It’s not the chase, it’s the intermittent reinforcement.

I briefly mentioned (in my exasperated rant about yet anther ghosting) that I have once again entered the dark and mysteriously alluring world of online dating, this time with an altered approach. For one I’m on a different site than last time (no more bottom feeders at POF for this girl…I’ve moved on to the (still free) illustrious pool of somewhat eligible bachelors matched to me via the very loose algorithms of OK Cupid.). And for two, I’m more interested in and open to an actual relationship this go round. Shocking, I know. It kind of snuck up on me too but I’ve realized I feel sort of…maybe..almost ready for a regular other person in my life. Whatever that means.

However, just because that’s what I think I  want right now does not mean it’s what I’ve gotten. While there does seem to be more candidates on this site, the dates I’ve been on have not been so different. There’s been the FriendZone guy (decent, easy to get along with, interesting but no chemistry), the boring guy (super available, not a lot going on in his life, nice but…nice), and, the one that seems to click, the Ghoster.

It’s the last one that gets me every time.

He’s fun, interesting, and makes me laugh, even gets my sense of humor. He meshes. Usually there’s something that makes me hesitant at first but a  few dates in and I start thinking “This has potential.” And then it happens. As soon as I start leaning towards wanting him around and feeling optimistic, he “Ghosts”. Dude just drops off the face of the earth never to be heard from again. I’ve experienced this a few times. And every time I’m infuriated.

But then it happens again.

Sometimes there are signs. He texts a little less or seems less engaged. Little things like that. I should be able to recognize the warning signs by now. And I sort of do. The problem is the warning signs make me want the dude more… I thought I just really liked the chase (in a lot of ways I am more like a stereotypical guy than girl. Seriously, don’t buy me flowers…give me beer and a burger and I’m a happy camper.) But then one day, in a somewhat frustrating but still rewarding texting situation with a friend, a light bulb dinged in my head saying:

“Intermittent reinforcement”!

See, this guy and I have a mostly texting based friendship. Occasionally we’ll talk about meeting up for a random adventure. And it has actually happened. Twice. In three years. Sometimes, okay maybe more than sometimes, I’ll randomly text him and he won’t respond. But then sometimes he does. Once in a while he’ll even text me out of the blue. I’m always super excited and kind of happy about it. This pattern has gone on for a while now, over a year (I’m almost embarrassed to admit). Little spurts of fun attention with spans of mostly being ignored or getting short answers in between.

Intermittent reinforcement.

I’ve taken a couple psychology classes (Or I’ve taken a psychology class a couple of times. Whatever. Basically the same thing.) and I remember B.F. Skinner and his rats.

Skinner, an early behavioral psychologist, studied rats and their response to reward based stimulus. He talked about operant conditioning and stuff. (Here’s the Wikipedia page to prove it.) One of the things that this Skinner dude found, way back before the middle of the 20th century, was that intermittent reinforcement was way more effective than continuous reinforcement. Meaning when we consistently get a positive (or negative) result from our actions it isn’t as exciting and, well, rewarding as when we only get that same result once in a while. We thrive off the unpredictability of the prize, it makes us crazy for more and drives us to increase the behavior for even just the chance of getting the reward.

In rat studies this looks like the rat getting a food prize every time it pulls the right lever versus only some of the time. The rat who only gets a prize some of the time will pull that damn lever over and over and over again. Think gambling and slot machines here. It’s exponentially more exciting and rewarding because we’re surprised when we get the reward and addicted to the possibility of getting a reward next time when we don’t. It’s a very effective training tool.

So what do rats and reinforcement have to do with dating?

Everything! Getting a response or attention from a person only some of the time instead of every time we try makes us want to try to get that person’s attention even more. Anyone who had done any online dating can probably give antedotal evidence of this. 

So I realized that I was engaged in a pattern of intermittent reinforcement with Fickle Texting guy. The fact that he didn’t respond every time, or even regularly, made me want interaction with him even more. When he did actually respond and interact it was like all the cherries lined up on the slot machine. Excitement and win ! When there was no response it was annoying and frustrating but I was still drawn to texting him again at random. Because he might respond. The possibulity was there. As soon as I recognized this dynamic with Fickle Texting Guy (I’m slow sometimes but eventually I get it.) I started to notice it other places in my life too, specifically in some of my past dating experiences.

Heck, I’ve been on the receiving AND the giving end of intermittent reinforcement.

I think we all have and that’s not necessarily unhealthy. At the beginning, in moderation, it’s part of what builds attraction. But, and this is a big butt, it can very easily become unhealthy and even feed into abusive relationship dynamics. Continued intermittent reinforcement basically gives one person control of the interaction pace and lends itself to a craving in the other person that goes largely unsatisfied. Again, think gambling addiction here. It’s the same thing.

SO now that I’m aware of this thing, what do I do with this it? 

Do I try to “hook” a guy using intermittent reinforcement? It does sound like a fun social experiment. But what kind of a relationship dynamic would that foster? And what kind of guy would I catch with that?

Seeking out guys who don’t engage in imtermittent reinforcement seems like a better idea. I mean, I’ve already proven to be good at finding the guy who is going to run away, probably after the next shiny thing. Identifying patterns of intermittent reinforcement early could be a good way to weed out the Ghosters before the disappearing act begins. This is something I’m going to mull over and keep in mind as I message new guys online and continue to try and find one who will not only stick around, but who I also actually want around. 

As for the guy who only responds to texts sometimes, it’s been about a month since I’ve restarted the intermittent reinforcement cycle and I’m not all that interested in doing so. Maybe knowing really is half the battle.

 

 

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The Wheels are Spinning

It was one of those days: I couldn’t get anything done. The list of things I should have been doing was a mile and a half long (about half the distance I should have run) but I just couldn’t. My mind was all over the place yet going nowhere, like a car stuck in the snow spinning it’s tires. There’s motion but no moving. I had time and pretty much wasted it. I’m not even sure what happened. I did shovel snow for forty-five minutes, clean out the corners of my computer room, and …something else. I swear there was at least one other thing I accomplished between 10 am and 3 pm when I was home alone. Maybe not though. Time slipped right by while I putzed around feeling mildly anxious about the multitude of things I was not getting done. I tried a to-do list, a “What I need to accomplish” list. That usually helps. Not today. It was too vague. “Study Immunology” and “clean up” were not enough to direct my wandering mind and so instead I basically did nothing. Of course now I’m kicking myself over such a wasted day (though obviously still not studying).

In so many ways life is about balance. I’m fairly certain I’ve written about that at least once or twice. Balance. Physical balance is something I’m not stellar at. Graceful I am not! But  I’d like to think I’m not too shabby at other forms of balance. As a parent I feel I manage a pretty effective good cop/bad cop balance even when I have to play both roles myself.

good-cop-bad-cop-lego-movie

But lately there’s been a disruption of balances, a disturbance in the force if you will…

disturbance in the force

 

Specifically, the work/play balance in my life is off.

On a day to day actions (all the small stuff, the ones they say are really the big stuff) front there has not been as much work getting done as should be. That’s not to say I’m sitting around doing nothing (like I did today) all the time. There’s no eating chocolates and watching soap operas, rather just a lack of keeping the regular day to day get-shit-done pace that my life requires. I need to be productive and I just haven’t been. Conversely it seems like it’s been all work and no play on the bigger, broader scale. I’ve worked at least two days (nights really) of the past five, maybe six, weekends. Much of the weekend down time I have has been spent accommodating my four older kids’ healthy social lives or heckling them about homework. It’s nearing the end of the term for my two high school boys and neither of them is keeping up on their work like they should which means extra time and energy on my part trying to keep them on track to pass all their classes. Trying!! Ugh. There’s no break in sight just work piled on work like the layers and layers of garbage heaped on top of one another in a landfill all adding up until it gets covered with a little bit of topsoil and snow and called a ski hill. Except skiing would mean something fun is going on here. It’s not. That needs to be fixed. It’s been building for a while but now it’s at the point of complete unignorability. When small, slightly self-destructive things start occurring in an effort to remedy the problem it is officially time to address it. I’m pretty sure my unfocused brain is a self-sabotaging way of trying to force myself to find some fun. It’s not working.

So what does work?

How does one find fun when life demands so much work and effort on a regular, constant basis?

I like to play. I have a well developed sense of fun, curiosity, and general wonder. I think that’s what being childlike means and is a big part of finding that elusive goal we call happiness. Wonder, curiosity, and fun…they’re important. The little stuff adds up and becomes the big stuff. But when it all feels like work and tedium and obligation, what then? Something has to change otherwise everything stays the same (I think that’s a variation of some quotation of a famous and/or wise person). And things will change. One of the few constants of life is change. Over the next two months there is potential for big change in my life. I’m (we’re?) still waiting on the out come of the court proceedings that wrapped up just over a month ago. My parenting time schedule could change drastically. Or not. In just about six weeks this semester will be done. Another one in the books, almost the last. And then what? There’s no spring/summer classes for me to take this year. My daily and weekly schedule will suddenly be different. Maybe there will be free time (ha! wouldn’t that be something?) But then what would I do with free time? I can find adventure (or trouble depending on how you look at it) but doing so alone gets old after a bit. I need someone to play with. How does one find that as an adult? Who has time for that in their thirties? I have friends, really I do, but the vast majority of them are married and probably have young babies. That or they’re in nursing school and have classes every evening of the week. This is why I originally thought trying online dating was a good idea. Turns out when you tell people you just want someone to play with they think you’re looking for cheap, meaningless sex. No! That would be easier to find but I want someone to run around with (maybe literally) and find some adventure. Adventure in the every day, that’s what I want! Connection and a kindred spirit. Maybe there would be some sex involved but that’s not the end goal. Not at all. That’s not as obvious as I thought it was. My bad.

adventure is out there
Being a single parent is a lonely job and a black hole of demands for more. More time, more money, more attention, more, more, more. There’s never enough of you. I’m Humpty Dumpty post wall fall, pieces scattered everywhere. That’s okay, I’ve learned to function that way. It’s my life and I do love the life I have. It would be nice to fill a couple cracks though. The loneliness crack and the fun/adventure crack…to name a couple. I’ve had friends comment that they’re “basically single parents” because they feel like they handle all the household management and parenting responsibilities. Hell, I’ve said that before back when I was a naive young wife…        bit please

Yeah, it’s totally not the same. For my friends’ sakes I hope they remain unenlightened though.

So how does one find fun, adventure, and a person to share it with (on a very limited budget with next to no free time)? (one who doesn’t want to be around you 24/7 AND doesn’t just want to sleep with you and run…it’s a surprisingly delicate balance.) That’s the million dollar question. Obviously I don’t know the answer. If I did I’d be the richest person on the planet because isn’t this something everyone is seeking?

I hate not knowing the answer but every once in a while there’s a problem you just can’t solve no matter how hard you try. You get in this downward spiral of thinking and overthinking until you’re not even sure of what you do and do not know anymore and your head is a spinning mess. When that happens it’s best to walk away and come back to it later. In the mean time I’ll attempt to re-calibrate, restore the balance in some small ways while trying to stay focused and get shit done…just until the end of April.

Eyes on the prize…C’s get degrees but A’s are better…Must.Get.Shit.Done!!!

go study

 

5 Ways to Survive Valentine’s Day Alone

There’s not much I consider myself an expert at but being alone on Valentine’s Day is something I’ve gotten pretty damn good at these past few years. I did spent some Valentine’s Days married and probably before that dating but for the past three years I’ve navigated this tricky faux holiday totally unconnected whether I like it or not. And in all honesty I really am okay with it. I do find it’s best to be prepared for things like Valentine’s Day though because sometimes weird emotions sneak up on a person, those ninja bastards!

 

1. Be Your Own Best Friend..

Cliche, I know, but if no one else is going to treat you then, by all means…   treatyoself_main01.jpg

Self care is important (and something I’m not very good at sometimes). If you’re not going to do good for yourself once in a while what’s the point? Pick something you really want to do and DO IT! Go for a run, listen to some good music, see a movie, go to a museum, heck, if you like flowers buy yourself some fucking flowers. Self care is self love in action which is an offshoot of self acceptance. Self love, people, it’s a good thing.

If you have kids make them do something nice for you. Kids are naturally selfish little assholes, it’s our job as parents to teach them to be kind, caring, considerate individuals. Do you want your sons and daughters to know how to behave in their future relationships? It starts with you teaching them now. This is something I work on with my kids every Mother’s Day and birthday…my oldest three are teenagers and it’s still a work in progress. One of these days I’ll get breakfast in bed without having to wake those little buggers up to make it.

2. Be kind to strangers..

Maybe the media has the theme from Lion King pounding in your brain and stupid jewelry commercial “romance” (Blech!) burned into the backs of your eyeballs and maybe it’s got you feeling like a dark cloud is hovering above you this second week of February.

pooh_raincloud_d7e1e7ff.jpeg

The best..or one…way to combat this is to step out of your own self and look for opportunities to help a stranger. While you could spend the day feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, it might be just as effective to carry someone’s groceries or help a neighbor or something. I hear that kind of thing makes a person feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Isn’t that the point of Valentine’s Day? I’ll give you a hint: it is. The original St. Valentine earned the infamy of this day of love by anonymously helping people in need.

3. Escape!

If you’re anything like me a vacation is basically a liger…   liger

it sound possible but is completely fictional. Even so I’m a big fan of escapism. It’s like avoidance but in fancier clothes! My favorite forms of escapism are a good book, a new project (usually sewing or crocheting), or a nice long Netflix binge…think Netflix and Chill without the chill (or maybe as a solo chill).

4. Find a token kid or old person.

This is along the same lines as number 2 above but ever so slightly different because you’re not doing this altruistically, you’re looking for some good old fashioned self serving happiness. Kids tend to have a contagious level of wonder and excitement especially on “holidays”…and when you give them sugar so bring some of those little candy hearts or something. Maybe you have some nieces or nephews you could babysit. This is a double win because you’ll get some kid fun and your sibling will totally owe you one.

little miss sunshine

This may not be as funny to you if you didn’t see the movie Little Miss Sunshine but it made me smile.

The flip side of that coin is the elderly: They’ve lived longer and seen different things. Their world view is (probably) completely different than yours. Spending your Valentine’s Day with an older relative, neighbor, or even stranger talking with and listening to them might give you a new perspective on your own sad   lonely  solitary state of life. And like #2 adding value to someone else’s life by sharing your time with them will make you feel valuable which lends itself to inner peace and happiness.

5. Or don’t..

A good friend once told me that you actually need to feel the feels you’re having that moment. Again, this is something I’m kind of terrible at. Emotional suppression is a fine tuned art that I’ve mastered through years and years of practice, terribly unhealthy practice. When you go through any divorce and especially an unfriendly one there are Emotions…lots and lots of ugly emotions. They suck. They just do. But sometimes you just need to embrace the suckiness and your crappy feelings. Feel the feelings you have, wallow in the moment…   funny feelings

Velentine’s Day is not unlike this. If you feel like being sad and pathetic alone then do just that. Maybe don’t make any decisions while doing so though and don’t forget to pick yourself up and carry on come Monday. Because Valentine’s Day is just that, one day whether it’s a good one or not. Make it whatever you want it to be.

 

 

Changes Needed…or Not

Lately I’ve been feeling edgy and restless. Bored. I hate bored!

BC bored

I’m pretty sure this particular brand of boredom is really avoidance in disguise. True there hasn’t been any New and Exciting in my life for what seems like a while now but I’m more than busy enough not to be bored. My life is challenging and engaging. Boredom has no excuse to be here!

Besides my regular level of crazy busy there are a few things that are on the cusp of changing in my life…maybe big changing. Which is why this boredom is more like that jittery feeling you get at the starting line of a race right before the gun goes off. You know you’re about to go. You’ve worked for this, trained, prepped, warmed up and now you’re just standing around waiting. All that energy ready to be released; the rock at the top of the hill just waiting for that bit of force to tip it over the edge. Potential energy. Energy wasted, well, stored in the sitting. Except the gun is not about to go off right now. I’ve got months of preparation before taking those big steps (applying for dental school for one), months of work. I need to put my nose to the grindstone so to speak and get shit done. Knowing that makes me want to balk and shy away. It makes me distracted. It makes me want a change.

In the spirit of said boredom I have recently contemplated rejoining the world of online dating. I almost did it this past weekend. I’ve scrolled through profiles anonymously like the creeper I just might be and even contemplated sending a message or two. (Seriously, there was this professor of neuroscience at a nearby medical school…he wore a bow tie and a sweater with a skull on it. Swoon!). I even updated the pictures on my profile and tweaked the write up just in case I did decide to send anyone a message (ahem, neuroscience guy). But I stopped short of taking the plunge and unhiding my profile. I still don’t have time in my life for dating, even casually, and I really don’t want to make time. I just want the distraction of talking to someone new, the fun of a few first dates, the rush of it all and maybe some company once in a while. But distraction is the last thing I need right now. Must. Focus.

Possibly also in said spirit of said boredom I am thinking about signing up for a half marathon this spring. I’ve only done fall half marathons and both times I realized just weeks before the race that I was stretching myself pretty thin to get those long runs in. I was shorting other things like school to fit in the training I needed. Maybe a spring half would be different. Plus then I’d be in killer shape going into the summer. And, being right at the beginning of the usual “race season” (though one could hardly call my meager few 5 & 10K’s a race season), maybe I’d avoid that post-big race slump. I’d like to find out and the lure of something shiny and new to work towards is tugging on the edge of my mind. It’s playing with my current state of boredom like a cat batting around a marble. I might succumb. I might do it. Or maybe I should just move furniture around, paint a room or something. But bloody hell, I don’t even have time for that!
Still though there’s that itchy, irritating restlessness. That craving for something but I just don’t know what. Maybe if I keep moving I can outrun it. I’m not very fast but I’m persistent. I’ve got endurance on my side. Maybe I can outlast it. The pressure is on, I want to run away. It’s what I do, my favorite brand of self-sabotage. Get close to something big then pull back, find fifty other things to do, excuses as to why I can’t succeed. Wash, rinse, repeat.

In 2014 right around this time my divorce was finalized. Finally. The couple years before and since that have been spent transitioning and adapting. Constantly fluxing into something new and different. Changing. Even though changes can be scary so can not changing. Maybe I feel like I need a change because I’m so used to things changing regularly. There’s no status quot. Maybe that’s what this is: adapting to not changing.

Finding Faith & Chasing Ghosts

I’m sure your blog feed, Facebook wall, and whatever other social media you may look at has been flooded with new year’s resolutions, surely that market is saturated now, so I promise you this is not one of those.

On the last day of 2015 I read a post about choosing a word to use as a theme for the year as an alternative to making a resolution. It was an excellent post but when I read it I thought it sounded a little cheesy for my taste (I love cheese but cheesiness, not so much). The word you choose is supposed to capture the essence of the year or embody a quality that you want your life to have over the year. Or something like that. Then you write the word on a candle and put it by your bed or something. Based on my excessive use of “or something” it’s safe to assume that I’m very broadly paraphrasing here. In the comments of the post it was mentioned that ideally the word should just come to you in a magic cloud of inspiration, maybe on a moonbeam or a ray of light. Again, paraphrasing. It’s a nice concept but you see what I mean about it being a little cheesy right? My typically cynical  skeptical self read all this and scoffed a little. Inspirational theme words, psh.

But then a weird thing happened on New Year’s Day.

I was driving home from the usual type of New Year’s Eve festivities feeling a little wobbly of head when I slid around on the freeway just a tiny bit. It was a warning slide; I heeded and drove like a near sighted grandma the rest of the way home. I was cautious, maybe excessively so. Generally speaking I’m not sure I can be considered a cautious person, but when it comes to driving on bad roads my motto is Slow and steady keeps you safe. Or Go around me, you fucking asshole, there are three lanes here! As I was crawling (okay, going between 50 and 65 mph) along the freeway I began to question whether it was actually necessary to be going quite that slow. Maybe I truly was being ridiculously overly cautious, maybe a little paranoid. I couldn’t really tell though and wasn’t sure I wanted to take a chance and go faster. I seriously doubted my ability to judge the state of the roads in that moment. And that right there is how I’ve felt about everything the past few months: I have seriously doubted my ability to… I don’t even know…
everything.

Somehow in the last half of 2015 I lost my faith. I’m not talking about religious faith or faith in a belief system (though that has been seriously faltering as well), I’m talking about something that’s kind of like confidence but runs a little deeper. Something that supports the foundation and this past year it’s gotten a little cracked. I saw it during the microbiology class that was so tough for me this past semester. It really should not have been that bad but even when I knew the answers and had a grasp of the material, albeit a tenuous one most the time, I chose the wrong answers on tests. Over and over. I didn’t trust myself and because of that ignored my instincts. I had no faith in my intelligence, no confidence in my knowledge. I have doubted myself, not just academically this year but across the board. I’m sure this has something to do with being back in court with the ex husband. It’s not easy to sit quietly and listen to your parenting abilities and your personal integrity be attack. Even knowing the bombardment is one built on exaggerations, faulty perception, and flat out lies doesn’t help in the moment. That combined with my past dealings with the family court system leave me feeling scared. The most important situation in my life is being evaluated, so much is at stake, and it’s almost completely out of my hands. I’m probably doing something to fuck up the small part that’s not. My lack of organization, my lack of foresight, or something else I’m missing or just not doing will probably bite me in the ass and cost me more than I even care to think about losing. Not only do I have no faith in myself but my faith in the system is totally shot. That belief that everything will work out one way or another and that we’ll all be okay is gone. I need to find a way to restore some semblance of that. I need to be able to trust that things will work out, that people are okay, that the system can and does work, that I am competent and capable of handling what’s being thrown my way (or what I’m choosing to pile on top of that). You can’t have trust without faith so my Not Resolution this year, my word for the year, is faith…find faith.

When I was standing here a year ago looking back I was able to say that 2014 had been monumental. As I look back at 2015 I’m not really sure what to think. In some ways all I did was maintain this year and often barely even that. No huge changes, just day to day. Work, kids, school, and a feeble attempt at dating (that ended in me realizing that I just shouldn’t actively try to date right now). That’s it. It’s tempting to regard the year with disappointment but I know that’s not entirely fair to myself because even in the maintaining there is growth. It’s not leaps and bounds growth but slow, steady development, the kind where you maybe don’t realize is happening at the time but when you glance back to where you were you can see how far you’ve come. Outwardly my life doesn’t look much different than it did a year ago (other than the court bullshit) but through the process of navigating my day to day I’ve identified some of the ghosts at the back of my closet (to employ the phrasing of The Mountain Goats). Now it’s time to eradicate them, to burn the fucking house down (so to speak),  to forgive some of the difficult things about myself and move on.

Okay, I guess this was a resolution post after all. You’re just going to have to deal with that. Next time I’ll  write a post about running or making something. It’ll be lighter, more fun…maybe.

Phosphate is my Spirit Ion

…at least when it comes to dating it is.
Let’s be honest here, I don’t really know what people mean when they say something is their Spirit Animal. I’m fairly certain the idea has Native American origins & has to do with identifying an animal that encapsulates the essence of you, your spirit as it were. I guess I could search it up (a term often used in my household that’s a combination of search & look it up) but I’m probably close enough for this particular analogy. If a person can have a spirit animal then why not a spirit ion, especially a chemistry nerd like myself?

I was sitting in biochemistry lecture the other day, the professor was introducing the topic of bioenergetics, when phosphate came up.

Obviously this isn’t the first time I’ve learned about phosphate in a chemistry class but when the professor said “Phosphate is such a good leaving group because it’s so stable on its own it would just rather be unattached”, I felt like I could really relate to phosphate. While you can and do attach yourself, knowing you have the capacity to be stable alone makes you more willing and able to leave when it’s time.
See, phosphate has this cool ability to have “resonant structures” that allow it to be stable when it’s a free ion (unattached to another molecule) even though it has a charge. The way oxygen and phosphorous bind makes phosphate able to disperse the charge of the lone pair of electrons (which usually make an ion more reactive) evenly over the space of the entire molecule. This makes it an excellent leaving group. Because when you know you have the capacity to be stable on your own, to be okay when you’re unattached, you’re more likely to leave.

I’ve always been an independent person. When I was younger I just wanted to be left alone to do my own thing and find whatever fun (or trouble….sometimes they’re the same thing) I could. I could and would take care of myself so don’t try to sell me this Disney princess find your one true love to live happily ever after bullshit. If they had voted for a Least Likely to get Married title in high school I’m pretty sure I would’ve won that. Having graduated from a Catholic high school, however, and they did not. Missed opportunity right there.
But then I got married ….when I was twenty. Getting pregnant at eighteen was a game changer. It didn’t alter my level of independence but my life was thrown into this crazy flux and I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself. So I got married; I thought it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t, it was a mess.

Fast forward a few years (or a decade & a half) and here I am, thirty-five, divorced, trying to date. It’s been eye opening. It’s been bizarre. It’s been fun too though. And I’ve learned a whole lot about myself. At first I was very sure I wasn’t ready for anything serious; I just wanted to see what’s out there & get the hang of things. As I approached the one year mark of dating (albeit on & off) I thought it would be nice to have A Person, to actually seek a regular dating relationship. More recently I’ve realized that that doesn’t really work for me at this juncture.
Don’t get me wrong, I do support the idea of monogamous relationships in general. But I see now that there is just not space in my life for such a thing. There’s not enough free time, not enough emotional space, and just not enough energy at the end of the day to think about another person like that and invest in building a relationship. I simply do not have time to be attached right now and I’m okay with that. If I could magically jump into a relationship at the point where things are established and comfortable it might be a different story. That’s not how it works though and I’m not about to sacrifice time with my kids or the enrrgy I need to devote to succeeding in school to try and make a budding relationship work. That’s not fair to me or the potential other person. Besides that, I know I am stable on my own and I’ll be fine without that. It makes me a good leaving group. Much like phosphate, I’ll be okay unattached. It’s energetically preferred at this time.

Phosphate is also very important in metabolic processes. Something else I can relate to.

Landmines Everywhere

Is that your leg over there on the other side if the room?

You stepped in something, didn’t even see it coming but it all just blew up. Debris everywhere.
On the surface it was a harmless (though slightly rude) comment about the state of my tub. You said “Looks like your shower could use a little bleach.” It caught me off guard; I didn’t realize right away that you had hit a trigger.
Oh but you did! Boy did you ever.

By the time you left a few hours later I was feeling slightly off about this whole thing but couldn’t pinpoint why. I thought it was because we’d seen each other three times in barely over a week. That’s kind of a lot for me, maybe I just needed some space. The next morning though I was restless, edgy & anxious. I went for a run, trying to avoid the panic that was setting in. I ran until I was out of time but it was my fastest five miles maybe ever. It’s good to know I can still out run the demons. I hadn’t realized they were still giving chase; they’ve been quiet for some time now.
It was something but not quite enough. After work I didn’t go home. I didn’t want to be alone in my head. It was still a little messy in there. Not quite okay, feeling a little off, but I couldn’t put my finger on the source of this sudden angst. So I hit the Self-destruct button. Hard. Drinks. Flirting with strangers. 3 am drunk texts to the wrong person and all that implies. It wasn’t smart. Sometimes I’m not smart. I panicked. After a slap on the ass and a “thanks for the good time..no,no don’t get up I’ll just see myself out” I walked home, tired but at least able to breath.

Why? Did I just need to prove to myself that I wasn’t cornered? Then it hit me, like a ton of bricks, like Wylie Coyote’s anvil falling from the sky: that comment, the one about the grime in my bathtub, it was all a little too familiar. You said That needs to be cleaned (and maybe it does). It might have been a simple observation but I heard “You’re not enough. You need to be better.” the same way I’d heard it for years back in another life. In the subtle digs and little bits of criticism slipped in an otherwise innocent conversation, in the undermining of everything positive that had transpired, in the blatant accusations that I was always doing something wrong and falling short just by being who I am because, well, it was never enough.

I knew there would be some murky waters and hidden dangers getting back into this whole dating with the prospect of a relationship thing. I thought I was ready for that. I’d done some scouting and prepared myself, stayed vigilant but still this one caught me off guard. Even as the body parts were flying as the explosion ripped through the ambiance I couldn’t tell what it was. Now, though, that one’s been found. It’s marked and identified. Forewarned is forearmed.