It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…

This morning I woke up to something that I haven’t felt in a long time. I wasn’t sure what time it was and was surprised to find that it was just after 8am. I had gotten to bed at around 1:30 or 2am, after a lot of writing. I was very productive. I woke up to a sense of peace, which is something I haven’t had in a very long time. It was the exact opposite to how I felt on Monday. Mondays are hard, as I have established in the past more than a few times.

This sense of peace was more a matter of the heart. The last four months has been especially difficult, what with the end of a great relationship and the end of an abusive one. The strange thing is that both have occupied similar real estate in my brain. I have been grieving the sudden departure of someone I was romantically involved with, and grieving the loss of a job that I had held for the last 18+ years. Today, I will have been broken up with someone I was quite serious about nearly half as long as we were together. Two nights ago, I was taking it hard. Today, I woke up and felt at peace with it. I don’t know if I am finally letting go or what, but I have learned some things that I wanted to share in the hopes that my experience resonates with anyone reading this.

A couple days ago, I was taking it hard. The grief of the end of a great romance ebbs and flows like any grief. I was missing someone intensely. I visited with a few friends and talked about it. One friend wanted to fix things and the other just listened. The one who wanted to fix things gave me the usual “You’ve got to get back out there! You aren’t pushing yourself to find anyone!” speech. Which didn’t make things any better.

The other friend just listened and because they had been through a similar situation, they told it to me straight. I didn’t need to go out there and find someone else. It felt good to be seen like that. The first friend really just proved what a problem I have had my entire life has been: nobody fucking knows me. I dislike my birthday and Christmas for a big reason: it just proves how nobody gets me or even attempts to make the effort. Ever since I was a kid, this was the case. I have spent nearly 45 years smiling and thanking people for stuff that I don’t even like. It’s not that I’m all that hard to shop for either, but if you talk enough about something you would think that those people closest to you in your life might eventually catch on to what your interests are. The first friend was telling me what they wanted, seen through a lens of how they would have reacted to my situation.

The other friend was sympathetic, knowing me pretty well, and knowing that filling that crack in my heart with someone else wasn’t going to fix anything. So, I guess I should say that I have an elite crew of people who do know me pretty well in some regards. I think that was the hardest thing about this breakup. I had found someone who saw me, someone who accepted me, and really got me. I thought I got her too. I don’t think anyone can possibly understand how rare that has been in my life.

I tend to hold on to people like that, or try to at least. Maybe I need deeper connections, instead of attachments. I thought I had both in this case, and that has been very hard to come to terms with. Combine that with the usual cursory band-aid answer of “There’s plenty of fish in the sea!” and you’ll have a full on riot on your hands.

First of all, there aren’t plenty of fish in the sea. Whoever believes that is an idiot. It’s hard out there. And it gets harder the older you get. It might be the case when you are in your 20s and impressionable and willing to tolerate a bunch of horseshit, but when you are an adult and have actually experienced life, you are less willing to deal with it. This means that your options become significantly limited. Also, the older you get, the less governed by your hormones you become, which further removes a layer of rosey tint from those glasses. In fact, you start looking at some people and wonder how they function in life due to their trainwrecky nature.

Here are my options for dating in my 40s. (These are the normal options too).

  1. Join a club. Full of other people my age, who have joined a club because they have run out of options, either because of themselves or the shit they have experienced. Either way, this club is the Island of Misfit Toys.
  2. Go to a bar. Yes, because all good decisions orbit around the dispersal of alcohol and dim lighting. No thanks.
  3. Join a church. No. I’ve been to church and nowhere will you find a more wretched hive of scum and villany. Church is for people who NEED Jesus. I’m good.
    3a. Plus I don’t need to sit by myself being reminded at the pathetic nature of my own singleness by young people in their 30s who haven’t been divorced yet
    3b. or broken down people who have been utterly destroyed by it.
  4. Get set up by friends. Most of my friends couldn’t pick out a birthday present for me (as I have mentioned above). How do you think they are going to do when it comes to finding someone I would be compatible with…especially given that many of them have even more limited social circles than I do?
  5. Settle. NO.
  6. Online dating. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!!! That is the most genuine hysterical laughter of my life! IT’S REAL!
  7. In COVIDworld? Your odds of meeting anyone, much less seeing their face, are exponentially more difficult. Impossible. Plus, I’m just not interested.
  8. I’m not pushing myself, because I miss the person, not the role they played in my life. There’s no replacing that.

But there is another option.

I woke up this morning and this is what I chose: I can’t replace what I have lost. So I’m just going to be fine with it.

I got up. I drove to Ft. Collins. I took a 12 mile bike ride. Then I came home and read. Tonight, I will work on my book. I’m going to live out the rest of my days being grateful for the opportunity I had (even so brief as it was) of being seen for who I am. I’m going to thank God for those moments. I’m going to let those carry me forward.

Honestly, I’m done. I know who I am, and I’m not in the mood to compromise that anymore. I don’t need someone to complete me. I did the chasing thing already and realize how much I hate it. I’m too old to deal with drama, at a point in my life where I’m not going to raise any more kids other than the one who is with me, and I really don’t want to be with someone who does TikTok or talks about summervibes or any of that bullshit. I’m not interested in psychoanalizing a potential partner, worrying if I make enough money to be good enough for them (I don’t), and frankly my odds are entirely shot if I do meet someone and they turn out to be vegan, celiac, a drug addict, into Magic the Gathering, swinging, or have cats.

I rolled the dice. I met someone who was compatible, someone who was as crazy about me as I was them, and it still didn’t work out. I’m thinking the odds of finding “the One” are pretty much Zero.

So, I’m just going to get on with my life. I’m going to write my stories, see places, and yes, I will feel lonely sometimes, but I will do my best to just get over it and enjoy the life I’ve got left.

As for mourning my job, that is a whole other kettle of fish. Mostly because of how toxic it was, and how relieved I am to be done with that place. Fuck those assholes. I hope the earth opens up and swallows the entire place whole.

To the one I loved, and lost, I wish her nothing but happiness and a long life. Thank you for sharing some time with me.

I’m going to spend some time now with the person I’m stuck with for the rest of my life: me. Might as well get to know him while I still can.

Act right part II

In this educational series/TED Talk/Nickel’s worth of free advice, I wanted to leave a little bit of room for something which I have considered lately as probably one of the most dangerous things of starting a new relationship: Charm.

Just knowing how things work out in relationships much of the time, I have to say that in the Snow White story, it was doomed from the start. Prince Charming might only have that going for him, just like your Prince Charming. Er…Princess Charming. Whatever. Adjust the pronouns as you need, because this shit is universal.

Charm

Charm gets you through the door but it won’t be what keeps you there. Being funny, interesting, having a crude joke, or a party trick will catch their interest, but unless you are in the Ringling Bros. eventually that shit is going to wear thin. Usually when someone is front loading the charm, it means that they will probably turn out to be a real piece of crap later on. Charm is nice, but it doesn’t last and anyone who has been burned by it will actively avoid it once they understand it is pretty much just bait for a deadly trap.

Some of my friends have recounted some of the most charming people they have spent time with later turned out to be horrifying monsters. They fell for compliments and sweet talk. So the next time someone sweet talks them, they won’t believe it, even if it is spoken with total sincerity…which is only about 1 in 1000 times.

Masks

Yes, I sound cynical. How the hell else are you supposed to meet people? On dating apps you are supposed to have a great opening line or you won’t get even a hello back. Those are supposedly what is required these days to even participate in the gene pool. (I’ll pass, thanks). Like most of us are doing these days, you are just wearing a mask. Masks are fine as long as they don’t exceed their purpose. Some of the greatest romances in stories have begun at masquerade balls…well, of course those also end in tragedy…bad example, Romeo and Juliet. But everyone wears a mask to some degree. It removes them from the situation just a little bit so they can operate. Some people wear a mask of alcohol, which they think emboldens them; The old Dutch Courage. For some, their mask is their physical prowess. Either a push-up bra, lots of makeup, big biceps, a six-pack of abs. Etc. This mask dazzles people who don’t really consider having to actually speak with someone they are involved with apparently. Masks are what you want the world to see, and even buy you some time until you decide what you want to reveal about yourself.

In time, all masks dissolve, however. Even if there is just another mask under that mask.

A schtick

Others have their schtick or their line of bullshit. In social situations I tell stories, make jokes, etc. but only when I’m loose or comfortable enough to do it. This is just in general too. The only problem is you have to have a receptive audience. I’ve been to parties where I hid behind a mask of just sitting in the corner and watching people. I know some people whose schtick is doing a parlor trick like drinking a lot of hard liquor in a short amount of time or demonstrating they have no gag reflex.

To which I have to say, I remember my first beer.

Movie quotes are a good mask, but eventually someone wants to know what you have to say, rather than something you’ve memorized from your favorite Quentin Tarantino flick.

At the end of the day, even if I am ON IT at a social gathering or just out in public, the introverted side of me kicks in and I just want to be quiet, listen to sad songs in my car, and breathe. Having a schtick also means that you eventually won’t be ON. Nobody can be.

You have to back it up

Charm is fine for breaking the ice. But even the sweetest person in the world won’t be charming all the time. You have to back it up with integrity, kindness, empathy, and putting in the work. Otherwise, once that mask comes off, if charm was all you had, they will see the ugliness you’ve been hiding, instead of the beauty behind the mask. Substance and character beats charm every time. Unless you are a sociopath, in which case, charm might be all you’ve got.

Act right

A while back, I wrote a post about just about any jackass who was dating any number of my female friends was named Steve. And acting like a jackass. Today while visiting with one of my female friends about her current situation, I got to hear about more douche-lagoonery. Combine that with some other tidbits I’ve heard lately for other friends, I decided it was time to talk about what is wrong with this picture. Just like Highlights magazine for children. Only this if for anyone struggling with dating.

Know when to say When

Her scenario: It’s Sunday afternoon. Do you know where your boyfriend is? Yes you do! He’s at the bar, off his face drunk and texting you to come get him. No, don’t, he says. No, wait, you’d better. Gibberish gibberish self-loathing gibberish. I LOVE YOU!!!

She is going to see this as a red flag. And for the love of Mike, don’t tell your girlfriend you love her for the first time in a drunken text. This is not the story she wants to share with anyone on your silver anniversary. Odds are you won’t make it that far.

Some of the other problems I have seen involve alcohol. I mean these days, people are drinking more, but compared to just about any other illicit, mood-altering substance out there, adding alcohol has almost never made a situation better.

Space and time aren’t just for Neil DeGrasse Tyson

When there are moments in a woman’s life that are surrounded by doubt, sometimes she needs some time to think. Usually (from my experience) this isn’t good for her guy if she says this, but if that is the case he doesn’t need to pour gasoline on that campfire. Any dick pics will be deleted, or probably just forwarded on to her other friends (men and women) with the eyeroll emoji.

When she says, “I just need some space” this is not the opportunity to send her texts illustrating specifics as to what you want to do to her sexually. Leave her alone. She might actually think of charming things you have done (don’t worry, guys, you won’t even know what she is thinking about that will save your ass. It won’t be the moments you were deliberately doing anything that charmed her.)

Read a room

If she breaks up with you, don’t do the same damned thing, being especially crude and nasty. You are just showing how tone deaf you are to the situation. Not to mention disrespectful. You aren’t getting points. You are losing even more points if you do this while you’ve been drinking. Eventually she will come to terms with the fact that you have no intention of respecting her. Her friends will hate you in time and anytime they hear your name mentioned, they will all spit simultaneously to get the undesirable taste of the thought of you out of their mouths.

Rough starts

Beginnings can be difficult as well, even though they represent newness and discovery and mystery. As you progress you will start to notice little things that make you go, “Erm? Huh?” Guys, you aren’t being mysterious by saying “I’ve done bad things in my past. You should probably break up with me.” You are actually giving her some insight as to how she needs to respond to whatever the hell it is you think is so heinous you need to be written off.

On the obverse side, if either of you is just learning about the other, full-disclosure should be appreciated and encouraged about any sexually transmitted diseases you might be carrying. With great Herp comes greater responsibility. I think Spiderman said that. Hiding that shit until either of you has an outbreak is not how you win someone’s trust.

If you have been married several times, that information should also be disclosed upfront. It might even be first date conversation. It should probably be included on your driver’s license right along with whether or not your are of consenting age or if you are an organ donor. Better yet, just have a face tattoo that indicates how broken you are as a person. Saves time! Especially if you are still legally married to at least one of them!

Miscellaneous is the largest category

If you meet an old flame and things get heated, and you wind up sleeping with each other again, it is a douche-lagoon move to ghost them afterwards. What might be worse is trying to smooth things over with lines such as “Just a friend helping out another friend” or “can you send me your half for the hotel room?” These are NOT ways to respond. These kinds of words hurt people.

If you are dating someone you just aren’t all about, don’t tell them a list of names of people you would jump at the chance to date again. For God’s sake, don’t marry that person, because they will always, always remember that list of names. If you have a list like that, don’t break someone’s heart until that list is no longer a thing, or the person you are spending time with makes you forget there ever even was a list.

A friend of mine recently told me that dating in your thirties is like shopping in a thrift store. Believe me, it is much worse in your forties. The sheer amount of damage any of us carry around at any given time should earn us a closer parking spot at the store. Try to be kind to each other, and respect others. Most of all, respect yourself.

Learn to act right.