Living in the moment

Overthinking. Perhaps it is my nature, or perhaps it is a consequence of history. Either way, my mind is constantly evaluating threads of actions and ideas and words and seeking to interpret the future. Yet while our past informs our future, it cannot always predict it.

Vulnerability terrifies me. Relationships terrify me. Yet I long for the right companionship, someone to laugh with. Someone who doesn’t expect me to shatter with a wrong move. The safety inherent in trusting someone not to go too far.

I have to keep reminding myself to treasure the immediacy of my every moment, to learn and grow and find my peace where I am at now. If I try too hard to examine every little detail I steal tomorrow’s joy too readily.

Dating a friend is certainly different. Our 6 years of history instill a certain level of trust and respect that was missing from my last relationship. I always assumed my edginess regarding physicality was due to my emotionally abusive marriage and the lack of experience with tender, loving touches.

This is the first time I’ve been with someone who both desires me, follows my lead, doesn’t push me past my boundaries… I fell asleep in his arms as we simply cuddled in my living room. No panic aftershocks. A little tenseness that faded into… relaxation. He teased me, mid-way through the night, that I was an aggressive cuddler (having pushed him off a pillow) then rolled over and curled around me, sweet and protective.

Normally I struggle with physical intimacy. Normally I hate being held in such vulnerable positions. When I was still married, my last week before leaving, I had to lay in the arms of someone I thought might kill me if he knew I was planning on leaving. I had to pretend everything was okay.

I wasn’t pretending this week. The danger of catching genuine feelings for this man is suddenly very real and suddenly very intimidating.

Without ignoring anything worth noting, I keep reminding myself one day at a time. Whether this relationship is a season or a lifetime, I know already I will be better for having it.

 

Advertisements

Trusting Myself

Ending a relationship is difficult, and I wish I had listened to my gut and doubts sooner. Guy is a wonderful man, but in the end, he just wasn’t right for me. He helped me heal my most broken places and gave me the gift of being genuinely loved for being myself. I learned a lot about what I am and am not looking for, and learned the dangers of sharing too much history too soon. It put our relationship, I think, into a bit of a rebound category; while he cared so sweetly for me when my self-confidence was low, as I came into myself that care began to feel suffocating.

Healing, for me, sometimes means risking the pain of difficult things. When someone coddles me, or walks on eggshells to avoid distressing me, they take away my opportunities to heal and grow as a person.

So.

New plan. To avoid dealing with getting to know someone as I date, I am only going to date someone who I get to know as a friend first.

So.

Life has a sense of humor.

A long-time friend of five or six years asked me out on a date, and once I got over the surprise (and clarified that he did actually intend this as a date) I accepted. He’s someone I have always found attractive and fun, but as he was a few years younger than me and we had always been involved with other people, nothing ever went anywhere but friendship. He knows some of my past, is one of the people who kept an eye on my ex for me, and has been a good friend without knowing all the details.

Saturday is our second date, and already I know there is something special about this sudden chemistry between us. I’m not sure if this is a relationship that is destined for a season or more, but I know I am going to enjoy the experience and allow myself to have a little fun. As one of my best friends said, maybe this will just be an opportunity to deepen an already good friendship.

My gut? Feels good about this one.

Anxiety Ungeneralized

My heart is pounding. Palms are tingling. My eyes only capable of fleeting connections as I fit my hand carefully around a water glass and sip. Condensation mingles with the salt of nervous palms.

The ice clinks, but even the cool liquid doesn’t dampen the heat of excitement, that sweat of anxious embarrassment. I make a confession of nerves, offering up my Mona Lisa smile as I try to still the subtle shaking of my fingers.

Conversation stops and starts, and awkward words begin to fill the emptiness, or perhaps not so awkward, as his startling observation and grin surprise a laugh from me. Understanding and patience are balanced in his gaze, though uncertainty lurks there as well. We test the waters, one word at a time. One glance. One flash of a curious smile.

Risk feels like a knife blade to the throat, my body filling with all the uncertainties of a harrowing past.

Another sip of ice water.

“So, when did this become a possibility? You asking me out?” There, a subject broached in genuine curiosity. The answer will explain how we find ourselves, carefully dancing out our insecurities as the waitress interrupts at just the right moments to relieve tensions. Fill empty glasses. Take orders.

“Ten minutes before I asked.” He replies, then grins. “What seemed, at the time, a crazy idea fueled by sleeplessness. Though I’ve always liked you.” Our exchanged smiles are shy, for all our thirty something years of life each, this dance between friendship and romance is still new for us both. “So… when did this become a possibility? You saying ‘yes’?”

“Well, I wasn’t planning on dating before having a friendship first. So when you asked…” My water glass becomes impossibly interesting, and bears the weight of my sheepish smile. “Just so happens, I’ve always liked you a bit too.”

 

Relational Crossroads

Somewhere in the last year, I met someone who genuinely valued me. Who supported me. Who seemed to enjoy my oddities and find a simple pleasure in my presence. Someone who shared my interests, and who could handle defeat of various kinds with grace and kindness and an odd sort of self-confidence that was dashingly attractive.

Tonight, I realized our relationship was lopsided. That I look at a deepening relationship with as much fear as he does eagerness.

Someone in a group made a comment about his wife, and I felt the brush of Guy’s fingers, and felt as much as saw the warm glance he turned my way.

There is one problem, however.

I am not ready.

Continue reading “Relational Crossroads”

Trigger-feelings

He lifted his hand from the wheel, shaking it, sunshine and shadows filtering through the driver’s side window as his knuckles popped. A rueful smile popped across his lips, and he grinned at me during the course of a conversation I no longer remember.

Then his right hand, the one nearest me… he lifted and shook it too. Nothing happened.

Then, he punched it on his thigh, abruptly, suddenly.

He punched his thigh.

Even as he relaxed and sighed in relief as his knuckles cracked, I found myself taut as a guitar string. Staring straight out the window, I breathed carefully as he continued driving, oblivious.

I am safe.

He’s not angry.

He won’t hurt me.

But these are things I said of my ex, too. So there is some discord in my body, trying to decide to believe the things I am telling it. Or not.

Logically – Guy has never done anything to intentionally make me feel unsafe. Quite the opposite, he tries so hard to make things work and make me comfortable.

I don’t want him to walk on eggshells, like I once had to. I say nothing, but I felt the quiet paralyzing my mind and limiting my words as a part of me shut down.

Continue reading “Trigger-feelings”

Numb. Because life isn’t Complicated Enough.

Most people, when they see rolling hills and wide grassy expanses feel a sense of joy and relief in the beauty of the world. In reality, I can entirely relate to this and even crave the peace and quiet and regenerative qualities of the great outdoors.

Yet, with anxiety, the emotional counterpoint of those rolling green hills takes a darker turn. Beneath that beauty, lies a minefield, and if I’m to function, I have to find a way to cross it.

Fun! (Not.)

Continue reading “Numb. Because life isn’t Complicated Enough.”

Forging my own relational path

Learning to love….? again.

Love is a funny word, when you come to think of it. So many meanings and applications. I know how to love: with my family, with my intimate girlfriends who have kept me sane and supported, with my friends children or my pets. All of those things come easily to me.

When I think of love, I’ve often interpreted it in the past as action. If we love someone, we look for and strive to meet their needs so that they feel valued. A relationship is formed when that person offers the same to us. As a piece of the relational puzzle, it is a really important one. But I’ve come to learn that actions cannot exist in a void, and love itself is too multi-faceted for any strict, single definition. But, to get back to my original train of thought… Continue reading “Forging my own relational path”

Safety lines

“How would you feel about going away for a weekend?”

I froze, sitting in the car, suddenly aware of the thrum of the wheels against the pavement, the fragility of the windows, Guy – relaxed and easy, driving, and unaware of my fight or flight reaction.

“No rush on deciding,” he continued, voice easy and nonchalant, throwing a smile my direction before focusing back on the road. “but I was just thinking it might be something fun for us.” His own uncertainty slipped out then, as he hurried to add, to reassure, “I want you to feel comfortable, though, so don’t let me pressure you if you’re not ready.” He offered two location options, and then a third with more of a ‘surprise’ potential.

As quickly as my anxiety reared it’s protective head, it settled back down, coiling up like a wary, sleeping dragon with tendrils of smoke and steam still sidling from its nostrils. It wouldn’t take much to stir it up again, but for now, it lay somnolent. Continue reading “Safety lines”

Scar tissue

One of the things we don’t realize, with a surgery, is how difficult and painful scar tissue can be. It binds up the places beneath your skin, thick and difficult and invisible until you make a movement that places tension on it. Which brings pain. And if you do not listen, more pain.

Having excised my ex and his abusive behaviors from my life is a really great start. My protection order is good for another year, the divorce is finalized, and life is regaining some sense of normalcy. From all outward appearances, someone might think me hale and healthy.

Yet for the first time, as I share more time with Guy, I am realizing how much emotional scar tissue remains, however normal I appear on the surface.
Continue reading “Scar tissue”

Relationship Equality

I want to be able to have healthy relationships; to be an equal partner in any romantic relationship I encounter. But what does that mean? What does that look like?

Those questions led me to other questions, like ‘How does individual power within a relationship impact that relationship?’ All those questions led me to this article:

Love and Power

Lots of food for thought here, a lot of it rooted in things my counselor is encouraging me to do to be a healthy individual on my own: shedding co-dependence; finding my own, authentic self; speaking up and having confidence in my own abilities.

We talk about our past as survivors of domestic violence. It’s a natural response, as we try and figure out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. But sometimes, I think instead of focusing on what went wrong and trying to avoid those things, maybe it is healthier to look at what works,  and what is good for me to grow towards as an individual.

One way, I am essentially walking backwards. The other, I face the proper direction for where I want to go. Which, when it comes down to it, is kind of our goal as we strive to heal from the damage of our past.

Midnight Revelations

One of the promises I made to myself, before embarking on this new relationship, was to prioritize my self-care and healing needs. In essence, I didn’t want to look towards this relationship as a short-cut through healing, but rather as something I could use to force myself to recognize what I need to change to be healthier. And a place to practice those new healthy behaviors.

I needn’t have worried, because simply having another man in my life provokes comparisons, questions and random revelations. My last relationship was so long-standing, and traumatic enough, I don’t want to find myself back where I began. Besides, if you haven’t noticed already, I have a tendency to endlessly mull over things in my life.

Continue reading “Midnight Revelations”

Waiting for the other shoe to drop…

Over two months since my last post, encapsulating work emergencies, new friends, a possible new relationship, and many moments of challenging myself to heal.

As I posted in a reply to a comment someone left me today, I realized that as of today it has been 9 months. Three quarters of a year, and each moment more fulfilling than the last. Most days I wake up contented, my days are filled with happy moments and an easy resilience that I though impossible 9 months and a day ago. There are the occasional nightmares, dredged up by triggers, or by slowly re-engaging people where before I had placed barriers.

And believe me, I can appreciate the irony of meeting someone not long after my ‘single and not looking’ post. It’s been interesting, being courted by someone who shares many of my own interests, who spent about eight weeks maneuvering that fine line of consistent interest, friendship, and yet not being pushy.

Continue reading “Waiting for the other shoe to drop…”