A Good Man Is Hard to Find

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

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

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

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

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

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

love-yourself

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

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

self-worth

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

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

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

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

do-i-like-them

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

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

make-ourselves-strong

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

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

Peace and love,

TCH

Use Your Voice

The other day Mark and I were talking about something, I don’t even remember what, because the next thing he said was so monumental. What he said was this: Use your voice, girl. Using my voice is the very thing I’ve had trouble with—for my whole life, and my ex-boyfriend capitalized on that. He challenged anything I might say about anything, for example, my belief in organic, non-GMO whole foods. He wanted scientific research for anything I might suggest that he didn’t agree with. When I tell Mark what I think about anything, he responds with something like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” WOW. You mean you’re not going to tell me how wrong I am, or how you believe something different which is the smarter, wiser, “correct” information?

I felt silenced by my ex.

I don’t want this to be about my ex anymore, but it’s hard not to make comparisons. Getting over my ex has been a process, and lately it’s been sinking in just how borderline emotionally abusive he was. He was incapable of loving me, and at the time I couldn’t see it. The actions he took had strings attached.

Use your voice, girl.

That’s what Mark said to me, and it was in relation to something the two of us were talking about, regarding us. It was not about me using my voice with someone else. He wanted me to tell him how I felt.

I was always a dark person. I liked spooky things, loved the color black, enjoyed disturbing stories, devoured psychological thrillers. I loved sad, dark music. Depression hit me in early childhood and it stayed with me until I quit drinking nearly eight years ago. Then some real life stuff happened, but I got help for it and came out on the other side. Then I met Mark.

Mark brings out the lightness in me. For a long time I don’t think I even knew I had any lightness.

A few other amazing things about Mark:

  • Never once has he grabbed any body part as he walked past me, nor has he ever gone on and on about how great my ass is, or any of my other body parts. However, he has told me I’m beautiful and that he loves my body.
  • He loves to do girly things with me. We have spa nights and give each other face masks, we do bath scrubs, etc. It’s fun!
  • He loves pop music, including that terrible song with the line “You don’t know you’re beautiful,” which I translate to mean the singer likes an insecure person, but Mark thinks it means this beautiful person is humble. Regardless, it’s hilarious to listen to Mark sing along to these songs.
  • Did I mention that he respects me and what I have to say? The first time I fought back over something he did, he was glad. He loved
  • He’s had his friends for years, and always makes time for them.
  • He makes time for his family: he goes to his mom’s house once a week, he’s a role model for his nephew, he’s a father figure to his friend’s fatherless daughter. He typed up a list of all of his friends’ and family members’ birthdays and keeps it on his dresser.
  • He really does not like anything dark.

Everything I’ve written about Mark prior to this feels silly when I think about it, especially the sex part. It feels unnecessary to go into detail about it though it has been an eye-opener. And let me tell you ladies, I now know what y’all are talking about. All I can say is that he is amazing and unlike any other guy I’ve ever known in every way. Everyone else seems like such an asshole now, when at the time I thought they were just being guys. I’ll leave it at that.

There are other things about him that I like and dislike, and he’s certainly not perfect, but right now he’s just right for me.

Happy New Year, Peace and Love,

TCH

 

Like Donkey Kong

Remember my post from yesterday? OMG, that was such a long time ago, my friends. How do I write this. I try to keep this blog fairly family-friendly–ish… I mean, in a dysfunctional, f-bomb, keeping-it-real family-friendly way, so I want to keep this all G-rated, or at least PG-13.

Let me just tell you this: It is ON.

Ladies. Gentlemen. Everyone else. I think you know what I mean.

Let me just lay it down for you like this: Ella got her groove back.

Here’s how it went down. Mark got all upset with me because I’d forgotten to mention a couple of previous partners when discussing our sexual history–the details or numbers of which, btw, are none of his business, but which I’d brought up partly because my ex Steven had made a big deal out of promiscuity and shaming women who’d had multiple partners, and I want to be upfront with any guy in the future that I’m not a virgin yet I’m also not on Tinder hooking up with random dudes all the time. I’m a human being and a grown-ass woman with needs just like you, Mister, and I will not be shamed for having made some drunken, embarrassing mistakes in the past, nor will I be shamed for having a friend with benefits after my divorce (or at any time, for that matter).

When Mark got upset, that told me one of two things. Either dude likes me and feels jealous, or he’s a germophobe and a shamer-blamer like Steven. I felt pretty sure it was the former, but just in case it was the latter, I decided good riddance because I don’t need that in my life. We’re not in high school anymore and I don’t need some grown man in his 40s acting like I’m a bad girl because I had a one-night-stand. I decided that if Mark was going to make a big deal out of this and not talk to me, I would move on, because no way will I be ignored or judged like that.

When I was in high school I dated a boy who was crazy about me. I was not that crazy about him but thought he was fun and funny so I dated him. Same kind of situation with my first husband, except I thought he was stable and not really that fun or funny. In both cases I had them wrapped around my finger because I really did not care if they stayed or left. It was manipulative and controlling on my part, and not fair to them. But let me tell you: they loved it. They just kept coming back for more. Steven did the same to me, and it hurt so badly to be on the other side. It’s such a cruel way to treat someone.

So I felt like I was reverting to my old self when I decided not to contact Mark again after he got upset, because I had apologized (profusely and earnestly, btw), and I sensed he was holding a grudge. It felt like Steven all over again, a situation in which I’d made a mistake, and he got his feelings hurt, and I’d spend the next day or week or however long with a knot in my stomach unable to sleep or eat because I’d “ruined the whole relationship” by saying the “wrong thing.”

When I came into AA I learned that the way I’d treated men with mind games like that was not cool, not a spiritual way of living, that it’s best to be honest and upfront, genuine, and don’t withhold your love. Somewhere along the way for me that got blurred with not setting proper boundaries. It’s one thing to say or do something in order to try to manipulate someone into doing what you want, and it’s another to say this is not okay to treat me like this, and I have no problem walking away if this is how it’s going to be. I’d apologized and now the ball was in his court. If he didn’t accept my apology for this minor detail that I wasn’t even required to offer him anyway, which I’d offered of my own volition, well then I’ll be on my way, sir.

And I did have a problem walking away, because the chemistry is beyond galactic, and we haven’t even kissed yet. But I meditated, prayed, went to the gym, texted with friends, colored my hair, repeated the third step prayer in my head throughout the day, and basically did everything I could to distract myself and try to think of everything but him (or studying, which is what I should’ve spent the whole day doing yesterday). Finally I went back on Match and started emailing and “liking” other guys at the advice of my guy friend Spencer, who is a bad influence. I was like, I feel like I should not do that, Spencer. I should be doing something else, like I dunno reading the Bible or something. To get on Match is just trading one drug for another, and what I really should do is just cancel my subscription and focus on school, friends, myself. God. And I only went on Match for about half an hour because, tbh, it was boring me to be on there.

My therapist had actually suggested something similar before, and another friend also texted me that the best way to get over a guy is to get under another. I’d like to go on the record for saying I think—or thought?—this was all terrible advice, and it seemed to me it’s just avoiding the real issue, which is that I’ve got to get right with me, to be okay with me, and not look to external things or people to make me feel better about myself.

But I have to admit.

It worked.

It didn’t completely keep my mind off the situation, and it did get boring after a few, but it helped me to remember that there are so many other fish in the sea who I can have chemistry with, and I barely know this guy. He is not the last man on earth. Okay so maybe he is six foot six and I try not to think of how big his hands are. But this is just lust. Infatuation. And like I said before, big hands are not a requirement. But it felt good to know I had lots of likes, winks, and emails from other men just as or more interested in me. Don’t give your power away, my guy friend had told me. Make him wait. Do not grovel. Amen to that, brother.

Spencer made a bet with me that he’d contact me again though I felt sure he was gone forever like how I always felt with Steven, and my abandonment issues were in high gear. I braced myself, decided who needs him anyway, though I did start to let go a little bit. These guys are interchangeable, my CODA sponsor had told me before, and I’d thought, Wow, that’s a jaded view. But what I think she means is that there’s no such thing as The One, the fairy tale romance, knight-in-shining-armor who does everything you want all the time, not anymore than there’s any person who does what you want all the time. If there was only One then what happens when dude dies or if he leaves you?

Sure enough, Mark texted me around 3pm. It may have helped that I’d already told him the day before, when we were talking about dealbreakers, that I will not be with someone who ignores me, that if I don’t hear from the guy for a day or so without any explanation I assume he’s no longer interested and I will not go after him. He’d basically said yes ma’am to that, so I figured time and his actions would reveal the truth.

And sure enough.

He came back.

He says he’s interested in me, hopes this will develop into something more, plans to keep me warm this winter, etc. Oh you will, Mister.

But at the same time, we’ll see about that. Because this girl is not hanging around waiting for someone to decide when and if they want me or not, ie, that today you hope this will develop into something more but tomorrow you have no time or space for me, nor will I be hanging out with someone just to have someone around.

And that’s all I got to say about that.