Why Our Conversations on Parenthood Always End On A Pregnant Pause

Last night, I dreamed that Warrior Poet gave me the nod for us to start trying to get pregnant. I was clearly surprised by his definitive declaration on a topic that usually inspires his vagueness. I reminded him that I would need to wean myself off some of my medication first, so if he were really ready, I would have to start doing so pronto. He reassured me that I was physically strong enough to get through the journey, that he would be there to support me every step of the way. With the extremely lucid details, the dream felt so real. But alas, it was just a dream.

It’s not surprising that the question of ‘Will we or won’t we—or should we or should we not—not have children of our own?’ has been on our minds. A co-worker of WP’s recently urged him (and us) to decide soon whether we want them as we’re rapidly approaching our 40s. And for the last couple years, my lady parts doctor has been reminding me of the ticking biological clock. And after we made it official as husband and wife, our friends have been increasingly encouraging us to be parents—citing our wisdom, compassion, encompassing perspective and emotional stability. Plus, we’re just so darn fun, ha.

But it seems like there are just as many reasons to not have kids as there are to have them.

What You Give Up to Get

While abstractly we both feel that we’d be fairly decent parents, the logistics of parenthood raises questions. Are we willing to give up so much of our freedom and mobility? Are we financially mature enough to start saving and planning for the expenses of raising children?  And are we prepared to lose our precious sleep? And if not, would we consider adopting older children? The sleep depletion is one of the most important factors of early parenthood to me, as a sleepless me always means a much sicker me.

My health, of course, is also a huge question mark. Would I go into remission with pregnancy, like many of my friends, or would I be one of the unfortunate women with serious, chronic illness who get significantly sicker when carrying a child? It can be a real struggle on my off days to shower, cook and take care of things around the house, let alone manage anything or anyone else. Would I crumble trying to manage a child, or simply get more efficient with my energy and time?

Keep Your Head In The Game

“Keep Your Head in the Game” Danielle Guenther Photography

I also wonder if WP could handle the noise, mess and distraction of children, especially when doing dishes in his hearing zone alone can set him off. As it is now, when he comes home from a harrying day of work, sometimes it takes an hour for him to even decompress enough to take me fully in. Once we have dinner, he physically and mentally shuts us down, and it isn’t long before he nods off. On the weekends, he needs his long escape into gaming when he’s not at the gym—at least until the sun starts to go down. I can’t help but wonder if I would wind up raising a child mostly on my own?

When I had more of a village surrounding me, I had more confidence in taking on the myriad challenges of parenting. But now that we live more than an hour away from our families and almost all of our friends, I can’t help feeling like we exist on an island even without kids. Of course, we’re still fairly new to this area, and I could make more an effort to connect with a community here now that the weather is nice and I’m feeling significantly more physically energized and mentally awake again.

Other Perspectives on Parenthood

Last weekend I was fortunately pepped up for a couples’ night out with friends, which was really fun and emotionally nourishing for us both. Toward the end of the night, the men and women split up as the guys went on to have one more drink, and we gals sleepily settled at a table to chat. While the boys were likely talking about martial arts and their manly adventure trip coming up, the girls wound up talking about children and parenthood.

The sole mother of the group had previously let the cat out of the bag that she and her husband-to-be will be trying to get pregnant next year. Now, she informed us that an abnormality in her baby-making hardware meant that her time for having more children was also running out, although she’s only in her late 20s. She lives for being a parent and is an incredibly doting and nurturing mother to her school-aged son. For her, it’s especially important to her to have more children while she’s young and able.

My doctor has also been urging me to be aware of the passing of time as I am already considered a high-risk pregnancy, and that risk jumps exponentially beyond 40. Of course, I’d like to be able to simply cite the research that claims older mothers have better educated and more physically resilient children. But with an autoimmune disorder that affects blood clotting, I have to be a bit more realistic about the physical risks of older pregnancy to both a potential child and to me. That is not to say that if we’re having children, I’m going off the birth control tomorrow. It just means that I realize I can’t just postpone making a decision for another five years without consequence.

Our other friend is in her mid-30s—and like WP and I—she and her husband are both on the fence about having children of their own. They both absolutely love kids, but they are open to adopting. They also, like us, are content being the great aunt and uncle to their nieces and nephews and the children of their friends if life passions lead them elsewhere.

FB-expecting-a-babyNow when I was younger, I absolutely wanted a soccer team of children of my own, but as I’ve grown older, the urgency of that desire has faded as reality kicked in. I didn’t meet my lifemate early in adulthood. I lost the overwhelming baby-making desire that threatened to derail my life in my 20s. Years and years of chronic illness forced me to alter my perspective a little bit and put more focus on self-care and self-love first. I’ve certainly enjoyed the role I’ve been able to play being a present and active aunt with my niece and nephews, literally watching my niece being born and caring for the older two when the third was born. I love playing soccer with them, reading to them, learning from them and snuggling them. Yet I also have been grateful to step back in hectic times and moments of exhaustion.

This indecisiveness of WP and me is what always causes the conversation about potential parenthood to simple fizzle out into ellipses…Unanswered, equally as unsure. And having and raising children should be one of the most important decisions you make in your life. Shouldn’t you be sure? Shouldn’t you decisively say, I definitely want to bring new life into this world—or at least to help raise new life in the world?

A friend who is a father says it doesn’t work as neatly as that. He says nothing could have prepared him for experience of parenthood, both its challenges and its immense rewards. His certainty about being father only has strengthened with time and experience, he tells me with the awe of one on the brink of bringing in his second child. Sometimes, he says, you have to take the leap.

As WP and I try on and grow into what it means to be man and wife, we have answered questions and uncertainties as they present themselves. We are forever defining, refining or clarifying our needs, desires and approaches. In time, we always make the choice that’s best for us. And I have no doubt we eventually will when it comes to parenthood, as well.

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What Couples Uncover When Chatting About Their Unique Relationships

Src: Flickr Creative Commons/ellenlove

Src: Flickr Creative Commons/ellenlove

This past weekend we went to a housewarming party, where we got to spend time with a few of our favorite couples. As always, the Warrior Poet and I learn so much from our conversations with them, giving us further insight into how others relate successfully and unsuccessfully in their romantic endeavors. Two interesting things arose in conversation that night—how couples communicate (or don’t) and how couples deal with conflict.

One of the surprising statements of the night was that having a max of 15 or so minutes of meaningful communication per day was the reality for others. “Neither of us are big talkers,” the guy in one of the couples explained. They enjoy being in each other’s company, but not don’t feel the need for much chatting. Another couple gets in fights frequently over communication blunders and misunderstandings.

WP and I exchanged knowing glances—our days wouldn’t be complete without some serious downtime talking with each other about more than just a play-by-play of our respective days. Whether we are discussing our goals for the next steps in our respective careers, contemplating the cosmos or trying to solve the world’s crises over lack of resource, or we’re making up parody lyrics or ridiculous names for our brood of non-existent dysfunctional children, a day doesn’t feel complete without looking into each others eyes and really jumping into each other’s minds for a good chunk of time. Two-and-a-half years into the relationship, we continue to lose track of time some nights because we’re so busy talking about whatever comes up.

Admittedly, we haven’t been together for more than a decade; as much as we already know and understand about each other, we still delight in discovering even more. And we don’t have children, which takes up a lot of time, attention and energy for parent couples. Nor are we a workaholic power couple spreading ourselves too thin to have the energy to do much more than the necessary check-ins. Yet, we also have our own, full lives we’re living.

I am working on building my own business, am constantly educating myself and following a half dozen passions—while also dealing with health and financial stress. WP’s work life is consistently frustrating, and he is extremely driven in his pursuits outside of work and rarely gets home before 8 p.m. at night. Yet on the two days we both work from home, we make an effort to briefly check in throughout the day. And each night, we eat dinner together and spend time in each others company until falling asleep.

Admittedly, sometimes the night is full chill mode of listening to podcasts or watching something or the computer. Or we decide to wind up the night reading side by side in bed. Sometimes, WP gets home late and exhausted, and we have barely enough time to prepare and eat dinner before he falls asleep. Yet, whatever we are doing, the time together is paramount, and we enjoy the time we carve out to talk to each other, no matter the topic. It’s what makes us feel happy and complete.

The other big thing that came up in our couples’ conversations the other night was how conflict is resolved. One couple is aware that it is made up of two, explosive and stubborn individuals. The longest they’ve gone without talking was a full week, which I cannot even fathom. The individuals in the other couple both hate conflict, but the man can’t stand leaving things unresolved for very long so he initiates airing things out. The rare times that things get weird between WP and me, I’m usually the one who has to bring up the topic to get us to directly address it.

Interestingly, yesterday I got on WP’s nerves because I was washing dishes while he was trying to cook meals for the week. I thought I was doing a good thing by cleaning new dishes that he would was going to need for the baking. He started sighing loudly and eventually went to sit in the corner and got one the phone until I was done. I left the room in an annoyed huff, mumbling, “I was just trying to wash the dust off the dishes for you.”

I sat and stewed for a while. I know WP is very sensitive to people and sounds, and it can drive him crazy not to have full reign of the kitchen when he is cooking. Yet he does all the cooking, and I feel better when I can do anything to help. Sometimes this is tolerated, but yesterday it was not.

It made me feel badly that I was just another annoyance to him at the time. I know how territorial he is about his kitchen at times and that I can’t take this too personally, but I would much rather have had him say something than just very audibly and dramatically sighing in annoyance over something that lasted less than five minutes. So I clung to my hurt feelings for a couple hours, though he seemed fine.

But after watching thought-provoking documentaries together, he initiated discussing the global issues the shows brought up that were much more significant than a kitchen showdown. Any awkwardness that had built up dissipated, and I openly engaged in the conversation as usual. No harm, no foul.

I know, like any couple, we can still improve on our communication, especially when neither of us is feeling at our best. We like to assume we can read each other’s minds, and get frustrated when it’s not always so. Yet I’m grateful that these moments aren’t very frequent and almost never lead to frustrated outbursts or tears. Neither of us thrives on such things.

It’s different strokes for different folks, and that’s what makes observing and learning about other relationships so fascinating. Different personalities have their own ways for navigating through the landscape of their relationships and making things work for them. Sharing our varied experiences can be a great way to learn from each other…and it definitely makes for entertaining group conversations.

How Do You Move Forward When Your Soulmate Walks Away?

Walking Away From Everything by vampire_zombie

Walking Away From Everything by vampire_zombie

I’ve always felt that through every significant life experience, even—especially—through my mistakes and failures, there are countless lessons to be learned and shared. Love, dating and relationship experiences are no different. For what is life about if not for building awe-inspiring connections, for finding endless opportunities to learn more about yourself and develop an appreciation and love for the people who cross your path in life—yourself included?

Yet I’m finding it hard to share my most important love experience and lesson with you all, and that is: How Do You Move Forward When Your Soulmate Walks Away?

Read more about how I feel about soulmates and what it feels like to have to let the one you thought was the ultimate soulmate go here on Singles Warehouse.

Taking Off the Blinders: When It’s Too Good To Be True

src: seattlestagedtosell.com

If there is one grand lesson I’ve learned about life and love, when it feels too good to be true, it usually is. If you stow that little nugget of truth in the back of your head, it will force you to keep at least a little part of yourself safely back—even when it’s tempting to just dive into the glorious beauty of what feels like the most delicious love affair with drunk blindness.

Though I didn’t really see signs, I felt them in my gut. I tried to explain why to a friend of mine. If we meshed so well intellectually, emotionally, and physically, had wonderful times together, and he seemed so into me, where did my hesitation come from? I rattled off a few concerns—that I wasn’t going to live up to his larger than life impression of me, that he was probably moving back to his native country in a year or so and that I had some worries that I would wind up wanting more from him emotionally time-wise than he had in his schedule to give.

It’s interesting because he chose that word—a gut feeling—to describe how he has felt that things might be a little off between us the last two weekends, like we were on different trajectories. This was after having two amazing weekends filled with dancing nights, lazy mornings twisted in each others arms, and hours of intimate conversations that he agreed made us feel like we’d known each other much longer than the period that we have.

This was after I’d spent the last 4 nights and 4 days in his home, two days longer than I’d intended because he’d said, “I don’t want to think about it,” when I asked him when he thought I should head home. That same day he bought a ridiculous amount of groceries, asking me what I wanted and needed as if I was going to be staying for another week, if not visiting again for a long visit soon.

Then, the next night, after we’d had a particularly bonding conversation, he went to do his nightly meditation. After we snuggled into bed, he brought up that if it were okay, he would like a couple of days to himself to quiet his thoughts and reconnect with himself. I said that was totally fine, reassuring him I wasn’t upset by his request because I needed to get back and take care of things at home.

The next day, he was in constant contact as I got ready to go, then took a taxi to take a train to take a bus back home. After a few days, however, I realized that while we were still keeping in touch, I was doing most of the initiating. I started to get a little suspicious. As the weekend was on the brink, and we hadn’t yet made our normal confirmation of our plans, I asked him if he wanted to get together. He said something about still needing some time to himself. I told him that I thought he might need that.

His reply:

 Thanks for understanding. You are very mindful and wise and I want to let you know that I value and respect that a lot!

After all the effusive, romantic and affectionate words he’s used with me in the past, these words struck a wrong chord with me. Something wasn’t right. But later that night, he sent me a message from the bar with his friend asking, “How is my honey doing?” To some joking request I’d made on his Facebook page where he’d posted a photo of the night, he’d say, “For you, SoloAt30, always… J”

Yesterday I heard nothing from him all day, so I finally decided to confront him. Was this needing time for himself actually code for wanting to see other people? Call it women’s intuition—or just a reality check. Though he was supposed to be working, he took time to make the phone call.

Blinders On by Angie Warren

I sat stunned, listening to the spew of bullshit, couched in words in attempt not to “cause suffering or hurt feelings.” He told me he did in fact have a drink with a girl this past week, but his friends said it would be okay since we weren’t exclusive, like boyfriend/girlfriend or anything.

Seeing each other exclusively for several weeks now, driving three, sometimes six hours a week to see me; being intimate with each other exclusively; calling me his girlfriend to me, to his roommate, his friends, family; telling his father in another country about me and introducing us informally via phone; making every effort to get close to my family, including calling himself “Uncle” around my nephew…I’m not sure what else I was supposed to think. Hey, maybe they run things differently in that central European country of his, but if he had to hide things and talk code to me about it, I am thinking not.

The worst thing about it is that he wasn’t going to talk to me about any of this—didn’t think he had to—if I hadn’t asked him. Said he hadn’t really put these thoughts and feelings into words yet, and struggled to even do so now, which was apparent because he couldn’t even give reasons for this off feeling in his gut.

Well, that off feeling in his gut I think is really that he met some other girl who intrigued him enough to want to go on a date with her, but he wanted time to see how that and maybe other dates with other women go before he possibly made any decisions with me. I told him that, and he got all huffy that I was accusing him of this American term of the “fade out.” But really, we both know that’s what this is, even if he is saying he’d like to meet me again sometime. Really?

Come on, seriously, grow a pair of balls. Just be real. Some of you guys wonder why we flip out. It’s not that you make a decision to move on. It’s that you toy with us and then lie about it to our faces before you cut us loose. It’s that you are secretly moving on before you finally tell us about it. That’s what pisses me off.

If you’re genuinely confused about how you feel, just be honest about that. This is supposed to be the king of communication, the one who kept urging me to talk and tell him how I was feeling about this and that. Why didn’t he feel like he should reciprocate?

Believe me—when I say I can handle it, I can. And by handling it, I mean hitting flush and moving on.

Between You, Me and Your Mom

src: theashleysrealityroundup.com

I’m not exactly sure how I get myself into these situations—okay, that’s partially a lie—but once again I found myself playing the mediator between a mother and son this past week. Now, this is not something I recommend the uninitiated just attempt with only her big heart and big mouth to back her. The bond between a mother and son is often an especially tricky one, with multiple layers of fierce devotion, unquestioned loyalty mixed with confusing resentment and guilt in all flavors. In my experiences, this is even more so when the son is an only child, a child of single mother or whose parents divorced at a young age.

The attempted mother-son mediation often puts a strain on a relationship, even when a loving wife, girlfriend or even platonic best friend has the best of intentions. I have heard plenty of horror stories about well-meaning women barreling in on a mother-in-law or boyfriend’s mother, on behalf of her man only to find it blowing up in her face. And if this woman who is not yet your mother in law finds herself hating and resenting you now, don’t assume it’s going to get better once she realizes you’re a permanent member of the family.

When I was a naïve 17-year-old, I was dating a wonderful guy with the biggest heart – who also happened to be a true mama’s boy. The odd thing was, his particular mother somehow raised an intelligent, compassionate, open-minded man who saw the content of a person’s mind, heart and soul before he noticed the color of their skin. This tall, pale Polish-Italian guy fell head over heels for a honey-skinned girl with the melting pot of ethnic backgrounds. His Italian mother was, let’s just say, not pleased (ironically both her parents wound up treating me more like a member of the family than she ever did).

After multiple digging and degrading comments to her son, though I was nothing but loving to her son and nice and respectful to her, I decided to take matters into my own hands. While I was across the country at college, mama bear was trying to whisper poison into her son’s ears, and it only made him resent her more not pull away from me. So I decided to write her a long, heartfelt letter.

I told her how much I cared about her son and how I had no intention of hurting him. I knew she was taking out on me an old grudge she had against a former friend of my boyfriend’s older sister, who turned out to be a hurtful bitch and just so happened to have brown skin too. I told her the kind of person I was, describing my character, my background and basically attempting to defend myself, without explicitly saying how I was not that girl who hurt her daughter.

Most of all, however, I touched upon how it hurt her son to constantly have to he these nasty things about me. I told her I knew how much he loved his mother and how her words impacted him. In more diplomatic terms, I explained how continuing to disparage me would only put a wedge between her and her son. It took approximately five handwritten pages. Then…silence.

The result? Eventually, she reached out and made amends to her son. Frankly, some of what she said was crap about thinking about how people might treat future grandchildren (right!), but the gesture was appreciated. She never apologized to me, but she stopped giving me the evil eye when she thought I wasn’t looking. She started trying to be a little more pleasant when I was around.

Were we ever friends? No, but that wasn’t the aim—backing off her son was, and on that, we succeeded.

My next attempts at mother-son mediation did not have me as the center of the contention. It was mother versus son,  too similar personalities rubbing up against each other. I often had to play referee and yell for a time-out.

The Bulldog had what you can only describe as a mercurial personality. One moment, he was sweet, affectionate and more of an observer. The next, he was punching a hole in the wall with his fist, telling off strangers at a bar to where they wanted to punch him, or he was shouting blistering rants at clients on the other end of the phone.

src: pbskids.org/itsmylife/

His mother, unfortunately, could also fly off the handle once she was triggered. And nothing could set Bulldog or his mother off more than each other. I remember being paralyzed with horror in the middle of a restaurant in Las Vegas when Bulldog and his mom began swearing and shouting horrible things at each other.

Something like “You’re ridiculous. I’m f***ing leaving,” was said, followed by, “Fine, get the hell out of here!” And before I knew it, I was left at a table with his parents while my boyfriend sprinted angrily out of the restaurant.

I glanced at his father who gave me an apologetic look. I glanced at his mother, whose face was red with fury but whose eyes were filled with tears. I shook my head, reaching out my hand, saying, “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” and then I ran to catch up with my ride. To say I was absolutely furious with him was putting it mildly. He knew his mom. He knew not to goad her. He knew to just let it go.

But I wasn’t so upset for just this one time. It was also for the time we were staying at their house, and there was an argument where he was too stubborn to back down that we left, not having a place to stay. So I had to get on the phone and find us a ridiculously overpriced hotel room for a night until I could convince him in the morning to stop being enough of an asshole to apologize.

And finally there was the time his parents were staying at our house, and I watched his mother’s face collapse right in front of me. Bulldog had just left me alone with her while she was crying, saying to me, “I don’t know why he says such things. I raised him better than that!”

I finally looked her in the eye and decided we needed to have a heart to heart. She needed to know that she wasn’t the only target of his wrath. I explained to her how his best friend literally had written Bulldog out of his life for the last time several months earlier because he couldn’t take his volcanic temper and insults anymore – apologies weren’t enough. I explained to her just how much pressure he was under with running his own franchise, how he’d taken on far more than he realized he was doing, how he didn’t know how to ask for help, how he wasn’t getting enough sleep, and how there’d be months where business was so slow we were struggling to pay the bills.

You could fairly ask me, where did I get off? Obviously, his family had been dysfunctional in their communicating just fine without me for many years, thank you very much. But I was somehow part of this family now, for better or for worse. They were putting me right in the thick of things.

And she was his mother, and she deserved to know what wasn’t personal and what buttons were especially tender for her son right now. He sure wasn’t going to tell her by himself. The Bulldog and his dad had a closer relationship, but there were still some layers of pride he hadn’t fully let down. Letting Bulldog’s mom see what was really going on opened up her eyes in a way that allowed her to really see Bulldog better, not just his snarling reactions. By no means is their relationship perfect even now, but I do know that we all started communicating with a bit more sensitivity from that point on.

For full disclosure, my very first communiqué with the Gentle Giant’s mother sprang from some insecurity issues on my part, envious of how close she was to his female best friend/ex-girlfriend. Honestly though, before our first date GG and his mom had discussed me fairly in-depth, he’d showed her my Facebook page, and I knew his mom and I had several things in common, and he had invited me to reach out to her even then regarding my career but I felt weird about it at the time.

Anyway, I did eventually send her an email after a couple weeks. Then, we did meet face-to-face during a move, which was a little weird. I worried she didn’t like me at all. Then I was completely shocked when she invited us both to dinner, and that seemed to go swimmingly. So well that I got a really sweet email from her, so I sent one back, and so it went.

This past week, GG and the mom had a discussion where he attempted to share frustration about an issue that unfortunately his mom took personally. He knew as soon as he hung up the phone that she was upset, and he told me how badly he felt about it. So imagine my surprise when a couple hours later I also get an email from his mom venting about the conversation, sharing her hurt feelings.

Now, I had talked with GG about this before stepping in, but I told him I thought it was just a matter of how things were communicated. He was trying to express A (frustration at this matter) and she heard B (he doesn’t appreciate me). The tough thing was I completely understood GG’s frustration, and I also understood his mom’s side of things – how easy it is to take words personally and internalize them – yet I wasn’t sure I knew a better way to phrase it so that GG’s mom wouldn’t take offense at what I said either.

So I thought about it. I wrote. I ran it by one of my friends who is really good at saying what she means from the best place in her heart. Then I crossed my fingers and hit send.

An email from GG’s mom was in my in-box.

Thanks so much for taking the time to really address my hurt feelings. What you wrote does make a lot of sense, and was very eloquently said.

She went on to tell me how much her son means to her and how much she loves him. It made me audibly “aww.” That’s what’s it all supposed to be about.

Phew. Then she really made me feel good by saying she saw why I chose the career I did: “You have a real talent for putting things in perspective.” We exchanged virtual hugs and encouragement.

Don’t worry—I’m not getting cocky. I just luckily chose the right situation to step into this time. I swear I am not making a habit out of doing this – except when I’m getting paid to do so.

Why You Shouldn’t Yell Fire In a Relationship Red Alert

I’m not entirely sure what men are thinking sometimes when, while trying to address an obviously concerned and potentially upset woman, they feel the need to toss in the incendiary, “you are coming off a little nuts right now.” Once the word “nuts” or “crazy” is brought into the conversation, there is often only one direction things can now go—downhill, and fast.

Src: simpsons.wikia.com

It’s kind of like going into a crowd of people during an emergency and calmly trying to herd them out of a smoking building by yelling, “Fire!” Obviously people are not going to stop, look for the closest exit and walk in single file, being polite and thoughtful of their neighbors as they make their way out. No, people will go into a chaotic panic, running around like chickens with their heads cut off, cutting off people—possibly injuring them—because they are reacting with their fear instead of acting rationally and practically to get as many people out of harm’s way in the safest way possible.

It would seem that in a relationship red alert, the wisest thing would be first to slow things down, to speak slowly and calmly. Ask questions so that you’re clear what is really being asked. “Are you asking this because you think that I want to be with someone else right now, or are you asking this because you are concerned that I haven’t been completely honest with you?”

Someone with his own severe trust issues, one would think, would be especially sensitive and empathetic to respecting why another person would ask questions if they were concerned about confusing, seemingly contradictory statements or situations. Most often, in healthy relationships, these misunderstandings are frequently due to that quirky little he said/she said, where one person’s “hooking up” means “casually dating on and off” to another person, one’s “just friends” means “friends with benefits” to another, “hanging out with some friends” means “going out to a platonic dinner with my ex, but I’m afraid you’ll freak out so I’ll just buffer it by saying others are coming along”… I think you get the picture.

Of course, rational thinking often goes out the door when one person throws out a zinger meant to sting in the heat of emotion. “What’s your incentive to keep lying? What do you have to be ashamed of?”

It’s hard not to react when you feel personally attacked. And it’s hard to hear what is really a need for reassurance when someone demands to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…particularly on an issue that’s been covered more than a couple times before. But it’s even harder to take back the emotional scars of searing words you really didn’t intend to ever say out loud.

Src: skreened.com

Over the years, I’ve painfully been learning the lesson that being right isn’t always the point. It’s often not as important to an argument discussion as simply letting each of your voices be heard. Of course there are huge things you absolutely can’t and shouldn’t just brush under the rug. Yet when it comes to the past and a difference in choice of words, is it really worth feeding the flicker of a flame you will only have to both fight to try to put out?

As Buddha said, “Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.” Fellas, crazy is not that one word.

The Kiss Off

It’s been more than four years that we’ve been playing this game. First we finally established a committed relationship that lasted for nearly two years. Eventually I broke up with him, thinking we weren’t moving any farther forward. There would be no next step—no marriage or kids definitely, but not even moving in together, though I spent four to five nights of the week there, and was spending most of our time together remodeling his house. I had met a lot of his friends, but he kept his flashy work life separate from me—to maintain his cool bachelor status. I never met his mom, who literally lived 10-15 minutes away, and once when she made a surprise visit to the house, I was asked to hide in the bedroom.

The year and half we weren’t together, we remained friends…sometimes with benefits. We still had this bond between us. We still enjoyed spending time together in small doses, and whenever I saw him unexpectedly, it made me light up.  When I was terribly sick, he was always there, never ashamed to take me out in public, even with my embarrassing (to me) ailment.

So fast-forward to almost a year after he started the talk about how he felt I had misconceptions about him and what he was all about in the relationship department, we tentatively decided to give it another try. Some things have been great and wonderful and had me thinking this reconciliation was totally worth it. He was more affectionate. When he was home from work and spending time with me, he truly wanted to be spending time with me, not his projects and gadgets.

Other things made me think he had gotten even worse in selfish independence. He’d go for two weeks or more without wanting to see me—and he called me high maintenance for wondering what the scoop was. Was it too much to think that a man I was exclusively dating would look forward to seeing me and put me as a priority?

Apparently, to him, it was too much.

The biggest disappointment, though, was this past week when I was at my sickest and loneliest, he didn’t call. He didn’t text. He had no idea I had to be taken to the ER for a second time. He didn’t know the medical treatment was kicking my ass. He didn’t know my doctor was removing me for my work duties for much longer than I anticipated because my treatment was going to require that much out of me.

It’s not as if I wanted to focus on all this. I knew how to be upbeat and talk about the other good things going on in my life. He always talked about his work too, the projects he was working on, his sick, elderly cat, whatever. It would have been nice to just hear whatever he had to say.

By Friday, I gave in.  “Are you living?”

Later that night, “How doin’?” he asks.

“Is that a rhetorical question, or do you really care to know the answer?”

Next day we text back and forth about how even old friends I haven’t talked to since before high school were reaching out to me…yet he hadn’t. He replied that he was busy with projects, works, etc. “I figured you were doing your own thing,” he said.

What? Doing my own thing like losing some of every meal, collapsing on the floor at least half a dozen times a day, having random moments of unconsciousness? Sure I’ve also tried to at least have a hand in the news publication that it still mine but I can’t officially be writing for and running right now. I’ve been catching up on Netflix and reading.

But yeah, I would welcome a phone call from the guy I was dating.Everybody is busy, not just him, yet they still carve out a minute of their time just to say I’m thinking of you.

So yesterday, after telling him, I finally get it—that he just doesn’t think enough to phone or text to see how I am (whether I am sick or not), I wrote an obvious kiss off. He tried to ignore it today, asking, “how are you feeling?”  I ignored him.

I am done. He can go try to find someone more perfect. He can find his dream girl, Spanish “chick.” I am done with his shit, and I getting off this bus for good this time.

I may not be a high priority to him, but I am one of the highest priorities to myself.

Next blog, remind me to share what happened with my police officer…now, that’s a funny story.

The Warrior In Love

There is a man who read my dirty, little secrets

And instead of fleeing fast for the hills

Ran straight to my trembling arms.

There is a man who stripped away the walls

Of fear, doubt, and pain

And recognized the beauty of the glowing core within.

* * *

Have I ever been so laid bare like this

Like a lamb to the slaughter?

Spared in undying mercy and love

Yet I want to cover myself in shame

It’d be so easy to bury myself in self-pride and tears

But–you offer me this:

* * *

An all-encompassing blanket

Of acceptance and understanding

Emboldened by the trust

I never thought I would earn

My imagination never accounted for

Unconditional love like this

* * *

You see the flaws, admire the scars

And kiss the bruises, lips suture the wounds

You trace fingers through the ripples of my tears

And brush off my knees when I crumble to the floor

You are always there, feel you everywhere

Even when I could no longer see that I–we–are worth fighting for.

Back Off, Love

So apparently I am not even behaving appropriately while watching a movie alone in my own bedroom anymore. Somehow that is code for talking to someone I’m not “supposed to” after hours, to my dear boyfriend. This morning at 6:10, I receive the following text interrupting my deep slumber:

Stop protecting me using dishonesty. We said goodnight at 10, you watched a film until 11? Why tell me this? I don’t care who you talk to… [note to the reader: totally not true; if it’s an ex, he is definitely going to have a problem] But why hide it from me? U can’t watch a movie in an hour. and I don’t like this feeling that u have something to hide. Anything but that.

I was confused and also a little t.o.’d, to be honest. Last night, as Mr. E and I began a Skype conversation, I had put in the movie, The Invention of Lying (no, the irony of the title is not lost on me), to load up so it would be ready to watch whenever we were done talking. It automatically started playing the film  after the previews–I had it on mute. When Mr. E and I said our goodbyes, I hit the top menu, expecting that when I pressed play, the movie would start from the beginning. Apparently it did not.

According  to Detective E., who actually got back on Skype this morning to check our transcript for when our conversation ended to match it up to when I texted him goodnight, I missed 36 min or so into the movie.  I did notice that the movie didn’t really begin but the character was starting a new chapter of his life, so I didn’t really miss enough to think “I need to rewind, I must have missed some scenes here.”  I was pleased it was such a short movie because I was sleepy and ready for some zzz’s.

Now, this simple misunderstanding might seem humorous if a) it hadn’t begun at 6 a.m. and b) if it hadn’t followed weeks of distrust, insecurity and lashes of jealousy, and almost two weeks of steady arguments.

Sparking one argument was an ex asking me if I can help him work on a set list for a gig coming up. He’s a one-man band, uses a lot of effects, and I’m one of the only people he trusts to be honest about his sound. Still I put off helping him because Mr E doesn’t trust him at all, and it’s not worth an extra battle.

Then, as the she-devil Former Dream Girl who tore his life in pieces repeatedly tries to contact Mr E and he showed signs of giving in (he’s since accepted calls from her twice), I ask him why he wants to be friends with her. I don’t give judgment or tell him he’s stupid for wanting to, I simply ask why. He immediately attacks me for my friendships with men, and says being friends with FDG is just fair if I’m friends with my exes (who actually, you know were loving toward me and didn’t deceive me for two years.) Comparing bananas to jackfruit.  Of course, this still doesn’t answer my question, but it ruins a perfectly good weekend.

Then I get the new job. He feels threatened because he loses the chance for me to move in, take care of him, and he loses the ability to keep tabs on me. He loses control in terms of when and for how long he gets to see me because the news does that for me. He also is extremely uneasy that the videographer I’m working with for the welcome video to launch the site is none other than the V-Man himself.

Mr. E is most threatened by V-Man because we have the most recent past, are still very friendly, and while the conversation is “appropriate” (according to Mr. E’s eavesdropping), we talk too often, for too long, and too late at night (10pm after is my phone curfew apparently).  I understand Mr. E’s uneasiness with us working closely together, but V-Man is a complete pro, the best at the job, is willing to do this as a favor in his free time, and I definitely am not going to pass that up. This is a short work project, not a couple of romantic dates.

Mr. E. is also panicking at the loss of control over my time right now as I plan and organize ahead of time for work, while finishing up a picture book series assignment due next week. He’s trying to have some control over my one week family vacation coming up, and he’s hijacked this weekend to take me down to Maryland with him to see his sick friend. I, of course, am under deadline, have a ton to do in the next week and half, and cringe at the thought of losing three full days. The 6 a.m. wake-up call of course means I have a migraine and limited productivity today.

So this morning’s diatribe made me lose it. I’ve tried to be understanding. I know his last girlfriend was a deceitful ho bag of the worst kind (who’s still trying to tempt him to be her man on the side of her marriage bed), so he has trust issues. I know she and his ex-wife didn’t make him feel needed and wanted enough. But just how many excuses am I expected to give for his constant accusations, negative inferences, and downright idiocy?

This was my final response in our hour-long texting battle this morning:

Lately you’ve been overanalyzing and second-guessing even the most innocent and simplest things I do–or don’t do. It’s not fair, it stresses me, and it needs to stop. I think it would be best for us not to talk for a couple of days and maybe whatever circular thought patterns you may be currently stuck in will have a chance to die out. Otherwise it’s going to choke us and kill the good thing we have between us. I’m not being dramatic when I say this, I’m merely speaking truth.

Should You Share All Your Secrets With Your Lover?

Early on in relationships, we often find ourselves divulging reams of random tidbits about ourselves to our partners, caught up in that heady rush of “I want you to know everything about me!” Sharing little secrets late into the night can often make us feel closer to the ones we are growing to care about, especially when there is heartfelt reciprocation. However, sometimes, we later find that these (over)indulgences of fact-sharing can quite frankly bite us in the ass.

I made the mistake of using one former boyfriend as a therapist, bleating about my father’s ancient infidelities. Later I would learn this ex had a sick sort of admiration for playboys, that he got a vicarious thrill about hearing of the adventures of his guy friends’ shenanigans that they somehow got away with unbeknownst to their girlfriends or wives. My ex brought up my dad’s former dalliances with me far more frequently and carelessly than desired just to get a rise out of me, despite knowing how much pain that past had caused my family.

To be fair, the same boyfriend also always remembered my soft spot for bunnies. No matter what either one of us were doing, if he spotted a bunny, he would run to find me. He knew that just catching a glimpse of the cute, furry creatures was sure to put a smile on my face, and he always went out of his way to make at least that happen.

From the insidious to the innocent, then there are those details you share about your past, more specifically your boyfriends’ past, that becomes a nagging reminder that perhaps there are some things you should keep safe in your memory locker and never bring up. Like the fact that you once dated a guy who was emotionally abusive and bipolar. Or the fact that you once dated a party animal who used recreational drugs. Or the fact that you once tried mushrooms at a Phish concert in Vegas because your then-boyfriend and your newlywed friends strong-armed you to finish the batch. These facts can and will be held against you in the court of dating.

Even more dangerous in some relationship situations is to share what you have done previously in the bedroom. If you do not want to set the stage for insecurity in your man, be very careful about answering the loaded question: “What’s the wildest thing you’ve done sexually?” In the past, men have taken this in stride and not felt threatened by this, but in my present dating situation, my answer to these questions has fueled my man’s competitive streak.

She’s done this with the V-Man, then surely she wants and needs to do this with me…
he thinks to himself. He is in a battle to show up the V-Man so there is one concrete way he feels he can do this.

I admit I’ve done some creative things in the bedroom in my past. Nothing too insane and kinky–well not usually. Yet men are surprised and titillated when they hear that I have partaken in anal play. I have only done it with one partner who I trusted very much and who loved it very much, so doing so pleased him and wound up pleasing me. I’m not sure I want to do it with other partners. I’m not sure I would enjoy it in my usual sexual repertoire with someone else, particularly one who has never done it before and doesn’t know what he’s doing. Yet if this will make him feel more secure and will also satisfy his curiosity about a fantasy he’s never achieved, then I might be willing to try it once.

It’s a slippery slope when someone tells you they want to be your perfect lover. There’s no such thing as perfect, in my eyes. There’s amazing lover, which he already is. I’ve told him that. He doesn’t need blindfolds, whip cream, and costumes to stave off boredom in the bedroom at this point in our relationship–though I am open to it later! Not all of my fantasies need to be fulfilled; some are meant just to be those lovely fantasies that play around in my mind to help me achieve pleasure.

When it is he and I in the bedroom, there is no one else. He is not competing against all my past lovers. My eyes and body are all focused on him, and him alone.