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 2)

I’m sure this has happened to everyone here at one point or another….you write a post and it’s a long one you’re super proud of…and it disappears into the ether.

Ugh and double ugh.

Luckily the WordPress gods got half of the post and I only have to get through the second half. I’m bummed because I think it was one of more well-written posts and I had jokes. Ha.

Yesterday I intended to write about the 3 huge words that can mean different things to different people under multiple circumstances.

I’m confident in my evaluation (of myself) in regards to being desperate (I’m not, even if it seems that way sometimes) and having anxious attachment syndrome (I do, working on that).

The last part of the post was probably another 1k words addressing that last big word: communication. Maybe WordPress saw fit to give your eyes and head a rest from my babbling for a couple hours!

I’ve really been thinking hard about communication since the John match some 5/6 weeks back. I am always open to feedback on my communication style since it’s probably the single biggest challenge I have had in my entire life.

Clearly, I don’t lack the ability to communicate well. I’ve always been intelligent, articulate and well-spoken since I’ve been able to speak. My issue is always in delivery. Pace, body language, facial expressions and in particular, tone. My character is not well represented by my tone of voice and I often, including in writing, leave a bad taste in people’s mouths or they misunderstand the message I am trying to communicate because I don’t deliver in a way they can understand.

How you communicate is almost more important at times than what you communicate.  You need to know your audience.

After a lot of heartfelt soul searching and, believe it or not, I looked backwards for my answers. They were pretty clear.

I grew up in a time that the word “hyperactive” wasn’t a word applied to a child’s  behaviors. I was a very busy and over active child needing a whole lot of attention. A mother who was too gentle beyond words, a disinterested father and an era where the only label that could be applied to me was “bad” did not provide the healthy outlets I needed for all my energy.

Why was I so overactive? Why couldn’t I sit still and keep my mouth shut like other children? I must have learned very quickly that they preferred to ignore me and I began yelling and screaming for attention I wasn’t getting. I probably didn’t know how to explain as a small child what I needed or wanted. So, I acted out. That netted my mother taking me to doctor and doctor to “fix” me and calm me down. Ultimately, since there was no solution for my “badness” they put me on a drug that my mother told me was reserved for the criminally insane: Ritalin. Since then, based on the research I’ve done, I think my mother made that shit up to tell a better story, or make me feel bad, who knows. The drug was prescribed as an ADHD drug for “maladjusted children” long before the ADHD was mainstreamed.

My mother quickly took me off the drug. I went from a vivacious, active, verbal child to non-verbal and staring at walls. She would rather have hyperactive. Her hippie cousin (this is the 70s remember) suggested a “natural” type of doctor who might help and my mother was desperate at this point. Today we would call that doctor a nutritionist! He told my mother to stop feeding me so much sugar and for rewarding good behavior with candy. He also suggested my mother put me in activities to burn out my energy rather than expecting me to comply to the “children who are seen and not heard are good children” belief.

My mother found relief. I was active, involved and out of the house most of the time doing my activities. She would drive me to Timbuktu if it meant she got an hour of peace. We still couldn’t see eye to eye because I became independent quite quickly – she wasn’t expecting that and definitely didn’t like it.

If it sounds like I understood any of this as a child, I didn’t. This was how she told me the story for as long as I can recall.

I learned to communicate by screaming, yelling and making a fuss because I didn’t get the attention I needed from my parents.

Doesn’t that sound like Trixie has been around for a hella long time?  Yup.  I thought the same.

I didn’t improve my communication techniques for a long, long time.  It took many, many negative outcomes and scoldings before I really understood how to behave, and how my parents expected me to behave.  When I didn’t behave, I was beaten.  Spoon, belt, hand, basically whatever was closest.  This physical abuse didn’t stop until I was 16 and I recall the day quite clearly.  It was the last day my father laid a hand on me.  I don’t recall when my mother stopped cracking spoons over my head.

Years later, when I recounted these stories my parents reply was “If your father ever really hit you, you would be in a hospital.  Those were nothing more than love taps.”  Eventually they denied it ever happened and said I made it all up.  Perhaps the first time I knew I was being gas-lighted (before gas-lighted was a word).

I didn’t begin to understand I could control my tone until I started to work.  Again, it took a lot of mistakes before I began to understand the difference between assertive and aggressive tones, how not to be bossy but authoritative.  But, learn I did, and very well.  I learned how to take what I perceived as my biggest failure as a child, my worst possible trait, and make it an asset and my ultimate strength.  This is how I became successful, I now had the communication style to communicate my ideas in a way that moved me forward instead of hindering me.  I became a valued employee and a really good leader.  I gained some pride.

Of course, there was still the personal component.  My parents style didn’t change and I married a man who was both my mother and my father combined into one.  Looking back, I married for familiarity and because I had anxiously attached.   Even then, my life was sort of pre-planned in my head and the x checked my boxes.  I didn’t understand that I never really saw him for who he was until we were already together for over 18 years.

When I look back, I believe the only romantic relationship I ever had that wasn’t from an anxious attachment was my first long term boyfriend, Randy, when I was 15.  Every relationship after Randy was formed in anxious attachment.

When children came along, the tension between the x and I as well as my inability to always control my tone, led to  my children often calling me mean.  Of course this is quite upsetting to a mother, but I am sure it is true.  Nowadays I try and explain what they hear isn’t always mean.  They have taken their fathers approach of zero confrontation whenever possible (which is probably common among teens).  They are just beginning to understand that when they ask for what they want/need, with confidence, they may be able to change the outcome.  They still don’t like my tone most days, and certainly don’t like when I go up like a bottle of pop and yell at them for one mess or another they have made.  I’m still learning how to be a better parent and communicate in a language I don’t really comprehend (teenage boy).

I view my inability to communicate appropriately as a young child and through to adulthood within my personal life as the outcome of anxious attachment.   That’s where it all started.

So here I am, at 51 years old, basically in the same situation.  I am crying out for attention and I am not communicating appropriately in order to eliminate, or at least avoid, my anxious attachments. I feel like I have never had a solid foundational relationship in my life that wasn’t founded on anxious attachment and that may be the reason I feel such a deep emotional hunger that I have to make my needs known loud and clear in order to get what I need emotionally.  I am most likely perceived as clingy because I am seeking a sense of safety from someone who isn’t able to ready to give it to me.

And then there was this in one of my google searches:

“While it may seem that an anxiously attached person would seek out someone who was nurturing and available, oftentimes they wind up being drawn to a person with an avoidant attachment style who has trouble meeting their emotional needs. While this sounds paradoxical, their intense emotions complement the missing, actually suppressed emotions of the person with avoidant attachment.

They reinforce each other’s adaptations in the painful dance of their interactions. 

Although it is painful to re-experience this insecurity, people often feel compelled to recreate the emotional climate of their childhood.”

So how do I manage my communication and behavior in order to get where I need to be?  How do I learn how to have Secure Attachment when I don’t recall ever feeling that way in my entire life?

This ain’t gonna be easy.

 

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.

Less Angry, More Thoughtful

After John I absolutely went into an angry swiping frenzy. Ended up speaking to too many men at once and got over it in about 24 hours. I know better.

What I learned over the weekend of angry swiping and needless chatting:

1. My match really needs to have been married with kids. I have yet to find one man who wasn’t that truly understands how important parenting is….unless they want their own family and then we are not a match anyway.

2. My match needs to be aligned socio-economically. I’ve spoken to a few teachers who have off the summer, earn lower-pay, and are generally less ambitious (not saying all, just the ones I’ve spoken to). I’ve been asked a couple times if the career and long hours made me happy. They just don’t understand corporate mechanics. I’m a 30 year corporate veteran, it’s partially what drove me to the success I achieved – there is never a good (or right) answer for “was it worth it.”

3. My match needs to have a desire for “more.” What’s more? I’m not exactly sure but I do know it means not complacent with what you have and where you are for the rest of your life. I’ve spoken to many who have their summer homes on a beach and that’s all they want to do with the rest of their lives – sit on a beach. That’s not for me. Ask me again when I’m 70.

4. On the other hand – My match can’t be hyper-active! I don’t ski, surf, hike, Climb mountains, SUP, scuba or CrossFit. I do exercise every day and have the energy and strength to do more active outdoor activities but I’m never going to be a go, go, go girl. Balance works best for me.

5. My match can’t be too obsessive about my “sexy, thin” body (a common comment pretty consistently now). When the clothes come off, the scars are real. I’m still not convinced it wasn’t what tipped John over the edge so quickly. The man needs to be committed to health and fitness, but not body obsessed. I have also noted that now that I have been with more fit men and am more fit myself, I am less tolerant of someone who doesn’t work out at all. I want to keep this practice so I need someone who is committed to it as well. My life has changed and fitness must remain an important part of my well-being.

6. The man needs to show interest and intellect pretty quickly. I perceive this as someone who knows how to balance a banter with serious questions and is interested in knowing about me and my life and how it matches with his own desires and interests. They will ask about my job, family and children unprompted. When the man is focused on my beauty and we don’t have anything in common, it always feels forced. I avoid the physical match like a plague now.

I’ve realized my long, long list of attributes pretty much shortens to these 6 things (excluding a physical attraction of some sort which always included height). If I can find these 6 things in the initial match and conversation, I will move on.

The other things I want like: kindness, emotional intelligence, travel, trust, honesty, respect and good sex all follow after meeting. I don’t try and dig for these things early in the conversation. If little hints don’t flow naturally, I become disengaged.

As I was thinking about this over the weekend, because I started up too many conversations, I realize that I am quickly drawn in by a natural conversationalist who is quite comfortable in their own skin. All the men I have liked, even a little, post Tony were very successful, ambitious men. I also realized all of them were serious athletes at some point in their lives – which creates that competitive edge I love so much. They were all extremely handsome -even if physically, all very different. And not necessarily handsome to everyone, but absolutely to me.

I have at least narrowed down the characteristics that I am initially attracted to. The ones who meet these criteria, but can’t or don’t back it up with humor and great conversation just fall off the radar.

So who did I speak to this weekend in my swipe craze?

1. Paul – I really liked so much about him, until he told me he was a recovering alcoholic. I actually thought about this for a while and considered if a person who had their own damage might somehow better understand mine…but then decided it wasn’t for me (I’ve been there already). Coupled with the fact that while he has lived apart from his wife for 3 years, he’s still married. We spoke and I sent a text as a follow up to disengage.

2. Eric – handsome and seemed positive until we moved to text. He is a teacher and more than once told me I had “a good life” and questioned if I was happy working the way I do. His text were so dry that it never got off the ground. He was also entirely inconsistent with his text and was boring.

3. Chris – haven’t written him off yet. Handsome (and big which I love!) and divorced several years with a daughter college age. We hit it off and moved to text. He would engage somewhat but never really got inquisitive. If he comes back for another round he will need to show he’s more interested. If not, that’s fine too.

4. Joe – just boring. Nice but boring.

5. Jeff – handsome and interesting but once we began talking and said he had 3 small children, I was out. No more ball games and carpools for me.

There were at least 3 others. All nameless in 24 hours.

I made my excuses to each of them and politely exited.

I am bummed about John and it’s eating me. I felt like “finally” someone! Yay me! And then, nope. Of course it leaves me questioning myself. And blaming myself. For 24 hours I almost let Trixie out to see the light but she never got far…I know my bad behavior (which is why I deleted John from every possible deceive systematically). I know I can not indulge my bad behaviors because it doesn’t really feel good. It’s a temporary fix.

There’s a part of me that is going full force with the negative self talk: it’s something about you they don’t like, you’re too pushy, you’re too relationship orientated, you’re scarred, you’re loud, you’re just it right and you’re not enough for me to want to stick around and get to know you better. I have not resolved this negative self talk and I don’t know how to – I do try, all the time, but inevitably when something like John happens, it comes out again in full force.

Being alone is wearing on me now, I admit. I just don’t think I’m built to be alone. But I am getting better at not wasting my time or anyone else’s with sheer nonsense. When I need the therapy I can’t afford I will write here, meditate, or listen to one of my self help books. I have plenty of down time to exercise and care for myself on weekends. I am focused on keeping myself as positive as possible, but this threw me for a loop – and the others I’ve dated didn’t have this affect on me.

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.

And Now We Wait?

Leaving his apartment was awkward. I thought for sure he would walk me down to my car, but nope. Out to the door and then a finger pointing to the elevator.

That was the moment I knew it wasn’t going any further. Could I be wrong? Sure, it’s possible. However, after all I’ve been through I’ve promised to listen to my inner cues – and they are generally not wrong in the beginning of a relationship.

After a date with a man that was a great date I always knew if they would call. I had no idea if I would hear from John again, despite his repeated words of being a good guy and being so aligned with me. It was a good chemistry but it wasn’t the kind that kept me awake at night. Tony, Bobby, Andrew, Brix (who I flew to CA for), Dan and Dave all come to top of mind as being really excited to seeing them again.

I realized I really wanted to see him again, I wanted to talk to him more and I wanted sex again but there was something stopping me from the “over the top” reaction I normally have. I absolutely had a little butterflies but it was quite moderated.

He had asked me to text him when I arrived home. I knew he was going to see his son for the weekend and we were due to see each other Sunday afternoon (which would have been the first date). But since he didn’t mention Sunday at all, even when I left (no “See you Sunday”) I already felt Sunday wasn’t going to happen.

This didn’t totally eliminate the feeling of being let-down when the conversation had turned into this:

That sounds like a “I won’t be speaking to you today” text.

I was sad but couldn’t help myself so a bit later I started:

No reply to those last text Saturday night.

I woke up feeling like he was going to ghost me and I was both parts angry and sad. He had so much promise and I just want a boyfriend already. I just want to date someone who isn’t attached and who matches my life cadence and he had hit all the right buttons. I was willing to even overlook cock size! 😂. I was so let down this wasn’t getting off the ground and started assuming it had to be me.

What went wrong? Was it the tears or not getting undressed? Was it the bandage and discussion of my surgery’s (which was light and not detailed). Was it just him – he didn’t feel an intense chemistry? I knew without a doubt there was sexual chemistry because we had morning sex and it was great.

I couldn’t let go even though my better sense said stop texting. I didn’t text on Sunday because I felt he was obligated to let me know if he was coming or not if he didn’t want to be a complete waste of a man (I was a bit angry and hurt).

Here’s what I got midday:

As you can see, no further response Sunday evening. I felt mildly better he had at least be kind and text. But this wasn’t the man I was talking to for a week by a long shot. I tried again Monday am with a simple god morning:

And that’s that. Do I believe him? Maybe. Does it matter? He reminded me of Tony in this instant where Tony couldn’t manage me and a drama with his kids sometimes so I would get shut down. Happens that John is exactly same age as Tony and their birthdays are 2 days apart. Is it a Leo characteristic?

I am let down. I had a couple turns in my gut of feeling jumpy to have him text and sad that he wasn’t.

I’m still wondering today but the bottom line is that he knows he needs to communicate with me to Continue. There’s no point in me texting him again.

I do worry it was my scars. That’s going to haunt me. Every man now says I’m so “hot” and my body is so “thin and sexy” and “look at those arms!” And I get it. I look super fit, toned and strong now. It’s appealing to a man who takes care of himself. And a very close friend said my scars would potentially be a dealbreaker – she’s very vain – and she doesn’t know how she would feel. But it’s ugly. And it’s tormenting me.

So there you have it. My “I need to know” is killing me. My tummy gets a little twisty when I think of it – just because it’s the first time in OVER A YEAR I’ve met someone who was a potential.

I do feel lonely now. I do want a partner. But I can’t change the things I want to have in a relationship if I want it to work for me, so that means sit and wait for the next potential and avoid poor choices.

I am sad I haven’t heard from him and it does bother me immensely – perhaps because I see nothing glaring at me that would cause him not to want a second date.

I sent a last text this morning because it’s eating at me. I don’t actually expect an honest reply. But he will likely reply with something.

I probably shouldn’t have sent the last text – when does anyone in these situations tell the truth? But as I’ve been thinking about it I remembered that both August and Tom had the courtesy to say “Thanks, but no thanks” to me and I always say it to a man. He just didn’t strike me as such a player and I guess I missed the cues in there somewhere.

I’m lamenting more over the prospect of an actual match than John himself – which should say something to me. He hit my list attributes one by one and it felt something like a miracle! I will live. It was one date, a great date, and great sex. It also made me realize that no matter how long I wait to sleep with someone my scars are never going away – so I better get that first story/explanation under control for the next time I need to deliver it so I’m not so emotional about it. I would like to believe that someone who really likes you wouldn’t be bothered by my ravished body, but I do think it’s highly possible and I’m going to need to accept when that happens as well.

Adding this at 10am this morning. Pretty clear and straightforward:

Good morning Madeline. Yes, I absolutely owe you an explanation, and every day that passed made it harder to send the message, so thank you for your message this morning. What happened with my boys this weekend just made me think about relationships in general, not really you specifically. You just happened to be here at the time. The bottom line is that I’m not interested in going fast and furious at this point. The communication we had last week wouldn’t have happened if I was here. I was half a world away and the time difference and my free time made it easy and I got caught up. It was really nice though and I enjoyed Fri. I know all this sounds like bullshit, and I would think the same thing if I were in your shoes. I have a million other thoughts but they’re not really important, I’m just not ready for a full blown relationship. I should have said something proactively earlier, I just didn’t even know what I wanted. I’m sorry, you’re really sweet and you deserve the best in the future.

Back in the Saddle Again

Today is back to work day!

I put the exclamation point there to convince myself this is a good thing. It is, right?!🙄

I secured a freelance role to cover a maternity leave. The isn’t what I’m accustomed to, but it’s fair. The role can be anywhere from 3-6 months and it’s a company on my top 10 list. I’m not sure how much I will like the role itself, but I’m pretty certain it’s well within my wheelhouse.

I felt excitement when I interviewed and pleased that the man who hired me did so because he knew me and my work ethic from many moons ago.

The office is much closer than my previous office, shaving off at least 25 minutes each way each day. That’s a huge time savings I can dump back into my work out efforts.

I don’t know why I’m not excited. My friends and family are more excited than I am. Lots of support from the home team. I feel sort of nothing. I don’t think my brain is turned on yet.

I am going to approach this the same way I approached my fitness, one step and one day at a time. I cannot allow myself to get to invested or emotional, I need to focus and do a good job. I don’t need to be the best, I just need to be good at what I do. I will not kill myself and push myself to a breaking point again. I cannot afford to lose the new found sense of self I’ve gained.

So, hi-ho hi-ho it’s off to work I go.

Wish me luck!

When I’m the Needy One

If you read my blog I’m sure you think I’m needy all the time. But that ain’t so – I’m pretty independent. I manage my home and children on my own. When I’m working I commute and travel long distances. Things get done.

But when I’m sick or sad I’m super needy. And there’s no one that fills Tony’s absence.

I guess it’s pretty normal that when I’m happy and busy that I think of him much less. When I’m sad and depressed he’s at the front of my mind.

A long, long time ago Anne questioned how much I loved Bobby or just loved the experience of Bobby or how he made me feel. In the end, I did have love for Bobby but in hindsight he turned out to be much more about how he made me feel.

I think about that with Tony too. I want to feel absorbed by someone again I want that person to call and tell everything to. I got a job. I got sick. I worked out and did good. Or bad. Whatever. I want to share these things.

So first, let’s get out of the way, I got no answers at the surgeon today because he’s baffled. Now it’s a waiting game. If it’s a fistula it will either resolve on its own (unlikely but not impossible) or make itself known clearly (pain, vomiting, fever). Until then, watch and wait. He wants me to change nothing in my diet or exercise. The only concern at the moment is the skin around the wound is very, very thin and close the bowel and could tear. I just need to pay extra special attention to the wound area as it’s aggravated from the leaking.

I weigh less than I did in my 20s right now. Every day I lose more weight. He says this isn’t the first problem as long as I feel fine.

And, I do feel fine. Other than this damn wound I feel better than ever.

So there’s that. I’m a leaky faucet at the moment.

Oh – and this isn’t exactly related to the VSG surgery. It’s a side effect of any abdominal surgery and there are reasons why it happens in some and not in others. I’ve had multiple same site surgeries and there is a lot of scar tissue and adhesion. There is also some leftover flotsam and jetsam from my childhood surgeries in my body – foreign objects. Never heard that before. But I saw it on the scans and it’s one of the reasons my belly is so disfigured from surgery in 1970.

Of course after the surgeon today I called my family and friends – the Mexico Unit I call them. The ones who brought me through and stand by me and made it clear they love me and want me around. I spoke to them. They listened and offered advice.

But they were not Tony. They don’t love me the same. The feeling isn’t there. I miss being so enveloped in his love. I really do ok on the other days…it’s just days like this….I miss him and how he loved me.

I suppose the good news is – I don’t go looking for that in someone else because I’m missing him. I’m not on the apps or reaching out to anyone else because I feel needy. I just feel needy and miss him.

And I try to care for myself. ❤️

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!