Life is Short

It’s been a long time since my last post. (I know, I know!) It’s not like I haven’t been writing – I’ve written a few posts. I just haven’t posted them. There hasn’t been too much to say. I haven’t been doing much. I’ve been acutely aware that “I have no life,” for the past 2 months. I had a lot going on with my kids in May, and then I just kind of got overwhelmed and disappeared into myself. For the entire month of June. It was fear-based, though, so not entirely healthy. But healing came out of it.

I went through a lot of “internal work” (that sounds so Hollywood :P). But, while reading a book my therapist loaned me, I had an epiphany, and I hit a place where I literally felt a load lift off my chest. That same day I bought a new laptop. The next day (July 4) I joined Match.com.

Match wound up being very similar to OkCupid, except you have to pay money. You can’t control the metric, and you get guys from New York messaging you, even though you said you only wanted guys from within 15 miles of your Colorado zip code. (And even though I’d only put up kinda-crappy pics of me. Apparently, if you’re female, it’s a dogpile on Match, same as OkCupid.) Before I’d even finished filling out my profile I had two messages, which took me a half-hour to figure out how to access, by which time I had even more messages. But I figured I was ready: I’d reached a place where I was okay with “just me,” but I wanted to see if I had to do this alone – or if I could maybe find someone to hang with on this life-journey thing.

There will be more on my internet dating insights, but that will take another post. (Free Tip #1 for Guys: Don’t post a profile pic that makes you look like a serial killer. Unless you actually are one. Then, by all means, do. Seriously more to follow. I might be in therapy, but you guys need help!)

Anyway, I chatted with a few nice guys, went out with one who turned out to be super-cool…. Then everything went upside-down.

On Sunday night, I’d just gotten my kids back for the beginning of the week, and within 20 minutes I was in the ER with my 14 y.o. who’d sliced the tip of his pinky off with a mandolin slicer, while helping me prep dinner. I held it all together, of course (and, tbh, the kid was a super-trooper, himself), but it drained me. I had all of these emotions I’d held in check, because I was being strong for him, because that’s what you do, as a parent. Then, when we finally got home, I wanted to chill for a few minutes on the patio with a glass of wine, but I had a constant influx of kids — my 9 y.o., my 11 y.o., my 14 y.o. (the ER patient), and again my 9 y.o. — who needed my attention. They got it, of course.  Because that’s what you do, as a parent. I got to bed at 10:30. Got up at 5. Monday. Went to work.

The next night, after work, it was one of those emotionally-trying days with my kids. In addition to four of them needing my attention, there was also a subtle emotional “battle” at play. I don’t think the instigator (external to my family) realized they had done anything wrong, but my 9 y.o. daughter was being affected, and I went all “mama bear” and over-reacted — to the unfortunate detriment of my 9 y.o. My wholehearted, righteous, failed/futile/misdirected(?) attempts to defend my daughter’s independent emotions sapped all I had left. And on top of it I felt guilty, because I’d hurt my baby in the process. I was a basket case. I knew then that my attempts to date were stupid and irrelevant. What business did I have investing energy into relationships when I couldn’t even keep up with my existing life?

Today I cancelled with the two guys I was supposed to meet with from Match, on the two free days I had open. What was I thinking? It was something I knew I had to do.

But it helped solidify everything when, at around 11 am, the president of my company called everyone together for an impromptu company meeting. Those of us in the office, about 20 of us — a lot of people were out, in the field — were nervous. A small handful of people were already upset, like they knew. What was this about? Then he announced that one of our office-coworkers had passed away unexpectedly last night.

It took a few minutes for it to sink in. It wasn’t someone I’d known super-well, but still. She was a coworker. And now she was… dead. As I’m typing this, it’s getting to me — the tears I couldn’t let fall in the office. I didn’t even know her that well.

I went back to my computer and worked for another hour, until lunch. Then I went out to my car and cancelled my two Match meetups for the week — and permanently. (There might be more on one of those stories. We’ll see.) Between my son’s pinky-trauma, the overload-emotion night, and now my coworker’s death… I’m just overwhelmed. I’m glad I cancelled my date for tonight, because it’s wound up that I needed tonight to cry.

But one thought has occurred to me, and it’s stuck; it has teeth.

I’ve been hurt so much. I’ve been through trauma — bad trauma. I can’t handle any more. And I don’t want to put my trauma on anyone else. I won’t. This is mine to carry. (That might be a whole, other post.) And that’s okay. Mostly. (Again, a whole, other post.) But I didn’t know my coworker who passed away that well. And today I gave serious weight to the question of what would happen if I died. Would my coworkers mourn? Would they go on with work, like I did? Like most of us did? Would I be okay with that?

I decided the answer was no.

I want my coworkers to be upset — so much so that many of them have to take the rest of the day off. I want my friends, with whom I’ve been awful at connecting, to be devastated. I don’t want to fade into the woodwork, like I’ve been doing for the past 2 months. I want to live. I want to live so much that I matter. To a lot of people — I want to create a large “family.” I want to make an impression, I want to leave a mark, and I want it to be on people’s hearts. I want to connect with people in a true and lasting way. I want the people I come in contact with to know — really know — that they genuinely mattered to me. That I valued each and every person who came across my path as a unique individual.

Because I do.

YOU matter to me.

And I want to matter to you. I want you to be affected when I die. Because we will have had a real and true human connection. Because you are super-cool, just because you are you, and I knew that.

And I know it now. You RAWK.:)

The Trouble With the Stars

sagittarius-constellation

Several months ago I told my therapist that a guy I’d liked and seen from OkCupid “wouldn’t have worked out anyway,” because he was a Scorpio — which is completely wrong for a Sag. (Duh! I’d married a Scorpio. Didn’t need to make that mistake again!)

I haven’t always believed in astrology. But during the course of my life I’ve come to think that maybe there’s something to be said for the gravitational pulls of the planets and our geographic location(s) during gestation, combined with our unique DNA, that affect us throughout our lives. I don’t think these things predict our future — we get to decide, individually, how we act and process things. (Our own actions are on us. My actions are on me.) But maybe these gravitational pulls of the stars, planets, etc. affect our moods and our capacities to respond to overarching, general stimuli that we are likely to encounter in a given month. Or year. (Based on other people’s reaction to their own gravitational pulls and DNA, etc.) And maybe there are certain people who are naturally, biologically, going to be more compatible with us — people who are going to be “better” for us — based on the alignment of the stars on the day they were born.

So I totally didn’t need to have a(nother) Scorpio in my life.

My therapist suggested that maybe I was using astrology as an excuse to help me put up walls, to keep people out. He cautioned that I could wind up keeping the “right” person out, too.

Since then, I’ve pondered my therapist’s words, and I think he was on to something. I don’t think I’ve kept “the right person” out — I don’t think I’ve met anyone who could remotely be “the right person.” But I do think I’ve been putting up a lot of walls (my Rules, my RFQ, etc.), including using astrology as a way to keep people “out.” Thing is, I’ve been deeply hurt (hence, why I see a therapist), and I think I’ve been grasping at anything that hints at being able to protect me from being hurt like that again. I mean, what if it were neosporinpossible to predict a way to pick someone who not only wouldn’t completely devastate me, but would actually be The One? Wouldn’t anyone want to be able to find a way to predict that? Or at least predict a way to avoid pain?

So I don’t even let myself get to know many people, other than on a friend-level. It’s just too dangerous. I tried, for a while, but I’ve finally, recently, admitted that I haven’t put in active effort on trying-to-date for some time now. Almost a year. I’ve been divorced for two years. I really did try at first, in the early days. What I’ve actually been doing lately is fooling myself by putting in active effort on proving-to-myself-who-and-why-I-shouldn’t-date. At least now I realize what I’d been doing.

But maybe that’s okay for now. Maybe, as my therapist said today, it’s okay to be in a sort of stagnant, holding-pattern, because I’m “conserving energy” right now. It’s like I’m hypermiling, just trying to make it through to the next gas station, until I can figure out who I really am and what I want. Whenever that is…?

20080728-Juliane7

 

 

The Rules #10: Sparkle-Sandals

The Rules #9 - sparkle sandals

It is Friday on an extended weekend. Monday is Memorial Day, and they let us off early today. I knew they would; they’re pretty nice about doing that before holidays. And I don’t have my kids this weekend. Despite my “freedom,” I am home alone, with no plans. (I’m okay with that — sort of. I’ll blog about those mixed feelings another time.) But today I wore my gold sparkle-sandals to work (yes, that’s mine in the photo), even though I had no plans for after-work. I wore them because they are beautiful, and I love them, and I wanted to. And they made me feel fabulous. I highly recommend it. Cheers!:)

Quantitative Analysis and Risk Management

So Cute Speed Dating Guy messaged me (continuing from my previous post). He’d FB-friended me over the weekend, along with Cool Girl (accept! accept!), and then late Sunday night he’d sent me a message — which I didn’t receive until Monday morning, because Cortana mutes all my calls after 9pm. (Yes, I have a Windows phone. And I like it. Don’t judge. Also, I’m an early-sleeper/early-riser. The “lifestyle compatibility” category on my RFQ is there for a reason.)

We messaged back and forth for about a week and a half. Finally, we met up after work, one Wednesday night.

I was nervous. I knew, going in, that I’d liked him at Speed Dating months earlier, but the reason I’d “no-ed” him was because of where he lived (south of I-70 — outside my “long-distance, no-fly zone”). But when I’d run into him again on that dreadful Friday night, he was still fun, funny, and cute. simon_cowell_on_red_x_20110425015259And I’d still felt a connection with him — the can’t-put-my-finger-on-it “X-factor” that I’m always looking for in a potential relationship. (Know what I mean?) Unfortunately, that Friday night I’d been dealing with “other situations.” But between that weekend and now, I’d already had a mini-relationship with him in my head. (Completely ridiculous? Yeah. But, whether it’s a female-thing, or just a me-thing, I needed to play out the completely swoon-worthy scenario that popped into my mind… *sigh!* before reminding myself that I didn’t know him that well, and that the entire storyline only existed in my head *Ice bucket! Aauugh!* Maybe I’ll save that one for my writing. Onward to realty: )

It took me an hour to drive down from work, but I arrived slightly early at the Mexican restaurant that was halfway between where we each lived. He wasn’t there yet. Whew! I made a beeline for the bathroom. A few minutes later, makeup- and breath-refreshed, I passed the hostesses again… and was escorted to his table. He was still completely cute. Gulp! We ordered “medium” margaritas, which turned out to be ginormous (Thank God!:) ), Margarita-on-the-Rocksand started down the road of what turned out to be an UH-MAYZING conversation. I mean, seriously, we touched on philosophy, theology, existentialism, reincarnation, astrology, geophysics, and metaphysics in one, single, super-interesting dialogue. And we didn’t agree on everything, which was also super-cool. I felt my brain drinking in his perspective like new liquor, savoring this unique, different flavor, considering it…. Soooo interesting!

In addition to the natural chemical attraction and the incredible conversation, this guy was checking off a lot of other boxes for me, as well. For one, he was a Leo. Leos are also fire-signs, like Sags, and are therefore highly compatible with Sag. (Unlike Scorpio, Taurus, Libra, Gemini, Aquarius, Pisces… basically every sign I can think of that I’ve been with, previously, which are not compatible with Sag. How have I wound up with these guys?) Also, he not only prefers dogs, but he actually dislikes cats! Ha! (But, like me, not that he’d ever endorse being mean to an animal.) And he was a non-smoker. And his relationship-history was both understandable and empathetic, without being cringe-able (like, he wasn’t in a “you’re not healed from that, yet” place). I was increasingly impressed by this guy. “Leo.”:)

But….

During our course of conversation I flirted lightly with him. I didn’t want to be lewd or anything, but wanted to test out small indicators, like flirty glances, extended bite-my-lower-lip moments, and a more obvious biting-my-pinky one. He didn’t respond. Hmmm. Okay… won’t push those any farther….

The evening wound down. We both had early mornings (lifestyle compatibility!:) ), and the check came. I pulled out cash for my part of the bill; he pushed it back at me. “I’ve got this,” he said.

Check-box!😀

We got up to leave, but we were still talking (still an amazing conversation). He walked me to my car.

Check-box! :D

Then, when we reached my car, he turned. Heart-thumps…!

“This was awesome,” he said. His arms lifted nonchalantly from his sides. “Hug?”

Whaaa…???

Signs-Youre-Friend-ZoneI felt my emotions falter as I leaned in…. Yup, crap. It was totally a friend-zone hug. Crap. I braved my goodbyes, got in my car, and got on the road. Then I started to cry.

It’s okay, it’s okay, I reassured myself, as I drove home. It just didn’t work for him — fair enough. It’s okay. You had an amazing conversation, maybe that’s enough. Maybe you’ll just be friends. Or maybe it was enough that you got to feed your brain and have your mind opened to a new perspective. It’s okay. Fair is fair; it’s all good. 

By the time I settled under the covers, it had only taken a small glass of wine to reassure me that I wasn’t a beyond-damaged freak-of-nature, who wouldn’t ever be desirable to anyone “normal.” And that having a new, amazing-brained friend was actually a really cool thing. I went to sleep.

But Leo continued to message me. The next day he said he’d had a really great time. Thinking maybe he was just being polite, or just talking about our great conversation, I messaged back. We exchanged cell phone numbers, and then he said he really wanted to see me again. Hmmm…? Not just “see you at the next meetup?” :) I began to second-guess my Wednesday-night perceptions. What did he have in mind?

Then he said he was busy on the weekend, but asked if we could get together Sunday afternoon.

My heart sank: Sunday afternoon!

Sunday afternoon is not when you go on a hot date — or any date of special significance, with someone to whom you are attracted. Sunday afternoon is when you visit your grandmother. It’s when you hang out with your friends, watch football, or just laze-around, in general. For me, Sunday afternoon is when I do my grocery shopping, get prepped for the coming week, and then cook a “Sunday dinner” for my kids, whom I have every Sunday night. As far as dating, I’m holding out for being the girl who gets awesome, thoughtful, planned-in-advance, hot-Saturday-night dates. Not, “hey, all-I-have-left-is-Sunday-afternoon” ones.

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Getting whisked away to an alternate reality, like this? Yeah, that would be an awesome-hot date!:)

Ugh. I feel about as special as your old running shoes in the back of the closet — the ones you don’t use for working out anymore, just for mowing the lawn. The idea of a Sunday-afternoon “date” was like a needle skewing off an LP. Total friend-zone! I told him I had other plans.

Then he said he still really wanted to see me. What about the following Wednesday? Well, okay…? We continued to chat. I mentioned that I was going to a Meetup in downtown Denver on Friday. Leo said he was going to be in the area and would try to swing by the venue, because he “really wanted to see me” again. I began to get my hopes up….

But that Friday night, I arrived at my venue, waited, and waited, but Leo never showed. I knew other people at the meetup — I danced, had fun — but I stayed longer than I would have, if I hadn’t been thinking he’d really meant what he’d said and would show up.

By the next morning, I’d made my decision. He was a great guy, and I really liked him. But he’d clearly and definitively demonstrated that I was in the “friend” category for him. That was fine-and-fair. But it meant that it wasn’t worth my time and energy to invest more in him than I would in any of my other (incredible, amazing) friendships. You see, between work, sleep, and half-time kids, I have only so-much time left over to develop other areas of my life. pie chart of free timeI’m willing to invest more time and effort in something that looks to be a long-term, life-partner relationship. But, shy of that, I spread my friend-time out over the months. I see my BFFs only a handful of times over the course of a year. (One month you, the next month you….) I’m busy, they’re busy. But if it’s an emergency, we’re there. You know how it goes. So I messaged Leo.

“Hey, missed you last night! Oh, btw, I’ve double-checked my calendar, and I can’t do Wednesday. Sorry. Rain check?”

Several hours later he messaged me back, apologizing that he hadn’t made it the night before, but he’d been caught-up, inadvertently hosting a friend’s birthday party. Okay, cool, maybe he’s just in a friend-zone-everybody place. It’s good that I’ve cut my losses early! Besides, he lives south of I-70…. He asked when he could see me again.

“LOL – speaking of birthdays…” I told him I had 2 kid-birthdays, 2 graduations, and lots of other extra kid-stuff coming up — all true. “So my May is kind of booked. Maybe we can catch up in June.” (My boss cocked an eyebrow when I told him this story. “You have, like, ten days booked, out of 31, in the month,” he pointed out. Yeah? So?)

Leo agreed. “See you in June.”

Oh, well. Friends.

cute-baby-christmas-hat

The Rules #9: Shots with the Girls

The Rules #9 - shots with the girls

A few Fridays ago: I’m at a Meetup at a dive bar, after a long, stressful week at work. I’m alternately chatting with Meetup members and dancing with a girl who was the only other person in our group who wanted to dance. She was like me, though — just wanted to cut loose and get her groove on. Cool.

The band was decent. I bought myself a few whiskey/7s. There was a cute guy there, whom I remembered from speed dating, a few months ago. (More on him, in another post.) But there was this “other” situation…

[There was another storyline playing out over the weekend, one in which I increasingly felt I was being inadvertently sucked into someone else’s negative place. Only, at that point, I didn’t recognize it yet; I just instinctively shied away from it. Later, when I told my 17 y.o. daughter about this whole weekend, she rolled her eyes and commented, “Mom, guys get like that sometimes.” Yeah, bingo. It’s familiar to you, darling daughter, because you’re in high school. And this felt like high-school-drama-gone-bad. Ugh.]

As the night wore on, and the “other situation” turned sour, I backed away and sauntered over to Cool Girl. “Hey, let’s do shots!” Cool Girl was down with that: “Yeah! Shots!” She headed toward the bar. Before following her, I, being in a pro-girl/anti-male state of mind, grabbed the two other women I’d met in the group that night: “Shots!” One woman said she didn’t drink, the other woman was all up for it and followed me and Cool Girl to the bar. We ordered our drinks.

“That’ll be $6.50 each,” the bartender said. (It was expensive, for a dive-bar.) I pulled out my money, Cool Girl pulled out hers. That’s when Other Girl held up her hand and said, “Oh, no. I don’t pay for drinks.” Huh? 

I stared at her, Cool Girl stared at her, and the bartender stared at all of us, waiting for his money. Other Girl was crushing my girl-power moment. Okay, I guess I’ll pay for your drink…. I sheepishly pulled out the rest of the cash in my jeans pocket, feeling somehow responsible for the bartender getting paid, since, after all, I was the one who’d said, “Come on, do shots with us,” to this woman. The bartender took his money. We downed our shots.

Then I realized I was pissed.

“So,” I said, following her away from the bar, “must be nice to not have to pay for drinks.”

“Oh, I never pay for drinks,” she bragged, apparently having no clue of my pissed-ness, and not having perceived my sarcastic tone.

*Cocked eyebrow.* Reeeeeally. 

“No!” she answered triumphantly, as though she thought she were some sort of sage, about to become my mentor. She pointed. “You see [him, him, and him (all guys I knew in the Meetup group)]? They’ve all been buying me drinks tonight, even though they all know I’m dating him!” She pointed to a fourth guy. “He’s my boyfriend. And they all know that. But they’re all buying me drinks. I don’t pay for drinks.”

O…. M…. G!!!

What. A. Bitch!

She then proceeded to give me dating advice. Which I hadn’t asked for. She seemed to assume that I was interested in HS Drama/”other situation” Guy. (Oh, no. He’s a nice guy, good looking and all, but… oh, no!) I tried to stop her.

“Hey, listen, I’m in a place where I’m not exactly dating right now. I’ve been through some stuff, and –.”

“Oh!” she interrupted. “Whatever you’ve been through, it’s nothing compared to what I’ve been through.”

 I blinked. Whoa! Really?!? You don’t know jack-shit about me and what I’ve been through, but you know that your story is worse than mine? Just wow.

Before I could get a word in edgewise, she proceeded to tell me about how awful high school was for her, because she’d been bullied and had felt ugly, because she’d had horrible acne. I felt bad for her, on that count. Yeah, I can see how that’s pretty devastating and would leave emotional scars. Of course, the rub is that the reason I can empathize is because of what I’ve been through, myself. (Not acne and high school bullying, but other, personal hells — which I can’t mention here, since it’s only a semi-anonymous blog.😉 )

Apparently, her scars were enough for her to justify allowing everyone else to have to pay for her drinks forever, even though she was long past high school. (At least, age-wise.) All I wanted was to get away from this woman and her one-sided “Dear Abby” session.

She kept talking and basically made it clear that she “owned” these guys, her friends in the Meetup group. I felt as though I was the outsider in some weird, Alpha-female-staking-her-territory scenario. At one point she admonished me “not to hurt” HS Drama Guy. This was both hilarious and sad, since I wasn’t interested in him, nor in “threatening” her Alpha-female status in any way.

It also made me pissed: all of these guys were buying her drinks — even HS Drama Guy, who was allegedly into me — and I was buying my own drinks. (Sooo not impressed, Dude!) And now I’d also inadvertently bought her a drink. I felt myself channeling my inner-Rihanna (bitch still owes me money!), and I became sarcastic. She, however, didn’t seem to pick up on my sarcasm.

Me: Wow. You’re very knowledgeable about dating. You should write a book.

Her: No. [Smiles, seeming tickled at the idea that she’s soooo knowledgeable.] I just wanted to tell you.

Me [straight faced]: No, really. Maybe a blog, then. You should write this all down somewhere. You should blog this. [In fact, you should save this all for a blog, and stop talking. Because I really don’t want to have to stand here and listen. Even though I will, because I’m “polite” like that. But I may blog about this, later, myself…. Did I mention that I’m a blogger? No? Well, guess I’ll just omit that little tidbit, then, since you’re not letting me get a word in edgewise….]

Her [considers]: Well… no. It’s just something I wanted to tell you.

Wow. I’m so privileged. 

I finally managed to extricate myself and left shortly thereafter. HS Drama Guy offered to walk me to my car, but I got out of it with a, “That’s okay, I’m just across the street,” and he didn’t push the issue. Thank goodness some guys don’t know The Rules! It was a relief to get away, alone, into the cool, dark rain. (No, I didn’t make that up, Bulwer-Lytton watch-guards — it really was cold, dark, and raining.😉 )

Then, that Sunday night, cute Speed Dating Guy messaged me….

I’ve figured out why the wind scares me

1-29-13-Storm Over Farm - Decatur, Texas

I was going to post this another time, or maybe not at all, but I had this epiphany about a month ago after some deep introspection, and… well… it’s eight o’clock at night, and it’s raining now….

Over the past few months I became aware that I would cringe from the wind — the more powerful, the worse it felt, especially at night, when I was alone in my apartment. This was not a behavior I’d always had. In fact, I’d typically always been a bit of a weather-junkie. But now, the sound of wind whistling too-fast through the trees, or howling into the eves and between the nooks and crannies of my old apartment building would produce a curl-in-a-ball response from me. (I could make myself be brave if I had my kids that night, but if I was alone, all bets were off.) I didn’t even realize I was doing this until I’d already written about it in my RFQ.

“…seeking someone who is reasonably geographically nearby, and who keeps similar wake/sleep hours, and who can come over and hold me on rough nights. Like when the wind is scary.”

Since becoming aware of this, however, I knew I had to make myself take a hard, honest look at why I’d become afraid of the wind. I mean, it wasn’t like I had some bad-wind memory that I’d lived through. I’d never been in a tornado or hurricane. I’d never even lost a friend or family member to violent weather. Then, during my ponderings, a random thought hit me and “clicked true” as soon as I’d thought it: This was because of my divorce.

Or, rather, because of how things went down at the end of my marriage.

When I learned my ex was cheating on me, found the love letters, it opened up a chasm inside me that I didn’t know existed. My legs literally gave out, and I collapsed, sobbing on my bedroom floor. My arms gripped tight around my ribs. It felt as though the pain would rip me apart from the inside, and I was trying, somehow, to hold myself together, to contain this impossible, desolate despair inside a small, human, skeletal frame. As I was feeling this worst-imaginable-pain-ever, smaugI was shocked that the human body could contain this magnitude of grief. Surely I would have exploded, had I not held onto my ribs…!

Which brings me back to present-day, and the wind.

It’s been three-and-a-half years. I’ve come a long way since then. But not long enough that the echoes of needing to hold myself together are not able to be threatened by the groans of a 20+ year-old apartment building, as it stands up to powerful gusts — especially common in Colorado, in the spring. It will dismantle my home; it will demolish me. It will rip me apart from the inside….

That’s why, it turns out, I’m afraid of the wind.

Now I know.

And now that I know the root of that fear, I can begin to face it.

harry potter vs dragon

Come on, give me a smile….

come on give me a smile

From my past, a year ago. (And probably other times in my life, too. How many of you can think of people who’ve said something similar? Seriously, enough with the passive-aggressive demands! We’re not puppets.) Note: this is NOT directed at photographers (looking at you, Ted, darling!), for whom it is absolutely reasonable to be expected to smile.:)