Hypervigilant

I remember looking at an online dating profile of a man, seeing “never been married,” and wondering why. I mean, he seemed so amazing! Why in the world had he never been married?

Always wanting to see the best in people (and thinking he was really great) I ignored it, thinking maybe he just had a broken picker (as I seem to). I later found out, there was a very good reason he has never been married.

The guy with whom I have a date tonight states that his longest relationship was two years. I’m not ignoring it this time.

And he’s already talking about our second date, without even having gone on the first. While in the past I might’ve thought that was sweet, now I wonder if it’s putting pressure on me.

And Stretch that I mentioned the other day? He doesn’t respect boundaries. Yah, I’m not having any of that!

So here’s the problem: how vigilant is too vigilant? I want to make sure that I see all the red flags, all the warning signs of an abusive man, but I don’t want to be so hyper aware that I miss out on what could be a good man.

I don’t want to be one of those women who is so picky that she misses out on what could be great.

I guess it will be finding a good balance. I will need to figure out what is truly important, and what isn’t. I need to figure out what is a sign of abuse, and what is healthy behavior. Hopefully I have a better grasp on it this time.

So glad I still have my shrink!

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Earplugs

Tonight, as I was preparing to go for a walk, I went to empty out my fanny pack. That’s right – I admit it – I use a fanny pack. There’s no pockets in yoga pants, so a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! As I dug through each small pocket, I came across earplugs.

Do you remember last summer when my mom, sister, and I went to the East Coast? We spent the day of the Fourth of July at (what had been) George Washington’s house and then the capital mall for evening festivities.

Do you know what my mom did? She brought me earplugs. Earplugs!! How incredibly sweet is she?!

Wait – you know why it was so thoughtful, right? With my symptoms of PTSD (from years of abuse at the hands of three very abusive men) I jump at any little thing. If there’s a sudden, unexpected (okay – sometimes even if I know it’s coming) sound, I can literally feel the sound waves jolt through my body. It’s almost painful. Sudden bright lights are kinda similar (although, I’ve noticed the symptoms of both drastically decreasing over the past couple of months – yay!)

So, knowing how the loud explosions of the fireworks would effect me, she brought earplugs from Washington state to Washington DC so I could enjoy myself without the physical shocks to my system for the better part of an hour.

Wasn’t that so thoughtful of her?!

It’s stuff like that which make the world a better place – knowing someone that well, and then caring enough to think ahead about how to make them more comfortable.

Something as small as earplugs can make such a huge difference. I’m sure they didn’t cost her much, but not only did it help me enjoy the fireworks, but it made me feel so loved!

After the fireworks were over, I put the earplugs into my fanny pack and forgot about them. When I pulled them out tonight, I smiled all over again, knowing that my mommy loves me.

Who can you give earplugs to? Whose life can you make better with the smallest of gestures? Think of how much better the world would be if we spent our brain power trying to make others happy, instead of focusing on the negative! I’d much rather brighten my small corner of the world than dwell on thing over which I have no control.

My challenge to you is to give someone earplugs tomorrow (or your version of it). It could be someone to whom you’re closest. It could be to someone you know has been struggling and could really use some earplugs.

Get out there and spread some earplugs!

Tall Men

It was recently pointed out to me that my attraction to tall men might be my downfall.

Um… no. My attractiveness to abusive men is my downfall. My tolerance for unacceptable behavior is my downfall. My broken picker (the one that picks men) is my downfall.

A man’s height has absolutely nothing to do with how safe I am. Sure, if I had been with shorter men, I would have had a much better chance of defending myself. But, if he didn’t feel that abusing me in any way was okay, his height would be completely moot. I shouldn’t need to defend myself against the man who is supposed to love me – the man who is supposed to protect me from harm.

So, I don’t need to ignore my attraction to taller men; I need to love myself enough to stop accepting unacceptable behaviors. I need to stop being blind in the Honeymoon Phase and pointedly look for red flags.

Can you tell that a tall man contacted me tonight? 6’6″. Yummy! Crossing my fingers for a date! Not that I hadn’t been thinking about this since it was brought up to me, but this kinda solidified it for me.

I have a date on Thursday with someone else, and a third person (who lives far away) is trying to convince me that it’s not that far.

I really need a more gas efficient car!

Haven

I saw this on Facebook the other day, and it has really stayed with me:

It makes so much sense to me. And it makes me ache with sadness. I’ve never even witnessed that kind of love, let alone experienced it.

The book I’ve been reading is about soul mates, so I’m sure that it is effecting my thoughts. When I was out walking this evening, I came across this, and it spoke to me, made me yearn for something I’ve never experienced:

I thought it was beautiful. It was one piece, but was broken apart. The two pieces found each other and recognized each other by their matching scars. Now that they are together, they can be together forever.

Or, at least that’s how I saw it. I’m sure someone would say that I’m imposing my own wishes on the stones, and I’m not about to argue that point. I’m sure that is the case.

The silly part of me wants to tattoo a red thread on my finger so that I can recognize my soul mate by his matching tat.

I think I’m getting a little loopy.

I want to find my person. The one who loves me more than himself. The one with whom I can create a haven. The one who would never intentionally hurt me. The one who will be my partner in life, who will hold my hand, dry my tears, and help me be the best version of myself.

That’s not too much to ask for, is it?

Introverts Unite!

So you all know that I’m an introvert, but that I’m trying to work around that. My counselor has challenged me to “find my peeps” which seem like an insurmountable task, some days.

The thing is – I’m 100% positive that I’m not alone in this. I KNOW that there are other introverts out there who want to make new friends, but who find it just as daunting as I do.

I don’t know about others, but for me it has always been a matter of feeling like I don’t fit in – sometimes that I’m not good enough. I dip my toe in the water, waiting to see if someone will laugh at my bathing suit or (worse yet) not even acknowledge me. I’m always afraid of being judged.

I wish we introverts could just find each other and say, “okay. Now we’re friends.” That would cut out all of the guessing for me. It would get me past the awkward part so I could develop a deep friendship.

The thing is – I know there’s another introvert in my town – one who I really admire and would love to be friends with. Fear keeps me from holding out my hand to her. Fear of rejection. Fear of feeling like a doof.

That could be partly why I’ve started dating – with dating, at least you know where you stand. With dating, rejection hurts less. With dating, I’m not the one taking the chance and approaching the other person, taking the risk.

There’s a singles dance this weekend and a women’s hike. My goal is to go to at least one of them. Wish me luck!

“Out There”

I had a date tonight. It wasn’t like it was planned or anything, it just kinda happened.

It was more like a blind date, in a way. In the past I’ve always gotten to know someone a little online before going out on a date. This was far more sudden. I think we both just wanted some company for dinner.

It was nice – talking with someone, sharing ideas and experiences, being listened to. I’ve missed that.

Being as honest as I am, I was up front about how recently I was in a relationship. He asked if I was ready to be “out there” so soon. I told him that I’m so mentally stable that my counselor couldn’t even give me a diagnosis as a favor (I could’ve gotten some financial help moving in, if I’d had anything wrong with me mentally – depression, PTSD, etc.)

The truth is, the further I am from my ex and that life, the more I get over him. A friend recently suggested that I believed he was my soul mate because of all of the crap he did to my mind – that he had convinced it was true, when maybe it wasn’t. I don’t know whether or not I believe that, but it’s worth exploring.

I do know that the more time I spend with other men, the more I’m able to let go of him. I’m wondering if I’m just lonely, as opposed to actually missing him.

Another friend recently suggested that I’m doing as well as I am because it had been so bad for so long that maybe I had kinda left him a while ago – that I just didn’t realize it. That might very well be true.

Will there be a second date? Yup we’re scheduling it now. Woohoo!

So Many Feelings

When I woke this morning, I was elated! I was leaving the shelter! YAY!!! In the middle of the night, we got another newbie, and she had one, if not two, screamers in tow. That combined with the failing plumbing made me extra excited to move into my own place.

Knowing that I was on a tight schedule, I worked hard and fast to get out of the shelter as early as I could. I got my small load of stuff into my new house and set off for the next stop.

In all reality, I was working too hard to pay attention to my emotions. With stop number two completed, I went back to my house again. After showing my family my place, we started off for the ex’s place to collect some more stuff which will never actually fit into my tiny house, but which I needed.

Did I mention that it’s a long drive to his house? For the first time since waking, I had time to pay attention to my emotions. And they weren’t good.

Anger carried me through the afternoon.

Freakin’ Jackass!!

How dare he! I had everything! I had a job that paid very well, I had a three bedroom house which had everything I needed, I had my son, I lived close to my family. I had it all!

I gave it all up for him.

He promised he wouldn’t change – that he would always do the sweet things for me. He failed to mention that while he continued doing the sweet things, he started doing horrible things. Yes, he definitely changed. Freakin’ liar!! Promise breaker!

We had this life together – a home I loved, dogs I loved, a lifetime planned together.

And now I’m starting all over. Again. Alone. In this tiny house I can barely afford which can’t even fit a couch through the front door. I’m currently sitting in a camping chair in my living room, waiting for my (borrowed) air mattress to inflate in my bedroom.

This isn’t the life he promised me. This isn’t where I wanted to be at this point of my life.

As I sit here, in the silence and the loneliness, I can start to peel the anger away like dead skin. Guess what I see underneath? Pain. Sadness. Loneliness.

And under all that, I miss him. My therapist said I should accept my feelings, so I’m doing that, even though it makes me feel weak and pathetic.

And I’m hurt. In the past, when I went to his house (to pick up mail or whatever) he would leave me notes. This time, there was no note. The last thing I heard from him was how anxious he was to have my stuff out his house.

I guess it didn’t take as long for him to get over me as he thought.

I think I’ll go cry again. I’m hoping this crap will end at some point. Maybe this is what I needed to be able to move on.

My Dream Partner

My therapist wants me to think about what qualities I want in my dream partner.

I think my dream partner is a mash-up of what I wanted as a child and what I know that I don’t want from my experiences as an adult.

When I was a girl, he needed to be smart and kind, he needed to be good at singing and dancing, he needed to dress nicely and have a head full of thick, dark hair.  He needed to be tall and broad-shouldered, good with kids, and work in an office.  He needed to… all of the silly things which girls think are important.

Today, I’m a little more realistic.

I want someone who’s sense of humor is similar to mine.  I really love being with a man who can make me laugh – I think that’s so important.  Laughter can ease so many woes.

He needs to be smart.  I’ve learned that I don’t respect men who can’t keep up with me intellectually, and I can’t love a man who I can’t respect.

He needs to be kind – and all that is included with that.  He needs to care about my feelings as much as his own. He needs to listen to me and respect me.  He needs to treat me with dignity.

He needs to be honest.  I mean, who wants to be with a liar?  Even if he tries to convince you that he doesn’t lie to you, just to everyone else, how can you believe him when you know how much he lies?  Trust is key in any relationship.  Without it, you’re doomed.

He needs to be an empty-nester.  I am at the point in my life that my kids are grown.  I’m glad I no longer have kids in the house.  I’m looking forward to sharing my life with a man with whom I can share quiet Sunday mornings, cuddling in bed, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

And, while he doesn’t need to be able to dance well, he does need to enjoy it.  One of the men I dated was a horrible dancer – but at least he took me out!  Two of my four long-term-relationship never took me dancing.  I ache to go dancing again!

What traits am I missing?

I once heard that a lot of women are too picky – that they are unrealistic when trying to find The One.  I was told that you get three “musts” (he must have this quality, and this one, and this one, and…)  I don’t think the traits I’ve listed are too much.  I’m sure he’s out there.  Now, I just have to be ready when he comes along.

 

How Can You Help?

So, you’ve been with me through this journey.  Thanks for keeping me company as I go. Hopefully, you’ve gotten something from it.

Actually, you should feel special. Not a lot of my family and friends know what’s going on in my life.  Some don’t even know that I’ve left my ex.  I’m just not ready to deal with all of the fall out.  So, I post here, and only those who follow my blog know what’s happening.

When one of my friends did find out, she kinda freaked out.  The funny thing is (you read yesterday’s blog, right?) she kept asking me if I needed blankets.  I assure her that I was okay – that I have everything I need.  She wanted to help, but there really was nothing she could do for me.

But, there are ways you can help your local shelter. If you’re interested, here are my suggestions from someone on the inside, things we really do need.

Fresh produce. Seriously. How many cans of pears do you really think we want to eat?  I know they probably tell you canned food, but we literally have so much canned food that it’s sitting outside on the porch in boxes.  Seriously.  But, the moment someone donates fresh produce, it’s gone. Last week, we got a bag of oranges, a bag of apples, and a bunch of bananas.  They were gone in under 2 days.  We all want fresh produce.  Contact your local shelter to see if that’s something they would accept.

Paper towels.  Holy crap!  We go through so many paper towels, that we frequently run out.  And they are a necessity.

Cleaners.  When I say that, I mean good ones – ones you’d actually use.  Someone donated fake flower cleaner.  I literally mopped the basement floor with fake flower cleaner last week.  I went to the store the next day and bought a massive bottle of Lysol for the house. Hopefully it’ll last a little while.

Clothes.  Ones that might not be this season, but are still in good condition.  Keep in mind – some of us literally escape with the clothes on our back.  We need clothes just to live in.  We are all trying to restart our lives.  Some of us haven’t worked in a long time, so we don’t have work/interview clothes. We got a few bags of clothes the other night, and it was like Christmas – people going through bags to find new treasures.

We have a closet downstairs for our housemates.  I caught a brief glimpse into the closet once, and I swear I noticed a pair of shoes which I saw in my grandma’s high school year book.  Obviously, we appreciate all donations, but if it is something we could use for an interview to get our lives started again, we’d appreciate that even more.  Instead of taking clothing donations to Goodwill or whatever, contact your local shelter to see if they take donations.

And then odds and ends – shampoo, body wash, feminine hygiene, diapers, dishes (lol – we have 80 forks and 5 spoons – I keep forgetting to pick some up at the dollar store), and any old books, magazines, or DVDs you don’t want or need anymore.

So, if you want, you can donate to your local shelter for your good deed of the day.  I’d love to know what you donated!

 

My Shelter Blankets

When I moved into the shelter, I was given a room with two beds, and I was told that I could choose whichever bed I wanted.  One was extremely hard and one was so soft that I sank further than I’ve ever gone before.  Which do you choose?  Well, if you’re like me, you choose the one which will give you back some support.

I chose the hard bed and have learned that I have to pivot every now and then so my hips and shoulders don’t get too sore.

After making my choice, my advocate told me that I can take my bedding with me when I move out.  At first, I scoffed at it – I’m in a twin size bed now, and when I get my place, I’m going to have a queen size.  This bedding makes no sense for me.

I have a ton of blankets. If there’s anything I don’t need, it’s more blankets.  If nothing else, I can make my own blankets. I really don’t need these.  I can leave them for someone else, right?

And then I got to thinking about it.

Someone made these blankets with care.  The crocheted one is red with white snowflakes – so perfect for me!  The other one is quilted.  I haven’t had my own quilt in a  very long time.  One side is very spring-like.  The other is quite autumnal.  I LOVE it!  When I leave the shelter, I’m absolutely going to take them with me.

And these blankets and I have a history.  They got me through the first few nights, alone in my strange room. They kept me warm and comforted on the nights when I cried and mourned.  They are mine.  They are a part of my recovery.  They were with me right after I made one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.  These blankets mean something to me and to who I am.

While the blankets might not go on my bed, they will be on my couch, ready to keep me or any of my guests comfortable if my house is a bit too chilly.

And the sheets are pretty cool, too.   They’re this fun mint-green color and they’re stretchy.  I really like them.  I might see if I can find some stretchy ones for when I get my own place.  I can take these with me to my mom’s house for when I stay at there.

While I feel a bit selfish about taking the bedding, it was offered to me, so I’m going to take it.  I know that there will be a new set for whoever sleeps in that bed after I’ve moved on.

** This was written before I got my new house. Due to how fast this is all happening, I won’t be able to buy a bed for a few weeks. This bedding will be perfect on the air mattress in my new house. Yay!