Tag Archive | love

It Wasn’t Real

It is those moments before falling asleep and those moments spent in wakefulness in the middle of the night when I have my most powerful thoughts.  I’m too tired to have my guard up, and it is too quiet in the world to have the distractions of work, friends, home and other obligations.  Whether I like it or not, I am alone in my thoughts.  Lying there, marinating in those thoughts, feels painful and vulnerable, much like writing these words.  Yet, I have to feel it – I have to speak these truths.  The only way out is through…

This week I learned that my former love, a man I deeply loved, is engaged.  It hurt.  I cried tears more forceful and raw than I have in months.  I have struggled to move him to the “has been” pile, and push his presence from my heart.  Even though I have long known that I do not occupy his.  He was a Jekyll and Hyde who went from sweet and funny to critical and even frightening.  But I miss the times when he was sweet and funny and caring.

I have long suspected, but never knew for sure, that our relationship wasn’t “real”.  It was real for me; a man who occupied my whole heart and with whom I wanted to spend a lifetime.  Sadly, I realized over time that it was more a game of manipulation for him, rather than love.  Those sweet, funny and caring times were an act.  He sought to control and had no issues with trampling over boundaries.  He reduced interactions to a zero sum game of winners and losers, in which he was the only acceptable winner.

This week I learned that our stories, the ones upon which he framed our relationship, have been recycled for her.  Of course, I only had a tiny glimpse into the new life he has fabricated since leaving me.  I say fabricated because that is how it feels to me.  I know he created a fantasy in which I was placed on a pedestal, and inevitably I tumbled to the ground when he suddenly saw me as nothing more than my flaws, my imperfections; no longer the Madonna or the angel that he originally believed me to be.  It isn’t as though I changed; but his perception of me did…

I’m sure his pattern is the same in his new life; she is perfect – until of course, that moment when she no longer is.  The only mystery is when.  And when the inevitable tumble from the pedestal occurs, I know the pattern.  The critical comments, the questioning, the name calling.  The “fact-checking.”  I wonder if she knows – I imagine not.  I didn’t.

Meanwhile, I struggle to learn to trust again.  I don’t know if I will ever take for granted that a man may mean what he says, or say what he means.  Every word will be analyzed, dissected, and replayed in my mind at 3 am.  I will probably always expect a man to walk away.  Because I’m not perfect, or I have boundaries, or will not tolerate being belittled, or because he found a new Madonna to believe his stories.  I’ll never really know why – I will only know that he left.

As for my former love, I’m left with his stories.  Whether they were truth or fiction – it probably doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that I don’t believe them anymore.  I’m working towards building a new story that includes trust, and I hope one day that is the only one I live.

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COVID Diaries: Day 103

If you would have asked me at the beginning of all of this if I thought I would still be working from home, foregoing life, hugs, travel and seeing my friends 103 days (and still counting) from the start of all of this, I would have looked at you like you were nuts.  Or I would have done that slight, faraway smile, as one of my employees calls it – the one I do when I’m being neutral at work and can’t reveal my real opinion.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fact that the truth always lies somewhere in the middle.  There are bad people out there, and there are a lot of good ones too.  Your perspective matters, and so does mine.  I believe that people are trying their best to make sense of a world that doesn’t make a lot of sense, even in the best of times.  Life is hard.  Why make it harder because you have some arbitrary ax to grind?

I’m not perfect, but neither are you.  Can’t we all just dispense with the holier than thou attitudes and work things out?  What is is about these times that we live in that make people think that if you are passionate about feeling like you are in the right, that you have a right, or even an obligation, to obliterate somebody else?  Have you forgotten, or do you not realize, that you too, have made mistakes, have had regrets, have things you ought to have apologized and made amends for?

Just stop with the name calling, the finger pointing, the “your opinion is wrong”ing.  The listening needs to be louder than the talking or the ranting…  You have to give empathy to receive it in return.  Sadly, some may not be capable of that.

Kindness matters.  Compassion matters.  Those long ranting messages will be read, and perhaps reread, and then closed again.  The message will be lost.  They will be looked at as a reminder that I don’t want to spend my life surrounded by anger and negativity.  I had that marriage; I’m not doing it again…

As that old saying goes… “Be nice to people on your way up, because you’ll meet them on your way down.”  – Wilson Mizner

Women I Admire

“The women I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong and they handled it. They handled it a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes.” Elizabeth Gilbert

I have to admit, most of my shit has been working out right now (I say while knocking on every single piece of wood I can find anywhere nearby).  I’m happy.  I’m (mostly) healthy – just dealing with the usual pitfalls of being a woman in her 40s.

I never knew how true the saying is – youth is wasted on the young!  Here I want to go and explore and adventure and run races and hike mountains and stay up late reading!  But the reality means I have to pace myself – while kids just want to play video games and wander around saying, “I’m bored!”  If I knew back then what I know now, I am sure I would never have let myself be bored.

Work is challenging at times but good, and I’m content with where I’m at in life.  Of course, I would like to be retired, but that’s a subject for another time.  I miss dad, but the raw ache has subsided for me.

My mom has been living her shit show lately though and she’s been handling it.  It’s been 8 months since dad died, and a roller coaster of all the minutiae of what you have to do when someone dies.  Finances, investments and tax professionals are very few people’s idea of a good time.  Add to that mice in the crawl space, then yellow jackets in the crawl space, and handling all the house stuff that dad used to do.

My uncles have been here a few times and have been wonderful with knocking out a honey-do list of chores.  It has been a godsend for both my mom and me.  But mom is the real superhero.  She just keeps tackling the things that need to be done.  One thing at a time.  One day at a time.  Over and over until the pendulum finally swings back towards the easier times in life.

I know she misses my dad terribly.  I know she feels cheated out of years with him – it’s a reasonable feeling, she was.  She got the short end of the stick.  It isn’t fair, and it sucks.  And there isn’t anything anyone can do to change it.

My mom instilled in me the sense of getting back up when you get knocked down.  She famously told me, “you can do anything for 90 days,” during my divorce.  It ended up taking a year and a half because my ex was being so difficult, but I’m not holding that against her.  As it turns out, you can do some things for a year and a half too, if you need to.  Some days are harder than others, but you just keep doing what needs to be done and maintaining the upward trajectory.

So here’s hoping that the pendulum keeps swinging back towards good.  I love you mom.

Recharging

My dad’s birthday was last week.  It was an incredibly busy week, with my brother and his family here, my aunt and uncle here, and me working, and being sick.  Add in a Labor Day weekend mini-getaway, and another aunt and uncle here, and you have a recipe for one exhausted worker bee.

I have been a bit down about my dad since then.  I’m not surprised – but that doesn’t make it easier.  I thought I got more birthdays with him.  He always had everything he claimed to want, and if he didn’t, he generally just purchased it (or it cost approximately $2,500 and I couldn’t afford it).  He wasn’t really a stuff kind of guy, unless you consider that he bought numerous duplicates for every article of clothing he liked.  It explained why that Navy-blue t-shirt never seemed to wear out.

The other night my mom showed me what one of my uncles had been up to during their visit.  My dad was a hobby woodworker, and he died with projects in various states of completion.  Again, no surprise there.  My uncle restored antique wooden boats for a living, so woodworking tools were right up his alley.  My uncle finished a few of the project pieces that my mom had.

I’m so grateful to my uncle that he was able to do this for my mom, but it made me cry all the same.  This little chest of drawers was one that my parents had worked on together several years ago, while taking a woodworking class at the local technical college.  What a beautiful work of art that we will treasure having.

Nine Years

Yesterday, WordPress gave me a notification that it has been nine years since I started this blog.  Nine long years.  It got me thinking about where I was nine years ago.

The Hanoi Taxi

(Above is one of the first photos of me that I posted on this blog – it was taken a few years before I started writing here – in 2008, I believe.  I was thinner and more camera shy!)

I was still working in my first public sector Human Resources job; the one I started exactly 16 years ago today, as a matter of fact.  So many anniversaries!  I wasn’t going to be there much longer; it was a great place to work, and I enjoyed most of the people that I worked with, but it was a small organization and that meant there wasn’t any career progression to be had.  Moving up meant moving on.

I wasn’t married yet back then.  I got married less than a month after I started this blog; it was originally his idea, something that we could do together.  But his attention span meant that he lost interest a few weeks in.  I’m a Virgo – in it for the long haul once I start something.

Of course, I had no idea that my marriage would be a relatively brief period of my life; I had no inkling of the downward spiral that he was to go through.  Even more than three years after we separated, he still pops up from time to time, texting to try to manipulate me.  I’m never sure if anything he says is true; I would be surprised if it were.  I am fairly certain that he is drinking when he sends them though.

A few things are the same; I still have many of the same friends, the same horse, the same car.  Dad is gone now.  My boss and mentor from that first public sector job is gone too.  I’ve had a few jobs in the last nine years, moving up in my career to more responsible roles.  I have some grey hair to go with the increased responsibility.

My love for travel has increased exponentially, a result of having a higher salary and more vacation time with which to nurture it.  My road trip last summer was incredible, as was my trip to London, and multiple shorter trips to places in the United States.  This love will be with me forever.

I like that I have this record of my life, here in these pages.  Even the hard parts of it.  I like that I can relive the happy moments.  I like that I can look back and see that I have moved past the painful moments.

In these nine years, I have had successes and failures, joy and sorrow, love and loss.  I have tried to be the best person I could be.

I have grown.  I have grown older, and I would like to think wiser.  I am better able to recognize when to hang on, and when to let go.  I have worked at forgiving people for their shortcomings; for disappointing me and letting me down when perhaps they too were trying to be the best person they could be.  I have worked at not taking it personally when those people’s shortcomings cause them to unleash their anger and venom on me.  I have worked to accept that it generally has nothing to do with me.  I have worked to accept, in general.

I am still growing.  I am working to learn and succeed in my new job, and the new life that I find myself in.  We don’t always get to choose the life that finds us, but if you let it wash over you, you might just find, as I have, that it suits you.

One of my most recent pics; from last weekend

Hold on, enjoy the ride, and make the most of it.  I can’t wait to see what the next nine years brings me.

Girlfriends

I met Taryn in college.

Taryn and Me with the bow

I used to work with Shelley at my first HR job out of graduate school (not counting internships).

I met Katie and Katy when I joined a young professionals networking group sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce round about 2008.

I met Mikaela when I started having her cut my hair. (And why do I not have a photo with her!!!?)

I met Kiera because she managed the staffing agency that I used at a previous job.  Kiera introduced me to Lelani.  We have stayed friends long after Kiera moved to Seattle, then Boise.

Bliss was my real estate agent’s wife when I bought my current house.  I also met her mother JoAnne.

Shelley, Me, Bliss, JoAnne and Katie, before the race!

I met Paula through her cousin Brandon, a long time friend.

As it turns out, many of these amazing ladies have come together to lift me up and support me over the years, and some have become friends with each other too.

Taryn met Paula on a weekend trip I took to Portland to see them both.

Katie and Katy met through the networking group too.

Waiting to start

 

Shelley met Katie and Katy when we started doing our half-marathons together.

Shelley met Mikaela when she asked me for a hairstylist recommendation.

Katie met Mikaela because they were both pregnant at the same time and in the same birthing support group.

Lelani met Katy through networking, or a mutual friend, or I don’t even know.

Bliss and JoAnne met Shelley and Katie from walks and half-marathons.

Bliss and Katy both work in the medical field.

Lelani met Paula on a long weekend trip with me.

Lelani and Paula outside an awesome shop!

There are others too – this tribe of mine.  Women I see frequently or rarely, but who I know have my back. I love that even though some of these amazing ladies live far away, and I might not see them often, when we come together it is as if we spent no time apart. I love that we do things together, and do things separately.  I love that these women are all strong and independent and give me people to look up to.  I love that we all at times feel like we have our shit together, and at other times feel like we are failing.  I love that we listen without judgment, give advice when asked, and sometimes provide that kick in the butt that is needed.  We have lost mothers and fathers, said goodbye to beloved pets, had medical scares, have found love and lost love, been challenged by children, have found and left jobs, have navigated career hardships, and have moved away from each other.  I love that we laugh so hard we cry, and at times cry so hard we laugh.  I love that we all need each other.

I am blessed to have these women in my life.

Circus Trip 2018: The Series Begins

I’m always a bit behind on this blog.  I love writing about my travels and goings-on, and I like to be informative, so my posts always take a while to create.  2018 was a big year for travel for me, since almost half the year was spent away from home.

Since I have wrapped up London, my big road trip last year, the one I named the Circus Road Trip, is the next series on the agenda.  I had been staring at a blank page for a while, pondering how to start.  A writer’s block so to speak.  I mean, how do I start to tackle such a huge, momentous and long event in my life?  I didn’t even really know why, until a conversation last night made me realize.  It’s my Dad.

My Dad loved seeing places and loved road trips too.  He built out my car with my bed for the trip; I mean let’s be real, I was the assistant on that project.  He always read my blog posts and looked at my Facebook pictures.  My mom always made sure to tell him when there was a new post, because he didn’t have a Facebook account of his own.  He always wanted to know where I had been and what I thought of it, and mentioned places I had gone to that he wanted to visit too.

For those of you who are newer to this blog, I wrote last summer about the Circus Road Trip’s origins.  I departed in mid-July and spent several months on the road, traveling through much of the United States, and seeing so much along the way.

Today it has been one month (and also four weeks) since Dad died.  It has kind of flown by, with all the tasks to be done, trying to maintain some semblance of my own life, and let’s be honest, some days where I didn’t feel up to doing much at all.  He would have loved to read about this trip, and I know he was (sometimes impatiently) waiting for these posts to appear.  I know some of the rest of you have been waiting as well.

This is the last posed photograph of my Dad and me, taken in Michigan before my cousin’s wedding in September, while I was on the trip.

So this series is for you Dad.  I know you are up there somewhere reading.  I love you and I hope you enjoy.

 

Note: For those of you who want to read or refresh yourself on the posts I posted while I was on the trip, here they are in order:

1. The Reveal
2. The Build
3. The Hat
4. 11 Days In
5. August Already?
6. Land of Lincoln
7. Heartbreaking Bridge
8. 1 Month In
9. Respite
10. Comparisons
11. Early September
12. New Beginnings
13. A Break
14. Westward
15. Reset
16. Rain
17. The Mighty 5
18. Historic Toilets
19. Kindness
20. Down time
21. Blowout
22. Still Sick
23. No Regrets
24. The Home Stretch
25. Withdrawals

Circus Trip 2018: Reconnecting

I was 13 years old when I met him; we were introduced by an older mutual friend.  He was 15, adorably cute, funny, and sweet.  We were both instantly attracted to each other.  We started dating, and spent a lot of time together, but sadly, neither of us really remembers how long we were together.

The memories are 30 year old memories.  The photo booth at Woolworth’s, him meeting me after school at my school (his school got out earlier than mine), walking around downtown for hours, lots of kissing.  Snippets of a time when we were happy together – the kind of happy you feel as a child, before responsibilities and life weigh you down so much.  Our biggest issues were making sure we made it to the last bus home, doing our homework, and arguing with my brother about how much time we each got on the phone.

He spent a lot of time at my house; my parents were stable and kind – his parents did not give him the same sort of blissful childhood I enjoyed.  He was living with his dad and step-mom in my town, but he didn’t feel wanted.  My house was a respite for him, with the kind of parents he wanted to have.  I have the kind of parents that any kid is blessed to have.  We spent a lot of time in my room, talking, kissing, laughing.  We cooked after school snacks; and I began his lifelong attachment to Minute Rice, although I didn’t know that at the time.

And then we got in trouble.  We snuck out together and stayed at a friend’s.  It was innocent; the stuff of good kids who were smart and cautious – we watched The Princess Bride, stayed up all night and kissed.  But he got caught.  He was marched over to my house the next day to confess to my parents while I was still out with my friend.  I got grounded for a few days.  His punishment was excessive; he was put on a plane and shipped back to his mom’s in California.  Banished for a minor teenage mistake.  I never even got to say goodbye.

Life went on and I pined for him at first; later on the memories faded and I thought of him less.  But I still thought of him from time to time.  I even tried to look him up more recently online and on Facebook, but was never sure if any of the countless profiles with his name was his.  The one who got away.  The curse of a common name.  I never knew he thought of me too.

In early July I posted a video on YouTube of my swim with whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium in order to embed it into my post on this blog.  It was shortly before I left on my big road trip, and it was the first and only thing I have ever posted under my name on YouTube.  A few weeks later, on July 30, I was at a tiny state park in Minnesota.  I needed a day of rest and had found a little out-of-the-way park on a man-made reservoir with farmland all around.  It was quiet.

I woke up from my first night in the park to find a comment on my YouTube video.  “funny, i used to have a girlfriend with the same name…..but she had braces and LOVED minute rice. then my parents screwed it all up and grounded me for life. i felt like a jerk and always missed her. its probably been 30 years now. i’m a dummy.”  The comment was left with an obviously fake name, but I instantly knew who it was, and I knew he had found the right girl – given that only one other person on the internet shares my extremely uncommon name.

We started emailing, then talking on the phone, as I drove further and further away from California (where he still lives), on my trip.  The connection we felt as teenagers was still there; he still made me laugh, his core personality was the same as the boy I dated at 13, only grown up now.  We have both been through our share of joy and trials, and we both keep trying to find happiness in the simple things in life.  We found ourselves talking everyday, and he soon asked if my trip would take me through California.  Days turned into weeks, then months, as we texted and talked, and exchanged photos – my trip, his life at home.

My trip did indeed take me into California, where the things I was feeling over the phone turned out to be even stronger in person.  Can first loves work out?  Can you find happiness with someone from your past who has found you again?  We never broke up as teenagers; there was never a fight or a gradual loss of interest.  He was simply taken away from me.  At 13 and 15, before cell phones, driver’s licenses and the internet, or even the money for long distance phone calls, being 1,100 miles away from someone is the kiss of death for a teenage romance.  But we have been given a second chance after all this time.

He is kind and sweet and I have fallen in love with him all over again.  His quirky sense of humor makes me laugh; he keeps me from being too serious.  There are details we both need to work through if we are going to work; it will take time and it is complicated.  We both want it to work though.

It is strange that my past found me 2,000 miles and 30 years away from home?  That we just clicked – the same way we did when we were kids?  I always wanted the fairy tale.  And finally, once again, my Westley found his Buttercup.  As you wish.

Me and Jeff

 

Seattle Hot Chocolate 15K 2018

On March 4, 2018, I ran my first ever Hot Chocolate 15K.  Two of my girlfriends, Katie and Katy, went with me, and we had such a fun girls weekend!

Katy and I drove down on Saturday, picked up Katie, and the three of us went down to the Seattle Center to pick up our race packets and go to the Expo.  They had a lot of great vendors, and some great freebies!  We had some hot chocolate, posed for some photos, and got our race gear!  The race had some really nice medium weight pullover fleecies; I love it and have been wearing it on my road trip when I need something more than a t-shirt, but don’t want something too warm.  Katy treated us all to 15K shoe bling too – girl power!

We stayed at Katie’s house the night before the race and got up really early to head into downtown Seattle.  The traffic at 5:45 in the morning!!!  It was sooooo cold the morning of the race!  I knew we would warm up and be fine once we were running, but waiting for the start was very chilly!

Waiting to start

The course was ok; to be honest I wish it would have been more scenic.  It winds around downtown Seattle, and they closed off the Battery Street tunnel for runners to run through – how many Seattle-ites can say they have run through the Battery Street Tunnel?!  Sadly, there are a lot of dirty, littered parts of Seattle.  It reminded me that I am more a small town girl.  The highlights are definitely running across the Aurora Bridge, and heading back in toward the finish line and seeing the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project Museum (although I think they might have changed the name of this iconic museum?) brightening up the view at the end.

The race has some really amazing volunteers – it is sponsored by Allstate Insurance, and their employees manned water stations and cheered us on.  I love when a race has a good cheering section.  Along the way, there were some really cool Seattle residents who got up early and had the music booming from their decks and yards – it really gives a boost to my motivation.

There are definitely some tough hills on this course!!!  However, the fact that it is only 9.3 miles meant that I wasn’t as fatigued as I would have been on a half-marathon with the same hills.  I felt like I still had energy at the end of the race – the 15K distance was good for me!

I ended up finishing in 2:05:45, or a 13:30 minute mile pace.  I was happy with that, considering I really hadn’t trained at all for this race (which has become all too common on my races lately!).  I knew I could do the distance with muscle memory!

After the race, we got our hot chocolate goodies.  A cup of super-rich hot chocolate, and a melted chocolate dipping sauce with a banana, pretzels and cookie to dip in it…  Sooooo good…  It was just what we needed, with a little hot chocolate sectioned cup to take home after the race.  We couldn’t linger too long though, because it was still so cold!

Post Race Hot Chocolate

We headed out from downtown Seattle, and avoided the departing traffic by stopping in Ballard for brunch at the Portage Bay Café.  A mimosa and avocado toast really hit the spot for me – this place did not disappoint!

Brunch and cocktails!

I am so blessed to have such amazing girlfriends.  They love me, they build me up, I can share both my trials and joys, and I get to feel the incredible bond of girlfriends.  I LOVE these ladies!  This was another example of the wonderful life I get to enjoy.