Simple Satisfaction

I was recently asked what do I get out of writing my blog, sharing something so personal with countless people who don’t know me and with the many people who do. Before I started my blog- in fact many years ago, I remember telling my mother that I wanted to write a book about all the funny dating experiences I’ve had. I recall my mom laughing and expressing her support, telling me to “Go for it!” But I never did.

The thought, however, always stayed with me. As my sister, my closest cousins, and I would share our unbelievable stories about some of the men we dated and what transpired on our dates, we’d laugh and laugh and we always exclaimed something in the vein of “We should totally write a book about this stuff!” But we never did.

And then, in recent years, upon learning that so many people have started their own blogs just writing about the things that interested them, I came upon the idea (with encouragement from my sister) to start a blog of my very own. And I did!!!

And what a journey it has been! What do I get out of writing my blog? I’ve learned so much about myself within the past few years. It’s scary thinking about your flaws and the steps needed to take to fix them. But my blog has forced me to think introspectively and face issues that I don’t think I would have otherwise allowed myself to face. I did it! I’m doing it! And I will continue to do it!

What do I get out of putting myself out there like that? Being so vulnerable? I’ve been criticized for some of the choices I’ve made or for just admitting some of the things I think, feel and believe. But I’ve also had people– friends, acquaintances and strangers– congratulating me on my bravery in expressing my truth. I’m always humbled by that because I don’t really consider myself brave. I invite strangers into my personal life in the form of a blog. I do it because I love to write and expressing myself is therapeutic. The reason is quite selfish- I don’t see the bravery in that.

But I am sharing my story and the people reading it are finding something in it that resonates with them. Otherwise, they would not continue to follow my blog.

So what do I get out of writing this blog? I feel appreciation for the people who take the time to read my words. I feel fulfilled in knowing that I’m entertaining someone with my stories. I’m helping a woman make an important decision in her life; someone is finding comfort in my words. I do it for the women out there still searching for love. This is for the women who’ve been scarred by love but have not been defeated. It’s for the women out there who silently cry for the children that never blessed their wombs. I want to believe that at least one person reading my story will think: Yes! That’s how I feel too! They don’t have to feel that they are alone in this. I tell my story to inspire others. As long as the words keep coming to me, I will be writing. And as long as I am writing, I will be posting. And as long as I am posting, I know for sure, someone will be reading.

What do I get out of writing my blog? Pure and simple satisfaction.

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An Apprehensive Decision

Yes, I’ve continued to see the man on several occasions during the following weeks, despite my being apprehensive. We’ve delighted in walks together and impromptu decisions to go to the movies. We’ve enjoyed meals together from nice restaurants to even savoring a slice of pizza from an amazing neighborhood hole-in-the-wall. We went shopping for bathing suits together before we laughed at ourselves for being unable to find his car in the mall parking garage. After 20 minutes of searching (and before exiting the garage), we celebrated its discovery in a very hot make-out session. We’ve enjoyed the sweltering sun and cool breeze at three different Long Island beaches. Discussions about our families, our creative works, and our past relationships have allowed us to get to know each other better. We laugh together, telling silly jokes and making fun of others when the situations beg for it. This gentleman seems to enjoy my company as much as I enjoy his.

And all the while, the one thing that consistently remains on my mind is the fact that this man is 61 years old. As we walk hand in hand, I imagine what we must look like together. He mentioned once that walking with me made him look good. He also supposedly detected men of his age looking at him curiously, as if to question how he ended up with a woman who looked like me. I, on the other hand, avoid eye contact with anyone else but him. Something inside of me is still bothered by his age. Believe me, I take no pleasure in this.

Everything we experience together is fun and light and filled with positive energy. But I keep clouding it with thoughts of him being too old for me. I keep having to remind myself that this is nothing new. Although it is generally the case that men are usually older than their female counterparts in a relationship, it is not as common to see much older men with much younger women. However, I am reminded of the fact that Catherine Zeta-Jones, Calista Flockhart, and Celine Dion are just a few of many women who married men significantly older than they are. I’m not trying to say that I will marry this man but if these women are so comfortable with their choices, what makes me so apprehensive to enjoy my decision of being with an older man?

What is my problem? I’ve never had to question whether he really likes me or not because he has made it clear. In early June, he booked tickets to go to Paris and later expressed his desire for me to join him there. Since then, he’s invited me to his family reunion later on this month. Isn’t that a big deal? His family, ladies and gentlemen, which include all of his sisters and his twin brother. When was the last time a man wanted me to meet people who were significant in his life? He has even invited me to an old friend’s upcoming barbecue. The man does not seem to want to hide me but rather, proudly embrace me as his current companion. That’s one of the biggest compliments I can think of. And here I am, letting my perception of what age means and what people may think prevent me from truly basking in the attention that this man is giving me. I seem to be foolishly letting that prevent me from having the great experiences that I can possibly share with him.

And then, there is the other thing that we have not yet even confronted . . .

 

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Honoring Ourselves

A friend of mine (let’s call her Erica) recently told me about her experience with a man who she felt led her on. She had been seeing him on and off for a few years and only recently learned that he had been dishonest with her. Though he had broken up with the mother of his daughter, he couldn’t promise Erica anything as far as a relationship was concerned. He wanted to take things slowly with her and if she brought up the topic of his situation, he’d get upset.  Erica knew something wasn’t right with her guy and actually broke it off with him several times. But one phone call from him would reel her back in. Upon digging further, she learned that his ex-girlfriend was actually his wife!! They didn’t just have one child but they had two! Erica was deeply hurt and confused by all of this. She couldn’t believe that she fell for all of his lies and excuses.

In cases like this, we women feel like we suffer so much from the lies and games that men play. But I wonder if we invite those very lies and games into our experience. I told Erica that next time, she has to be firm from the very beginning and tell the man she’s dating exactly what she wants out of the relationship. However, can it be said that if Erica already knew exactly what she wanted, she would not have attracted such a man to her? In other words, once you know what you want and you carry yourself as such, the right man will be presented to you and you won’t have to demand anything because he will be the right man. And, in knowing what you want, you will not be fooled by any kind of deceit because you simply won’t stand for any foolishness.

Well, contradicting this idea, my friend Erica did tell the man what she wanted at the beginning of and throughout the relationship. Yet, when presented with what he was willing to give her, she did not honor what she had originally told him she wanted. She thought that he’d eventually change and I think that so many women out there believe the same thing. I’ve been in a few relationships where I not only thought the guy would change, but I thought I’d be the one to help him change. Ha! Men pretty much stay true to themselves. They are usually up front with what they are willing to give but we always think they’ll change because we know that we, as women, easily change what we’re willing to put with. We need to start honoring ourselves by honoring what we want out of a relationship.

I think it goes without saying that as soon as something happens in a relationship that does not sit right with you, it needs to be addressed immediately, whether it’s through a mature conversation with the man or a decision to move on. Trust me, I know how hard it can be to communicate feelings about what may be wrong in a relationship. However, it is a woman’s right to question and discuss and explore in order to make an informative decision. That’s how many of us can avoid getting hurt. We sometimes walk on eggshells, being careful of our words and behavior, that we forget about our own happiness. (That’s what I did with the Puerto Rican!) But I think as soon as we feel the need to walk on eggshells, the issue must be addressed. It will save us from heartache; and addressing the issue will help us to continue to honor our feelings and honor what we want out of a relationship.

Obviously, I’m not writing as an expert; I’m writing out of logic- what seems to make sense. When feelings are involved, it seems like we throw sense out the window. Let’s try to hold on to our senses. We need to keep reminding ourselves about what we feel will make us happy. And if that thing is not happening in the relationship, we need to honor ourselves by walking away (and staying away!)- no matter how painful we feel it may be.

 

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Moving in the Right Direction

There was a time when I just could not genuinely be happy for someone who had what I wanted. Once, when I learned of a coworker’s engagement, I cried because I had wanted to be in a significant relationship that lead to marriage. When a friend of mine got married, I cried at her wedding because marriage was something I had long wanted but I had felt so unlucky in love. I could go on and on but you can already see the pattern here. I didn’t intend to focus only on myself on these occasions or make it all about me. It was just that I focused on the lack I felt and it overpowered any joy I could have for the people who weren’t lacking.

Fast forward to October 2016 when I first met the Puerto Rican. About the same time I started seeing him, a colleague of mine also started a relationship with a man. Her relationship was a long distance one, for he lived in India and they had never physically met. As I recounted with her the challenges of the Puerto Rican living in Pennsylvania and being a single father, she’d tell me about her conversations with her beau via Skype. While I talked about seeing my Puerto Rican only once a week, she talked about her guy making arrangements to meet her parents who currently live in India as well. While I recounted how I didn’t want to rock the boat with the Puerto Rican by saying or doing the wrong things, she told me how her beau wore his heart on his sleeve, transparently making his feelings known to her, a woman he had never met in the flesh.

Obviously culture and expectations play very important roles in each of our relationships but it was clear very early on (at least it seemed that way to me) that hers was the healthier relationship.

Our schedules changed and my colleague and I were no longer in the same department but we did share a classroom so we saw each other quite frequently. About a month ago, she had asked me how my Puerto Rican was and I told her- with no feelings of negativity or sadness- that we were no longer seeing each other. Her response was the respectful, apologetic kind. I didn’t want to ask her about her guy because I don’t think I was ready to learn if her relationship turned out to be a success while mine had failed.

About a week after that, when my class ended and she was about to begin hers, I took the opportunity to ask her about her guy.

“Oh!” she said, “We’re getting married!”

I jumped up and down in joy as if I was celebrating my own engagement. I was utterly excited for her and my child-like behavior at her news filled me with hope for myself. In spite of everything I’d gone through, I was able to genuinely be happy for someone else! That was HUGE for me!

I don’t know when my perspective changed exactly and perhaps it doesn’t even matter. All I know is that I was moving in the right direction if I was happy for someone who had what I wanted. I love acknowledging my small successes.

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The Declaration

Once again I am wishing to be happy about where I am in my life and my situation. Only a few months ago, I made the declaration that I was not going to harp on the fact that I am still single and childless (“Enjoying My Single Status” 9.25.16). I decided to enjoy my single status and all that it could offer me. Once I had made that decision, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders and I felt so great about myself and my life. Then I met the Puerto Rican and, for some reason, I allowed myself to forget about that decision after I stopped seeing him. Since then, I’ve been trying to get back to that same place of being happy with where I am now. Though this was a challenge for me, I still kept trying. I wasn’t trying to force it, mind you– I was simply trying to perhaps have the feelings of happiness take over me by doing the things I enjoyed. But it still wasn’t happening for me because I kept focusing on the negative. So, I decided to take a new approach.

After a conversation with my sister, I realized that I needed to let go of the negative thoughts I’ve been having about being in the same place in my life as I was five years ago. My sister helped me to instead think about the wonderful things I’d experienced since then. In other words, I’m not really in the same place I was five years ago because while I’m still single, I’ve had different adventures and experiences to fill in the gap.

I’ve been to Mexico on a cruise, visited California for a cousin’s wedding and escaped for a few days in a beautiful house in the Florida Keys with some friends. I’ve spent a week in Spain with family, finally went to Coney Island to see what all the fuss was about, went on a relaxing hiking trail in Pennsylvania, and visited the fascinating Niagara Falls for the very first time, among many other things.

I can’t look at the past few years as a waste of time because during my little adventures, I’ve gathered new information about what I want and what I don’t want. I wanted to enjoy my life as a single woman but I had been doing that all along without even acknowledging it! It’s all about perspective!

So now, the weather is getting warmer and the spring is calling out to me in a breeze of hope for a positive and self-fulfilling outlook on what could be a really great next few months. I wish to declare once again that I will continue to enjoy my single status while focusing on the things that make me truly happy. This is my plan for now; this is my declaration.

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