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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

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

 

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

Playing the Game… Or Not

It was a roller coaster of a week last week with Mark, with mostly highs, then yesterday almost ending in disaster, saved at the last minute by simple honesty and communication. All thanks to me talking to my sponsor. I’d spent all week trying to figure Mark out, at one point mistaking him for some master of the dark underworld and seedy subculture of some sex cult, because that’s how my crazy imagination works. I was like, Who IS this weird and scary guy? What planet is this guy from? …Take me to your people. Because that’s scary as hell and you’re freaking me out but… sign me up!

Let me explain.

But I sensed Mark was uncomfortable on our second date, or perhaps trying to impress me somehow. He was slightly different than before, when he’d seemed like just a nice, regular guy who happens to be really cute. Something was just off. He talked about his dates from Match, which were some funny stories, but also strange. How was it that so many women were so forward, unprovoked, one of them going so far as to suggest that their first date be the two of them go to Victoria’s Secret together first then go back to her place for sex. He was telling me about how weird it was and that was not his thing, but a part of me found it unbelievable. Who does that? And why? What kind of boundaries had been established between the two of them prior to that? Had he said or done something suggestive? And why was he telling me this now? When I added it all up, I noticed that most of the dates had sex in common, in that the women had advanced themselves to him too early into dating and it had been a turn-off for him. Was he bragging? Trying to gauge my reaction to see if that’s something I would be into? Was he laying down the law to let me know he’s the boss and if I want that I have to let him lead? Or was he just trying to impress me somehow to let me know plenty of women had been attracted to him?

That is where crazy alcoholic thinking goes when you’ve been focused on lust all week, on my goal of doing what I do best which is capture the guy’s attention in a subtle way through sex. That is the sad, deep, raw, painful truth. The message I wanted to send in a subconscious way was basically the same message I’ve sent to every man whose attention I wanted to get, which is this: Sex with me is so mind-blowing you’ll fall in love with me and never leave.

So there you have it, my dear readers, my deep-rooted fear of abandonment rearing its ugly head by me capitalizing on my perceived assets instead of relying on just being me: a funny, smart, and fun woman (who will probably be amazing in bed with the right guy… just sayin).

Mark also did not make a lot of eye contact with me on the second date. He looked around the restaurant, which I found disconcerting, but I decided to look right at him with adoration anyway because I found him endearing. At the time I suspected he was telling me all of this because he was trying to impress me, and though it did not impress me, the fact that he was doing it just to impress me impressed me. But by the end of the date I’d put several pieces together of what he’d said in which he’d tripped himself up by saying he’d been on Match off and on for years, had been on many dates, and had even said he’d dated women of many different races, and then he was like, Oh I shouldn’t say that, that’s not what I meant. He just did not seem that experienced for all the bullshit that I perceived him to be feeding me. He’s 43 and never been married so he must be a commitment-phobe, right? But I decided that I did not care.

Out of politeness I’d offered to pay half the bill, he’d said no, and I was like are you sure, and then he was like, okay, then he was like, would that be tacky? I was like, I don’t know, and he was like, Yeah that would be tacky. At the time I thought he wasn’t that experienced, maybe I’d made him nervous somehow, maybe he didn’t make a lot of money—he had mentioned that he didn’t make a lot. But guys will do that, which I always take to mean they’re letting me now they won’t be my sugar daddy to which I say fine Mister I ain’t looking for no sugar daddy because I’m a badass so don’t be trying to tell me how broke you are. Which is a lie because I would love for some guy to spend all his money on me, though I absolutely am independent and have always been, almost to a fault.

At the end of the date he walked me halfway to my car, asking first if I was okay with that, because some women didn’t want guys to know their license plates or their cars for safety reasons, but I was okay with it, he seemed trustworthy to me, and maybe that was unwise of me, but that’s what happened. And then he didn’t even hug me or shake my hand, which seemed strange for someone who just spent three hours talking to me, but I thought, Oh this is all part of his game.

On the date I’d asked him what it was he was looking for, and said that I’m looking for a long-term relationship. He didn’t answer right away but at the end of the date he said he realized he hadn’t answered that question, and that his answer was that he too is looking for something long term, honesty, and communication. Something in me just didn’t completely buy it, because I think that’s what I’d just said, and he’s just trying to get into my pants by saying cliché answers that he thinks I want to hear. Because those aren’t things you just end a date with and be on your way, but rather, to me, something you start a date with, then elaborate on what you mean by honesty and communication and what “long term” looks like for you. Note to self: This is what I’ll bring up tonight—ask him what these things mean for him.

Soon after our second date things progressed quickly via text conversation about the chemistry between us, and he is eager to seal the deal, as am I, and for a few days we were both willing to throw everything to the wind and just jump into bed together. From what I gather, he doesn’t have faith that a relationship can develop from such mad chemistry but he’s a red-blooded male and will take what he can when he can because it’s not often that he finds this kind of chemistry. My interpretation was that he’s a player playing the game and he does this all the time to dozens of women he meets online and he has no intention of being in a relationship whatsoever. What doesn’t make sense is why he wouldn’t just go on a free site, a hookup site like OKCupid or Tinder rather than Match, which is where I thought all the serious people who wants actual relationships go? Maybe he was just a predator who wanted to deceive women who’d be with him long term so that he could have safe, monogamous with someone without the worry of finding someone else for some time.

So I asked him point blank what would he do if I were to suggest an FWB situation? And he was like, It’s on, I am totally down for that. And I asked why he’d agreed with me about taking things slowly if all he wanted was an FWB in the first place? So then I decided if that’s all he wanted I wouldn’t waste my time trying to get to know him better and instead I’d focus on what our ground rules would be and how I would best protect my heart. Because that [FWB situation] clearly had worked out so well with Jay last time only two months ago when I cried for four days afterwards, as my sponsor reminded me later.

Pretty soon after this agreement Mark proved himself to be too smooth in my mind, too practiced at the art of seduction, because four days later he was sexting me (with words, not dick pics, to be clear—that would not be cool), using all the right words about all the right things he would do to me, and I was like, Who IS this guy? He no longer seemed like an inexperienced dater but someone who planned on using me all along, who wasn’t snide enough to be smooth at the dating part of the manipulation game but had the sex part down pat. So I spent the next five days after that trying to figure out his game. I’d decided he must be an expert Dom prominent in the BDSM community and he was reeling me in to be his newbie Slave, and as soon as my newness wore off, he’d be on to the next unsuspecting victim. You may be asking yourself how the hell did I arrive at that bizarre assumption, and I’ll tell you. He’s into role playing (not S&M or pain, to be clear) and started giving me some 50 Shades vibes and I was like, Oh no he ain’t. I’ve read all three books, though only skipping to the dirty parts in book 2 and then only reading the first part of book 3, because the writer tries to make out like this is love and that’s bullshit. It’s an updated erotic version of Pretty Woman which is an updated erotic version of Cinderella and it’s all lies, ladies. So don’t be trying to tell me this is love and you want me forever, because he was starting to talk about how he wanted to do this often and for a long time with me, and that confused me. Was he asking me to be his girlfriend or his FWB?

(Oh and the other reason I thought this was because I know someone who this actually happened to, and she became heavily involved in the BDSM subculture, started drinking again, moved into a shared house with other Submissives, and told me all about this bizarre subculture that frankly freaked me the eff out. So I was like, Maybe that’s who Mark is, and I was like, Are you a Dom? And he was like, Huh? I was like, Um nevermind just kidding.)

Here’s what finally came of our conversation: he wants a relationship but if he can’t have one then he’ll take great sex, and he can see that the chemistry with me is strong, which doesn’t happen often, and in his experience never led to a real relationship. In other words, like many of us, we gave up after the initial honeymoon period. (And I know that his parents divorced when he was three years old, just like mine. When you grow up your whole life without any good role models for commitment, it’s hard to have faith that it can happen, and maybe harder to make a goal that you work towards.) My experience has been that as soon as I get what I want, I want to leave the relationship. I’m a good codependent and adult child in that way. I’m not proud of it, and I want to change it, but that’s my experience.

I talked to my sponsor about it finally, telling her I was in an FWB situation but it was fine because I’m a liberated woman and I do what I want. She asked me to be honest with myself, and that if that’s what I want, then fine, go with it and be honest with him about that. She also reminded me how it worked out when I tried that with Jay.

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And then at some point she pointed out my bravado. This is the interesting part to me. She suggested that there’s this part of me that feels like I’m not good enough for someone to want me for more than sex, but there’s also this bravado part of me that boasts about what a badass I am and hey dude you cannot hurt me I can play that game too and hey everybody I’m dating a guy who is SIX FOOT SIX which is totally objectifying someone who’s a person who I have to admit I just like. Am I in love? No, I can’t say that. I don’t know him well enough yet.

He got upset with me yesterday after I admitted I do like him, and he was like, I thought that we agreed to be FWBs? I texted back that I needed to understand what our definition of FWB was, because it seemed we were both saying the same thing all along yet using different words. And I worried about it for hours while in class, feeling PTSD-like symptoms of obsessive fear and anxiety, residual feelings from how Steven used to get upset with me for misunderstanding or miscommunicating something and then holding it against me for the rest of our relationship, using everything he could to hurt me. I’m not saying Mark did that, but just that those are the feelings I had. And I wanted to run. Fast. I was ready to say goodbye to this and dating if we could not come to an agreement. I was disappointed but this was already too intense and overwhelming.

I was prepared for him to be a total asshole on the phone but he was completely understanding and we realized we are on the same page. We’ve removed the FWB label from this situation and have agreed to delay the sex and just become friends for now, to see where this goes. If we have sex now it will just confuse the issue and blur the lines. What will feel like love will be lust. I really do want a friend who can also be my lover. I can’t say that we won’t end up having sex anyway and breaking up anyway because I’m under no illusion that an LTR will guarantee forever. Nothing, not even marriage, guarantees forever. He has flaws that are cute to me now but may become annoying later, but he’s likeable and real and I trust him and have fun with him.

Oh and let’s be real. If it turns out we can’t have a relationship, it will be hard for me not to do the FWB thing anyway because I’m a 41-year-old woman and my hormones are like that of a teenage boy, and even though I know I can get hurt regardless, I feel like I can’t say no. We shall see.

So that’s where I am with that today. I feel so much safer and more comfortable now that today I’m relying on God to help me navigate this rather than read articles on the art of seduction and trying to manipulate the situation into working out in my favor. What you do is you get real with yourself and then make that known to others, and if it works out then great. If not then it wasn’t meant to be. For the record, I don’t think it’s shameful to be FWBs, though I’d rather not do it because no matter how well I lie to myself I’m probably going to get hurt. At the same time, sometimes instincts take over.

PS: The reason Mark didn’t make eye contact with me on our second date is because the few times we locked eyes he felt mad chemistry and it made him feel uncomfortable because it’s so rare especially to happen so soon. And I believe this explanation because he brought this up on the phone yesterday.

Here’s something from my new hero, Lady Gaga, whose documentary I just watched on Netflix. The messages from these songs fall more into line with my feelings two days ago but I can relate to her songs, because she has a lot of passion and vulnerability at the same time. I could go on but that’s for another day.

Being Real… Which Sometimes Means Being Gross

So the basketball-player-size guy I wrote about last time, Mark, asked me on a second date, which we’re going on this weekend. He’s the one I felt chemistry with on the first date, but I want to be careful because I realize that chemistry could be just infatuation, and I’d also gone on another date with another guy the day before, who I didn’t feel instant chemistry with, but who I feel like I have a lot in common with, and who seems interesting. So we need to go on one or two more dates to see if any chemistry sparks up… though I must admit I’ve been thinking about Mark non-stop since our date.

Here’s what I like about him: he seems like the kind of guy who everyone likes, who everyone feels comfortable around, who doesn’t throw around judgments about everyone all the time. He seems like the kind of guy you could make fart jokes with and it be funny and okay. Not that I’m one for scatological humor, but think about it. One day it’s probably going to happen. And then what are you going to do? My ex and I didn’t acknowledge our bodily functions whatsoever. I’d prefer that every man in the world believe I’ve never had any digestive functions in any way, or if I did, that my shit don’t stink. But let’s be real here.

I can’t believe I’m writing about poo. This is what happens when you get old. I always swore I’d never be like my grandmother when I got old, talking about bowel movements. Yet here I am, writing a blog about it. But this is also what happens when you study nutrition, or become a nutritionist. I’ve heard more about people’s poo than I’ve ever cared for, and I’m not even practicing yet. That’s just from working in the supplements department of an organic grocery store. You wouldn’t believe how many constipated people there are out there. Let me tell you: there’s a LOT. Hell, you might be one of them.

What I’m trying to say here is, Mark seems like the kind of guy who, if you accidentally passed gas, he’d just laugh and tease you. Or if you fell down in your six-inch platforms that you bought so you wouldn’t be 14 inches shorter than him, he’d laugh at you. He’d help you up, but he’d tease you. Which might make him sound like he’s real mature, I know, but what I mean is, he seems very real. And familiar. Which I like. I’d much rather someone just laugh, with me, than both of us stare red-faced into the distance pretending like we’re both robots.

Seriously, I don’t know what’s gotten into me. It could be the conversation that popped up out of nowhere when I was out with my friends a couple of weeks ago, in which Spencer confessed an old drinking story in which he accidentally had diarrhea that got all over his white pants while he was in the bathroom peeing the morning after a night of drunken sex with a one-night-stand he’d met when he’d lived back in LA. It was a story he told us in painstaking detail, that had us all in uproarious laughter, of how he tried to hide it but of course could not, followed by another story of explosive diarrhea he’d had on a hangover morning at a baseball game in some horseshoe stadium where there were only two bathrooms on each end of the horseshoe, in the stall of which there was no toilet paper, which he didn’t realize until after he’d emptied the contents of his guts into the toilet.

For some reason this struck us, possibly because it’s not a conversation I’ve ever had before—certainly not with any guys. It’s that unspoken topic of what happens when you’re a riproaring alcoholic, deep in the throes of your disease, when the most embarrassing of human bodily functions happens, in public no doubt. Anyone who’s an alcoholic knows what it’s like to wake up with a hangover that makes you wish you had never woken up, when your head feels like it’s been beaten with a hammer, and your belly’s on fire, but you have to go to work anyway. Most days I downed gallons of Gatorade, Pedialyte, and Alka Seltzer, and prayed for the best, and if it was really bad, I stayed in bed and begged my ex-husband to take me to detox, which he refused to do.

I don’t miss those days one bit.

The way we alcoholics look at it is you have to laugh at all the mishaps, the embarrassing moments of when your (my) stomach would not stop gurgling throughout the entire meeting with your boss, who’s finally like, Are you okay? and you pretend like you didn’t just guzzle down two bottles of wine the night before, just like the night before that, and so many before that you can’t remember the last night you did not drink, and you have no idea that you reek of alcohol every day you go into work. Like when I went into work on a Tuesday and casually mentioned to my co-worker friend that I had a massive hangover, to which she looked puzzled. That was when I realized not everyone got drunk every night after work like I did, and that some things are better left unsaid.

My intention was not for this to be about diarrhea or alcoholism, but to write about what’s been on my mind, which is Mark. Before I went on the date my friends asked me what my safe word was, and I told them not to worry, I’d just tell him I had explosive diarrhea if the date wasn’t going well. Spencer argued that “explosive diarrhea” was redundant, that diarrhea by its very nature is already explosive. Mike maintained that one must include “explosive” for emphasis. Kathy, Freyja, and I just laughed so loud we must’ve had everyone else in the bar (yes, we went to a bar/restaurant) wondering what we’d had to drink. Just water. We were just high on life. That’s one of those phrases I used to hate, before I understood what it meant, and that it’s really possible.

That’s why I love hanging out with my friends so much. They make me belly-laugh.

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(The above image was taken from Pinterest via the Positivity Note Facebook page.)

And that’s what I’m looking for in a partner. I figure if a guy can seem like the kind of guy you can make poop jokes with—well, that’s a real friend. Rather, if he’s the kind of guy you can be vulnerable with, who you can feel comfortable with, then that’s the guy for me. I don’t know if that’s really this particular guy or not, but I do know there’s chemistry, and that’s one thing that no amount or decree of motorcycles, boats, PhDs, or job titles can compete with. I don’t care how sophisticated-yet-outdoorsy the guy is—though that helps, don’t get me wrong—but nothing can compete with the connection you feel from another human being that you just cannot manufacture or explain.

I did not expect this after less than a year of being split up from what’s-his-face. What was his name?

Just kidding.

Of course I would not forget Steven, the guy who I once thought was the king of the multiverse, who awakened my heart then shattered it.

But I will tell you: this helps. It helps to know there are not just other fish, but some good-looking, hot-ass fish, bad-ass yet friendly and sexy uh-huh fish. Six foot six tall, big man fish. Light-hearted yet real fish.

Light-hearted yet real. Now there’s a goal. To feel light and love, to not be so heavy and serious all the time, yet to be genuine, authentic. I don’t know if that’s really how he is, but I know that’s how I want to be, and who I want to surround myself with.

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(The above image came from Pinterest via this page.)

Peace, love, light, namaste, all that hippie shit…Love you guys!

TCH

Opening Your Heart and Finding Gratitude

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(The above quote was taken from notey.com.)

In A Path With Heart, Jack Kornfield writes:

As we notice our thoughts in meditation, we discover that they are not in our control—we swim in an uninvited constant stream of memories, plans, expectations, judgments, regrets. The mind begins to show how it contains all possibilities, often in conflict with one another—the beautiful qualities of a saint and the dark forces of a dictator and murderer…

…This dualistic nature of thought is a root of our suffering. Whenever we think of ourselves as separate, fear and attachment arise and we grow constricted, defensive, ambitious, and territorial…

…To heal, we must learn to step back from all the stories of the mind, for the conflicts of our thoughts and opinions never end… The mind thinks of the self as separate, the heart knows better.

Meditation and Buddhism in general can seem like a good way to detach oneself, to believe in the story of how none of this matters—and these things are true, to an extent—but I can use that as an excuse to disengage from others. But really it’s about getting in touch with the heart, which starts, or works in conjunction with, loving oneself while loving others more deeply.

And all these stories in our head are just that: stories. As I re-read Kornfield’s words, I’m reminded of how everyone thinks like this. Over the past few days, I’ve been feeling separate, all because of stories in my head, stories based in fear, fear that there’s a limited pool of opportunity accessible to others that, when they receive this opportunity, it becomes somehow unavailable to me. Comparing myself to others, sometimes in a way that’s self-aggrandizing and other times puts me beneath everyone else. When really we are all just people, each of us trying to make our way. If I were to get what that other person has that I want, I’d find problems with it. As Kornfield writes, we’re wired to be dissatisfied. From what I’ve learned over the years, the key is to practice gratitude, and to do so on a regular basis. As Kornfield writes, we never become fully successful. I have a short-term memory, and I’m a slow learner, and I don’t think most or possibly all other people are any different. If I want to gain self-love and self-compassion, I must practice it, and exercise it repetitiously.

Specifically, what I’m alluding to in my life is the fact that my fling with a guy recently ended. There are a few different ways to tell this story: I got dumped, he left me for his ex, it didn’t work out, it wasn’t meant to be. I found myself feeling isolated. Here I am, six months new to this area, beginning to make friends, beginning to feel more comfortable in my skin, and there they are, fixtures in this community, long-time members with roots. Where do I fit in? Do I avoid outings because they might be there? Do I go to different meetings, ditch these friends, and try to make friends elsewhere? And why couldn’t I have what she got: an old-timer boyfriend who scooped her up from the start of her journey into AA and took care of all of her needs and wants: love, shelter, food, community, entertainment. Somehow, they became stars of the community in my mind. A friend told me, If you had all of that you’d feel trapped. How true. Why? Because I didn’t do it for myself. I remember once, in the beginning, when we went out and I looked around and noticed most of the people there (really only a few) were his friends, that this was his world, and I felt like a disposable accessory. But one of my friends reminded me that I have friends in this community, people who want me around.

And how do I know for sure that’s how her life looks to her? Her being his former ex, his current girlfriend, or wife is more like it. How do I know for sure that she has everything she needs and wants? It’s just a story I made up about her to compare myself to an unrealistic ideal, based in fear that I will not be taken care of. Constantly I’m looking outside myself to be taken care of, when the very thing that will take care of me is inside me, and it comes from a higher power that I call God.

God takes care of me. I take care of myself. During this time I’m growing, possibly more than ever. It’s so painful sometimes. Growth for me doesn’t happen without pain. At first I lamented over the fact that my ex didn’t come back to me in the way that her ex went back to her, that I didn’t get from my ex what she’s getting and has gotten, which is for all of her needs to be taken care of. I kept thinking, God, I don’t want to do this by myself. In reality, I do want to do it by myself, and I am doing it by myself—with God’s help and the help of my friends.

All of this comes a few days after setting up profiles on Match.com and eHarmony. Because let’s be real, folks: I want a boyfriend. A husband, or partner really. I’m codependent, remember? But I’m also human, and humans are social animals. My therapist had suggested it, my AA sponsor agreed, and my CODA sponsor said no way, that I need to get comfortable with being single.

Well it’s too late now. I’ve already signed up, and I am single. I’m a single woman dating, and I’m taking my time. There’s no rush, and I’d rather take it slowly to find someone I really connect with, rather than try to force something to work that’s not there. Possibly it’s foolish to be doing this now, when I barely have time to do anything outside of school work in my free time while staying on top of my not just physical but emotional sobriety by going to meetings and doing the footwork and self-care that living a spiritual life requires. But honestly? This is my life. I can’t spend all my free time making a guy my higher power like how I did with my ex. I got shit to do. He should be taking care of his own shit in the meantime, and not smoking pot or drinking beer or being a workaholic or watching TV all day like my other exes.

Next week I have a coffee date with a bankruptcy lawyer who feels like he missed his calling as a therapist, who looks good in some pictures but just okay in others, and who, most importantly, has kind, familiar eyes. But Ted Bundy might’ve had kind eyes to some people too, and bankruptcy and law are boring to me, and a therapist could be someone whose crazier than the rest of us, in ways that I cannot deal with.

You may have noticed that I first defined this guy by his job, a common mistake. I hated it when people defined me by my job when I was working in marketing, and now I don’t even want people to know I work in a grocery store because I don’t want people judging me… all because I judge myself. Sometimes the things we can’t stand in others are the very things we can’t stand in ourselves. My goal is not to judge someone or define them by their job but rather by who they are as a person.

On a deeper level, I look for in a man what I want for myself, which is someone who has their shit together. I want to be on the right path. And guess what? I am. Maybe I’m still not quite where I want to be, but I’m okay with that in this moment. All of this is an ongoing process that doesn’t end until the day I die.

Today I am right where I need to be. I’m grateful to have woken up an hour early (just by chance! Thank you, God!), to write this post, to have my friends and family, to have a nurturing workplace environment, to have healthy food and a comfortable living space. I am grateful to be on this path, to have guides who help me along the way, to have an opportunity to be a guide for others. I’m grateful for my readers, and for your posts on self-love, self-care, spirituality, positivity. Most of all, I’m grateful to be aware of God’s presence in my life.

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Peace and love,

TCH

 

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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