... but it always, apparently, arrives at the moment it's supposed to.
I learned a lot about myself in the last several days.
I took my son on the out-of-state trip we had planned. And I did it. All by myself. And that validation I had been waiting for didn't come from anybody else. I had been waiting for just one person to say, "Yeah, I can imagine that even though it's going to be great, and I totally believe you can do it, but yeah, I can see that it would be scary to do."
Nobody said that to me. But I sure said it to myself. While I appreciate that everybody seems to believe that I kick ass and I take it in stride, there are some scary things that I take on. This was one of them.
Amazingly, upon our return, it was my sister-in-law who stared at me admiringly. I don't think she was impressed about me driving that many hours and that many miles with just me and him. She was impressed by the fact that I took him on a trail... With no handrails. (Again, a moment of clarity right there!) The idea of being responsible for this amazing little human being who was, potentially, inches from plunging nearly a mile to his death. Was absolutely terrifying. And he was scared, too. And he talked about how we were being brave. And I love that he learned that with me. And I explained to him that "courage is not the absence of fear. It's deciding that something else is more important than the fear."
Fuck. Writing that out just now made me realize, once again, that CF was right last night.
So, after this amazing trip, in which we were both total troopers, I pushed it hard to get back last night. CF was in town for the holiday and last night would be my only chance to see her.
So, I did. And over drinks and dinner, I sobbed to her about how I had woken up at 3:30 in the morning on Thanksgiving Day, having imaginary conversations with Leon in my head. And I had written him a letter that night (unsent. Don't worry.) that was somewhat healing for me. But how I have this certainty that it's not quite finished with him. Because of one stupid thing he said to me two months ago. Apparently, I'm supposed to do this one thing. And I got angry. "Why is it that I always have to do what's right for someone else? Why can't I just consider what's in it for me?" And she calmly took it and said, "That's just not who you are."
Ugh. I hate it when people are right about me.
But I hate it more when people are wrong about me.
Which is why I'm so angry with Leon. And, I suppose, Roger, too. He was so sweet the whole time I was gone. Texting me with "hi beautiful". But some stuff has been rubbing me the wrong way. I'm proud of myself for telling him. And he's been taking it in stride. The impression I have of him, though, is of someone that would just let me have my way all the time. And, contrary to popular belief, I actually need someone who will put me in my place every now and then. Take me down a peg.
CF certainly did that last night. Calling me out on stuff. Asking me the hardest questions of all. Making me think. Giving me an assignment.
But doing so with Love and with Laughter.
Sick laughter. Our poor waitress. Who happened to walk up to leave a drink as we were talking about "tossing mommies off the pier". Luckily, she didn't hear us giggling about how "it's all fun and games until somebody's bleeding out on the bathroom floor."
Yep, your RetroMama's a sick, sick girl. And she loves that she has an amazing CF with whom to share that laughter.
Totally worth the all-day drive to get there.
Even if she's got to pull up the damn BGPs again.
Which she's doing now. As she signs off to go get ready for her date with destiny... Or, rather, (hopefully!!! fingers crossed!) with "other guy".
I'll explain about today, but first I want to make an observation.
Last year. November. Twilight. I went with TF. I had read the first two books at that point and then saw the first movie with TF. I was in the beginning stages of my breakup with HRT. And I was in agony over it.
Last night. November. New Moon. I went with TF. I've read all four books twice (but not recently) and then saw the second movie with TF. I am in the beginning (middle? end? LOL) stages of my breakup with Leon. And I'm in agony over it.
One major difference: I am not broken.
The situation with HRT is so much clearer now... I was such a mess that I was absolutely devastated by that breakup. Hell, I was such a mess that I got involved with that guy in the first place. He said he loved me early on and I totally fell for it. And it hurt so much to lose that. Of course, now I realize it wasn't love. On either of our parts. But it sure felt like it at the time.
And a year later... In the throes of this breakup... With a man I realize I love more and differently than any man I ever have before... And yet... I'm not broken like I was before. I hurt, sure. I cry, sure. (Today's the first day I haven't cried in a week. Mad skillz?) But I know that I am loved. By my friends. By my family. I know that I am worthy. Which, for some reason, a year ago, I doubted. And I do know that Leon loves me. And I'm pretty sure that his intentions for not being with me, while hurtful, are far more noble than HRT's reasons for not being with me.
And then there was today.
I've been somewhat ambivalent about this guy. We'd gone out three times already and decided to get together this afternoon to watch football. I was super-excited about this game and would have gone to watch by myself. Which would have made today turn out far differently, I'm sure.
The last time we had gone out was the day that I had called Leon to ask him to meet me the following week. Because I would be telling him I love him and shit. So, when I didn't particularly enjoy that date, someone told me I had been picking apart this guy because Leon had been on my mind. I wasn't certain that was the truth. But because Leon was an issue that day, I decided to give this guy another chance. Because maybe it was me that made him babble away about movies I'd never seen. And sports teams I don't follow. While I had thought the third date would get to a bit more of the nitty gritty, we didn't do that. And I called him out on it to an extent, but I was told not to give up on him because it could well be my own fault.
So, I met up with the guy for football today. We went to a favorite restaurant of mine and he asked me about New Moon last night. And I started to tell him my thoughts about the movie. And he interrupted me to tell me all about the reviews he'd read. But he hadn't seen the movie and he hasn't read any of the books. And I found that annoying. This morning, TF asked me if he reads. And I said he does, but not the kinds of stuff I read. This gave me pause. I left my husband because he doesn't read. I can't get involved with another guy who doesn't read. I just can't.
And then he was telling me about his evening on Friday night... And while he didn't come out and say it, I was 99% certain he'd been out on a date. Which doesn't bother me. I'm dating other people. But I think he should have come out and said it.
At halftime, the couple sitting near us left the bar and I asked if we could scoot over. That would leave me much closer to the television that was showing my game. So, we moved. And when I went to put my stuff down, this guy puts his hand on the barstool and says "This seat is taken." I stared at him because I was pretty sure he was full of shit, but his delivery was impeccable. We laughed and then sat down.
And this guy was talking to me way more than my date was. I had eaten a late breakfast with TF and her brother so I wasn't starving, but I shared an appetizer platter with my date. And then he got a meal. And then we shared dessert in the final quarter. We each got a drink (mine was cheaper since it was on draft. He drinks margaritas. Only.) and a soda.
So, "other guy" is asking me questions, getting to know me. Trying to draw my date into the conversation, but he wasn't having any of it. I was talking to "other guy", his friend, and the guy on the other side of them who was cheering for my team as well. "Other guy" graduated from my university. "Other guy" has a mom who is a teacher (and taught all over the continent!) and a dad who's a doctor. "Other guy" was quite clever and entertaining.
I kept reaching over to my date, placing my hand on his leg or rubbing his shoulder and he just wasn't responding. (Don't say it's because of "other guy". He'd been that way since I'd walked in.)
That was when I started wondering if it would be bad form for me to try to connect with "other guy". Exchange numbers or something. Not in front of my date, of course, but still. Something. Because I'm pretty sure my date isn't "the one". And I'm pretty sure he knows that too.
So, then I was really trying to ignore "other guy" because someone told me not to search for madness, heartbreak, and despair.
And then the bill came. And I offered to split it, fully expecting my date to insist upon paying more since he ate way more than I did. But, no. He let me split it. Which wasn't a big deal, but kind of the nail in the coffin for me. (He paid on our first date, and we've gone dutch, mostly, since. Or he's used gift cards to pay for most of whatever we did.)
Pretty sure "other guy" saw what happened. And he kind of made a face towards my date. Who didn't even notice because he was too enamored with the games.
As we got ready to go, my date went to wait for me outside as I went to the bathroom one last time. And "other guy" was totally going to the bathroom, too. He said, "I'm not following you," and I said, "Bummer."
I pee really fast, so I kind of dawdled, hoping I would run into him when I left. With my date outside, I could have been totally discreet.
But when I came out, I couldn't see "other guy". I walked slowly toward the exit and turned around at the last moment, and that's when I saw "other guy" walking out of the restroom. Crap. I didn't know where my date was, and I didn't know if he would have seen me already, so I couldn't exactly go back inside.
So, I met up with my date, and that's when "other guy" and his buddy walked out and passed us. We totally made eye contact, but there was nothing I could do. I walked with my date to his car so he could get a sweatshirt, and then he walked me to mine. He hugged me and kind of kissed me, told me he would totally distract me but that I needed to go home and write (not this blog. My novel. LOL). I'm just kind of thinking he's all talk and stuff, though. And I'm kind of over it.
And maybe it was bad form to start talking to another guy while I was on this date, but a connection is a connection. And I really enjoyed talking to that guy. Far more than I've enjoyed talking to this one. On any of our four dates.
Back to the drawing board, I guess. Well, I do still have a couple of other irons in the fire. Moving on...
Yet another colleague stopped me and said, "You are always just so happy!"
Someone who knows what's been going on came in and hugged me right away and then stepped back, surprised. "Wow, you seem like you're in a good mood."
I don't know what it is, but I continue to smile. I continue to live. There's an ache in my chest, but it's not that bad. Denial, perhaps? Or perhaps it's just that I have this certainty that all will be well in my world. I am clinging to those harsh words spoken two days ago. I am clinging to the reminder that Leon isn't brave enough to try. That the woman who did something horrific to him is someone with whom he had a conversation a week ago. That he said, "I can't deal with this right now." This, meaning... Well, me, I guess. Because his life is, supposedly, so overwhelming that having a kickass chick tell him she loves him is too much to handle.
Everybody tells me he'll regret this. That he'll come crawling back at some point.
But I don't actually want that for him. I love the man. Flaws and all. I don't want to be with him. But I do love him. With something in me that hasn't ever been touched before. But when you love someone, you don't want them to hurt. You want them to be happy and to know beauty and Light. I hate this certainty that he's going to die alone. I don't want that for him. I want him to know Love. I don't want him to look back and regret that he lost me. I really don't.
I am grateful that he knows I love him. I am grateful that he knows I am a good person and that this love is pretty pure. I am grateful that he loves me enough to let me see how fucking flawed he is and how I am better off without him. I am grateful to know that I now know that I have given it my all. I tried. I will live knowing that I truly tried.
And then today... When I bravely went off by myself for my follow-up for my little skin cancer... After a wonderful half-hour with two of my former students. High school freshmen, now, they've grown and matured. These young men took time out of their lives to come hang out. And it was cool to measure the teacher I am now against the one they had... Because it was another reminder of how far I've come.
Just before I got to the doctor's office, I posted an update. And got responses right away. One of which was sending Light and Love, but gleeful about how her boyfriend was visiting from far away. And how was that for Clarity? And clarity hit. Hard. She's got a man who loves her and is willing to travel many miles and many hours to be with her. And the man who loves me ran screaming in the opposite direction just two days ago. My cry-free streak was broken in that moment.
But then I found out I'm still cancer-free. Which totally rocks.
And I started to drive home... And this song came on the radio... "Big Yellow Taxi" by Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton.
And there's this whole part about "Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone..."
And it hit me.
Um, no. It doesn't go that way. Because I absolutely do know what I've got. Long before it's gone.
I don't live with regret. Even little shit I think I regret, I take action to rectify it. Like I regretted that I allowed someone to stop me from shaving my head for my mother. So now I'm embarking on this huge thing that will not only result in a Bald Retromama, but it will raise awareness and funds to cure cancer. And I'll get to look around my world and see all kinds of baldies.
But I really am not the kind of person who doesn't know what she's got. Maybe that's why I have had so much trouble letting go. Because I know more than anyone what I've got. And I've been afraid to lose it.
So, right now, I will hold onto this gift of anger and disgust. Because I had this Love. And someone broke it. But I will never have to look back and wonder "what if?" I chose to love him... And he chose to be fearful and embarrassed and cowardly. Sure, he loved me. But his love wasn't the kind of love to move mountains.
But mine is.
And one day I'll move another mountain. And one day it will be reciprocated. And I will be happy in love with someone else. But in the meantime, I will keep crying. Grieving in Real Time. And dwelling in the possibility of the next thing...
Which will be something that I will grasp with all of me... And I will know exactly how precious it is... While it is right there in front of me... Not while it's walking away.
I am a hopeful girl. I live in Reality but dwell in Possibility.
One of those stupid notecards had a sentence on it: Tell the truth.
And when I saw that sentence, I knew what I needed to say. But I didn't say it.
Later I would question why I didn't tell him that one thing. Because that one thing would remove that one obstacle he kept insisting was there. Was I sabotaging us? Was I not telling him that one thing because if I removed that obstacle then I'd actually have to try to be with him? Or was it that he truly didn't need to know? What was my motivation for that?
I got myself pretty worked up on Tuesday about that one thing. I had this sick feeling in my stomach about it. I just knew that I should have told him. But could I fix it? And would it make any difference?
So, I called Leon. And he took my call, which I find surprising still.
I told him I would tell him the truth, but could he tell me first if my impression of our situation was correct? Because I had gotten the impression that he's done. That he's not even willing to entertain the idea of a possible future down the line. "Yeah, I'm leaning that way."
So it shouldn't have mattered when I told him the truth. The thing I'd kept from him for two months.
I apologized for not having told him sooner, but that it should prove that his excuse was ridiculous (I don't think I used that word to him. But it's the word I hear in my head now. LOL).
He told me it was okay.
And then instantly came up with another excuse. This time about how we're incompatible. That his lifestyle wouldn't be okay for me. Um, WTF? "Yesterday I told you a bunch of reasons why I love you for who you are, and now you're deciding that we're incompatible?"
He went on to tell me that "I would have to make major changes to my lifestyle to be with you and I just don't see that happening anytime soon."
It got a little escalated. It ended with apologies from both of us and quickly getting off the phone. His last words were, "I'll talk to you later."
And I pretty much lost it when we got off the phone. AD got the initial breakdown.
Later CF called me... And I explained to her what had happened over the previous twenty-four hours. At one point she said, "You know, he'll figure it out. He'll miss you in a few years, when he grows up."
And I stopped her and said, "He's thirty-five years old. This is not a man who is going to grow." And I told her to hold on while I wrote that down. And now I have a piece of paper on my desk that reads, "This is not a man who is going to grow."
That will stay there until I don't need it anymore.
And then I went to Therapy. And glared at my Therapist. And used up half a box of kleenex.
And told him by the end of our session that "I'm grateful for this pain. Because if I hadn't gone through this, I never would have known that he loves me. And I heard him say it. More than once. And I'm glad I did this now instead of waiting until the new year. Because now I can start healing now..."
And that's precisely it. When I heard him come up with yet another excuse the moment I poked holes in the original one, I realized that this is a man who is so fearful of loving someone that he will sabotage it before it even starts. And this is a man who is still communicating with someone who has done nearly as horrific things to him as HRT did to me. And someone who will invite that drama into his world is not someone whom I should be around.
Sadly, I lost respect for him in those moments. And that's not something he's going to have the chance to get back.
But in the midst of all of this pain, there has been so much joy... A colleague went out of her way to comment about how happy I am all the time. And today I told her that it meant a lot that she had said that yesterday because I had actually just had my heart broken into a thousand pieces. And she hugged me. And that was so great.
And I'm planning my next races and found out that one of them involves an extra day in which I can finally get the tattoo (maybe two?!?!) that I've been dreaming about...
And Roger texted me the very next morning to say "good morning"...
And my students are amazing... One of them gave me an antenna ball with a football helmet from my favorite team. This is a kid I had thought didn't even like me. And he's giving me presents. And displaying integrity by pointing out that his last test was graded incorrectly and he actually had earned a lower grade than the one he'd been assigned.
Wow. Bet that kid's not gonna grow up and run away from the woman he loves. Maybe he'll even stop smoking for her... Or at least give her the chance to decide if she wants to take on helping him with that.
Oops. Projecting again. Sorry. Haha.
But after last weekend and these last few days, I'm realizing that, once again, everything happens the way it's supposed to. And I am grateful for not having delayed this heartache. I'm supposed to be experiencing it right now...
Hmmm... Maybe one of my characters is going to go through a horrific breakup.
I got to hang out in my hometown, celebrating Thanksgiving early with my family. A good friend joined us and it was all good.
Of course, I had to stop in my gramma's town first. And we went to Target. Where I ran into an old friend. A FB friend. But one I hadn't seen in years. We made plans to hang out the following day, which was exciting.
And then as I was about to check out, I get a text from a good friend halfway across the country. Fucking StalkerChick is at it again. In a big way. Ugh. But I pretty much just laughed it off. I found it entertaining.
And then the big dinner and such... And an email from a new guy... Which was intriguing...
And then it was Sunday... And I'm texting the new guy (Shall we call him Roger?) all day long... And meeting up with old friends in a favorite hangout... Oh, and seeing my ex-fiance.
Wait. What? Yeah.
Good ol' SB.
I see a friend who actually just happened to be there, didn't intend to meet up with us. And I walked over to say hello to him and I see SB sitting about 8 feet away. I turn my back and ask, "Um, is that who I think it is?" Another friend approached, who confirmed that yes, it was SB. "Oh, do you know him?"
Ha. "Um, I was engaged to him!" (Ish. But that's not the issue. There was a ring. He put it on my finger when I moved away to keep me. Ugh. Anyway.)
So, the first friend made the executive decision that we would sit where I wouldn't have to look at SB.
And an hour later when I decided to just go say hi to him, my friends stopped me.
Everything happens for a reason. And enough things fell into place afterward that make that so clear to me. I wasn't meant to talk to him that day, for sure.
But it was funny. Because only in my sitcom life would something like that happen. I spent 12 years worrying about running into him. And only in the last three did I stop looking over my shoulder for him. And that's when I saw him. I was glad I looked adorable.
And then today.
The day I'd been waiting for since Thursday.
When my therapist had told me I needed to have a sitdown with Leon. Face-to-face. (Shut up, D. My blog. My story. And it was therapist-assigned.)
Apparently, I was supposed to tell him I love him.
I had notecards. Because this time I wasn't going to remember something afterward and kick myself for not saying it. And I certainly didn't want to get off-track and start babbling. Like I had when I'd gotten his voicemail.
He called me back and left a message (I didn't answer because I was on a date. I know.), agreeing to see me today.
So, we spoke Friday and made the arrangements.
Which made me so damned grateful for a fun-filled, entertaining weekend. Because it kept my mind off of things. Well, except when I told my dad about it on Saturday night. I was worried that I sounded so stupid. "Yeah, so I love this guy who I totally shouldn't be with, but it's making me crazy that he doesn't know. So, I'm going to tell him. And it won't change anything except that he'll know."
So, imagine my surprise when he told me he'd already known. Oh, and that he loves me too. But that even when two people love each other that doesn't necessarily mean they should be together. (Um, I already knew THAT part. Eesh.) And he was surprised I didn't know he loves me. Hadn't he told me before? (Um, no. He'd used the word but not in the middle of "I" and "you". The thing that sucks the most is that the reason he's giving me for not being with me is something so fucking ridiculous it makes me sick. So, here he is telling me that he loves me and so he can't be anything but my friend or all in. He respects me too much to date me casually. Which is fine. But I actually lost quite a bit of respect for him today. Because as much as he says he's growing up, I think it's really fucking immature to hold something against someone that happened long before we loved each other. Get the fuck over it.
So, when we hugged quickly and started to say goodbye, I was pretty certain it was over. Done. That's it. I'd told him that I expected nothing. I ask for nothing. Just that he knows. And he does know. I told him I would get over it. That I love him but that those feelings will go away. That I will love and I will be loved. By someone who wants to be with me. And I thought that was it.
So, I didn't quite understand what he meant when he said he was leaving with lots of thinking to do. Um, what's there to think about? You've already decided.
Whatever. I'm going back to my "let's not talk til after the new year, okay?" thing. Starting the moment that door closed behind him.
That's when I sat down and cried for about five minutes. Hard. And let my friends know that I was ready to go out and watch some MNF.
And Roger and I were texting back and forth and I told him where I was and did he want to join us?
And he did.
And it turns out, he's adorable. And a gentleman. And a really good guy. And one who's genuinely interested in me. And when I told him about how I want to shave my head, he asked me about the background story, and when I told him why I didn't do it back when I'd wanted to, he said, "But I think that would have been really cool!"
Later, IP gushed about him. I don't think IP has ever liked any guy for me. Even my husband. So it's kind of a big deal that she likes this one.
And yet it's a bigger deal that *I* like this one.
Beautiful things are happening... I'm in the middle of writing my second novel. And my kids are totally helping me with it. It's amazing. I love everything about my job. Including chaperoning the dance this afternoon. Good times.
In the last two days, I've bitten bullets. And it's all turning out favorably. Why aren't these people saying no to me?
I went to my principal for one thing and ended up taking on another.
That bridge I burned in July? The one I described as burned to the point where no phoenix could ever rise from those ashes?
Yeah, that bridge.
Well, I needed a favor. And that burned bridge spanned a space between me and the person I really hoped would step up. I felt slightly guilty about asking for this favor when I'm not willing to offer my friendship or anything like that. The Ex told me I'm just using him, and that it's not okay.
I shrugged and said, "The worst he can do is say no."
So, I sent the email. And I was very clear about my reasons for contacting him at this point and that I would completely understand if he didn't want to help.
And the next day, he responded. Not only did he respond, but he promised to help me.
Why? Perhaps it's because it is a mutually beneficial arrangement. He does stand to gain something from this. Or maybe it's because he hopes we can be friends again. Whatever his motivation is, the fact of the matter is that he's decided to help me. And while I probably don't deserve it, I really do appreciate that he is willing to do so.
And then... The TheRaPy.
TheRaPist called me out on something that left me distinctly uncomfortable. Because my instincts have been screaming at me, and my stubbornness has put in the earplugs. I've been off-balance. And he told me that a conversation must be had... "um, can I send an email?" No. "How about a phone conversation?" Yeah, no.
With someone whom I wasn't planning to see for quite awhile longer.
And so I made the phone call to set up a face-to-face. And left a stupid, babbling voicemail.
But, apparently, that was well-received as well.
Because I'm getting that face-to-face.
I think I accidentally washed my notecards. Yes, I'm going into this with notecards. Because I don't want to be kicking myself for days afterwards, remembering all the things I'd meant to say and didn't. Nope, I'm going to be prepared.
And for the first time in weeks, I feel like I've got my zen back. Because no matter how this turns out, I'll know that I said everything I needed to say. And even if I end up brokenhearted, that will be okay. Because I'll know that I tried. With all of me.
That said, I've been dating. A really nice guy. Three dates in eight days. He really likes me. And that feels good. I'm approaching this very cautiously.
But when I gave Fred his birthday brownies today, he said the nicest things to me. That I am a beautiful woman. That any man would be lucky to be with me. That I am kind and sweet and thoughtful.
So, maybe I do deserve for these two people to decide to be good to me. And maybe I should stop second-guessing it and just breathe. Take it for what it is. I know I'll pay it forward somehow.
I am a mom. I am an open book. I am a teacher. I am unfinished. I rarely dress weather-appropriately. I am influential. I am tattooed. I am a Reason for some. I am relentless in my passions. I am multi-faceted. I am carving my niche.