Dating …With Children PART 1: The Single Parent

Well, we made it. I made it. Another Father’s Day in the books. It’s true. Father’s Day is tough for me. It’s my annual trip down Agony Lane. But as I think about fathers and mothers and parenting and parenting solo, I think it’s time I dissect this whole single-parent-dating thing.

Can I be blunt? Great. Dating is hard work. It’s exhausting. It’s depleting. It’s frustrating. It’s confusing. It’s dangerous. But, assuming folks are open about our goals, desires, and expectations, it can be fun, exciting, and empowering.

But that’s just the dating adults. What happens when you’re a single parent and you have to juggle parenting as well as being open to finding your own Best Match? There are many critical players involved; for example, Parent No 1, Parent No 2, child/children, Significant Other No 1, Significant Other No 2, just to name a few. If there are multiple children with multiple parents, we’ll need an entire cast list to keep on-hand just for clarity.

How each person acts and reacts and how that lands in each person’s world is one of the most delicate and crucial dances we can play as single-and-dating-parents. I have learned that it’s easier dating other single parents. We get each other. We get scheduling, we get priorities, we get boundaries. We’re on the same page…for the most part. Dating non-parents is not impossible. It is, however, complicated because those above issues are completely foreign. They usually don’t understand schedule conflicts, the never-ending exhaustion, the waking up at 3:24am just because someone wanted a snuggle; the perpetual barrage of stuff that can’t just stay put-away, the parenting priorities, etc. Even though some might be mature enough to empathize and offer patience and space as your relationship develops, non-parents will never understand until they join the club.

[Tangent: I’m also curious about why women are more open to dating a single father than men are to dating a single mother… single fathers are seen as tender, selfless saints whereas single mothers are usually…not seen this way…something about sperm ego, I’m sure… ((eye roll)) men and their territories ((smh)) [tangent over]

So over the next few days, I’m going to deliver a three-part break-down of Dating with Children; one from The Single Parent’s point of view, one from The Childless Other Person’s point of view, and one from The Kid’s point of view.

Let’s start from The Single Parent, my present role and the role I know best.

PART 1: The Single Parent

  1. Do Take Your Time. Translation: don’t rush into something led by infatuation and begin introductions (especially to children!) prematurely. I had to lead with that one. It is the most raw for me mostly because I lose a lot of dates this way; when non-parents get freaked out about meeting the kids or trying to picture themselves as a step parent before I’m even ready to acknowledge a second date. Stop it. Slow your roll. Pump the brakes. Calm your nipples.

Unfortunately, a lot of relationships start out hot and heavy; two people that have been desperately aching for something – anything – meaningful find each other and before you know it you’ve crammed three years of dating into three weeks, your relationship escalates to super nova status and implodes before you know each other’s middle names.

Take your time to make sure you are ready to give your Best Self to your Best Match.

You rushed it. They rushed it. Now you’re back to being lonely and looking, a little depressed, and probably picking up tiny pieces of your dignity somewhere. So take your time. I personally want to fall in love with a best friend. Someone I know can cheer me on at my best and still manage to cherish me at my worst. And that kind of closeness doesn’t blossom over a few texts. That kind of closeness is fundamental to a healthy and lasting relationship; the kind you will probably want to start thinking about introducing to your children. I’ll touch on the dangers of premature introductions in PART 3: The Kids. Stay tuned there.

You also want to give yourself the time and space to not only grieve your previous relationship, but to also be introspective; look at your own contributions to its demise. Are you bringing some negative habits or misplaced bitterness into your next relationship? Take your time to make sure you are ready to give your Best Self to your Best Match.

  1. Don’t Parent Shop. For the love of all things holy, DON’T. PARENT. SHOP. As a parent, you should NOT be looking for a substitute or replacement parent. I cringe when I hear people say they’re looking for a father or a mother for their kids. No. You had the kids, not them. Your babes are your responsibility; not theirs…yet. Your kids already have a father or a mother or they wouldn’t be here. That original parent, whether divorced, deceased or just a delinquent, is still the child’s parent. Plus, they have you and you’re awesome.

Because one day you’ll be old and wrinkly and have little left to offer each other besides unconditional love and never-ending companionship.

When looking for your Best Match, it is imperative that you resist profiling them for step-parenthood.

Why? Because one day you’ll be old and wrinkly and have little left to offer each other besides unconditional love and never-ending companionship. Look at how many marriages fail after the kids move out. During college, I knew at least 10 friends that were confused, crushed and betrayed as their family homes were sold and their parents remedied empty nest syndrome with two separate apartments in two separate states. Where do they go for Christmas? For spring break? Is anything really “home” anymore? AARP says:

While the overall divorce rate in the United States has decreased since 1990, it has doubled for those over age 50.

So while, yes, you must screen your potential suitor for suitability with some parental duties, don’t look for a step parent. Look for your life partner. The kids will grow up. They kids will leave home. The kids will follow their own dreams, start their own careers, find their own Best Match, and begin a family of their own. When the kids move out and move on, what will be left of your relationship? Your bond must be rooted in something deeper and stronger than the kids.

  1. Don’t Use the Kids as an Excuse. Don’t use them as an excuse to date and don’t use them as an excuse not to Your children deserve to have a healthy example of a relationship. If the model you show them isn’t going to set a positive image of a life partnership, then don’t show it to them. Don’t date to find a replacement parent (See above; No. 2), and don’t abstain from dating saying that your kids come first. Date because you want to and you’re ready.

Ok, backtrack. The kids do come first. But so does your happiness. You will offer your children your best parenting when you yourself are fulfilled. Insisting on isolating yourself from trying to find a relationship – if you want one – isn’t fair to the kids. They’ll internalize your loneliness as being their fault.

If you don’t want to date, that is perfectly fine. Just don’t do it.

If you don’t want to date, that is perfectly fine. Just don’t do it. But if your kids ask about why you chose to be single, don’t say it’s because of them.

If you’re longing for companionship, it isn’t noble to martyr your own happiness and say it’s for the kids. Because it’s not about the kids. It’s about your own pain, shame, fear, whatever, that is preventing you from getting out there. If this is the case, it’s time to start that inward reflection on why you want to be in a relationship but are too terrified to take the first step. If you want to date, date for yourself and your own relationship goals.

  1. Do Consider Your Kids. Ok, with all this self-reflective thinking, don’t forget about your babies! They absolutely do count and do matter in your quest for love. Be mindful of red flags, especially with other parents. Non-parents are clean slates and can adapt to being around the children. They can assimilate into your “normal” and learn about how their role can blend into your existing family situation. They will most likely struggle with issues like sharing space, time, prioritizing, delegating, a huge increase in acquiring stuff and how to respectfully discipline or correct your children. But if you choose wisely and everyone is ready to try, a non-parent could beautifully blend into your family as you being to make it your own, together.

On the other hand, red flags from another dating parent can be really frightening. How does the person talk about their own kids? Do they enjoy doing similar activities with their kiddies as you do with yours? Have you seen this person angry? Frustrated? Tired? How do you think your children will receive him or her? How do you think your children will receive their children? While your partner is your partner, your primary job as a parent is to protect and provide for your children. If this person interferes with your rhythm or your parental spidey sense tingles, listen to your inner voice. Don’t risk it.

  1. Don’t limit yourself. Don’t limit yourself with a timeline or a profile. If you do, you’ll just get in your own way. You’ll miss subtle cues, impulsively rule out a winner, flock to the lowest hanging fruit, start something before you’re ready, start something before they’re ready, or doom yourself to complete solitude for the rest of your natural mortal life because you’re looking for someone that doesn’t exist. Remember, no one is perfect (read more about starting a new relationship here).

So if you’re ready to start dating as a single parent, be open and be receptive. Your Best Match might not seem like your Best Match at first. But to truly connect with someone on the most intimate of levels requires some measure of vulnerability and allowing someone to see you and love you.

 

Check back soon for Dating with Children PART 2: The Childless Other Person

 

~OR

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What Are Negging & Gaslighting? Abuse, That’s What.

Earlier this week, I shared an article about Training Your Partner/How to Start a Relationship off Right and I fittingly, had the opportunity to put Step 5 into practice this week, too (see my final word below).

I had been on a few dates with someone and there were red flags that I noticed but chose to ignore in the name of being mature and responsible and giving this person the benefit of the doubt. Once I followed my own advice, Steps 1-4, it was most definitely time for Step 5. Why? Because he was exhibiting abusive behavior. It was subtle, sneaky. I didn’t really see it happening. He was a fun and pleasant person, and I genuinely enjoyed his company. But in the midst of our good time, he would insult me and challenge me so regularly, I started to feel inadequate. And then I realized why: I was allowing myself to endure abuse.

Finally, there are names for these patterns. If you haven’t heard of them, it’s time to learn, look and listen. Equip yourself and be aware: This. Is. Abuse.


NEGGING

Negging is that tricky subtle negative garbage that is intended to knock down your confidence just enough so that you’ll be more <air quotes> approachable. The Neg-slinger hopes to pique your interest for being seemingly so disinterested with you that they treat you as if you’re nothing special. AKA passive aggressive insults. AKA bullying.

In this article, where negging is introduced as a pick-up method complete with tips and tricks for using the best neg at the best time to get the girl you want, the author also warns against using the negging <air quotes>“technique” inappropriately, where is comes out as an actual insult. Well guess what, it is an actual insult. Negging is bullying. Negs are passive aggressive self-esteem-crushing blows no matter how you want to define and refine it. Negging is bullying. Bullying is abuse. Do not put up with it.

Some that I heard recently:

“Wow, cute top! I love last season knock-offs.”

“Omigod, I can’t believe you’re not wearing tights. That dress is so short. Aren’t you cold?”

“Three kids, huh? What’d the third one do walk outta there?”

“Wow, cute top! I love last season knock-offs.”

Please imagine my face in response. There were no words. <Negger, please.>

img_2124


GASLIGHTING

Have you ever been made to feel like you don’t remember things correctly, or your judgement is off, or that you’re just plain going crazy? Yes, that’s a thing. That’s an abuse thing. It’s called gaslighting. Gaslighting is when your abuser makes you question your own sanity.

“Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory, perception, and sanity. Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

The term owes its origin to the 1938 play Gas Light and its film adaptations. The term has been used in clinical and research literature.” (Wikipedia)

“Wow, you totally made that up.”

Unfortunately, gaslighting and negging can go hand in hand. Because in the context where you might actually stand up for yourself against a neg, a gaslighter might say:

“Wow, you totally made that up.”
“You’re just too sensitive.”
“I’ll talk to you when you’re not PMSing.”

No, a-hole you need to stop being a jerk. It’s not me. It’s you. I’m not internalizing things incorrectly; you are saying hurtful things and you need to stop.

Gaslighting is a high-stakes mind-game for control of your emotional and psychological dependence. Be aware. Your experience, perception, and opinions are all valid, especially when you feel hurt.
Emotional abuse is brutal. It peels back your skin and digs its nails into your most vulnerable places. It’s an infection that seeps into your soul, telling you there’s something wrong with you; you’re not good enough; you’re a disappointment; no one wants you. Emotional abuse speaks life into whatever your self-defeating thoughts are. It crumbles you from the inside out, ultimately making you fully dependent upon the abuser as you fight for their approval. But it will never come. You will bend over to satisfy them, but they are insatiable. You’ll fear the same rejection by a stranger so you want to stay where its comfortable. At least you have someone right?

Wrong.

Be strong, be confident. Even if you have to do it alone. You deserve to be happy, comfortable and fully accepted by yourself as well as in your relationships. If someone isn’t making you feel seen, loved and valued, then you deserve better.

So, here’s what I sent to my once-gentleman caller after I had certainly endured quite enough of both his negging and gaslighting:

I just listened to your message. Let me be clear that I am not now and was not Friday riled up, angry, or upset; nor have I overreacted. I am very calm and matter-of-fact. I know what kind of man I want to share my time with and energy on and you have simply shown that you are not that man. Plain and simple.
We are not married. I am not obligated to keep company with someone who has imposed negative critique on both my physical figure and my home in addition to continually taking a teacher/preacher tone with me as if I need to learn lessons in patience, wisdom, confidence and my family relationships. I have the right not to entertain a relationship where I do not feel fully accepted and cared-for as-is. I do not need to be coached/changed/fixed/improved/educated and if I do I will take the initiative myself, not because you told me to.
I appreciate your effort after the fact, but I cannot trust words, only the actions you have shown me and what you have shown me is that you want to be with someone tidier, more physically fit, and willing to be lectured. I am not that person. I am quite comfortable in my skin and in my apartment and I am mature enough to handle my own relationships and decisions without you imposing unsolicited advice.
In your next relationship I do hope you do not imply her body or home need improvement. Most women will not respond well to that or as mildly as I have. Also, thank you but no thank you for dinner. If you’ve already got one foot in DC, I really don’t see the point even if you managed to stop casually insulting me on a regular basis. I’m certain there is someone that is a better fit for you as I am sure there is for me as well. Good luck.

AND SCENE. Do not settle. Be strong. Advocate for yourself. It is much better to be alone and healthy and happy, than in a relationship that is defeating and miserable.

~OR

How to Train Your Man: Tips for Creating Your Ideal Significant Other

In short, there’s really only one necessary step in training your significant other.

Step One: NOPE

The End.

As a woman, single and sorta-looking, I cringe every time I hear the phrase, “I’m still training my husband [wife] [boyfriend] [girlfriend].”

CRINGE. SHUDDER. HISS.

Because the following are things that can and should be trained: pets, skills, muscles, hair, plants. An adult human is not one of those things. Now don’t get me wrong, if you have the trainer/trainee relationship and that works for you, then more power to you and that role-playing synergy. Thank God you two found each other.

But the mentality that someone should pick the closest prototype to their perfect partner with expectations to shape and groom them into that perfect partner is an idea I hope can be quickly eradicated from our social-majority thought. Not only is it unfair to the “trainer” because they are obviously settling and compromising their standards, but it is abusive for the “trainee” to live under constant scrutiny and judgement from the person that should love them the most, unconditionally. The “trainee” has the right to be themselves, relax and be comfortable in the intimacy of home.

Therefore, I offer this alternative title:

Learning Love Together:  Five Tips to Starting a New Relationship off Right

  1. Get Real. No One is Perfect.

There’s a thing I like to call the Prince Charming Syndrome. It involves being exposed to stories and movies that illustrate some perfect romance, budding with a delicious tension, finally blooming into a flawless, uncomplicated union, and they lived happily ever after.

Lies.

Coming from a single-parent home, I didn’t have a daily relationship to set the bar for me. Really, my only examples of marriage or any long-term relationship included my married-and-divorced-three-times mother; my godparents, who remained married but lived separately for several years and argued – both earnestly and jokingly – incessantly; and…The Huxtables. So, if it isn’t obvious, my perception of life partnerships was a bit skewed.  With Hollywood as my standard, I suffered from that Prince Charming Syndrome. And swiftly abandoned every relationship that required any effort or working through issues. By the time I had developed a relationship work ethic, my marriage of almost ten years was beyond my own repair. All affection was a distant memory and my vision of the future was 180 degrees away from his. So I valiantly galloped off into an opposing sunset.

The more I put myself out there, post-divorce, embarking on a spree of great and not-so-great dates, I realized, everyone is different and no one is flawless – no one is a particular upgrade or downgrade from my once-spouse.

Everyone comes from issues, passed down from their parents, passed down from their parents, and everyone internalizes, suffers from, responds to, and exhibits those characteristics differently. Some people are aware of those traits, others are not. Some issues lay dormant for years, awakening with a specific trigger, while others rear their ugly heads early and often and speak louder than words. And depending on how those negative qualities land in the significant others’ world (don’t forget the significant other comes along with their own cocktail of problems), the possibilities for volatile mixtures are endless.

So then what?

Be introspective. Take the time and energy to know yourself.

And be thoughtful. Take the time and energy to know your significant other.


  1. Learning Each Other Takes Time and Communication.

Team projects in the workplace involve a handful of key factors that make or break the outcome: intentional leadership, setting expectations, proactive communication. This directly translates into relationships.

The success of every relationship hinges upon this openness. I know, this is a typical date-killer, the DTR (Define the Relationship) Talk. But really, I don’t want my time wasted and I don’t want to waste someone else’s time either. It’s OK to set boundaries, timelines, communication norms and preferences, and be clear about what you hope this developing relationship looks like. Letting your new partner know ahead of time, “I don’t text every day,” or “I’m more of a caller than a texter,” or “I’m not ready to fall in love, but I want to get to know you better,” are all very reasonable things to say on a first date – better yet, before the first date. If your relationship is lacking these basics, as time moves on, resentment will infect your partnership and slowly eat away every fiber of your connection.

Proactive communication and setting expectations are not things that happen naturally or automatically, either. Someone has to take the lead. Ideally, both partners would happily co-pilot their Ship of Love as it pulls out of Infatuation Harbor. However, this might not be both partners’ forte. If the responsibility falls more on one side than the other, make sure this too is communicated and accepted. If not, it could easily be another foothold for resentment; where one partner feels they are doing all the work to maintain the health of the relationship and the other is absent at the helm.

Set the tone early so that unrealistic expectations are not assumed, feelings are not hurt, and your new relationship doesn’t implode in the first month.


  1. Honoring Each Other Takes Selflessness.

In order to truly honor your partner, you have to bend sometimes. Yes, compromise. When I was a kid and my godmother would resolve spats between my brother and me, she would say, “You guys have to compromise.” It felt like slander. An expletive. Profanity. I want what I want when I want it even if it’s not my toy. Gimme! But she was right. Compromise is the only way to resolve partnership issues. However, unlike childhood squabbles, the compromise cannot take place out of guilt or because Auntie said so.  In a relationship, it must be done with love, compassion and selflessness. If not, enter that sepsis of bitterness once again. Honoring your significant other means selflessly compromising, and doing it with joy, not obligation.


 

  1. There is Give-and-Take

OK, let’s face it: adulating is hard. There are things are just a big fat huge annoying pain to do. Like sorting dirty laundry. Washing it. Drying it. Folding it. And putting it away. Ironing. Dishes. Putting away dishes. Sweeping. Mopping. Vacuuming. Unfortunately, they all have to be done. Even worse, they all have to be done over and over and over again. The absolute worst thing is when you’re in a relationship and you’re still doing everything despite this partner that can’t seem to help. Or this partner that not only doesn’t help but makes things worse, i.e. putting dirty dishes near the sink rather than in the sink or dumping dirty laundry on the floor rather than in the hamper. These little annoying things can set your soul ablaze with rage, or give you one more opportunity to remember that no one is perfect, you can proactively communicate, set realistic expectations, and lovingly compromise.

Let’s take the latter. Perhaps you hate doing laundry but don’t mind the dishes? Trade. Instead of expecting your partner to perform perfectly the thing they avoid the most, set your expectation to, “This is my job,” and release them from the responsibility. Allow them to take over something that you equally abhor. Better yet, if your hate is mutual and one of the things that draws you together, alternate days and make it a game. Reward yourselves with a romantic game or some QT alone when all the chores are done.


  1. It’s OK to Say, “This Isn’t Right.”

A lot of us are raised to avoid rejection conversations (why many people go ghost when something in the relationship has turned them off; it’s just easier – inconsiderate, but easier) or to do it as politely and delicately as possible (which is just annoying if you’re the one getting dumped). But guess what? It’s OK – no, more than OK – it’s healthy to speak up and say, “This isn’t working for me.”

It’s OK to voice a situation where your partner has made you feel uncomfortable, and it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it to work through that breakdown or if the situation is unforgivable and you’re just done. The point here is that you have the power and the right to stand up for what you want to get out of your relationship. And if it’s not working, it. Is. O. K. You don’t get Brownie points for putting up with a relationship that isn’t meeting your needs. Stand up for yourself. An unhealthy relationship is not better than being alone.

I recently decided to make a list of must-haves and a list of deal breakers. If we make the same lists for homes, vehicles, other big parts of our life that require both a significant investment and a considerable commitment, then why not do it for the person we expect to share our beds, meals, hearts, and life with for eternity? To be clear, this is not a check list with boxes and dating is not a job interview. But it is valid to outline characteristics you hope your partner will possess, as well as a list of things for which you absolutely will not settle. Don’t make exceptions that ultimately force you to smile through your misery or slowly waste away until nothing of your soul remains. Don’t sell yourself short. You owe it to yourself to be fully loved and fully happy; and your partner deserves it too. If you make too many exceptions and excuses, you’re condemning both of you to an unfair compromise that will crumble your life force and extinguish your zest.

At the top of my list: ability to show unconditional love. Unconditional because I want to be able to relax with my partner, be vulnerable and open with zero fear of judgement or abandonment.

And I don’t want to be improved. I’m not a puppy. I’m not a professor. I do not want to train or be trained. I just want to walk alongside someone and be cherished. Don’t we all?

~OR

How to Cure the Single Blues Like a Boss

Whether it’s just my peer group or simply the common thread of adulthood, the daily tidal wave of couples, engagement, marriage and anniversary photo collages on social media is overwhelming. The only remedy is the equal abundance of cynical e-cards and memes mocking the romantic posts perpetually shoved down our lonely single-people throats. And to finally push us loners into a spiral of independent agony is the digital dating industry and their persistent ads telling us that being single is not acceptable. Swipe this, meet here, and connect on that to find your mate, your match, your partner, your other half. What if I don’t want to? What if I’m already whole by myself?

Tell the Ghost of No Significant Other Present to back off

Well, if you’re feeling the negative weight of solitude and the grasp of singleness is tightening around your wrist, tell the Ghost of No Significant Other Present to back off. Stop swiping, searching, and then rolling your eyes at your dating apps for failing you, and try these ways to enjoy your shining solo self:

  1. Do that one thing. You know, the one thing you said you’d do if you only had the time, money, opportunity and then reserved it for, well, maybe when I retire? Yeah that. Stop waiting. Do it now. You can’t control when your life partner will stroll into your world, but you can control how you maximize your Me Time. Since you’re not on any hot dates, schedule in whatever it is you keep putting off. Maybe it’s writing a book, going back to school, learning a new skill, visiting place #38 on your Bucket List – whatever. Stop making excuses, and do it. Do it for you.

  2. Date yourself. OK, confession time: I love reading and writing in crowded bars and restaurants. Weird, I know. Somehow, it’s energizing for me. The hum of voices, the array of fashion, the smiles, laughter and awkward body language of strangers…it’s actually pretty entertaining. When everyone else is out with the squad looking to pick up a date, or couples that are actually on a date, I somehow feel even more empowered to be anti-that. So go to the movies, go for a walk, rent a bike, drive to somewhere you’ve never been and have a picnic. The possibilities are endless. Just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you can’t leave home and experience life.Fine. Whatever.

  3. Join stuff. If you’re uncomfortable with too much of yourself, then it’s time to get out and meet people – without romantic expectations. Just meet other humans with similar interests. Join a social club, volunteer at a non-profit, take a series of dance, art or cooking classes, get active in your place of worship, purchase membership to fine arts circles, find a book club or lecture series. Heck, start your own group if you can’t find one you like. Make sure it is something that meets regularly – weekly or monthly – so that you can begin to cultivate new connections. You never know; you might just find your tribe.

     


  4. #Friends4Lyfe. Being an intentional friend isn’t something that came easy for me. I didn’t realize until my own marriage was over that I had no close friends left of my own – everyone that had been a “friend” was actually closer to my once-spouse. (FYI, don’t be me. You need friends and your friends need you.) I had to rebuild friendships and find ways to make new ones. Schedule time for your pals and do things together. Even if it’s a phone date or just meeting to go shopping or work out together. You need each other.

  5. I know I will find you; I already love you. This is a line from a dear friend’s song that she wrote when she was single. She was longing for love and sorting through the feelings but didn’t have the person to receive all her adoration and affection. So she sang about it. If you’re confident in the love-to-come and just can’t stop the excitement, then don’t fight it. Write your future partner love letters, songs, create a photo album of yourself to give to them. If the passion is already there, let it speak; your person will be there soon.

  6. Don’t live with your parents. Just don’t. Even if they’re supportive. Even if you’re saving money. Don’t.

Cheers to loving yourself first.

There you have it. If you want to be in a relationship, just hold tight. Don’t dwell on your boredom or loneliness – you’ve got yourself – and yourself is pretty awesome. I’ve seen some extremely interesting couples out there, and if they can find each other, there’s hope for you yet. There’s hope for all of us. Cheers to loving yourself first.

~OR

#febgoalsonfleek 

My goal of committing to a word a day in January was a success! But I don’t want to stop. It was a fantastic experience of intentional daily reflection. Still, a word a day was a bit aggressive. I’m going to do a word a week. 

Sprinkled with some online dating facepalms. 

Because honestly. I need to be the change I want to see in this digital love circus. 

TOPIC COMING SOON – false intimacy. 

Yeah. Sit on that for a minute. 

~OR

Winter Storm Octavia (pt I)

So I took a few days off. Actually, several weeks. I had a huge weight on my heart. No, maybe weight is the wrong word. Weight sounds too negative. More like a burden. Wait, that sounds negative too, but burden is more appropriate than weight. So burden as in duty; a job you know you need to do but you kind of put it off. Kinda like laundry. But more earth-shattering and time-bending.

(Disclaimer: all this rambling is a glimpse into my churning thoughts. I obviously haven’t weeded through all the overgrowth yet, but believe it or not, this is clearer than the weight had been back in January.)

Ok, so back to this non-negative burden: it was like a balloon that was filled too full. It is like a balloon. A growing storm inside. Yeah that’s right. And it materialized.

winter storm octavia

(No, really. There is a winter storm named Octavia that is shaking up the nation. And yes, I feel like Elsa from Frozen. [commence possibly obnoxious “Let it Go” references])

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside. Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried.

I’m just finally facing it. Embracing it. Going into it, fearful, but yes, willing to face it.

What is it?

It is a story. Yes, another one. But not a fantasy novel where I am the superhero I always wanted to be. It is a real story. The story of a girl that was – dare I say it—emotionally warped. A girl that never felt her own value or worth and continued to cling to people that fed the self-depreciation. My own truth is incredibly terrifying for me to own.

While I received very clear instructions from God-Universe-Energy-of-the-World that this story needs to be told, I retreated. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to expose myself.

Conceal, don’t feel. Don’t let them know.

I didn’t want to feel the wrath of people that will undoubtedly be offended. I needed silence. I continued to pray, meditate and ask for clarity.

A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the queen.

Why? Because I was certain the story wasn’t the answer. I knew I was just hearing it wrong. I ignored the calling. I asked for even more clarity.

“Dear Universe, please clarify…because I know you don’t really want me to do what I know you just told me to do, so I must have misunderstood you. Try again.”

That was stupid.

Because I got the reality check of a lifetime. I made a bad decision. One giant awful life-smacking decision. I once again let another person into my circle that would not treat me the way I should have been treated.

Sigh. Sometimes I feel like I need logical, commonsensical outside-me to tell me-me when we-we are being stupid. But hindsight is 20/20 and this is the last time I accept the role of The Fool.

So my life got temporarily wrecked. Again.

As I was stubbornly ignoring the nagging on my heart, (which I’ve been ignoring for several years… I’ll get to that part later. Don’t let me forget about The Ladies Sent By God) I decided to reconnect with friend from my past.

This guy – we’ll call him The Wreck (he’s a professional musician and while I’d like to call him The Singer, I don’t want to confuse him with the other singers I’ve gone on dates with that might appear on this Road, –what I have a thing for musicians! ((swoon)) — so for disambiguation, this musician shall be known as The Wreck) – is NEVER free on weekends. But the one weekend he was free happened to be the weekend of a very big party that I badly wanted a date for.

Sidebar – I LOVE parties. I LOVE having dates to parties. I’m sure this is another lingering symptom of being a wallflower all my life, so when I have a chance to bring a date and not go stag to anything, I jump on it. I thought marriage would have solved that, but I went stag to as many events during my marriage as I did single – again, another nother story.

So I say, great! – I’ll bring my long-lost friend to this party, and we shall reconnect and it shall be grand. Well there were numerous red flags along the way that I chose to ignore. Why? DENIAL. With a hint of naivety.

While I’m expecting a fun weekend with an old friend, The Wreck had other plans. I will spare the details for both his dignity and my own. Nothing criminal happened, but long story short, it was the closest I’ve ever felt to being violated in many ways. One violation is more than enough. But this was jarring on many planes of energy.

Yes, I kicked him out. No, I haven’t spoken to him since. And no I haven’t slept in my bedroom since I sang “To the Left, to the Left.” There is an aftertaste in my room that I will deal with…later… until then, I’m blessed to have a very comfortable couch.

But!

I can name my illness now. Denial.

I have been in denial about myself for…ever… Denial about my intelligence. Denial about my strength. Denial about my dancing ability. Denial about my musical talent. Denial about my worth. Denial about my beauty. Denial about my purpose. Denial that a guy from my past really wants to visit to “catch up.”

Denial about my everything. I never felt worthy. I always settled. Not only have I never felt successful, I never felt success was for me. I felt goosepimply fairytale love was not for me. So made exceptions. I felt like I should just take whatever I can get because why should I want or expect better. I’m black. I’m ugly. I have a fat ass. I’m short. I’m not the smartest. Or the prettiest. Or the funniest. Or the most artistic. Or the most disciplined. And I have weird name.  A name that is now, so fittingly, a storm.

Black Elsa

…to be continued…

~OR

i will not be first runner up

Awwwwwwwwwwwww haaaaaaaaaaaale nawww

I WILL NOT BE BACKBURNERED!

Backburnered. Is that word? Well it is now.

Let me start over. I have //whispers under breath// psychic tendencies. Since I’ve voluntarily committed myself to this online exposé, I might as well reveal that too. Yeah, I know, wth. No I can’t/won’t read your palm. No I can’t pick winning lottery numbers. No, I can’t tell you lottery numbers. No, I’m not a prophet or a fortune teller or Miss Cleo.

Cue the twilight zone theme...nahnahnahnah nahnahnahnah
Cue the twilight zone theme…nahnahnahnah nahnahnahnah

I don’t talk about it much. It’s weird. It’s one of those things that people just don’t understand. Heck, I barely do either. But what I do know is sometimes I know things. I just know things. I know when some things are going to happen. I get intense FEELINGS. I know how some things are going to happen. It’s hard to describe. It’s not like a clear face, time, place, type of knowing. It’s just a sensing. And sometimes, it almost feels like something from the past that you can’t remember in detail – like a foggy memory, but it just hasn’t happened yet. I have a slight obsession with metaphors, so I’ll try to illustrate it like this:

Like if you wake up in the morning and you smell bacon. You know its bacon; you recognize it. You know it is being cooked; you can feel the heat of the grease on the wafting scent. You know it’s coming from the kitchen because, well, duh, where else would it be cooking? You know someone is preparing it; bacon can’t cook itself. You can’t see the bacon; you can’t touch the bacon, you just know there is some bacon somewhere, probably the kitchen, being cooked by someone, probably whomever you live with. And you love bacon. Your mouth starts watering because you can’t wait to eat it. And you know what it tastes like; you remember.

It’s like that. Hopefully that did something for you.

Or, how about this; it’s like an intense dream you had that vanishes just as you wake up and try to remember the details. Yes, like that.

Whatever, I’m moving on.

So I knew KNEW Sir Crickets, introduced here and seen again here was going to reach out to me again. I knew I’d hear from him before the end of 2014. I knew it would be a holiday, although I wasn’t certain which one. Thanksgiving, maybe, but that had passed. I thought it would be New Years, but I couldn’t tell. Well, it was Christmas. Christmas morning, I get a text saying Merry Christmas beautiful…

So I’m all, I KNEW IT. No surprise here. So I reply, aww same to you, yadda yadda, nothing much more or less.

So The Professor introduced here and I are talking about past relationships over dinner one night, and he tells me about some weird noncommittal thing he recently went through, and I tell him about Sir Crickets. He is baffled by that whole drama, and asks to see a picture (which, I think is a man thing. Men like to see their –dare I say it—competition. They want names and faces. Me on the other hand, I don’t want to know. If you’re not all about me, good luck, don’t care.).

If you’re not all about me, good luck, don’t care.

So I pull up Sir Crickets on the ol FB, which I hadn’t seen in months after he stopped talking to me and I unfriended him to spare my sanity of all the ooo babe and you’re so sexy and we’re such a great pair comments by other women on his wall and photos (ok ok ok, now that I write that and read it, I know, I really REALLY should have known better, but until someone I’m seeing tells me I have something to worry about, I don’t worry about it.), and lo and behold, he is public relationship FB official with someone and has been since he went crickets on me! GASP! And also, LIGHTBULB.

Well, I’m like, cool good for him.

And then I’m like WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT. If he’s had an official ladyfriend for two months then WHYNAHALE is he texting ME on Christmas morning?!

I WILL NOT BE BACKBURNERED!

I will not be the second choice! I will not be the back-up girl if Option A just doesn’t work out. Wow. I just…wow. He’s totally trying to keep me in his back pocket. No thanks.

Although, I have to admit feeling victorious that he misses me… It’s the little things…sneer/snicker

But all that stuff I said before about once you’re in you’re in, yeah, no. He out.

My spidey senses tell me that I’ll see him once more or hear from him once more, too. But that was before I wrote this and I’m not certain anymore. He might read this and change his mind.

Side note: that’s another thing with my “visions,” they can always be altered. People change their minds. And the visions change. That’s why it’s like…foggy…

I might still be struggling with my own self worth, but I do know that I’m better than the back burner. And I don’t need to be psychic to know that there is someone out there that is so so mindblowingly and obscenely perfect for me, that I just flat out will not accept anything less.

Right, I don’t NEED to be. But it helps. I’m holding out for a hero… of sorts. I’m already my own hero, but having a co-hero would be great.

He’s coming soon. Not sure who/when/where, or whether or not we’ve already met and just need to remeet. But he’s on his way. I can smell the bacon. And I’m so excited.

~OR

happy new year from R2R. here’s a book…

I really threw myself for a loop last week when I reflected on how much had changed since last Christmas. My life doesn’t really know how to do “slow” so looking back on last New Year’s Eve was equally jarring. Let’s do it:


NYE 2013: I had been talking frequently to the same guy that took me to see DJ Cajmere on Christmas, which I wrote about last time here. Let’s call him…The Hobbit…which has nothing to do with his height, accent, life view, nor the amount of hair on his feet. He does indeed wear shoes – as a matter of fact, his taste in shoes is quite refined and his collection of them rivals any woman’s, including an impressive selection of watches—and he does not live in a hole (ok, great, now I’m reciting Tolkein’s description of a hobbit hole in my head. Cue theme song from the Rankin-Bass animated movie from the 70s, while we’re at it THE GREEATEST ADVENTUUUUUURE IS WHAAAAT LIES AHEEEEEEAD).

But I ramble. Let’s bring it home…

Yes, last NYE I was convinced The Hobbit wanted to celebrate with me. He told me several times he wasn’t sure what he was doing, but he would let me know and we would have a great time. Well, he vanished, as the fickle ones seem to do, just in time for me to panic about what the heck I was going to do for NYE. And I had to do something. HAD. TO. I love NYE. I was raised to party on this holiday. Not that it had to be big and drunken, but it had to be big and loud. Growing up, pretty much every holiday was go big or go home—then again, home had it going on too. It was a time to break out the spinney tin noisemakers, the paper toot-toot things, the bobbley headband antennae, the top hats, the oversized sparkly year-number sunglasses, and of course the champagne (or sparkling grape juice) in stemware (even if it were the plastic disposable kind) and a New Year’s kiss, even if it was for your mother on her cheek. It all had to be done. Go. Big.

For the duration of my marriage, I tried to recreate this tradition in our family. I tried to be somewhere or at least turn the party up at home. But the celebration usually ended up being a party of one. Or just in my head. And I ended up sighing heavily at midnight wondering when the magic was ever going to kick in.

Well in 2013-14, I sure as heck wasn’t going to be caught dead under the same roof as my almost-ex-husband, doing the same lame game that had become our routine. I was going out dammit. And I wanted to have a good time.

But The Hobbit stood me up. I wasn’t hurt. I was annoyed. Mostly with myself. I had forgotten what it was like to date and forgotten that when people aren’t married or in an “official” relationship, there is no obligation to be together on a holiday. I’m not one that is easily defeated (heh, AMIRIGHT), so I says to meself,

even if I go to some bar completely alone, I’m goin out. HEAR ME, WORLD? I’M! GOING! OUT!

Luckily, I wasn’t quite THAT desperate. I still knew people that weren’t connected to my ex. I mean, it might have only been like…two… but I knew people! I got a text earlier that day from an actor friend of mine that was hosting the NYE show at a comedy club. By the time I was certain I’d never hear from The Hobbit for several days, if ever, I responded.

Hey, still have tickets for tonight? I’m coming!

You bet – how many?

Just one.

Who goes to NYE parties alone? This girl. The same girl that will go see Pan’s Labyrinth alone in a deserted $1 cinema – ok, that decision, might have been a mistake because I had nightmares of the thing with the eyes in its hands for WEEKS and barely made it through the whole movie without running away from the empty theater—but this NYE was not a mistake. In fact, in hindsight, it was all part of the plan. You know, that Divine Plan. So I threw up my deuces, took a bathroom selfie, and hit the street.

nye2013
I was DONE with 2013.
#andshewillflourish

So off I go to ring in the New Year. It was a great show. I laughed. I laughed hard. I laughed fake sometimes and snuffed some tears. And sometimes I just smiled to keep the baddies at bay. And through my obnoxious grin, I was really saying

<<God, help me. How did this become my life – that I have no cash, no credit, no savings, no nearby relatives, no nearby close friends, no relevant work history, no completed graduate degrees, no job, no friends outside The Good Pastor’s network, no one but my own children that care whether I’m in my bed (and by in my bed, I actually meant on my couch) in the morning or have completely fallen off the face of the earth, no one to kiss at midnight, barely anything to call my own – SWEET JESUS, YOU BETTER BE ABOUT TO GIVE MY HEART’S DESIRES BECAUSE THIS HAND YOU’VE GIVEN ME CURRENTLY BLOWS BIG FAT CHUNKS.

That’s the most upset I’ve ever felt towards God, btw. And it wasn’t even anger. I rarely get angry. It was more like confusion. Like, really? This is what you have planned for me? Aight. I’ll just roll with it and know you will provide.

And provide God did. After the show, and after I toasted myself to 2014, I met my friend out front and awkwardly lingered as I told him I’m getting a divorce and moving out as soon as I can find a job to support me and the boys. He was like,

Oh. Well, hey, cheers to 2014 and cheers to divorce!

I laughed. And I meant it. Cheers to that, indeed. It was only upward from there, anyway, right? (I’m still telling myself this, don’t burst my bubble).

The incapable-of-standing-still-when-there’s-music-playing dancer that I am, I started grooving. There were only two other moving bodies near me, so I worked it over to them. Luckily, the two ladies were also guests of my comedian friend.

We introduced ourselves while dancing. One of the ladies’ birthdays is Jan 1, so we toasted to that, too. I was honestly enjoying myself. This going out alone on a whim thing, was actually turning out pretty daggone fantastic. Towards the end of the evening, we talked about dancing and how much I love it and miss it and never have enough of it in my life.

The birthday girl told me about her dance company – a dance fitness club that actually has a choreography-based component, for dancers like ourselves that have no outlet as adults outside of (not) going professional or translating our skills over to something like ballroom. I was sold. There was an open house coming up, but I was already in. I needed it. I was there. I was already committed. Thanks, God, I said. This is why I’m here. This is why The Hobbit ditched me. This is why I have a comedian friend that texted me earlier. This is why I knew I couldn’t stay back in the burbs that night. I needed to meet this woman to reintroduce me to dance.


NYE2014: I’m on the arm of a fantastic man. The kind of man that pretty much has it all goin on: great job, several letters after his name, solid values, positive disposition, a gorgeous face…and (tattooed) body <<insert my anime googley heart eyes face>>…and beautiful hair… let’s call him The Professor. The Professor and I met several months ago while I was traveling for work. It was one of those I-can’t-believe-this-is-how-we-met stories, but it was a good one.

…It was a Thursday night. The draft was on. I overhear him say “I love Dix” and I’m all, “I love dicks too” (I know. I know. WHAT. WHAT. WHAT ON GODS GOOD EARTH was I thinking?! I often have the sense of humor of a twelve year old boy and sometimes, I embarrass myself before I know what’s happening.) but the rest is history. We hit it off. We were all about it. All about each other. All about our future. We tried to date long distance but eventually that fizzled after about two months. I mean, honestly, we’re several states and a day’s drive apart, so we amicably simmered down to penpals and left it at that.

Well, The Professor surprised me with a spontaneous decision to get on a plane and come ring in the New Year with me. I was ecstatic. Although I knew our time together was temporary, I was flattered and thrilled that somehow, I meant enough to this amazing man to be worth it.

So, here we are, a year later; I’ve danced continuously with my new company, in various venues and festivals around Chicago, and made new and enriching friendships. I’ve found so many pieces of my soul on the stage, and danced myself in to wholeness – or at least closer to it – with every rehearsal and performance.

I finally had one of those NYE experiences that people rave about – the party, the company, the swank and glam of it all. And even though at 32 and 37-years old, The Professor and I sometimes felt more like prom chaperones than party guests at The Drake that night, and we came back home and ate Giordano’s deep dish leftovers and crashed to The Walking Dead marathon, the night – and the year-long journey to it – was more magical than I could have imagined.

…and talk about magic; I didn’t even tell you what the NYE psychic said to me yet! Oh lawd!!

To be continued…

Happy New Year

#andshewillflourish

~OR