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

Posts tagged “love

i am, i can, i will, pause



[from a second wave – poetry]

i promise to space out my love letters to you
over months, years, etc. onward
i’ll remember to pause
to breathe
to ask

i know i am full of myself
i drop emotional land mines everywhere i go
and when someone is tuned differently
my enthusiasms can be disorienting

i cannot withhold
i won’t silence
the flow

but i can hold the spaces in between
the inhalation
the pause
the release
the quiet

i’m comfortable
what’s next
without trying to figure it out
i’ve learned this
over many years

i do not know
i cannot see what’s next
i only see you
and feel me, now
and it is this i attempt to capture

shining a light on the sliver
of hope
the shiver in my soul
is like a tuning fork
i hum when i resonate

i will sing songs
i will profess my love with a touch

it is not all about me
never is
it is not even about “we”
something bigger is at play
supra super uber meta

i listen on all channels
and when i’m in the zone
i can cease the flow in my mind
of words and melodies
and absorb

i am

i am


image:  une petite pause, sophie & cie, 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

Creative Parenting and the Gifts of Enthusiastic Participation

divorced dad and kids

playing with the kidsI used to get criticized by the ex for how much I liked to play with the kids as opposed to discipline and enforce rules with them. (I think this is a very common husband-wife issue.) She would want the family to do chores and I’d be out back chasing them around the yard, or playing tickle tag on the bed, completely messing the house up.

Maybe men and women have different styles. The dad is the one who’s supposed to rough-house. The mom is the one who’s supposed to offer comfort and tenderness. The dad is the one who’s supposed to play games, incite rule-breaking, and ignore curfews. The mom is the one who has to slog away in the kitchen until the dishes are done and the counters are all spotless.

BUT… I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be this way. And I think my ex could have had a profound effect on the kids had she spent more time in high-energy play rather than angry-energy chore-master.

Let’s see how things have turned out so far.

My kids have never wondered about how much I loved them. I was usually there wrestling and hugging and soothing the bumps that come from falling off the bed the 15th time. We have a physical closeness that still draws them to jump in the “big bed” when they stay over at my house. WIN.

While my musical pursuits have never paid off financially, both my kids love music and they both play an instrument. My son, 12, even got a middle-school award for his orchestra enthusiasm. WIN.

Gaming and other flights of imagination. My son has become the ringleader of a small band of Minecraft kids from his school. Essentially they quest together, with my son playing the narrator role. (Like dungeon master in D n D.)

And while my kitchen sink is still often filled with dishes (how did I buy a house without a dishwasher again?) my kids are clean, happy, and on-time for school and other events. And there is ZERO nagging or complaining about chores or homework. It’s a very different place here at my house than the days when I was parenting with the ex.

And perhaps some of it comes down to core approach to relationships. In an early example, I recall my then-wife demanding of my 2nd-grade daughter, “If you don’t get your homework done, right now, there will be no TV.” My daughter burst into tears. As I joined the scene, I asked, “Hey honey, how’s your homework going? Is there anything I can help you with?”

One approach was authoritarian and matter of fact, but it lacked any compassion or connectivity with the child. My approach was to join with my daughter and see what she needed to get her work done.

My kids are continuing to thrive after the divorce. And I give credit to my ex for working hard to keep our friction out of our kid’s lives. But she treats me in the same way she commanded my daughter, “Where’s the money you owe me? How much can you pay? When can you pay it? Oh, and btw, I’m sorry you’re having trouble.” I guess it’s the way she was raised.

My kids have been raised to expect a warm and joining approach to school work, problems, and aspirations. I’m always on their side. And they have been given an example of a life filled with enthusiastic play and love of playing music. I think those are transferable skills that will continue to serve them throughout their lives. And I couldn’t be happier with that picture.


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.


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.


The Off Parent

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Anger is Energy – If You Don’t Thrash

a fish out of water has two choices - the off parentA fish caught and out of the water on the grass has two options: 1. thrash: jump, struggle, flip, flop; or 2. breathe.

Eventually the fish will die if not returned to the water. But the fish has very little to do with its survival at that point. You might say it’s up to God, or the fisherman, which to the fish is sort of like God.

Anger today is a good thing. It reminds me I have feelings and energy. It reminds me that I still care about finding a better life for myself and my kids. My ex-y can find her own way.

But thrashing against the obstacles is a waste of energy that could be used elsewhere. And one of the greatest drains of that energy is anger at the ex-y. I guess she did the best she could. I mean, that’s how God would see it, right?

I tend to see things a bit differently with a little distance. BUT… anger at the choices and changes that have already happened, do little to inform or direct my efforts at moving forward. What anger can do is motivate my ass into gear. But I have to make sure I make use of that motivation in productive rather than destructive ways.

Even if she has requested changes or been mean and contradictory to me, that’s not my problem. That. Is. Who. She. Is.

And the anger I have around her behavior cannot be fed back into the system to change things. The more I wanted the marriage to work, the more I demanded for changes, the more I thrashed in some ways. I was not aware that she had already left the marriage. I was not clear that the death of her sexual drive was more about her than me. And while I did thrash against both the sexless marriage and the end of marriage, I was ultimately powerless to get myself back into the warm water of our early relationship.

So today, I am angry. A friend sent a picture of my daughter that he found on a random simcard. My beautiful life is there in hi-definition as I am lifting my smiling daughter into the air and kissing her belly. And there is a sliver of my ex-y’s face in the photo too. You could almost miss it.

And I was immediately sad, not mad. The imagined life, the dreams at that moment, frozen and captured in a moment of family joy. And the anger is about the betrayal of both my daughter and myself by that remote face with the beautiful smile and eyes closed.

She made the decision. She gave up. She walked into a lawyer’s office to get her “options.” And all of our lives are altered because of that decision. And the wonderful little girl in the picture now has a distant father. A father who is there as often and openly as possible. But I can feel the tug on her as she reaches for my hand in the car, walking to the grocery store, when she claims to have a stomach ache every Friday morning so maybe she won’t have to go to school and she can stay at my house.

But I could not change the trajectory once the new departure point was set in motion. I can, however, understand that I was not ever going to be able to change my ex-y into being the touchy-feely person I wanted her to be. She’s much more comfortable in the confines of an excel spreadsheet.

So when the warmth was sucked out of the marriage, there was very little left if I was not generating it. But for my little girl and my son, I can generate twice as much love and holding as before. I can show my daughter what a Dad is like that shows up and says, “I love you,” all the time. I can provide the reflection to my kids that they are loved. I can make them feel loved. I can still hold them in the air, metaphorically, and kiss their childish bellies.

I will not change. I will not let the bitterness or anger get in the way of me loving my kids with everything I’ve got.

AND… I will have an opportunity to share that with another woman at some point. I know it.

If I can just breathe and not thrash.


The Off Parent