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Posts Tagged ‘divorced’

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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You’ve got to get yourself together. You’ve got stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it. Don’t say that later will be better. Now you’re stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it. And if the night runs over, and if the day won’t last, and if your way should falter along this stony pass … It’s just a moment. This time will pass.

The above is an excerpt from U2’s song Stuck In A Moment, and it’s very appropriate for the phase I am in.

If I look around I see what’s wrong in my life – personal and work. If I look to the future, I see the short-comings of the present or the demands of the present. I don’t want to look to tomorrow for a fix and instead want to know how to change my perspective now … in the moment. I don’t know how to live in the present because I feel I am always preparing for the future.

I’m stressed out because I am not sure the person I am dating is a long-term partner for me, but I am being pressured to consider moving in together within a few months. I feel trapped in a corner and am shutting down my emotions rather than exploring them.

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I remain confused. I was going to say conflicted, but confused is more appropriate. Maybe overwhelmed.

I’ve been dating the same man for almost 6 months now and struggle more and more each day. I don’t struggle because he doesn’t like and I don’t struggle because I don’t like him. It’s the exact opposite. Caring about this man creates a level of vulnerability I am not comfortable with.

I should step back and say this is the first time I am in a significant relationship with someone who wasn’t a close friend for a while. I did date two other men, at different times, for about eight months or more each, but I knew those relationships weren’t going anywhere. I wasn’t in a place emotionally to get emotionally invested and so I haven’t had to face these challenges before.

All relationships are tricky for me. I grew up in an unstable household where there was mental illness and substance abuse. Along with the mental illness there was also emotional abuse. I learned early on to control my emotions and especially my expectations so that I wouldn’t get hurt. I learned to ignore my wants and needs because it was easier to ignore them than to deal with a fight. I became a fixer and learning to blend into the background at the same time.

Now I am finding it hard to express strong wants and take the risk of exposing vulnerability. Emotion and anticipation were weapons wielded against you, so it was best to remain protective or guarded. This is my default coping mechanism. My subconscious works overtime thinking of ways to protect myself in the future that I am not living in the moment and enjoying the current experiences of new relationship.

I’m trying to change my default coping mechanism, but know it will take baby steps.

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I’m not quite as confused today as I was a year ago or even a few months ago, but I am still confused when it comes to dating and relationships.

The first issue I am facing is a no-drama, healthy relationship. Most people will read this and think I am crazy, but remember my crazy family, upbringing and even previous marriage. The man I am currently involved with is drama-free, attentive, mature and considerate. He’s not perfect, but I don’t want perfect.

What I wasn’t expecting was a feeling of “boriness”. Coming from a drama-ridden and chaotic perspective, healthy and drama free can feel boring. We laugh and enjoy spending time together, but there’s not that adrenalin rush that comes with crisis. While I LOVE the no-drama and healthy aspect of dating this man, it is different from what I am used to and I have to put in effort to change my perceptions.

Although I know there are a bunch of similarities between myself and the man I am dating, I am wondering which differences are big enough to create concern or discord. For example, he’s a process and needs to think about things before responding. There are times when I will ask him about something from his childhood and he will say he needs to think about it and get back to me. I’m completely the opposite and can jump quickly between topics and recall memories or throw out random thoughts. My thoughts may not mean anything to else, but my processing time is quick.

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I have been dating a wonderful man for a few months now and will admit things have progressed quickly. As with almost everything, time provides prospective and this is no different. I still don’t know where I am right to be concerned or even annoyed and where I am being a bit too inflexible and impatient.

On paper this man sounds wonderful, and he is. I just don’t know that he is wonderful long-term for me. I’ve had a few “transition” relationships since my divorce and am starting to think this may be one too – just on a higher level.

With my past “transition” relationships I was unwilling to become emotionally invested and kept myself at a distance. It wasn’t that these were only physical relationships, but there was just a limit to how much I could allow myself to feel and become attached. I knew there wasn’t a future in these relationships and I was okay with that because I didn’t want a future from these relationships.

The man I am dating now, and the relationship I am in, is different. I do care about this man and I thought there was a potential future, but am not sure. Let me clarify, I don’t have a need to get married or be in a deep and committed relationship. This is just the first time I have let myself and met someone worthy of thinking of a potential long-term relationship.

As I get to know this man more, I grow more confused about when to compromise. For example, I can’t expect everything to be my way although I am used to living on my own. One of my must-haves in a partner is financial responsibility, but I have realized people define financial responsibility in many ways. I’m not sure I am financially compatible with this man as our thoughts on savings in almost opposite. Coming from a marriage where my spouse was financially irresponsible and a mother who is a shopping addict, I’m not willing to bend much on my definition of financial responsibility.

I also come from a family full of various chemical addictions and hid the addictions of my ex-spouse. I don’t want to return to that way of life and have concerns this man may drink more than I am comfortable with.

Many people reading this blog would probably say any concerns in either area, finances or addiction, are reasons enough to end the relationship. I’m unsure. Am I overly sensitive or simply clear on my boundaries? I honestly don’t know. So, when is good, good enough? When is good a means to settling and giving up?

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I had an odd experience this weekend I am still trying to process and understand but will admit to being bothered and concerned about it.

Let me start with my past … I’ve written about my divorce, but not one of the biggest reasons behind it. I discovered my husband at the time was having a long-term affair. The discovery was devastating and him blaming me cut deeply, but overall, the discovery was freeing. It was the catalyst I needed to decide the marriage was over.

It took me a long time to resolve my feelings of not being worthy enough and it takes a conscious effort to not judge other men by my ex-husband’s actions. Unfortunately, in limiting my emotional exposure over the past few years while attempting to date, I found myself involved with men where the above pattern was repeated. It was as if I surrounded myself with men who wouldn’t value me so I wouldn’t be as hurt when they didn’t because I expected it. I finally reached a point where I know I deserve more. There’s risk in believing and trusting in someone, but I don’t want to miss out on the wonderful experiences because I’m hindering my emotions.

The man I am now dating has a similar history with his ex-wife where she was involved in a long-term affair. He too has struggled with leaving his past behind him and had some deep wounds to heal. I thought those wounds were healed until this weekend.

My date got drunk, not intentionally, but he was definitely drunk and regressed into an insecure and scared place in his head. He asked an indelicate question during an intimate moment. Essentially, he asked if I would have the same feelings if I was intimate with someone else.

I was shocked, hurt, sympathetic and worried by his question and need to hear me validate my feelings for him. The next day I brought up his question and my concerns, and although he said he only has a small insecurity or fear I don’t know that I believe him.

I’m worried he needs me to emotionally invest in him – not want, but need. Needing someone to emotionally invest and reassure you of their intentions or their feelings for you isn’t healthy. Although he hasn’t expressed jealousy, I know I can’t be with someone who is jealous or doesn’t believe in my words or displays of affection.

This is a big red flag for me and I am trying to not over-react or disengage just yet. I haven’t processed it all and really don’t know what to think.

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I went out of town this weekend to visit a friend and ended up meeting some of his friends and having an insanely fun time. I struck up a sense of camaraderie with one friend in particular, Tim. We share a lot of similar life experiences as well as life philosophies. I can’t just identify one thing that impressed me most although he is the most aware, considerate and mature man I have met in a long time. Man, not guy.

The first night we met turned into a long night of jokes, sarcasm, stories, bar hopping and even living room hopping toward the end of the night. Tim and I were the last two of the bunch awake and talked late into the morning. Our conversation became pretty deep as we asked about the other’s divorce and other personal questions. There was a significant awkward moment and I pretty much disconnected afterward. I’m pretty good at disconnecting – pretending something doesn’t matter or doesn’t hurt. This is where Tim really stepped up.

Although he pressed me with questions I still didn’t understand his original intent. To be honest, I thought he was a “man whore” as referenced in a joke earlier in the night. I knew we would see each other the following evening and had decided to act as though nothing had transpired between us. It wasn’t until the next evening I learned I misjudged both him and his intent.

The next evening, my friend had another obligation and suggested Tim and I hang out until he could reconnect with us. I was thinking of ways to pass up this option until my friend relayed a direct invite from Tim. I’m not 100% sure why I agreed to spend time with Tim, but I did. It was a great decision!
My friend dropped me off at Tim’s house and within minutes of arriving, Tim brought up our awkward moment. I immediately wanted to run and avoid the whole conversation. The door was only slightly to my left and though I would look like a raving lunatic running was a tempting thought. As Tim continued with his clarification, I remained stunned; frozen, actually. The description given to my expression was “deer in headlights”. I think it is an accurate description. (Actually, an armadillo might be more accurate because I just wanted to pretend to be invisible or dead.)

Tim was so sincere and considerate in his talk. After my panic subsided it was heart-warming and even comforting. This is the moment where I realized how greatly I misunderstood his intention and even him as a person. Thankfully, he was mature enough to address this head-on otherwise we may not have continued talking. We ended up spending the next hour or so inquiring about one another and sharing life stories. There was an ease and naturalness to our conversation combined with lots of laughs.

We talked a bit that evening while our mutual friend was passed out on the couch, but were both a bit cautious not to push things too far too soon. It was bittersweet saying goodbye although I knew we would see each other for breakfast. Our breakfast goodbye was our last for the weekend.

I characterized our meeting to another friend as the most honest and self-revealing I have experienced. It’s scary in many ways as it creates vulnerabilities I am not 100% comfortable with, but I see the strength it can provide to a budding relationship.

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