Deja Vu/Vuja De

It was a year ago, around this time on the calendar when I finally admitted to myself and to my psychiatrist that everything was most definitely NOT fine and a change of venue was in order. My doctor, being the good doctor that he is, referred me for psych evaluation and an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) to deal with the immediate concerns and to eventually get my mood rightened and myself back to the land of brilliant Technicolor, instead of the shades of black in the world I was living in. Well, fast forward a little over a year and guess what? I’m back in the same place, with the same therapists and doctors, cafeteria style lunches and rooms with uncomfortable chairs, lots of Kleenex boxes and people with stories, like me and very much unlike me. My immediate thought upon having to tell my doctor YET AGAIN that I was losing my s**t was not one of “Atta Girl!” but more like, “Seriously? Didn’t we JUST do this?? WTF is wrong with you, loser??” because my first thoughts are always from a place of extreme judgment and an unrealistic goal of perfection, no matter the circumstance.

Now, I wouldn’t say that to my worst enemy anymore than I would say it to someone who was doing another round of chemo or radiation in an effort to destroy that which is trying to destroy them. Treatment is treatment; the disease may differ, the course of treatment may differ but the goal is the same, to provide relief of symptoms and improve the health of the individual, thus improving the quality of life. Mental health is really no different, although much less one size fits all. Mental illness and those who battle depression, mania and other disorders are as different and varied as any selection of human beings can be; one person’s burden is another’s blessing. There is no absolute 100% guaranteed course of treatment and whatever course is selected, the patient must be able and willing to follow subscribed course of treatment, which often if not always includes eliminating substance (pick a poison, alcohol included) abuse and implementing a medication program that includes a cocktail (pardon the pun) of anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers and perhaps a little Antabuse thrown in for the hard core alcoholics. The patient must be willing to give up those self-medicating methods and switch to the psych meds, which usually come with a hefty side of side effects, weight gain being at the top of the list and covering all manner of ailments including, but not limited to: psychosis, permanent facial and/or body tics, blindness, headaches and possibly (of course) death by suicide, because some of these drugs have induced suicidal tendencies in certain groups, such as adolescents and the elderly. Go figure. Seems kind of counter-intuitive, but every rose has its thorn, as we learned from Guns ‘n Roses/Poison.

If you’re still reading and still awake, I commend you. 

Back to the present time – I am back in the land of black and bleh, trying to find my way to the light and a coherent, relatively calm mind so that I can make some decisions that will hopefully keep me from having to return again at this time next year. I have a great many decisions to make at some point in time and I want to choose wisely and make choices that are good for me and my health. It’s easy for me to say that (I’ve said it over and over again) but the execution is where I falter. I guess if I’m thinking about what I SHOULD do instead of what I NEED to do, that could lead me to an unwise choice.

For all of you who have sent happy thoughts, well wishes and in reached out to me in general, I want you to know I feel the love. Seriously. Those of you who are thinking about me but haven’t reached out, I assure you, I still feel the love. You are the difference between me giving up or carrying on; your belief in me is my sword of truth, fighting against the lies and untruths that hold my spirit hostage, trapped in a dark and dismal mind. Your love and support brings a light to the darkness, a trail of breadcrumbs for me to follow to come back to the land of the living and love. I have talked to many people who have no family, no friends and oftentimes it is because their mental illness/addiction issues have exhausted the supply of people willing to lend a hand or support that person. Some people have a limited time only offer of assistance and once that window is closed, there are no more. I understand the reasoning behind this; if you are trying to save a drowning person, but don’t know how to swim yourself, you will both most certainly drown. Dealing with mental illness is neither pretty, Facebook post-worthy or fun. It tests  your limits, your love and your own mental stability. It’s like a fire you can’t get too close to or you end up with some pretty serious burns. It’s a rollercoaster ride you don’t remember buying a ticket to ride, a storm that was born of sunny skies and fluffy clouds; sunny and bright one minute, dark and destructive the next. It can tear apart the closest family, take away your best friend and leave a wake of destruction miles wide and years long. Knowing this makes you and your continued support all the more precious and appreciated.

Shooting thoughts of love and gratitude to you. Wish we were there (Half Moon Bay)

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Love Me Tender

 

Wedding Table

A while ago, I attended a wedding as a guest of a good friend and while it may not have been a wedding that I knew a great deal about the bride and groom, I could tell a great deal about their relationship from the vows they wrote themselves, the looks that passed between them, the people who love them and do know their journey and the smiles from everyone celebrating the occasion.

Sometimes I think that marriage is out of style, a throwback to the ancient rites of old, no longer relevant in today’s modern world. Well, sometimes I am wrong. Oftentimes I am wrong and on the count of marriage because it is relevant and it is still part of the rites of old, just as chopping down a tree, dragging it into your home and decorating it for a celebration (Christmas) that is older than time. Perhaps in our disposable society, marriage is too concrete, too clearly defined and too binding. Now, I know many people who believe that a piece of paper makes no difference in whether a relationship is successful or not. While that may be true for that particular person, I wonder why, if the piece of paper is of no consequence, then why the hesitation to follow through? But I digress.

I see marriage as a partnership; the ceremony and that piece of paper are the contract that lays out the terms and conditions of said partnership. For those of faith, it is a contract drafted by God, agreed to and witnessed by friends, family and the representative of God and of that faith. I guess faith is what it really comes down to; do you have faith in your beloved? Do you have faith that you have the strength to deal with the difficult times, the times where you seem to have lost your way? Do you have faith that you were brought together for a reason and have a shared destiny to fulfill? Or are you more comfortable having a back up plan, an escape plan and keeping one foot out the door, in case things get uncomfortable? Whatever your personal beliefs or fears, relationships will always have tough times, bad things will happen to good people and loved ones will disagree; people will try to come between you, society will tell you you’re better off alone, an individual and thereby free to live how you choose. I say there is a grain of truth in most anything said, but do you focus on that grain of truth and make it larger to suit your belief or do you focus on the big picture; the good with the bad, the happy with the sad, the disappointments with the victories? It’s all about choices; choices we make, as well as choosing to do nothing, which is in fact a choice. Do we let our past heartbreaks prevent us from seeking or accepting love? It’s your choice, your decision and don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise.

I always seem to have a really good time when I attend a wedding. Even sober, I have a great time. I always love to dance, even if it’s just doing the Electric Slide with everyone from the little flower girl to great-aunt Thelma, it’s all good. The rooms are filled with so much love from so many people. The love is not only for the happy couple, but I think it brings back memories of their own wedding day and reminds them of how much in love they were, they are and they always will be. For me, it’s an opportunity to show the shaded part of myself that hope lives, love does truly conquer all and there are stories in life that at some point contain the phrase happily ever after.

Talk to me Goose

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I remember the first time I saw the movie Top Gun. My girl friend and I giggling our little hearts out in the movie theater, so in love with our respective characters (I loved Maverick, she loved Goose) and it was pure fantasy for a couple of troubled teenage girls. Every shot was glossy, full of man candy, motorcycles, leather jackets and super fast, cool looking jet planes with good-looking guys piloting them, all patriotic and hot as hell.  Aside from all of that, something that has stuck with me after all these years about that movie is the camaraderie between the guys. Not just Maverick and Goose, but the entire squad/group/whatever. When you know people have your back, want to you to succeed and believe in you, it makes all the difference in the world, whether things are going great or at an all-time low. The perspective that others can provide for us and sometimes by doing nothing more than just showing up, listening and being a friend.

Now, this is all well and good, but the other part of this whole wonderful thing is that one often times needs to ask for the lending of the ear, the spending of the time and the shoulder for crying on. That’s where I often falter and fall; it’s my delicate ego that keeps me from making the phone call, saying the thing I detest saying the most (I can’t do it by myself, I need help) but need to say, as I am human. Sometimes I can reach out if the discomfort of white-knuckling it becomes greater than my ability to bear it, but oftentimes I just am like Rocky hitting that bag, never letting up and fighting the good fight. We all have our battles and within those battles we have our fights; my fight against depression, addiction, temptation and the voice that says I can’t be successful, I’m not deserving of happiness, no one will ever love me and (the all-time classic) I’m a failure. Even Rocky had others in his world and they provided what he needed from them; inspiration, belief in him, hard work and above all else, love. I understand these things in concept, but I am working on putting the concept into practice and will let you know how that goes.

So, if you’re struggling with something, if the weight is becoming too much to bear and you need to share it, don’t wait too long before reaching out. People do care and “a burden shared is a burden halved” (T.A. Webb) after all.

C’mon.

Talk to me, Goose.

Swim

“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim”Tyler Knott Gregson

My big little brother sent me this quote via Pinterest and as always, it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, as if in answer to the questions I’ve been yelling at the Universe lately. I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy many things because I have been solely focused on trying to cope using ways that (obviously) have lost a degree of effectiveness. I have been so focused on just “keeping it together” that I have turned blind to simple things that I had once remembered to seek out; tiny moments of everyday miracles happening all around me. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly, a baby is born far too early and fights to draw each breath, yet he fights, and he lives. People die, yet their spirit and the essence of who they were live on; the deaf can hear, the wounded heal and rise to fight another day. A mother does the impossible everyday, bringing food to the table, keeping her children safe yet aware of the dangers in this world. A father works himself into an early grave so that his children can have a better life than he did. So many miracles, unnoticed when I’m so deep into myself, my “troubles” and my rollercoaster of emotions that are as much a part of me as my curly hair and my tattoos. Living with mental illness, addiction and temptation are my trifecta of Troubles. But there is so much more to the world, to me, to what I want to accomplish and who I wish to become. As with anything, I must adjust, adapt and/or accept what is happens to me, around me and within me, but that doesn’t mean that I should disregard the beautiful insanity that is my world. A world where people are still my friends, even after I have proven myself to be less than perfect and wholly human, a world where a man knows me, good and bad, happy and sad, sane and mad and still loves me. Where I have a son who has every reason to begrudge me happiness, yet wishes it for me abundantly and repeatedly; where a friend sees the crisis and helps in the the best way possible, giving me sanctuary from stress, mental exhaustion and emotional bankruptcy….next stop Complete Shutdown. I was able to avoid that next stop and it’s due solely to my friend’s generosity, which I will try to repay, but can’t imagine how I will be able to.

These last few days have been an effort to get back into the River that is Life and swim, just for the sheer joy of it. Spending time being creative, whether it’s writing, coloring with crayons or just seeking out beauty and capturing it in a photo, stealing a moment in time and keeping it forever, unchanged and unspoiled. Just walking through a park, on a trail, really looking at the trees, majestic and tall, decorated in Autumn’s colors and waving to me with the crisp morning wind shaking their leaves. This brings me back; this slowly cleanses away the grime and dust of depression, that black dog who creeps in and lies on your chest until you know you will never rise again. Nature fights that, gives you light and beauty and life, but we need to be aware, to reach out to it and let its goodness in.

Oh – and swim. Just for the love and the sheer joy of it.

 

Breadcrumbs

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As most of you know by now, I am big into planning, strategizing, researching and in general getting deep into the details of whatever I am thinking/planning/dreaming about. I tend to get distracted easily, like a small child walking through the forest I find myself not looking where I am going but instead my gaze is cast toward the sky, the treetops and the falling snowflakes; I am so enthralled that I lose any sense of direction, purpose or mission. My attention flits to follow every shiny object, butterfly or even just random thought and as a result, I tend to find myself off course a great deal of the time. Knowing this and experiencing the frustration of trying to remember the exact location where I zigged when I should’ve zagged, I have gotten in the habit of leaving myself a trail of mental breadcrumbs to help me find my way back. Maybe it’s not even about adjusting course; often times it seems to be the realization that the destination I had in mind was just a work of fiction; like Never Never Land or some would say, heaven. This is a hard truth to bear and even more difficult if one has accepted that vision as truth and invested in that vision to the point of exclusion of almost everything else. I have 99 different ways to sabotage any chance at happiness but sometimes it’s simply a matter of unreal expectations, turning a blind eye to truths that may not fit with the vision in my mind. I don’t know if that’s due to human nature, a survival mechanism or just the desire to believe in happy endings or something altogether different, but I once again have strayed off the course and need to get back to the topic of getting back to where I need to be. There is nothing wrong with seeing the good in people and wanting to be a part of something greater than just oneself; however, I personally have a very difficult time setting aside my primary need for independence to allow that to happen. It’s not a trust issue, it’s a lack of desire to be dependent upon anyone else other than myself. I don’t want to need anyone. I want to stand alone, stand strong, but I’ll also stand by my man, stand up for what’s right and stand strong in solidarity with my sisters or brothers.

OK – see? A clear demonstration of me going completely off track. So, back to my breadcrumbs. I set a series of goals for myself and have a specific calendar that I keep those goals, dates and any notes that I have regarding the goal, etc. When I check in with that calendar, those dates are my breadcrumbs. I set a lot of goals upon my return from Scotland this summer and looking back, I have accomplished zero of those goals. I set new ones shortly afterwards and strangely enough, they have little to do with me personally; they are about finding new ways to live, to allow another person into the bubble that I live in, into my world. How to allow people be who they are, not take things so personally and in general, compromise. Nothing wrong with those goals as they are skills that every human being should possess, but the reason behind those goals is significant. Did I make those goals for me or did I make those goals with a specific person in mind? Am I once again trying to “become” what this person needs me to be? Or am I just trying to grow and get outside of my solitary circle of comfort? I don’t know. That’s the tough part. I do not ever want to make a change for someone else. I have done that in the past and it never works out well. I have to make changes for myself, understanding that everyone around me will also benefit because I will not be resentful or be motivated by guilt for having made a change I did not willing wish to make.

I have brought out a new calendar, with new goals and new thoughts to ponder along the journey. I feel strongly that everyone who is in my life is there for a reason and I value them for that and for the incredible human being they are (all my homies are incredible human beings) and celebrate what gifts they’ve given me throughout our time together. Some have been in my world longer than others and some have been to places in my world others have not, but the important thing is that even though I choose to be single, I am not alone. Even though I appear to be somewhat happy and well adjusted, I am mostly not. I am terrified of  many things, although spiders are not one of them. I have learned and grown a great deal in the past year, but I know I am never done learning. I have laughed, cried and raged and will value those memories for the lessons they imparted, the good times they brought and above all else, the people that rode the tsunami with me.

Die Hard, Old Habits!!

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In the time that I have been away from my blog, I have come to the realization that the only time I feel I must post something is usually when it evokes a strong feeling, be it pleasant or otherwise. I have been feeling a great deal of strong feelings, not all of them unpleasant but definitely outside of my circle of comfort. I have been single for so long that I had forgotten about the give and take of a relationship; of sometimes putting aside my own wish/desire/opinion in order to support that of my friend/partner/love and light of my life. I believe it falls into the category of “The Greater Good” when it truly doesn’t matter one way or the other what happens (in the grand scheme of things) and one person will defer to the other’s wishes in an effort to keep the peace, avoid confrontation or just because they can realize how insignificant their wish/desire/opinion is when compared to losing that love, that peace and harmony. Sometimes it is not an insignificant thing, though. If a friend told me that they were going to bath in gasoline then have a cigarette, I would strongly encourage them to reconsider. But in the end, it is their life, their choice and they will be the one who will be most effected by the outcome. I know this logically but I can’t seem to make the jump from logical understanding to emotional understanding.

I have come to believe it’s something other than concern for my fellow man; it’s about control, plain and simple. Control has been the one reason why I’ve shied away from relationships, romantic or otherwise because I am deathly afraid of losing it.  Control, that is. I have lost it to another, I’ve given it away, I’ve lost it again when I (temporarily) lost my sanity and I’ve taken it back and lost it more times than I care to count. I guess this is just one of those things that we all must deal with in life. It’s not supposed to be easy, it’s not supposed to be without obstacles and tests (or events) that will test a person’s strength, both mentally and physically. Life also has a way of bringing into question truths that had previously seemed to be carved in granite. Those old sayings “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and “A leopard cannot change its spots” tell us that people don’t change and the older we get the more true that becomes. I disagree. People change all the time; the changes may not be made by a conscious decision, but more by necessity and a will to survival.

The real question is am I changing to conform to someone else’s ideal of who I should be or am I changing because I can see the old ways no longer serve me and may in fact work against me? This is the crux of the matter, in my eyes. I don’t want to become so fixed in my ways that I avoid the opportunity for growth, but I also recognize that old habits die hard and if I decide change is necessary, I can’t keep the old habits that provided comfort and safety for me; being a loner because I was afraid of rejection; staying away from dating because I was afraid of losing myself in another person. Staying drunk because then I wouldn’t have to feel anything, period. Keeping myself out of situations where I may not fit in because I didn’t want people to realize how out of my element I would be. I would break up with someone in anticipation of them growing weary of me or finding out who I really was. You get the idea. So, I’ve stopped staying drunk to avoid feeling but I haven’t stopped trying to control the entire freaking free world, either. Baby steps, right??

In the meantime, I will continue to put one foot in front of the other in an effort to keep moving forward. I may not know exactly what will happen next, but I guess that’s why we have faith.

Seeking Purity At Some Point

“O Lord, help me to be pure, but not yet”.
-Saint Augustine

I couldn’t agree more. I have the desire to be pure; to think pure, loving thoughts and fill my days with gratitude and working in service of others but at the same time, I am reluctant to let go of my old ways. Critical, never pleased, always finding fault, judging harshly (not just others, but myself included) and holding grudges.

I have some serious issues that I haven’t even begun to work out regarding my ex-friend/roommate/leech and the whole experience with feeling like a ghost in my own house; not having a voice, being trapped in a situation by my own inability to just speak up and draw a damn line. A boundary line so that people know they can only go so far and the rest of the way is PRIVATE PROPERTY. NO TRESPASSING. As I said, I have not even begun to deal with all of this but I can tell you that it is slowly oozing into my current life, back into my thoughts and coloring the experiences I’ve had and continue to have. Mostly because it’s unresolved and so like a rotting corpse in a body of water, it will eventually bob up to the surface, all it’s ugliness and buried secrets exposed. This doesn’t keep me from saying that others should seek counseling; others are stuck in the past and need to WORK THROUGH IT so they can GET OVER IT and MOVE ON. If only I could take my own advice on that front.

I know there will come a point at which I will have no other choice than to deal with it; it will damage me, damage my relationships and take me down a road of darkness that I have no desire to travel again. It’s so scary to know that is what is in store if I continue to ignore it, but it’s terrifying to open that Pandora’s Box and let out all the hurt, sense of betrayal, rage at myself for being weak and easily manipulated, for “keeping my word” while I lost my sense of self. What good does it do to keep your word in an agreement that basically guarantees you are going to be far worse off than when you started while your “business partner/best friend” walks away without a scratch; a brief inconvenience of having to move house and life goes on with no real marks or scars?

If I am to become pure, I have to forgive myself, him, and let go of all the negative, hurtful, black-hearted, broken hearted wishes of revenge and karma returned one-thousandfold.

So yeah, I guess you could say that I want to be pure, but certainly not right now.

Heartbreak and the Price of Love

I’ve been single for quite some time now; partially by choice and partially because of my tendency to scare the hell out of any interested man in a matter of minutes either by being “too intense” or by unfiltered talking, dropping the “bipolar bomb of truth” right after meeting and shaking hands. (This one is my best friend’s biggest pet peeve with me as it relates to dating) I just tend to find myself being single and most of the time am very content with that status. Needless to say, if Liam decided to meet me at the airport and whisk me away to some charming chapel/cathedral/justice of the peace and marry me, I would most certainly gladly surrender my single person status. Liam aside, this has worked for me for well over a decade.

I have witnessed great relationships that have stood the test of time and human weakness, of difficult days, addiction, illness and loss. I have also watched as good people ripped each other to shreds on a daily basis, tearing into each other’s souls with thorny lies and hurtful truths. I have listened to a woman with blackened eyes and swollen lip tell me she’s going back; she must because she loves him and he’s sorry and it won’t happen again. I have held many friends while they cried themselves sick with broken hearts because someone cheated, someone lied, someone fell out of love, someone stopped listening, stopped caring and ultimately, stopped showing up.

I myself have held someone in my heart for years and years, believing that our time together was magical, driven by Destiny and blessed by the Universe, only to find out that he had all but forgotten me a long, long time ago. It was a nice time for him, nothing to memorialize or even to build on. Temporary passing between two bodies moving through space and time; an instant in a nano second of the Big Picture. Blink and you’ve missed it. While I saw it as a reunion between two souls who had lived many lifetimes together, finding each other again.

So, I have to ask myself: was the happiness you experienced worth all the heartache that followed? Is it really better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Is the price of loving and being loved, if only for that Moment in Time worth the heartbreak that followed? Is it worth the risk of heartbreak to feel even temporarily safe and sound, soul aglow, being loved and loving? I have come to believe that for me, the answer is yes. Will I open my heart to the first person who gives me a smile or flirts with me? Most definitely not. I have grown in my understanding of my role in protecting my heart and no longer open it to any and all. It’s far too precious for that. But I also cannot continue to keep it locked up, surrounded by a vast stone wall, either. Once again, my goal is balance and I believe the more I can accept and love myself, the happier I will be, whether single or coupled.

Building Mr. Right

I have been thinking for a while about diving into the waters of the dating world again and as always, I ask myself what kind of man is it that I’m looking for? If I could build Mr. Right what parts and pieces would go into his creation? Kind of like a puzzle but with body parts, personality, moral and ethical laws and whatever form of spirituality he may possess. That led me to thinking about the men in my life; past, present, good, bad, ugly, beautiful, sad, bad & everything in between. What was it about the Bad Boy that made me so weak in the knees? What was it about the Desperate to Please that made me so irritated? Why did I immediately like that guy, only to find out that he was a liar, (note to cheating married men – we can go online to see if your “divorce” actually happened, so quit being dumb asses and telling such pathetic, easily verifiable lies) why is it that the perfectly available, ready to settle down, single guy makes me want to jab my eyes out to break the monotony of listening to this safe, clinically sane man who is more in love with himself than he will ever be with any other human being bore me to tears with his painfully dull monologue about how great he is? All these things considered I came up with the following:

My dad, was of course, the first man in my life and to say that we had a complicated relationship would be akin to saying the sinking of the Titanic was an unimportant event in history or that the parting of the Red Seas was a neat trick (ok atheists – settle down over there) neither does them justice or tells the whole truth. At any rate, my dad had some outstanding traits such as he was a “thinking man” who loved the Greek philosophers, debating pretty much anything and had a thirst for knowledge that was unquenchable. He spoke to me as an adult, even when I was a child. He gave me the belief that I had something to offer in any conversation, regardless of content or who the participants were. He never treated me like I was “just a girl” or “little Princess” (thank God!!!!) so I grew up a tomboy, blissfully unaware about gender roles, as they applied to me. I was able to hit the speed bag just as well as my brothers when I needed to blow off some steam; Dad knew that my temper would be my downfall and tried to give me healthy ways to deal with it. However, Dad was also an alcoholic for the first 20-some odd years of my life, was an unhappily married man for most of those years (yeah, my poor choices in men are no longer a mystery) and I’ve been there, done that and have no desire to return. So married would go to the top of my “Non-Desirable/Deal-Breaker Traits” list.

All of my five brothers were the next important men in my life and I could fill a book with what they taught me. But the traits I admire the most are their very unique and individual senses of humor, their tenaciousness and ferocity in protecting those they love. They are good husbands, fathers, uncles, friends and of course, brothers.

My first husband, who taught me that I was worth loving, that there was a man in the world who could look past all the Crazy and see something worthy of love; that man had patience beyond saintly. He was the first man who would have stuck by me through better or worse, in sickness and in health; truly until death do you part. So naturally, I was terrified that I was responsible for yet another person’s happiness and blew that relationship to smithereens. However, all I need to do is look into our son’s eyes to know that it happened for a beautiful reason, a wonderful gift of life and love. He has since remarried and is living happily, hopefully drama-free and enjoying the life he chose to live.

Along with my brothers, my dear friend JJ would be the next hugely important man in my life; because of him I found the courage to seek out sobriety, to see myself in an entirely different way and to appreciate the small, beautiful, everyday things that I’d always taken for granted before meeting him. His friendship was solid gold, true blue and forever; no false platitudes or sugar-coating from him. You never had to ask him what he thought because he would just tell it like it was, the good, the bad and the painful to hear because it was true.

The other men I’m just going to let them remain nameless, to protect the guilty and the innocent alike. One of them, let’s call him Walt, always loved taking off on spontaneous trips (which I would never even consider) to places nearby for a weekend or even just a day. On the down side, he was a freak off his leash, meaning he couldn’t keep “It” in his pants. Another man, who we will call Tom, taught me about living life Post Divorce, how to survive when your kid is in another state, with another woman raising him, who is a complete stranger. This man had infinite patience with me and more love and kindness than I could have ever hoped for. On the down side, he was married, so yeah. You see the pattern, right? Good stuff, not so good stuff. There are more men who taught me to enjoy fine wine, music I had never listened to, books I’d never read, movies I’d never seen. The varied and infinite degrees of love, the different chemistry, the short or long lasting fascination with each other; all different, but all playing important roles in the Story of My Life.

So, to sum it up, I would love to meet a man who is patient, fearless, loyal, kind, generous, not married, hopefully sober with a great sense of humor but doesn’t take himself too seriously, is forgiving, loves and appreciates the small things in life, has some battle scars and war wounds but is a survivor, a fighter fighting the good fight. Of course, he can’t be perfect, so he’ll have some flaws or some issues he’s working on, as we all do. Or he snores, leaves the toilet seat up, turns the toilet paper roll the opposite way I do or doesn’t put a new roll in when the old one runs out and instead sets the new one on top of the empty one? Maybe he has a Man Cave that no cleaning products or vacuum cleaners are allowed in. Maybe he likes gangster rap (hold on; that may be a deal-breaker) or listens to Fox News (ok – maybe another deal-breaker) or maybe he cross-dresses. Who knows? The point is that there is no Mr. Right; there certainly is Mr. Right Now but we’ve met and he’s not for me.

I guess I’m looking for Mr. Right for Me.

Foolish Me

 

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. –Chinese proverb

 

This weekend I experienced a painful reminder as to why I chose to distance myself from a couple who I can call friends, in the broadest sense of the term. I’m sure that most of you have encountered couples like these two; they are married, have a kid and seem to be making a good go of it, until they’re not.

Regardless of a reason, they have regularly scheduled Matrimonial Death Matches (Rounds 1 through 1 Million and counting), they go all out; screaming, blaming, throwing stuff, hitting and in general, tearing each other apart. That in itself is bad enough, but then they go outside their relationship and drag other people in, make them a part of the swirling mass of dysfunction and inability to take ownership of their part of the catastrophic event that is their relationship. Take sides, bash the other person (when they are not around to hear it or have the opportunity to respond to such poisonous barbs) but just when you think they are going to do everyone a favor and divorce, SURPRISE! They are back together, ready to work it out or even better, last week’s fight is a distant memory and now if you are the friend who agreed with those poisonous barbs, the other half of this Marriage from Hell is now angry with you for “taking HIS/HER side” and begins assaulting you with guilt-inducing declarations such as “I thought you were my FRIEND!” and “I TRUSTED YOU!! I thought you UNDERSTOOD how horrible/abusive/mean he/she is to me” and so on. Well, the reason why I’m putting you through all of this (assuming you’re still reading) is because about 5 years ago, I was the stupid person who was trying to befriend both parties and when they say that no good deed goes unpunished, I think of those times. Thankfully, I lived to regret every minute I spent with them. Fate finally smiled on me when I moved out of that neighborhood and out of their lives. Or so I thought.

Until a couple of weeks ago when I received a message from Mr. X, telling me that he had missed me all these years and wanted to meet up with me. Against my better judgment, I did meet up with him, had dinner, caught up on current events and found out that he was going through a separation from the little missus of about two weeks, at the time. At any rate, we met, we talked, we ate, no biggie. Until yesterday, when I received a message from Mrs. X, basically telling me that she had FOUND OUT about us. Seriously? OK, Nancy Drew – do tell. What exactly did you find out, all by your little self? That your husband is unhappy with you? Check. That the two of you are insane, in the clinical sense? Check. That you both can’t keep your toxic waste in your own little corner of Hell on Earth? Check.  I listened to her for about 30 minutes, until I began to realize that she was basically seeking a free “counseling” session, where she tells me her side of the sordid tale and I’m supposed to bash him and tell her she’s an angel for putting up with him as long as she has….yeah, that’s going to happen right after I get married to Liam Neeson….so, basically NEVER. (NOTE TO LIAM: I would marry you in a heartbeat, so in case you are interested, ignore the part where I said NEVER, just so we are clear). I wished her the best of luck with everything, asked her to please tell her husband to forget I ever lived, forget my number, my e-mail address and for her to do the same and NEVER contact me again. I then said a silent prayer for their child and hung up.

BAM! All at once, I realized (again) how incredibly toxic that couple is for me. Not saying that they aren’t good people, or they’re not loving parents; I don’t know if they are good, bad or indifferent, I just know that when I get around them, things tend to go badly for me. Much like the rescuer that gets pulled underwater by the drowning swimmer, my desire to save them is not strong enough to keep both of us above water. I walk away from conversations with them feeling like I have been drained of energy and happiness and in their place darkness and despair have taken up residence. Back in the day, I would wash those feelings away with a bottle or two of wine, but that’s no longer an option. It’s not a good feeling, especially when trying to stay away from alcohol and dark places in the mind. I know better than to ignore that voice that tells me to stay away, don’t answer the phone, don’t reply to that e-mail, etc. I guess sometimes I just need these painful reminders to keep me on track, keep me focused on me and remind me why when it comes to friends, I will choose quality over quantity any day. Better to have one true friend than 100 energy vampires, masquerading as friends, feeding off your good energy, your happiness and the rewards of years of hard work.

Like the proverb says, Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. You won’t get a third chance.