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I find myself in an interesting situation where some close friends are going through a divorce or are considering a divorce.  Since both of these friends are men, it provides a different perspective on my divorce.

I should first say that I consider my divorce the most painful gift I have ever received.  Though I never thought we would get divorced, it was a blessing in disguise.  I don’t regret the marriage – we had a ton of great times and good memories.  In hindsight, we should have remained friends, but …

The way my marriage dissolved was a shock, and to be honest, there were a ton of questions I had that remained unanswered.  I’ve moved on with my life and those questions are no longer important, but seeing my two male friends consider divorce provides some answers.

I don’t believe a mid-life crisis is responsible for all divorces and I think “mid-life crisis” is misleading.  I think it’s more of an identity crisis and isn’t limited to any set age.  I think most people can relate to being in a position where they wonder who they are and what they are doing with life.  We think back on choices we could have made and how our lives might be different.  Too often we think back and create a different future where our life is better than it currently is, but there’s always the possibility it could be darker.

Both of my friends are in an identity crisis where they are wondering if this is the life they want and if they could be happier.  (It’s not like they are mildly unhappy, both have expressed a lot of unhappiness and frustration with their lives.)  Listening to their thoughts and complaints, I can empathize with the situation their wives are in, but I can also project some of what they are saying back on my ex.  (I’m not saying this excuses bad behavior because it doesn’t – it just allows me to see a new perspective.)

One think I know for sure is that the end of a relationship or marriage will not kill you.  It might break your heart and hurt like hell, but you survive through it – and often you find yourself happier afterward.

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I’ve had interesting dating experiences – some fun and some scary!  I haven’t experienced that special “spark” people speak about.  (To be honest, I don’t know that it exists.)

Sometimes I wonder if my psyche is screwed up and I’m not able to become deeply involved at an emotional level.  Even now when I think about it, I tense up or cringe because I just don’t believe people stick around – at least not in my experience.

I was hanging out this weekend with someone who is becoming a good friend and he even called me out on this.  He said I don’t open up and tell him when things are bothering me or what I am thinking about – he’s right to a large degree.  I keep a lot of my deep emotions locked away.

It’s been a while since my last post and I haven’t really gone on many dates since.  I’m a bit burnt out and this next story was a big reason I took a break.

I haven’t had much success in online dating.  I’ve found that while profiles and emails may help you filter incompatibilities, you still can’t decipher how much of what the person is telling you is based on what they think you want to hear.

Once again, I meet a man I met through an online dating site for dinner.  My first mistake was that I should have stuck to my rule of coffee and can’t remember why I agreed to dinner.

Anyway, I arrive at a local Mexican restaurant and find my date sitting at the bar two-drinks into his evening.  We ask for a table and he orders another drink for himself and one for me as we start the “get-to-know-you” conversation.  Over the course of about two hours, he ordered at least four more drinks and things began to deteriorate more with each drink.

About an hour into the date, my date was drunk.  He began talking about his ex-wife and described her as psychopathic liar.  You
would think people would realize trashing an ex isn’t attractive.  I realize alcohol reduces inhibitions, but that is no excuse.

As he wrapped up his tirade about his ex-wife, he began to focus his attention back on me.  He said that we exchanged a few emails several months ago, but that our conversation fizzled.  I indicated that I didn’t recall us exchanging emails and apologized for my memory gap.  From here he told me how he was prepared to not like me, but was pleasantly surprised.

At this time, I am a bit stunned.  I should have excused myself at this time.  (My second mistake was staying as long as I did.)

Next thing I knew, he takes my hand in his hand, caresses it and tells me how he “gets me” and that “he so gets me it’s like he is inside me”!  I’m not a touchy-feely person – especially with someone I don’t know, so I am uncomfortable with him holding my hand and his comment was unsettling too.

I tell him I am not a touchy-feely person and pull my hand back as he progresses on to his next rant.  He then goes on to tell me how much he likes me and how he is surprised we are here having dinner together because “there are so many forces conspiring
against us and trying to keep us apart.”  I have no idea what these forces are and decide it is best not to ask.  (Again, I should have left at this point.)

He grabs my hand once again and this time he starts to kiss it as well.  He then tells me that he loves me and would throw his body on a grenade for me.  (What???!!!???  Remember, this is a first meeting.)  Once again, I pull my hand back and thank him for his courage to express his emotions, but that it takes me more time to care about a person.

He ignores what I have said and continues to tell me how he loves me and feels this deep connection.  At this point, I am feeling very anxious and don’t want to make him angry because he is not sober and potentially not sane.

I again thank him for his courage in expressing his emotions, start to stand up and tell him I need to head home.  He surprises me by asking if he can come with me and says that he never wants to be without me.  I tell him that he can’t come with me and that I am indeed heading home – that’s when I realize my car is parked behind the restaurant in a dark parking lot where I have to walk out and around the building.

I walk hurriedly, but with confidence back to my car – hoping the whole time that he isn’t following me.  (My third mistake was not bringing mace with me or asking the restaurant for an escort to my car.)  I make it to my car and book it out of the parking lot as quickly as I could!

The next day I send an email saying that I wasn’t comfortable with his level of drinking.  I also say that he scared me and that I couldn’t move forward or go back.  He tells me there was a good reason he was drinking that evening and then asks if we can still be friends.  (Hell no!!!!  I might end up dead or beat up.)

So, my dating sabbatical continues.  I don’t have the energy to invest in crazy dates.

I agreed to meet another man I met through an online dating site.  In email he was charming, funny and complimentary. In person, he was more than surprising!

He wanted to meet at Daniel’s Broiler for dinner, but I suggested we meet for drinks instead.  A few minutes after I arrived and sat down at his table the hostess brought over a long-stemmed yellow rose in a vase.  I looked around to see if the hostesses were putting roses on all the tables and thought it was odd they’d place long-stem roses.  The only rose was the one on our table.  I thank him for the gesture and explained my initial confusion.

A few minutes later, he pulls out a travel brochure for the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Festival.  (He had asked me if I had any recent trips planned or if there was anywhere I wanted to go and I mentioned a hot air balloon festival in Walla Walla, WA.)  He presents the brochure to me and tells me this is the hot air balloon festival to go to if I were to go to one.  He then says that he would plan out our trip – arrive Thursday because the activities really start Friday during the day.  (Keep in mind that this is our first meeting and we’d only exchanged a handful of emails.)

I was a little put-back by the suggestion of a weekend getaway when we didn’t even know each other, but somewhat laughed it off.  Then he produced a second brochure; this time for a cruise to Greece!  (Again, this is our FIRST meeting!)  He flips a few pages into the brochure and points to the cruise he suggests we take and then starts to rattle off dates in late August; it’s now only early-May!

Next, he produces a business card for a travel agent he met with that afternoon to get information on the hot air balloon festival and Greek cruise.  It was all way too much for me.

He did confess that the travel agent asked how long we had known each other and that she laughed when he said this was our first meeting.  He also met with a business partner prior to my arrival and his business partner saw the travel brochures and asked about them.  When his business partner learned this was our first meeting he too laughed and strongly suggested
keeping the travel brochures for another date in the future.

It was all just too much to take in and process – especially when there was no romantic chemistry to begin with.  I think the over-zealous nature with the travel brochures would have killed any potential chemistry.

I thanked him for his consideration and invested effort, but said I couldn’t agree to either trip and reminded him that this was a first meeting.

Somehow the conversation transitioned to what I did for a living and he offered me a job running a company he wanted to spin off.  It all felt a little too needy, enthusiastic or obsessed.

Ever felt strong emotions or a strong attachment to someone you probably shouldn’t?  I’m there.

I’m inexplicably drawn to a man who stirs up emotions I have never felt before.  It sounds wonderful until I say that he is not emotionally available.  I think sometimes he wants to be, but then other times I think it’s a game of cat and mouse that he likes to plays.

It’s the worst game of back and forth with poor communication mixed in.  Riding this ride is a natural wreck for me.  It triggers
feelings of not being good enough and wondering what I did wrong – only I know I didn’t do anything wrong.

I’m not sure how to get this guy out of my head, out of my heart and out of my system.  There’s always this small nagging pull.  It’s even worse when he randomly reaches out.  I can logically tell myself that his random texts asking how I am doing have no substance, but they are enough to cloudy my mind.

So it’s even more important for me to remind myself of my basic must-haves and that a loving relationship should be just that … loving.

Ready To Commit???

I’ve been emotionally unavailable. I thought I was in a position where I could open up and love a potential life partner, but I wasn’t. I was able to develop deep feelings and perhaps love that person, but I wasn’t able to open up and let go of my defenses. I think I just might be ready now.

I can’t blame the guys I was dating for the relationships not working out – many shouldn’t have worked out! Some were amazing experiences I think I was supposed to have in life. Others were a testament to what I have learned since my divorce about myself … how early experiences shaped my thinking and behaviors; how family dynamics created learned dysfunction; how I created barriers that led to repeated experiences and how I have to take chances in order to live a fulfilling life.

I have the power in my life to create a healthy life with a healthy relationship. The first step is knowing I deserve it! The second step is allowing myself to take chances – emotional chances where I open up and don’t create an invisible safety net. I won’t lose myself in the people I date and I know I can survive if the relationship doesn’t work.

Now I need to make a decision; do I stay in the city I live in now or do I move elsewhere. I can’t open myself up to a relationship before I answer this question. I have a small network of incredible people I call friends and that will be difficult, not impossible, to recreate elsewhere.

Feeling Lost

I’m finding myself in a sad place right now. As I have worked to learn new coping skills, I have also worked to purge negative relationships from my life. I haven’t let down my defenses, so I haven’t developed new healthier relationships. This leaves me in a state of loneliness.

I realize that my previous relationships were based upon being needed rather than wanted. This is the enabler role I learned as a child. Now that I don’t want to start a relationship off with a “need”, I am finding that I feel neither needed nor wanted. That’s a pretty lonely place to be in. Ironically, I rediscovered the tidbits below.

  • If there is one thing about which you are not in control, it’s who loves you, stays with you, gets ill, or leaves you.
  • When a heart is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, it holds nothing back. And sometimes it gets broken.
  • If our hearts are closed because we don’t want to suffer, they won’t be open enough to recognize the joy as it flies by.

My heart is broken, for a number of reasons, and I don’t quite know how to put it back together.