Dating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey, Slim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No More Excuses – 100 Days of Action

I did it!

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

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

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

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

“You must take action to move forward. “

Sounds so practical, right?

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

“No one else can do it but you. “

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

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

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

“Just do it. No secret sauce.”

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

“Practice Gratitude”

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

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

I reminded myself over and over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bitter Envy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Denial

You know when you get little glimpses of awareness that you’ve hit on an idea but can’t quite uncover it? I noticed this has been happening more often for me as I seem to be coming up from complete apathy to less apathy. The smoke clears for a moment, I have a thought, and I try to pursue that thought in the hopes of some personal enlightenment. In the wake of Tony-textacle, something struck me the other day – unrelated to Tony’s infidelity in his marriage – but my x’s behavior in ours. Then I recalled this same thought occurred to me post Bobby.

Strangely enough, I know more about Bobby’s post D-day than Tony’s. I didn’t even realize Tony and Kelly had a D-day in July until last week. Bobby told me everything about his recovery plan post D-day, until he hit the point in recovery that he needed to acknowledge I couldn’t be a part of his life. Tony lied to me for the past 7 months, maybe in an effort to “keep the enemy closer?” Who knows. When I realized Tony had been creating even more lies within his marriage, a little thought bubble popped up to say “do you recall saying he was more like your x than you wanted to admit?” And I got a physical sensation of being ill. It was as if my mind had buried that reminder so deeply that it created a physical sensation as it was dug up again.

Tony did, in his marriage, exactly what my x did to me upon discovery: lied more and denied what actually happened. The next stop on this this reality train is believing that Tony was also lying to me (haven’t fully accepted that yet).  I also repeat: does it even matter?  Nope, not really.   Not my marriage.

I read an article about Hiding in Denial and the flashbacks were not pleasant. When I uncovered my x’s infidelity he turned the entire situation around on me and my need for control. He wasn’t going to give up a female friend. He wasn’t going to allow me to monitor him. He may have crossed a little line, but he was in control and would manage the situation on his own. If he gave up his female friend that meant there was admitting to guilt and he wasn’t guilty. The article went on to describe that until someone admits they have a problem, no changes in outcome would be expected.

“Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it.” Until I can change how I see the problem (and the problem is me, what I’ve done, and what I’m capable of) I will never be safe for my partner. Until I can accept the reality of my own defects of character I’ll never get where I’m going. If the right help is attained, we can find hope as well as a plan to find movement and clarity for both spouses.”

So, while I initially started thinking about Tony, it led me backwards to my own situation with the x, and then further into understanding myself. I have been programmed to accept liars into my life. This has become my defect of character and I allow it to continue by actively looking the other way.  Consistently burying my cues.  I keep accepting a “less-than-I-deserve” behavior in hopes that the other person will change.

Of course, they never do.  And I have become thoroughly practiced in being obstinate about forcing a change, obsessed with their change, instead of gracefully getting up and walking away from their behavior.  I allow some else’ bad behaviors to validate my own bad behavior.

I don’t stop.

With Tony I got the behavior I was seeking from my x. At some point Tony admitted his shame and his ownership for creating the mess we were all in. This was very close to the time he spoke to his wife. I believe that, up until that point, he was as authentic as he could be. He was horrified with himself and his actions and for the further mess he would be creating. I never got that from my x. Not even close. Never even an apology until years later – and it was one of those “I’m sorry if my actions hurt you but I never really cheated” kind of back handed apologies. I think that period of Tony being so genuine is what kept me holding on even longer, he couldn’t be that honest in his marriage so there was hope for us yet (idealized thinking). It wasn’t until his wife told me he was calling me a liar that the truth of it all struck me – he went right back to denial as it was a much more comfortable place to be.  But I shouldn’t have gone with him.  I should not have been around for his mistakes and lies to his family.

I have been holding on to my own denial. The thought that hope exists where it had, in fact, been extinguished 2 years ago in April ’17 when Tony chose to stay in his marriage. I am very good at this since I had a 22 year marriage where I was hopeful for around 18 of those years because I was gaslighted and weak. I keep allowing others, men in particular, to control my life. First my father, then a husband and then two affairs. If I don’t stop trying to control and manage my pain instead of acknowledging and accepting it, to really understand it, I am never going to break this cycle.

(You can go back to re-read the article Ann sent me here, and start to see how that played into what I had already started to think about my habits)

I actually believe that things do happen for a reason. I started to uncover these old perceptions of myself back in this post, and slowly other markers (such as Ann sending me the article) showed up along the way to highlight that I was on the right path to my own little self discovery.

While it may have been the worst way possible to uncover my own truths, sending Tony’s wife the information helped to uncover something I had buried and continue to recreate. I know it will always be viewed as malicious, that I would hurt someone who never hurt me and I understand that point of view. But somewhere in this narrative I needed Tony to accept the truth, my truth I guess, and this felt like the only way I could achieve it. What happens next in his life is his. His anger at me is because of discovery, because I upended that perfect scenario of life he worked so hard to create.  I’m sure some it it is because I hurt Kelly, but the bigger part of it for Tony is because he is uncovered as a serial cheater and liar and loses his prized possession: his outward face as a good and honorable man.  I have to own what I did, it was wrong and I haven’t yet learned how to control this terrible, horrible piece of me that wants others to hurt when I hurt.

Stick with me as I dig deeper, I appreciate all of your insight.