I have recently become a contributing writer to Totally Buffalo. I will be blogging every 3 weeks or so on this site. I am cheating and posting a link here on those weeks so welcome to my first official post! It’s entitled “Your Relationship is the Priority, Higher Than Any One Person’s Individual Needs.”
My sister Janet is eight years older than me. I have some memories of her as a kid, but mostly there was a big enough age difference that we didn’t steal each other’s clothes or boyfriends so there wasn’t a lot of conflict.
She is the middle child, but for years we also called her the Perfect Child. As adults, I found out that she always hated that so I stopped saying it. I also call her Dad’s favorite daughter and I haven’t stopped saying that. I joke around about it, but it doesn’t seriously bother me because she is truly one of the kindest women I’ve ever known in my life.
I was just talking with a client yesterday who has a family member with cancer news. I remembered when we starting testing Tim and suspected it might be cancer. Janet lived near Rochester so she was an hour-and-twenty-minute drive away. I was on the phone with her when she said, “No matter what happens Darcy, you won’t be alone. We will be there every step of the way.” And she was.
Twice during Tim’s five months of illness, she took an unpaid leave of absence to come and help. I never forgot that because there were other relatives/friends that lived closer and were more close to Tim than she was, but she was the one that didn’t bat an eye. She just took the financial hit and came.
One memory that particularly stands out was when the decision was made for Tim to go to Hospice to try to get his sleep regulated. I called her to tell her and she made all that distance and got here before the transport car came. She and I took Tim around the property in a wheelchair to give him a chance to look at everything, reminisce, and ultimately say goodbye.
She has been here again, this time for Dad. She arrived the day before New Year’s Eve from Tennessee. And she is still here. She leaves Saturday which means she was here a full three weeks. Dad required 24 hour supervision until this week so she literally spent the whole time with him in his assisted living apartment. I can’t even begin to express what a massive relief that was to me. I know Dad is going to miss her terribly, as will I.
I enjoy her company immensely, but I was in a catch-22. She was here to take care of Dad, which was my chance to get a break. I wanted to visit with her, but I needed some distance from the situation at the same time. Thank goodness she completely understood that.
Even though she lives in Tennessee now, she still had a job where she had to take an unpaid leave of absence to be here. To take a three-week cut in pay when you live paycheck to paycheck is an incredible sacrifice. She makes it without blinking an eye, without a question. If I asked her to stay even longer she would.
Her husband supports her being here, even though I’m sure he misses her. Her daughter supports her being here, even though Janet misses her little grandson so much I’m sure her heart aches. So thank you to all of her family who let us borrow her capable hands and her ever-giving heart.
And how do I thank Janet? I couldn’t possibly. But deep down, I know she knows. She loves me too, and came to support to me. Mostly though, she did it for the deep love she has for our dad. He’s not an expressive man, but I know he appreciates her as much as I do.
Thank you dear Janet. You truly are perfect!
As January settles in, I have started my annual task of going through my filing cabinet. This not only accomplishes purging, but I also prepare for my taxes as I go along. It usually takes most of the month. This year, there is an added element to it. I am trying to go paperless as much as possible. That means do a lot of scanning, which can be time-consuming.
Today, I came across a folder that I basically forget about until January every year, the divorce papers from my first marriage. I have no contact with my first husband, but there are no ill feelings between us. I was thinking about him this year more than usual because I am dating someone whose middle name is the same as my first husband’s last name. Back in my twenties, I changed my name to his so I bore that name for six years as well.
It was a 16 page document, which is crazy because we had the simplest divorce ever. No property, no money, no kids, yet it still required 16 pages of legal jargon. I scanned all of it and shredded it. New years are always a time for reflection so this morning was no different. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be divorced, but then probably no one ever gets married thinking that it won’t last forever. It made me terribly sad. Not bitter, just solemn.
Of course that led my thoughts to my second marriage. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be a widow. That is irrational, because if we had lived together until old age, there was a 50% chance that I would be a widow at some point, unless I died first or we both died at the same time for some crazy reason. Yet it never occurred to me. I suspect most people don’t think about that much when they get married. But I certainly didn’t think I would be a widow in my forties.
I mentioned in a previous blog about being at Emily’s last month with her now eight kids and thinking about how when I married the first time, we planned on six kids. We had zero. But in my marriage to Tim, I had one biological child but gained three step-kids. Four is a lot closer to what I thought my life would look like. If I marry again to someone who has two kids, that would make the six I originally thought I would have.
Life is like that lots of times. Maybe even most times. I think if we polled a bunch of people in their fifties, the majority would say their life doesn’t look the way they thought it would. What’s that famous saying? Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. I keep thinking about Jennifer Aniston in the movie Marley and Me. Her husband is lamenting this very thing and she comes back with a confident statement about how much better their lives are than anything they ever could have imagined.
Makes me wonder what the future holds for me. What will life bring in the next chapter? What will 2018 hold for me? And will I lament or celebrate how differently it all came out? I vote for the latter!
Hate to be negative, but I write best when I write about what is genuine inside of me. Unfortunately, for those of you that prefer the glass half full, I have struggled with depression for years.
I woke up twice last night with hot flashes. It made me wonder if menopause is adding to my decline. I know that the older I get, the less I seem able to cope. You would think that with age comes wisdom and experience. For me, it seems like I just carry the accumulation of blows without ever fully healing. Nothing has changed drastically in my life, I just don’t cope as well anymore.
The last couple of days have been bad again. Yesterday I couldn’t force myself out of bed until 11, and then by 1 I had a full on crying spell. I panicked. I was so scared that I was having another breakdown like I did in August. And I promised myself I would never go there again. What happened?
Unlike lots of depressed people, I don’t isolate when I tank, I reach out. I followed my gut and turned to an interesting trio of people. One was my doctor. The upshot of that, is that we are going to mess with my meds a bit. I am waiting to hear from her today to figure out which option we are taking. I only want to try one strategy at a time so you can know what and if it works.
The second person I called was my former pastor. I don’t have contact with him anymore and I have no idea what made me reach out to him. He called me back relatively quickly. The upshot of that is that he is going to meet with me sometime in the near future. Quite honestly, there really isn’t anything to say that is going to make things better. Yet the alternative is to do nothing but live in the hopelessness. So I am waiting to hear back on his schedule.
The third person I called was my former spiritual director. I haven’t seen her in years. I expected to leave a message but she answered. I found myself unable to spit much out verbally. She told me to come right over.
In the end, she said what I suspected. There really aren’t any words of inspiration to offer. But she was willing to try to help me on an energy level which she did. The conversation did yield one shift in my articulation of how I feel. I have no idea if it is an important shift or not, but it is all I have.
The bottom line is this. I don’t want to exist. Suicide is not an option. Now what?
The trigger has been the same for almost four decades now. I keep describing it the same way. I hate being alone. I am very capable of being alone, just don’t like it. Can’t seem to accept it. But after talking with her, I wondered if it is more accurate to say this: I hate knowing there is no one out there in the world that loves me in the way a healthy significant other loves. Then I realize I sound like a child having a temper tantrum. So I can’t have what I want. That is everybody’s story. Why does it crush me in a way that seems to be so different from everyone else?
I have no idea.
The other thought we touched on, was that maybe fleeting moments is all there is to experience. I had two months with Jay. I had six weeks with the salesperson I dated a few years ago, and I had five months with Tim during the time when he was dying. The most powerful connection was definitely with Jay. That doesn’t seem like much time in a life of 50 years, but maybe that is more than most people get?
I’ve been pondering on that, but the end result doesn’t really change much. I’m still left with where I am at. Which is where I am usually at. Where I have been at most of my adult life. This thing I am missing in my life seems to be larger than the big picture of my life. I see it happening but I don’t know how to change it. I have pockets of good times and experiences, but the rabbit holes are just a matter of time. And the older I get, the less time I have in between the episodes. The episodes result in going to sleep and praying that I don’t wake up the next day.
It’s no way to live, but what choice do I have?
First, before I start my blog, please notice the “badge” on the side of your screen. I didn’t even realize it was a thing, but I made #62 out of the top 75 blogs on the web that focus on healing of some sort. I am honored to be a part of this! Thanks to my small but devoted readers who are making me visible out there.
Scott, my therapist, talks about “the perfect storm” that I seem to find myself in often. You know the kind. Your boyfriend breaks up with you the same week that your kid has a birthday, your dad has surgery, and you have two funerals to attend after just attending one last week. The thing is, I am actually kind of a pro at this kind of thing. I have perfect storms somewhat regularly in my life. I get stressed, have my intense reactions, but always power through. So what the heck happened?
The only thing that makes sense to me is this. I have heard for years now about how strong I am. “One of the strongest women I know” is something I hear often. I know I am strong. I know I’ve managed several perfect storms in my life and handled them pretty well. I’ve been to hell and back a few times. “You’ve been through so much” is another thing I hear often. Why the breakdown now?
If I could talk to Jay one more time, if someone I knew could run into him, what I would communicate is this. You did it, Jay. Something we didn’t think was possible. You broke her. One of the strongest women around.
Yep, that’s how I feel. Fair or not, my relationship with Jay broke me. Granted, I’ve been chipped away at for years. Every break-up, every jerk, the years of taking care of Dad, the years of being a single parent, being a business owner… I’ve been slowly chipped away at.
What was left of me was crushed.
When I went in for my emergency session with Scott, he told me about a book he had been reading. It studied a tribe/culture where when people reached their threshold, they would take off all their clothes and really let it rip. They would cry, scream, yell, and run around naked for as long as they needed. They called it “running amok.” Then guess what happened? They were done. They would be fine.
When I “lost it,” both Scott and I knew what happens in our culture when you run amok. You get hospitalized. And we both know what happens then. They sedate you. That’s about it. While a rest would be welcome, not much else good comes from it. Then it is on your record and God knows what ramifications that could have. When I reached my breaking point, I knew that I had to find a way to help myself without going to the hospital. Crazy without going to the loony bin. My goal.
For me, I needed rest but that never means being alone. Alone is the last thing I need when I hit bottom. Not that I’ve ever hit bottom like this before. This is unlike anything I’ve been through. Like I said, I was broken.
My peeps started a babysitting schedule for me. I didn’t know what else to call it. I just needed someone to be with me, come whatever mood swing would happen. I have a ton of amazing friends and family, but it was still extremely difficult to pull that off because everyone has very busy and difficult lives of their own.
I’m sure I will write about this in weeks to come as I’ve by no means fully recovered. I will just tell you about the worst of it. That was day two of running amok. I had just answered a brief phone call from a supportive friend while lying on a chair. The next thing I knew, I couldn’t breathe. I knew it I was hyperventilating but I couldn’t stop it. My friend had experience with this from a family member so thankfully she knew what to do. Not sure I would have know how to handle it. She sat me up and then literally sat under me to give me physical support. I was worse than a wet noodle. I had no strength and my body was completely limp. At times I would stop breathing. At first, she just kept encouraging me to breath in a soothing voice. It was scary as hell. I would gasp for air and then found some muscle movement because I gripped her arms that were around me fiercely. I was so frightened.
Eventually, she led me through some beach imagery which got my breathing regulated. Then the sobbing started. I sobbed from the bottom corners of my very being. It was like wailing. I couldn’t stop. She mentioned in her soothing voice that I would get through this. That set up the vocalization of what was gripping my heart. I don’t want to get through this. I don’t want to survive. I don’t want to exist. I am tired of being at this place in my life. Not being loved by another. Not having anyone to give my love to. Suicide is not an option but I just wanted to be dead. Please God, have some mercy. I was horrified at what I heard myself saying but I couldn’t stop it.
She mentioned all the people who love me. All the people who need me. All the people who have a better life because I am in it. That started the anger pouring out. I know I help people. Who the fuck is going to help me? When is it my turn? Nope, don’t want to live like this any longer. Tired of trying to fix it. I’m broken. Just shattered.
Eventually, it all stopped. Then I was just exhausted beyond belief. Between the hyperventilating, the sun, and not taking my medication, I couldn’t walk well. I was very dizzy and off-balance. But we came up with the brilliant idea of settling me in my office. It was apart from the house which was my greatest concern. I didn’t ever want Frankie to witness any of that. Not one second of it. He doesn’t need that. My office became a place to escape to, and still is. Things have not gotten as bad as that one day, but it is a very slow climb back to a functioning life.
I’m not used to that. The way I’m wired, I feel things very intensely. It’s magnified and painful. But the upside, is that I’m done with it quickly. Break up with me on Monday, I’m back on Match by Wednesday. Not this time. Just not bouncing back this time.
The most maddening part of it, is that even though I’m furious at Jay for the way he played with a heart that has been through so much suffering, I still think about seeing him again, talking to him again, wanting to re-connect the deep way that we did. I want him to know how badly he hurt me because I know he has no concept whatsoever. But then I want him to fix it. Not feel bad, but come home to me. Whatever that might look like to start again, but let’s figure it out. Just give us a try.
I promise, love is worth it.
If you want to follow the Bonnie Raitt reference, check out last week’s blog entitled “Love.”
This is going to be a very long blog. It’s a love story. It’s going to take me all day to write it, I can tell. I want it to be as perfect as it can be and I want to do it justice.
We all have core issues, whether we are aware of them or not. I have several. One of them is abandonment. I assume eventually I will be abandoned. I know love won’t last forever. And the reason is generally my other core issue. Underneath all that strength and self-esteem, I think I am not loveable, not desirable, not wantable. Of course I will be abandoned.
I’m no stranger to loss. Loss isn’t distributed evenly in life, but almost everyone has experienced loss. I have a pretty good size measure of it in my life. I don’t fear it, I just keep dealing with it. But I always worry about the loss that will be the straw that breaks this camel’s back.
When it comes to relationships, I try hard not to be jaded. I don’t want to be naive, but I don’t want to be pessimistic or create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Strangely enough, I see my fears most when I am in a healthy relationship. I guess it’s because there is something worth losing so I battle my inner panic that I’m going to be left any second.
I met Jay playing cards. I didn’t start playing cards to meet men, but there he was. I instantly liked him. I found out later, he instantly liked me too. It took a few weeks, but eventually we had our first date. In the parking lot, he asked me for a second date. And that was it, we just spent almost every day together after that. We just couldn’t help ourselves.
I tried to keep a reign on my heart initially. I even went on other dates. Whenever we would talk, Jay was always in tune to me. He knew my fears and worries. He would say things like, “I’m just talking here. I’m not going anywhere.” Or, “I feel bad that you worried even for a minute.” When life was busy and we were in the middle of something, he would stop and say, “But Darcy, there is nothing more important than us.” And we would stop whatever we were doing and just be with each other for as long as we needed. He was amazing.
Six days after meeting me, Jay told me he loved me. He knew it was probably crazy to say, but he couldn’t help himself. I told him it was ok because I knew I loved him too, crazy or not. Sometimes, it just happens.
We are 50 though, and know that the future is precarious and unsettled. I stopped believing in forever a long, long time ago. Jay doesn’t even process time or future. We talked many times about all of this and finally came up with: We love what we are together. We have no intention of stopping it. That was it, the definition of what our love meant. I loved it. It was brilliant. Love means millions of things, but this was ours.
One of my favorite things, was how we called each other by our names. I would say, “My Jay” and he would say, “My Darcy.” He would often say things like, “What would my Darcy want?” or “I got that because it is my Darcy’s favorite.”
I quickly began to trust us because I had never felt like this before. All the evidence was there. Because Jay was there. I mean, he was really there. Shortly after we started dating, I had to attend a funeral for someone my age. I knew it was going to be really rough. Without hesitation, he came. My dad was in the hospital for a procedure. Without hesitation, he was there. He came with my favorite Starbucks and then sat there until my dad was released just so I could escort my dad while he went and brought my car around for us. I never had to ask. He always offered because he wanted to be there. He likes taking care of people. I’ve never met a male version of me before.
Jay would sometimes say to me, “I feel two feet taller now, just walking down the street.” I totally got what he meant. I was surprised at what a surprise one person could make in your life. Mine was definitely changed for the better.
One of the biggest events, was my annual fourth of July party. It’s quite a thing. Lots of people, 12-13 hours. Jay, on his own, offered to help with everything. In fact, he wanted to share the expenses. He set things up the day before. He waited on everyone the whole day. He was a better host than I was. I got phone calls and texts and comments after that day about Jay and what an incredible pair we made. It was a day to be remembered.
He also volunteered his life, his history. We told stories a lot about growing up. He has pictures all over the place. His walls, his phone, his computer. He was always showing me something. He took me to the house his family lived in when he was very small. He took me to the house where he brought up his children. He wanted to know about mine. We watched a video of my mom so he could see who she was. We had long lists of things we wanted to talk about because the only thing stopping us was the time to do it all.
Jay told me that he read once that the relationships that last, are the ones where both parties think they are the lucky ones. I thought that was an excellent thought. We would banter over and over with each other saying, “No, I’M the lucky one…” And he would tell the world if he could. He talked to everyone in my life. One night at a fire, he had a very lengthy conversation with one of my friends. She shared things with him, and he did with her. He told her that he had to pinch himself because he couldn’t believe he went to lunch and fell head over heels. When he met my sisters, he told both of them that he was in love with me. I would love to hear about the conversations he had with his friends, telling them how happy and lucky he was. He would expect people to tell him to slow down or imply that he wasn’t seeing everything clearly, but no one did. Not even his therapist. Everyone was just thrilled for him and for us.
Then there was all the fun stuff. The compatibility stuff where we just plain enjoyed the same things. My friend told me how happy she was to see me doing so many things. Finally, she said, finally someone who is active and doing things. You’ve waited a long time for that, Darcy. You guys are always doing something cool together. So happy you and Jay found each other.
Picnics were amazing. Walking hand in hand, just about anywhere. Concerts where we laughed and danced all night. Dinners, lunches, breakfasts. Movies, drive-ins. Festivals, camping, parties. Fires, comedy clubs.
The laughter was so healing. It may seem like a small thing to share the same sense of humor, but trust me when I tell you it is not. We could have gone on the road the way we could roll off each other’s lines. He would repeatedly tell me how fun it was that we always got each other’s references. Growing up at the same time lends itself to knowing the same SNL skits, movies, songs, and so on. Jay would do these facial expressions and voices that would have me rolling. One night we had been packing boxes, and the next morning he asked me if we had been drinking and he forgot. We were laughing so hard while we working that our stomachs had hurt. It just was so natural for us. So much joy.
And then there was the music. Music is part of my soul and always has been. But Jay loved music in a way that I have rarely encountered. I found myself reconnecting with music because of him. The radio was on more. I found my playlists and found myself reaching for it. Whenever we were together (which was all the time) Jay would have a playlist ready for us. He came to Karaoke one night where I have been going for a long time. He had never done it before, but he walked right up and sang, “I can’t help falling in love with you” in a romantic Elvis voice. He made it crystal clear that he was unashamedly singing to me. As soon as he hit the last note he walked over and hugged me in one of our embraces. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I know almost every person in that bar. And most of them told me I was glowing and they were thrilled to meet him because he obviously adored me.
How could I not mention the chocolate? We both love dark chocolate and Jay made sure there was always a supply. He preferred 65% cocoa, so I adjusted from my usual 85% because it was a small sacrifice to make. After a couple of weeks, somehow we discovered that he thought I preferred 65% so we were both trying to accommodate the other one. We laughed over our misunderstanding, both wanting to please the other. Now THAT is what relationships are supposed to be like.
But my favorite? It was the dancing. That touched my heart and set me on fire. A girl considers herself lucky if she can find a guy that will dance at all. Most guys don’t. Period. I will never forget the first time Jay took me dancing. We got out on the floor and I had tingles from head to toe. I knew he liked to dance, but I had no idea he was an amazing dancer. He is skilled but also fun. He is incredibly handsome but he is never so sexy as when he is on the dance floor. We danced and danced. Fast, slow, didn’t matter. We could be silly or serious. During a slow song, during that first dance date, he told me he knows it isn’t the proper protocol, but he could see us dancing to that song as our wedding dance.
One time, we were out dancing to a band he had found online. There were four to five different women who couldn’t wait to talk to us during band breaks because they said we had made their evening. They just thought we were the most amazing couple- fun, sexy, making everyone smile. Hell, the band even came up and introduced themselves to us. One woman took a bunch of pictures and texted them to me. I am never that girl. Never. I am never the one on the floor that everyone envies. I am always the one watching with envy.
We danced all the time at home. We would dance in the shower full of soap. We would dance down the hall to get to a room. We would dance naked sometimes. We loved dancing. And it was beautiful.
But life isn’t all fun and games. Especially for 50-year-old adults. There is life to be lived. We would be there as best we could for each other, helping with tasks and errands. He had to close on the house that he raised his kids in so we would meet there. We would spend hours in the hot weather, no air conditioning, and work on the garage and basement. It was dirty, hot, smelly work but we did it. There would be a bump in the road every here and there, but overall it was mostly amazing. We would get tons of stuff done.
We started swapping cars because it was easier for him to move things in my vehicle. I loved sharing each other’s cars and helping each other. He had to move his apartment too so we also spent hours packing boxes, rifling through things, purging stuff. There were movers to call, apartments to visit, etc.. Again, some minor bumps in the road, but I loved accomplishing stuff with him. We have different skill sets and I would think about what an amazing team we were. Between the two of us, we could do just about anything I think.
And then it suddenly broke down.
Jay apologized for starting something that he couldn’t finish. He realized that he has too many things to work on in his life. In fact, he feels he can only do one thing at a time, which is obviously a huge problem because no one gets to do only one thing at a time. We all have to work, take care of our health, our homes, our families. Life requires multi-tasking. For Jay, a relationship is the dispensable item on the list. For me, it is the foundation for anything else. Love is never a bad investment. Never.
His perspective is very, very different from mine. I saw hours of working together under tough conditions but laughing while doing it. He saw the few moments of stress as overshadowing the rest. He sees that he was making picnics for us when he should have been working on other things. I see a picnic that he thoroughly enjoyed with someone he loved. That same person then helped him with hours of labor packing and cleaning. Surely there was so much more benefit than cost. But that is my view.
I told him that accepting his decision has been very, very hard. I saw us as gifts to each other. We were both clearly starving for what we offered to each other (and both verbalized exactly that). I know without a doubt that my life with Jay was far, far better than my life without him. And from everything he said, everything he showed, his life was far better with his Darcy too. But that’s my opinion.
I know when you truly love someone, you have to want what is best for them. Sometimes that means giving up what you want. I love Jay that way. So I want to be able to say that as much as it hurts me, as much as he is what is best for me, if I’m not good for him I need to walk away. The problem is, in my heart of hearts, I don’t believe walking away is what is best for him. I know it’s not my place to say, but I don’t believe it. I can’t make myself believe it. I do have to accept it though.
I had been processing this with my counselor Scott as it was starting to happen. In psychology, we call it sabotage. No one can say for sure, but to us it sure looks like a classic textbook case. A man struggles to make progress, meets someone who he loves deeply, she happens to have a lot of skills and experience that directly correlate to the things he struggles with. He walks away instead of trying to make it work. His brain tells him he doesn’t feel love from me. Why? Because I make a joke while we are cleaning that directly relates to an activity we did the day before that I thought he would think was funny. Instead, he feels like I am jabbing him. So the hours I spent on my hands and knees cleaning for him didn’t feel like love to him. It didn’t feel like I cared when I kissed and hugged him every few minutes just because I like to touch him. He misunderstood a joke. Sometimes it felt like he had to work hard to misread me.
Now I am going through the embarrassment of telling people. They all react the same. No one can believe it. Everyone is shocked. Two of my friends actually cried. One person said, “No Darcy, this isn’t just a loss you have to face. This was different. He was different. I would have opened up my heart to him too.” I never for one second thought either one of us was perfect. But when you look at the big picture? I knew we were lucky that the issues were so small in comparison to the very large great things. And everyone else saw it too. They thought we were lucky, just like I do. Just like Jay used to.
Sometimes, it hurts so much that my throat closes off and I can’t breathe. I can’t even imagine hearing music now that isn’t attached to him. We had a special playlist for the bedroom. We would sing lyrics to each other while intimate. Who does that? Jay and Darcy did.
This camel’s back is broken. Shattered.
I feel so dumb. I am 50, not 15. How did I not know to not let a man into every corner of my life? Now I have nowhere to go or be without the touch of his memory. Then I go back to my friend’s comment and I feel a little less dumb. Everyone around us admired our love and connection. I wasn’t a fool.
I told Frankie, my son, about him. It has been years since I told him that someone was going to be around. I told him that I wouldn’t even involve him if I didn’t think that this guy was going to be around. He just said, “they always leave anyway, Mom.” I haven’t had the courage yet to tell him he was right again. Once again, I fucked it up with my kid. I thought I had it right this time.
I don’t want anyone to tell me I will get through this. I hate hearing that. I don’t want to. Getting through it, leaves me where I was. I don’t want my life back before I met Jay. I am sick of the existential crisis I live in. No one to love. Lots of friends and support that I am blessed to have but feel terribly guilty because it doesn’t make me happy. I am grateful, but it isn’t what fills the hole in my heart. Then I feel like shit because I know I’m lucky to have so many people in my life. I hate that existence. I want the life I had with Jay.
Bottom line? Bonnie Raitt wins again. I can’t make him love me. I can’t convince him, even though I tried. I even begged him. I know his heart, and if he knew exactly how much this has hurt me, it would devastate him. But his answer is that he should have broken up with me sooner. I told him he should have never taken to me lunch. Never started. But that is not the answer I want him to come to. I want him to finish what he started. I want him to not walk away. I want him to realize what we had and how damn lucky we were to have it. I want him to realize that working on us would open up a whole word of opportunity to work on all the other things he wants to work on. A loving, supportive partner who works equally hard on herself would be a gift, not a deterrent.
I want him to come home to his Darcy.
For those of you that are not wired intensely, I am sure you read things from writers like me and roll your eyes. Why doesn’t she just chill out?
It’s hard to explain how my brain and emotions work. When people say, “Don’t over-analyze,” they don’t realize they are asking me to stop breathing. It’s involuntary. It’s second nature to me.
When an intensely wired person pairs up with another intensely wired person, the dynamics are… uh, well… intense. Shocking, I know. Truthfully, there is usually just an overwhelming sense of relief and connection. Oh my God, I am not a total freak of nature. He gets me. He feels and thinks this stuff too. The aching loneliness that ranges from dull to raging is finally over. It is glorious. It is euphoric. It is surreal. You pinch yourself often to make sure you aren’t dreaming.
Of course, you know the reality of bittersweet and ying/yang and all that jazz. That also means the heartache is equally as overwhelming. As life unfolds, you will naturally find yourselves disagreeing about things, maybe even at odds. Maybe at opposite ends of the spectrum. So you intensely get disappointed and then start trying to understand. You talk. And talk. And discuss. Two steps closer to understanding, three steps back. Five steps forward, one step back. Then a grinding halt.
I think life at 50 though, is so much wiser than earlier. At least it should be if you have spent some of those 50 years working on growing your emotional intelligence. When you work at improving yourself, understanding who you are, how you are wired, you gain some insight and awareness that helps you.
A decade or two ago, I would have never thought that anything less than a perfect resolution would ever be acceptable. I would have never believed that one strategy would be to simply cry, “Uncle!” and that would be incredibly effective. I would have been shocked to know that I could actually sit back after all that intensity and tears and say, “Jeeze, Darcy. Lighten up. Don’t take yourself so seriously.” Now, I have to admit, that message (for the most part) probably has to come from me or a very, very trusted source. I most likely wouldn’t take too kindly to someone tossing that out to me. But when I arrive at that place on my own or from another intensely minded person? It seems like brilliant advice.
And then life is beautiful again. You can be mindful of the connection that you cherish beyond words. You can just be close again. You don’t need perfect resolution. It isn’t even important anymore. The connection and love resumes it rightful spot. It’s the priority, rather than solving the world’s insolvable problems.
So often I have wished that I could be rewired. So many, many times in my life I have wanted to not be me so that I wouldn’t feel so lonely on the planet. But then other times, like now, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Those moments of connection are worth every second I’ve waited for it.
Remember this lesson, Darcy. Honor your thoughts and your agony, but then just cry, “Uncle!” and lighten up. Life is too short. And love is too amazing.
If you have followed my blog over the last couple of years, it is no secret that I find dating to be a nightmare. Navigating and balancing all the dynamics is not for the faint of heart and I could give you names of thousands that would agree. When someone asks me what I am looking for, I used to say a full-time partner. Now I just say someone who I might want to go on a second date with!
We (those of us in the dating world) do a boatload of mental gymnastics in order to make sense of the nonsense that occurs regularly in the that world. Some of that is necessary because we all need to adjust our expectations sometimes. But every once in a while, something GREAT occurs and you have to shake your head at all the months/years of the stuff you put up with, thinking you were hoping for too much. Seeing as I tend to blog about the negatives, let me share some of the very refreshing things that I have experienced lately.
1. When you send a text to let him know you are thinking about him but you are worried maybe you shouldn’t have.
What you expect: You usually don’t get a response for several hours. Maybe not for a day or two. Or maybe they never text you again. Ever. Or you might be seen as needy, over-anxious, desperate, pushy.
Instead: He sees your text and he calls you because he wants to connect with you.
2. When you say something sappy like, “Happy Anniversary” and are worried maybe you shouldn’t have.
What you expect: “I don’t do anniversaries” or you might be seen as needy, over-anxious, desperate, pushy. Or they outright laugh at you.
Instead: He says thank you and tells you how much he has enjoyed getting to know you. He even talks about how much he is looking forward to continuing the journey with you.
3. When you tell him you wish you could see him more.
What you expect: He doesn’t feel the same way. He thinks you’re smothering him. He ignores you and continues to make you feel like you aren’t a priority.
Instead: He tells you has the desire to be with you, even if the schedules don’t allow it. But he “embraces the emotions” that you obviously both have that are causing the desire to see each other to begin with.
4. When you go to his house and hope maybe you can stay over (even though you can’t because you have a son at home).
What you expect: “I can’t share my bed with anyone. I can’t sleep if someone is here.” Or “I haven’t had anyone spend the night here in years. It is going to take me a long time to be comfortable with that.”
Instead: He says, “You know, you can stay as long as you want. I just want you to be comfortable.”
I could write pages more of examples, but the point is, the “instead’s” are as it should be. I think I am finally at the point that I would rather have one week with someone like this, then weeks or months with someone who isn’t. That may sound like common sense to you, but there were times when the loneliness was so bad, I would have taken the bad over having nothing.
You don’t ever know how long something will last, but for this moment? It’s as wonderful as I have always dreamed it would be. Knowing I am respected and wanted does amazing things for my ability to get through the hard days. There are never guarantees for “forever” so you just relish each moment and day, and hope there are more. And more. And more.
Four years ago when I started writing, Brigette told me I had to get on social media. I didn’t even know what a blog was. I had no Facebook page. Twitter. LinkedIn. Yikes! I’m still not up on everything and I’m sure I don’t use them as effectively as I could. One of the coolest results of that though, is being in touch with people I would probably never have been otherwise.
One day a couple of years ago, I got a notice from Darren. He wondered if I was the Darcy Thiel that was his roller skating girlfriend from seventh grade. I immediately remembered his name and that whole time period came rushing back. We used to ride our bikes to meet each other because we didn’t go to the same school.
That was about thirty years ago. We had a brief relationship (under six months I think) and then no contact for thirty years. Slowly, our contact began to increase. It was absolutely amazing that after all that time, our friendship picked right up like we hadn’t skipped a beat.
He’s on the West Coast now, married with almost grown kids. Every once in a while, I have a moment of feeling completely baffled by something. I have lots of close, intimate friends. Some of them know me extremely well, and almost all of them are supportive and loving to me. Sometimes though, I just think in some situations, no one completely understands what I am saying. Then I remember Darren.
He does monumental things for my self-esteem. It appears that he and I are emotionally wired in almost the same way. He has achieved a different kind of insight than I have, and seems so very, very wise. He truly believes, without an arrogant bone in his body, that we have a wildly intense, but insanely deep emotional connection to ourselves. (Jeeze, I hope I am being accurate. If I misquote you Darren, forgive me!) While this is a massive gift, it also leads to incredible loneliness at times because so few people relate on the same level.
This intensity has always felt to me like a blessing and a curse. But when I talk to Darren, I feel so incredibly special. It feels so much more like a rare gift than when I am left to my own inward devices. He will tell me that he admires my tenacity, especially when it comes to the dating world. He assures me when I am pounding my head on the wall in confusion, that I have articulated my feelings, needs, desires, (whatever!) in a completely sensible, accurate, clear manner. It is just the listener who is a bit handicapped to catch what it is because of their own level of self-understanding.
One time he recently told me that I have a rare ability to feel intensely, but manage to keep things compartmentalized and in order. Whether it is familial relationships, sex, friendships… I am able to separate layers and levels and know what they are about for me.
None of that, of course, changes our inability to connect sometimes with others. But at least, for a few moments, we have connection with each other.
Now don’t get me wrong. I still have moments where I think that maybe he and I are just both neurotic and crazy and have concocted all this nonsense to feel better about ourselves. Even if that’s true, I can accept that…LOL.
But it explains so much. It explains how I can be effective as a counselor, even when I am falling apart in other areas of my life. It explains how I can be crying in the parking lot and then walk into a venue and give a moving lecture like the professional I am. It explains how I can be heartbroken over some guy that I haven’t even known that long. It explains how I can be so heartbroken but get back on the horse and try again a few hours later. All of it is genuine and 100% me, but I move in and out as I need to.
Anyhow, thank you, my friend. I appreciate you (and all your many parts) more than I can express in words. Your faith in me always rescues me in my weakest moments. Someday, I hope I can return the immeasurable favors.
In a month that has been filled with a lot of difficult situations to deal with, I am also grateful for some sweet moments as well. There has been a mending of relationships which has made my heart smile broadly, which I could desperately use more of these days.
Sometimes the relationships don’t look exactly the same as they did before, but you can experience healing none-the-less. One was a more recent experience that occurred about six months ago. It was a professional relationship. It took some time, but eventually heartfelt apologies were offered and things are going to eventually resume on a professional level when some logistics are taken care of. I had been hopeful this would eventually happen and I am glad to say it did.
The other was of a more personal nature. There was a professional component to it as well, but the real nature of the wounds were quite personal for both parties. This one has been a bleeding wound for over six years. Sure, time made some of it heal, but every once in a while the scab would get agitated and the pain would resume. I wasn’t sure this one would ever get better.
For a couple of years, I thought it would be impossible to feel better unless there was a complete acknowledgement of every piece of the infraction between us. I didn’t think I could ever move on unless I got some sort of assurance that I had been deathly wronged and there was deep regret on the other’s part.
When I asked for this meeting, I was greeted with a polite, “I don’t think it’s a good idea” type of answer. I knew though, that after six years I was in a much different place. I wanted desperately for us to be able to move on without re-hashing everything, without apologies for things we really couldn’t apologize for in a genuine manner. I don’t really think you can forgive without “repentance” entirely, but I do think you can heal regardless.
I knew the risk. Meeting and trying could make it worse. It could do the opposite of provide closure. It could make the original wounds even worse. But deep in my heart, I knew it was a risk I had to take. The relationship we had before the rift was of such high value to me, it was a greater risk to leave it unhealed without trying.
Six years of waiting. That part of our conversation, actually probably only took about 20 minutes. I set the tone by reassuring him that I had no desire to re-hash the past, I just wanted to move forward more comfortably. I knew we would never have the same relationship again, but I was hoping that somehow it could be better than it currently was.
He admitted that what I had intuited over the years was indeed accurate. I just didn’t understand fully why. He explained that I hurt him as well. He explained why he stopped trusting me. Once I heard him out, it made sense to me. Not to over-simplify a complex situation, but in some ways it was truly a misunderstanding. He thought I meant “A” and in actuality, I meant “B”. In fact, “A” couldn’t have been further from the truth.
I think the corrected perception helped immensely, but we both knew it didn’t change the hurt it caused when it originally happened. And it didn’t change the last six years when that perception remained in place for him. At the end of the conversation, he actually thanked me for intiating the meeting. Big shift from being hesitant to even talk to me.
The future will tell how much healing occurred between us. I do know that for me personally, a very heavy burden was lifted. There are still scars. Those don’t go away. The relationship is still forever changed. But some of the very significant pain has been altered in a favorable direction.
Life doesn’t always go this way, but it confirms the challenge to myself and to all of you – I want to stay invested. I may need to invest more wisely in my life at times, but connection, love, relationship, respect, care… they are worthy of our time and effort. Tonight, I will breathe just a bit easier, with six years of weight significantly lessened.
Big, big sigh. Not of annoyance, but of relief.