Out of the Box

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast week was full of firsts, in some cases firsts I forced myself into and in others simply firsts because it is a new era and it is time for me to grab life for myself. For anyone who knows me well it is common knowledge I do not like crowds, truthfully I don’t like any situation I don’t feel as if I am in control of. So this past week was not only full of firsts, it was also me pushing my own boundaries and maybe societies boundaries a little tiny bit as well.

I found I am still not comfortable with crowds.

I also found I could push through my discomfort but it took some real nail biting.

Finally I found social expectations can be met with humor and ‘don’t give a damn’ on my part.

There was one other thing I found out about myself this week; I can be judgmental regarding politics and political candidates. Oh, fine I really didn’t find this out this week; I knew this but I found myself truly judging candidates critically and finding many of them ‘wanting’. I am not just going to pull the lever for you because you have a ‘D’ by your name, need to do better than that.

Lastly, because I spent most of the month of January thinking I was going to die I didn’t spend a great deal of time working towards goals or trying to find my next job. Despite I have an ‘excuse’ this has left me feeling, well feeling a little of a failure. Though I believe my goals are achievable, they have been beyond my reach and it has been frustrating.

The job / work front has also been frustrating and although I know I made the right decision in leaving the organization I was working for, it is scary right now to not have income and have bills looming. I truly want to change the trajectory of my career; want off the road and out of consulting but perhaps this isn’t the time to try to make this change. I am leaving the door open for what makes sense on both a personal and work-life basis, but those “no thank-you’s”, well they are de-moralizing.

Are you wondering what I did last week that taught me lessons, in humility, humor and even a bit of perseverance?

I dated myself. Yes, you read that correctly, I took myself on dates and found I am excellent company.

Date 1, 22-January: House of Blues, Dinner and Concert, Hot Tuna and Leon Russell. Let me first say, dinner in a room full of couples a bit awkward if you are eating alone. I have traveled alone for years and haven’t felt so out of sync with those around me in the past. No matter, dinner was fabulous and the concert was grand. Let me tell you something the audience was funny, I felt as if a crowd of aging hippies surrounded me; well, I suspect that was the truth. Both acts did a great job and despite my discomfort, it was a great evening.

Date 2, 25-January: Local Democratic Club, Judicial Bench Openings Dallas County, all candidates stump. Let me just say there are some interesting candidates running for the current benches in Dallas County and in some cases, we have two (2) to five (5) Democrats running for the same seat. I am primarily interested in the criminal courts but it was interesting listening to candidates running for family and probate judge-fines-himselfcourts, fascinating in the case of the probate court. In one case I wanted to stand up in the middle of a very long-winded stump speech and ask the candidate, “what in the hell does what you are talking about have to do with the bench you are running for?” Actually, that happened twice. I ended up sitting next to one of candidates for a Criminal Court who I had met before and we talked afterward, she is an interesting woman with interesting ideas about juvenile justice and getting young people out of the adult system. I like her. I liked a couple of the candidates their ideas about expanding the system to rehabilitation and support versus simply throwing away the key.

Date 3, 26-January: Harlem Dance Theater, Bass Performance Hall. I think this was my favorite date of the entire week; it is likely in part because ballet was my first love. The Dance Theater of Harlem includes classic ballet, modern dance and even street dance in their repertoire. They also include music and worldwide themes presented in ways anyone can relate to, they are phenomenal. I had a wonderful seat, close enough to hear as toe shoes hit the boards in Battu, close enough to see the sweat glisten and muscles contract as the dancers stretched, close enough to count the number of turns in a pirouette. Do I sound like a fangirl? I must admit, I am and have been since the first time I saw ballet as a tiny girl of four-years old, now fifty-two years later I am still a fan of ballet and very much a fan of the Dance Theater of Harlem.

So, those were my three ‘date-myself’ dates of the week. I haven’t truly accomplished very much this month and the month is nearly over. I am a bit depressed at my lack of success in achieving goals; however, I am happy with my solitary dates. I am happy I overcame my fear of crowds to get out of the house and do something, not just anything but things that are happy and uplifting for me.

Happy Monday and back to the grindstone of finding relevant work and of course a few rants of what is going on in our nation. Enjoy the playlist for this writing.

Hot Tuna: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtdc6q8uTFs

Hot Tuna: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCsCW4WPcyY

Leon Russell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXs29SpLGpU

Leon Russell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37dw2r45Xzg

Black Swan Excerpt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOf_00uh-1o

Forty Years of Firsts: http://vimeo.com/35636630

Choosing Alone

fourwallsI am at a loss; how I am supposed to move through a life I hadn’t planned for and hadn’t intended on living.  I feel adrift and I do not like it, not a single bit.  In fact, I cannot find a single thing I like about this aloneness, not the lonely I expected the lonely and though it horrifies me, I expected it.  It isn’t that, not at all.

It is the aloneness.

It is also my fault.  Entirely and utterly my fault, I have no one to blame but me.  I knew it was happening, I screamed about it.  I fought it, but not hard enough.  This aloneness, this blank space in my life is me, it is all me, it is of my making; it is my agreement to terms and conditions which were unreasonable and hurtful.  I am now exactly where I didn’t want to be, isolated and alone.

I can’t blame him; all he did was demand I choose.  All he did was make me choose him over myself, my nature, my humanness.  All he did was force choices, him or the world, him or me.

Hell, he even made me hide.  Lie by omission simply to spread wings and touch the world beyond the world he wanted to live in, a world of only him and I.  A world so constricted it suffocated me.

Did you know I always chose him?  Even when he thought I chose otherwise I chose him.  My retreat from the world, from friends and even family was because he demanded a choice, because he didn’t need friends only “me”.  He didn’t understand though in making this demand of me, in demanding my isolation from the world he killed something essential inside of me, he was slowly destroying me.  The very thing he said he loved, my mind, my heart, my soul he was killing off each time he demanded a choice.

Now, because I couldn’t slice enough of me away to satisfy him, he is gone and I am left with this gapping aloneness.  Empty rooms, an empty bed, a silent phone; because he is gone but I made choices not to expand, not to reach out.

He has returned to the bosom of his large family who I am certain have welcomed him with open arms and hearts.

He has left me with this chasm of aloneness, of my making because I always chose him.

All I asked let me have something small something that was only me but even that was more than he could bear.  Let me write, let me have the virtual world at least there I can spread my mind and my wings, create a community that would not be a threat to his vision of ‘us’.

That was too much to ask, too big of a threat.  We fought even about this small piece of the world, this community; he could not let me peacefully have even this without comment or intimidation.

So now, here we are apart.  He is where he always said he would be if I made him unhappy.  I am where he always said I would be if I made him unhappy.

The difference, the problem?

He chose for both of us, all along he chose and now he is where he will never be alone and I am so very alone I am frightened.

Half a Lifetime

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI promise, you and me, I will not be maudlin through this time of rediscovery.  I might now and then be some of the following:

  • Pissed right off
  • Sad
  • Scared to death
  • Okay, even a small bit maudlin

However, I promise, you and me, I will not allow this change in my circumstances to take over my blog or my life.  Perhaps this is not quite the truth, this change will indeed take over my life it is in fact my new normal and thus instead of being part of a twosome my life is different, I will join the millions of women over 50 who are living alone, by choice or otherwise.

Things you and I should know about me as I begin this journey toward my new normal.  Things that are incredibly difficult to admit.

I have truly been in a long-term partnered relationship or married my entire adult life.

When I read that statement, it sends shivers up my spine.  The sad truth is, I do not know how to be alone, I have always had someone in my life.  I have always been the ‘other half’.  Usually, I have been the half that takes care of things, cleans up messes and ultimately is left holding the bag.

How strange, how very strange.

Since I was fifteen (15) years old, I have not really been alone.  Not really been on my own to determine and decide my own fate without having to consider how my choices might affect others, some of those others have been spouses, while others have simply been those who claimed the title (Texas is funny like that).  In some cases and through my own choice, I remained legally bound to a man with whom I did not share a bed, did not enjoy congress yet continued to shared a roof; I did this so his children would be provided normalcy.  My ‘husbands’ and other partners, in a nutshell;

  1. Beat the hell out of me, nearly killed me more than once and destroyed my ego – 3 years.
  2. Saved me from myself but could not convince me to love him or me – 5 years.
  3. Simply was a stopgap measure to convince myself and others I could marry ‘normal’ – 3 years.
  4. An addict and more, who hid his crimes from everyone far too well, robbed me of money, time and much more; gave me my sons, so I can forgive him all the rest – 14 years
  5. Dearly Beloved, yes he is still this despite it all, the last sixteen (16) years I have given him everything there was in me to give.  I withheld what he told me to withhold, each time he said to me, “I don’t want anything from you”; I withheld a little more if myself.  I honestly thought he was the one I would grow old beside  – 16 years

That is forty-one (41) years of my life in those five (5) men; I am fifty-six (56) years old.  Those five men represent more than half of my life.  Since I was fifteen years old, I have been entangled.  I have usually met the next man before I am fully untangled from all the legal wrangling of the previous relationship; I haven’t stopped to think how vulnerable I might be.

Now to the rest of what I wanted to say about not being maudlin and wanting a new normal.  DB and I separated once before during our marriage in 2010.  That separation was for 6 months, it was hard and he was the one to leave that time also.  Though to hear him tell it he left because I asked him the following:

“If you are so unhappy, why are you still here?”

His answer was to leave.  That six months was hard, it was sad, it was miserable in truth; but, by the end I had gotten to happy, gotten to a new normal where I was starting to enjoy life and my independence.  I should have known when he wanted to come back while refusing marriage counseling and refusing to acknowledge the core issues between us, it was not going to get better.

I have a friend of thirty-five years who says at heart I am a romantic.  I suspect she is right.  I wanted desperately for his, “I love you”, to be the truth without strings.  It wasn’t, it never has been.  But I wanted it and I put my blinders firmly in place and reminded myself of the vows I took, when I flung the door open wide and let my husband back into the home and the marriage he so firmly rejected once already.

Victorious

My new tattoo, as of yesterday. Yes, Victorious and yes my high-heeled combat boots were the model!

I knew, even then while I held that door open there would be an end somewhere in the future.  I had tasted independence and gotten to happy and it felt light and wonderful.  Don’t misunderstand me, being loved is also wonderful, I want to be loved someday in the future before that happens though I want to try living for me for once in my life.

I have a few more choices to make before too very long.  Choices on where I live.  Choices on how and where I work.

These will wait for a few weeks at least.  For now, I will simply try sinking into the idea of the new normal and how to get through the day.

Yes, it hurts today.  Yes, it will likely hurt tomorrow.  It will not hurt forever though; I know this.  I suspect I will share some of this journey with those of you who want to ride along.  I promise you though I will not change course, I will continue to write about other things that interest me and hopefully you, I refuse to get to mawkish.

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