Saturday, May 16, 2015

I have learned

As angry as I am about Turtle, I am grateful for the lessons he taught me.

I learned about letting go of control. I realized that I spend a lot of energy trying to force things, usually as a way to make myself feel more secure. I also learned that security, especially in relationships, is an illusion. Relationships, by definition, involve other people - which we can't ever control.

I learned about patience. Not everything is about me. Some people will need you to slow down. Not everyone you meet will be in the same place, or ready for the same things. Some are worth the wait.

I learned that not everything is about me, and sometimes I need to be there for others.

I also learned that sometimes, it is about me. Sometimes it's OK to look out for myself. Sometimes, it's OK to expect others to wait for me - or catch up, as the case may be.

I learned I do not want to feel like a chore, or an obligation. I do not want to be treated like a problem that needs handling.

I don't want to be a second choice, or a backup plan. I don't want time with me to be spent at someone else's convenience. It's great to be considerate and understanding of others - but sometimes I should come first.

I want someone who wants me around. Who genuinely enjoys my company (quirks and all). Who will go out of his way to not just talk about having fun, but to actually put those plans in motion.

I am tired of being treated like a secret; like a guilty-pleasure TV show you watch when nothing else is on, but are ashamed to admit you've seen every episode.

I've learned I am tired of feeling left out of all the real fun, and kept as a backup plan when nothing better is available.

I have learned that it doesn't matter why a person might treat me that way. He could very well have the best reasons in the world (and yes some are better than others). What matters is how it makes me feel.

I have learned that I can be patient and let go of control, and still look out for myself and my feelings. My wants and needs are just as important as the other person's.

I have learned I am no longer willing to feel like second best - and I have learned it's OK to say so.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lesson in lies

I thought I was finally getting past the feeling stupid phase of being rejected. Then last week, I learned that Turtle has a girlfriend. It's a woman he's known all along, but insisted there was nothing between them.

Adding insult to injury, when Turtle and I were still spending time together, I could see that he and this woman seemed close. I even asked him specifically about her just a few months ago. He told me there was nothing.

I'm absolutely sure he was being honest way back, when he said he wasn't ready to date. But I've also come to realize that was never the whole truth.

I feel a little lied to, and led on. What's worse, though, is feeling foolish. I convinced myself that he wasn't leading me on, or keeping me around as an option. Really he was, but I was either too blind to see, or too stupid to put it to a stop.

Every time I think about it, I get angry. It's like I go through the whole thing all over again. (Which, makes the whole maintaining a friendship thing tough, but more on that later.)

I'm all about accepting responsibility,  and finding the lessons in even the toughest of situations. I'm also learning to not take blame when something isn't my fault.
It is tough to realize Turtle just didn't like me, and it's hard to feel like he led me on, and it sucks feeling lied to. But it's also important to remember that he wasn't the only one lying to me. I lied to myself - and at least that's something I can prevent going forward.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

What not to say

I get a lot of well-meaning advice on my dating life. I accepted a while back that I kind of invite it, even if not directly, simply by sharing my stories. I know it comes from a place of love and concern, so I try not to let it bother me. Still - sometimes, it does.

There are a few things that friends can do to avoid further hurting a heart broken friend, and show support at the same time.

Don't say.... platitudes and clichés. "It'll happen when you least expect it," or, "It just wasn't meant to be," sound helpful and positive. The thing is, your friend likely already knows all this nonsense. It's all true, of course, but is also little comfort to a person still trying to find her footing. When she's ready, she'll find it on Pinterest anyway, so just hold-off on the Paul Coehlo quotes.

Don't offer... advice on how to be happy. Your friend has not forgotten everything she's ever learned. She hasn't quit her job, stopped eating, or started avoiding people. She knows how to take care of herself, and she'll be happy when she's done being sad. Offering that advice really sounds like you're discounting her feelings and trying to rush her back to happy. Stop.*

Don't ask... how she's doing - unless you mean it. You know the answer - she's sad. If you're sick of hearing it, that's fair. But don't pretend you want to know, while secretly hoping she tells you about work or family. If you don't honestly want to listen to the answer, just don't ask the question.

What can you do? If she wants to talk, listen. It will mean so much that you care. Instead of advising her to "go out and live" or "find stuff to look forward to" - create those things. Make plans. Invite her out. You're right - distractions and plans will help.

Mostly, just don't forget how this feels. Chances are, you've been where she is. She'll be fine soon - just be her friend when she's ready.

*Of course, if your friend has stopped eating, working, or seems to be hiding from life more than usual - say something. She could be in a bad place. A little sad is normal - depressed is something else.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ups and downs

It's been four weeks since Turtle ended things (it sounds strange to refer to it as a "breakup" since we weren't actually dating...but we also weren't just friends...anyway, you know what I mean). In general, my rule following any sort of heartbreak is at least 30 days to get myself together.

I broke my rule slightly by going speed-dating last week. While it was more successful than in the past, it doesn't appear it will amount to anything, so let's just pretend that didn't happen, k?

But what I'm finding is, while I was good going out last week and feeling all friendly and positive - this week, all I want to do is sit in my living room and cry. I feel lonely and scared, and also foolish and (to be perfectly honest) a little pathetic. I don't really want to bother my friends with it because, honestly, I don't even know what to say. I'm still as rejected and hurt as I was a couple weeks ago - but I'm no worse. Know what I mean? There's really no reason for me to be sad. I just am.

But I think that happens with grief. It's not an easy trip on a straight, flat road. It's more a journey with twists and turns, with big ups and really, really big downs.

I suppose the trick is to remind yourself that, if things looked really positive last week (or month, or whatever) then they could pivot and look better any second. Nothing's permanent.

Not even the lowest low.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Not quite yet

I know, better than many, how bad an idea it is to rush into meeting new people after a heartbreak. So I know that right now is not a good time for me to return to online dating. If I had any active profiles, now would be the time to hide them all.
 
Besides, I meant it when I said that deleting those profiles was my way of breaking a bad cycle. The last thing I need right now is to revisit bad habits.
 
I found myself wondering why it's such a temptation. Am I lonely? Do I just feel like I need to do something to take back control? Am I just bored? Do I just want an ego boost?
 
I think it's a little bit of everything. A few minutes on a dating site could cure any of those problems. I'm single, I want to have a little fun, so what's the harm?
 
Meeting people is great - and obviously necessary when you want someone new in your life. When motivated by an honest desire to just find new people, it's the best thing possible - fun, innocent, healthy. All good stuff.
 
The problem is, when motivated by boredom or loneliness or low self-esteem, all that healthy fun goes out the window. You (or at least I) meet the wrong people. My guard is down, and I'm looking for just anyone, not good, quality people who have something to add to my life. That pattern is how I've met some of the worst guys ever (and I've met some pretty bad guys).
 
I am open to meeting new people right now - in other ways. That keeps me open to possibilities, without returning to bad habits. Meeting people online is familiar and easy and it can work - and I may return eventually. Just not quite yet.
 
(So if any of you know a nice single guy who likes short, curvy, sarcastic brunettes - send 'em my way. Just make sure they're not psycho.)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Not enough

Turtle told me the other night that, while he still isn't ready to date anyone, he has realized that when he is, it will not be me. He said he doesn't know why; he likes everything about me, likes spending time with me, and all that. But he's hesitant for some reason, and apparently doesn't think that's going to change.

He wants us to remain friends. In fact, I think if he had his way, we'd still talk everyday and see each other regularly.

The thing is - I just can't. I can't just flip a switch, and turn off my feelings. Seeing him would be a heartbreaking reminder that he doesn't want to be with me. I know me; I would also remain hopeful, and that would cloud the friendship. I would feel hurt every time we were together, and eventually I would resent him.

It's also confusing to me. As soon as I told him I couldn't see him, he tried to extend our evening. He said he would miss me, he held me for what felt like forever when he hugged me goodbye. Heck, when I came back from the ladies room, he had a smile from ear to ear.

I suppose I could be wrong (I mean, obviously I am) but isn't that what we're all trying to find? Someone we enjoy, who makes us smile and laugh, who we can talk with about everything, or nothing, someone who we actually miss when she's not around? I read once that you should date someone who makes you feel the way you do when you see the waiter bringing your food to the table.

So I don't understand why Turtle feels all those things (or at least says he does and behaves the same) and yet, does not want to date me. He admitted it's confusing to him, too. I think if I spent time with him, my desire to understand would get in the way of our friendship.

My friends all insist this has nothing to do with me. While I suppose they could be right, the truth is their opinions are bias.

Of course I realize that Turtle is a complicated guy. I knew that going in. I always knew this ending was a possibility, but I felt he was worth sticking it out, to see what could happen. I realize some of this has to do with him; by his own admission, he likes everything about me, and even he doesn't understand his hesitancy.

Still, it's tough not to take it personally. It's a huge blow to my self-esteem, in addition to being truly heartbreaking. I knew that he needed to get past a lot of stuff if we were ever going to have a chance. It would be easy to pin this on him; say he's afraid to commit, he runs when things get serious, he's attracted to crazy - whatever.

That could all be true. But it's also true that he knows he will want someone in his life. He knows what qualities he'd like her to have. At the end of the day, something inside him knows that person is not me.

He may find me beautiful, smart, funny, fun to be around, comfortable....all those things. But he does not find me to be enough.

Right now, that's all that really matters.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

That tenth time

Way back when, when I was a young, old married lady, I pretty much thought nothing was my fault.
 
Well, actually, that's not true. I secretly thought everything was my fault, but I pretended to think otherwise.
 
Having learned the hard way that strategy can only work temporarily (if at all), when I started dating again, I over-corrected. I took all the blame. If I didn't like something, I figured it was me being over-sensitive, or jumping to conclusions. I never wanted to challenge anything my date did or said, because I didn't trust myself to know for sure if it was his issue or mine.
 
I'd also learned, from bad relationships, that sticking up for myself or speaking my mind was equal to complaining or starting a fight. I didn't want to be "that girl" anymore, so I stopped saying anything.
 
Over the last few years, I have come to learn that there are ways to tell a person how I feel without making it into an argument. I have also come to realize that a big part of effective communication has to do with the other person. Some people honestly just want a fight. Some want to blame others for everything. Some just take every little observation as criticism, and react defensively, which often leads to an argument.
 
So, I'm learning. In the last 6+ months, since meeting Turtle, I have also learned that timing is important. I have learned that sometimes it's better to wait, even if I'm certain that what I have to say is of the utmost importance. Waiting not only gives me a chance to mull it over a bit, it also gives me an opportunity to have to conversation in an effective way (eg., in person versus over text message).
 
But I still find that I don't always know when I should say something. Granted, my situation is a little different. Turtle is not my boyfriend, so the expectations are slightly different. But even without an "official" title, we still have a relationship. If something is bothering me, I should be able to talk about it, the same way I would if I had an issue with a friend.
 
I find myself wondering if something bothers me because it really bothers me, or if it's maybe me being upset because things are not as I would like them. Nine out of ten times, if I take a little time and remind myself that things have not changed, think about the good stuff between us, and try and remember that hope and patience are my focus - it works itself out.
 
It's that tenth time that occasionally haunts me. But I suppose this is one of those things about myself that I am working on.