Modern Love

March 28, 2022

 

The first kiss of any relationship is so delicious, when it’s done right. There are so many things to get right in that first kiss. How to convey feelings in that kiss. How to judge the chemistry between two people.

Why am I thinking about first kisses?

I recently decided to step my toe into the online dating world.

I’ve known for a while that HE wasn’t going to be who I needed or wanted in my life. I need more emotional connection with someone. I need to be treasured and held and made to feel like I’m the most important person in the world to whoever is in my life. He knew that. I was up front about that from the beginning.

But it just wasn’t in him to give me those things. I know affection is difficult for him. I know he is emotionally stunted from past experiences and childhood. But if I was important enough to him, he would have at least tried to provide to me what I craved from the relationship. So, the signs were there. I chose to believe he could be the man I needed. And I think he wanted to be that man. He’s just incapable.

Which leads me to the online dating options. I never dreamed I would sign up for a dating site. I just figured if someone was meant to be in my life, I’d meet him. Living where I do, as isolated as I am, adds a special wrinkle to dating. I haven’t been too anxious to look for someone since my divorce, but I know now that I’m ready to open up my life for the right man. I’ve never been a social butterfly. I don’t enjoy going to the bars. I don’t like crowds of people, especially strangers. And I have worked at home so don’t go out ‘into the world’ on a daily basis.

I finally came to the conclusion that if I want to include another person in my life, I’ve got to make some effort to meet that person.

I researched the different sites available. And some are obviously hook up sites, where you swipe left or right if someone is within a certain geographic area. Not my thing. For one, I’m not interested in one night or a hook up. For another, there isn’t going to be a huge selection of great men in my little corner of western Montana.

There are some sites that are for people over 50. Some for specific races and sexual orientation. A little too specific. Especially in this area.

And of course, there are the two big ones: eharmony and match. I filled out their questionnaires. I was ready to search through the options. They are very similar, but after reading reviews and looking at their fee structures, I chose eharmony. They are a little more expensive, but I figure the men on that site might be a little more serious about finding the right person if they have to spend a little more money doing it.

I also landed on farmers only. Which probably makes the most sense for me. I really do want to find a man who has similar interests and will want the same kind of lifestyle that I do. I don’t expect to find someone who will match up with me on every point and hobby. But a similar foundation to life is key to a lasting relationship.

The reason I signed up with both sites is because farmers only is very specific. There is a much smaller pool of members. I figured by signing up with both sites, I might have a better chance of finding some acceptable men to meet. I am only doing FO for three months. At the end of that subscription, if I haven’t met anyone, I’ll cancel the membership with a shrug. Eharmony didn’t have a short subscription offer, so I’m on there for a year, unless I find my Superman before then.

I’m realistic about the chances of meeting my Mr. Right this way. I know I’m not going to meet anyone immediately. Going through the process of signing up has made me focus on what I truly want from a relationship. I answered all of my questions truthfully. I wrote an honest essay about myself and who I was looking for. I uploaded recent, untouched pictures of myself – face and body.

Frankly, I don’t want to deal with the men who are looking for someone twenty years younger than themselves. Or men who post their high school photos, even though they’re in their fifties. One thing I’ve already seen is a high number of posts that have no profile picture. Or no essay/answers to questions. Do those men really think they’re going to get anyone to click on their profile? If there is no picture, it’s an automatic ‘delete’ for me. And if there’s no information listed, it’s an automatic ‘delete’ as well. I took time to write something about myself. I took the chance to post pictures of myself – and I don’t like taking pictures – so I figure the men can do the same. And if they aren’t willing to post a picture or essay, that makes me think they’re hiding something, they’re ashamed of the way they look, or they aren’t serious about finding a good match.

Realistically, if you post an old photo of yourself, when you were thinner and in better shape, etc., don’t you think when you actually meet someone, they’re going to notice the difference? I honestly don’t think too often about aging. My folks both aged remarkably well. My dad didn’t start showing gray in his hair until his was in his sixties. And even when he passed away, his hair was still mostly black. My mom looks very young for 83. I’m hoping those good genes have passed on to me. And I’m told that I don’t look like I’m 54. In fact, many people who don’t know me are shocked that my oldest son is 27.

I’m not looking to date someone who is considerably older or younger than myself. I want someone I can relate to and enjoy the same activities and lifestyle. I’m not sure why so many people lie about their age or size or hobbies. Similar to how they embellish their life’s accomplishments and accolades. I just want to find an attractive, honest, affectionate guy who can share my life and love me.

One of the biggest obstacles I saw with HIM was that we had different lifestyles in general. I’m a cowgirl. A country girl. I like my life on my thirty acres. I like my horses and plan to keep them. He’s a city boy. A wanderer. He lives in an RV and can pull up his life on a whim and move when things become uncomfortable. I think we could have compromised and come to a sustainable mix. But looking with a bit of hindsight: I don’t know how long I would have been happy with that.

I don’t know how quickly I’ll find someone that interests me, if I ever do. But I figure, it can’t hurt to try. I can’t stay in my little house, in my little town, and expect to run across a great guy. And I don’t want to wait another nine or ten years to put myself out there.

I feel good about myself right now. I’m in good shape. I’m healthy. I’ve been told I’m attractive and look young for my age. Why shouldn’t I be dating some great looking and great acting guy? I’m tired of being alone. Tired of spending all my time with my dogs and my horses. Tired of waiting for my kids to visit.

I need to start forging a life of my own. That might lead to relocating. That might lead to inviting someone into my established life. Or creating a brand new life with a brand new guy. But I know something has to be different. I’m searching for happiness and for that feeling of being someone’s everything.

Do I feel a little silly? You bet I do. I have mocked people in the past for using these kinds of sites. But I also know some people who have met their perfect-for-them person using these sites. All I can do is try.

One drawback to my situation is where I live. One thing I put in my essay is that whoever is interested in me will have to deal with some distance, at least to begin with. I don’t mind traveling to meet with someone. I don’t mind thinking about relocating, at the right time. But I won’t make the mistake I made in my relationship with HIM, where I was doing all the traveling and making all the effort for us to be together.

If distance scares off a man, then I don’t need him in my life either. I know it’s way easier to meet someone who lives within a hundred miles of me. But that hasn’t happened in the last eight years. I know who lives near me. I know who’s available. And none of them are what I’m looking for.

It would be great if any of my friends knew a fabulous, single, age-appropriate guy that met my criteria. I would honestly prefer meeting someone that way. Unfortunately, most of the great guys I know are happily married. And my friends only know men who are too young, too old, too unhealthy, or too different from my ideal. I’m not going to date someone I know isn’t a good fit for me, just to be dating someone.

The biggest obstacle for whoever I meet will be getting to know each other at first via texts and emails and phone calls. I’m not going to agree to travel to see anyone until I know there’s a foundation for at least a friendship. We have to have enough in common to form some kind of connection with one another. Otherwise, why bother.

I don’t want to waste time or money traveling to meet someone that I have no obvious future with. I don’t expect an immediate, exclusive or serious thing. But if he absolutely hates horses, then I don’t see us moving forward. Or if he lives and breathes NASCAR, we probably won’t have much in common.

I’m sad to call it quits with HIM. And I do miss him. We had fun together. We laughed and we were good for each other in many ways. I thought we might be able to create a comfortable life together. But one of the biggest takeaways from my time with him is I figured out what I absolutely need from a relationship.

I don’t want comfortable. Or good enough. I don’t want contentment.

I want a passionate, all-encompassing love that keeps me off-balance and makes my toes curl. I want to be with someone who looks at me with such adoration that my stomach tingles. I want to be held and cuddled and protected, even when I don’t need to be. I want a man who isn’t afraid to be in a couple and is proud to show the world. By holding my hand, touching the small of my back, running his finger over the back of my hand.

You see, I want it all. This first foray back into dating wasn’t a fail. It was what I needed to give me the confidence to search for what I need and want out of what I hope will be my last relationship. And I know it will take time – and probably a few more endings – before I finally find that.

But I do still believe in love. And I have hope that the man of my dreams is still out there. Still looking for me. I know I’m somebody’s perfect-for-them. We just haven’t met yet.

I’m looking forward to my last first kiss. The power and promise of a great kiss tells so much about a man …

 

You’re thinking about that right now, aren’t you?

The Love Equation

March 14, 2020

How fitting that we’re talking about an equation on pi day!

 

You know that equation that says when you break off a relationship, you need about half the time you were dating to be fully over it? I’m there. A little quicker than I should be. Maybe?

This should be my last post directly about that relationship…And just so everyone is clear, nothing I’ve included in these blogs were said ‘behind his back’. Everything I’ve shared I said to him first, usually many times. I’m not sure how much of what I said got through to him. Or how intently he listened. But … I’m not sharing anything that he doesn’t already know. I’ve invited him to read my blog. In his words, it’s too much effort to look up my site and read through my posts.

This isn’t meant to be a bash-the-ex kind of blog. It’s meant to demonstrate how the best intentions in a relationship can still mean a chasm between those in that relationship. I dated you-know-who for about five months. I’ve talked about the ups and downs and what led to the end, so I won’t bore you with those things in this post.

I was hurt when I ended the relationship. And it didn’t make sense to me. I knew he wasn’t the right person for me. He was toxic. And damaging to my self-worth. But I still hated to sever ties with him. There were appealing aspects of his personality. He brought me out of my shell. He dragged me along on adventures I wouldn’t have pursued alone. He, at times, made me feel sexy and desirable. That was intoxicating. I didn’t want to let go of that. And I questioned myself whether I was being fair to him. Did I give him enough time and chances to remedy those things that were hurtful? Did I extend enough time for him to feel comfortable with the level of affection I needed and the intimacy that I required? I questioned myself about how I handled the logistics of ‘us’.

So, after the break up, I spent about a week feeling sorry for myself. And crying. And hurting. I wallowed. I complained to my best friend. I ignored his calls and texts.

Then I got mad. I was mad that he thought he could treat me with anything less than respect, and I would continue wanting him. That he ignored my wants and needs for that relationship in favor of what he did. That he used me. Forced me into the kind of relationship I told him I never wanted. That he twisted my affection for him into something less pure than what I offered.

I wanted to cut off all contact with him when I ended things, but I didn’t. We did text after that first week. At times, we texted and talked almost as much as when we were dating. But it was different. It had to be. It couldn’t be the same as it once was. Not for me. Even though he called me several times a day. And texted me non-stop.

He expected us to hang out. To see each other on weekends once he got back to Montana. He actually said that until I found someone better, I could ‘love’ him. I’m not sure why he thought I’d be okay continuing on with a ‘sort of’ romance until I met someone who was truly who I wanted.

After he suggested that, I knew he and I had never been on the same page in terms of relationships. And it made me very sad for him, knowing that he thought that was a possibility. That he is so stunted in terms of emotions that he would accept that as a doable thing. I’m okay being alone rather than having to ‘have any man’ in my life.

Slowly, the amount and frequency of texts have decreased. Mostly because he has been as surly and snarky at times as he was when we were ‘dating’. Over petty and insignificant things.  I’m simply not going to be talked to or treated in that way. He doesn’t understand why I won’t call him or why I don’t tell him tiny details from my days.

He thinks I should have my phone in hand, 24/7, ready to text back within seconds, even though he routinely goes phone silent for long stretches of time in the middle of conversations. He wondered why it took me twenty minutes to reply back to a text the other day. I’m not watching my phone, waiting with baited breath for him to contact me. At one time, he was my priority. But not now. He doesn’t understand why the dynamics between us have changed. I’m not going to share everything with him like I once did. I don’t trust him like I once did. He doesn’t deserve to know everything now.

But back to the point of this post. It’s been almost two months. Specifically it’s been seven weeks since I ended things, officially. Even though I knew they were over when we went to Vegas. So I had a bit of a head start on my equation time line. I’m over the hurt. Over the crying. Over the emotions of whatever this was with him.

He still texts me. But I don’t respond right away. I don’t call him. I don’t initiate any contact. Once I get my things back from him, I probably will end most contact with him. I need to be free from his sarcastic and dark moods. His snarky comments. His judgmental attitude. What he once offered in terms of excitement has run its course. I suspect he harbors some hope that in time I will ‘come back’ to the relationship we had. I won’t. I can’t. I deserve better than what that was.

He’s a bitter person, and I don’t need that in my life. I can go down a dark hole all by myself. I don’t need him nudging me there. And I am not getting anything out of holding on to him. He needs me more than I need him. He misses me, I think. And the reverse isn’t true. I miss moments with him. I miss the laughter and the playfulness that happened. I miss the flirting. I miss the random times he would hold my hand or cuddle with me. But I don’t miss ‘us’. And that’s sad.

He could have nurtured this relationship into something good and solid and worth pursuing. But he didn’t want to. He wanted to put in the least amount of effort possible and still expected to get a big return. I’m worth more than that. I’m worth a man’s time and effort. His feelings. Emotions. Love. His creativity in planning dates. His financial output. His vulnerability. I’m worth every bit of sacrifice and second that I give him in return. I’m worth his travel. His first thoughts of the day. His last thoughts of the night.

In time, maybe he’ll see that. But I’m not sure he ever will. If he couldn’t appreciate me, while I was in his life, I doubt he’ll ever see the irony of pushing away someone he said he wanted and needed and loved. There was simply no reciprocity in our relationship. From day one, there was an imbalance, and it eventually pushed me past my tolerance level.

Not to sound too pretentious, but his absence in my life isn’t going to be as profound as my absence in his. Maybe I’m way off, but I think he’s going to have a hard time replacing the roles I fulfilled for him. As I’ve said, at my core, I’m a caretaker, and I enjoy giving those in my life comfort. I liked being the person he said he needed and craved. But that attention was never returned to me, when I needed and wanted some pampering and some solace.

I’m very glad I didn’t pursue any of the ventures we talked about. I’m glad I didn’t move to Billings for him. I still want to leave Whitehall, but I can do it on my terms, and for my reasons, not just to fit into someone else’s narrow view of the future.

If I’m being honest, I am thankful for the time I spent with him. I’m thankful it didn’t work out. I learned some valuable things about myself. I’ve learned what I will and will not tolerate from the person I choose to have in my life. His behaviors, good and bad, reminded me that I must be somewhat selfish and insist that my requirements be met in any relationship.

Obviously, everyone has bad days. Everyone loses their temper. Those situations are forgivable, as long as apologies are sincere, and that behavior doesn’t become the norm. I found myself withdrawing more and avoiding certain topics because I didn’t want to set off a stream of swearing and anger. I can’t live that way.

He showed glimmers of the man I thought he was. He could say sweet and tender things to me. He could be kind and gentle. He could be funny. He could be charming. But those lighter moments were always fleeting. They didn’t last long enough to balance out the simmering anger and cynical attitude that were always bubbling under the surface. The slightest thing could set him off into a caustic tirade of swearing and insults. And that erased all those fun and wonderful moments. By the time I was ready to walk away, there was more hurt than there was happiness while I was with him. He is a perfect example of a Jekyll and Hyde personality.

My forgiveness and patience simply ran out. Once I reached the point that I no longer saw a future with him, I needed to step out of the relationship. When I no longer looked forward to his calls and texts, and no longer wanted to make plans to get together, I knew it was over.

Now it’s time to move on, for both of us. And maybe the next love equation will be my last one.

Montana Mama Mementos

March 20, 2022

 

I’ve had a business venture bubbling for a while now and want to share it.

After my dad died, I wanted to do something creative with all of the shirts in his closet. He was an old-school cowboy. He wore button down cowboy shirts every day, usually with a plain white t-shirt underneath. I didn’t want to donate them or thrown them away. And almost every shirt in his closet held a memory for me.

I took a few months and did some online research for ideas of how to re-purpose a loved ones left behind clothing. I settled on several different options: I made a blanket for each of my boys, my mom, and myself; stuffed animals for everyone; and ornaments.

I came across some designs for non-sew, quilted ornaments. They are made with a Styrofoam form in the center and fabric rectangles pinned in distinct patterns. Once done, they look like they are quilted.  I thought that would be an awesome idea for how to use my dad’s shirts for a remembrance of him. Every one chose a couple of ornaments that first Christmas after his died.

My boys thought it was a fabulous idea and Cyris thought I could make and sell similar ornaments. Not out of my dad’s shirts, but out of other fabric. And that gave me an idea. I cut up some remnants of fabric left over from various sewing projects. And I started making some ornaments.

Pretty soon, I created ornaments for different holidays: not only Christmas, but also Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter eggs, Halloween, Mother’s Day, spring, summer, winter, fall. I discovered patterns for heart shapes, eggs, and lot of options for round balls. I love putting colors together, embellishing them with ribbon and beans and colorful pins, and making something that is handmade and unique each time. Every ornament is original.

Sylvis helped me set up a merchant page on Etsy, and I started my own online business. Montana Mama Mementos.  https://www.etsy.com/shop/montanamamamementos

It’s been slow. I finally made my first sale about two months ago. I’ve only sold a handful of ornaments. But I’m getting more visitors to my site and the reviews have been stellar.

Just last week, a visitor to my site sent me a message, asking if I’d like to attend a craft show in Alberton the middle of July. It was a serendipitous message. I have been thinking that I need to find some craft shows, if I want to increase my visibility and make my business a little bigger.

So, I filled out the application form, was approved, and am on their vendor list for their craft show. And now I figure I’d better get a bigger inventory built up in the next four months. Once I got my work done on Friday, I started making more ornaments. I finished ones I had started. And I have close to thirty new ornaments. My seed stash for the show.

The ornaments aren’t hard to make. I usually pick one pattern, then make many of that pattern all at once. But they take a fair amount of time to make. A couple of hours per ornament.

As you can see from the pictures, the end result is fun. I add a western charm to each ornament, just for a bit of a Montana twist.

I know that anyone could make these and create their own ornaments, but I’m hopeful this will turn into an income stream over time. I don’t do well sitting still. So working on these gives my hands something to do when I’m watching a movie or not able to get outside as often as I like during cooler weather.

So, check out my merchant page on Etsy. And let me know if there’s something different you’d like in an ornament. I’m willing to do custom orders, providing I can find the right fabric I the right pattern.

 

 

 

Modern Problems

March 16, 2022

 

A couple of nights ago, I walked into my garage, and there was a couple of inches of standing water. I swore.

At about the same time, Garris told me his bathroom floor was flooded. I swore again. Not at him, of course.

And I wasn’t exactly angry. I was frustrated.

For the second time in a week, I used every available towel in the house to sop up water in his bathroom. The first time, I thought there was an issue with the toilet and had shut off the water supply to it. He wasn’t home at the time, and I decided to wait for another day to deal with the problem.

But I realized that night, I probably had a backed up septic. Of course, it was too late to call anyone at ten o’clock.

Last week, there was water in the garage, but I thought it was a fluke. I couldn’t find any leaks in the pipes. I couldn’t find a reason for the water and figured the drain was plugged or that it was a result of my doing a load of laundry. It didn’t dawn on me that the septic might be backed up.

First thing yesterday morning, I called a septic pumping service, and waited until about three o’clock for him to show up. Those things always run later than you plan. In the meantime, I told my mom and Garris that we couldn’t use any water. No flushing. No showers. No laundry. Nothing. I was just happy he could make it out the same day. It took him maybe a half hour to pump the tanks. And to my shock, they were full to the lids.

I had just had them pumped three years ago; it was on my calendar to have it done this summer. And I was told they needed to be pumped every five to seven years. Since there are only two of us living here, I didn’t think it was close to needing done again.

What he told me was that a lot of the pumping companies don’t ‘mix’ the tanks before pumping them. They just pump out the liquid, the solids fall to the bottom, and the tanks get full quickly and/or plug up.

As soon as he moved the sludge around a little bit, water started flowing in, alleviating the problem in my garage. Yeah, gross. So was the filter that he pulled out of the solids tank. I have a lot of respect for the people who pump septic tanks. I couldn’t stomach that smell all day. I can see how people die quickly when they fall into septic tanks. The fumes overwhelm almost immediately.

After he was done, I turned the water back on to the basement toilet and held my breath, waiting to see if any water was leaking around the bowl. Nope. So, I cleaned his shower and gathered up all the wet towels. I’m very thankful that was the issue. I was dreading calling a plumber to come look at the toilet, afraid of the cost of that visit.

I checked his toilet again this morning. Dry floor. I checked the garage this morning and all the water was gone. Of course, there is still the matter of a soaked indoor/outdoor carpet that I will need to air out. The garage door is open now, with a fan blowing air on the carpet. If three freezers weren’t sitting on that carpet, I would have dragged it outside already.

I’m running all the towels through the washing machine today. I’m flushing toilets, giddy that the action won’t cause any more issues in the basement.

And I am laughing at myself. What a small and simple thing to be happy about. My septic system is working. I don’t have to call a plumber.

And it makes me realize just how much we take for granted in today’s world. I don’t think about how my electricity works. How the propane gets into the house. How the septic system drains water. How my well pumps. I don’t think about my appliances working. I don’t think about the horses’ water running. I don’t worry about the pipes in my house holding water. When a problem crops up, I deal with it. And most of the time, the problems are pretty simple and pretty fixable.

I’ve become fairly handy at fixing some things. I can use a hammer and screwdriver. I’ve learned how to run many powers tools. And I try to solve my own problems. I feel empowered when I can put up cupboards. Or make some countertops out of barn wood. Or replace old caulking around my tub. I figured out how to put caulking inside a toilet tank to prevent leaks. I’ve replaced the guts of a toilet tank. I’ve learned to check the breaker boxes if I lose power in the house or barn. I learned how to put down laminate flooring and make door trim. I even went up on the roof a few weeks ago to nail down some loose shingles. So, whenever possible, I try to solve my own problems before I reach out for assistance.

Especially now that my house is boy-free. I used to ask my kids for help on some things, and I still ask for help with some of the power tools. But I have forced myself to be a little more self-sufficient and figure out how to fix ‘smaller’ things.

I am still irritated that the garage flooded. But it could have been so much worse. If it had been a blown pipe, who knows how much of my house would have been damaged. Right now, I may have to throw out a couple of carpets and replace some baseboard trim in his bathroom that got wet and has swollen and misshapen now. But those things are pretty minor.

My biggest lesson? Have my septic pumped every other year, whether it’s scheduled or not. What’s that saying? An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

I like it when my house runs along the way it’s supposed to. And I try to do needed maintenance to keep it that way. I don’t ever want to step into another flooded garage or sop up a bathroom floor, wondering exactly what I’m soaking up with the water.

So, for today, I’ll enjoy that my house is running the way it should. And try to appreciate just how spoiled I am, living in this moment in time.

 

Two Years and Counting…

March 15, 2022 – the Ides of March

 

Two years ago today, my dad died in a Denver hospital.

I’ve shared a few posts about that event, and about the aftereffects of losing him so suddenly and unexpectedly. As you all know, he had a heart attack, and bypass surgery in Billings. That went well and the day before he was to come home, he had a massive stroke and was flown to Denver.

Three weeks later, he was gone.

And I’m still processing that loss. I still have his cell number in my phone, under ‘Dad’. Mom uses it now, but I can’t change the contact name. It’s silly. I still find myself reaching for my phone to call him for advice or tell him something that happened that day.

We didn’t really ‘mark’ the day in any way. Last year, I invited all the kids to come for dinner, so that we remembered Grandpa’s passing. At that point, she was still pretty fragile, and that dinner was the best solution to her sadness. This year, Mom and I talked about him for a little bit, and that was ‘enough’. It isn’t that I think about him any less than I have during the past two years. It’s just a matter of moving forward with life as it is now.

He’s always in my thoughts. I wonder a lot how he would advise me on what I need to do at this point in life.

I think he would be tickled to know that I’m pursuing a CDL license. He had one. He never used it, per se, but he had it if he needed it.

I like to think he’s looking over us all from his vantage point in the ‘beyond’. I like the idea of  him keeping us safe, while still letting us move through some rough patches of life.

I still talk to him. Usually in quiet moments, or when I’m conflicted about decisions or situations. I wear my ring whenever I go out. It has his thumb print on the band, and it makes me feel like he’s with me. When I took my written tests a couple of weeks ago, I remember spinning it on my finger while I was thinking about what answer I wanted to choose.

And I think a lot about the relationship between my dad and my mom. After having her live with me the past year and a half, I feel like I have a better understanding of their dynamics. I didn’t always understand how they interacted with each other. But I think I understand better why my dad acted the way he did with her.

My mom has begrudgingly settled into life without him. Some days are better than others. But she’s gotten past the phase of seeking attention for herself and using her grief to pull sympathy from others. I know that sounds a little harsh. But for at least a year, she would be overly dramatic when other people were around. She could pull up tears pretty easy and talked about how tough it was on her to lose him.

And I know it has been hard for her to adjust. But it made me uncomfortable to watch the manipulative way she would bring up my dad, for the sole purpose of extracting sympathy from people. She doesn’t do it as often now. And although she will never be over her loss, she’s finding a way to live without his presence.

I’ve had to shift my role in her life over the past two years. When Dad was first gone, she became fully dependent on me. She couldn’t take care of her bills or any big decisions. She was frantic if the smallest things went wrong. For the first few weeks, I took care of everything. And that’s the main reason we decided she should move in with me.

But gradually, I made her start taking care of herself. She had to make her own phone calls. Pay her own bills. Drive herself to the store and appointments, if I had a conflicting schedule. She had to start fixing her own food. We had made an arrangement when she first moved in that I would cook and she would do dishes. After a few months, we agreed I would fix one meal a day. Beyond that we were each on our own. And although she tried to make me feel guilty about the tough love, she’s at a point where she’s much stronger mentally.

We’ve talked about moving away from Whitehall as some point. And we’ve talked about how our living situation will need to change, especially if I do find myself in another relationship. I really think we need to have separate living places on the same property. That way we both have some privacy but I’m close if she needs something. She’s ready. And we could plan on – maybe – a meal together each day.

I think Dad would be pleased with her transformation. And happy that she is safe. For a lot of years, it was his job to take care of her. She’ll never be able to fully live alone. But she’s become much more independent of me than she was two years ago.

Two years. Seems like just yesterday. And it seems like forever ago. It will be interesting to see what happens this next year.

Life Paths

March 15, 2022

 

We are staring down an unexpected life change for Garris.

He’s been attending college at Western in Dillon, and he really enjoys the community. He has enjoyed school and meeting friends. But classes have been a struggle for him. The pace of college is different from high school. And given that he finished online, it’s doubly hard for him to focus, I think.

I had hoped the block system would be a good fit for him, but he really isn’t interested in business classes. Beyond that and education, there isn’t much to choose from in Dillon. So, rather than waste the next four years failing classes and blowing through his college fund, he’s going to withdraw from school this week.

He is academically ineligible to rodeo this spring. And that cemented his decision. He told me last fall the only reason he was going to college was to rodeo. So if that’s off the table, his motivation is gone. He lost his scholarship due to poor grades.

I told him that college isn’t for everybody. And if he isn’t ready, it’s okay. If he wants to do something different, it’s okay. I feel bad for him because he did want to rodeo, but that was his dream, not mine. He admitted that after the fall rodeos, he had lost some interest in continuing. They just weren’t fun like he had expected. And they were expensive.

One thing he’d like to do when the weather warms up is load up his horses and go roping. Maybe go south for a couple of weeks. He can always rodeo in NRA this summer. And he’ll figure out if he truly wants to step it up to the next level.

His plan right now is to get a construction job, preferably in Belgrade, and work for awhile. He wants to get his CDL, especially now that his mom has her permit. He can always go back to school, if that’s something he wants to pursue.

I told him he needs to follow his heart. He needs to figure out what’s going to make him happy. That isn’t always an easy thing. But I know from experience that following a path you’re not excited about leads to unhappiness and frustration. He still has some growing up to do – no person is fully mature at his age. And this might be the best thing for him.

When he texted me a couple of weeks ago about the school situation, he said he didn’t want to talk about it yet. And that was fine with me. I told him I was here when he was ready. He’s been home a few times since then, and we’ve talked about it. He truly doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life. So, working for a while is the best teacher sometimes.

He came home today and decided to stay the night. Which is great! I love having him here. We watched a movie together and chatted about nothing too important. And this is the best kind of time I can spend with him.

It’s a different vibe now. Before he left for college last fall, he was still a kid. It was time for him to fly and he was ready but he was still very much a juvenile. By Christmas, he had matured. But I’ve noticed the last couple of times he’s been here, he’s morphing into a man. He isn’t as impulsive as he once was. In fact, he was here today to get his prescription refilled for his ADHD. He’s willing to help when I need it, without the complaining of a year ago.

And so my life as rodeo mom continues to shift. I won’t be attending college rodeos after all. And I will admit a part of me is kind of sad about that. I was looking forward to cheering him on a few more years. So, I have to modify my support to a different role.

I want him to call me and stop by and tell me when things are tough, just as much as when they are going well. I have tried to curb my judgment about his decisions. It’s not easy for me sometimes. As I’ve said in past blogs, he (of my three boys) and I have struggled the hardest to get along because we are so different in our approach to just about everything.

But I decided after homeschooling that I needed to agree to disagree on some things with him, or I risked losing him altogether. And I didn’t want that. I know time with each of my boys is precious. For different reasons, because they are all in different phases of their respective lives. But I feel like Garris and I are approaching a point where we can be more like friends than mother and son. I don’t feel the need to monitor him like I did last year.

I did my job as mom. I raised him and I taught him what he needed to know to take care of himself. And to make good choices. Now I have to trust that those lessons will take root. He’s going to make mistakes. He’s going to stumble. It’s part of life.

I still do. There are days I still don’t know what I want out of life. And I know if I could go back to his age, I’d make distinctly different decisions for myself. I wish my folks had told me it was okay to change my mind. It was okay to follow a different path than the one I started. It was okay to do something else.

I don’t want him struggling the way I have for so many years, trying to figure out what my purpose is in this life. My big-picture purpose was to be mom to my boys. And that I never questioned. I never regretted. But I have always wondered if there was something ‘more’ I could or should have done in addition to my role as mom.

So, as G steps into something different. Something new. I hope he knows he can always come home, even if it’s just for a meal or just for the night. His bedroom will be as it has been until he decides it’s time to create his own home.

I always love having him here. I cooked an actual dinner tonight, which was fun. Between my mom and I, we just don’t eat much. So I usually do something light and/or something small for us. It’s fun when Garris stops for a meal because it’s a MEAL.

And I know the days are winding down where he’ll be here for those meals. And I still think about where I want to move to. What I want to be doing in the next few years. How I envision life unfolding for me. I don’t feel as rushed to make that decision at the moment. Not like I did over the last couple of months. I’d like to take enough time to be sure of my choice, because this might be my last move. Hopefully it will be my last solo one anyhow!

As I mull over the changes happening for Garris, I find myself thinking about the changes I have to make in my life as well. And rather than feeling sad or melancholy, I’m kind of excited. I feel like the choices are unlimited at the moment. For both of us. And who knows, we may end up finding our paths go the same, or parallel, directions.

Big Rig Mama

February 9, 2022

 

A few weeks ago, I decided to pursue a CDL license. As would make sense, I did so because my ‘boyfriend’ at the time suggested it. He thought if I got my CDL, we could be a tandem driving team. In essence, it’s a team of two drivers who take turns on over-the-road hauls, each driving eight hours then switching. Or some form of a schedule like that. The reason? The truck basically never stops.

While one person is driving, the other is sleeping or resting or being navigator.

I was a bit reluctant at first. It’s intimidating looking at the controls and buttons inside those cabs. Shifting through all the gears looks very complicated. But after riding with him on an overnight run, I thought it might also be kind of fun. At least for awhile.

He also thought that we could buy a truck together. He would drive and I could broker, provided I could get bonded. Or at least work for a brokerage as an agent. (Like so many other ideas he threw out, I don’t think he was completely serious about us doing this. It sounded good at the time.)

But I was willing to look into it. I was looking for something new to do. And a way to make some good money over the new few years.

At the very least, it would lead to some great story potentials.

So, I scheduled a time for the written test, expecting to have to wait a couple of weeks. The earliest I could get in was March 2. So, I took that date. And started researching the manual.

I just had my DOT physical this week. And the advanced nurse who gave it told me I was in perfect condition. She said I’d have no problem finding work, because of how great of condition I was in. She was shocked I take no medication. I don’t smoke. I could lean over and touch the floor without breathing hard.

At first, I thought she was joking, but soon realized she was serious. She said most truckers have borderline poor health. Most are overweight. Many smoke. Some have sleep apnea or other potentially dangerous conditions. And she has to deny the ability to drive to a lot of them, because of safety issues.

One interesting thing: while she was checking my ears, she noticed some fluid in them. She checked my nose and told me I had a sinus infection. I was shocked. My ears had been feeling stuffy, like there was wax buildup in them. But she said they looked clean. Nothing ‘hurt’. Not my ears or throat or sinuses themselves. But she said she sees that fairly often. That a person doesn’t realize they aren’t feeling great until the antibiotics kill the infection, and they start feeling better. I’m on my third day of meds and nothing feels better yet. But I have another week. Hopefully by then, my ears will feel less full, and I’ll have a bit more energy.

But I digress.

I’m now single. And he expected me to bail on the idea of a CDL, just because we are no longer together. To be fair, I’m not sure what I will do with it now. I don’t want to be an over-the-road truck alone, as a woman. And he has said he wouldn’t want me out there alone. He said there are a few women drivers, but most of them are like most of the men: hardened, overweight, and/or rude, crude, and nasty. He said that I would be a target at the truck stops because I’m pretty and attractive and he wouldn’t want me to get attacked.

I hadn’t really thought of that possibility, but he’s right. The trucking industry is definitely a good ol boy’s club. When I rode with him overnight, we stopped at a couple of truck stops and I was very glad I had him to walk with me through the parking lot, etc. So, unless I had a partner to ride with me, I wouldn’t do over the road hauling.

But I could drive locally. Many of the trucking companies are starting to provide on the job training for applicants with a CDL permit. Mainly because this week, new federal requirements state that new drivers have to either go to a certified training school or learn from a certified trainer.

So, if I pass the written test in a couple of weeks, I’ll then pursue a company that will provide that training for me. The money is better than anything else I could find, especially in my corner of the world. And I do think it would be fun to drive.

At this point, it’s a personal challenge for me. Several people have said that my being a woman should help me, because companies are trying to encourage females to join the industry. The fact that I’m physically strong and healthy should work in my favor. And others feel that I would climb into better positions fairly quickly.

We’ll have to see.

I’m trying to convince my friend Colleen to get her CDL too; then we could pursue a tandem situation. Wouldn’t that be a kick? Travel the country with my bestie in a big rig? Like I said, maybe for just a little while. Girl power!

That will probably never happen. She’s reluctant to drive. And that’s okay.

I’m not sure that this is what my dream was: to be a truck driver. But it certainly couldn’t hurt to get that license. I could drive a school bus. I could drive delivery trucks locally. I could do Fed Ex or UPS semis on a regular route between Montana towns. The possibilities are many.

It will be interesting to see where this ultimately takes me.

Ten Four, Good Buddy

The Hidden Narcissist

February 9, 2022

 

Yesterday, I came to the stunning realization that the guy I had been dating is a narcissist. I thought he was conceited, but not to the degree that he is. And because my ex-husband was a flaming, abusive narcissist, this concerns me.

I knew Wade was full of himself. I knew he was arrogant and self-centered. But I thought he had a good heart overall. The last text exchange we had made me look at him with objective eyes. And it forced me to admit that I had chosen yet another stunningly obtuse man. Thankfully I only stayed with him a few months.

We played Words with Friends – the online scrabble game. I have always loved words and am hard to beat at traditional scrabble. I had never played WWF, so when he suggested we start playing, I was excited. He, of course, won the first several games, as I had to learn the game. But then, I started winning pretty handily.

And he started pouting. Any time I won by a large margin, he would threaten to quit playing me. Say he was taking a break. Tell me to go play with someone else. I never understood this. It’s a GAME. When he would have a great word, I’d text him something to the effect:

 

“Great word.”

“That’s a high point play.”

“I love that this is a challenge.”

 

Something along those lines.

When I played a high point word, especially one that was unusual or something he didn’t know, he’d accuse me of cheating. How? The game won’t let you play a word that isn’t in its dictionary. He said one of the things that attracted him to me was my intelligence. Then he would turn around and tell me I was too smart.  HUH?

Our last text exchange was a couple of nights ago. We were playing the game, I had a high point word, and he started sending me snarky texts. I tried to pass them off as jokes or that he was tired from driving so much. But they got increasingly nastier.

 

“Who in the population knows that made up word?”  (The word was toxemia.)

“You just have to show off.”

“Maybe if you lived in the real world you wouldn’t know those made up words.”

“Why don’t you play with someone else. See how long that lasts when you pull this shit out of your ass.”

“Go play with Colleen.”

“I resign.”

 

I responded to his texts in a playful way, telling him to quit whining and play. I didn’t take it too seriously until his last one:

 

“I have enough problems without your shit simmering on top.”

 

And that one sentence sums him up pretty good. The only thing that matters to him is his own life. He tends to feel sorry for himself a lot. He tends to think that no one else in the world has the kind of problems he deals with. And he tends to belittle and diminish everyone around him. Including me.

After that text, I went silent. I finally had enough. I finally saw that he was never going to change. He wasn’t a friend. A friend would be happy to play the game. A friend would lift me up not tear me down or try to make me feel ‘less’.

He wasn’t a boyfriend. We established that weeks ago. And it does hurt my heart that he couldn’t be the man I wanted and needed. But he never tried. He never really wanted to be a boyfriend. He just wanted me in his life when it was convenient for him.

The next day, late afternoon, he finally texted me back, asking me if I was going to finish the game. I was gobsmacked. (Yes, Wade that’s a word.) No apology for his behavior. No asking if things were okay. Nothing.

And I was angry. I had deliberately, many times, used words with smaller point values so that he could win a game. Or at least not get beaten by two hundred points. I never told him that, of course. But I was done treading around his fragile ego. I’m proud to be a smart woman. I like having a big vocabulary and finding unique words that make you think.

So, I texted him back.

 

‘You’re just going to act like you weren’t a sarcastic douche last night?’

 

I told him if he was so childish and petty about a GAME he didn’t need to play me.  And to stop taking out his shitty moods on me. I asked him why he always had to stoop to a personal attack on me when he got pissy. Then I told him to grow up.

There might have been a few saltier words sprinkled in there, that rhyme with duck. I don’t normally use that word. But I felt it added the emphasis I was looking for.

No more than a minute went by before he texted back, telling me to grow up. That he would send back my shit when he got back to Vegas (the things I had left in his trailer for when I returned to visit him). And he said that I was clearly not right in the head.

That was the final proof I needed that he was, indeed, a narcissist.

He didn’t even take the time to think about what I said. He didn’t look back at the vulgar things he had texted me the night before. He never even considered apologizing or asking me to clarify. His first reaction, as always, is to lash out and escalate things to a nastier level.

I haven’t responded. Nor do I plan to. If he sends my things back, fine. If not, I’ll get them when he brings my bike back in April. My guess is he will flake out on doing that, like he does with everything else in his life.

It really bothers me that he has turned out to be a person that I don’t even want as a friend. I had thought we might be able to stay civil to one another, at least for a few weeks. But I see now I have to excise him from my life. He is toxic for me. He makes me feel like a worthless human being, similar to how I felt when I was married.

And now that I have my eyes opened, I see that he has all the traits of a classic narcissist:

He has a complete lack of empathy. I chalked this up to being emotionally unavailable. But it goes deeper with him. He simply doesn’t care about anyone else’s feelings. Even when I told him the things he said to me were hurtful, he continued saying them. And I absolutely have to be with someone who I have emotional connection with. He didn’t even try.

He refused to engage in any emotional anything. I told him that I needed love. Affection. Romance. I was very clear that I couldn’t be with a man who couldn’t hold my hand or offer me what I needed. He never tried. He refused to be vulnerable with me. He refused to acknowledge to anyone that we were a couple. One clear example was that he didn’t want me to meet any of his friends. He always had a reason why. He wouldn’t meet my friends and was reluctant to meet my kids. He didn’t want any kind of touch in public and very little in private. I know, I was slow to catch on.

He has no boundaries. And he doesn’t want any. He expected me to tell him anything and everything about my life. Then he would make judgments about what I shared. He wanted to know about all my friendships. All my past boyfriends. He asked about my finances (which I didn’t share). He asked about anything and everything. But he shared nothing personal from his own life. In a lot of ways, he acted like a two-year-old, because he thought everyone should think the same way he did. If they didn’t they were wrong.

He wanted me to be insecure. He fed off that part of my personality. At first, he told me how attractive I was and how sexy I was. Then he would turn around and tell me I needed to lose more weight or he wished I was taller. He would tell me that he liked how I was independent then say it was a turn off. That I wasn’t feminine enough. He kept me bouncing like a rubber ball, knowing my history of abuse and keeping me tethered to him. And making me feel shitty about myself.

He said ‘I love you’ within the first couple of weeks of dating. Then he would say we’re better off as friends. Then back to love. Same with the future. He would offer suggestions of businesses we could do together. Then backtrack and say he’s better off alone. Then offer another business. Or suggest we buy a house together. Then say he’s a loner. The back-and-forth game really messed with my head, which I think was his intention.

He is controlling. I had made plans to go with one of my oldest friends on a trip during November, long before he and I ever went out. Marnie and I were planning a trip to St. Lucia, and when I told him about it, he basically accused me of being man-crazy. I’m not sure where that jump came from. But I told him I had no intention of hooking up with anyone. That was on our first date. And that was when he basically called ‘dibs’ on me.

Marnie and I ended up going to Florida instead, because of Covid restrictions. But I was gone for two weeks. I texted him to share parts of my trip with him, and he was incredibly rude and nasty. I told him that we were on the beach, day drinking and enjoying the sun. And he told me I was an alcoholic. I told him we were staying in to watch a movie and he called me pathetic for not going out at night. I told him several different things and every time, he had a negative response. I finally told him the trip wasn’t about him, and I quit sending him updates about anything. After two days, he asked me how things were going.

He could be a bully. He has a temper, as I’ve shared. And he doesn’t brook his words. Ever. During the course of these last few months, he has called me desperate more than once, because I wanted a relationship with him, rather than a fling. He accused me of wanting to be with ‘any guy’. He was the first man I dated since my divorce, eight years ago. He has called me a moron, called me pathetic, said I was a two year old, called me a nervous child, said that I was an alcoholic, called me lazy (I’ve been off work due to a severe injury to my knee and wrist and am dealing with workers comp), he said that I’m pushy because I wanted to know how he saw the future, he called me a tag along. I could go on. He always tried to brush off those things as jokes, but at some point, they’re just cruel.

He is a perfectionist. About certain things. He was a clean freak, and to a point that was okay. But he would nitpick about me. He would comment on what I ate or wore or what size I was or how I cooked something. He criticized how I drove. How I dealt with my dogs and horses and my mom. Told me how I should talk to and interact with my kids, even though he hasn’t spoken to his only child in years. And when I pointed out that he could do some work on his own physique, he got mad.

He is manipulative. I am at heart a giver. And that makes me a perfect target for someone like him, who is essentially a taker. He had no compunction asking me to rub his back or clean up a mess or drive to Billings to see him. But he rarely offered me any affection, even after knowing I craved it. He didn’t help plan our dates or put any effort into me. And he flat out refused to drive to my house, saying he drove enough during the week. He has told me his mom is manipulative. And I think he has a weird dynamic with her and has learned how to be like her.

He has a feeling of superiority. He told me early on he felt he was above his job. He felt that being a truck driver was demeaning. That he deserved a better life and was mad at the world for not providing it. When I asked him what he wanted to do instead, he barked at me that that was the only thing he could do to make enough money to cover his bills. He does have a sense of entitlement. I think part of that is from growing up with money.

He is less than truthful. There were several times when I questioned whether he was telling me the truth about everything. Like when he had had a girlfriend last or how many women he has dated. I think it was a lot more than he said. I’m pretty sure he left his profile up on dating sites while we were together. I think he sent my picture to ‘friends’ of his, asking their opinion of me, then telling me he didn’t. I don’t think he told me truth about his days off, etc. I tend to trust people. Too much. So I didn’t push it. But there was always a niggling little voice in my head questioning some of what he told me.

I also think he embellished parts of his life and past to make himself seem bigger than life, to impress me. He says that he enjoys living the way he does and that his life is ‘great’. But it doesn’t seem that way to me. His life seems pretty empty and shallow. I’m not sure what he’s chasing. But I’ll take my sad little solitary life over what he’s doing.

I went to Billings to spend Thanksgiving with him and his mother. That is a whole separate story. I had already invited him to come to my house for Christmas. And he had agreed, weather and his job schedule permitting. He said he HAD to spend Christmas Eve with him mom, but he’d come over on Christmas. Two days before, he said he wasn’t going to come because he was exhausted and needed a couple days. He was done working the UPS job, so he had as much time as he wanted, so that didn’t sit well with me.

I told him that I was disappointed that he couldn’t do that for me. He said he didn’t realize it meant so much. I told him that if I didn’t mean any more to him than that, then we may as well part company. He did end up coming, mainly because he wanted me to drive to Vegas with him and knew I wouldn’t go if he didn’t make the effort to be here at Christmas. He picked up some random things for me as a gift and brought it in Walmart bags. And the whole time he was here, he kept saying how he had to leave.

Nothing was ever his fault. There was always someone else to blame, for everything. His failed marriage was completely due to his ex-wife. His failed relationship with his son was completely due to his son. His failed relationship with his father was due to his father. Do you see a pattern? Every time there was an issue at his job (he had three during five months’ time), the problem was due to someone else: another driver, the dispatcher, management.

He never took responsibility for any of his flaws or mistakes. He never admitted to any. Whenever we would disagree, it was always my fault.

He was selfish. The entire premise of our relationship centered on him. What he needed. What he wanted. He was happy to do things with me, if I fit into his schedule and his life. The only time he drove to Whitehall was for our first ‘date’. After that, I either drove to Billings or we met somewhere in between. We ate where he wanted, even after I told him some places I’d like to try. We did the activities he wanted; I don’t think there was a single time that he agreed to do something I liked, such as dancing or live music. He didn’t support my interests or make any effort to ‘be there’ for me when I asked.

My birthday is December 1. He had promised me we would celebrate my birthday together, the weekend following it. I have never cared too much for presents for myself or anything like that, so I was fine with that. But then, he made plans to go visit an elderly couple, friends of his family, that weekend. He said he had to go and I’d just have to deal with it. I asked him why he hadn’t gone to see them while I was in Florida. He said he hadn’t wanted to. So, he never did come over and celebrate my birthday. To him, it was more important to go visit those people than it was to put some effort into me. A couple days later, I told him he could walk away. I was done. He begged me to stay in the relationship and that he would try hard. He didn’t.

He was constantly interrupting me when we talked, either on the phone or when together. I would be telling him something about my week, and he would just start in on something he wanted to say. Then he would tell me to talk more. He would constantly ask me the same questions, which was annoying, because I knew he wasn’t listening to me. And I would tell that to him. He actually told me once it’s because what I was saying wasn’t interesting enough to keep his attention. (Why did I stay with him for so long?!)

And finally, he promised me what I wanted, without ever intending to offer it. He knew I didn’t want a friends-with-benefits situation. He knew I wanted, eventually, a long-term relationship. He knew I wanted a total and complete life partner. He led me to believe he wanted the same things, but never really meaning it. And I think there was a part of me that knew, deep down, he was never going to follow through on those promises. But he kept me hooked, just enough, to stay.

He engaged in classic gaslighting, manipulation, and guilt. And it was just too similar to what I endured when I was married. I think that’s why I tried to end it several times. It’s glaringly obvious now why he’s been single for twenty-plus years.

I know that I’m a classic target for men like him. I am naïve and innocent. I am trusting. Kind. Caring. All things that are good. And I don’t want to change who I ultimately am. But I do want to change the kind of man I attract. And I know I have to change how I engage with the next man.

I know one thing, if he doesn’t put any effort into a first date, he won’t get a second one. If he makes no attempt at winning me, he will lose me before he even knows it’s an option. I’m simply done being someone’s victim. I don’t think I can survive another emotional vampire. I know I can’t feel like this again.

 

Red Flags Waving

February 9, 2022

 

I’ve shared before that one of my biggest concerns in staying with Wade was his temper. He has no control over his anger. Or, he chooses to let his anger be in control of him. Not sure which. But early in our dating, I told him that I can’t be around someone who yells or verbally attacks me. Because of my experience with my ex-husband, I simply can’t take those verbal assaults.

He told me he would try to curb his anger and not react that way with me. But it continued. He even told me, several times, that I needed to speak up more. Let him know when something bothered me. And whenever I tried, he told me I was wrong. He got angry. He got cruel.

And every time he lost his temper, it made me feel like crap. Sometimes it was directed at other people, but when he directed that anger toward me, it caused me to literally curl into a ball and feel sick for the rest of the day. Many times during the months we dated, I contemplated breaking it off. And I wish I had much earlier.

Too often, I felt the same way with him that I had with my ex-husband. I guess I just wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I forgave. I worked past the gnawing pain from his caustic insults and moved ahead.

That was one red flag that I ignored.

Another was his relationship with his mom. Every time he talked to or saw his mom, he complained about how bitchy she was or how much he hated spending time with her. He said she was selfish and lazy. But he spent most of the Wednesdays he had off with her. All day at her house. I’m not sure if it was because he lives in an RV and just wanted an actual house to lie around in. Or if there was some weird co-dependent relationship going on.

I think it was a combination of the two. He often talks about how great his life is, living in a trailer. He can pull up stakes and move at a moment’s notice. He doesn’t have maintenance to worry about. Or a mortgage payment. But then he turns around and seems to crave the stability of a house.

He told me early on that he wouldn’t leave Billings because he couldn’t leave his mom. Another red flag I pushed to the side. His mom is in her mid-seventies. In good health. She is perfectly capable of taking care of her day-to-day needs. He does things like mow her law, shovel the sidewalk, do small home repairs, etc. Mostly, he spends time with her. I think they are two lonely, bitter people who bring out the worst in each other. And for some reason, he craves that.

I called him out on this assertion that he couldn’t move somewhere else, and he became enraged. He said I wasn’t going to ‘take him away from his mom.’ But he thought it was perfectly acceptable that I uproot my life, and my mom, and move to Billings. My mom is 83 and healthy. She’s pretty independent. She moved in with me after my dad died, so that she wasn’t completely alone. But I don’t coddle her or act like she’s incapable of taking care of her day-to-day life needs.

Looking back, this should have been the biggest clue that he really wasn’t ‘in’ this relationship for any kind of commitment. I’m not saying he should turn his back on his mom. But if I was willing to relocate, and so was my mom, then shouldn’t he and his mom have been willing to do the same? To give us a good shot at making a relationship work? And if his mom didn’t want to leave Billings, then shouldn’t that have been her choice to figure out how to get those things done without him? Pay people to do those things she couldn’t?

He often said how we shouldn’t live for our parents. That our moms shouldn’t control our lives or our decisions, but he used his relationship with his mom to push me away. He basically put her as his priority ahead of me. But he resented the idea of my mom living with me.

He told me that he didn’t like or want drama, but this became a red flag early on. And he told me often that I was one of the easiest people he had ever known, in terms of getting along. I told him I don’t ‘do’ drama. But he created it from nothing. Mainly because of his hair trigger temper and his inability to think before he speaks. He can’t have a civil conversation about things with which he disagrees. Whenever I would say something he didn’t like, he’d immediately bring up something from my past, or call me a name, or make disparaging comments about my life or choices I had made in my past. And then wonder why I wouldn’t talk to him.

He thinks that his opinion is ‘speaking the truth’. Like I pointed out to him many times, just because he thinks a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the truth for everyone. He judged me on past decisions and the fact that I stayed in a loveless marriage for a long time. But he resents other people passing judgement on his poor choices.

And that brings up one of the biggest red flags I wrestled with: his unwillingness to compromise. As I said, he lives in an RV, which he claims is his choice. He says he likes the freedom he feels. He says he doesn’t want the responsibility of a home. That’s all fine. After we had dated a couple of months, I asked him how he saw his future with someone living with him. Thinking of me. And he got livid. He said that I was judging him.

All I was trying to gauge was how he expected a woman (me) to live with him if he wanted to continue RV living. I should have cut him loose then and there.

His expectation was that I adjust my life to suit his lifestyle. He never made any attempt to meld into my life. He never made any suggestions of how we could combine our lives into something that would work for both of us. It was his lifestyle or nothing.

And what makes me the angriest is that I was willing to compromise. I was willing to do certain things to make a future with him happen. But I had my limits.

Like I told him, I could see traveling to warmer weather during the winter, but I didn’t want to give up a home completely. I wanted something to come back to, wherever we decided to live. I told him that my mom was part of the big picture, same as his. But he didn’t want to deal with her. It was okay, in his mind, that I spend hours at his mom’s house, but he was unwilling to travel to my house because he didn’t want to deal with my mom.

As I look back, I see so clearly that we are not a good match. He never would have accommodated my needs in any form of relationship. The whole time we were together, it was always about what he wanted. What he needed. He seemed to ignore the fact that there were two of us in that relationship. And that his was not the only life that was potentially changing.

He is a selfish person. He admitted that early on. And I am not. I mean, all humans are selfish to a point. But his entire life is self-centered. He once told me that he would ‘romance’ me as we continued to see each other but he wasn’t going to put any effort or money into wooing me until he knew if there was a future. That never happened. In fact, one time he even said he needed to buy himself a new sweatshirt to go on dates, but not for me! An old, stained sweatshirt was good enough for me.

He just doesn’t understand that statements like that sting. And then of course he says he’s kidding. But I wonder if he was already scoping out someone else. If he was planning on finding someone else when he traveled south. I tried to end things after that comment, but he said he didn’t want to. He said he wanted the relationship to continue. At that point, I told him very clearly that I needed love. And romance. And emotions. I was sincere. I didn’t expect an immediate ‘forever’ commitment. But I told him if he had no intention of going that direction, to just walk away.

And because I was contemplating moving my life to be closer to him, I told him we had to decide soon what the future was going to be.

And then he seemed shocked that I needed to know, before I sold my house and moved, whether or not he was all in. He accused me of pushing him into a corner. When I reminded him that he had been pushing me for weeks to move to Billings, he had no response. I told him that I can’t float through life the way he does. He’s like Peter Pan. He doesn’t want to grow up.

And I finally, fully, realized that I need a grown-up man in my life. Someone who isn’t afraid of emotions. Someone willing to put the same effort into a relationship that I am. Someone who actually wants a real relationship. Not some part time convenience.

Maybe there are women in the world who don’t mind flitting in and out of a man’s life when he wants them. Maybe there are women who don’t mind being a booty call or having an enhanced friendship. Maybe there are women who enjoy a knock-down, drag-out fight every other day and who can brush off insults.

I’m not one of those women.

And I told him that from the beginning.

He wanted something about me. About my life. He was unwilling to let me go but he was incapable of stepping up and actually being the person I needed. He told me so many times that I was the best person he knew. That he didn’t understand why he wasn’t in love with me. That he’d look back someday and wish he had done things better.

But he didn’t want it enough to make me his priority. To treat me like a girlfriend, not just ‘one of the guys’. To ensure that I knew I was the most important person in his life. Which I wasn’t. He was, and always will be, the only person he concerns himself with. He is out to make himself happy.

That’s why he has no relationship with his son. Or any of his siblings. Or his dad. Or any real friends in the world. There are people who tolerate his outbursts. People who spend a day with him once in a while. But most people can’t stomach his judgmental attitude or his condescending personality.

I know that no relationship is without flaws. Every relationship takes work and patience and understanding. But those things are needed from both people. One person can’t always be a giver while the other is always a taker. There has to be work and compromise and communication in order for two people to forge a life together. He just doesn’t want to do the things it takes to build a solid relationship. With anyone.

He has said he doesn’t want to end up alone. And he wants to find someone to grow old with. I feel sad for him. Because I don’t think he’s going to find a person who will tolerate him. When I finally looked at ‘us’ objectively, the negatives about him outweighed the positives. And I couldn’t prop up ‘us’ any longer. I couldn’t make all the effort or do all the work.

Like I’ve said, this time with him allowed me to step out of the safety of my little world. I traveled a bit. Experienced some things I hadn’t before. But mostly, it showed me that I am ready to date. And ready to demand the way in which I’m treated. I don’t have to settle for a man’s scraps or a ‘maybe’.

This helped me figure out exactly what kind of man is needed in my life. And what kind is unwanted.

And the next time red flags starting waving, I will turn for the opposite direction.

To Love or To Be In Love

January 8, 2022

 

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been dating a guy since mid-August. A man that I’m crazy about. And sometimes drives me crazy! We are solidly in the middle of an are-they or aren’t-they situation. No, not talking about sex. But about love.

We have talked – almost too much – about where we are in this relationship. Are we friends? Yes. Are we more than friends? Yes. But how much more? That’s where we aren’t quite on the same wavelength.

He is hesitant to make a full commitment to me. Or, should I say, to this entanglement. But I know he loves me. He said ‘I love you’ early on in our dating. He called me his girlfriend after only a couple of dates. So, I know he cares about me. And I fully believe he’s sincere about those sentiments.

But I also know that he’s has miserable relationships, both romantic and non, throughout his life. He doesn’t have a healthy, solid relationship with anyone in his life. And I think he’s frightened of the depth of his feelings for me.

I love him as well. It’s stronger than a friendship. But I’m not quite at the next level myself. During my marriage, I was treated more of a possession than a partner. I never felt treasured or important in the twenty years I was a wife. I promised myself that if I ever invited a man into my life again, it would be out of love, not for any other reason. I’m reluctant to give myself fully to another man until I know that my feelings will be reciprocated.

To be fair, I think I could easily fall in love with this man, should he drop his emotional barriers and allow me full access to who he truly is. And I think he could fall in love with me, if he would allow himself to be that vulnerable.

For some people, the concept of loving someone is interchangeable with being in love with someone. For me, there is a distinct difference. I love many people in my life: my children, my mom, my closest friends, including this man. I don’t know if I’ve ever truly been in love with any man previously in my life. Like most young women, I probably convinced myself I cared for boyfriends more than I truly did.

I will only move forward into a lifelong commitment with a man if I find myself in love with him. Is this man that man? I don’t know. I’m not being facetious. I’ve simply allowed my own self-preservation to surface. It’s the only way I can protect my heart and my self-worth, which was at a negative level when I escaped from my marriage.

I’m not in any rush to jump into a permanent solution. I just don’t want to waste my time if this man has no intention of moving toward some kind of long-term relationship. I’m not trying to push him into a decision that he isn’t ready to make. Nor am I some man-crazed woman after any warm body.

He is the only man I’ve dated since my divorce. And if we were to stop seeing one another, I wouldn’t jump into another relationship any time soon. I’m content on my own. And I’m in no hurry to enjoin my life to another person. Like I said, the only reason I need a man in my life is for love. No other reason.

Right now, he is living in Vegas, driving truck between Chicago and California. That was his plan when we met, and he was up front with me from the beginning. I never asked him to change his plans or alter them to include me in any of them. He was originally leaving in mid-October. But changed his mind, several times, until he finally left the first of January. Would it be presumptuous of me to think he delayed that trip, partly, because of me?

He will be there until at least April, which means we are attempting a long-distance relationship. Will it work? Maybe. The way I look at it, this will give us each an opportunity to explore our feelings for the other. Figure out if what we’re each feeling is a platonic love. Or is it a deep, all -encompassing heartfelt love? One that will buoy us as we look toward a future.

I know that I will use this time apart to look into my heart and my feelings, with a little distance. We’ve spent almost every weekend together for the last four months. We’ve been texting and calling constantly the same amount of time. And it’s been thrilling. I’ve felt giddy. I’ve felt happy. And I’ve felt some trepidation. Some weeks apart will be good for my frame of mind and frame of reference. It will give me a chance to determine if what I feel for this man is enough to gamble my future on.

And I hope he will do the same. I want him to spend some time figuring out if I’m who he wants for a partner. If I’m the person he’s been waiting for since he divorced. If he thinks the two of us have a chance to build a future together. My guess is he will have an epiphany of his own. Some time away from me might prove to him that my presence in his life is something he not only needs but also wants. Maybe that time apart will help him come to terms with the reality of either keeping or losing not only my friendship but also my love.

He has told me many times that it would break his heart to hurt me. As it would to lose me from his life. He has said I am his best friend. And I truly believe that. He has shared many facets of his life with me, things that he doesn’t share with anyone else. He considers me as ‘one of the guys’ because I’m interested in the same things he likes. But I need to be more than just a buddy. I need to be a lover. I need to be treated like a precious, feminine mate.

So, I will bide my time during the next many weeks. I will continue to enjoy his calls and texts. I will examine my feelings, allowing him the time to do the same. And I will do what’s best for my heart and my life. That’s all I can do.

You see, I want more than just ‘enough’ of a love story. I want the fantasy, in-your-face, love of a lifetime. And I won’t settle again in my life for anything less. I wouldn’t want him to do that either. So, if we’re not truly meant to spend the last third of our lives together, we can move on and each try to find that love and friendship with someone else.

I want to be in love. I want romance. I want passion. I want intimacy. I want it all. And I’ve told him this. More than once. I don’t demand that this all happens this instant. But I need to know that we’re moving toward forever. If we aren’t, then I can’t waste any more of my life waiting for it. Platonic love just isn’t enough for me. Not when I have a chance at happiness for this next act in life. Not when I want and need a partner, not only in crime, but also in commitment.