Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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As It Should Be

If you  have followed my blog over the last couple of years, it is no secret that I find dating to be a nightmare. Navigating and balancing all the dynamics is not for the faint of heart and I could give you names of thousands that would agree. When someone asks me what I am looking for, I used to say a full-time partner. Now I just say someone who I might want to go on a second date with!

We (those of us in the dating world) do a boatload of mental gymnastics in order to make sense of the nonsense that occurs regularly in the that world. Some of that is necessary because we all need to adjust our expectations sometimes. But every once in a while, something GREAT occurs and you have to shake your head at all the months/years of the stuff you put up with, thinking you were hoping for too much. Seeing as I tend to blog about the negatives, let me share some of the very refreshing things that I have experienced lately.

For example…

1. When you send a text to let him know you are thinking about him but you are worried maybe you shouldn’t have.

What you expect: You usually don’t get a response for several hours. Maybe not for a day or two. Or maybe they never text you again. Ever. Or you might be seen as needy, over-anxious, desperate, pushy.

Instead: He sees your text and he calls you because he wants to connect with you.

2. When you say something sappy like, “Happy Anniversary” and are worried maybe you shouldn’t have.

What you expect: “I don’t do anniversaries” or you might be seen as needy, over-anxious, desperate, pushy. Or they outright laugh at you.

Instead: He says thank you and tells you how much he has enjoyed getting to know you. He even talks about how much he is looking forward to continuing the journey with you.

3. When you tell him you wish you could see him more.

What you expect: He doesn’t feel the same way. He thinks you’re smothering him. He ignores you and continues to make you feel like you aren’t a priority.

Instead: He tells you has the desire to be with you, even if the schedules don’t allow it. But he “embraces the emotions” that you obviously both have that are causing the desire to see each other to begin with.

4. When you go to his house and hope maybe you can stay over (even though you can’t because you have a son at home).

What you expect: “I can’t share my bed with anyone. I can’t sleep if someone is here.” Or “I haven’t had anyone spend the night here in years. It is going to take me a long time to be comfortable with that.”

Instead:  He says, “You know, you can stay as long as you want. I just want you to be comfortable.”

I could write pages more of examples, but the point is, the “instead’s” are as it should be. I think I am finally at the point that I would rather have one week with someone like this, then weeks or months with someone who isn’t. That may sound like common sense to you, but there were times when the loneliness was so bad, I would have taken the bad over having nothing.

You don’t ever know how long something will last, but for this moment? It’s as wonderful as I have always dreamed it would be. Knowing I am respected and wanted does amazing things for my ability to get through the hard days. There are never guarantees for “forever” so you just relish each moment and day, and hope there are more. And more. And more.

 


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Warning to Widows and Other Single Women

I published a blog called “Just One Text” a couple of months ago. This is a continuation of that topic. Apparently, there must be a book out there like, “Scamming Widows for Dummies” because I am getting quicker at spotting them. This time, the culprit was on Match but the similarities were unbelievable. There must be some sort of research that supports what kind of things women who have been through loss will fall for. So beware if you “talk” to a man who has this type of story.

Born in another country. (I’m not sure what the point of this is, except that initially you might tend to excuse any oddities that might pop up due to cultural differences.)

Raised without a dad, either because they died or left their family. (I’m not sure of this either, except that perhaps those of us who are compassionate immediately think, “Oh, how sad for him to grow up without a father.” Fosters the empathy you feel toward him.)

Has a spouse that died of cancer two to three years ago. This is the obvious connection they have to another widow. When you meet someone who has lost a spouse, you recognize them as a member of the club that no one wants to belong to. There is an instant bond with them, whether they are the same or the opposite sex.

You are the first person they have “talked” to since their spouse died. They are usually just trying to get back in the game and they were lucky enough to find you. It makes you feel special, and perhaps it is Kismet or Fate that has brought you together.

They are financially well off. That way, when they ask you for money eventually, you know it’s just some weird circumstantial thing and they are certainly capable of paying you back.

They have one big job left until retirement. (I’m not sure about this, but perhaps it is so when they reveal they are not in your locale, you will be patient because you know they are coming home “for good.”)

Then the kicker. They are off somewhere for the big job so they can’t meet with you in person. They probably can’t even talk with you either. The first scammer was in Turkey. This Match guy was in Cairo.

Seriously? I could’ve died when I started watching the story unfold. I turned him into Match and within two days, he was back on. A slightly different user name was created, but the pictures and profile information were exactly the same. The only difference was this time he claimed to be divorced rather than widowed. I turned him in again.

What’s a widow to do? Lie on her profile so she isn’t targeted? Then any decent guy you meet will not be interested in you because so many women lie on their profiles. You can’t lie, so you just remain a target. Lovely.

For all you ladies that are single but don’t have the advantage of being a widow, don’t worry. Never fear. There are plenty of dating gems out there for you to discover.

Scenario one: The guy who works out-of-town a lot. I had one I saw on average 40-60 minutes every other month or so. In a six month period, I talked on the phone to him three times total, averaging about 15 minutes a conversation. Texts were infrequent, most days were one text or none. He eventually told me, “You want more than I do” which wasn’t going to work. Shame on me. I really am needy with outrageous expectations, aren’t I?

Scenario two: A couple of seemingly great high-end dates that ends with the text, “You’re a wonderful woman but…”.  Dumping you prematurely isn’t enough though. Then they add, “I want to man up though and have coffee in person so we can talk.” This initially makes you think he really does get kudos because most guys now-a-days don’t even tell you they are dropping you, so saying goodbye in person is a pretty classy move. Until, of course, they don’t follow through and decide to ghost you instead. (For those of you that are unfamiliar with that term, ghosting someone is when you completely disappear. You could email, talk, or text a person for any amount of time ranging from once to several months, and suddenly the person completely stops responding with no warning or explanation. This is when the only good excuse for such poor behavior is that you died or are in a coma.) I just scratch my head. Dropping you isn’t enough of a thrill. They go to all the trouble of saying they want to meet and talk and then just rub salt in the wound. So much for class.

My head is too tired to add any more scenarios just now. I am counting down the hours until I get to see my grand kids for Christmas. They are much more worthy or my love, attention and excitement.


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Men

Well, I am starting to come to terms with the possibility of remaining single. I don’t know the future of course, but I am trying to see the glass half full part. I’ve always been aware of the half empty part when it comes to not having a partner, but sometimes I can see that it might be easier to remain alone.

I have blogged often about some of the trials and tribulations of dating. My second book has a chapter dedicated to dating. I have often said that men have no special link to craziness. I talk to men all the time that have equally crazy stories about women. My experience is with dating men of course, so I thought for a change I would write about some truly GREAT thoughts about men. (No, that is not written with sarcasm.)

The old Girl Scout song says, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” At my age, more and more of my friends are silver… or else bald.

Anyhow, John is my newest friend. I borrowed his cowboy hat at Karaoke one night and now here we are. John and I are friends, and one of the nicest things is that we are not dating so I can say he does all these lovely things just because he is a good guy and for no other reason. He has been off work so he claims he is bored and needs things to do. I suspect, though, that he would help me anyway. Last weekend, he picked me up on Friday night and took me to dinner. My dad had been in the hospital overnight and I was exhausted and stressed out. He got me just to “get me out of the house” which was exactly what I needed. On Sunday, he brought lunch for me as well as Colin and Frankie. They were boneless barbecue pork chops and they were yummy. Then he helped me in my yard for several hours. I got so many tasks done on my daunting list and that was incredible. After that? He let me drive his sleek Corvette and we got the largest peanut butter ice cream sundae I have ever seen. You rock, John! Oh, that’s right. I’m not done. On Monday, he still had some time so he brought me lunch AGAIN and helped me several more hours. Thank you, my friend! I do hope when you are in need, you will let me return your kindness.

And then there is Richard. We dated briefly last year. His work is seasonal, but he is still available when he is working. Right now, he is not working as much so again, he never seems to not be around for emotional support. I could call him at 3:00 AM and he would answer. We talk for hours sometimes. I listen to him as well, but usually I feel like he listens to me with the patience of a saint. He never gets overwhelmed by me or my life, and has wise advice to offer. He has a new girlfriend now and I am very happy for him. He has become a dear friend and a true emotional support.

I’ve blogged about Mike several times. You may not have known it because I didn’t always name him, but I’ve written about him. We have dated on and off for a couple of years. Now we have settled into a deep friendship. We would both say like best friends most of the time. We are polar opposites in many, many ways but I have managed to learn a tremendous amount from him. One of the biggest things is his encouragement to take care of myself. He has helped me have better boundaries in my life. He has helped me to learn not to be taken advantage of so much. I have learned to own my anger. Things can get a little feisty with him as you can imagine, but he is usually the first person I think to call when almost anything happens in my life. He has been a great companion, too. He lives nearby so we often walk Taffy together, or get groceries, run errands, etc.. He also makes me laugh my ass off. You know I love you to pieces, Michael!

Mark is the one I have known the longest. He and I dated on and off for about 18 months. Now? Well, I can best describe him by saying he is a true and loyal brother. Mark has a kind and gentle spirit. He is as dependable as the sun rising. He has his own timetable, but he always gets there. He is the graphic artist for Baby Coop Publishing. And he is the main handyman around my house. He shoveled snow off my roof with me during Snowvember last year. He has done about a thousand projects on my house. I have inherited his family as well. His parents look at Frankie like one of their own grandchildren. His sister and brother-in-law are dear friends of mine. I still share lots of holidays with all of them. He is family. Simple as that.

Mark is the one that said this is how relationships are supposed to be. We tried a dating relationship but that didn’t work out. That doesn’t mean you don’t care about each other anymore. I may not have found a life partner, but I have some very wonderful men in my life. Too many times, break-ups are ugly and contentious. I’ve had plenty of those too, but I wouldn’t trade these guys for anything. Single isn’t entirely horrible…


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Responses

Here are the responses I asked for. Hope you enjoy them!

A college student shares her struggles which are complicated by angst and other anxieties:

“Well, not only did I fail one difficult science class, I got an incomplete on a second science class. I never did the final research paper. And then I ignored my professor’s emails because I was so shamed of myself for not being able to pull myself together for anything. My professor was a nice enough person to be genuinely worried about me and contacted behavioral medicine at the college. They called me over break basically asking whether I was stable and if they could let my professor know I was ok. I said yes of course.

I am so nervous that I’m going to do just as poorly this semester. While I was studying in the library in between classes the first day back, my hands started shaking. I would like to point out I do just fine with any authority figures I don’t like. It’s those that I have respect for that I am terrified of a little bit. I feel very unintelligent compared to you because I’m incapable of communicating my feelings. I don’t do well when pople are gentle or caring with me because I instinctively assume it will be used against me at some point or another. To summarize, my level of sass correlates to the amount of fear I have.”

(My comment: You just communicated your feelings quite beautifully, my dear. Bravo for being brave enough to put it down on paper!)

A 40 something women’s reflections:

“Meeting and dating someone who’s schedule and general lifestyle is so completely different from what you know. Is it worth it?  I still don’t know.

For the first time in my life, I’m really challenging myself to give something/someone very different a shot. The way I see if, even if it doesn’t work out, it will have been worth it to try. In a very weird way, I am already stronger. I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to let it go and let it be. For a planner, this is the hardest thing to do and goes against all I know.  Ultimately,  it will end up just the way its supposed to. It’s like a line in the poem Desiderata:

‘And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. Max Ehrmann'”

(My comment: Another example of bravery. You go, girl!)


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Day Late, Dollar Short

I know, I’m a day late blogging. Sorry. I was trying to get camping for a night, but really the reason was that my mind was blank. I promised those of you that called me out that I would blog today. Only problem is, my mind is still blank. When I have things to write about, I am usually writing about them in my head for a while. When I sit down, it is just a matter of how fast I can type. When I don’t have something on my heart, I stare at the screen.

It’s all about broken records. Every time someone asks me (sincerely) how I am doing, I never know what to say. I’m the same. It’s always the same. I guess I’m fine. I mean, I am healthy. I get up every day and function. My family is healthy. There is rarely anything new. The same topics are there with a slight update, but overall, nothing is new. I’m fine.

Except if you know me, you know I’m anything but fine.

I guess the only slightly new paragraph to add to a very old chapter, is that I’m taking a break from dating. I had session with Scott last week and talked about it. He said it’s a big paradox for me. I have everything to offer a relationship, and I am clearly wired to interact and be with others. But he had to agree, that dating- or attempting to- has brought far more misery than it has brought happiness. So why even bother?

The latest disaster never even got to a first date. It was a match guy I spoke with in February. We never met but couldn’t remember why. He reached out to me again and asked if I would like to meet. He was kind of gruff on the phone, but my friend always tells me you have to have at least one face to face encounter. Some people are just different in person than they come across by text or phone. To be fair, you have to meet at least once.

Far be it from me to not give someone a chance. What I had was a week of aggravating phone calls and text messages that went something like this.

“Yeah, I’m off match. It was a waste. All the women on there want is attention. They don’t want relationships. And the women with kids don’t have time to date. If you don’t have time to date, then you should just get off match.” I give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe he met some real winners and is trying not to be too jaded. He immediately though, demands to know my schedule. I have plenty of time to date, but I need a little notice. When you juggle five jobs and are a full-time single parent, you have to schedule things in advance. I will be more than happy to make time for someone special, but in my mind you have to earn that kind of importance. I thought it incredulous that he expected to call me on Tuesday and be able to meet me within three days.

I offer to meet for breakfast on Sunday. “Well, what about Friday and Saturday?” I swallow the lump in my throat and explain sadly that one of my dear friends lost her son last week. The funeral arrangements were for Friday and Saturday. I committed my time to the family. I wasn’t sure if they would need me, but if they did, I would be there. If they didn’t need me, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be in the mood to go out and socialize after such a heart breaking service.

His response? “Oh, ok.” Hmmm. I know not all guys are sensitive and know what to say, but not even an I’m sorry to hear that? Or that’s too bad? Or anything at all that indicates you aren’t a total dick?

It only got better. As the day approached, it became clear that he didn’t have a vehicle. I refrained from saying what I was thinking: “Well, if a guy doesn’t even have a car to meet a woman on a date, then maybe he just shouldn’t be on match.” So he expected me to drive near his house to accommodate him. So the single guy with grown kids that live out-of-state, is being catered to by the busy single mom. Lovely.

It only got better.

He expected me to just come to his house. I politely and extremely firmly explained that as a woman, there was no way in hell I would ever ever ever meet a man for the first time anywhere but in a public place.

“That’s ok. We will sit in my backyard.”

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Then he insisted I at least pick him up at his house and drive him to the public restaurant.

Forget it. Sorry my friend. I don’t care what your advice is. I’m not meeting this guy face to face. I text him and tell him I don’t want to meet. I got back a nasty text saying it was obvious I didn’t have time to date anyway.

Sigh. Confirmation. It’s time for a break.

I had a special someone for quite a while. We both knew we didn’t want a serious or permanent relationship. We were both very clear about that. And it worked for quite a while. Even though it was less than ideal, I have to admit that it made the dating scene much more tolerable. While I was regularly meeting guys like the winner I just described, at least he and I would enjoy some companionship once in a while. Now that has stopped too. It was inevitable. But it is still sad. It stopped working because he just couldn’t believe that I didn’t want more. He knew he didn’t, but he just couldn’t wrap around that I didn’t either. I love him to death, but he has a tremendously huge ego that cost us our friendship. It’s a shame because I miss him.

At any rate, like I said, it’s a broken record. This song has been playing for over four years now. I’m fine. I really am. And I’m anything but fine.


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Dating in 2015

You know, I’m an interesting specimen. I struggle with depression. I mean really, really struggle with it. And yet, most of the time I still have a sense of humor. I can make people laugh about things that you wouldn’t think could be laughed about. Thank God, that’s all I can say.

I thought I’d share a bunch of “dating” experiences, but I’m not sure how they will translate in this format. When I tell the stories, we all giggle. So I hope it translates on paper or you may just stop reading!

Whether you are on Match, meet someone out, or get set up by someone, dating these days requires a very healthy sense of humor.

Well, that or a straight jacket.

I have plenty of male friends who share whopper stories so let me just this isn’t really a male-bashing type thing. It’s just a “how the hell did we all get so lost when it comes to relationships?” type of thing.

SCENARIO ONE:
Match email from a 27-year-old to me (I’m almost 48). “Hey, are you a swinger?”
My response, “You’re a cutie, but uh, NO.”

SCENARIO TWO:
Match email from a 28-year-old: “But age is just a number!”
My response, “Uh, most of my kids are older than you are. You really don’t see a problem with that?”

SCENARIO THREE:
Match email from a thirty-something year old. Ok, we are getting warmer.
“What’s shaking, sexy?”
My response, “Uh, well that’s quite an introduction. Not much, and you?”
His response, “Just living the dream!”
Ok, now first of all, just think about that statement. How the heck do you even respond to something like that? There is no question, no let-me-get-to-know-you, just a declarative statement.
My response, “Then what the hell are you doing on Match?”
No, that’s mean. Delete.
My response, “Well, I don’t think we would be a good match ‘cuz there ain’t nobody living the dream here in my house!”
On second thought, I just hit the “block this person” button instead. I’ve just discovered that button on the computer and I really, really like it.

SCENARIO FOUR:
Match email from SOMEONE MY AGE! Well, now that already has potential. “We seem to have a lot in common but I should let you know that I’ve recently moved to London, England. Have you ever been there?”
Ok, really? England. Pretty damn hard to meet for that first cup of coffee.

SCENARIO FOUR:
Text message from someone who found me on LinkedIn. That’s a new one.
My question, “Where are you from?”
His response, “Pakistan.”
No comment needed.
I know how to “block this person” on my phone, too.

SCENARIO FIVE:
Match email from SOMEONE MY AGE AND SOMEONE IN MY COUNTRY. Much better. But they are still in Rochester, like an hour and a half away.
My email, “But my experience is, that this kind of distance is hard when you are first getting to know someone. I’m not trying to be close-minded, but I do like to learn from the experiences I’ve had.” (When it takes three to four weeks to even set up a date because it requires a three-hour round-trip drive, that just doesn’t work when you are a single mom with five jobs.)
His response, “Well honey, blah blah blah” with a bunch of crap about how if I would let a little thing like location get in the way of a relationship, I’m obviously not mature enough to realize that grown-up relationships take work.
My response, “Who you calling honey?” Blocked!

SCENARIO SIX:
Match email from SOMEONE MY AGE AND SOMEONE IN MY COUNTRY AND SOMEONE IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD! Oh my gosh, he’s even pretty handsome! Can this really be happening? We email. We text. We talk on the phone for a week. Then we make the plan to actually meet in person. Now, I’m actually a little nervous because I haven’t been on an actual “date” with any potential in months.
He stands me up two nights in a row.
My text to him, “There won’t be a third time.”
He wisely doesn’t call or text again.

That’s six for six.

I’m sure glad we got kittens for Christmas. They make me giggle, too (but not with the underlying profound sadness of how difficult of a task it is to not be alone if you don’t want to be). I bought them new toys today that look like slinkys, so that will be a better way for me to get my jollies tonight. 🙂


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Smatterings

I don’t have one topic today, so I think I will just have a smattering of paragraphs regarding different topics in my life.

Last weekend, a 7th grade roller skating friend found me on the internet. I was surprised and thought it was great fun to hear from him. He is quite successful- career/financial wise, but also has two great kids and a wife he still adores after 25 years. Anyhow, he wrote this to me after reading some of my blogs: “Your blog (so far) doesn’t read like menopause… almost more like ‘coming of age/wisdom/power.’ Like you are a whole person now… not shying away from those other less comfortable modes and feelings. And from what I see, still quite a unique and lovely person too.”

I liked that, of course. Made me feel great. Coming of age/wisdom/power. Is it one of those paradoxes in life I always talk about? The less wise and more powerless I feel, maybe the opposite is actually true? Nice thought. So I’m not going to tell him that twice this week I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. That’s the first hard “evidence” of the dreaded “M” word so let’s not tell him, ok?

So, what else? Haven’t really been dating anyone new. I haven’t been on the Match site at all. I’m still lonely, but I think I’ve finally called “uncle” for a while. Who knows when that will change? I just don’t see much point in it. Everyone looks great on paper. They all seem nice for the initial meetings. But in the end, it doesn’t mean a hill of beans, so why bother? Hey, maybe I really am getting wiser! 🙂

On the home front, well, that isn’t so pretty. I will probably regret writing this for the world to see, but I had a really, really bad day this week. I actually SOS-called Summer this week. I was having visions of taking a baseball bat and destroying our 54 inch TV screen. I wanted to bash in the WII system, Kindle, and laptop while I was at it. It scared me. That is REALLY, REALLY not like me. I didn’t do it, or course. But I was scared I would.

Why? I was sick of parenting. I didn’t care if Frankie is “grieving,” or “going through normal pre-teen stuff,” or whatever other reason there might be for his behavior. He can just be so mean and hurtful to me, and because I am who I am, he knows exactly how to do it. He knows how to push my buttons. And he does it by rejecting me. By letting me know that he doesn’t like it when I’m around, or even in the room for the matter. He recoils when I touch him. And after taking him to the Bills’ Training Camp and then throwing him two birthday parties, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I just didn’t have the stomach for it.

Today is a new day. I hold my breath every day that it will go better. So far, so good. We are heading to a baseball game and I’m willing it to be fun for all of us.

I am hoping to take a vacation next week. I don’t know if it will fall through or not, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I NEED A VACATION!!

I usually get worried feedback. Don’t worry. I’m hanging in there. I even plan to smile today 🙂