Checking-in, ranting, and ready for spring

Oh man, I haven’t written in weeks. I was afraid of this. I haven’t given up on blogging- not at all- but lately it hasn’t been a priority. I’ve been writing fairly consistently elsewhere, which is good, but I am a little sad that this blog is being ignored.

In any case, today is a rainy Sunday- just the kind of day that was made for sleeping in and spending lazy hours on the couch sipping coffee and catching up on blogs and emails and facebook and computer-y stuff. I love days like this. Often, I start to feel restless if I spend too much time sitting around. I think, “I need to be doing something! I need to run errands, I need to clean, I need to jog, I need to get stuff done!!” But not this morning. This morning I’m just content to sit and reflect and just be.

So where did I leave off, the last time I posted? I believe I was talking about hanging out with my high school friends, and worried about their questions and attitudes and judgment. Well, the evening wasn’t so bad; I was indeed the 5th wheel to my two friends and their husbands, and the whole night has a slight awkwardness to it. I don’t know if it was because we hadn’t been together in so long, or if it had anything to do with me (something I always worry about that I really need to get over). They asked me how I was doing and a bit about Sandy, but not too much. One husband jumped into “attack mode”- asking how often I was seeing Sandy’s family and whether that was the right thing to do. I shut down the conversation fairly effectively (though I also think that my friends were cutting me some slack, considering the nature of what I had just been through).

Anyway, here’s the thing. Later that week I had coffee with my best friend, and we had a great conversation. A lot came out of me that I wasn’t even completely aware was in me. I told her how my friends’ reactions to Sandy’s death surprised me a little. Some friends came through in ways that I never expected. Many, however, didn’t really come through at all. And they certainly haven’t been supportive in the months after Sandy’s death. This is a topic I could write pages and pages about, but I’ll try to limit it for now. I know my situation was complicated, and that Sandy was my ex-boyfriend. However, I was with this guy for over 5 years. We broke up, but stayed close, and my friends knew this. They also knew that the instant Sandy got sick, I was back in his life- seeing him every day. They knew that I was at hospice around the clock. They knew that I was with Sandy when he died. And yet, because he was my ex-boyfriend, it’s like they don’t or can’t or shouldn’t acknowledge his significance to my life. Like they can’t or won’t be as supportive as they would have been if he had been my boyfriend. I get it, I guess, and yet it still bothers me. Because at the end of the day, this was one of the greatest losses I could have suffered, if not the greatest loss (though I really can’t say that, because I don’t know what it would be like to lose a parent or sibling or my best friend).

Anyway, in addition to all the emotions and thoughts swirling in my head these past few months, I’ve been really thinking about the nature of my friendships. I have a lot of people who I consider my “closest” friends who have not really been there for me since Sandy died. They called once, sent a card, a couple came to the memorial service, but then nothing. I’ve always known that some of my friendships have tended to be one-sided, that some of my friends are very self-centered- the friendships have been this way for a long time. I have usually been the one to really support friends and be there for them and check-in with them. But when it came down to me getting some support- and believe me, this was a time when I needed support- the friends just weren’t around.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon my friends, because it really takes a lot for my feelings to be hurt to the point where I back away or give up on someone. Deep down, I believe that my friends truly care about me, but sometimes they just can’t step outsides of their own worlds enough to be there for someone else. And I also think, for some of my friends, that they can’t step outside of certain beliefs and definitions of things in order to be supportive of me (as in- Sandy was an ex-boyfriend, therefore my grief is not validated).

Wow, I didn’t intend to write about all of this, sorry if this is too much ranting or complaining! Anyway, friendships have been on my mind. Otherwise, life isn’t too exciting, but for me, right now, that’s okay. I’m feeling much better than I was a month ago, and I continue to be amazed by how much ‘time’ as helped. And I think it will continue to help. This has been a long winter, and I’m ready to be done with it. I’m ready for spring.

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Marching to the beat of my own drum, always

Tomorrow night I’m having dinner with two of my oldest friends. We were friends in high school, but I would say that over the years, our friendships have deepened and that I know these girls better now than I did at 17. In high school we saw each other every single day, and now I might see them a handful of times during the year. But the interactions these days are more meaningful (or, dare I say it, adult) than the days of hanging out at our lockers between classes.

I’m looking forward to this dinner so much, but I’m also a bit nervous. The dynamic between the three of us is an interesting one, and at times I’m definitely the 3rd wheel (or the 5th wheel, if their husbands are along). I suspect that they wish I were married, so that I could tote my own husband along on these meet-ups, and then they could freely talk about marriage and children and homes as much as they wanted without the fear of leaving me out.

But I’m over this slight awkwardness: one friend has been married for 5 years, the other, nearly 3. What really has me nervous are the questions they are inevitably going to ask about my life. These friends are great and supportive, but they are also extremely opinionated. True to the high school nature of many friendships, in my current circle of “high school friends”, there is still a lot of pairing off, secret meetings, talking behind backs. It’s not nearly the same as it was 13 years ago, but there is still an element of were they talking about me? what did they say? whenever I get together with them.

And when I say that these girls wish that I had a husband, it’s more than just rounding out our group so that we have even numbers or so that I could be included in the conversation. They believe that having a husband, at this age, is the right and best thing. There was always slight pressure, when I was with Sandy, to break-up with him. When I did break-up with him, there was pressure to do the break-up in the very traditional way. I would tell these friends that Sandy and I were still talking, nearly every day, and that I would often see him at the coffeeshop. That we’d sometimes have dinner together. I’d say these things and the two friends would give each other this look, this look that said, “Ahh, it was just as we suspected. Intervention time!” And then they would, gently and respectfully, tell me how it is best to take a band-aid approach to break-ups: rip that sucker right off!! How it would be much harder, in the long run, for me to move on if I remained in contact with him.

I would come away from these conversations feeling torn. I respect these friendships and the care that my friends have for me. They want the best for me, and they want me to be happy, I always know that. Sometimes, they gave me a certain perspective that was very important for me to hear, and would make me look at situations in a slightly different way.

But I would also come away with my feathers a bit ruffled, thinking, “No one knows me. No one can claim to know what I am thinking and feeling and what my relationships are like. No one can say what is best for me.” And besides, how did they know? Friend A’s first long-term relationship resulted in marriage, so she had never experienced a break-up. And Friend B’s only other long-term relationship (besides the one with her husband) ended because she cheated on him (and other reasons, I’m sure). But in the end, it comes down to this: even if you are in a situation very similar to mine, we are still going to perceive things and feel things in a different way. You can talk to me about what you might feel is best, but you cannot tell me what is best.

Is it awful that, after Sandy died, at one point I thought to myself, “Ha! I proved them wrong!”? I understand, very much, why my friends were telling me to rip that band-aid right off my arm, why I shouldn’t talk to Sandy, and why that was so important for moving on. But, as ever, I am one to trust my instincts, and I am beyond relieved that I did things my way in regards to my break-up with Sandy. And it wasn’t just my way, it was our way, mine and Sandy’s. Incredibly, I had just the right balance of separation and connection in order to take care of Sandy as he died.

No, of course I could have never known what was coming; I never could have thought, “I have to stay close to this man in case he gets hit with cancer and needs me back in his life.” But there are times in my life when I trust my instincts, and I trust that there might just be some greater plan for me. This was one of those times. I am convinced that my instincts to stay connected to Sandy were there for a reason. These are things you can’t talk about when your high school friends are saying, “No contact! You have to make a clean break!”, they wouldn’t understand. And I still don’t think they would understand. I appreciate and value their opinions, but sometimes, I firmly believe that you need to march to the beat of your own drum. Sometimes, you need to not do things they way our society or culture or best friends tell us to. Or, at the very least, do not always accept that the popular way of doing things is the best way. Everyone has their own, best way.

And so, I am in the process of mentally preparing myself for this meal tomorrow night. My friends have talked about me, I am sure about that. I know that they will have opinions about my grief, about how I am or am not moving forward. About how I should date, about who I should date. About CF.

And I will listen to them and respect their opinions because I know that they come from a place of love and care. But, in the end, I’m always going to do what I feel is right. Always.

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A coffee date inspires big questions

CF has been on my mind these past few days, and I’m not quite sure what it is, exactly, that I’m thinking.

We got together for coffee on Tuesday; it was the first time I had seen him in nearly two months, though that last time hardly counts, since it was at Sandy’s memorial service. I feel like I wasn’t really seeing anyone clearly that night.

The time spent with CF was, as ever, great. But this time was different. I “went in” to the situation knowing that things were going to be different between us, at least initially. I wasn’t doing the casual relationship thing anymore. I was a bit worried about my resolve, because with CF, it is nearly impossible to be in the same room as him and not want to… well… be as physically close to him as possible. Hold his hand. Make out. Jump his bones. All that good stuff.

So I figured coffee in a public place would be safe, and what’s more, I tried to make it clear that doing things like getting coffee together was about all that I was up for doing with him anymore.

We met, drank coffee, and talked. At first it was just general, catching up kind of stuff, but then we started to talk. When we were doing that initial, slow slide into a casual relationship, we had talked about what we were doing and why and how we felt about it. Kind of, anyway. But this was the first time we talked about us since then, and that has been about 10 months.

But this talk was kind of inevitable. After Sandy’s memorial service, it made sense for me not to contact CF for awhile. In December, I honestly wasn’t thinking about CF. In January, the thoughts started slowly creeping in, but I didn’t really do anything with them. I noticed, “Ahh, I’m wondering what CF is doing” but then I tried to let it go. And then in February, one day, I decided to say hi.

And based on his response and what he told me on Tuesday, I think he was waiting, and hoping, that I would contact him. He had some stuff he wanted to tell me. I don’t know that I can explain what he said very clearly, or even if I want to. Mostly, he apologized for a lot, for not treating me how I deserved to be treated. I was careful to tell him that I knew what I was getting in to, and that I made a decision to go along with things. Which he knew at the time, of course, but I think that he saw me at Sandy’s memorial service and realized how special I was.

I don’t say that to be boastful or to brag, but to try to explain what CF was feeling. I think that CF learned a lot of things about my past relationship that most guys typically wouldn’t. I mean, really, this was a complicated situation. CF doesn’t want a girlfriend, but he likes me, and so we start to have this casual relationship. Then he attends the memorial service of my ex-boyfriend, and see dozens and dozens of pictures of us together. He hears Sandy’s family talk about me. He hears me talk about Sandy and my love for him, and his love for me.

So on Tuesday, CF tells me that he realized how much love and kindness Sandy gave to me, and that I deserved it. And that he (CF) wasn’t able to give that to me.

This wasn’t a surprise to me, and I’m sure it wasn’t a surprise to CF, either. (I even said to CF, “I knew your limitations from the beginning”). But in the beginning, I think CF was able to treat me and our “relationship” as strictly casual, and now I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t really think he’s willing to anymore. I guess.

Talks are hard, and sometimes confusing. Things got a little vague for me, and I think CF was trying hard to have this talk, but at times wasn’t entirely clear. Or maybe I just couldn’t follow his thinking. In any case, I did my best to try to explain myself, though again, I’m not even exactly sure what I said. That what we had been doing last year wasn’t ideal for me. That while I always enjoyed spending time with him, it wasn’t always an easy situation for me. But that I decided to keep doing it as long as the good outweighed the bad. But that at times, it was a pretty close call.

So, it all kind of sounds like an ending, and in some ways it might be… but I don’t know. CF made it very clear that spending time with me is a good and positive thing. And we’re going to still see each other. But… as friends?

Here’s the thing. All of this brings up a new slew of thoughts and questions. Part of it is the whole, ‘can men and women just be friends?’ thing (especially after sleeping together!). We did have a casual relationship, but it was never just casual for me, and honestly, I don’t think it was entirely just casual for CF either. He certainly treated it that way, and he’s got all kinds of walls up when it comes to emotional intimacy (which he told me), but I still believe that there is something more there. Which, in some ways, just leads me back to the place I always was with CF: thinking that he and I are meant to be together, but that the timing isn’t right.

Or is that completely wishful thinking? Is it just some fairytale notion that I got into my head: CF and I are some kind of star-crossed lovers, destined to be together, struggling to find love, blah, blah, blah. Am I not hearing what he is saying? Is this him telling me that things will never work out with us? He says that he’s been doing a lot of introspection and work on himself these past few months, and that he has a long way to go. And that, then, brings up the question, do I believe that he can change? That he can become emotionally accessible? To me? That he could become the kind of man that I deserve?

And is that kind of thinking dangerous? Does CF even want that? Does he even want to be with me? Am I willing to wait around to find out?

I had many of these questions 4-5 months ago. But now, my emotions are a little different. I’m not in a great hurry to find a man to date and eventually marry. It’s still very important to me, but I’m not focused on it right now. Before, I think I was waiting for CF to grow up and change and realize that he wanted to be with me. Even though, with each passing week or month, it was dawning on me that I was wasting my time (hence trying to meet other people and do the online dating thing).

And now? I don’t know. I’m trying hard to be patient with all of this and believe that now is the time to focus on me, because it really is. Some days it’s not so hard to do this. But other days? All I want is to be able to flip to the end of my life and catch a glimpse of where I am and who I’m with and what I did with my life, to know that it’s going to be okay, or to know that I’m on the right track.

 

Posted in Complicating Factor, Feelings | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My thoughts on Valentine’s Day

I’m not someone who has ever been obsessed with Valentine’s Day (for good or bad). If I had a boyfriend this time of year, Valentine’s Day was usually just another day, but maybe with some flowers, an extra nice meal, or candy hearts thrown in. And if I didn’t have a boyfriend, then Valentine’s Day wasn’t a very big deal. If anything, Valentine’s Day held an extra bit of magic and anticipation when I was single: even though I never really expected a secret admirer to come out of the woodwork, I always felt that it could happen on Valentine’s Day.

This year, I pretty much forgot about Valentine’s Day until yesterday. Obviously, there were reminders along the way: the pink and red candy aisles in the grocery store, the jewelry commercials, the love song marathons on the radio. But I just avoided certain aisles when grocery shopping, and changed the channel or station when watching TV or listening to the radio. It’s not that I want to avoid all thoughts of Valentine’s Day, it’s just that thinking about happy couples in love makes me kind of sad, in a way that it never has in the past. So while I have nothing against this day, I’d just rather not pay much attention to it.

But this morning, I got to thinking about my past Valentine’s Days. I really don’t have any great stories. Really, all I could think about was how great Valentine’s Day was in elementary school. We’ll all have these paper-made mailboxes attached to the front of our desks, and throughout the day we’d fill our classmates’ boxes with tiny valentines. At the end of the day, we’d empty out our mailboxes. Dozens and dozens of valentines would come pouring out onto our desks, and it was a thrill to pick through the cards and see what the boys wrote.

I never really had a valentine for Valentine’s Day until I was much, much older. During my freshman year of college (still no valentine), my roommate would go crazy decorating our room for holidays. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas: our room was filled with spider-webs and garland and decals covering our (lone) window. Valentine’s Day was no exception, there were huge pink hearts everywhere. I’m sure this is fairly normal behavior, but I was never quite as “normal” as most other girls. I remember complaining about it a bit to my mom, and she got the brilliant (and bizarre) idea to send me President’s Day decorations. So I get this package full of little American flags, posters of Abe Lincoln and George Washington, window sticker decals of the White House. I’m pretty sure the card in the care package said something like, “If you’re going to decorate for the holidays, you’ve got to do it right!!”. So the second Valentine’s Day was over, I took down the hearts and put American flags all over our room (I probably don’t have to say that my roommate and I were never that close).

Anyway, I guess that story was to explain that I’m not much of a Valentine’s Day person. I think about what I was doing on Valentine’s Day these last two or three years, and I start to get nostalgic (and, yeah, a bit sad). Three years ago, I was helping Sandy open his coffee shop. His first day of business was February 15, and while I can’t specifically remember what we did the day before, I’m pretty sure it involved late hours of prepping the shop and making sure everything was ready for the grand opening. Two years ago, on Valentine’s Day, I was a bridesmaid in a close friend’s wedding… in Maine. Maine is great, except in the dead of winter. Anyway, Sandy flew up with me, and what stands out (among other things) is that he had no winter coat. This is a story in itself, but not only were we in Maine, in February, but Sandy had no coat. Classic.

And last year, I sort of had a surprise valentine. Sort of. CF sent me a really cute V-day text (the first text he ever sent to me), and that kind of kicked off our little relationship.

So this Valentine’s Day, I’m not expecting a thing, and I don’t even have that secret thrill of anticipation that’s usually there. I don’t believe that anything will happen, and honestly, I don’t want anything to happen. I’m just not there yet. And I’m really okay with that.

 

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Bad days, twitching eyes, and trying to keep perspective

I might just need to rant for a minute.

Today was not a great day, though there was nothing obviously wrong with it: I just woke up not happy, and that feeling stuck for pretty much the entire day. Yesterday was similar, though better, and last Friday and most of Saturday were down days, too.

Just when I think I’m getting better, or getting over it, or getting past the hardest part, I feel like I get hit again. This time, I’m not missing Sandy as heavily, but I’m not happy with my life. And when I’m not really happy about my life, and then I let the thought Sandy is dead into my head, I crumble a bit (and sometimes a lot).

It’s not that I’m so unhappy all of the time, because when I step back, I usually say to myself, “I kind of like my life.” But I’ve figured out that I really like the person that I am- there’s just a lot of stuff in my life that needs to change. I’m working on it, and I was before Sandy died, but I guess it’s just harder now, because I’m dealing (or sometimes not dealing) with this grief. And ugh, this winter just needs to end!

Here is a (somewhat) uncensored look at the thoughts and fears running through my head at any given time:

What if I miss Sandy forever? What if I stop missing him? What if I start to forget about him? What if I can’t find a new job? What if I get used to just getting through my days, and accept that this is as good as it gets? What if I’m relying on wine too much? What if I can’t stop eating sweets? What if I gain 20 pounds? What if my eye never stops twitching? What if my friends all forget about me? What if everyone I know is too busy for me? What if I end up alone?

So, for the record, I don’t truly believe any of this, although sometimes I really do worry about ending up alone. I don’t think I’m relying on wine too much (I’ve never been a big drinker, though I am drinking wine in the evenings more than usual… I just want to be careful about it). And I don’t really think my friends are too busy for me- they are busy, but I know that if I ask them to be there for me, they would be there for me. I just have trouble asking sometimes.

And honestly? It’s just so easy to get down in the dumps, and look past all of the good stuff. It was just hard to get out of it today, and I really tried. I had a long day talking to lots of teenagers, and I sincerely like most (if not all) of the kids that I work with. Today, I got a bit weighed down with their problems, but I can’t ever forget that it’s a special thing that they come to me with their problems, and that they confide in me. That just talking to me can help. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that I’m actually helping. I thought that by doing something good with my work- by helping- that I would feel fulfilled, and that’s not the case. But in the meantime, until I can find something that lights me up and makes me feel alive, I have to remember that it’s valuable to be helping.

And thinking all of my friends are too busy? Everyone is busy! But today, I had three emails waiting for me when I got home from work, all involving friends and future plans and Phillies games and great stuff. Oh, and there’s a coffee date with CF coming up next week (I’m sure I’ll post more about that later). And my super friendly neighbor helped me out again tonight, by fixing something that was wrong with my computer (I took it to the Apple store today, and while the guy helping me couldn’t solve my problem, he was super friendly too).

See! There are good things all around! I just hate that it’s so hard to see it all sometimes. I’ll end with a photo that kind of describes how I’m feeling… I took it at Eastern State Penitentiary several weeks ago. A lot of darkness, but definitely a lot of light ahead. And it’s beautiful light. And not too far out of reach.

Posted in Random Observations, Sandy, Uncategorized, Words of Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tight jeans and how ‘Sex and the City’ reminded me that it’s okay

I think it’s a little sad that the only thing I am posting about lately is cake, but well, there you have it. Another cake post. Part 2.

So I did, indeed, eat cake just about every day last week. The other night, I put on a pair of jeans that I hadn’t worn in a couple weeks, and yup, you guessed it, they were definitely not as roomy as before. I still have about half of the cake sitting on my countertop, and I think it’s about time I threw it away.

I was over at my friend’s place last night, and I was telling her about the cake and my jeans and how I have to reign in the dessert eating. So then we sit down to have dinner, flip through TV channels to find something suitable to play in the background, and settle on a Sex and the City episode. I haven’t seen the show in years, and forgot how clever some of the episodes could be. So anyway, we’re eating dinner and talking, but occasionally the conversation would pause while we watched the show.

And go figure, it’s the episode where Miranda swears off of sex and starts eating chocolate eclairs instead. I laugh and say to my friend, “Wow, this is pretty much what I was talking about!”. In the next scene, Miranda has her eye on a cake, and when she discovers that the $72 price tag in the patisserie is way too much, she buys a box of Duncan Hines (chocolate was her choice). I was laughing so hard I was almost crying, because there’s Miranda, eating half of the cake in one sitting. She throws it away in the trash, but then reaches in to take one last bite. I turn to my friend and say, “Don’t worry, this is NOT going to be me!!”.

If anything, seeing the cake episode of Sex and the City was actually reassuring. It reminded me that I’m not the only one who does this. It reminded me that sometimes cake is just what you need. It reminded me that if I want to indulge a little, then I should go ahead and indulge (but just never eat cake out of the trash, that’s taking it too far).

So here’s a clip of the episode, and don’t worry, this should be my last cake post for awhile!

 

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Let them eat cake! (and eat, and eat, and eat)

Cake. It’s the theme of the month.

So yesterday I baked a cake, just because. I was at the grocery store on Monday and knew that some icy weather was in the forecast. Foreseeing that I had an entire day alone in my apartment, I wandered down the baking aisle. And the boxed cake just looked so good!

It’s kind of hard to justify: baking a cake for no reason and having no one else to eat it but yourself. But I didn’t want cookies, I didn’t want brownies, I wanted cake. Betty Crocker Super Moist Party Rainbow Chip Cake (with creamy vanilla icing). You know that feeling when you want something very very exact and nothing else will do? Yup, that’s how I ended up baking a cake yesterday.

So last night I ate approximately 1/8 of the cake (there was a mishap with the icing- I had put it in the fridge and forgot that it needs to be at room temperature in order to actually spread on the cake. So the icing was sticking to the knife and digging up the top of the cake and the more I put on the worse it got. I decided to just cut out and eat the part of the cake that I had attempted to ice and save the rest of the icing for another day. Smart plan, except that the part of the cake that I iced was a lot bigger than I anticipated and I went to bed feeling very conscious of my stomach).

Anyway, I was already feeling wasteful, knowing that there was no way I’d be able to eat this entire cake. I like cake, but I don’t like what it does to my waistline. And I’m not being silly or dramatic or saying that just to say it: if I eat an entire cake in a week, I will gain 5 pounds, all in my stomach. It takes hard work to stay sort-of in shape, and a piece of cake now and again is great. But a huge piece of cake every day is not. And since Sandy died, I’ve been turning to comforting, heavy foods more than usual, and I’m feeling it.

So I’m already wondering why in the world I had decided to bake a cake for myself, when I get a knock at the door tonight. It’s my neighbor, whose girlfriend’s birthday is tomorrow. I guess they were celebrating tonight, because he held out a large piece of cake for me.

I smiled and thanked him but then looked down in dismay at the cake after he left. It’s white cake with vanilla icing, which is my favorite (hence the cake I made for myself), but this is inferior icing. And the cake does not have rainbow chips. So now, not only will I eventually be throwing away portions of my uneaten cake which I baked for no reason other than it was a new month and I was hungry, I will also be throwing away a perfectly good piece of birthday cake that a neighbor kindly thought to bring over for me.

Oh well. There are worse dilemmas to have. Plus, as I eat my cake tonight, I can celebrate the fact that Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring this year. 🙂

 

Notice the crater in the still un-iced cake in the background...

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