Friday, January 27, 2017

When Push Comes to Shove

My ex-husband moved out in November 2009. I was officially divorced in August, 2010. Since then, I have dipped my foot in the dating pool a few times. Most of the guys I've met have been nice, but we simply didn't hit it off. And by "we didn't hit it off", I mean, they ran screaming from our dates because basically I'm just a nervous idiot who blurts out phrases like "explosive diarrhea" as if I have tourette's when meeting people for the first time. Or maybe they thought I looked too much like a wildebeest. I'm certain that several of them just thought my butt was too big. Perhaps a couple of them realized I have issues that simply cannot be solved without thousands of dollars of therapy. A few of them didn't even make it to that first date, deciding I was definitely not what they were looking for and canceling before ever seeing me in person. (Hmmm, maybe I should be writing under a pseudonym so potential dates can't read about all the crazy that goes on in my head before I've had the chance to convince them that I'm pretty awesome despite the crazy . . .) Whatever the reason, most of my dates have not moved beyond the initial meeting. Shocking, I know.

But a couple of them have progressed beyond that first awkward meeting. I have dated two men since my divorce who not only loved me, but loved my kids like their own as well. They treated us like royalty. They were faithful and devoted. They went above and beyond what I have ever hoped for in a partner. They were generous and gentlemanly. They knew how to communicate. They put up with my moods which says a LOT about how much they loved me because, let me tell ya, I can be a crazy, irrational psychopath at times

I pushed both of them away. And I convinced myself I had good reasons for doing so.

As I look back at these relationships, I don't know if I'm viewing them through rose colored glasses and conveniently forgetting all the negative aspects, or if I'm far enough removed now that I'm remembering them clearly. It's probably somewhere in the middle, but even if I'm forgetting some of the bad parts, it still leaves the fact that I pushed two good men away, and there's really only one reason, one real reason, why. Because I'm a gutless coward. 

It's easier to push someone away than to take a chance, knowing full-well that if I give away my heart, there's a chance it'll be broken. 

My kids like to push the shopping cart when we go to the store. Whenever I let them, I cringe inwardly as I walk along, anticipating the pain I know I'll feel when they crash the cart into my ankles. I'm positive it's going to happen, it's just a question of when. I try to avoid walking too closely to them. I try to avoid stopping and looking around, fearing that they'll keep going and steamroll into my unsuspecting legs. But most of the time, I won't let them touch the cart at all in an effort to avoid bruised and bloody ankles entirely.

I like to avoid pain.

Unfortunately, when I find a good man who loves me, my heart and mind engage in a never-ending battle that inevitably leaves me heartbroken and alone. And by doing this, I don't even avoid the pain. I only avoid the not knowing when it's going to happen by preemptively ending it. Now I'm sitting here wondering how this self-inflicted pain is any better than pain that may or may not come at the hands of someone who holds my heart. The answer is - it isn't any better. In fact, it sucks. Especially when those men move on with their lives and find loving partners and I'm left thinking, That could've been me. I could've been the one.

Then I say, "Look! See? They left! I told you they would." I justify my actions with the fact that they didn't stay and fight for me, so "clearly I wasn't all that important to them and they were probably going to leave on their own anyway" easily forgetting that they wouldn't have left had I not shoved them away. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy that causes nothing but heartache for everyone involved. I perpetuate the cycle even though I know damn well that someone would have to be more crazy than I am to stick around when I was so determined to run away.

So, what have we learned here, class? 

1.  The first step is admitting you're a lunatic. (The second step should probably be trying to repair that lunacy instead of blogging about it for the world to know about said lunacy.)

2.  I know there are good guys out there. My past two relationships have set the bar so high that all but the most amazing of men will fall short of being good enough for me, and I think that's a good thing.

3.  Pushing away people who care is crazy. It doesn't eliminate pain, and being left alone while they move on sucks.

4.  I'm probably a good candidate for shock therapy. Maybe a lobotomy. Do they still do those?

5.  If I'm ever so lucky as to get a third chance, I will not push a good man away. I will hang on like a barnacle. Or maybe not. Doing that is probably a guarantee that they'll leave. I'll hang on just as much as isn't creepy.

6.  And finally, I'm still not letting my kids push the shopping cart. If you've ever been hit in the ankles, you know, you know.


Jennifer said...

You are a fabulous woman worthy of an amazing man. You are smart, absolutely hilarious, and I can only imagine that you are a blast to spend time with. And to top it all off, you are beautiful! Repeat that to yourself everyday. You are beautiful. Don't put too much pressure on finding the perfect guy on a first date. They feel just as stupid and awkward as you do. Have fun, be yourself because you are awesome sauce with a side of fabulous!! -Signed, a fan since the Pokemon card post ;)

Amazing Mama said...

You are awesome. And funny. And tender and vulnerable and you say the things we all are too afraid to say. We don't want to "out" ourselves as being incapable, dorky or dumb even though we are none of those things. You may or may not find the man of your dreams, but keep digging deeper in your soul to discover you and just when you least expect it BAM (there goes that damn shopping trolley-right into your shins!) and who knows, maybe a lovely man will escort you to the ER or bring you ice for your bruised shins and there is the rest of the story! ��Mwah��

Unknown said...

Well if you think you're insane, chances are it came after the kids. Most of us who have kids have that same problem. Those that are insane sans children... well... they're another story. When it comes to dating and finding someone who can put up with your -isms and speaks "Thingie" (you know that language, "Hand me that thingie up there. No, the thingie. The THINGIE! Thank you.") that's a whole different area than it was before marriage and kids. You're not the same person (for good and ill) you were before and that's a good thing. I'm divorced as well and I can speak from experience you don't escape unharmed from something like that. You're not damaged, you're unhinged. Why do you think you push people away? If they shower daily, wear deodorant and treat you well I don't know but you do. You need the right tools to become "re-hinged" (it's a real word if I write it that way) and you may not possess those correct tools just yet. Personally my toolbox (see how I brought the tool theme around? Like a boss!) began with a good therapist and lots of Dr.Pepper. And ice cream. And since I bake, I made things like crazy and gave whatever I made away; my neighbors gained like 20 pounds apiece. Whether you decide to stay alone and buy a few dozen cats or put yourself out there is up to you. But cats are finicky and shed like crazy and you've already got six of those in your kids. Both cats and kids obey about the same so nothing new there. Point is that I did find my knight in shining armor (even though he's got celiac disease and I had to learn to bake all over again) who not only puts up with my craziness and loves my kids but who looks past all the insanity and sees the person I am AND DOESN'T RUN AWAY SCREAMING. I've been married to that wonderful person for sixteen years now. So you know it's possible for anyone, including you. Especially you. Don't be afraid to let someone in, unless that person doesn't brush his teeth. That guy you leave outside in the snow, where he'll probably melt the ice around him (in which case you encourage him, from a safe distance, to breathe in the direction of your driveway. You kill two birds with one stone that way.). I wish you the best of luck. I promise you can do it.

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