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 breast 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 (or, as we say on Twitter, IRL).

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

Monday, March 10, 2014

I Had Lunch with My Ex-Husband. It Made Me Happy.

A few days after the first anniversary of my divorce, I had lunch with my ex-husband. It was exactly what I needed.

We briefly saw each other in December when he returned my Christmas DVDs to me, but we otherwise hadn’t spent time together since November.

I had plans to be in New York City, so I’d asked him if he wanted to get together. He responded that he would clear the calendar for the weekend so he could see me anytime.

I arrived at the Meatball Shop (my pick – they have veggie balls) a little early, so I texted him to let him know I had a table for us. He responded that he was on his way.

Our lunch wasn't this romantic.
As he approached the restaurant, his head was turned, peering into the restaurant. He was looking for me, his ex-wife. His eyes caught mine and he beamed.

Oh, his smile.

Max has one of those smiles that truly lights up his face. I know that sounds corny, but there really are people with those kinds of smiles. (I’m not one of them. I just have a regular smile.) His smile has always warmed me. Seeing that smile for me made me feel about 93% joyful and 7% terribly, terribly sad and wistful.

His big brown eyes shone as he walked towards me. Stone Temple Pilots was playing. We automatically opened our arms and embraced in the middle of the Meatball Shop. It was a rich hug, the kind of hug that only happens between two people who really, truly care for each other.

We finally sat down and chatted away for the next 90 minutes. We talked about everything and nothing. He asked if I’d run out of my stash of Mary Lou’s coffee, and if so he’d buy me more the next time he goes to Massachusetts. I told him about my half marathon training. He told me his best friend, who was devastated by his divorce five years ago, is engaged. I told him that my brother and sister-in-law are expecting another baby. He shared the latest on a huge project at work, for which I’ve always been his biggest supporter.

After our meat and veggie balls, three cookies, and a scoop of ice cream, we surrendered. The bill came and Max grabbed it.

“Max, come on,” I said. “You don’t have to pay. Let’s split it." Afterall, this was the polar opposite of a date!

“No, I insist,” he said, slapping down some cash.

I know him better than anyone, so I knew I would lose this debate.

“Fine. Then can lunch be on me next time?” I asked carefully.

He looked up from the bill and flashed that smile. (Oh, his smile.)


He walked me back to the subway. I had the fleeting urge to grab his hand – I guess old habits die hard. At the entrance to the 4/5/6 train, we embraced. Twice. We promised to do this again soon. I believe we both actually meant it.

I looked back as I walked down the steps into the subway. He was watching me go, making sure I got down the steps safely. We both smiled and waved goodbye again, and then I disappeared into the crowded subway. 

When was the last time you saw your former spouse? What was it like?

Epic Mommy Adventures

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It Sucks to Be Right When You Know You're Going to Get Dumped

Sometimes it really sucks to be right. Sometimes you really want to be wrong. That was me preparing for the end with Aaron.

Yet Again, My Gut Was Right

I had a gut feeling – you know, the one that is NEVER WRONG – that something had shifted with Aaron, the guy I was dating for a few weeks. Never one to hold back, after a couple of days I told him that I felt like he was pulling away. He insisted that it wasn’t so, blah blah. I was all, are you sure, just fill me in. He insisted things were cool.

I didn't really believe him.... but I sure wanted to.

As expected, for the next week, he sent me mixed signals. We all know that mixed signals are code for “I’m not really into this anymore but I don’t quite have the guts to admit it.” It hurt my feelings, you guys. I mean, not like my ex-husband telling me he wasn't attracted to me type of hurt feelings, but still kind of hurt. How did Aaron go from being so “Kat is awesome” to “Kat is whatevs”? 

So, I tested him. 

I asked last Tuesday if Aaron would like to come to happy hour on Friday. He gave me a kind of non-committal answer, the kind of answer you'd never give to someone you're really in to.

Friday morning, he sent me a cute, flirty “good morning!” text and then I didn’t hear from him again. I totally knew it would happen. But I didn’t let my disappointment spoil my night or my weekend. I had a great time with my friends and spent some quality time with my sister and her kids.

(And, yes, I was totally checking my phone all weekend to see if Aaron would shock me and get in touch. Nope.)

Time to Get Dumped, Just Like I Knew I Would

By Sunday, I revisited my How to Get Dumped tips and I called him up. Here's a rundown of the two-minute conversation: 
Me: Look, it’s fine that we are clearly no longer on the same page, but given how much we have shared with each other, I think we both know that you could have handled things better. [I stop talking. Let him talk.]
Him: Um, yeah well… I mean, I think things were starting to go too fast…
[Me, in my head: Are you f-ing serious? You gave me a Valentine's Day card -- I didn't give you one. You set the pace, man!]
Me: We’re both grownups. You could have said something. I gave you the opportunity to tell me and you did not take it.
Him: Uh. Yeah.
Me: Just keep this in mind when you’re dating in the future, OK?
Me: OK, well I don’t want to belabor the point here. I wish you well and I’ll see you around town.

Pretty good, right? I didn’t let him off the hook too easily. I called him out for behaving badly, but I totally was mature and even-keeled about it. I guarantee that I will see him out at the bars, and at least I can feel like I stood up for myself a little bit, you know? 

Feeling Sorry for Myself -- But Only For A Moment

And then… I felt sad. Rejected. What the heck! Aaron and I were having fun! I met his friends! We cooked together! We had hot sex! Why didn’t he want me? And why didn't he have the balls to contact me?!

I cleaned my bathroom as I moped. Aren’t I cute? Aren’t I a catch? Aren’t I a decent lay? What happened? This sucks! I scrubbed the shower door harder.

Then, I straightened up. Aaron is one man out of the 3.5 BILLION men on the planet. His opinion of me is just one of many, and one that is not that important in the grand scheme of things. Why should I elevate him to be more than he is? I’ve certainly turned down some perfectly nice men – and hopefully those guys didn’t take my opinion to be any more important or impactful than it deserves.

It doesn’t matter why Aaron chickened out from dating me. I’m hoping to find a relationship, and I’m not going to apologize for that.

And isn't there something to be said for the fact that I knew this was all happening as it unfolded? I can -- and should -- still trust my instincts because, wow, they sure are spot on.

Most importantly, there is no way I was going to convince Aaron – or anyone else – to be with me. Anyone who loves and cares about me just does. (This is my new mantra.)

I felt a lot better. I am well loved. I don't need to waste energy thinking about someone who, for whatever reason, doesn't want to be with me. 

My bathroom sparkled. And you know what? I kind of do, too.

Who's been where I've been? Are you familiar with this feeling that you know something is wrong but you don't want to believe it?

See also: How to Break Up Like A Man, And Then I Never Heard From Him Again: The Awful Rise of Ghosting.