Swiping Right

A month or so ago – a few months into my single status – I was evaluating my life and past relationships…as I often do. I am completely content with my family dynamic as is. And I want it to stay that way. I/we need it to stay that way. But I know that I like companionship. That is how I am wired.

I was reflecting on my “single life” back just after Brayden’s father passed (roughly 8 years ago). After about a year or so of healing, I started dating. On-line dating. It was a shit show. And that is putting it mildly. I was looking for people outside my circle and I was looking for love (insert eye-roll). Needless to say, I did not find it. What I did find was dates…and when I pluralize this, I am doing so meaning several different people. Not several dates with one person. With two exceptions. I think I made it to two or three dates with “Mr. Disney” (yes, I nicknamed them all). If you read this Mr. Disney, correct me if I am wrong about that number. He, long after our date(s), did end up moving down to Florida, getting a job at Disney World and proposed to his wife in front of Cinderella’s castle!!! I dubbed him properly…and that’s a little too Disney in a mate for my liking. I wish him the best! We are still friends. As I am with “The Hawaii Guy”. We actually made it to more than one or two dates…maybe five or so? I finally had to ask him to give me our first kiss goodbye on what would be our next-to-last date in the parking lot of the restaurant…as he was NEVER going to make the first move!! Why his nickname? On what would be our last date, he finally suggested that we do something other than just meet for a drink and a bite at a local restaurant after he got out out of work (finally, yay!!!). He lived in or around Manchester, I think, and it was about an hour long date each time before he headed home right after. He suggested maybe a walk, so we headed to Gonic Trails for a stroll. Which would leave him half way into the hike letting me know he had a work trip to Hawaii coming up and he had decided he was bringing his WIFE!!! Yes, wife. They were living separately for a long time, but never signed papers….and he felt guilty that in their nearly twenty years together he never took her on a nice vacation because he was too busy working. Nice time to be a good husband (insert another eye-roll). So, we spent the time walking out of the trails with me explaining to Mr. Hawaii that if there is room for a vacation with a wife in his life, there is no room for One Date Wendy. Yes, I earned my own nickname, too.

Then there was the Prius Guy, the Too Many Martinis Guy, the Comma Guy, the T-Rex Guy (mean…but his arms couldn’t reach around me for a hug…pre-covid…don’t fret). And countless others including ones that never even made it to the One Date because, gentleman, girls don’t want dick pics. Not this one anyway. (Sorry Mom and Dad…and kids…it happens).

Sooooo….. After some thinking and discussing with a few close to me recently, we thought…how fun would it be to go on some pre-determined disaster dates from an online connections…and write about them? I am not looking for love this time. Keep that L word away from me! I just wanted F. Fun, kids, get your heads outta the gutter….

First it was POF. Plenty of Fish. I crafted my clever little profile…found some pics of mine that were unfiltered…except one cartoonish pic I thought was cute…took a few “real” selfies and posted.

“Testing the water”

Me

Newly single

Looking for friendship and company for a date(s)

Four kids, all grown but one

Two dogs

Allergic to cats

Tries to be on time… I fail a lot

Always finds the silver lining

Has baggage

Tries to be healthy… I still fail a lot

I dish it out, and can take it

Independent… sometimes to a fault

My family is my everything

You

Not looking for a heavy relationship right now

Understands a single mom’s responsibilities 

Likes dogs

Are smart and well spoken, calm and kind

Respects and maintains your health

Can be respectfully sarcastic

Have your life on track and are independent 

Take care of and are involved with your children

Wendy via POF

Clearly the ratio of men to women is way off. I definitely had the upper hand. I have since learned that the actual ratio is 7-10:1 in my favor depending on the site! My inbox was flooded immediately. About a week later I expanded my quest for a dinner date and blog material to Tinder. Yes, I know the stigma of this app…but I made it clear in my profile (which I have since learned a lot don’t bother to read) that a “hook-up” was not my intent. The pool here is FAR better than that on POF…if anyone wants to know.

And an even better pool is that of Facebook. For those of you that don’t know, Facebook has a dating app connected to your page that will not introduce you to people on your friends list. It will, however, show mutual friends. You’re welcome.

All that being said, I have been on several dates this time around, from all platforms with a different mindset than years gone by. I am no longer disappointed on my way home (except once…I was pissed! But after a few apologies and days, I let it, and him, go). Sometimes it was nice, sometimes very nice, sometimes I was just amused. Please know that I am upfront with everyone that there is a fortress around my home and family. These are just dates for a a bite, drink and conversation…and a potential blog post. And, hopefully, some chemistry, so we can do it again. This time around there has been Short Stuff, Captain Quiet Time, the Local Contractor, the Married One….the Other Married One (You can’t make this shit up), and Ancient Greece. Not to mention a good amount of fun conversations that still linger on right now for a possible future meeting. Some I had to block. In doing this type of dating, you have to be open to the idea that you will meet all kinds of people. Most are respectful. Some are not. One conversation that was tough had the guy belittling me and my photos claiming I was misrepresenting myself (before even meeting me). He was criticizing my weight, my filters (which I had none )…crazy mo-fo…and when I think about it even now, it still rattles me a bit. He was so mean. I hate to think what would happen if he gets his hands on a lady with already low self-esteem…that will be a whole separate blog. I deleted and moved on…knowing some people are just assholes.

Moving forward, I believe I have decided, along with continuing this journey, I will do a more detailed account of each date…what led up to it and what actually transpired. This being encouraged by loved ones (who might want to refrain from reading!!). I would do this by individual blog posts…on another site…anonymously. So, that being said, if you see an account out there in the blogging world detailing these types of events…it might just be me…or not. You decide.

Thank you, my few people, that have been taking (and encouraging) this ride with me! Buckle up for more…

Work in Progress…

Here we are.  Looking at September approaching.  As usual, with sadness and not knowing exactly how I will handle my emotions.  This year I add to it that I am coming off the heels of a 2 1/2 year relationship break-up.  I am not sure if it’s an astrological thing or what, but when bad things occur in my life, it usually happens right around this time.

As I get acclimated to my new relationship status, instead of reeling over “what he did” or “what he should have done”, I am self-reflecting.  The fact that I have had four different men under this roof over the past twenty years…would lean to the idea that it is not all their fault.  I am the common denominator.

Under this roof has been one divorce, one death that happened six months after we separated (trying to force his sobriety), the separation didn’t lessen the blow, though.  We all loved him deeply.  Add to that, not one of the four under our roof, but another loss of a boyfriend to leukemia after dating just over a year. Then a catastrophic and abrupt ending of a relationship that hurt us all…one physically, everybody emotionally.  And lastly, being just recent…a peaceful, yet much needed ending to another relationship.

As far as the deaths, I have had people jab at me jokingly, sometimes not jokingly, the “black widow” reference.  Hell, I have even said it.  My last relationship actually had me watching the same scenario almost unfold again.  I was in an ICU watching my boyfriend almost die just eight months ago…I couldn’t fathom how this could be happening again in our world.  I was scared and it made me angry and bitter as it was lifestyle choices and not taking medicines required to keep him healthy that landed him there…that and just plain stubbornness.  I was just recently informed (unnecessarily, mind you…I could have existed not knowing) that during his month long stay at the hospital there was questioning if I had something to do with the sickness by at least one family member…likely more.  Seriously folks?  As if losing two people I loved already isn’t painful enough (to the whole family), let’s add “maybe she has had something to do with them and with this”.  I guess I understand no one knows what goes on behind closed doors, but jeesh.  That was a punch to the gut.  Just to assure every one out there, I do not possess the super power to impose esophageal varices, leukemia or kidney failure on another human. End of that rant.

reflect

Now those two, almost three, endings were out of my hands.  Now about my choices.  Who have I chosen to welcome into my family?  As far as the marriage to the older children’s dad…I was younger.  I didn’t know who I was yet and what I wanted.  I know that much.  I have no regrets getting into or out of that relationship.  We grew apart over the eleven years we were together.  I grew apart, mostly.  I knew I needed more.  I can’t blame someone for being the same person they were over a decade before.  But I wasn’t the same.

When I immediately got into my next relationship, I still didn’t have a sense of self.  Looking back, I would have never entered into that relationship as I am today.  It was dysfunctional right from the start…I would see that a mile away now.  But with that relationship I found what real unconditional love was for another human, other than for a child.  And we did have a child in our seven years together.  Losing him changed me. Watching your children lose their father/figure changes you in a way that without experiencing it, you will never understand.

I got myself into counseling to help me deal with the grief.  I learned a lot about myself…undoubtedly I am still learning.

The last couple of multiple year relationships are what I am trying to draw from now.  I know I have the fault…to not see faults.  I see the best of people, which can be considered a good trait…but in selecting who to spend your life with, you need to be able to see the “bad”s, as well.  I see the potential.  Not the now and what’s in front of me.  And that leaves both people unhappy.  One feeling like they never live up…and one feeling like they’ve been let down.

Next, I hold a lot of grief for obvious reasons, and guilt for allowing my children to go through another loss…and another.  That has to be difficult for anyone pairing up with me.  There are anniversaries and heavenly birthdays that are recognized…I gather it would be a lot for some to handle (I maintain that if you weren’t equipped to handle it…you should have never stepped into it).   I have always tried to be sensitive and balanced between making sure the family is getting to reminisce and my partner is still getting attention…but looking back, it might’ve been too much for some.

Honesty.  Another good trait, right?  I think so.  But I am REALLY honest.  I grew up with that not being a focus.  I was sneaky and it wasn’t until I was a young adult did I learn how good it feels just to be honest with yourself and those around you.  What I don’t realize sometimes, is that sometimes people don’t need to hear the WHOLE story (like I do when blogging?).  I am a sharer.  I will share just about anything.  Whether I pooped today, what goes on in the bedroom…with others or myself…how I felt for others in the past, things that I have done that am ashamed of.  Open book.  Too much for some.

Being right.  My apologies to those in the past…bad trait and something I continue to work on.  I try so hard to do the right thing all the time, I don’t always see that I am not…and then try to justify things and then…Let’s just say I am learning to simply say I was wrong.  And listen to the other side.  Work in progress.

Going forward I need to not only work on honing in on that little voice guiding me, I need to actually act on it.  I’ve learned to hear it, I now need to learn to LISTEN to it. I need to figure out how to give it a megaphone!!

So in conclusion…I guess I am too much for some.  I expect too much.  I need to listen and admit my wrongs.  I need to make sure my audience is prepared and equipped to take in what I share.  And I need to move slowly and listen closely to my inside voice.

I will continue to self reflect while getting through the anniversaries of Matthew and Michael’s death next week and the week after with my family.  I pray to travel through the next month with strength and grace while we celebrate their lives and mourn my past.  I welcome anyone who comes across this writing to pray as well.

Blogging is my way of figuring things out, thanks for being a part of my therapy session with me.  Until next time…

“It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.”
― Marianne Williamson

 

My Purpose

I have grown into believing that in every situation there is a lesson…and all that happens to us has a purpose.  Actually, if I think back…maybe I am just wired like that. I do distinctively recall a lot of eye rolling from my best friend through high school on when I would sputter “everything happens for a reason” whenever something adverse happened to her.  It drove her crazy!  Maybe it’s that those of us believing in this theory are just eternal optimists that are spinning each situation into having a silver lining to make ourselves feel better…but either way, it works for me that bad things don’t just happen for no reason at all.  I get to learn and evolve as I go.

Well, when someone you love dies it makes you question this theory.  Especially when it is someone who hasn’t lived a full life yet.  Someone who has children…and small ones at that.  Someone who was loved by all and fought as hard as he could and that made no difference.  He went through a hell of a year fighting and being sick for no difference in outcome than if he didn’t fight at all and just gave up.  He is gone.  It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.  He had plans, WE had plans.

This isn’t an “Everything happens for a reason” situation here.  If that was said to me a month ago…you’d get far more than an eye roll!!  However, I am beginning to look at things a bit differently as time marches on and I get further into the healing process.

I am beginning to believe that we all weren’t meant to be on this earth for 90 or 100 years.  I believe we all have a purpose…some have many purposes. Babies right through to those living 100+ years. When we are taken…our purpose(s) were served.  I’m sure Matt, over his 38 years and especially in his last year, inspired, motivated, healed, loved and impacted many.  I can’t say that there was a reason for him dying, but I can certainly say there was a reason for him living.

So many said to me over the year I was with Matt that I was an angel sent to him and then even more so just after he passed.  It made me uncomfortable because I wasn’t with him to be a saint, out of pity or for whatever reason some people thought (it was nastily said to me by a certain someone after he passed that I liked the “show” of being with Matt!!  I say prayers for that person!!).  I actually fell in love with him and he helped me more than I could have ever imagined in my own grieving process at the time.  Odd that I am left in albeit another time of grief by the one who helped me heal!

I, now that I am moving through my stages of grief and through starting a new relationship, am actually embracing being told that I was his angel.  That was MY purpose for him.  It wasn’t a cruel twist of the universe…as I first felt when he died…to give me love, healing and hope and then snatch it away like a greedy crook.  I look back and know how many times alone we spent cracking each other up.  Rides to the hospital flew by and I swear people thought we were nuts at the laughing and goofing off in the waiting rooms when everyone there was in the midst of a dire situation.  I brought him smiles, laughter and love.  And he brought me the same.  He was my angel, too.  My tears of grief that would arrive in those alone times (especially in the car!) lessened and finally disappeared because of him. The pain in my chest that I held for so long that I didn’t even realize was there…was replaced by feelings of love from and for him.  The grief never goes away, but Matt helped me live happily with it there.  A purpose he had was to help heal me and show me I was able to love again.

It’s nearing five months since he’s been gone.  I am lucky enough, and unlucky enough, to have met someone new to care for so soon.  Grief and a new partner has it’s own set of challenges for both parties.  But I see when starting a relationship without a sickness…which is all I have really known in the past decade…I was missing out on so much…even though I didn’t realize it then.   I didn’t feel like it was lacking anything…it was perfect for what it was at the time.  We were fulfilling a purpose for each other.  Just as this new man in my life is in a role of helping me heal, he is serving a purpose.  I am not sure if this is his only purpose with me and we will part ways tomorrow or next month or next year…or never…or how I am helping him, but he is making me smile and drying my tears (like literally drying them…hence the “unlucky enough” said previously).

purpose.PNG

I am now taking comfort in all the roles people past and present have played in my life.  I am embracing all the lessons, love and healing and trying to let that take precedence over what’s been lost and gone wrong.  Eye roll all you want.

Living in Our (Grief) Trigger-Happy World…

Triggers…the unexpected and probably one of the hardest parts of losing someone you love.   When you are all aboard on this grief train…it’s enough to derail you.  Being that this isn’t the first time I am getting my ticket punched and setting out on this journey…it doesn’t derail me quite as easily, as I know what to expect…however, it seems almost constant at this point.

What’s a grief trigger? A grief trigger is anything that brings up memories related to a loss. What are grief triggers for me?  It would appear that it’d probably be easier to explain what aren’t…but here we go.

Let’s start with the obvious and in-your-face ones.  A birthday.  Matt’s birthday is at the end of this month.  He never made it to 39.  That’ll be a tough day, well, a tougher day…although, learning from my own history, the days before will be the worst when anticipating that monumental day…and the actual day will be okay and filled mostly with good memories and smiles.  Milestones counting out from the death is another obvious one.  First it’s days…then it’s weeks (yesterday it was six weeks since Matt passed)…then it’s months…then you get to the “angelversay” as we call it in our household.  We just passed Mike’s 3rd Angelversary just days after Matt passed away.  September can officially “suck it”. I’m always anticipating those triggers.  You can brace yourself for them and you can plan for your derailment…which, unfortunately, makes it no easier, but at least you have a head’s up.

Then there’s the unexpected triggers you face throughout your days. And weeks. And months.  And years.  I am letting out a big sigh as I just typed that.  My life, since embarking on own my path with Matt, was completely intertwined with him.  We never got to live together (which was our plan as soon as he was “healthy”), but if he wasn’t physically with me…he was on my mind.  Or I was traveling to visit him.  Or I was cooking for him.  Or I was texting him.  Or researching for him.  That makes for going through the days and weeks after he’s gone with a lot of reminders that he is not here.  A lot of free time on my hands that was typically was monopolized by him.  So, even the empty space in my days is a grief trigger.  Having empty space is starting to become my norm, so my new routine is starting to get a little easier.

And then there’s the grab bag of other reminders…the person that walks in the restaurant that looks like him, the song on the radio, the posts and pictures of the Grassdrags Matt was really hoping to introduce me to, looking down at your little boy who’s looking up at you…and drastically resembling Daddy, washing the sweatshirt you stole from him, the random post in your news feed about them…and there’s so many other little and unexpected things, smells, sounds that occur…and regardless of how small or insignificant they seem…they can drop you to your knees, or make you feel like you want to, because the pain is so intense.  Then you pick yourself up and move on until the next one comes along.

Working with the public combined with being so open on social media and through my blog, I come into contact with people daily who knew of Matt’s illness and were up to speed on the final days.  I am friends with a large portion of my customers…some closer than others.  We all catch up with each others’ lives when they visit.  Right up until yesterday I am seeing people for the first time since Matt died who are giving their condolences…hard, but welcomed.  And even harder (for them, not me) are the ones who are out of the loop and ask how Matt’s treatments are going.  That always makes for an awkward conversation…I still haven’t found the right words for that one. More grief triggers.

This becomes the norm.  Life, a series of reminders…triggers.  Sometimes all day…sometimes not for a while.  But forever. I can tell you, years later, I can’t hear an ambulance without being zapped right back to the day Mike was rushed to the hospital only to be gone from us a few days later.  I now know, because of this, that I will never hear a helicopter without thinking of Matt being airlifted to Boston. Throughout your days, I assure you that there are a lot more ambulances and helicopters than you realize!!!

I’m in no hurry to go through this process.  I know from experience that there’s no time limit on when you travel through all the stages of the journey. I will be glad when I am out of what seems like the zombie stage(my own non-technical term). I’ve never seen even a few minutes of the Walking Dead, but I can picture a zombie creature walking down the street, labored, and being hit with bullet after bullet…and they still keep going.  The trigger bullets keep coming, and I keep going.  I am the zombie taking the hits and going through the grocery store by the “Mitchell’s Fresh” sign without outwardly flinching. I am waiting on the customer that uncannily looks like Matt without batting an eye.  I will continue to pour drinks with a smile while a family member sits at my bar and fondly tells stories about Matt.  I will be cleaning the house with the kids when that song comes on…and I will just continue on.  But then I will get in the car alone and let it go.  I will feel it and by the time I’ve reached my destination I will be thanking my waterproof mascara and leftover napkins from Dunkin Donuts on the seat beside me…and move forward.  I will go to bed fine, then hit with a trigger, curl into a ball, get though my grief attack…and then pick up my phone and play my kids and other various opponents in my new favorite smartphone app.

So, what I have learned from mourning Mike and being with Matt, is that the triggers never go away.  Those triggers will be shot at you like bullets, like it or not.  The difference is that over time they don’t need to always be so painful.  They can bring a smile.  A good memory.  Sometimes sadness. Sometimes pain.  But not like it feels in the beginning.

For now, I will be thankful that even through the sadness and pain…and bullets… that I am able to find joy in my children’s smiles and laughter, that I am able to belly laugh whole-heartedly with friends and co-workers…and that I can just merely get out of bed…while it’s still in the a.m… I know that it won’t always feel the way it does today.

Zombie-like or not…I’m moving forward.

“It’s all about…

“It’s all about falling in love with yourself and sharing that love with someone who appreciates you, rather than looking for love to compensate for a self love deficit.” ~ Eartha Kitt

As this “List things people don’t know about you” game is circulating around Facebook, I have been fascinated at not only what people are writing about themselves, but writing about myself as well!!  I started thinking, “Am I that self-indulgent” that I loved taking on the task so much and I am actually itching to do it again with a whole new set personal stats??!!

I came across this quote and it dawned on me.  I have spent the last two years restoring my love for myself.  Restoring my self-worth.  Up until then I had become someone who second guessed every action and every word that came out of my mouth…the inevitable side effects of living with a partner that has an addiction for many years.  Being questioned and doubted and inadequately treated for quite some time takes its toll and eventually you start to do the same thing to yourself.

I am happy to say that taking this time to focus on myself (and obviously my children) I am restoring that self confidence and self-worth and have taken the time to fall in love with myself for the first time.  Not in a selfish or narcissistic way, but a respectful love in knowing that there are positives and negatives about me.  It’s what makes me…me!  I think that’s where this list comes into play…I love looking at my good, my bad, my uniqueness, my shortcomings.  And I adore reading about others’ admissions of themselves.

So all this time by myself without a partner, the self love deficit is being satisfied.  Work in progress…but definitely in the right direction.

Now, can we get back to my next list???