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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

Some Real Personal Shit… or, A Player’s Gonna Play

Where do I even begin.

A lot has happened since my date with Mark. We had a second date. Dude is HOT. The chemistry is intense. Not what I expected this soon into online dating.

But something just didn’t add up, in my mind. Details of what he’d said to me all pointed to him being a player in my book. It seemed to me that he was handing me a bunch of bullshit he thought I wanted to hear—and I did want to hear it, but only if it was true. Mostly I want to hear the truth, so I pulled it out of him: What is it you’re looking for? After many conversations and roundabout ways of figuring out what I think he’s after, I then ask: If I were to say that I wanted an FWB would you be interested?

Indeed, he says.

Of course. That’s all he wanted from the start, I decided. He’s never been married, doesn’t want to commit, so what arrangement could be more perfect for him?

Here’s the problem. I think he likes me. At first I thought he was playing me, and I was like, Nuh uh, mister, a player can’t be played. Snap! So I decided not to be completely honest since I’d decided no way was he being honest with me so why should I be with him?

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The problem with me not being honest is that I’m bad at it. I got caught in the lie and tried to play it off but it hit a nerve with him and now he’s not sure he can trust me.

So I came across this Buzzfeed article and realized I’ve already messed up by imposing the FWB label on this attraction we have to one another. Because if this is the definition of a friend with benefits, that’s not what I want, entirely. I want an actual friend who I talk to on a regular basis, but who has their own life while I have my own life and friends and time apart. I don’t want the pressure of making them my top priority. I don’t want them to feed me some bullshit about how they love me but can’t commit while I wait for them to change their mind.

So then I came across this Psychology Today article which makes more sense for me, and which I hope to share with Mark if he’s still interested. He says he is, but I may have destroyed my chances by breaking his trust, because I told him I’d had fewer partners than I did over the last 14 years. I didn’t completely do it on purpose—I’d hastily come up with a number mentally and subtracted a couple of he-didn’t-counts and decided that was good enough. It seemed to me that my number is small even with the two I forgot. Basically I’m a serial relationship person. I’m 41 years old, y’all. I was in two long term commitments for five and a half years each, with a few in between and after. Is that a lot?

My ex-boyfriend never knew how many. He’d told me his number which was low, and he’d made many comments about “slutty women,” so I gave him the impression I hadn’t been with many guys, knowing I was promiscuous in high school and college, and knowing he’d have judged me for that. Please keep in mind that I was also drunk back then and often blacked out (and depressed and lonely and effed up) and that I slept with people I wouldn’t have slept with otherwise. Not justifying it, but I’m not proud of my past.

I certainly did not have to tell Mark my number, and wish I had not. It was just that he’d seemed overly concerned with the possibility of me having an STD. Who did he take me for? Was it because he’s out there sleeping with dozens of women all the time? Sure seems like it takes one to know one. (Turns out he had a scare years ago.)

It’s possible I have turned into a femme fatale, or maybe it’s just that I’ve always been a jaded person who assumes the only thing the guy wants is sex, and no way will I allow myself to be used in that way without getting mine. If it’s clear to me from the start that he doesn’t want a commitment or that he’s not who I want him to be, but there’s mad chemistry, well then let’s get it on. But don’t expect me to be committed to you or to be 100% honest with you.

It could just be that he’s a nice guy who wants a relationship but is afraid to commit because he’s afraid to get hurt. I’ve reverted to my old way of treating this whole thing like a power play for me to gain control over him and the relationship to keep myself from getting hurt. I chose a different route with Steven because I loved him and I wanted to take a more spiritual approach to life, and I got my heart ripped out. I’d picked a man who could not commit, and after meeting Mark, I suspected he too is someone afraid to commit.

Look at who’s calling the kettle black. Besides Steven, when have I committed? My sponsor tells me you attract what you are. Be who you want to meet and that’s who you’ll attract. She told me, the trouble is that you don’t know what you want. You got that right, sister. I want to have my cake and eat it too, just like the guys I meet, and then get annoyed with them for being that way.

What’s the secret to a lasting relationship? Different houses, time apart, I’ve heard it said many times. Somewhere in there you’ve got to have trust. Relationships look different today than they did 20+ years ago. Not everyone gets married, or even lives together. Some people have open relationships, others have secret affairs. Is anyone faithful the whole time, if that whole time is a lifetime?

The infidelity topic came up the other day when I was on my second date with Mark, so it got me to thinking about my first husband. Maybe Ryan would fess up now if he’d really been unfaithful. We text each other on occasion, so I sent him a text and point blank asked. It’s complicated, he replies. It’s a yes or no question, I text back. I finally pull it out of him that he’d fooled around with one woman and then there was another woman, but both times were when we were “broken up.” Um, we never broke up. Not until the end, anyway. He agreed and admitted he’d justified it that way.

Wow.

I’ve been the bad guy all these years, and he had done just the same thing. Before I had done my irredeemable deed.

I knew it.

This is why beating yourself up is pointless. No one is perfect. We can both blame it all on me for why my ex-boyfriend, Steven, and I broke up, but guess what? It can’t be just one person’s fault. I was faithful to Steven the whole time, and totally committed in spite of the fact that he didn’t want to commit to me. In the past, if I suspected the guy was losing interest or cheating on me, I revenge-cheated in advance. Keep in mind that I was also drinking and not living any kind of spiritual life whatsoever.

Now I am living a spiritual life, or trying to, but it’s hard, and I defaulted to my old manipulative ways of dealing with this new guy. I am hoping we can gain trust in each other and have the conversation in which we decide to just remove any labels and see where this thing goes. In my heart of hearts I confess that I don’t see more than a physical attraction on both ends; time will tell if there becomes a deeper, more emotional connection. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, to have just the physical attraction. I am probably overthinking this whole thing.

So there you have it, folks. Some deeply personal shit from me. God help me to deal with this in the right way, and to learn from it.

Be honest, y’all! And I will try to practice what I preach. Progress, not perfection. One day at a time. And all those other cliches.

Peace and love,

TCH