Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

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embrace

cloud-poem[from a second wave - poetry]

a cloud or a heart or a whim
my mind and soul follows the day
either there is light and energy
or there is not
i turn towards the light
like a sunflower
soaking up
praying for
giving thanks

today i am the sky
all else falls away
there is no time for anger
the frustrations of progress
are all just strivings
let’s fall back
roll on the grass or down the hill
watch the clouds
today is ours
a sacred space
i create for me and you
embrace

10-2014

image: clouds, nikica beograd, creative commons usage

For Hire: Used Husband, Classic Model, Works Well With Kids

OFF-headless

I’m feeling a bit like a for sale or for hire ad on Craigslist.

Upbeat and optimistic dad of two middle-school kids, seeks pleasant and easy-going woman for casual and romantic evenings. Looking for an extraordinary woman in need of service and support. I’m touch-oriented. I thrive on honest and open communication. I’m over playing any mind games, and am looking for a steady relationship.

I didn’t really mean for this to be a personal ad. Let’s cut to the chase.

I’m a former husband and a current father. I am more focused on my kids than on my own relationship status, and for the moment, that’s how I believe it should be. I do have time in my schedule to accommodate a relationship, and now that I’ve gotten my act a little more together, I’m putting our a few feelers again. I’d like a relationship. I thrive in proximity to a nurturing and active woman. In fact, I expand creatively when I have some sexual chemistry in my life. Oh, what wonderful things that chemistry does to our souls.

When I’m not so aggressive about looking for an available woman, my entire body relaxes just a bit. Rather than hunting and pursuing, today I’m going to continue to refine my package.

In relationship I tend to think less about myself. Or, to put it another way, I spend a good bit of time thinking about, imagining, writing poetry, singing, in response to the growing warmth in my heart. I’m a hopeful romantic. I know the right romance is yet to come. I got close in marriage number two. And perhaps now, with a good bit of recovery time in between, I’m re-centered and ready.

Perhaps, I say, because I also enjoy my seemingly limitless alone time. When I’m in a creative mode the “off” evenings seem like a gift. I would’ve had a hard time negotiating a single evening off to go into my music studio before the kids went to bed. So I worked creatively between 10:30 and 2:30 at night. Any wonder I was a bit tired as the corporate work routine wore on, and my double-lit candle began to burn perilously close to meeting at the center. I was inspired and yet constrained. As a family man, as a fully engaged father, it was okay. But my creative drive was suffering under the time constraints.

Of course as a single man on a regular schedule with my kids I go into some weekends knowing I have 5 nights in a row with minimal obligations. I could set up some activities to keep me busy, but I’m over that period of my recovery. Now I see the juicy potential of that time and I am jumping into those nights with a euphoria that will be hard to give up, when a relationship re-grounds my flight. I’m looking forward to that, but it will be a change.

Already I had a moment of awareness when the last date nearly turned into a girlfriend over a three-day period of romantic, lusty, courtship. She bailed out. (See She Came On Like a Freight Train – The Woman Who Says “Yes”) And though she gave me some reason, I’m not sure it wasn’t just her “holy shit what if this happens” moment. She too was highly creative and a full-time single parent, with little or no support from her ex. That’s a scary place to be, I’m sure. But when she was pouring on the fuel in the first two days of our “dating” I began to not only get ramped up romantically, I began to turn my evening attentions towards her and away from my creative projects.

That is a transition I want, mind you, but it came on so quickly with her, that I didn’t really have a chance to warm to the idea. In a day we met from a Tinder connection, and in the second day she was texting me alluring (non-sexual) photos. But she was in my head. She was changing the course of my week and we’d just met.

In the end, I think the derailment was more an indicator of her actual stability rather than the projection she was showing me. She did have some amazing effect on me. I was ready and willing to lay down all available nights in search of her sweet spot. And that too was an indication of how unrealistic I had become while basking in the light of such a white-hot romance. When the euphoric state hits too fast, I’ve learned that something is off. Kind of like the woman who got this amazingly glazed look in her eyes as we were making love. I thought she was blissed out. Turns out she was vaping pot in the bathroom just before sex. Um… No. (see My Casual Sex Experience – First Lesson)

I don’t need drama or high theater. And at the moment I “want” more than “need” a woman.

Okay, so I got a big YES/NO and I’m a bit lonely at the moment. And by lonely I really mean hungry. I’m hungry for a woman, for that connection, for the scent, touch, tasted, and imaginative rush that comes from being with someone who turns you one. And at the same time (this is not a cop out) I am willing to wait and work on myself, my physical fitness, my musical project that hits the stage on Dec. 5th, my own internal creative inspiration. I’m happy. I’m alone. And I’m dialing back the hunter-mode a bit.

When I’m not so aggressive about looking for an available woman, my entire body relaxes just a bit. Rather than hunting and pursuing, today I’m going to continue to refine my package. Sure, I’m flirty and aware of every breathing female in a 50-foot radius, but I’m content to appreciate and smile. When there’s a smile back, I’m also satisfied with that. I’d rather see if there are additional signals, additional indications that might illuminate some “mutual” attraction, without the forcefulness of approach and courtship.

One recent example. I was picking up my daughter from a new friend’s house. The mom was there and very attractive, and yes I noticed, not wearing a ring. She was playful and touched my arm a few times as she expressed herself. (Ah, my type, a touchy -feely person.) And yet, also not my type: she was just heading into her divorce. She was preparing the house for sale. And according to my daughter, she and the dad didn’t get a long at all.

Quit a contrast from the rest of my daughter’s friends the weekend before when she said, “Everyone at the sleep over had divorced parents.” It’s becoming the norm. And at a 50% failure rate, you’re likely to have just as many divorces as you have marriages.

So she was amazingly pretty and open. She was not exactly in my “type” mode, but she was wearing little or no makeup, she was practical and happy to chat with me about our kids. She was reaching out to connect with me. And that was enough. I let the moment just be a nice moment. (Yes, I’ll admit I tried to get my daughter to give me some contact info so I could give her the martial arts instructor’s name.) And while I was revved up by her presence, I was also clear in one thing: divorces are hard and getting INTO a relationship as you’re getting OUT of your marriage is a terrible idea. I wasn’t going to stand-in for the maelstrom.

And so, I’ve been girlfriend free since the end of the summer and it’s fine. I’d rather not be. But I’d rather be alone that coping with another person’s major emotional distress. I don’t need drama or high theater. And at the moment I “want” more than “need” a woman. Sure, I’m hungry for a mate, but I’m also aware that I’m hungry for an adventure at the same time.

Re-center, refocus on myself and my growth. < My current mantra.

But I’m putting up the services available ads as a way to feel like I’m at least fishing for an amazing catch. I’m also enjoying the boat ride around this new pond of older single women.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

back to On Dating Again

related posts:

image: headless hunter, jd hancock, creative commons usage

organic sweetness

OFF-savasana[from a second wave - poetry]

i can see it in your eyes when i say hello
i’ve already done too much
i’m not your type
i’m too old, fat, conservative, square, something
or is it you
jaded
unhappy
unwelcoming
i can’t tell
the smile whipped of my face like a slap
as you looked beyond me
into “men”
and your experience of us, them, me
i’m okay being a ‘no’
but do you have to give a twist of the knife

this simple theater of the sexes
we play everyday
she’s trying to look good
but not interested in being appreciated
what then?
for her eyes only?
for the eye of her mate, or potential
perhaps the glare is a defense mechanism
i’m taken
my boyfriend
don’t touch
don’t ask
don’t tell

i’m learning to keep my appreciations in my head
instead of smiling and giving smiles away
if it’s a threat, i’d rather stay mute

is that what we’ve become
as we wonder around the organic food store
little universes, or attack ships
warding off all incoming
incoming
anything
that’s not what or who we want

i can’t stop
can i
passing this gladness around
it’s my nature
i’m not trolling or fishing
i’m just happy
i’m expressing my “hellos” out loud

we’ve got defector shields up
and dating profiles on
and we’re filtering each other quickly
effortlessly with a swipe or a yes
and in real life
are we starting to do the same thing
yes, no, no, no, no, maybe
are we cutting our kindness and communication
for fear of giving the wrong signals

i get it
we’re like predators
always on the hunt
and you are a tasty treat
that much is obvious
regardless of your angry glance

but i am no hungry for youth or attitude
i’m not prowling and pouncing
in this jungle of juice, apples, and hand lotion
i’m just here
looking for sustenance
appreciating a form or two
forking up some kale salad
and a sparkling italian water
with citrus flavoring

don’t you wonder what the “natural flavor” is
if there’s something more natural or unnatural about it
and I wonder that about you, for a second
as you pass your glance and scowl across me
natural, unnatural, organic, or commercially processed
and from the lulus you might appear to be a yogini
but there’s very little zen
in your upper class attitude
the designer leggings fit nicely
but the real creamy center
the part you’re supposed to be working on
in savasana
appears to be sour

i pass
i dream
i smile all the time
at old, young, pretty, and all
it’s my nature
it’s not about you
or your fantastic form
and the hollow mantra you must be chanting

10-18-14

image: savasana, amy, creative commons usage

The Divorce Recovery Path: My Journey Back to Joy (part 1)

divorce-recovery-path-mcel

My divorce has been finalized for four years now. This is how my journey back from depression, loss, and hopelessness looked. And this blog has taken me through all of these steps in a way that I can now look back and see how the building blocks were necessary. Here is my divorce recovery path in posts from this blog.

Year 1 – Anger, Depression, Divorce

Like Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ I believe someone going through a divorce goes through stages of grief. And for me the emotions that I struggled with directly after leaving my house for the last time were anger and depression. Often I vassilated from one to the other. And my talky therapist used to tell me, “It’s better to feel homicidal than suicidal.” (It’s a metaphor.)

Anger turned inward and unexpressed was clearly for me one of the ways I would sink myself into sadness and depression. While I was mad at my ex-wife, and mad a the decision she made and I had to go along with, I kept pointing the sharp stick back at myself. Somehow I had failed. Something about me was unlovable, or the reason she decided to opt-out of our marriage, and effectively opt me out of 60% of my kids lives.

I left the house at the beginning of June after the kids had finished 3rd and 5th grade. Here are a few of my early posts. I was acting out a bit. And I even maintained a tiny bit of hopefulness that my ex would realize how much she really wanted me back. That was imaginary thinking. She was done. And I tried to imagine the wonderful opportunities of dating new women, but of course, I was in no condition to date. Fortunately my initial run at online dating was unsuccessful.

August 2010

The first year and the shock of the loss was definitely the hardest period of my recovery. I was scrambling to find a place to live, a way to make a living that would support myself and my child support payments. And the loss of my kids was an emotional hardship that still hits me from time to time.

By January of that first year I was hitting the first skids of depression.

And the first poem appeared as an expression of my loss.

And while I had started a few dating tries I was more focused on transforming my anger and energy into something positive. Or in the face of Ferris Bueller, something funny and light. That’s how I tried to imagine myself, as Ferris dealing with the impossible situations with joy and grace. I was only partially successful.

A number of other issues hammered me as I crossed into the second year of divorce.  The pressure of the financial obligation I had agreed to began to force me out of my idea of comfort and “doing enough.” Of course I had agreed to pay child support on a much higher income than I’d been able to achieve again. I was basing my future on the hopeful high-level gainful employment, and when my next big corporate job folded my position after six months I fell into a very tough spot. (A spot I’m still trying to pull myself out of today.)

But something else began to show up in my life. I began to remember how happy I was, even alone. Just happy. And this was the beginning of the second year, where I joined a divorce recovery class and began to take charge of my own happiness and recovery from the pits of divorce.

I started to come to terms with the divorce. And take ownership of my depression.

 

Year 2 – Healing, Recovery, Kids First

And then in June of the second year, I lost all of my progress in one massive loss. The job I had found that allowed me to buy a house and start setting up my life again, decided they didn’t want to continue trying to sell their product to the consumer, and after six months my position was eliminated. And the earlier struggles with money and depression came rushing back. Just as I felt I was getting ahead of it, I suffered a setback.

And it was four months before I was able to confess to my readers what was going on. And amazing as it was, I did already have readers. A lot of people reached out to me after the loneliness post and gave me their support.

And I started to take an inventory of what I was feeling rather than run away from it or wallow in it. I started studying the 12-steps concept of self-pity as a way to get a little perspective on what I was going through. I could up and out of this.

And then in October of year two I met the woman who would become my first girlfriend. And she single-handedly changed my life.

More than anything, what I learned from my first girlfriend was how it felt to be adored. She had also been through the same divorce recovery class I had, and we had the same Love Language: touch. I was blown away by how affectionate someone could be. I always thought it was only me who had such outpourings.  But she was beside me 100%. In the end our relationship evolved into a friendship, but out love for each other has continued to grow. And I learned what a post-divorce relationship might look like. And how dating after divorce *can* be drama free. We never screwed each other over, we simply decided that we needed to pull our romantic relationship back from our friendship.

END OF YEARS ONE AND TWO – stay tuned.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

back to Single Parenting

related posts:

actively waiting in your absence

emily-blunt[from a second wave - poetry]

i’m just sittin here watchin the world
go round an round in search of
coffee
seeing these lovelies
before their excitable jolt
and then seeing the transformation
it’s a parade
at 7 am
in a ritzy part of town
with high heels
lulus
working non-working
moms girls women ladies yoginis
and i have the catbird’s seat
by the cooler
with an eye to the pastries
and imaginary lovers
as they stream by

wouldn’t it be amazing if she smiled
rather than looked so serious
wouldn’t it be cool to not be looking
to be curled around my someone
rather than scouting for potentials

since losing you
it’s been a bitch
things don’t feel quite right
but
it’s clear it’s not you i’m missing
sorry
it’s the skin
the soul
the kisses

for now, i have this
i have a women in a perfect tennis outfit
a bit rushed
she must have a court time
nearby
she must be a goddess
or a fitness instructor

i can’t fall in love
really
with a dream
with a passing leg or strong-arm
i’m not attracted to the convertible
she came in on
but i do fall into hair
of all lengths and colors
and the pull of desire
to bury my face the damp garden
of magic smells and warmth

i’ve been alone for too long
i can tell when my chemistry is faltering
i need a hit of something
someone

and yet
i don’t want any of these women
i don’t know anymore
what criteria to use
or what measure of the soul

a body
in motion
is a beautiful thing
but it loses its gloss
when the light inside is dim
or diminished by anger
or too much pride
too fine a dress or heel

but without her
i know i am a shell
or a snake
in deadly wait state
ready to strike
against the glass of my cage
before i know
if i am predator or prey
i lie in wait
actively
seeing
seeking
and
arriving at patience again
now

and now

10-14-14