Giddy

Carolina Man is coming to visit me this weekend! Last night he asked me what plans I had for the 4th. Seeing as how I live in, you know, the nation's capitol, it was kind of embarrassing to admit the only thing I had on my plate was dog sitting. I thought he was just making small talk until I realized, "Oh wait, he could come visit. It's a long weekend!"

And so, that's what we're going to do. He's driving up here just as soon as he can on Friday (he said, "It'll be tough for me not to jump in the car at 6 am") and we're going to have time for just the two of us. No boss, no dad, just he and I.

I can't wait.

Everything is About to Change

This weekend was like a dream. Part of me still wonders if it happened at all. Could it really be this easy? Could I have actually found someone with whom I have a real connection?

I spent four glorious days with my boss L, her husband, and his son. There was some definite build-up and anticipation going into it; L had been talking about this guy for nearly a year, and I felt sheepish about being set up. But, the awkwardness melted as soon as he made me laugh the first time.

I've never laughed so much. And I didn't realize until then how important it is to laugh with someone--and how I never really did that with my ex. It was then that I realized I'd been settling for something less than I deserved. He had brought me down; being with him made me feel less like myself.

Now I feel like I'm floating. I'm scared and excited. But more than anything, I am feeling closer to my real self than I have in months. And I can't wait to see him again.


A Note to the Ex

Seriously? No, seriously? You couldn't even take two seconds to send me an email to say "happy birthday"? You know how important birthdays are to me. And I spent yours with you this year.

I've got to find a way to stop being disappointed by you. I have to take you off the list of people who matter to me. But in the meantime, I have to admit that you've really hurt my feelings. And I still want my things back.

28

Today's my 28th birthday! So to celebrate, here are 28 awesome things that have happened this year.

1. I met my BFF Katie.
2. I went to California for the first (and second) time.
3. I got to go into the United Nations.
3. I met Geena Davis and made her laugh.
4. I hooked up with a beautiful man at the beach.
5. I got a raise.
6. I moved into a room with a whirlpool tub.
7. I traveled the US with women from Kenya and Sierra Leone.
8. I lost 20 pounds and 2 dress sizes.
9. I took a much needed break from online dating.
10. I spent New Year's with my childhood best friend.
11. I started a women's faith & spirituality group.
12. I turned down a board position I didn't have time for.
13. I joined a new gym and discovered Zumba.
14. I WENT TO MALAWI!!! (Last year on my birthday, I said, "Maybe my job will take me 6000 miles away." I wasn't quite right--it actually took me 7902 miles away!)
15. I discovered Birchbox.
16. I maxed out my IRA contribution.
17. I went to my 5-year college reunion.
18. I bought myself an iMac.
19. I danced on stage at the Kennedy Center.
20. I successfully gave up alcohol for Lent.
21. I got one of my bishops to agree to meet with a member of Congress on women's health matters.
22. I saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time.
23. I published one of my liturgical pieces in a book.
24. I went back to church.
25. I joined a Bocce team and we won our first season!
26. I gave up watching wedding shows.
27. I performed Cee Lo's "F*** You" at karaoke more times than I can count.
28.  I learned that I am enough.

(un)Committed

Sitting in the Houston airport after a 36 hour jaunt to California, waiting for our respective connections, my boss and I were discussing my current state of unhappiness as it relates to my ex. I told her how much I hated his lack of honesty in our relationship, and especially how he would act as if he were withholding information in order to protect me. It would usually be along the lines of "I didn't want to upset you." I resented how he used me as his excuse for being cowardly.

She responded with the following: "The problem is that he was never really committed to your relationship." 

I simultaneously wanted to slap her and burst into tears. Fortunately, I did neither. But I realized in that moment something much deeper than the hurt of a love lost was going on. What was it about what she had just said that made me react so strongly? What nerve had she touched that in an instant made me feel as if I'd come unraveled? 

What she'd said was more or less a factual statement about our relationship. I'd been prepared to stick it out, and SCL walked out when things got hard. He never even tried to work on our problems--and that was his problem. So, why did it feel like a reflection on me that he gave up?  

I felt like I wasn't worth fighting for. I wasn't worth the effort of trying. I was dispensable. Traded in for something better. Tossed aside. Forgotten. 

As a child, I watched my father walk in and out of my life three different times, the last time for good. I thought that if I could just do or say the right thing, he would realize what a shitty father he'd been and would apologize. I would labor over long letters to him, telling him everything I felt and how he'd wronged me. Never once did he apologize. Never once did he admit that he'd given up. And I was left disappointed. 

Kids shouldn't have to earn the love of their parents. They certainly shouldn't have to earn an apology. I never should have felt like I had to convince my father to be a supportive presence in my life. Finally, I just gave up on him. He'd already given up on me years before.

My ex is just the lens through which I have been examining a pain that goes much deeper. It isn't about him; he isn't the root of it. He's still in the forefront of my mind, but in time that will fade, I hope. But the deeper pain won't unless I start admitting it's there. 

Reclaiming Our Humanity

What happens when we claim our right to be fully human? Everyone benefits. Even those who feel superior, who demean and discount us, benefit when we claim our full humanity.When we refuse to accept degrading conditions and behaviors, those in power no longer have a target for their oppressive acts.  Even if they want to continue in their old ways, we don’t let them.  Our refusal gives them the opportunity to explore new, more humane behaviors.  They may not choose to change, but as we stand up for ourselves, we give them the chance to be more fully human as well.  When we are courageous enough to honor ourselves, we offer everyone else their humanity.
It's a wonderful realization--claiming our vocation to be fully human is the way we extend love to all others. As such, it is the ultimate gesture of love.

Margaret Wheatley, Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future 

Precisely

 "FUCK! i'm in my twenties" 

Burnout

That's what I'm pretty sure I'm experiencing. I don't feel like I can give 100% to anyone or anything. I just want to lie in bed in my dark room all day.

The frustrating thing is I can't even tell if this medicine I'm taking is starting to work because my circumstances have been so all over the place since I began it about four weeks ago. While I was in Malawi, I felt great, relaxed, at peace. Then as soon as I walked through the door, I felt the rush of stress return. And then the SCL thing fucked everything up. Then I left for another week of hectic work travel.

My prayers have shifted from wanting everything to be good, to wanting everything to be neutral, to wanting everything to be not totally fucked up for a few weeks so I can see if this medicine is kicking in.

Seriously, universe, cut me some slack.

Can I Stop Wanting What I Want?

What I want more than anything is to stop wanting what I want. If only I could say with sincerity that I am satisfied with my life as it is, that the good things about it are enough for me, and that anything else--a relationship, children, money--would be a bonus.

Being in a partnership and having a family are central to the vision I have for my life, so how do I go about not wanting them? The way some people talk about love, the simple wanting of something in this arena, much less striving for it even, means that we probably won't find it.

"It'll come to you when you're not looking for it."

I can't force myself to quit looking for something I desire. It'd be like like trying to ignore the rumbling of an empty stomach or the sandpaper feeling of a parched throat. I might be able to distract myself momentarily, but the idea of satiation is never going to escape me.

I like the idea of being satisfied within myself, but I have no idea how to go about it.

When I first started taking voice lessons, I was in heaven. I loved the practice, I loved trying new exercises, and I was in love with the idea that it was just a matter of time before I perfected my art. Then at some point I crossed the threshold of blissful ignorance to the painful realization of understanding how much I didn't know and how much I couldn't do, and not having any cultivated any real skill yet, I fell into a place of frustration.

That's how I feel now. I know how much I have to learn about being at peace with myself, but I have no idea how to go about achieving it. But, if like with my voice, I can manage to push through this period of despair, I do believe I'll learn something important, something to take with me through this journey that will help.

The Plot

She won't call it a set up, but that's exactly what it is.

The first time my supervisor L talked to me about her stepson was last September. I had just gone through my second break-up with SCL and had begun dating Dr. Nutrition a few weeks earlier. She described him as the funniest person and the best listener she'd ever met. And he was newly single.

When L threw a surprise retirement party for her husband back in December, she'd been sure that the stepson and I had the opportunity to spend some time together. She was right; he was funny. I couldn't tell about the good listener part as we only spent a few minutes together, but I got a good feeling from him. He lives in North Carolina, and when I mentioned I was thinking about moving there, he told me to let him know if I went through with it, and that he'd be my friend.

I pretty much thought was the end of that. I'd eventually decided to stick it out in DC and try to put a new life together there. It wasn't going to do me any good to fantasize about a life in NC, especially not with a man I didn't really know. But then last week on our way to Malawi, L asked if I wanted to come spend the last weekend in June with them while her husband's son was visiting.

Whenever she talks about him, I get this embarrassed grin on my face. I'm flattered that she thinks we'd made a good match. And I absolutely love the idea of potentially being in their family. Obviously that's not enough to constitute a relationship, but it's certainly not a bad place to start. Already having a loving relationship with potential future-in-laws puts me in a better position than I ever was dating SCL, whose parents treated me incredibly unfairly.


Despite all the potential good things that could come of this, there are a lot of potential not-so-good things, too. First of all, it's sort of mixing romance with work. Second, I'm still raw from what happened last week. I'm not sure I'm in the place to give someone new a chance. But after thinking it over (and L assuring me there was no pressure), I decided that it's not that big of a risk. If nothing else, it'll be a weekend of home-cooked meals and peach mojitos. So, what the hell? I got a ticket and we'll see what happens.

One other interesting thing about this guy: I have dated and/or had a crush on every Gospel writer name...except for one. A few years ago, I decided I'd eventually meet a man with the final name and marry him. And the stepson just happens to have that name. 

A Hot Mistake

I've been at Lake Eerie for work the last several days, and like most of the country, it's been hotter than hell. My meetings have been in an open-air auditorium, and I've literally had to peel the back of my shirt from the back of my stadium seat each time I had to stand up to get more water. Despite being a church gathering, I resorted to wearing my least conservative clothes--short shorts and tank top that shows my bra straps--because I just couldn't stand it otherwise.

What about the heat warning made me think taking a nice long run at 5 pm yesterday sounded like a good idea is beyond me. But off I went, into the blazing sun with no water bottle but tons of determination. I ran along the lake for a few miles, getting a few strange looks from people who had only stepped quickly into the heat to get their mail or water their parched lawn. Determined to get in a good workout, I kept on pounding the boiling pavement.

At some point I noticed that I wasn't really sweating...and that I was getting the chills. In 100 degree weather. That started to freak me out, so I slowed my gait down to a light jog and turned around to head back to my hotel. I thought I was hallucinating when I saw a water fountain, but thankfully it didn't disappoint and I drank for several minutes straight, resulting in a serious case of water belly. When I eventually made my way back, I stumbled into my room dizzy, exhausted, and nauseated.

I am stubborn as shit. I can throw myself into a mind-over-matter mentality, no matter how bad the matter is telling me to stop whatever it is I'm doing. And I think the same is true of my relationship with my ex. I was determined to keep running down that path, no matter how much pain or suffering it caused.

Today when I woke up, the heat had broken, and it was a cool, overcast morning. The perfect running weather.

The heat will break. I just have to wait until it does, and then go for it.

Enough

I think I've ranted about most, if not all, of the things I needed to about running into the ex and his new girl (aka The Obsession). It was the long time comin' final nail in the coffin of our dead relationship. As much as it fucking hurts, there's nowhere to go but forward because I'm sure as hell not staying in the same place.

I'm not sure at what point in our relationship I handed him the keys to my happiness and never asked for them back. But, I want them back. I want it all back.

The inner critic--the little bastard who lives in our head and shouts nasty things to us all day--has been having a fucking field day with this situation. He's been yelling at me non-stop since Thursday night, and basically, I'm ready for him to shut the fuck up. Enough already.

Truth is, I'll never know what went on in my ex's head or what his situation is now or how things could've been different if I'd held back more or asked for less or learned to live in a state of complacency rather than asking for what I wanted. I could spend the rest of my life trying to figure this thing out, but what kind of life would that be?

Is it possible not to take to heart the fact that you weren't what someone else wanted? And not just anyone else, but the person you loved the most? Just who I was wasn't enough for him. Shouldn't that turn me off instead of making me feel like I should have just been someone else? I'm trying to move away from the latter and into the former. Because damn it, I am enough. I can't let his acceptance, or lack thereof, serve as the measuring stick of my worthiness as a human being.

Enough, inner critic. Enough, ex-boyfriend. Enough already. Because I am enough.

What I Wanted

I wanted to be the one to be move on and have a new partner before he did. It only seemed fair after I'd had my heart broken to be the one to mend first. I threw myself back out there, started dating and even fell for a few of the assholes I encountered. Somehow he can live essentially as a recluse and get a new girlfriend.

I wanted him to be lonely and miserable because of it. Instead I was there for him, letting him string me along as I spoke sugar-coated lies of false hope to myself that maybe now that the circumstances were different, he'd realize that we belonged together.

It's not that I want him back. I don't, at least for the most part. I'm just pissed that he gets the girl, and I get nothing.

What I want now is to forget him, to remove every trace of him from my memory, to extract every dream of a life with him from my mind. To quit torturing myself over him and what I could have done differently, to stop replaying Thursday's confrontation in my head.

I want out of this sinking hole. I want something to start making sense to me. The pain of this will never go away completely, I don't think. But I want something to click for me, something that reinforces that this was never the life I was supposed to live.

I want to meet someone who reassures me that my ex wasn't the best I'd ever get.

The Accusation

"You're trying to manipulate me." 

That was the ex's response to me crying that I just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up.

For the record, I wasn't. I would never imagine saying something that serious to someone just to hurt them or scare them. What I said was how I felt in that moment, but he couldn't understand that.

About three weeks ago, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I'd been having what my therapist called "depressive episodes" for over six months. These episodes were irregular and usually sparked by some trauma (usually having to do with the ex), but no matter the reason for them, the feeling they brought was the same each time: despair that nothing will ever get better.

With the help of my therapist and my own strong will, I managed to claw my way out of these trenches with exercise, eating well, journaling, spending time with friends, etc., but each time another one hit and I was hurled back into the valley, my energy to pull myself out again felt more and more depleted, and my faith in the universe diminished.

The episodes began happening at shorter intervals, every few weeks. Finally I couldn't take it anymore. I sobbed to my therapist that I couldn't keep doing this over and over again. The next day I had an appointment with my primary care provider to discuss starting a medication to help me deal.

I rattled off the things I had tried to help myself out of this: exercise, meditation, good diet, regular therapy sessions, journaling, vitamin D supplements, self-help books, distractions. But nothing was was working anymore. I felt helpless.

"In all my time working here, I've never seen anyone try as hard as you have to help yourself out of depression," the doctor said gently. "You aren't giving up. You're sick, and it isn't your fault." I started crying; I felt so relieved to hear someone else say that what I was going through wasn't something a normal person could endure on her own. I started on Lexapro the following day. The doctor said it could take up to a month to begin working. So far I haven't experienced any relief, just fatigue and a few lost pounds. But I'm putting my faith in  the pills; it's the best I've got at the moment.

The Idea of You

I understand on an intellectual level that I what I actually miss about my ex is mostly the idea of him. I miss the hodgepodge of two years' worth of good memories I've welded together and repackaged to myself as "our relationship." Truthfully, while we certainly had many good times together, more often than not I had a lingering suspicion that caused me to doubt my standing with him. Turns out it was founded in the thing I feared the most--there was someone else.

But on a visceral level, my whole being longs for him now more than ever. I long for him to feel something other than disgust towards me. I'd rather him lash out than ignore me like he's doing now. Every second of silence sends me deeper into my psychological ravine.

I wish I could hate him. I wish seeing him with the girl he always loved more made me despise him. Even more so, I wish I could feel nothing more than indifference towards him. Like the way he looked at me the other night. Some shock was in his eyes, but no trace of  hurt, anger, or guilt. Just a look of, "Why the hell do I have to deal with you right now?"

I saw the potential in him. And that is what I cannot seem to let go of--believing in a better version of himself. He may accuse me of many things, but what he should not dare question was my deep faith in him. I strove to be encouraging of his desires, even when he told me about the girl. I remember telling him, "You have three options with her. Cut her out, learn to be her friend, or go for it."

I never imagined he'd actually choose the last option. He was my heart, and I was his stand-in. He strung me along and treated me unfairly, and now he gets the girl? I used to believe that this heartache meant something better was on the way. But now that just feels like a lie I've been telling myself.

He ruined me.

For just a moment I wish I could force him to feel the weight and the depth and the seriousness of the pain he's caused me. It would probably break him to feel something that strongly. I know that despite my not leaving bed yesterday or even brushing my teeth that somehow I am the stronger one. I'm not forced to compartmentalize my emotions. I somehow bear them even when I feel like I can't.

He told me nothing he could say would satisfy me. No, nothing he could say would put the pieces of me back together that he broke over and over again. He ruined me.

He referred to the "problems" we had. If he thinks that anything other than his inability to be transparent with me was the root of our issues, then he is deluded beyond my comprehension. We would have either broken up sooner, minimizing the pain on my end, or we would have been able to work through it.

I have re-played our confrontation in my mind a thousand times. I'm glad I didn't yell at her, as much as I wanted to. I imagine slapping him with the force of my entire being--and I wonder if given the chance if I really would. If I really could hit the cheek I used to kiss with deep love and affection. Physical pain seems like the only harm I could cause him. He looked at me with no guilt or shame in his eyes--just indifference and disconnection.

My life is a cosmic joke.

Clinging to the Edge

Jet-lagged beyond exhaustion, I stumbled down the five blocks to the park in my neighborhood. I'd just essentially sleepwalked off the Ethiopian Airlines flight early that morning after the more than twenty-four journey back to the United States from Malawi. Determined to jump start my circadian rhythm and uphold my typical "good girl" standards, I joined my Bocce team for the playoff games at what felt like one in the morning to my confused, aching body.

There are so many "if only"s running through my brain, like on an iPod playlist on shuffle and repeat.  If only we'd played on a different court. Or if I'd only decided to give into the jet leg and fell asleep at 3 pm EST. Then maybe I wouldn't have seen him.

I recognized the sandals he was wearing, the ones he bought for our trip to St. Lucia where we'd spent a week in each other's arms. We'd spend the days soaking in the sun and drinking cocktails, and spent the nights making love in the moonlight rising in between the Pitons.

Now instead of me, she was with him. The girl who captured his heart nearly ten years ago. The one I'd never live up to. The one he longed for as I struggled to make him love me. I watched as they walked arm in arm across the grass, carrying a picnic and a blanket. Something we used to do back when I used to think he loved me. And then I saw him kiss her.

As I walked towards them, I saw that he was wearing the jeans I'd bought him for Christmas our first year of dating. They'd faded significantly from the indigo blue they were when I bought them. When we lived together I did our laundry, and  I always took care to wash them inside out and hung them to dry. Tender and gentle, even with the clothes he wore.

I shocked them, I know. But my confrontation could have never delivered the kind of continuous punch to the gut I was experiencing. When my mom reflects on her divorce from my father, she'll often say, "Everything I feared would happen....happened." Here was my biggest fear happening--he had moved on before I had. He has the girl he'd always wanted. And I have nothing.

How do you cling to the edge when there's nothing there to dig your fingers into?