Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Mindset Reset

I did a LOT of thinking yesterday. A LOT. About who I am, what I'm doing, what I want, what kind of relationship I want, how I handle relationships, and who I want to have a relationship with.

I thought I had spent the last six years recovering from my separation and divorce by finding out who I am, but I've learned that what I've done is just packed that relationship person away until it was time to bring him out again. I jumped into this thing with both feet. When it started, I thought we were on the same page. After a couple weeks it was evident we were moving TOO fast, and she wanted to slow it down. That was fine with me, but I didn't really know how to do that. I had already fallen pretty damn hard for her, so it was difficult to apply my brakes and slow it down. How do you do that when you have such strong feelings for someone?

I didn't see what my sad attempts at slowing down were doing to her. In my blindness/hubris/selfishness, I thought her issues were only in dealing with her ex-boyfriend. I thought her leftover feelings combined with him stringing her along were causing her stress. I didn't see that, although I was adamant about not pressuring her into making any decisions, my constant BEING THERE through texting and social media was doing what I didn't want to do. I was pressuring her.

Earlier this week was her breaking point, I think, and it took that for me to fully see that, yep, my gung-ho attitude about this was as much of a factor as his lackadaisical attitude. Hence my deep introspection yesterday.

My life is not defined by my relationships. My relationships should ENHANCE my life. My relationship with my kids, my parents and sister, the rest of my family, my friends, and those I fall in love with...these relationships cannot control who I am, what I do, or how I think. They are here to build me up and fill me with love, but I'll never be completely full if I don't love myself. Yeah, that sounds way to New Agey for me, but it's true.

I let my kids get under my skin too much without stepping back and really appreciating them for who they are and how they're growing up. #1 is so fucking smart. I was a very above-average student, but I didn't apply myself, so I skated through everything. #1 soaks up knowledge wherever he can. He DOES things. He's got more going on as a 6th grader than I did in middle school and high school combined. He plays the saxophone because I did, and with less than a year under his belt, he's better than I was at his age (and I was pretty darn good). He's got a really good group of friends, and he loves being a Boy Scout. I fucking admire him so much. But he's also incredibly emotional, and I think that's what I see of me in him the most. He's quick to anger, especially at his younger brother (which, to be honest, is justified a lot of the time). Out of the three of them, he's the only who will ever remember his mom and me married. He had to grow up very fast when she left the four of us, and it just makes me sad.

#2 is so much a girl. She likes make-up (although I don't let her wear any yet), dresses, Barbies, babies...yeah, very much a girly girl. And that's not something I pushed, but she chose it, and I'm okay with it. I tried to get her into nerd stuff via comics and TV and movies, but she's not into it and that's fine...she's blazing her own path. She tried gymnastics and cheerleading for a few years, but that started to bore her. She's always loved music (there's my girl!) and singing, and after she showed me a song she wrote (holy shit, it was amazing for 9-year-old), her mom and I decided it was time to talk about music lessons. But we left it up to her. She was currently in Girl Scouts, and she ended up choosing singing and piano lessons over that. I cannot wait to she her grow as a musician. She has so much talent and heart that I just know she's going to do incredible things.

#3 probably has the most of me in him. He's energetic, but he also loves to spend tons of time on the computer (closely monitored by me, don't worry). He's not nerdy like me (that's all #1), but he's also crazy smart...but he doesn't do anything with it. He does his work, does it well, but beyond that he doesn't enjoy learning like his older brother does. He also changes gears pretty quickly. He did "ninja" class for almost a year before getting bored. He plays basketball, but he really has no idea what he's doing. He's in Cub Scouts, but I think he goes just to see friends and go camping every now and then. His emotions are always just under the surface too, but it's more about frustration and sadness as opposed to #1's anger. He tears up easily if he gets yelled at (which I tend to do more often than I should. That said, he is also the sweetest boy. He wakes up every morning with a smile. He's quick with hugs and kisses on the cheek. He is probably biggest headache causer out of the three, but sometimes he's the easiest to forgive.

Why do I let these wonderful kids get under my skin so much? Why do I get exasperated with them? They make my life better just by being here. When they're with their mother every other weekend, my house is quiet and still and lonely. I really don't know what to do with myself when they're gone. Then along comes *****.

***** is also a single mother with kids Bobby's age. Somehow, miraculously, when we started going out we discovered our kid-free weekends synced up. How perfect was that? The last two weekends we didn't see each other, though, and I kind of spiraled into a "what am I going to do with myself?" mode. There was smoking, and there was drinking. Looking back, I can see that my relationships with my kids and with ***** were dictating my attitude and feelings. They weren't there, so I couldn't be happy? Bullshit. That's just bullshit, and I'm just now realizing that. I cherish every second (despite headaches and tantrums and sibling spats) with these people I love, but just because they're not around doesn't mean I still can't be happy. I have friends. I have interests. I have hobbies. I have a house that has been neglected for far too long. I have OTHER THINGS.

My life is not defined by my relationships. ***** and I have been talking constantly since the beginning of October. For better or worse, that's when the relationship really started. But in that time, we've seen each other a total of five times. Only. Five. Times. Five times does not a boyfriend/girlfriend make. SHE knows's just taken me this long to figure it out.

I'm still in love with her. I won't say that won't ever change, because things happen and it's very early in this messed up little relationship we have. But being in love with someone shouldn't make you or them sad. I honestly can't say with any certainty that we'll make it. I'd like to think we will, but as with all relationships, if it does end I know I'll be taking good things away from our time together, things about me that I've realized and can put to use (which I'm already starting to do) in my life and, hopefully, in future relationships. But right now I'm going to do whatever I can to make this work, and right now that means giving her space. I think I spoke on that in yesterday's post. I was pretty successful yesterday I think, and I hope it wasn't the cigarettes helping with that, because I crumpled up the remainder of my pack and threw them in a dumpster this morning (I did save ONE to have before starting work...hopefully my last one ever) so I can't rely on their calming effects anymore. They were just a crutch anyways. As far as communication with her goes, I'm mostly following her lead. I'll text in the morning with a "Have a good day!" and possibly send out a Snapchat if we're still trying to keep our streak going, but daytime contact will be instigated by her only (my decision). I'll text in the evening to see how her day was, and if she wants to continue texting or talking once the kids are in bed, then that's her call. If she doesn't text or Snapchat during the day, then that's no problem. She's got stuff to do, I've got stuff to do...and we've only been out five times. Her frequency of contact does not determine my happiness or who I am.

This was a pretty big revelation for me, so I guess this post ended up being a lot longer than I originally intended. If you read the whole thing, I appreciate it. If you're coming here for pop culture reviews, I apologize for the abrupt change in posting topics, all this is very therapeutic for me, and obviously it's helping. I wonder who IS reading this, though? Do I know you? If not, how did you stumble upon this? I know ***** used to read it, at least when I was going through my divorce and posting links on my Facebook page. She hasn't mentioned anything about it, so probably not?

Time to work. Thank you all for reading. Here's my favorite Paramore song, as a treat (lyrics copied below the video with the relevant ones bolded).

When I was younger
I saw my daddy cry
And curse at the wind
He broke his own heart
And I watched
As he tried to reassemble it

And my momma swore
That she would never let herself forget
And that was the day that I promised
I'd never sing of love
If it does not exist, but darlin'

You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception

Maybe I know, somewhere
Deep in my soul
That love never lasts
And we've got to find other ways
To make it alone
But keep a straight face

And I've always lived like this
Keeping a comfortable, distance
And up until now
I had sworn to myself that I'm content
With loneliness

Because none of it was ever worth the risk

But, you are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception

I've got a tight grip on reality
But I can't let go of what's in front of me here
I know your leaving in the morning, when you wake up
Leave me with some kind of proof it's not a dream, oh

You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception

You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception

And I'm on my way to believing
Oh, and I'm on my way to believing.

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