Trials and Tribulations of Dating

Rejection hurts no matter what shape it takes, or from whom. Online dating has forced me to reject guys more often than not, and I’ve been ghosted so many times I’m beginning to wonder if the profiles on Match and POF are even real. It’s like anything you want though: it only takes one person or one job or one whatever thing it is you want, right?

My wild oats are sewn, or should I say my one wild oat, and I’ve decided not to see Khalid again though he doesn’t know it yet. I don’t know who he is, where he goes when he’s not with me, where he’s been… and I want a meaningful relationship.

Liam, the one guy I was interested in (after being on two different sites for months and months), turned out to have issues I can’t deal with, including three DUIs in his past, a very recent break-up, and a diagnosis of ADHD, of which he’s only now getting treated for. ADHD is probably not that big of a deal, but after my experience with a guy who had OCD, which turned out to be “relationship OCD,” and prior to that, the ex with bipolar disorder, I don’t want to take my chances. Last weekend I texted him that it’s not gonna work, thinking he’d go away yet hoping he wouldn’t, and indeed he didn’t. He asked me why, then said it sounded like I was making a lot of assumptions, and asked if we could keep communication open. That was my cue to give it a shot, or so it seemed to me at the time, and I remembered a recent conversation I’d had with my friends.

“I believe in throwing it all out there, on the table, this is who I am, like me or not,” I’d boasted. “I’m a sober alcoholic, and if the guy doesn’t like me because of that, he can move on.”

Then I had the phone call with Liam when he blasted me with all red flags at once, and I was like whoa there train wreck this is not your station. Because my past is so pristine, as y’all probably already know, or will soon find out.

But because I liked “him”–or rather, his online profile, and the things he had to say, his pictures, his job (therapist! because they all make healthy decisions, right? probably no codependent relationships there at all!), I thought, Maybe I’m jumping the gun.

So I agreed to continue talking to him, and I thought we should at least meet in person and ADHD isn’t that big of a deal and he said his relationship was over long before it was actually over and maybe the DUIs were a long time ago. He said he had no desire to drink now, and hasn’t in a long while, and it’s not like I’m perfect nor do I have the perfect past. So we made a plan to meet Saturday.

Then a few days later he sends me a text cancelling our date, saying he’s going out with another girl instead, someone who lives closer to him, and he felt that I was too guarded.

rejection

The above image was taken from this site.

I’M too guarded??? You just laid all your baggage on me on the first phone call, and I’M too guarded? I just told you about how my ex had bipolar disorder, that the relationship was a literal emotional roller coaster, and then the guy after that had “relationship OCD”–and who knew there was even such a thing? How do i know this guy doesn’t have “relationship ADHD?” The ex probably had “relationship bipolar” for all I know. If that’s not in the DSM-V now then it probably will be, with my face, or my personality type (shout out to all the INFPs out there!), next to it: This is the woman guys with this illness are attracted to.

Do I just expect too much? I have scrolled through so many profiles, swiped left to so many guys. Every now and then I think well maybe I’m being too critical, and then I just feel like I’m settling. Never do I ever want to be in another relationship in which I feel I’ve settled. It seems to me that I’m not asking too much: a guy I’m attracted to, who has a job he likes, who likes to have fun, who’s funny, at least 5’10, preferably with dark hair or brown hair or even bald. He doesn’t have to be rich, he doesn’t have to be in some position of power, he doesn’t have to be a non-drinker (but I don’t want a heavy drinker), preferably he’s a nonsmoker, and he doesn’t have to be gorgeous but I’d like him to be good-looking–someone I’m attracted to. There has to be chemistry. And I just really do not like blond guys or short guys. Is that really too much to ask? One would think out of all the hundreds and hundreds of guys in the Baltimore/DC area, someone would fit that description.

And come to think of it, my therapist told me I’m actually too tolerant, so it can’t be that I expect too much.

Every now and then I come across some guy who looks interesting, but they’re never available. They don’t respond, or if they do, they ghost. The really good-looking ones just want to hook up, and even they will ghost. Is there something about me that just really turns guys off? It’s baffling, because I get a lot of emails from guys who compliment me—rarely guys I’m interested in—but the ones I think would be a good match just ignore me right off the bat, they ghost, or they send a few benign emails and we do that for weeks until one of us just gives up. Those particular emails go something like this:

Guy: Hey how are you?
Me: Good and you? Just finished Zumba and about to go to work.
Guy (a day or two later): Nice.
Me: So I noticed you mentioned you’re a foodie. I love food too! I’m studying nutrition in grad school. What kind of food do you like?
Guy (a few days later): I love all food.

Um, really, Guy?

Maybe I should start dating unattractive guys or short guys or blond guys. The funny thing is, I’ve been told in the past that I dated guys who weren’t that attractive, and what are you doing dating him? Um, because the good-looking guys don’t like me, y’all. They just don’t. One thing I’ve noticed is that they maybe are used to women chasing them, and I don’t like chasing guys.

There’s one potential silver lining, which is that I’ve reconnected with an old friend, a guy I knew who used to work with my first husband, who I’d always liked, who always liked me more, yet who I never dated, for many reasons. For one, I was married. And he was married. Then it turned out he’s an alcoholic. Well, he got sober a year ago (divorced a few years before that) and he wants to see me. We’ll call him Evan. Evan lives in Florida and is going to fly me down there to visit him next month. I should be way more excited, but Evan also has a lot of baggage, and he’s a smoker, he’s irresponsible with his money, and how do I know he won’t drink again, and I guess I just feel like I’ve been through so much shit when it comes to relationships I don’t even know if I want one anymore.

To top it all off, I have fever blisters all over my mouth, which I’d gotten from my ex-husband years ago. I’d cheated on my first husband with my soon-to-be second husband, then I cheated on the second with the first right before I moved to Maryland. A few months later, I got cold sores all over my mouth, which the first had gotten from this girl who he’d always flirted with in the meantime. So I felt like that’s what I get for being a cheater. (I would like to add here that it turns out he’d cheated on me before I ever cheated on him, and I only recently found this out. Not that it makes me a better person but it certainly doesn’t make me worse.) Anyway, the cold sores never returned, so I thought I had the kind that lie dormant, as some people have, but here they are, back again. Painful as hell and worrisome because who’d want to kiss me or be my boyfriend and what if Khalid gave me something?

Maybe it really is better to be single.

believe

The image above was taken from this site.

Peace and love,

TCH

Random Thoughts On Love, Hate, and Having Your Shit Together

Today is the day of the march against gun violence, March for Our Lives. My feelings about guns are mixed. Personally, I don’t see why we need them. Of course I realize that mayhem will ensue if guns were outlawed, and I’d be shocked to see that day. I can understand wanting a gun for personal safety if all hell were to break loose in an apocalyptic disaster, a fear that has been the driving force of our culture since the beginning, originating from biblical times. And I get that shooting at a gun range could be fun. On the other hand, is one person’s entertainment worth a child, or any person, getting shot and killed? Kids can’t even go to school without fear of getting shot. I say that, and many kids (most?) aren’t even afraid because they’re so desensitized to it. People can’t even go to church, the mall, concerts, etc. without the possibility of some psychotic shooter with an assault rifle gunning the place down. Non-Americans must think we’re crazy, and they’re not wrong. I wish we could be more like Canadians. They’re nice to everyone, everyone likes them, life looks pretty darn peaceful for them, from here anyway. Their gun laws make so much more sense…

They’re expecting 500,000 people to be at the march today, but I’m guessing it will be much bigger if it’s anything like the Women’s March.

My friend Molly and I are going together, as we did the Women’s March. My other friend Kathy will be there, and we plan on meeting up, but meeting one person in a crowd of 500,000 people doesn’t really happen. You can be like I’ll meet you on the corner of Pennsylvania and 3rd, but just know that hundreds of thousands of other people will also be on that corner. I’m mildly stressed out because it would’ve been good to get there early, but Molly can’t leave until noon. Which is when it starts. I did what I often do which is at first I said, Yeah whatever we’ll get there when we get there, because I’m Miss Easygoing Easy-Breezy who just goes along with everyone else. I feel like such a doormat sometimes. In this case–or in any case, really–it doesn’t pay to be a control freak about it because there will be a huge crowd, the metro will have delays, streets will be overflowing, etc. But when this happens I always feel afterwards I should’ve used my voice more, should’ve had my own plan, should’ve just said, I’ll be there at x time and I can just meet you there… But I don’t think I’ll find Molly if I do that, based on my experience at the Women’s March. And I was just gonna go with Kathy and tell Molly we’d meet her somewhere there but then Kathy didn’t reply to my texts last night regarding plans (turns out she had to work late but my crazy head told me she didn’t want to go with me… Lord help me). My original plans had been with Molly and I knew then that we’d be going at her mercy because being on time or showing up at all has never been her strong point, maybe due to her ADHD or whatever disorder it is she has (the doctors have diagnosed her with a few different disorders that have changed). I love her so much but omg she’s so frustrating sometimes. Honestly if I’d known Kathy was going from the start, and that she wanted to go with me, then I might have made plans with her and just told Molly I’d meet her there.

Kathy is my boss and she and I have become good friends over the last couple of years, and I like her a lot. She’s leaving soon to go to another job which means my job will become more stressful and less of a positive atmosphere. The other girls there have various issues that require a lot of patience which I usually can show well on the outside, while on the inside I want to scream (I mean, let’s just be real here). The thing about Kathy is she has her shit together which is more than I can say for most of my friends. And I use that phrase loosely—I guess some might argue that she does not have her shit together. But who really has their shit together? Aren’t we all just trying to figure it out as we go? What does it even mean to have your shit together?

I know a girl who’s 25 years old, recently graduated from acupuncture school, lives with her husband in her parents’ (big) house (they moved away), and they raise chickens and sell their eggs. She’s an acupuncturist and licensed personal trainer, and he owns his own landscaping business. He’s gorgeous, she’s gorgeous, they’re both like six feet tall… They’re the weirdest people I know. I want to know more about them. Are they real? Everyone else I’m friends with is on a journey of figuring out what they want to do. Maybe one day I’ll have my shit more together and have friends who are like them, except we’ll all be more like 50 years old, and even then, I’m skeptical. I’m skeptical of them too, though I don’t want to be cynical. The universe is abundant! There’s space for everyone. There is opportunity.

The important thing is to be a positive force in others’ lives.

Here’s a song that keeps going through my head this morning, originally from Bob Marley, performed by his son, Ziggy:

Back in the Saddle Again

My pledge to be single for real this time has come to an end, my friends, as you might have guessed. The whole “relationship anorexia” idea—and that is a thing—well, that was just a bad idea. No need to be single just because I think I should be. Just do what you want, what feels right, follow your heart. Or your genitals. LOL. Just kidding.

What happened was, I was texting with my friend Spencer yesterday, and I was like, I wish whatshisface would just behave and be with me. Why couldn’t he just do what I wanted? Ha! Because that’s what people always do, right? I considered texting him and asking if he’s sure this is really what he wants. We don’t have to get married, dude! There was mad chemistry—just appreciate that now while we’re in our prime. It’s hard for me to understand how a red-blooded male couldn’t just do what he wanted to do, which was have a friend with benefits. He told me that from the start, and it was clear he was afraid of commitment, and honestly, I wasn’t in love with him. I wanted to be in love with him because I want to be in love with someone, and he seemed like a good person to be in love with, minus the weird mommy issues. And neediness. And paranoia. And jealousy and possessiveness.

hesnotit

That’s what I wanted? Pfffft. I may as well reactivate my Match account. Find someone who can fit into my schedule, my life. Someone who’ll come to my house, instead of me driving half an hour one way, packing and unpacking, rearranging my life around his, cancelling my plans with my friends, skipping meetings, putting him first. Nuh uh. Dude can fit into my life this time.

I’m not saying I’ll be inflexible and uncompromising, just that I’m so done with putting the man first. What about my needs? And when did his issues become my problem? And who says I have to put someone like that into my life? I have my own issues to deal with.

 

Y’all, if I’m being honest, I don’t even want a relationship right now because I just don’t have the time. Of course it would be great if that’s what happened—who doesn’t want love? But whatever happens, it will have to be with someone who understands that I don’t have lots of free time, that my “me time” is important to me, my time with friends is necessary, and I still need to study and go to the gym (which I haven’t done in months, I’m not proud to say). Do I just want to have my cake and eat it too? Is it even possible to have both your independence and a faithful companion and lover?

The thing is, I got needs, my friends. Unfortunately, that’s what ends up getting me into trouble. That’s why I thought Mark was a good choice. We had the same feelings about each other: we were attracted to each other but not in love. The problem was we weren’t willing to admit that to each other. I’m not sure if he could admit it to himself or was just trying to bullshit me, but that’s my assessment of the situation now, having more perspective on it. Personally, I didn’t want to admit it to him because he had that virgin-whore complex, and I do not appreciate being regarded as a whore. And really, I was willing to settle. I hate using that word, but my experience has gone one of two ways: either I think he’s the king of the universe and later realize he wasn’t at all, or I decide that this guy, whoever he may be, was good enough. I’d been in relationships with guys who had their pros and cons, everyone has their problems, and I decided that these particular problems I could deal with. I’d been rejected by guys I thought were perfect, and I felt like anyone I thought was “perfect” was probably an asshole, because they were.

lucky

We’ll see what happens.

My goal is to find a guy who I can be friends with, who makes me laugh, and who I make laugh. And who I have chemistry with. In the meantime my friends, I’ll settle for the chemistry part. LOL. God help me.

loveyourself

Peace and love,

TCH

 

Freedom and Self-Love on Valentine’s Day

This article from the New York Times jumped out at me this morning when I logged onto my laptop: For a Better Marriage, Act Like a Single Person. Stephanie Coontz writes, “Many of the problems experienced by divorced and widowed people may result not so much from the end of their marriage as from having relied too much on their spouse and thus failing to maintain social networks and the skills of self-reliance.” Amen to that, sister.

Last night my friend Kate invited me out, saying sometimes a group gets together to go bowling, and also there’s a girls’ night out on Fridays once a month. I’d been invited to the girls’ night already, so I’m excited about that. Mixed feelings about both because there’s a back story to both situations, but overall I feel glad to be single because when I’m in a relationship I feel like I can’t participate in these kinds of outings. Or if I do, it’s not as much fun. Never have I been in a social circle that included the guy I was dating, because I don’t typically date guys in AA, which is where I make all my friends. Kate told me last night she doesn’t want to be in a relationship; she’d much rather have her freedom and have friends. She looked at me and said, “You don’t seem to broken up about Mark.”

Spencer had said the same thing, and I must admit it’s true. My life has been far less stressful without driving 30 minutes to Mark’s house, packing and unpacking my stuff, skipping meetings or missing outings because I’m with him, etc. I told Kate I wish that he and I could’ve kept the sex part lol, and she said something like I needed a much more low maintenance sex partner (lol). I do want a companion, more than just a sex partner, but what I also want is someone I can share a social circle with, but who has their own friends, and doesn’t become possessive of my time, who’s okay with me having my own friends.

So here’s the backstory to the social situation I referred to earlier. One of the girls in the group is someone I sponsored but who decided she wanted another sponsor because she felt like she didn’t see me enough. She’s younger, about 28, and ended up asking someone else to be her sponsor, a bossy woman in her late 50s. Apparently both of them are part of the group that goes out, so it’s mildly awkward. I can’t help but feel rejected by Brooklyn, the girl I’d sponsored, and I’ve just never liked her new sponsor. And Brooklyn started dating this creepy older guy who has about 25 kids, a guy I’ll call Jake, who’d sent me a like via Match a while back which I ignored. Dude is twice Brooklyn’s age, and he has so many kids, including little ones. He’s not attractive in the least; he looks like an unattractive woman. Brooklyn on the other hand is new to AA, pretty, young, and she has whole life ahead of her. It’s just creepy. None of my business, but still. I can’t help but think if I were her sponsor I’d be giving her better guidance, I hope, than that bossy Bianca. For one, I’ve been there before. I’ve dated creepy guys not worth my time because I was so insecure I loved the attention and didn’t think I’d get it anywhere else. That’s experience I could’ve shared with her, and she could do what she wanted with that information, but it would be a seed, I hope. I suppose I still can share this with her if the opportunity comes up. Bianca’s the kind of person who will have an opinion and will probably give it. She seems like someone who tells you what to do, and maybe Brooklyn likes that. But it wouldn’t work for me.

It’s none of my business but that’s what goes through my head. At the root of all this is me feeling rejected because Brooklyn left me for another sponsor (as if she was my girlfriend lol), when I felt like we had a good relationship. I was always available for her, we met frequently, we’d gotten to her 7th step already. The only thing was we didn’t see each other at meetings often because I was usually with Mark instead. She didn’t know that but probably guessed, so I feel judged, like she and everyone else thinks Bianca is somehow a better person than me. As if somehow I’ve failed at sobriety, lol, which is ridiculous because I’m still sober, and I still practice doing the right thing in all my life situations. Anyone who can’t see that chooses not to see it, and it doesn’t matter anyway because I know who I am and what I do. What I forget is that Brooklyn’s decision to fire me and get someone else has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with her. Sometimes when people do that it’s because they feel like they’re not working a good program and they want to blame it on their sponsor. That’s why I changed sponsors so many times during my first four years of sobriety. Whatever the case, I must remember not to take it personally. And who knows? Maybe the guy’s not really a creep; I don’t really know him… Btw, I’m coming up on eight years now! What a blessing and a miracle that is.

Anyway, the other awkward situation is that the group of friends who go out bowling sometimes includes the guy I’d dated briefly (Jay) who went back to his girlfriend (Yvonne), a couple I refer to as Jayvonne, and Kate wanted to know if I’d be okay with them being there. Honestly, I don’t really mind, and would love to go out with the group; it’s only mildly uncomfortable when Jayvonne is there because I feel bad for having slept with him when they were separated. No one, including them, knew they’d get back together, so it’s not like there was infidelity, but if the tables were turned I wouldn’t like having the other woman around. Kate doesn’t think she’d mind, and he doesn’t care and probably likes it because he’s a guy, and he probably feels like a rooster. Anyway, I’ll probably go out with the group soon. That whole situation is just a lesson learned not to sleep with guys in the group. Or anyone else for that matter.

Both of those situations, and my recent break-up with Mark could leave me feeling rejected—and I do, especially with the sponsorship situation. I mean, I hate rejection, no matter what form it takes. But these situations also make me glad to be single. Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I actually feel grateful to be single, to have my freedom, to do whatever I want with my time. I’m glad not to be in Brooklyn’s or Yvonne’s shoes. I’m grateful to be enjoying school this semester. My room and bathroom have never been cleaner and more organized, which I’ve been able to maintain because I’m actually home now, so my space has become a haven. I have a warm home, a fun job with supportive co-workers, friends and a social network in sobriety, and sobriety itself. If you’d told me 10 or 20 years ago this is where I’d be today and I’d be happy, I wouldn’t have believed you. Yet here I am.

I hope everyone can find this kind of peace and gratitude. You just never know where you’ll find yourself. I know a lot of people who are suffering, and I can relate. I’ve been there. For SO long. Years. But if you believe good things are just around the corner, that good things are here already, you just have to open your eyes to them—life gets better. It really does.

May you find peace, happiness, and self-love.

Here’s a song (a cover of Meghan Trainor’s song “He’s No Good for You” by someone named Eliza) I’d like to dedicate to Brooklyn, and all the girls out there who are dating creepy guys who don’t deserve their time, because they want to fill a void that really only a higher power and self-love can fill… Girl, I’ve been there before, and I hope never to go back.

Love,

TCH

Ex-Boyfriends, FWBs, Relationships, Etc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friends with “Benefits”

“Lust rushes but love waits” – Bridget Devoue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace and love,

TCH

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