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

Posts tagged “recovering from divorce

On Domestics, Exotics, and Sports Cars (An Aspirational Relationship Metaphor)

Exotics, Domestics, and Sports Cars

I am pretty sure I would have a hard time picking any domestic car that I would be happy with. In the same way, I’m pretty sure I would feel like I was settling if I didn’t aspire to be with a beautiful woman. And then there are the exotics. The Ferrari’s of the woman world, lulu lemons, fit, mid-day at the local Whole Foods still slightly damp from their yoga or crossfit class. Oui!

Now, stepping back and looking at my 2.5 years of post-divorce longing I have a few more data points into my likes, loves, and must haves. And most recently, I ended (mutually, I might add) a relationship with a beautiful woman, who floored me with her ability to express her feelings, and completely disarmed my defensive resistance by her adoration. “She really digs me,” became one of my refrains when describing her. I said it internally, as a mantra, like one continuous healing prayer. “She digs me, she digs me, she really really digs me, someone could really dig me, she digs me…”

There was nothing not to like about this sports car model. She was fast, sleek, shiny, responsive, and did I mention, she adored me?

But…

And this was the hard thing for me to fathom… At some level she was not the brand of sports car that got my pulse all hot and ready to go.

At first my internal dialogue sounded something like this… “Oh shit, I’m older, oh crap, I’m fat, oh hell, I’m depressed, oh my fucking god, I’m having sexual disfunction for the first time in my 49-year life. (Of course, I’m 50 now, a point we used to laugh about, me being the younger man and all.) But it was a mystery to me, how this “perfect” model could be more *ho hum* than *rev rev*. And it saddened me a bit.

But I went with it. I often over think things. I WAS depressed when she met me. And fuck if I knew what my brain or dick was thinking. Maybe it was my meds. God forbid if it was my desire or my erectile proficiency. God forbid!

The first month my dialogue went like this, “Oh I don’t know what I want, I don’t know what I need, I need this, I really need more of this, this is incredible, but… well… why am I not getting the *burn* for her?”

The second month my inner dialogue sounded a bit different, “Well, we’ve only been together a month, there’s no reason to jump to conclusions, I don’t have to move in or marry her right away, it sure feels good when she’s here, really really good, what is wrong with my dick and desire, how is there such a beautiful woman who digs me and I’m looking her gift mouth in the horse?”

Moving into the third month things began to get a bit more frustrated and my self talk took on a new quality, “She’s amazing, she’s everything I want, she’s beautiful, she’s stable, she’s got her finances together, she’s a HUGE plus, I could really see combining forces with someone like her, but… It’s not her?” I did my best not to thrash with my emerging thread, “It’s not her. It’s not really (consciously) me. It’s something else. It must be chemistry.”

Adding one more metaphor into the mix, I started trying to understand the ON and OFF switch to be something a bit more mammalian. “Two dogs meet up in the park, they sniff and size each other up, and based completely on their animal instincts, one of them wags an expressive and desirous tail and the other dog walks away with indifference.” There’s no accounting for size, color, breed… Nothing. It’s as if some internal radar system that detects passion level is ON for one of the participants and the the other is a MAYBE or an OFF. There’s no point in dissecting the WHY at some point. For the dogs it just IS. There’s no shame for either dog. It’s just the magic game of life and love.

So, my girlfriend was a sports car to be sure. There were a few things that were different from any previous relationship I’d been in. There were a lot of things I could point to as desirable and great qualities. But some internal radar was not wagging my tail. Why struggle and fight?

Except I wanted to observe what things DID make my tail wag. I did want to see if the logic and affection could override the heart.

In my case, the heart won.

As we moved into the holidays, there were moments of great joy and moments of disconnect. She had a catch phrase that would pop up at times when we hadn’t seen each other for a while. “How is it with your heart?” she would ask.

I could never really come out and say it. “Um…”

We both knew what she was asking. She was checking my pulse. In her own way she was asking, “So… You feel it now?”

An amazing thing connection we had kicked our connection off in an amazing way. We were both graduates of the WYRE divorce recovery class, given in town by a psychologist who’d been leading the classes for over 25 years. I was a graduate of class number 172 and a facilitator of class 173. When we made that shared connection at about minute 20 of our first “date” it was a slippery slope into bed. We were both hungry. I was ravenous.

So the other day, post “back-to-friends” change with the girlfriend, I was out with my daughter. We ran into a woman who was one of the most charming exotics I’d ever met. “She’s almost too pretty,” I said to my daughter, who was gunning for me to ask this new woman on a date. “She liked you,” said my little 10-yo wingman.

There was a blood rush that happened the moment she began talking to us. A smile, a tone of voice, a laughing style of talking. WAG WAG WAG. She’s also 10+ years younger than myself. No ring, so there was that as well.

I was a bit intoxicated as we left the “party” in the local high-end dog treat store. She was “selling” for a local high-end veterinarian business that was nearby. Maybe she was selling, I thought. Surely someone that pretty and happy has a boyfriend. Surely.

My concern with the exotic in general goes something like this, “She’s hit on by every man in a 100 yard radius. Eventually Brad Pitt is going to show up and she’s gonna go with THAT exotic.” But that’s a projection of my own insecurity. For me, once there’s a lock, there’s a loyalty and a trust that can be established that is unbreakable. I’ve seen it. I know it exists. I’ve experienced on my side. And I’ve seen it fall apart on the other side, IF it ever really existed.

So, I’m into exotics but I’m a bit scared of the intoxication that goes along with them. (Lot’s of preconceived notions about who they are and how easy their stroll through life has been. Of course that stereotype is bullshit. But still hard to shake.) BUT, the funny thing was, when the tail wag happened there was very little I could do to stop the rush, longing, the “hey, let’s go sniff around that for a bit more.”

She was charming. She was selling services to a local vet. She said how pretty my daughter was. She made sure we had the $25-off coupon. I made sure we said good bye in a “see ya later” way.

I don’t drive an exotic. But I don’t drive a domestic either. I drive something on the sporty side of sports cars. A solid german car with a bit of a AWD punch added in. I love my car. I am loyal to it. I don’t have eyes for ANY OTHER CAR. That’s the way I roll, I guess.

And that was the final tell for me in the relationship to the beautiful ex-girlfriend. I was clearly not DONE when I was with her. I wanted to be DONE, I wanted to be SET, I wanted to be LOVED. But I was unsatisfied at some dog-brain level.

She and I used our training from the WYRE class to discuss our friendship, hope for the other person to find what REALLY lit up their passion radar on all levels. And mostly, we hoped for each other that the adoration would be mutual. She deserved someone who adored her, who coveted her, who IMPRINTED and LOCKED on her scent, color, strength, and passion. She deserved more than I could offer. And her, “How’s it with your heart,” question pretty much illuminated how much she knew that and desired it too.

As we were having coffee and breakfast after the breakup, I told her, “You have been my best friend for three months. I don’t want to give that up. I will continue to care about you and encourage you to not settle for anything but AMAZING.”

We are good friends. She’s a lighthouse who brought me out of the deepest of self-fogs. She illuminated the possibilities in my heart before I could seen them for myself. She loved me out of my stupor. And I will continue to LOVE her, I even said it in a txt or email last night, in a different and powerful way.

She is my healing relationship. (a WYRE concept) She still IS.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Oh, “that” Conversation Comes Up – Post-Divorce Holidays

she asked the big question, do you love meIt happened last night. The “big” conversation. It wasn’t that I was trying to avoid it, but I didn’t really prepare for it. What can you do? Be open and honest.

She, the “girlfriend,” was asking about the balance in our relationship. She was/is/has been expressing her desire and affection for me. She was curious if I was enjoying our relationship for something more than affection, comfort, sex, and closeness.

Huh?

Okay, I knew what she was asking. In a subtle way, she’s been asking all along, “Do you love me?” Not directly, that’s not what she was asking, but she wasn’t hearing the words she was seeking when she professed her affection for me.

I tried to explain:

“I’m unpacking a lot of old baggage. You are helping me un-armor and open up. And we connect on so many levels. I am certain that I don’t know the answer to what  you are asking, but I am giving you all of my available time, I’m not looking for another relationship, I am here.”

She retreated to the familiar, “It’s okay. I mean, I know you like me a lot.”

And I didn’t say this, “That is enough. That is all I have.”

We’ve been “dating” for 95 days. And it is Christmas. Her first Christmas post-divorce. This is my third. And I’m damn happy. Well, I’m not 100% happy. I’m still missing my kids deeply. But I’m confident that they are in an okay place with their mom, and they will be excited to see and be with me starting tomorrow at 2pm. (Christmas Day.)

And she may be right when she says that she’s my “healing relationship.” And I’m okay with that. But what I do know, is that I have very few “adult” experiences of being with another person.

We are equals. She doesn’t need me. We have good solid lives. We enjoy time together. And we make plans to spend as much time together as possible.

What more is there, at this point in our trajectory? Anything else would be jumping the gun, in my opinion. And I’m certainly not stepping in to fill her Christmas sadness. I can’t. I don’t want to. And I won’t. She’s got to work that out on her own. I will be there. I will hold her. And I will be with her and her kids tonight, Christmas eve. (Because I can’t be with mine!)

And we will be boyfriend and girlfriend.

And that’s enough, for now.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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What You Can’t Leave Behind After Divorce

Kids. Pets. A House. A neighborhood. A lifestyle.

looking for love after divorceThere is no escape from your history with this person. And the loss of so many touchpoints in such a short period of time… Devastating. As I tried to capture in the Jetpack post, you have no idea that you are about to go into free fall, but it is coming nonetheless. And the reaction and recovery from that shock can determine your trajectory over the next several years, maybe lifetime.

Another U2 song then quickly becomes a new anthem. “I Still Haven’t Found, What I’m Looking For.”

One of the things I realize, as I am now single again, is my complete commitment to my previous relationship. What I was certain of, and what perhaps prevented me from noticing the devastating changes in my marriage, as it was falling apart, is I was IN. There was no hesitation or ambiguity about my loyalty. Even as I fell further and further into lonliness and depression–WHILE STILL MARRIED–I was unaware that the foundation of my marriage was in danger. For me I was still 100% committed. While my ex-y had already consulted with a lawyer about “options.”

So I’m learning, or at least exploring, that adoration must go both ways for me. And I’m not talking yoga instructor hot, but there has to be a sense of overwhelm, intoxication, before I’m convinced that the object of my affection is enough. I’m still trying to figure out if that is an unrealistic or unhealthy expectation. Or if it is a requirement that wraps up my imagination in a way that excludes any other woman.

Too much intoxication or obsession signals a different problem. And probably points to an unhealthy relationship with my primary care providers, mom and dad. But not enough and I’m not sure that I’ve found what I’m looking/longing for.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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The Good Side of Divorce – Making Things Go Easier

my son's observations of me

Sometimes it takes a 3rd party to show you how good you’ve got it. This weekend a sitter asked my kids to write a simple page about why they like me. Above is my son’s observation. (I’ll share my daughter’s in a later post about fathers and daughters.) A few of the things I am grateful for in my divorce (see it’s not all rant and rave):

  1. We don’t fight (we didn’t, but we still don’t)
  2. We always put the kids first (if I can be flexible and help her, it’s best for the kids. If I get more kid time as a result, so much the better.)
  3. She’s a great mom and I try and recognize that as much as possible. (She’s not just the mother of my children, she’s someone who I still care about deeply. And she has a huge responsibility with the SOP in getting them to school, fed, loved, and cared for. And she rocks it. Regardless of how my anger often blows out on this blog, I don’t…Try not to…let any of it fly her way.)
  4. I have a lot of time to grow myself into a better dad, a better lover (eventually), and a more responsive and expressive human.
  5. My kids and I can get silly for hours at a time. (some of the policing she provided, might not have been necessary. Now we don’t have it. I’m the police, jester, and mediator, all in one.)
  6. When I have my kids I am ON 100%. (Dating and all the crap that goes with finding a new relationship, takes a back seat to my kids. Always. I’m glad we have a 6-month before introducing a GF or BF rule, but I haven’t even gotten close. I’m not looking for “almost’ or “good enough” this next time around. I’m looking for extraordinary.)
  7. She takes the best care of them she can. (I was always amazed at the kid-centered activities she could come up with. She’s better with the school activities. She’s much better with painting and crafts with friends… She’s got a ton of great gifts that she is giving to them as well.)

+++ No buts.

My anger is my own. My kids are a shared resource and responsibility. My ex-y is a wonderful human being who is doing her best in the world.

We’re done, but we’re never DONE. Like it or not, she’s in my life for the duration too. Her eventual BF-to-husband, is merely a matter of time. Dr. Marriage Divorce Counsellor said, “The deciding parent is often a lot more able and willing to move on. They’ve been moving on long before the actual divorce happens.”

How that still makes me sad I don’t know. But she moved on. And the more I support her “what’s next” the better it is going to be for my kids. (It might still hurt, but that’s part of growing into this new world order, and getting on with what is good for me too.)

This blog aside, I keep my shit to myself for the most part. Maybe too much when we were married, to the detriment of my own happiness. But I don’t have to do that now. My anger is my own. My kids are a shared resource and responsibility. My ex-y is a wonderful human being who is doing her best in the world. It is my hope that The Off Parent is more about me and my struggles, joy, and recovery than it is a bitch-fest about her. Sure I can go there. But in the real world, I leave as much of it HERE as possible.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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