Category Archives: Relationships

Alone vs. Lonely

lonely-womanThe insomnia has returned.  I cannot for the life of me sleep past 4.5 hours.  I’m usually awake from anywhere between 2 am to 4 am.  I don’t feel particularly anxious, but I can become so when I begin thinking about my financial future…which is uncertain…at this time.  I can become even more anxious when I think of the possible financial outcomes of the divorce. Of course, anytime there is an interaction regarding the divorce (a hearing or prepping for a hearing,  or a response from the opposing attorney because there is no communicating with my husband at all) my body goes into full on fight or flight mode. My hands start shaking. My heart races. I begin feeling anxious…very anxious. Read the rest of this entry

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The Goldilocks Brief

2:23 a.m. The big projects I was working on have come up to their deadline. Proposals submitted, bids received, offers accepted, contracts signed. Two out of three of the projects were successful, the third, a surprising disappointment in some ways. This third project, was not the most profitable one, so having to go back to the drawing board on this is not a horrible defeat. For me, it means, I get to return home during my evenings. I get to spend time with my kids. I get to live a bit more normal life. Which means, I’m wide awake at 2:23 a.m., for no apparent reason.

Mr. Just Right, from my last post, ended up pushing our meet up for cocktails on Wednesday to dinner and a movie Sunday evening. He showed up, promptly at 5:30 p.m. While he’s wonderful enough on paper, I knew immediately that he wasn’t Mr. Just Right after all. I don’t usually know this right away, but this time, I did. Maybe it was the fact that even though he’s only a few years older than me, he looked as frail and hunched over as my 90-year-old grandma used to look, when she was 90 years old. Not that I judge people entirely on how they look, but let’s face it: when you’re looking for a romantic partner, you have to, at least, be attracted enough to want to get romantic. I knew instantly that this was not going to get romantic. I also knew instantly that this was going to be a very long evening. Fortunately, much of it was going to be a movie, but I had to get through dinner first.

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Married Men

Ever go into a business meeting or some social event and notice how many people are married? Now, I’m not exactly looking for Mr. Right. As each day passes, I become more and more convinced that the relationship/marriage boat sailed long ago and I was probably at the airport when it did. No. I’m not looking for someone to complete me. I’m not looking for a friend to benefit with. I’m not looking to get involved in any kind of romantic relationship at all. Not only that, but I live in a location that is billed as one of the worst places in this nation to be if you are a single woman. I’m not fooling myself. The odds for me to meet up with some decent guy I’m somewhat compatible with are slim. That I might have a romantic connection with the guy reduces the odds almost 100%. Even though I’m not looking,even though I don’t really care, there are times when I look around and I notice that all the men in the room are married. I then notice that most of the women in the room are married too…except for me…and maybe one or two others. Most of the time this doesn’t bother me. I like being single and being in a room of men who are married, especially if they are happily married, means I’m not going to get hit on at the company conference. I like that. It means I can actually have a conversation with these men that focuses on something meaningful that won’t necessarily lead to the bedroom.

I feel this way, most of the time, except for the meeting I attended tonight.

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Foolish

Early on, after my divorce, I figured I was racing the clock. You know, trying to beat that date on the calendar that somehow says you are now too old to be putting a profile up online. What that date is specifically, I don’t know. After a solid three years of meetups and a few relationships that lasted about 3 months before I was able to discern that, no matter what he said to me, he just really wasn’t that into me. Then there was this one relationship that I somehow completely missed the clues that he just wasn’t into me. Two years later, he’s disappeared into thin air and I haven’t heard a word from him since he left seven months ago. As I look back on it now, there were plenty of signs that he wasn’t as fully vested in the relationship as he said he was. Actions speak louder than words. I didn’t like the actions. Specifically, I didn’t like how they betrayed his words. I think I hung in there because I just didn’t want to admit that I had made another bad judgement call…again. I hung on when I should have let go. I was foolish.

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Don’t Mention Him

I hate this emotional rollercoaster I am on. I am happy, I am sad. I am glad it’s over with the Gone Boyfriend, I hate that it ever had to end. I feel optimistic about my future, then the very next day, I’m thinking that all have to look forward to is the decline of old age and the associated aches, pains, and debilitating experiences that come with the aging process. Face it, it’s going to get worse from here on out, and I’m not making it out alive.

I wonder when these feelings will leave me. I wonder when that dull ache in my chest will disappear. One minute I’m sitting playing and laughing with my 12-year-old, grateful for our freedom to play together, without criticism, but when she leaves to go spend her weekend with her dad, I am a lonely mess. I wander around aimlessly. I do things, laundry, chores, etc., but I’m forgetful, absentminded, and unfocused.

Fortunately, the downturns are becoming further and further apart. They are becoming shorter and shorter in duration. I feel so good, happy and content, and free, most of the time. My sadness these days, is not so much that the Gone Boyfriend is gone, but that he took up space in my life for two years. For two years, I put in effort only to be abandoned. And suddenly abandoned at that. The longer I am away from him, the more I realize it was probably best that he left. It still hurts to feel the rejection. It still hurts, at times, to think that for whatever reasons, I must be some complete relational loser since I am alone at my age. I just liked being in a relationship and having the companionship. It’s sad to me that it wasn’t a lasting situation, and even sadder that I couldn’t see that truth earlier. So, somedays I am just sad.

More and more frequently, however, I am grateful. I am pleased that my children and I can take off our shoes and wander barefoot around our home, without worrying that we left our shoes by the front door. I hear my children laughing together so much more often. We talk more and linger over dinner, laughing about funny events of our day, or discussing the upcoming schedule so we can decide who will use the car and who will not. I’ve had more really good times with my children in the last month than I’ve had since the Gone Boyfriend showed up on the scene.

The other day, I was somewhere with my 18-year-old. We were doing something and I mentioned how this would never have happened with the Gone Boyfriend in the picture. She very quietly paused, then said, ” I really don’t think we ever need to mention him ever again.”

I think she’s right. He’s gone. He isn’t getting any readmittance in my life. He doesn’t deserve to. It is time to let this go. I’ve cried enough tears, wasted enough emotional energy and time. I never need to mention him ever again.

Is it Love or Is It Something Else?

The following is a blog post I started a year ago, on September 27, 2011. I guess the break up with the Gone Boyfriend really was a long time coming. The post below isn’t complete. I’m posting it in this unfinished state, because I think it is a good lesson to me to go with my gut. I sensed something wasn’t right a year ago. Whatever was brewing inside the Gone Boyfriend was brewing for a while, and I was seeing something of it. I just was too afraid or unwilling to face it. My bad.

How can you tell if it is real love?

I find this a difficult question to address.

Maybe, because, before you can address the question at all, one must define love.  This is something I cannot do. Well, maybe I can do it when it comes to loving that little sports car that just drove by, or loving my job or not loving it, or loving my children…but when it comes to an adult relationship?  This is where I have trouble.  What is real love?  I don’t even know what it means to be really in love.  Moreover, I’m not sure, having been beaten by men either verbally or physically or emotionally and certainly financially most of my life, that I can even understand the meaning of love or what it would look like or feel like to have a man be truly in love with me.  Too me, it looks just too much like competition, or the lack of competition.

But, I’m currently in a relationship, and have been with a man for nearly a year.  Eleven months to be exact and, well, questions are coming to my mind.  Yes, they are keeping me up at night.  I am beginning to wonder if this relationship is really right for me.  Maybe, when I get done, I will come to the conclusion that my even asking the questions was the sign that things weren’t right.  Then again, maybe everyone needs to ask the questions periodically just to check in and re-evaluate what it is about the relationship that still is worth committing to.  At this point, I don’t know, but I am concerned enough about some things that I need to take a step back and ask, “What’s really going on here?”  That’s not the only question I’m asking either…obviously.

There were more questions like “What is true love? How does it behave? What does it look like at middle age?” and so on. I’m still asking some of those questions, but I’m certainly not thinking I should be so surprised that the Gone Boyfriend is gone.

The Company Picnic

Most people have one day a year that they dread.  For some, it is the day they have to finally own up and pay the taxes.  For others, it is the particular day of the holidays when they have to sit next to one of the least favorite outlaws at dinner.  Some dread the day they have to put a child on the plane bound for dad’s for the summer.  For me, it’s The Company Picnic.

My company is a rather large organization with 19 offices in three cities.  We serve over 13,000 clients annually in a personal face-to-face environment. Our clients receive services from us, some of them for over 20 years.  We also have affiliates in other communities nationwide. So, essentially, my organization is a large one.  But it is dreadfully small on Company Picnic Day. As long as I live, I will never cease to question how I can be in a basketball gymnasium filled with thousands of people and never see a person I know, yet, take that same stadium and fill it with thousands of people from my company on what we dub as Company Hug Day, and I can find The Evil Ex even if I’m not looking (and I always am, just to avoid him).  This year, not only was The Evil Ex present and accounted for, but so was his Wife, who apparently has now been hired by the company and working in the same office he is working in.  To add insult to injury, his son’s wife, a cute young thing was also there. Now, I have nothing against their happiness, or the fact that apparently there is some real nepotism going on which I don’t understand, because The Evil Ex is not even good at what he supposedly does for a living. Why would the Powers That Be hire anyone associated with him?  I don’t get it. (In fact, the company had grounds and could have fired him 12 years ago.  I know.  I was there.  They didn’t.  Instead, in a classic case of sexual discrimination, they demoted me (the more experienced and qualified female employee…and I’m not making this up or being bitter…I can prove I’m the more qualified and skilled individual) and promoted him.  And why?  Because I foolishly made the mistake to fish off the company dock.  (I was not informed that this only works out for the men in the equation.) I was also too fearful and intimidated to take on the legal battle.   What I take issue with is that it just seems unfair that those who are so inept, succeed over those who are more competent …or seem to.   Okay, the job situation ticks me off, but he’s also inept relationally.  How is it that he gets a relationship though he’s a jerk and I’m a decent person of good character and I can’t find a match that will last to save my soul???  Yeah, let’s not go there.

He is a creeper.  I had a restraining order on him.  He has less than the normal minimum days with our daughter. He should have been fired.  But that’s not how the world works. They retain the men. And fire or demote the women, essentially ruining their careers…especially if they get pregnant.

I guess I am still bitter about all of that.  It doesn’t eat at me…at least 364 days of the year it doesn’t eat at me…but on Company Picnic Day…when I see him representing the most prestigious office in our region (think monied clients and a comfortable corner office to work out of)…the injustice of it all floods my psyche.  You see, back in the day, before we decided to fish, before he decided to stalk me and later abuse me, I worked at one of those elite locations, with that elite clientele, with a very comfortable corner office, with windows, all done up in blue.  My life was made. Until he entered the scene.  And I’m not bitter when I say this, the man is incompetent.  He can’t handle his own personal matters, let alone those required for his job.  The deal is this:  he’s a great liar and pretender.  He can present himself to so many as something he really is not.  He has a way of lying about things so that, while preposterous, they sound believable.  For example, this summer he perjured himself under oath.  He told the judge he was still providing insurance for all of his children due to the fact that one’s children are now covered until they are 26.  The reality:  he has 7 children…not including the one we have together which makes 8. Of his 7 children, 5 of them are adults, and 4 of them are married, over the age of 26, and/or have their own insurance coverage. So, he told the judge he was paying insurance and covering all these people and what it shakes down to is, he’s covering exactly two other children (besides himself and his wife) and not our daughter. I was stunned.  I was not able to reply to this statement because I wasn’t given adequate opportunity. He lied.  He wins.  He puts himself off as this great man of character and of God, but then he doesn’t  pay his half of the medical expenses and he’s an asshole when it comes to negotiating the differences regarding our daughter.  In fact, there is no negotiation. He just does what he’s going to do and I am left dealing with the fallout.  That’s  how our marriage was.  Can I expect anything different in our divorce?

So, he won in the work arena.

He won in the court arena this summer.

And today, apparently, he’s winning in the Love Arena, because he was there with his wife and daughter-in-law, while I was there, completely, undeniably,  and obviously, ALONE.

And by alone, I mean really alone.  The last couple of years I told myself it didn’t matter.  And, really, it didn’t, because I didn’t have his wife and daughter-in-law in my face at close proximity. (Yes, our last names all end with the same letter so I must attend all the excruciating meetings with them.) But also, I knew I was going home to someone.  I knew then, at least, I was in the relational ball park.  Last year at this time it appeared I was winning or, at least, staying in, that particular game.  This year, it is a totally different story. I’ve been kicked off the island, or my partner couldn’t leave my island fast enough.  My inability to maintain a relationship over time is glaringly apparent to me, to the world, to the company and, worst of all, to the Evil Ex and his family who now, apparently, works for our company.

This does not feel good.

I mostly don’t mind being alone, but never having a significant other in my life was simply not what I ever wanted in life.  In fact, even more than kids, I wanted that quality relationship with another adult. I gained in the kids arena, but apparently I’m a complete flop in the relationship arena.  This just doesn’t always sit well with me.  In fact, at times, like today, when I am faced with my failure, it is incredibly painful.  I wonder why he gets the happy relationship though he never spoke to me ever, once, in six years, in his passive-aggressive abusive manner of dealing with people. He is disrespectful, unreliable, and irresponsible and all sorts of other things I don’t want to take up space with here.  How does he get love and I can’t find a quality partner to save my soul? He’s a taker, an abuser, and people flock to him.  I don’t take, I give, I deal honestly and fairly, and men use me up and move on.  No one stays.  What’s wrong with me?????

So I posted that video and post about being Alone.  I’ve made my peace with being alone.  I can handle it.  I’m content most of the time.

The truth is, I’ve lied.  I like being in relationship with a man. I like the companionship.  I don’t like being alone…in that way. I especially don’t like the idea that this is the end of the relational line for me (and the sad reality is that age being what it is, and men being what they are, it is the end).  Like I said, most of the time, this is not an issue with me.  I enjoy my boring, little life.  I have wonderful friends. I love my kids.  I’ve been blessed with four beautiful, intelligent, dynamic individuals as children, who are so successful, in spite of the fact that they had so many risk factors (divorce, poverty, etc.) working against them. I can’t take credit for that.  They chose that. The work I do daily matters, not just to the people I work with, but to the people they, in turn, impact.  It’s an amazing job and I am good at it. I’m grateful for that.  And if you asked any of my friends they would tell you and they do tell me that I am an amazing person.

But…

at the end of the day…

when the kids have gone home to their families…

the friends are busy with their own lives…

…and I can no longer work

…I am alone.

I don’t exactly want the highlight of my days to be my latest, greatest Facebook status update.

I don’t exactly like the idea of rocking alone on the front porch of the old folks’ home.

Apparently, I’m just not amazing enough.

I hate Company Picnic Day.

Loneliness

The days and nights are hard right now. No, I would not wish this particular man (the Non BF, now turned the Gone BF) back for anything. Things have transpired, text messages sent from a day’s drive away, that revealed that this man was many things, but never was he in love with me. He was far too immature for that. He was also unable to be honest, about where he was with things, about what was troubling him, about what he wanted or needed. He’s also unable to take responsibility for his part in this, it remains all my fault and he contends that “he never wanted this.” (And yet, he did nothing to prevent it from happening when he easily could have, instead running as far away as he could, not unlike a petulant adolescent.)

As usually, happens, I think, this ending became final, for me anyway, as the result of a small incident: a stupid text message. This man had lived with me for two years. In all that time, I had never been anything but crystal clear about what I would tolerate and what I would not, what I could pay for and could not. He knew that I believed we were working on something lasting. This was not a casual roommate or friends with benefits arrangement for me. He knew this. He also knew that the only reason I was cohabiting with him was the understanding that eventually there would be a public, legal, formal commitment. It turns out, The Gone BF, knew he wasn’t going to marry me, and I’m now beginning to suspect he knew this for quite some time, at least a year. Yet, all this while, he was perfectly content to live a charade of loving me and wanting to spend the rest of his life with me when he had no intention of doing that at all. So, the sad, depressing truth is that this man knowingly used me. The even sadder truth was that I truly cared about him, enjoyed our time together so much, that I unknowingly let him use me. I ignored the thousand of teeny tiny flags that should have indicated a disconnect somewhere. You know what they say about hindsight.

Two days ago, he texted me, angry that I had not given him any hangers, but instead had packed up his clothes in garbage bags without them. (He’d literally gone through every closet in the house, collecting all the white hangers for himself, so that each piece of his clothing hung exactly half an inch apart on white plastic hangers.) And now, the man who lived for a year for free while I paid for everything, is bitching at me because I kept the hangers. Hangers, I might add, that I purchased at the Goodwill when we moved in to this new place last summer. Again, his tone and message implied that this was all my fault. It suddenly became very clear to me how juvenile this man was, and also how very self-centered he was. While we were together, this was hard to detect because he really did a lot to help out…at first. In retrospect, though, he ended things without discussion the minute they no longer worked for him. It was a small, silly text message, but it was the moment I mentally disconnected. No, I truly never want to see this man again.

It doesn’t necessarily make things easier. I was living a fantasy that wasn’t ever what I believed it to be, but I enjoyed my fantasy, for the most part, and didn’t want it to end. Instead, it ended harshly and abruptly. Literally, one week all seemed great; the next he is gone and, after two years of unemployment, he has a job and is living in a city far away. There was no discussion, no haggling over stuff or money, and certainly no good-bye. The angry teenager just ran off.

So, I pass my days slugging through my obligations, trying to maintain composure. I’m experiencing now, for those first few agonizing times alone, all those things we did together, which I enjoyed so much: grocery shopping, meal preparation, morning cups of coffee, bike rides to a favorite lunch spot in a nearby town. I’m doing these things alone now. It’s painful, and my chest feels like it is going to be crushed with the weight of the loneliness. The reality is, that I will very likely be doing these things alone for a long time, possibly the rest of my life.

I miss what I thought we had.

Death and Finality

It’s over.
He’s picked up the rest of his possessions and he’s gone. I was not here when he did this. I left his things in the driveway. They are now gone.
He entered my life two years ago. Now he’s gone.
I will never see him again.

Today he texted me to tell me he got a job in the bay area.

Today he left for his new life; a life that by intentional design excludes me.

There won’t be any back and forth. There won’t be any bumping into him around town. There won’t be any keeping in touch. He’s gone. The last memory I have of him, he was getting into his truck and driving off.

It is as though he has died; this ending is that sudden, that abrupt, that final.

I’m now left with the task of picking up the shards of my heart, but all I can do is look at the mess and wonder where to begin. How does one possibly begin to heal after this? How does one possibly begin to put it all back together? And the big questions: how does one keep from becoming bitter? How does one ever begin to trust again?

****
It’s 5:00 a.m. and I’ve been up since two, tossing, turning, hurting. Finally, the tears have come. Slowly, silently. I hurt.
****
On a good note, the state has not adjusted the child support reduction yet, so I received the entire child support amount this month. It is a small consolation, but it is a big blessing in my otherwise disastrous life.

On another good note, I decided to buy myself a “Voted Off The Island” consolation gift. I bought myself a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. Now, I’m an Apple girl. I’ve been holding out for an iPad 2. I’m still going to get one eventually. At work this week, one of my colleagues had a tablet that wasn’t an iPad. She let me play with it. Half the price; same amount of fun. I’m still getting used to it, but I can tell this is going to be wonderful. The fact that I was able to buy it on credit, and that next month I will pay it off, is another blessing.

I would never place a higher value on material things than I would on people and relationships, but if the relationship in question is going to screw me over and destroy my heart, there’s nothing like a new tech gadget to soothe the pain. I’m also pretty grateful for my “new” living room furniture and my “new” 32-inch HD TV among other things.

So, while my life is a complete disaster in the relationship arena, I”ve taken steps to keep myself busy and distracted until enough time passes until I can look at what’s happened without experiencing the excruciating pain I currently feel.

The Non-Boyfriend is officially dead to me. It’s as final as it can be. Now it’s time to move on and try to heal over so I can be ready for whatever adventure awaits.
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Getting Voted Off The Island

When parents divorce in my county, if there are children involved, the parents are required to take a class that deals with the issue of helping children through divorce. It’s not a horrible class ,but it is required. The judge will not award a decree unless both parents take the class. I signed up and took the class as soon as I could after filing for divorce from The Evil Ex.

I remember the class well. I was there, fighting back tears and doing my level best to appear calm and well-adjusted, in spite of feeling like I might, at any second, dissolve into a liquid mass of human saltwater. I signed in, took my gratuitous paperwork, got some awful coffee, and found a seat near the side of the room toward the front. Shortly, after I sat down, a man entered. He looked like your typical geeky professor type. He strode up to the woman at the sign in desk and announced, “I’m being voted off the island, and I hear I have to take this class, so here I am.”

So much for feeling miserable. I couldn’t stop chuckling about it each time I thought of it for a good year afterward. Humor has a way of numbing the pain sometimes.

This week, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been able to work. I have a job that allows me a great deal of time off each year. This is not paid time off, but it is still time off. Because my job is so demanding and stressful during the rest of the year, I loathe working during these off times. This year, due to medical expenses from my cancer treatments and the gradual drain of the Non-Boyfriend on my pocketbook, I decided to sign up to work five weeks this summer. This week was week three. It’s been wonderful to have something to go do each day that helps me forget that I am being voted off my own island.

On Tuesday of this week, the Non-Boyfriend and I voted each other off the relational island. Later that day, one of my colleagues began sharing at break, how his wife of 27 years just voted him off the marital island this last May. (I did not start talking about my situation. He brought up the topic all on his own.) He is still reeling from the shock and surprise and grief that comes from being blindsided. I can relate.

I mentioned a few posts back how I changed my status on Facebook to single right after I realized that the Non-BF had been planning a secret escape from our crumbling island. It wasn’t long before I had friends commiserating with me digitally, offering their condolences. Many contacted me privately. Some of these folks are single eligible men. One of them is a person I “met” digitally about four years ago through a blog I was writing at that time. He lives on the other side of the country, and even though I’ve long since stopped writing on that other blog, he’s kept in touch through Facebook. We’ve never met in real life. He, too, was just voted off the island of relational bliss.

Yesterday, he mentioned flying out to see me at the holidays. We will both be sans children and negotiating a “couples” holiday season alone. Neither of us is looking forward to it. Now, I’m fairly certain this will not happen, but I do find it interesting how things in life can conspire to distract me from the pain I am dealing with. Random little interactions like this tend to be like the emotional epidural that completely knocks out the pain of the relational rejection I’m birthing. You can still feel the pressure, but the pain is not there. I’ve been voted off the island by one particularly unhappy individual through no fault of my own, really, unless finally saying no to mistreatment is a fault. Less than 48 hours later, I have people entering my life inviting me to visit their little island for a bit.

No, I’m not going to stay long on any of these islands. I will most certainly not even spend the night. I am not ready for that. But, I ask you what is the harm of stopping by someone’s island for an afternoon of friendship, sun, and maybe even some libations? Can anyone refuse an invitation to spend a day at the beach with fun companions?

I was voted off an island I didn’t realize was crumbling. Maybe it is time for me to realize that there are possibly much bigger, stronger, more enjoyable islands out there.

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