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

Posts tagged “beauty

Divorce Recovery: Loving Yourself Better, So You Can Eventually Love Again


Getting right with yourself after divorce is the biggest challenge you’re going to face. All the mechanics of divorce, will eventually take care of themselves. But the emotional fallout might be a bit tougher. I often rely on the language and support of the 12-steps to recover my balance when I’m under the rock of depression or sadness.

And for me, the biggest part of that recovery was regaining some self-confidence and self-love. I felt defeated and broken when I walked out of my marital home and into the world of single dads everywhere. I knew the loss that was coming, now and for the rest of my life I would not have unlimited access to my kids and their hopes and dreams. That loss is still the hardest part for me. I used to love going in late at night and appreciate (give thanks) for their beating and healthy little hearts. Now I can’t to that on most of the nights.

But the areas in me that needed healing were much more personal.

  • I didn’t feel sexy or desirable
  • My extra weight felt like a fat-sumo-wrestling-suit
  • The sadness made it hard to exercise at all
  • My initial attempts at dating felt desperate and disconnected
  • Loss of all touch and closeness (except for friends and my kids)
  • Loss of the hope that I would ever be with another woman
  • My mental processes were so wrapped up in ruminating the past, that I felt slow and unintelligent most of the time

And at the deepest core of my pain, I wasn’t sure my body, my soul, was worth all the effort it was going to take to resurface and regain my position as a strong father. A strong single father. At a few dark moments, it just didn’t seem worth it. But then I remembered my dad, and what the loss of him in my early twenties did to me, and I soldiered on.

I go from moments of feeling fit and healthy to feeling fat and uninspired, often in the course of one day. And it’s not that I’m fat one day and not-fat the next. It’s more about how I see and talk to myself.

Today, four-ish years after I walked out on my kids and married life (not my idea) there are still points of pain and sadness, but overall I’d have to say I’ve recovered most of my energy and enthusiasm. I still miss my kids on the nights they are not here with me, but we’re managing. All of us are managing.

Today I read a piece about how the human body ages over time, written from a very healthy and zen perspective. And while I don’t do all these things, I wanted to share them, and the source article, in hopes that you might find some inspiration for your own journey. You are worth it. Whatever you have to go through to get back on top of your game, whatever it is, DO IT.

Here are the  8 Things I Learned from 50 Naked People – published in The Elephant Journal.

breath in - the off parent

click for larger version

So let’s spend a brief moment together, breathing *that* in. I could spend a long time trying to absorb these wonderful affirmations into my own self-image.

The physical body needs love: Your body doesn’t lie.

What are the things that need healing around your body image? I’ll share mine.

The thing your most embarrassed about: my size. Notice I didn’t say weight. I go from moments of feeling fit and healthy to feeling fat and uninspired, often in the course of one day. And it’s not that I’m fat one day and not-fat the next. It’s more about how I see and talk to myself. And I’m working on it, on just loving whatever I am at the moment. Today those emotions are more tripped up by something I ate or bloating, rather than some massive increase in my girth.

And what I can do about it:

  1. A better diet (not dieting)
  2. Fewer rich indulgences (they tend to breed next indulgences: frappucinos, ice creams)
  3. More activity (doing what I love)
  4. More energy from healthy activities; 4
  5. Emotional boost and joy from being in a relationship (when that happens).

I’ve got a gentler way of talking to my 50-year-old self. I’m still easily influenced and sometimes angered by fat obsession. And I’ve never really felt fit enough since I left high school hyper athletics: I lettered in three sports and was always driving myself to win.

Now, of course, the matches are less important, and it’s the game that makes me happy. Even losing, I can appreciate the skill and performance of the other players. (Tennis is my passion.) But I love playing. I love seeing a player who has it all and disassembles my game with several well-placed shots at critical moments during the match. It’s a chance to watch my own emotions and my own reaction to winning (when I win) and losing (when I get creamed). And that too is about balance.

So I lost at marriage. And here on out I have to learn to be a single dad to my two kids. So what. Sometimes the game doesn’t go the way you want it to, so you move on, try something different, and give up only after the last point is played.

So my embarrassment about my fatness is really leftover shit. I’m not *that* fat. I’ve been much fatter. And healthy, for me, is not obsessing about fit or fat, but focusing on eating better and playing more tennis. And knowing that we’re not getting any younger when I look back at some college photos of me when I was (at that time) feeling quite fat, and noticing how great I looked.

I’m guessing if we could look back on our “now” selves from our “much older” selves, we’d admire our energy and vigor. We would probably not say how fat we were. We might, but those are the tapes I am eliminating from my vocabulary, both inner and outer. So much of what we say to ourselves is mean. If you say it out loud, you might hear how to be more supportive of your process, as you would be supportive of a friend.

I’m not trying to become a model. I’m not really trying to call in some much younger women who are super-fit and perhaps more focused on super-fit guys. I’m not going to be that guy. But I am aware of things more tangible, like my energy, my optimism, and creativity, my blood pressure. All those signs are GREAT. What more can I ask for?

Perhaps a partner who’s on the same trajectory of self-love and healing from fat-shaming. We’re not fat. We’re where we are. And we’re here to love ourselves, and with luck, others.


The Off Parent

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image: love handles are whorey handles, laura g, creative commons usage

The Happy, the Fit, and the Beautiful


I’m not a huge fan of artificial beauty. And to be honest, I’m a little afraid of the uber-fit or uber-beautiful, but that’s my problem. When looking for my next relationship all of these things have to be taken into account, and some of them are contradictory.


That is my number one indicator of success in a relationship. I KNOW how happy I am, and I project this joy and enthusiasm everywhere I go. I have been married twice, to people who liked to bask in my joyous glow, but perhaps did not have as much radiance to contribute themselves. I have begun learning, as I have now dated several women, that happiness is the biggest turn-on there is, for me.


The obsession with glorious abs is a bit overblown in my opinion. When my wife was in her fittest mode, she felt a bit hard and unhealthy. There was a edge to her attention to fitness and getting her run in, regardless of what needed to be done. Now I understand the runner’s need to run. But when she was her fittest she was also her most obsessive about everything else. And in contrast, when she had just given birth to our second child, and was probably at her softest, body wise, and heart-wise, I thought she was about perfect.

Why do 90% of the people on the trail who are running look so uncomfortable? And us walkers seem much happier.

I’ve met the fit-obsessed women in my recent years of singlehood, and talking about “working out” is probably one of the last things I find fascination with. Um, do it, run, swim, diet, Pilates, whatever, but don’t make a life’s journey about. OR, if you do, I guess you need to find someone else who has the same priority in life. My priority is health, wellness, and how I feel about myself. The six-pack abs of my high school swim team days are long gone.

I’d rather walk around the lake with you than try and keep up a conversation while we’re jogging. Besides, if you don’t run correctly you’re probably in for more injuries and less overall quality of life, that greatly outweighs the longevity benefits in my life. There was a joke once about how for every hour you ran you added a day of life to your mortality. The punchline, yes, but you just spent an hour running.

Why do 90% of the people on the trail who are running look so uncomfortable? And us walkers seem much happier. And I don’t really see the runners=fit walkers=not-as-fit concept holding up as I observe the men and women on the trail. There are just as many obese people running as there are fit people walking. Again, fitness and uber-fitness (or fitness obsession) are different things.


There is something about a beautiful face or smile that can transform any body type into a potential. But there are also a lot of beautiful people who are unhappy. It may not be due to their outward appearance, but it seems the most beautiful people I’ve ever met have been pretty neurotic in some fundamental way. Either they were overly focused on their hair, makeup, clothes, shoes, etc. to really pay much attention to their attitudes or their mental/spiritual programs. No, beauty is not a spiritual attainment, but it can be a part of someone’s life that is more of a burden than a blessing.

I have never known chemistry to develop over time. Either you have a tail wag or you don’t.

And with beauty I have to talk about my fixation on women’s shoes. 90% of the time, when I see a woman in Carry Bradshaw heals I think, “Gross.” And it’s not that I don’t think some of them are quite sexy, but it’s something else. Perhaps it’s the extravagance of a $500 pair of fashion accessories that is distasteful to me, but I don’t really know an expensive one from a cheap knockoff. Perhaps it’s the “porn look” that I associate with this kind of foot ware, the in-the-mall-look-at-me sort of vibe. And I am willing to admit that it’s my problem. But something about a woman in really sexy shoes says, “No thanks,” to me. And I’ve known men who were just as shoe obsessed, but it was running shoes, lots and lots of running shoes. There’s something a bit hedonistic about a shoe obsession, and when the budgets have monthly dollars assigned to them, I’m just baffled.

Anyway, what I’m learning about, in my short dating career is that all of these things factor together to make a YES or a NO for me, for my base animal instinct, we like to refer to as chemistry. It’s either we are wagging our tail when we see the other person or we are not. And if we are both wagging our tails we can start imagining or drafting ideas about a relationship.

I have never known chemistry to develop over time. Either you have a tail wag or you don’t. There are “maybe” tail wags, that might actually be an indication of something that could be build more firmly on the rest of the relationship, but most of us want the strong, leg-slapping, tail wag of passion before we’re ready to invest in building a relationship.

And of course, there are the casual daters who are looking for nothing more than an opportunity to exploit the tale of another animal without any concern about “where things are going.” That’s okay too, but it’s just not me. I tried casual sex and I’m not that into it. But maybe I haven’t had the leg-slapper yet either. And if I did, I imagine I would want to start building something where there may be nothing to build.


The Off Parent

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images: smile, sexy fit, beauty, creative commons usage

There Is No Fountain of Youth; Let’s Find A Deeper Level of Connection

Youth is not the answerI guess it’s traditionally a woman thing. This obsession with youth, taut breasts, eye wrinkles, etc. And maybe culture HAS established this bar of glamour. Magazines, television, movies, celebrity, we are in love with the beautiful. And for many youth has it’s allure. But it’s very thin this skin deep obsession. And in this moment, I am trying to understand even more clearly want my own wants and desires are, and what drives my taste vs my passion.

I was educated on a woman’s body by Penthouse magazine. And before you glaze over and discount this observation, I want you to understand that in my generation, that’s what we had. And yes there was a very clear distinction between Penthouse and Playboy. Playboy was about big tits. Penthouse was about showing the vagina. And occasionally Penthouse taunted and trained us with the obsessive fantasy of lesbians. Hot lesbians. Lipstick lesbians, who while, into each other at the moment, would clearly like us to enter the picture at any moment. That was the bill of goods we were being fed.

And maybe the irony is, you were raised on a different kind of porn, but porn nonetheless. Women’s fashion magazines are part the media training that you received in identifying what was beautiful and what a real man desired.

We’ve both been sold a load of crap. And the lie continues. Even the medical authorities have gotten into the game with longevity medicine. Now, in addition to Botox and lifts you can have your biological chemistry measured and you can subscribe to a supplement regimen that is guaranteed .. Oh wait, no guarantees… Sorry.

There are a few elixirs that I DO know of that work. And the remarkable thing is, they work for both of us, men and women. Here’s what I believe about fitness and beauty.

Yoga is probably to perfect exercise. It incorporates self-reflection, patience, meditation, and relaxation. The term flexibility that applies to yoga is also a topical remedy to everything life throws us. Understand and learn how to be flexible. Move when the pressure is too much. Breath into the issue and see if there is an answer in the pause.

Water and supplements are required. No matter how well you eat, unless you’re paying a chef to keep you healthy, you will probably need a supplement or two. In the functional medicine world, these supplements can be expensive and very pinpointed for your “condition.” A very popular local MD has a two month waiting list to get into her “program.” And the opening volley is two thousand dollars. Before supplements  Nice if you can afford it, but… You can afford a very high-quality organic vitamin from Whole Foods that should cover a good portion of your nutrient deficiencies. (Of course I have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m just saying, you probably need supplements of some sort, so get the best vitamin you can afford and take it.) And if you are drinking other things MORE than water, try and continue to shift the balance back towards water. Clean water.

What you eat can have a huge effect on your health, weight, appearance. So pay attention to what works or does not work for your body. I recently started doing a paleo regimen  and I dropped 17 lbs without really adding much additional exercise to my planning. I’m back up about 5 lbs from that point, because I added some breads and desserts in as a celebration. The celebration is over. Back to simple meat and veggies.

Exercise is fun if you like to do it. If you don’t, find something you DO like to do. I love tennis. I love walking around the lake where hundreds of others are walking. And I almost always work with great music driving me on. If you don’t exercise your body will have less resilience.  And without exercise your diet is going to help but not kick you back into the fitness level YOU desire.

Let’s get this straight. I’m not ever going to have the body I had as a high school swimmer. BUT, a man my age, I’m not really interested in looking for the high school swimmer to date either. The young woman in the picture above is beautiful, and just starting out in life. She’s more a daughter figure than a date. And while the porn and media still show us the 20-somethings as the object of affection, I’ve pretty much moved on.

Youth is amazing to look at. And youth needs our guidance to keep their orientation on career path rather than glamour, cheerleading, or sports. Sure, do those things too. Be popular. But think about what you are going to do for a living.

And as far as our generation goes (I’m at the tail-end of the boomer generation) let’s let go of gravity-free breasts, cheeks caked and injected, and hair so processed it’s not really hair, it’s a wig.

As the ex-y went from a runner physique to a mother physique I was pleased. Very happy with both incarnations of her beautiful body. And when her breast went from beauty to utility and then ended their supply run, I was still just as in love with them, as they had aged gracefully and naturally.

I’m no authority on fashion or cultural stereotypes, but I know that I have my own youthful-addiction when it comes to beautiful bodes in movies, music videos, and on the net. (Not so much into porn these days, as touch is so much more critical path for me.) And I still, personally, go for the bad girl. Even when all the signs are there. And I’m guessing this is partially the culture and media culture as well.

Here’s a final example of my own whacked out beauty measuring stick. In the video below make a note that Courtney Love is 45 years old in the video and has had hundreds of thousands of dollars of plastic surgery done to tuck and sculpt her into this bad girl. And the bass player, who is much more my type, is also a figment of our imagination, rather than a real person. How they smile, tease and entice with their siren’s looks and come hither moves. Oh…

Courtney Love the poster-child of fked up

click for video

But we know for a fact that Courtney Love has some serious mental problems. And yet, she’s desirable. BUT, I will note, not in a relationship kind of way, but in a pretty-to-look-at obsessive way.

The end of the video has a surreal moment with a beach full of women in lifeguard bathing suits carrying baby dolls at their breasts. And Ms. Love walking through them and tears off her dress and jumps in the ocean.

Her final lyrics are, “I can’t be near you, the light just radiates. I can’t be near you, the light just radiates.” And from the wikipedia entry, Love is “a woman who, for the last 15 years, has been as famous for being a rock star as she’s been for being a victim.” Courtney Love

This Barbara Walters interview shows a bit of the train wreck of Courtney Love. But I think this picture of the vixen at Cochella this year, shows a bit more clearly how the facade is not holding up that well. And still, there is a that bad girl appeal somewhere in my gut. YUK. No thank you. Maybe this is reinforcing the “youth” stereotype, but it’s not her youth or lack of youth that is appealing or appalling. It’s her entire show.

cochella 2013 courtney love is a mess


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.


The Off Parent