When I Don’t Care Enough – Part 1

Sometimes, not often, I don’t really care about how I am going to present on a date.

There are some men who I get the sexual tension from quickly, and I want to impress those men with sexy heels and a hot outfit.  Other men don’t seem to give off the same vibe and I don’t get as excited about the first meeting and what I am wearing, and perhaps a little, how I look.  Frankly, I tend to prefer the men with whom I get the tension with – even if the date doesn’t get legs, the initial date and flirting is just more fun.  I love the sexual tension and I love to look sexy.  Especially now….sexy now is an entirely different thing than it was before.  My body requires little to no effort to appear sexy to a man who likes a lean, fit woman.  This is a major head trip, for me.  I love the fact that nothing is uncomfortable when I wear it any longer.  Most articles of clothing are going to look good on me no matter what.  I can wear heels all night long.  I’ve always had the feeling of “being” sexy, but now its much more prevalent since I am proud of my body  (well, the exterior, the wounds and loose skin get compartmentalized when I am getting dressed because they are under wraps).  I don’t think my behavior is any different, but removing the physical self doubt is a massive relief.

I did choose weight loss surgery after all.

And then I chose to take care of the gift of life I was given post all the trauma.  I’m super fit and lean now.  I feel better physically and find that the working out helps me redirect a lot of negative energy.  I never thought I would be the one to say it but I love how the fitness makes me feel now.  It has changed my life.

This is a bit long-winded story about how I didn’t care how I looked on a first date. I had matched with someone who wanted to meet this particular night.

I had planned to do something quite out of character for me – I decided to go into the Peloton studios and do 3 classes in a row, in costume, for Halloween.  Alone.  Why?  No reason at all.  More like, why not?  I could. I love my Peloton classes and getting in studio is always awesome.  Plus, not that I admit this to any of my friends or family, but there is probably some attention factor in here.  Going to the studio gets me noticed by my instructors and creates a more personal bond when you interact with them on social media.  When I’m not working, the Peloton social community is my primary source of accountability.  If I make a post that I will do something, I do it.  I don’t know how the logic of that works for me, but it does.  So when I feel like I need a little push to step out of a comfort zone, I post before I think about it too much.  Then I’m committed.

The classes started at 6:30pm and would end by 10:30pm.  It was a pretty big fitness commitment and when I am in studio, it also means a push effort – I don’t want to “take it easy” on myself in studio.   All classes have a “spotlight” bike, tread or mat.  In the past, I have chosen this spot knowing I would be on camera for the studio taping of the on-demand classes.   Unexpectedly, I ended up in this spot in 2 classes -in full costume – doing classes that were so far out of my comfort zone that I questioned the sanity of these spontaneous choices.  I did a 45 minute run (I have never run that long) and a 30 minute yoga class (I never did a studio yoga class and I can’t do half the poses).  Of course, in the end, it worked out amazingly well and I had a blast and did just fine.   I loved being on camera (sort of, off to the side and in the dark, but still! Lol)

I did trip on the treadmill towards the end! Whoops! No one saw, right?

It reminded me that I like the spotlight and the competition.  My personality feeds off these things, but I forget that it does.  I should really consider how to tap into more of this part of myself – because I am good at putting myself out there.  My confidence takes a huge leap and I become like a different person.  I recall times in my life where the spotlight was on me that it brings out my type A competitive nature and I want to crush whatever it is I am doing.  I can’t create this feeling, or even call it up – but when it happens I love it.  I know athletes are able to tap into this ability to focus themselves and hype themselves up for competition, but when I try to do that, it doesn’t work the same as when it happens organically. I hadn’t actually thought of this before and maybe I should do a little research on why this happens with me.

This night, it was all organic.  Sort of.  I had set myself up for the potential something could happen, by being in costume, being present and interactive, and I was going to be equally as ok if nothing happened.  But, it did – I was noticed, ended up on camera, and made new friends.  I loved every minute.  No one was there who knew me or could judge, and the side of my personality that I normally don’t let loose too often – you can call it my cocky side -comes out.  My confidence and happiness overflow and I can affect those around me.  It’s such a natural high.

It was several hours of high intensity interaction and exercise. I loved every minute. If I could somehow tap into that energy more frequently, it would be amazing – I don’t know where it would take me because it feels boundless. However, times like this – where the energy is flowing so heavily from within – exhaust me for days. Add into it my chronic anemia, which happens to be keeping me down because it’s time for an iron infusion, and one event like this could knock me out for a week.

The bottom line was – after these classes I was going to be a mess. My hair was a birds nest of hairspray and curls, my makeup soaked through, and I would be a soppy sweaty mess. I would be able to take a shower post the last ride, but there was nothing I could do about makeup or the fact I had worn yoga pants going into the studio. Hardly the ideal condition to meet someone for the first time…..

Crap Travels Downward

The day passed as most do at my new role, uneventfully.

But not in my head. In my head my world seems to be be suffocating me. My body is anxious and disturbed.

On Mikes advice, I try to speak to the x. I knew this wasn’t the right advice for me but I want to try anything at this point to feel better.

What a waste of an hour. This man doesn’t even know his own child. I can’t deal with his stupidity. Even worse, he says he can’t take care of all 3 kids because he doesn’t have the room, he’s busy renovating his mothers basement and he has a life. This lit me right up. I’ve had those kids for 2+ years full time. I need a break and you better fucking figure it out for a few weeks. His answer: no, let them stay “home”. I was livid.

My answer to him was “not my problem you live in a 2 bedroom apartment for 5 years and don’t have space, that’s been your decision, for now you need to parent all 3 of your children together”.

I know I shouldn’t be. This is a man who only cares about himself, his mother and his own satisfaction. A mother who needs a break from a full time adult child has no choice but to care for her child or they are on the street because their father basically rejects his parental responsibility.

His answer: they are 20. Well, two of them will be twenty in a week, but our youngest is 16. Either way, we are responsible for them until they are out of college. He doesn’t see it that way. Nor does he care. He’s got a girlfriend and he’s got a sleepover on Thursday so my son has no where to sleep.

Their Dad is ok telling them to get lost that he has plans.

I am not ok with that. I am not that parent. He knows this so I am left with full time care of 3 kids while the father lives his life and I have a nervous breakdown.

I am so angry. I’m so angry that I made myself sick today. I had to call the therapist for an emergency appt on the phone – that’s how worried about myself I was. I could feel the gently wrapped threads unraveling at a very fast pace.

I took another hour to speak with her. She was genuinely concerned and worried, but had little to offer at the beginning than “you are in a very difficult, nearly impossible, situation”. Yes! I know that! But I’m calling you for answers and strategies!

Eventually we got there. I got a script together for my next steps. It’s not what I expected but it makes sense to me.

I really couldn’t function properly the rest of the day.

The sexting with Mike had me feeling regretful for some unknown reason and the behavior I had with my kids was just leaving me unsettled.

I did tell my group what’s going on with me. Closest friend took me out for drinks and listened. She’s single and in her 40s not much she can add in the way of parenting. But she was there for me when I needed her. Another friend thinks the boys deserve strong consequences (read punishment). When I asked her what she would do differently she couldn’t come up with anything different but insisted she would be tougher than me. This friend is the antithesis of me – never wants to be in another relationship as long as she lives, including parenting her children or being obligated as an adult child to her mother or sisters. She does it better than anyone I know but literally hates it. Again, she was there for me.

I hate that I feel like I need a male partner to support me. Is it because I didn’t get any male parenting while I was a child and haven’t ever seen my x parenting our children? I think there may be something in there. I need male validation and partnership because this has always been a void in my life.

That evening I made another mistake texting Mike while I was at the bar 2 solid glasses of wine in and starting the third on an empty stomach. It started funny and silly but then I made a comment that maybe he could be less distant and just more like the guy I met.

The response: you are really off base. I’ve been nothing but nice to you. We’ve been out twice. I’m sorry you had a bad day and a shitty x

Nothing like being put in your place.

I reread my text and I don’t know how he went from A to Z but he did. I apologized that he misinterpreted my request for him to just be flirty while I was having a bad night.

No mixed signals in his text, eh? When you remind someone you’ve only “been out twice” it’s pretty clear that’s all it was and all it will be. I knew that. Of course I did. I was the idiot who crossed a line because I should never have text him today AT ALL.

He would have come back when he was ready for more sex and not before. But my anxiety got the better of me. I was needy and went to the wrong person for comfort. I knew he wouldn’t or couldn’t give me what I needed but, yet, I still went.

After all – no one, not one person, could help me today. I wanted to go numb. I wanted to sit in a corner and rock and cry. That might have been better than trying to be strong. Maybe I should have taken the time to let it all out. I know that only I can help myself. If I had taken the time to walk through today’s scenarios calmly in my head I would never have made the call to the x or to Mike. I can only help myself. I know this and continue to fight it.

Now I am on a bus home, sitting next to a man who (if he bumps into me once more) I might punch. Dreading the fact that I need to have a conversation with two of my kids when I get home. It can’t wait.

The other kid is with his Dad but I don’t know what he will do Thursday and Friday if his dad kicks him out.

Is getting upset over the x and some dumb text to Mike the end of the world? No. However – I’m always concerned about losing control now. It was the same for a long while with the exercise, I was so afraid to miss even one day I exercised myself into oblivion. It was very, very hard to adjust to less exercise and not crucify myself when I missed a day for good reason. This little derailment is the same. I lost some control, I knew it what happening, I took mostly the right steps to correct it and I will get myself back on track (I think).

I’m obsessing at the moment and I think that’s pretty standard process for me. My mind has to flip everything over and beat it blue before I let go. I get into my head and spin myself into an endless loop that I have quite a bit of trouble breaking. I analyze over and over to see if different actions would have different results. It’s like replaying a horrible highlight reel.

I read an article that helped with post conflict redirection through mantra, and while this helps, I need to find one while I’m in the conflict (or on the brink of making poor decision or exhibit bad behavior)

I know I cannot Define myself by what happened. It’s a bump in the road and I will inch forward and recover. I’m writing as the outlet to help stop the rumination.

I need to reinforce to myself that I am valuable. I am worthy. I am god enough, strong enough, and smart enough. I need to establish a mantra I can repeat when feeling dating or kid anxiety. Mantras cut through the noise in my head and create peace and space. I’ve learned this from almost daily meditation but I need a short and sweet one I can put in my pocket and put on repeat.

I’m just struggling with this pit in my stomach I can’t seem to move past. Then I worry the pit is there for a reason I haven’t acknowledge and that scares me. My intuition is so sensitive and not often wrong. I’m not trying to ignore it I just don’t know what it’s telling me right now.

At the moment I am trying to repeat:

Whatever is meant to be, will be.

There is a time and place for everything.

This too shall pass.

I am still healing, learning and growing.

Everything happens for a reason, even if don’t understand that reason today.

The only thing under my control is me. Deep breaths. Chin up. One foot in front of the other.

Meet Charles

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

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

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

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

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

Who am I? šŸ˜‚. Can’t believe how crystal clear this has become.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmmm. Do I?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yup.

Right.

That’s the same.

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

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

Which is fine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lightbulb Moment – Charles

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

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

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

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

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

Sound like anyone you know?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I suppose I better do that in a separate post.

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

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

So Much on my Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning my friends!

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

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

Obviously the post reply won.

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

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

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

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

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

Yes. I have already forgiven all of them.

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

No. I don’t.

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

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

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

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

Does it come across as desperate many times? Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

One thought is figure out how to love yourself first.

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

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

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

That’s a win in my book.

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

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

6 Months of Hard Work

February saw me get started 2/11/19 was the day I chose to change my life. I started on my 100 day challenge

March brought me into an accountability group that I fell in love with. Their positivity and spirit drove me to work harder and try to do more.

April and May were my crushed months. I’ve never worked out so hard in my life! Almost every single day I put in a minimum 2 hours of effort comprised of mostly cardio but beginning to layer in the strength training.

June Saw me back to work and struggle with maintaining my new lifestyle. I was so tired that I wanted to quit more than not. But I didn’t quit and preserved to begin finding my new life balance.

July saw me do my first “runbet” and I won! Go figure! I ran the most miles in the month in the time frame allotted. 93 miles was tough but doable. The bet had me focused on kicking its ass once I realized I had the strength and endurance to potentially win! I also did a “core-crusher” challenge to do 30 days straight – finished that as well and now keep those exercises as a “never-miss” a core day exercises.

August saw me join another runbet, but this time, instead of racing to first, I decided to make this month about my endurance. My goal for end August is to complete a full 30 minute class running and knock out over 3 miles.

I’m very proud of the past 6 months. Resetting my priorities around my health and fitness has helped me immensely. Once I prioritized my fitness and made it a “must-do” like brushing my teeth my ability to focus and commit changed the way I manage myself. At the moment, it’s tough and I do t have much of a social life, but I’m also ok with that. My body is changing in all the right ways, I can see and feel muscle everywhere and am so surprised when people comment on my muscles! I can’t do anything about the mounds of excess skin, but I’m not focusing on that. I want to be sure I have physically done all I can to reshape my body and make it strong.

Werk, Werk, Werk

The first week back to work was good. I like the location of the office (office is super old but that doesn’t bother me much) and it’s a small group to interact with. I like the people. The designer wouldn’t look at me the first week (as they do) but was chatting me up by yesterday and engaged.

Last week was a 4 day week and this week is only a 2 day week so it’s perfect for easing back into the swing of things. I’m doing better than I thought. My mind turned on pretty quickly though I have forgotten a lot of names of things and notice my recall isn’t so good – but I have noticed this declining over the years and assume it’s partially due to age or simply just my mind. I’ve never been good with recalling names of anything.

I walked into the middle of a botched reorganization and there have been plenty of uncomfortable moments. Not necessarily for me, but the people who I’m working with. The one guy I’m shadowing is so lovely and kind and has been a pleasure to work with. I find myself wanting to help him succeed even though I was initially meant to replace his current role. It’s been a strange set of circumstances.

Having literally been through this the past 2 years, I can see the writing on the wall and several execs have already dropped hints to me. There may be a full time role but the reorganization needs to fall into place first. If I had been brought in full time I know exactly what I would get started doing – it’s as clear as day to me. But I’m not so I’m much quieter than normal (which I find is a skill I need to practice more often) and I also find I don’t mind not being a full time employee and not worrying about the politics of all of this. At this moment, I’m looking at this like a 3-6 month contract. If more comes of it, then great. For now, I like less pressure and visbility. It feels good to add some value. I don’t actually do much yet, so they will need to give me a specific directive soon, but I’m good waiting another week or so as I settle in.

It’s been a struggle to figure out the work-out schedule. I know it will come. I’m happy to say I have more energy for a few reasons:

-Wellbutrin was added to my anxiety meds and I can definitely feel the difference. Seems like the combo of meds is working better for me. The anxiety meds were tapping my energy and shutting me off, so combined with all my other physical issues I couldn’t get the energy I needed to get out of bed some days.

-Early iron transfusions – about a month sooner than the past years. I don’t feel it yet, but in a week or so I know that will help immensely.

-Exercise and Meditation – I’m working on adjusting down all the cardio I’ve been doing and incorporating balanced strength training. However, while the workouts leave me feeling gratified, it’s really the meditation in the evening that’s helping calm my mind and focus. I totally knocked meditation when it was suggested to me and couldn’t make it work for me. I think I’m in the right head space now to make it a powerful tool.

I believe all things are moving in the right direction and I like that I am an active participant in making my life better. I’m still not over Tony, but have even learned a little self talk to stop obsessing over him. Maybe I never get over him and it’s just something I need to accept.

When Iā€™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. ā¤ļø

Awakening

Career.

This has been the hardest piece of the puzzle to begin to piece back together.

Funny, because I thought it would be easier than mending my broken heart and mind because it’s where all my strength and confidence stem from. But that isn’t the case.

I didn’t even begin to pull myself together with any seriousness until January into February. I worked closely with the outplacement group and I committed to a once-a-week call with my coach. There was always homework, and while sometimes I didn’t do it until right before the next phone call, I always did it. I surprised myself by finding the coaching supremely helpful in getting my thoughts organized for the job search. There were definitely high points.

I started looking but never fully invested myself. If I was truly networking, it should have been a lot harder than it was. I was taking the easy way out.

There may be a reason for that.

In 2016 when I lost my previous role, I had a dream that everything was going to be ok. I would find a fabulous job and I would hire my own team. The role would just come to me. And…it sure did. Just like I dreamed. I thought I literally found my dream job.

Fast forward to 2018 and the dream job had turned into my worst nightmare. I truly cringe when I think about the year of 2018 in that role. I so desperately wanted to prove myself, prove to my boss he was stupid for letting me go, prove to myself I wasn’t the dumb kid and was worthy of my title. I didn’t realize how badly his snide comments had damaged my normally confident work-self. That hadn’t happened to me before. Work had been my safe zone where I knew I performed. I knew I was good and I knew I could learn and adapt to any challenge thrown my way.

By the time I left that role I was emotionally crippled with the trifecta that year: breakup, job loss, and kid issues. It couldn’t have gotten any worse? Or could it? I took myself to Mexico with a death wish…so, yes, I made it worse.

In any case, I digress, I was explaining why I don’t think I properly invest in my networking. My 2016 job came to me out of the blue, as the two roles I held before that. I never worked “that” hard at networking. Things seemingly fell into my lap.

But this time I didn’t have a dream that told me things would be ok. This time there was no vision or confidence that I would secure my next best role. This time I was scared.

So the only thing I chose to do was to work on myself. The job search became mostly neglected. I set myself up financially to make it though the summer and had started to accept I would be out of work that long. I didn’t drop the search entirely, if there was a low-hanging fruit I picked it. I didn’t chase anything.

And, it happened organically, again. The same way it did before. Someone who knew me and respected me told someone else I was looking for a role and would be perfect for their open role. I had a couple interviews. I secured a full time freelance role. It’s only a 6 month role for half my salary but anything is better than unemployment. The company is on my top 5 list to work for. The department lead knows me for many years and likes me. It was a great opportunity. There are also some full time career roles I’m in the midst of – very similar to my last. Part of that frightens me because it’s hard to imagine jumping back into a frying pan full of hot oil, but the other part knows I am made for those roles and they come few and far between. I’m trying to remain on the positive side and see how they pan out.

So, back to work Monday I go. Am I ready? Probably not. I’m still way too tired all the damn time. My brain isn’t firing at full speed just yet. But I’m going to need to make it work as I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

9 months was a long recovery period. I never thought I would have this time in my life but I am glad I had as much as I did. Time to refill the coffers and get back to reality. The challenge is keeping the peace and balance I have found inside myself when the world is spinning out of control around me.