A Good Man Is Hard to Find

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

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

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

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

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

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

love-yourself

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

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

self-worth

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

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

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

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

do-i-like-them

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

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

make-ourselves-strong

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

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

Peace and love,

TCH

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

Men and Relationships: My Favorite Addiction

This is the time of my life in which I’m single. I hope. I can’t make any promises, y’all, because you know how I am. The first good-looking, interesting guy who catches my attention I’ll be imagining how we’ll live together. Men are like a drug to me; relationships are an addiction for me. If Mark texted me today to see if I wanted to get together, you better believe I’ll be there. I’ll say it’s better this way, I can live my life and he can live his, we don’t have to get married, we’ll just see each other on occasion…

But if I play the tape the whole way through, as they tell us in recovery to do, it doesn’t end well. It can go one of two ways. Either he comes back to me or he doesn’t. Let’s say I get what I want. Guess what? I won’t want it anymore. Oh I’ll play the game for a while, years even. We may even get married. And then I start feeling trapped. You mean I have to stay with this guy for the rest of my life? Eventually someone appears on the fringes who seems much better, who I have much more in common with, who I wish I was married to instead. Secretly I’ll pine over that guy, or I’ll create some persona of who I think that guy is, and I’ll feel like a fraud, living a double life, knowing in my bones and in my heart I don’t want to be married to this guy anymore, pretending that I do. Wishing I was single. Free.

How about being grateful for what I have today?

Yesterday I woke up so grateful not to have the flu, which has been going around, literally killing people. At work our immune support section looks post-apocalyptic, empty, signs up that the manufacturer is out of stock. I’ve been taking so many supplements I don’t even need to eat food (JUST KIDDING—everyone needs to eat food, y’all, and that whole breathatarian bullshit is a dangerous lie). But I’ve been taking a lot of herbs and vitamins, and washing my hands like a mad woman. I’d gone home the night before not feeling great, paranoid and convinced I’d wake up with the flu.

But then I woke up feeling SO happy, and so grateful to be well. That’s a blessing that not everyone gets. For example, one of my friends has rheumatoid arthritis which has no cure and causes her so much pain she can’t work. And I’m over here worrying about my silly boyfriends? I mean, come on. Now’s the time I can embrace this moment.

Last night I went to a women’s meeting, which I love because rarely does anyone talk about drinking, which I don’t care to talk about so much anymore. Even though I’m an alcoholic, drinking is just not something I think about very often anymore (which is a miracle because for 20 years the obsession dominated my life). In March I’ll have eight years of sobriety, and I thank God for that.

At this women’s meeting I go to we usually talk more about what’s going on in our lives today and how to live a spiritual life, how to find peace and gratitude without using alcohol or drugs to escape. It was so nice to be in a room full of supportive women talking about our lives and how to live better. We all laughed a lot, and I got them laughing too which always makes me happy, and a few women came up to me afterwards to chat. It’s so comforting and welcoming. A few of us even talked about the culture we live in, the families we grew up in, how we’ve grown up with low self-esteem as a result of being taught that getting married (and to marry well) is a sign of success, or that we’re not as smart as men, or just not smart enough or good enough.

When I was in Georgia visiting my dad, he asked me what he often asks when we see each other, which is why my oldest sister and I don’t have good jobs. He couldn’t understand her especially because she has such a high IQ. I’m his dumb, pretty daughter, so I guess it makes more sense for me, and plus I still have a chance to get rescued by a husband. (That last sentence was meant facetiously; I feel like it makes the writing worse if I have to explain that but I would rather have y’all understand me.) I explained to him that Sherry had a good job as a director at an animal sanctuary, and now she’s searching for something new, and we’re happy anyway. Then I tried something new and I asked him, out of curiosity, “Are you disappointed in us?”

That surprised him. He said that he was just baffled, because he’d gotten a job out of college on the air force base working as a chemist, got promoted several times, and retired with a pension. Today is a different day, I explained. If we could have that, or if I could, I’d take it (IF I liked the job, which I probably wouldn’t, lol, but no need to tell him that part). I asked him what was it that makes Tracy, my other sister, better than us? She didn’t work for many years. She got married and raised kids (and she’s an excellent mother and has done a great job, btw, so I’m not knocking stay-at-home moms).

“Well, that’s something,” he replied.

Wow.

Don’t get me wrong. If I’d had a good head on my shoulders like Tracy has always had, I’d have found a good man as she did when I was younger, and maybe I’d have had kids (but knowing me, probably not). I’d love to not work, and have free time to do something fun or rewarding such as volunteer work or taking a painting class. And it’s not that I can’t do those things now, but my time is limited right now while I’m in school. And I’m not saying that’s how she spends her time because it isn’t—she’s actively involved in her kids’ lives which takes a lot of work and time, which I couldn’t have done when I was younger, given my alcoholism. To prepare a little human being to become a good, responsible adult is a huge task I don’t think I could undertake. She also got a part time job and has been working to get her CPA. So it’s not like she does nothing; that’s not what I’m saying.

What I’m saying is, when have I ever gotten credit for my independence?

All through college I didn’t ask my parents for money, I took out student loans, I worked part-time. I got married and paid half of the mortgage and bills (my ex-husband did buy my alcohol and food which was ridiculously expensive so I’m not saying I was a saint). The second time I married I paid half the bills, maybe more. I told my dad this, just the part about the husbands and paying half, and he said, “Well they should’ve paid more.”

That’s not the point. The point is I did this all on my own. And am still doing it on my own, working while in grad school. And no one gives a shit.

And honestly, why should they? This is my life, not theirs. And am I going to be on my deathbed one day feeling glad I paid for all of my stuff? Will people be at my funeral talking about how financially independent I was? God, I would hope that wouldn’t be the most important thing anyone could say about me. I just wanted my dad’s approval, is all.

He must’ve thought about it, because lately he’s been sending my sister and me emails talking about how much I helped him with nutrition advice, that I gave good advice that his doctor corroborated. He really is sweet—he’s become much sweeter lately, since he quit drinking a year ago. He’s the person I remember from childhood, who I’d forgotten, to be honest. But he’s a product of his generation, the baby boomers, and his goal in life for my sisters and me is for us to get married so a man can support us. He just wants us to be okay, to be taken care of. But that idea is not helpful for me. My subconscious has been ingrained to believe that I need a man to complete me, and it’s just not true.

As independent as I pride myself on being, which is my ego talking, I’m not really independent as long as I keep looking for a man to “fix” me. I can take care of myself. Today I have God in my life, and for that I’m truly grateful.

No promises that I won’t go back to Mark if he asks, but I’m not reaching out to him, and today I’m not reactivating my online dating memberships. And that’s a start. I really, really want to try to stay single for a while this time. And I will probably go back to Codependents Anonymous meetings.

Here’s a song I love by my new favorite, Taylor Swift. She’s been around for years but at the time I snubbed pop music and country-pop before that. As a side note, I like what she says in the beginning. She’s funny and human, and it makes me glad not to be famous, not to be criticized for my life choices by a public who doesn’t even know me as a person. I love the line, “Oh my God / Look at that face / You look like / my next mistake.” Oh man can I relate.

Peace and 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:

Relationships, Amends, Healing, etc.

I caved.

The same day I posted that I’d stand strong and not give in to Mark’s request to be friends with benefits, I texted him and said fine I’ll do it. Of course I’d rather have love and commitment, but I don’t have time for a boyfriend while in grad school, and my hormones are raging. So there you go.

As soon as I texted him that, he was like, Come over now, so I went to his house right after work. We talked for a bit, he told me how bad the past few weeks have been for him, how therapy is going, and how much he’s learned already. The poor guy really has had a rough go of it. Meanwhile I haven’t shed one tear. It’s strange how I cried so much over whatshisface when he went back to his ex, and I didn’t even like him that much. He was boring. But I think it was because at the time I was still grieving my break-up with Steven, and I felt jealous that he’d go back to his ex and have a long-term commitment to someone, while Steven left me.

And to be fair, Mark’s sadness mostly has to do with childhood trauma that he needs to work through. His mom was negligent, paying more attention to her boyfriends than to her kids. It turns out he did a lot of drugs until the past few years, which I think is why he hasn’t fully dealt with this until now. When we drink or do drugs, we numb those feelings and we just don’t deal with them. That’s why they say in recovery we come in at the age we were when we started using, which for me would’ve been 14. So I guess that makes me about 22 now, in recovery years, lol, though I’m really almost 42. That sounds about right. I don’t know how many other 42-year-olds have blogs like this, about their boyfriends and school. LOL. I’m really like a teenager. But, whatever. This is who I am.

I noticed that I’ve always dated guys who didn’t get enough attention from their mothers, and pointed it out to my friend Spencer, who said that it’s not so much that I attract them to me as that I am attracted to them. I don’t know if I completely agree, but it does make sense. I’ve always liked a needy guy due to my fear of abandonment, in the hopes that he’d never leave me. It’s unhealthy, but that’s the truth. Then I just end up leaving them. I sure hope I can break this cycle, without it being with someone who can’t commit, because it seems that now I am attracted to commitment-phobes. They’re so much more attractive than needy guys. It’s like I want someone who’s in between, which is probably why I was so into Steven. He’d go back and forth from either extreme, and I was addicted to that excitement, like the good little codependent that I am. I guess you could say I’m doing the same thing with Mark.

I have this tendency to want to project years into the future, which I think is a human tendency. I want to know how all this will play out. Maybe we’ll just be friends with benefits forever, and I’ll get my own place, and he’ll have his own place, and we’ll see each other however often. I won’t have to put up with his neurosis and he won’t have to put up with mine. I won’t have to be annoyed that he leaves the sink dirty with dried toothpaste yet vacuums the house 25 times a day. He won’t have to be annoyed that I forgot to take off my shoes before walking into the house. We can each do whatever we want, have our cake and eat it too.

We all know it won’t play out that way but I’m doing it anyway. God help me.

In the meantime Steven sent me another email, this time to my work address. He wrote that he takes responsibility for the end of things (um, what about the middle, when he’d ignore me for days at a time?), he would’ve committed if he could relive it (yeah, right), he’s sorry he didn’t make me feel more “safe” with him and his kids (I hope he means safe as in comfortable?), and thanked me for introducing him to ACA, which he says he’s really involved in now. My sponsor and I both agree that his amends is really about him feeling better, which is mildly annoying yet understandable—I know I don’t like feeling guilty—and at the same time I truly do feel bad for him because he clearly regrets it. Spencer suggested that maybe he’s been in the dating field for a year now and can see in hindsight how good he had it, and wishes he could go back in time. I’d guess he didn’t have much luck with the online dating sites. My sponsor feels that he’s manic right now, and I agree.

So I emailed him back and said that I appreciate him apologizing, and that I’ve grown a lot since that time, that it was needed for spiritual growth, that it looks like he’s done a lot of soul-searching, and I’m glad that he’s in ACA, and hope he and his kids are doing well. I had my sponsor read the email first, to make sure it was nice and not too resentful-sounding. And I must say that his emails have helped diminish my resentment quite a bit. Now I’m at a place where I don’t really want to talk to him or see him, but I do hope he gets better. I wanted to say something along the lines of how I wish he’d take care of his bipolar disorder if not for himself then for his kids, but that’s none of my business.

One thing that really stands out to me in all of this is just how damaging a bad childhood can be for a person, especially when combined with a mental illness. His dad was abusive, his mom didn’t protect him, and then he had bipolar disorder. That will really eff a person up. He could’ve turned out to be much worse. He’s not a bad person. He’s a sick person trying to get well, like many of the rest of us. Same for Mark. They’re both good people, which is what I feel is true for most of the people on this earth.

After I published my last post, I felt like I must look like one of the rich people on “Hunger Games.” There are people in the world living through war and poverty, and here I am worrying about my various ex-boyfriends. It’s important that I remember to be grateful for all the good things I have: friends, family, a place to live, a job, food, an opportunity to change careers, sobriety. And I have God in my life. Not everyone gets all of that.

That’s all I have for today. I’ll leave you with this song by Sia, “Chandelier.” I’m so grateful to be sober today.

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.”