During each painful setback comes a more beautiful opportunity for growth. The combination of self-care actions I’m taking are working, and I feel so… enlightened and at peace.
This past week I’ve been meditating each morning, and have worked up to eight minutes at a time (can’t quite make 10…it’s progress though, y’all!). I’ve been reading Sharon Salzberg’s book, Real Love which is incredibly helpful, and I highly recommend it.
This online dating thing has been a fascinating learning experience for me about myself. Maybe the best part about it is that I’m in no hurry, and I don’t feel desperate or eager to jump into a relationship with anyone–though I ain’t gone lie, ladies (and gentlemen, and everyone else). I do get excited when I meet someone who seems interesting. The most recent guy is 6’6. Good. Lord. That’s more than a FOOT taller than I am! I immediately connected with him after he mentioned that his dad died suddenly five years ago. My SOUL mate! Another orphan like me! He gets it! He’s part of the club! The club no one wants to be in but everyone joins at some point if you live long enough.
Just kidding, btw. I don’t really think he’s my soul mate just because he’s also a partial orphan, but it was nice to connect with someone on a deeper level and have a more human interaction, as much as can be done via email. The other guy I’ve been talking to texts me each day but never really says anything of substance, so I don’t know yet if he’s bad at texting or if he’s just super boring. I do know that I’m in love with his dog though. I would talk to this guy on the phone but I ain’t got time for that, folks. This girl right here is incredibly busy with school, work, AA, and my friends. More on all of that in a bit. And it’s not that I don’t want to talk to anyone, but I figure I already paid for this service and I assume it will take a long time to find someone–if I find anyone at all from there. The beauty of it is that I get to decide. And I get to learn from it.
So I want to tell you how I’ve been able to watch my mind throughout this process so far. So the orphan dude—we’ll call him Goliath—sent me an email and mentioned his dad in it, and instantly my mind was off Jay and onto this new guy. I thought of how nice it was that someone was connecting with me. Jay’s dad died years ago too but he didn’t talk to me much about it (or anything else), and that’s just not the kind of guy I want. So it’s already like, Good riddance. I really do not need or want that in my life. My goal is to be more emotionally open—I’ve already lived most of my life the other way and I don’t want to go back there.
What bothered me was how quickly I shifted from obsessing over Jay to obsessing over Goliath when I know damn well that love can only be found within me. Thursday I talked to my therapist about it, and she told me something that I finally believe, and feel so grateful to have heard from her, which is this. She said, “You’re very normal.” I was like, “Are you sure, or are you just saying that because that’s what they tell you in therapy school to tell your clients?” She said, “I promise you.” She said, “The only thing about you is that you worry too much about being crazy. You’re no more crazy than the next neurotic person.”
Hallelujah! I’m no more crazy than the next crazy person! See? We’re all nuts in our own way, but at the same time we’re not unique in our craziness. If that makes sense.
It’s dawning on me that she tells me this every time I talk to her, in different words. Usually it’s something like this, “You’re fine,” or “That’s a normal reaction,” or “Of course you felt that way, anyone would.” It’s always so reassuring.
The other day I had an epiphany. Really it was something I already knew but failed to give credit to, and it came to me when I was meditating. The meditation was to recall an experience in which I’d said or done something that left me feeling guilty or ashamed, and of course I thought of the words I’d said to Steven that caused him to drive me home in the middle of New Year’s night to get all my stuff out of his apartment and out of his life forever. For months I’ve been beating myself up for saying that to him. Why would I say such a foolish, unwise thing? Why imply or insinuate that there’s something sinister behind his love for his daughter, when I know that’s not true, and I know I don’t believe that about him. I had that unhelpful feeling of What’s wrong with me? So the meditation exercise is to recall a situation in which I felt regretful for, and to then to mentally say the words I’d say to a friend:
You did what you knew to do at the time. You were at a difficult time in your life. You were devastated by your mother’s loss and you felt isolated and afraid. You didn’t get that kind of love from your father so of course you felt jealous. You felt ignored during that time so of course you felt jealous.
And here’s the biggest one of all.
Of course you had that thought because you have that fear about everyone.
These are all things I knew about myself, but somehow they hit harder yesterday. Because here’s the thing: throughout my life I have often find myself wondering if there was some kind of seedy underworld that was really going on that I just don’t know about yet but which everyone’s participating in. Over the past several years I’ve gotten much better about it, and thought I was over it completely, but from what I hear in CODA, it never goes away completely. It makes so much sense. If you grow up in a chaotic household in which things happen that aren’t supposed to happen and your trust gets broken at an early age, you might grow up suspicious too. What I knew was that I loved my stepbrother deeply, but he was not a good guy. Or maybe he was, and he just didn’t take good actions. But no one had told me that. I found out by eavesdropping on my sister and my mom. So it was confusing.
In Real Love, Salzberg writes about “reframing the story.” She grew up in a broken home and felt victimized for years. But here’s the thing: we do not have to live in that story. If you believe that you create your own reality, which I do, you get to decide what your story is, or how you look at your story, rather. That doesn’t mean bad shit didn’t happen, but it doesn’t mean I had no love or happiness, because in fact, I had lots of love and happy times with my mom, my sisters, and even my stepbrothers who were both very sick. One of them committed suicide when he was 28, and the other—my favorite—is a fugitive today, if Google is correct. It doesn’t matter, because that’s in the past.
Today I have two wonderful sisters and a niece and nephew, and I have my dad, my stepdad. My brother-in-law. And let’s don’t forget all of their sweet pets.
The point is, we got through it. And we can choose what to focus on from our past. Some of my favorite memories are of the times I’ve had with my sisters. And they make me laugh so hard. And now my sister’s kids and my brother-in-law makes me laugh. When I went to see the eclipse with my dad and his wife, I was able to appreciate him for who he is. He too is a quirky, endearing guy who was so delighted to see this once in a lifetime event. He was out there with his maps, examining his solar glasses, surveying the area, making sure we were in just the right spot. It made me want to hug him. And other people just came up to him and talked to him, as they often do. People just like him. He doesn’t put forth any pretenses. He’s just himself, and I think that’s what everyone really wants from each other.
This morning I have a date with a guy I met from Match, and I hate to say it, but I don’t even want to go anymore. I’ve kind of already decided I should’ve marked him off when I found out he had a grown daughter who lives in the house with him. But at the same time I want to keep an open mind. My sister suggested maybe I find a guy who doesn’t have kids, which I took offense to at first, but I think she’s right. I want a partner, and not to feel like I’m second or third in someone’s life.
The good news is that it’s at a place I’ve been wanting to go, a nature center where there are butterflies and orchids. My therapist said one of her friends went on Match and found that if she just made plans to go for a walk with the guy, she wasn’t wasting her time if it didn’t work out because she was going for a walk anyway. She needed to get her exercise, and she wanted someone who’d go on walks with her. So if the guy wasn’t interested, then that was it. I’m thinking that’s a darn good idea.
I do have a loose “no-kids” rule but I think it’s unrealistic to expect it since most people eventually have kids. At the same time, less people (Americans anyway) have kids these days than, say when my parents were young.
The key to online dating is not to get hung up on any one guy. It’s been a few days since I wrote about the extra tall guy and he hasn’t responded to my latest email, in which I asked him how important it was that his partner attend sporting events with him. Because that’s just not my thing. I love the outdoors, but I am not one to freak out over football games, or games of any kind. Maybe he was hoping for someone to go to games with, and that’s not me. And you know what? That’s fine with me. I’d rather find someone who wants to go hiking and biking.
Already I feel the same about Jay. Mostly I was interested in the fact that he had a boat and motorcycle, and we could have fun together. But after a conversation with a friend about how old that would get after a while, and the drawbacks to it, I got real with myself and realized I don’t care that much about that stuff. Because nothing is as important as connecting with someone on a deeper level, to just have fun no matter what external things are around to entertain us. The last time I was on the boat with Jay I got motion sick because of all the sharp turns, and the boat smells like gasoline because it’s in need of repair. And the last time I went tubing they didn’t have the tubes with the bottoms in them, meaning you had to float with just your ass in the water. And I’m not a big fan of getting my private parts in river water, folks. Nor do I like getting my head underwater with water getting all in my eyes and ears and nose. I’ll do just about anything once, but let’s be real here.
(I’m dating myself with the above meme that I found from this site; my younger readers may not have any idea what that’s in reference to? Oh man, I’m getting old.)
And at the time I felt sad about my ex and jealous of Jay and Yvonne because they had what I’d wanted (or so I imagined), which was a deeper love and commitment to each other, and I left that for what? For Jay? I didn’t have to tell Steven I was dating other guys, and I didn’t have to date Jay.
(For anyone new to this blog, Steven asked me over for dinner several months after we broke up, and I said sure but I’m dating other guys, and he said pah, nevermind.)
Really I did it because I had a gut feeling that it wouldn’t work out with Steven regardless, and I took a gamble at something I knew wouldn’t work either, just to confirm what I already knew, which is this: there are so many other fish in the sea. Never was I under any illusion that Jay was The One. But of course I felt rejected when he decided to go back to his ex. But you know what? That’s okay. Good for them. Something else is in store for me. It would never have worked with Jay anyway. Just like it won’t work with me and someone who wants me to go to football games with them. Ain’t gonna happen.
Today I’m more excited about my plans after the date which is to visit a petting farm with one of my friends where they have goats, cows, sheep, and lots of other farm animals who I want to hug and hold, if they’ll let me. They let me hold a baby goat last year! It was such a joyful, precious moment. I’m not sure if any baby goats will be there since it’s fall because I still don’t know a lot about goats but I do know the babies are typically born in spring.
My dream still is to get my own tiny house on a piece of land just on the outskirts of town with my own goats and chickens. In my mind I picture it looking like this (and technically these are sheep but just pretend they’re goats):
Though in reality it might look closer to this:
Ah well. One day.
Until then I can be happy right where I am today.
Peace, namaste, and all that love stuff,