Monday, November 28, 2011

The Onset of Dating

I'd like to backtrack a little by discussing my pre-relationship life and getting you up to speed on my dating misadventures.

So, here's how dating began.

I didn't think I was going to meet anyone that special when I started dating. It was just an experiment. An experiment in sampling a life that so many other people seemed to be partaking in, a dating life. I approached it pretty casually, and that's exactly how it started.

A perfectly normal guy met me for coffee, in the middle of a perfectly normal afternoon in late April of last year. We met, we chatted politely, expressed interest in each other's stories and lives and then strolled around my town. There wasn't anything noteworthy about him or us together. In the end, I didn't think that I wanted to see him again, but also couldn't point to any reason why I shouldn't. He did nothing offensive or bizzare, he was just... meh. So we ended the date and I resolved to see him again sometime. Maybe he had something special that I just didn't see yet. After all, I had no experience in dating so I figured that's what dating was. You try people out, right? I didn't know. I'd only ever been in long-term relationships. 

I think in that respect, I'm a little like Cher.

I'm serious. Hear me out.

I remember this thing that Cher's famously said, that she's never really dated anyone. Her relationships start with a first date and then almost immediately the guy moves in and it turns into a serious long-term relationship that goes on for years and years. See? I'm like Cher. So dating was a new thing to me and because of that, I committed to going on as many dates as I could and told myself that I would not fall for someone too fast. I resolved to be less like Cher (although I think we could all benefit from being more like her in every other way. I mean, come on, she's a badass).

And so I trudged on.

My second date with a potential suitor, was quite the opposite. There wasn't too much that was normal about it, and here's how it went. We agreed to meet at a bar in the late afternoon. When I walked in, I found him sitting at the bar, dripping in sweat. I mean, sweating through his clothes. It was off-putting. It wasn't even that hot out, it was May, but I thought, "Hey don't blame him for being a sweaty guy." As I sat down next to him at the bar he mumbled something I didnt quite catch. I asked him to repeat himself and he said I was very attractive and that he hadn't been sure he wanted to date again, he had some bad experences recently, but explained that I was very cute and he was glad he showed up for the date. I'm serious. He told me he was glad he showed up. He said all that 2 minutes into meeting me. I felt like he wanted me to be greateful that he showed up, that he was bestowing his awesome pressence upon me. 
But I carried on, brushed it off, and with a big smile plastered on my face I went on in good spirts. We got to talking and I came to learn that he had been in a 7 year relationship with a woman he did not find physically attractive and from the sounds of it, didn't sleep with for most of the relationship and regarded her as a friend more than a girlfriend. It was very complicated and I never understood the whole story there, but honestly, why was he telling me that?

Another odd thing that this guy did not have in his favor was the fact that he had a sketchy job having something to do with buying and selling artwork on ebay that almost sounded made up. He also spent a good chunk of time telling me about a very close male friend of his, a man who, from the sounds of it, he thought to be one of the most amazing people he knew. He used words like, "he's just so electrifying" and "the kind of guy everyone wants to be around." I got the feeling he wished this friend of his were sitting in front of him, sipping a drink in a candlelit bar, and not me, and as soon as I saw an out, excused myself to run home early. Oh, and did I mention that he hardly ever looked me in the eye as I talked to him? I'm serious, he did that too.

At the end of the date, before I bolted, he asked me how it went. He wanted to know if I was interested in him and if the date had gone well. It's like he wanted a performance review. Well, believing very much in honesty and not wasting anyone's time at that point, I told him that I had a nice time but didn't like the fact that he never looked me in the eye. Well, sorry folks, I mean let's be honest, I found it to be rude. He felt bad and apologized. But I just didn't have time for that kind of behaviour. Sorry. No, thanks.

My next date with a potential suitor seemed almost to good to be to true. Pediatric surgeon, motorcycle enthusiast, held close knit realtionships with friends and family, wanted very much a family of his own, and an all around great guy. This was the kind of guy any woman would want to be on a date with. He wanted to hear all about me, and only me. He seemed to be genuinely interested in everything about me and this was absolutely intoxicating. He asked question afer quetsion. And not just general questions, along the lines of, "Oh, really? So what happened next?" He asked insightful, thought-provoking quetsions which evolved into a really first great date. By the end of the date, I was wooed, that was for sure.

So, what happened with him? Am I really like Cher? Did he move in the next day?

Stay tuned, Dear Readers.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

To Be Continued...

Dear Readers,

I've missed you dearly. Every so often, for a long time now, I'd think of you fondly and get a pang of regret deep in the pit of my stomach, wondering if indeed you missed me too. I know I've been away a long time, but believe me when I say, I'm ready to be back.

My last blog post was July of last year. That's well over a year ago, and there have been many moments in that year when I've longed to write about what life is like today, but it just never felt right to blog about my life anymore.

You see, when I posted my last post here, I was also beginning a new relationship and it felt strange to blog about a relationship that I was currently in and not one that I was recovering from.

I think I thought my story was over. After all, I had achieved closure in my own way and began a new relationship, and I therefore thought this blog had served its purpose, lived out its life. But, I've realized for a while now that this story has a lot more to it.

Every so often, when I was blogging regularly, I would get an email from a reader who'd share their own breakup story with me. Reading another person's account of their breakup proved to me that I wasn't, in fact, alone in my situation, and it was a comfort. I enjoyed swapping stories with other people and felt connected through the fact that we'd tried to help each other in any small way we both could.

Well, a few weeks ago, I got an email from a new reader. She had recently found this blog in a web search just four months into her breakup, and she thanked me for sharing my stories and wondered how I was doing. I wrote her back, and in my response I explained something to her that, for a long time now, I've been thinking about writing about in this blog.

You see, my current boyfriend and I have been together for over a year and in that time we've been through a lot, to put that mildly. I explained to her that for me, the past year has been a rollercoaster of emotions, as I saw this relationship go up and down and then almost end just a few months ago. I told her it might be time to show my readers what happened to me after the "happily ever after -- after closure"; after you heal from a breakup and start a new relationship.

For me, there was a big misperception of what that meant and I've learned that even though your heart my have healed, there is still a good deal of baggage you cart around from that old heartbreak. Obvious, I know. I mean, that's what baggage means, but I however was absolutely blindsided when it happened to me. Baggage seeped into my current relationship, and the story of how that happened and what I learned from it, might be useful for others to hear. It's almost like another level of getting over a realationship, dealing with the baggage you're left with. And so that's how I'd like this blog to continue -- with that story.

But before we begin, I'd like to get you up to speed. So hold on tight, we've got some catching up to do.

First of all, I want to thank all of the wonderful people who read all three parts of "The Last Few Months in a Series of Parts:" Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. As always, all the comments were incredibly supportive and helpful. After that, I guess you could say, I didn't have much more to say about my ex. The last part, Part 3, really said it all for me and after I wrote it, I felt like I had let go. I let go of him and I felt, for the first time, like I was fully moving on. I wasn't just putting on a brave face, taking a deep breath and bearing through it, saying to myself over and over that I was letting go. No, I really did let go. I finished that post and he lifted from me -- the weight of his importance to me, our history, the painful past, the heartache. It all lifted. What's important to note is that I didn't let go because of anything he gave me or anything he said or anything we both agreed on -- no, I just let go when I was ready and had done enough of the work to realize that it was time to fully move on.

Another part of my ability to let go was the onset of my very fast, very busy, and very productive dating life. When I first starting dating in late March of last year, I remember thinking about what dating meant to me. I genuinely thought of it as a fun, interesting, social experiment into something everyone was doing but I had never really done. But it was also, well... scary as hell. Let me explain.

When I used to think of being in a relationship one word came to mind -- oppression.

It’s like if I were a contestant on the 10,000 Pyramid game show from the 1970's and the special guest celebrity player (let’s just say it’s Patty Duke) were trying to get me to guess the word, "relationship."

PATTY DUKE: “Things that can suffocate you.”
ME: "Pillows?"

PATTY DUKE: “Things that keep you restrained.”
ME: "Jails?"

PATTY DUKE: “Things that make you unhappy.”
ME: "Umm..."

PATTY DUKE: “Things that are oppressive!!"
ME: "Relationships?!"

(Ding, ding, ding!!)

It was a very difficult thing to wrap my head around, being in another relationship. The only ones I knew started out with the best intentions but became long, drawn out, and pretty suffocating, unhappy affairs. If you've been following along, you know my story, but here it is again in an abbreviated version.

My first relationship began when I was 19. He was 26. We were together for 3 years. He was loud, completely unaware of himself, irresponsible (although always had a job), a part-time drug dealer, and pretty much a grown-up child. But he loved me, and for a time I loved him back. For the last year of it I was miserable and didn't know how to end it. At age 22, I broke up with him and choose to never see him again. In the process of breaking up, I learned that he had a young daughter that he never told me about (telling me on the day I left him), and a part-time drug addiction I was too blind to notice.

Just 2 months later, at age 22, I met who I call now, my ex. We were together for 9 years. For the last few years of the relationship, maybe 2 or more, I was so unhappy that I wanted out but believed he and I were supposed to be together and would never part. I orbitted around him and his life and in the proccess lost all focus on my own needs, my own happiness, and my own sense of self. I was lost. At age 31, I left and we never saw eachother again, texts (a few), emails (a few more), and that was it (the recovery from that breakup is what started this blog). And that, my friends, is the long and short of my dating (or better understood as, "serial monogamy") history.

It took about a year, but I got over it by documenting the process right here on this very blog.

At age 32, I began to date. Now, I'm a pretty smart girl; highly analytical, thoughtful, and responsible. I analyzed these 2 relationships for years before I ever ended the last one. I had collected my thoughts about my ex and gathered lists of what worked and what didn't, what I got and what I didn't, and what I wanted in the future. I approached dating with, in my opinion, all the tools I needed. I had prepared, goddamn it, and I was ready.

So when I began to date, I looked at it with the attitude that I wasn't going to throw myself into a relationship right away. I was going to look around, meet new people and take my time. I would not get into something too fast, I would have my eyes wide open. I swore that I would not be unhappy again.

Then the inevitable happened, after just 2 and half months of actively dating, I met a good guy. And one date turned into 2 dates, then 3 dates, and then 4… and then I decided that I actually liked him, actually quite a bit, and when I realized I wanted to see only him -- the dreaded question came up, “Shit. Am I in a relationship now?”

After 2 months of dancing around the question, I decided I was in one. And not only was I in one, I was in love. And from then on I became a "girlfriend" again.

So, what happened, you ask?

I think I knew, when I began to date, that relationships held specific problems for me. I just didn't know what they were exactly, I just knew I was scared. Those words that came to mind earlier -- oppression, suffocation, restraint and unhappiness -- aren't just a jokey way of explaining how nervous I was to date, they really held weight for me in ways I didn't totally understand until recently. It wasn't until my current boyfriend and I were together for about 6 months did something start to seep in and I began to feel little inklings of being suffocated or oppressed and utlimatly, lost. Once again I started to feel like I did with my ex. I felt like I was losing myself.

Right about now, you might be asking yourself, "What the fuck happened you?!" Well, yeah. I said the same thing to myself. Loudly. And with a giant "DANGER" sign blinking above my head.

I thought that since I had worked through everything and had chosen someone who was the total opposite of my ex, that I was totally prepared to never be in the same situation again, and therefore never would. But, guess what? Although I did work through a lot of things regarding my ex, it wasn't until I got into another reltionship was I actually faced with my issues with relationships and how I operate within them. And I wasn't prepared for that.

I learned that I had to put it all into practice before I really worked out the kinks. And that's where I am today, working out the kinks and finding happiness after closure.

Stay tuned, Dear Readers of my humble blog. I'll explain how I met who I met, what it's like to be in a serious relationship post-(a serious)breakup and explain what happened when, although I let go of my last relationship, it crept back into my life as this pesky thing so common to us all called, "baggage." And in my way, I hope to do my best to show how to notice it when it happens, how to face it, and how to move past it to get what you really want (whatever that may be).

Until next time,

Le B


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