a little hope

I woke up this morning to a message from a friend who asked if I was still blogging. And to my further stunned surprise, she said she missed it. It was another one of those many life moments for me where my perception of myself and what others may perceive do not match. I am infinitely stunned by moments where my presence in this universe is not something to avoid, like ticks on a hike.

After countless months I still feel the cold fear of writing. But I want to move through it.

Life has taken a turn for hope and slivers of sunshine. And the bizarre thing is that though I’ve always wanted these blessings, a job that won’t destroy my soul and a partner I adore, they feel fleeting. It’s as if they will slip out of my hands if I allow myself to be too happy, let my guard down in the laughter and serenity. I used to think if I could just have one of these things, a job that wasn’t toxic or a loving partner, my life would even out, the bumpy roads would be fewer, and my swaths of time spent in dire sadness and anxiety would largely cease. There are fewer bumpy roads, and life has shown me lovely peeks of sunshine; however, the sadness and anxiety have a trigger that’s a different side of the same coin -fear of loss.

I freeze and get stuck in moments that are genuinely happy, like the time my partner and I danced to Lady of the Harbor by Brother Sun. That is so not a dancing song, but it felt so right to dance and sing to the hope and love for humanity in that song with my favorite human being on the planet. And in that moment, all I can think is, “I do not deserve this beautiful, kind soul who can gently hear me out when I get upset, and will say to me, “You’re entitled to your feelings.” She will say this to me,  grouchy me with my too-hard-on-people ways. In that beautiful moment we shared that song, the prominent thought in my brain was, “Will I mess this up? Don’t mess this up. Don’t be a jerk, drop that stupid defense mechanism.

Before we admitted our feelings to each other my now partner asked me, “How did we get to our age and not find people we could be our true selves with?” I said to her, “The DID was a wall for me with people.” And then we both got teary after that.

And here’s the moment when I thought that maybe, just maybe, she also had feelings for me, she said this to me one night via text before we were together, “You’re a whole messy human who’s willing to let us in. I’ll take the bad with the good. It makes you you.” She won my heart in that moment.

And when I find myself losing hope I think back to our text conversation about me sleeping on the back of my family’s gold Montego when I was a kid, with my blanket in the desert night, the long back of the Montego was perfect for sleeping under the stars. The stars gave me hope for a better tomorrow. I said to her, “The stars are full of hope.” And she replied, “They are – they burn bright for millions of years. Beacons of hope.”

the love drug

I’ve awakened to a startling clarity that my love addiction works overtime, patiently waiting for a weak moment to reassert itself, like a dormant sickness that lies in wait for stress to shake down your immune system.

For a few years, I’ve been matter-of-fact about my sex and love addiction, running around with the false belief that if I no longer had casual hookups that I was fine. I drew this conclusion because I was well aware that I had been destructive and hurtful to others in my carousel of casual sex encounters.

Yes, this was a good step, and a fine start. What I failed to recognize, until recently, was the fact that this was only part of my problem.

I failed to see that my love addiction was and is more entrenched in me than sex or alcohol. Alcohol was a gateway to forgetting my pain, and running from it. Sex was much the same way, and it provided a way to numb out the feelings in that moment. Though it became a terrible cycle where I needed more in order to keep the feelings at bay.

But love addiction is much harder to harness. We all need and desire love. I find myself stymied with the challenge of not getting consumed with pursuing love the way a marathoner pursues a faster pace per mile. In fact, one should probably not pursue love. Love should find us. The love we have with friends or family has grown over a period of time. It is most definitely not pursued.

It seems like as soon as I figure out one challenge in the love addiction department another one pops up, almost as if the universe knows that it has my full attention again so it says, “Here’s another one now that you figured out that old issue. Take care of this one too!”

Earlier this week I successfully avoided replying to my ex-husband’s email. I was happy with myself that I did not give into my feelings. I was smug with myself for all of a hot minute when I found myself at dinner with this ex-boyfriend from 2008. Since I recently decided not to move in with him as his room-mate we’ve been on okayish terms. I took him up on his long-standing offer to go tv shopping with me since he’s an electronics connoisseur, and I’m barely aware that they don’t make tube televisions anymore.

I love the ease of our friendship in which I pass my yankee bean soup to him while we’re having dinner at the diner before tv shopping. This freakishly big bowl of soup came with my dinner, and I ate some of it, then passed it on to him so that he could eat some as well. We consumed the bowl of soup that way, passing it between each other and eating from the same bowl until the soup was gone.

In spite of the fact that we have few commonalities, I found my heart leaping up and down for him that evening. There’s a comfort in the way we just link arms or hands without even thinking about it.

He’s back together with this gal that has an admitted jealous streak. I only learned of their recent reconciliation at dinner that night right before tv shopping. Thankfully, he told her about going tv shopping with me, if you read on you’ll see why that was a good thing.

We had given up on tv shopping for the night, and the store had an arts and crafts section that I availed myself of with the chance opportunity in that store. I rarely set foot in this establishment because of it’s vast size, and my own discomfort with it’s sizable influence in the market. This store has such an influence that I will not give them any further advertising by naming them here.

We turn the corner so that I can look at their assortment of felt stickers, and there she is, the gal he’s dating again, with her house mates. She’s tall, svelte with black hair and fair skin, and she’s waving around Hershey’s chocolate chip bags in her hands when we come upon her in the aisle. She asks me what I’m doing in the store. I say, “shopping.”

“Oh,” she says. “For what?”

“Stuff,” I say, and turn around to go back to looking at felt stickers.

Admittedly, this was a total bitch move on my part. I was aware of it in the moment I did it, and I did not care. While at dinner my ex-boyfriend asked me not to text or call him in the next three weeks because she departs for her home country for good in three weeks, and they are “together” for her remaining time in the United States, as she successfully defended her dissertation a few weeks ago. Apparently, she has a tendency to search his cell phone, and interrogate him about what she finds.

When he made this request of me I laughed at him, and said “Sure, I rarely call or text you as it is. But what the hell happened to you that you’re putting up with this?”

He admitted to me that jealousy is her major flaw (indeed it is, a few months ago she called me from his landline after she found my phone number programmed on his phone), a big reason they do not have a long-term future; however, he proclaimed that she is “a quality woman.” I was stunned that he would put up with such stupidity, but I finally recovered from my stunned laughter, and allowed myself to be dragged into the world’s most controversial store chain in order to shop for a tv.

Back in the ginormous store I’m looking at felt stickers, refusing to move from my spot. She and her house mates are a mere few feet away. Out of the corner of my eye I see her grab onto his arm, she asks him something to the effect of when he will be done so that he can come pick her up, and then I hear her kiss him. Or, rather, I presume she kissed him. The kissing sound was unmistakable. How apropos that this Jerry Springeresque experience was happening in THIS store.

I felt myself become enraged inside my being, all the while aware that I had no right to feel this way. He and I have not been together since 2008. I started thinking ridiculous thoughts like,”Why does he like her over me? I’m crazy, but not that crazy. Did he choose her over me because she’s so beautiful?”

In reality, it was never between her and me. He and I broke up a long time ago, and remained apart for good reason. We’re not right for each other. He’s still one of my best friends, and sometimes that friendship messes with my head. I get mixed up because at the point I met him no one had ever shown sweetness towards me the way he had. His Asperger’s way of overthinking dating behavior, and his awkward, yet sweet demeanor caused me to fall in love with him soon after we met. Only years after we broke up did I realize that I loved him so because no one had ever shown me such pure kindness with a dash of sweetness. Part of me wanted to bottle it up forever in the fear that it would never again appear from anyone else.

He knows I don’t do well with surprises, and that, as much as possible, I like to know what to expect. Even the task of removing my huge tube tv from my third floor apartment was stressful for me, and he knew this without me even saying so. He appeared at my apartment with a dolly and rope. As I opened the door I just said, “I”m freaked out about this.”

He said, “I know. It’s okay. No big deal. Put on some gloves if you have some, they will give you better grip. We are going to lift this tv together. Let me know when you think you have a good grip, and we will lift together. We only have to go a few inches. It will be over before you know it.”

I appreciate all the over explanation that he has a tendency to give in almost any situation. It’s his signature, over explanation. My signature is anxiety about nearly everything. Over explanation is welcome for someone who likes to know what to expect at every juncture.

I have to let him go. I can still be his friend, but my heart has to trust that I can find that kindness and sweetness in the right person. And even if I don’t, he’s not the right one, in spite of the fact that I wanted him to be.

One last post for the dude from last summer and the summer before that …

Admittedly, I felt bad about canceling our date. There was a part of me that was looking forward to seeing you, especially since you have that flirty way about you that makes me feel all gushy and blushy with the buzz from the way you brush my hand while giving me a quick wink, and that’s within the first 10 seconds of being in your presence.

You responded to my cancellation in such a manner that I questioned whether I was hasty in my decision. This was your response:

“Please understand that my intent in reaching out to you was not to meet you again, have sex with you, or even hear back from you. I simply wanted to explain why you did not hear from me last summer. I am a good person, not a manipulator who was looking to take advantage of you in some way.”

Then the next day you sent this message:

“I hope you find what you’re looking for. Sorry I wasn’t it.”

I responded, and said to you that I had nothing but good memories of you, and no ill feelings on my part. I was just aware that I fell into a pattern with you that I did not want to repeat.

Then you replied with this message, “If you change your mind you know where to find me.”

The very next day I woke up to this message from you, “This is going to sound terrible. Now that you’ve said no, all I can think about is sex with you. Let’s meet to get it out of both of our systems.”

I said to you “that is exactly the reason we are not going to meet,” then I blocked you from sending me any further messages.

One of my clinicians often says, “when someone shows you who they are, pay attention.”

I’m glad I finally paid attention.