belonging…

Yesterday when I wrote about intimacy and connection, one commenter added the Cheers theme song.  It was an interesting comment, because at first it seemed to fit.  And it does in a way.  It summarizes what in fact I would like.  The place to be where people see you and love you anyway, even if you are quirky and weird (Cliff), lost and sad (Norm), or bubbling over with obnoxious excessive perkiness (Diane).

My own family was not like that growing up.  My dad worked long hours and traveled a lot.  My mom had a hard time handling all our moving around and was depressed a lot (and no one recognized it at the time – she handled it with lots of wine and extremely OCD behavior).  My younger sister was shy and awkward.  And then there was me, who felt terribly alone.  I imagine my sister did too, but she is not hypersensitive like me.  I thought of dying or entering a convent and starved myself.  She played solitaire to pass the hours until things got better.

I tried to change it up when I reached adulthood.  I got married the first time at 22.  Way too young.  Some sad life events happened, and we were too immature to handle it, and I chose to go my own way.  Grad school was awesome – I found my stride, I found my “Cheers”.  Although my struggle with depression continued, I started to get help, and it was really good for a while.

Those years were the years I met this friend of mine in NYC.  Peas in a pod.  He had a girlfriend, who I really liked and hung out with sometimes.  Nothing happened between us.  I am not sure why.  Not the right timing I guess.  Still not the right timing, maybe.  We’ll see.

I met my second husband around this time.  We had a fun time for a while, we moved in together.  I got pregnant the night he proposed.  We got married too fast.  Everything tipped into some sort of hell.

Although nothing will ever compare to the love I feel for my two children.  For years loving and caring for them filled me with a sense of awe.  Though I continued to struggle with worsening depression – the isolation I felt in my marriage from my ex-husband and the lack of a support network around me was crippling.

Since my divorce I have worked hard to put myself out there in the world and make new connections.  I have been thwarted here and there by family members dying, relationships ending.  I still keep plugging.  My depression is under control.

The other night I asked my daughter if she would consider moving home for a year after she graduates college in two years, while I take a sabbatical for a year, and take care of the house, be here for her brother who will be in college (I hope) that year.

She looked at me in horror, and said, mom, you can’t ask me to put my life on hold!  How could you do that!

I replied, I am asking for one year when you are 21 with all those years stretching ahead of you.  I am asking for one year when I will be in my mid-50s and, god willing, in good health still and feeling fine.

I think of all the years I have made the choice to give my children a life of stability as best I could, love and patience, closeness and understanding.  All the years I stayed in this town I never belonged in, for them, because I thought it mattered.

I think of how I ask this one thing, after footing the bill for this girl, her dance lessons, her college costs.  I realize it is a lot to ask.  But I am not asking her to move home with me for a year.  She would have it to herself (and her brother when he was home from school).

My kids don’t even see me.  And really, they are the only family I have.  Who else would I ask?  I am actually pretty annoyed with my daughter.  We’ll continue the conversation.  My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at 54.  I feel the clock ticking.  I am afraid time to play is running out.

I miss my friend in NYC so much my chest hurts.

 

intimacy….

I wish I had written more over the past few weeks.  Although to be honest, I was so sick with the flu that I could not do much of anything.  Woke up on a Monday morning with a fever that climbed to 103 and higher in the afternoon.   I am allergic to all OTC fever reducers, so I drank fluids like crazy to try to avoid being hospitalized.  I asked my daughter to come home for the night to keep an eye on me.

It was one of those excruciating moments when you are so alone, you feel as if no one (but your kids) would give a shit if you died.  No one to just be here, to be with me, to help me.

Sure a few friends offered to get things from the store.  But I was all set.  Who can eat with a fever like that anyway?  What I needed was to not be alone.  But I couldn’t ask for that, I did not want to pass my illness along to anyone.

I spent the week on the couch, wracked with fever and chills and pain.  It lasted almost the full week.  My son got it too, the day my fever got below 100, he woke up with a temp of over 104.

It was a blast.

I know I was cranky, and I felt so angry at my dear friend who was so far away, and who couldn’t come to be with me, because he is married.

I am 50.  I want someone who can be with me.  Someone who is just here.  An intimate partner.  Real intimacy, you understand.  Not just the sex kind, the physical kind.  But someone who I belong to and who belongs to me.  Someone who will hold my hair back when I throw up.  Someone who will know that a foot massage or playing with my hair is just what I need when I am in pain to relax me.

I am feeling better now, but really I just want to cry.  After a rough couple of weeks and some edgy phone calls, I returned to NYC to talk things out.

I see him.  I melt.  We talk.  We held each other.  We laid a lot out on the table.  He knows me.  We see each other.  The talking was good.

I don’t know how this is going to end up.  But I do know what I want and need in a partner and in my life.  And I do know that what we have is something so precious it takes my breath away, and it took 25 years and life experiences on both sides to make it grow.

I am terrified to trust this in any way.  In fact, I have had so much loss, perhaps I feel safest with something that I can’t trust.  Protect myself from being hurt again.

But what is missing in my life most are people who truly know me.  Because, except for my kids, and my friend, they are all gone.  And my kids are on their way.

I miss being known.  Tell you the truth, just makes me want to run away someplace new, far from here, far from the pain of being in a place for such a long time and still haven’t made those intimate connections.  I know part of it is my fear of trusting that I’ll make myself vulnerable and the other person won’t run away.

At least my flu is gone.  That couldn’t last forever.

processing…

It’s been quite the week.  My daughter went back to school today after spring break – she has a boyfriend now, so really she spent most of the week moping and miserable about being home.  It makes me aware of how drawn out and odd this letting go phase of motherhood is going to be, as my kids grow up and move out into the world.  She couldn’t wait to fly out of here today.  I remember how that felt at her age.  It makes me want to dance on the rooftops for her, and cry like a baby for me.

I feel like everyone leaves me.  I know, I know, wallowing in it.  But some days, the losses stack up more than the gains, and I hurt.

I did have a pretty good weekend.  I had dinner with a girlfriend on Friday, who was gutsy enough to tell me to step out of this thing with my friend.  No, no, no, she said.  I was a bit taken aback, and I cried, but she shared with me some of what she loves about her relationship with her boyfriend, and I understand where she is coming from and what she wishes to happen for me.

But I don’t know if that’s in the stars for me.

Saturday I had a third interview for a part-time job, at a store at the mall.  They are going to hire me assuming my background check pans out (which of course it will).  Not sure it is a great idea in terms of the hecticness of my life, but in so many other ways it will be good.  Less time cooped up and lonely in my house, a chance to be out in the world and meet people, a little extra money to save and pay the bills.

That evening I had a wonderful time at a dinner party a friend of mine throws every year for international women’s day.  Lots of laughter, warm affection, the warmth of a circle of women.

I contacted my friend when I got home and he was apparently feeling terribly unwell and did not want to hear from me.  So whatever.  He texted today that he is feeling a little better but other than that have not heard from him.  I get the feeling that he wants me to fuss.  I don’t feel like fussing.

The line that he said last week when I tried to talk was “if I wanted to fight, I would just go hang out with my wife”.  What.  I can’t shake that one.  Even if it was said in a snit, it was unnecessary and mean.  Where did my friend go?  Those were not the words of a friend.  Those were the words of someone who wants me to fight for him, fill his needs, but who couldn’t give a shit about my feelings or my needs.

Whatever.  I’m not engaging in that kind of scenario.

I deserve better.  Right?

stonewalling…

It’s an interesting thing, developing romantic feelings for a long-time male friend.  For one thing, over the many years, he has served as a shoulder to cry on, a dating/relationship advisor, one of my biggest fans when he thinks I am not being treated well enough.  He has counseled me on “male behavior”, and taught me what to look for (I’m still female enough to not always see it or understand it, but, hey, makes the world go round).

So when he shuts me down in conversation by saying things like “well, I am too!”, or “if you’re going to fight with me, I’ll just go talk to her” (when all I want to do is talk), or “if this isn’t going to be fun, then I think we should get off the phone”, it’s a tad disorienting.  For a minute or two.

Because…. He is behaving like the guys he tells me to stay away from.  He is taking a stand of refusing to communicate.  Unless I am entertaining him.  Which is not communication.

I liked things better when he was feeling like he only wanted to be my friend.  I said that last night.  He backpedaled and toned it down and said he only wants to nurture me.

Really???

The things I wanted to say but was not given the chance to voice….  That I want “real”.  That long distance in this instance is only a problem because he is married.  That the whole relationship is a problem because he’s married.  That I know, and he knows, that I deserve better.  That telling me all the time things he likes about me because they are things he feels his wife lacks is not okay.  That I want my friend and confidant back, not this reactive, combative, scared-I’m-going-to-leave guy.  That I don’t think I can do this.

I know he was doing the equivalent of sticking his fingers in his ears and humming until the conversation turned in a direction he wanted.  I understand that.  I understand that he must be aware that due to his status, he is not in a position AT ALL to tell me what to do here.  I understand that he must be scared that I might say “no”.

What I don’t get is how he could go from truly caring about me to only caring about himself.

I had enough stonewalling in my marriage to last me a lifetime.  In my last relationship, I had the passive-aggressive type who made shit up about me, all these imagined slights, and sulked and pouted.  This time I have someone who is not available, who wants only what he wants and doesn’t want to even know what I want.

In honor of our quarter-century of friendship, I’m going to give it a few more tries, the talking.  I don’t want to lose the friendship.  But I don’t want to be stomped all over.

I deserve better.

what’s in this for me?

This past weekend I went to NYC to visit my friend.  After the week away together, I missed him so badly and wanted to see if what we felt when we were on vacation was in fact real. 

I still don’t know.

It’s such a weird scenario.  Anyway, after a long drive straight from work (I really don’t do well by myself on long drives), I arrived in NYC and checked into my hotel a little after 8.  It was surreal and exciting to be there on my own.  Although I take not infrequent day trips into the city, I don’t typically stay overnight.  I texted him to let him know I was there, then changed and started refreshing myself a bit.  Tried out some new lotion that I love the scent of and broke out all over in hives.  Jumped in the shower to wash it all off.  I am sure I was still covered in hives when he arrived.

He came up and we hugged, and he seemed so happy to see me.  We gathered my things and headed out to a really super dinner at a charming and romantic restaurant.  So happy to be in his company.  We talked about so many things.  We talked about us.  I am so confused about all of it now.  When we walked outside after finishing our meal, he kissed me for the first time.

Afterwards, we walked around and headed back to my hotel, and lay down on the bed and cuddled and breathed in deep.  We cuddled and talked and kissed for hours.  And then he had to go.  I walked down with him to wait while he grabbed a cab, shaking with cold and fatigue and emotion.  I think I went to bed around 4 am.  Alone.

The next day I woke up so early and had a therapy session by phone, and after trying to sleep a bit more, I gave up and headed out into the city.  I walked all over Chelsea and Union Square, had lunch on my own, headed to the High Line.  It was a gorgeous spring-like day, the sun out, so warm I had to take off my coat.  What a joy after such a long winter.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time alone out and about, a break from home and work….  He came by around 4 pm, and we set out for Tiffany’s (where he bought me a lovely bracelet to keep him in my mind), went to the Met, went out for dinner.  It was fun and sad, both.  All the time, the clock is ticking.  All the time, these random comments from him about the difficulty of his situation.  And all the time I’m thinking “oh come on, buddy, I made it, with no money, which isn’t even a worry here, I don’t believe excuses, I don’t believe it’s “impossible”, I also am not convinced that it’s “over with her” or “all her fault”…”

We went back to the hotel where he promptly fell asleep on top of the bed (he does this, it’s a little annoying), and I kicked him out around 3 am because I had to get some sleep so I could drive home safely the next day.  And I went to bed.  Alone.

Sigh.

The next morning, I went and walked around the Village for a bit, our old grad school stomping grounds.  He could not come and see me for even one minute.  Finally I decided this was nonsense and I needed to go home.   Sitting in traffic on the west side highway, I sobbed on the phone to my sister.

I don’t want to be in this situation, but I’m just not ready to say that to him yet.  I’m curious to see what he does.  But if he takes any action, I don’t want it to be for me, I want him to be setting himself free for his own life.  I didn’t go through the nightmare of my own divorce and all the other life crap to allow myself to be subject to someone else’s marriage, in all honesty.  I wonder if the stats show that previously married people are less likely or more likely to get involved with someone who is married.  I’m staying on the edges of this for the moment, I don’t want to get burned, and I don’t want to lose my friendship with him.

Last night in the middle of writing this, he texted me and asked me to call.  We had quite the discussion.  A conversation is coming, but not yet.

I still don’t know how I feel.  Confused.  Annoyed.  Skeptical.  Like I may be taking a detour from where I am actually supposed to go.  Or maybe I need to be going here for a visit in order to sort it out.

Maybe that’s what’s in it for me.

just muddling along here…

It’s all so puzzling that I don’t know what to write.  The past several days have been really quite busy, so many balls in the air.  In the midst of it all, I have been going back in time here, and reading some of the things I wrote two, three years ago.

Funny, back then it seemed I was so much more dissembled, but when I read what I wrote, I see myself so much more together.  Or maybe my writing was more organized when I was a mess.  Something like that.

The past few days have been a settling back in to some sort of normal.  I finally for-good ended the relationship with my now definitely ex-boyfriend.  After a series of accusatory, nasty messages that he sent to me on Facebook, and a refusal to meet with me in person to talk a bit, I sent him an email that said I could not be in a relationship with him, that we are not compatible and it’s no one’s fault, and I wish him happiness and peace in his heart.  It feels right, I’m not even the tiniest bit sad.  I ran into him that evening at some fundraiser thing – he came over to say hello, and then said, “this is awkward and confusing”.  I replied, “what’s the confusing part?”  One door closes…

I’ve had a job interview.  It went pretty well but I don’t think I’ll totally measure up as a final candidate.  There’s a bit of a hole in what I would bring to the position – the recruiter mentioned it, I know it’s a weak spot.  That’s okay.  It was fun to explore a new possibility.  It makes me feel like my life is in motion.

And actually, I feel like my life is in fact in motion.  And it is a great feeling.  Without feeling like I need to be dating – because, you know, I’m in love with someone and that’s just how it is right now – I am rediscovering my girlfriends.  And it’s awesome.  It turns out I have more friends than I thought I did.  A bout here and there of shrieking with laughter, and it just makes more things seem right in the world than wrong.

The scariest thing on my plate is this love thing.  So far we have spoken every night since we returned.  I miss him.  He is in the midst of his own familial turmoil, and I wish I could help.  But there is nothing I can do except be who I have always been to him, his friend, and now whatever it is we are.  And see what happens.

That uncertainty scares me quite a bit.  I had started to coalesce dreams and plans of my own, and then, voila, it turns out I’m in love with someone and it’s a game-changer.  Maybe.  That rests quite a bit on him.

He called me last night, and told me he can’t stand it any more and he needs to get divorced – not because of me, you understand, but because his marriage is truly a toxic one.  It has been for a long time, before this stuff happened.  He told me also his dad took ill yesterday, and it freaked him out.  His wife is on the warpath.  Boy, do I not want any of this to be the scenario.

This weekend I am making a trip to NYC.  I want to see him, to see if it feels real in real life.  I want to just touch his hand.  I want to see his face.  I want to lie wrapped in his arms.  And just breathe.

I don’t know where any of this goes, but at least I’m going, living, breathing, loving, laughing, exploring.

Now if only I could find the inspiration to really give my house a good cleaning.  I think I will need the motivation of spring, if it ever gets here.  What a long winter.

in real life….

What a loooonnnngggg week.  Between jetlag, falling in love in an impossible (seemingly) situation, catching up at work, and the usual stuff, like laundry, and clingy cats, I bailed on heading out for a Friday night, and am just chilling at home.

Well, not really.  Turns out the ear infection I had before my trip never fully cleared up, so they cleaned out my ear again, and put me back on antibiotics, and I feel all itchy, which I am 99% sure is due to the fact that I am worried I will have a reaction to the antibiotics…

Did I ever mention that I had chronic hives for five YEARS, and they stopped within two weeks after my ex moved out?

Anyway, my ex-boyfriend/boyfriend worked himself into a tizzy exemplified in his erratic and inconsistent nasty texts, and ended up breaking up with himself for me, “for good”.  I don’t even know how to respond to this.  I was going to tell him I can’t be in a relationship right now anyway, but I was taking a few days to recover from my travels and think things through and he lost patience.  Ah well.  He’s not for me.  The not being patient bit when I am in reflection mode is a deal breaker anyway.  So were his passive aggressiveness and his accusations and suspicions and jealousy.  I have not responded to his last text.  Frankly I am too tired.

While that was going on today, my ex called me to scream at me about wanting to tell me what to do with the share of his annual commission that he gives me as child support.  Screaming.  Dear lord.  Somehow the subject changed and the next thing you know he’s giving me advice on how to handle the other guy in the paragraph above.  Weird.

On top of that I had a job interview this morning, which would have a 100 miles each way commute.  But which would be a 50% raise and a great opportunity.  I think the interview went well (the rest of the day sucked, so something should go well…).

All week I have been processing this situation with my best friend.  %$#^@ is all I can say.  Whatever happens, I am going to need to deal with the fact that I am in love with him.  I forget how to make myself stop loving someone.  Maybe you never do.

The other night we talked about the past.  It turns out what he remembers is that he was too shy to make a move.  I was too shy to provide obvious signals.  So we each found others who were not too shy to make a move and not to shy to provide obvious signals.

He told me I’m the one who got away, and now he has this hope that I’ve come back to stay.   I really don’t know what to do.  So I am just going to see how this feels now we are back in real life.  The sheer distance alone is a challenge.  The fact that he shares an apartment (but not a bedroom – the arrangement is the kids plus his wife in one room, and him in the other) with his wife is a huge impediment, because how much can I spend going to see him?  And unless he wants to be blatant about it, he is not going to be able to come here.

So we spend hours on the phone and we talk and talk and talk.  And I want to see him so badly.  I want to see him to see whether, in real life, I still feel the same as I did across the ocean in that bubble of a week in London.

To me, he is the one that I never thought would love me back, so after a few years of waiting, I had moved on.  But it’s all come back.  And I am as insecure as a 16 year old again.  I fully expect that he will bail.  And I will hurt.

But I have not been so sure about how I feel about someone in such a long time.  And that is a good thing, really.  Because now I have been reminded what love, real love, feels like.

I needed the reminder.

alternate reality…

It’s been so long since I traveled to another country that I had forgotten how difficult jetlag can be upon the return home.  It doesn’t really bother me too much when I am vacationing, because you can rest when you need to, you’re out of your element anyway, so feeling out of your mind goes along with it.  Now that I am back and ramping right back up to work, I realize how tired I am and out of sync with my day.  I swear I could only speak full sentences half the time today without losing my train of thought.

So now that I am back….  This is all just so weird.  Seriously.  So much to process.  Seeing old friends from another era, another place.  This metamorphosis of my friendship into potentially something else, when for 25 years it has been a friendship.  I have my ex-boyfriend/boyfriend chomping at the bit to connect, and I just don’t want to right now, but I don’t want to say that because I am clearly not thinking clearly.

My brain is mush.  My body is not tired, but my brain cannot function.  Weird things, circadian rhythms.  I could never work a job where my shift varied.  I once looked into volunteering at a suicide hotline, and it was mandatory to do an overnight (10 hour) shift once a month for the first year.  There was no way, I had to turn it down.

I know I need rest and sleep and that with enough of that, I will start to sort through things.  I honestly don’t know what I want here.  I see drama and hurt and challenge written all over this scenario.  He wants to try to make it work.  The texts I get from him are not the usual texts I get from him, you know?  Instead of friend texts, it’s something like “before we talk tonight I want to let you know that I miss you so much it hurts”.  I don’t want it to get weird and mushy.  I want my friend to be who he has always been.  And I want him to be more.  But I don’t want to trade one version for another version.  But I love him.  But do I really know him?

Okay, I do not trust this, universe.  I have met too many people going through divorces or in bad marriages who latch onto fantasy to either make it easy to stay in or easy to get out, and then pouf!  I know in my rational mind that he needs to sort his shit out.  Eh, we’ll see.  I need to talk to someone – and that someone is him and I can’t because that is in a different reality.

I don’t want anyone to get hurt, not me, not him, not his wife, not his kids…  not my ex-boyfriend/boyfriend either.  No one.  But.  I do know that living a life where none of your actions ever cause hurt is not a life lived.

I am sooooo tired.  We are supposed to talk tonight, and it’s late and I want to sleep.

Maybe the whole experience is an alternate reality created by jetlag.  That would actually make much more sense.

hopelessly…

I am sitting at the airport waiting for my shuttle.  It’s about an hour longer wait and then 2 hours to where my sister will pick me up, and another half hour to her house. Spending the night there then driving home tomorrow with my son.

What a confusing and wonderful week. It would seem that we have fallen in love over the past year. Hours-long phone calls late at night through difficult times for both of us. We’ve known each other for 25 years and we just never connected at the right time. And now?  It seems that after 25 years we have found one another.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to screw up anyone’s marriage. His marriage is bad in a big way. His health is not good. His wife is abusive and horrible. They have two young children, one with special needs. They have an apartment in a building in NYC owned by his dad and him and his sister. His wife would likely get half his share and that is millions of dollars.  It would be a horrific divorce. He is afraid of her and what she might do. If it were any other guy telling me this crap, I would not believe any of it. But he is my friend, and I know this all to be true.

We did not have sex. We did not even kiss (well, he had a cold sore and then came down with a cold) — I think we were afraid to. We held hands, we cuddled, we touched, we held each other.  Last night we slept together curled up in a twin bed and it was wonderful.

But we did not have sex. He did not want to lie to his wife and I did not want to cheapen what is happening. It was the right decision. Who knows what lies ahead.

We visited castles and met up with old friends of mine from years before in London. We talked and laughed and it was amazing.

On the plane back, I upgraded my seat so we could sit together. At first it was fun and wonderful.  Holding hands, my head on his shoulder…  Then I started to cry and could not stop for a long time. At one point, I looked up and he was crying too.  He told me the week was magical and an incredible dream. I feel the same way.

I don’t know what will happen. We will continue to talk.  We will continue to be friends. But now we know. I can’t change the fact that I love him and he loves me.

I know this sounds like classic bullshit. And I don’t want this scenario. But life is messy. And now I know how I feel. Self-awareness is a good thing.

I love him. And he loves me. And that’s all we have right now. 

staying silent and a stiff upper lip…

Day 5 now of our stay in London. I’m having an okay time. It’s not the trip I expected. My friend has one set of keys which I apparently cannot borrow. So I feel like I am stuck wherever he happens to be. I’m being treated like a child. It’s making me crazy.

Not that I can’t go off on my own. I do, a bit. Run out for coffee in the morning alone. Then I have to ring the stupid buzzer when I get back so that he gets up and let’s me in. I saw an old friend of mine for a drink yesterday on my own, and my friend was supposed to take a nap. But he couldn’t sleep while I was gone. He gets so anxious being alone. I don’t think it is specific to me.

Yesterday morning I felt so sad about the cuddling. And yet last night we cuddled again. He said “only two more days, it’s not long enough”. I’m not sure what is going on here for him and I don’t want to ask and make things weird. So I stay quiet even though it’s unspoken weird.

I am not sure what to do. So I am going with the flow. There will be no nooky that’s certain. I’m not going there. Right now I’m thinking that when I get home, we should de-intensify this friendship for a while.

This is not my path. That, I know in my heart.

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