I remember clearly the last time I was on an amusement park ride. It was not a pleasant experience. It was one of those rides that throws you through the air and swings you side to side roughly, abruptly changing directions so suddenly and with such force that you wonder if your internal organs have departed your body. Then you immediately wonder how can the mechanics of this ride sustain such momentum and force. When will that one bolt work it’s way loose. When will my chair…or my daughter’s chair in front of me…be the one to go flying wildly into the air as if forcefully flung from the contraption. I remember gritting my teeth, dreading every moment, wondering when the ride would end. My daughter on the other hand reveled in the moment.
It was the last amusement park ride I ever rode.
I learned something about myself that day. I learned, I don’t really like amusement park rides. Not even the tame ones. Too much of my psyche is preoccupied with enduring the experience. There’s no enjoyment. Even more of my energy is consumed with fretting about that one in one hundred billionth chance that something will go desperately wrong.
Then, of course, there is the time and expense. At many amusement parks, you pay a premium for a two minute ride. And…you stand in line for a very long time for that short ride. Even at a small county fair, you can expect to pay way too much for way too little in terms of entertainment time. And then what? When it’s all over, you are broke and miserable, with nothing but a bad memory to show for it. At least, that’s my experience.
No matter how many rides I go on or how many different venues I experience it’s always the same.
It’s interesting how similar my experiences with marriage are to amusement park rides.
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.
Ever notice how, when once you commit to something, the universe conspires to convince you otherwise? The minute you decide you are, for sure, going to go on that diet, all manner of beverages, desserts and delicious cuisine are offered you. The minute you commit to daily exercise the kids suddenly need rides right when you planned to exercise. The minute you decide that you’ve given up on dating, suddenly your dance card is full.
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.
So, go figure. My finances suck. We’ve been over that. My love life is non-existent. I just had a guy I supported walk out on me after two years. He gave me three days’ notice and he was gone. Haven’t heard a word from him since. After my two epic fails at marriage, I don’t know which hurt worse, to have the marriages end, or him walk out after I invested so much financially and emotionally for two.fucking.years. It is now all water under the bridge, but at times, it still stings.
I’m at an age and in a demographic where there isn’t much dating action, and if there is, it isn’t serious, nor is it even remotely authentic. Face it, after 45, there are so many obstacles to overcome, so much history to wade through, so many people’s scrutiny you have to undergo before a relationship can even be viable, let alone long term. I’ve given up on that area of my life ever being a source of pleasure or happiness. People who really know me, will know what a big deal that is. Most people tend to understand that it is the nature of the beast these days. Dating after divorce is, at best, a difficult thing, and unlike wine, this does not improve with age. Oh, to be 35 again. Before the wrinkles. Before the mistakes. Before the calendar reveals the stigmatizing number of years you’ve been on this planet (because you cannot lie about that).
In spite of all that, the little surprise I’m experiencing is this: I’m actually having fun. I’m enjoying life more than I ever have. I’m happy, in spite of the fact that nothing (except my delightful children) is as I would have expected it and most of it reeks of pathetically miserable failure. I can’t keep a relationship. I can’t catch a break financially. I rent, on purpose, instead of owning. My car is ready to self destruct at any moment. I should sell the thing and try, if possible, to get some money out of it to put down on a more reliable car. But…how to do that? It’s crazy. I have more problems facing me than solutions. I have experienced more endings in the last year than beginnings. I have more reason than ever to despair, instead of hope. Read the rest of this entry
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
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.
His byline read, “Who does this?” It was a valid question, after all. Who does this? Who displays a bunch of photos so anonymous strangers, trolls really, can view them and thus make a decision based on whether or not they will contact you? Who goes through this in hopes of finding a viable long-term relationship? The sad truth is, everybody’s doing it, or so it seems. Even more pathetic, I have jumped in this pond again.
I deleted Who-Does-This’s initial email to me. He didn’t say much other than hello or how are you; a simple cut-and-paste statement made by trolls when trolling. I discarded it without even checking out his profile. But he contacted me again. His second contact was no more brilliant than the first, but I looked at his profile this time. 54, okay, that was good since I’m looking for someone who has to be at least 45…if you could call what I’m doing, looking. I cruised through his images, impressively, he had many, and he was attractive. Then I noticed he lives about 90 minutes away in a city near me that I am not even remotely interested in visiting, let alone spend significant time in. Dealbreaker. That’s when I saw his byline. “Who Does This?” Maybe I should have been cynical, but it cracked me up.
I ventured a response, “I have the same question: Who does this? And why are we here? Are you really 54, because you look 45.”
And now he wants to chat. All will be well and good until I have to actually meet the dude. This will involve getting dressed up. Getting dressed up means I must wear shoes. Shit. Why didn’t I think this through a bit more thoroughly?
I read an article about the futility of hope a while back. I can’t remember where or what publication it was in. It may have been some random waiting room magazine I happened to be leafing through in the radiation center. Who knows? I just remember that the thesis of the article struck me as strange. The article suggested that there are times when hope is counterproductive. For example, in the case of a terminally ill person, holding out hope for a late-in-the-game cure actually prevents the person from doing the work ( emotionally, relationally, etc.) that they need to do to face their illness and prepare to exit this life. This was just one of several examples. I wish I could remember the article or even the magazine so I could provide you with it, but I just can’t. My explanation of it is weak.
I’m not so sure that I agree with the premise of this article. Hope keeps us going. The Bible says that without hope, the people perish. If we don’t have hope, then why don’t we just all drink the magical elixir and end it all right now? Hope keeps us moving forward, pushing onward, taking that next step even though we’ve been brutally beaten in life’s most recent battle.
On the other hand…I think I’m beginning to understand the value of giving up hope.
Sometimes, when we face our problems, troubles, or situation without hoping it will change, we end up finally arriving at a place where we can do what we couldn’t do before while we were hoping for different outcomes. I guess, in a way, hope can masquerade as denial. When this occurs, or at least lately,for me, when this occurs, I spend my time and energy on futile endeavors rather than facing facts and moving on with a different plan. My hope was in the wrong thing. My hope led me to deny the truth that was staring me in the face. Had I given up hope, I could have faced the truth and avoided a great deal of pain and confusion and, quite possibly, even some financial loss.
As I look back on the events of this year, especially of the losses this last month, and as I look toward the future, I have to admit that in certain areas of life there are certain goals and hopes I am beginning to give up on. I think of what this means for me, and quite honestly, there are aspects of this that trouble me greatly. It isn’t exactly the destination I wanted to arrive at, but I’m here, and at least for now I see no exit door. Admittedly, I’m not looking that hard, because I’ve given up the hope that if I found an exit, the room on the other side would be any better than the one I just left. I’ve given up hope that there are any rooms at all worth exploring. Just opening the door is distasteful idea to me. So, for now, I’m in this room in my life alone. I’ve given up hope that there will be any of a certain kind of companionship. Or, at least, I’m beginning to.
The more I ponder this, the more I think, this might not be such a bad thing. After all, now I can focus without distraction, on the things in my life that need my attention and energy. I can, at last, focus on doing some things I’ve always wanted to do. I haven’t given up on hope altogether. I believe there are better days ahead. However, I’m enjoying some pretty good moments and days now, and I don’t want to miss the joy in them by spending my energy hoping my situation in certain ways will change.
It’s an interesting thing. While I would never have chosen this for myself, I’m finding that in spite of the sadness and loneliness I do feel at times, I am happier, more content, and more at peace than I’ve been in a long time. This is not to say I feel great all the time. I don’t. But I think, no matter what, I’m going to be okay.
I wonder, have you ever felt like abandoning hope in something, and found that when you did, you were pleasantly surprised?