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.

I Realized I’m Just Super Frustrated

It took a day for my head to clear, but I realize I am just plain old angry and frustrated because of John.

Not at John.

There’s a huge difference there from my past behavior.

He was perfect on paper, we had a super fun night and it’s the best sex I’ve had since Tony. So what he wasn’t ready for more, he was just a jerk for not saying so sooner because he got caught up with the fun. I’m over it. It’s too bad and move on because there is nothing to dwell on.

But dwell I did. I wanted to figure out why was I obsessing. It occured to me that it wasn’t about him at all – it was about the idea of finally finding a good man for a relationship. My brain placed him squarely in the “absolute potential mate” bucket. The previous guys have been “let me test this out to see if he can be a potential mate, so far so good”. That’s what went wrong – I made a decision long before a decision was warranted.

Why? Because I know I want a partner now. I’m tired of being alone. I’m tired of being with married men. I haven’t had the experience post divorce of having a boyfriend. I realized I never had to do that walk of shame – I always knew where I stood the next morning when I was with a man. I want someone to talk to, someone I can confide in that loves me and wants to be there to support me. Friends are fine, but they are not a partner.

I want to feel the way Tony made me feel about myself with someone who is free to do what he pleases when he pleases. Overnights, weekends, road trips, family affairs and just watching a movie together. I just want a boyfriend already and it makes me nuts that I can’t find one. (Although let me say – even at this level of frustration I won’t date someone short, period).

This situation with John just brought my level of frustration to the top. I realized it when I was swiping like mad in the dating sites today – hoping “he” would pop up. My perfect man. Any man, that I found attractive, really. I felt the desperation. I caught myself. I got into a project at work that distracted me. Then I thought about why I was going through this cycle.

I’m glad my brain is more clear than it used to be and I known my meds are doing their job with reducing my emotional outbursts as well as clearing the cobwebs. When I thought about John, really thought it through, it didn’t matter anymore. Sex was really good, but not anything I would write home about. I enjoyed the actual date more than the sex – he was just fun to be around. I just wanted that feeling of being desired, feeling good about myself, and laughing out loud with a man – to continue. I was angry that it ended. But that has zero to do with John.

I did something yesterday that I’ve never done. I deleted him from every possible form of contact so I wouldn’t have that phone number handy for text or calls. He’s not blocked, but I doubt I ever hear from him again and that’s ok. I’m glad I removed any opportunity to reach out to him in the future.

I had a headache all afternoon from my frustration. So I plan to get home, relax and have a glass of wine. I have fallen into the pattern that Thursday is my off night for working out. I will meditate before bed, but that’s about it for Thursday. I’m going to sit on my deck and have my wine and maybe some Advil until it’s bedtime.

I may even swipe a little more slowly and keep making good choices.

Hinge

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

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

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

What did I learn?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.