Life can be like a light switch

This is a continuation of my musing on online dating.  This man and I seemed to connect on the phone, but in person was a different experience.  Not bad, but not really great either.  Still, I think the Universe puts people together for different reasons…and perhaps a need for that day was fulfilled.

Date #3:  After nearly three decades of marriage, this man was surprised by an unexpected divorce.  Within eight months of this news, he was newly single.  After a few e-mails, we talked by phone. He was  grateful that I would even even talk with him…most women would not because of the timing.  I shared that I thought it was fine for him to begin dating…but cautioned him that he really needed to give himself a few years before jumping into a really serious relationship.  

When I arrived for our coffee date, I could tell that he was less than excited.  He immediately jumped up to retrieve my coffee, and I noticed during our conversation he made little eye contact…and he moved his body direction away from me…not a good sign. 

We began with some small talk and it led to some discussion about his days in Vietnam.  He shared awful scenes of death that included innocent children…and said he still thinks about it often.  I could tell that he had a lot of submerged pain.  I asked him how much help he had with that post deployment…and it sounded like minimal.  And now, he is dealing with his divorce.  Clearly, this man really needs to grieve and not just from his divorce. I ask what he is doing about getting help with the amount of grief he is holding inside.  He told me he had a few sessions with a VA counselor and I encouraged him to continue that.  There have been  no follow up calls or e-mails between us.  I would have met him again for coffee or for a meal…just so he could talk,  but more as a friend and less as a potential romance.

 Where a partner might be nice for him…my fear is that she would be a band aid to cover the layers of grief this man still holds inside.  At this point, even if he wanted, I would not wish to be his transition woman…and I was also a bit concerned he was at first attracted to me because I resembled his ex…at least in stature.  Remember the brain wants to connect with what is familiar…especially when we are lost, and sometimes that leads us down the wrong path.  Not that I’d be so terribly wrong for him…it’s just that I cannot be a substitute for what he has lost.  So this date was really more of a visit between two people.  It was a chance for this man to share his thoughts with someone and he expressed a lot of gratitude for my ability to listen. 

So, what did I learn here?  Well, there was no real spark for either one of us, and maybe that was just enough.  But had there been an attraction, I would need to be very aware of the fact that he is in a huge transition…a very confusing time…and the relationship would be as fragile as his current emotional state.  So, onward I go…as I say a few prayers for him, let go and let God.

online dating

This is a continuation of my online dating musings.  I am reflecting on my dating experiences with men I have met online.  This is a post about one of my recent coffee dates that I set up after a long day at work.  Sometimes, meeting someone in my business clothes isn’t the best choice…perhaps they don’t mind, but I felt a bit too business like.  But because of the distance between us, and I’d been working in his area that day, I gave it a shot.

 Date #2: This man was a very well educated man…a Psychology Professor and really a super nice guy. ambitious and kind.  But with an hour’s drive between us, he shared how he really wanted his relationship to be an everyday thing.  At the same time, he felt that he lived in a geographic area where meeting someone with a higher education was a bit challenging, and so he expanded his geography, but I think he envisioned someone who could come his way a bit more.  We visited for at least an hour…it was a lively and pretty full conversation, but hearing how I share my home with my son and his fiancé and my two granddaughters, well, he envisions a bit of drama (that’s really not the case at all) , and not the best situation for a sleep-over…I know that is what he was thinking…even if he didn’t say it…it’s already been said before.

He recognized that in this present economy, I need to assist my family for a while longer.  He wanted/needed someone to be free to commit to the relationship 100%.  And in addition, both of us realized that working and commuting at the end of a long day just would not work.  We wished each other the best in our searches.

What did I learn from this date?  Actually, it was very pleasant hour…I liked this guy.  If he didn’t have such hard-lined dating goals,  (getting together every day) if he lived closer, if my home situation were different, we might have had a chance for at least a second date.  He did mention possibly coming to my area sometime to take me to dinner…but I think that was just being polite.  It was a good example of someone who knew what they wanted…and I kind of already knew that the potential was iffy just because of the logistics.  Both of us are nearly 60 years old.  Young at heart emotionally, but physically, a bit low on energy.  That does cause us to think realistically about the kind of commitment we can truly make.  In my previous date where the man lived about a mile away from me…I realized how convenience would make the relationship a more doable thing, and that was really attractive…and why I struggled with it a bit.   So, although there is disappointment, on a deeper level I knew that trying to maintain this relationship would have added stress to my life rather than lessen it.

I do share my home with my family…and I know other women share this situation.  It is probably a topic for another blog…this multi-generational living thing…but trying to date at the same time does cause a bit of a barrier.  Do you have that situation?  How do you work that out?  In today’s economy, it may become more and more common…single parents sharing their home with adult children.  Kind of a sitcom, don’t you think?


Online dating

Since my divorce, I have to say my life has been very full and pretty interesting

There have been times of fun and excitement, exploration, education as well as times of pure devastation.

While I am okay with being single, there are times when I truly miss having that someone special in my life. Over the years in addition to Single Groups, I have used online dating sites as a means to connect with men who are seeking the same. Profiles are just a peak at the person hanging out there in cyberspace. And there are some very nice men out there…and I like to think of myself as a very nice woman…but still, just being nice doesn’t guarantee instant success when shopping for love. And, there are some men out there who aren’t very nice at all.

You would think that the “meat market” scene would have disappeared at this point in life, but take my word for it, it hasn’t. And, from what I’ve heard from the men I’ve met this way is that women too, are using this venue for “one nighters” as well. So, given that, you have to look at what your goals really are when you decide to meet someone new. My profile clearly states that I am looking for a serious and long term relationship…but just because I say that, doesn’t mean that my goals are respected by those who may respond to my profile.
I thought it might be interesting to blog about my dating experiences. I’m sure others out there can relate to my musings. I’ve decided to make this an ongoing series…and who knows how long this series will last!  So, for now, I will write about these dating adventures and offer them for your reading enjoyment.

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Holidays and divorce

25 November 2010

Fall Colors by Cynthia Curry

The first year after divorce includes many “firsts” and for some, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years alone are foreign territory. So many years have passed since my “first” year of single holidays that it is hard to remember all of the emotions. Leaving my marriage was a relief…too many years were spent unhappy, but I do remember the many holidays when I would be without my children, then with them. I think for my children, having separate holidays was the hardest adjustment. For me, well, I have to admit that I enjoyed the holidays, except that I missed my kids being with me for part of them. But, without the kids, I enjoyed letting others do the heavy work…while helping out, of course.

I am lucky to have siblings in the area, so I never was alone. But, if you find yourself alone on Thanksgiving, let others know and perhaps you will be invited to join them. If not, consider asking if you could join someone at their family holiday. There are so many “singles” out there, and I never minded adopting someone to come to my home, or even extend and invitation to include a single to my siblings home. And, sometimes just being alone…doing something different and special for yourself, or others is fine too.

Holidays have changed, but with time, you will be incorporating new traditions with old ones. The cool thing is that you are in total control of they way you design your new Thanksgiving or Christmas celebration. If there is a tradition you want to keep, great…one you want to dump…feel free! The past few years, I have needed to begin having the Thanksgiving Dinners at my home, instead of going to one of my siblings because my own family has gotten so large. And this year, we are including my son’s fiance and her mother. I think it’s great! I will miss one of my daughters because she will be spending Thanksgiving with her new family as she recently wedded, but, I will still see her as she brings me some of her homemade pumpkin cheesecake!

Look around…there is much to be thankful for when you consider the bigger picture. And know, in time you will be past the first year and be in a better place…a place with purpose and new possibilities.

The art of breaking up

17 October 2010

The Art of Dumping

There should be a course in the “Art of Dumping”. I finally got some clarification on a relationship that I’d been in for a few months. I guess we’re not an item anymore. He thought he’d made it clear, but he hadn’t. Instead, I was in limbo for the past month, thinking it was really some family problems he was going through, at least that was the reason he gave when I asked him why he hadn’t responded to my text messages or phone calls. Really, I knew in my heart of hearts that it was over, but, I needed to hear it, not guess it or assume it.

Somehow, men in their later years still feel that “fading off” is an acceptable method for breaking things off. I thought that “fading off” was a poor method in high school. This is the third time in recent years I have experienced this kind of “break up”. Not that I’m always the one getting dumped…I’ve done my fair share of dumping as well, but I like to think that at least the guy knew it was over; I didn’t leave him in limbo for a month or more.

So, I am disappointed…he really was a great guy and treated me very well. We must have gone to dinner at least a dozen times…we even went para-sailing, a first for both of us. But suddenly, his behavior changed…a phone call or two not returned…text messages ignored…and prior to that, there were other signs. I even told my family…”I think he’s distancing himself”. So, when I asked him about this, he told me that he was having some family issues with his kids. I offered him an easy out telling him, “Just let me know if things aren’t working for you.” But still, he insisted everything was okay. So, a week goes by, another and another and finally, I did have to make that phone call and dance him around to the topic of the state of our relationship

It was a friendly dance…but I did finally pry it out of him. Why is it so hard for some men to just say it isn’t working for them and be done with it? As unpleasant as it is to receive the word that it’s over…not receiving it at all doesn’t make it any easier. It’s like dying a slow death.

On that note, I do want to congratulate a number of men who have done it right…took the time to tell me that the chemistry, life style or circumstances just didn’t line up with what they had in mind…or even telling me they’d met someone else, instead of “fading off into the sunset”.

I’d like to hear about other women’s experiences. How do you break up with someone when it just isn’t right? Have you experienced a “good dumping”? Is this “Fading off” style common, or is it just the odds I’ve met. Dating after divorce is something most of us will do…and I find it interesting that as we age, the maturity in dating is left lagging behind. In matters of the heart it seems that we are teenagers once again!

More than just a kiss

2 August 2010

Everyday is a new beginning...sometimes it's hard to wipe the slate clean...but it can be done!

After 6 weeks with my new name, I find I am beginning to identify with it even more…and, when I use my old name for the sake of not confusing my medical insurance or some other reason, I almost feel resentful.  Resentful at what? I ask myself.  And, I’m not sure how to answer because I am sure there are some more layers to that onion I am peeling.

Granted, it really takes time to notify all the places where my identity is still in my old name…and I am frustrated about that…because it still feels kind of restraining, and I am now waking up to a sense of regret for not changing my name years ago.

When we step into a new life…into a new story…we really need to let go of the parts of the old story that don’t serve us…and it has to do with letting go of some labels that we identify with. 

When I decided to become a Celebrant, it took time for me to call myself a “Celebrant” with confidence.  After performing over 70 ceremonies over the past two years, I do confidently relate to the title of “Celebrant”.  But, over the years I have also learned that one title does not add up to the sum total of our life…and when we adopt one title as our identity, we are lost when that title is dropped for whatever reason, within our control, or not.  And, when we relate to just one title, I believe we are unbalanced…we tend to short change other areas of our life.

So, after 20 years post-divorce, I finally released a title or label that no longer served me.  And as I step into my new identity and continue to release the old, I am curious about what else might release.  Hmmm, I did just succeed in losing 5 lbs this past month…and I do have more where that came from.  It makes me wonder…

Think about the titles or labels you might be holding on to that no longer serve you.  And, please feel free to share.

What’s in a name

17 May 2010

My Grandmother, Anna, with my dad.

Recently, I changed my name.  Many women do this very soon after divorce, for me, it’s been 20 years.  It never really occurred to me, the effect a name can have on a person’s psyche…and then I began to think about the imprint writing my ex-husband’s name had on me…there was a holding on that needed to be released.

Actually, it wasn’t that I just thought about this out of the blue…the thought came to me during a deep guided meditation.  Asking for clarity from whoever might appear, I found myself visited by by my aunts and grandmother on my father’s side…women who had passed many years ago.  The message came to me that I needed to reclaim my own identity…and to release the residue of a union that no longer existed.

For me, there was a resistance to taking back my maiden name…more on that later, but there was a draw to my grandmother’s maiden name.

My grandmother, Anna Curry, was a woman who loved deeply, who faced many trials in life, but who still loved life in spite of her often difficult journey.   So, I proudly take her name as my own.

It is common, these days, to take a prescribed anti-depressant while going through a major life transition; divorce being one of those transitions.  With the rushed pace of today’s life and the need to resume daily responsibilities, taking time to grieve and recover is not a luxury most of us can afford so it is often muffled by the use of prescription drugs.  While it is sometimes necessary to lean on medications as a temporary crutch, Helen Fisher, Ph.D.’s  concern is in my opinion, valid.

We tend to cover our divorce story in a plain brown wrapper, and in doing so, we force ourselves to internalize the emotional toll.  In stressful situations, our bodies produce , cortisol, the fight or flight hormone. If we are under constant stress, we create chronic stress.  When we are under chronic stress we are susceptible of developing an imbalance of serotonin, resulting in depression.  Dr. Fisher’s video illustrates the domino effect of relying on SSRI’s to mask the emotions that effect our decisions   We may indeed be learning to become less attached and less romantic.  What a shame.

Dr. Fisher’s video provides important information to consider if  you are on an anti-depressant.  I have been on antidepressants in my past, and used them to help me through stressful times, such as divorce and the death of loved ones.  However, what I know is that it did impair my ability to feel…yes, I didn’t feel depressed, but I noticed that I didn’t “feel” anything…I felt disconnected.  I recognized this and talked to my Doctor about it and we worked out a plan to titrate myself off the medications as I worked through the stress with a counselor and practiced better self-care.  At a later time, when I took on a new job and was in the beginning stages of training, another tragedy struck our family, and I chose to take antidepressants, knowing the effects they would have on my ability to feel.  During this time, I  planned to “ease” into the grief, and go off the antidepressants within a few months.  Still, postponing grief may have been inappropriate…that year, in particular, I experienced weight gain and other health issues. I believe our bodies respond when we don’t allow for emotional expression.

As a Celebrant, I work with people to create ceremony that marks life’s rites of passage.  As a society, we don’t give proper recognition to the process of divorce as a major life transition, or, rite of passage.  As a person who has experienced divorce, I know I felt pressured to move forward in life without a “pause” in my work or other duties that life brings.  I believe there is a craving for validation about the difficult journey of divorce…it’s not the easy way out, but most times, the only way.

 A Divorce Ceremony allows for the telling of the journey and provides a bridge to a new life.  The planning of a ceremony is healing in itself.  Through sharing and telling of the pleasure and pain while honoring the love that once was, sets up the release for what could have been. Vows to the self, thoughtfully created, become a personal mission statement, and in speaking those vows to a few chosen witnesses, one confirms the intention to live a better life.  Words spoken aloud seem to gain power and with that new statement of faith, one becomes charged to follow through with the intended statements.  To be blessed and accepted in a new social state gives a sense of closure and rebirth.  A divorce ceremony becomes the right of passage that allows one to cross the bridge from married to single.  Consider giving time to grief and process …perhaps pass on the pill.