Thursday, June 11, 2015

Subject Matter Expert

This is a term I have heard at work in regards to someone who is extremely knowledgeable in a particular field of interest. I have found out recently that I am actually a subject matter expert about something: CRAZY WOMEN.

Yes, yes, friends I am a recovering crazy woman. It wasn't all that long ago that I wrote pages and pages and pages of lamented, loving bullshit to an ex.

As I mentioned in the previous post my relationship history has not been exemplary. The good news is that I've learned a lot and grown up a lot since that time (I was 27, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it).

I have been the girl who calls and texts five million times just to get my point across.

I have been the girl that drives by your house just to see if you're home and feels a closeness just by seeing your car.

I have been the girl that wrote EIGHT SINGLE SPACED TYPED PAGES of ways to 'fix' our relationship entitled "What I Want..." (sister, if it takes you EIGHT SINGLE SPACED TYPED PAGES to fix the relationship you should probably not BE in the relationship)

Tonight I wanted to go back in time and slap my former self. Real hard. Like real, real, real hard.

Oh my geezes.

While cleaning out drawers in my kitchen I found a stack of papers. All the things I wrote (typed) and printed fundamentally presenting my case as to why my ex and I should get back together.

This was painful to read. Honestly I couldn't read all of it. I was so incredibly sad for the person writing it and while I knew it was me that had written it, my writing style, my tone, my words, my thoughts, my feelings, it was like a slap in the face of the person I've become.

Let me just give you an excerpt so you know the level of crazy I'm talking about here:
"Relationships aren't always easy and you're not always going to be happy every minute of the day. The same things happens when you are not in a relationship. That's just the way life is, there are good days and there are bad, there are good weeks and months and even years, but there can also be bad ones. Just because things get hard doesn't mean you should give up. I have grown so much over the last several weeks. [Editor's note: NO I HADN'T] I finally understand w here the problems we have come from. It has nothing to do with our relationship, [Editor's note: um...hello EIGHT TYPED PAGES] the baggage we brought into the relationship caused the problems, not the other way around."
 No, no, no, no, no, no.

Just no.

There are pages of this. Pages. I even have one set that I put page numbers on.

If I met someone who did this now I would pray for her and tell her to get out, not because I've been there, but because it's CRAZY. Crazy might be a harsh word to describe someone who has just gotten their heart smashed to pieces, but since it was me I feel pretty confident that I can use the term.

The truth of the matter is that this girl wasn't crazy. She was codependent and unaware what love really meant. She had found what she wanted to be love because she didn't know any better and when everything went spiraling out of control she did whatever she could to hold onto it, even if some of that behavior was a bit 'over the top.'

Reading through this I realize the things I desired from the relationship weren't that unrealistic, to be honest, however if I have to write down on paper that I need you to be kind to me and respect me after being together for a significant amount of time then we really shouldn't have been together. Obviously I'm not letting him off the hook, he did some bad things, but I let him, over and over, I let him treat me this way. I was so insecure and had such low self esteem that this is what I thought I deserved and didn't think I could find anyone else and could not bear to be alone. Knowing the person I am now I have tears in my eyes because I know that was true.

Someone who has just gotten to know me in the last few years will know a confident, secure, matter of fact, sarcastic person who would talk to the president the same way she talks to her best friend. A person who can command a room (when she's in a comfortable place). A person who smiles and laughs and is really funny.

The girl who wrote those papers I found was none of those things. But the things is, she was. Underneath all of that she was all those things, she just forgot. Bad relationship after bad relationship made her doubt who she was. She found her self worth through the eyes of someone else. She did not have the courage to get out of the relationship because her value only came as being the other half of a 'we'.

I'm glad I don't do those things anymore, but I'm also glad that I went through that period of time. I'm glad to be a survivor of that because I can help others. I can see that behavior in others and try to knock them out of it. Granted I have to remember how well I took these conversations when they were had with me at the time and show a little bit of grace.

I truly believe if I was to share some of these very private words with people who know me better than anyone else, but did not go through that season with me, they would think either I was writing fiction or I was showing them something someone else wrote. That is a completely surreal feeling.

If you are in a relationship that you have to fight for more than you enjoy, trust me, you shouldn't be in it. And that's okay. I am here to tell you, you WILL survive it and you will be so much better for everything you went through. Relationships, whether romantic or otherwise, should bring out the very best in you. A person that is good for you will make you be you-er than you've ever realized you could be. They will love every little quirk about you and not want to change one because they love YOU. They will make your face light up and give you a little twinkle in your eye.

But the thing is, you have to love you first. Love is an inside job, and until you love you then you won't be able to be loved the way you so very much deserve to be.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Standards (OR Terms and Conditions to Date Me)

The photograph above is a list that I made about 3 years ago with a few girlfriends of what I wanted in a husband. In case you can't read my scribble, and the fact it was written on a dry erase board that has been in and out of a cabinet I will type it here for you:

  • Christian
  • Bachelor's, Masters preferred
  • OU Fan, no orange allowed!
  • Must understand JL &Tiffany's
  • Christian Grey type talent Ch. 12 & pg 118
  • Job that doesn't move
  • Independent
  • Wants kids
  • Spontaneous
  • Preference: Never married, no kids
  • Positive Personality
  • Romantic
  • Knows wine
  • Likes to travel
  • Respects women & friendships
  • No debt
  • Confident
  • Nice smile
  • Clean cut
  • No tattoos
  • Professional job
  • Rich
  • Older than me
  • Blue eyes
WOW-ZA! (and yes we had all just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey when this was created...)

Let's be honest, this isn't a checklist of all the required prerequisites for me to be attracted/date/marry someone. This is the wish list! These are the things I would pick if I was going into the Build a Boyfriend store...that's a thing right? They just don't have them in Oklahoma, like Ikea? 

I digress, a lot. A few years and a lot of life removed from this list there are some additions and some subtractions that I would make to this list. The specifics aren't particularly important, and the order of importance isn't particularly either, however a few things will be touched upon here.

Let me paint a picture of my life a few years ago, wants, desires, etc.

A few years ago I wanted two things: get married and have kids. That was it. Then that didn't happen like I so meticulously planned. There is this funny thing that I have learned in the last few years: people other than yourself get a say in the plans for their lives. 

Seriously? Who would have thought? CLEARLY I know better what would make a great life than the people affected by it.


What I realized, however, is that I didn't even know what would make a great life for me. I learned that controlling people isn't very fun for the other person and that it's really not all that fun for you because they end up resenting you and not really liking you for who you are, because who you are isn't really all that great.

I had to take a big ol' swallow of the truth about codependency. This might be my favorite word to throw around these days (okay the last 5-6 years), trust me I have a friend or two that probably want to throw me for using it around them! (you know who you are) If you are not familiar with this term it came about around the time alcoholism became a recognized disease. It was found that spouses and children of alcoholics exhibited certain behaviors to deal with their alcoholic loved one. Enabling is a big one. Desiring to change the loved one is another. 

I once cried through an AlAnon meeting because it hit so close to home. I didn't have an alcoholic in my life, however the struggles that these people were facing were my struggles. I was doing the same things. I had been living in unhealthy, emotionally abusive relationships for a long time. There is no need to call out particular individuals in this because it doesn't matter, but it wasn't exclusively in romantic relationships. Throughout my life these toxic relationships were present. I handled things the only way I knew how: by attempting to control the situation to give myself a sense of control when things were very, very clearly out of control.

These are things that are hard to swallow. They aren't fun. They don't give you warm and fuzzy feelings. They hurt. They make you cry. They make you feel guilty when you realize what you put others through without realizing you were doing it. They make you question every little thing about your being and your ability to be in a relationship...even six years later.

As time passed and I took a few counseling classes in grad school, had some incredible friends that I still occasionally send a random text thanking them for putting up with me during that time, and a lot of time and soul searching I think I've got the codependency thing under control.

There's one fundamental problem with that though: I have not been in a relationship since the one where I was so very codependent. 

Want to know why? 

Well for starters (and my most favorite reason (read: excuse) to give) no one is asking. I use this one all the time, and it's true, no one is asking. Does this make me feel sad and depressed and like a loser? No not really. I have an incredibly full life and for someone to be in my life in a romantic way something else would have to give. Until very, very recently I wasn't willing to give anything up to make someone fit. Am I now? Maybe, but I'm still not 100% sure. I think I'd at least give it a shot though.

There's another fundamental reason: I AM SCARED SHITLESS. Like for serious. Have I really grown enough that I won't be codependent again? Is it possible for me to be in a healthy relationship? I mean I know what they're supposed to look like, but will I get completely enveloped with someone and get hurt like that again? I don't know, and that scares me. As previously mentioned, I have some control issues. They are a lot better than they once were, but I can control the situation of dating a lot better if I just don't do it than I can getting someone else involved.

Am I missing out on something?

Maybe. Well, probably. 

Would I be willing to jump off the dock and take the risk?

For the right guy 100% yes. However, in the last few years and with everything I've learned I've come up with some Terms and Conditions, shall we say. These are the standards which I will hold anyone I date to. They are not meant to be an ultimatum or an attempt to change someone. It simply means, if you are not able to live up to these standards then we don't need to be in a relationship, the end. Nothing mean, nothing controlling, just simply for me to be happy with myself in a relationship there are a few things that a suitor (isn't that a lovely word?) needs to be on board with.

The first thing, because I think it's the most important to me, is monogamy. I have done the 'fun, let's hook up and not be serious and just flit around' thing. And yes, it WAS fun. There is a thrill that comes with meeting someone at a party and never seeing them again or having a number you can call at the end of a night out, but I am past that point in my life. If someone was to come along that only wanted that then we're not going to be compatible, and THAT'S OKAY. I swear, I don't want to change anyone, however, for me to be able to look at myself in the mirror, I need that. If that's not who you are then that's not who you are, but we won't work. I would rather be alone than be cheated on again. Period.

Another thing, I need fun and excitement and spontaneity because I'm really, really, really bad at all three of those things. Well, that's not entirely fair, I am a fun person, however I get major tunnel vision and forget that having fun is an important part of life, so having someone in my life constantly making me throw out my calendar or making me do something crazy is not such a bad thing. 

Independence. Pretty much the opposite of codependency. Go, have your own life. That is awesome with me, so long as I get to have my own life and I'm doing it. I have been so wound up in someone else's story that I forgot to continue writing my own and that's a bad, bad deal. This is not to say that cowriting a story won't be awesome, but I need to have my own story independent of you and you need to have your own story independent of me and the way we merge those stories together is where the magic is. I need my own friends. You need your own friends. We need to be away from each other, that is okay. In fact, that's awesome.

(You may have realized I have started typing as if I am talking to potential suitors...didn't really intend to do that, but we'll just go with it)

Kids. Man this is a hard subject. For so many years the desire of kids was a non negotiable, but the older I get the more it is. I waver on this more that I probably admit to most anyone. Can I picture a life without kids? A few years ago I couldn't, but now that picture is getting clearer. I could completely see myself ending up with someone who either already has kids from a previous relationship and doesn't want more or doesn't want kids at all. It's easy to picture what a life of soccer games and dance class looks like, but the idea of not having that is a little fuzzier though it is coming into focus. It would be a life of sleeping in on Saturday mornings, traveling whenever we want, no weekends spent at a ballpark, no sleepless nights, money to spend on what we want. It's not really all that bad of a life, huh? Not dissing all my lovely parent friends, but just saying there is another option to life and frankly there are so many kids that need homes that having kids can have a different look. Ultimately, this rational allows for freedom: freedom to make that choice together instead of forcing an idea on someone (Look at that loss of control! Aren't you proud?!?)

And how am I going to meet this person?

I don't know. I really don't. Maybe I already know him, he's a close friend or someone I've met in passing through a friend. Maybe he's someone I'll meet at a book store in NYC. I don't know. Maybe he doesn't exist. I accept this is a possibility, however I hold out hope that's it's not a very realistic possibility. Hope is pretty much an awesome thing. I could go off on why I don't do the online dating thing, but your eyes are probably tired from reading so I won't go there, but I have my reasons and I'm sure I'll write about them later, just remember just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean I have to (and a lot of times is the easiest way to get me to do the opposite).

I say all of this to get to this, priorities change through the years, months, weeks, and sometimes from day to day. In the end I want to find Mr. Right, not Mr. Right Now, and I want to settle down, but I am never, ever going to settle. Settling is not an option for me. I know, for a fact, I can have a wonderful life if I don't find someone who can live up to what I want, what I need, out of a relationship (the stuff with lots of words, not the stuff on that list, though if you know a guy that fits all those send him my address is on the right). It's really not as complicated as I make it out to be in my mind, when it comes down to it: don't cheat, be fun, be independent, and we'll figure out the kids thing together. (There are a few obvious ones from that list at the top too, but I don't think they need an explanation and we'll let you figure them out on your own :-p)

Pretty simple, huh? I think so...I know I've always wanted to find a unicorn, how about you?

I hope you enjoyed me diving back into writing, from the heart, and hopefully there will be more of this popping up on here, because I really do enjoy it.

Until next time...