All posts by Stifle Me Not

The Date That Never Was

After surviving the drunk vampire date last month, I hopped back on the dating app this past weekend. Mostly out of boredom and curiosity. Plus it was time to dust off and get back out there. I reactivated my account, and a number of “likes” and “smiles” came through. It’s interesting to see how people describe themselves in their profiles. I’ve become more of an observer lately rather than getting too emotionally attached to possible outcomes. It’s quite interesting to see how someone describes himself and then, if you respond, see how he ends up communicating.

Communication is key. If they can’t communicate well, it doesn’t go very far. My brain can’t handle prolonged communication with someone who is not confident, awkward, or just plain not smart. I give them a chance, but my patience wears thin after awhile.

I ended up messaging with two guys. One guy didn’t make it far. He took the negative route too soon, and I wasn’t about to go there. The other guy kept conversation going at a decent pace, had a splash of interesting, and was attractive. He also had a decent job, lived nearby, and was involved in his own interests/activities. We kept messaging to the point where he asked for my number and we kept texting outside of the dating app. Good start.

Somehow we got on the topic if ice cream, and he asked me out to ice cream on Sunday night. Since my kids were away, I agreed and figured a harmless ice cream date was just what I needed after my date debacle last month. As Sunday afternoon rolled around, I let him know I was available and going shopping for a little bit – I told him to let me know a time and place, and I could meet him after I was done shopping. I asked if it was too soon because I didn’t want to rush him and asked if he was busy now or if we should meet later. This was around 5 pm, so it wasn’t too early or late. He kept responding as if he was ready to meet soon. Then his responses got more and more delayed. I was done shopping and needed to either go back home, or have him answer so I could go meet up with him. I was sick of waiting in a parking lot for an answer on if he was ready, and where we would meet.

He finally responded that he was running behind and was about an hour and a half away helping out family. An hour and a half away? What? Why continue to message me that you’re picking a spot to meet at soon, knowing I’m only 20 minutes away? Why not mention sooner that you’re out of town?

I was so confused.

That’s when I stopped. I wasn’t going to make excuses for this guy. If I’m confused, there’s a problem. I’m smart, educated, and have a decent level of social and emotional intelligence. If I’m confused, I’m either missing valuable information or the other person is being an idiot.

I drove home in a confusion fog, and I started to get angry. This is the same type of feeling I used to feel when my ex would make me “confused”. He always seemed so well-intentioned and convincing, but what he was really doing was manipulating the situation to fit his own agenda. It can be intentional, or not, but it is what it is, and I don’t like it.

I got home, mad. I was more mad at myself for having wasted time waiting around in a parking lot when I should’ve given up. I told him we should reschedule and he could call me later. I needed at least a phone conversation for my sanity to see if this guy was legitimately interested or blowing smoke.

He called around 8 pm. I don’t know about you all, but 8 pm on a Sunday night is getting near by bed time since I wake up at 6 am on Monday morning. He asked if I still wanted to meet up.

Uh, no.

I said no thanks, and we continued chatting about work and other stuff. I was feeling defensive, but trying to just learn what was going on. Suddenly, he had to take another call that was coming in and said he would call me right back. I honestly didn’t care if he called me back, but I was curious if he would or if it was a tactic to get off the phone. I went and did some chores for awhile. When I returned to my phone, I saw that he called back, left a voicemail, and also texted. Alright then.

I had no energy to call him back. I called my friend instead. While I’m talking to her, he texts “Let me take you to dinner tomorrow.” I didn’t respond and asked my friend’s opinion. This didn’t seem worth it since I was already frustrated and hadn’t even met him yet. She said “Eh, what else do you have to do? Just go and see what happens.”

I waited until about 10 pm (when I was about to go to sleep) and texted him back that dinner would be nice. He responded right away and let me know that he would be home from work by 6 pm. Okay fine, I figured dinner would be good after all that confusion.

The next day comes and goes. We texted throughout the day, but he never said anything about a time or place for dinner allllll day. When I was leaving the office at 5 pm, I sent him a message asking what he was thinking for dinner, where and when?

He asks if I want to meet after work or after a workout about 8 pm. I say after work because I have a bed time. He says he has a bed time too. And continues to NOT answer the question.

This was similar to the day before, where he wouldn’t fully answer or would respond to my questions with a question. I pointed out that he was dodging the question. He asks “How?”.

How? How?? By not answering the actual question!

He didn’t even say the classic line “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” to give me a chance to pick a spot (if the case was that he was having decision anxiety). He quite simply was not answering me, or responding with more questions.

There I was again, back in confusion land. And that was the nail in the coffin for this date that never was. I simply responded that I was no longer interested in meeting up with him.

I did get a response from him that he still wanted to take me out. The problem is, if you can’t figure out where you want to go, you can’t go on a date. It’s actually quite simple.

Stifle Me Not

Uphill Battles Aren’t for Me

I was invited to a friend’s event this past weekend. It was a commitment ceremony. They didn’t want to go through the legal process of being hitched again, and they both aren’t religious, but they wanted to celebrate their new start together. I was happy to support them.

For some reason this day had me all in a personal debacle. Call me old-fashioned, but I guess I had a set of expectations and it just didn’t match up with the reality of the day.

To start, the invitation said no gifts. I’m of Italian heritage so, no matter what, you show up with at least a small meatball to offer as a sign of thanks or congratulations for attending. This gave me angst until I gave in and went to a local winery to buy some wine and “his and hers” wine tumblers. I figured I’d call it a house-warming treat if she resisted.

Next, the invitation said “parking can be tricky” and there was a link to click for more information. I suspected a map would open. Nope. It was a video of her fiancĂ© driving the route of the entrance of the neighborhood to their home. It was roughly a minute and a half of him instructing guests not to park on the main road, not to park on their road, and not to park in the driveway. He points out one possible side road along the way where we “could” park.

This gave me instant parking anxiety. I watched the video like five times. My anxiety worsened each time I watched it. I gave myself the ol’ self-talk of “you’ll figure it out when you get there”. Deep down though, somehow I knew it would be a problem.

I left for this event at what I thought was a decent amount of time to arrive on time, or possibly fashionably late. The time on the invitation said 4:00. I pulled into her neighborhood at 4:05 and thought about parking at a nearby park, but the route to her house was uphill and about a quarter of a mile up the street. I decided to forge ahead to find the side street that he pointed out in the video. I turned on that road, and there were no cars parked on the street at all. [insert wide-eyed emoji here]. I was so confused and was now driving around the block trying to find a any spot to park that wouldn’t cause me to be towed.

And my friend starts texting me, asking if I’m still coming…

Oh my gosh. How many people are attending? Is she waiting for me to start? I was mortified.

I finally found a row of cars parked on the street at opposite end of the street (it seemed near her house, but it was just as much of an uphill walk), so I just parked and hopped out, started hiking uphill and forgetting about the gift I brought.

She texts me again! She asks if I need help. I say no and I’m walking up to the house. OMG

Her fiancĂ©’s son greets me at the end of the very long and steep driveway. Meanwhile, I’m doing some serious work hiking up this hill, and starting to lose my breath (and I’m in decent shape). The son, who appears to be in his early 20s, claims that his dad is an idiot and should have planned for better parking. Ya think?

As I reach the top of her very steep driveway, she opens the front door and greets me.

What the hell? Why am I the one holding up their ceremony? I want to die: 1) from hiking up the hill and 2) from embarrassment.

She greets me excitedly with a hug and ushers me through the house to the back deck where there was a canopy and about 40 people seated, waiting for the ceremony to begin. I slid into a back row, greeted one of my old work friends, and proceeded to catch my breath — wishing that I was already sipping chardonnay.

The ceremony was cute, and short, and made me feel a little sad for myself. Weddings do that. I’m glad I haven’t been to any lately. But it also gave me hope, as she was once in my single shoes and found her second chance at love. So I observed with an open heart and happiness for her new start.

Next was social time, drinks, and food. I was happy to catch up with my old work buddy and her husband. We drank and ate together. After a while her husband wanted to go, and I was sad to see them leave. I didn’t feel like making new friends with strangers. Sometimes I can do this with no problem, but the uphill battle to get here (all puns intended) had already gotten the best of me. I was longing for home and comfy couch. I stayed a little while longer, while they cut the cake, and then I bid my farewell. I felt a little guilty for leaving so soon, I thought she may have seemed disappointed when I left. Maybe not, but I just felt the need to go.

As I walked out the front door, I realized I’d have to walk down the steep driveway, and then down the steep road to my car. And I remembered that I never brought the gift. I made the journey downhill to my car. I was then full of every bit of reluctance to retreat back uphill with the gift. Even if I drove up the driveway, the maneuvering I’d have to do to get back out of the driveway would have been a spectacle.

So I did something I’d normally never do, and I gave up. I left. I did not go back with the gift. I gave up early and in complete relief. I reminded myself that the invitation specifically said “No Gifts Please”. My mind started circling on how I could meet up with her later and give her the gift, and then I just stopped. I put the windows down and I turned up my music and cruised home.

There are just some things that aren’t worth it, that includes going uphill twice for no gain of my own.

Stifle Me Not

Re-evaluation

This weekend, I went on a date. It was not good. In fact, it was horrible.

I’m not broken up about it. I must’ve had that sixth sense that things weren’t right because my excitement never really manifested in the first place. I couldn’t see the actual red flags until I met him in person (and then that was more than obvious), but I had something instinctual going on. Too bad it wasn’t enough to have fully avoided the situation.

We talked on the phone in the evenings and texted throughout the day for almost two consecutive weeks. I thought this would be a “safe” date. Meaning, not an immediate letdown, and literally not unsafe. This man was educated, well-employed, has three kids of his own, had life experiences that knocked him down and he got back up again, and he seemed like an all around honest hardworking divorced man who just wanted to find a good partner for the second half of his life. He seemed similar to me.

He lived quite a distance from me (about 1 1/2 hours), so he planned a date where we’d meet somewhere halfway. We each drove about 40 minutes to a restaurant for lunch and then we were going to a winery for live music. I finally asked where were going exactly so I knew what to wear, well, that is when the red flags began. Let’s review, shall we…

Red Flag #1: The restaurant he picked was Applebee’s.

I admit, I am somewhat of a food snob. I have hung out at Applebee’s with my kids on occasion, and maybe for a date in high school. But going to Applebee’s prior to a winery seemed…odd. It felt cheap and not a good first start. However, I figured he was trying to keep it simple since it was a first date and we both weren’t from that area.

Red Flag #2: He wasn’t 6 feet tall

His profile said he was 6′. When I got out of my car and started walking toward him in the parking lot, he was not as tall as I expected. He barely seemed taller than my ex-husband, who was just over 5’11. I don’t care that he wasn’t 6 feet, but I do care that he lied.

Red Flag #3: He wouldn’t make eye contact with me until he had a margarita

He walked up and immediately asked if he looked like his photos. He started to flex his arm. We went into the restaurant and the server greeted us. I noticed that he wasn’t making eye contact with me. He was distracted by everything around us. After she walked away, he asked why she was looking at him funny. She wasn’t. I was confused. He then spotted a guy in a “wife-beater” tank top across the restaurant and preceded to say how he hated when guys wore stuff like that to show off. Umm, ok. He then said he had to order something healthy and watch his calories. He ordered healthy food, but followed that up with a big frozen strawberry fishbowl margarita. I was in awe at the whole start of the date.

Okay, so from the restaurant, we drove in his car to the winery. It was about 10 minutes away. I didn’t even think twice about this because of the short distance, but hindsight is 20/20. I should have just followed him to the winery.

Red Flag #4: He just wouldn’t stop drinking

We get to the winery and it is a fun atmosphere. There was great live music playing and it was sunny and warm outside. We went in to do some wine tasting, and then he bought a bottle of wine and we went outside to enjoy our wine and the live music. It was a all good. We were back to having nice conversation like we had on the phone that last couple weeks. My hope was back. I thought maybe he had just been nervous. I was relaxed, it was a nice day.

He went and got a second bottle of wine. The little voice in my head said that should be good, but no more. By the end of the second bottle of wine (which he drank more of than I did), I ended up sitting next to him (instead of across from him) because the music got louder. This is when things went south. He started getting a little frisky. We were in the middle of a public place, with many people were around us, so I wasn’t too worried. He chilled out for a moment and said “I could just bite you.” I was turned toward the singer at this point, and said “please don’t”… but I thought he was kidding… and then next thing I know there is searing pain up the back of my arm. He literally sunk his teeth into my arm.

I yelled and moved away, because, well… he bit me. Did he really just bite me?

I became uncomfortable for sure. I got up and went to the bathroom. After I came out, I went on the other side of the building and needed a minute to collect my thoughts. I looked for an escape route. I thought about calling an Uber. I looked for a ride in my Uber app, but I was at a winery in the middle of the country. There was not an Uber driver anywhere nearby. I finally decided to go back to him, but he was becoming a drunken mess. I could see him sitting, but hunched over himself. I imagined he might have a case of the spins. I went back and convinced him that we needed to leave, that I needed to go back to my car.

He was slow to agree, but he finally got up, swaying as he moved his large body from the the table toward the parking lot. We got in the car and he turned on the air conditioner and opened the windows. He then leaned his seat back and rested there for a very long time. I asked him if he was okay. He said he was. I asked if I could drive. He said he would be fine. I asked him what he needed, he said nothing and that he would be fine.

After, what seemed like eternity, I got out of the car and sat in the grassy area in front of where the car was parked. I sat there and took in the beautiful scenery and contemplated my next move. I finally called my brother and asked if he could come help me out. He immediately said yes and put on his location map on the phone so I could track him. My date came and sat next to me, on the grass, not really talking, just drunkenly existing next to me. I wondered how the last hour went downhill so fast, but then I remembered all of the red flags earlier, and of course it did.

Red Flag #5: He left me, and blamed me

I told my date that I had a ride coming to get me. He acted confused and questioned me. I said that my brother was on the way to get me and he was free to go. I said “You can go.” He got angry, stomped off, turned around and came back to tell me “No wonder you’re single”, and then he got in his car and peeled off. I was relieved he was gone, but sad I was alone. And I was thankful to see that my brother was getting closer. I walked around the winery for a bit, wondering if I should cry but I didn’t, and bewildered by the whole day.

My brother arrived, drove me back to my car, and then followed me home. He’s the best. I need a guy that will do anything for me the way that my dad and brother do. But I know better, I don’t think that exists.

I got home and immediately called my sister to vent and made some pizza rolls. After being home for about 15 minutes, I got a text from my date that said “You are a dumbass b!tch, no wonder why you are single f#^*&d up”

I blocked him and ate my pizza rolls.

Yes I’m dumb, because I went on a date with that guy had a slew of red flags to start. And yes, no wonder I’m single, because I won’t put up with crap like that.

It’s time to re-evaluate dating altogether. There has to be a better way.

Stifle Me Not

Dating Revelation

I think I’ve finally figured out, with actual words, why dating has been so hard for me. I’m a goal-oriented person. I’m used to working toward trying to achieve something, toward meeting a goal. At least that’s how I am in my work life. Throw me into a dating pool and I try too hard. Even if the other person doesn’t catch on that I’m trying too hard, I’m on overload with what the final result will be. I’m used to trying to achieve something, not focused on myself.

When dating, each person you meet is not the goal. I am the goal. Me finding the fit for me is the goal. This is not rocket science, so why is this such a revelation to me? While I practically know this, I ultimately fail (in my own ideals) because I’m not playing the game the way it’s designed. I’ve been playing by my rules instead of based on how it really is.

I recently heard some memorable advice: Don’t attach yourself to the outcome. Date and have fun, but don’t have an outcome in mind. You’ll know the outcome once you get there. If you visualize a certain outcome with dating, you’ll just set yourself up for disappointment.

So I logged back into the dating app with that mindset. No expectations, no attachment to the outcome. No chatting with someone and working toward a goal. Just be. Just play for the sake of playing, not the end goal. Take it all in and decide what’s good for me, leave the rest behind. I even reminded myself not to get excited when the dopamine rush kicks in from a “like” or a comment. Clear the mind, and wade through pool floating on a ducky.

At first I was looking at matches on my dating app and throwing them away right and left because of one criteria or another. Too far. No kids. Single vs. Divorced. Etc.

Finally, I expanded my search properties and took my hands off the wheel. There were a couple of guys I noticed (but didn’t reach out or remove) from the list. Without talking to these guys, it seemed like a logical move to dismiss them already. Then one of them reached out to me.

I hesitated. Like I always do. But I recited my new found advice and responded to this man, without attachment to the outcome. Just have fun, just have fun… If you don’t like him, you can run.

He responded back rather quickly. This was followed by a flow of discussion into the night, and into the next day. And then we started talking on the phone the old fashioned way.

It’s too early to tell anything yet. I’m still not attaching myself to the outcome. I know how quickly things can go sideways. But I find it funny that when I finally opened up my perspective just a little bit, the sun shined through just a little bit brighter.

To be continued I guess…Just have fun, just have fun… If you don’t like him, you can run.

Stifle Me Not

3.0

When I first started this blog, it was an outlet to help me cope with the newness of my divorce and the many challenges that followed. One challenge included a surprise case of head lice. Fast forward 4 years and we’ve come a long way. However, my daughter’s head is apparently still a hot spot for critters. When my 13 year old daughter started itching her head a lot on vacation a few weeks ago, the first thing I did was check her head and neck for nits and bugs.

I saw nothing of concern. However, my vision is… horrible. She kept claiming her head was just oily, or dry, or this, or that . I checked her head again at least twice more, even used a lice comb. I almost went to get lice shampoo because I couldn’t understand what else it could be. She swore up and down that it had nothing to do with bugs. She said she had combed her head for them too. She’s 13 and takes care of herself way better these days, so I had no real reason not to believe her.

We got home from vacation, and two weeks later she was still itching. I took her to the doctor because I’m beyond confused at this point. And low and behold: he points out nits. Hello hair bugs 3.0. We were both horrified and confused all at the same time. How had I checked her multiple times and missed this?

We both knew what to do. I started mentally preparing myself for the long haul of weeks of combing. The doctor knew the enormity of this task as he surveyed her beautiful, thick mane of hair, and he quickly called in a double prescription of “the” shampoo.

I dropped her off at home and went to get the prescription. My son was instructed to stay in his own area, I fed him, and let him play on his tablet. He was fine. My daughter started stripping bedsheets and doing laundry as she prepared her mind for the long haul as well.

To my surprise, she didn’t want me to help comb her hair. I gave her some instructions about the shampoo, she asked a few questions, and went to work while I cleaned the house. There was an unspoken team effort. I checked my head and her brother’s head, and by some miracle from the God-Sent Sanity Fairy, we were good. I have checked our heads regularly every night since. I put sheets on all of the couches and assigned seats for the next few weeks. Everyone agreed, and we’ve been living in harmony for the past week.

All is stabilizing, but I’m still on edge.

I kept thinking “where did I go wrong? why did I let my guard down? I know better, I know better…” My past came back to haunt me, and it occurred to me that I was beating myself up for something that could happen to anyone. I was looking for someone (me or another) to blame to make sense of it all.

I wanted to cry, but all I could think was “this too shall pass.” Because it will. We’ve been through it before, we’ll get through it again. And this time I was let off the hook from combing, so I’m thankful for that. I’m so very proud of my girl.

After she got done combing out her hair that first night, she calmly came to me and said “How did you do that when I was little, mom? How did you comb my hair out for me for weeks the two different times that I had it?” And I simply shrugged and said “Who else was going to do it? I did it because it had to be done.” And she gave me air hugs from across the room.

I’ve been looking for the lesson in all of this. From challenges come great lessons. And I think this lesson was more for my daughter than for myself. I have learned, I have grown, I have tried to pass on my knowledge, but some things she must learn on her own no matter how many times I try to tell her or show her. That thought made me sad. I can only help her to a point. All I can do is be her support system.

This too shall pass.

Stifle Me Not

Weak Moment

I had a weak moment.

I took my kids on a beach vacation. It was nice weather. Our flights (there and back) were delayed quite a bit, but overall we had a nice trip. We live in the north, so basking in some much-needed warm southern sunshine was such a treat. I have never taken my kids on vacation by myself. I flew one place with them last year (for a funeral), but we met up with other family members, so I wasn’t all alone as the only adult. This time I was the primary adult, and it was fine. Everything went just fine.

Everything was fine, until mid-week, after observing family after family with kids, a wife, and a husband. I remember those days – having a husband. The husband has certain roles – carry the heavy luggage, drive, watch one kid while the other one preoccupies your time, grill food, etc.

After watching so many families, I had that feeling return: loneliness and longing for a partner in crime. So what did I do? Yep, I fired up the dating app again.

This hasn’t worked out well in the past, so you’d think I would learn my lesson by now…

I started chatting with one eligible bachelor who seemed very nice. We chatted for four days, and then it dwindled. Maybe because I returned back to my usual life? I don’t know. The rush from the first conversations on a dating app is mind-boggling. And it’s amazing how it can fizzle out so quickly.

When I’m home and in my typical routine, I do not want for anything or anyone. Even when my kids go visit their dad, I truly enjoy the extra peace and quiet to myself. Occasionally I’ll get restless, but not life-changing I-Need-a-Man-Now restless.

So, due to having extra time on vacation, I had a weak moment of wanting someone to help carry a suitcase upstairs, grill me a burger, and drive the rental car. Ugh.

I’ve paused the dating app again. And I won’t be traveling anytime soon, so I should be safe from meeting random strangers online for awhile.

Stifle Me Not

Trusting Thyself

Right now I have “What’s next?” on my brain. Evaluating current state and thinking about my next move. Thinking about my future.

I haven’t been future-focused since I graduated from college. That was 20 years ago. And that is probably the last time possibilities were endless for me. I experienced each day with the future in mind. Hopes and dreams were alive.

Once I got married and had kids, everyday turned into survival mode. I was lucky to get the kids stuffed in the car for drop off, and make it to work on time. I lived to pay bills and possibly plan a vacation or do some big home project. Vacations never happened. Home projects were rare. I’m not blaming marriage for my life woes, but acknowledging that I let myself get in a rut and never got out of it until I was forced to.

After my divorce, losing my job, and being forced to sell my house quickly (only to live with my parents for the next year and a half), I found myself in the bottomless pit of survival. It was a challenge to feed my kids and wash my hair. I saw other people with their families out in public, talking about their jobs or plans. And I couldn’t fathom planning anything past the end of each day. I didn’t have a job, didn’t have cohesive family, didn’t have my own home, and didn’t have a purpose other than to survive for my kids.

After about 10 years of constant challenge, I have risen up considerably despite my weaknesses. I have achieved the unthinkable for me since just a few years ago: Stability.

This is my danger zone.

There are no big problems in my life right now (knock on wood). I’m caring for my kids, doing work in a career and company I like, making money, and happily keeping busy with daily life stuff. Minor challenges are merely temporary annoyances these days.

I felt like I was drowning for so many years, so this is a new territory for me. I’ve come up for a very long, much-needed breathe of fresh air. Everything is, dare I say it, Good?

It’s all very good. BUT, I’ve been conditioned to prepare for the worst – and I’m trying to shake that habit. Adjusting my mindset for the next great thing, not the next bad thing.

I say this is my danger zone because I’m capable of doing just about anything when I want to do something. That can be both a good thing and a bad thing. I can execute to make things happen, but it doesn’t mean what I choose is the best way forward. I stopped listening to others. Started listening to myself. My biggest threats include dating toxic med, career boredom, spending too much money, and quite simply not trusting my gut.

Right now I’m calm and quiet. Wide awake, but quiet. There are no loud voices in my head leading me in one direction or another. No noise. I’ve worked so hard to clear out all of the noise and distractions. All is quiet. Almost too quiet.

My mind keeps spinning with these words: Whatever you do next, choose carefully. Choose very carefully. This is what freedom looks like. I am free to do whatever I like, but choosing wisely is key to avoid losing my hard-earned stability and freedom.

Right now there is nothing to choose except to trust myself when the time comes to take the next step forward.

Stifle Me Not

Seeing Clearly (Sucks)

Yesterday was an interesting day. It was a tiring but very necessary day. It was my daughter’s birthday – that should have been the main event. What I didn’t expect was the ending to the day. My daughter sat on the couch with me that evening and began venting. She does this often, but she’s usually ranting about her friends or teachers or something she wants to buy. But this time, it was about her father.

Let me back up to provide better context. Ever since I found out that my ex-husband was, in fact, a certified covert narcissist and lying manipulative cheater, I have not shared any of the fun facts about the divorce with my children. Anything has been on a need-to-know basis. For many reasons, but mostly because 1) they’re too young and it isn’t appropriate, 2) they still very much needed a father to parent them, and 3) my parents shared entirely too much information during their divorce and it just wasn’t necessary.

I’ve never lied to my kids, but I haven’t given them a bunch of unnecessary details either. They know I’m not a fan of their dad, but I always tell them he loves them and focus on shared parenting as much as possible. As my daughter has gotten older, she regularly asks me “Why did you and daddy really break up?” I tell her she’ll understand by the time she’s in her 30s. I believe she even thought I was at fault for breaking up the family at one point, and she’s challenged me numerous times about being the reason for all of the upheaval in her life.

I guess her dad recently told her his version and actually confessed to being a cheater. I’m not stupid enough to think he truly owned it, I’m sure I was made out to be a villian in some way. Ever since then, she seemed to observe him more closely. One day she told me she knew why we split, but I still kept quiet. No point in rehashing the past or adding fuel to a fire that is already out in my mind. She didn’t seem mad at him, but I’ve noticed that she picks up on many more of his personality traits and habits lately. She is observant anyhow, but this new fact has her very fixated on his behavior lately. It started out with her noticing small things he does or says. Until last night when it all snowballed into one big realization that her dad is not the person she has idealized her whole life.

I didn’t say too much, except to acknowledge that I understood what she was referring to when she described the situation she was frustrated about. She was telling me about how he was responding to (aka manipulating) her opinion about something. As she was talking, it’s like I was forced back through a time warp when I was with him and he had me doubting and questioning my reality over and over and over. It was a personal hell of mine, to have to do that on a daily basis to the point of detaching myself from my own reality just to survive. It is not a place I want to go back to, nor do I want her to live in that world.

My daughter was experiencing the madness of communicating with her narcistic father. I always wondered if it was just me, or if he would end up treating the kids similarly to me. I guess I got my answer. My daughter sees it for what it is right now, because she’s 13. At 13, you see things clearly. It may be confusing but she’s seeing it play out in real time – It’s not too late for her yet. I will calmly support her without aggravating the situation to the best of my ability. The good news is she has already been talking to a counselor regularly, and said she wants to talk to the counselor about her father. I am hopeful that she will not relive the past I went through with her father. I really hope she can have a relationship with him and not be manipulated by him. I don’t know. It worries me, but I’m confident in her.

It really sucks to find out that a parent is not who you thought they were.

After a lot of venting and some tears, my sweet daughter fell asleep on my lap as I pet her hair. She laid there peacefully for about 15 minutes and then hugged me and went to bed. I was so proud of her for owning her feelings, facing her doubts, and being honest about her realization.

And I have never felt so validated in my life. It’s taken almost a decade, and last night was the first time I could breathe in a long time. More challenges always await, but I can see so much clearly now.

Stifle Me Not

13 Again

My daughter turns 13 today. I remember 13 so well. It was fun and traumatizing all at the same time. As a teenager, you view the world honestly – you see what’s happening for what it is. Maybe that’s the “traumatizing” part. You haven’t learned to sugar coat anything yet. It all is…what it is. It’s a small period of time in the grand scheme of things in between the joys of being a child and the harsh reality of being an adult. Teenagers get a bad rap for being negative or weird. The truth is, they’re just being honest and expressing themselves. And as adults, we’ve somehow become accustomed to masking life with a rose-colored glasses. We call it things like emotional intelligence (of which I’m both a fan and a hater – that’s a whole other post).

Teenagers use their emotions to express themselves – whether good, bad, or indifferent. In your teens, you learn how to cope with people. You learn what you can handle and what you can’t. You determine how to navigate certain situations – what works and what doesn’t. And so it begins — you form the patterns and habits that “help” you and carry those mechanisms with you into adulthood.

I’m watching my daughter now and it’s so interesting to see her patterns. She’s very honest with herself. When she’s uncomfortable, she hides in her room and confides in her friends. She comes out when she’s ready. When she’s feeling happy and free, she gets loud and silly. She goes with the flow of her feelings. She can be chatty or sulky – it just is what it is and she’s okay with it. She is as authentic as she’ll ever be. It’s how I used to be.

After getting divorced and moving back to my hometown, I started to do what I wanted to do with my life – in my career, my daily tasks, my hobbies, and how I expressed myself. I started to feel like me again. I didn’t have this overwhelming cloud of doubt over my head anymore – I was just being me. I remember saying to one of my friends that I felt like I was getting back to my old self, “like I was 13 again”. I didn’t put much thought into that statement at the time, but now that I have a daughter that age, it’s very eye-opening.

When I was 13, I used to feel my feelings and let them guide me. I didn’t care if someone else didn’t like what I was feeling – I didn’t even think about that. I just felt my feelings and dealt with them and managed my way through each day. Then I got into my 20s and 30s and let other people’s motives override my true feelings. And I learned the worst habit of all — I learned to “adjust” to others. I adjusted, they didn’t. And so that was my demise. I see this as a pattern in others as well and I want to smack them silly and scream “Go back to being 13-year old you!”

I know she will be okay. She is a wonderful person at 13 right now. I hope she can hang on to her authenticity more than I did. If she ends up back at her 13 year old self in 30 years, she will be so lucky.

Stifle Me (Her) Not

That Scent Me Running

At the end of 2021, I started dating a guy. By the second week of 2022, I already moved on.

I guess I’m finally getting the hang of the dating game, without letting it take a toll on me. I’m letting my gut feeling take over and do the work for me. I’m tired of overthinking or pretending too long. It’ll be whatever it will be.

I went on about 5 dates with this most recent guy. That was enough. No point in pretending and getting attached for an inevitable departure. It takes about 2 – 3 dates and a week of constant texting to get through the initial “getting to know you” phase. I was feeling pretty good, but not overjoyed at this point. I felt like I had to see him again to make the call.

By the second weekend of date 4 & 5, he was trying to lock me down into girlfriend mode. He was calling me all the pet names, sending all the lovey emojis when he texted, holding my hand in public, and adding stuff to my Netflix watch list. Oddly enough, I wasn’t annoyed by those things. That stuff usually wigs me out and I run like the wind, but I hung in there. At the end of date 4, I was definitely not all in, but he called the next morning and wanted to take me to brunch. Who in the hell doesn’t want brunch?

The Problem: The bad part was I liked him, his personality, most of his values…. BUT I just wasn’t fully physically attracted to him. I was at first, I thought, but I underestimated what lack of attraction can do, or not do. Each time we parted ways, it nagged at me a little more (without me fully admitting it at first).

Lack of physical attraction messes with you. My brain and heart were all confused, so my animal instincts took over and said “nah”. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t a bad looking guy. There’s a reason why I liked his photos and went on as many dates as I did. But man, I just couldn’t lie to myself anymore.

The Deciding Factor: Each time I was with him, I noticed he had on some kind of scent – I didn’t know if it was cologne, man body wash, deodorant or what. It actually smelled good, but only when I was with him. It’s after he left that made me insane. It was like a cologne bomb was dropped in my house, on my sofa, on my clothes, in my hair. I would ride with him in the car and sit next to him on the couch for a couple of hours and I would be drenched in man balm.

I KNOW it wasn’t that strong in person, so I’m still baffled at why it was so strong after he left.

It is like a dog marked its territory. I felt totally marked. One time I had to air out my sweater and change my top. The next time I had to completely change clothes. And the final time I was with him, I raced home, sprayed my coat in my own body spray, and took a shower. I felt like a fog of man fragrance was following me everywhere.

This was so odd. I’ve never had this problem before. I told one of my co-workers when I got in to work this week, and she simply said “Oh, if you really liked him, you wouldn’t mind his cologne”.

She’s right. The scent made me run. Maybe it was another indicator since I wasn’t being honest with myself about how not attracted I was to him?

The Solution: I waited a couple of days and let him know that I couldn’t see us moving too much further along. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him I didn’t like his scent – that would be a lie, I hardly noticed it in person. I just didn’t like it’s aftermath!

Weird problem to have, I know. But I feel so much better now. Usually, after I break it off with a guy, I feel a little bad and overthink it a bit.

The Outcome: I don’t feel bad. I feel like I did myself a huge favor. I let my animal instinct track the scent and handle the problem.

Stifle Me Not