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.

Strange feeling

Maybe this should be my Tinder profile. If I was on it…which, yuck.

I’ve said it in the past, but this recent breakup has only affirmed my inclinations. I enjoy companionship and being in a committed relationship, but I abhor dating. But unfortunately it is a necessary evil to navigate the hearts and minds of two different people to understand compatibility. Those early moments are nice when you have an attraction, that spark that makes you giddy with excitement over the next time you’ll get to see them, the next clever thing you’ll say in a text message, or even the grand gesture you have in store to sweep them off their feet.

But as time passes, you begin to discover differences as well. Like how one of you likes 70s and 80s Progressive rock and the other would rather listen to 90s R&B. Those are little things and pretty trivial, but sometimes they pile up. At my age, each passing year or decade means that you have built another layer onto that wall between yourself and someone else.

I know at my age, I face a few limitations. For one, I’m nearly 45. My birthday is in September. I like whiskey, Diesel brand cigars, and cool hats if you want to send me anything (size 7 3/8). One of the limitations I have is that dating someone close to my age usually means someone who might not be able to keep up with me physically. This is an observation of how most adults my age are either crazy active physically, or have let themselves go to the point were walking from the car to the bar is the most activity they do. I’m not really into Yoga and crossfit and the physical abuse those who are truly obsessed with keeping the hands of Father Time at bay either. There has to be a middle ground.

The alternative is dating someone younger than me, which means likely someone who has put off having a kid to pursue their career. They might be looking to start a family. I know that I just don’t have it in me anymore. My son, as awesome as he is, wears me the hell out. For someone who often daydreams of the day when they don’t have to worry about keeping anyone else alive, or paying child support, it would have been much more convenient if he had been born a few years earlier. I’m ready to be done with kids for a while, but I will cherish these next few years when my son is at that age where kids are fun and not yet assholey teenagers.

But there are days, as active as I am, where I don’t want to run and jump and play and I just want to have a mellow day. Which does indeed suck for him. I think my dad hit that point at 32 though.

So, yes, younger women are off the list too. Not to mention the few times I have been out with someone ten years or more younger than me we don’t have a lot in common. When they talk about Arthur the Aardvark, it’s based on their own viewership, unlike mine, which was always under duress because it’s what was on the TV while I was trying to get my kids to school. There’s a good chance that if you were born during the Clinton Administration, we won’t have much to talk about.

My former gf said early on, “I’m done raising children and boyfriends.” I think I might have adopted that philosophy. My son being the exception to the rule of course.

So, dating…

Not since unrestricted submarine warfare has there been a more extensive use of subtrefuge, tactics, and sitting around waiting for the other to make a mistake than dating. I have no desire to interpret red flags or sort through the incoming data of what is bullshit and what is real anymore. I don’t care to get to know what someone’s favorite songs are anymore, learn the names of their childhood pets, or other information that will probably just get shitcanned anyway once everything falls apart. I am also done with trying to coordinate times to see each other, growing intimacy, building on healthy communication skills, and the big one: allowing myself to trust again.

Even if I meet someone who knocks my socks off, odds are that she will have cats, and that’s a deal breaker. Always with the stupid cats.

Dating these days is fucked anyway. Quite a few of my female friends have heard my stories of grand gestures for women I was in relationships and they have been amazed. Their reaction is usually “Nobody has ever done anything like that for me!” The sad truth is at this point, there are only a few of us left who are stupid enough to make grand gestures. In this dating climate, you either get called a Simp or you throw these grand gestures at women who take them for granted, or never experienced them because the women that have come before them burned these poor bastards out on grand gestures.

Right now, if the end result is the same from phoning it in vs. grand gestures, what do you think your man is going to pick? This is why men send dick pics to women rather than having any kind of meaningful conversation. Chances are that women who are on these sites don’t want coffee brought to them at work on a lark. They just want that D. The common ground is people are all on online dating to scratch that itch.

Nobody would even know what to do with a grand gesture at this point anyway.

So, the strange feeling that I have is I’m just done. I anticipate my singleness to last quite a while, without anything romantically fulfilling in the foreseeable future. I have my son to take care of. My book to write. And time to think. Over time, I’m sure I will build up my wall with my own personal opinions, biases, and boundaries that I won’t see how it would ever be practical to let anyone in anyway.

Future deal breakers would probably be “I think people who don’t put ketchup on their hamburgers are awful.” Or “Your car takes Premium gas only? Well, when the Revolution comes, I hope Robespierre cuts your head off in the first round.” Some petty Jerry Seinfeld shit right there.

Believe me, the last go around, I gave and received a good deal of grand gestures. But that doesn’t change anything about how it all ended. It was a nice journey while it lasted, but I’m just tired. The idea of getting to know someone to those depths again…I just can’t. I look at my friends trying to make sense of their relationships, and I think there are better uses for my time. Like watching a new Netflix series.

This is not a world for the Romantic at heart. It’s a world for selfish assholes looking to scratch that itch. People looking for attention, validation, approval. I don’t fit in.

So, the strange feeling that I have is contentment. Companionship is a wonderful, amazing thing (when it works). Believe me, when it doesn’t work and you are stuck with that person, and I speak from experience, there is no worse hell on this world. Yesterday I went on a solo adventure. I didn’t have to coordinate times, I didn’t have to wait for anyone, and no one had to wait on me. It was a full afternoon of new experiences that I had just for myself. I get to enjoy those moments too. I don’t need anyone to bear witness for my life. Well, other than my faithful readers. That much is nice. I don’t need to worry about keeping anyone awake at night because I can’t sleep, and I don’t need to have that pit in my stomach telling me something is wrong or that someone is drifting away based on how they worded a text.

This way is fine. Do I sound bitter? Okay, that’s fair. Maybe I am. But that is just another layer of bricks in my wall which is called a Defense Mechanism. Sometimes it’s lonely, but otherwise, it’s doable. And I don’t need to second guess myself based on the behavior of others. Maybe one of these days I can move somewhere that allows pets. Definitely not a cat.

Three Defining Moments

Today, I rewatched the movie “Wild” based on the non-fiction novel by Cheryl Strayed. I’ve been picking at the book again, but wanted a different perspective when experiencing the story again. It has been years since I watched the film. It’s about healing. Heatache. Redemption. It always hits hard.

In my life, there have been at least three big defining moments. At the risk of sounding selfish, I want to state early on that what you are about to read are my own moments and hopefully you don’t place judgment on me for what I am about to write. These words are not easy, but I hope that they have truth to them. No, these moments won’t include the birth of my kids or anything like that which parents are always expected to say. In retrospect, those moments were stressful and usually made miserable by a very selfish partner. I’ve blocked a lot of those memories unfortunately. Either because of exhaustion or stress or general unpleasantness. I love my kids, don’t get me wrong, but things like learning how to ride a bike or being pushed into the world are things that belong to them. Not me.

The first defining moment of my adult life was the UN Trip, in which I got on board a bus with forty other 15-17 year olds and we traveled across the country, visiting historical sites and landmarks along the way, all the way from Denver to St. Louis, Gettysburg, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York City for a week, Niagara Falls, and then back home again. On this trip, it was a source of many firsts. It was the first time I was away from my parents longer than just a day or two. The first time I left the country. The first time I had Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (in the World Trade Center no less). My first kiss. And so many other moments. I have lived on those experiences throughout my tumultuous adult life. My awful marriage. All the years I have been pretty much broke. And these experiences have seasoned my mind for pretty much the rest of my life in some regard.

This trip was that moment of Awakening, like when E.M. Forster writes about the transition into adulthood. It was the summer that meant saying goodbye to how I thought as a child and learning so much about myself and other people.

My second defining moment was very much like my first. It involved a trip. I wrote a lot about it on my travelblog, but when I changed domain hosts, all of those entries evaporated. Be careful what you put on the internet, because it will be there forever…unless you stop paying your hosting service. Then they will make sure the internet is scrubbed completely. My trip to the UK was my first international solo trip and really my first solo trip of any significance. I figured out how to get around, pushed my boundaries and got blasted out of my comfort zones on a daily basis.

This trip was a lot about shedding the last fifteen years or so. From the experiences of my marriage, the divorce, my first romance which really messed my head up, and the loss of two of my three kids due to parental alienation. Getting out on this trip expanded my horizons, brought my confidence back, and helped me to heal from a relationship where I never really felt like I was good enough.

Now, I feel like I am beginning yet another journey. Only because of COVID, I can’t go anywhere to get away from the situation like I did last year. Instead, I’ve been writing a lot more. This time, the journey is within. It is sharing the stories that have built up over the last 25 years. Whenever anyone asks what I’m working on, this is what I tell them. Their response is usually something like “You’ve got a lot of ground to cover.”

Yes, I do. Which might explain why sometimes the stories just demand to be told. I will often find myself sitting up at 2 or 3am, writing things down. The ideas are insisting that they be jotted down or even fleshed out. My biggest problem now is trying to figure out how to connect all of these expanding ink blots into a cohesive narrative.

These stories are the result of needing to get over my last serious relationship, which ended during lockdown. It was amazing while it lasted, but only served to give me more questions than answers when it was over. The other thing I am getting through is the end of my job of 18 years and coming to terms with that. It’s not as easy as you might think! And the third thing is what so many of us are dealing with right now: the end of life as we used to know it. Whether that is political platforms, mass germaphobia, or possibly never being able to go to a movie or concert ever again…the world we all used to know will be changed significantly once this is all said and done. We are only seeing the beginning too.

So, I will be posting updates of my thought process as I work through the book. I hope you enjoy the posts!