I don’t want to call myself pathetic, but…

I was filling out a journal prompt today which asked, if someone really wanted to understand you, what would they watch, read, and listen to? The “watch” part started me off, and it was pretty easy – obviously The West Wing! What other show so perfectly encompasses my ego, my belief in something greater than myself, my hopeless romanticism (Donna, CJ, Josh, Toby…)? Then I immediately thought of Kate Winslet’s character in The Holiday. Okay, she’s a bit of a pushover at the beginning, but by the end, she finds her gumption. At one point she talks about feeling like the sidekick in her own life, rather than the leading lady. I *might* feel like that every now and then. Or more often. Then Norah from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist came up. Yep, definitely resonate with her. Oh wait… isn’t she a bit of a pushover, always going back to the callow ex, finding her happiness only when she gets a boyfriend? I’m sensing a bit of a pattern here.

A couple of weeks ago, I cleaned out all of my journals, wanting to start fresh. As I was skimming through them, checking to see if there was anything I needed to keep, I was absolutely struck dumb by how many times I had written about wanting a relationship, or feeling out of touch with whomever I was dating at the time, or wondering why a relationship had not worked out. Easily 70% of my entries had to do with my love life, or lack of one. And you know what? It pissed me off!! I mean, really f’ing pissed me off! I am successful, financially secure, funny, cute, smart as hell, valued at my job, beloved by my friends and family. Why was I wasting so much time and energy on my love life? As I read through and got angrier with myself, I kept thinking, “What could I have done with all of this wasted time? If I hadn’t been wondering what was wrong with me when my relationships failed, I could have started a business, taught myself to play guitar, learned to make macaroons. This is BS!”

Sure, of course I appreciate the fact that I have learned from my past mistakes and am a better person for the soul-searching that I have done. However, there was WAY too much whining going on there. Because let’s not pretend that I only poured my heart out to my journal. Oh no, I cried to my friends and my mom and my sister. I sought out tarot readings to find my flaws. I worked out and starved myself to appear prettier, and therefore more valuable, to the opposite sex. And I gotta tell you, I’m more than a little disgusted with myself. Instead of celebrating the massive amounts of love that I do have, I cried about guys who I rarely think twice about. Instead of utilizing that time to better myself overall, I punished myself for things which were not my fault.

So yeah, after going through the journals, I felt more than a little pathetic. And I decided that I didn’t like that feeling. I decided that I would rather focus on my mental well-being. I would rather focus on my friendships. I would rather focus on achieving goals.

And so, I will be revisiting that initial journal prompt. Because I want to associate myself with strong women who are saving themselves, who are acting as good friends and good citizens of the world. Not the women who are only happily ever after once they get a boyfriend.

– Finch

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What’s the plan?

A coworker who is about 20 years older than me recently made the comment that her life did not go as planned. I won’t get into her personal business by describing the exact parts of her life that she was dissatisfied with, but there were a few. Then, less than a week later, a lab tech who was drawing my blood said, seemingly out of nowhere, that her life did not go as planned, and that looking back she would have made different choices in school, career, family, etc.

This sentiment has popped up a couple of times recently in my life, and it’s got me asking some questions. First off, what plan is it that we are supposed to be following? When I was twelve-ish, my plan was to marry Prince William. When I was seventeen, I planned on going to the University of Texas, then getting my law degree, and becoming a constitutional law attorney who would argue in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, all while getting home in time to feed my husband and two kids. In my twenties, I planned to move to Chicago. When I got married, I have no idea what my plan was. And after I got divorced, my plan was just to heal. Now… I don’t know. I feel as if I’ve been treading water for the past few years. I’m in the water, I’m participating, and I’m not drowning, but I’m not really moving forward or making any waves either.

It also makes me ask the question of whether it’s too late to make massive changes in my life. I recently read this book, The New Old Me, by Meredith Maran. In it, Ms. Maran describes starting over in a new city, divorcing her wife, and getting into a new career at sixty. SIXTY!! And this, after having reinvented herself at 25, 35, and again at 45. While on one hand it gave me hope that it is never too late to start again, on the other hand it seems so exhausting. When do I “make it”? When do I get to the point where my plan has reached fruition?

Finally, I have to face the fact that even if I had a plan, even if I was willing to reinvent myself, I’m a scaredy-cat. I’m terrified of leaving my comfort zone. Even though my parents, my sister, and most of my closest friends have left Austin, I’m scared of leaving my cushy job and wonderful condo. Will I ever have those things in a new place? Am I just running away from Austin because I’m bored? Will any other place have as good of breakfast tacos? (No).

I really admire those people who have 5 and 10 year plans, who have a clear direction and road map for their life. I’m not one of those people. I never have been. I’m the kind of person that when I make goals for myself, it’s almost like I self-sabotage to avoid those goals. Work on my marriage? Meh, I think I’ll get divorced instead. Don’t buy anymore eye shadow palettes? How about 10 new ones in one month!! Work out five days a week? I’ll just stay home with my dog and read more books.

I seem to remember a saying – “Life happens while you’re making other plans.” My problem with that (and it is a minor problem) is this – why would I bother to make plans if life is just going to change them anyway? Isn’t that essentially setting yourself up for feeling like a failure? I’m fine with life having free rein, and I have always felt that everything happens for a reason. But if someone could get me that road map that shows me which direction to go, I would surely appreciate it.

– Finch

Drowning Out The Noise

I had this great horoscope recently, which had the following line in it: “Meditation is giving a bullhorn to all the thoughts I’d quieted with television.” Of course, I immediately substituted “television” for “books.” But then something occurred to me. I’ve known many people over the years who have to have the television on constantly. I don’t just mean that they watch a lot of television; I mean that they walk into a house or a room and immediately put the television on. Then they’ll play on their computer/tablet, or listen to music, or attempt to have a conversation. Jay was like that – he’d call me on the phone, and he would have the television on in the background, or he’d want to play some different songs for me but he’d leave the television blaring so I couldn’t really hear anything. J was like that too – as soon as she came home, her television was on, and stayed on until she went to bed, regardless of what else she was doing. Those are just two examples of a much larger group.

So, since I am not at all like that, I started wondering about these people in my life who display this characteristic, and wondering what they all had in common. Guess what? Each and every one of them has no self-awareness whatsoever. It’s like they can’t hear their own conscience, or soul, or inner voice. And I wonder about that – do they have the television on to drown out their thoughts? Why do they not like quiet time? What is it that they are scared of confronting?

Each of the (very few) times Jay came over to my place, he would remark on how peaceful it was. First of all, yes it is incredibly peaceful. But second of all, whenever he said that, the television was turned off. Could he not grasp the connection? Television off, quiet surroundings = peaceful. Let me throw out a disclaimer here – there is a difference between having the television on all the time and playing music when you’re cleaning/cooking/getting ready in the morning. I have wonderful meditation walks while listening to my music. I feel like music is a bit more comforting and repetitive. Unless you’re watching The West Wing or Studio 60 through for the twentieth time (guilty), television just doesn’t see like it could equal white noise. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten up to get some water, been able to hear everything on a show, and still had to rewind by two minutes because I’d missed some action that was important.

I’m really not good at traditional meditation. I like to meditate through walking – I find that this is a simple enough task, and I know my route well enough, that I can sift through my thoughts and clear out my mind fairly easily. And I completely get that meditating or having quiet time can be kind of scary if you’re not ready to face your own issues. Sometime you need to drown out everything just to have a break. But when ALL of your available time is spent drowning out every other sound, whether external or internal, that’s probably not healthy. So give my thoughts their bullhorn – they deserve to be heard.

– Finch

The Choice Was Mine All Along

You all know that I have made many comments in the past about my fear that I would never find someone who loved me again. I worried that no one would ever find me attractive, would want to sleep with me, would want to have long drawn out conversations with me. As you can see, I can be quite clueless sometimes.

Yesterday, I drove a friend to pick up her car from the dealership. She has her car in there pretty much every other month it seems, but this was the first time that she asked me to give her a ride, rather than take the shuttle. Once we got there, she told em that she wanted to introduce me to the service manager, who was a good friend of her’s. This guy came out of the service office, gave my friend a hug, and turned to me, and –

Wow. We’re going to call him Beautiful Eyes (BE), although we could also call him Great Smile, or Nice Arms. It wasn’t just the way he looked, though; it was his eye contact, his quick and genuine smile when we introduced ourselves, his ease with my friend and me.  I was pretty instantly smitten. Alas, since I was just dropping my girl off (and since BE was at work), we could only talk for a minute, but my friend did suggest that I come along the next time they went out for some drinks.

It was only today, when I was pondering my instant attraction to BE (sure, I notice when a guy is cute, or has a nice smile, but this was much more than that), that I realized that the fear I had been holding this whole time wasn’t that someone wouldn’t find *me* lovable – it was that *I* would never find anyone that I loved again. I think there has been a part of myself that was so badly wounded, from Ex, from Tripp, and yes, even from Jay, that I erected walls between myself and the dating world. I dabbled with online dating; I don’t go out to meet people, in any setting; even with Jay, I barely put myself out there – “See, he screwed up again, just like I knew he would, therefore I was right not to let on that I might love him.” Add to that the turmoil that I was going through with J when Jay and I started dating (anyone seeing the connection there?!?!). With J it was “Hey, we’re best friends! We have an instant connection! Let’s move in together! Oh, now that you’ve moved in with me, I’m going to start acting in a completely different fashion, and not behave at all like I was when we were friends only, as opposed to roommates. Oh, and yeah, now that you’ve lived with me for three months, and you made the horrible decision to mention that you might, in a year or so, want to look for your own place, now I’m going to kick you out and destroy our friendship. Bye!!!!!” (Am I still a little bitter about that??) So yeah, obviously, opening myself up to people and letting them know how much I love them hasn’t really been a top priority.

But maybe now it can be. This could all turn out to be nothing; BE might just become a fun new drinking companion to pal around with. And yet, there was something about him that I recognized, something that spoke to me in that first glance. Maybe it was just The Universe’s way of opening me up enough to hear this message. I don’t have to wait for someone to decide to love me. I will love again, and I will be loved again, and those two things will happen at the right time, in the right context, and with the right person. And I will no longer live my life believing that I must simply fall in line with other peoples’ emotions and desires.

– Finch

What Your Favorite Love Story Might Say About You

Twice a day, a group of work friends and I go for a walk of about 1.5 miles. During this time, we talk about literally everything from Socialism, the French Revolution, to current real estate trends, fashion, and Sherlock. We’re a diverse group of ages, races, and backgrounds, yet we all work in a pretty small universe. Today, we were discussing our favorite movie love stories, and about halfway through our walk, it occurred to me that you could tell a lot about each of these women by the love story that was most important to them.

For one woman, her favorite was An Officer and A Gentleman. Easy enough to see, she wants to be swept off her feet. Another woman liked Only Lovers Left Alive. Again, I could totally see how it related to her – she and her husband love each other dearly, but they live pretty separate lives and each pursue their own hobbies separately. However, when my turn came, I couldn’t see the connection with my love story as clearly. Or, at least, I could see it, but it didn’t seem as romantic to me.

My favorite love story in a movie is Before Sunset. Quick synopsis – a guy and girl meet in Vienna and spend a wonderful evening together. The next morning, the guy is flying back to America, and they agree to meet on the exact same spot in six months (actually that’s the synopsis for Before Sunrise, the prequel to Before Sunset). Nine years later, the two meet accidentally in Paris, and spend 90 minutes walking around the city catching up and wondering at the outcome of their lives. There’s a lot of talk about destiny/fate, what happiness really is and if people are capable of being truly happy, missed connections, growing up. The movie takes place in real time, so you follow the two around from the moment they see each other through without any breaks. The movie asks if true love and soul mates are really possible, and if it is possible to fall back in love with someone – or maybe it questions whether these two ever stopped loving each other.

So for me, obviously there’s the connection between overthinking/overanalyzing, talking about a myriad of subjects, and always wondering what if. I think part of the reason I love it so much is because the female character, Celine, thinks very similarly to me. At one point, she talks about why she doesn’t have one-night stands – because she cannot be intimate with someone, and not connect to them on some deeper level. She talks about how after a relationship is over, she is completely wrecked, and how everyone she has been with has meant so much to her, and she can’t just let that go. I’m also a pretty big believer in fate, and so the question of “was this always meant to happen in just this way?” really gets to me. Can you screw up your life accidentally? Can you miss out on true love because of some fluke accident? That just feels too random and scary. It would be bad enough knowing that I could miss out on a chance for love and happiness because of my own stupidity, but to miss out because someone’s uncle passed away, or because some car wrecked (ala An Affair to Remember), that idea is absolutely too much for me to bear. I need to believe that everything is fated to happen the way that it happens, that every decision I have ever made was already written down somewhere, was already known to some higher being. I need to know that everything will work out in the end.

Also, these characters were 32 in the movie, the same age I am now. So if my true love could hurry and show up and we could be together forever, that would be great.

  • Finch

Reruns of shows and love

I’ve been rewatching the first three seasons of Vikings (great show, go watch it now). As with most second (or third or fourth) viewings, I’ve noticed things this time around that I missed the first time. With some of the clues I’ve caught, I really had to know what happened later to see how it paid off. With others, I just missed some pretty obvious foreshadowing.

I realized that it works the same way when you revisit old relationships. As you know, I went back and dated Jay THREE more times after we initially broke up in the fall of 2013 (what can I say, I’m a masochist). Each time that we got together afterwards, I would find myself discovering new things about him, but I would also find myself being forced to acknowledge things that I had glossed over previously. Just like with the show, some of the things I figured out I could’ve only realized because I had already seen our ending once (or twice, etc); other things, I couldn’t believe how much I had been deceiving myself to not have seen it before.

I’ve written in the past about euphoric recall, that phase we find ourselves in when we can only remember the good things about a relationship (or job, living situation, what have you), and we wish that we could reclaim what is, in reality, only a fantasy. Then, if we do get that relationship back, we are struck with how it does not mesh at all with what we remembered. In a way, I feel this rewtaching/reliving is similar – we only remember certain aspects of things, and when we have to go through them again, we find ourselves confronted with ideas or thoughts that we blinded ourselves to before.

I write all this to say, some things are worth rewatching. Watch The West Wing until you can recite every line. Listen to Frank Sinatra until you know every beat. Make your favorite dish until it feels as regular as scrambled eggs. But maybe leave relationships in the past. We never remember them clearly anyway, we will never be able to recapture whatever it was that we loved then, and that’s okay. It ended because it was time to end.

– Finch