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

Posts tagged “priorities

Dating and Romance: It’s Always About Time

OFF-happycouple

Last night I began to get the picture.

I spent a casual evening with one of the women with potential. And the contrast could not have been more pronounced. There was no kissing, no driven agenda, but just spending time together.

When the desire is there, and the feelings necessary to connect, the next ingredient is time.

If both participants don’t put forth the effort to make time for the relationship to grow… That’s the answer right there.

I felt a bit of a loss. I was looking forward to accepting that kissing offer she put out after our first “date.”

Just this week, the smiling girl backed out of an opportunity. And even when I offered additional options, and texted her the next day. There were no plans to be made. I’m fine with being the initiator, but I won’t be the only one putting out the offers. It’s very telling when the other person stops offering ideas.

So she’s gone quiet.

And often I would be the one, like a puppy dog, doing somersaults to try and interest them in the “next thing.” But not today. If the mutual effort is not there, that may be the biggest tell of all. Once the effort is not mutually beneficial, the energy for making it happen gets lopsided. And it DOES feel like a game. A bit. This idea of not calling them because you put the last offer in and it got no response. BUT, it’s also a very subtle system of energy and intention.

  1. Smiling girl is quite a runner. She makes time, every day, for running. She is distressed if she misses a day in her routine.
  2. Our first meeting was facilitated because she was too tired to run, so why don’t we get together.
  3. We had some fun at our first date and second date, where we had lunch on Mother’s Day.
  4. She backed out of our next opportunity, because she was late getting back into town, and was feeling tired…
  5. The next night, I texted her around the end of the day, “Just saying hi, seeing what’s next…”
  6. We exchanged pleasantries. She loves to complement my humor. “Ha ha ha ha.”
  7. Nothing.

In my equation, she interrupted the flow. It’s okay, I was stretching to see if I could actually be with a beautiful but non-creative person. (The jury is still out on that concept.) But, I felt a bit of a loss. I was looking forward to accepting that kissing offer she put out after our first “date.”

But I am also aware, that I was ready to engage in less-than-100%. For some reason, loneliness, thrill, change of pace, I was willing to move things forward, even when I had my doubts about the real value of the relationship potential. I think I was infatuated with her neck. (grin)

Contrast this with the wonderful developments of the second woman with potential, who’s presented herself again, as interested.

  1. We had made casual plans to go out on Saturday night.
  2. Mid-afternoon, yesterday, Friday, she said, “I had something else come up on Sat. Sorry. But I’m available tonight.”
  3. She would contact me after a professional networking party she needed to attend.
  4. When she did contact me, we checked in. She had stated earlier that she was not too full of energy at the moment. We made plans, even at 9:30.
  5. I came to her house without pomp or circumstance. She had gotten a dvd of a movie she wanted to see. We sat on the couch. We held hands. We chatted, laughed, and enjoyed each other’s company.
  6. She walked me to my car at midnight, when I was heading home. We held hands as we walked.
  7. I mentioned my joy at the evening, “Massively casual.”
  8. “Yes.”

There was no need in my book to try and confirm or set up a future time together. The time with her was easy, close, and yes… casual.

“Because if it did develop into a relationship, there’s then going to be more demand for time. More desire for time together.”

I’ve said to her in several calls and emails, that while I’m intentional, I am not ambitious or driven to move things along with her. I’m more interested in being with her. Spending time with someone I like. I’m fascinated by her. That is enough.

She is responsive. She is private and protective of her space and time. And she has some magical combination of massive sensuality and creative writerly fantasy woman. DANGER! (I kid myself!)

It’s easy for me to imagine how I would/could fall in love with her. But the first step is just time. Time before the adoration sets in. Time doing simple and mundane things. Mutually arranged and beneficial time together. It’s easy to feel confident when the effort to find another time flows from both sides. If it’s only one partner, the balance shifts in some fundamental way.

It’s important to me that the reaching out is mutual. Last night while we were side by side on the couch, she also reached out and held or stroked my arm from time to time. It was non-sexual, it was awesome, it was just pure affection. I cannot generate that myself. I can draw it in, ask for it, and attempt to stir it up in her, but the reaching out (or reaching back) is up to the other person.

The other woman with potential said something in one our over-thinking sessions, “Because if it did develop into a relationship, there’s then going to be more demand for time. More desire for time together.”

Yes.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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 image: beautiful young couple relaxing, richard foster, creative commons usage


Loaded and Broke, Again: The Drama of Divorce and Money

Dad and Money and Ex-WivesI’ve got my largest two week consulting check coming in, ever. Problem is, it should’ve arrived on Saturday. AND my car stopped running properly on Saturday. AND my ex-y asked for “timing” advice last night. And my client said, “We will get it in the mail this week, sorry we were on Spring Break.”

There is no doubt that cash flow problems hit us all. And I will also admit that I am not very good at mapping bills and expenses to income, especially when things get tight. And sometimes they get so tight…

So the drama between the ex-y and I continues. Except the drama on her side is really for show, for frustration, for antagonism. No, I take that back. She’s not even interested in upsetting me. She would get no benefit from that. But she is not required to take my situation into consideration, nor does she. I’d use the word narcistic, if it weren’t a bad word. Self-centered would probably fit more appropriately.

The part I don’t get, when her wants and desires become the priority in her life, over, let’s say, our kids lives. Let me give a few examples.

Within a month of our divorce being finalized, she was sleeping with a plumber who’d worked on her house. Not that there’s anything wrong with plumbers, but this one had rebound, revenge, self-centered written all over it. A friend told me about it. I was furious. Oops, my bad. I was supposed to be detaching. And of course she had tightened down her chastity belt so tight, I guess her sexual needs could not be contained. All I can say about the plumber was, thank goodness we’d put a 6-month chill clause in our divorce decree, before either of us could introduce a significant other to the kids. I asked her, “What example is he going to set for our kids?” Again, nothing against plumbers, but as the next pseudo-father of my kids, I was aiming a little higher. I understand it’s not my decision, but I have some hopes that he will be a creatively intellectual individual that my kids will admire and aspire to be more like. Again, I never met the man with the dragon tattoo. He may very well have been the Michael Angelo of plumbing.

Another misqueue in my opinion (a problem with that right there, I really don’t have a right to an opinion) was all the times I’d check-in with my kids on a weekend and they’d have a babysitter. Again, I don’t even pretend to imagine the different experience of the world and making a living, between men and women, but it certainly wasn’t sexual companionship she was looking for. She was in the immediate hunt for my replacement as a provider. She was panicked about being alone. (Part of the reason I didn’t want the house, too many ghosts around if the kids weren’t there.) But deeper, I’m guessing, was her fear of not being able to make it alone.

Again, I am speaking about something I know nothing about. I know about money woes. I know about companionship. But I also know that MY healing comes from time alone, feeling the feelings, and working things out. First with myself. Then with another person. She was aggressively trying to fill my spot before she really had to do the work of understanding why it was empty.

So I paid a few weeks late on last months child support, and she made a big deal about how much she needs the money, how dependent she is on my support checks. But it’s bullshit. It’s the clear and present danger in HER mind, but she’s only thinking about herself.

Let’s see: 1. she’s got a house that is worth at least 100k more than her mortgage; 2. she’s got over 25k in retirement accounts; 3. she’s got me paying almost all of her mortgage every month. Where is the money crisis in that?

I think of Bill Hader’s drama queen character. The kids and I watched a couple SNL skits last night before bed. And in this one, Hader played a fireman who was still not over a relationship that had ended over nine years ago. He simply screamed. And screamed. And screamed.

It was a fitting metaphor for my ex-y’s behavior.

1. She knew I was struggling to get last month’s payment to her; 2. She’s working on her own budget for the week/month/year; 3. Like a bill collector, she’s asking when is she getting the next payment and “how can we set this up so it doesn’t affect me and the kids each month?”

Good question, that last one. I’m thinking this is the answer: “Get the fk off my ass for $1600. You are NOT in crisis. You are connecting your emotional vulnerability to the payments from me. They are NOT the same thing. You have plenty of money. I am paying as best I can. Saying “thank you so much” and the bringing the enforcer ask right after is not caring, it’s manipulative. Unfortunately it’s also transparent.

I won’t answer her with this vitriol. It would do no good.

So as I do with the mortgage demands that start coming in the day after the payment is due, I ignore them. She is a detail and a bill collector. She does not have feelings, nor should she need to, about me and my money. It’s just business.

And fk that. I’m a person. I’m also worthy of respect. And before you hammer me about “when is the next check coming in?” please check your balance sheet and know that YOU ARE OKAY. You’re security and joy does not depend on my money. Never did. And I will support you as long as the law demands it and the kids are in school. I am 100% committed to that.

Let’s not forget that she started threatening turning the process over to the Texas Attorney General’s office and Child Support Division a few months ago. She’s just working to get me with the program. Not a very compassionate approach, but I’m not part of her drama unless she can make me part of it.

But this week, when the check comes in. I’m going to pay last months mortgage payment. And a few other bills that have significant weight. Yours no longer carries that priority. And your drama-infused demands no longer have the power to affect me. (To be honest, they still can rile me up. This post is an example.) I will pay you, as I have for 2.5 years. We’ve got approximately 8 to go. And if you continue to scream “oh my god” in your emails to me, I’ll just start putting you in the spam folder with Wells Fargo. They are going to get their money too. Everybody is going to get their money.

Now we need to relax and pay attention to the things that are more important than paying bills or finding a boyfriend/girlfriend. It’s time to wake the kids over here and get them ready for school. And that’s an activity worth my priority and attention. Your self-imagined money crisis, is not.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Alone is Different Than Aloneliness After Divorce

OFF-loneliness

There are hundreds of times during the day that I miss my kids. (The ex, not so much.) And on the days when they are not coming home to MY HOUSE, well…  I can choose to be sad about those days, or…

Alone I have all options open to me. My time is my own. While I still have to make money (and now, supporting two households, it’s even more than it was when I was still married) the time back, the time I would never have been able to negotiate during my marriage, is a great thing. When I’m up, that is.

When I’m down, all time away from my kids is sad time. However, I understand that a whole bunch of that is MY SADNESS, and probably has very little to do with my kids or my divorce.

When I’m DOWN, alone-ness is hard. The things I try to remember are:

  • It ends, I will feel better
  • If I can exercise, even walking around the block, it is better than moping
  • Eating is essential, and eating better is even more critical when you are self-medicating
  • I’m better off not sharing this deep and existential pain with my kids (they will have plenty of time to learn about it for themselves, and they can read my writing about it, LATER.)
  • Getting enough sleep is essential
  • Laughing (movies, games, social media) is good medicine for the mind
  • Waking up at your normal time (not sleeping in unless you are sick) and shaving and taking a shower is good for your body and mind

When I’m UP, well, there’s no lack of projects and activities that I want to get to. I do have to reign in a few things in my UP mode as well.

  • Getting enough sleep is essential (staying up one night in an inspirational fit is okay, two nights is a problem)
  • I still have to do my WORK and pay my BILLS (those things often bring me out of my dream-like creative state, but they must be done)
  • I have to prioritize my time (all play and no work, all fresh air and growth work without any billable hours will get me into trouble pretty quickly)

So today, Sunday, I am still balancing the creative big ideas and the need to get a few hours of work done before Monday morning. And that new guitar sitting over there looking quite pretty and seductive, will have to wait until I get my Dec. hours billed.

I’m alone, but not lonely. And I’m grateful for that. And that I know the difference has had a huge impact on my approach to the feelings of Alone-ness vs. Aloneliness.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: loneliness, ktoine, creative commons usage


Nobody Is Going to Hold Your Dream for You

Our obsession with abs, men and women of the gym crewSo when did we start making love to abs? I’m kinda sick of it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, a sculpted body is nice, and obvious results from a hell of a lot of work… But…

I’ve seen my abs once in my life. I was a sophomore in high school, I was on the swim team and we were swimming twice a day, lifting weights, and eating well. It was all so planned and supported. And I had swimming teammates, and perhaps a romantic interest in more than one of the women on the swim team. It’s kind of what you do up East in the Winter. Swim, Basketball, or Ice Hockey. I swam.

Once in my life I had the abs we so aspire to. But is it like pornography, the uber-fit woman or man? Sure we glamorize the human body. And the magazines are filled with 20 – 30 year olds who have spent a good bit of their free time working on their abs. I can’t think of anything quite so boring.

I’m afraid the effort it takes to maintain that form would completely outweigh the potential time with me, or time fulfilling other parts of what’s important in a life.

I wasn’t one to spend time in a gym. I mean, running on a treadmill going nowhere. What do you do with that? Watch TV? No thanks. And something about being inside, always feels kind of like cheating. But, then again, I live in Texas, and it’s fuckin hot out there. So what’s the trade off?

I probably will not see my iron stomach again in this lifetime. I mean, it’s possible, but it’s not really a goal of mine. I can’t add up the number of hours it would take, doing stuff I don’t like doing, hate actually, over the next 6-months to a year. Um, yeah… Not going to happen.

That’s not to say I don’t have ideas of getting in better shape. I do. It’s just, the learnings I am getting along the journey back to fitness from depression, divorce, and isolation, are unbelievably valuable. It’s a process back to myself. Back to learning what I’m in it for, what I like doing, and what the time is worth that I could be spending “at the gym.”

I have plans. I am getting ready to work with a nutritionist to learn about things like gluten and carbs and my particular chemical make up. But I can tell you this, I have had love handles in some shape and form, since I was 2 years old. And that one brief period of my life, when I was 15, was the only time I’m going to have a GQ-cover-worth stomach.

So that’s not my goal. And while I would love to nuzzle up to the beautiful body above, I’m afraid the effort it takes to maintain that form would completely outweigh the potential time with me, or time fulfilling other parts of what’s important in a life.

She once said to me, about her beauty, “It’s all I have.” She was depressed about her divorce and she drank alone on weekends when she didn’t have her kids.

There’s a lot to be said for physical beauty. And there’s a lot more to be said for attitude, life approach, centeredness, and warmth. (see Enlightenment post) And when I find the next woman, I hope she has a slim figure, it’s what I’m trained to be drawn towards. [It probably has more to do with my older sister’s ghost than any media driven ideal.] But that’s not the first thing I’m looking for or at.

So here’s the concept: No one is going to hold your dream for you. The woman who I met a few weeks ago, who felt like a first possible “match” was not impressed by something. And she couldn’t possibly see the me I am aiming for. And could I actually expect her to understand my self-improvement plan? No, of course, she sees what she sees.

And the lesson here is, SO DO I. I see myself, and if I compare my stomach to my 15-year-old stomach, I might get depressed. But it’s not about my stomach flatness. That might be something that she is interested in. And it might be something that I marginally aspire towards, but it’s nothing like the athletic-gym-addict stomach above.

I recently met, and hung out with a woman who resembles the picture above. She was funny, cute, spunky, and obviously obsessed with her image. She once said to me, about her beauty, “It’s all I have.” She was depressed about her divorce and she drank alone on weekends when she didn’t have her kids. [The definition of tragedy.]

We can’t set anyone else’s priorities or reprogram their dreams. The near match woman was as close as I’ve come to someone who seemed balanced.

But she didn’t have time for me. I wasn’t stalking her or anything. We went out dancing one of those vodka nights. And we had a blast. And I was only able to wrestle one more meeting out of her, over coffee where she fiddled with her iPad the entire time.

Her email later said it all. “We can have fun. I just have to get some more of my life back together first.”

A few months later I saw her running on the trail around the lake. There was a moment of recognition and she ducked her head and ran on past. Yes, fine, I didn’t want to interrupt her run.

Later I pinged her via email. “Did I see you this afternoon on the trail?”

“Yes, that’s about all I have time for, being a single parent and all. Work, working out, and taking care of my kids.”

“Okay, well, you looked good. Hope you are well. Cheers.”

That’s what we’re all doing. Setting priorities between work, self, kids, relationships, spiritual practice. There’s only so many hours, and of course, you are what you pay attention to.

So I’m happy with a flat and fit stomach on others. And I do want to get mine in better proportion to how I would like to look. But if I start aspiring towards my old 16-year-old body, I can lose sight of my own priorities.

We can’t set anyone else’s priorities or reprogram their dreams. The near match woman was as close as I’ve come to someone who seemed balanced. And if I’d been more balanced, maybe she’d have seen the same spark I saw. But, of course, she could not hold the idea of who I was becoming, or where I was going. How could she? There’s no one who is going to hold your dream for you.

No worries. Of course she is out there. And the me I want to be is too. Oh wait… The me I want to be is right here. I need to remember that.

It gets better.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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