An Opportunity to Do Something Different

School started back this past weekend and my class so far is easier than I’d expected, thank God. Right now we’re learning how to work with clients, so it’s starting to feel more real and therefore scary. Also, I heard that almost no one passes their certification exam on the first try, including two girls I knew from my first semester who seemed smart and studious. In a way that makes me feel better, in case I don’t pass the first time.

Steven emailed me again, this time to apologize for the time he went with me to visit my family and how he’d cut the visit short with a mood swing. He didn’t like my dad and he didn’t want to spend the day with him and my sister and her family, which I’d wanted to do since I didn’t get to see them often. I appreciate his apology, but can’t help but wonder if he really thinks that’s all he has to apologize for. How about leaving me right after my mom died? I haven’t replied to him yet because I’m not sure if I want to just say thanks and move on, or if it’s necessary to bring that up. Probably not, but I asked my sponsor anyway. We’ll see what she says.

In the meantime it’s been hard not to reconsider being Mark’s friend with benefits. At 41, I’m in my prime so it’s like telling a teenage boy he can have sex with a beautiful girl for fun, or holding a raw piece of meat out to a dog and saying you can have this with no strings attached. It wasn’t just sex, but it was incredible sex, with experiences I hadn’t felt before, that a lot of women don’t get to experience. I haven’t cried over the break-up, I think because I’m realizing I wasn’t that into him, I just wanted to be. I still want to be, tbh.

There’s this part of me that believes you really just end up settling with someone, especially after dating so much that you’re just beaten down, and you realize that the best thing you can hope for is someone who’s not an asshole. It reminds me of a conversation on the “Hang the DJ” episode of “Black Mirror:”

What I want is someone who’s a good friend and who I’m attracted to, and he was those two things. I wouldn’t call Mark my best friend, like how I felt about Steven at the time (even though he was borderline emotionally abusive), or my actual best friend, but he was fun and easy to talk to.

I met this girl in my class who’s getting married to a guy she’s known since middle school. It’s just like my sister. She’s known this guy since middle school, and they went to high school together, but they didn’t start dating until after college, and now they’re getting married. In other words, he’s a nice guy and she knows he’s a nice guy because she’s known him since he was a child.

Sometimes I wonder if I did something really bad in a previous life.

Which means I’m not being grateful.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” ~Brother David Steindl-Rast

It would be better to meet someone after I graduate and have a stable career. Right now I get to focus on me, school, studying, spirituality, finding myself. Spending time with my friends. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. I don’t have to worry about what someone else wants for dinner, or how messy my room is. And having a boyfriend or a husband isn’t going to solve my problems. I already know that from experience.

So really I need to just put these guys out of my mind and focus on me. Right now I have an opportunity to do something different than what I’ve done in the past, and what a blessing that is. I have an opportunity to choose a different path.

Here’s another beautiful song by Sia, “Bird Set Free.”

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

Never (Ever Ever) Getting Back Together

It’s funny how a person can spend so much time ruminating over how wronged they are, wishing for amends, only to be faced with that day and… well, kinda not care. Oh, how I longed for the day my ex would make amends to me, to come crawling back, begging on his hands and knees for me to forgive him. Well, that day has come, my friends. And it feels… so anticlimactic. Or just not as satisfying as I thought it would.

He sent me an email asking if he could apologise to me. And that’s how he spelled it: apologise, with an s. When you type it on an American computer or cellphone, it auto-corrects to the American spelling, with a z. So I don’t know what that was all about, but he added that he wanted to apologise for a few things that had been bothering him, but that if I didn’t want to talk to him, he understood, adding that it was a selfish request, and that he hopes I’m doing really really really well.

Of course it meant something to me that he wanted to make amends. My heart had been crushed so many times by the things he said and did in our relationship, things I put up with because he had bipolar disorder, which I wouldn’t have put up with otherwise, because I believed that he couldn’t help it, and that I needed to learn how to adapt. I would’ve done anything to keep our codependent relationship together. A relationship in which he repeatedly told me he had no plans of committing to, and even admitted himself many times that he took me for granted, always as an apology, but nevertheless a truism that I ignored for a year and a half. Because my dumb ass hoped he would change. Let me tell you something, ladies: They don’t change. If a guy tells you he’s afraid of commitment, run fast!

And I appreciate that he hopes I’m doing well. Of course I hope he’s doing well too, in a grand-scheme-of-things kind of way, like if we were in the midst of an apocalypse and someone was like, What are your last words to Steven? And if I’d already said all I needed to say to all of my closest loved ones, and to some of my friendly acquaintances and a few random kind strangers, and there was still time to leave a message for Steven, who somehow would still be alive somewhere to get my message, I’d say, I wish him well.

Although, it’s not so much that I wish him well now as it is that I don’t have ill will towards him. Ie, I don’t hope that a tree falls on his car, or that his apartment burns down, or that he becomes terminally ill, if you need some examples.

The thing that really stood out to me, besides the English spelling of apologize, was that he admitted it’s a selfish request. He admits that it’s ultimately to make him feel better. To appease his own guilt. I don’t know if that means a person is genuinely sorry, or if they just want to be let off the hook. The problem with that is that they’re looking to be let off the hook by someone else. It helps, but can it make a person let go of their feelings of guilt? I don’t know the answer to that. Ultimately we must each learn to love and forgive ourselves, and I’m not sure if getting someone else’s forgiveness can do that for us. Isn’t it just another form of approval-seeking?

And I’m not sure he really feels guilty so much as he wants to believe he’s a good person. I’m not saying he’s not a good person. But it’s possible he’s a narcissist, a label I’ve rejected for a long time now because it seems to be the trend to call every asshole guy out there a narcissist (probably because the President of the United States is a narcissistic, mentally ill, abusive, sexist, dangerous man but that’s another blog post I’m not wasting my time writing). But as my therapist pointed out, Steven just wasn’t capable of loving me. He probably couldn’t love anyone, because he didn’t love himself.

My initial reaction is this: Why would I want to let you off the hook? Why the HELL would I want to make YOU feel better? And why would I even want to see you? Why not just email me the apology? Send it in a letter?

I might not read a letter anyway, to be honest, for fear of getting hurt again by any kind of barbed or double-edged comments, such as, I’m sorry that I loved you so much that I couldn’t deal with it, especially after you said I hugged my daughter too much and that it seemed inappropriate.

It would be weird to see him now. Maybe I’d wonder what I saw in him, and it would be an uncomfortable moment of wondering who I am, if I was being true to myself then, and if I am now. It felt so true at the time. But people change. I’ve changed, and the woman I am today won’t put up with the bullshit he put me through, not from anyone, no matter whether the guy has a mental illness or not. I’m sorry for him that he has to deal with that, but I can choose whether or not to be in that kind of relationship. Honestly, I have my own depression and anxiety to deal with, and I can’t be with someone who has the same issues (magnified, in his case)—it just brings me down. When he was depressed, I was depressed. When he was happy, I was happy. Today I’m my own person—or trying to be, anyway—and I cannot allow myself to put up with that.

If it’s only a selfish request, it also means he doesn’t want to get back together with me. Not that I’d want to get back together with him, but I can’t help but wish he did. He doesn’t lament that he left such an amazing potential wife. He doesn’t see the error of his ways and how perfect I was for him, that he just made the worst mistake of his life (lol), leaving someone who’d have taken care of him, and that I was the sweetest, most beautiful, smartest woman he’d ever been in a relationship with. Haha! I realize I’m being dramatic with all these statements, but that’s how I feel in this moment.

A friend suggested that Steven would probably apologize for something that didn’t even matter to me anyway, rather than the things that hurt me, which wouldn’t surprise me. For example, how about the fact that he never invited me to visit his kids with him when he went to see them every other weekend in North Carolina? Where he stayed in the house with his ex-wife? And the fact that he never spent the holidays with me, but instead spent it with them and his ex-wife? When he could’ve gotten a hotel room and invited me to spend that time with him and his kids, excluding the ex-wife. How he reminded me that he couldn’t afford for us to live together but then he ended up getting his own place that cost him more than it would have if we’d have lived together. How he ruined my 40th birthday by putting a time limit on how long I could spend with my family, who I only got to see a few times a year, then insulted me for not standing up to my dad (whose goal for my life is that I marry someone just like Steven to take care of me, and who loved Steven). How he bragged to my dad about how much money he made, yet refused to live with me because he said he couldn’t afford it. Well, also because he refused to commit to me, but then he expected me to commit to him. And I did.

Maybe he expects me to apologize in return. Which ain’t gonna happen, my friends. Pah! Yeah, right! As if! I spent the entire relationship apologizing to him for every little thing I said or did that upset him. Maybe you’re thinking I hurled all kinds of disturbing accusations, knowing the comment I made about his daughter, but I didn’t. Most of the time I made an extra effort to be sensitive to his feelings with the words I used. I walked on eggshells, always worried I’d said or did the wrong thing. Read my old blogs if you want proof of how much I adored that asshole, who did not deserve my time. And I did apologize for saying those words, more than once, extensively. Plus, my sponsor already confirmed that I don’t owe him any amends.

Or maybe he doesn’t expect an apology. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter anymore because I have no desire to see him or talk to him or rehash it anymore.

I just want to move on with my life and find someone who doesn’t remind me of him in any way.

Sigh.

I want to apologize for turning this into an angry rant loaded with negativity, and for not being over it already, and for writing about him yet again, and for not looking at any of the positives about our relationship, because there were some, I just can’t think of what they are right now, since I isolated myself from all of my friends and made him my whole world… but I’m trying not to apologize for everything all the time. Sometimes we have to get the anger out to get over a broken heart, and sometimes the process just takes longer than we want.

I do want to say that I feel empathy for Steven, and his brothers, because their parents must’ve been really horrible for them to have turned out how they did. One of the brothers moved to Korea, never to return to America, and none of them have visited their parents in years. So I will say that I am so grateful that I had a mother who showed her love for me in a way that made me feel loved, and that even though my dad and I don’t have the perfect relationship, he was never abusive, and I know he loves me too.

Love,

TCH

Home

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

When You Have No Other Choice But to Look at Yourself

Since Mark left me I haven’t cried, except once I welled up when “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor came on at work. I feel numb. My default reaction is that nothing good ever happens to me, my higher power’s plan for me is never what I want, and I’ll be alone forever.

But the new me points out the positives: he reminded me that good guys exist, he encouraged me to use my voice, he didn’t abandon me for using my voice, and I now have time to focus on myself, my school, career, friends.

He also convinced me that I look good without much make-up and my hair more natural. Let me revise that: I wouldn’t say he convinced me that I look good so much as made me aware of how much better women look who do not put too much make-up on. While I personally think I look better with black eyeliner (and I got a lot of compliments!), a Cleopatra hairstyle (got lots of compliments on that too), and unnaturally vibrant auburn hair (and I got compliments on that too!), he made me realize that wearing neutral tones of make-up and wavy brown hair looks… well, in my opinion, fine, and in his opinion, better. I must say no one has complimented this new look now that I think of it so maybe he wanted me to look worse so no one else would like me. LOL. Just kidding. I think he really liked that better, but whatever the case, this is who I am and I don’t want to become the old lady who dresses 20 years younger with a bunch of fake stuff.

Over the past few days what’s really come to mind is that although I still have two years left, I need to figure out how to become a nutritionist. This will be my livelihood. This will be what I do 40 hours a week, presumably. It’s how I’ll spend my days. If I cannot find confidence in myself doing this, my life will not feel worth living. I have no option but to do something for myself.

When I woke up this morning I remembered a girl I worked with at the store, who has since graduated from the school I’m attending, and who works at an apothecary similar to where I work, except she works with a team of nutritionists and practitioners and they advise clients on how to heal or recover or become healthier through nutrition and supplements. She’d suggested that I go to work there last year while I’m still in school, that it would make my life easier down the road as a nutritionist, but I liked my current job too much and didn’t want to jeopardize that. This job I have now is the only job I’ve really loved, with good people who treat their employees well, where people care about each other. It’s the only job I’ve worked in my adult life that was not a shark tank, and I’m terrified to go back to that environment. I wish I could work at the grocery store forever, but even if I made enough money there, I don’t see how they’ll survive, especially with Amazon. And now that Amazon has bought out Whole Foods, there’s no way a locally-owned grocery store can make it in the long run. Their days are numbered, in my opinion.

Even the apothecary probably can’t survive, but it will be a good way for me to get experience advising clients. As it is now, I don’t get to do that much. Customers ask for advice, but because I’m not a licensed practitioner I’m not allowed to give advice, nor can I say anything will treat, mitigate, prevent, or cure any kind of condition or disease. I know more than the average person, but I find it hard to remember what I think I should remember. My boss remembers a lot from when she was in school. She has since dropped out, yet she remembers details I didn’t even get the first time around from school. She knows how the body works and can describe in detail how the different processes and pathways work and the mechanism of action for various supplements. I don’t even try to remember that kind of information. All I can tell you is that, for example, milk thistle is traditionally used to support healthy detoxification. Don’t ask me how or why.

While I know I shouldn’t compare myself to others, and my boss is smarter than the average person, I still feel inadequate. But at the same time it helps to know she’s smarter than not just me but most everyone else, and I suspect that when she describes some of this stuff to customers it goes over their heads, so they buy the supplement because they think she sounds like she knows what she’s talking about, even if they don’t. At least I can explain things in layman’s terms, provided I understand it in the first place.

I feel my memory getting worse, and it’s never been great. So that worries me.

Back to Mark: I can’t help but feel that if he were to change his mind and decide to stay with me, to go to therapy and do what he needs to do to manage his OCD, I’d go back to him. I would at least give it a try. It’s worth it, provided we both put in the work needed for the relationship. Maybe it’s more work than would be good for me. Whatever the case, it’s not up to me. It’s over so now I have no choice but to move on, and hopefully look back and see that it all worked out for the better.

Relationships are my addiction. When I’m in a relationship, that’s at the forefront of my mind, rather than the career change I’m in the process of making.

I don’t know if I can emphasize enough how much anxiety I feel about this career stuff. I’ve never had a job I liked outside of restaurant jobs from college, and the grocery store where I work now. Being in the workforce in marketing and even at the law firm before that was terrifying for me. I always felt out of place, never comfortable, never at home.

Sigh.

I have to change. There’s no other choice.

That’s all I got for today.

Here’s a song I’ve been listening to on repeat lately.

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

 

Random Thoughts About Relationships and Sex

Once upon a time I’d decided not to write about sex on my blog, but those days are over. We need to talk more about this, folks! I need to, anyway. I have a lot of different issues going on: possible perimenopause (night sweats, yay), biological clock ticking (I didn’t even know that thing was on), a different form of birth control possibly messing with my hormones, antidepressants killing my sex life, and a boyfriend who I don’t seem to be compatible with in the bedroom—though once the antidepressants wear off, we’ll know for sure.

Here’s the rabbit hole I go down when life doesn’t work out the way I want: I spiral into a predicted future that (hopefully) won’t happen, in which I’m alone forever, eventually dying alone in a nursing home, no partner, family, or friends to speak of. Which is a lie because I have plenty of loved ones today.

Here’s the fantasy I play out when things seem to be working for me: I want whatever he wants, and that will make me happy. We can have a kid and I’ll have at least two people (or at least one) to love and be loved by, until death do us part.

I know what you’re thinking, or what I’d be thinking if I were in your shoes, provided your shoes are filled by someone whose life is going how they want today: I simply need to learn to love myself and focus on what I want.

I’ll tell you what I want: I want a partner. A friend and lover. And if it’s important for him to have a child, I’d consider it—especially if I felt strongly enough about the man, and knowing what I know about how my mom felt about my sisters and me, and knowing that I’m almost 42 now, I’d strongly consider it.

Mark has all the boxes checked: funny, fun, sweet, good-looking, smart, stable, caring, responsible. He’s a good lover in that he’s a giver. But I’m a giver too. Neither of us is used to being the taker, or the recipient—ie, the selfish lover who lays there while the other person does all the work. You’d think that would be a match made in heaven, but the truth is, the fun part is when the other person is enjoying it. Most men I’ve dated have been selfish yet grateful recipients, and I thought it would be nice to have a partner who wants to reciprocate, except Mark wants to do everything and for me to be enthusiastic without doing anything in return. Most women would love that, but I just can’t. And I can’t fake it.

I’m so down about this right now y’all it makes me want to not date for a long time, maybe forever. It makes me feel like I’m a bad lover, and maybe no one really liked me in bed that much. I wonder if there’s anyone out there who I’m compatible with. Maybe I’m going through perimenopause and won’t really be interested in sex again, and/or certainly not at the level I have been in the past few years. Which wouldn’t be a tragedy if I met a guy who didn’t care about that. But maybe that person doesn’t exist.

At the same time, I hate that I’m putting this all on me. My exes expressed lots of enthusiasm for our sex life, and this is a situation I haven’t encountered before. Not everyone will like the same things, and not everyone is compatible with each other. It has nothing to do with me or him being bad or good—it just is.

Still, it’s hard not to take it personally.

The important thing is to keep faith that someone is out there for me. I believe human beings are social animals and we’re meant to partner up, and I know there’s someone out there for me. Maybe I’ll learn that it’s Mark, once the antidepressants get out of my system, or maybe I’ll learn that sometimes you meet someone who seems just right, but they’re just not, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

I pray that I stay positive, keep faith that life is unfolding for me just as it’s meant to, down a path that will be far better than I tried to plan.

000000trust