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.

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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

Respect Yourself

There comes a time in a person’s life when you have to say enough is enough. We can talk about forgiveness and apologies and keeping an open mind all day, but when another person shows absolutely zero respect for you, you’ve got to show love for yourself, and walk away.

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(The above quote was taken from this website.)

After the meeting the other night, at which a new attractive young woman showed up, the first thing the guys set in on was, “WOW. What a knockout!” By the guys, I mean Spencer. He went on about how hot she was and the first thing Jay says is, “What I want to know is how you get a rack like that.”

That’s when I snapped.

“Well that’s a shitty thing to say,” was all I could say, because I was so flabbergasted. In what universe did it seem okay to talk like that around me? But I figure I’m going to stay quiet because otherwise I’ll just look jealous, while Spencer goes on about how smart she was, she seems to have her shit together, she’s on her way to Syracuse, she’s visiting friends in Rockville, blah blah yada yada. But Jay’s comment was seared into my brain, and Spencer really could’ve shut the hell up then and there but nope, he kept going. So then I really snapped.

“Why don’t we keep talking about Bob?” That was her name, unfortunately for her. Not really, because this is an anonymous blog, but very close. I went on: “Let’s talk about how big her tits were, how pretty she was…” and then Jay interrupted me: “Oh, she was pretty? I didn’t see her face. I was zoned in on her tits.”

WOW.

I totally lost it then.

I didn’t learn until later when I talked to Spencer about it that he thought I was joking at first. I think the guys were surprised by my reaction. I don’t think they expected nice little people-pleaser me to spew forth venom like that. But let me tell you, I let them have it.

I showed my anger, and anger, my friends, is a valid emotion. These guys were being disrespectful. Jay was. Jim actually never said anything at all about Bob or women’s body parts. James didn’t either. James made a few jokes, feeding off them, which actually were quite funny, and I laughed. What he said was something like, “Oh I didn’t notice how pretty she was. I was thinking about her IQ.” Spencer didn’t need to go on and on about her, but he mostly just talked about her as though he’d fallen in love with her, as he does with every pretty woman he sees, because he’s a romantic and he dresses up lust as love as most of us in AA do, especially in early sobriety.

The one who really messed up (I’ll use polite language) was Jay. This is the guy I was seeing. For some reason he thought it was okay to talk about women like that. In front of me. And in front of the guys, with me there. First of all, that he even feels that way, that all he could see was her boobs, she’s just body parts to him, that right there tells me all I need to know about who he is.

It gets worse.

At the time, I felt as though I had lost control of my temper, and I wanted to appear rational and not jealous. At one point Spencer said, “Well you were the most beautiful girl in the room,” so obviously it was too late for me to not appear jealous. I pointed out that it didn’t matter. But really. Would I want them talking about my boobs that way? Or my ass? Is that how they see me?

So I calmed down, but I didn’t try to hide my feelings or pretend everything was great.

Jay had taken me to the diner from the meeting, which meant he’d have to take me back to my car, which meant we’d have time alone in the car, ample opportunity for him to apologize. The other guys apologized. They felt really bad. Jim told me he’d wanted to high-five me like ten different times when I was letting them have it. And the remorseful look on Spencer’s face almost made me feel sad. And none of them even referred to body parts or not noticing her face. But do you think Jay made any apology at the diner, or in the car? Or the next day via phone call or text?

There is a brain in this head, and a heart in this body. If all I am is a piece of ass to Jay, then he can move right along.

In the car, and even at the diner, after I’d lost it, I thought about God. I thought about what a person with integrity would do, and how to have an open heart. I thought about how it really didn’t matter in the big picture, because I wasn’t in love with Jay (thank God for that), and I didn’t need to hang out with him. He’s allowed his opinions, and I can say how I feel and be on my way. Now that I think of it, at the time I wanted more to show that I’m the bigger person and show forgiveness, which really was dismissing the problem, so it was more about how I appeared to be than how I felt, and it was less to do with forgiveness and more to do with me wanting to look like Mother Teresa. Well guess what? I am not Mother Teresa, and I don’t give a damn if he or they think I’m jealous, hysterical, or whatever the hell they want to think. But at the time, I thought, This doesn’t really matter. But my feelings do matter. What doesn’t matter is how he is, because I can’t change him. But I also I don’t have to spend my time with him.

And Jay said nothing in the car. No apology, no explanation, no nothing. I thought to myself, Oh for the love of God, and finally made small talk. Thank you for the ride. I hope your sinus infection goes away soon. And he wasn’t angry. No, not stony Jay. Nor did he seem afraid. He just made some lousy excuse about feeling out of it, feeling spacey and tired, as if that’s why he was quiet in the car. What a lack of courage. My therapist said he probably didn’t think he had done anything wrong, just as Trump thinks he does nothing wrong. Or that it’s possible he’s confrontation-avoidant, which is no good either.

When we got to my car, I just politely said goodbye, no kiss, and thought, I am so done with you. He had ample opportunity to apologize in the car, to explain he was just joking and being a stupid old guy, that he didn’t really feel that way about her, that he didn’t realize I was so pissed. My dumb ass would’ve probably forgiven him.

when-someone-disrespects-you

The thing is, I’d also just learned that Saturday night when we were all at the diner, when someone asked him if we were seeing each other, he shook his head and waved his arms as if to say he didn’t know how to answer that question. Are you kidding me? This is a secret? I am NOT someone’s secret. I have done absolutely nothing wrong, I have nothing to be ashamed of, and if you want to date me, you damn sure better be proud to say you’re with me.

Jay revealed his true colors, and I thank God I found it early. When I reflect on times we’ve spent together and how he’d showed no emotion, I remember thinking, Wow, this guy is a LOT like my dad. I think I have something to learn from him. I think I thought I’d discover that there’s a heart in there, and that it would take a long time to learn something from him. Nope. That didn’t take long at all.

I’m not saying my dad or even Jay has no heart. But I am saying that there are some people that just can’t be reached, for whatever reason that I may never know, and I don’t need to know. Because I don’t have to hang out with closed-off robots. I feel sorry for them, but I do not have to be their friend. I can still love my dad because he’s my dad, but he’s never going to be the dad I wanted. He’s just the way he is.

I am so grateful that school starts again soon, that I have a new woman to sponsor in AA, to have women’s meetings, to have friends who are good people. I’m so grateful for Codependents Anonymous, to be growing into my true self, the best version of myself. I’m grateful to be visiting North Carolina soon where I’ll get to see my best friend and my sister. I am grateful that I can choose how I want to spend my time, and who I want to spend it with, and that I have options. No one deserves to be treated with disrespect. We get to choose who we spend our time with.

respect-yourself

Peace and love,

TCH