The Illusion of Safety

As human beings, we’re taught at an early age how to keep ourselves safe. Safe from injury. Safe from harm. There is equipment specifically designed to fulfill our need for safety. What we’re not taught is how to keep our hearts safe from harm.

The world is shifting. There is more evil and corruption than ever before. We live in a completely self-centric society where everyone is out for themselves. Chivalry is dying a slow, painful death. And the act of courtship has been put online and automated so seamlessly that deception is the most common denominator.

I thought I was finally safe. I thought I’d found something special. Being loved makes you bulletproof and I was invincible. Each day was better than the one before. My feet hardly touched the ground. He said “I love you” first. He called me “Babe” after our first phone conversation. He said I was the best thing that had ever happened to him. I believed all of it. He couldn’t wait to introduce me to all of his friends, his daughter, his Dad… I felt so cherished & adored. But most of all, he made me feel safe.

It’s difficult for me to trust after everything I’ve been through. Although I try not to carry too much of the past with me, I’ve found that my willingness to trust becomes increasingly difficult with each new suitor. Somehow, this time, I trusted way too easily.

Everything since October 4th feels like a lie. I find it difficult to imagine that someone can go from “I’m going to marry you,” and “I love you so much,” to breaking up with you via a photo text of everything left behind and the gifts you gave in a hamper. This is the kind of behavior exhibited only by someone who despises you. There was no logical reason for that.

I honestly thought I was being Punk’d.

However, that was all I got… at first. Almost an hour later, after I pressed him for answers, I received a long, rambling, extremely formal-toned text, full of excuses and finality. To say that I was in shock would be an understatement.

As luck would have it, I ran into him less than 14 hours later. He was at a bar, knocking back as much liquor as he could get his hands on, flanked by two unspeakably plain blondes.

As I approached, I made a fist. Then I remembered what a complete failure I am at making a decent fist. But as drew nearer, I noticed that instead of the adrenaline rush I thought I’d feel, I was completely calm. This alone surprised me. He looked homeless, downtrodden, out-of-place… not the person I once knew.

I grabbed a fistful of long grey hair from the back of his neck. His head went straight back as he spun to face me. “Hi!” I said. “What happened? What is wrong with you?” I said a number of other things that are now a blur of unanswered questions. I wanted answers, I needed answers and moreover, I deserved them.

He couldn’t look me in the eye. He just kept repeating “Babe, Babe, Babe” as if he was unable to form sentences. This went on for what seemed like an eternity, although it may have lasted about 6 minutes.

I’m grateful for this encounter. I was out with great friends, dressed to slay, and I’d just finished hearing a few friends play a gig right down the street that had me smiling ear to ear. I was prepared for a run-in, even though it was the furthest thing from my mind. Seeing him this way made everything easier. I saw all the lies come to life right before my eyes.

It was like giving a toddler an inquisition. There was much squirming, more lying and a little side-stepping in an attempt to get away. When I realized asking questions was pointless, I let him slither away. I may never know exactly what happened, but seeing this display made me acutely aware that I had no idea who I’d just spent the last month with.

I think ideally, you want to date someone who doesn’t leave you thinking, “What the hell just happened?”

This is what scares me the most. I let this stranger so far into my world that I began to see a future with him. I believed all of his lies. I allowed myself to get attached. He was my safe place, my ally, my comfort zone. I trusted him.

I was bamboozled to a degree I’d never known.

Maybe he’s not over his ex. Maybe he has Dissociative Identity Disorder. Maybe he knew deep down that he could never live up to the expectations he’d set for himself. I have no idea what would make someone who claimed to love me more each day cut me loose in such a cold, calculated way. Maybe I’ll never know.

Safety is a myth. Nothing is guaranteed. Even good things may be exactly the opposite of what they seem. Sociopaths, psychopaths, charmers and manipulators exist. Knowing how to spot them is half the battle.

If you feel you have a sociopath, charmer, manipulator, or psychopath in your life, go here. The site contains resources that may be helpful to you. It was started by Jackson MacKenzie, the author of Psychopath Free.

 

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I Don’t Believe In Love

I don’t believe in love any more. This is in direct contrast to yesterday when I believed in everything… and loved everything. And it’s even more shocking given that less than 48 hours ago I was planning a future that I was excited about with someone other than myself. I hadn’t really thought about having anyone significant in my life in quite a while. It just happened. But in the end, just as quickly as it happened, it was gone.

I think those of us who have been burned before try our hardest to stay far from the flames. It’s been almost a decade since someone told me I was “not allowed to exist in his world anymore.” Out of everything, those are the words that have echoed in my mind. I’ll never forget them. When I opened myself up to someone, I was thrown away like garbage. Because of that, I’d kept everyone at arm’s length. Besides, it wouldn’t be long before they’d confirm that I was better off without them.

I was comfortable on my own. In fact, I loved it. I was even hesitant to have my matchmaker set me up. I liked my space. I was happy.

But I’d paid for 3 dates, so I went through with them. This story is about the third date.

Yes, it was the last one. But did I feel any pressure to MAKE it work? I really didn’t. Everything was so easy. Everything just fit. After a few weeks, I was going to write and tell the blogosphere how ridiculously happy I was. I’d even picked out the title, “Ray of Light.” I was going to talk about how I’d found what I had sought all this time. And about how my life was illuminated to an entirely new level because this person was in my life. I wanted to talk about all the good things, but most of all, of how I believed in love again.

Sometimes you are fortunate enough to meet someone who challenges you to be your best self. That’s what I thought I’d found. Imagine my surprise when he ended everything with a text message. I did what anyone in my position would do. I texted him, emailed… Words, words ad nauseum. In my eyes, he’d turned on a dime. In the blink of an eye all the plans, all the “I love yous…” Everything came crashing down on me like a tidal wave. How could something with so much potential just disappear?

I should have known to be wary of anything that gives off the sheen of being too perfect. Anything that begins with that level of emotion is bound to end badly. If there were signs, I never saw them. Although, unlike before, I never had to talk myself into being with him. I genuinely wanted it. There was no need for convincing or reassurance. My mind was made up. We had fallen in love. Albeit quickly, we were dead set to have the relationship of our lives.

And because stubbornness runs in my family, it’s equally as difficult to shift that mindset away. Gone. Over. The End. Those words look like hieroglyphics to me right now.

I’m not going to lie and tell you I’m not in pieces. I can’t promise that I’ll ever believe in love again. Everything I’ve ever been shown has taught me the contrary. How can someone who tells me every 15 minutes how much he “loves” me, just ditch me like I never existed? It’s happened twice, which is two times too much.

There’s no magic algorithm that dictates how successful any relationship will be. There are no guarantees. You just choose someone and how the rest plays out is up to you. Everyone is scared. Everyone has issues. Everyone has been through something. No one is perfect.

A few weeks ago, I did TV makeup for Jesse Jackson. He didn’t speak much, but I had a memorable conversation with his wife. She told me, “Don’t marry the one you’re infatuated with. Marry the one who is going in the same direction as you are.” This may be the best advice I’ve ever been given. Putting it into action is the hard part.

But for now, I’m tired of writing and I’m tired of trying.

The Best Advice I Can Give All My Single Friends

“I’ve been dating since I was fifteen! I’m exhausted! Where is he?”
– Charlotte, Sex and the City

Ever since I was a little girl, I had imagined myself married with at least one child by now. This is definitely not my reality. Although my parents chose to have me a little later in life, they married in their twenties. My twenties were spent being optimistically cautious through college while dating a cornucopia of guys who were totally wrong for me.

Back then, finding a guy to date was the easiest thing I did. What I didn’t understand was that in order to accomplish the ultimate goal of this dating party, I needed to find someone who was actually compatible with me. At the time, I think I was just looking for someone attractive to be my date for sorority functions. But time and time again, I found that their attractiveness didn’t get them very far. I would fixate on someone and then convince myself that we should be together. Then, when their third eye would appear, I put on my track shoes and bolted for the door.

It wasn’t until my thirties that I began to see I was doing this all wrong. I was laid off from MCI WorldCom, had split from ex-fiancé number 4, and was about to move to Charlotte for the first job opportunity in my field that had come up since the layoffs. The night before my big move, I was out with my friends celebrating and met someone. We dated 3.5 years even though we lived in different cities for at least a year and a half. I was crazy about him. He was charming and handsome, but he never actually saw me. As a result of being charming and handsome, he never saw anyone else for anything more than their outward appearance. When I moved home, he started to become more dominant. We fought a lot. The relationship revolved around what he wanted. He started belittling me to make himself feel larger. I ended it, thinking I’d get better results. I thought that if he lost me, he’d appreciate me more. Instead, he used the opportunity to start dating other women. A few days after our split, I ran into him… on a date. I was crushed, but eventually got over it.

At that point, the general atmosphere of dating shifted. People were dating online . This added instant gratification to the act of dating. People started not to appreciate one another. Everyone was replaceable. Pictures held a higher importance than text. No one cared what was on the inside if all your angles were flattering. Everything was superficial.

I spent years getting lost in the online dating quagmire. Then I did the best thing I could possibly have done for myself. I adopted a dog.

In this digital age, where we all swipe right to get what we want, unconditional love is a precious commodity. When you adopt a dog, you gain what most dating relationships lack. Respect, comfort and unconditional love. When I adopted Quincy, my focus shifted more toward taking care of myself, him, my parents, and my house. I didn’t need to be with anyone. I was fine all by myself. I found myself turning down dates and other social events based on this scale: If I would rather be home with my dog, my RSVP is No.

Quincy gave me back everything I’d wasted on the guys who didn’t deserve me. He’s always there for me. He makes me laugh. And he’s far and away the best at snuggling. Instead of focusing on the next guy to come along, I put my effort into my friendships, my house and my hobbies. I decided that if I were to spend another minute with a guy, he needed to add to my life, not complicate it or hold me back.

So my advice is this:

If you’re single and frustrated because so far dating has shown you all of what you don’t want and none of what you do… adopt a pet. It will change your perspective in brilliant ways. Treasure your alone time, because if you don’t like spending time with yourself, no one else will either.

 

Trial & Error

I’m sure you’ve been on pins and needles wondering how my date went. Right?
Yeah, I didn’t think so, but I’m gonna tell you anyway.

That particular date, and the few that followed have gone extremely well. We met for drinks last Friday, talked non-stop, had dinner and drinks that Sunday, he cooked me a HelloFresh dinner on Wednesday, we went to the Greek Festival on Friday and we played with Baby goats at a local farm and tasted mead on Sunday. He’s very pleasant company… and extremely interesting. However, I’m just not that into him. 😦

Side Note: I read that book a long time ago when “ghosting” first became the norm. Looking back, I can’t believe I thought I needed a book to help me crack the guy code. If they were any more transparent, they’d be windows.

Looking back on the lists I gave my matchmaker (the list of desirable qualities and the list of deal-breakers) I can totally understand why this guy was selected. He’s done some stuff. He’s lived. And he’s a RockStar at his very interesting and technical job (Drone Scientist). At 39, he’s been married, lived all over the country, has 3 kids, was a “Boylesque” (think male burlesque) dancer, a roller derby racer (evidently they let guys do that too in some places), does Crossfit and is excited about his upcoming participation in the Spartan Race. This seems to only be the tip of the iceberg. When I told her I wanted to meet someone “Interesting,” she hit the nail on the head.

Problem is, I’m starting to wonder how much of this crazy narrative is actually true.

Of course there’s more. I only find myself physically attracted to him after I’ve had a few cocktails. This is probably the biggest issue. And although I owe him nothing, I feel awful about it. While he sends me texts saying “I think you are amazing” I’m on the other end, full of doubt and fear.

Last night I told him he was sweet, because he is. This was his response, “Sweet is good… but what about sexy?” I froze. For a second I thought about what I found sexy… what people I found sexy and why. It occurred to me that when a guy referred to me as sexy, he clearly wanted to have sex with me. I was so far away from that thought, I had no idea how to respond.

I had a panic attack the day we’d planned to go to the Greek Festival. I felt suffocated and couldn’t slow my heartbeat no matter how I tried. But I let him pick me up regardless, because he was so excited to go.

I noticed that after I got in the car, when I said anything, he would either try to finish my sentences or talk over me. It was like he was so nervous around me that he needed Ritalin. It was exhausting and I’d already had a tiring week. I tried to explain what was going on in my head, but all that came out was, “Sometimes, you’re a bit much.” I immediately beat myself up internally for being such a bitch.

He sends me a thank you text after every date and wants to spend more time with me than I have. It isn’t long after one date ends that he starts asking for another. Then the panic sets in. It struck me that if I was as enthusiastic about him as he was about me, this wouldn’t be problematic.

It hasn’t been long, but after the first weekend, I began to question myself. I think it’s important when you’re uncomfortable in any situation to ask yourself why… and what you can do about it.

That first weekend, he texted me NON-STOP… so much so that everything I did was interrupted, if not spoiled by the constant messaging. I started to feel the walls closing in. By that Monday, I didn’t want to be around people at all. I told him “the constant texting is problematic.” He slowed it to a crawl. It was a few days before I felt comforable again.

I couldn’t sleep last night and today I’m having another panic attack. I’m finally hearing what my body is telling me. It always sucks when you know you’re going to hurt someone, but it’s always better to rip off the band-aid quickly and just be honest. Even though the message is unpleasant, the receiver will respect you more for being forthcoming.

In this process I asked myself the toughest question of all, “Is it me?” “Is there something wrong with me?” I’m sure the list is long, but most likely a lot shorter than most. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with me, and I think that’s the crux of it. I don’t need a guy. If I meet someone who complements or adds to my life, THAT‘s when I’ll know it’s right. It’s not selfish to do what you need to do for yourself.

So I will.

(to be continued)

To Match or Not to Match

Tonight is the night I’ll be meeting my very first matchmaker match. Since I’ve had fantastic luck plucking every clingy, needy, insecure man child out from under his current rock and ZERO finding what I actually need, I’m curious to see what my matchmaker has in store. A wise person once told me that you know exactly what your friends think of you judging by the people they choose to set you up with. I think there’s a reason those closest to me have never attempted a set-up. We’re all of the same mindset. We’re not fans of failure and we’ve seen each other through way too many heartbreaks to trust that anyone will be good enough.

To the contrary, I’ve had MANY acquaintances attempt to set me up with criminals, braggarts, misogynists, damaged co-dependents, and assorted ambition-less man-children.

Funny side-note: I did have one person actually try to set me up with Edwin McCain. Although I’ve never met him, I’m sure he’s quite lovely. At the time, I just didn’t trust my acquaintance to have my best interests at heart and thought perhaps she was lying. 

And because I’m cursed, it is Seattle-raining and chilly, which negates all previous wardrobe choices. I had a makeup job this morning at 6AM for Fox Business, so I’m abnormally sleep-deprived and jacked up on Starbucks. I’m also wearing FIVE different eye creams layered on top of each other. Even my eye cream is wearing eye cream. The guest this morning was male, so I had my male makeup kit with me. (It’s MUCH smaller than the female one.) The skin care products in this kit are standouts from the Kiehl’s Men’s line. (I keep a de-puffer and caffeinated eye cream handy because men usually don’t know the difference AND NEED IT.) I’m surprised to say that my fifth eye cream layer is the MEN’s eye cream and there’s a good chance it works better than the rest. (Yes, Kiehl’s, I’d like my commission check now please.)

As usual, work is starting to pick up, but I got in early and pony-tailed since I’m waiting to date-shower when I leave work early. (Yes, a date shower is a thing.) I’ll lather up with a few layers of anti-frizz, a light spritz of smell-good and be out the door before I know it.

Fingers-crossed that he’s not Jabba the Hutt and Catfishing us all.

 

Another Journey Around the Sun

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday with friends old and new. Luckily, having so much going on, I had no time to think about myself actually growing older (and closer to my scary age… yes, everyone has one…)

Friday night I had a date. In an earlier post, I’d mentioned flinging myself back into the dating pool by way of matchmaker. It had been so long since I’d hired her, I’d begun to think she’d given up on finding anyone suitable in my area for me. Ironically, on the day she called to tell me she’d scheduled a date, I had just begun to look around online. It was mostly out of curiosity… and entertainment. But I also wanted to get a preview of what was out there. I found myself mostly swiping left, with very few exceptions.

The original matchmaker date never happened. She explained that as the time drew near, he began acting shady, so she canceled it. I was a little disappointed, but I didn’t take it too personally since he had no idea who I was.

In the meantime, I had this new app. And it was full off possibilities. (Yes, that was sarcasm) After a few conversations, I realized that the chances of meeting any of these guys in real life were slim. When one canceled our date almost immediately after scheduling it, I was beginning to get a complex. His excuse was that his father (who was 4 hours away) had an accident. I never heard from him again.

A few days later I opened the app to find several guys missing. One disappeared after I mentioned meeting in person. Another deleted his profile completely. One I’d spoken with the first day was gone. Lastly, one (who had been messaging constantly) told me that he was going to see things through with someone else. This honesty was refreshing.

One guy HAD to talk to me on the phone right away. He told me right off the bat that he preferred talking instead of text. I just figured he was old school. We met on Friday and had a great date. The next day he made a point of telling me that he had originally made a date with someone else for Sunday, but was going to cancel since he was so interested in me. The gravity of that gesture didn’t register right away.

He called me when he got home from our date. He called me the next morning when I was getting ready for goat yoga with my friends. He texted to see if I could talk when I was on my way home from brunch. I wasn’t sure I’d ever had a person want to talk to me this much. I was starting to feel panicked and claustrophobic.

Contractors were in and out of my house working the entire weekend, which meant that a nap or alone time wasn’t going to happen. A friend brought me lunch. A few other friends asked where I’d be that night since they wanted to wish me a happy birthday. There were people around or communicating with me most of the day and on into the evening. Was there time for multiple phone calls just to talk? No way! Yet I found myself talking to him at least 4 times before going out that evening. I even missed one of his calls.

Although all the red flags, bells and alerts were flashing in my head, I found myself taking calls and making apologies. There I was again, making myself miserable in order to make someone else happy. At least this time I recognized it.

Sunday, I tried with zero success to relax as my house full of contractors sawed and hammered. That evening, my friend JD came by and helped me automate my home with a gift of smart bulbs. It took a while to get everything set up and working, so I ran out and got dinner for us. While we were eating, “first date guy” sent a “Sleep Well” text that buzzed on my Apple watch. My phone was charging in the back room and I was having dinner with JD, so I didn’t respond. ONLY TEN MINUTES LATER I received the following:

Patrick

I’m not sure why this surprised me. He had spent the entire weekend showing me who he was. It was my birthday. I was busy and surrounded by people the entire weekend, yet this asshat felt that there was nothing and no one more important than him. After no response from me, the next day, he texted an apology. I have no plans to respond.

On the other hand, it’s good to be reminded every once in a while what you don’t want. But it’s way more awesome to be reminded each year how much the people in your life love you.

Saturday when I was out catching a friend’s band perform, my ex boyfriend from the late 1990’s dropped in to wish me a happy birthday. He makes a point of remembering me every year.

I spent the evening with Erika (who incidentally has the exact same birthday) and Kat, listening to music, being complete goofballs, and running into half the population of our city. We ended the night at a gay bar, where Kat promptly stole my phone and left me with these little gems.

We ran into Bill, who instantly became our bodyguard and bouncer. Then we found the prettiest and most fabulous drag queen in the cabaret show.

Told ya.

The next day I received a text from my friend whose band we’d seen the previous night. He told me he was writing a duet for us. He’s a BRILLIANT singer and songwriter, so I’m over the moon that he’s so psyched to work with me. A few minutes later, my friend Allison (who lives 3 hours away) called and sang me Happy Birthday. Ending the evening nerding out with JD was exactly what I needed. I’m not sure he realizes exactly how much I appreciated the visit.

All things considered, it was a good birthday. I was surrounded by people who love me, look after me, and let me be me.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

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SWIM!

Some people say that they learned to swim when they were thrown into the deep end. Me? I swallowed half the pool and ended up with a nasty ear infection when my first swim instructor carried me into the deep end and submerged me. Although I made numerous attempts in later life, the dog-paddle is still my stroke of choice.

Much like my experiences in the actual pool, I haven’t had much luck diving into the dating pool either. Truth be known, I’m REALLY enjoying my “single person time.” When I dip my toes in, I end up attracting exactly the opposite of what I really want. So I stopped trying.

I hired someone to do all the dirty work for me… a personal matchmaker.

This, like most premium customized services, was expensive. But I decided that since I obviously had no idea what I was doing, I should break a few patterns and cannonball right out of my comfort zone. Even if I didn’t find THAT someone, the matchmaker would be providing me useful feedback that I could use in the future toward breaking old patterns.

Some people get lucky and find their life partners early on, but the harsh reality is that most people just settle. I’ve never been one of those people. Sure, I’ve been a little too generous with a few second chances that never should have happened. Sure I’ve given the benefit of the doubt when I should have trusted my intuition SCREAMING at me not to. But I’m only human. No one is perfect.

And I’m honest with myself. I have plenty of faults. But I also know that to the right person, they might be endearing. I also know that I need someone well-rounded, who knows themselves and isn’t in the process of rebuilding after a divorce, breakup, or layoff. I’ve seen too many people not take the appropriate time to heal.

I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to work. My matchmaker is located in another state, so I wondered how she could find someone in my area… someone who checks all of my boxes.

After a long phone conversation, several texts and emails, and a few photos exchanged she contacted me 2 days ago and told me I had a date! She asked what my schedule was, asked me to pick a place and Thursday I’m meeting someone hand-selected for me.

So here I go dog-paddling along, right into that dating pool.