I will survive

Nine months ago tonight, I was lying wide awake with disbelief and pain so visceral that I couldn’t breathe.

It’s been hell.

I have fought tooth and nail to get here. I have spent thousands of dollars on therapy, plus medication, and innumerable hours in the upside down trying to figure out how I could have loved and trusted someone so cruel, vapid, and deceitful.

And I’m here. I am surviving yet again.

I understand now that he was a pathetic excuse for a human, let alone a man, and I very, very narrowly dodged a bullet.

There are scars though. I am now a woman with trust issues and baggage that I have to wrestle to fit into my overhead bin before, on, and after dates. But I am doing it.

I am trying to give seemingly kind and authentic men the benefit of the doubt … and there is a simultaneous, niggling fear that crawls over my skin. I cannot help but remember that same grace for another man is what bit me in ass.

I hope I will not always be in protective mode or that I will at least learn where the line is but it’s proving to be a prickly thing to embrace. So far.

And to her, I only have one thought left …

Good luck, hun.

Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive

I’ve got all my life to live

And I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive

I will survive

I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
An aspirational prick.

Spring in these pale blue eyes

Not all days are cloudy. This has been a gorgeous weekend full of sunshine, blooms, reconnecting with old friends, and peace.

Wildly entertained by these too-tall irises
😌
Cannot get enough of these bursting roses & ranunculus

I wish there were more of these soft and sweet days and that they could last longer. I know that’s the nature of life – the ebb and flow. Every spring, always after the spring solstice, when the evening walks home still have bright rays of daylight and then some, there is always a point when I can almost viscerally feel the fog clear. The clouds break. The warmth of the sun penetrates into my soul and allows me to take a deep, cleansing breath. It isn’t permanent. It still takes a while to get back to homeostasis, to a more constant state of “up,” but there is nothing like that first deep, unlabored, freeing breath.

In these mellow, reflective, grateful moments, especially after a period of being sucked so far down into the grey depths, I think of that old Velvet Underground song.

“Sometimes I feel so happy

Sometimes I feel so sad”

Music for the Mood: Pale Blue Eyes – The Velvet Underground

Beauty in the cold

I don’t see the point of cold without snow. Even the grey days have a bit of beauty when everything is covered in white. Sunny ones are always better. These are from my folks — not exactly my DC view. I don’t mind longing for the cold and often endless grey of this place, because it envelops me with warmth.

Remember when the perfunctory doldrums of winter were the only things I had to write about? Never dreamed I’d miss those times.

Music for the Mood: Cold Weather Music – Muddy Waters

Christmas Eve will find me

Where the love light gleams. I’m home for Christmas, that part is true. But it does feel a bit like a dream. I’m not completely here but I’d really like to be. After all, time is precious. I want to soak up the time I have left with my parents. All of it.

I sat in Christmas Eve church with my parents this evening. I believe in g/God about as much as I believe in elves at this point in my life but I went because it’s tradition and, although technically unspoken, very evident that my mother’s Christmas wish includes going to Christmas Eve church with whichever of her children may be home. All of four people in a congregation of about 150-200 were wearing masks, and two below their noses. This is a redneck (and red), steel mill and farming town. The virus is wholly and completely political here. It’s maddening but it is what it is. I was prepared for this earlier when I pasted on a smile, put down my book, curled my hair, and agreed to get in the car to go along.

My brother is also home this year, which is always welcome, but was doing husband duties with one of the three houses required in his in-law-visits any time they are home. Marrying a gal from our hometown when he lives 10hrs away should/could have been great but, a gal from a split home, with a grown brother who is also a single dad … there’s a lot going on. And those obligations always seem to get priority. We are an accommodating family by nature. So we take my brother when we can get him. It’s been eleven years. We are used to taking the leftovers and being authentically grateful.

Christmas church (like Christmas songs and movies) makes me nostalgic rather than joyful. And I always tear up during the service more than once, regardless of heartache (past or present). The poinsettias on the altar are always “in memory of” my grandparents and my uncle. I have no memories of my grandfather, who died the year I was born, but my grandma and my uncle were a daily part of my life until I left for college. We all lived on the same farm land. I saw them every day. And in 2002/3, I lost both of them, on that farm, within six months of each other. I have no shortage of childhood emotional trauma. But I was in my early 20s then and those losses felt different than the things that had come before. Insurmountable, really. I also lost both of them mere months before my first heartbreak. 2003 was an awful, awful year. And I cannot help but reflect on it every time I’m sitting on the hard, wooden church pew on Christmas Eve, looking at the flowers in honor of my family, staring up at the rafters of a beautiful narthex that served as backdrop for so much of my formative spiritual and social development, and listening to hymns that I can still almost viscerally hear my grandmother singing next to me. Though I haven’t actually heard her voice or felt her arms in nearly 20 years.

I also look around at all the familiar faces, but with more wrinkles and inches and shades of grey. The couples I remember as a child — often now permanently missing one part of what I always assumed would be an eternal pair. And “kids” who were toddlers when I was in youth group, are now balding, with beer bellies, mirror images of their dads & moms, with adolescent and even teenage children of their own. It’s always a little bizarre. As if I’m in some Scrooge-like vision of the future, only, I’m no longer a teenager or even a college kid. And yet, I’ve been experiencing this same future version of actual reality since I was in college. As if I’ve been watching life go by as reflected in everyone but myself, one Christmas Eve service at a time.

Sure, I notice that I am older. Obviously I see that I am 42 when I look in the mirror. And it is never lost on me that I am still “the single kid” tagging along with my parents to Christmas church, to family functions, to everywhere. I hate it. I’ve always hated it. I’ve always felt like an other. The years have passed but that feeling hasn’t.

It was so hard seeing the family of distant cousins in front of us, the parents about 15 years younger than mine, their three children, who farm the hillside across from ours, all married within the past five years, all with small children of their own. And tonight, the two boys, both with new baby boys of their own, only a couple months apart. We watched them coo and gurgle and smile from a few pews away. It makes me feel guilty not to be able to give that to my parents; they would be the world’s greatest grandparents! I think they were born for those roles. And yet, my brother and his wife seem content with just their dog. And me? I’m not content right now but I am trying to be. I try to play up my career and the fulfillment it gives me and downplay the singleness in any given year, but especially this year. This most recent bout of unbelievable betrayal is kind of too hard for me to fake.

I am grateful to be home, surrounded by people I love. But I am struggling a bit. I’m struggling to keep the melancholy at the periphery, to stay present, to stay gracious and patient. At this, the “happiest” time of the year.

Is this what he wanted? Is this the end game he hoped for? To shred the confidence and certainty and trust of someone who selflessly gave to him, and then when the illusion is broken, when his façade has been stripped away, he takes comfort in knowing that somewhere, two months later, that other someone is still sitting around wondering how they could have been so blind? Why they are spending yet another Christmas alone? While he’s spending his first Christmas Eve as a married man, to a woman I never knew existed.

If only in my dreams, right? That’s how the song goes so maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and it will have all been a dream. Maybe, like Scrooge, I’ll get to wake up tomorrow and it will be twenty years ago and I’ll be able to get it right this time.

Music for the Mood: I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Michael Bublé

Who’s the Fool?

I went on another date tonite. I was really looking forward to this one. I bought $700 in jeans just to get a good pair, one that made me feel amazing. I spent all day, too long (per usual), at work but left in enough time to shower, listen to music, and try on said jeans. None made me feel the way I wanted. In fact, three of them looked like mom jeans. The fourth were great but $270 and not different enough than my favorite old pair. So, I wore my favorite old pair. With heels. And an actual attempt at full face makeup. And the good Moroccan hair conditioner. I felt good. I felt a little bit pretty.

And I’m sending all the jeans back.

He was 35 minutes late, y’all. Thirty-five! Sure, he texted. But far too late for me to arrive even half as late. The place he picked, a piano bar, was completely empty, closed 1 hour after I arrived and allegedly 30 min after I closed my tab and left. But when I left (because he said he was only 2min away), they locked up. I walked across the street to look at the Kennedy Center reflecting on the water. Stunner. You’re welcome.

He showed up 5 mins later. No hustle. But … an apology. For being late. I’ve been lacking in the apologies department for transgressions far more severe than being late. Still — I don’t like excuses and I loathe lack of follow through. This is strike two.

He’s just okay. Not as attractive as his photos but, truly, that seems to be the norm if I’m reading guys’ profiles correctly. They experience it all the time with women. I haven’t been on a good date in so long that him being slightly less attractive than his thirst trap pics was fine. Nice lips. Great arms (and abs, from his absurd gym photos). But tiny hands. He holds a pinky out for his drink. He talks with his mouth full and chews with his mouth open. He’s not at all what I dream about. But neither was John.

Butt… Aside from zombie tv shows and a few other questionable likes, he has good taste in movies and music. He prefers musical scores — they make him feel while he runs or works out or just does his daily whatever. We have some similar feelings about certain movies, actors, genres. He’s not very into sports. He has horrible decorating taste — blue Christmas lights strung around the perimeter of the room? What, is this the Smurfs’ college experience?? He also hasn’t yet gotten a Christmas tree, after three days of saying he was. I don’t buy a real tree and think it’s an irresponsible waste of trees but this is yet another matter of follow-through.

He doesn’t have a car. Lives within the property community he manages; just over a mile and on the same road as John and his “wife,” because of course he does. He doesn’t seem to aspire to more than assistant property manager or whatever the title is. Which is fine, but he also doesn’t seem to really like it. Graduated from Howard in 2008 after several stints in community college. This is also fine but he doesn’t seem very smart and I need that. I’m not trying to be rude but he’s an odd communicator. Great via text but texting does not a relationship make. Conversation in person is just a bit odd. He isn’t someone I’m very interested in having more conversations with. And he had to use a calculator for 20% of $30.

What is wrong with me? He’s fine. He’s moderately funny, moderately attractive, attentive enough, and seems to like me a lot. Wants to see me again. Thinks I’m pretty. Says I’m sexy. Tells me nice things and good morning every single day. And we have a plan for Saturday.

His texts make me roll my eyes though. Hard. From learned cynicism or from actual disinterest, I’m not sure yet.

So. Do we settle? Or keep hoping that someone I get along with as well as John but want to fuck as badly as Josh Duhamel or Michael B Jordan or Dave Grohl or a Watt brother, comes along tomorrow? Yes. My tastes are disparate. I like what I like.

Fuck.

Fuck you, John. Fuck you for fucking everything up.

I hate this.

Music for the Mood: Baby I’m a Fool – Melody Gadot