Monday, 24 August 2015

The Hidden Online Profile

I'm in Amsterdam. Came in yesterday afternoon and saw my client in Arnheim today. Landed a deal! That was worth the trip!!

But I was afraid of coming here. Afraid of once again wandering through the streets of a beautiful old city and feeling lonely again. Like Barcelona. Barcelona was beautiful and lonely. I ached there by myself and promised myself I wouldn't travel alone again. And then I did. Now, for example.

And for the past two weeks, while I have been planning this business trip, I've felt the fear sitting on my chest. And in my stomach. Fear of what? I don't really know. But the loneliness is the most likely answer.

And so here I am. Not lonely. Go figure! Just actually finding a good mix between work engagements, chatting to mates on Facebook and WhatsApp, and wandering the streets and waterways of Amsterdam. And sampling copius amounts of food. Delicious new things. And watching the people.

I've also been watching the people online. Seeing the debate rage about the Ashley Madison Hack. Reading through the sanctimonious judging assholes as they take pleasure in the pain and fear that the exposed are experiencing. And the cheating assholes responding to their jeering. And other cheating assholes denying ever having done anything on Ashley Madison except talk to fake profiles and netbots. Finding someone who actually admits to meeting people: actual real live relationships that may or not involve sex...none of those things happend. It's almost as hard to find anyone in South Africa who once voted for the Apartheid government in the bad old days!

I am clearly one of the very rare people out of 33 million who met up with live actual men, if the stories are to be believed. Not one of the men that I met and actually had sex with had wives, although the Tasmanian was in a committed long term relationship. And Red was on the way out of his. And Berlin was in a similarish open 'don't ask don't tell' situation, (not that Berlin and  I had 'The actual sex' mind you...). Some that I met and decided to not have sex with were married. It felt weird. I'm glad I didn't go there. And glad I pulled out of the Tasmanian situation as fast as I did - I couldn't really abide the lack of integrity that comes from consciously lying to one's spouse.  So my AM men are watching the 'exposure' with interest, rather than panic. We all would prefer this not spilling into our professional public domain, but aren't concerned our relationships will be affected. There's that part where I really don't want my kids to be exposed to this, and I hope that won't happen. I used a fake name and email address.

So shrink set me some homework, which I'm about to start: I need to write out my 'hidden' online dating profile. I'm sitting in a pub in Amsterdam having dinner by myself, and so now is as good a time as any, I suppose.

I haven't deleted my AM profile yet. I suspect that AM is a bit of a Ghost Town at the moment. But I haven't been back there since Red. I'm not completely sure it's over with Red, and I'm also trying now to not fling myself into yet another tough relationship. If he's not to be, I want to try to give myself some time out to recover more before I re-engage.

So my online profile reads like this:

I'm in a consenting open marriage. I want a relationship with a man who will enjoy exploring this life phase with me. My dream mate is clever. Successful. Soulful. Sexy. Healthy. Strong. Kind. Funny. Solid.I have lived life and learned stuff. I value wisdom and lifelong learning. I'm a curious thinker about the human condition. I write. I read. I work out (within reason). And I work.I want soulful connection and hot sex! Sometimes at the same time! An intimate life companion without the domestic ordinary that comes with marriage and kids. A place to escape sometimes and be this other part of me. Love Scammers that trawl this site: stay the fk away from me. I know your game and I'm not interested in playing. You'll be wasting your time with me.

It's all true. Not one lie or fake word here. But there is a lot of stuff missing of course - the stuff I wouldn't put in the shop window.

Would it read more like this?

I'm 48 and fucked up. Piles of baggage. Tough childhood stuff shaped me and tough adult stuff drove the message home. I will seduce and entice you with my sexy siren song, and flip on you the minute you show me any interest. I'm not hard to get. I'm far too fucking easy, and give my heart away to undeserving assholes who don't know what a gift it is. I love wholeheartedly, intensely, overwhelmingly. If left unchecked I can smother you with whatever I think you need. I'll think for you, love for you, anticipate your every need, and overcompensate for your shortcomings. I'll let you get away with anything because I'm afraid you'll leave. I'll be dileriously happy with whatever crumbs of love and affection you'll leave me. If you don't match my connection enthusiasm with texts and calls and meetups, if you take hours to read my texts, and even longer to respond, I'll panic and imagine you gone, and turn into a clingy wretch, and pursue you relentlessly, seeking approval and reassurance from you. But I'll forgive you anything you do - I'll protect you from the pain you cause me, and carry it all inside my fragmented and fragile heart. And if you need to leave me, I'll wait for you: days, weeks, months. Take all the space you need. Take everything you need: I'll put my needs on hold for you for as long as you need me to. Love me. I beg you. Love me.

Also all true.

I don't want it to be true for me any more.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Is it just my Placeholder?

No sooner had I posted my previous blog when I found a message from Red on my phone. After 2 weeks of no contact, he sent me an article with advice on things to drink for my Rheumatoid Arthritis. Which I think was probably his way of telling me he's not completely gone yet. I was so very pleased to hear from calmed my very sore soul for a couple of days. And since then we've had a light chat going, about him moving out. About anything. With days between comments. And nothing about meeting and talking.

And I have carried this very very deep pain in me through all these weeks. The abandonment pain. The yearning. The waiting. My Rheumatoid has been flaring for weeks. Inflammation all over my body. I've upped my chemo meds, and my anti inflammatories. But still I'm waking up every morning now with swollen hands and feet. I know that at some deep level this is my body responding to my pain. That this very very deep and sore old pain is rearing up into my hands and feet and reminding me, all the time, how very very sore I am. Sore in my heart. Sore in my body.

He's moved out. And is coming to terms with what this new life is to be. He hasn't told me very much about it at all. I so want to see deeper into his life, and walk this time with him.

But I don't think it's going to be. I think actually I have no idea whether I am pining for Red, or if he's just yet another placeholder for my nameless yearning.  I'm tired. So very deeply tired of this cycle that I'm on. Hunt a boy. Meet him. See possibility and hope. Find a connection. Or not. Deepen the connection. Open my heart. Begin to hope and celebrate the beginning of joy in my heart. And then he leaves. And I'm left yearning. Aching. Waiting. Sad sad sad. Its just a cycle of one placeholder after another.

I no longer have the naive belief that there is 'the one' out there waiting for me. I don't believe in happily ever after. I think all relationships eventually fail or fade. I can't see a future that is a very long term one. All I want to do is be with someone who will hold me. Love me. Even if that doesn't last forever. And how long is forever anyway? I nearly died twice this past year. That could really happen. Any day. I want to be loved and held now.

Because I'm tired tired tired of being so very fucking lonely every fucking day.

So I came out of my therapy session with my shrink today and messaged Red:

We were going to meet up. So I wouldn't have to be the girl who got dumped on WhatsApp.  You said your demon was about escaping into yourself. Mine is about abandonment. I guess both of our demons are úp' right now.  I'm sad. Fucking sad. Thought you should know. Because I have not done anything until now to let you know that. 

It may well be our last piece of communication. I have no idea.

But I do know I just can't fucking do this any more.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

It's a Heartache

I'm in the Madikwe again. My mate with a Game Lodge had a free bed for the weekend so I just got in my car! It's a beautiful Eco Lodge with no game fences, so the big five are free to wander through the camp at any time. This morning we're holed up in the lounge because we've just seen a huge male lion in the camp looking for water. I'm pinching myself that I can actually just do that - get in my car and watch this magnificent creature in the African Bush!  Magical!

I'm still carrying my bruised heart around with me, trying hard to hold it gently and work through the sadness of Red's exit. I'm having conversations in my head wth him, cross with him for leaving. Cross he let me open to him, and then closed himself so very finally to me. By WhatsApp. Really! I keep imagining how I would respond if he came back to me at some stage. Do I rebuke him because, fuck! Who does that to someone?? Or do I give him a chance to win me back because I do understand actually why he closed down and disappeared to focus on ending his marriage, moving out and dealing his kids.

As I got to Madikwe yesterday, my car radio was playing that old Bonnie Tyler song, ' It's a Heartache'. Shew. I can't imagine how many times I've sung along to that song and not really taken in their lesson:

'It aint wise to need someone, as much as I've depended on.....You'

I think I keep on making the mistake of assuming that everyone feels the intense stuff I do. And not really understanding how they can easily walk away after feeling what I feel. But I think what I feel does have a lot to do with my own wounding. The co-dependant, needy, clingy stuff that is awakened in me at the slightest hint of connection is not what everybody goes through. The addiction stuff that rears up at the first taste of 'Sugar' is something that people like me suffer. For us, walking away like that would be almost impossible. Instead, we hang around, craving any crumb that may fall from the table, hoping that soon there will be more.

And the opposite of this clingy needy addiction is 'cutoff'. A complete closedown of all communication because it is a final desperate attempt at self protection. We assume that because you leave, you don't want us at all, because we're somehow undesireable. And that hurts like hell. Even if it's completely untrue!

So I keep fantasising about the message I'll send Red on 1 September, 1 month after our last WhatsApp conversation. It says something like "1 month no contact? I guess that means you really are the guy who dumped me by WhatsApp! Wow."

And because I'm so very fked up about how these things usually go, I have no idea whether this is a really good idea or a really bad one. I think I'm hoping it shames him into contacting me again and setting up a coffee for that deeper conversation; lets him know that I'm still up for something, even though it's rather negative. Or maybe a more positive contact is better: 'Hey you! How's the whole Bachelor Life treating you?' And that feels less needy and more tough. But doesn't it hide all this really sore process I'm going through, waiting for him to make good on his promise? Aren't I just hiding this emo part of me so he'll like me more and come back?

You see? Lots and lots of co-dependent stuff still oozing through me...I can't shake the thoughts that I am the reason he left, even though he was so very explicit that he needed to do this thing alone! I keep believing that I just wasn't good enough for him, and haven't done enough to 'Earn' his love.  This is the core stuff that I still need to heal more in myself, before I can truly engage with someone in relationship again.

If I don't, I'm going to be Narc Bait. And we all know how that ends...

Monday, 3 August 2015

My Heart is a Ghost Town

So I stopped waiting. Red missed his deadline. I got on the plane and flew to Cape Town.  And I've heard nothing from him at all.

So here I am, trying to do this sore heart recovery thing again and move on. Already I am able to get through hours of not even thinking about him, and his face is slowly but surely slipping from my mind.  Yesterday I landed and already had an Ashley Madison date set up for myself. A companiable walk on the beach and then a happy coffee on the beachfront was a lovely way to begin my Cape Town working few days. The AM boy is a lovely man, and we enjoyed each others' company a lot. But no chemistry at all for me. He was very complimentary about me - was so very pleasantly surprised that I was who I said I was. Told me how beautiful I am, and what a classy lady he perceives me to be. Was good salve for my soul - just to be reminded that I could be considered a good catch by some. He's not really my 'type' I don't think, but I really enjoyed my time with him.

Spent the evening contentedly alone, on my couch, watching TV. And then started today with yet another Cape Town based Ashley Madison coffee date. Ugh. What a contrast. A younger guy. Who bored me from about the 3rd word that came out of his mouth. I was so wishing I could politely get him to leave so I could rather use the time to get some emails done...

And that's when the sadness came at me again. I know I'm about to start another period, so I'm thinking that the hormones are probably to blame for my sad state of mind, but wow - suddenly I'm just sad sad sad.

I'm working with Mark today, and even that isn't enough to clear these cloudy heavy feelings I have. That song, 'My Heart is a Ghost Town' keeps playing through my head. It means something different to me than the original songwriter intended, though. I feel like the ghosts of all the men I've loved keep appearing in front of me. And when they do, I don't feel recovered from my pain at their loss. It's like it's fresh again. Each one, as he appears, makes me feel that wounding again. The sadness of their abandonment. The searing pain of rejection. I rehave my conversations with them in my head - telling them my side of the conversation, explaining to them that they were wrong to go - that I'm perfect for them...they just didn't stay around long enough to realise it.

Red's ghost is freshest: I tell that ghost that I'm not looking for heavy immersion and commitment. That I just want him to be my lover. In a light and connected way. That both of us have families, companies to run, and that I don't expect to be able to see him too much. That he doesn't need to be afraid of my neediness. That I won't be too heavy for him. That I would be a good companion for him while he goes through all of this tough breakup stuff with his wife. That he and I can find some joy together. But the ghost doesn't respond. Doesn't hear me. Doesn't turn to me with his arms open and welcome me into his space. I tell him I'm out here dating again because I want to scare him into coming back to me, not taking me for granted. I want him to be afraid that he is losing me so he will fight for me. I tell him that I'm sad because these two men are not him. That I found what I was wanting in him, and I don't want to start looking afresh. But the ghost looks right through me. Doesn't see me. Has forgotten me already.

I read an astrology chart for myself yesterday. It said I need to remember that all my emotional sadness is about my emotional addiction, not about actual realtionships that are past. I think that is the most spot on assessment I've ever heard. I think it is that. Each of these ghosts are simply embodying this addiction of mine. The pain of being alone always. The sadness and yearning I had for a narcissistic mother and absent father that permeated every waking day of my childhood, now recreated in these ghosts of men past. The danger for me is when I try to deal with that addiction with the actual men themselves rather than their ghosts.

And today, with my heart heavy and sad, and my hormones creating a weight in me, I am more at risk for sending that heartfelt plea and emotional overshare that seems to be what sends them all running for the hills. Today is the day that I must practice just not doing that. Holding myself in all my sadness and not trying to hand over this pain for somebody else to hold. Berlin has told me it's too scary and too much. Mark has told me it's too much. The normal men in the world, the non-narcs, are giving me the feedback that it's just too much.

So the conversations with the ghosts will have to do. Because the live men are gone. The addiction is howling. My heart is sad. And I wander this ghost town alone.