As I round the bases on the third year of being single – yes, it’s been three years. I know! I can’t believe it either. Next month, November 16th will be the third anniversary of the day my marriage imploded. The anniversary of the day I came to the sudden and quite world shattering realization that my husband had been living a double life and had been not only lying to me but betraying me with misdirection, gaslighting and complete fabrications, but had also been committing crimes that he is still on the run from.
These last three years have shown me how deep into the pit of despair I can descent but that I am fully capable of pulling myself out from. It showed me what a savvy budget manager I am and that I don’t need anyone but myself to make a home and keep it. It showed me that the love of my friends and family is paramount to any relationship. It taught me how to love myself and put myself first and that by putting myself first, I became a better friend, a better mother, a more fierce woman.
We can’t discuss Single & Selfish and what I’ve learned and not explore the year of sex. When I started dating I was unapologetically searching for the next chapter to begin. I thought the first man I met and started dating was going to be the next man I would marry and we would live happily ever after and I would look back at my former twenty year marriage and laugh the laugh of the smarmy winner. That, of course didn’t happen and I was so silly to think it would. Dating has been a choose your own adventure experience with a few face plants, get up, dust yourself off, move on to the next and repeat.
The first relationship was The Gentleman and he was an important first step. Lets be frank here, he was the first sex I’d had with a new partner in twenty-five years. That was a big deal. The Gentleman was a lot of the things that my ex husband wasn’t. He was handy, he could fix or build anything. He was a survivalist and taught me to make fire, taught me what a Bug-Out bag was and I learned all about water purification and watched my first episodes of Naked and Afraid. The Gentleman taught me a lot about what I wanted in a partner. He also taught me a lot about what I didn’t want. He could be moody and would sometimes criticize my wardrobe or my choice of words. He didn’t appreciate my bawdy and sometimes barnyard humor. He tried to change me and made me feel judged at times. Ultimately he ended things by beginning a relationship with an old flame and I refuse to be treated like a doormat so I exited stage left. I have no regrets about that relationship. It helped me see the potential of what I could ask for in a partner, but it was just a few steps away from what I’d already been married to. What The Gentleman taught me was that I deserve to be cherished and respected. I don’t need to do all the heavy lifting and it’s ok to let someone take care of me. Unfortunately he also taught me that manipulation is strong in some people and I refused to be changed by anyone.
Soon after the break up, I met The Chef. Hands down, without a millisecond of thought I can tell you that my favorite man in that year was Chef. He is the epitome of adventure. He has lived a life most of us can only dream about, several years touring as a stand up comic, an actor, an accomplished veteran, he cooked for Chuck Norris and Willie Nelson for goodness sake. The Chef has stories and jokes for days and time spent with him is full of laughter and wide eyed amazement. Chef is sensual and tender, he is adventure personified and he loves to teach. Chef has the heart of a child and the wisdom of a well lived traveler. I have a heart for learning and experiencing new things and love listening to someone’s story, so it was a match made in heaven. He would take me out on his boat and we’d go hunt for gators with my camera or he’d teach me about fishing. He taught me to make pasta from scratch and he taught me the history behind the Caesar salad. Chef is the most fun I’ve had and he will forever be the “what-if” of that year. Chef is also a confirmed bachelor and will never marry. He just doesn’t have it in him, and he is unapologetic about it. He knows what and who he is and he’s comfortable in his skin. He’s a classic Sagittarius. He is a lot of fun though and our story isn’t done yet. Chef taught me that I need a partner to Adventure with. I need someone to say lets go jump in the car and see where the day takes us – no plan in place, so lets go make new friends and find exciting food. Lets go live! He taught me that I need someone to echo my experience junkie nature and fulfill that desire to go find the unexpected and make a memory out of it. Ultimately Chef felt it was best that we stop seeing each other. He knew we were headed for rocky heartbreak and he was the one who taught me how to break up with someone with kindness and compassion, while still remaining friends.
After a brief intermission to grieve Chef, there was Keanu. Keanu was a Tinder date that I thought was going to be just an experience and fizzle out. Little did I know that Keanu would be my next of the two exclusive relationships I had that year. A little back story, my marriage was very lack-luster in the sex department. I won’t go as far as to say it was sexless, but it was darn close. I am a physical touch kind of person. I express my affection and love through all the senses which includes touch – and which includes sex. It’s just the way it is. Keanu answered that call and then some. He was the ying to my yang and he came with very little baggage. When I think of Keanu I think of childlike innocence and excitement. He wasn’t a child, of course – don’t get crazy. He is a grown man, a couple marriages and kids under his belt, but he isn’t jaded by life. He gives and expresses love openly, physically and…a-hem….often. He was the first man I’d met who could match my sex drive and challenge me for more. Honestly, it was a dream come true and I reveled in the passion that he brought to the relationship. It was water in the desert for me. It was the sexiest and most desired I’ve ever felt in my life and it healed a lot of self doubt that my marriage had left with me. My ex husband would turn me down every time I tried to initiate intimacy and Keanu begged for it. Keanu showed me that I need….no, I require passionate intimacy in my relationship and that there are men out there who are happy to provide it. Ultimately, Keanu had some other areas of his life that didn’t match with my goals and he has young children that deserve to have someone in their lives who are willing to step in and be part of their development and I just don’t want to be that. I have raised my children. I can be honest about the fact that I don’t want to date someone with young kids. It’s just not what I want. I’ve taken care of other people for the last thirty years, it’s finally about me now. So Keanu and I parted ways and are still friends.
There were a couple of other very brief trysts in there that I had to get out of my system. Very brief, loving encounters that I enjoyed in that year. That year was about exploration and experience and I had all of it. No regrets and I set a goal for saying yes to adventure and experience for a year and I did that. The year came to a close and so did my Tinder account.
I learned a lot that year. I learned what I wanted and what I didn’t want. Most importantly I learned that I want more. I want a partner in my life that echos my desire for adventure, one that matches my need for physical touch and intimacy and one that can teach me things I don’t know while also helping me feel safe and cared for. I do the heavy lifting in my life seven days a week, I make all the decisions, pay all the bills and address all the adulting stuff. In a relationship I want someone who feels like they have my back, they can share the load with me and provide the loving affection and honesty. Someone who doesn’t drink excessively, turns out is very important to me too. I have had my first experiences with men who don’t drink at all and it has been refreshing and welcomed. My years of drinking to excess are over. I can drink or not – it isn’t a daily thing for me and I’d like to have a partner in my life who feels the same or even better doesn’t drink at all. I’ve loved the addict and I’ve tumbled down the hillside of addiction with them. I won’t do it again. I deserve better. I deserve more.
I think all in all the most important thing I learned in that year of sex is that I deserve to not have to settle. I have grabbed hold of loving myself and I won’t be letting go. I deserve to be loved and cherished by someone who checks all the boxes of what I want in a partner. Responsibility, passion, financially stable, emotionally mature, caring, compassionate and able to love themselves and not settle either. I certainly don’t think that’s too much to ask. Do you?
One of my Achilles heels is my fear of vulnerability. I’ve learned that when I feel vulnerable it triggers my fight, flight or freeze response. I need someone in my life that I feel safe being vulnerable with. Someone who understands that vulnerability is my scary place and it makes me feel small and want to run away. I need someone who reinforces safety in those vulnerable places and sees me through that dark scary place with love and compassion. That was a huge awareness moment for me recently. Having put those pieces together gives me hope for a functional long term relationship though. I think I understand how I need to grow trust and love. Now I just have to find the one who has the watering can to help it grow.
I’ve been toying with the idea that Single & Selfish has run it’s course. I don’t know if I embody this label anymore. I don’t know what more I have to say that falls under this persona. I don’t think I’ll be shutting anything down in the near future, just don’t be surprised if another blog name shows up. I’m still mulling that one over. Maybe I’ll write under a couple of different blog personas for a while. I might surprise you.
In the next chapter that is right now I’m still on dating hiatus with this bum knee that turns out will require surgery to repair a torn meniscus and remove some hefty bone fragments that are floating around reeking havoc in my knee. I’m not on a complete hiatus, I’m talking to a few nice gentlemen who know I can’t meet them in person right now but we’re taking the opportunities to get to know each other in the interim until a face to face can happen in the future. It’s rather nice to have this mobility barrier to keep me in the get to know you stage a little longer and not get confused by the physical chemistry that can sometimes be my downfall. Like I’ve always said everything happens for a reason. One of these men might be my next adventure, or none of them will. Who’s to say? I’m leaving the next adventure open to fate and am keeping my eyes open for the door to appear that I need to walk through next. Lessons held closely in my back pocket so I don’t repeat past lessons again.
So wish me luck please. Say a prayer for the surgeon who will be working on my knee and for my recovery, as well as for my future dating experiences. Thanks for reading, thanks for being on this journey with me and thanks for caring.
In the words of The Chef, Ciao Bella.