jobs out there. Not even consulting ones. I am officially out of money by Feb 1st and have to take from long term savings to survive. This is creating an angst in me that I’ve never experienced. All of this makes me feel like I’m not worthy of being hired. I’m too old. I’m too expensive. (Even though I would take half my last salary). I’m over-qualified. I’m so disappointed in myself that it’s becoming very hard to remain positive.

Then there’s the dating, or better yet, the lack of it. Before I shut down the apps I knew I had hit a low point with my last sex date with Chris. I knew I had to stop what I was as doing because it wasn’t how I wanted to feel. There were two men, both from out of town, that I felt would make good on/off dates when they were here because I could keep them (or keep myself is a better way to say that) at arms length and not invest in the emotional chase. Sex with Dan is pretty good and we have a blast when I see him, but his communication is so horribly inconsistent I still end up aggravated. The other guy, Tom (don’t even think I wrote about him) started off well, we had two fabulous dates, and then his communication and attention plummeted. This is so fucking frustrating to me and puts me right back into the thought pattern of “why can’t I be anyone’s fucking priority?” Not even a small priority. I don’t even think priority is the space I’m looking for as much as just being someone they think about and WANT to reach out to sometimes.

I’ve gained some weight – which isn’t a bad thing but it’s fucking with my head. I had dropped so low, most would say too low for me, that I needed to regain some weight. But I haven’t stopped gaining because I haven’t curbed my eating. Even with all my cardio I’m not losing because I’m eating all the time. I don’t eat much at once but I eat all day. As you can imagine, this screws with my head after weight loss surgery. There was the sick part of me that liked being so thin. That liked seeing that low number on the scale. My goal was always 150 but I loved seeing 130. Sitting around 140-145 isn’t unhealthy but I don’t like it. I want to stay sub 140. That space felt good in my head for the first time in my life. I’m so sick of struggling with the numbers on the scale that I just want them to stay put. Weight loss surgery doesn’t cut out the demons. They are all still there and the effort it takes to quiet them is immense. The only time they recede is under that 140 mark. It doesn’t seem to matter that I’m actually in the best physical shape of my life, my arms look beautiful, my legs feel amazing and I love being stronger than ever and rarely out of breath anymore. The numbers on the scale fuck with my head worse than ever. Especially since I saw what I needed to see for the first time in 20+ years. That number on scale “helps” me forgive myself for the damage done to my body and how badly my stomach looks with its wounds and loose, hanging flesh.

Speaking of wounds, here was a little bright spot. When having sex with Dan, he gently kissed my wound. I knew it was intentional. He also made sure to tell me post sex that he loved my body and the wounds don’t bother him at all, he doesn’t even see them. I appreciated that immensely. I believe him also. It doesn’t change how I think about my tummy, but it does help to calm me down a bit, as long as I can get my weight back down.

So that gets to me to my current frame of mind: not good. Not good at all.

Not working, not dating, not having enough good, consistent sex, not having any money are all very bad places for me to be. My ability to not be depressed is quickly eroding.

I am doing what I can. I actively look for jobs and network. I continue to exercise – although I should be stepping up my game considering I’m unemployed. I bought a studio 10 pack so that I get myself into the Peloton studio and interact in person. I continue to support others in my accountability groups though recently I feel like I am being false. It’s an effort to Log into social media to be positive and emote positivity and gratefulness when I don’t feel it. I do logically understand I have much to be grateful for but I am horrible at making this a practice I believe in. It’s also why I push myself into my accountability groups the same way I pushed myself to get dressed In Workout clothes at the beginning – I will fake it til I make it. This is taking way longer than the 100 days I committed to making fitness a priority. Wayyyy longer.

This time of year warms me and depresses me all at once. I want a boyfriend. I want my person. I want the person who is going to make me a priority. I haven’t had that since pre marriage, since a childhood boyfriend. When I think about it I only feel more damaged and broken. There too many things keeping me down, and too many things making me feel like I’m not important to anyone. I know all about self love and it’s not working for me. Sure, I haves plenty of moments where I am doing a decent job taking care of myself and my family, but I don’t feel any reward in it. It’s. A horrible place to be as I think about this being the 5th Christmas and New Years that I will once again be alone.

Goodbye Marshall

This post is going to take more time to write than its worth.

But, the thought of Marshall woke me in the middle of the night and I had to have a stern taking to myself.

I didn’t answer Marshall’s phone call Thursday. Nor did he leave a message. Didn’t hear a word from him at all. And it was bugging me – figure that one out – I don’t care about him at all, had no desire for anything more or less from him, but it bugged me he just ghosted me like that.

So I text him Tuesday and a quick recap of the text went something like this:

M: Hi Marshall

Him: Hi Madeline

M: How are you?

Him: I’m well. Working and making bulletproof meatloaf. How are you?

M: Bulletproof meatloaf? What needs to be bulletproof about a meatloaf? Or do you mean you leave out the bread (that just makes it a big meatball! 😂)

M: My friend was here all weekend and we went to 13th hour haunted house and had so much fun screaming and running!! The actors loved us!! 😂🙃

Him: Yes essentially a healthy meatball. Glad you had fun.

M: Is something wrong? You didn’t exactly open up conversation in that last text and I haven’t heard from you in a while.

Him: Tried calling you Thursday, didn’t hear back.

M: You left a message?

Him: No

M: I missed that but don’t know why you wouldn’t call or text again.

And that’s it. No reply. Nothing.

So why does it bother me? It shouldn’t because I already knew I didn’t care. In our last conversation prior to this I was sort of getting sick of trying to understand his perspective on lifestyle coaching and getting zero engagement.

For instance, he wants to coach people on the importance of sleep. Since I had done quite a bit of research for myself earlier this year, I felt I could discuss this topic with him and open dialogue. He started with “I get a solid 8 hours of deep sleep every evening as tracked by my special watch.” I asked if that was possible because in my research NO humans need or get more than 2-3 hours of deep sleep per evening because you need more REM sleep. He flat out disagreed, told me his research and his watch supported it and basically shut down my information. In frustration I went back to do more research and came up with the exact same info after digging further. He told me I wasn’t looking into the right resources. When I asked him which resources he only indicated research from his coaches. He is like talking to a wall. So as much as I wanted to learn more, his inability to flex (which he claims is his greatest strength) was astounding.

I’m convinced this is a man who isn’t capable of deep relationship. He doesn’t have ANY. He has just started a relationship with his 17 year old daughter in the past year. When I ask who his friends are and who he confides in and speaks to, he can only refer to his coaching buddies.

I guess I’m am entirely confused about what self-actualization is because it feels to me like self-absorption.

Anyway, this post is about me, not Marshall.

Why did the idea of him not replying to me wake me up? I hate when people say one thing and behave differently so this normally eats at me – but I didn’t like him enough to let it disturb my sleep. So that’s when the stern talking to cane into play. I told my brain to shut down, I do not care about Marshall, I do not care that he is the only man in my life at present, he wasn’t going to fill any real voids for me and I wasn’t going to allow my brain to throw a wrench in that I “needed” to hold on to the little I had with him.

Nope. Not holding on, brain, so let it the fuck go. There will be better for me. Period.

Once I properly chastised myself I fell immediately into a sound sleep, woke up and deleted Marshall.

I am still surprised that, even though I have come so far that my brain wants to go back to its bad habits. I don’t need a man like Marshall in my life JUST to have a man in my life, they are a dime a dozen. I want the right man and he was nothing more than a placeholder. Placeholders shouldn’t wake me at night or even require thought.

Like I said, that took longer to write than it was worth. But it’s good for me to continue to remind myself I am worthy. Marshall, on his best day, didn’t deserve me.

Thank you, next.

Tonight’s date is with John. I already know this isn’t going to go well after we had our first phone conversation last night. I’m sitting here typing this berating myself for being a coward not to cancel the date after I spoke to him.

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.