All the Feels

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Maybe it was a mistake to accept my ex-husband’s offer to ride along to Gulf Shores, AL from Kansas City to hang out for 3 days on beautiful, sandy beaches and hear amazing music. Maybe it was fate that we had only spoken once in 12 months, yet he asked me to accompany him for a 16 hour drive times two. I was his third choice as a companion, after his girlfriend and our nieces. We never once turned on the radio or popped in a CD on the way south; conversation flowed like we’d been best friends forever and it hadn’t been 5 years since we had genuine dialogue. The whole situation was natural; like we were still together, yet not.  It was like we had never missed a day. We were so in sync to each other’s moods and feelings. On the drive home we were confronted with our past that I was not yet ready to discuss.

Z asked me to accompany him to a wedding tonight. It was intolerable. The epitome of love was this couple. They dated for five years and their wedding was the kind you see in the movies. It was a dream: perfect vows, perfect speeches, perfect wedding guests… Though we broke up two months previous, Z still wanted me to attend. I drank lots of wine and nearly cried in public. I still love J. I will always love J. We had a four hour conversation about the end of our marriage on the way home from Alabama. It was the most painful discussion I’ve experienced. I was never ready to let go of my husband. Z asked me about this on the way home tonight from the wedding. I tried to explain my feelings to him, a person who has never been married and never loved anyone before me, but it backfired. If you have never loved another person, it is unfathomable to think that the person you love has ever loved someone else.

Z has never truly loved another person and does not understand my feelings. Instead, all he knows is selfish love; how could I love more than one person at a time? It’s actually very easy. I love three people currently: Z, J, and the mechanic though it’s all different love. Z, I love like a best friend, a confidant. J, I love like… I don’t know. I love him and that’s all I know. The mechanic and I understand each other. That one is more a love of mutual understanding. Z will never understand and needs to move on. I do not know what I am doing with my life. Any advice or insight is whole-heartedly welcome.

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.

Taking the Shot

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The fellow my father so badly wants me to meet called me Wednesday evening. We  He talked for two and a half hours. He’s very funny but every time he asked me a question, I would get a couple of sentences in only to have him interrupt and tell me another story about himself. After his story, he would say “I’m sorry, continue.” Maybe it was nerves, but I doubt this is the man of my dreams. We became Facebook friends and I’m not attracted to this fellow. We’ve casually texted the past few days, but things will most likely end in casual friendship. Thanks, Dad, but I think I’ll do my own recon work from now on.

After years of trying to hide my body from the world, I’m finally comfortable with myself and more often than not go to the store looking like a modern June Cleaver (this has a point, I promise).

Today's shopping attire.

Today’s shopping attire.

Grocery shopping is a bit of a production for me, as I go to three stores before I have everything on my list. I decided to skip Target today and just hit Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. I normally hit both stores on the south side of town, but today I was on a mission to give my brother his birthday present. I decided to visit the Whole Foods closer to home, and it was an interesting decision. I strolled in and was immediately distracted by the fellow dancing in the grain aisle and forgot to look at fruit. I gave him a sideways smirk and went about my business heading for the yogurt. As I stared at the empty shelf of Siggi’s (they only had two spiced pear left, which I bought. Apparently it was on sale or something…), I realized I skipped over the fruit. I turned and wandered back, only to have the dancing fellow ask if I needed help finding something. I told him I forgot to get grapes to which he laughed and made some comment about how important it is to remember the grapes. I giggled and kept walking. I couldn’t tell if he was flirting with me or just being helpful. When I passed him for the third time, he blurted out that he liked my dress. I smiled, said “thank you!” and promptly ran off. As I drove to my brother’s house, I thought “why didn’t I stop and talk to the fellow?” When my dad embarrassingly gave his work friend my phone number, he said to my dad: “Michael Jordan says that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I have found myself thinking about this a lot over the past few days. I went to my brother’s and hung out for a few minutes, stopped by my place to drop off my groceries and decided to head back to Whole Foods… an hour and a half later. I was torn. What if his shift is over? What if he’s in another part of the store? What if I have to walk around like a nerd because I was just there? WHAT IF? My heart racing, I said out loud, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I wrote my first name and my phone number on a piece of my Rainbow Brite grocery list paper, and marched in with a purpose. There he was. Unclogging some nuts from some contraption. I walked right up to him and said “I forgot something else when I was here earlier,” and handed him my slip of paper. He smiled and I said “It’s nice to meet you,” like a goober. He replied, “it’s nice to meet you, Sarah.” I looked at his name-tag: Zach. Well, Zach, maybe you’ll call me and we’ll go out. If I never hear from you, that’s okay too. At least I took the shot.