Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why Silence Makes Me Scream

The silence was driving me crazy. Where had John gone?!

Yesterday, 13 days since I’d last seen him and 10 days since his odd text, I contacted him through Facebook.

After the first time you didn't want to date me, you clearly felt that you owed me an explanation and an apology. While I appreciated that, I didn't really feel that you had to explain yourself.

While our time recently reconnecting was brief, your sudden and unexpected disappearance has been confusing and hurtful. I find it ironic - and disappointing - that this time, when some sort of explanation would've been the appropriate thing to offer, I haven't heard a word from you.

As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. So, I take some responsibility and ask that if you're considering getting in touch with me again, please don't.

John wrote back promptly. The long and short of it was that his job did in fact unexpectedly become unstable. He has only told his family as he started looking for jobs in the New York City area… and California?! He was going to contact me when he returned from the West Coast, if I believed that.

I absolutely believe him. (But he still blew his chances with me.) My response:

Of course I believe you. That is a lot to be handling, and I completely understand needing space and time to think. I just wish you had said something days ago. I would have been cool to reconnect when you were ready. Your last cryptic text followed by almost two weeks of silence left me confused and thinking the worst. I hope your job situation stabilizes and that any changes that might happen will be for the better.

Then, finally he wrote:
I understand and apologize for leaving you confused like that. All I can say is that I hope all is well with you, and whether my next message comes from CA or here I will let you know even if you decide to not receive it (which I'll understand).

I got my apology. Good. I told John I accepted and appreciated the apology. But more importantly, I had broken the silence.

Then I deleted his number from my phone – again.

The moral of this story – and men, please listen up:

You don’t have to say much to keep a woman happy.
Silence makes us very unhappy. Just tell us something.

All John had to do was send off a text or two along the lines of “Dealing with a lot at work. Sorry to be out of touch, but will give you a call soon.” Then at least I would have known he was alive and I was even remotely on his radar.

Maybe if John had been in touch once or twice, and then called me, say, tomorrow, we could have had a chance. Maybe we could have stayed on track then actually started dating. Instead, his mysterious retreat and silence left me questioning my own actions, which I needn’t have done.

It's possible I overreacted to the silence, but I know now why it bothered me so much.

Silence slowly destroyed my marriage. Max and I often sat in suffocating clouds of pain and secrets and rejection, but both of us too scared and conflict avoidant to speak up. When I did try to ask him about anything about his lack of desire for sexual contact (or anything else he deemed too private), he would shut down. Answers short. No eye contact. In that silence, I was left questioning and doubting everything about both of us.

In fact, one time that I became so frustrated and enraged by Max's silence that I literally screamed, complete with punching my mattress and collapsing into a heap of exhausted, desperate tears.

Silence is a terrible place to live and I cannot go back there again.

These last two weeks taught me that I cannot deal with mysterious silence in the midst of uncertainty. Silence leads to resentment all around. I need to be with a man who can speak up and tell me what he needs, even if it’s that he needs space.

Does silence make you freak out as much as it freaks me out? What dealbreaker has emerged as a result of your breakup?

See also: Silence: A Relationship Killer.

Epic Mommy Adventures

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Got Optimistic About A Guy. Now I Feel Stupid.

I feel like this, but I don't look as cute.
It’s not often that I feel embarrassed, and I’m embarrassed now. In fact, I almost didn’t write this blog entry and I even considered deleting last week’s entry (that must be against some blogging law).

But, I share everything with you, my beloved readers, from my finest characteristics to my sometimes questionable taste in sexual partners. Hell, you even know that I stopped grooming so I'd find me a boyfriend. I've never held back before, why start now?

So, on with the story about John, the guy about whom I wrote lovely things last week.

Last Tuesday, I’d had a terrible day and was feeling kind of sorry for myself. I was going to head to my usual Spinning class, but John and I were texting anyway so… I boldly asked if he would like to meet for happy hour. He said yes. My mood brightened immediately. We spent almost three hours together, talking about everything from work to dating to 80s movies. He told me where he wanted to take me to dinner after my trip to Viriginia (I was going to visit my brother and run the George Washington Parkway Classic). I insisted on paying the bill since I invited him out. He was surprised and appreciative. Again, it was great being with him.

In the parking lot, we said goodbye, and then we start kissing. Then the kissing got more intense. Then he had me leaning against my car. Hands were wandering (but not TOO wandering). This went on for probably 15 minutes. You guys, it was HOT. And I was so excited because this is the guy who was concerned about being “too square” for me – this was not square at all!

I drove home smiling. I had intelligent, quality conversation with a cute guy and then got just a bit inappropriately touchy feely in the parking lot. YES. This is what I want in a boyfriend!

Wednesday comes and I don’t hear anything. I texted him after book club to show him the dessert I made (he has a big sweet tooth). Half an hour later he responded saying “nice!”

Then, the feeling kicked in… you know, that feeling.

On Friday, I texted him to say hello from my Washington DC-bound bus. He took awhile to reply. So, I went for it:
Me: I hate to do this over text but is everything ok?
Him: Had a rough end of work week, it’s a long story but have to figure some things out, driving to my parents’ now to talk things thru
Me: I’m sorry to hear that. I hope everyone is ok. If you want to talk, give me a call – I owe you after all the listening you did on Tuesday!
Today is Tuesday, a week since I last saw John. I still have not heard from him and I certainly can’t contact him now. When he didn’t even wish me good luck for my race (running is how we reconnected), I was like, SHIT. I’m so confused! And damn, my ego hurts something fierce.

Did our parking lot makeout session ignite a Madonna-whore complex? Did something really happen to him last week or was he just blowing me off? Did the lack of chase turn him away? He is turning into a ghost?!

My feelings are hurt and that sucks. I truly didn’t expect this blow off to happen -- again!! -- and furthermore I'm totally irritated that it bothers me this much. I thought John contacting me was a sign that we might finally get our chance to date. I feel stupid that I was so hopeful, and after only two dates. I feel embarrassed by my premature optimism and his completely mysterious rejection. He knows (knew?) me enough to know how much this kind of treatment would bother me. And he is doing it anyway.

(To make matters worse, I am finding myself wanting to go back to unemotional, just for the hookup arrangements. I totally know why – it’s my desire to protect my heart while chasing a Batteries Not Required orgasm. I haven’t given in to those urges… yet.)

See Why Silence Makes Me Scream to find out why he disappeared.

When was the last time the dating rug was pulled out from under you?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

GUEST POST: 8 Reasons to Work with Your Spouse During Divorce

If you've read my blog before, you know that I had about as amicable of a divorce as possible. I'm grateful that my ex-husband and I were able to make such a sad, difficult time a little less awful by doing our best to work together.

So, I am excited to share tips that might help you and your spouse cooperate. This week's post comes to you from Dr. Matthew B. Candelaria (PhD, U of Kansas 2006), a freelance writer who has written for lawyers in more than two dozen states on a wide range of topics, including personal injury, investment fraud, copyright, divorce, child custody, and other types of family law.

Divorce can be one of the most hurtful, traumatic events in your life, but it doesn’t have to be. Whatever the reasons that brought you together with your spouse, and whatever the reasons you’re coming apart, your divorce c an actually be a healing process. You have the power to make it happen, you just have to choose to do it. 

Here are eight reasons why you should try to work with your spouse during divorce:

1. It Speeds Up the Process.

Even if it’s ultimately a healing process, divorce is going to come with some pain. That pain gets worse the longer the divorce process stretches out. And the longer the process takes, the more risk there is that one of you will say or do something hurtful—possibly without even meaning to—that can break your fragile truce and cause things to spiral out of control.

Either spouse has the power to slow down the divorce process. Working together will help the process resolve faster so you both can get on with your lives.

2. You’ll Be Happier.

Happiness is a choice. When you take steps to work together with your spouse, you’re making the choice that you want to be happier. It isn’t as easy as that, but once you make the commitment, you will be able to do a lot more to actively achieve your happiness, such as letting go of baggage.

3. You’ll Have Less Baggage.

During your marriage, you acquired a great deal of emotional baggage that you have to unpack during and after the divorce. For some of this baggage, the person best equipped to help you unpack it is your spouse. For example, they will be able to tell you why they did what they did and put many of your fears and insecurities to rest.

After the divorce, you may not be in a position to talk frankly with your ex, so working with them during the divorce may be your last, best hope for getting answers to questions that may otherwise plague you for the rest of your life.

4. It Protects Your Finances.

Divorce has the possibility of destroying your finances. There are many ways that your spouse can hurt you financially. You can also hurt yourself, and sometimes trying to hurt your partner can backfire. The best way to ensure that you both come out of your divorce with reasonable financial health is to be honest and cooperative.

5. It’s Better for the Kids.

Your kids love you both, and seeing you two hurting each other hurts them. Kids caught in the middle of an ugly divorce suffer significant emotional harm. Chances are, even if you try to shield them from the hurtful behind-the-scenes fighting, you won’t succeed. They’ll be affected more than you know.

And working with your spouse makes the practical aspects of child care easier, too. If you have an amicable relationship coming out of the divorce, then the two of you will be more likely to be able to make friendly concessions when the strictness of the court-ordered custody arrangement might make things difficult.

6. It Reduces the Risk of Violence.

A stressful divorce can lead to violence. If either partner is being hurt or threatened by an unfair divorce proceeding, they may feel their options are limited and may think violence is their best chance of getting what they want. Working with your partner helps them feel safe and honored and gives them another way to express themselves without violence.

7. It’s Not Worth It.

The truth of the matter is that everything you do to hurt your spouse during divorce hurts you, too. It might even hurt you more. Divorce isn’t a time to be focused on the past, it’s time to be looking toward the future. You have a whole new life out there waiting for you—there’s no sense in ruining it in petty squabbles over the old one.

8. You Owe It to Your Spouse.

When you got married, you made a commitment to your spouse. Until your marriage is officially over, that commitment remains. Working with your spouse on the divorce is your last act of honor during marriage. In doing it, you honor not just them, but also yourself, and the love that once bound you.

Show that you still believe in love and prepares you for the new love to come.

What are your tips to work with your spouse through your divorce?

Monday, April 7, 2014

When Unicorns Are Real -- Sometimes Nice Guys Actually Come Back

Kat loves dating when weird shit happens!
Sometimes unicorns roam the earth, pigs fly, and I can watch the final scene of Gone With The Wind without crying.

Relatedly, sometimes a really nice guy you had hoped to date but prematurely dumped you realizes that he made a mistake and tries for another chance...


John, Part I

John was the smart, sweet guy I dated briefly in January. We were off to a great start, and then he abruptly changed his mind. The reasons he gave me at the time were that I’m allergic to dogs and that he might be “too square” for me. He left me confused and disappointed. I thought I saw boyfriend potential with him. Oh well, I told myself, no need to dwell on this.

John, Part II

A few weeks later, just as things were starting to pick up with Aaron, John contacted me. I couldn’t believe it. He said that he felt that he owed me an apology. He explained that in his previous relationship, there were signs that things wouldn’t work, but in hindsight he realized that he ignored the signs. He didn’t want to do that in his next relationship, which was why he backed off so fast. And, here’s the killer… one of the reasons he ran off in the first place was because he misunderstood something I had said, and he thought I don’t want children! Um, SO not true, and I sadly informed him of that. (But I get it, not being on the same page about wanting kids would be a dealbreaker.)

I thought it over and felt I wouldn’t be able to get past his willingness to quit the moment John had doubts. Plus I was just starting to date Aaron. So, I told John thank you, but I admired his guts for contacting me, but no. We concluded the conversation maturely and nicely.

A few weeks ago, I deleted John’s number from my phone. Nice guy, but I thought our moment had passed.

John, Part III

Yesterday morning, exactly two months after our last communication, I got a text from an unknown number:
"Hey! How did the NYC Half go?"

I knew it had to be John (and I was impressed that he remembered!). So we texted about our recent races, and then we said maybe we could meet up sometime at one of the local running store’s community runs. The conversation concluded when I went off to yoga.

Well, I thought, that was nice of him to remember me. Maybe we'll actually see each other at one of those runs, but probably not.

A few hours later, my phone chirped again. John wanted to see if, in addition to connecting at a run, would I want to have a drink and catch up sometime?

I paused. Was this a good idea? I mean, this guy did dump me. But then again, this was his second time contacting me. Apparently this guy really regrets letting me go too soon. What a compliment! So, why not say yes to an offer for a drink that might not even happen?

I replied, “Sure, sounds good.”

He wrote back immediately asking when I was free. Wait, so this was actually going to happen?!

Five hours later, we were face to face for the first time in almost three months.

Over the next three hours and a bottle of pinot noir at a charming wine bar, we chatted and laughed as if not a day had passed. It felt really good to be with him.

Now I admit that I didn’t feel the electricity that I felt with Jason or Aaron. (Maybe it's because John doesn't have tattoos!) I don’t know how to explain it, but John feels so genuine, like I won’t need to question anything he says to me, good or bad. In the dating world, this is not a common feeling.

Out on the street, along came a unicorn in the form of John's voice: “I have thought about everything you said in February. If you’re open to it, I’d really like another chance. Clean slate. Or you can put me on probation or something! But this was fun and I’d like to see you again.”

When does this ever happen? A nice guy admits he made a mistake and asks not once but TWICE for another chance?

I’m not one to let a unicorn get away.

“A clean slate sounds great,” I said, smiling. “No need for probation! We can just see what happens.”

And then he kissed me. A real kiss, and not the kind that people in their 30s do on a street corner.

“Wow, I really missed that,” he said, grinning.

I walked home with a big stupid smile on my face.

Unfortunately I’m really busy the next two weeks so I won’t get to hang out with John for awhile, but he already texted me today, saying not to worry about my crazy schedule because he’ll be here when I get back and we'll set up a nice date. Awww.

Have you ever had a good catch see the error of his or her ways and come back to you? 
Epic Mommy Adventures

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I Want My Ex-Husband When I'm Not Fully Conscious

When Max and I first started dating in January 2005, it was three months after my brother-in-law died of cancer, and three years after my mom’s Stage IV cancer diagnosis and the September 11 attacks. These terrifying events had shaken me to my core and I guess my subconscious was overwhelmed. For years, I was having nightmares. Some were just unsettling, some were terrible. It wasn’t unusual to wake up to find my pillow damp with tears and sweat.

When Max started sleeping over, my bad dreams became less frequent. (The feminist in me hates to admit that there was a security and calm I felt from sleeping beside a man.) Anyway, at some point I admitted to Max that I was suffering through dreams that were typically about the apocalypse or the demise of a loved one – or both on a particularly bad night.

I'm a [sort of] badass chick who takes care of herself just fine.
So why do I still want my ex-husband in
the middle of the night?!
“Well, wake me up if you have one of those creepy dreams,” he said, the solution so simple. “I’ll make you feel better. Or something.”

Wow, I thought, this guy doesn’t know what he’s agreeing to (SUCKER!). But lucky me, what a great boyfriend I found.

Over the next seven years, I can’t even tell you how many times I nudged or directly woke up Max. He would roll over and grunt, “huh?”

I would whimper, “I had a bad dream.”

And he would respond perfectly. Every. Time.

He would sleepily say something like, “It’s OK, Bear, come here,” and then open his arms. Sometimes I would be crying on him as I tried to shake off visions of my mother dying without chemo or my hometown burning to the ground or the shapeless terror of some evil man chasing me. Other times I would just calm my breathing as I found serenity in his warm embrace. Eventually, I would drift back into a peaceful slumber.

(Max wasn’t that great at calming me down when we were awake, but he had mastered it when he was barely conscious.)

The last time that Max held me like that was seven months ago. It was the morning of the day when we were finally moving out of our condo. We had been divorced for six months and he had been sleeping in the guest room for almost a year. I woke up physically and emotionally distraught. It was 6 a.m. and I padded down the hall and slipped into the bed where he slept. Without saying a word, he opened his arms and held me as I silently cried on his shoulder.

Pooh and I will NEVER divorce.
This week, I had several stupid anxiety dreams that kept waking me up. I wasn’t crying, my heart wasn’t quite pounding, but I was physically distressed. I felt yucky and shaken up, all alone in my king bed. (Well, all alone with my trusty Pooh Bear.) And even though I was still mostly asleep, my immediate desire was clear:

I want Max.

Will I ever stop wanting Max in those moments of late night vulnerability? Time will tell.

Epic Mommy Adventures

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Getting Drunk and Awesome Because Sometimes You Have to Party Like It's 2004

I pretend to be a grownup an awful lot of the time. I pay bills on time. I take my vitamins and wear eye cream. I get a haircut every 12-16 weeks, new running sneakers every couple of months, and my teeth cleaned twice a year.  I show up when I say I will and do what I say I will do.

Well, I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I just don’t fucking feel like being a grownup.

In my early 20s, I relished being an excellent student in undergraduate then graduate school and then landing a solid writing job while knowing I could still go out and party. If you knew me from class or work, you probably thought I was just another overachieving tightass. If you knew me from a bar or party, you probably thought I was just another underachieving party girl.

My therapist has this theory with me that I sometimes do things to tap back into my life before I met Max on my 25th birthday. It is downright creepy how accurate that can be. For example: me on Saturday night.

Saturday night, I was about 21-24 years old for a few hours.

I had plans with my new friend Tina for a girls night out. (Tina lives in my apartment building, so that in itself feels like college!) She came down to get me wearing tight jeans and open-toed shoes even though it’s March. I was wearing my too tight and too short dress and plenty of liquid eyeliner. (The night before I  went to happy hour in my work clothes. Bit of an upgrade.) We looked hot and ready for trouble.

We walked to her friend’s house a block away for a little pregaming action. I don’t know about you, but this 34-year-old never pregames anymore.

Slightly warmed up from our drinks, we walked to a bar I almost never go to – one of those bars where after about 10:15 the DJ starts up and people start dancing and you can’t hear yourself think and you get hit on by guys who will NEVER be your boyfriend. This was exactly what Tina and I had in mind.

Within 30 minutes we did a shot of vodka and obviously took pictures of our sexy selves.

With a glass of wine in hand, as part of my experiment to meet a guy in real life, I practiced talking to strangers. I was pretty good at it, actually. Who knew? In part it was liquid courage, but it was also my knowing that none of these guys would be my boyfriend, so this was just practice for practice’s sake.

As the music got louder, I got drunker on my vino. A decade ago I would have been hitting vodka, beer, or margaritas. Regardless of the booze, some things don't change -- the drunker I got, the more amazing my dancing skills became.

At one point I looked around at the crowd and felt the music and thought, “I never had a night like this when I was with Max. Being divorced is fun sometimes.” I smiled to myself.

Well, the next thing I knew I was dancing or talking or something with this cute guy. Somehow he asked how old I was. He thought I was 25. I told him he was my new best friend. I thought he was mid or late 20s.

He was 22 years old. He was so young that he still had a vertical license meant to show when someone is underage. I had never seen my state’s underage license!

Logically, finding out that we had 12 year age gap meant we started sucking face immediately. He grabbed my hand and dragged me outside behind the bar with the other drunk 20-something-year-olds who were pawing strangers. We started making out like nobody’s business. He was so fresh with his wandering hands. He LOVED how old I was and my ass. I was loving it, but I do remember saying things right out of last week’s blog entry, like:
  • “I am not having sex with you. I am not having sex with you!” *more face sucking*
  • “I am supposed to be looking for a boyfriend. You’re not it.”
  • “I am not bringing you home because I’m not groomed.”
Eventually we went back inside, danced more, made out more. I’m not sure that I’ve made out with a stranger on a dance floor like that since college and it was ridiculously fun. But the good thing is that unlike when I was in my early 20s, I left the guy at the bar. But I accidentally gave him my phone number. Whoops.

Finally it was closing time. Out on the sidewalk, I waited while my friends got snacks from the grilled cheese truck, so I struck up a conversation with anyone with a pulse, including a couple who might have been homeless. I took a drag on his cigarette (what the hell?!) while he told me he just found out the lady he was with was pregnant and he wasn’t happy about it. I gave him a hug and told him I hoped he would find peace with his situation. Deep.

I walked home fully intoxicated, talking too loud and laughing too much. It was cold but I don’t think any of us noticed. Just like walking home from the bars in my 20s, alcohol keeps my drunk ass warm. I stumbled into my apartment to find texts from my 22-year-old. I pounded a glass of Gatorade and went to bed.

In the morning, I was 34 again. 

I woke up with a miraculously only moderate headache and red wine stains on my forehead, hands, and dress. I washed the wine off my face. I threw my dress in the washing machine, made breakfast, then cleaned my apartment. If I were 24, I would have been hanging over a toilet during commercial breaks of a Lifetime movie, not vacuuming.

Then the 22-year-old texted, asking/demanding to see me. Dammit! I just cleansed my phone of people like him! I admit it, I was so tempted to keep him around. But I was 34 again, so I responded, “Last night was fun but the moment has passed.” And Tina had a good point -- the kid is 22, so how good could be in the sack anyway? Sigh. Farewell cute boy who went to prom the year I got married!

So, you see, I can take a break from being a grownup for a night and return to getting my oil changed and filing my taxes. I love that my life allows this.

Do you ever you act younger after your divorce?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

8 Strategies for Finding My Next Guy in Real Life

My divorce was final for a year in February 2014, and my relationship with my ex-husband has pretty much been over since July 2012. I’ve dabbled in online dating and had my share of Mr. Right Now and the Incredible Sex. So, in January, I realized that I am ready for a boyfriend. Wow, go me!

I thought I was on the boyfriend track when I met John. Then I thought I was on track again when I met Aaron. Both times, I was wrong. Bummer!

I met both guys through OKCupid, so I have decided to change things up. I think Yoshi had an interesting point that perhaps connecting through online dating makes the meeting process so easy that it feels easier to walk away. So, I want to meet my next guy naturally.

I’m a very practical, goal-oriented kind of person, so I have put a plan in place to find my match:
"You want to buy me a soda?
Golly, that sounds neat!"

  1. Cleanse my phone. I went through my contacts and deleted Todd, John, Aaron, and even the 26 Year Old. I didn’t want to ever be tempted to drunk text or something stupid like that. And my phone is MINE, so no potentially toxic people allowed. (Jason, Mr. Incredible Sex, is still in my phone because he hasn’t fully gone away. It's good to have him programmed in my phone so I know to ignore him.)
  2. Stop grooming you-know-where. OK, sorry to go a little TMI on you, but it occurred to me that if I’m not ready for showtime, that will keep me from casually hooking up. At this point for me, hookups are a distraction on the path to finding my next guy. In addition, I was recently tested for every STD and thankfully I’m clean, so I want to keep it that way.
    (Though, since I deleted all of my previous options from my phone, it’s unlikely a casual hookup would occur. Better safe than sorry!)
  3. Smile at strangers. You know, it’s funny that this little tactic is starting to work. I smiled at a guy at a happy hour, at the gym, and in the elevator in my building, and each of them struck up a conversation with me. Nothing else happened, but it’s a step!
  4. Don't look for him at bar. We all seem to think we will meet someone a bar, but seriously, who often does someone meet a legitimate match at a bar? Rarely. So I'm going to stop looking for him at bars and just focus on my friends.
  5. Keep exercising. On Sunday, I ran my second half marathon and it made me feel strong and sexy. Yoga and spinning also continue to provide me with balance. I need exercise to keep up my confidence and toughness. And hey, eventually someone will see me naked again, so I’ll be glad I kept up my exercise routine!
  6. Tell people I’m open to setups. Probably no one will take me up on it, but you never know whose friend’s dry cleaner’s personal trainer’s brother might be my perfect match! The key is being open (but realistic).
  7. Keep my standards high. If you’ve read my blog, you know that my ex-husband and I still have love and respect for each other. He was a faithful and loyal husband to me, and in general he is a smart, good man. I know this might sound really weird, but in dating, I will think of Max. Would Max be disappointed in me for dating this guy? This imaginary guy might never meet Max, but he’ll have to measure up. In case you were wondering, I think Max would have been fine with Todd, John, and Aaron, but would have been HORRIFIED about Jason.
  8. Blossom where I’m planted. My friends, family, and I are healthy. I love the town where I live. My job is stable and I can pay my bills. I think of that line from Sex & The City when Aiden tells Carrie, "I have a life. I'm just making room for you in it." That will be me.
    If I don’t lose sight of my blessings and enjoy myself, I believe the right guy will appear. 

As always, I will keep you updated on my dating adventures!

How do these tips look to you? Anything else I should try? What are your tips for finding your next significant other?
Epic Mommy Adventures

Bloody Marys Count as a Salad