Last fall JJ showed me a listing online for a house with a gorgeous kitchen. It was one of my first subtle clues that he was thinking about the future of our relationship and taking the next step. Then there was another listing. Then there were the sporadic breath stealing statements and questions. “If we were to get married what would that look like?” “I love you so much it scares me.” All these conversations were two-sided in a way I hadn’t experienced before. We were two people that weren’t afraid to put ourselves out there and ask the tough questions or get hurt.
I started asking close friends and family that knew him, tell me if you see a problem here because I do not. Everybody was ecstatic about this progression and told me how happy I seemed with him and how he is a great person.
We started looking at houses together in January. We were ready to take that plunge. We both said we wanted a new place together not a place that was mine or his but ours. Then the talk about how we’d both like to be married very shortly after or before we lived together. He wanted to show his commitment. Then the heart stopping questions about engagement rings. IF he was to buy me one would I like to pick it out myself, together or have him. I said I would like to him to pick it out with input from me. At one point he sat me down in front of the computer and had me show him some I liked.
It was an agonizing and wonderful couple of months. He didn’t make me wait long. Valentines evening on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa while on a trip with ski club his carefully laid plan was executed. He dropped to one knee while skating and asked me to marry him. Even though I knew it was coming I was shocked. No one had ever taken such lengths to make a moment so special for me. This classy, handsome, smart, funny, sexy man wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and I wanted it more than I’d ever wanted anyone or anything.
We were both giddy and completely in love with each other. We talked about eloping then finally settled on a ‘small’ family wedding at our new house. It worked for both of us. Over the next 4 months we would sell my house, buy our house, sell his house, move into our new home, plan a wedding and get married. It was an exhilarating, exhausting time that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
June 13, 2015 we were married on our front porch surrounded by 60 people that cared about us and were so happy for us. Family had hopped on planes and in cars to be a part of our wedding day. We had beautiful weather and the simple wedding we had planned went perfectly.
I never imagined that I would marry a man a short 17 months after meeting him. But now I realize that when they say ‘when you meet the right person, you just know’ – its true. Everything is comfortable and works between us. We both wanted the same things, we like doing the same things, we were just aligned in a way that I didn’t know two people could be aligned in. The years to get here were at times long and painful but in the end – It was easy.
I just made the hardest phone call a pet owner can make. The final call to the vets for an appointment for your dying pet. In my case its my dog Mandy. Mandy has been with me for 13 years. She’s had a good run. Healthy until this past year when she slowly declined until the last two months when she took a quick plunge toward anorexia due to liver cancer.
I just made that call for Mandy. We go for one final drive at 5PM today to the place she hates. I was hoping for a peaceful passing in her sleep while she was curled up next to me in bed. But that hasn’t happened. She has not eaten anything of substance for days. Today nothing, Yesterday one scrap of bread the size of a quarter with maple syrup. The day before a small pancake. The day before that three slices of lunch meat. Its not for lack of trying. I’ve cooked her turkey, chicken, hamburger, pasta, sea bass, eggs, cookies and much more that I’ve forgotten. She’d eat each thing sparingly once. Then walk away like I was poisoning her. Last night she chewed on a McDonald’s hamburger, the crack cocaine of canine cuisine, and spit it out. She’s down to 35 pounds from a trim and slim 55 pounds. A walking skeleton.
I’ve been getting up every one or two hours to put her out for a few months now because she can’t sleep or needs to go the bathroom. She’s stopped getting up so much the past few days. Too exhausted and weak. Last night and today I’ve had to retrieve her when she went outside and put her on and off the bed. She has nothing left to live for except my cuddles and that doesn’t seem like enough. Over the weekend she had continued to ask for walks. Walks are what Mandy has lived for. So we obliged. Taking her on short walks around the block. Yesterday she asked for a walk and then sat down when we got outside the garage. Fought and refused to go any further.
Well meaning people offer their opinions. Friends pointedly tell me not to let her suffer, to talk to my vet, to let her eat anything she wants. My boyfriend told me last night on the phone that he doesn’t think she is ready to go. I cry over all this advice and try to figure out what is best for Mandy rather than what is best for me.
Meanwhile here I am with Mandy who is a shell of herself, with untreatable liver cancer. She’s starving herself to death. I think frequently about what I’ve said I will do when I am old and ready to die and have no other options – I will stop eating – the one thing I will still be in control of.
So I made that phone call.
The past year has flown by. I’ve tried some new things this year like downhill skiing, rock climbing (not for me), zip lining. I’ve climbed more mountains and become an aspiring ADK 46er.
Sun coming up over the Grand Canyon as we started our descent.
I climbed the Grand Canyon from the top of the rim to the Colorado River and back to the top in one day. I’ve visited three states that I’ve never been to before. I moved my department at work into a new building and added a new manager to my staff. I had to fire a long time employee that wasn’t able to keep up with the changing skill set needed in our fast moving environment. I’ve learned to be a better manager.
And I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this exciting new relationship with JJ. I’ve managed to keep my identity and become part of a couple. I feel whole by myself and whole when I’m with him. He doesn’t ‘complete’ me. He ‘complements’ me. I feel no anxiety about this relationship or my status with him. I feel loved, desired and maybe most important of all liked. We have been on many adventures this year and also spent many hours quietly with his family and friends and mine. Everything with this man just feels right. He’s mature, kind, funny, sexy and requires virtually nothing from me except what I freely give. I’ve never been so comfortable and confident with someone before.
As we start another new year I find myself reflecting and taking inventory of my feelings, desires and emotional state. If I’m honest I’m not taking enough time to reflect and think quietly these days. Its obvious when you see the lack of posts here on this blog. Reflection and writing keeps me peaceful. I need to get back to reflective thinking. I’ll figure out a way to make more down time for myself this year.
I am eagerly looking forward to this year and know that it will fly by in a flash. I will try to focus on the moments and savor them so the memories linger long after 2015. Its going to be a life changing year. JJ and I will be buying a house together and possibly more. I couldn’t be happier with the direction my life is taking.
My life is filled with people who lift me up, enough gratitude to keep me grounded and a belief that more of all these wonderful things are ahead. I wish the same peace for you in 2015.
So a couple weeks ago I asked JJ if he believed in ‘soul mates’. A discussion ensued and I wanted to send him a link to this post that I had a link to in my blog back in July. Instead I sent him this link to my blog. Naturally he reads the post I sent him and also the last couple posts here this year. He tells me “So I read your blog.” My head swims. I was mortified and also not quite sure what I had written here. I often write what I’m thinking/feeling on a particular day to sort through feelings.
He was concerned that I wasn’t talking to him. He said that if I needed time to myself I needed to tell him. He deleted the email and the link to my blog and said he didn’t want to read my feelings here. He wants me to talk to him or write him a personal note. He was kind, concerned and honest. What a refreshing change.
By the time he had read my post about balance I had sorted through in my head what was off. Not in small part due to the act of writing that post. Since then I’ve freed myself of the obligation of going to the gym. I joined a gym in December thinking I would make use of the group classes and equipment. Since then I had mentally committed myself to going a minimum of two times a week. If I didn’t make it I beat myself up over wasting money, not making the effort and let depression over my body’s lack of cooperation with what I wanted to be creep into my consciousness. Going to the gym might have been achievable if my body hadn’t been balking at certain Pilates moves for the past year, if my sciatica wasn’t making simple activities laced with pain, if my neck and shoulder and often arm weren’t on fire pretty much 24/7. The gym was too competitive for someone like me. If I can’t keep up I push harder. I had been going to physical therapy twice a week in an attempt to work through the sciatica and neck and shoulder pain. This added to my feeling that I had no down time.
So I went back to doing home exercises. Once I get the issues sorted out that keep me from Pilates I’ll probably go back to my original Pilates studio. I’m back to walking the dogs every morning. And I do my active stuff that I enjoy like hiking and skating on the weekends. I knew I wasn’t a gym person before, now I’ve remembered and accepted this fact about myself and moved on.
Last night I was reminded how important it is to stay real and say things out loud that I’m thinking and feeling. I was reminded by JJ of the reasons I was attracted to him three months ago by a simple feeling he shared. Unprompted he said that he’d been thinking since the DWI. He’d been thinking that he used to look down on people that had a DWI. That he had wished his ex would get a DWI because she drinks and drives all the time. Now he realizes that because someone gets a DWI doesn’t mean they are worse or someone else is better. They’ve most likely just made a mistake. Most importantly he said he doesn’t wish a DWI on his ex any longer. He said that he felt sorry for her because she was missing out on so much in life while spending her free time hanging out in bars. That wishing something like that on her was pointless. He holds no ill will toward her. He doesn’t want to use his energy on harboring bad feelings toward her.
To someone else this might seem insignificant. To someone else it might make them feel like he holds feelings for his ex still. To someone like me who is on high alert when men talk badly of exes it was very moving. When men talk badly of their ex I’ve come to realize that it could be a sign of poor relationship skills in the man and a lack of self-reflection. We all play a certain part in the relationships we are in and placing the blame on one person doesn’t work. In cases of abuse the blame falls squarely with the abuser. But in every day interactions and how we treat each other there are two parties involved. Harboring ill will and resentment are signs of not letting go of the past relationship also. Moving on requires letting go of the good and the bad.
Later JJ talked about starting to do his chores during the week instead of on the weekends like has been his habit. I said that I would need time on the weekends to take care of things. He said, as he’s said before, I hope I’m not smothering you. Do you need more time to yourself? To which I reply you aren’t smothering me, I just need to find some balance.
So I love the self-reflection and thoughtful, intuitive manner of this man. Today I feel like a lucky girl and I can’t wait to spend another weekend with this man.
The past few months have been a whirlwind. My normal is a calendar filled with fun activities I’ve chosen and commitments I’ve made to people in my life to share in theirs. The past few months have been no different. What is different is I met a man in January who I’ve been spending a lot of time getting to know. He dove into my life and embraced it. I’ve been included in his in a way that I never have been by a man before. We seem so compatible and I feel like he is in the same place emotionally as me.
A month into the relationship I’m out of town for work for eleven straight days and he texts me on a Saturday night that he has been picked up for DWI. I reserve judgment. He tells me this is the last part of his old life that he hasn’t left behind. That he doesn’t want to be that person any longer. There are too many good things between us for me to walk away even though we are only one month in. So I immediately decide to see what happens. For the next week he’s apologizing all over himself, saying he will make it up to me, telling me he is sorry….. When I get home I ask him what he thought I would do. He says he figured I wouldn’t want to have to deal with it. I said that I wouldn’t deal with it, that it was his problem to deal with. I explained that for me this was an opportunity to see how he handles himself in a bad situation. I say this is an opportunity for him to see how I handle bad situations too. There will be more through our lives. He nods. I wonder and wait does he keep his promises? Accept responsibility fully? Change?
This brings me back to earth and as the initial intense attraction and newness wears off I find myself analyzing him, me and us. My insecurities set in. Maybe he’s getting tired of sex with me. Maybe he’s thinking he made a mistake and I’m not who he thought I was. I over analyze his teasing behavior. Will this turn into meanness? Is it a veiled attempt to change me? I listen to the descriptions of personal and work relationships from the past and wonder where does the truth lie? Who was ‘at fault’. I wonder does he have a martyr syndrome, did all this stuff happen like this? I realize the only thing that will reveal answers is time and being objective.
I’m thankful I wrote this post last year outlining what I wanted from a relationship with a man. I refer back this often and it reinforces this new relationship. One thing sticks out to me tonight “I want to be with a man who includes me in his life, joins in my life and allows balance.” Balance is slipping away. But I’m letting balance slip away and becoming consumed by the relationship in some aspects. Its not him. At least I don’t think it is. So now its time to pull back a bit I realize. Tell him I need more time to myself. I need less time on the phone each night, a few hours to myself each weekend. See the reaction and learn something more about this man.
This will be hard for me. Even though I still know my happiness comes from within. I am a happy person. There is no fear of losing him. I don’t think he would leave me but if he did I would go on the same happy person I discovered I was the end of last year living the same full life. Disappointing others is difficult for me. Standing up for myself in personal relationships is stressful for me. It will take some mental preparation and pep talks.
I find myself craving time for simple things like organizing my house, exercising, sitting on the couch with my dogs and cats and most of all writing down my thoughts. When I don’t get to write here or in my journal my thoughts and feelings feel jumbled, unorganized and that makes me feel stressful. I need time to decompress and read a book, cook myself a healthy meal and make time to meet new neighbors.
These are things I will remember when I find the words to tell this man that I need more time to myself.
For the past few weeks I have felt maybe the happiest I have ever felt in my life. I feel peaceful, joyous and surrounded by people that care about me. I realize that even though I loved every minute of my time with TG, the relationship created a lot of anxiety for me because I knew he wasn’t that into me. So hopefully I have learned a lesson here.
I have more friends in my life than I ever have and that is a big part of the happiness. I mentioned to my counselor last week that I have become a magnet for people that want to hang out with me, do things with me. I told her something about me has changed. I’m still trying to figure this out but she said that reminded her of a book called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Byrne suggests that we get back from the world around us what we send out. I think, Yes Karma. I’m a big believer in Karma. So another book on the long list to read.
I have been wondering when is the right time to try dating again. I wonder should I wait longer, spend more time alone now that I am so happy. Then New Years I have a bit of an epiphany. When I’m happy and peaceful and feeling like being without a partner the rest of my life would be perfectly ok, perhaps that is the best time of all to start dating again. And I realize the truth. The last time I tried dating I really wanted a boyfriend. I wanted someone to do things with and hang out. So I rushed and chased until I made that happen. So right now when I’m happy and peaceful seems like the perfect time to start dating again. Because this time I plan to move slow. I plan to get to know someone without jumping into bed with them. I plan to let things happen and not try to make things happen. So now seems right.
On New Years Day I climbed a small mountain with my brand new snowshoes with two strangers. It was an awesome, liberating day. The woman is going for her 46er status and has about 20 mountains she is climbing this summer and a trip to Nevada in the fall. I’ve already agreed to climb some of the mountains with her and am also seriously considering going to Nevada with her also. She will visit Death Valley and Great Basin National Parks and Vegas. For me a perfect vacation.
Then after my mini-mountain climb I came home and signed up for eHarmony. Using the picture of myself radiating happiness on the top of that snowy mountain for my profile picture. And tonight I have a date with a man who is getting in shape to climb mountains, wants to learn to ski, likes to dance, has had a good secure job for years and has a dog. And you know what? I’m excited to meet this person, hopeful for a new friend and cautiously optimistic for more. But I’m not counting on it, I will be perfectly happy if this is the first and last date. I am in a good place. I no longer seek validation outside of myself. I look for like minded people that raise me up and choose to spend time with them. If he doesn’t fit in with that, he doesn’t fit in with my life.
Especially the past few years I find myself giddy with hope and excitement this time of year. Reflecting back on all the adventures I’ve immersed myself in the prior year leaves me breathlessly waiting, looking forward to what will happen in the upcoming year.
The past three years have been the best of my life. And its not that everything has gone my way or I’ve had some large windfall. I’ve had plenty of disappointments large and small. I’ve lost friendships, ended romantic relationships, been dumped, been stressed and overloaded at work, lost a cat, had ginormous debts to pay. They have been the best years of my life because I have taken charge of my life and the direction its heading. Even when things happened that were out of my control, I controlled my reaction to them. I mourned and moved on. I didn’t try to change the unchangeable like I have in the past. That I think has been the key to my happiness. Changing what I can and accepting what is not for me to change with a quiet and peaceful heart. I think of this as honoring who I am and who the people in my life are.
Even as I feel this sense of impending adventure I think about how lucky I am. My health is good, I have a good job and feel secure in it and I have the best support system I have ever had in my life. I wonder is this luck or karma? I think both. I believe in karma. I believe that you get back from those around you what you send out. If you send out happiness, support, kindness, humor, forgiveness, those things come back to you. If you send out doubt, anger, helplessness, impatience, hatred, guess what you’ve got coming back at you?
But I also think that luck is a player. Luck played a role when the 24 year old son of a man at work was struck and killed by a car this month. Luck plays a role every time someone who takes care of themselves gets sick with cancer, multiple sclerosis or Parkinsons. So I feel lucky to be alive, healthy and living to see 2014.
My New Year’s wish for all of you is that you try something new often,
even especially if it scares you, take notice of the people around you and don’t miss an opportunity to show them kindness and share your joy in life with them.
And most of all, get to know who you are. Honor who you are and either honor and accept each person in your life or let them go. I have found no other way to peace and happiness.
Peace out 2013!
This song is pretty much the essence of the last paragraph in a letter I wrote to TG over a month ago.
I finally went to a Ski Club meeting. I had joined last February and not been on an outing or to a monthly meeting since. I did not know that there was a ski club that included cross-country skiing until TG and I ran into them on an outing last February. We joined them on that outing and went out to dinner with a bunch of them on the way home that night. I joined as soon as I got back. In October I had tried to register TG and I for a cross-country ski trip they were taking in January but by the time I got around to it we were on the waiting list. One bitter night last week I received an email from TG immediately followed by one from the ski club stating they had added more rooms and now had room for TG and I. I considered telling TG about it and asking him if he wanted to go, as friends. But decided it was too soon and he wasn’t giving me any indication that he wanted that kind of friendship from me anyway. I told them I would be at the meeting the following night to talk about it. I had already forced myself to go to the December meeting by purchasing a club shirt online – I had to go to the meeting to get it.
So off I went nervous but excited that with the start of ski season coming up I was going to have people to ski with. There were at least 80 people there. Mostly older but a smattering my age or younger. But I must admit that I often forget I’m a woman in her 40’s and am sometimes surprised to look in the mirror and see the 40 year old looking back at me. So often I feel like people are older than me who are not! Anyway I tracked down the woman who had emailed me about the trip and explained TG and I were no longer together. I asked if she had any openings for a single. She said yes in fact she did! She had a slot open for a room with two other ladies. She introduced me to one of them that was at the meeting and who immediately took me under her wing for the evening. She introduced me to everyone we crossed paths with that she knew. Some I remembered from that one outing and some remembered me and/or TG. We went to the buffet and ate together and chatted off and on throughout the meeting which included speakers, door prize giveaways (which I thought would never end) and the president of the club giving his pep talk. After the meeting I said my goodbyes, picked up my cool ski club shirt, wrote my check for the January trip and left feeling giddy with relief that the social activities were over and also that I had more social activities with these people in my future.
Ski Club is more than just skiing, downhill and cross-country. They bike, hike and kayak in the off months. They have a book club meeting a couple times a year. And they have a night on the town it seems at least once a month which includes happy hour and dinner at a different venue each month. All this in addition to the monthly meetings. I’ve been on the emails announcing all these activities these past months.
Then Thursday this week another email from ski club. Cross country ski trip to snow country for Saturday! The leader was the woman I had spent the evening of the meeting with. I wanted to go so badly but I was on call this weekend. It would almost be a declaration of independence to be going skiing on the first real good weekend for skiing. It was not just about the skiing. I made arrangements for someone to take my on call for Saturday and I was free to go. So yesterday I met the group of about 10 and we car pooled to snow heaven. I was nervous when we arrived and scanned the cars in the parking lot for TG’s car. Nope not here. I had worried that he might be there with another woman he was courting. We skied for 5 hours with a brief break for lunch. I was nervous. The first time out and not with sweet TG, would I remember how to do this, would I slow everyone down? It was perfect conditions and I had on three layers of clothes because the high was forecast for the low teens. We had an awesome time! It was like riding a bike, my body remembered what to do, I easily stayed with the group, I stayed on my feet down the hills. On the tail end of the outing I fell 4 times. I think I was exhausted not just from the skiing but nerves. I had a few bittersweet moments wishing TG were there because I knew he would have loved it and he makes everything just a little more fun but for the most part I was in the moment and enjoying the company of my new friends. And when after a day of skiing in the bitter cold, we stopped for ice cream on the way home, I knew I fit in with this group.