Considering Change

I read I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan over the weekend. The premise of the book appealed to me.

“In I Almost Forgot About You, Dr. Georgia Young’s wonderful life – great friends, family, and successful career- aren’t enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, including quitting her job as an optometrist and moving house, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love. Georgia’s bravery reminds us that it’s never too late to become the person you want to be, and that taking chances, with your life and your heart, are always worthwhile.”

I am always considering a job change. I am seriously toying with the idea of making a geographical change. And deep in my mind, I still haven’t let go of the fantasy at a second chance at love. See my post on The First One.

Two quotes Terry McMillan’s book stood out to me:

“There are three things I’ve decided might have helped if I had known then what I know now:

  1. When you think you’ve found the Right One and you free-fall so hard you levitate and picture yourself spending the rest of your life with this person, give the relationship everything you’ve got, milk it, and enjoy it while it lasts, because you don’t know when you might feel this way again.
  2. No one is perfect. Not even you. But know how much you can tolerate and don’t toil like a slave to make your relationship or marriage work. When you find yourself miserable more than you are happy, know this is not where you need to be. Figure out a way to get out.
  3. When it’s over, it’s over. Don’t look back. You never know who’s behind Door Number One or who might walk in to you life when you’re not looking.”

Number three hit hard. I have struggled with letting go of the First One for almost twenty years. I have heard to never go back and learned that lesson on my own, for good measure.

I have also read Real Simple every year for the past few years, and they always feature true stories in the February issue about long-lost love reuniting. Forgive me for holding on to one tiny thread of hope that this might happen to me, too. If it did, I would feel the same as the quote below:

“I don’t care what it is we don’t like about each other. We’ll get to like it. I came here to sweep you off your feet and love you for the rest of your life the way you’ve always dreamed of being loved.”

Yeah, the First One would be worth it. He was worth it then. I’m sure he’s worth it now, and to me, always will be.

I had lost the belief that I was worth it. I was worth that astounding love then, still am, and will always be. I believe in myself again.

This is powerful.

Yes, I doubt myself daily. Yes, I make mistakes. I’m human. (See point number two above.)

Whether the First One and I reunite in the future is up to one of us making that happen. I’m not in the right place in my life to attempt a relationship with anyone right now. I have to be okay with my past and that I ended something precious and believe that I will find something really, really similar one day, when I’m ready and open to the possibilities for my own reasons and not anyone else’s. For now, I’m enough. I don’t feel lacking. I have a lifetime-long list of things I want to do and learn when I have a bit more time to do them.

These days, I pat myself on the back for taking care of my son, earning a living so that I can feed us healthy, delicious, home-cooked meals, and making sure we both have what we need.

Seriously, single parents, we are amazing! Pat yourself on the back right now, if you’re a single parent.

And believe in yourself. We’re worth it.

 

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Badass Moment Reclamation

My dad and I haven’t spoken in nearly 10 years. It’s just so normal that when people have asked me recently if I have any family where I’m from, I say, “no.” Even though my dad still lives there, it didn’t feel right to claim him and have to add that he doesn’t talk to me. It was easier to say I didn’t have any family there and talk about my mom instead.

Last week, I got an email from one of my dad’s good friends asking me a question on behalf of my dad. My dad is moving and wanted to know if I wanted a few of my things that he had stored for me, without me asking him to, mind you.

My first thought? If he has a question to ask me, then HE should ask me, rather than pawning off the task to someone else. My number hasn’t changed since 2003, nor has my email. I didn’t reply to the email. I did get up out of bed that night and write out a letter to my dad because I couldn’t sleep. The letter, which I didn’t intend to send, began by asking “What is wrong with you?” (I wouldn’t send that.) and went on to encourage him communicate with me directly or to get help and stop living this way.

A few days went by until I decided to call yesterday. I went for a run in the morning and spent the entire last mile talking myself into calling my dad before going inside to stretch. Yes, YES! I had decided on the time.

I got back home and dialed his number.

Disconnected.

What?

I dialed again. And again. With the same message from the telephone company.

‘He changed his phone number and didn’t even bother to tell me? What an ass!’ I thought. It didn’t surprise me. We haven’t spoken regularly in twenty-plus years, so we already have that precedent set of not communicating.

I went inside feeling hungry and exhausted, mentally and physically, and upset that I had worked up the guts to call my dad only to find out that I didn’t have his number and I had to work up the nerve all over again to call him. Grr! After eating and showering, I went to sleep for over an hour, just shut down my brain for a while.

I woke up crabby, disappointed, and hungry again. My badass moment had fallen flat like hairsprayed 80s bangs in the rain. I wanted to be a badass so badly yesterday!

I didn’t want the day to get away from me. I didn’t know if my dad still went to work or not, but I knew that I had yesterday off, and no other time off to confront him. I contacted another family member and got my dad’s new phone number.

With my son’s nose to the homework grindstone, I went to my room to call my dad, give him a piece of my mind, and not put up with anything he dished out that I didn’t like. He hasn’t exactly been nice to me on the phone since I was about 12.

I called. It rang. He picked up and I garbled out, “Hi-it’s-me-full-name-Hi-your-daughter.”

“Excuse me?” he said.

“Dad, it’s your daughter,” I said.

He didn’t hang up. He didn’t say anything wretched.

“Oh my word,” he said. “It’s so good to hear from you. Did you get the email from my friend?”

His friendliness derailed my entire spiel that I had prepared, which included asking him if he wanted to be my dad or not.

And then he asked me the question that he had asked his friend to email to me. And we talked for 40 minutes. He said all sorts of really nice things like he just wants me to be happy and that I have to take my own path, just like he had to take his own path. He wants the best for me, as all parents want for their children. I said I want the same for him.

He said he wants to keep in contact. I said I would really, really, really, really like to hear from him. He has to call me. I will not go back to doing all the work in this relationship again. I don’t think that he has ever called me. Ever. I hope he meant what he said. I hope he calls. I’m willing to call him a few times at first, if I have to. We are two very different people, and I don’t know what we’ll talk about other than books and my child. If he has changed enough to be nice to me on the phone, I know he can be his own badass and call me. My son and I would love to have him in our lives!

I called my dad last night and reclaimed my badass moment.

 

 

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Restless Part 2

I finished reading Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie the other morning on my commute. I don’t want to give away any part of the book (that I could barely put down!) I will say that the main character’s first love remains unforgotten in her mind. This may have contributed to my feelings of longing and restlessness with those feelings for my First Love.

The book made me wonder if all of us who experienced a wonderful first relationship always have some sort of yearning for that person that lingers through our lives. I remember my mom talking about her boyfriend from college, not the one she married, and how much she loved him. I don’t remember specifics, other than his Japanese last name.

Why do we hold on to these memories, long for them, for years? Why do I feel bad for every time I mistreated my First Love? I don’t think it happened very many times, but I wish it hadn’t happened at all. He didn’t deserve anything but the kindness he showed me. Have I mentioned that I was really young and did not realize what a stuck up you-know-what I was? I had so much to learn. Still do. I wish I had known that the world can always use more kindness. Maybe I did, and I had temporary lapses with my still forming brain.

Letting go, letting go now, letting it all go now.

After we broke up, I know I slipped into a destructive mindset where I didn’t believe that I deserved anyone as good as First Love. I’m on the path to a full recovery from that.

 

 

 

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Restless

I feel restless and unsettled. I have felt this way all day. It started when I went to work, where most of my yucky feelings begin. Today has sat in my stomach like a knotted ball of yarn, tan and scratchy.

A customer greeted me this afternoon with, “Hello, dear.”

I replied with “Hello. Do I get to call you, “dear,” too?”

He stumbled a bit with sounds in his mouth before saying, “Yeah. Sure.”

“Okay, great!” I said. Awkward silence followed before normal conversation resumed.

I like this customer. I don’t mind him at all. Before I even thought it out, my question shot out of my mouth.

I have no regret over my words. It surprised me that I said it. I think the surprise that I spoke up unsettled me. I’m trying to get used to this feeling. I would like to feel more comfortable speaking my mind.

***

Today, I remembered speaking with my former boss before I transferred, way back, a long time ago, about pursuing an MBA. I asked if the company would help pay for any of the tuition and if earning this degree would advance my career. The answers: No and No.

Eff. This.

Why do I still work for this company doing the same thing I have done for 8 years????

***

I have reached a dangerous point in my workplace where I daydream about up and leaving, maybe without warning, and using my time to find a new job. My practical self argues and says, “no.” My other practical self says that a freer schedule would make interviewing a lot easier to put on the calendar.

I’d like to work for a dynamic and intelligent female who won’t stifle me with male-dominated, corporate BS.

Oh, I know someone. Me! I’d like to work for me. The commute would improve! My practical self says that I have to have a “real job” while I transition into working for myself.

***

I realized this weekend how much I seek out qualities that my first love had. If I thought it a good idea, I would ask him if he would ever consider seeing what we could make of a relationship now. I’m pretty sure he’s in a relationship right now, so I’m not asking. Instead, I have a small crush on someone similar to him who grew up in Switzerland and makes art, speaks foreign languages, has eyes I wouldn’t tire of…and has a wife. Damn!

I’m focusing on letting go. It’s been 19 years since First Love and I broke up, and I’m letting. Go. Now.

He popped up in my dreams last week, so loving, and I will keep that feeling with me and let him go back to the past. I feel forever grateful for experiencing that loving and fulfilling relationship.

Yes, I deserve something as wonderful as what I had with First Love, and I will find it again, as soon as I make time for dating again somewhere between tomorrow and 7 years from now when my child goes to college.

Letting go.

***

I have more physical stuff to unload in my home, some of it Ex’s stuff, but not all. It has taken seven years to get to a point where I can talk about him dying without tearing up, look at photos, the few things left that were his/ours/mine. I’ve stood in my own way with clearing clutter. I want to fill up some boxes, load them into my car, drop them off at the thrift store, and feel that looming weight lift out of my consciousness.

***

I didn’t have time this morning for more than a quick yoga workout because I slept until 5:25! Yay Sleep! Not getting a more strenuous workout in compounded my restlessness today.

I feel more at ease now after writing all of this. I’m so grateful that my job allowed me to move to the city, to experience something different, to provide stability. I’m open to the future, tomorrow, the next moment. I’m breathing deep breaths, the deepest breaths I’ve breathed since yoga practice this morning. Some peacefulness has settled in.

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Customer Service and Pet Names

I work in the corporate, customer service industry.

Recently, I’ve noticed an increase in male customers and non-customers using pet names during business interactions.

Sweetie, it’s disgusting. And disrespectful. And inappropriate. Are you my boyfriend? No. So stop it.

Nothing puts me off more or makes me feel like a scam is heading my way like someone who starts off an interaction by using Sweetie, Baby, Hon, Young Lady to address me and then uses said names 17 times during a two-minute transaction.

I don’t know anyone who likes it. I don’t. My co-workers don’t. People who work for tips don’t. They might act like they do, but I can guarantee they don’t.

It feels smarmy.

Do you read body language? Do you see my expression when I hear that crap? I’m not smiling. AT ALL. Or making eye contact. Or small talk.

Use my name. It’s on my name tag and my business cards right in front of you. It will seem excessive to say my name 17 times in two minutes of a simple exchange, and it will be 70 times better than hearing Sweetie, Baby, Hon, Young Lady at all! No name would also work, especially if we don’t know each other.

Since I can’t do anything right now to change or improve this situation, I’ve listed my approaches for future reference:

  1. Accept that some people use pet names. Don’t sweat it. Life is short. These people go away. Read this: http://zenhabits.net/frustrated/ and let go.
  2. Address people who use pet names with the pet names they call me. Throw it back in their face. Yeah! This could be fun!
  3. Smile and politely point to my name tag, correcting people to use my name.
  4. Get a job outside the customer service realm. I REALLY like this one!

I’ll try out these out and report back on my results. In the meantime, if you have any other suggestions or can sympathize, leave a comment. I’d love to read it!

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He’s a Keeper

Conversation from Sunday went like this:

Son: Thanks for making me clean my room today.
Me: What?
Son: Thanks for making me clean my room. It really needed it!
Me: Uhhh, you’re welcome!

For the record, I didn’t make him do it. I said it needed to get done. Then he picked the time he wanted to do it. He chose Sunday before lunch.

“How are you going to remember to get it done?” I asked. He has a tendency of not fulfilling agreements.

“I’m going to write it down,” he said.

He wrote it down and stuck his note on the wall next to his place at the dining room table. Sunday morning, he got it done. I had to help with the time keeping by using ten-minute intervals to attack chunks of his room at a time, but he did it!

I don’t know that I’ll ever hear him express gratitude over cleaning his room again. No guarantees in life, right? I hope I hear it again, or that he just keeps his room tidier. He’ll be a teenager before I know it, and who knows what I’ll hear then!

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Rafting Down the River or Not

For the first time since my move last April, I got asked out. I knew it would happen eventually whether during my commute or at work or at the book store. It happened at work. He asked if I’d like to go to a hockey game with him sometime. I didn’t have the right words, so, “I’m good right now, but thank you,” spilled out.

I did not blush.

I did not hesitate.

I did not give an ambiguous answer.

I did not go against myself like I usually do and accept while knowing I’m not ready.

Score one for me!

I cannot describe how odd yet right it feels to have declined this offer. I have gone over different scenarios in my mind every night for the last week. I still have to see this person regularly, so it feels a little awkward right now. I would like to say, “I’m not ready to date right now, but thank you all the same.” It might explain my answer better, though I know I owe him no explanation. I know I have no obligation to accept a request for a date either.  From anybody.  I’m proud of myself for giving a straight answer and for staying true to what I need.

In the past, when I renewed my relationship with the gut-piercer, we put things in a not-committed, monogamous status. It made it hard for me to give straight answers when I got asked out because I didn’t have a boyfriend, per se, so I’d say, “Yeah, that would be fun.” I wouldn’t call or schedule whatever activity had been suggested, from rafting to skiing. I would just leave it in the air, suggested, ambiguous, not fully declined yet not fully accepted, which is kind of a shitty way to leave things. It made it especially difficult when the invitation included Little Guy and would expose him to an activity I knew he wanted to try, and the person would use that angle. I didn’t want to deny Little Guy the experience. I wanted him to experience it! With not the person who asked. That part wasn’t right, so I didn’t call. Or ever explain myself. Or ever fully decline and let the guy move on without thinking he had a chance of floating down the river with me or my son. They would have to figure it out for themselves and think what they thought. Ugh.

This time I did it right. For me. Right for me. It feels weird because I’m taking a different approach. It feels great because I need this time for myself.

And it might be best to accept an invitation for a date at a time when I’m not sleeping on the bottom bunk in my son’s room. That’s a whole other story for another day.

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