Year in Review–2011

It is so hard to believe that in less than 2 days (or is it only one day), 2011 will be over. I swear, it feels I was just telling you all yesterday about the Panel’s resolutions (or lack thereof) for 2011.It feels as if the year has flown by  (forget the days that would never end) and we have made the journey that was 2011 together: me, the Panel, and you…the readers. SO much has happened along the way: we have laughed so hard our sides hurt and we have cried gallons upon gallons of tears. We have fought and argued; kissed and made up; we have stumbled and made great strides. We have lived this year and I would like to just review some of the most memorable highlights (or is that lowlights?) of the year with you, so please join me on a trip down memory lane…

We Had A Baby! Okay, “we didn’t…. Pregnant One/New Mommy did…but we all have different jobs, tasks and responsibilities on the Panel…and having  a baby was hers.  Of course, at some point, Oscar and Artsy Craftsy may pitch in and take some of that responsibility off her shoulders, but for 2011….New Mommy took the hit for the team. And we all adore and love our little KBugg. That baby is a joy, a delight and future heartbreaker. Oh, did we mention she is also a hellion with natural leadership abilities (I call them future control issues but what do I know?) and a budding genius?

We Made New Friends: We gained three new Panel members: Tiger, whom I just adore….we have talks about random things, day to day stuff but my favorites are when we take turns in the therapist chair with each other. He is patient and insightful and will be the first to say he just doesn’t know what the hell is going on. We brought UTA onboard and she is awesome…so awesome, her blog is now an official survival guide tool to getting through a breakup. Finally, a member with credentials…she has just become our Officially Licensed Therapist. And Sister Someone snuck onboard some kind of way and she came as a package deal by dragging Brother Everything with her….and it was suggested by a reader that we kick her off the Panel and see how much easier we all breathe once we do. Trust us, this has been discussed as a group and among individual members….and we have come damned close, but besides the fact that the chick needs a support group at the very least and her alter ego is not nearly as crazy, she makes the rest of us feel really great and is if we are living picture perfect, well put together lives. We gained new readers who so far have not run away kicking and screaming. We have Adam who is on family vay-cay this week but whom I am hoping will share more advice and insight with us when he returns…and we have Loco Rico, whom I am keeping all to myself for the time being. He is a chat buddy with some issues he wants to confront but is not sure if he is ready to face what lies beyond that…so in the meantime he tells me how awesomely wonderful and drop dead gorgeous I am. Oh, and he loves my writing, so I may keep him regardless.

We Visited Strange Places: Who needs to plan a trip anywhere? With the process and my Panel, we have been to some off the map places. Places such as  The Land of Happier Than I Have Ever Been, The Town of I Just Did NOT Hear That, The Place Where Conversations Never Happened, Left Field, The Twin Cities of Denial and Delusion and spent a lot of time stuck at the Intersection of Stupid and Seriously?

We Had Health Scares…and Loss: Busy Bee underwent heart surgery, Bell Pepper had thyroid surgery and a blood cell count scare. Both Oscar and myself had pregnancy scares …and Morning Person lost her mother.

Him Got Married: This is the one that had jaws dropping and tears flowing. It was too much for me and spun me even deeper into a depression that was already never-ending. After all,  HIM was getting MARRIED…and not to me. It was a worst case scenario I told myself I was prepared for, but I really wasn’t. I was placed under a murder-suicide watch, but what could I do? Him made a choice and I don’t have to like it or respect it, but I did have to accept it…and once I realized that this wasn’t a reality to be manipulated or sugar coated….it became…him’s  getting married. I sound blasé and indifferent about it now, but 5 months ago, you could not pay me enough to act as if I didn’t care.

We Met the  BTH:  We had seen pictures, we had our theories…hell, we had him’s attitude and demeanor to go by, but when she burst onto the scene with her emailing and petty putdowns…Sweet Jesus Come Please Us. Who she is on the inside comes out and across loud and clear…she may be able to work weave and makeup to come across externally as not unattractive (still not pretty), but on the inside and out of costume…I have her looking as if someone set her face and soul on fire and put the fire out with a sack of nickels. She is rude, disrespectful, ignorant and completely inappropriate. I have nothing against her, but I do not like her and not because him chose her over me…because she wants to holler about her husband and her interests but perhaps if she learned to be a wife, an email from me saying goodbye to him would not be a threat to her or her marriage. Is that mean and bitchy? Doesn’t matter because it’s  staying in.

We Made Strides/Had Setbacks: We climbed out of depressions…  finally (Morning Person was tired of seeing my clothes in the middle of the floor when she came over for Saturday morning chat and chews); we made good on promises made last year (no way was this fiasco snatching another holiday season from me) and we got better. On the flip side, I slid back into behaviors that we thought him had put a stop to, but since it seems to be keeping me stable and not so financially dependent on other people, no one is saying anything too negative. Oscar, however, has relapsed…and she knows it. She says  she is sorry but it is what it is and don’t  hate her. Sister Someone has been a setback from Day One and shows no signs of taking a step forward anytime soon.

We Appreciated Little Things: Being able to sleep through the night; waking up with no hurt in our heart or dread in the tummy. Being able to roll with the punches life delivers without upping our meds. Laughing. Not wondering what was going on with other folks every minute of every day. Chocolate. Caring friendships. Yummy pasta and other good foods. Cooking. Hot showers. Little things that bring comfort and let us know we are healing and one day the sun will shine on us again…we found those things this year.

We Learned Words of Wisdom:

  • All of us are fucked up…the ones you think aren’t are simply not dealing with a personal crisis at the moment.
  • Every once in a while… need to stick with the one who loves you versus being with the person you love.
  • Whatever is meant to be will be…but first you have to leave it be.
  • There is a fine line between being accepted and being taken advantage of.
  • When someone is not carrying their weight, don’t carry it for them.
  • Admitting you have issues is not the same as working on them

And this is 2011 in a nutshell….thanks so much for you, the readers, for sticking around and I am hoping you will be with us for 2012….processes are still going on, and who knows what we will get into or who we will meet? There will be new laughter, new tears and ongoing drama….we would love to share it with you. Before the New Year gets here though, I am hopeful about a new job opportunity (fingers crossed I hear something back before the weekend) and making tentative plans for NYE….an 80s retro party which I think would be fun. I just hope I have the guts and mindset to actually be a part of the celebration versus watching others celebrate.

This  is will be the last blog post this year…I will return New Year’s Day with a new blog to hopefully kick start the New Year in an emotionally healthy way. Enjoy your weekend, have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve and we will talk again in 2012.

Home Sweet Home

Hello, Readers!! I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas….I am just so glad to be back. Back in DC, back in my cutie-pie apartment and back to blogging. You know, I am thoroughly convinced that the Holidays are a plot…within 5 weeks, people have travelled more, spent more money and eaten more than they usually spend/consume all year. Family gatherings usually have some tension in them regardless of the occasion…long held grudges, dysfunction and control issues are some tough cookies…factor in the stress and energy used to travel, cook, shop and all else that goes into the making things merry and wonder people snap. I vote to break the holidays up and make New Year’s Eve a separate holiday…it is already one in its own right. We can move Christmas to August….NOTHING happens in August (other than my birthday, which should be another holiday, but so far, no dice from Congress).

So today I am going to rant about my trip home…and I am breaking it into two parts: the bus trip and the visit. I promise not to rant too long…you have lives to lead and I have chores to finish: I am working a temp assignment this week that is looking as if it may turn into something longer than 4 days; working on my last post of the year AND the New Year’s Day post; and I am tracking breaking developments in the Sister Someone/Brother Everything saga…I swear, any minute now those two are going to be national news.

The Bus Trip: Totally disgusting. I am officially yanking my previous endorsements of Greyhound….I am not understanding them anymore. I understand that it is not all their fault…there are a lot of people in America and America has a LOT of cities (over 30,000 incorporated cities and town, and who knows how many off the map places there are) and I think Greyhound services all but two of those cities. Factor in they have some super low fares and you have a lot of people going to a lot of places, all day every day. So I get it…the bus is in demand. However…Greyhound knows how many seats there are per bus, and that the majority of the buses originated elsewhere in America….so why keep selling ticket after ticket knowing no way can 100 people fit on a bus designed to hold 55? Granted, at some of the bigger terminals in the major urban areas (DC, NYC, Richmond come to mind first) a second bus can be pulled into service to help passengers make connections, but by the time the Powers that Be have realized the mistake and rolled out the second bus…one is pretty much in danger of missing their connecting bus.

Okay, the day of the departure I was late….seriously. The bus pulled out at 12:20pm and I was still in my apartment at 11:40am. As usual, I waited until the last minute to do everything (including packing) and I was a mess. I was so rushed and confused I actually watered a plastic plant. I was going to catch the metrobus to the terminal but that would have been cutting it too close as it takes a good 30 minutes to get to the bus station from my place. Then I thought about cabbing it…but who knew when a  cab would show up, especially since I had to call for one… and that is my one complaint about my neighborhood…it has everything but cabs. So I ended up paying my neighbor $20 and an apple pie to take me to the bus station and I made it there with 15 minutes to spare and the line for the Richmond bus wasn’t that  long…except the bus was late. Which brings me to another rant/observation about the DC bus terminal: did you know there are NO clocks in there and they never make an arrival/departure announcement? Once you purchase your ticket…you are on your own. So the bus is late and there was some flack about back of the line people boarding, but I did manage to get on a bus. As usual, they had to roll another one out but on this bus, I had seats to myself so that was cool; the connection in Richmond was overcrowded, so once again, I was on another bus that was pulled into service….it was more crowded than the first bus but my only complaint was I sat in the very rear of the bus….leather seats that were sitting over the bus’ engine. I had a very warm tush. I talked with a couple of passengers….a guy I called Wrap because every time he said something, he ended it with “that’s a wrap”; a young girl dressed all in pink with burgundy hair and her boyfriend I dubbed Pink and Package Deal, and the Sista from Philly who was travelling to NC also to spend the holiday with her children. The trip down was not too bad…an hour behind schedule but when one thinks of the alternative (NO extra bus pulled into service), I am not complaining.

However, the trip coming back home to DC…hated it. Not sure if it is because it was so early in the morning, the fact that when I arrived Thursday night the bus station was closed and was STILL closed when I arrived Monday morning. Maybe it was all the people lined up to board the bus, not only at my location but all the way up to Richmond…that bus was packed and it seemed that no one was disembarking anywhere. I was cramped, crowded and when I did fall asleep I woke myself up with my own snoring. And how is it that both coming and going, I never had time to eat anything running from gate to gate in order to not miss my bus? Here is another question: why on the way back did I get the exact same seat on two different buses: the one directly in front of the restroom that everyone felt the need to use at least twice? Southern folk have no muscle control….at all, which made my seat a very funky place to be sitting.  I am simply done with Greyhound right now….it was not a relaxing trip and my fellow passengers were uninteresting (amazing how I think those folks are there for my entertainment, and really  I don’t think that, but if you are interrupting the entertainment I bought with me…please be able to hold my attention)…and I have found out that I am completely anti-social when I am returning to DC. I think for my next trip home, I am upgrading to Amtrak.

The Visit: Not sure how to put this ….all I know is it was not what I expected. I stayed with my parents and got to experience Only Child Syndrome for a couple of days, which was good. I introduced my mother to Jewelry Television… (she kept insisting they did not have them on her cable lineup but I found them!), had long talks with my father when one could finally get a word in edgewise. We did not do the movie…mommy was not up to it and Baby Sister lost interest, so Baby Sister and I went for a pedicure for me (I got my big toes done in a zebra design and all my other toes are red) and eyebrow arching for her, followed by shopping at Victoria’s Secret. My dad and I picked up our honey baked ham (it was my first one) and got caught up in a traffic jam that stretched on for miles (southerners are serious about their Christmas ham). Even though the line was long (out the door), it moved fairly quickly and we almost got hit by Santa (older, larger and wearing the hat) trying to cross the parking lot that held a max of 7 cars….Santa was screaming for folks to get out of his way and LET HIM OUT! We laughed…LOTS. We ate a wonderful dinner and devoured yummy homemade desserts. Baby Sister and I (the two broke chicks) gave out gifts, which were accepted graciously and appreciatively by the recipients. We watched A Christmas Story and a marathon of 1,000 Ways to Die. I smoked outdoors and no one complained. I called Panel members but only Morning Person and Busy Bee answered their phones.

Then, there were the arguments, the nit pickings and the huge after Christmas dinner blow up. The words spoken that hurt feelings, caused tears and curses and uncomfortable silences. The situations that had people playing Switzerland…trying to remain neutral and out of sight…but still, you were found and dragged into discussions you had no desire to be involved in. You saw the issues, the denial and the walls that were firmly in place…and I think it is even worse now that everyone involved is a grownup who knows every four letter word out there. No longer is anyone a child or feels the need to cover their emotions for fear of being disciplined…you don’t like it, I can walk out the door and if you want…you can walk me to it. So, I was happy to be home sweet home with my family, but was even happier to be back in MY home sweet home…where my routine was not upset. My mother actually said she was waking up earlier than usual because too many people ( other than my father, I was the only one there) were moving around in her house. I did not take any offense…it is her home and she has a daily routine just like me…and I know I hate having my routine upset. Suffice it to say, no one got killed or maimed, fences were mended after the arguments and now that everyone is safely back in their homes and routines…we can love each other again.

And that was my Christmas trip…not very exciting but I wanted to tell someone about it. Now, I am going to finish up my/the Panel’s version of Year in Review as we all get ready to welcome in a New Year. Thanks for stopping by, check back soon and enjoy your day!



Happy Holidays

Christmastime is here…in less than three days, we get to relive the holiday hubbub that was Thanksgiving all.over.again…except this time…there will be presents and gifts. I am not going to get into where I was last year (we all know) or how grateful I am to be in a state of mind and mostly emotional balance to appreciate Christmas and what it represents (again, we all know)…I am going to express how I am really feeling now that it  has hit me that I am going through with this thing. You know, that sounds if Christmas with my family is some form of torture that has to be endured….but like most people, I come from a family filled with dysfunction and to top mine off..there are control issues out the whazoo, so yeah…it is something to be endured and yes, I am going through with it.

I was once told (by a professional therapist) that I am in love with the idea of things versus the actual things themselves…she may be right. I blogged back in November about all these great holiday plans and I actually made good on Thanksgiving; Christmas, I was all excited about since I did jack-all last year. Last week I broke out my little snowman (he is a leftover from a long ago Christmas gift from him), put my Christmas cards on the breakfast bar and started playing my remixed, chilled out Christmas carols. I debated putting up my tabletop Charlie Brown Christmas tree but decided since I would be going home to my parents’ house, there was really no need. I had the spirit of goodwill inside of me and somewhat around the house. I purchased my round trip (and non-refundable) bus ticket and began preparing a dinner menu….I was going to go grocery shopping on the 23rd , prepare most of the meal Christmas Eve and things would be great…I would be in the kitchen with my music and the food….my parents would pop their heads in to check to see if I needed help and it would be the picture of domestic bliss. WRONG! My mother has been making her own menu and kept trimming the menu items…she said no one had the money to cook such a large meal and who would eat it all and where would we store all the leftovers, and on and on and on and on. I suggested she purchase the meats (turkey and ham) and I would get everything else needed for the dinner (pretty much take off my pasta & tuna salad and remove the sausage and cranberries from the stuffing and it was my Thanksgiving menu), but that threw the woman into conniptions! No way could I afford all of that, I had no money and we were not going to eat all that food. NO WAY. News flash, mommy: I do have the money to afford it (I am now receiving my unemployment checks in full) and even though my brother, the Bottomless Pit, is away this holiday…you have 3 daughters who are pretty freaking healthy and know how to put a dent in a good meal. Oh, and your husband and our daddy?? He is not suffering from the miss a meal syndrome either. Know that one of y sisters is pretty fit and my dad is a slim man…but that does not stop them from bending those elbows with the best of us, so the food would not go to waste.

While my mom is going off and on and on about my money situation, I am thinking now WHAT to do with the gifts I bought for them. We no longer exchange presents amongst each other, but every once in a while, one or all of us will break/bend the rules simply because we want to do something nice for the others. THAT is how I felt this year…I had some extra dollars, feeling all good and warm inside and wanted to buy my family something to let them know I appreciate their love and support; how I am NOT feeling is having to justify and argue and defend my personal decision to do what I want with my money. I want to give the gift, get a hug , a kiss and a thank you…not end up yelling and in tears because they are so worried about my situation or thinking I will ask them for money next month. Of course, none of this is easy because I cannot tell them HOW I got these extra dollars or that I took advantage of serious clearances, early bird/night owl specials and free shipping. Well, maybe the last part may make them feel better but the first part is off the table completely. I am wondering if I can back out now, sell the bus ticket on Craigslist and ship the presents FedEx….my Chinese buffet and a day of movies is sounding better and better.

But, I am going…I do want to see my parents and I will suck up the dysfunction as it comes with the territory. We have all reached a compromise on the dinner (we are ordering the dinner and picking it up Christmas Day…desserts will be homemade) and as for the gifts…they will take them and I will ignore anything other than the hugs, kisses and thank yous. I am NOT bringing them back up the road, the money is already spent and I cannot return the items. So there….they are stuck with the presents. I am going to have a happy holiday this year…there will be laughter and reminiscing and fun times along with the arguments and control issues, but isn’t that what family is about? I have done the laundry, cleaned the apartment and still I need to pack…I have a trip to take and a holiday to celebrate. Thank goodness the most wonderful time of the year comes only once a year.

Wishing all who read this post a wonderful, wonderful Christmas…filled with love, laughter and incredible memories. May you get all you wanted/asked for and a whole lot more. Enjoy your day and Merry Christmas!


Lessons Learned

I am sitting here, 4 days before Christmas, being quiet. I am processing and thinking and it is time to put in writing the lessons I have learned. I have this great post planned for New Year’s Day but before I can really put into words what I want to say that will make it so great…I have to do this one first. Call it a stepping stone, call it a lesson plan…I have to say this and put it down so I (and anyone else reading who needs it) can refer back to it again and again. This post will be my In Case of Emergency guide, because as much as I feel I will never find anyone I would want to spend extended amounts of free (in every sense of the word) time with, let alone fall in love with…I will (eventually) and I need to remember a few things.

The first thing to remember is to not allow the blinders and the rose colored glasses to become permanently glued to your face. Seriously, they are called blinders for a reason and as much as we all say it hit me out of the blue, I had no idea, I was blindsided…there were flags, signs and warnings that you chose to ignore, justify/rationalize and basically gloss over. That is because the blinders and glasses are glued in position…at the very least they are too tight and make adjustments hard to maneuver. If you can remember this, the rest will be easy to not only remember but to do.

Listen to your friends…not your girls, or your posse but your FRIENDS. The ones who have your best interests at heart. They will see what the blinders and glasses will not and they will be the ones to tell you when you are being played or it isn’t the great love affair you think it is. Even Oscar, who is the strongest believer in love I know, finally told me to give it up with him. Artsy Craftsy… who has always been for him and I to get it right… gave up long ago…for awhile, I think it was on both of us. But the rest of my Panel…they saw, they knew and they did their best to warn me. Perhaps if I had listened then, I would not be writing now.

Pay attention. I cannot stress this enough…pay attention. Men are not known for being the best communicators but they do say things…and IF we are paying attention, we choose to not hear or ignore what we don’t want to hear. The biggest indicator (in my case) was the on again/off again that was not precipitated by an argument. Who leaves a perfectly good relationship when things are going well? How about a person who doesn’t want to be there? Him would up and leave…ignore me, act as if I never existed and blame it on the depression and because my blinders and glasses were so firmly attached…I believed. I sent emails, jokes, voice mails…I would hang in there and try to help him out of the dark place…only to be told I deserved better and he was leaving. Which was another communication I chose to ignore…if a guy tells you he is not worth the effort, you deserve better, he cannot satisfy you…believe him the first time. I didn’t. I kept reassuring him, making him happy, pleasing him…and it did not work out…not long term and barely for the short term. If a guy wants to leave…let him. Do not let what you see/think be your motivator…obviously he is not perceiving the same things you are.

This next one is important…and will probably be the hardest thing to do: know  exactly what you want, that you two are on the same page at all times and make sure you are both holding up your end of the bargain. I know it sounds like a lot and a little of relationship policing but it is a simple matter of communicating clearly and effectively with each other. I am of the firm belief that anything other than a one night stand is a relationship. Forget the acronyms…if you are friends with benefits and getting on a regular basis…relationship. In an exclusive FWB? Definite relationship! When it comes to sex on a regular basis with a consistent partner…there is no NSA. There are already strings attached and if you aren’t careful, you will get caught up in them. In the beginning, whatever you and the guy decide to enter into…you tend to stick to that, regardless of your intentions..and if you are entering into a FWB situation hoping to get something long term and meaningful out of it…you need to state that up front. But usually, everyone is initially looking for something light and casual…and this is where the regular checkups come in. Relationships are tricky…you have these wall and fences up because you swear you will never hurt like you did the last time…but the fences have gates and as much as you tell yourself that you aren’t looking for a relationship…people sneak in through the gates and next thing you know, you are falling. Things are different..and if you feel the differences, he feels them also. Here is the thing when the falling starts…it changes the original agreement and it is in your best interest to talk things out to make sure you are both still on the same page…except women (meaning me)  don’t want to upset things when they appear to be going so well, and men…again, not the best communicators. So no one is talking and you are falling and no one is enjoying the moment… we (me)  are analyzing and questioning and talking to everyone but our partner about it and then….the moment is gone and what to do now because you are no longer falling…you fell. Every once in a while, it is good to check in with each other and make sure that the pages remain the same.

You know, I remember an argument him and I had…him broke up with me the day before my birthday and I was outdone. Hell, I had just gone through the dry spell/depression period with him and we had just reconciled not 3 days before…after I had to issue ultimatums and demand to know what the hell his problem was. (You know, the more I look back on this…I was deaf, blind and hard-headed) Him told me I was seeking more than he could offer and my berating him and tantrums were not helping. I deserved more and better and it was time to move on to the next chapter…and I had the nerve to ask Morning Person what he meant by that. Morning Person told me he was breaking it off; I insisted he could not be…we just got back together. Morning Person told me only I had gotten back together…and that hurt. Anyways…I am telling you the story because I did not expect more of him…I was looking to him to hold up his end of the agreement: we were going to have a sex based relationship…and this was fine by me. We had re-evaluated from 6 months before and he said he no longer wanted to be exclusive….he wanted to be monogamous and while we would/could do out the bedroom things…it was primarily sex. Fine, I could deal with that…except we had not had sex in 8 weeksIF it was a sexual relationship….could I freakin’ get some, please?  You always  know when the relationship has an unhealthy balance to it…when someone is not carrying their weight…don’t carry it for them.

Expectations…they have to be lowered and acceptance levels have to be raised. No, I am not saying to let him fuck you like a whore and then not pay you like one…some behaviors simply should not be tolerated at all….but maybe choose personality over the pretty face, manners over money and a decent man over the height factor. I am just thinking that maybe since no one is perfect…look for the perfect guy for you and not just window dressing. I will take someone who is not society’s ideal physically over the Department Store Ken. I am going to start writing down all the qualities I want in a man versus the physical characteristics (although apparently it does not take much to satisfy my physical requirements…be breathing with a penis) and when I am ready to get serious about dating…I know that guy will not be found on Craigslist or Backpage . Who knows where I will find him…I met Married Man on the bus and him at work…but I will know what are must haves and I do not think they are expectations: respect, courteous, humorous and intelligent. I think if he cannot offer me the most basic of those qualities on a consistent basis, he just may not be the one for me. As Queen Bee put it: I may not know healthy, but I damned sure know unhealthy when I see it.

And recycling…I am told constantly that him will return and I need to be prepared. Artsy Craftsy and Morning Person are hoping I have found my Next Big Thing by then but Chef put it best…he can return but I do not have to take him back. And for real…who knows what the future holds? All I know is I have learned this lesson well: you recycle, recycle, recycle…and they still remain the Ex. I wonder what it is with these on again/off again relationships and I have come to the conclusion they are the most potent because they are made up of moments that leave you breathless and all you want is to be breathless again. I am no exception…him was the one great love…him was the one who “got “ me…and sometimes I will still say he was my soulmate. I tied all my happiness and all my self-everythings into him and we all see where it got me. Today…what drives my happiness is me. Seeing the improvements and progress I have made, becoming comfortable with myself and my company again. Being able to do little things for family and friends…learning new things and becoming more social in the process. I make me happy. Sound cheesy? Perhaps, but I can no longer allow myself to get sucked in and dragged under…by him or any other man…so the recycling center is closed.  Yeah, there are still times I wonder why we could not work it out, why it ended the way it did but sometimes all there is is the spark, the brief burst of flame and then…darkness because the love was simply too unhealthy to live.

After all these lessons (some I am still learning) I think when it is right… there won’t be any questions, there will be no efforts and exertions and it will be no surprise to discover he “gets” me…it will  just great to be understood consistently and for the long term.

Two Steps Back

Apparently, while I am getting better and feeling happier a good 75% of the time nowadays, my friends are  being driven crazy, losing their minds and/or regressing all the way back to Square One…if they ever made any progress at all. Some of the situations I can understand, one of them I am trying really hard to get a grasp on and one…no way in three hells and five lifetimes will I ever gain an ounce of understanding for. So since I really have nothing to say and nothing is going on with me personally, let us talk about other people’s business.

The Ice Queen: I have known her forever, and while she is not on the Panel (she is just not Panel material), she is in my Circle of Friends. I love her to pieces even though she drives me batty, bonkers and to the edge time and again. She is one of those women with a lot of anger who is simply not happy being single….if she ever read this, she would call me all kinds of liars and tell me I don’t know her, but trust me, she isn’t. The only emotions I have ever seen her display are  anger and frustration while in a relationship and insecurity when out of one. She wants to be coupled up with her perfect guy, but her standards are beyond impossible to meet and compromise is NOT in her vocabulary. She works hard to find him (and do not give her any advice as she feels that it is all a crock and again…I don’t know her): she loses the weight, wears fashionable clothes, joins all the groups and clubs geared towards putting singles together while being healthy and active. But like the majority of us, she picks losers, duds or outright fixer-uppers…the ungrateful, take you for granted types that do not know how to act in public and she will spend years with them, and then projects this image that it doesn’t bother her when it doesn’t work out, when men do not see what she is and what she offers. In her own words: “ain’t no man worth my tears…just gotta keep it moving”. So she does not grieve, process or anything…she is simply indifferent and that begs me to wonder about her on an emotional level…no man is worth her tears yet she spends years of her life with them? They are not some IRA investment fund you were watching to see if it matured or drew interest…so either she felt enough of something to try and make it work or she has an outright phobia of being single. She wants to say I am an emotional drama queen when I let men know exactly how I feel about their treatment of me, but that is because if I am sharing my life with someone …if I am investing my time, emotion and effort into them…I view my time with them as special and it actually means something to me. I think the difference between her and I is she works so hard to be detached and I tend to get attached; in any case, I find it hard to take two steps back if you have never taken an emotional step forward.

UTA:  She has been MIA for a few, but if you have been checking out her blog site, you kind of know what has been happening. She was doing so well with her process…feeling happy, life was going on and she was going with the flow…and BAM! Emotions everywhere, the voids are back (the voids are absolute sons of bitches!) …actually not sure of the voids ever went anywhere, but they are making themselves known, brain is a hamster wheel and all she wants is to get back on track. Not sure how she feels about the two steps back, but when it first happened to me all I wanted was to MOVE ON…not necessarily with someone, but past him and to rid myself of the negative doubts I had towards myself. Of course it did not help I had people shoving their (mostly unsolicited) opinions down my throat and UTA has been experiencing that also. News flash: blogging opens a person up to the world… and unfortunately, judgments. Yes, we are seeking suggestions and encouragement but with the PROCESS, NOT the situation. And seriously, if we COULD move on…we WOULD have and there would be no blog to freaking read. No one wants to stay stuck on stupid and wallowing in misery…and your pushing and prodding is not helping the impatience that those  of us processing are already feeling. So to my dear, dear friend thousands of miles away…I hope you liked the rant and remember: stay in the moment, practice patience (I know you are already) …it will take time to grapple with the feelings, and you will have to fill the voids with large doses of self-everything (we can give you some until deposits are made in your account) but know this: it FEELS like a reset to Square One, but actually…you are making a HUGE progressive leap forward. Trust me.

Oscar: THIS chick has not really been featured in a post in quite awhile, but there was no need. She was processing, progressing and taking her medications properly. She was one of the ones I called on when I wrestled with saying goodbye to him…she was there when the email exchange took place and she is the one who reminds me WHY things are over and done between him and of what I proclaimed to the world when I get to missing him at times. We watch Friends together and things have been calm…suddenly, an attack of The Crazies has hit our girl like a ton of bricks. Morning Person , Cuz and Chef are wondering WTF happened. Oscar is missing Him, Jr….she is sad, angry and spending hundreds of dollars in Christmas gifts on him, telling me it is from the “baby”. Really, Oscar?  She is back to calling Miss Minor (who finally turned 18) all kinds of skanks, whores and bitches…OSCAR was Him, Jr.’s first…she was the first, she will always be his first and nothing can change that. I am not arguing with her…she is right: nothing can ever change what she was to him or what they had together, but now Oscar is stuck living in the past and wondering why the present isn’t adding up. I am going to venture a guess and blame it on the fact that HJ is back to sending the mixed signals…he is calling and texting randomly, reading her Facebook page and dropping hints that he may just be a single man again…and since Oscar never lost hope and held onto expectations, she is wondering why that man is not by her side like 5 minutes ago. Right now, Oscar is being her own worst enemy: expectations are the root of all heartache and Oscar needs to stop playing around, let go of her expectations and get to working on herself, not on a defunct relationship. She wants to be missed, chased and sought after…but he can’t miss you if you never leave. But, she will let go of expectations and lay down hope when she is ready to do so…I tell her all the time the man simply has not hurt her enough, and when he does…pain is a great motivator.

Sister Someone: I know, I know…and since I have been headache free for two consecutive days now, I am going to give you guys a condensed version of events versus the full monty. NONE of us can handle the full monty right now. Where to start?? How about with the fact that Brother Everything is drinking more, flaunting his whatever the hell he has still going with the Ex in Sister Someone’s face, has given SS ultimatums and has become not only verbally abusive but is now humiliating the woman in public? Sister Someone’s response: she is backing down, not standing up for herself lest BE makes good on his threat to leave and has bought him yet ANOTHER watch! Anyone remember the $1300 watch that she is proposing marriage with? Well, they were out shopping and he saw another watch valued at $300 and said he wanted it…she bought it, no questions asked. Of course, she still plays her little mind games with him that are too convoluted to get into right now (the struggle for power and control are mind boggling), gives him NO room to breathe and watches him like a hawk. I do not understand this relationship one iota and her only question is: do you think when he leaves I will be bankrupt? When I try to talk sense to her and point out that things are on a fast tracked downhill decline, she tells me she is happier than hell and THIS is her dream come true. I told her: your dream, my nightmare. Definitely, I will elaborate more on this drama…maybe after the holiday so we can find out together if she proposed and if he accepted. I promise to offer ample warning so you can stock up on aspirin.

So this was supposed to be a post about potential setbacks, but upon reviewing it…there are no setbacks here. I see one person who needs to start expressing herself/her emotions and releasing emotional toxins to start making peace within herself; one woman who is moving forward into her process and about to break through to another level. Oscar is getting the wakeup call she needs to start gaining control back over herself and her life…and a mini Sister Someone update because that chick is not about to make one move in any direction…her blinders are glued to her head so tightly, a crowbar could not pry them loose. I will be back before the holiday with another post…thanks for stopping by and as always…enjoy your day!

Guest Post: Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?

Hello, Readers! Today, we have another guest post from Adam, who in my opinion, is well mannered, respectful and an all around really nice guy. He really is…just because I can’t land a nice guy does not mean I don’t recognize one.  He is a little too quiet but perhaps a poker table is not the best place for a conversation, especially when neither of us really knew what we were doing. In his own words…he just wants to get a good vibe from the person taking his chips. In his column today, he tells us the story of one of his single lady friends who is taking time to heal and process before embarking on the next leg of her journey. Please enjoy his latest entry and feel free to leave comments.

 A friend of mine has been truly single for about three months now. There is a whole host of extenuating circumstances surrounding her most recent relationship, but for all practical purposes, she broke up with the guy in September. She has, on occasion, asked me why the guy was a jerk, why she ended up single, and why she can’t find a good guy. This sort of discussion seemed like good fodder for my “advice column from a guy’s perspective”, so I will pass along my insights/thoughts/experiences that I have shared with her to you.
The questions are all pretty different, and require different, in depth answers for each on. That being said, I would imagine that they are all questions that women in her situation ask themselves, God, the sky, or whomever they feel like addressing in moments of desperation and frustration. As such, I will attempt to answer each one for you.
First, why was the guy such a jerk/douche/dickwad–choose your preferred derogatory title? The simple answer is, I don’t know. No one that you direct this question at is going to know the answer, because in probably 9 times out of 10, the person you are posing this question to does not know said d-bag. In my case, I have never met the guy. I can’t, with certainty, explain why he treated such a fine woman so poorly. That being said, I can venture a guess.
I suppose I should provide a little more context for you. They did not have a clearly defined relationship before the summer started, and while he was away for 2 months, he cheated on her. She brushed it off when she learned about it because things weren’t defined as exclusive. But after he returned, she caught him in a very compromising situation (but not having sex) with another woman, after they had more clearly defined the relationship. She broke up with him then, and despite his efforts to contact her again, she won’t renew the relationship. But she really liked him, and even 3 months later, is still troubled by how hurt she is.
As I said, I can’t tell you exactly why he treated her so poorly. She is a pretty good woman, and certainly did not deserve such treatment. But generally, guys are dicks. I don’t mean that just in the pejorative, they are insensitive jerks, but also in the literal. Quite often, men become nothing more than 6-foot tall walking penises, thinking only with their little head located about half way up, and not with their larger one situated atop their body.

Because I am assuming that a majority of this audience is women, I must rely on what I speculate your experiences are, and guess that at some point—maybe in high school—where a guy doesn’t know what he is doing in bed, just that there is a raging in his loins that are demanding IMMEDIATE attention/action (I hope this is no longer your experience, and that as they have grown older the men you have been with learn how to not shoot their load as soon as you touch them). Guys may no longer dry hump your leg and cream in their jeans, but that doesn’t mean they are any less controlled by their carnal impulses. And one of the biggest indications of this is an inability to think about anything more than the most immediate situation facing them. They sleep with someone else because they want some action, and this other woman (or guy, in some cases, I suppose), is the most available option at the moment. They think nothing about the long-term consequences, but only about how they can satisfy their desires right now.
Perhaps this was explained best by Sinbad in the 1991 movie Houseguest. I am paraphrasing here, but he says something to the effect that you have a fine steak cooked to perfection sitting at home waiting for you, but instead you’re in a park eating chicken mcnuggets. This is why guys are generally douches–they settle what is in front of them because they refuse to think of anything that might be better if they would just wait.
Second: why did she end up single? I believe it is because she decided to take a stand, and not settle for one of the 95% of men that refuse to think about the bigger picture. There was a great article in the Washington Times several months ago about how women have lowered the bar too much. They are willing to put out on a first date with a crappy guy because there is a collective belief that that is necessary to keep a guy, any guy, around. “If I don’t sleep with him tonight, he will go find someone who will.” And that may be the case, but I believe that women should demand better. If collective womanhood would refuse to sleep with guys until after a few dates at least, or they knew some personal things about guys–what he misses from his childhood, or the name of his stuffed animal when he was a boy–you wouldn’t have as many d-bag guys in the first place. Guys are jerks because they can be and will still get some action at the end of the night (see the ongoing Sister Someone drama for further proof).

So in the context of her second question, she is still single 3 months later because she is raising the bar. She tells guys to go home after the first date, rather than inviting him up, because she should expect more. She is still single because she is working on getting to the point that she doesn’t have to have a guy around.
Which brings me to her third question–why can’t I find a good guy? The answer that I have found to this, both in my own life and in the lives of several of my friends seems counter-intuitive. Call it what you will—God testing us to get us to trust him more, a cruel twist of fate, Zen-like stoicism, cosmic irony—but I believe she struggles to find a good guy because she has to have him. It is not until we learn to be comfortable by ourselves that we are really ready to find that perfect someone for us. When finding a man ceases to be her aim, I think things will fall into place a bit more.
Allow me to provide an illustration from my own life. From the time I was a freshman in high school, I never went more than a month or so without a girlfriend. The fall of my freshman year of college, my girlfriend from home dumped me. I was crushed. I cried about it (including on the flight back to Chicago after visiting her in NC–she is the reason I hate the Tar Heels, but that’s another story), complained to friends, sat in the dark in my dorm room, and generally moped about it for about 10 days. 

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I was basing my life too much on the opinions of women. I mentioned the book Wild at Heart in a previous post, and I would again recommend it to you. There is a passage in the book that talks about how a man should not look to a woman to give him strength/confidence, but rather he should present his strength to her, having found it on his own. A woman telling a guy that he is a man does not make it so. Her words can only affirm what is already there; they cannot bring it into existence. And I believe the same is true for women. Men can affirm character, individuality, self-worth, beauty in women, but we cannot create those things in her. Once I reached the point in my life where I was happy being single, recognizing that no girlfriend was going to leave me content if I wasn’t content on my own, I met the woman that I eventually married.  I believe the same to be true for my friend. Once she reaches a place where she is comfortable with who she is as just her and not as her and a guy, she will be ready to meet a truly quality guy. Her perspective will be changed in such a way that she will recognize one when he comes along.


1,000 Miles

I have been incredibly lazy…I am not posting the way I should and it is not for lack of things to say or ideas for blog posts….I have gotten quite lazy. Well, not so much lazy as tired…so far, this process has taken me on a helluva journey and I feel in the past year or so, I have walked (on one foot)  a good 1,000 miles from my starting point. It has been rough going at times…anyone remember conversations that never happened with Cuz and Morning Person? I cried two oceans of tears, I went through a depression I thought would never end and I did some serious digging and realized things about myself…some good, some bad…all helpful. I found out my impatience, my need for instant gratification was more hurtful than helpful and I tripped myself more than once.  

But finally, we are at a point where hopefully the darkest days are behind us….the process is not over and there is still more hard work to be done but things can only get better and I know that now. I am at a point where I can say..I’m fine and actually mean it, and it is manifesting itself mentally, emotionally and physically. I am going to start with the physical. I am getting fat(ter) and I am more than okay with that. I am the chick who does not eat when she is sad, depressed and completely unhealthy in all ways. I know it is usually the other way around, but I cannot swallow past the constant lump in my throat that comes from holding back tears and the stones in my tummy do not allow room for important things like food to sit and digest. All I can do is sleep and cry…eating and bathing on a regular basis are not on the to-do list of my heartbreaks. However, we are bathing daily, eating more than regularly and eating some damn good food at that. I am cooking, keeping the house clean and staying on top of laundry. I have my glow back, my smile is back to being quick and ready and I am sleeping…deeply and regularly. I know I need to get back on track with the plan to lose 30 pounds but it is the holiday season, and who watches what they eat this time of year? Probably everyone but me, but that is my justification for my slight weight gain, and for the first time maybe ever….I am happy to have a rounder belly.

Mentally…I no longer see what happened between him and I as my fault…the man is an ass and I allowed his insecurities and issues to become mine. I am NOT less than and him’s choices do not affect or change that fact that I am a good person, a beautiful woman and a great catch for anyone strong enough to handle who I am.  I am moving on, not as quickly as I would want but faster than before, and Him’s  recent actions (initiating the email exchange between BTH and I; showing everyone the root of his happiness) have definitely helped in that regard. I still think of him but I do not let myself linger there too long; I want to say I still love him…unsure of that statement but I do still care, but in a detached sort of way. I hear the stories and gossip but no longer do I want to reach out and help (anyone else remember the hater bitch fiasco?) …it is kind of like hearing about Sister Someone and Brother Everything. You hear it, you shake your head in disbelief and wonder how folks cannot see that the disaster is straight no chaser and no happy ending is in sight. I no longer feel like the lost half of a “we”…I feel like a “me” and am feeling really good about me.

Emotionally, I have made so much progress..I still remember when worst case scenarios (and once upon a time him sleeping with the BTH was enough to make me want to put a knife in my heart) would send me into emotional tailspins that had every Panel member in overdrive to circumvent. Whatever I felt for him I am leaving behind a little more each day and whatever I do still feel for him manages to stay in its place and hidden away. I can objectively view the relationship and the fiasco without going all hell bent in one extreme or the other. I have learned some hard lessons here and I am mindful of them. Of course, I still have much work to do in this area because some things I am handling in a most unconventional manner that some folks may not agree with, but that is fine. See, this is how I look at it: people say “do what you gotta do for you” but what they mean is do what they approve of you doing. What I do t get over, get through and/or get by does NOT require YOUR approval or understanding. All it requires is me being okay with the choices and possible consequences. If you can’t handle that, you can’t handle me. That statement is a brave one for me as I have this incredible nd incessant need to please people…not just the ones I know, but people I have never met, people I do not like and the people who at the end of the day, will not make one difference in my world. I am very much aware that this incessant, incredible need/urge/drive will probably never cease to exist, but it can be slowed down…and that starts today. It is time to start exerting the efforts and energies I give to others to myself. It is time to do things that will please me while helping to further my progress.

And there are so many other ways that my healing and happiness are manifesting themselves: I am doing different things. Adam (he has a new column for us and I am posting it super soon) and I went out and played Texas Hold ‘Em poker (is that redundant?)…I told the entire table I was a virgin to the game and the guys were really gentle about popping my cherry. They were helpful and had no problems helping me understand the rules and the game. It was lots of fun (at least our table was fun!), free and there were $5 pizzas! Christmas is coming and this year, I can be the fat man with the bag..somewhat. I have managed to get Christmas presents for my parents, siblings and Panel members…the Ladies will get individual gifts and the Men..I am treating to meals. It would be awesome if I could get all my boys together and take them to a Golden Corral or something…one low price and we all eat all we want and I can try to manage this weight gain…really not trying to push my luck here…but it will be individual meals. Which is fine…gives me more one on one time with my boys. I got yelled at by Artsy Craftsy for spending money I do not have, but I have said it before…these are people who have taken time out of their lives (a good year at least) to be at my beck and call to travel the first 1,000 miles with me and trust me, they are booked for a good 10,000 more…let me show you some tangible form of gratitude. For my readers…I cannot express my gratitude enough times that you come back post after post to see what is going on in my world. Thank you so very, very much for reading, leaving the occasional comments and giving me your feedback and opinions.  It means so much and all advice is duly noted and if applicable…implemented. Believe it or not.  

So now that this post is completed, I am working on 3 more and we have Adam’s column coming sooner than you think…all for your reading pleasure. I am preparing now for lunch with Sister Someone (you know a post is forthcoming about that)….thanks for checking in on me and enjoy your day!