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The Evolution of Dating

The entire dating thing confuses me. Does it confuse anyone else, I wonder? I am not asking this question hypothetically. I really do wonder if anyone else is as confused by the societal process for selecting a sex partner, significant other, companion or soul mate that we in the United States refer to as dating. It has me stumped.

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I’ll cut to the chase.  I’m an idiot. Who signs up on an online dating sight at the most busy time of their professional and personal year? I do. Like I said…I’m an idiot.  I admit it. I have only one excuse. I was three sheets to the wind when I did the signing up. Yep.  Had one of those down days.  One of those days that proves living a block from the local liquor store is not necessarily the benefit you might think it would be.  I don’t know the particular circumstances.  I think I successfully drank them out of my memory.  I just remember it was one of those days, which, for whatever reason I was feeling blue about the whole situation that transpired in my life recently.  Actually, I wasn’t really feeling blue about that situation if the truth be known.  I was feeling blue that I’d wasted the last two years of my youth on the man. Okay, enough with the drama. It is also very possible that I was feeling happy.  I feel that a lot these days.  In fact, I almost get giddy with the lack of stress and the ease with which my family functions right now. No more walking on eggshells.  No more having to ask permission or wonder when the next derisive comment is going to come. No more worrying about money.  Since I’m not paying  his bills, there’s an extra amount in our coffers this month, and that makes me genuinely silly with the giddy factor. Read the rest of this entry

Life Superior

“Mom, my graduation from my fellowship is Saturday, August 24th. Can you come? Dad can’t make it, and really would like someone here for me. Plus there are many key political figures I want you meet. Can you please come?”

How does one say no to child who asks, no begs, for you to remain present and involved in their adult lives. This isn’t because the apron strings haven’t been cut. No, this is my firstborn, the independent one who has chosen to do life her way since she was born. She drives herself to achieve impossibilities, she still fights sleep, she’s been tapped to lead a prominent campaign for a candidate of her political party, and she’s intentionally choosing to sit out a term of college to gain this experience. This is not a needy, clingy child who is having a tough time leaving the nest. This is strong, intelligent, independent woman we are dealing with here. So, when she asks, especially when  she asks in this particular way, a caring parent pays attention. Even if she is not yet 22 years old. I was very close to having to tell my daughter no this time.

Why would I do such a thing?

The problem is a financial one more than anything.

More than once, this month, I’ve regretted the fact that I allowed the insurance company to pull The Gone BF’s payment out of my account. Sadly, he was attentive enough to our finances to wait until the payments had cleared before he decided to head out. More than once, over the last few weeks, I’ve wondered why I let this relationship go on an why I didn’t do something earlier about it. The fact that he is now gone, brings a different kind of sadness. It is a sadness that comes from realizing the truth when you worked so hard to ignore it. It’s a sadness that comes from realizing you had to work at ignoring the truth, that he just never was that into me, in spite of his helpfulness and wonderful words. He’s gone. I’ve no doubt he is glad to be gone. He hasn’t contacted me in well over a week. I don’t expect to hear or see from him again. I do wish I hadn’t been such a fool, but other than that my life is greatly improved since he left. But I am annoyed with myself for having paid his insurance bill.

I also wish my daughter, for all her competence, had informed me earlier. I would have planned this month so differently. Traditionally, the end of summer, with it’s back school registrations and expenses, is tight. This year is no exception. Even though I am past my bankruptcy, and I am doing all I can to improve my credit, I still don’t like using the credit cards. I have one with a small limit that I use and pay off every month, but it didn’t have enough on it to cover the expenses for this trip. On a whim, exactly a week ago, I applied for a credit card with a $1, 000 limit. Okay, in my past life, that’s a low limit, almost an insult. In my current financial recovery life, it’s an indicator that my life is improving. If you read through the credit repair literature, most suggest that it takes about a year to be approved for a credit card with that kind of limit. I was approved and it has been just over two months since I received my discharge letter. This was great news. Now to hope that I received the card in seven days rather than the ten of the 7-10 business days it takes to receive the card.

Waiting. As time drew near and my mailbox remained empty, I made up a Plan B. The Good Ex is usually great about giving me cash if I write him a post dated check. I hate doing this, but this was an exception and for a good reason. So, the stress was off as far as whether or not I was going, because The Good Ex was very good about it and payday is very near.

I have to say though, that in a situation like this that involves unplanned expenses four days before payday, having a credit card helps. What also helps is that this summer, I worked five extra weeks. What I spend this weekend will be paid off in a week. I will get to see my daughter and support her. But having that credit card would mean I’d have a cushion. It would mean some extra in case something happened. It would NOT mean a spending spree, it would mean I could enjoy the trip without worry.

Yesterday afternoon, as I was firming up our plans, I texted my oldest, “If that card is in the mail today, my life will be superior.”

I am pleased to report that my life is indeed superior.


It’s now the end of the second week after The Gone BF and I parted ways. It’s been a week since he ran away to a distant land and started a new life there. The first week was unbearable, this week, surprisingly, not so bad. I think it really helped to force myself through my routines. It also helped to have friends and my son around to help. Realizing that all the drama merely reflected the immature character of The Gone BF, rather than my failure as a companion or person, moved me to a better place more quickly than I hoped. Not being in contact with TGBF also kept me from wallowing around in sadness; ending it quickly the few times he did contact me, proved to be an effective strategy. Work, as much as I dreaded it, going in, proved to be a blessing. It kept me busy and mentally focused on something other than my miserable situation.

In fact, by Wednesday I was sleeping better and drinking less. The bottle of gin I purchased, upon learning that TGBF couldn’t get away fast enough, is long gone, and has been replaced by a small bottle of cheap red wine that tastes so badly, I was forced to mix it with Sprite, just to get a glass of it down. I will finish the last glass of that wine tonight, and tomorrow, I exercise and drink only water. It is time to get serious about taking care of me.

By Thursday, not only was I feeling better, I was actually in a place where I could begin to feel hopeful about the future, and more accepting of the present. Today, some of my old contentment has returned: I look forward to coming home, I love my place, my kids, my work. I believe this feels like contentment. I feel no desire or need to rush out and replace TGBF, and I like being able to keep my home exactly the way I want it. I am even looking forward to the days to come. I’m beginning to look forward to fall, the cooler air, and the golden colors. It will continue to be my favorite time of year even though it was at this time that TGBF and I started dating. I’m making plans for the holidays and I’m not dreading it, even though this year at Christmas I won’t have any of my children. I’m planning to go visit friends and family elsewhere, and that will be my gift to me.

I’m alone these days, and it isn’t by my own choice. Even so, I don’t view my aloneness quite the same as the loneliness I experienced early on. This alone-ness is comforting, it is familiar, it does not mark me as an untouchable or a failure. It is my freedom. I really do not mind or dread this experience two weeks out. It is bearable. I can see hope from here.

Now, maybe you are one who dreads being alone. I’ve included a link to a video poem I love. It’s just as affirming now as it was two years ago before the TGBF entered the arena of my life. Enjoy!

How To  Be Alone

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.

Benefits of Breaking Up

It’s not going to get ugly here. He’s not likely to pull a U-Haul up and empty my place one day while I’m out and I’m not going to slit his throat in the middle of the night while he lies sleeping on my couch downstairs until he leaves, which has already happened; the leaving part, I mean.

He’s just going to pick up his things and leave my life as casually as he entered it. I’m not exactly going to go about pretending everything is as it was. That’s why he had a deadline (Friday) to get out and that’s why he slept on the couch; something he abhorred, which is why he left earlier than his Friday deadline. Well, that and some help from his parents. Things have changed, but they aren’t ugly.

After every breakup there is a period of grief, I think. Really, I’m only guessing at this. I’m no therapist. In fact, I need a therapist. But it sounds good, so I’m going with it. I suppose, if the relationship was horrible, one might be relieved or even overjoyed at the end of the relationship. I certainly felt that way after I left The Evil Ex. The saddest part of that relationship was that I’d wasted my time in it and was now older. Men can successfully pick up on pretty young things no matter how old they get. The same does not hold true for women. Even if you are very attractive, once you hit a certain age, men seem to become more reluctant to date you, choosing instead your 21-year-old daughter. (Well, okay, that hasn’t happened to me yet, but, I suspect it might if I were ever to go bar hopping with her…which I will be sure not to do. My fragile ego could not take it right now.)

Beyond the turmoil of disentangling two lives, there comes the task of figuring out life in your new reality as a single person. I’m beginning to move in this direction. All of my children are informed of the split (they are okay with it). I have told my closest friends, and after finding out that he was totally checked out on me, I changed my Facebook status to single. Essentially, I’m taking the steps I need to take to be free of this relationship which I’m now finding out was a sham for nearly a year. This is good for me. I’m trying not to be bitter and angry at the way he treated me, at the way I allowed him to treat me. I’m keeping busy. Making plans. I’m trying my best not to dwell on my loss and not to despair too much about the real potential of a solitary future.

As I go through my days, I consider all the positive aspects of this change in my life. This helps to keep my mind from wandering toward the sadder parts and becoming maudlin about the whole deal. Here are a few things I’ve come up with:

1. There’s a whole lot more room in my king-sized bed to sprawl out in.
2. I will now have a room to call my own, as well as a closet and bathroom.
3. Maybe now I can move my desk area downstairs and out of my bedroom…or maybe not. He will no longer be dominating my downstairs with his desk area. At least I will be able to choose.
4. I will no longer have to urge my kids to”Quick, let’s clean up before he gets home,” when there never really was anything to clean up to begin with because he won’t be coming home.
5. I will not have to wonder where he put the latest thing he cleaned up or what things of mine he threw out when he cleaned.
6. I might be able to do away with the storage unit. We only have it because he felt the garage was out of control. (It wasn’t, and his stuff is mostly what we store there.)
7. I’ll save money, since I won’t be paying his car insurance, gas, food and gym membership.
8. I will have more time to write.
8a. I will have more time to spend with my children that we won’t have to cut short because he suddenly walked in the room.
9. I can do what I want, when I want without criticism.
10. I can plan my own future and chart my own course.

Even though breakups are sad, painful and rough, there are some decided benefits, especially if the relationship was floundering anyway. I’m sure I’ll have my moments of feeling like a complete relational loser in the days and weeks and months to come, but right now I’m trying to stay positive and think of the benefits. The list I’ve created here only scratches the surface. I haven’t even considered things like how much more honestly I’ll be living because he’s not around, and how much less stress I will experience because he won’t be constantly criticizing me or my children. I haven’t mentioned how I won’t ever have to hear him infer that I am poor white trash (wait…who’s picking up your tab and paying all your bills while you channel surf all day?). I won’t ever have to be out with friends and experience his sneer of disgust when I say/do something he doesn’t approve of. In fact, the more I think of it, the better I feel about this. In some ways, it will be hard and sad. I think the saddest part of all of it is that I was too kind, too generous, and I wasted so much time in a dead end relationship. In more more ways, though, this will will be great. Once I get over my shock at what has transpired and how unexpected it all was, I’ll be okay. This is the right thing to be doing.

I’m sad it didn’t work out but, to be honest, if it wasn’t going to work out, the thing I’m most sad about is that I didn’t realize that fact earlier.

Stress, Anxiety and Excitement

I am moving.   It’s a sudden thing, and I am not prone to this kind of suddenness.  I’ve been in the same residence for ten years, after all.

This move is the right thing at the right time for me right now.

There’s just so much in my life that currently falls into the area of “the unknown.”  I don’t need the instability of wondering if, when, and where I am moving.  And I need to move.

I need to get out of this place because psychologically it is draining me.  There are just too many painful memories here.  Memories of a love gone wrong, of insecurities preyed upon, of lives, hearts and psyches abused and damaged.  There is also the glaring truth that no matter how long I live here and work to improve this place those memories and reminders contained its walls and corners will never disappear.  I will forever see the improved thing and think of what came before.

It is time to move on.

Just like with the marriage, I thought for a long time I could fix it.  I finally realized I cannot; I moved on and haven’t looked back.

Once that decision is made, it is amazing how things can fall rapidly into place.

Six months ago I was playing with the idea, the possibility, the wisdom of leaving.  Five months ago and each month since, I’ve made decisions that put into play a series of events that moved me closer to being able to leave.  The last, item, to find new digs.

Not so easy to do, when your credit is shot.

Amazing how miracles still occur.

This time last week, I had no idea I was moving.  Had you asked me, I would have said, “Yes, I’ll probably be moving within the next six months.”  I had no idea I would be residing in my new location in two weeks. I’m a big believer these days that when you know something is right, you know it.  I believe that about jobs, relationships and homes.  This home appeared and all the necessary details fell into place.  I’m ecstatic.  While it is going to be sad to leave (sort of), it is far more exciting to go.  But going brings its own stresses and having less than fourteen days to pack up and move a family of six is filled with more than the usually day-to-day moving stress.  It doesn’t help that this is happening right at back-to-school season either.  It also doesn’t help that it occurred during the process of mediation with the second ex…the one I hold responsible for the damages to my current abode.  Oh well.

So, I’ve been up writing to do lists, making plans, and…once I got the floor plan of the new place emailed to me…placing furniture.

There is the stress of going through the accumulation of a decade of misery and getting rid of it all.  Sometimes I do wish I could just torch the place.  It would be so much easier.  Purging is good, and necessary, and we are doing it.  I thought it would be tough for my kids, but they’ve gotten on board and are doing a great job.  Of course, the carrot of New Stuff in a New Place is helping motivate them.  There is the stress of packing and organizing packed boxes so that moving day isn’t complete chaos and the unpacking a disaster. There is the anxiety of trying to figure out how a new location will impact our lives and our routines.  There is the excitement of looking forward to living in surroundings that are palatial compared to what we currently reside in.  There is the anticipation of, for the first time in a decade, being able to put dishwasher detergent on our shopping list.  Yes, folks, I have gone the last ten years without a mechanical (as opposed to human) dishwasher. This is exciting.

I’m struck with how this idea of place impacts our lives so much.  For me, location is everything.  I know there are people who can be comfortable in any setting.  These are the people who can walk right into a new place and start meeting people right away.  I’m not one of those people.  When I enter a new environment, I have to give myself time to become acquainted with the environment, before I can comfortably engage with others around me. I have to take time to take in the details of the place I’m in.  I don’t need a lot of time, but I prefer to have a few minutes to get my bearings.

Changing residences, even if the change is only a short distance like mine, can radically impact a persons’ lifestyle.  This move, for my family, will alter things for us in a big way.  For one, it is going to increase my commute time, for the next couple of years, at least.  That, however, is the only trick part about this move and even with the increased commute time, my total travel time about 30 minutes.  I can live with this. I can especially live with the savings in my pocketbook every month due to paying less in housing costs and utilities.  I can live with the way this move will positively impact my lifestyle and increase the amount of time I have available to do the things I want to do like, travel, cycle, and write.  Face it, with no yard to deal with, I’m going to have a lot more time. I’ve also totally eliminated the weekly arguments with my son about whether or not the lawn really needs to be mowed or not, which means I’m also reducing my stress load.

There are other ways that this move will impact our lives.  A new environment contains new requirements for maintenance and upkeep. For example, this new place has hardwood floors on one level and carpet upstairs.  The floors downstairs will need to be swept.  Someone is going to have to have that job every day.  Dishes will no longer be stacked on the counter glaring at us until someone decides to put them away, but they might remain in the dishwasher forever if I don’t assign that chore to someone.  Since we’ll now have an indoor laundry area, there’s absolutely no way we can just dump the stuff out in the garage and “get to it when we get to it.”  I am going to have to make sure the kids understand the new expectations for handling laundry and keeping our nice new place (built in 2005 instead of 1978) clean and tidy.  The list goes on and on.  The place we live in often dictates how we operate in our daily lives.  I am only just beginning to realize how I’ve limped along for the last decade simply because the location we lived in was so unhappy and outdated.

So…the stress and details keep me up.

I’m anxious about making it all happen as smoothly as possible especially where our school year transportation routines are concerned.

I’m very excited about how positive this is for all of us.  It’s going to be a crazy ride, but it will be worth it.  Hopefully, once the move is over, I will be so exhausted, I’ll actually collapse into a deep and contented sleep…maybe for the first time in over a decade.

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