I recently became a single woman. Officially single. This is not a blog about my divorce, but how my world turned upside down and inside out when my status changed from married to single. I was married in my early twenties, so basically converted from a child to a married woman. I used to love using the metaphor that my life was like an emotional roller coaster, ya know with it’s ups and downs… Blah… blah… blah… This is a whole new ride for me. The kind of ride that spins, goes upside down and all around. And then when you try to take break from the ride, and stumble off of it, you turn green and barf. That is basically how I can explain the past couple of months.
I am going to start this story with me officially moving into my own apartment. I had the idea that I was going to make it my own and it was going to be my sanctuary. I threw some money into getting new things for my new start. When that step was done, I realized how much this new life scared me to death.
The dark truth felt like a cold knife jabbing through my heart and there was nothing I could do about it. I was on “the wrong side of thirty” and living with my cat. I can remember initially thinking, “Wow! Can you say pathetic?” Did I mention I was a therapist? I was trained in grad school and even before then to find the silver lining. At that point, I was like, “Yeah no, not going to happen.” Instead I chose to live on denial island.
My apartment started out as being solely used for a crash pad. I was not ready to face my reality. I was not ready to be in my quiet apartment and allow my thoughts to overtake me. Instead I focused on work, and figuring out where to go when I was not at work. This ranged from going on super long runs, to the gym, to yoga, to meeting friends, to shopping…. Anything to avoid going to what was now my home. I even started traveling quite a bit. I spent the month of October literally working and going out of town on the weekends.
I kept telling myself, “You’re being healthy, you’re getting out and doing stuff.” Although I was telling myself this, I knew that it was not healthy. I knew that I dreaded the silence. Honestly, how could staying out until I was so literally exhausted that all that was left to do was pass out into a deep sleep from exhaustion be healthy? But I kept reassuring myself it was healthy.
Eventually someone brought up the subject of dating. This is where things turn interesting. I will not use the names of the dates, but nicknames that I came up with to describe these so-called dates.
The first date I went on was a setup by a good friend. I felt that it was safe since this friend was trustworthy. I was contacted via text by my date. The date was going to be coffee, but at the last minute, I was text messaged and was asked if the plans could change to a downtown bar. I agreed. Hindsight is indeed 20/20. My first mistake was agreeing to change the location. I arrived at this bar that turned out to be a brewery. I don’t drink beer, but wanted to be a good sport, so I went with it. I figured I would order a light beer and sip on it while getting to know this guy. This guy proceeded to drink multiple beers throughout the night. In suggesting that we eat, the dude says that he is not hungry. Still trying to be a good sport, I’m thinking, “Well I haven’t dated in a while, maybe dinner isn’t a part of it anymore.” I did not know how to get out of this date, and ended up listening to this narcissistic creep talk about himself until 11pm. I finally had enough and talked about my early day and how I had to leave. He walks me to my car. As he walks away, I see him walk back into the bar. I think, “Hmm… If this is what is out there, then I’m done. No more. Netflix in bed is way better than this.”
I proceed to tell friends about this horrible experience. I give them a few laughs and am able to laugh about it, now that it is over and guy number gets the nickname, “The Alcoholic Bus Driver.”
I have friends telling me that I am going into the dating scene with too many expectations and to “just have fun with it.” So I take a chance and go out with a guy who is not connected to anyone I know. He asks me to coffee. I am completely honest with him on this date and tell him how I have no clue what I am doing. I go as far as telling him about my awful date. He compensates and talks to me about a horrible date he went on. This coffee date goes well. This guy does not seem to be a creep. He asks me out for dinner the next day. Again not sure about the dating rules, so I agree to meet him for dinner.
I meet him for dinner. He is a perfect gentleman. I am an anxious person by nature and find myself feeling very comfortable with this person. I am able to eat and talk comfortably and not feel self-conscious. After dinner, we take a walk and get to know each other more. I think, “Wow, this is a great guy. Glad that the Alcoholic Bus Driver did not deter me from trying again.” This guy is younger than me by two years so he is given the nickname “The Boy.”
The Boy asks me out for the next day. He suggests we watch a Christmas movie at his place since we both have a love for Christmas and the holiday season. I think, “This is amazing. How can someone this great be single?” I report to coworkers about this guy. Now here is a funny story. I somehow mishear what he tells me his last name is and where he is employed. One of my friends background checks him, but of course it is the wrong name. The last name that I gave her in combination with his first name ends up being a dude with domestic violent charges and has served prison time.
I am laughing to myself as I am writing this. She very seriously asks to talk to me and tells me, “This guy is not who he says he is.” She proceeds to give me the information she found out. We then look him up by his phone number on social media. Very quickly we discover that I misheard his last name. However, this is not before I send him a string of text messages asking him questions such as, “What did you say you did for a living?” and “What is your last name again?” At this point, I’m thinking, “Yup, he thinks I’m crazy.” He ends up finding the situation funny and still wants to have our Christmas movie date.
I arrive at his place for our movie date. This again, is a great night. We seem to click very well. We are both loving that we share the same vulgar sense of humor and sarcasm. I am consciously telling myself, “Do not move to quick. Do not like him too much.” He, on the other hand, is very vocal about how he feels and voices how much he likes me and how pretty he thinks I am. This of course makes it harder for me to resist his charm.
I am leaving to Arizona to visit my sister and meet other family members for Thanksgiving this same week. He asks if we can hang out “just one more time” before I leave. I had plans to meet some friends for a yoga class, but suggest that he come hang out with me afterwards while I pack for my trip. He comes over. And again another great time. As he’s leaving, he gives me a hug and tells me, “I don’t want you to go to Arizona.” My mind is going, “Resist. Resist.”
Prior to this, I am have told myself to not just fall for someone who is highly complimentary. I am wanting to look for obvious red flags. My mind is mush at this point. I see no red flags.
I travel to visit my family. I talk to my sisters about “The Boy.” They all listen. They all talk about how he seems great, but each one warns me to slow down. After all I was in a nine year marriage. I need to learn about who I am as a single woman. But each time I get a text message, I am so excited when I see his name. And of course his text messages are sweet. Again, I ask myself, “How is this guy single? He is… Dare I say it? Perfect.”
I return home. I let him know I am back in town. We make plans to hang out at my place. I am freaking out because when I see him, I can sense that I missed him. I feel that things are continuing to progress. So for timeline purposes, I have now known this guy for a total of six days. My mind goes to, “Wow, this is like the movies. This is so easy.”
I guess this paragraph could be called plot twist. Monday comes around. He had asked to see me on Monday, but I had prior dinner plans with friends. And I am true to the “bros over hoes” rule. At dinner I excitedly tell my friends about “The Boy.” I think they can see that I am starting to fall for this person and again am warned to enjoy the dating process, but to not move so quickly. I nod and agree, but deep down, I’m thinking, “He could be the one.” Ugh… Big mistake.
We had made plans to see each other on Tuesday, however, he ended up having to work out of town until Thursday. He suggests that we see each other Thursday. Then it turns to Friday. Finally it’s Saturday. I am understanding at this point. I know that he has a demanding job. I understand the importance of focusing on your career. I end up seeing him on Saturday evening. I notice quite a bit of changes. He is irritable. He is not as sweet as he was when I first met him. I find myself feeling uneasy. The evening seems to go okay. But it’s not a walking on cloud nine night. He asks to see me the following evening.
On Sunday, I don’t hear from him. I had day plans, so I didn’t think I needed to contact him. I finally get a text message close to five in the afternoon. He asks what I am doing. I let him know that I am out and about and going to head back home soon. I am writing this text message while thinking that he is going to text me about plans. Instead I get a message about how he is going to meal prep and go to bed early. There is no mention of Sunday evening plans. I casually mention meeting up. He tells me that it cannot happen, but maybe the following night. I let him know that I have plans and cannot meet up the following night. He suggests Wednesday night, as I had plans for Tuesday evening also. I am still at the point of not wanting to be at my apartment so much, so I am continuing to make plans.
Wednesday comes around. No plans are mentioned. I am feeling really uneasy. I end up choosing to send a text message that includes words such as, “I understand that your job is important and that you are very busy, but I need to know that I am not wasting my time.” I get messaged back with, “I can’t guarantee anything right now.” He proceeds to message that he has met with a former employer and is looking for other employment, even if it means moving.
At this point I am preparing myself. This truly is not the sweet coffee guy I met. His job is his number one priority and it is also his number one stressor and I am not even on his radar. So I discuss the situation of course with friends. SIDE BAR: I am blessed with wonderful friends. I get told that I am moving too fast and should date around. At this point I am not sure if he is dating others and probably should ask.
I finally ask him, he seems very irritated that I dare ask him that question. He answers with I don’t have time to date anyone else right now, “so no I am not dating anyone else.” I then continue with, “Are you going to ask me?” He answer, “No. I don’t ask questions.” At this point, I’m thinking, “Wow, he is not the same guy.” I was once told by a friend that when you first met someone, you don’t really meet them, you meet their representative. This never rang so true to me until that moment.
But as us girls tend to do, I decide I should give him the benefit of the doubt. I know what you must be thinking at this moment Reader…. “What are you thinking?!” “Are you out of your mind?!” I guess I would have to say yes, because I tried to justify his bad behavior with he’s working and busy… Blah.. blah… blah… I am choosing to share this rather humiliating experience because I am hoping that other women will learn from this because as a therapist I often hear women justify men’s bad behavior in order to “just make it work.” We give ourselves so many excuses. “I’ve invested too much time.” “What if I don’t find another man?”
I was asked out by an acquaintance that I had known for years through a friend. I decide to go out with him due to the, “I don’t ask questions” comment. At that point, I’m thinking he really doesn’t care what I do. Although I will most likely never see the guy again. It felt nice to have a guy dress up for me and take me out to dinner. I was asked by a friend how the date was and I was able to truthfully answer, “It was very nice.”
Okay now let’s continue down my road of humiliation. So we make plans to meet on a Friday, which at this point I am not holding my breath and actually made different plans, because of course I get a text that does not even mention that he made plans with me on Friday and right away goes to, “So still want to hang out on Saturday night?” I am beyond annoyed and just agree. Then I feel like maybe I should just cancel on him and end this. I am just feeling so uneasy about this whole thing. I even think what is keeping me holding on to this? Was it the hope that the guy from the first three dates would somehow shine through? Most likely. Yeah that was just wishful thinking. I send a text message asking what he wanted to do. I get a text message that literally verbatim goes like this, “Natalie I don’t know I will try and plan something tomorrow. I am just getting home now and about to shower and I am throughly exhausted” Yes, there is obvious grammar and spelling errors, but really wanted to display what I read. So I attempt to cancel with, “Well if you are too stressed out we don’t have to do anything.” In which he sends a message stating that he is not too stressed out. At this point I should have used my better judgment and did my version of “bitch I’m out.”
Again not holding my breath, I make plans to meet a friend for yoga and lunch. Then make plans to go shopping with another friend. Still not hearing from him, I finally suggest we watch a movie. He agrees. When he arrives at my place, I can just feel a disconnect. I am very uneasy. I try to ignore it. We go to the movie. I feel like I might as well have went with stranger. Actually I think a stranger may have treated me a lot better. I felt like I was such an inconvenience for him. Not a good feeling.
Then Sunday comes…. Silence….. Monday… Silence…. Tuesday…. Silence… Wednesday… Silence and I am pissed. I talk to my sister and some friends. They tell me that it seems like I may be getting ghosted. A term I just learned. Basically the guy or gal abruptly stops communication with the hopes the other person will get the hint and disappear. Everyone warns me to not text him. The metaphor that comes to mind is the part of the horror movie where the entire crowd is screaming at the girl, “Don’t go in there!” And then sent. The text message is out there. There is no coming back once it is out in the universe. I am the type of person that needs closure. Even if it’s a simple, “Bitch, I’m out.” Just tell me you’re done. So I send him a text about how he is not being respectful and should have a shred of decency to end it. Yup I am sure I just became the cliche’ “psycho bitch” which I somehow also included in the text and actually called myself a psycho bitch. Yeah… Not my shining moment. Then I finally get my answer, “You are so awesome and beautiful, but I don’t have the time you deserve….” Blah… blah… blah… Yup got the boot through a text message. And of course I am the one who comes out looking crazy. Cue Taylor Swift, “Go ahead and tell your friends I’m obsessive and crazy.” Yeah- text messaging and emotions are freakin’ dangerous. You don’t even need booze to make a fool of yourself anymore. Just get highly emotional and have a phone with text messaging abilities and you’re set.
This brings me to today. It was going good. Then I all of a sudden find myself alone at my office, which is rare. Then my thoughts take over. I want to scream at this guy. I want him to feel something unpleasant, like I am.
The great thing about being a therapist is most of your friends are also therapists. So I call a close friend and tell her how appalled I am at “The Boy.” She calmly says, “What exactly did he do to you? You were not exclusive. You were not engaged. Regardless of how you feel when he broke things off, he didn’t actually do anything. Again… What did he do to you?” In that moment, her questions almost instantly cure me. She was right. This guy did nothing. Yeah, he is a crazy workaholic, but he never hid that from me. Logically, he is someone that I should NOT be with. I probably knew this by date three-ish, but for some reason I continued down the rabbit hole. I’m thinking wow, I really owe this dude an apology, however, not a good idea at this point. The best gift I can give him is silence. I can allow him to think, “Wow! I dodged a bullet.” Which at this point he did. My friend continues to talk to me and she tells me, “You are not mad at him, you are mad at your ex-husband. You are mad at him for you being in this position.” Insight! She is exactly right.
So this is what my clients feel when they utter the word, “breakthrough.” As I’m thinking about this, I know that I had to go through this path. It is unfortunate that “The Boy” turned out to be collateral damage and I turned out to be “psycho bitch” on this road to self-discovery, but I am learning. I was uttering words of regret due to the emotions and text messages, but this is a learning experience and hopefully someone can learn from my mistakes or even if they make the same mistakes, they can understand that they will be okay. In this moment, I know that I will be okay. Next moment, who knows how I will feel? But I remind myself and my clients know this to be true as I overuse the phrase, “It is okay to not be okay.”
Originally published at aliechav.blogspot.com on March 12, 2017.