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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

My Most Embarrassing Post to Date

This morning it was a toss-up between “relaxing” (if you could call this relaxing) and writing for therapeutic purposes or cleaning my messy room with its piles of (clean) laundry, my half un-packed bag from staying at Mark’s, and way too many bottles of supplements, each one designed to “fix” me in one way or another. And don’t forget the books: textbooks, books that people have given me, self-help books, books on spirituality, and a stack of books that belonged to my mom, which I grabbed at the last minute just before I left her house the last time I visited my stepdad. It was one of those moments of I may never see this stuff again and I want to know everything she read. I just try not to think too much about how badly I want my own place where I have a laundry room to keep my laundry and a pantry for my supplements and some bookshelves for my books. Be grateful for what I have and not upset about what I don’t have. And my room is so cozy and warm, and it’s painted a beautiful grayish shade of lavender, known as Benjamin Moore piano concerto.

School will be out in a few weeks and I’ll have a long break to finally go through my boxes and get rid of what I don’t need or use, and I cannot wait. I am so looking forward to de-cluttering. Once I do, I hope to keep it that way. I’m going to have to tell people to stop buying me things on birthdays and Christmas. No more stuff!

I’m stressed out, in case you can’t tell.

School is out in a few weeks, and I’ve registered for next semester, and all of my classes are preparing for clinic. I do not feel ready for clinic. I can’t remember what I did yesterday. I’ve been just scraping by each semester. How am I going to work with clients? And if I can’t work with clients, I can’t take care of myself, and if I can’t take care of myself, I may as well work in a grocery store forever, living in the bedroom of someone’s townhouse with no personal space of my own, racking up more and more student loan and credit card debt.

As you can see, I’m spiraling out of control. Projecting into the future. Forgetting to live in the moment. What can I do today to work towards my goal? I have class later today, so I will study for my quiz, and I will talk to my professor after class about my schedule next semester. I hadn’t planned on taking the clinic classes yet, but all the other classes I wanted were full.

I have too many other distractions going on to focus on school. I often have to pass up social opportunities which make me feel like I’m missing out on life. For the past month I’ve been spending more time with Mark, who, by the way, is possibly an ex now.

And this is where I finally get to the embarrassing part, my most uncomfortable post yet.

Friday night after work I got to Mark’s house and I’m talking to him and he’s like what did you eat for lunch. I had binged on some flavored (Gluten free! Organic and non-GMO! Healthy!) pretzels I saw in the breakroom after several weeks of not eating any carbs except what’s in vegetables and Granny Smith apples, and I had not brushed my teeth before going over there, figuring I’d brush them when I got there. The pretzels had some sort of delicious seasoning on them, and were super unhealthy but I’ve been eating like a piece of spinach every day for a month now and I’m starving so I scarfed those things down like they were my last meal, and now my breath wasn’t smelling so great, which Mark informed me as gently as he could. And it turns out, in fact, this has been an ongoing problem for the entire month we’ve been together. Bad breath. Me. I have bad breath.

I had no idea.

No one has ever told me this before.

Then I remembered. There was that one time my ex told me, but at the time I had some weird dry sinus issue that resolved itself and he claimed it went away and I believed him. At the time I bought a tongue scraper and mouthwash and flossed more, but I didn’t keep doing the tongue scraping because he said it was gone and I felt like maybe that was overkill, and they’re always talking in school about how we as a culture overdo it with cleanliness so much so that we don’t have healthy microbiomes anymore and we’re resistant to antibiotics when really we need to just get dirty sometimes and let our immune systems build resistance to the antigens in our environments.

Well. Clearly that is the worst advice I’ve ever followed since apparently I’ve been walking around with rancid breath all this time and NO ONE has told me.

So I texted everyone close to me: Do I have bad breath?

What??!!

Luckily that is the response I got from most people, including sisters, best friend, co-workers, who all said no way.

But then one co-worker said she’d noticed it once when we first started working together two years ago. Then Kevin said he’d noticed it before and assumed it’s just because I eat healthy. After I replied to him with shock and horror, he tried to reassure me that my perfume overpowers it, and it’s not all the time. That does help a little, but seriously? Who wants bad breath? Some people told me that everyone has bad breath at some point. Which is true. No one wakes up with pleasant breath. You can’t drink coffee and have the breath of roses. And I have been drinking a lot of coffee lately, which doesn’t help (and is just making my anxiety worse). I do eat a lot of garlicky kale nearly every day, so that’s not going to happen anymore, I promise you that. I have taken fish oil supplements here and there but not every day, especially since one day they made my stomach hurt so bad I thought I’d have to get my gallbladder removed. So that’s definitely out now. Which means I have digestive problems, btw. Which I already knew. Which Mark suggested may be the reason for the bad breath (so the cat was out of the bag on that one too—Surprise! I have digestive problems! Isn’t that sexy?). I had some hyaluronic acid mints but they had sorbitol in them which cause bloating so those are out. I had been eating a lot of (sustainably caught) tuna, and that’s definitely out too. Sorry but I am just going to have to get my omega-3’s some other way. Flax seeds.

I brush my teeth at least three times a day and I floss each night but I use all natural products made with tea tree oil, mint, cinnamon, and clove. Mark doesn’t believe in these products and prefers what I think of as carcinogenic products like Listerine and Crest. But you better believe my ass went out and bought some Listerine, another tongue scraper (can’t find the old one), some cinnamon toothpicks, some chlorophyll (an internal cleanser, also acts as an internal deodorant), mint floss, and yes, folks, I will probably get some Crest. I’ve been using various toothpastes from Nature’s Gate to Dr. Bronner’s and honestly my teeth don’t feel as clean afterwards. Oh, and I am overdue for a teeth cleaning, so that appointment will be made Monday.

Before we met in person we asked each other what the other’s deal breakers were, and one of Mark’s was bad breath. I remembered that, and I remember thinking what an odd thing to say, of course that’s gross, and not something I have to worry about, and not something I’d think of because I’m thinking more along the lines of bipolar disorder (based on previous experience in case you’re new to this blog) or grudge holders. Never did I think I had better step up my dental hygiene because I thought mine was already better than most, along with all my other personal hygiene habits. I have more kinds of specialized soaps and lotions for all the various body parts than anyone else I know.

That happened Friday night before bed. Saturday I was supposed to meet his family. I’ve been dating this guy for a month. It seemed too soon to meet his family but I’d decided I would do it because I thought it was cool he wanted me to meet them, and what could it hurt. Meeting them would not change whether or not we stay together so why not.

But after the Bad Breath Incident I thought, How the hell am I going to meet his family? What if they think I have bad breath too? Does his mom also have OCD with germs? Because he has that (diagnosed), and that may be why he finds my breath bad, because I went to work the next day and had my co-workers smell my breath to which they said it smelled like nothing.

I did not feel confident. Or attractive. I felt like who will ever want someone with bad breath? I remembered he’d said it was a deal breaker, so the next morning I decided to gather all my things I’d left at his house and just go home. This is clearly over, and I don’t see how he’d want to be with me, he’d already said it was a deal breaker in the beginning, and what if he never thinks it’s good? What if I really have bad breath and cannot resolve it?

I spiraled out of control yesterday, thinking I may as well become a crazy cat lady now, especially what with the night sweats that I’ve also been experiencing for quite some time now, which has to be perimenopause because I don’t know why else that would happen. Except I’ll be a goat lady instead, which is perfect because that can just add to my pleasant smell.

When he woke up and saw that I’d packed all my stuff, I told him, Listen I should just go. And he was like, Okay. And that was it.

On my way home he called me: What’s going on?

I don’t see how this can work; you’d said that’s a deal breaker.

That was before I’d met you. Clearly there’s more going on.

I don’t feel attractive. I don’t know how I can meet your family. I had no idea I had this problem.

You’re trying to punish me.

I’m trying to protect myself.

Well I gave this a chance. You’ve made up your mind.

I don’t want to break up. I just think things are moving too fast.

Well you decided to leave. You made up your mind.

I’m telling you now that I haven’t.

That is the gist of it though more words were used, but then we got cut off, and I tried calling back but he didn’t answer. I left a message that I’d like to work through it but he didn’t answer. When I got home I saw that he’d unfriended me from Facebook. I talked to my sponsor who told me I overreacted and owed him an amends, that he’d made himself vulnerable and had been honest with me, and I had punished him for it, when in reality that’s what I want from a relationship: for someone to be honest and vulnerable with. I agreed and called him back and he still didn’t answer so I left a voice mail making my amends in which I admitted my wrongdoing, asked how I could make it right, voiced that I could see how he felt that it was punishment (though between you and me I did not intend that at all), that I want the kind of relationship in which we can be open and honest with each other, and I don’t want to be the kind of partner who just leaves like that, that I’d still like to meet his family.

A couple hours later he sent me a text saying, You meeting my family is not going to happen.

Did you listen to my voice mail?

Yes.

I was wrong and I’m sorry. What can I do to make it up to you?

No reply for hours, and then finally: I need to think about things.

I understand. Thank you.

Maybe I should go back to CODA?

This is supposedly the right thing to do, but it feels like groveling, and I have PTSD from my ex, and how he’d hold grudges for the entire relationship, storing them for a rainy day, to spring something on me out of nowhere about how I’d done something wrong that I had no idea about. It’s enough to make me want to run, to be single forever, to get my tiny house and go live on my friend’s property.

So that’s where that is, my friends.

I don’t know if it’s just because I’m an alcoholic, but relationships feel so impossible to me at times. One of the things they tell us in AA is that we have an inability to form a true partnership with another person until we can live our lives in a more spiritual manner. My sponsor told me what I did was out of self-centered fear, which is true. For some of us, when we’ve lived our life being/feeling abandoned by everyone at some time or another, sometimes we become a rolling stone. And that is exactly what I’ve become: a rolling stone. After my ex I almost don’t care anymore.

Almost.

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Love in a Time of Mass Shootings

Before I get into my exciting love affair with Mark, I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t pass along info I found about protecting yourself during a mass shooting. When I was little we had tornado drills, and when my parents were kids they had Civil Defense drills  because everyone thought there would be a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, which we were still afraid of when I was a little kid in the 80s. There’s so much violence and fear in our society today, I’m honestly afraid to go to any large public gathering, which is okay because I don’t like big crowds, but people can’t even send their kids to school, go to concerts, or go to church without fear of being mowed down by some psycho gunman. These are times we need a higher power, which I call God, the most.

It feels weird to follow that up with what’s going on in my little life but that’s what I’m going to do. I’m an everyday American having an everyday life, so far without any mass shootings in my personal experience, thank God. I’ll have to make this a short post because I need to get ready for work, so I’ll get right to the point: I’ve fallen for Mark, he’s my boyfriend now, and I see a future with him. It’s unwise to project too far into the future but I’d be lying if I didn’t say in my mind I’ve already married him and had his babies. That’s just what infatuation does to us; it’s human.

Here’s the thing about Mark: he’s incredibly sweet, he makes time for his friends and family, he loves his life, he likes his job, and he treats me well. Because I don’t just want someone who treats me well, which is a given, but I want someone who has their own life, and appreciates what they have. I just like him. He’s adorable, in whatever way a gigantic, six foot six man can be adorable. He’s honest about what he thinks and feels. When I think about him, I just want to hug him. And kiss him and make passionate love to him. In short, I’m done y’all.

So it’s time to find a new routine, and look for Zumba classes near his house (as if I didn’t already do that weeks ago) and AA meetings near him that I can go to in order to stay on top of my sobriety/spiritual life/social life. Because that’s what AA does for me: provides me with a spiritual way of life that keeps me on track, and I make friends there. One thing I’ve learned about myself is just how important having a social life is to me, so much that I may be one of those extroverted introverts, when I thought for years I was strictly an introvert. My friends mean the world to me, and I don’t feel that I get to see them enough. If I have a week in which I don’t get to talk to them, I feel lonely and sad. It makes me realize that when I was growing up, in my teenage years, I bet I’d have been a lot happier if I’d had more friends rather than isolating myself and getting caught up in drugs and alcohol. These are the kinds of things that make me worry for my niece and nephew for example. Mostly my nephew because my niece is a social butterfly. They’re 12 years old now (twins), and I feel nervous knowing they’ll be teenagers soon, dealing with all the effed up shit the world throws at you when you’re a teenager. Maybe I’m projecting my own effed up teenage years onto them, but at the same time, now they have the added pressure of social media and fear of mass shootings and a mentally ill narcissist for a president… Anyway, more on that later for another blog post.

At first I was stressed, worrying about how I’d balance everything and Mark too, but now I’m seeing it more easily. He helped me study for my quiz (which I made a 100 on—first and only time that’s happened so far), and he actually enjoys helping me study. He loves trivia and he likes reading my handouts that I have to make for class, handouts that we’d make for a potential client on what nutrients and lifestyle factors they should take into account based on their life stage. Mark loves being healthy, and although his idea of being healthy is different from mine, eg, he follows the conventional/popular way of eating, he’s interested and open to learning more. He seems to listen to what I have to say and he’s not a know-it-all about everything. Not that I push my dietary or lifestyle beliefs on him or anyone else—people will do what they want to do when they want to do it, but it’s nice when someone asks or is interested and willing to make changes for the better. It’s nice when someone respects what you have to say. I try not to make comparisons to my ex, but I think it’s probably only natural. What I realize more and more is what an asshole he was to me at times, and how I didn’t even fully realize it. Yes, he was also very sweet to me, and great when times were good, but when times were bad, they were the worst. Time will tell what will happen when I have conflict with Mark. That will be the real acid test.

Time to get ready for work and hopefully I’ll make it to meditation tonight given all the homework I have to do, and I work late tomorrow and Friday. I want to send some prayers up for my friend whose dad just had a massive heart attack and sounds like he may not survive, and for my friend’s aunt who got diagnosed with cancer recently. And for the loved ones of those who died in the most recent mass shooting that seems to be everyday news now. I’ll leave you with this beautiful talk from Tara Brach, the meditation teacher I like to see on Wednesdays here in the DC/Maryland area.

Update: Stents, Video Games, Alcoholism, Etc.

Tuesday I leave for Georgia because my dad will be having stents put in his heart, and they don’t know until they go in there if he’ll need bypass surgery. Stents are more routine now than in past decades, but he’s the most unhealthy person I know, so I’d be surprised if they did not need to do bypass surgery, or if things didn’t look so good when they go in. He quit drinking in January, which is a miracle to me, and tells me he must’ve been a heavy drinker all these years, and not an alcoholic, a distinction that used to baffle me, but starting not to so much anymore. He quit drinking because his doctor told him to. Easy as that. I can’t imagine it being that easy for me but then I’d never really tried to quit, except that one time I quit for 17 whole days, and it ended in disaster at the company holiday party where I lasted a whole hour before getting wasted and making an ass out of myself. Everyone was like, Wow you’re really different when you drink. And it was not a compliment.

Y’all know I hate going to Georgia, and I’m not that close to my dad, though I do love him, of course. He’s my father. I can’t not go; it’s out of the question.

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Daddy has diabetes that he doesn’t really manage very well, ie, he doesn’t watch his diet or exercise, and he just takes medication. The doctor wanted to put the stents in right away but he refused because he wants to watch the Georgia-Florida game tomorrow. Lord help us all.

On the relationship front, figuring Mark out has been a fun puzzle for me. I’m learning that he seems to be a nice guy though a bit immature and inexperienced with relationships, which is fine with me. He’s very sweet, and doesn’t seem to be jaded. He likes to play video games, which I think he was embarrassed about, but I’m like, I’m just glad you’re not the leader of a sex cult. If video games is your vice, play all day please. Out of all the other sick, disturbing shit I’ve heard that some men get into, I’d be grateful to have a guy that plays video games. I’ll even play video games with him. For real. My roommate has a cool game with this badass woman hunter who shoots a bow and arrow and it’s all very Hunger Games which I love.

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I have class this weekend and a lot of studying to do, and now I’ve got to get to work, so I’ll sign off but just wanted to let y’all know what’s going on with me. My life is super busy lately, and I’m mildly stressed about it, but will figure out a good routine soon.

PS: I stopped going to CODA for reasons I don’t have time to get into now. More on that later, but I’ll be focusing more on AA instead.

Peace and love,

TCH

Getting Over Him

Something wonderful happened last night, and today I can see that it was meant to happen and not just some coincidence. It may not even seem that major, but for me it is.

My original plan had been to go to a meditation with Spencer, and I’d been looking forward to it. But Spencer cancelled because he had to work late, so I decided to stay in and study. I got home, started studying, then realized I have no speaker for Sunday night. Sunday nights I’m the “speaker-getter” for an AA meeting I attend, which means I find someone in AA to speak on their experience in Alcoholics Anonymous. Usually I try to find speakers far in advance so I don’t have to worry about not having someone. In order to get a speaker I have to go to meetings and find someone who I think has a positive message, but I don’t go to AA meetings every night. Wednesdays I have meditation, Thursday I have open mic spoken word night, Friday I have CODA, Saturday this week I have work, and that leaves Sunday. I’d already texted several people, none of whom could do it. I didn’t want to go to the meeting because I needed to study, and I knew Jay would be there, and I didn’t want him to think I was trying to see him, and I didn’t want to see Yvonne.

I decided to swallow my pride and go anyway, so I asked my friend Kevin to take me for support.

We get there, and a few people are standing outside, so we stop and talk, and sure enough, here comes Jay, and I’m certain he’s surprised to see me standing out there since I only go to that meeting every blue moon. But I see him and I just smile and say hello. He heads straight over for his motorcycle buddy who just noise-polluted his way into the parking lot, and I realize something. I don’t even feel nervous, or care at all. It was so friggin easy! I don’t give a damn that he’s not paying attention to me because I have my own friends, and I’m doing my own thing, and I have a right to be there as much as anyone else. His motorcycle buddy who normally says hi didn’t say anything to me, maybe by chance, and his other buddy who’d asked me out a couple of weeks ago didn’t say anything to me either, maybe by chance, or maybe because I’d turned him down. Either way, who cares?

After the meeting Kayley, one of our mutual friends who’s known Jay longer than she’s known me, talks to me and apologizes for not replying to my earlier text. I’d guessed that she was avoiding me because her loyalties lie with Jay and Yvonne, and had decided it didn’t matter. I just told her that was fine I was sure she was busy with school and work, which she was, and she agreed to speak for me at a later time. She looked at me and said the same thing that Jay’s buddy had told me last week: “How are you doing? You look good.”

Maybe I’m being paranoid, but I’m not sure how to interpret that. I feel like that’s the kind of thing you say to someone who you know has been through a hard time. Likely they knew Jay decided to go back to Yvonne. They already knew I’d had a tough year because everyone in AA knows that. I’ve made no secret about that.

Or maybe they just think I look good. I try to take it that way, instead of the paranoid way.

Jay then came up to us in an awkward way like he wanted to talk to us but not really so he just kind of came near, and I smiled and said, “Hello Jay, good to see you,” and he smiled and said hi and then kind of crab-walked away while Kayley and I continued talking in our conversation that had nothing to do with him. After a bit her body language told me she wanted to get away so I let her go but not without saying, “Hey I’ll let you get to doing your thing,” and she was like, “It’s just too loud and crowded in here; I want to go outside,” so I didn’t follow her because I assumed she was trying to get away from me. Maybe she was just trying to get away from the crowd and it had nothing to do with me, so I pretended that’s what I thought it was, and like I have plenty of other people to talk to anyway, which I did. Most of the time, maybe all the time, it’s best not to take things personally, and just to be polite, because it often turns out there was no reason to take it personally anyway. And if I had taken it personally, it’s not even my problem or issue to worry about. I had a right to be there, and if people don’t want to be my friend because I had a fling with Jay after he and Yvonne broke up, that’s their problem, and I didn’t need to be their friend anyway.

My point is, it was all so easy. I didn’t feel nervous, I didn’t feel upset, I did not feel rejected. If anything, I felt pretty darn good. This may sound incredibly arrogant, but I even kind of had this feeling towards Jay: Aren’t you sorry you didn’t decide to take your chances with me? It’s arrogant because it doesn’t factor in the crucial seven-year relationship he had with Yvonne, the history they’ve shared, the foundation they’ve built. Of course I would love to have that with someone, and thought I was building that with Steven.

Which brings me to the bigger, underlying issue: getting over Steven.

He came across my list of matches on Match.com, or maybe it was the “What If” page—I can’t remember. It was a page in which you can read the person’s summary without clicking on their page, because no way in hell would I click on his profile. And his summary was all about how he’s on a quest for true, lasting love, and something about how if one or both people are in spiritual or emotional disrepair then it can’t last. He used lofty language that my friends said came across as arrogant, and as someone who has to be right all the time. And his user name is steven_phd (not his real name, but you get the gist).

A quick aside about that. I’d noticed someone else who’d emailed me as ER_Doc and had thought, You know, I really don’t care if you’re a doctor. If that’s all you have to bring to the table, and you have to put that in your user name to try and attract someone, you’re using the wrong method, and you’ll be attracting the wrong kind of person. It’s like how I thought Jay was so great just because he had a boat and a motorcycle. Those external things don’t make a relationship.

Steven’s profile description is a loftier version of what mine says. I like to think mine comes from the heart (that’s always my goal in writing, anyway) whereas his sounds like an academic essay a psychologist wrote. One of my friends said he sounds like a narcissist, but I think everyone gets that label these days, and he’s really just bipolar and probably in a manic phase right now. But he did have “phd” in his email address too. I fell for that. I remember he’d told me he wasn’t arrogant, and I didn’t really believe him, but I went along with it, because self-confidence is attractive. But he didn’t have self-confidence. He had what many or all of us have at some point (or forever) in AA, which is this: he’s an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.

When I first read his description, I thought, I sure hope he’s talking about himself there, being in a state of spiritual and emotional disrepair, because my MOM had just fucking DIED, you selfish bastard. I don’t care if it was four months previously—that’s not much time. She was my MOTHER. The one who gave birth to me, who nurtured me, who was my biggest cheerleader, who loved me unconditionally. Can someone tell me who loves you more than your mom? Sadly, I get the feeling he didn’t get that from his mother.

The other thought I had was this: if he expects someone to never be in any state of emotional or spiritual disrepair, then he’ll always be disappointed. If a couple can’t stay together during hard times, they’re not meant to be together. Commitment is about sticking with someone through thick and thin, and growing together during those times. He and I had our time together, and now it’s over. He could not handle my grief, could not stick with me throughout the duration, and he couldn’t deal with my weirdness over my stepbrother. A friend of mine said, There’s no way he broke up with you only because of that. But that is the reason. He felt like I’d accused him of being a child molester, and that was it for him. There was no recovering from that; that was unforgivable to him—and I’d like to add one more time here that I did not accuse him of that, nor have I ever thought he had done that or would do that. And I told him so. Multiple times. There had to be more to it than that, my friend said. And there was: he couldn’t deal with my grief or my issues, and he had to have known somewhere deep down that I wouldn’t stay with him if he continued to shut me out every time he got upset with me. Because I’d finally put my foot down over Thanksgiving and broke up with him after he spent more than a week ignoring me. After a year and a half of allowing him to ignore me every few months I was finally done–almost. Because I took him back at the first hint of reconciliation, and then on New Year’s my higher power did for me what I could not do for myself, and we split for good.

After ruminating over it for a few days, I realized what bullshit his profile is, and how odd that I fell for that person. I thought, How is what we had NOT what he’s describing there in his profile? How was he unable to see that I was willing to commit, to do anything for him? And I thought, if he can’t see that, then he doesn’t deserve my time.

Finally I’m seeing more and more how when life doesn’t go my way, it’s not because there’s a punishing God who wants to see me unhappy. It’s because something better is in store for me. I don’t deserve to be treated that way. I’m worth more than that. I have so much more to offer today than I did in early sobriety, and certainly more than when I was drinking. And I’ll be damned if I just give that away to someone who takes it for granted, or worse, treats it like it was nothing, like it was just not good enough, which is exactly what he did. I could never be perfect enough for him. Welp, hopefully he will find someone one day who is as perfect as he acts like he is. Good luck to him finding that. Because that is why he can’t commit. I’m human, and I make mistakes, and my quest is to find someone who can see that, and love me in spite of it, or maybe, in some cases because of it.

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I realize at some point it would be wise for me to exercise forgiveness and compassion, and I realize too that he’s mentally ill and can’t help the way he is. But today’s not that day, and I’ve got to be real with myself, and with y’all. This is a process, and I’m working towards that. In the meantime I’m already starting to see how Jay has helped me get over Steven, even though Jay didn’t stick with me, because it wouldn’t have worked anyway. There’s someone better in store for me. Oh and I have a date with the extra tall guy next Monday, and a date with another guy who seems really sweet (and good-looking) on Sunday. I’ll keep y’all posted!

Love and peace,

TCH

Change the Way You Feel

Change the way you feel.

These are the words that woke me from a dream, words that I slept-talked from a dream that had seared its way into my subconscious, that I’d gotten from Tara Brach’s meditation talk last night about how neurons that fire together wire together, that we were designed to focus on the negative, to have a fight or flight response for survival, but that we can create new neural pathways in our brains (neuroplasticity) to focus more on the positive, on gratitude, on compassion, on love. And to have all of these feelings for ourselves too, first and foremost.

I had a revelation: my life is pretty friggin fantastic today.

Gratitude is the antidote for jealousy. Jealousy–that ugly feeling that there’s a limited pool of opportunity unavailable to me when it lands in the laps of others–it’s is a useless feeling.

It’s my perception of what others have that creates the jealousy; not the truth of the situation. The truth is that I would feel trapped if I were in Johanna’s shoes. She doesn’t make enough money to go anywhere else, she can’t live alone, she has five pets who would have nowhere to go, she’s done nothing with her master’s degree, and she depends on Jay for all of her needs. The biggest “need” (or want) she has—or that I have, really, because I have no idea what she wants–is for someone to take care of me, to have an emotional connection with one person who is my everything. How unreasonable of a demand is that? I want a partner who I share friends with, who entertains me, who supports me financially. And I can have all of that. But at what cost? Her entire sober life has been built around him, as far as I can tell. They started dating when she was new in sobriety about seven years ago, and now she lives in his house, they have the same circle of friends, he supports her, takes care of her dogs, bought her a motorcycle, provides her with entertainment. The one thing he cannot give her is the only thing she needs—or rather, without it I could not have a real relationship–and that is an emotional connection. None of that other shit matters without an emotional connection.

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I have forged my own way through a series of mishaps, bumbling into one mistake after another, distanced myself from my original group, only to float around to other groups and not feel a part of them either. Then I moved back here where I started, this time without the non-AA husband, and instead became entangled with this dude, “Mr. AA” (yeah, right), who’s been around for 27 years, lived in this area for 57, who knows everyone, who’s viewed as the meditation master, and it’s all bullshit.

People like to hang out with him is because he has a boat and can take everyone out on it, and he has skis and tubes and he can provide entertainment for everyone. He’s a nice guy, so that’s not to say people only want to be his friend because of his boat. And he’s not the king of spiritual living just because he has 27 years of sobriety and meditates every day. He’s just a guy, and there are tons of those out there. If I want a boat to entertain my friends on, I can go get one. (Okay, so maybe I’m too poor right now but I am sure I could find one somehow, or borrow the money and add to my debt.) But who wants to deal with the upkeep and financial burden? A friend of mine said the two happiest days of your life are the day you buy your boat and the day you sell your boat.

By the way, this is not to say that no one else has forged their own way through a series of mishaps. I mean, we’re all doing that, aren’t we? Isn’t that just life? And it’s not to say that my perception of their relationship is what’s really going on. Maybe she’s not dependent on him, maybe he offers her emotional support, maybe she really loves him and does not feel trapped by the life they’ve built together, that appears to me to be the life he built for her, but maybe she built her own life. But here’s the thing: it does not matter. What matters is that I be real about how I’d feel if I were in her place, the situation I’m so jealous of. If I truly got all that I thought I wanted, I can guarantee you I’d find something wrong with it. I’d beat myself up for not having done it myself. Honestly, that’s the one thing I’m most proud of. I am my own person. And let me tell you: I did not get here because life was one big carefree, breezy path with no pain. I got here for exactly the opposite reasons.

My friend Kathleen suggested that four of us, without Jay or our crazy friend–the one who had an episode, stole a car, sent disturbing texts to all of us, who needs help we cannot give him outside of being his friend–Kathleen suggested that the four of us get together for a game of cards. She’s dying to play Euchre, and she enjoys our company–she enjoys my company. Personally, I like the four of us better than the six of us myself. Mike is the funny one, Spencer and I have become good friends in the past few months, and Kathleen is fun and sweet. Jim’s another story. My heart goes out to him but I can’t help him. Plus he’s in love with me, and Kathleen thinks he might be a stalker. I think he’s harmless but one can never be too careful. Anyway, there are others in the extended group who hang out with us, who are fairly new to the group, women who are my friends. Now that I think of it, I think I’ll reach out to them more.

This is my life. I have my own friends. Who cares what Jay and Johanna are doing? Who cares if they’ve been in this group for years with deep roots and established connections? I’m in the process of making my own connections, and having fun while doing it. These friends really like me too, if I do say so myself. We all make each other laugh and have fun together. If I get pushed out of the group it will only be because I distanced myself, not because no one wants to be my friend. And honestly? Jay and Johanna are nice people, but in my opinion they’re boring. A boat is fun, but I got personality, my friends. Which means I am judging them as boring people with no personality, and obviously their friends don’t feel that way, which is good for them. But that’s my opinion, and this is my life. They have their lives, and I have mine. I don’t need to worry about theirs. Fuck this whole jealousy thing.

And one more thing is this: if I were in Johanna’s shoes right now, I’d feel incredibly isolated and alone, stuck in a rut. I’d have been friends with all these people for years who might be great but who aren’t fresh and new anymore, and some of whom have moved away, others who I may not even feel that close to, and/or who I’ve had conflicts with, and I’d be thinking, Is this all there is? Even worse is that some other younger woman (only by two years but I look even younger than that), who’s more attractive than her, who’s well-liked by everyone in the group, who’s working on her own master’s degree for an interesting career she’s interested in, that will pay well and be rewarding (we hope all these things are true), slept with her partner of seven years. You think I would feel secure in my relationship and go running back to the dude if that happened to me? Hell no. In that light I feel compassion for her. In most lights, I feel compassion for her. She’s a nice person, though I’d understand if she’s not too nice to me in the future. But they were broken up for eight months, and she had moved out at one point (that had fallen through because the couple whose basement she was living in decided split, and I’d be surprised if it didn’t fall through again for related reasons, because she was going to move back into the same place in September where she’d lived before).

My therapist suggested that it’s possible that this one-eighty happened because Johanna has nowhere else to go. Before I left for North Carolina Jay told me that Johanna was due to move out at the end of the month, and a few days later when I returned, Jay told me that they’d decided to get back together, that it was totally unexpected, but they were going to try to make it work. My response? Oh, good for you. That’s good for you. Y’all have been together for a long time. You’re very lucky. He replied, Are you sure? I said, Well of course I’m bummed but what choice do I have? He said, Yeah I didn’t think you’d be all broken up about it.

I cried for the next few days as though Steven and I had just had a conflict–not like we’d broken up because that was devastating–but I just felt sad. And it was embarrassing because I wasn’t in love with Jay. Friends would remind me, You weren’t that into him. It didn’t matter. No one likes to be rejected. I mean, how dare he break up with me? It bruised my ego.

I don’t need to hide or disappear from my group of friends just because I feel rejected by one guy.

Blessings and prayers to those suffering from the damage caused by Harvey. To learn where to donate, how to avoid donation scams, and links to animal shelters for how to help animals (who couldn’t just get into a car and evacuate), the New York Times and NPR have some articles posted online. Please send money if you can afford it, even if it’s a just a few dollars.

I’ll leave you with this song by Robyn and Royksopp that I find inspiring. My interpretation is that it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. I got my own thing going. My favorite line is this: “Play some kind of new sound / Something true and sincere.”

Codependency. Just Codependency.

Let’s assume that the guy I’m seeing does not have Asperger’s and that story was all a delusion I made up to make myself feel better for seeing him. It’s an excusable reason for why I’d be okay with his behavior last week at the diner. If he has it, it allows me to continue hanging out with my group of friends, which includes him, without feeling disrespected, because dude cannot help it.

The other alternative is that we never figure it out because either I never mention it to him, or he doesn’t accept my theory. How would you feel if a friend diagnosed you with a neurological disorder associated with a lack of empathy towards others? I sure wouldn’t like it.

One of my friends seemed convinced Jay had Asperger’s, until I told him I decided I don’t care, and I’m going to continue hanging out with dude, because if dude is a robot, well, he’s the sweetest robot I know. And Aspies aren’t robots anyway. So then this particular friend said that he didn’t want to see me get hurt because he saw how hurt I was over the ex, and it seemed to him that I’ve made up this diagnosis because the fact that dude is just not into me would be an unbearable truth for me.

As much as I’d like for you all to think I’m a nice girl, and that I’m in love with this man, the truth is, I am not. I’ve got the easiest situation in the world, which is that I get to see my lover once a week, and I spend the rest of my time doing what I enjoy doing, which is write this blog, spend time with friends, do all of my self-care things I like to do. Maybe one day my heart will get broken again—and that’s a risk worth taking—but it won’t be with this guy. I want to be in love with him more than I actually am. Let’s be real here.

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Let’s take a step back. What did the guy do? He talked about another woman’s boobs in front of other guys with me present, which I interpreted to mean that he doesn’t care what I think or how I feel. When I got upset, I looked at Spencer the whole time, leading one to believe I was upset with Spencer when in reality I was pissed at Jay.

It’s unfair for me to expect him to feel and act like I’m the love of his life when I know he’s not the love of my life.

As much as I’d love to believe men don’t sit around talking to each other about this or that woman’s tits or ass over there, men of his generation absolutely do. Probably they all do—I really do not know. But I know that I certainly noticed her enormous boobs. Would I have brought it up to my friends? I doubt it. But what if we could see guys’ packages? And someone with a huge one just walked right in the door? I wish guys had to walk around with their junk showing for all the world to see. The rest of us could be like, Wow, that dude has a micropenis. Hope for his sake he’s a grower. And let me tell you, I certainly noticed the gargantuan hands of this 6’4” co-worker of mine, and I absolutely did talk about it to the other women after he left. To this day I talk about it. He’s a good-looking dude. With huge hands. It’s just the truth.

Maybe Jay has Asperger’s and maybe he doesn’t—I’m not a psychologist so I don’t know. Whether he does or not, isn’t it better to just be direct and straightforward with him, and everyone else?

So that’s where I am with that. One of my friends said I have a diagnosis for everyone, which may be true. But like I said before, everyone has something. I can’t help it that I have intuitive powers. 😉

Of course I’d rather be in love with someone who was in love with me. But right now I have someone who I enjoy spending time with, and neither of us is ready to get into a serious relationship with anyone. Why not just enjoy this for what it is? And stop trying to make it into something it’s not. When school starts back I won’t have time to create drama where it doesn’t exist.

Of course I’d rather Jay and I be in love with each other. But we are not. I want him to love me and treat me like a queen, yet I don’t feel that way about him, so it’s not really fair of me to have that kind of expectation. And as they say, expectations are just resentments in the making.

The more time I spend with Jay the less I have a chance of meeting the right man. I *should* be single (my former sponsor used to tell me: Do not should all over yourself). I do not have time for a relationship, and sex without love is unfulfilling. There are so many reasons why I should walk away. Spend this time focusing only on me.

But I just cannot do it. Today. So this might be a codependency relapse.

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One of the characteristics of codependents that always makes me cringe when we read it in my meeting is that we accept sex without love. I don’t like to think of myself that way because I have this shame around sex, that I’m just not a “good girl” if I do that. I want to not care. I want to be able to say that I can walk away, giving a fist pump in the air, and that you all will cheer me on: good for you and you be you and don’t take that shit. I want you all to read my blog and think, Wow, what a badass courageous woman she is, and I want to have the strength and courage to take the hard road for spiritual growth.

By the way, my ex sent me an email last week. He forwarded an article about a topic we both share an interest in (alcoholism), without any message in the email. Since there was no question in it, and I don’t know what he was trying to accomplish, I did not respond. If he wants to feel forgiven for breaking my heart, he’s just going to have to wait. That wound will take a long time to heal. As much as I wish that relationship had worked, it did not, and there’s nothing I can do about that today.

I really do have a good life today with friends and a woman I sponsor in AA, and I’m showing up to my CODA meetings, and I have a sponsor there. I’ll see my therapist in a couple of days, and I will keep doing this thing. I don’t have to drink over it today, and that is a blessing.

In the past, when I was in a loveless relationship before, before my ex and before CODA, my AA sponsor asked me, What do you want to do today?

So that’s what I’ll focus on: today. One day at a time.

Here’s a good quote I found on Pinterest and which originated from lonerwolf.com. God, I look forward to the day this happens for me.

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