Fools For Fairy Tales (conclusion)

In this final installment of “Fools For” let’s talk “Fairy Tales” that are not the make-believe scenarios and juvenile concepts of childhood bedtime stories and Disney movies (see parts I & II). These fools’ tales told are the made-up truths we grown-ass women tell ourselves (and others) in the well-meaning intent to comfort and inspire.

Axioms, sayings and quotes . . .  sometimes even rambling long-ass paragraphs of life-lived/lesson-learned insight . . . usually calligraphed across breathtaking color pictures of nature or artfully posed models in black and white photographs of classic elegance  . . .  I know you know whereof I speak—these images and words masquerading as messages of hope and wisdom and motivation. We all know them because we all post them and share them—and worse. We interject them in comments to complete strangers as offerings of sympathy, strength and support—these expressions of care, concern and commiseration that function well as well as advice and problem solving. But in reality (or at least in my most cynical version thereof) they are doing a disservice—these banal statements and tired platitudes and one-size-fits-all-always panacean cure-alls. A truly “who knows if it’s true” truth we want to be true. In short . . . fairy tales, ladies, fairy tales, tailored to the situation like the emperor’s new clothes (It’s a metaphor. Read to mean: really not real at all—but because no one speaks up to say nay, the lie abides).

In terms of relationship breakups and moving on the most common bromides (and the ones I personally am sick to death of hearing) are these:

  • You deserve better.
  • The Universe has a plan.
  • There’s a reason.
  • There’s a silver lining.
  • Work on you and it will happen (when you least expect it!)
  • The right one will come along (when you least expect it!)
  • Be the best you can be and someone amazing will find you.

Not that there isn’t a time, place, purpose for—and, yes! a true value in—the above. Nor should the heart-felt desire to pick up another when she has fallen ever be mocked! Please know such is not my aim now. But as one who has heard the spiel one time too many, let me address the unaddressed and point out (STILL a metaphor) the emperor’s hairy ass . . .

Believing in the above en masse as gospel begs the question:  Who then is at fault if my deserved, better, Universe-planned, silver lining, right and amazing one doesn’t come along? (‘Cause in an unfairytale world HE MAY NOT.) Ergo, I must have fucked up. Right? Either I actually don’t deserve better—or I didn’t believe enough, work enough, heal enough to be that evolved version of me Mr. Amazing was supposed to find (when I least expected it). And speaking of evolving and improving . . .

I call bullshit.

Think about it, ladies. We have all known royal bitches, certifiable nut jobs, tiring drama queens or perpetual damsels in distress IN relationships—AND WITH NICE GUYS—sometimes GREAT guys. Yet according to the fairy tale, I have to be the best I can be? Well, why the fuck don’t THEY? No, I’m not perfect. Far from it, in fact!  But neither am I broken. Certainly not so as to need fixing before love can find me. So, yeah. Bullshit.

The unfairytale truth is this:  In spite of our best efforts and sincerest desires, IT DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK OUT THE WAY WE WANT! PERIOD. And here’s a second shocker: SOMETIMES THERE ISN’T A DAMN THING YOU CAN DO TO CHANGE IT! Call it destiny?

The ancient Greeks and Romans believed the destinies of we mere mortals were tapestries whose weaving was overseen by three goddesses called “the Fates.” They held and controlled the mother thread of life, watching to ensure that the fate assigned to every being might take its course without obstruction. Islam believes all is written at the time of our births in a “Book of Fate,” including the time of our deaths. (Here’s a fun fact:  So strong was the belief, during the Crusades some warriors rode into battle sans armor—‘cause hey! If it wasn’t their time, it wasn’t their time.) In the 16th century, Protestant Calvanists believed in something called predetermination, a theological little notion that since God has foreordained every event throughout eternity, men (and women, I’m guessing) are preordained either to everlasting happiness or to misery.  (I don’t know about you . . . but in each of these I’m seeing a thread . . . and it’s a mother all right!)

Unsurprisingly, modern man (and woman) rebels against these concepts of a higher being deciding in advance our lot in life. We cite “free will” and “all men (and women, I’m guessing) are created equal.” (REALLY?!? I’m looking at Bradley Cooper on Irina What’sherface’s arm at the Oscars and I’m NOT seeing equal. Just saying, but I clearly drew a short thread compared to hers!) Nonetheless, we believe we control our fates, our destinies, our lives.  What decides our fates, are our choices.

But let me play Devil’s advocate a bit more. Let me ask this:  Have we not all known people who just seem blessed? (My mother used to call them the ones “who can fall in a pile of shit and come out with a rose between their teeth.”) Others, however, are like that cartoon figure with a perpetual cloud hanging overhead. Either way, we call it “luck.” And some have it—and others don’t. Who’s to say, though, that bad luck isn’t punishment for the sins of a former life while good luck is the reward for past good deeds? Seriously, who knows?

Naturally I realize this flies in the face of most popular self-help routes:  The build it and they will come pathways to success and happiness . . . ala the “dream it, see it and achieve it” super highway Oprahites so favor . . . or the nowadays “affirmation” avenue that is all the craze . . . Doubtlessly some reading this will refute me. They will say such negative energy and thinking blocks positive energy and the change the Universe has in store. But hear me out.

I am not advocating total surrender, ala giving up and throwing in the romance towel. Nor am I saying we shouldn’t try to effect change. But “try” is a road without a guarantee of destination.  Hope and try and dreams are all means to what we want to be real. But “want” and “real” are not inclusive. Neither are they absolute truths—as are these:

  • We don’t always get what we give—or deserve.
  • Shit happens.
  • We can’t control everything.
  • It’s the expectation that often makes us the unhappiest

The intent of this post is to let those who are similarly tired of being fed the aforementioned fairy tales know they are not alone in their frustration. This is not to say I don’t still desire the dream of romantic love . . . but when it comes to believing it will happen . . . I’m far less a fool for the fairy tales than I am a pragmatist for the reality that those bitches may have very well pulled the romance thread from my tapestry . . .

 

 

Postscript:  Ladies, if ya still gotta have ‘em . . . the best words this cynic can offer in her well-meaning intent to comfort and inspire are these:

                              Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

                                               The courage to change the things I can

                                        And the wisdom to know the fucking difference!

 

We Have a Scent For That

When is the seed planted? The notion of romantic love—and the desire for all its accompanying accoutrements, i.e. red roses, candlelight dinners, diamond rings, etc. Are we women simply conditioned in childhood with fairy tale Prince Charming scenarios to believe someday our White Knight/Mr. Right will come? Or is it an innate trait? Some leftover primordial hard-wired Cro-Magnonesque species-survival instinct? FYI, said cavemen’s cave was found in France—the land of romance. A coincidence? (I think not.) Or is it something deeper? Say . . . DNA deep? Is there a romance gene?

I have no clue. But I do know there is something. Something within us that causes us to crave it. Like dumbass moths to a flame (maybe that explains the candle thing?) we otherwise seemingly intelligent and even well-educated women gravitate toward the men who make us feel it—even when logic says he’s a prick! Or maybe that’s just me? (I think not.) Whatever the source, it exists. We believe. And we want—and we feel lacking without. No matter how in all other ways our lives are full and fulfilled, we feel as if something is missing. Or maybe that’s just me? (I think not.) There’s a reason Valentine’s Day is the single woman’s most hated holiday . . . just saying.

And while I know it doesn’t help, hear me out. Ladies, we are buying into a lie. And speaking of buying . . . it’s long been a staple in selling.  Marketing 101:  sex sells. But here’s a distinction rarely made—sex sells to men. Ergo, bikini-clad bimbos at car shows, naked pin-up girls on tool and tire calendars and buxom broads on beer labels. A perfect case in point, the short-skirted, hair-blowing, lips-pursed girl the dork wishes to see bare (causing an actual bear to appear) in that STUPID spicy Doritos commercial. Seriously? But let’s be realistic—even if the ad is not. Who eats that shit? (Answer: every male in my family—including the 15-month-old!)

When to comes to women, however . . . it’s romance that sells.  Aside from the obvious—the movie cable channels that keep the lie alive with their cheesy predictable plots and B actors and the no less cheesy and predictable novels (I know, ‘cause I wrote ‘em) that annually rake in over $1B while accounting for over one-third of all mass market books sold—there’s the advertising campaigns, magazine lay-outs and TV commercials that perpetuate the pap. Often truly asinine, these ads typically use tried and true techniques. (Think erotic slo-mo body part montages, soulful glances, billowing clouds and crashing waves—all to the accompaniment of mood music ala Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game). While the products they hawk sometimes have a recognizable correlation to romance (ala perfume ads), it’s an equal bet romance is irrelevant to the product at hand. Not that it matters—’cause remember, romance sells.

My favorite (not) is an ad currently airing for Glade 3-wick candles. (Somehow better than 1 wick??) If you haven’t seen it, let me enlighten you (no pun intended).  It’s tagline is Love . . . we have a scent for that. Only 14-seconds long, the spot nonetheless manages to get the full romantic love fantasy in . . . or at least what the marketing masterminds have determined that fantasy is . . . rose petals up the stairs leading a waiting guy with a balcony behind him and a European view. But wait! It gets better! He’s on bended knee with a guitar (wtf!) and a ring (double wtf!) in hand.  SERIOUSLY?!?  

Now to be fair to the geniuses behind this commercial, scent is a powerful sense.  In fact, it is the most powerful of the senses because it is the only one capable of triggering both a reaction and a sensation. Unlike a sound or a sight, a touch or a taste, a smell can transport you back to a moment in time. (The smell of diesel instantly takes me back to Germany, while the odor of old beeswax in an antique store transports me to my grandmother’s basement where she stored old furniture. And we won’t even talk about where I go when the random guy passing me on the street smells like the same bodywash Sunday uses . . .) There’s actually an anatomical reason why smell triggers emotions and subsequent memories. Sense of smell is the only one of the senses biologically linked to our limbic systems. That said . . . I have a newsflash, S.C. Johnson & Sons . . . love doesn’t have a scent! However, as anyone who has gone at it for an extended period of time in a closed space knows . . . sex does.

Now there’s a marketing match made in Heaven.  Simple a equals b and b equals c transitive law logic . . . sex smells and sex sells . . . Hell! Who knows? The post-coitus funk smell of sex could be coming soon to a candle near you . . .

Or not.

Fools for Fairy Tales (Part II)

As a generation, we women of the Boomer persuasion (and by definition ergo reared on Disneyesque fairy tale “happily ever after” endings– see Part I) are fucked. Too harsh? Too vulgar? How about this: We are screwed because our perception of what “should be” is skewed. Better? It shouldn’t be. ‘Cause the message is the same . . . And it’s even worse (and yet easier, so read on) for so-called Gen Xers and Millennials—and please, DON’T even get me started on Millennials—it won’t be a pretty picture, I promise you. But yes, for the self-absorbed, selfie-filtered, for whom every minutia of mundane daily life is social media-worthy ‘cause they are sooooo special—as their helicopter parents indulged them to believe since everyone gets a trophy—generation, it is much much worse (and yet better, easier . . . keep reading, I’ll get to it). After all, they’re the generation nurtured in the land of “No,” an Oz-like, safe space world with no challenge, no failure, no responsibility, no disappointment, no work ethic . . . Oops—See! I TOLD you not to get me started!

<insert sound of rewind>

Since the 1950s romantic fantasy and romantic love have been inextricably linked, ala the fairy tale/someday my prince will come/happily ever after scenario which still exists and still endures in popular culture, movies and books. My theory as to why is this: Once arranged marriages went by the wayside (circa second half of the 20th century) and at about the same time (coincidence? I think not) when women entered the workplace en masse, not as Rosie the Riveter stand-ins for off-at-war men but in their own right, seeking their own place, earning their own money and independence and escaping the preordained path of their mothers and grandmothers, they were finally free to choose their future mate.

Not surprisingly, they envisioned story-book, fairy tale, ideal love stories for themselves. (After all, who is going to dream of bad or so-so shit happening?) And so the fantasy was born (and put on celluloid by Disney): True love. Love at first sight. Love everlasting. In short, perfection. Not only in their mate. Which meant a heart-thumping, butterflies in the gut feeling initial attraction that endured through adversity (but only a little) to culminate in a white dress and veil (or a ridiculous bird hat—if your name is Carrie Bradshaw and you’re a fictional character on TV). But also perfection as in a “they lived happily ever after” afterlife.

Ironically, however (and to prove my point) up until the 20th century, the greatest love stories in western history and literature were not happy ending stories—they were, in fact, tragic. Furthermore, not only did most of these couples die (Is that what they mean by happily ever after??), more than half of these immortal lovers were married to someone else! Hello? (BTW, several of these couples are circa the Medieval Ages–a possible origin for that whole “knight in shining armor” shtick?) But judge for yourself. And if you don’t know who the hell these pairs were, blame the lack of classical education in modern education ‘cause now we have to teach to the test and the lowest common denominator—‘cause everyone gets a trophy–I mean an A—otherwise Sikorsky Dad and Bell Mom will sue. Uh-oh. I feel another rant . . .

<insert sound of rewind>

Rather universally (or at least according to my internet searches) the following are regarded to be history and literature’s greatest love pairs: Romeo and Juliet (a couple synonymous with love), Cleopatra and Marc Antony, Lancelot and Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde, Paris and Helena (of the thousand ships launched beauty), Orpheus and Eurydice, Napoleon and Josephine, Odysseus and Penelope (She waited 20 years for his ass to return!), Paola and Francesca (huh?), Abelard and Heloise (Dude sacrificed his man parts for love—how could he NOT be on the list?), Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler (the personification of the love/hate, can’t live with/can’t live without attraction), Jane Eyre and Rochester, Pyramus and Thisbe (half a huh), Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy, Queen Victoria and Albert (Vickie mourned Bertie’s death for 40 years and wore black til the day she died. . . Props for walking the walk, girlfriend! Serious props. A woman who’s going to sacrifice fashion and her wardrobe for love, sure as fuck deserves to be on the list!)

Given the above as role model examples and templates, can it be a surprise that once modern, emancipated women could choose, they kept the love part and 86ed the rest? They disappeared the adversity and separation and other trials and tribulations, idealized the whole relationship into a fateful, meant to be soulmate scenario—and then rewrote the fucked up ending into the fairy tale ending of their childhoods. But besides scripting an ending for a beginning, where’s the harm? Happiness ever after is just an ideal. So again, where’s the harm?

The harm is here: an “ideal” is also a hope, an anticipation, a belief, an expectancy . . . DING DING DING (and there it is). The harm is in the expectation—because the ideal of perfect happiness contains the expectation of perfect happiness. So when expectations fall short—as they will ‘cause life ain’t a fucking fairy tale!—what happens? Unhappiness. Dissatisfaction. The question: Did I make a mistake? For a generation, in particular uninured to challenge and never taught disappointment, hard work, time investment to obtain goals . . . a generation weaned on want and a world of instant availability and innumerable choices all a keystroke or finger swipe to the right away, this can mean disaster, which starts with a D—as in divorce. In short, whether marriage or relationship, they opt out and move on to the next possibility. Easy-peasy. (Told ya I’d get to it.)

But for we women Boomer-born . . . we who were taught the value of hard work and not everyone gets a tropy ’cause you have to work your ass off and sacrifice, we who have known challenge and failure and disappointment and hurt feelings without safe spaces, what do we do? We persevere. Stick with it. Try to make it work. Overlook the flaws. Make excuses and make do. We lie in the bed we made—though it might mean we will toss and turn like the Princess and the Pea fairy tale. And there’s the segue back! As much as we recognize reality, we also understand time and effort and reward. And we also believe. We believe in the fairy tale ending. So we stay when we should go. We put up and shut up. Even when we know we are being foolish, we still hope because we are fools. Fools for fairy tales . . .

To be continued . . .

Fools for Fairy Tales (Part I)

Maybe it’s not even our faults? After all, weren’t we reared on the Disneyesque “once upon a dream” dream? Those “happily ever after” stories and movies featuring Prince Charming—in all his many manifestations:  either real prince or half god or bad-boy prince turned beast or bad-boy prince turned frog or (oooh, hey, let’s mix it up!) bad-boy street urchin thief turned carpet-flying prince. Hell, even the ones starring cartoon foxes and spaghetti-eating dogs feature an “outlaw” and a “tramp.”

Argue if you will. It won’t help. It’s my blog. Besides, I’m right. The bad-boy (prince or no—but always better if so) transformed (sometimes literally!) by the love of a good, brave, caring, gutsy girl and their forever happy life ever after is the staple of nearly every Disney movie ever made. At least the ones my generation watched. (Merida, Disney’s feminist princess, was decades away from the drawing board.) And did you ever know a little girl who didn’t watch her favorite a zillion times?

Small wonder the tripe—and its repetition—has served to subconsciously imprint an enduring feminine romantic fantasy that is nearly DNA deep. (If not totally indelible—it sure as shit is Sharpie-permanent.) It’s still the principal plot of most romance novels—only now we are more inclined toward whip-wielding billionaire playboys (Seriously, people! Seriously?!?) or war-scarred SEALS or haunted ex-cops (or twice divorced mechanics?) or any other seemingly unattainable, but built like a brick shithouse hunk of hurt in need of healing. Yep. The bad-boy turned good by the love of a good woman . . .  a childhood fairy tale scenario that endures ineffaceably far into adulthood . . .

But there is a Magic Eraser (metaphorically speaking). Apply a little water (a lot of tears) and with effort (and time), it’ll wipe that shit right out. It’s called “reality.” And fortunately for some of us, it does come in a multi-pack—‘cause sometimes once just ain’t enough to unlearn the lie. The bad-boy remains bad. Ladies, listen up. And repeat after me: The fucking frog stays a fucking frog! And the good woman is left feeling like a fool for the fairy tale she envisioned wherein she could “fix” him.

Yet that is only half of the fairy tale fallacy. Even worse is the “happily ever after” programming whereby we fantasize a fairy tale ending to what is a beginning. Newsflash:  Unlike books and movies—and fairy tales—life continues past the final page turned or the fade to black kiss. The credits don’t roll. And there is no Oscar-worthy theme song . . . though I am partial personally to Adele’s It Matters How This Ends . . .

‘Cause what if I never love again?

To be continued . . .

 

The Narcissist and the Empath

I have always resisted labels. They generalize and simplify so as to create a convenient (and lazy) “one size fits all” uniform designation for dummies. Great for cookie cutters and cookies. Not so much for people.

But recently I read an article that hit uncomfortably home. Entitled “Why Do Empaths End Up With Narcissists?”, it was one of those author unknown relationship-related pieces of the ilk regularly posted and shared on women’s Facebook groups. Like men sit around and read that shit? But a woman looking for answers to love or why her relationship failed . . . yeah. Don’t kid yourselves. We eat up that tripe by the tablespoon. Sorry, ladies. But it’s true. Come on. Be honest. A case in point, how many of you took that ridiculous numerology-based quiz “Have You Found Your Soulmate?” (BTW, if you are curious . . . my result was that I “already have,” I “know it” and though we are not “physically together at this point,” we “will be.” Great. Just what I needed . . . more false hope on the subject of Sunday! But that’s a topic for a future post. Continuing with this one . . .

First of all, while I have never not thought that aforementioned man had narcissistic tendencies, I have never regarded myself as an empath. The connotation for me was one of passive gentleness and caring. Way too kind a label for this hard bitch whose own sons have called an “Ice Queen.” Yet in reading Ms. Unknown’s outline of the 21 stages of a common relationship that can take place between an empath and a narcissist . . . in a word—OUCH. Had she provided little check-off boxes, I would have had twice the number of little Xs needed to win Tic-Tac-Toe without 3-in-a-row. In short, I was able to answer “yes” to a whole lot more of those stages than I was comfortable admitting to openly—or even to myself.

If you haven’t seen the article, here’s a brief and abridged recap as to the points I personally related to. The actual article was much longer and detailed, but please know I am giving all credit to Ms. Unknown. Had I thought to actually screen shoot the article, I would be putting in proper MLA citation format (and quotes) her specific statements, comments and concepts. The statements in italics, however, are purely my own. They are my thoughts and reactions as to how Ms. Unknown’s concepts pertained to me.

The Attraction

  • A narcissist will attract an empath because the empath feels validated by someone in need of her care. (True for me and my ex—though I resented his dependence and grew to despise his lack of independence, I never had a problem with my kids’ dependence. I loved feeling needed—ergo wanted—it defined me and gave me purpose. So much so that now they are grown, I am lost without that role to play.)
  • The narcissist’s need of her care begins to develop into a strong sense of unconditional love within the empath. (“Unconditional” was a level I never reached with my ex. In fact, the first time ever in my life I felt such for a man was with you-know-who.) The narcissist, however, has no intent of returning that love—though he (or she, ‘cause it’s not gender specific, though for the sake of ease we will heretofore refer to the narcissist as a “he” and the empath as a “she.”) goes through the motions and gives signs and drops hints. He may even use the L-word. (He did.) Which, of course creates

The Illusion

  • The empath feels a real connection. (BINGO)
  • But the narcissist’s goal is not to connect, but rather to control. He manipulates the illusion to his end, which is to break down the empath’s self-esteem. Once he creates an unhealthy dependence, he is in control—which then results in a constant cycle of manipulation. (OUCH. Hard to consider as true . . . but hitting waaaay too close for comfort . . .) Not to mention, having this woman on a proverbial string is a huge stroke to his already inflated sense of self. ‘Cause what narcissist isn’t an egotist? (Call it by another name if you want–arrogance, swagger, confidence–but for yours truly? Yeah. One of those moth to the flame attractions that dooms me from the start . . .)

The Failure

  • The empath’s intentions on loving the narcissist are pure. She wants to do everything in her power to heal him. Whether it be his pain from prior failed relationships or even addiction issues, she believes in (or wants to) that ole “all he needs is the love of a good woman” load of crap. (BINGO and OUCH) But her efforts WILL fail.
  • Reality is, the narcissist doesn’t believe he is damaged! (BINGO) He either believes or insists or deludes himself with an equally large load of shit: He is immune to love. Hell! He might even warn the empath: Don’t love me. (YEP BINGO and OUCH) Which of course only strengthens the empath’s resolve to persevere and succeed where all others have failed. (Or is that just me? The always has to get an A perfectionist?)

The Trap

  • The “relationship” is all about the narcissist—his needs, wants, decisions, timetable . . . (YEP. If I heard it once, I heard it 100 times . . . “I see who I want when I want” . . .)
  • The empath begins to see imbalance. (Of course she does–she’s not a TOTAL idiot!) She begins to question why she is with this man. (UH-OH…) The truth is, she is unhappy and dissatisfied because . . . (Pause. Wait for it) . . . she wants more. (OUCH OUCH OUCH) But she is afraid to end it. Or doesn’t want to. Or she hopes with time, he’ll become the man she wants him to be. (Yep, that ole nemesis “hope” and its ever eternal springing . . )

The Cycle

  • The narcissist-controlled rollercoaster/merry-go-round continues
  • until the empath hits her breaking point. (Personally, I didn’t so much “break” as I twisted myself in knots, trying to justify and rationalize . . . while writing such pointed and not so pithy pieces as Yo-Yo Romeo, Cherry-picking and The Emperor Has No Clothes . . .)

The Shift

  • The delusion of the “relationship” finally falls away for the empath. (Ladies, at some point, ya just gotta see the writing on the wall!)
  • She speaks up. (When I finally did, it didn’t go well. At all. By then there was so much hurt on my part, it spewed like Vesuvius.)

(Note: I don’t recall what Ms. Unknown called the remaining stages—so I’m calling these that reflected me and Sunday’s relationship what they were for me.)

The Explosion

  • When the empath vocalizes her concerns—or finally speaks her mind—the narcissist reacts with anger. (To put it mildly . . .)
  • He calls her “crazy” and “delusional.” He invalidates what she feels, denies the facts and throws the blame back on her. He claims innocence (ala “I never done you wrong.”) before hurling that notoriously male accusation which serves to absolve him of any complicity: You caught feelings. (CHECK CHECK CHECK CHECK CHECK and CHECK)

The Self-doubt

  • The empath questions herself. Her innate insecurities surface. If she can’t be loved by this man to whom she has given her heart, then the fault must be hers. She must be “not enough” or “too much.” Either way, somehow she must be unworthy of being loved. (I went down that road over and over and cried enough tears to flood the fucking thing!)
  • The narcissist has no such feelings.
  • The empath stays and continues to wait for crumbs. When he doesn’t metaphorically speaking drop any, she texts or calls in an attempt to get him to toss a scrap of his attention her way. All the while she continues to delude herself with excuses to explain his behavior, which is in truth quite explainable: Honey, he’s just not that into you! (Butanything is better than nothing” is a freakin’ flotation device that will keep you afloat on false hope. Besides, if you truly deserve better, why doesn’t “better” come along?)

The Awakening

  • At last and eventually (Remember, she’s not a total idiot!) the empath begins to realize the bitter truth. The narcissist does not deserve her love, care, affection. He will never change. She can’t him “fix” him. With this painful awakening she is finally strong enough to break free of his control. And does (or tries to). But before she can begin the process of healing . . .
  • The narcissist has recognized the tip of power, his loss of control. And he reacts to maintain it. If he was gone, he returns. If he was distant, he becomes affectionate. He says what he knows she wants to hear.
  • Which brings the empath to a crossroads. . .

The Repeat

  • Faced with his face (i.e. his presence back in her life) the empath falters. Hope or fear or what she mistakenly believes is “love” may well weaken her resolve. Against her better judgment and the advice of caring friends and concerned family
  • she and the narcissist pick up where they left off and the whole damn cycle and the previous 8 stages repeat.
  • But if she has finally seen the light, the final stage will finally commence . . .

The Healing

  • The empath will stop the cycle.
  • She will accept the fact this “intoxicating” relationship is in fact only a “toxic.”
  • She begins the process of healing, severing all contact with the narcissist.
  • With time (and perhaps professional help) she will come to recognize her worth. She becomes stronger and wiser–and more cautious of whom she gives her love to in the future.
  • The narcissist has no such improvement. He moves on like nothing happened to find another.

This post is by no means an authoritative treatise. There are countless articles written by true experts and educated professionals available online regarding this oh-so-common pairing. If you recognize yourself in any of the preceding, by all means do some research and delve into it.

Remember the old saying “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”? Understanding the dynamic between an empath and a narcissist may help to shed a light. That light may not serve to illuminate an actual way out, but it can make sitting in the dark a tad more comforting. At the least it might make visible the writing on the wall . . .

As for me? Fuck. Yours truly is still looking for more matches and candles . . .

Don’t Water It

Of all the Facebook memes I have read over the past year or so, the one that hits closest to home (and hurts the most) is this one:

We went through all of that just to be strangers again?

Yeah. We did. Like a healthy-looking house plant that suddenly begins to decline and die in a matter of a few days, I watched him fade away right before my eyes. In my home—sometimes even in my bed–he just began to disappear day by day. The man I loved, who could make me laugh and come and feel beautiful, he was replaced by a cold, indifferent–and sober—stranger.

But how do you stop loving someone who has stopped loving you? I mean seriously! HOW? There is no on/off switch to emotions. No feelings’ faucet with a handle to turn to the left. I wish there were. Realists and so-called life coaches and those fortunate enough to have never themselves experienced a broken heart or the devastating loss of a loved one answer that question with an oh-so familiar refrain: Time heals all wounds.

For those suffering from that aforementioned broken heart (also known as love, unrequited), the You’ll Get Over It song has additional verses.

Second chorus: It’s for the best.

Third chorus: You deserve better.

Fourth, fifth and sixth: Work on you.

There is someone amazing out there for you.

It will happen when you least expect it.

To which I now reply: BITE ME!

Bitter, Judith? Hell to the yes! Pessimistic? You betcha.

Pause now for a disclaimer of sorts . . . Regular readers have doubtlessly noted my absence. I have written very little in the last 3-4 months (and posted less). A partial explanation is that my job changed profoundly in November. (Thank you, American Airlines merger. NOT) I have less free time to write. But the real culprit is writers’ block. I attribute this malaise to a lack of inspiration, as the man who had inspired countless posts is now out of my life. For those tired of sad breakup posts, I apologize this is another of same. But I write what I feel. And I write in an attempt to cope and to figure shit out. Such is the following . . .

At 61, I fell in love for the first time in my life. (How pathetic is that?) But wait, weren’t you married? Yes, I was and for 36 years, in fact. But the man I married was not an “in love” type of love. Moreover, when the marriage ended, it had been such a long slow death over so many years, it barely registered on the pain scale. Not so with this relationship which held all the passion, excitement and intimacy my marriage lacked. But I guess the hotter the flame, the deeper the despair? Some cosmic cost one pays for joy. It’s an experience I would have preferred never to know—like bungee jumping or dining on monkey brains. (Thanks, but I’m good.) Alas, I didn’t get the choice. The Universe did not walk up to me with a contract with fine fucking print I neglected to read before I signed by the neon-pink sticky-note flag: Fall in love, but suffer heartache. I’m pretty damn sure if offered that option, I would have declined. (At least, knowing now what I know, I would have.)

I realize I am not unique. It happens. A LOT. The first “real” relationship after divorce . . . We were soooooo careful, weren’t we, ladies? We had learned our lessons, had had our trust broken. Hence, we had erected sturdy walls to prevent the same from ever occurring again. But then . . . we let our walls down. Albeit S-L-O-W-L-Y. But damn! We let them down though, didn’t we? We dropped the drawbridge to our hearts and the fuckers rode right in.

For me there are other factors that factor into my current state of hopelessness. My age is the biggest one. The line of men queuing up for a 62-year-old is shorter than a marine recruit’s haircut. Plus, this man managed to check so many boxes that had never before been checked, I find it nearly impossible now to believe lightning can strike twice. Despite all his flaws (and I am not oblivious to the fact there were plenty!) he was perfect. For me. And if I wasn’t perfect for him, I was damn good for him. A fact he recognized and vocalized. Until his feelings changed. The problem is mine didn’t.

So back to that question of how to stop loving someone who has stopped loving you. (Be advised, by the way, this is a do as I say/ not as I do recommendation.) Think of your feelings for him as a house plant. Stop watering it. In other words, stop dwelling on the memories of what was. Stop hoping it will change and he’ll come back. Stop talking about it with girlfriends. Most importantly, stop ripping the scab off. Stop finding excuses to reach out. If he wanted to talk to you, to see you, he would. Accept the fact it does not matter one damn bit what he might have said then. This is now. And now he is gone. His silence speaks volumes. Listen! Think snow. Yeah, he said he loved you, promised he’d never hurt you, insisted you were different and said he did not want to lose you. The words (his) stuck and the emotions (yours) piled up. Like a deep blanket of snow. But once it warms (and his heart freezes) the snow melts away. It’s gone forever. And so is he.

Personally, when I can’t remove him from my thoughts, I try to redirect them. I think about his shortcomings and the relationships’ short falls. I concentrate on the countless times and ways he failed me. I let my anger build and try to make myself hate him. It’s actually easy. Sometimes. Because the line between hate and love is fiber optic thin. Sure, it’s a lie. But if you tell it to others, they will believe it. At least, they won’t bring up his name. So, share your animosity, ladies. You might be surprised. My sons would deck the fucker on sight. It’s a small comfort–and one hell of a satisfying visual. Sometimes.

The truth though, is I do still love him. Against reason, logic and cause. But unrequited love is a house plant, remember? Ignore it and eventually it does die. Just nothing hastens the process. Short of poisoning it, you can’t kill it. It can only die in its own time . . .

The Best of Sucks

This post is a blatant ploy. Pure commercialism. No tip-toeing around. Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts. These are they: I’m trying to sell a book (or two or four). Please don’t judge–or blame a girl for trying to make a buck.

Since it’s inception in July 2017, singleat60sucks.com has never strived to be any more than what it is: a free, non-monetized venting/humor/advice blog directed at women. My (very) personal musings on life and love with a bit of research and a whole lot of sarcasm thrown in (’cause hey, what doesn’t kill ya, makes you sarcastic) . . . each post addressed whatever issues I personally was dealing with at the time I wrote it. To no one’s greater surprise than my own, I not only hit a common nerve, I found a global audience. To date “sucks” has received over 10,400 views. Women (and men) in 107 countries around the world have contacted me and told me how relatable and true–and funny–my posts have been. “Like talking to my best friend,” one reader wrote. “Very clever, but with a message,” wrote another.

Because many of the pieces are no longer available for viewing online (and because I still don’t trust technology and want a hard copy and because I just like the feel of a book) I compiled the best of sucks into four little volumes. Each collection addresses a specific theme. They are all available for purchase on amazon.com in Kindle for $2.99 or paperback for $5.99. If you have read and enjoyed my blog (or don’t trust technology either or just like the feel of a book, too), I hope you will buy a book (or two or four). They would make great stocking-stuffers or Secret Santa gifts . . .’cause I can’t be the only sarcastic bitch at the single sisters’ table, can I?

Below are the titles, a brief description and a listing of the articles each contains. There are a few overlaps, where a piece will appear in more than one book because its topic fits a book’s particular theme. BTW, there are also two never before published pieces. They are starred *.

Fact is Stranger Than Fiction An overall collection of the blog’s most popular pieces and my own personal favorites: I Know What I Want; An Open Letter to Men; Where Have All the Good Men Gone; It’s in His Kiss; Let’s Talk About Sex; Fight or Flight; The White Knight, Prince Charming, Mr Right and Other Fairy Tale Romance Lies; Sex vs Intimacy; When You Finally Admit the Emperor Has No Clothes; Rejection is a River; Dating 2018: Women are Coats; Take a Look at Me Now.

Breakups & Starting Over A look at the hard “dos” and ever harder “don’ts” of letting go, moving on and starting over: Time to Say Goodbye; When Unbreakable Breaks; The Flip Side of Hope; An Open Letter to Men; Starting Over Means Getting Over; Finding the Place Called “New Normal”; Do You; Apples, Band-aids and Clowns; Seasons; Candy Land; Rejection is a River; Now Taking Applications.

Relationships Inspired by my own relationship with a man who doesn’t do them: How It All Began; Sex vs Intimacy (parts 1 &2); Seriously?! Again!?; Time to Say Goodbye; Cherry-picking; Yo-yo Romeo; Rules of Engagement; When You Finally Admit the Emperor Has No Clothes; Candy Store; Those Three Little Words*.

Men, Sex & Intimacy A look at the attitudes and behaviors that have long divided men and women: How Men Are Like High Heels; The White Knight, Prince Charming, Mr Right and Other Fairy Tale Romance Lies; S.M.A.R.T. About Men (a 4-part piece, discussing speech, motivation, actions, reactions and thoughts; Let’s Talk About Sex; Sex vs Intimacy (parts 1 & 2); Don’t Blame Darwin; It’s Not a Job If You Like It* ( a piece too explicit for the blog).

What Are the Learnings?

The military has them. Corporate business, too. Hell, even classroom teachers have a quasi-version thereof. In my day, we called them “tests.” But nowadays that harsh term has given way to the less threatening label “evaluation.” (FYI, heartless bitch that I apparently was, I also used *GASP* a red pen to grade papers. Thank goodness, teachers of the 21st century have seen the grievous error of those draconian 20th century ways. Now cognizant and conscious of students’ fragile feelings, they opt for less damaging-to-self-esteem colors such as mindful magenta and tender teal. Uhhh . . that would be S-A-R-C-A-S-M!) And I do digress. (Yeah. I do.) Back to the subject at hand . . .

The military uses the term “After-Action Report.” In fact (and as a useless piece of trivia), the very first AARs were developed waaaaay back by army generals, with one of the first (and supposedly best) being Julius Caesar’s “Commentaries on the Gallic Wars.”  Keeping the concept (and initials), modern CEOS, workplace managers and government bureaucrats prefer the more touchy-feely nomenclature “review.”  Occasionally, however, someone somewhere will strive to reinvent the wheel.  In these instances, ye olde AAR is called an AAR/IP (improvement plan.) But regardless of what they are called (a rose is a rose is a rose), their purpose remains the same since Cleo’s paramour penned his on papyrus in the century before Christ.

After-Action Reports or Reviews (tomato/tomahto) are analyses of a past event whereby performance is assessed and decisions re-assessed for the purpose of considering possible alternatives to improve future endeavors.  In other and shorter words, it’s a feedback tool to identify and correct what is euphemistically referred to in Businessspeak as “problematic elements.” (Oh, please! Why can’t we just call it what it is? It’s a fuck-up that needs to be fixed for the next time!) Jules explained such reasoning thus:  “Experience is the teacher of all things.”

The argument of terminology aside, AARs typically have 4 components, colorfully (and grammatically inaccurately) displayed in the graphic that introduces this post. (I found it online under Goggle images and couldn’t resist . . . To bastardize Shakespeare’s Richard III . . . “A pen! A pen! My kingdom for a red pen!” Side note: People, is it so hard? The plural form of a noun DOES NOT have an apostrophe! Verb tenses do exist for a reason–use them! And I’m not even going to touch on the fact that “learnings” isn’t even a real fucking word . . . See what happens when you spare feelings and red pens?) Ok, rant over. Let’s return once again to the subject at hand.  An AAR asks:

  1. What happened?
  2. What was supposed to happen?
  3. Why what happened happened?
  4. What are the learnings from what happened? (yeah, I’m just going with it. You know . . . pick your battles . . .)

Proponents tout an AAR’s value and applicability in countless situations . . . for any small or large, simple or complex project/event, operation, endeavor or incident, including, but not limited to:  natural disasters, public works, sporting events, training, seminars, deployments, VIP meetings and conferences.  So . . . if AARs are such a time-proven tool for effectively assessing a completed project’s/event’s/incidence’s/endeavor’s success or failure, here’s a thought . . .

Ladies, who among you wishes there was an After-Action Report for ended relationships? (I DO! I DO!) Think about it. Wouldn’t it be beneficial and actually helpful to know what went wrong? When and where the failures were? And whose? In order the avoid making the same fucking mistakes AGAIN?

Consider the possibilities of such an instrument of evaluation I am hereby naming an ARR (After-Relationship Report). Like its inspiration, an ARR will ask “What the fuck went wrong?” (yeah, I added the “fuck”–’cause sometimes you just gotta) Herein we would examine the subtopics of “What was supposed to happen?” and “What did actually happen?” Specific questions to be answered might (should) include the following:

  1. Were the goals held by each participant at the relationship’s onset mutual or at odds? (For example, was he merely just expecting a fuck, while she anticipated feelings?)
  2. Were the goals held by each party clearly defined to the other?
  3. Were these goals and expectations not only mutually understood, but agreed upon before any action commenced?
  4. If the goals were clearly outlined and mutually agreed upon prior, what subsequent actions took place to cause a deviation from the negotiated course?
  5. When and under what circumstances did the  aforementioned digressions occur?
  6. And by whom? (In other words, who failed to adhere to the plan?) Was only one party at fault? Or did both parties participate in the meltdown?
  7. Were warning signs evident? Describe them.
  8. Was any attempt made to realign the misdirection after identifying it?
  9. What were the actions (if any) undertaken in order to “dial it back?”
  10. On a scale of 1 – 10 (with 10 being the highest) how would you rate the success of these attempts?
  11. What steps might have been taken that could have been more successful? (ie commencing re-alignment actions earlier or decreasing time spent together or lessening the number and/or scope of sexual interactions)
  12. Did the ending party communicate said end in a timely fashion or respectful way? If not, why not? (Please note this question will likely have but only one answer. See paragraph * after next.)

The  second objective of the ARR tackles the topic “How to NOT make the same fucking mistake again.” Note: This  segment is much briefer than the previous. Essentially it consists of  answering one question and then taking appropriate actions to correct the problematic elements identified. To wit . . .

  • Have you identified any personal behavior — or worse, a pattern of behavior– in the first objective that is a contributing factor? If you have answered “no,” then sorry. This concludes the exercise. You are fucked and men just suck.

However, if you were able to answer “yes” proceed to the next step.

  • Whatever it is, stop doing it! Period. Possibles actions (but not all) could include the following
  1. Stop trusting without cause.
  2. Stop making excuses for the red flags you clearly see, but are choosing to ignore.
  3. Stop wasting time on a lost cause by thinking you can “fix” or change him. This means, stop counting on the potential you believe might be there. Let the reality of who he is add up to the zero he is now. In other words, stop hearing hoof-beats and hoping for a zebra. Speaking of stripes –or spots — trust me (voice of experience speaking now) the bastard isn’t going to change his. Which leads us to the number #1 action you can take to prevent making the same mistake . . .
  4. In crudest terms . . . honey, you got a pecker-picking problem!  And please hold your outrage. I mean no offense. (Besides, it takes one to know one. I’ll be the first to admit I picked a prick.) So, stop picking the same fucking man who just happens to have a different face or name! You know whereof I speak. And most of us are guilty of it, so pick a different type, look, personality . . . Trust me. The characteristics that draw you are probably the ones that doom you.  I know whereof I speak! Me . . . arrogance, cocksureness, swagger . . . yeah . . . drawn and doomed. EVERY TIME.

Alas, there are 2 problems in my concept of an ARR and this very tongue-in-check post.

*The first is that in order for the damn thing to work, a AAR or ARR requires the participation and input of all parties involved. Good luck with that! Most (and I’m being generous, ’cause my heart-held contention is ALL) men don’t even possess the balls and respect for us to TELL us it’s over. Much less be willing to divulge their whys and how comes by contributing an explanation and recommendation for future improvement. Correct me (please!) if your experience is different, but mine is this:  They fade, Caspar, disappear, dismiss, dump and ignore. Yeah . . . real brave. And should the bastard deign to discuss the matter with you, ala his asking, “Are we really going down this road?” (“Yeah, we are, fucker. We are.”) be prepared, ladies! He is going to lay the blame at your feet! Regardless of his own words, deeds or actions, you are the one who mistook them to mean more than he intended. In fact, a majority of men today utilize the same manner of instant dismissal. It’s a handy little phrase that acts as relationship Wite-Out, conveniently and completely erasing everything THEY said or did. It’s a 2-in-one, 3-word statement of finger-pointing at you and absolution of them. (Ok, a metaphorical show of hands now if you have heard it.) “You caught feelings.”

And ta-da and voila! He’s absolved.

The second problem in the summary and recommendations phase of an AAR, that “creating a plan for improvement” for the future part, is that such presumes the desire (or need) exists for a future attempt. Some of us–a lot of us–are not interested. I’m not.  I don’t care what went wrong, because I’m not risking my heart again. My faith in men in general, my instincts in particular and even my sense of self worth have been leveled. Fucker dropped a JDAM on my she-shed. So closure and answers and analyses for future endeavors don’t matter. He lied. I believed. Ergo, this bitter pecker-picker is bowing out. I’m done.

However, in the spirit of presenting both sides to an issue let me offer up Jay Shatty, a former monk turned motivational speaker/vlogger/writer/filmmaker from the UK with roots in India. You have probably seen his videos and posts on Facebook. (Seriously! The dude has over 3 million followers across the globe!) He’s good. Upbeat. Positive. Inspirational. (all the things I am not) In a recent video, he talks to relationship issues such as unrequited love. Jay maintains that just because you loved someone, believed in someone, trusted someone . . . and they betrayed that trust, belief, love . . . that doesn’t mean you stop believing and trusting in love. Love didn’t betray you. He betrayed you. The fault is not love’s. So don’t stop believing in love. It’s out there. Open yourself up to it and it will find you. Ladies, listen to him. (As I said . . . I pick my battles . . . I’m not about to argue with a guy who has whatever 3 million minus 10,000 is more viewers than I!)

It’s ironic. They say all’s fair in love and war. But it’s not fair. War gets an after-action report and a plan for improvement. And love gets  . . . what? Hope? Faith? Belief? On second thought . . . maybe it’s fair after all. (And Jay is right.) ‘Cause those are a lot harder to kill . . .

 

 

Rocks, Pebbles and Sand

I am 62 today.  According to AARP, who have been sending me regular reminders for a week now, I am hereby official. Dislike it though I may, (and trust me, I DO!), my new demographic designation is S-E-N-I-O-R.  Well, F-U-C-K! But expletives change nothing. I am—‘cause I did. I got old.

We all did . . . we of the forever young, “don’t trust anyone over 30,” flower power, sexual revolution, Baby Boomer generation. Sure, we can paddle the River Denial, deal ourselves a hand out of the semantics deck or even hang some cute curtains with cleverly contrived taglines in our rose-colored windows . . .  fab at 50 . . .  sexy at 60 . . . sensational at 70 . . . But who in hell are we kidding?  At the end of the day, when we wipe off the lips and eyebrows we don’t have (if we don’t draw them on and color them in), take off the bras that keep our boobs north of due south and unspanx our mushy middles and saggy asses  . . . Yeah, there’s a reason they call it the glaring truth (as in “highly obvious, unmistakable and inescapable”). BTW, “truth,” ladies, is a silent witness. NOT. Her mute reflection might stare back at you in the mirror speechless—but trust me. She’s speaking volumes.

Jane Fonda does a scene in the Netflix show Grace and Frankie that is simply brilliant. When the man she’s been seeing professes his acceptance of their age gap and claims to love her regardless, she tells him he doesn’t know what he’s getting. And then proceeds to show him, pulling off eyelashes, wiping away make-up, yanking out hair extensions. “Think you can handle this?” she taunts with each level of artifice removed. “And this? And this?” Once bare-faced and vulnerable, she displays her knee brace and introduces him to her new friend, Mr. Cane. “This is what you’re getting,” she proclaims in a tour de force performance as she stands there stripped of the delusions of youth. (Jane, I was never a fan. Hated your whole Hanoi spectacle. But I got to tell you . . . Girl! You earned my respect for your talent with this one!) FYI, you can find the clip on YouTube. Google Grace and Frankie The Real Me. Now of course, because this is a freakin’ TV show—and NOT real life, the guy doesn’t blink an eye. He stares at her intently and then softly says, “I’ll take it.” Yeah, like I said . . . it’s TV. . .

But back to turning 62 . . . In the 1987 movie, Lethal Weapon, Danny Glover’s character, Roger Murtaugh, has a memorable line: “I’m too old for this shit!” Me, too. Specifically, at 62, I am too old for

  • zits (Seriously!?! Is there a greater insult to injury than to have a pimple pop up next to a wrinkle or age spot??)
  • bullshit and games (I honor my word. I expect the same.)
  • paying my dues (There’re fucking paid! In fact, I figure I’m owed a refund.)
  • wasting my time
  • a broken heart
  • failing to learn from my mistakes

Care to guess which 4 of the above are connected? I’ll give you a clue: S-U-N-D-A-Y.

But first a slight side track (Bear with me. . . I promise I’ll tie it all together.)  There is a famous lecture by a philosophy professor wherein he fills a mayonnaise jar with large rocks. “Is it full?” he asks his class.  “Yes,” they answer in unison confidence. Prof can’t fit another rock in and still close the lid. But then the professor sprinkles handfuls of pebbles into the jar. They slide into the cracks between the rocks and fill the voids. “Now is it full?” he asks. His students laugh, realizing the point he has made. However, their teacher is not finished. He takes a cup of sand and proceeds to pour it into the jar. “Now it is full,” he proclaims when the top is reached. He goes on to explain that the jar signifies life. How each of us fills our own (life—not jar) is incumbent upon choices. The rocks represent the most important things in life—family and health, for example. These are the crucial priorities essential to well-being. The pebbles are the things that may matter to us—job, house, friendships. But these things can be lived without. While they may give life meaning, they come and go. They are not permanent. Nor are they essential. The sand is the filler. The things like material possessions or leisure activities. In the long run, they don’t mean much and are actually rather unimportant—wastes of time often, in fact. The value they add to life is fleeting at best. But yeah, they are fun. The professor’s point is if you start out with sand, you leave no room for rocks or pebbles. In other words (and why time management “experts” frequently cite this lecture), if you spend your time and energies and money on small insignificant and fleeting things, there will be none left for the things that are actually important. In a nutshell, the “rocks, pebbles, sand” lecture is a metaphoric lesson on living life fully, with meaning and purpose.

The above metaphor works for love as well. (Btw, I am also borrowing from an article I recently read about the 7 types of love.) As per some “experts” on the matter, “love” has 3 components: commitment, intimacy and passion.  Combining any of these together creates a particular kind of the aforementioned 7 types of love. The article provided specific names for each, with the rarest being the combination of all 3.  Most of us, however, are acquainted with the common combos:  i.e. commitment and intimacy (but no passion) or passion and intimacy (without commitment). FYI, those would be my experiences per my marriage and my recent involvement.  The problem with this theory is that there are no quantifiers offered as to of how much of each component there exists. I mean, is there equal parts of each? Or does it matter, so long as something of each one exists? Inquiring minds (mine) want to know. Therefore, I have come up with my own hybrid metaphor of the professor’s mayonnaise jar of life lecture . . .

“Love” is a whole (think jar) comprised of pieces and parts and elements (rocks, pebbles and sand). While you do need to include at least one of all three, the proportions are up to the individual. (What works for you, works for you.) Alas, rocks require the most space (time, effort, energy, commitment). Pebbles being smaller allow for their existence in far greater numbers. Fittingly (no pun intended), the jar allows for lots of them—ergo without a lot of these “pebbles” (being intimacy, familiarity, comfort, etc.), you won’t fill the jar. But without the true “filler” of sand (sex, passion) which fills the tiniest of voids, the jar is not truly “full.” Nor the love complete.

Here is the problem many of us have. Yours truly included! We know we need all three, but we screw up the mix. (Yeah, free will is a bitch!) Often the people and priorities we spend the most time, energy, effort (and money) on aren’t really rocks. They are pebbles masquerading as rocks. Or they are rocks that don’t deserve to be. Worse, though, is when we willingly and too quickly fill our jars with too much sand—only to later realize we have left no room to accommodate in needed quantities the other elements. Oh yeah, guilty as charged—which is the perfect segue to Sunday . . .

As I have previously written, we met on the night of my 60th birthday. At the time I was looking for fireworks. And damn! Did he deliver. But fireworks burn. And they did. I fell in love with him. More accurately, I fell in love with his perceived potential—rather than the person he actually is. Ahhhh . . . live and learn. And I did. There were moments when it was perfection—the conversations and experiences we had, the friendship and intimacies we shared that all served to form a trust neither of us had known with another.  But just as pebbles and sand don’t fill the jar per the rules, moments are not enough to build a relationship. Certainly, Sunday started out as sand. Fireworks and fun. Circumstances and time and mutual desire created lots of pebbles. Indeed, he was most capable of  and even willing to offer pebbles—for a time. But I made the mistake of believing he could be a rock. The truth is, he neither wanted—nor deserved—to be. He isn’t rock material—at least not for my jar. Maybe someday for another woman’s jar, he will be. But for me he is not. No matter how much I wished it to happen and believed in “meant to be,” it wasn’t. As “perfect” as we could be together, if we were apart, I was an afterthought. That doesn’t make for a rock, ladies. It just doesn’t. I don’t care how independent and strong you think you are. (Voice of experience, talking now.)

Given the outcome, it would be tempting to say it was a grievous error in judgment to have started an involvement with him. (It wasn’t—read on.) It would, however, be a mistake to continue it. So today on my birthday—on the official 2-year anniversary of this involvement’s inception—I am declaring its end. Yeah, it hurts. But I was told today pain and these dings to the heart are what make one stronger—ala the process which forges steel with fire and hammer. We’ll see. As of now, I’m not a believer. Still, I don’t regret having tried because I lived—and learned! He inspired countless posts and enriched my life with both experiences and emotions. He showed me I could love unconditionally and selflessly. I learned what it felt like to feel appreciated, cherished, desired. Hell! Even the experience of having my heart broken (And God! Do I hate that expression!) was one I had heretofore never known.  Moreover, I would like to believe in these past 2 years I enriched his life as well. At the very least, I fucking saved it—and his job. Twice. And he saw Europe. Twice. Before me he didn’t even have a passport . . . so yeah, I claim “enrichment!”

Ultimately the truth is this:  Sunday is not only happiest as sand, he is sand.  At 60, it worked for me. But I have since lived and learned and loved. And gained a bit of  the wisdom they promise comes with calendar years.  I may always love him. But at 62, I want—and deserve—a rock.

Battlelines

“If you are serious about loving someone, you have to surrender all desires within to manipulate the relationship.”    Rob Bell

“Men always wants to be a woman’s first love—women like to be a man’s last romance.”  Oscar Wilde

I didn’t know him from a can of paint. An utter stranger, met in a bar.  And yet I let him into my home, into my bed—and into my heart. More’s the fool was I! He was the worst possible choice. Twice married and divorced, with a penchant for “dating” much younger women, he was as different from me as could possibly be. And I as literally opposite from his preferred choice as black and white. Married but once (and for 36 years!), I was as domesticated and faithfully monogamous as they came; while he was wild as a wolf with a proven and unrepentant proclivity to hit it and quit it and roam. Truth be told (and in hindsight it is ever so much more painful to acknowledge), I was a staid and stationary, lichen-covered stump to his rolling stone that was going to gather no moss—or entanglements. So why?

I have asked myself that question for nearly 2 years. Yes, he made me feel alive and desired, cherished and valued. Emotions and sensations I had never known. It was supposed to just be sex, fun, casual. But insidious oxytocin had another plan. Or was it fate? It was supposed to happen so I could feel what I’ve never—valued for my intellect and independence? Or was it intended to be a step on my life’s journey? A painful lesson of loving selflessly. And of losing utterly. Lessons I had not yet learned—even when my marriage ended. Or perhaps it was as punishment and penance for having been the one to end it?

All these thoughts I have entertained. But it’s not just about him in my life. It’s also about me in his. The reason we met, persevered and continued . . . because I have twice saved his life. The particulars don’t matter. Just the fact that were it not for me, he would likely be dead. But now he is healthy. His need of me is gone, yet my want for him remains. The hook-up who became a fuck buddy who became a friend with benefits who was briefly a lover. And yes. He said the words.

Those three little words that are supposed to mean everything. But really didn’t. Except to tear down my final defense. Thus unprotected, I caught feelings. I fell in love. But he didn’t. He doesn’t do relationships. Sure, he loves me. As a friend. He has said I am one of his closest, a person he trusts more than probably anyone else, who has been there for him as no one ever has. Yet he has pulled back, drawing a solid line. It’s safer that way, he says. But for whom? And besides . . . now it’s too late. The line is all blurred for me. I wish I’d never slept with him. Friendship would be so much easier without those haunting memories of what once was. . .

Naturally my female friends insist he is afraid. He’s been burned—and badly. He’ll be back, they say. I don’t think so—despite all the cosmic signs that once seemed like neon billboards. In a long line of dark-haired men, he is the only blond—save my first. Bookends, I thought, the first and the last. Even their 3-letter names rhymed. Speaking of names, the first time I went to his house, I couldn’t help but notice the street before his was his full first name, while the street prior was my ex-husband’s full first name. Coincidence? Or sign? You know how I took it! A meant-to-be hint from the Universe. For why else would I accept the things I did? A 6-month disappearance among the worst.

Blue collar to the core, he didn’t even have a passport until I took him to Europe.  Yes, me the sophisticate, the bi-lingual writer. Educated, classy, way too good for him, I’m frequently told. And 9 years older. Most people don’t see me with him. (BTW, because I have made the mistake of opening up to my sons, each would now deck him on sight.) But he is deeper and more layered than anyone could know. Profound and intuitive, he understood me better than any man I’ve ever known. He appreciated me for me. Loved that I was smart, wrote books, traveled. Yet he held his own in every conversation—and challenged me. Even taught me a thing or two.

But now I think the worth of  this relationship has run out. Like an hour glass, there’s only a tiny pile of sand left on top to trickle down. I am in love with him. Deeply. But he doesn’t feel the same. Yes, I’m like no one he has ever known, trusted as he’s never trusted, been there as no one ever has. But it’s not enough. It’s not enough for him to love me as I want to be loved. He once asked what I wanted from him. I didn’t know. Now I do. I want a relationship. For me it HAS been a relationship. And I persevered, never believing it was over. Until now . . .

It’s so cliché! The smart woman making the stupidest choices where a man is concerned. I hate myself for it. My mind and my heart have been at war for over a year. Strong logic. indomitable reason and irrefutable fact united to defeat the weakest of foes:  that emotion called “love” and some indefinable thing called “gut feeling” that so dearly loves to don the more glorious cloak of “instinct.” But instinct is what got me into this mess in the first place! The instinct that let me take him home and into my bed, into my life, into my heart.

And so the battle wages. Three against two—it should be a no-brainer! But every time one sides sees imminent victory, the other rallies. The cause is capricious and cruel:  each side has the same interloper, a turncoat who keeps changing alliances, snatching the win from the hands of certainty triumph. When I say, “I’m done. It’s over. He’s disappeared one time too many”, fact prepares to take a victory lap. Reason and logic cheer. And then he shows up, says the right things, does the right things—and emotion and instinct raise their flag. The clarion of triumph prepares to trumpet love’s victory. But then the bastard defects and the tide turns once again. So it has gone . . . over and over and over again . . . an ever raging war I am tired of waging.  Fucker! Pick a damn side! I want to scream. Love me or leave me. Stop playing me. I need a resolution.

I am just terrified it will be the one I don’t want.

Now . . . in a note of final irony . . . Sunday and I are leaving tonight for Italy. It is a trip we have talked about and planned for months. Here’s the irony- . . . the night I met him (two years ago this September 28th)(and my birthday–oh joy! NOT), he talked about how Venice was one of the places he most wanted to see. It’s as good a place as any, I guess. And certainly a fitting  place for fate’s perfect circle to close as it ever does–upon its own beginning.

 

BTW, the Fates are sometimes as kind as they are cruel . . . for I do have two pieces of good news. The first two books in a “best of series” inspired by singleat60sucks are now complete. Entitled Breakups and Starting Over and Relationships, each is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. And my humor memoir about online dating, I Still Want Fireworks, was just awarded the Readers Favorites Bronze Medal for Best Humor/Comedy Book of 2018. Moreover, of the 750 entries, my book was one of only ten chosen by Headline Books for a possible publishing contract. So always, even in the darkest storm . . . look for the rainbow, ladies. I promise, it’s there. Or it will be!20180901_05582320180905_160419