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

Posts tagged “breaking up

Go Big This Time, Or Go Home: Looking for a Long-Term Relationship

girl in the deep end


Several more creative titles came to mind when framing up this post: “She’s Come Undone,” or “Girl In the Deep End of the Pool.” But I needed to remember that this is not a philosophical post, it’s a hardship post. It’s about the harder side of dating, that I had yet to encounter.

She texted me, “Don’t stand me up. I need a drink.”

But I’d already decided a few days ago that she was NOT the one. AND in my current state of mind, anything, anyone, BUT THE ONE, is a waste of time. So why is this so much harder to do than I anticipated?

The hard thing to realize, even if I know it, is that she will not hurt any less tomorrow if I go along with the plan tonight.

She’s nice. She’s pretty. She really really really likes me. (Might be a red flag.) And she just wants to get together again. In response to my “I’m not ready for this relationship right now,” text she pleaded, “Just call me. It’s not going to be hard. It will be a good call.” She was quite convincing about how easy-going she is. And how she understands “people with kids.”

She doesn’t understand at all.

So I paused the train. I attempted to get off without hurting any feelings. But it’s not going to be that easy. And today, Monday, it’s not going that well. She’s had a hard day. She began buzzing my phone about two hours ago. When her “contract” workday ended. I talked to her. And again she confessed to having a really shitty day. Looks like her work might not continue after another two weeks. And in the place where I would feel compassion and outreach for someone, I was wanting to be in a relationship with, I simply felt tired by the exchange. I didn’t want to meet her for a drink. And at this moment… I won’t. But she doesn’t know that yet.

Why is it easier for us to see disaster in another person’s life so much easier than in our own? I was having dinner with a friend last night and it was easy to coach her a bit in the “get the assholes stuff out of your house NOW” vein. And today she’s texting me, “How did it go?” I’m embarrassed to say, I was still embroiled.

I don’t want to be the bad guy. I don’t want to be the hurter. UG. BUT… here’s the point I’m clear on, I’m not going to be in a “relationship” with this woman. We kissed, it was good. We kissed a lot. And I realized I was not interested in her. END OF STORY.

The hard thing to realize, even if I know it, is that she will not hurt any less tomorrow if I go along with the plan tonight. In fact, I know, she will feel worse. Much less me. I don’t want to spend this evening nursing this dying quail of a relationship. I want to move on. I want to go for a walk. I want to think about NEXT. And her kisses don’t sound like a good idea under any circumstances.

While she’s not a drug addict or a mean person, she’s not the right relationship for me. Anything less is compromising.

So how do we extricate ourselves from a person who simply does not want to be extricated? How do we grow the balls to say NO with a firm and loving hand? EVEN when they’ve had a bad day, a hard life, any number of hardships. We still need to say NO. But it hurts.

So I’m going to call her now. I’m going to say no. I’m going to be firm.

Oh fuck, maybe I’ll go for a walk first. Sort my head a bit. Then call her. Tonight and her waiting is nothing compared to the drop of the other shoe. And I need to get myself in a place where I will not compromise. I told my friend, last night, “You need to get clear of this shit.” While she’s not a drug addict or a mean person, she’s not the right relationship for me. Anything less is compromising. And that’s the deal I have with myself today. NO COMPROMISE.

Easy to say, harder to do.

I’ll post an update, but first a walk. A good, long, walk. Alone. (Instead, I bought tickets for a movie and called her from the park near the theater. The story continues here: Obeying the Speed Limits, and The Daily Journey)


The Off Parent

*post originally written April 2013

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open window (a poem)

the open window

the open window

there was a moment
as she turned away
breeze was billowing
with an afternoon coolness
the bedsheets felt rough
our attempt missed
i returned to the window
looking down
at the frigid mediterranean sea
crashing on the rocks below
all night
the window called us
to swim
or jump
or leave
just get up
get out of this horror
that should’ve been a honeymoon
but was something else
a dying gasp
and non-refundable tickets
to some paradise
we had spoken of many times
while i was still hopeful


grey moon (a poem)

grey moon

grey moon

there was this moment
when i felt the end
of my love
it wasn’t a big thing
more like a quiet pop
as i imagined your leaving
and my relief

the weather had turned colder
the beds were unmade
and warm from snuggling
something in the coffee
tasted bitter
sent a shiver to my deepest heart

i will pause here
be quiet
listen to the words
and less to my cooling mood

knowing i don’t always
make the right decision
when it comes to the heart
or leaving
or staying
or letting go


walk me through the changes (a poem)

walk me through the changes

walk me through the changes

walk me through the changes
take me down the road
until the pain and crying ends
where waves and smiles rule
hear comes the fear again
welcomed and unwelcome
loved and unspoken
the underneath anger
underbelly of our history
are we so fragile
and prone to repeat
that we can’t find release
within caresses and chest pillows
that love no longer feels
like a joy
but more like a risk
an angle of repose
we strike
take me with you
as you leave this place
of misunderstanding
and misguided attempts
at healing ourselves
within the flame and passion
of a lover


she sets herself on fire (a poem)

girl in water

girl in water

the moment arrived
and all was not well
not as it seemed
just minutes before
as tears cascaded
between us
i could feel a part of me
leaving the room
leaving her
leaving the beautiful dream
of her


What I Can’t Get Over or Forgive

We said we wanted to be together for the rest of our lives. And sure things changed and go weird, toxic even, but I was still in there fighting for my life as well as the relationship. When you made a choice OUT of the relationship, the whole house of cards came down around us. We cried together. But it was still you that had given up. Whatever your reasons, I can’t forget that you asked me to leave the house. Your house, I know, but still… You broke our promise to fight for the relationship.

I can only talk about my experience of the last 6 months of our relationship. It wasn’t pretty. And I own that a lot of the mess was my mess. I was chemically depressed in a way that I had not known since my 20s. And I couldn’t break out of it. My meds were off. Nothing was working. But I was working desperately to keep it together. And of course you couldn’t have known how bad it actually was. So perhaps, to you, I appeared lazy or unmotivated. That was far from the truth. My own internal truth.

When the wedding was called off the idea was it would be rescheduled as things regained a balance between us. But I think you began to leave the relationship in many ways from that point forward. Sure, you were in charge. You had the money and the nice job. And you had a tight grip on my balls too. But I colluded with that. I was gripping tightly to try to keep you even in the midst of my crippling depression. And that clinging was not good for either of us.

But there was another elephant in the room with us, that I was too afraid to bring up. As they say, each partner is 100% responsible for their own participation and failure in a relationship. I was unaware how powerful your drinking had become in weighing me down. Of course my dad was an alcoholic. And I’m not saying you are or you aren’t an alcoholic. I guess that distinction has to be owned by you. But I do know that your drinking affected me. It affected us. It was a problem in the relationship. And it was this reason, in the end that I decided to cut our Summer together short once you gave me the ultimatum.

What I wasn’t expecting was how much relief I experienced after moving out. As much as I loved you and looked forward to you getting home every night, I was also afraid of you as well. When you drank you sometimes got bitter and vindictive. Sure, you said you were better able to speak your mind after a few drinks, but once you were working on drink number three, there was no discussion to have. You were checking out and saying mean shit, and I had no way to respond. Talking to or reasoning with someone who is drunk is a zero sum game. So we isolated, even while we were together. And it made me very sad. But amidst all of my self-absorption, I was unable to see how powerful an effect it had on me. Until I left. When I left I got real clear, real fast, that I was no longer afraid. I had no more anxiety. It was like a miracle cure. I wasn’t even aware of the suppression that your drinking was causing in me.

Still, I was willing to keep working on it. Maybe you could control your consumption. Maybe you’d want to if I got well again.

But one of the first things you learn in Al Anon is you can’t focus on the other person. You can’t cause them to change. The only person you can work on is you. So I have worked tirelessly on myself. I have worked to let you go. I have worked to love you anyway, and walk away from you at the same time. It’s heartbreaking, but I’m healing.

I hope in your future you take the path of recovery, but I can’t count on it or wait on it. For now, we can’t really be in a relationship. For now, I can only watch you from a distance and pray for your health and wellbeing.


The Off Parent


image: drinking, creative commons usage

Not Obeying the Speed Limits, Enjoying the Daily Journey

Coming home from the movie, I noticed how hard it is for me to drive the speed limit. I think I have that tendency in relationships too. (This post continues the story started here: Go Big This Time, or Go Home)

speed limits in dating and love

In the most recent installment, we learned that kissing can make quick work of the intimacy that usually has to be built up over time. So my warning, to myself, obey the speed limits. With good reason the kissy girl slowed the “runaway train down” so we could figure out what relationship might look like before we tore each other’s clothes off and dove head first into sex.

Turns out, even with less than a week under our belt, the kissing had formed a bond for her that was less easily loosened than maybe if we had not lip locked so quickly. I have no regrets about that. But I learn.

It was hard tonight, telling her, repeating, and reframing the proposition that I wasn’t interested in a relationship with her. “That’s fine, but I thought we could just hang out and not rush into anything.”

Needless to say she was confused and disappointed. And she was convinced that I had not handled the situation as well as I could. Fine points, I guess, as you are in the middle of a breaking up with someone, but let’s take them at face value.

“You could’ve told me the second you knew something wasn’t working for you,” she said. “In stead of dragging it out over the last three days.” Okay, but I tried. My txt “I’m not ready to be in this relationship,” wasn’t clear enough. I can hear that. But I didn’t really have any clear time to deal with this discussion, until today. And in my mind, I was still figuring it out. I had the idea that meeting in person to say it might be a better approach.

And speeding up the process for sex, or passion, or kissing, is not a good idea. I want the relating to be ahead of the feeling. I want the experience of being “with” this person to be something coveted and sacred long before we make love.

I said. “I did try to say that I was having second thoughts.” And I mentioned the idea of the other person not having kids, and thus not quite understanding the “kid thing,” was an issue. But I was not clear at that moment, that I was saying NO to everything.

“Still you left me hanging all day. What were those texts about?”

She had texted me earlier in the day to discuss plans for the evening. She had asked for flirting. I didn’t give that. “When we talked on the phone, I was trying to be clear. BUT, I had back to back meetings most of the day. It wasn’t until six this evening that I was really clear enough to have this conversation, clearly and definitively. But I’m clear about it now.”

Okay, so the drama is over. She has gotten the picture. I’m done. I’m not interested in hanging out and “having some fun together.” And I’m certain that I was not prepared to kiss again. Not even a little bit. The drug of even that is a powerful enough to cloud my clear thinking.

It’s hard. It’s messy. And I do give her the point that I jumped right up to the passion play pretty quickly after we met. It was a mutual thing, but I did do my part to fuel the fantasy. And then I saw the New Girl. And it became very clear, I was trying to justify or rationalise the relationship with KG and I wasn’t even in the ball park.

Seeing this “ideal” woman, who DID in fact show up in full regalia and say, “So are you checking me out?” She is most certainly still in the projected fantasy mode, but this time she and I are clear the slow pace is more important than the passion play. Well, at least that’s how she explained it to me.

“I’m not really big into passion. I’m not looking to fall madly in love with someone,” she said, yesterday on our walk.

“You’re not into passion?” I asked.

“Not at all. It’s just, I’m just more fixated on regular life. Sometimes all that passion, that stuff we were so high on when we were in our twenties, some how that’s not all that important to me, or how real life is.”

“Yes, I can see that. I lost my priorities when the big passion came on with my ex-wife. I let go of some of the things I now see were critical path for me.”

We sat in that moment. We rubbed her dog’s belly. We drank our Topo Chico. We enjoyed the moment.

She showed me her hands. “I want to be more like this,” she opened her hand, palm up. “Rather than this,”  she flipped her hand and gripped the table. I agreed and took her hand in mine. Just for a minute we sat and held hands.

Then she volunteered, “When I say my vows again. I want it to be something like this. ‘I would like to spend the rest of my life with you, and we can be together.”

“I can see that.” I said. She was echoing my definition of beauty, that I had articulated in our first “lunch.”

The key words, the key idea, “for the rest of my life” resonated brightly with me.

That commitment does not allow for “almost” or compromise. Not at this point in my life. I don’t want to spend a single night in “almost.” I’d rather be alone. But I don’t want to be alone. So I have to look for the “rest of my life” girl.

And speeding up the process for sex, or passion, or kissing, is not a good idea. I want the relating to be ahead of the feeling. I want the experience of being “with” this person to be something coveted and sacred long before we make love. Kissing, maybe sooner than that. I mean, as I learned, kissing is a pretty powerful opening.

It’s a big journey. But the next relationship is the biggest one of my life. And I want the mundane to be ecstatic simply because we are doing them together.

But even that has no business being hurried. When GF 1.0 kissed me on the first date, I was swept up in the moment. And while that ended reasonably well, and even today’s Kissing Girl went away without a mortal wound, it was difficult and tiresome. We have a finite amount of energy, and I intend to use as much of it as I can, and use it wisely.

So, for me, I’m going to throttle down the runaway train, and be more conscious of the “being” together rather than the rush. I felt the rush with NG, right away. Seeing her, being with her, and the moment she asked me the telling question, I felt a thrill at even being inside her house. I had thought about her before.

So now we are in the micro-crush phase. We take small steps. We look and evaluate our compatibility on innumerable levels. How do they deal with disappointments even in this stage. How do you let them know of a change in plans? How frequently is contact desired, initiated, responded to? It’s all a microcosm of real life.

I really like the idea, of “being together” and letting the other stuff fall into place. Certainly I’d be sad if I didn’t think there would be BIG PASSION again. Because I can see how with the build and desire that I have already for NG, it would be HUGE, it will be HUGE if we kiss. And even BIGGER if we made love. But I want to experience every single nuance of the build between now and then. And I want to keep on experiencing the little steps of awakening excitement on through the “rest of our lives” together.

It’s a big journey. But the next relationship is the biggest one of my life. And I want the mundane to be ecstatic  simply because we are doing them together. Idealistic? Perhaps. But I’m clear on one thing. Almost is NOT ENOUGH.

When poetry and song are part of the equation even before we’ve really started, all I can say, is we’re off to a great start. Even if the fantasy is still just mine, at this point, let’s see how the reality develops before my very eyes.

Update: In a short email KG said she was sorry. She asked, “Friends?” Here’s my response.

You are bright and beautiful. And I wish you all the best in your search. But I don’t think I can be friends. 


The Off Parent

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