I slept with the Turk last month. Oops, I stand corrected. There was no sleeping involved. Nor standing, for that matter. It was, in fact, sitting. Specifically, on a wooden bench in the basement of his restaurant. Surrounded by shrink-wrapped cases of bottled water. I apologize if the visual is startling. Btw, the water was sparkling. Not that it matters. What matters is that it happened. And the irony is fluid. Not literally, as in the sense that several hundred bottles of Switzerland’s finest Mineral Wasser should bear bubbly witness to the end of my 8 ½ month dry spell. But rather cosmically, as in the sense that the man to open the flood gate was the same man who undammed my previous lsdd (longest sexual drought to date). Lasting 14 months and occurring 5 years ago, that prior stint of extended celibacy started when my 35-year marriage ended. The clock on this more recent spell started ticking in January, which is the last time I saw the mechanic known as Sunday. While regular readers may be familiar with both men, others of you may be a bit lost. Again, it doesn’t matter. The point of this post is not the particulars of my sex life—either past or present. But rather a candid discussion of turning a necessary page in the healing and moving forward chapter that follows a relationship breakup.
Be it a long-term marriage or a failed dating relationship, the betrayal of love can feel like the end of love (and sex) forever. But, as cliché as it sounds, time does heal even a broken heart. The problem is the progress can be infinitesimal and the setbacks so great, that we feel frozen in place. Wallowing in depression and sadness at worst. And bitterly resigned to a celibate and solitary life at best. The question of whether we will ever trust again is huge and universal, regardless of age. As are the doubts we can even find love. But for older women there’s an added wrinkle (no pun intended). Many of us of the 50+ demographic dance with the devil called “age.” We see the bastard in the mirror and feel it in our bodies. Because of “age,” society no longer sees us as sexual beings. And we wonder ourselves if we still are. Is our time past? (But maybe that’s just me?) Regardless, I freely admit the fear. That I may have been laid for the last time looms large in my list of regrets and losses.
Women in their 30s and 40s may think I am exaggerating. Of a different sexual generation and simply not yet on the post side of menopause, neither can they truly relate. But believe me when I say I have read enough Facebook posts and comments in 50+ women’s groups to know whereof I speak. Among recently divorced older women the doubts and fears are especially real if they have not yet dipped their toe in the dating pool. (Btw, good luck. Since today’s is less a pool than a stagnant swamp of perverts, losers and cast-offs. But maybe, too, that’s just me?) The mere idea of a different sexual partner can be almost impossible to fathom for the woman who married her first lover. The woman faithfully married for decades doesn’t fare much better. Trust me, if only one man (besides your gyno) has seen you naked in 30 plus years, the thought of baring it all to a new one is not easy. And if, for whatever reason, marital sex was infrequent, unpleasant, unsatisfying or just plain lousy—then the ole adage “what you don’t use, you lose” seems more than a pending probability. But that’s not all that builds our doubt and feeds our fear.
Aside from menopausal changes that effect libido (and lubrication), there are self-image issues. Let’s be real . . . at the half century mark, the sands of time ain’t all that’s sifting, shifting and falling! In added insult to injury (as if looking in the mirror weren’t demoralizing enough!) men our own age are seemingly oblivious (or blind) to their own face-off with Father Time. The fuckers click age preference boxes decades younger without compunction—and because of their fiscal allure (Make no mistake, boys . . . the wad the young-uns are after is in your back pocket not your front!)—with galling success. Here’s a fun (not) fact: Based upon a survey of one of the larger “older” online dating sites, men between 60-69 prefer to date 11 years younger. My own analysis during my Match.com debacle (chronicled in my humor book*) puts the average preference of American men over 50 at 13 years younger. Ipso facto, ergo and hence, the challenge of being a single “mature” woman looking for a partner is not for the faint of heart. But it’s a chapter in life we can’t skip. No matter how much we’d like to.
And speaking of chapters we would like to skip . . . let’s return to the point of this post. There are few chapters in life more difficult to get through than the loss of love. It is hard and long and slow reading. It’s tempting just to close the damn book and call it a day. But like the memes say, if you do that, you will never know what the next chapter has in store for you. And there is always much more to the book than the page you’re stuck on. Speaking of stuck . . . I have made no secret of my own struggle getting over the guy who got over me. Reading my posts in order of publication are like a timeline of where I was in the process. Only now, at the 9 month marker since his disappearance, do I feel as though I am moving into a new phase, taking the next step, turning that metaphorical page . . .
Here’s my situation and state of mind (and hoo-hah) in a nutshell . . . At 63, I feel as if there is a Doomsday Clock ticking off the final minutes until total vaginal atrophy. Since the breakup with Sunday, I have had zero interest. My libido died with the relationship. I despise the fact he has had that power over me — to kill off my sex drive. But the truth is, he did. Until last month on a layover (no pun intended ) in Zurich . . .
Readers of I Still Want Fireworks* may recall my then 38-year-old Swiss connection from 5 years ago. Bearded, with black hair past his shoulders, he looked like a Spartan warrior from the movie 300. In reality he was a Kurdish immigrant from Turkey. Regardless, the sexual attraction was instant. But I was terrified. The 20-year age difference was daunting enough. To make it worse, when we met, it had been 14 months since I’d been touched by a man (and prior it had been 10 years of 2-3 times a year in a marriage that had deteriorated to one-sided interest [his] and dry obligation [mine].) To say I didn’t believe I even had a sex drive would be an understatement. In fact, I told my sister that I didn’t think it even worked anymore. The Turk proved otherwise.
But as a born-again Christian, he seesawed between guilt and desire. I likened our 9-month involvement to a constant contest between the saint and the seductress. Though I won every battle, he ultimately won the war. Our friendship became platonic. Then, when American Airlines stopped their Philly-Zurich routes in 2015, it ended totally.
Fast forward 4 years, during which I entered into the now ended, nearly 3-year involvement with the Mechanic called Sunday. (The fact it was the best sex of my life, has doubtlessly played a major role in my current state of disinterest-induced celibacy.) But as luck–or fate–or the fucking Universe and its twisted sense of humor and propensity to return to the past would have it, in April American resumed its flights to Zurich from Philadelphia. I have actually worked the flight several times. But we no longer stay in the same little village outside the city, and taking the train just to stop by his restaurant to say hello seemed pointless. Although I came to have genuine feelings of affection for him, I never looked upon the relationship as a long lasting one. Moreover, it was over. As they say . . . been there, done that, got the T-shirt, and donated it to Goodwill. I saw no reason to revisit the past. The Universe thought otherwise. And then provided a cosmic nudge in the form of a still valid til that evening train pass proffered to me by an outbound crew member. A $15 savings and (unlike my previous trips) the weather was perfect–neither blustery cold nor humid hot . . . why not?
Again, the how it happened doesn’t matter. Though I must once more commend the Universe on its sense of irony. Truly, a presentation of sheer perfection! That in the interim passed, the Saint has become less saintly and the seductress less seducing. In a total role reversal, I was the reluctant one. For all the reasons detailed in the paragraphs above, I was hesitant—and yes, once again downright fearful it didn’t even work anymore. I was also haunted by the memory of my one-time (ok, two-time) encounter with a former FWB during the mechanic’s first disappearance at the relationship’s one-year mark (yes, call me stupid—or at the very least, a slow learner!). That mistake had inspired the whole sex vs intimacy realization. (Not to mention a video***, two posts** and the nicknames “Ragu” and “Sunday.”)
Make no mistake, I was tempted. (At least to try.) And in the end, I just couldn’t come up with a good reason to say no—aside from a very misplaced and fucked up sense of fidelity to Sunday and loyalty to the memory of a relationship that had truly for all intents and purposes died 16 months ago. (Yeah, like I said, sloooooow learner . . .) Call the culprits “Curiosity”—could I? “Surprise”—I actually felt nonalcohol-induced sexual desire for the first time in over 3 years for a man not nicknamed Sunday. And “Familiarity”—with our shared past, I was physically and emotionally comfortable with the Turk. Better, there was mutual affection. Best of all, chemistry–the sparks absent with Ragu and oh, so overwhelming and overpowering with Sunday. (Yes. In spite of everything that has happened, I still want fireworks. They should probably inscribe it on my tombstone. A fitting epithet, no doubt . . . She never learned. She never changed. Until the very end, she still wanted fireworks . . .) In this end, in Switzerland, they equaled desire–strong enough to prompt me to turn the necessary page–just as I had done five years prior. Yes, the Universe loves a good laugh—and who can argue with a definitive sense of synergy at work?
So . . . page turned and chapter finished . . . and the $64,000/ elephant in the room question . . . Am I completely over Sunday? No. As hard as that is to admit–and I wish it were otherwise. (I really do.) But in time, I know it will happen. As for the Turk . . . sparks and fireworks aside, I have no burning desire to see him again. If the Universe wills it . . . so be it. But I have neither plans nor want to make it happen.
If life is a book, then my encounter with the Turk was a page turned in this long and tedious chapter of healing. Starting anew at 63 is very different than moving past my divorce at 58. It is harder. Much harder. And if Facebook posts and comments are any measure, I am not alone in what I am experiencing. It is a common occurrence, that the first real relationship after divorce is more painful to get over than the divorce was. But whether divorce or relationship, learning how to be single–and totally alone–after a breakup is not easy. I won’t lie. As much as I love my independence, I hate now always sleeping alone. I miss what I had with Sunday, both the sex and the intimacy. Whether the future holds either for me again is unknown. Pages and chapters yet to be read . . . and so I’ll keep reading and turning the pages. And maybe . . . just maybe I’ll again flip back to that page . . . the one whose corner the Universe saw cause to crimp down.
Funny, that none of the memes offer that option . . .
But why else? Seriously? If not to go back for quick and easy–and future–reference, why bookmark a page already read? And that ladies, is clearly another $64,000/elephant in the room question . . . and the topic for another post . . .
*The Readers’ Favorite 2017 Bronze Medal Winner for Best Humor, and recipient of a dozen 5-star reviews, I Still Want Fireworks, chronicles my 6-month misadventure with online dating. It is available on amazon.com in both paperback ($9.99) and Kindle ($3.99) formats. It is FREE with Kindle Unlimited membership.
** Readers not familiar with the back story may want to check out the following. Anthologies of previously published posts no longer available on the blog for viewing, each book in the Best of sucks series centers around a common theme. All are available on amazon.com in either paperback ($5.99) or Kindle ($2.99) format.
“Sex vs Intimacy” (Part 1 and Conclusion) appears in Men, Sex & Intimacy. An abridged version appears in Fact is Stranger Than Fiction.
***My first (and so far only foray) into vlogging may be viewed on Youtube. I think the link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXvYOnGHLT8. Just google youtube and judith hill and sex vs intimacy, it should pop up.
Ironically, (Fuck you, Universe!) I recorded it 6 months following Sunday’s first disappearance. Ergo the references to a stint of celibacy and the same fears I am facing once again. A few weeks later he reappeared. The relationship then progressed to his “I love you” declaration, before he once again vanished. To say it’s not embarrassing as hell to view myself 2 years ago in the same damn place as I stand now is an understatement. (Talk about the past recycling!) Even “Rob” (aka Ragu) reappeared a couple weeks ago. We went out for dinner last week, but this time I knew better than to sleep with him. No fireworks is no fireworks. I don’t know if that can be called actual progress, but I’m putting it the fucking “Lessons Learned” column regardless.