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Posts Tagged ‘second chance at love’

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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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.

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I’m not very good with developing healthy relationships with men. Although I think I finally understand the root cause of why my relationships with men are so dysfunctional, it doesn’t make it easy to break patterns and learn new behaviors. Bear with me for this rollercoaster ride – I’m going to divulge more than I ever have before for the sake of being authentic with myself and even perhaps prodding myself to the next level.

On a subconscious level, I never registered that I have power over sexual relationships – at least just as much power as anyone else. Instead, I always felt sex was an obligation. Don’t get me wrong, I do like sex, but there are many emotional land mines for me when it comes to sex. I tend to disconnect, freeze and run away.
I’ve only had one healthy sexual adult relationship and perhaps one healthy sexual relationship when I was 21. Other than that, most of my relationships with men have been unhealthy and dysfunctional. I think this is because of a long history of exposure to negative sexual behaviors and trauma.

I was almost abducted twice when I was young; once in the first grade and another when I was in the third grade. Both attempted abductions were very similar. The first time I was playing with a class friend in the school playground after school and the second time I was walking to the library with my cousin – two young girls alone in both situations. Both men approached in a car, stopped and asked for directions and acted as though they couldn’t hear us so we would move closer to the car.

With the first guy, there was a fence around the playground he wanted us to climb over. We climbed up it so that he could hear us, but we didn’t climb over. That’s when we saw he was naked from the waist down and masturbating. I don’t remember what he said at that point, but I remember him unbuckling his seat belt and moving to the passenger seat and opening the door. We ran to the principal’s office who called the police. The police were great up until I overheard one cop telling my mom the guy I identified had threatened to kill anyone and their family if we testified against him.

The second attempted abduction was similar, only this time I memorized part of the license plate as my cousin and I ran home. (Memorizing the license plate was something I had learned to do after talking with the cops from the first instance.)

I don’t know the odds of one child encountering two possible abduction scenarios, but I do know I am lucky. Unfortunately, those experiences created a further fear of men. I say a further fear because my biological father was mentally unstable after he returned from the Vietnam War. As a baby, I became scared of men because my biological father was always yelling. My mom has told me I would start to cry or even go to hide when I would hear a man’s voice or see a man enter the room.

The exposure to dysfunctional sexual behavior continued through elementary school. A neighbor’s adult son was mentally handicapped and would expose himself through open windows and doors. He never approached us, but if he saw us playing outside, he would stand in the window or door naked and masturbate. I remember thinking it was creepy, but not really understanding why. I do remember everyone telling us to be careful of him and to stay away.

I think these experiences by themselves are enough to make one misunderstand sexuality and sexual relationships, but unfortunately, my story doesn’t end there.

My first and second sexual encounters with men were not consensual. My first experience involved a much older guy who didn’t want to stop when I asked him to. He put his hand around my throat and told me not to make him hurt me, so I was quiet and disconnected. I was scared, ashamed and believed it was my fault so I never told my family. My second encounter was a partial result of the first. I was still hanging around a crowd that was much older than I was and I drank until I passed out. I came conscious to a guy on top of me having sex.

It’s no wonder I learned to disconnect and become an object. I became an object with several boyfriends and even my ex-husband. What’s sad is that I never told any of them this wasn’t okay. I even married my ex and loved him deeply for many, many years – that’s how warped my sense of self and sense of sexual relationships was.

I’ve progressed a lot in my thinking of what a healthy sexual relationship is, but I haven’t progressed as far as I would like when thinking I deserve to be treated with respect, compassion, dignity and affection. I still freak out, get super scared, disconnect and want to disappear. I don’t ever wear turtlenecks and only started wearing scarfs about six years ago because I can’t stand to have anything tight around my neck. I still have a hard time saying no and think it’s easier to disconnect than to endure whatever might happen if I say no.

It’s been a lifetime since those early experiences and they created a foundation I have to break. Outside of a small circle of very close friends, I’ve never discussed these stories or experiences. Perhaps this is my first step in making a healthy change.

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I recently broke up with a wonderful man. Why, because the timing just wasn’t right and there were some differences that were too great to overlook. I refuse to be a person or part of a couple that breaks ups and gets back together over and over again. That’s drama I am not willing to jump into, but I do wonder if we might get back together in the future. It’s probably not a good idea to entertain these thoughts, but it’s what’s rolling around in my head and my heart.

So, when is it a good idea to get back together with an ex?

I’ve come to realize that after a break-up it seems like the bad memories and reasons for the break-up fade away. (Let me say that these bad memories do not include any violence or cheating. Deep physical and emotional pains take time to heal and I am not dismissing those pains, but they were not a part of this relationship.) I’m trying to remain realistic and remind myself of why we broke up without harping on the past. There weren’t any actions that require us to attempt to forgive the other. Our problems were a combination of communication issues and personal issues we both need to work on. It wasn’t a bad relationship; it just wasn’t the right relationship at the time.

Commitment is something I am scared of and he was pushing hard for a commitment I just couldn’t make. Our communication was also off a bit, but both of these can be improved over time and with effort. We both need to grow a bit as individuals before we should consider coming back together as a couple.

It’s interesting in that neither of us blame the other for the break-up. We both played a part in it and our conversations since have been emotional, but healthy and positive. We are actually sharing more information about our feelings and frustrations.

We’ve both admitted to missing the other and expressed a desire to work on building a friendship in the future. Essentially, emotions are too raw to attempt to be close friends, but we both value the other person. It’s possible we aren’t the right partner for one another, but I do see him as a valuable friend with positive influence.

I miss him and not just the relationship. Don’t get me wrong, it feels wonderful to be held in the arms of a man you care about and to know he cares deeply for you, but I want more than a physical connection. I need to trust the person I am with and trust is difficult for me. I don’t worry about my partner cheating, but I don’t always have faith that they will be there when I need them emotionally. So, yes, I am lonely, but I don’t want to jump into a relationship so that I don’t feel lonely.

Before I can even consider getting back together, I need to know that I have changed; I need to know he has changed. It won’t work if everything is the same.

So, for now, the plan is to take it one day at a time. If, in a few months, we still have feelings for the other we can talk about getting back together. If that happens, we need to move slowly to make sure we are not repeating the past. It may be that we are meant to be friends. If that’s the case, I will be lucky to consider him a friend.

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I recently broke up with my boyfriend and all of a sudden several guys from the past have cropped up. It’s like this cosmic test to see how much I have grown or how lonely I am.

  • Guy #1: I met while on vacation. There was a definite attraction, but there were several red flags that cropped up. He’s very accomplished, but yet insecure; he’s intelligent and manipulative; he’s caring and attentive and then can turn and be purposely hurtful on an emotional level. He’s had some crazy personal experiences in the past few years which he says has changed his personality. I won’t don’t want to break his confidence and relay the details, but they are significant enough to where I have extra compassion for him.
  • Guy #2: I met online about a year ago and went out on an initial coffee date to meet and see if there was an interest to pursue anything further. There wasn’t. The guy was nice, but he had crazy ugly teeth and his thoughts about people and his job were far too different from mine. He worked for the government to collect back-taxes. He didn’t seem to have any compassion for the people he pursued for back-taxes. I’m sure he has run across some jerks in his career, but not everyone who owes back-taxes owe them intentionally or are jerks.
  • Guy #3: I also met online. He’s an attractive, good-hearted man with an amazing soul. There wasn’t a romantic connection when we met and we decided to be friends. Eventually our dinner invites faded and we stopped exchanging emails.
  • Guy #4: I met through work and went out on two dates about three years ago. It never progressed into anything – we didn’t even kiss. I was fresh out of my divorce and he was a bit flakey. I also learned of a nickname of his that led me to believe he was a man-whore. We didn’t end on bad terms … I started dating my lovely hippie, masseuse guy and he started dating another girl. Oddly, we worked less than about 50 feet from one another last year and rarely exchanged hellos. We simply had different lives.

With Guy #1 I have to be careful that I don’t fall back into a role I played with my family. It’s sometimes easier to put others in front of my needs. This is something I have to remind myself of and try to change when I realize I am doing it. I also have to remind myself that my boundaries are most likely more distorted or accepting of unhealthy behaviors than other people because that is what I grew up with.

He lives in Chicago, so I don’t really have to face the reality of dealing with him on a day-to-day basis or really consider a potential romantic relationship with him. (Although he has offered to fly out here or fly me to him.)

Guy #2 IM’d me a few weeks ago asking if I was interested in meeting for coffee. I was out doing something, but forgot to sign out of IM. By the time I got the IM it was several hours later so I never responded. There’s no reason for me to respond. I had told him after the first coffee date that I thought there were too many differences and not a romantic connection.

I don’t think Guy #3 reached out to me for romantic purposes, but it was out of the blue. We hadn’t communicated at all for at least 6 months or more. Then all of a sudden he sent me an email telling me about new things in his life and asking how I was doing. He since made a decision to quit his job and travel through Asia for a while. We have exchanged a few emails and IMs, but haven’t had any significant conversations.

Guy #4 always made me nervous. I’m not the giddy type, but for some reason around this man I get nervous and sometimes tongue-tied. He randomly reached out to me on IM and began flirting. I was confused about his intentions and how bold he was being, but agreed to meet for drinks to talk and ask questions. He said that he didn’t reach out to me randomly or out of the blue and that he has thought about it for a while. We talked about the events we experienced during the past three years. I told him I could offer friendship and see what might develop from there.

He has since invested a lot of energy to IM me and to call or text every day. He’s been very bold in his conversations, but there’s a large element of caution I have. I was honest and told him I am not interested in a casual sexual relationship or sex between friends. Although he said he wasn’t interested in just sex, sometimes his actions indicate otherwise. For example, yesterday we exchanged a few text messages and I told him to call me if he got bored. He texted after midnight to ask if I was asleep. He has also called late at night another evening and asked me to come over. (Keep in mind we have never kissed and since re-establishing contact we have only met in person one time.) This all adds up to a booty call in my head. Perhaps I am reading more into it, but I don’t think you invite a girl over late at night if you are interested in getting to know her outside of a carnal sense.

While I am not ready to jump into another relationship, it is comforting to have hope about a future relationship. I guess I just need to be patient and believe I will meet someone when the time is right.

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I broke up with my boyfriend the other week. I feel horrible for breaking up, but I know it was the right decision. He’s an amazing guy, but there are certain differences and behaviors we can’t bridge. I guess it’s more of me not being able to bridge or accept those differences.

I’ve talked about concerns with his drinking and those concerns came to a head one recent weekend. It made me realize that I don’t want to be someone’s caregiver in that way. I most definitely want to be someone’s lover and not a potential lover’s mother.

The break-up was as good as a break could be. There’s sadness on both sides, but I know his heart is broken more than mine is. I don’t think he understood how deep my concerns where when we talked about them before the break-up happened. Now he is running through the what-if scenarios. I HATE hurting people. Too often I compromise myself in order to avoid hurting someone.

What I find interesting is the selective memory that follows a break-up. I find myself remembering only the amazing qualities and fun memories. I guess it makes sense in a way because you aren’t seeing or dealing with the stuff that you don’t like.

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I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself and to remember “the basics”. The basics include believing I am worthy of love and learning to trust in order to love authentically again. I often find myself going through the motions I know are expected of me. It’s an odd thing to question your motive and feelings. After a while you simply become disconnected and numb.

Here are a few reminders I am working on:

  • I am worthy of healthy love. Although not perfect, I have a lot to offer a partner including emotional support, humor and loyalty.
  • I can only guard my heart so much before I miss out on life experiences. I have to take a chance if I want to experience something wonderful
  • Others are responsible for protecting their heart. I will move forward with honesty and sincerity, but it’s up to my potential partner to express their needs and wants.
  • I can only control how I react to situations. I’ve learned you only know so much about a person. If they want to hide something they can and the only way for you to find out it to play private detective. I don’t intend to be with anyone I have to spy on. Honesty is too important to me. I also need to appreciate the small day-to-day joys that occur and leave the non-stop worrying behind.
  • I can allow myself to be sad, but I can’t allow myself to wallow in sadness.
  • Sometimes you just have to proceed with life regardless of if you have any control or not over what happens next.
  • The above are struggles for me – some I struggle with more than others. I sometimes wonder how other people make it look so easy and then I remind myself that they were either taught healthy coping skills or learned those skills themselves. I can learn these skills too, but it takes time and practice. I won’t nail everything out of the gate, but as long as I continue to try, acknowledge when I fall short of my goals and forgive myself when I fall short of my goals, I will be just fine.

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