Buying into the idea that life begins all over again at forty...

Buying into the idea that life begins all over again at forty...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

With just one hug...

She wrapped her arms around the tiny woman, feeling all her of her frailty and age. And, yet she herself felt she was the one small and crumbling at the words she was hearing:
“I love your parents, you know. And...I love you too.”
With that hug and her return I love you, she wished that so many things in her heart could be instantly transferred without words:
“I have missed you so very much.”
“Your love means so much to me.”
“I am sorry that we disappointed you. Sorry for that most of all.”
“I am sorry that I couldn’t make things work with your son.”
With arms outstretched, she wanted to say more:
“I really am the good person you knew me to be. I am still me. I am still here.”
“I have learned so much and have grown so close to the same God that you love.”
“Thank you for all of our time together. I cherish those memories.”
“It is OK with me if you love her as much or more than me. I hope that she loves you and deserves you.”
“It was really hard being replaced so quickly and easily with your family. I truly loved you all.”
As the lump formed in her throat in those few seconds that seemed like a hour, she knew that a hug could simply not say all of the things she wanted to say. But, she was sure the elderly woman saw the emotion that she was trying to contain. She hoped that somehow, her former mother-in-law could understand how important this moment was for her.

The years they had spent together had mattered so much. Always feeling different from her own family, this woman had given her a emotional home. And, when her beloved grandmother had passed right before the birth of her daughter, the one person with whom she felt such a bond, this woman's home and love had been so very important to her survival.

In the face of divorce, her own family had disappointed. She loved and forgave them, and understood that they just did not know how to be here for her emotionally in the way she so desperately needed during a time of so much loss and fear. This was the one person she would have talked to during that time, and she could not. She had spent the past few years feeling like she was now the designated enemy of the one of the most important women in her life.

In reality, this was just a well-wished hug. But, in her heart, so much more was said. As she watched her former mother-in-law walk away, she realized that she probably would never get the chance to say all of these things to her. Saying them now would be selfish, and would cause stress in a carefully balanced dynamic that was currently working. So, this would have to be enough. This hug and this short moment.

And, deep inside, somehow…it was.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The reminder

I am a firm believer that God sends us messages. Sometimes we are so busy in our lives, that they just fly past us and get lost. Sometimes, when we are lucky, they land upon us and soak into our skin, changing us forever.

One moment like this can make you look at life in a completely different way. And, that always amazes me.

Tonight, I was sorting through a closet that I filled when I first moved into my home. I am having shelves built and I needed to clear the space for the work to be done.

At the time I filled this closet, I was overwhelmed. I was weeks from my divorce being final. I had just survived the milestone of turning forty in a somewhat shell-shocked state, thanks to the split. As I poured through things, aside from being traumatized by the amount of this scrapbooking stuff that I actually have that I did not realize, this closet held other surprises for me.

I came across several special cards and things I made in my marriage that I did not realize that I even had. I’ll be honest. It was difficult reading them.

In just 2006, I told my ex-husband that I was happy he loved me just as I was, and how I would always be there for him. This brought tears to my eyes, not because of what was lost, actually. But, because it was such a reminder to me that I spent so many years reciting things like that to myself, because it was what I wanted to believe so desperately. That my husband loved me just for me.

Sadly, in the end, I figured out that he never did and that was a huge part of the problem for us. Some I started realizing in the marriage…and much I have learned in the years that followed our split.

It’s hard to see these things and face that just four years after this, we were nothing.

It makes me question myself, but then mostly it just makes me sad. It is a forever reminder to me that I did want “US” to be an “US,” for so very long.

I guess maybe God knew that I needed see this after this time of being single. It validates that I did give everything in my marriage. I truly wanted to be married forever, and the realization that I would not be to this man took me years to accept. For a time, it nearly swallowed me whole in despair, quite honestly.

Now, I sit and ponder over what to do with these things. Clearly, they mean something more than just a reminder that when I love, I do so with my whole heart. Perhaps it has been so many years since I have felt real romantic love, that I needed to be reminded of that.

And, while this chapter of my life is long over, I think I will save these with the wedding photos and other mementos that I have for my children. This may cause tension later in my life, should I meet someone else to love who stumbles across this. But, I think it is important that my kids know that their parents did love one other at one point—or at least that their mother loved their father and tried.

The fact that I have all of these things also made me realize that it means that he has nothing left of me. It actually does not surprise me. Part of the emotional luggage I carry with me into any future relationship is the understanding that, while I was the one who ultimately said our marriage can’t continue on, he was the one who very seamlessly erased and replaced me within a year of our split. I know I need to let that go too, but that one may take me awhile.

So, for now, I will tuck these items into a box that will go into the highest shelf of the corner of my closet, not to be opened again for many years or maybe ever again by me. Maybe one day my son or daughter will find them and realize that there was love. And, that’s something worth remembering, I guess. I guess maybe that’s what God was trying to tell me all along.

Hey, you.
Don’t you forget.
There was love.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Speed bumps and swimming...

So, right after I posted that status around 11 days ago, I got an email from someone on the dating site. This was unusual because the site that I am on asks that you go through various Q&A sessions before you get to the email phase. I think because I've done another site where email is the main communication method, I went ahead and started talking.

Well, within two days, I'd met the guy for drinks.

And, within five days, I'd had three dates with him.

Yes, that many. That fast.

Then, we hit my nice, built-in relationship speed bump of kid custody for five days.

To summarize the three dates, I'd say this:

1. A nice meet-up for drinks. I feel like there is chemistry. This could be good.

2. A great quick movie with him. We managed to talk during previous and there were a lot of smiles. Clear chemistry. Even hand holding. Sweet guy.

3. Romantic awesome official date. Lots of deep conversation and sharing of our pasts. Huge chemistry. Didn't want the night to end. He was a gentleman. Wow, did I feel romanced.

After this experience, I was feeling good. This guy was clearly outgoing and became very flirty on text. He was very direct about thinking I was very attractive/sexy/wonderful. He was almost so complimentary, that I felt warning flags go off. But, he seemed sincere and said he was a very romantic guy. He asked if I would consider not "shopping around on the site" and seeing if we could have something, if he agreed to do the same.

It all sounds perfect doesn't it? Fast. But, good?

But, what all of this doesn't say, is that in my head I was dueling between the warning flags I saw before me and the incredible words he was feeding me. One by one, those warning flags...or questions got answered. But, there remained one huge one that did not. It nagged and nagged in the back of my head.

Through the weekend, he texted. Five days of sweet talk, sharing how he couldn't wait to see me again. Several phone calls where we laughed and learned more about one another. It went well and I got very excited about what our next day would be like.

But, the nagging question just would not go away.

I have since been told by friends that I have complete justification in needing to know this information and in it bothering me. Single male friends have agreed that they wouldn't be offended or bothered by what I said and did.

Basically, I bluntly asked the question by phone the night before our fourth date.

And, I hurt his feelings.

I didn't mean to, and told him as much right in that moment. Told him that I could not get closer to him, without getting an answer, and that I was trying to be smart and open and up front. It tried to get him to relate to why a single mom who has been hurt in the past would need to know these things.

He nicely kept the date and defensively gave a response, but didn't give me any valid answer. Not really.

Then, today, he changed. His sexy flirty texts became just plain disrespectful and rude. And, that's where it all came unraveled faster than it started.

After finally getting tired of the innuendos and disrespectful talk, I basically said I'd had enough. He seemed to be pushing this over the top evening that was going to be way more than I was ready for, and I even called him out on that. He admitted later that he had been hurt by my question on the phone. Whether he realized it or not, he was clearly lashing out.

This resulted in a long series of texts with questions, blended with jabs towards me.

And, I was done. I was completely attracted to this man, and I was not going to make concessions this time. And, I told him as much. And, as he took his last jab, I waited and sent him a text that basically told him I knew he'd been hurt just like I had and that I felt he was a good guy. But, this wasn't going to work.

Was I heartbroken? Maybe a little. Yes, I cried a few tears on my drive home at the fact that he had seemed the most close to what I'm looking for than any man I have dated since my divorce. But, I wasn't flattened this time. And, that is worth noting.

What have I learned?

Well, for one...that I have grown.

Where I used to try to make the guy fit what I want/need, ignoring deal breakers and big flags along the way, I did not do that this time. Clearly, this guy has some baggage that he was hiding.I could have waiting around growing more attached to him, to find out the real deal, but I decided I did not want to risk that hurt.

Second, I learned that I can trust who I am and what I need, and stand by that.

I don't need to budge on certain things, even when I find myself incredibly attracted to the person. Those are my morals and they aren't out of whack. They are what I need and what God wants for me.

Finally, I have come to a place where I know I am worth more than a cheap quick fling. And, more importantly, that my dating life as a single mom has to be different than a single woman. I have two kids who depend on me. I cannot introduce someone into my life without it impacting theirs, even if I don't plan to introduce them to anyone for a long time. A risk I take, could hurt them. And, that's just not OK with me--even if it means I stay alone for a very long time.

A few weeks ago, my son asked me rather suddenly while on a drive what I had done for Christmas. By his expression, I could tell it had just occurred to him that I had spent my Christmas Eve and Day completely alone, while he was celebrating with his Dad and his Dad's extended family. I watched a look of worry come over him.

It tugged at my heart, as I tried to reassure him that I had been just fine. I will BE just fine. And, I am fine.

But, I also realize that it is important for me to be back out here trying. I deserve to find someone. My kids even think so. I have a lot to offer. I have developed a good confidence in myself the past few years, that wasn't around before.

And, while I had an immediate and quick failure with this attempt at online dating, I didn't want to retreat into non-dating mode again as I had when the last relationship failed and I ended up hurt. I wanted to keep trying. Tonight, I got back on the site and sent several smiles out to interesting profiles.

A good friend of mine described our experiences as caring, good people sincerely looking for the right person, as being like swimming in a pool of sharks. We try, we get hurt by the sharks inevitably, but we keep looking for that right fish out there to match us. We are just swimming with sharks and it is going to hurt for awhile until we find the right one.

I really related to this. The past three years, my inner motto has come from a forgetful blue fish from movie fame. Dory the Bluefish from Finding Nemo, always said, "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming." I have learned to paddle through the hardest of times, sometimes feeling like I was too exhausted to even tread water. But, I kept on growing and learning from my failures. And, today I am a content, financially stable woman with a successful career, and a much more positive outlook on life in general as a result. I am happier than I have ever been!

This dating thing really doesn't have to be any different. I'll just keep swimming and maybe I'll find my way eventually.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ripping it off...

It’s inevitable. I have friends who hate the new year, because they say resolutions are fake or that people never live up to them. So, why bother?

I have always liked January because it is the one time of year when everyone is trying to do better…to BE better. And, what is so bad about that?

Looking into the new year as a single person of almost four years now is a different experience. While I have my weight loss/fitness goals and other little hopes and plans for myself similar to everyone else’s, there is an elephant in the room that I must acknowledge.

It is time to get back out there…dating-wise. Sigh.

After a rather upsetting dating experience with what was probably a bi-polar man, I had taken myself off the online dating market for a good six months. It wasn’t that I was giving up on meeting someone. But, blindly meeting someone online requires you to put a lot of faith and hope that the person is actually a good person. This is a scary thing, for which I have never grown accustom. Does anyone? And, after having an experience with someone that I thought was a good guy, only to have him flip on several occasions into NOT a good guy, made me realize that I was playing Russian roulette with my life, quite honestly.

Sure, I know several really good guy friends who have dated online with pure intentions. So, I know the right ones are out there. But, here was a prime example of a very messed up individual who I let get close to me, that I should not have. I did not trust my judgment anymore, and I needed to go into “lock down” mode for a bit.

You see, I am not in a hurry to settle down.

I am not desperate to find someone.

I have watched a few friends frantically out there dating as if there’s some expiration date on their ability to find an eligible male. I have let their attitudes make me feel rushed in the past. So, I think I just needed to put on the emergency brake while I regrouped and spent time growing and learning about myself some more. And, that’s just what I did.

That brings me to January 2014.



Not where I want to be in terms of my fitness/health. But, in a better place emotionally than I have ever been in my life. I am stronger in my faith than ever. I know who I am and what I want, more closely than ever. I am emotionally off of the rollercoaster that was overcoming divorce and healing, and I have been for some time now. In fact, I now teach a class to help people recovering from divorce. And, I have found a lot of comfort and hope in helping others in this way.

As I sat with one of my favorite male friends at dinner the other night, we both marveled…we are fabulous and single. We are both awesome, so why are we not snatched up? The truth of the matter is, there are a lot of us out there--awesome individuals who are single. People who have a lot to give someone else, who haven’t found the right person. And, unlike what some of my single girlfriends think, I refuse to believe the good ones are all taken. After all, I am a good one and here I sit.

For awhile, I felt like giving up on it and just “being.” And, so I did. I survived a Christmas alone again this year. And, I do mean completely alone. My family came after Christmas when I had the kids to celebrate. I even sat alone at my church’s Christmas Eve service. And, I was OK. It is the way it is, and I would rather be there taking in the meaning of that night than staying home alone or worrying about what others thing if I don’t have someone sitting with me. I realize that means that I have come a long way in the past few years.

The truth of single life in this day and age is that, if you want to meet someone, you go online. People are just too busy in their own lives to turn on their radar and find someone the good old-fashioned way. In my experience, I don’t meet single and available men any other way than online dating. So, I have to hope that this will go better this time.

Consequently, I am approaching this in a much different way. Two people close to me know that I am doing this. That’s all. I can take this as slowly as I want. I plan to be selective. I plan to be careful and more “streetwise” with things, although my fear is that I tend to be rather innocent and trusting with my heart. I’ll have to watch that.

There is no reason to rush. I recently watched a dear friend get married after meeting someone only 4 months prior, and watched her morph into someone different in those few months. I do not want that. I don’t want to be swept off my feet in a whirlwind.

I want to find someone nice who grows on me.

I want to be courted.

I want to slowly get to know them and let my heart open up fully and regain trust in the process. Eventually, I will introduce them to friends and family, and one day to my children. I have no timetable, and no one else will dictate my timetable either.

My first active day on the site, I got an email from an Italian New York transplant to my city. What on earth do I have in common with this guy? I wondered. I’m meeting him tonight for a drink at a rather crowded pub, where I am certain to probably know a few people.

I take the edge of the bandage and take in a deep breath. It is scary putting myself out there. It is a lot easier to just stay in my life as it is and be alone. But, I know that my heart deserves more than that. I have a lot to offer someone else and I want to receive love too.

So, I pull hard and quick. I rip the Band-Aid off, and with it some of my fears and trepidation. I look down and notice that the wound is almost completely gone now. It is time to try again…

Saturday, October 12, 2013

In the 4th grade...

You know what is great about the 4th grade?
In the 4th grade, you just look at a person, and see a person.

I arrived to read to my daughter's 4th grade class. As I walked in, I felt the gazes upon me and saw my daughter perk up and smile. I smiled at the class and said hello. That's when I heard:

"Woooow! Natalie looks JUST like her mom." (Then, echoes of agreements around the room.)

I felt instantly flattered, looking at my beautiful daughter who always wears a smile and has one of the most loving and cuddly personalities of anyone I have ever known.

Simultaneously, there was a twinge of wonder...did this bother my daughter? I remember that during my teen years, I didn't like being compared to my mom.

It is inevitable as her tween years are rapidly approaching--my daughter will also want to be her own person and will push away this kind of comment as she fights for her own independence. I am prepared for this time with my girl, but I am not looking forward to it.

I smiled and casually looked over at my sweet girl to see her reaction. And, she was beaming right back at me, apparently just as happy to hear the comment as I was. And my heart swelled a bit with the happy at that, I'll admit it.

I guess, in the 4th grade, you don't notice the extra few pounds your mom wishes weren't there. Or the wrinkles starting to crop up on her face. Or the hair that badly needs a cut and highlight. Or all the other things she often sees when she looks all too critically in the mirror each morning, as she realizes that time and her life is flying by entirely too quickly.

In the 4th grade, you only see the smile lines that you have too.

You see the same grin and same eyes. And, it makes you happy. Because that's your mom. That's your family. And, that's you.

In the 4th grade, you see her, and you see yourself.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hmm squared

Apparently, this is a day when Huey Lewis and Simple Minds make me happy inside. Who knew?

Do you know what does NOT make me happy inside?

The fact that I don’t have a clue what I’m doing when it comes to dating. I mean, seriously! I have no business being single and dating. None! While I personally think I'm all cool and so solidly a great catch--I have this feeling that really I’m a walking nightmare for all those who witness it (or, God forbid, have to interact with me in a romantic way).

Case in point--the newest guy that I was so certain was going to be that great dating experience?
Well, he turned out to have a zip-off head that reveals a douchy jerkface underneath whenever he decided to tug on the zipper pull. Unfortunately for me, he decided to pull a little too often for my patience level, so that potential door closed rather abruptly. Yeah, yeah, yeah...buh-bye to you, waste of a month-and-a-half that I can't get back.

Then, there’s the lurking online guy friend who took to calling me sweetheart, and checked on my every evening—consistently asking if I got to relax, sharing how much he enjoys my sense of humor, and so forth. Apparently, that enjoyment was not enough to extend any sort of social encounter, even on a friend level. What is UP with that, lurky?

Then, up pops a new date option! And through my online dating profile? Well, this IS a surprise!
Someone who has manners and actually ASKS me out. Acts interested in seeing me. Gasp! Sarcastically wonderful and witty texting and emailing ensues! A quick date invite is made! And, we meet and…

yeah…zero attraction for me there. Apparently, I do have some superficial limits to my date qualifications, mostly dealing with proper dental care. But, I get a lot of positive comments from this one, and I am certain he is super interested in me. I confide in a few that I don’t know how to tell him I feel no attraction when he calls for that second date. And… contact is made for a second date at all. Hmm squared.

So, I give up on you, MANkind! I have a lot of good books to read this summer, and a new gym membership to break in. I think I’ll just go ahead and cross the summer off and stop letting this drain my energy. Send available men my way maybe come September. No, make that October. September is apparently my break-up month, whereby I decide that the relationship isn’t close enough to make it through the holidays so I end it then. Yep…I’m 0 for 2 in September.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Off the tracks again....

It's a hard to explain, when your mind continues to whirl around things to the point that you can't stop it. I've come to understand this as an anxiety issue that I have. One that seems to have a thread of genetics behind it, but manifests itself differently among it's victims in my family. My sister realized she had an issue when she realized she impulsively counts things and keeps records in her head. (Medication.) When my son misses his anxiety meds, he does not sleep. And, I do mean, he DOES NOT SLEEP AT ALL. This translates into me not sleeping, which results in Extremely Grumpy Mom Syndrome--a condition for which no one should bare witness. 

And my anxiety manifestation? Well, my mind goes all over the place: 
  • Posting jokes and comments on social media. 
  • Recanting songs in my head. 
  • Looking up song lyrics and meanings online. 
  • Deciding what I am going to make for dinner for the next week. 
  • Wondering if the third date with the seemingly perfect new guy will reveal any warts. 
  • Wondering what this friend up to. 
  • Considering if I should email this other friend. 
  • Thinking I should probably do some work. 
  • Wondering what's on TV.

Each individual thought isn't that odd, really. But, when you cram those into a 5-minute period? Well, after awhile you start realizing that you have a problem.

I am on too much other medication for health issues that trump this one, to take ANY MORE MEDICATION. So, I long ago decided that this is an issue that I must manage. Dropping my blog writing seems to be a bad thing, as rambling on the internet is a convenient vehicle for my anxiety train when it leaps the track. So, I'm back to ramble, lucky readers. Toot! Toot!

Sometimes my anxiety comes in a wave of fixating on some really random and meaningless piece of crap. I try to hide this a lot of the time. You know, so people aren't able to immediately jump to the conclusion that I'm completely nuts? But, there are times when the fixating sort of "leaks" out where others can see it.

Such was the case recently at a conference for my profession. I didn't even realize I'd been doing it again, until a fairly new work acquaintance that I'd hit it off with bluntly told me, "Look if you don't go and get a glass of wine from that bar soon, I'm going to need one myself." I looked at her quizzically, and she informed me that I'd been talking about getting wine almost nonstop for the past hour.

Really? I thought. You mean, that conversation wasn't just in my head? Embarrassed, I laughed and made a typical self-deprecating joke, and immediately bee-lined for the ATM to get cash for the wine bar. I got my wine. And then I had another. 

Sometimes anxiety fixations can come in handy, especially when I have bursts of determination to do something, such as putting my daughter's broken bed frame back together again. After a year in my garage, I had it back together in a few hours and was feeling like the king of the world. And my daughter celebrated with me. Way to go, Mom! What she did not realize is that had we been in the path of a deadly tornado during those few hours? I am not certain I'd have been unable to stop working on the bed frame and take cover. 

I can work the hell out of a puzzle when I'm in these modes. And, that's the darn truth.

I share this for no other reason than to unload some anxiety that apparently was in there, percolating away. You are quite welcome.