Alone Again… Naturally

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Two years and two days have passed since I met WFB (Whole Foods Boy). A little over one week ago I asked him to move out. Alcoholism and depression are motherfuckers and I can handle one, but not both. He basically moved in with me last summer, though he was still under a lease with his roommate for six more months. It was June of last year when he “moved in.” I asked him to stop living in my house if he wasn’t at least helping with dishes and mowing the lawn. Three months later, he was in a car accident and had to reveal to me that he had been driving on a restricted license due to not complying with state laws and getting an Interlock Breathalyzer system installed in his car TWO YEARS PRIOR when he got his second DUI. I forgave him the major omission, but still asked him to move back in with his roommate. He never left. In January of this year, he began paying rent and moved all of his things in to my house.

On the subject of alcohol, I’m the kind of person who will buy a six pack of beer that will last me six months. He drinks two or three beers a day for no reason and binge drinks on the weekends, often to the point of belligerence. He doesn’t drink Coors or Budweiser with low alcohol content – he purposefully buys beers in the big bottles that are anywhere from 10-15% alcohol content. I was embarrassed to take him anywhere that alcohol would be involved. In August of last year, we were invited to a party at a local bar. My friend’s friend was paying for all the drinks that night, and I informed WFB of this fact. He still ordered $20, $25, $30 bottles of beer, justifying the expense because “we were all sharing them.” He drank so much that he didn’t remember leaving or the cab ride home. He woke up the next day and asked if we had walked home.

In May, he went to a birthday party without me. I was house-sitting and didn’t feel well enough to attend. He drank so much that at 5:00 am, when he was supposed to be headed to work, he could not blow clean to start his car. His phone was dead and once he left his friend’s house, the door was locked behind him, everyone asleep inside. He walked almost 30 blocks to the house where I was staying, reeking of alcohol and his eyes bloodshot. “Can you take me to work?” he asked when I opened the front door in shock. I dropped him off and barely spoke to him. He was fired the next day. He swears it had nothing to do with his physical state that day.

He sat at home for almost three months, living off of the three months of PTO he had accrued that were paid out to him. He never filed for unemployment. He applied for only 2-3 jobs a week, stating that he had to completely re-write his cover letter every time and “that took a lot of time.” One week into his unemployment, my friend offered him a part time gig in a warehouse that would allow him to make money while looking for a career in something he had more interest. He assured me he was going to continue to apply for jobs while working at this temporary job. It was early August when he finally applied and started working in the warehouse. He is still there. They offered him full time and he is no longer looking for a career that interests him. He says he’s not going to be there forever, but that’s what he said about Whole Foods. He was there for over four years, and his mother was the one who talked him into applying there. He would still be there if he hadn’t been fired. I pushed him into the warehouse job because it was guaranteed income and he could continue the job search while earning some money.

About a month ago, I wanted to try to work things out. I went to his parents (who had just returned from seeing WFB’s brother in rehab) about his problem with drinking and his lack of motivation. There is a long line of alcoholism in their family. His parents promised to help him however they could and supported my decision if I chose to end the relationship. I recently started nursing school and I am not equipped to handle the stress of his depression and alcoholism along with the stress of school. I came home and relayed what I had told his parents. He spoke with them the next day, coming home to tell me that he was going to start AA classes and make an appointment with a therapist. He has been saying for the past six months that he is going to contact his previous therapist and get help. There has been no such contact. He has attended no AA classes. He is not very good at following through.

Four weeks ago, we broke up. Three weeks ago, we tried to work it out. A little over one week ago, we broke up and I asked him to move out. He has yet to look for another place to live. He doesn’t know how to take care of himself, and I cannot mother another man. I saw a six pack in his closet when I moved my printer out of his room two days ago. Some things never change.

He came home crying today, asking me if I’m happy. I simply left the house. I’ve grieved the loss of our romantic relationship for so long that I cannot cry any more about it. I’m sad some days but I am happy others. Some days I want to crawl into his arms and say, “let’s work it out,” but I know I’ll just turn around and change my mind the next day. Love is a bitch.

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We Are Beautiful

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Instead of my usual love-lorn rantings, I want to take on another subject today: body image. Specifically mine.

I spent four days with my mother last weekend on a road trip to Bloomington, MN to shop at the Mall of America. I learned a few things on that trip:

1) The Mall of America is just a mall with some rides and the same stores I have in my own, fabulous city (no offense to Bloomington. The people in Minnesota are incredibly friendly.)

2) I can handle that much time with my mother much better than I thought I could.

3) My size 4 mother has some very serious body dysmorphia.

I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. I wore a 34C bra by the 4th grade and had very muscular legs thus earning me the title, “Chubby Cheerleader” due to my wearing of over-sized jeans and sweatshirts trying to camouflage a body that was winning the developmental race in my class. In the height of my depression a few years ago, I weighed 180 pounds and wore a size 14. I’m 5’2″ and currently weigh 140 pounds. My body type is hourglass – my friend calls me “BTSW” (Big Tits Small Waist). I have heavy, muscular legs (thanks, Dad!) and have to go up several sizes in skinny jeans just to get them over my thighs. My bra size is now 34DD and I’m usually between a size 6 and a size 8. My closet includes everything between size 4 and size 10, extra smalls to extra larges. I have one sweater that’s a plus size 1, whatever that means. I don’t care because it’s comfy as hell. I’ve learned to try things on in several sizes to find the one that flatters my shape the best. If it doesn’t flatter me I leave it behind. There is no sense in owning an article of clothing that makes me feel insecure.

As I shopped that first day, I picked up items and held them up to judge if I thought they would fit. I wasn’t really paying any attention to the size on the tag. However, my mom would pick up a shirt, look at the size tag and say, “oh, it’s a medium. It’ll be way too big for me.” A few times I noticed the thing she put back was an exact match of what I was holding. I have learned over the years to ignore these comments. Mom has always been in constant competition with me for everything. She can’t stand that I wear size 7 shoe when she needs 7.5 because you can’t really go down in shoe size without some marked discomfort. She used to race me on the stationary bikes at the gym: “I’m going faster than you.” “I’ve gone farther than you.” All the while, I rolled my eyes and concentrated on not passing out from the stank of sour sweat and horrible body odor that haunted our gym.

The shopping comments weren’t the thing that bothered me the most. It was the constant chatter about what I was wearing. When we met at her house, I was wearing yoga leggings, a fitted t-shirt and a zip-up hoodie. Mom looked me up and down then said, “Oh, you’re wearing leggings? I could never wear those because my butt is too lumpy. I guess I could, but I’d need a tunic. No one wants to see my lumpy butt.” Did I mention my mom is 5’6″ and a size 4? She has long, thin legs and a thigh gap that I will never have without some kind of dramatic plastic surgery (which will NEVER happen). She’s kind of pear-shaped, but her boobs have gotten bigger as she has aged. After her lumpy butt comment, she went on that she “can’t find leggings that fit her legs as tight as my leggings fit mine.” My ego was already bruised and we hadn’t even gotten in the car to leave. It reminded me of the time I gave her a pair of capri jeans that had become too tight for me. Instead of “thank you,” she said, “I wish these pants were as tight on my legs as they are on yours. It’s so hard for me to find skinny pants that fit like skinny pants.”

I grew up with a mother and brother who constantly told me I was fat. My brother’s name for me was Miss Piggy and, to this day, he still brings up the blue sailor dress I wore in the 5th grade that was so tight you could see my belly button. My dad never spoke directly to me about my weight, but would instead say things like, “should you be eating that?” The worst part was that they kept soda, chocolate, and candy in the house at all times but I wasn’t allowed to have them. My brother was naturally skinny, like my mom, so he could have whatever he wanted. To this day, I have trouble with self-control around sweets because I was constantly told ‘no’ as a child. One can’t learn self-control when denied something over and over. These days, I can’t have sweets easily accessible or I will take down an entire package of [insert any junk food here].

I couldn’t help that I had cleavage in every slightly V-necked top I owned, and my mother told me they made me look slutty. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I started showing some shadow between the girls. I finally realized I have a great rack and it was going to waste! I was taught by my mother that I should hide my body and feel ashamed of my curves. My mother is trapped by her self-image and focuses so much of her self-worth on her appearance, so she judges mine as well. Her motto is, “What Would Barbie Do?” I’m pretty sure Barbie would tell her to love herself, no matter what she looks like. Mom makes comments about what other people are wearing all of the time. She isn’t a mean person, but she has some real issues. Her mother judged her very harshly and so she judges the rest of the world and, unfortunately, me.

But you know what? I’m beautiful. I have an amazing body. I love to dress up in pin-up style dresses and when I go out, I turn heads. I have cellulite. I have stretch marks. My arms jiggle and my belly bulges when I sit. But I am strong. I can punch a bag like I’m going to knock it off the chains. I can leg press 200 pounds. I can bench press 70 pounds. I know that’s not an insane amount of weight, but it’s nothing to scoff about. I have learned how to wear clothes that make me look good and feel good. I don’t worry that someone might see the size on the tag. If they did, so what? It’s a number or a word. It doesn’t represent my accomplishments or my failures.

I’m beautiful and so are you. If more of us would stop worrying how we are perceived by others, we would be so much happier. Focus on the things that make you happy. If you are uncomfortable with yourself, make a change, but learn to love yourself, imperfections and all. In the words of one of my heroes, the great RuPaul: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the Hell are you going to love somebody else?”

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

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I found an old journal I started when I was first dating my now ex-husband. It was all flowery and mushy, like all 21 year old girls can be when they think they’ve found “The One.” Unfortunately, the longer we were together, the more miserable I became. One entry I wrote seemed a bit foreshadowing: two months into our relationship, I put ink to paper that “I’m going to marry Jeff. Mom and I argued about it, but I’m in love and we’re going to get married one day.” I remember her saying we were too young, too immature… She and my father have been married almost 39 years: she was 18 and he was 27 when they wed. Anyway, we did marry but it didn’t last, obviously.

Here is where the damage lies. I love my boyfriend. He’s fantastic. He witnessed a hangry break-down for the first time that involved crying and a lot of “I’m so hungry that nothing sounds good!” He patted my head, told me he loved me and everything would be fine. This completely stumps me. This is the kind of support I’ve needed my whole life, but I feel like it’s not real. I’m afraid one day he’ll say, “we need to talk…” and that’ll be it. I’ll tell him a deep, dark secret and he’ll run. Will he become bored with me? Maybe I’ll run. I seem to have a talent for ending relationships. I’ve been the one in all of my serious relationships to throw in the towel. I’ve had three of them: the first lasting over one year, the second two and a half years, and my third being my six and a half year marriage. How do I convince myself to let go and let it be? I don’t know that there are enough affirmations in the world to make me believe I’m worthy of the love I’m receiving, but I’m going to keep telling myself “happiness is my destiny” and “I am worthy of my love and another’s love in return” in hopes one day I’ll hear truth in those words.

Lessons

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I’ve learned some valuable lessons these past two years:

1) How to take care of myself. Before my divorce, I had never lived alone. There was always someone to lean on if I couldn’t pay the rent or I didn’t have enough money for groceries. Living alone taught me how to manage my finances. My name is the only one on the lease, and I’m 100% responsible if I can’t pay. I can now cook for one and I discovered I don’t need a ton of space. I also don’t NEED those $200 boots.

2) How to be alone. Not just sans romantic relationship. I mean hanging out by myself and not worrying about why no one is calling me, inviting me to do something. I discovered there are a number of things I enjoy doing by myself. I took a ten day road trip across the country by myself. I picked the music, how often to stop, where to stop, etc. and there was no one to argue with me. I plan trips to see my friends in other places of the country, and flying alone is great. I chat with my seat-mates or I read a good book, depending on my mood. If I want to see a movie that no one else wants to see, I’m no longer afraid to go alone. Shopping by myself is fantastic. Going to the gym has to be the best: I can go at 4:00 pm on a Saturday and the place is empty. Crap, I just gave away my secret…

3) How to have friends and keep the right ones. Friendships are relationships that must be maintained by all parties involved. I used to think that I needed to be everyone’s friend but now I realize that I don’t need one hundred friends, or even twenty. A handful of solid friends who will be there for me through thick and thin are all I need. I now have that group, and I make sure they all know I’m as solid for them as they are for me. Toxic friendships aren’t worth the heartache. I don’t regret those relationships, as they taught me some of the greatest lessons. I understand now that friendships, like romantic relationships, are two-way. Either party can initiate at any time. No more of this “well, I asked last time. It’s their turn.” That’s bullshit. Call them.

4) It’s okay to ask for help. There are days when I’m not okay. It’s perfectly fine to tell my friends and family that I need their love and support. No one is going to look down on me or consider me weak. It takes true strength to admit you need help and it’s something with which I’ll always struggle, but I grow stronger every time I reach out.

5) Love from another isn’t the be all, end all: I need to love myself. When my marriage collapsed, I was empty. I needed men whether they needed me or not. This was the hardest lesson. I didn’t ask the questions I had floating in my head, so I did not get answers. I was happy to live in the ambiguity of “are we dating, are you my boyfriend, are we just friends with benefits?” Men would drift in and out of my life. I always had a replacement shortly after each departure. Weekends were failures if I ended up in my own bed, alone. I worked so hard for relationships that would never be. The more a man rejected me, the harder I fought to understand why. I needed to know what was wrong with me so that I could correct myself for the next fellow that came along. Then one day, I realized that it’s not me: I’m perfectly fine. The right person will love me, imperfections and all. Love is great, but only if you love yourself first. Self-love was a long journey that started while I was married. I will always struggle to stay on that path and I know at times I will stray and end up in the brush. As long as I find my way back, everything will be alright.

It’s amazing how my life seems to be falling into place now that I have accepted myself. Things I thought would ruin the magic have actually made it stronger. Positive energy breeds positive energy, and I’m letting mine shine into the Universe. I’ll love me, you love you and we’ll all be okay.

Wednesday

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I’ve been in a very depressed state these past few weeks. This seems to happen every time I return home from Seattle. I wonder if it is my heart telling me to go to the city or if it’s the simple fact I get to spend every day with my best friend for days on end, only to be thrown back into my daily routine so far from her. Either way, my fog has lifted. I finally feel like me again.

I sent a text to Morgan on Monday evening while I was out with Greg and Matt. I needed to talk to him about his late night, drunken messages to me. I was very accusatory and he was very short in his replies. He told me I needed to stop talking down to him and that we all do embarrassing things when we are drunk. His reason for ignoring me the next two days was that he knew it was inappropriate to send the messages. I asked that if it happens again he not ignore me and pretend like it didn’t happen. I was actually quite rude, but my feelings were hurt. I apologized yesterday, but didn’t get a response until tonight. He chatted with me briefly, but I was at the gym and he is working so it didn’t amount to much. I do enjoy his company, so I would like to perpetuate this friendship and not worry about romance.

Just before I left work today, the administrator’s wife asked me if I had any dates lined up for the weekend. I replied that I’m not currently in dating mode, but rather in self-exploratory mode. She talked to me about her search for herself, and it was the best pep-talk I’ve had. She is a great lady, and I hope to be like her when I grow up. She was single for ten years before she met her husband, and spent a lot of time doing whatever she pleased and not settling for less than what she needed. The two of them have been married at least 20 years now, have two fantastic children, and are an incredibly happy couple. It really opened my eyes that I still have to figure myself out. There are too many things I don’t know about me and I want to know my whole story before I try to learn the story of a potential mate. I feel lucky that I’ve had so many dating experiences in such little time. The past two years have taught me so many valuable lessons about life, love, and happiness. I’m getting closer to knowing the real me, and I’ve discovered I’m a pretty remarkable lady. I’ve made some good friends, and I’ve become less naive to the outside world. I’m loving myself more than ever, and one day I will share that love with a man who loves me as unconditionally as I do him.

Downhill

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This has been a bad week.

My visit to Miami was full of mixed emotions. My friends were not in the best of moods while I was visiting. My stay was fun but incredibly stressful. One night I even did yoga on their balcony so I could be alone and meditate.

The person I was falling for broke my heart. I tried to contact him today. The first message to initiate discussion about what in the world happened while I was on vacation. A second message to make sure he was okay and hadn’t hurt himself. I haven’t heard back and I’m contemplating contacting his family tomorrow if I don’t hear from him just to make sure he’s okay.

I opened up the lines of communication with my ex-husband. I miss him. We have texted on and off over the past few weeks. He invited me to our nephew’s party this weekend, then shot in that his new 20 year old girlfriend will be there and she’s excited to meet me. At first, it didn’t seem that weird. However, the more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I became. I told him I didn’t think I was up for meeting her. The only reason a current wants to meet an ex is to size them up, or at least that’s my experience. Instead of coming out and saying “you were a big part of my life and she wants to meet you,” which he ended up saying later, he said “she’s really nice… I mean she’ll behave.” Seriously? I said I had a bad week and didn’t know if I felt up to meeting his girlfriend this weekend. He asked what was wrong and I told him: the stress of my trip, my heartbreak, my work stress, and finally the ache in my uterus from the IUD I had implanted yesterday. He was pretty nice about things, telling me that he would beat up any guy that wasn’t nice to me and telling me not to stress out about work. Then as we continued texting, he mentioned that his girlfriend and I got our IUDs the same day, so we should be friends. Being the great communicator I am, I told him I really wish he hadn’t shared that information with me. Apparently he is still pretty dense about what is acceptable to discuss and what is not. I won’t be going to my nephew’s party on Sunday. I’m keeping my plans with Kathleen to lounge at the pool.

I have a phone date with Carrie on Sunday evening, and I think it will do wonders for me. I’ve always felt I can tell her anything and everything, and there’s just something about spilling your guts to your best friend in the world that makes life seem a little easier. Kathleen has been a wonderful friend to me, and I don’t want to short-change her role in helping me through my recent difficult times. She has RA and her own stresses, but she is always there to listen and tell me when I’m being ridiculous or validate me when I’m actually being rational.

I’m glad I have such great friends, but my heart hurts today. I wish I knew how to heal it.

Sadness

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I battle with depression. I used to think there was something wrong with me for feeling so low. Depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder run strong on both sides my family, but no one told me until I confessed to my parents that I was seeing a therapist. I took medication for a short while, but I’m very non-compliant with any medication (I’m an uncontrolled asthmatic as well) and I didn’t want to deal with the sexual side effects. So I chose exercise, therapy and good old self-motivation. I haven’t seen a therapist in at least three years. Now, some days are bad, but most of them are good.

Today was a bad day.

I have an older brother. Almost three years separate us. I think I was a pretty good kid: straight A’s in school, never broke curfew, didn’t party… I didn’t get drunk for the first time until I was 19 (my brother gave me tequila). My brother sneaked out of the house almost every night. He put us all through family therapy and diversion when he got caught with pot in high school. I have picked him up from the police station twice (once I had to take him to the ER afterward with blood all over his face). Thankfully, he settled down after marrying almost seven years ago and has three children that wear him out.

Today is Mother’s Day. Gifts have always been a sore spot for me. Even when I was married with a combined income, I wasn’t able spend a lot of money on gifts for my family or friends. I thought I did well this Mother’s Day by giving my mom flowers and a hand-written card. I’ve always felt it’s the thought that counts. Her birthday is Friday, so I was going to get her another little something. For Mother’s Day, my brother sent Slugger (our local baseball team’s mascot) to her office Friday morning. He presented her with earrings, a pie and tickets to a Royal’s game. Someone video-taped the whole thing and she has been carrying around her lap-top for the past two days so she could show everyone. When I got to my brother’s house today, I handed her the flowers and card. She hugged me and thanked me, but quickly began gushing about how awesome it was that Slugger came to her office. She went on and on about how everyone was so jealous and it was the coolest thing that’s ever happened and asked if I wanted to watch the video of her freaking out. I wanted to hide. I felt tears welling up. I politely told her I was going to go see what Dad was doing.

I feel like this every time we have a family gathering for a birthday or holiday. My brother is always gifting something expensive to my parents. One event, it was OKC Thunder Jerseys for both parents and the dog. Another time, he bought my mom an authentic Chief’s jersey. I will never be able to monetarily compete, nor do I want to. I’m not sure if it’s sadness or jealousy but I don’t understand why I have to buy my mother’s love.

Though he wasn’t the best father growing up, my dad and I have always been closer, and both my parents have never been shy about admitting they have favorites. I’ve never had to suck up to my dad or buy him things for him to like me. Mom has gone with me to a couple of music events the past couple of weekends, and she tells me how awesome it is that I want to hang out with her. Then my brother does something big and I’m back to nothing.

If I had children, my mom would visit me more often. She actually said those words.

I just needed to vent. I have so many people that love and care about me. And now I’m going for a drive with the windows down and some Rise Against blowing my speakers.