Thoughts, Ramblings and Miscellaneous Conclusions

This last week was pretty great for me.  First off, it zipped by in a flash.  I love weeks like that, especially since the weekend is really becoming more and more my favorite time of the week.  It isn’t that I dislike work, it is that I dislike not being able to be home, control (or not) my own schedule and just doing whatever I want, whenever I want. 

Actually saying that expresses how really spoiled I am because I have a job where, for the most part, I am completely in charge.  From the beginning to the end of my time with kids, I pretty much call the shots.  I mean, it doesn’t really get much better than that. 

I don’t get to choose when I can show up to work though and sadly, in my location, I must report to work at 7:30 a.m.  This is the toughest part of my job, since I am not a morning person…well…at least not that way.  I also don’t get to choose the curriculum I teach or the expectations for achievement that the kids must meet or the meetings I must attend afterschool which erode my planning time, but I pretty much have complete control over how I structure my work environment, my schedule, my student’s schedule’s and so on.  It really isn’t that rough. 

The rough part of my life comes in trying to have a social life during the school year.  This probably wouldn’t be so tough either, if I didn’t also have to juggle the demands and taxi around the social schedules of four young people.  Then add to that the fact that people must eat and that ends up, somehow being my job.  If that alone wasn’t enough, groceries must occasionally be purchased, oh yes, and laundry done and a house cleaned.  I used to pay to have the house cleaned and the yardwork done, but that was before the divorce.  Sigh. 

Anyway, I am not complaining about any of this mind you, because while it is crazy enough and hectic enough, none of it is what I would consider difficult.  Well, at least, not until I decide to try to add a social life to the already overly full lifestyle plate I have going during the school year. 

So, this last week provided me the opportunity to get away from all that busy-ness for three nights and two days and drop into a different kind of busy.  I walked a million city blocks and that’s no small feat when you carry a laptop that is about ten pounds.  I ate great food that was healthy and which I neither had to prepare or clean up after.  I did really nothing I didn’t want to do.  Yes, I attended a conference and was involved in some pretty lengthy sessions where my butt got sore from sitting so long…but they were interesting and well worth my time.  Each one I attended was so relevant.  That alone is kind of amazing since most of these kinds of events can be a hit and miss endeavor.  This one was not.

The off times, after conference workshops, meetings with colleagues and dinners, provided me time to walk through the city streets three blocks to my humble lodging accommodations.  The wet misty rain felt refreshing and invigorating.  Of course, after two saketinis everything felt refreshing and invigorating.  Upon reaching the hotel room, I would slip into my comfy loungewear and slippers, curl up on the big armchair, turn on the laptop and begin my personal thinking on the white screen. Sometimes when I do this, I create more questions and puzzlements (is that even a word?) for myself than I solve problems, but this week was unusual.  I actually arrived at some conclusions for myself.

Here are my conclusions listed in random order and not in any particular order of priority:

  • I decided, I really don’t want to date or spend so much time on dating.  This isn’t to say that if someone really nice just appeared that I wouldn’t go out with him, but I’m certainly not going to put my profiles up and spend anytime checking emails or trying at all.  It is simply too exhausting, especially during the school year. 
  • I decided that the reason I don’t want to date is not because it has been such a disappointing experience…because it really hasn’t.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and about dealing with other people and I’ve grown and changed some after every experience.  This is a good thing.  The real reason I don’t really want to work so hard at it is this:  I have other things I want to do more than I want to do that. 
  • I really want to work on getting myself in shape.
  • I really want to work on getting my home in shape.
  • I really want to work on getting my yard in shape. 
  • I want to write.
  • I have some serious work to do spiritually, but I don’t really know what that means yet.
  • I was serious when I wrote my New Year’s resolutions and I aim to accomplish them, however late a start I’ve had.
  • I mostly want to enjoy my children when they are with me without feeling guilty that I haven’t called someone or don’t want to go out on a given night.
  • I can’t do any of these things and really devote myself to a “serious” relationship.  Most people are uninterested in just seeing me (or anyone) every other weekend and during the school year that is really all the time I have, unless I really start working on this house and then I won’t even have that.  So, the choice for me really boiled down to an either or situation.  Yeah, it would be great to have a guy who was interested in hanging out and doing projects together, but even when the I.J. and I tried that it was uncomfortable because I felt like that was letting him a little too far into my private world and I wasn’t quite ready to go there.  I know I’m not explaining that well but it was weird.  On top of that, most men I’ve met, seem to feel like I want to take advantage of their expertise, like all I’m looking for is a handy man instead of a companion.  Heck, I’d pay them to show me how to do the tasks I don’t know how to do.  But whatever, I’m tired of that little weirdness too.  I’ll just do the stuff myself and go get advice from online or the Home Depot or Lowe’s or something.  Seriously. 
  • I have places I want to go.  I can now completely see the possibility of going to these places on my own and loving every minute of it and I won’t have to haggle with anyone about which destination to choose first.
  • I  see directions I want to head with my career that are going to involve some extra time, effort and thought on my part at least at first.  This is also not something a deeply involved relationship can sustain unless the person is really willing to accept that.  Best probably to just not go there for now. 
  • Probably sounds like I am retreating and avoiding life, in a way.  Maybe this is true. I hope not.  I can really tend toward introversion and the recluse lifestyle, but I am not committing to never ever going on a date.  I’m just not going to work so hard at it.  At least, that’s how I feel this week.
  • Maybe, though, as much as I love to identify with Wonder Woman, the reality is I just can’t do it all.  And, since the stuff on the home and career front seems a bit more pressing than the stuff on the romance front (since there really is no stuff on the romance front), I choose that. 

Anyway, here I go to pull my online dating profiles completely down.  I am finally free!!!  And I am really, really very okay with that. At least, for this week.  😉

Houses or Playgrounds?

Short and to the point: The Beau is no longer “The Beau”.  (Surprise! Surprise!  Gasp!  Does that really surprise anyone? N0.  Didn’t think so.)

Don’t know how to quite explain all the details to myself, except to say that it was a mutual misunderstanding.  I can’t share really how things started declining from his perspective, only from mine, though he’s enlightened me through discussions over the last week.  And he makes some valid, very understandable points.  I only wish he’d shared where he was with all that a month ago when he began feeling that way.

Things with us started off really great.  Had they kept going really great, no doubt, I would not be writing this post.  Now mind you things weren’t going badly…they just kinda weren’t really going like they were before.  Sometime after the second weekend I went up to visit him I noticed a bit of a “pull back” from him.  It was slight and subtle but very, very perceptible to me.  Things like no longer reaching out to hold hands in the car when we went places, no (and I mean absolutely none, where before there had been plenty) physical affection other than a quick good-bye peck at the door as he left or I left.  Things like calling me really late at night after being on the phone with others (who were just friends, yes, but nonetheless female and not me).  Things like a reduction in the number of texts or other contacts in a day, making it feel a bit like he was just making the obligatory once a day phone call.  Things like simply not seeming as interested as he previously was.

Now, The Beau, is not, was not, a bad guy.  Something changed for him…or he saw something that gave him reason to pause.  Nothing at all wrong with that.  In fact, there is quite a bit about me that would give most people pause, not the least of which is 4 kids, a fixer house and a very tight budget and this blog.  I really have a problem with none of that.  It is totally understandable to me.  

We’d been dating about two months and he’s the one that mentioned not dating anyone else and taking off his profile from said dating sites.  I did not bring up this conversation…he did.   I guess I didn’t ask enough questions about what that meant for him.  I guess, maybe, that conversation was premature.  Maybe I misunderstood the seriousness of that kind of behavior.  To me that means, “I really want to focus on you.”  To him, well, I’m still not clear what he intended by even bringing up that conversation, but that’s okay too.  I don’t need to be clear on that.  It just didn’t appear to indicate a single purpose to him quite the same way it did to me or he thought better of it after he did it.  That’s alright too.  I just wish I’d understood all that before I stopped dating the four or five other very fine men, that I stopped seeing to date The Beau exclusively only to have The Beau get cold feet.  (j/k about the 5 guys, disappointed about the cold feet, but aware that it happens and am not losing sleep or wasting tears over it)

I guess the best analogy is this one:  “Are we building a house here or are we building a playground?”  My thinking is that the foundation for either of those endeavors is very different and you can’t exactly change projects midway, without some serious investment or strife or, at least some conversation.  Both of them serve their purpose and are wonderful projects.  Really, I don’t care which one it is, but if he wants the house and I’m thinking playground or vice versa things can and will get weird, misunderstandings happen, communication begins to miss and, well, feelings get hurt.  Further, if  both begin with the understanding that a house is to be built and the other changes what they are building without telling his partner, things can be really messed up and strange. None of that bothers me, it’s called relationship.  This is why human beings were given the gift of speech, so we could address these misunderstandings.  (P.S. I know the analogy is weak and flawed, but it worked for us and it helped us both understand each other better, so I’m going with it.)

I thought he wanted the house (no the house does not equal marriage, LTR or anything other than a mere exclusive dating relationship and the interested behavior to match…there are never ever any guarantees, I know this.  Yes, the playground does equal the non-exclusive, let’s just have fun and be friends casual dating kind of thing).  He probably did want the house for a couple of weeks there, maybe a month, but then had second thoughts and he backed off to the playground project, which is fine with me or maybe he found another house or playground he’d rather explore a bit more.  Only problem was, he didn’t tell me about it.  Well, yes, he did, just not with words.  That’s okay too. I was able to figure it out, pretty accurately without the words. Maybe I’m getting better at reading that nonverbal stuff more accurately. I don’t know. This time hearing the words only confirmed what I already knew several weeks ago was true. 

I guess I just don’t play the game well.  I’d rather have a guy just say “I’m not that into you” than to waste my time pretending he is in an effort to avoid hurting my feelings.  Cowardly as it is, even going silent is a bit more honest than continuing a game that one simply isn’t sure they want to play.  I won’t waste time (and it is a waste of time if  someone is not being completely honest and candid with the other person) spending time being with a person I really like who’s kinda sorta not sure he’s that into me. 

Now, true, it’s not like I’m the only consideration here.  I know that.  I come with a lot of  “baggage”.  I prefer to refer to it as responsibility, but face it, kids, fixer, finances, two ex’s—yuck, it’s just baggage to most people, no matter how neatly folded and tucked away it may be. (That reality does make me very sad sometimes, but I can’t fix any of that, so I just feel sad for a bit, then get up and forge ahead.  I mean really, what are my alternatives?)  He’s got lots to consider before making any serious commitments where I’m concerned, but I am not even remotely talking about that nor was I even remotely expecting it.  I just wondered how come he no longer wanted to hold my hand, be with me as much or he preferred talking to others instead of me.  I’m just talking about enjoying spending time together and it seemed to me that somewhere along the line, that changed for him. It seemed really, like he was no longer as interested in being with me and that I was not as attractive to him anymore.  It changed for me only because it changed for him.  My feelings for him and my attraction to him never dimmed or wavered.  I’m just not willing to be in a place where I feel less than desirable, like I don’t quite do it for him, or where I’m just not all that big of a deal to him. 

So, that’s where it stands.  My understanding has been cleared up about what his intention is and where he stands with me (the words now match the behavior)  and, to be very honest, I’m relieved.  No one enjoys feeling like the person they are with is just not all that excited anymore about being with them. 

So, Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

If I Doubt, Then He’s Out

Alright.  Enough with my whining and moping, pondering and postulating.  I have been enlightened.  I know for sure how a woman (and I think a man, but I’ll leave that for the men to decide, since I am not one of them and cannot possibly presume to understand what their take might be) can be sure that the “person of the hour” is really that into them. 

I’ve wondered about this and theorized about this both publicly and privately long enough.  From the not getting things quite off the ground to going completely silent after there’s been a great deal of supposed chemistry and intimacy (apparently that was only a one-sided deal), there are a million things that masquerade as a potentially decent relationship but which leave us feeling disappointed, sad, cheated, maybe even foolish for wasting the time in some instances and heartbroken for years  in others. I’ve felt all of these things and more and I’m certain I’m not alone. We wish we would have read the warning signals better or heeded them earlier but at the same time we loved every minute of what we imagined or thought was going on.  Or maybe we didn’t.  Maybe it was all just a miserable attempt to fix something that never was going to work but which somehow pushed our buttons in some weird way and we were drawn in.  Who knows what the deal is or why?  It didn’t work out.  No one likes to leave something they thought was valuable and  heading to the next level feeling cheap, used and invalidated.  I suspect, that is how most of us end up feeling on some level when we finally realize (after we’ve invested our time, money, energy and hearts) that the person of our affections is simply not that into us.  Forget that, it is how I end up feeling and I hate it.  I really would rather avoid that at all costs.  So, I strive to answer the question…how can I know…before it is too late.

I now know. 

At least, for this moment. 

I could change my perspective in ten minutes, but for now, I think I know.

Part of my conclusions come from my readers.  All three, or maybe it is now five of them, who actually comment.  I’m especially indebted to the men who’ve chimed in (I hope you won’t stop chiming) because your perspectives have in every instance confirmed what I already suspected to be the case with men and how they show their affections.  I also know from women who’ve travelled my same path and shared about it.  This would be friends, colleagues, other bloggers, anyone I’ve bumped into, shared coffee with or read who had the guts to tell their story.  They confirm what I suspected all along.  They confirmed what I was afraid to face all along.

My conclusions also come from deep within myself.  They don’t automatically surface from “deep within” because, quite frankly, I’m just not all that in touch with me all the time.  This would explain all the wandering, rambling and cloudy thinking I demonstrate (no really it is not my sub normal IQ at work here).  Deep down, I just know when he’s just not that into me…

Now, I could be wrong…

I’m willing to entertain other perspectives and viewpoints…

I’m willing to consider that hunger….

anger….sadness…anxiety….

fatigue or loneliness…..

 insecurity and fear…

may impair my judgement…but…

I suspect I might be really close on this one…

Ready?

Here’s how I think I know that I can be sure whether or not he’s really that into me:

“If I Doubt, Then He’s Out”

Okay, now I’m not talking about after the first couple of meetings/dates when you’re wondering if things are going to launch.  I’m talking about when you are into the deal and you are still wondering “Where the hell do I stand with this guy?”  The mere wondering is my answer. 

Truth is, we know.  We know what we want.  We want the fire, the passion, the “feelings”, the “chemistry”, the everything…and we want it to be coupled with a compatible relationship that can go the distance.  I want him reaching for my hand in the car instead of me always being the one to reach for his.  I want him to initiate the affection as much as or more than I do.  I prefer the more than I do and that will have to be a lot because I’m a touchy feely sort (well, not weirdly so, I hope).  I’ve had these experiences.  I’ve had guys who were so into me that they were willing to try to make love to me in the clearance sweater bin at Macy’s, but, sadly, I’m simply not that much of an exhibitionist.  I’ve had guys who were so into me that after the very first date with me I received flowers on my desk at work the next day.  No, not one or two pretty orchids in the latest seasonal arrangement of greenery and Baby’s Breath.  I’m talking the 12 long stemmed blood red roses in a vase that communicates in girl world, “Wow!!!!  He’s really into you!!!! Who is this guy?  We didn’t even know you were dating someone! Oh, do tell!”  

Compare this with the situation where everything seems simply “nice”.  The dutiful call every day is made, regular time spent together occurs and is very fun, things seem to be “all systems go” on the surface but in every instance you’re left wondering. Wondering where you stand and if he’s really into you…or…if he’s just biding time…till…gulp…sick feeling in pit of stomach…something “better” (younger maybe?  prettier maybe?  thinner maybe? wealthier maybe? or even worse feeling in pit of stomach just anything maybe? ) comes along.  This isn’t just insecurity kicking in here.  This is real doubt. 

Communication is both a verbal and a nonverbal transaction. When given an option,  people generally believe a person’s actions over their words every time (if the two are in disagreement, that is). Behavior or the lack of it combined with the words, the tone, the hesitations, the silences communicate and don’t communicate volumes.  In any of the cases where men were head over heals for me, I never once for a moment questioned it…even if the relationship got tense at points…even if the relationship was one that I wasn’t that excited about.   Those men who’ve been brave enough to put themselves out there and commented on past posts confirmed my theory (at least enough for my sloppy but very valid research). My conversations with married men who are still in their first marriages and pushing 20 years who absolutely adore their wives, confirm my hunches too.

I think the bottom line is:  When he’s into you, you know and there is absolutely no room for doubt. 

If you don’t absolutely know then, my dear, you really do know…he’s just not that into you.

Whenever  you wonder or doubt, you also know.  If you wonder or doubt what he’s about then he’s not IN to you, he’s OUT there either killing time, considering his options (who wants to be an “option” anyway?) or simply uncertain himself.

For me, no need to waste anymore time wondering past a certain point.   If we’ve been dating for any length of time and I don’t know that he’ll go to any length to  hang the moon in my sky then, guess what?  Hate to say it, you know it’s coming so I’ll skip it.  But, for myself, I know.  I’ll never wonder again.

If I do then the very act of wondering becomes my answer.

Lying About The Things We Don’t Care About Anyway

I found this one in my travels on the Net this last week.  Wasn’t exactly looking for something about Internet Dating, but when this flashed across my screen the sad (I use that term very loosely) plight of dating in mid-life struck me as completely funny. 

unfortunatetruthaboutdating

Personally, I’d be quite content with the happy medium. You know, not too thin, not too…., just right.  Oh, yeah, and my age or older.  I’m kind of not into the cougar scene, though, from what I hear it definitely has it’s advantages.  I guess, I already have enough kids in my home to take care of.  Ooops!  Did I really say that?

Okay, next funny.  Have you ever had this happen? 

honestyonweb

If you’ve been anywhere for very long in Online Dating World, you’ve had at least one experience where someone misrepresented their age, physical stature or posted a completely false picture.  I had one instance, almost a year ago now, where I hit it off (seemingly) with a guy about a year older than me (supposedly) online.  We had great fun chatting, laughing, talking via phone call and email.  He lived out of town so it was difficult to meet.  Then came the week midwinter last year when I attended a conference in his city.  I figured, that stunningly good-looking as I was and not having to travel very far to meet me, he’d be all over coming to my hotel (hey, paid by for by the company even) to meet me.  The first night I was in town he called and we talked just like I wasn’t in town.  The second night the same thing.  I’m a very patient person but by the third night I was thinking something was up.  So, I gave him the ultimatum.  “Look,” I said, “I’m thinking getting up off your butt and coming down to my hotel to meet me is a far sight better than driving the five hours you’d have to drive to see me otherwise.  So, this is what I’m thinking.  I’m thinking if you aren’t down here in the lobby of the hotel in an hour, I’m going to think you aren’t interested and I’m moving on. ”

He showed, but 30 minutes after the deadline.  I should have walked and not met him, but by that time I was curious and, hey, I was in another town with no laundry, kids, or anything to worry about so I waited.  Oh my gosh.  What a surprise.

He walked in and instantly I figured out why he hesitated to meet me.  The picture he’d posted of himself was probably him…twenty years earlier.  I did end up going for a walk downtown and eating pizza at some no name place.  During this time I had opportunity to notice that he was playing Elvis in his car (not something most people my age do without some seriously good rationale) and his hands did not look like the hands of someone my age.  They looked like the hands of someone 15 years older than me.  Now most people wouldn’t know this maybe, but having grown up with a father who was 28 years older than my mother…I know hands.  His hands were older hands.  Now, I’m currently dating someone who is 11 years older than me, which, to be honest, is the perfect age, in my mind.  (So why would someone want to lie about that?  Men ten years plus older than me are actually quite hot!  I don’t have to change their freaking diapers and wipe their noses or clean up their messes.  Works for me.) Anyway, the dude misrepresented his age then didn’t even come clean about it afterward.  I ate pizza, let him pay, of course.  And never communicated again with him.  Except once.  When I got back home, I looked up his profile.  I noticed he’d changed his location.  I sent him some smart ass comment about misrepresenting his location and his age and asking who he really was.  Obviously, I never heard from him again.

The deal was this about that:  he was attractive enough and very funny and intelligent.  Clearly he didn’t want to meet me, because he wasn’t into something real and he was lying about himself and he knew it.  Here’s what I learned from that:  I’m not really all that concerned about what a guy’s age is (okay, I’m not dating 25-year-olds, no matter what you say) or most of the other externals, but if he lies about any of it, it is such a dealbreaker.  Trust is one of the biggest issues any relationship must develop and maintain if it is going to last. Sadly, when someone lies about their age or anything else, then they’ve eroded the trust from the beginning. I decided at that point that the day I feel like I have to lie about my age or who I am, just to get the company of a date, that’s the day I hang it all up and say, “I’m done.”  Because I may as well be. 

Okay, and, yes, I did get into the guy’s car and drive around a city with a stranger.  Girls, do NOT ever do that.  It turned out okay for me…but…it’s such a stupid chance to take.  I could tell you even worse risks I’ve taken and things have worked out, but I wouldn’t do them again and I shouldn’t have done them to begin with. 

And, guys, especially those of you in the 50+ category, I really have no clue what you are looking for. If you are looking for some young thing to idolize you,  look up to you like a daddy,  and somehow make you forget that you are human and aging like we all do, well, I can’t help you there.  You’re probably doing the right thing going after some 20-something thing who has had no life experience and is pretty much a blank slate.  However, if you’re really into a quality relationship with a woman who wants you and loves you for who you are and will go to the wall for you because she admires, respects, loves and adores who you are as an individual on this earth (as opposed to how much you make, what lifestyle you can provide, and how long you can keep it up) then don’t be ashamed of stating your age and being yourself.  The women of substance out here don’t care about the superficial things…we care about the real, authentic individual behind the text, behind the profile, and hopefully, one day when we meet, we care about the person behind the eyes.  Don’t blow it in advance about lying about the things we don’t care about anyway.

Sanity, Syndromes, Phenomenons…Conclusions

I’ve gone on and on, ad nauseum, about what I call “The Going Silent” phenomenon.  Just as a refresher, I do not consider it going silent when you’ve emailed a couple of times, maybe met once, or had a phone call or two and then silence.  I call that phenomenon, The Never Getting The Thing Off The Ground Phenomenon.  The Going Silent Phenomenon is the thing that occurs after a relationship is airborn and some emotional intimacy, probably even some physical intimacy has developed and suddenly one or the other of the two people draw way, way back or they disappear altogether.  I still believe and will always believe that The Going Silent Phenomenon is simply cowardice.  Somebody got in too far and couldn’t get out courageously or without looking like a complete shit,  so they just disappeared. 

 There is a less severe form of this same phenomenon in existence though.  It’s called the You’re-The-Best-Thing-I’ve-Got-Going-Right-Now-But-If- Something-Better-Comes-Along-I’m-Outta-Here Syndrome .  Another equally disconcerting malaise is the “I’m Just Not Sure How I Feel About You” quandary.  In each unappealing dating situation one partner is more vested than the other and is unable to see clearly the writing on the wall of the relational dynamics.  I’ve been there.  I know deep down when I’m dealing with just such a situation.  I’ve never been inaccurate when I suspected one of these situations existed.  I just didn’t always like being honest with myself about it.  Now, I know that both these situations occur with men and women, but since I’m female I want to address this situation from the perspective of the female being more vested than the male or when the guy goes silent or keeps her at arm’s distance. Again, I recognize it happens both ways, but for the ease of me sorting things out for me, I am going to address it from my particular point of view.

Here are some conclusions that I’ve arrived at after recent  life events, dating experiences and being the victim (and, yes, sometimes the perpetrator)  of several of these Phenomenons and Syndromes.

Conclusion 1:  I do ultimately hope to be part of a rewarding, enriching, fulfilling and vital intimate relationship with someone of the opposite sex in spite of my quickly advancing years on this earth.  (Okay, the aging thing was said tongue in cheek).

Conclusion 2: If this does not happen for me, I will, feel like I’ve missed out on one of life’s greatest joys and adventures.

Conclusion 3:  If this does not happen for me, I will still have a great, fulfilling, rewarding and exciting life because I will still have many of the adventures I hope to have and meet many of the people I still haven’t met yet that I will ultimately come to know and love as dear friends, colleagues, children-in-law, and grandchildren. 

Conclusion 4:  I’m not going to waste time in situations when I know they are not moving  me closer to my relational goals.  In other words, I’m no longer willing to just pass time in an okay relationship when I know it isn’t going to be the relationship.  I didn’t really do this before, but I’m writing it here to remind myself to stay on that track and never veer from it.

Conclusion 5:  He’s just absolutely got to be crazy about me and I need to know it.  I’m not going to spend a lot of time or energy on the “I’m Not Sure” thing or the “Stay Out Here At Arm’s Distance” thing.

Conclusion 6: Going Silent or Cutting The Engines when the relational jet is airborne is a non-negotiable dealbreaker for me.

Conclusion 7:  I can’t even believe I have to say this,  but I’ve modified my stance on “They’re okay to date if the divorce is filed but not yet final”.  I’ve concluded, after more hard knocks and disappointments in this area than I care to admit, that I won’t date anyone who doesn’t have a signed judgement.  It’s just the emotional equivalent of treading water incessantly.  Too exhausting for me and I have nothing left over for the people in my life who really are available and who do desire my companionship and friendship and love.

So, what brought all that on?  Well, nothing really.  Things are pretty up for me now and life is busy, hectic, demanding like it usually is.  Things are really looking better and better for me here in post-divorce world.  I know I’m not going under and while life isn’t perfect, it continues to improve daily for me.  I’m happy and content.  Sometimes I feel down and blue and miserable and tired, but that doesn’t mean life still isn’t very, very good.  It’s just that I’ve been kind of rolling this stuff over and over in my mind for the last year and thought I’d put it out there more as a means of clarifying my own position to myself.  (Things tend to get muddy and murky in the heat of the battle otherwise.)

There are times, though, when some distantly related thought comes blistering into your conscious because of some benign comment or statement someone makes and instantaneously the unrelated connects you to something else and something else again and the entire thing (whatever that “thing” is) crystallizes for you.  That happened to me today.  Nothing big or earth shattering or anything.  It was just a funny little comment, meant mostly tongue-in-cheek probably, but it had that crystallizing effect on me.  The comment was made on my other blog in response to my post Time To Buck Up.  Sanityinthenorthwest was actually the inspiration for that post and his comment became the crystallizing force for this post. 

So, here’s what  Sanity sanely said:

I will stick by my comment that men will jump through many hoops just to get hugs and kisses at the end of the day. I am sticking by it because I see men jumping through hoops every day just to get some hottie to adore them. If the guys you are hanging around aren’t doing that for you, toss them to the curb.

That’s the third time in the last month a man has given me that advice.  Something in my gut resonates with his statements about men jumping through hoops.  In looking back at my own conclusions and convictions, I have to admit, on this one, I think Sanity is spot on. 

And that brings me to Conclusion 8:  I am going to follow Sanity’s advice.

Life Sucks…But I Can See Clearly Now!

Life sucks.  Have you noticed that?  I mean, okay, it doesn’t always suck, but a lot of it really sucks.  The older I get the more I notice that more of life simply sucks.  Just watch the news.  Most of it is bad, even deplorable.  Think of this.  You are beatuiful and energetic when you are young but but you are also hopelessly stupid, naive and inexperienced or else you are so jaded and calloused as to be well, no fun.  Then, just when you have life sort of figured out, or more figured out than you ever have, you die.  So life sucks. 

There is this one aspect of life sucking that I was thinking about today.  Life sucks because it is filled with change and often this change is accompanied by loss and grief.  Every little change has encapsulated in it some sort of loss.  Even if the change is good and positive, there is some loss of the old way, the way things were, the way things have been until this specific change however grand or minute it might be occurs. Even if it means one must part ways with some preferred way of thinking about things, the change can be dramatic and can range from being merely uncomfortable to completely life altering.  Today, I experienced one such change which inconsequential as it might seem on the surface refracted shades of larger changes and the dynamic of emotion contained within those changes.  Change and transition which happen to us on a small scale each and every day and on a much larger scale, once or twice in a lifetime, can be pivotal  points in our lives.

 Today, I had to go to my eye doctor and have my eyes checked.  Now, my eyes are fine, but I’ve had glasses since I was 17 years old and probably should have had them earlier, based on the number of car accidents I was in before I got corrective lenses.  Maybe I’m just a crappy driver, but since the carnage inflicted on the auto industry diminished greatly after I started wearing glasses and my driving did not, I’m thinking I probably needed them long before I was 17.  Anyway, since then, about every year or so I have to go to the eye doc to get the peepers examined.  Today, was the day for that exam this year. 

But the sucky part was that it wasn’t my usual eye doctor anymore.  I’ve been going to the same eye doctor for about 15 years now.  He’s a great little Greek guy who’s been practicing in my area forever.  Certainly, long before my first husband and I moved here in ’93.  He’s funny, personable and competent.  He also houses his practice in this old two story craftsman style home that has been turned into office space.  The place is warm, inviting and quiet when you walk  in.  Though there are other customers in the place, you don’t know it.  There is this feel that you are the only person there and the only one that matters.  There are also pictures of Greece taken when my doctor would travel back each year to visit his family.  The white of the buildings and the blue of the ocean mesmerized me.  I always liked going early and sitting in the lobby and thinking what it would be like to be in that place, Greece.  Would the sun be warmer, would I be tanner, thinner?  Yes, I was most certain I would be  warmer,tanner and thinner if I were there.   I really liked those pictures.

My eye doctor is retiring.  He will not be practicing anymore after tomorrow.  I tried to get in to see him one last time and was unable to.  Instead, I had to book an appointment with the new offices that my doctor sold his practice to.  This is what sucks.  No more warm, cozy, two-story craftsman style home office building with mesmerizing pictures of Greece.  I now must drive to the other end of town to go get my eyes checked at a trendy, upscale Eye Center. Ugh. Flourescent lights, office carpeting, a big, huge waiting area that rivaled the Department of Motor Vehicles and pictures depicting the cross section of the eye instead of the coast of Greece.  Like I said, life sucks. 

So, after filling out my customary mountain of  insurance paperwork, which I guarantee is going to create more work for me in clarifying the transitional screwups that always happen when you change service providers, I sat and looked around.  I thought about this sucky part of life.  My eye doctor was really awesome.  I didn’t want a change here.  I wanted things to continue just as they always had.  I did not want my doctor to retire.  I mean, what’s he going to do to keep busy anyway? Go to Greece and take more pictures?  Well, he can’t hang them in his office anymore, so what good is that?!  In addition, I began to ponder how weird it is to get to know new people in settings like these where everyone is a stranger, in spite of the fact that I’ve lived in this community for 15 years.  I looked around and I realized I knew no one.  The folks in the other office all knew me by name and greeted me by name. They didn’t need to ask who I was, they just pulled my file when they saw me check in.  They knew me.  These people didn’t know who I was from Adam. Well, I’m sure they probably figured out I wasn’t Adam, or John or Harold either, but they didn’t know me, not really.

I also didn’t know how this system worked.  I mean, go here, fill out this paperwork, return it or don’t, or should I eat it after reading?  I had no idea.  Whatever, I filled out the paperwork.  I had a momentary urge to put some really hysterical off the wall stuff on the form when they asked about family history, alcohol consumption or smoking habits and what sex I was, but I decided to simply stay with the boring straight answers this time.  As if the paperwork wasn’t enough of a puzzle, just trying to figure out the layout of the place was a challenge.  I wondered if I were to start at the check in desk and someone were to shout go, how long it would take me to dodge down the first hallway and go through the whole place till I found my way back to the starting point.  It was a good thing that the assistant came and rescued me from my reverie at this point.

She led me back to the interior of the building, past a little additional waiting room and millions of little examination rooms.  This was not feeling comfortable at all.  Too sterile, too professional, too impersonal.  I was feeling kind of sad by this time. I know my doctor wants to retire, but why did this change have to feel like losing my home on some levels?  It reminded me that this town is growing so quickly and there is less and less personal interaction anymore.  I do not like this part of life.  The part where the people you love and care about leave and move on or, worse, die, really sucks.  Sometimes when someone I love leaves my life the pain is so real I feel it on a physical level, right in my chest.  It physically hurts.  Now, okay, I wasn’t this torn up about the retiring eye doctor, but it did feel like that when my marriages were disintegrating or my parents died.

So, with all this deep, philosophical introspection and musing going on I followed the pretty young lady assistant with a diamond stud in her nose back to the examination room.  I put my purse in the place she motioned to and sat in the big blue…or was it red…chair with the eye apparatus near it.  As she takes my chart and pulls up my information on the computer screen, we talk and I size up the place.  Okay, so far so good, no weird stuff here.  I figured out quickly why they hired her though, she could input that data fast! She was also personable and friendly and pretty.  Now, in spite of my fairly melancholy and somewhat negative musings, I’m a bit of an adventurer and though I regretted being forced into this particular change in this particular area of my healthcare at this particular juncture of my life, I’m usually up for a bit of adventure and I do like meeting new people and going new places.  There’s something about new and different that is good every now and then to change things up a bit.  So, before I knew it we were chatting away and she had figured out what my prescription should be and she had me fitted for new contacts.  Well, it wasn’t exactly that instantaneous.  I was there for three house, but it really didn’t seem that long even though I had to go to the little waiting room, get put in front of the refraction machine and then go back to the little waiting room then back to the original room and all that before I even met my new Eye Doctor.  But the assistant and I had a great time.  We determined that the monovision correction I’d been using for the last two years, which required I carry a pair of granny glasses around on a chain around my neck in case I should ever need to read a book or a menu while I had my contacts in, was not the most effective method of correcting my distance vision.   Duh!!! Instead, she suggested I try this kind of contact lense with multifocal correction in it.  It essentially operates like the old bifocal but corrects for distance, mid-distance and near.  I looked at her stunned.  “This is possible?” I asked.  She nodded.  I asked about pricing, and it was only slightly more than the contacts I’d been using.  I mean, the idea of not having to have a pair of reader glasses in my purse, at my bedside table, at every location in my classroom and in my home where I might need to read something up close will not only save me the extra amount these contacts cost, but just the freedom of not having to pack around granny glasses on a chain around my neck floored me.  I was ecstatic.  By this time I was beginning to really be glad my eye doc was choosing to retire. 

Then they dilated my eyes and I met my new Eye Doctor.  She was personable, professional and competent.  She looked nice but I had a hard time seeing her since my eyes were dilated and I thought she was kind of cruel to blast my eyes with that bright light thing but other than that she was alright.   I mean, I wondered what I was expecting, that she’d be some kind of monster? She wasn’t.  I would have much preferred that she be male, attractive, and single and really into me but, hey, I can’t have it all my way can I?

Well, I left the doctor’s office today with my eyes so dilated they hurt.  I stumbled, sort of, out to my car and put on my sunglasses and sat and thought for a moment. What things we can learn from the most benign events in our lives if only we pay attention and observe. Four hours ago I was bemoaning the sad but normal changes we all experience in life.  Four hours later and I can see perfectly, both distance and close up and I’m not having to reach for my granny reader glasses.  Life is funny.  It’s downright strange and bizarre.  Life does suck.  There are parts of it that are so painfully sad that I’d almost rather not live it.   (Okay,  I’m not suicidal, please, even though when given the option I will usually choose to avoid the pain rather than face it head on…I hate pain so much I could never do myself in…it would simply hurt too much, besides, it’s a fairly permanent solution to what, I’ve found, are mostly temporaray problems.)  I hate goodbyes.  Having my eye doctor retire, not being able to go to his office in that nice craftsman style home with the pictures of Greece on the walls and where everyone knew me by name felt a bit like what I’d imagine being shoved out of my home as a kid before I was quite ready to go would feel like. It sucked.

But there’s an up side. The up side is this:  I now can see clearly and I don’t have to use Granny glasses and I’m not in pain.  I’m so going to love that!  I mean just the thought of it, let alone the reality of it, is enough to make me feel twenty years younger.  In addition, I’m not fumbling around half the time trying to adjust from one visual task to another.  And I don’t have a headache.  This is the best part of it.  I am not experiencing pain like I was before.

Now, silly as it seems, this little routine somewhat undramatic (or maybe a bit overdramatized)  change in vision doctors revealed a timely lesson for me.  Sometimes the pain, loss and corresponding grief we go through in life are necessary for our greater growth, development, ultimate maturity and improved vision.  (If I were writing to a strictly religious Christian audience this is where I’d insert any number of Bible references and there are many which would apply.  Those folks will know what they are so I’ll skip that part for now and let them provide them if they are so motivated.)  Any one of the maybe eight or ten people following my blog regularly will note that I’ve bemoaned my dating fate of late with folks going silent and perfectly good candidates opting out.  True, I haven’t shared the number of times I’ve opted out first, but, be that as it may, the dating life has been sucky and painful just as the eye doctor thing was painful and sucky…at first.  But here’s the thing that crystallized for me today.  The pain I experience or the sadness or, better, the disappointment I experience, only serves to help me clarify for myself what it is that I’m about in this journey we call life.  People opting out, aren’t necessarily a rejection of me, though it does feel that way for a few minutes.  It’s life.  My eye doctor didn’t retire because he didn’t want to provide services to me anymore.  How ludicrous is that thinking?  Yet that is exactly the logic behind the woe is me mentality that bends us up into knots when something we thought could really be great or was really great doesn’t work out.  Whether it is a dating relationship, a marriage, a career or a healthcare provider, all these things are just other people making choices that impact us.  Our value is not determined by their choices.  It is  painful to lose something that was wonderful, fulfilling,  warm, cozy, beneficial and positive.  It is painful to lose the familiarity of someone knowing my name and having a cute, cozy office with Greek pictures on the wall.  It was wonderful pondering the possibilities that might have transpired had any number of those wonderful men not gone silent. But it was simply not to be and because of it my vision is improved.  My vision is improved because I now see more clearly what I’m about in relationship and I see much more accurately the great qualities that I do hope Mr. Right, if he appears, will possess.  I also see much more clearly and with less pain and effort physically because I was able to change doctors and benefit from improved technology and service. 

I think there are greater lessons to be extrapolated here.  Simply put, sometimes we have to wade through some misery to figure out what doesn’t work so that when we come face to face with what does work, we recognize it.  One of my Christian friends was talking to me the other day and he said, “Check it out.  God gave Adam the task of naming all the animals before He brought Eve into the picture.  After looking all the animals over, Adam probably had a really good idea that none of those were a good fit for him and he was better able to recognize/appreciate  Eve’s beauty and fit for him because of the process God took him through”.  Now, I know, sounds a bit churchy, at points, but the idea still holds.  If we pay attention, we learn.  We learn what works and what doesn’t.  We learn how to be better people.  We learn to recognize those things and people that  are healthy and positive for us and those who are dangerous and toxic and we are able to make this determination with increasing effectiveness, accuracy and efficiency…but we must experience some pain in order to get there. 

That’s the part about life that sucks the most: going through the pain to learn how to avoid it, but, to be honest, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because, guess what, now I can see!!!!  In so many ways beyond just my physical vision, I can see!    I love the freedom, the confidence and the convenience that this improved vision brings.  For example, I’ve been at the computer for hours now and no headaches and I can see perfectly, without taking out my contacts or using Granny glasses. It is worth enduring the suckiness to benefit from the lessons.  Of course, I’d never say that while the lesson is being taught.  I, like many others, will drown in the misery, but, unlike many others, I’ll be watching, listening, thinking and learning all the while.  I’ll be glad when I’ve finally aced the test. So, while life sucks, I guess it isn’t completely for naught.  I’ll take the suckiness to gain the vision. 

I’m still going to miss those pictures of Greece though.

I Have That Sinking Feeling He’s Going Silent

There it is again.  That sinking feeling that he isn’t going to call.  He is just going to “go silent”.  Not a good-bye.  No explanation, if one could even be given after just four dates.  Nothing.  Silence.  Thud.

The worst part is that I thought we were really clicking.  I mean, he had to drive two hours each day to see me. And, he did it without me suggesting it.  In fact, I worked hard to discourage it knowing it was quite a drive in addition to putting in a full day of work.  When we were together the time seemed to just fly by and those are his words not mine.  Then, the night before I had to leave town since the conference I was attending ended the next day, we said our good-byes.  Okay, I’m not going into detail as to how we said them, but, suffice it to say, that there was nothing in the parting that indicated he would not be continuing to pursue knowing me as much after meeting as he had the entire six weeks before.  But, I returned home and no call, unusual in itself since he was hammering me with emails and IMs before we met.  I zipped him a nice friendly email, thanking him for taking time out of his schedule to spend with me, letting him know once again how much fun I had.  It was short, sweet and nice, but no response.  Nothing. Silence. Thud. 

That sinking, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that comes from feeling fooled by my emotions or by another human being.  I’ve met quite a few folks over the last year.  I generally know what I want or what I’m looking for (as if dating were like going to the grocery store and I’ll just find any number of them sitting on the shelves or in a display case).  I really know more of the kinds of things, perspectives, attitudes, behaviors, lifestyle choices, habits that won’t work for me in a long term relationship. I also know more of what will.  This person, without a doubt, moved over into the “definitely has potential” category. I began to let my mind think, “maybe” and “I wonder” and “hmmmm, what if?”  and then, he went silent. 

There is that sickening, thick, heavy, flat, painful feeling that comes from not understanding what went wrong or why. No email, nothing, not a phone call even.  Certainly not the instant response I’d been getting over the last six weeks that indicated he was checking emails and my blog regularly to hear from me or read the latest post. There was a text every morning before I went to work and connection, in some form, four or five times a day.  It was the textbook “when a man loves a woman there is no doubt” scenario. Then he went silent. 

It was a definite and noticeable change in temperature, but I saw none of it coming while I was with him. Silence. Then, a couple of days later, I get an email from him.  Short, to the point, impersonal, but also nothing about the status of things between us from his perspective either.  He simply said he is going out of town to visit his adult kids out of state and will be gone for four days.  No further noise from him since. Silence, Thud. 

Unusually silent on his part.  And…for the fourth time since May…I have that sinking feeling that things will not be working out or moving forward…and I have no idea why.  None. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if there was no real interest on my part, or if there hadn’t been some considerable time getting to know the person and, here’s the biggie, if I hadn’t let my heart start opening up to the possibility that this might have the potential to be something interesting.  I find the entire process, exhausting and not a little painful.  It is mostly annoying.   On one level, if I must be honest, it just flat angers me.  A six week, two month, three month relationship where the man spent all that energy and time making himself a very real and present force in my life only to go silent without a good-bye is appalling to me.  It floors me.  But then I am a woman, and I don’t understand how really handsome, together, intelligent men can deal straight up on a Wall Street Business deal and hide when it comes to love.  Going silent is like telling me that whatever we had did not exist.  It invalidates the time we spent together, and it marginalizes me.  You see, when I give someone the greatest gift I can give…which is my time…the very essence my life and his is made of…it is dehumanizing when I don’t even receive the courtesy of a good-bye. 

I know mentally, this is just the way it is.  In each of these situations I’ve experienced this year,  nothing was really invested (except my freaking heart…but no big deal there right?).  All the relationships were in their infancy stages so, best to bail early rather than not bail and wait.  And…in all these cases…no one was obligated either way.  But that’s not the point.  It still feels bad.  It feels worse than rejection, even though I know mentally it isn’t at all about me, but more about decisions he’s making.  I mean, when I have to make the same choice to discontinue contact with someone, it isn’t so much about that person being a failure in Dating World or Life as it is just me recognizing that I simply for whatever reason cannot move forward with this person.  Since I know it, I need to act on it.  I’m certain these men all felt the same way too.  They saw something, felt something, knew they couldn’t go forward and had to act on it. It’s about them making right choices for them.  It’s not really about me. But it still feels bad and it feels especially bad when they don’t say anything, if even by email, and, instead I am kept wondering, wondering, wondering…what happended.  It is dehumanizing, demoralizing and discouraging. 

In the silence, wondering what happened, experiencing that sinking feeling, until one day, several days later or maybe a week (but I’ve become good enough at recognizing the trend the minute the first text message is missed), it becomes clear that they have not contacted me, and they will not ever again contact me.  Thud.  They are simply just not that into me…worse…I wasn’t even important enough to earn an explanation, email or otherwise. Sigh.  Sick Feeling in the stomach. Regretting what is now, all the wasted time and time is the very essence my life is made of.  Moving on. Taking a deep breath and moving on. 

Doesn’t anybody out here in adult dating world over 40 have a conversation any more?  What is so wrong with saying kindly to someone that you don’t think you’re going to be able to continue things further and releasing them from the possibility that they spend the next day, or two or  week or so of their life wondering what happened or if it even really did happen?  I mean, don’t kid yourself, we’re all really good at making excuses and giving others an out. Women are especially good at making excuses for men and their poor behavior.  He could be really busy, he’s catching up for time missed at work, he’s blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  And this is how days are emotionally wasted when one could be spending the time mentally, emotionally moving on.  The reality is….there is something to that book, “He’s Just Not That Into You”.  Men know how to use the phone, they know how to express that they care, they are not timid, they will contact a woman if they are interested enough in her.  If they don’t…they aren’t.  If he doesn’t where I’m concerned…he isn’t…and I simply don’t have time to waste wondering or worrying about that…and the fact that he didn’t even say good-bye says more about his character than it does about my foolishness for actually taking a risk and momentarily believing in the cad.

So I’m thinking, that in every instance, where I’ve experienced this sinking feeling, I’ve been 100% correct.  I’m not going to sit around (like that was happening anyway) even one second more and wonder.  As far as I’m concerned all I know is what I’m experiencing right now.  What I’m experiencing right now has cast enough doubt in my mind as to make my decision clear.  I don’t want to be stumbling around wondering what’s up ever again.  I spent far too much of my last marriage dealing with the silent treatment, and this propensity in an individual, where I’m concerned, lands them squarely in the “won’t work for me” category. 

Let the silence continue.  I’ve got life to do and I’m not waiting around for the silence to end before I do it.

Negotiating a Divorce And Trying To Read The Crystal Ball

Today I tasked my students with attempting to begin their personal narratives in an interesting and creative way.  Now, it’s my turn and I am stuck.  How to begin? 

It was a dark and stormy night….na…taken, overused.

On Wednesday I was talking to a friend of mine….boring.

Hmmm, it is easier said than done.  It’s always easier to tell others how to do something and to give examples, but when it comes down to doing it yourself, it can be a much more challenging task.

This is how it is for me when I talk to my friends who are going through divorce.  I’ve been through divorce twice myself, but I also went through a custody trial on behalf of my second ex before he was my ex.  That means three times, I’ve needed to retain attorneys to resolve affairs of the heart that went bad and involved children and houses.  Once I settled out of court, once I experienced a two day, very tense and humiliating trial at the end of which I had no solutions and $30,000 less to my name.  The third time, the opposition never showed up so the judge ruled in my favor and  my attorney still stuck me with the bills.  None of these experiences was what I’d consider fun.  I never want to go there again. 

I hate to see my friends go through the pain, the anxiety, the fear, the tension, the complete range of unhappy emotions that come with negotiating anything in the legal realm, especially in family law.  It is so agonizing to stand by and listen and watch my friends knowing that I didn’t like what they are experiencing when I went through it.  It is painful to care for my friends and to see them experience such doubt, uncertainty, and angst.  It is hard to not be able to help in any way other than to sit by and listen.  Giving advice based on my experiences wouldn’t even be relevant because every situation is different.  The stakes are always high, as are the emotions but the nuances and possible consequences of all the negotiations are never just a simple black and white.

Even so, there are some things I’ve learned that I wish I would have known before going into the process and while enduring the process.  These are the things that are on my mind right now.  I’m airing them as much for me to revisit and clarify what I’ve learned and where I’ve travelled and why as much as to put it out there for anyone who might benefit from it.

I am not an attorney and none of this is intended to in any way replace the counsel of a good attorney. I am not a psychologist and I cannot give that kind of advice either.  All I’m really doing here is sharing what happened to me, what I wish I’d known or done differently.  Maybe it will help others maybe it won’t.  I’m really not all that concerned about that.  I just need to sort out for myself the jumble so I can be clear about the paths I chose and where they are now leading me.

One thing I wish I would have done in every case is wait and not panic.  This is not always possible.  When you are in the legal battle with someone you used to be very intimate with but with whom you cannot bear to be allied for a moment longer, waiting is especially hard.  Waiting is especially difficult if the person is abusive, dangerous or volatile.  Until you have that signed document you are still linked to that individual to some degree. It makes waiting nearly impossible, especially when the longer you still have the married label the further and more thoroughly the other person can destroy you financially, emotionally, maybe even physically.  When this is the situation, and you must wait, panic can eat you alive and prompt you to make decisions you may later regret. In my case, I made many good decisions, but there are some that I wish I’d waited on.  I wish I’d asked more questions of my attorney.  I wish I would have considered negotiating some other areas more thoroughly.  It might not have made a difference, but then again, it might have.

I also wish I could have seen more clearly how the deal I was negotiating then would affect my future which has become my present.  I think I did a very good job of this when considering the children.  I think I should have thought through it all a little more on the financial end.  I wish I could have seen a little more clearly then how it all would impact my future in post-divorce life.  How closely will I be connected and for how long will I be linked to this individual in the years to come? How much communication will be required between the two adults in question and is the amount required even going to be possible given the nature of the relationship?  As long as there are kids and money involved the chains still linking me to my past relationships are there even if they are invisible most of the time.  This sometimes negatively affects my present peace of mind.  Sometimes I wish I would have done this differently, though I’m not sure even now what that “differently” would be. 

 And this is the trouble with divorce, especially if there is a huge breakdown in communication, which it seems there usually is.  Because there are so many unknowns, so many possible and probable different outcomes, trying to see how my present decisions will impact my future life was a lot like gazing into a crystal ball and seeing nothing but formless shapes and figures among the misty haze. It simply isn’t possible to anticipate the future in every instance.  I think the people who are really good at computer programming could come up with a program to identify all the potential variables, courses of action and potential outcomes, but who has time or patience for that?

The best thing I did (and maybe the best any of us can do) is to  listen carefully to my attorney (get a second or third opinion if we need to) and try not to let our emotions rule.  The best we can do is to do the best we know how to do at the time.  In the end, I just had to move forward in confidence, knowing that I couldn’t know all the possible outcomes.  I had to forge ahead making decisions based only on the pieces of the puzzle that I could see and that my attorney could see. I forced myself to believe that it would all turn out okay, even when I was plagued with fears of the “what if’s”.  What if I lose the house?  What if I can’t make it financially?  What if, what if, what if…. There were nights I tossed and turned with the angst.

As it turned out, as most things turn out I’ve learned, most of what I feared never came to pass.  It ended up in some ways, in most ways, far better than I could have asked.  It ended up in a few ways more difficult than I imagined.  I simply did the best I knew how to do at the time.  It has to be good enough. This is the biggest lesson I take with me as I move forward into each day: I will be okay if I just do the best I can at the time.  When I get down and discouraged and starting thinking “I wish I would have” this is always the place I end up.  I did the best I could.  If I’d have known better, I’d have done better.  I just wasn’t able to read that crystal ball clearly enough, but it’s all turned out okay anyway.

Swirlies And The Problem With Interludes

I have the swirlies. I’ve just experienced an interlude.  Wasn’t planned.  Wasn’t expected.  Was fun. Very fun.  Not exotic.  Not spectacular.  But unusual, unexpected, and very, very unique.  It was signature.  It was classic.  It is the stuff good romance stories are made of whether they end in happily ever after or not…and not all of them do.  But now, it is post-interlude and I have the swirlies.

The swirlies.  It’s that state of mind, hmmm, maybe that state of emotion too, where everything’s  in motion.  My thoughts, my feelings, my reactions, my motivation, my thoughts, my feelings, my reactions, my motivation…all of it is just swirling around like leaves in a breeze. The wind’s not blowing hard enough to just clear the yard of all the leaf matter.  Leaves are in motion, spinning, floating, dangling, coming to rest momentarily, then getting picked up again by the next breeze that floats through.

This is my state of mind this morning.

I’m filled with thoughts.

I’m fill with emotions.

I can’t sort any of it out.  I’m not really even sure I want to. 

I can’t keep any of it still for more than a moment or two and it all comes bubbling right up to the surface again.

I have to go back to work tomorrow.  Correction.  I have to go back to work today.  Because there is laundry to be done, a house to be cleaned, bills to be paid, and children’s needs to meet.

But I am filled with emotions and thoughts and my own needs.  I have my own questions.  I wonder.  I doubt.  I fear.  I hope.  And, none of it will settle.  I want.  I do know this.  I know what I want and that is not swirling.  Everything else is swirling around that. 

I have my own wishes…and my own regrets.  I wish I could have….I wish I’d said…I wish I’d asked…I wish.  I regret that I didn’t…I regret that I did…I regret…

And I wonder.  I wonder what.  I wonder if.  I wonder why. Will there be the opportunity for a re-do?  What if there isn’t.  Why?  Why not? What? What if? 

I also fear.  I fear the if…the when and the why.  Maybe, especially the why or worse…the why not.

Thoughts dash in and then out and back in.  They are swirling, roaming, floating, dashing, fleeing, swirling.  I have the swirlies inside. 

It is evident that today I will not get any answers.  I don’t even know if there are any answers to be had. For that matter, I can’t even pin down the questions.   So without questions, answers make no sense anyway.

I will not get any nearer knowing or resolving or settling anything today, I don’t think.  The leaves in my mind just refuse to be raked and bagged.  I am certain that it is going to be a waste of time to even try to address the tumbling mess of emotional and cognitive matter moving messily about my wild mind. 

So, I am going to give up and go do something else. 

Like laundry.  And making breakfast.  Or preparing for work tomorrow. 

Or any matter of other really normal, routine, business-as-usual things that I would be doing anyway….if the last three days hadn’t happened.  And that’s the problem with interludes. 

The really good ones can’t be planned.  They come as a completely unexpected surprise.

And, when they are over….

When they are over…the return to reality can be almost painful. 

Because a really good interlude, especially one that isn’t planned or scheduled, can put one in touch with what really matters.  And sometimes, it’s just hard to get back to the laundry after that.

Confessions of an Internet Dating Junkie

I admit it.  I was an Internet Dating Junkie.  Well, okay, I wasn’t that bad.  I mean, I have a friend who recounts periods of her life where she spent time at an awful lot of Starbuck’s in our area and sipped numerous expensive coffee drinks in her quest for love or at least her Prince Charming. She told me of days when she’d meet with person after person after person.  I never went quite that far with the Internet thing. 

Here’s my story.

First some background.  You might be interested to know that I obtained my graduate degree online.  Now, for some, this is considered a joke.  For those of us who have been there, we know that online is not easier or less credible.  I am convinced after talking to those who obtained their degrees in face-to-face world that I worked harder and put in more effort online than I ever would have otherwise.  It’s a bit like choosing to cook for yourself instead of being spoon fed your meals.  There are pro’s and con’s both ways, but cooking your own meals (online learning) is not the easier route.  Anyway, it worked for me.  As a  single mother of four children, there was no way I could leave the kids alone several nights a week to go to classes at the University thirty minutes away.  I was able to get my degree and am now enjoying the measly, but nice, increase that my job rewarded me with as a result.  Enough said about all this.  The point is, I am not averse to meeting people online.  Networking in the digital realm was something I became quite used to during my degree program.  I met many people from around the world.  It was a fascinating and valuable experience to me and put me well ahead of the colleagues I work with day to day. Online dating, at least conceptually, was not a big adjustment for me. 

Here’s how it happened for me.

About this time last year, I was awaiting the final hearing for my divorce. My, at that time, soon to be ex (STBX), had completely shut down and gone AWOL.  I had not heard from him at all.  He’d completely discontinued any discussion or negotiation with me since our preliminary hearing in July when I’d been awarded the house and full custody of our daughter who was then six. Any attempts at communication by my attorney were met with silence.  He showed up at the designated parenting times but said nothing to me.  But, this was not alarming to me, as this was exactly how he treated me for most of the time we were married.  Indeed, it was this very unwillingness to negotiate the differences that ultimately broke the marriage. But, I digress.  The Internet Dating thing simply began as a distraction.

I was two weeks out, maybe three, from my divorce trial.  Clearly, my STBX was not going to settle out of court and save me court fees and attorney court costs.  After all, he was representing himself, what did he care?  So, as we waited, my little family and I wondering how our fate would be decided in court just after Thanksgiving, my oldest daughter said, “Mom, you need to put a profile up on Cupid.com and get your mind off all this.  Just try it.  See what happens.”  I simply laughed at her. But as I laughed she wrote my profile and posted my picture.  That’s how it all started.

I changed what she originally wrote…after a bit…but not before I checked out what other women and men were writing.  Yep, did you catch that?  I checked out what other women wrote, which means I went incognito as a man and searched for women in my age range to see what they were writing.  Personally, I wasn’t impressed. I had more fun reading what the guys wrote…because they used humor much more effectively…if they used it at all. If a guy used the intellectual approach, he usually did it very well.  The rest I didn’t care about.

So, with new profile, decent and recent and accurate picture of me posted I began my Internet Dating journey.  A year later, I can tell you, I’ve learned a lot.  I haven’t gotten married and I’m not officially in a relationship, though there is one digital beau that has captured my imagination far more than any others, but, he is still in the digital category and that can only take one so far for just so long. Since he’s over 1100 miles away, it’s going to be a bit of a challenge, but that’s not the point of this post, because he could disappear tomorrow for all I know…that is one thing I learned about online dating.  It is, until made otherwise, simply online. I’ve learned that over the year.

But I’ve also learned so much more.

Through this online venue, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some really interesting people that I would never have crossed paths with in my daily routine.  I’ve met some amazing people from all over this country…and I’ve learned something from all of them.  I’m a big believer that every encounter is valuable.  I’ve met many wonderful men.  They do exist…all the good ones are not taken. Strong men, intelligent men, sensitive men, thoughtful caring men who desire to provide, protect and love a soulmate.  Men who have given all to their wife and family  and been tossed aside like last week’s People magazine (and women complain about being thrown aside for newer models?).  And while none of these wonderful men would be the best match for me, this doesn’t negate the fact that each one of them has taught me something and usually that something enlightens me further so that when my Mr. Perfect (well, perfect in that he fits me and I him) Match comes along, I will recognize him.

In the end, I’ve learned more about me, who I am, what I can tolerate, what I can’t, where I want to head in relationship and where I don’t than I ever would have by just going to work and coming home every day. 

One  year later, with divorce final, and lots of dates that didn’t work out for a lasting partnership under my belt, I know what I’m about.  This is a good thing.  It means this:  I know what I have to offer a relationship.  I know not only what I want out of a long term relationship, but I also know what I have to bring to the table and to offer in relationship.  That’s no small thing.

So, for that reason alone I think online dating is a great thing.  I mean, it worked for me.  No, I didn’t meet Mr. Soul Mate on any of the dating sites and I’ve taken my profile off any site that it was on (except eHarmony…they don’t pull your profile down after you stop your membership…deceptive!).  I know what I’m about…I know I’ll know him when I meet him, whether it is in digital or real time and I know that he’ll somehow find me as I go about my business of being the best me I can be…because after all that is what I bring to him: me.  I loved the online dating days…and I may return to it…but for now, I am content knowing that I am who I am and the best thing I can do for any relationship I might eventually have is just be the best me I can be…and that means…at least for now…that I must write…I must teach…I must read…I must be a great (though exhausted) mommy and I must live life to the fullest every possible moment.  And it means that online dating for me has probably run its course…at least for now. I simply can’t spend my time, like my friend did meeting contact after contact and drinking coffee after coffee.  There is simply too much of life to be experienced…and as I’m experiencing it…I know Mr. Soul Mate and I will bump into each other somehow, unsuspectingly, and it will take us both by surprise….

At, least…that is what I hope.