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.

Meet Charles

Lightbulb moments to the side for a second, let’s tell the Charles story.

Charles is really handsome and has a rock solid beautiful physique.

He knows it. He’s not exactly cocky about it, but he’s called himself fit and handsome enough times that I know what he thinks of himself and how important it is to him that he is proud of those attributes. That turns me off when anyone does that. When you’re good looking it’s obvious enough to anyone, it’s not a hidden talent, so what’s up that you feel the need to reinforce it? Maybe he’s got skeletons in his closet too.

We matched and started texting immediately. As with most men this age, he calls me quickly too. We hit it off easily.

I realized almost immediately, because this was on the heels of Tom, he was more interested in talking about himself than he was in getting to know me. This repeated the entire week we spoke and when I met him in person. I can’t believe how I’ve disregarded this behavior before. It makes it so much easier to see past the “check boxes” and move on. I don’t want a man like this and I know it. I am more emotionally needy, I want someone to be invested in learning about me, not how I check their boxes.

Who am I? 😂. Can’t believe how crystal clear this has become.

Charles lives about 90 plus minutes from me and I was clear there would be little opportunity for me to come to him. He didn’t care and insisted he would always come to me. He wanted to meet me soon, but I had plans I didn’t think would work around the distance.

I was away for the Labor Day weekend with my cousins and when I arrived to the beach house on Thursday, I was told we were going out to a local bar. The girls wanted updated on dating stories, so I obliged as we were getting ready. Showed my cousins photos of Mike, Tom and Charles and everyone thought Charles was the most handsome. My one cousin wanted to invite him down to join us that evening.

Once we start drinking and having fun, my cousin started texting (on my phone) with Charles and challenged him about his really wanting to drive almost 2 hours to date me. He accepted the challenge. Could I have stopped it? Sure. Did I care? I was sort of curious who would want to drive late at night just to spend an hour with me and turn around and go home. I know that’s crappy behavior but I didn’t really care because, like Tom, I had already acknowledged this wasn’t going to have legs. I could have fun with Charles.

Charles arrived to the bar just before midnight. He was strikingly handsome as soon as he entered and I was immediately physically attracted. He was as equally attracted to me. For the first time that I can recall, I wanted to kiss someone more than I wanted to talk to them. I literally just wanted to be physically close to this man and could care less what came out of his mouth! 😂. I was also pretty drunk by this point in the night.

He came back to the house with me and we sat on the deck making out like teenagers. Eventually it turned into sex on the deck. For one of the few times in my life, a man picked me up and carried me (while still being inside me) to a different location for sex. I forget there’s not much to lift for a strong, tall man and he was clearly experienced at it. His cock felt amazing. His kisses were luscious and I was soaked. This was pure bliss, not a thought was going through my head except getting fucked. I had no other real connection to Charles. I’m pretty sure I don’t desire one.

He was really, really good with his cock and body. Had I not been drinking I’m pretty sure he would be able to make me come while he’s on top, which is a rarity. He really knew what he was doing.

As the sex continued I began to feel something I hadn’t felt in a very, very long time – control. His control. He was moving my legs and hips into unnatural positions. Almost uncomfortable. The sex went from feeling super easy and natural to me paying way to much attention to how he was holding my body in certain positions. I didn’t realize I could move naturally any longer until I tried to lift my hips to meet his thrust and he kept my hips pinned down. At the same time, I realized this is why it felt so damn good – it was a very particular angle. But I wasn’t sure if I liked I how this felt any longer, not in a terrible stop having sex kind of way, I just felt non-participatory and too hyper aware of the position. He came and I was grateful it was over. It was a little confusing the way I felt, to be honest.

We went upstairs to bed. I didn’t intend for him to stay but it was too late to expect him to drive close to two hours home. We had sex again a time or two before falling asleep. I have no idea if he came or not. I was too tired and too close to passing out by this point. His mouth was amazing on me, but I had been drinking too much to orgasm. We fell asleep entangled in each other’s arms. A very specific entanglement which he moved my hips, legs and body to be molded a certain way into his. I fell fast asleep.

In the early morning he once again began manipulating my body in a very specific way. It felt amazing but I couldn’t relax because it felt unnatural. I can’t quite describe the dichotomy. I wanted to relax and I couldn’t. By the time we started fucking, and now I wasn’t drunk or over-excited, I couldn’t find a rhythm with him. He wanted my legs and hips in a very specific location and I couldn’t keep them there. In addition, now that I am running regularly, my hip flexors are very tight and I am less flexible in certain positions. I just don’t bend the same way unless I’ve stretched first. I began to get frustrated which is the strangest feeling when I can feel the potential in sex but can’t seem to find the common ground.

The other strange thing was he was never rock solid hard. I think this is why he kept trying to keep me still.

I had to stop him and let him know it wasn’t working for me. I told him I felt as though I was being instructed in the Kama sutra and had to follow textbook instructions to the letter. I said we are on different pages sexually and that he needed too much control. His reply to me surprised me “you need to be In control more even more.”

Hmmm. Do I?

Not sure I perceive myself that way sexually. I am generally a very loose and accommodating lover according to every lover I’ve even been with, particularly the good ones. I’m happy to do whatever feels good and I’ve never had any complaints. But this didn’t feel good to me, it didn’t feel natural. He needed me to be in positions I couldn’t maintain or couldn’t reciprocate. I couldn’t rise to meet his thrusts and found Myself lying still. The fact that I want to participate and feel that we are moving together doesn’t strike me as controlling, but he said it more than once to me. He admitted he wanted me to be still so he could concentrate on his orgasm, and that my moving was controlling his ability to orgasm. He gave a little speech about “men his age” not being able to maintain erections or have multiple orgasms. Mike immediately came to mind, no issue there. Haven’t had sex with Tom but he’s rock hard around me. John too.

No, Charles, while it’s not uncommon for men your age, at least admit you’re struggling instead of telling me I need to control the sex. Don’t try and turn this around on me.

Just like the sex, this conversation didn’t feel right to me. Does he not realize how he has me pinned down and how many times he told me to “relax” over and over? Relax? I am so uninhibited during sex I’ve never heard someone say relax to me! He would push my hips or legs into such specific positions that if they slid out naturally from movement he would always move them back. All of these, in his mind (I guess) small adjustments totally pulled me out of the moment. Doesn’t he realize how much he kept adjusting me every few seconds? No wonder he can’t orgasm – he has to have things so perfect that it must distract him when they are not just so.

As we were lying there having this weird discussion, somehow my figure / beauty came into play. He was describing his x girlfriend and her weight went from 150-160-180 over the course of the conversation, all while saying he was “still” attracted to her. The insult was rising in my throat and I found a little objectivity I didn’t know I had.

I said to him that he was awfully caught up in looks. His reply was that “how couldn’t I be with someone like you? You stop traffic!” I asked what was so impressive about me that he couldn’t catch his breathe and he touched and described each of my physics traits he was attracted to. I then asked “what if everything you see here isn’t the whole story? How Would you feel if my body was far from this perfection you’re describing?” He laughed a bit and said that’s impossible since we already had sex. I reminded him my shirt never came off. Then I told him I had multiple surgeries last year that left massive wounds on my stomach, some of which are not fully healed and are not pretty.

I threw in some bravado I don’t actually have “and I don’t much care what anyone thinks because I can’t do anything about it, but I wonder how well you would actually tolerate all my imperfections.” He compared me to his short friend, who couldn’t overcome his height but had to live with it and eventually found someone to love him, short and all.

Yup.

Right.

That’s the same.

After this I let him know it was time to go. I thanked him for driving so far and we had a lovely kiss goodbye. He felt like a different lover when he kissed me.

I heard from him when he arrived home safely and he asked me if I got my run in. I replied and haven’t heard from him since.

Which is fine.

I’m sure, in hindsight, he must be thinking the same thing I am – the sex just isn’t right and we will probably never get on the same page. I’m not putting much more thought into it except this post, but I find it fascinating. He probably also gave more thought to the fact he didn’t see my stomach and now he knows there are scars. At least, this is what I think he thinks.

Charles also gave me a lot of clarity I haven’t had before. Men having an issue with my wounds is their problem, not mine, and I don’t need to apologize for it. Nichts helped me get this thought started and I was happy to put it into action. Now I know I’m not sharing my history with anyone who doesn’t have an investment in me. None of their business and I’m no longer going to apologize for my body. The rejection, if it’s going to happen, is going to happen regardless of any explanation I give.

If a man is so hung up on me being skinny, and my history with weight is upsetting to them, too bad. I imagined being Charles x girlfriend and he would say to his next girlfriend “I loved her even though she had these awful ugly wounds.” No thanks. You need to be the type of man who loves me BECAUSE I am imperfect.

Certainly this is a strange place for me to be as I begin to accept what I’ve done to my body and the future I need to live with. I don’t love my body and never will, but this vessel is strong and has been through so much that I have to start being kinder to myself and not allowing anyone else’s perception of beauty make me feel ugly. I beat myself up enough.

Thanks for a great night, Charles. It was fun.

I believe, should he write, which I don’t think he will but I could be wrong, I will give him the honesty so many neglect to give to me, and politely decline any further meeting.

Lightbulb Moment – Charles

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

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

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

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

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

Sound like anyone you know?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I suppose I better do that in a separate post.

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

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

Lightbulb Moment – Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Much on my Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning my friends!

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

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

Obviously the post reply won.

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

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

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

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

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

Yes. I have already forgiven all of them.

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

No. I don’t.

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

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

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

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

Does it come across as desperate many times? Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

One thought is figure out how to love yourself first.

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

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

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

That’s a win in my book.

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

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

How to go Slow?

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

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

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

Is it already too late?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I really just want to get it right for once.

Second Date Success

I’m so happy to say our second date (maybe sex-ond date is more appropriate) was great fun.

I arrived to his condo and he was waiting for me outside – he literally skipped over to me, he was so happy to see me – totally unexpected but he can make me laugh easily. The best way I can describe how I’ve felt with him is that he is just a nice, easy feeling and he’s so genuine that it places me at ease instantly.

He lives in a beautiful development just under a half hour drive from my home which was another newish experience for me – driving to his house. I think I drove to Tony2s house once and that’s the only time I can recall. The difference here was that dinner was half prepared on the stove, the wine was chilled, the salad was made and the table was set. He had asked me what I could eat before I arrived so he knew what he made was perfect. Meat sauce from scratch, a beautiful full salad and even some roasted broccoli. It was a perfectly casual and thoughtful meal. The night before he had sent me a photo of the wines he chose – both my favorites. He remembered from our first conversation. It warmed my heart because I now know when a man cares, he remembers. I still, even after 5 years since the end of my marriage, often think a man won’t behave that way and I’m still always surprised.

As soon as we walked in the house and he grabbed me for a more intense kiss, he backed up for a minute and said “this day couldn’t have gone any more slowly, I was counting down the hours to you.” Another unexpected but lovely surprise. He is a different man in text than in person, that’s for sure. I call him Mr. Dry in text.

He wanted me sitting next to him while he was preparing so he brought me over a stool, poured me a glass of wine and set me down. The table was set, the two candles he owned were lit and the glasses chilled. As I was watching him cook I came up behind him to hug him and I feel his immediate response. When I touch him and kiss him gently his body responds quickly. I knelt down on the kitchen floor to take his cock out to tease some. He loved it but pulled me up and I offered to turn around so he can take me from behind. So he did and as he got going he realized he was burning the pasta so when he leaned over to shut the pasta off he also came back, grabbed me, and pulled me into his bedroom. Once again I avoided removing my clothes as I was wearing a little high waisted denim skirt and a white T. Only the skirt needed to be pushed up as he mounted me. It felt so nice to have missionary sex and he’s a pretty amazing lover.

We had a short but fabulous session where we both ended breathless. I got a better chance to see his bachelor pad. It’s empty except for minimal necessities and photos of his girls and a bedroom for his youngest daughter. You can tell he’s not adjusted to this being his new home. I’m sure it’s difficult to be displaces and I’m lucky I’ve never had to experience that. I realize, in hindsight, I was so angry with my x that I really didn’t care about the disruption to his life and home. I didn’t give two shits because of his nastiness. I would probably have more sympathy for him if he cared more about making a home 5 years later for his children, but he doesn’t. He got selfish. Anyway, I digress.

Dinner was fun and Mike was such a great host. I noticed he was a little nervous and wanted me to like everything – he didn’t have to worry. We cleared the table, refilled our wine and sat down. Once again, he put on music and insisted we dance together. This happened multiple times during the night and I loved it. He would sing to me and kiss me and twirl me about a bit. It was so much fun and I couldn’t stop laughing. In between, I don’t really know how many times we had sex. He started Counting and eventually gave up. For a 48 year old man he has zero issue with erection, recovery or holding out….we have an amazing capacity to enjoy one another over and over. This time there was quite a bit of oral sex for me and one lovely huge orgasm while sitting on his face. He’s a very generous lover and also very attentive. Believe it or not, my skirt never came off again – somehow I made it through and entire evening with my belly covered. I didn’t feel any more or less sexy for having clothing on, but it eliminates any thought on my behalf of my wounds. Part of me wishes there was a way to keep it like this, but I do miss full access to my breasts – he got in there, but it’s not quite the same as being completely naked.

The night grew quite late and I needed to head home so he could get on the road super early to drop his daughters car in college several states away. He walked me to my car and it was hard to part. I didn’t realize until half way home I left my hot pink panties on his bed. When I arrived home there was a text with the photo of my panties hanging on his dresser.

He text the next morning while I was sleeping that he was on the road. We spoke on and off while he had his long drive. He’s a bit different in person – in person he’s entirely engaging but on phone I feel like I drive the conversation much more. I don’t love that but have realized I just need to get him on a subject to tell a story. I have to remind myself that it’s brand new, I’m still learning and that’s it’s NORMAL not to be engaged 24/7 and learn about someone’s life overnight.

He communicated when he arrived and he let me know what he was up to with his daughter. While I wish there was “more” communication I want to hold back and wait for him to reach out. His focus is his child this weekend, she’s getting settled in her apartment and he’s being the rock solid Dad. If and when I hear from him, and I expect he will check on on his own time just like he does during the week, that will be enough because I know he’s thinking of me.

I have to intentionally try and behave differently and let this grow on its own. I want to experience a normal dating flow (whatever that is). I want to let it be without any expectation. I like him, he likes me. I don’t need more than that at the moment despite what my brain insists on processing.

I want to go slow. I want to take it easy. Enjoy the moments. Enjoy what he’s giving me because it’s all good. It’s not too much and not too little.

Just breathe, Madeline. Just breathe.

A Second Date!

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

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

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

And I think it’s ok.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ugh. A big old ugly ugh.

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

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

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

Which sucks. Just sucks.

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

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

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

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

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

We shall see.

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

I will keep you posted.