A Good Man Is Hard to Find

Five days ago I celebrated eight years of sobriety. If I’d known eight years ago that my life—more importantly my outlook—could change so dramatically I wouldn’t have believed you. That being said, I’ve been feeling down lately. A lot of different things have been going on, and even before all this happened I was feeling blah for no discernible reason. Last night after class I wanted to cry, and I wanted to cry again when my friend Kevin came over and joked about how long dinner was taking me to cook. Let me rephrase that: I didn’t want to cry so I held it in. Not healthy but I just didn’t feel like it, not in front of anyone.

Class yesterday left me with an old feeling of deep-rooted insignificance. Invisibility, without a voice, unimportant, unheard, silenced. It probably wasn’t my classmates’ intention—certainly it wasn’t Rochelle’s, because she’s the sweetest, most compassionate student in the class, and I don’t know the other guy in my group very well but he seems nice—yet I felt… swept aside. We had to do a case study together on a guy who sounded just like my dad, so I felt like I knew just what to do with this guy. My group had a different, more extreme approach, so my suggestion was outvoted. I just don’t think you can take a person who’s used to eating Philly cheesesteaks every day and tell him he can no longer eat any bread, sugar, fast food, or processed and refined or packaged foods on Day One. The person they described is a heavy drinker with type 2 diabetes. Yet when I suggested abstinence for the client’s third month, the guy in my group was like, Whoa there. Let the guy have his drink. He’s human. The health problems that this guy had, and the effect of alcohol on someone with diabetes—it’s just dangerous. And the way in which this client drinks coupled with the fact that he has a family history of alcoholism suggests he’s a problem drinker, possibly an alcoholic himself. As medical professionals we have a responsibility to tell someone their drinking is dangerous to their health, and that if they’re having trouble drinking they should consider treatment. It pisses me off when students gloss over someone’s drinking because of how acceptable—and not only acceptable but encouraged—drinking is in this country. To have one or two drinks is one thing, but when a person drinks so much their judgment is impaired and they’re causing damage to their health, taking dangerous actions, driving drunk, destroying relationships… Ugh! I just want to scream! I know. I have been that person.

But it’s such a touchy subject, especially as someone in AA. It’s not my job to preach to the world about how they should all be abstinent. For one, most people don’t need to quit entirely. For another, most people—especially those who have a problem—don’t want to quit. But would you tell someone who’s a hundred pounds overweight with high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high blood sugar that it’s okay for them to continue eating fast food? Would you tell someone who’s allergic to bees that it’s okay if they stand next to a beehive as long as they only do it once a day?

The thing is, if a person has a problem, they’ll quit when they’re ready. No one can make them quit. To harass that person about it won’t help, and in fact can cause more damage. But what you can do, as a medical practitioner is inform them that their drinking habits are unhealthy, dangerous even, and suggest that they cut back, and if they can’t cut back, then suggest that they consider treatment. Then it’s up to them to decide what to do with it. And if you’re a friend or a family member of someone who drinks too much, let them know you’re worried about them and suggest they try cutting back, and if they can’t but want to, then suggest treatment. If they don’t want to, that’s on them.

Enough on that soapbox! Thanks for letting me share. Lol.

The thing is, I felt ignored yesterday. I suggested what I wanted to do for a diet plan with this client, and my classmates were like, Well this is what we’re gonna do. It touched a nerve, because the one guy in my group was informed about what deficiencies the client had based on his symptoms, rattled off something about the different metabolic pathways, remembered a bunch of science-y stuff from biochemistry, and my fear is that I won’t retain this information nor will I remember it if I do.

love-yourself

The day before I’d gone on a date with a guy working on his PhD in molecular biology working on cancer research. I didn’t understood much of what he said when he discussed his work, and when I’d mentioned a few things about nutrition, he replied with his point of view as if they were facts, as if he’s the one not just studying nutrition, but having already studied it and become the expert. He mentioned he’d been commissioned as an officer, and I had no idea what that meant. Turns out he’s in the Commission Corps, which I didn’t know existed. All of it left me feeling small, stupid. Apart from his work he didn’t have much to contribute to the conversation, and afterwards he sent me a text telling me I’m beautiful and sexy, and has since sent me several texts referring in some way to sex. He’s 33 years old and told me he likes older women because they’re better in bed. I told him the same is true of older men.

I’ve decided not to reply any more to him or the guy I had a date with after class yesterday. That guy was nice but something about him came off as inauthentic. He was almost too nice. His mom died about 10 years ago of cancer, and the conversation about our mothers’ deaths didn’t go in a way that felt right to me. In other words, I am following my gut feeling and leaving these two guys alone.

self-worth

Ditto for the guy I had a phone conversation with last week. I also met him through Match, and he was funny, but I just had this gut feeling something wasn’t right. He seemed like someone I’d have drank with back in the day. And that’s a red flag.

A couple of weeks ago my closest guy friend “in AA,” Spencer, decided he couldn’t talk to me anymore because he wants more than a friendship. I use “in AA” in quotes because he doesn’t really practice the program or go to meetings that much, and although I’m bummed, it’s a relief too. For one, it’s difficult to try to be a flotation device for someone who’s drowning, particularly when you aren’t the best swimmer yourself. And another, maybe it’s just not right to be friends with someone who wants more. This was one reason I didn’t have close male friends before Spencer and my other friend Kevin. Kevin also wants more, but says he’s okay with just being friends. I don’t want to cut off the friendship because he’s a good friend but at the same time, am I doing him a disservice? If I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t even hang around a guy who I liked for more who didn’t reciprocate the feeling. This is why it’s best for us girls to just stick together.

Kevin hurt my feelings last night, joking about how long it was taking me to cook dinner, as we often do with each other. We always joke in that mean sort of way, like the characters on “It’s Always Sunny,” or my dad and his friends, insulting each other, and while this wouldn’t work with my female friends, or maybe it would now depending on what and how it was done, it’s hilarious to us. Until last night when I thought he was for real. I was already feeling sensitive, wanting to cry, but I didn’t want to cry in front of him because I just didn’t feel like going there. The problem with that is this is how you develop closer friendships. By opening up and letting yourself be vulnerable. I don’t know if that’s a good idea with Kevin given that he’s interested in dating me, so I’ll let myself off the hook.

Another mental note I made for myself was the two times I went out with the two aforementioned guys, I was in an awkward position of saying yes because it’s my default reaction to be a people-pleaser. The PhD guy asked at the end of the date if we could go out again and I just said yes. How does one say no in that situation? Then the second guy asked if I wanted to continue the coffee date by going somewhere else to eat, and I said yes even though I didn’t want to. I decided if these kind of situations come up again I’ll say, “I really had a good time but I’d like to talk to you on the phone a couple more times first,” or “I have other plans,” or “I’ll be in rehab for the next year,” etc. Anything. I could tell the guy I’m alcoholic and I’m twice divorced. That I have explosive diarrhea and need to go home immediately. Lessons to be learned, my friends. Note to self: be prepared to say no.

do-i-like-them

To top it all off, as soon as this semester ends I’ll be flying to Georgia to take my 95-year-old whippersnapper of a grandmother to Albuquerque to see my sister and her kids. Y’all, this trip is gonna be like an updated version of “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (by Flannery O’Connor) except hopefully no shooters (didn’t the Misfit have a gun?). Hence, I am stressing.

Also, my ex-husband texted to say he’s in DC this week for work and wanted to know if I wanted to hook up with him. Lord help us all. There’s a man out there who I will love and who also loves me for me and doesn’t think of me as a good piece of ass. I just haven’t met him yet.

make-ourselves-strong

St. Patrick’s Day has had me thinking about the last time I drank, in Savannah with my second husband and his parents, when I got so drunk I felt like I’d die the next day. I’m so glad those days are behind me.

Off to work now but first I want to say that I’m grateful for the life I have today. I’m glad to be sober, to be dating, to be attractive to guys, to be able to choose, to have an opportunity to take my grandma to New Mexico.

Peace and love,

TCH

Ex-Boyfriends, FWBs, Relationships, Etc.

Mark and I had decided to be “friends with benefits,” but we still have feelings for each other, so the fwb thing just ain’t happening. Yet he “can’t be in a relationship with anyone who’s divorced and been hurt by the divorce” (his words) because it triggers childhood trauma from his mother feeling lost (for years) after her divorce from his dad, and subsequently neglecting her kids as a result. She apparently paid more attention to her boyfriends in search of a new husband that never came along. How that situation is anything like mine, or how she and I are anything alike–other than in the way that we’re both human, and all humans experience pain, and most single people our age or older are divorced–I fail to see. I do want a husband, although some days I think I’d be just as happy (or possibly happier, lol) with a boyfriend who lives in a different house who I see maybe twice a week for the rest of my life (lol).

Luckily, Mark’s in therapy. He has OCD, as I’ve mentioned, and suffers from unwanted, intrusive thoughts, and when we’re apart he re-lives the pain he felt as a child when his mother neglected him. I can’t pretend to understand any of this—I’m just telling you what I know. Maybe he feels like I’m neglecting him? He wants to be with me all the time so maybe that’s it.

I’m not sure if any of it matters, because after I talk to him today it’s likely we won’t talk again because I don’t think he can deal with it. I’d be willing to try, because I already know that everyone has issues, and you just have to find someone who’s craziness complements your own, and who’s willing to work with you through theirs. But he probably won’t be willing or able to do that.

The way I see it, you (I) can spend your life trying to find someone who’s perfect, only to be constantly disappointed. Eventually you (hopefully) come to realize that when you find someone new they may be amazing in the beginning, but eventually you find their skeletons, they find yours, and what it boils down to is a decision to deal with each other’s skeletons, and how you communicate that with each other. You’re going to have childhood issues that come out sideways with each other, so you can choose to deal with it together or not.

It’s not that we should settle for any old person who comes along. What I’d like is someone who I enjoy spending time with, who I have chemistry with, who treats me well, and who I trust. It would be great if that was Mark, but I don’t think that’s happening.

In the meantime, my ex emailed me again. He had sent me an email before that he’d been on NPR (eyeroll) for an educational interview about the field of research he does. He’s an academic superstar complete with a PhD, big salary, and high status. Good for him that he has that going for him… but really? I’ll probably never have that in my lifetime, but you know what? I don’t care. I don’t think I’ll be on my deathbed one day regretting that I didn’t get a big job that put me on NPR. I sense he’s feeling me out, trying to see if we could be friends, maybe even get back together, but guess what?

Nope. Ah to the nah to the no no no.

That break-up killed a part of me that will never come back, and probably for good reason. I’m no one’s doormat. No way in hell am I going back to that. It’s too late now. We tried and it didn’t work. I won’t be treated that way again. Dating Mark is like having a girlfriend who’s on her period all the time, but at least he’s nice to me. And respectful. And he can either stay with me and work it out or not. Who knows? Maybe he’ll grow up and get his shit together, come back to me in a year after so much therapy and want me back. By that time I’ll probably have already found someone else who’s already got their shit together, or at least working on it, because no one really has it all together.

But if not, then I guess the time just hasn’t been right yet. I’m getting closer though. I can feel it.

Here’s a song I dedicate to my ex, Steven:

Friends with “Benefits”

“Lust rushes but love waits” – Bridget Devoue

One morning this week I woke up early, thinking about making an unwise decision, so I prayed to my higher power, which I call God, and asked for guidance. And then I went to my favorite source for inspirational quotes, Pinterest. And the above quote answered my question. It appeared on my home page, the very first quote. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is. Of course I want love.

Mark asked me to be his friend with benefits. I’d reached out to him earlier this week, letting him know that I consider him a friend, in response to his initial request to remain friends. Initially he’d suggested we be friends “to ease the pain of the break-up.” I thought (hoped) he wanted to remain friends so that he could go to therapy and heal his mommy issues, then hopefully come back to me. I thought he didn’t want to tell me that in case he wasn’t able to heal, or wasn’t able to be in a relationship with me. What I’d forgotten was that when a guy wants something, he says so, directly. I also forgot that I could’ve asked him specifically if that was his aim. Instead I said that I didn’t see how being friends would ease any pain, but that I’d consider it, and then I decided to be his friend. It took him less than 24 hours after that to come back and suggest that we be friends with benefits. At first I was hurt. Then I was angry. At the same time I felt satisfied that he’s missing me, even if it’s only in that way.

Th next morning I woke up and thought, Eff it, I’ll do it. I don’t have time for a boyfriend while I’m in school so it’s not like I’d be closing myself off to anyone since I’d be already doing that (or so I told myself). But it would be on my terms. And I came up with a long list of what my terms would be. For one, I’m not spending four nights a week with an FWB. He gets one to two, and I’m not spending the night. Secondly, I’m not going over there on nights I spend with my friends, unless he wants to see me afterwards, around midnight. I’m not taking any baths with him like we did when we were dating. He pays for my meals and movie. He comes to my house on occasion, when I don’t have time to drive to his house. I’m not meeting his friends or family. While most of these terms may sound like a dream come true for a commitment-phobe such as himself, these are all things he wanted in the beginning, before we started dating, when he’d asked to be FWBs at that time. What he wanted, and presumably still wants, is a girlfriend who he doesn’t have to commit to, but who will commit to him.

Been there, done that. He can talk to the hand, my friends.

But it is enticing. I am human. If he did all of this on my terms, and I stayed open to meeting other guys, even go on dates with other guys at some point, I’d be getting the best of both worlds. I can’t promise y’all I won’t still do it. But I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to be open to meeting other guys. And I’d be spending time I really don’t have on a guy who won’t commit to me, when I could be meeting someone who will give me the love and attention that I deserve.

I got clarification on why he left, and what his plans are. He feels that he can’t date anyone who reminds him of his mom. The way he described her to me, I can’t relate to her at all and feel that I’m nothing like her, so I asked for specifics. He said that when he was a kid she’d gone through a lot of pain after her divorce and that she’d felt unwanted, was lost and had a lot of casual sex. He’d already told me previously that his parents divorced when he was three, so she must’ve been in a bad place for many years, and at one point he walked in on her having sex with her date in the kitchen at a friend’s house where they were all hanging out.

After my divorce, I dated a couple of guys and then I met the guy I fell hard for, we broke up, and then I started online dating, where I met Mark.

I did have a friend with benefits right after my separation, and this is not uncommon for someone in the process of a divorce. Nor is it uncommon for anyone in America over the age of 20 to have had casual sex at some point. And everyone has felt lost. Everyone has felt rejected. And in my case, I was the one who’d done the rejecting, though prior to that I felt unwanted, which was incorrect. The marriage simply got boring, and I had changed: I got sober, he smoked pot, I found God, he had no interest in spirituality. We lived two different lives.

None of that matters but I pointed it out to him anyway. It’s not going to change his mind, and at this point I’m not sure that him changing his mind would do any good. Also, regardless of whether or not I’m like his mom, I remind him of his mom, and that’s not going to change.

I asked him what’s the solution for his problem, and he said that he can’t date anyone who reminds him of his mom in any way, and he’s going to therapy. Yet somehow he can have me as his friend with benefits? He must be kidding me. I told him that no, I’m not going to do that, I don’t see how it would be easier, and that I feel he must not have loved me if he can just have me as an FWB now. He insists he loved me, that this is the second most painful time of his life next to his dad’s death. We only dated for three months, so I think he just means the trauma he’s re-living regarding his mom. What I think is the real issue is that he’s a commitment-phobe with mommy issues and his OCD makes it all worse. Because basically what he’s telling me is that he can’t be in a relationship, period, because all women he falls for are going to be human and therefore remind him of his mom, but he can be in an FWB situation because he won’t have to commit or do any work for the relationship and can keep his independence. Eff that.

This situation is so similar to Steven except Mark was nice to me and encouraged me to speak my mind. So in that way it was a better situation, and I didn’t allow myself to be his doormat. So I am moving up, my friends. And I think each of them “loved” (liked?) me as much as they were capable. But here’s the thing: they’re not capable of love. You can’t get love if you don’t give love.

I can’t help but worry about the diminishing pool of available good guys in their 40s that are out there. Everyone says this is true, and I don’t want to believe it. How nice it must be to have your head on straight in your 20s and make wise decisions that set you up for security and stability later in life, rather than to find yourself at the age of 41 with two divorces and no career or retirement money and no kids. But I must remind myself that those experiences made me who I am today, and I am doing something for myself today. And if I’d had a kid back then I wouldn’t have been the best parent I could be. It’s a huge responsibility, and I’ve spent my life trying to figure out who I am. Plus, I can’t say I felt that maternal urge except for here and there, fleetingly.

So I’m back to my positive affirmations, and trying to stay open to what the universe has to offer. My goal is to focus on my own personal growth, get through school, learn more, be a better person, and stay open to meeting someone who’s the same way, and who will treat me the way I deserve to be treated, as I will do the same for him.

I’ll also pray to forgive and let go of my resentment towards Steven. Because at the same time that I found the quote I mentioned earlier, I also came across another quote, listed at the bottom of this post.

Steven is sick, and the thing is, he doesn’t get to enjoy the good life I have. While he did hurt me and cause a lot of damage, I’m not broken, and I don’t have to experience the lows of bipolar disorder nor have I had to feel unloved by my parents. The same goes for Mark. If he’s really in as much pain as he says, he’s got some serious issues that, quite frankly, I don’t have to deal with. So really, I am actually quite lucky. I guess I’d have to say that I do hope they heal, not just for them, but for the rest of society. Mental illness and child abuse cause people to grow up and become hurtful to others, in ways that are much worse than what they’ve done and what I’ve experienced. It’s in the news all the time.

“Be an example. Show kindness to unkind people. Forgive people who don’t deserve it. Love unconditionally. Your actions always reflect who you are” – ebuddhism.com

I couldn’t decide on which song was more appropriate, so I’m posting them both.

Peace and love,

TCH

Home

Home sweet home.

Being in Georgia this week was like being in another universe. I visited my dad and grandma, and it was Grandma’s birthday, so we went to dinner one night with my aunts and uncles too. Luckily my oldest and best friend visited her family at the same time, and having her there made it so much more bearable. Overall the trip was successful, but my dad and I had an uncomfortable conversation that’s all I can really think about.

First I’ll tell you the good stuff: he actually asked for and listened to my nutrition advice, he was generally pleasant, he didn’t drink, and he was fairly easygoing (for him anyway). The first night I was there we went out to dinner with the rest of the family, and they all wanted me to be like some kind of drill sergeant barking at him what to eat and what not to eat. My uncle sat between us so he could boast about how healthy he is due to his own healthy lifestyle habits compared to how unhealthy my dad is due to his terrible eating and lack of exercise. Looking back on it I wish I’d taken up for my dad but I did what I do which is I complimented my uncle on his efforts and didn’t really say anything about my dad. I certainly didn’t insult him but I didn’t take up for him either, and I wish I had.

Afterwards I asked my dad why he wasn’t going bowling with the rest of them later (as was their plan) and he said he didn’t want to hear his brother brag about how healthy he is compared to my dad, who has type II diabetes and coronary heart disease. It’s not easy changing lifelong eating habits, and no one wants to hear how great everyone else is doing due to their lifestyle factors when they’re in ill health for the same reason. A nutritionist won’t get far shaming someone for their eating habits, and that’s just not my style anyway.

More good stuff happened: I cooked for my dad, his wife, my grandma, and best friend, and they all really liked my food. It was fairly healthy compared to what they’re used to–I didn’t want to make it too strange for my family, who prefer fried food and overcooked vegetables, so I breaded the baked flounder and put some Old Bay in there.

Then my dad actually asked questions about nutrition, and they all wanted to know what chia seeds and quinoa are. It was all so foreign to them but they were open to it, which was amazing. It was so nice that he respected what I had to say.

He still seems disappointed in my life choices. He brought up what he brings up every time I talk to him or see him, which is this: Why didn’t you and your sisters major in math or the sciences in college? Why don’t you get a job with the government up there in DC? And then he talks about all the benefits that he’d gotten as a chemist working at the air force base. And I told him what I always told him: I tried getting a government job when I moved here and no one hired me, it’s very hard to get a government job, I didn’t know back then to major in the sciences, I thought a liberal arts degree was enough, I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. He will then bring up that he told us back then to major in math or the sciences. I do remember him suggesting that I become either an architect or an engineer when I was in seventh grade and had gotten an award for getting the highest grade in my class for both math and art. The math one was a fluke because I’m not that great at math. But I didn’t know what an architect or an engineer was or what they did, or why I should become one. I didn’t understand why that would be important, and what the alternative was. I don’t want to play victim, but it’s not like he got really involved in my life or even took me to tour colleges like other kids’ parents did.

So then I asked him point blank: Are you disappointed in us?

He said that no, he was just baffled.

So I said, Well it sure sounds like you are.

I guessed he was worried about our financial futures, and I told him we’re doing just fine, and we’ll be just fine. I pointed out that I’ve been taking care of myself since I was 18, and it seemed like a surprise to him despite the fact that I’ve told him this before. I don’t know who he thought was taking care of me. Bills and rent/mortgage was split down the middle when I was married, and I didn’t get any kind of money for my divorces.

Daddy wanted to know how much my school tuition is, and I said, A lot. I didn’t want to get scorned for borrowing more money when I already owe on my previous student loans. I figured I’ll be paying on it forever, and I’ll be working forever too, so why not do something I’m happy with? And I hope to God I’m happy with my career when this is all over.

Maybe he feels guilty or else he knows he doesn’t have any money to leave us so he’s worried about how we’ll get along. He’s not worried about my sister who’s married, but he’s worried about my other sister and me. I asked him: Do you think I’m not doing anything now? He admitted that indeed I am going to school but I learned that he thinks I won’t make much money doing that. If I ever “make anything” of myself in his eyes, he probably won’t be alive to see it because his health is deteriorating and he isn’t doing much to try to reverse or slow the progress.

It all makes me kind of sad now, reflecting back on it. It was supposed to be sort of an amends trip, though I didn’t really have a plan on that, and should’ve talked to my sponsor about it beforehand. I guess I made my living amends by going there and spending time with him, and I felt it was important to speak my mind. There’s more but I don’t feel like writing about it right now.

In spite of that, it was a good trip. It wasn’t much different than any other time I’ve been there, except everyone’s gotten older, slower, and more achy. No one can hear anything; everyone needs hearing aids. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was there. I know I was there in 2010, and I’m pretty sure I went once or twice after that, but I can’t remember it.

Being in Georgia made me grateful that I don’t live there anymore—no offense to any Georgia readers. Atlanta was fine, north Georgia is pretty, I love Savannah, but still I can’t see living in Georgia again. I did enjoy some delicious biscuits and collard greens though!

I’m so happy to be back in Maryland, back to my chosen family. One of my good friends picked me up at the airport, and tonight we’re going to the movies, tomorrow I’ll go to a meeting and the diner with my other close friends.

It’s so good to be home.

Peace and love,

TCH

When You Have No Other Choice But to Look at Yourself

Since Mark left me I haven’t cried, except once I welled up when “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor came on at work. I feel numb. My default reaction is that nothing good ever happens to me, my higher power’s plan for me is never what I want, and I’ll be alone forever.

But the new me points out the positives: he reminded me that good guys exist, he encouraged me to use my voice, he didn’t abandon me for using my voice, and I now have time to focus on myself, my school, career, friends.

He also convinced me that I look good without much make-up and my hair more natural. Let me revise that: I wouldn’t say he convinced me that I look good so much as made me aware of how much better women look who do not put too much make-up on. While I personally think I look better with black eyeliner (and I got a lot of compliments!), a Cleopatra hairstyle (got lots of compliments on that too), and unnaturally vibrant auburn hair (and I got compliments on that too!), he made me realize that wearing neutral tones of make-up and wavy brown hair looks… well, in my opinion, fine, and in his opinion, better. I must say no one has complimented this new look now that I think of it so maybe he wanted me to look worse so no one else would like me. LOL. Just kidding. I think he really liked that better, but whatever the case, this is who I am and I don’t want to become the old lady who dresses 20 years younger with a bunch of fake stuff.

Over the past few days what’s really come to mind is that although I still have two years left, I need to figure out how to become a nutritionist. This will be my livelihood. This will be what I do 40 hours a week, presumably. It’s how I’ll spend my days. If I cannot find confidence in myself doing this, my life will not feel worth living. I have no option but to do something for myself.

When I woke up this morning I remembered a girl I worked with at the store, who has since graduated from the school I’m attending, and who works at an apothecary similar to where I work, except she works with a team of nutritionists and practitioners and they advise clients on how to heal or recover or become healthier through nutrition and supplements. She’d suggested that I go to work there last year while I’m still in school, that it would make my life easier down the road as a nutritionist, but I liked my current job too much and didn’t want to jeopardize that. This job I have now is the only job I’ve really loved, with good people who treat their employees well, where people care about each other. It’s the only job I’ve worked in my adult life that was not a shark tank, and I’m terrified to go back to that environment. I wish I could work at the grocery store forever, but even if I made enough money there, I don’t see how they’ll survive, especially with Amazon. And now that Amazon has bought out Whole Foods, there’s no way a locally-owned grocery store can make it in the long run. Their days are numbered, in my opinion.

Even the apothecary probably can’t survive, but it will be a good way for me to get experience advising clients. As it is now, I don’t get to do that much. Customers ask for advice, but because I’m not a licensed practitioner I’m not allowed to give advice, nor can I say anything will treat, mitigate, prevent, or cure any kind of condition or disease. I know more than the average person, but I find it hard to remember what I think I should remember. My boss remembers a lot from when she was in school. She has since dropped out, yet she remembers details I didn’t even get the first time around from school. She knows how the body works and can describe in detail how the different processes and pathways work and the mechanism of action for various supplements. I don’t even try to remember that kind of information. All I can tell you is that, for example, milk thistle is traditionally used to support healthy detoxification. Don’t ask me how or why.

While I know I shouldn’t compare myself to others, and my boss is smarter than the average person, I still feel inadequate. But at the same time it helps to know she’s smarter than not just me but most everyone else, and I suspect that when she describes some of this stuff to customers it goes over their heads, so they buy the supplement because they think she sounds like she knows what she’s talking about, even if they don’t. At least I can explain things in layman’s terms, provided I understand it in the first place.

I feel my memory getting worse, and it’s never been great. So that worries me.

Back to Mark: I can’t help but feel that if he were to change his mind and decide to stay with me, to go to therapy and do what he needs to do to manage his OCD, I’d go back to him. I would at least give it a try. It’s worth it, provided we both put in the work needed for the relationship. Maybe it’s more work than would be good for me. Whatever the case, it’s not up to me. It’s over so now I have no choice but to move on, and hopefully look back and see that it all worked out for the better.

Relationships are my addiction. When I’m in a relationship, that’s at the forefront of my mind, rather than the career change I’m in the process of making.

I don’t know if I can emphasize enough how much anxiety I feel about this career stuff. I’ve never had a job I liked outside of restaurant jobs from college, and the grocery store where I work now. Being in the workforce in marketing and even at the law firm before that was terrifying for me. I always felt out of place, never comfortable, never at home.

Sigh.

I have to change. There’s no other choice.

That’s all I got for today.

Here’s a song I’ve been listening to on repeat lately.

Here We Go Again

Mark broke up with me.

Over the few days prior to Christmas we’d grown closer, the intimacy had gotten stronger, we’d talked more, the sex got better. He’d already told me prior to this that he’d marry me tomorrow if he didn’t have these obsessive worries he has, and at that time I thought he’d overcome these worries, eventually. He’d told me he wanted to stay with me for a long, long time, and he wanted me to stay with him at his house as many nights as possible, which ended up being almost every night the past two weeks.

Then last Wednesday he told me he just started crying uncontrollably on his way to his mom’s house, because his mind was going in a loop over past events—his and mine—and he’d thought that crying would be a catharsis, but instead he just felt worse over the coming days. By this Tuesday he went to see his therapist who he hadn’t seen in two and a half years when he was dating his ex-girlfriend. There relationship was on the rocks, and he started seeing this therapist, he and his girlfriend broke up, he started taking Paxil, after a while he felt better and stopped therapy, and then stopped Paxil. He thought he was healed but he didn’t get into a relationship again until he met me.

He knew he had OCD, but he thought it was related only to germs, or so he told me. Turns out he has something called “retroactive jealousy OCD,” as he discovered online. He admitted to me that he’d had this problem in prior relationships, and he was nice to me about it all, repeating that I’d done nothing wrong. I was like, I know I’ve done nothing wrong. I was really hurt. I still am upset by the unfairness of it all, though it’s not his fault.

Retroactive jealousy is a condition in which a person becomes obsessed with their partner’s previous sexual history, so much that they cannot get the image of their partner with their ex out of their heads. I read several articles and blog posts about it, but found this one to be helpful.

This article from OCD UK has a more scientific basis, describes the type of OCD as having intrusive thoughts specifically related to relationships. “Retroactive jealousy OCD,” or “relationship OCD,” as it’s also referred to (though may not be exactly the same thing, I’m not sure), are not medically recognized conditions, but there are plenty of websites from sufferers describing this horrible form of obsession.

But this article I found most helpful because it reminds me that I would not want to be in a relationship with someone who repeatedly asked questions about my past, snooped on my computer or phone, or treated me with mistrust or judgment. Because y’all know my codependent self wants to fix him, wait for him to get better and come back to me. Let’s be real here.

Everything had been going well for the most part, though there were some red flags I chose to ignore. He had asked too many questions about my past which I downplayed because no one wants to admit they got blackout drunk and had one-night-stands with people they’d just met in a bar; however, I did tell him I had done that, which was my first mistake. It was all a hundred years ago when I was drinking and I would never have done it otherwise, but I did it, and it can’t be undone. If I had to do it over again I’d have had sex with only the three guys I fell in love with, but I was deeply depressed back then and would do anything to escape. But what’s done is done and I don’t think about it too much these days. For him, however, he can’t stop thinking about the past. To someone with this condition, they believe that if someone does something once, they could do it again, and I don’t think he understood that I only did that because I was drunk, because he said he didn’t worry that I’d drink again. His reaction to my past, and his incessant questions became unnerving and I finally told him I wasn’t going to answer any more questions, that it was none of his business. It got out of hand when he asked me (in the beginning) if I’d ever had sex with two guys in one day. I realized then that his imagination was wilder than my past. In reality I’m a bit old-fashioned, and I carry shame about some of the things I’ve done, and for the record, I would not and have not had sex with two guys in the same day. I’d like to pretend (and sometimes do) that I don’t care about what I’ve done, because it makes me feel powerful, like I’m the woman who can do what she wants, that whatever a man can do, I can do it too. I also just don’t like to hide things; I prefer to admit the truth when it comes up (if they ask, I don’t usually offer up information), and I hope that the other person can be mature enough to understand that we’ve all done things we’re not proud of. For Mark, shades of gray like that don’t really exist. I think he knows intellectually that I’m not the same person, but he can’t stop worrying about it, and he doesn’t understand that I would not take the same actions today, and that if I hadn’t had the life experiences I’ve had, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and that person is vastly different from who I was back then.

Mark also had some traumatic events happen to him as a kid. He wasn’t molested but he’d witnessed some disturbing stuff related to his mother that has stuck with him.

Looking back on it, the bad breath incident was another red flag, and then more recently he told me he couldn’t come to my house because he was afraid it would trigger his OCD to see my room and imagine me in it with another guy. Once he snooped on my computer and on my phone using an elaborate lie that he wanted to look at my childhood pictures. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure he was snooping.

He wants to remain friends with me, and has apologized repeatedly, told me I’m a good person and a nice person, reassured me that he doesn’t think I’m slutty. He’d already told me that he felt tremendous empathy for me for my past (I’d also told him about my stepbrother and about my depression that started in childhood) and he felt that the other guys did not deserve me. I’d explained that I rarely even think about that anymore, and that the painful events of my past just make me more grateful for the life I have today, that I am not a victim, that I’m strong, and that I had many happy childhood memories and a lot of love from my biological family for which I’m grateful. But nothing I said seemed to help him.

I told him I can’t see how a friendship would help, that it would be difficult and painful, but he seems to think it would ease the pain for both of us. I’d read somewhere that retroactive jealousy is also referred to as the “madonna whore complex,” in which the guy can only sleep with women he’s not emotionally attached to, because those he’s emotionally attached to are more like his mother to him. So I wonder if he lost sexual interest in me after becoming closer to me as had happened in those days before Christmas. I do know that he couldn’t get the jealous obsession, intrusive thoughts and images out of his head and he started to feel like he couldn’t function, so he felt he had no choice but to break up with me, since I was the trigger.

I’d just posted pictures of us on Facebook, showing all of my 700+ “friends,” mostly people from AA, some from childhood, some from previous jobs, classmates, etc. How many pictures of boyfriends and husbands am I going to have to put up and then take down? So I deactivated my Facebook account, I cancelled my membership with Match and Eharmony (they renew your membership automatically, and I’d kept it going in case it didn’t work out with Mark), and I started back on Prozac because I don’t care about the sexual side effects and in fact welcome them because I want to stay single for a long, long time. As a codependent I’ve never been single for long, having always slipped into a relationship whether I planned to or not, so this time I really hope I can focus on myself, my school, career change, spirituality, friends. I won’t say that I will, because I honestly don’t know, given my track record.

But I really, really hope I can do it this time.

Who knows? This could be the biggest blessing I could’ve received at this time. This may be the start of some real growth for me. I hope for Mark’s sake that he finds true growth too.

Peace, love, and happy new year,

TCH

 

One Day at a Time

Lately I feel like my old self, and I don’t like it. Not my old old self, the one who felt borderline suicidal and drank to drown my feelings, just my regular old self, the one who felt pretty okay most days but not deliriously happy every day like I did when I was taking Prozac. I get that feeling deliriously happy is not natural, but I liked it, gosh darnit.

I’ve been busy even after school let out a couple weeks ago, mostly with my new boyfriend, Mark, who I’ve told y’all about. Our relationship has become more comfortable and familiar, and he’s brought out parts of me that needed to come out, such as the importance of using my voice. He encourages me to speak my mind, and has no problem if I’m unhappy with something, even if that includes something about him or our relationship. It’s so refreshing.

And he’s the only guy I’ve ever met who I feel would be a great dad. The only one. Honestly.

The idea of having kids terrifies me. I’m almost 42 years old. I’ve been tired my whole life—at least until I discovered Rebbl coffee reishi drinks which are AMAZING btw and have NO sugar (you have to get the reishi one). And the thought of having even one kid exhausts me. But do I really want to miss out on that huge part of life? And honestly y’all, the thought of any change in my life terrifies me—especially this upcoming career change.

Right now I won’t go into the details about it all because I’d just be feeding the wolf that wants to spiral out of control down a path of an unknown future that probably won’t even happen. It’s just hard not to project into the future and want to know how this is all going to play out. But I will say this: for me it’s hard to imagine having both a kid and a husband. When I was a kid I imagined a future as a single woman living as a writer in NYC. Now that I’m older and prefer the—well, the suburbs really—I’ve imagined my future with a partner, hopefully a husband but a live-in boyfriend would probably be okay as long as I had faith that he’d stay with me. My fear of abandonment gets triggered easily, and my heart hurts to imagine the reality that there are no guarantees, even if you’re married… Anyway, I’ve also imagined a future in which I have one kid and live as a single parent. And I’ve imagined a future in which I focus on my career—but let’s be real, I’m not that ambitious, so really what I mean is, I imagine a future in which I’m single and focus my free time on me time doing whatever the hell I want with my life (which in reality would be me looking for a boyfriend).

Because the thing is, I don’t know how anyone does it. I honestly do not know how anyone does anything. Personally, I’m juggling a full time job, part time graduate school, a relationship, a social life (which has dwindled down to one or two nights a week), not going to the gym ever lately, and AA (which these days is about one or two meetings a week), and one night a week of going to meditation. How the hell do other people go to AA meetings every night? How do people have children? Actual careers? And what about those people who do all of those things: a job, a spouse, children, and for some, AA. And how do those people keep their house clean?

So I’m doing what I have learned to do, from AA actually, which is to put my faith in a higher power and take it one day at a time. What is it I want to do today? Today I want to see my boyfriend and take care of him because he has a cold. I don’t know if that means I’ll be doing the same thing 10 or 20 years from now, or if I’ll be doing the same for my own child 5 years from now, or if I’ll just get a cat.

I’m off to work. My room is a mess. Maybe it will get cleaned tomorrow, maybe not.

Peace, Love, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Etc.

TCH