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)

Excerpts from Guyvile

I once dated a guy who told me that his mother would ask him what was wrong with me if he told her I’d never been married at my age… instead of taking into account the fact that he lived in a small, sterile apartment with walls covered in photographs or artwork of nude or partially nude women. In lieu of a sofa, he had an over-sized bean bag chair that he insisted I run in and jump on as soon as I walked in the door. I refused. This was probably another strike against me. The place was so sterile that I was almost afraid to touch or move anything. Seriously. It was “serial killer sterile.” No clutter, no stray hairs, no implements left in plan view, not even a remote control or a fruit bowl, only the most pristine of surfaces… In hindsight, I probably should have checked the freezer for severed heads on my way out.

He was a programmer of some sort and a freelance photographer. As you could guess, his preference was to separate women from their clothing before photographing them. This, among so many other things, didn’t sit well with me. Walking into an apartment with walls covered in naked bodies is as intimidating for a grownup as walking into a dorm room strewn with centerfolds is for a co-ed.

And as if that weren’t enough, he had this tendon on his jaw that attached to his eyelid. This meant that when you were sitting directly across from him at a table, he could be looking down at his food and simultaneously looking AT YOU. The tendon would pull his eye open and closed as he chewed. It was the epitome of creepy. Since our breakup, I now refer to him (not so affectionately) as “Poe.”

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees –very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.
– Edgar Allan Poe “The Tell-Tale Heart”


Flash-forward to just last week.

Drag-Makeup Guy was a problematic over-texter. I probably set an unfair precedent by responding fairly quickly, so when I turned my attention to anything other than him, he started to ask what was wrong when I didn’t respond immediately. This only increased my lag time.

He also liked to use really big words. Usually I very much appreciate this in a counterpart, HOWEVER, he did it CONSTANTLY. This, coupled with his I-know-more-big-words-than-you-nyah-nyah attitude ended up sabotaging him more often than not since he lacked the skill of properly using most of his large vocabulary in a sentence.

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The weekend of our ONE DATE, I had stayed out late on a Sunday (which I very seldom do) to catch a concert. I was dead on my feet the next day and couldn’t wait to get home to rest. He couldn’t stop texting. But in the subtext of the texts he seemed to be scolding me for being out on a school night in the first place. I’d only known him a few days at best, so I found this odd and decided to mention my discomfort. He didn’t take this well. We exchanged a few text pleasantries in the days that followed and then the texts stopped altogether… for about 2 weeks. I turned my attention to all the things that needed doing and did them, not giving him a second thought.

That Monday was the beginning of a very busy week. Out of the blue he texted “You still alive?” I didn’t respond. I was fighting a cold, cooking dinner for my parents 3 nights that week, squeezing in an exercise class and attending the citizen’s police academy. He could wait.

Evidently he couldn’t.

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And evidently my auto-correct likes to change TIME to THE ME when I fat-finger something similar in a text message. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care. Besides, he deleted me anyway. What a relief!


My friend Lisa attempted to set me up with a guy she knows. It appears that she thought highly of him because he passed himself off as a big time music promoter and all-around hot shot. In real life, he lives with his mom, works in a furniture store, and thinks so highly of himself that he throws himself a birthday party each year and hires mildly successful bands just so he can charge admission and call it the “Social Event of the Year.” It isn’t. In fact, I’d never even heard of it… or him for that matter. The crowd he runs in is rife with leathery, weather-beaten ex-rocker types determined to recapture whatever glory they can siphon from their hard-rockin youth. He’s right at home at the center of this, still living out his big hair 80’s dream complete with bedazzled jeans and Ed Hardy shirts.

I’m not exactly sure why Lisa thought this would work out.

He was very tall, long legs and a short torso that carried a large beer belly. If you asked me his body shape, I’d say “Lollipop?” He made a point of telling me that he had Diabetes right up front, which is no laughing matter, but he seemed to not take it seriously. Then he made a point of telling me that he could control it if he wanted to, but for now he’s just taking daily insulin shots because he doesn’t have time to deal with it. When he told me he drank sweet tea and ate donuts for breakfast and mostly only had time for fast food, I tried to educate him about the importance of protein & how easy it would be to substitute a protein bar or shake. He turned up his nose like a small child at the idea.

We went on one good date, on Valentine’s Day, to which he wore an old sweater that reeked of body odor and bad cologne with really worn-out jeans. (Did I mention that he took me to a really nice restaurant which was only serving prix fixe? He said he’d brought a suit with him, but he arrived too late to change into it. *Insert audible groan here*) The date was brief and pleasant, which most first dates are.

Then we went on one bad date, but because since he was Lisa’s friend I was really trying to see some redeeming qualities in him. However, in the meantime, he would text me so furiously that I hardly had time for anything else. (Now you see why I’m not fond of over-texters.)

We were NOT a match. The way he saw the world and the way I saw the world were such opposite perspectives. But it was difficult to get rid of someone who kept driving 2 hours to see you. When our last date ended rather abruptly, I was just relieved it was over. A few hours later the barrage of texts began again and I blocked him. No point in beating a dead horse. Move on Buddy.

A few weeks later, Lisa told me to unblock him on my phone and social media because he wanted to apologize. I figured I’d never hear the end of it until I did, so…

He texted, apologized, then went around and around baiting me for an apology. I responded, “Sincere apologies expect nothing in return.” What followed was the absolute meanest text vomit I have ever received in my life.

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I save those for days when I’m feeling just a little too big for my britches and need to be knocked down a few pegs.

I think it’s time to just delete all of it now.

chill-homie