Category Archives: Dating

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness: the case of the runaway spoon

Today’s dilemma comes to us from the dredges of the dating world.  Not really a shocker. It is a truth universally acknowledged that dating sucks a big one and we all put up with it because no one, no matter how independent they claim to be, wants to be alone.  If this is not a truth that you don’t personally subscribe to then I don’t trust you.

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness,

I have a friend who was dating someone new. There was no communication on his part for some time except a few posts on Facebook.  Then one night she called him up, he came over, they spooned and then he left. They set a date for coffee the following weekend. The day before their coffee date he left a friendly message on Facebook, but didn’t return her phone calls to confirm the coffee date. She thought nothing of it because of the spooning incident, I mean if you’re gonna spoon then coffee is certainly not a big deal, right?

Coffee day rolls around and the guy completely stands her up! She called and bawled him out on his voicemail. In return he blocked her from Facebook. A middle-aged man acting like a child. Any advice for my jilted friend? She is left confused and angry.

Thanks,

A Friend

Dear Friend,

Thank you so much for your question! I am sorry for what happen to your friend. I don’t think I have ever been stood up by someone. Well, except for that  time my own boyfriend stood me up when we were supposed to meet my family. Whatever. I am not bitter.

Getting stood up by some chicken shit is inexcusable now a days. I mean for Gawd‘s sakes, we have text messaging which makes it both easy and fast to lie! Now, I am not sure what your friend said when she “bawled out” this dudes voicemail, but in general Facebook blocking should be reserved only for the most persistent of stalkers.

And the cherry on top of the big ‘ol insulting-ass cake? All of this happen post spooning. In this girls opinion spooning is pretty sacred stuff. I’d rather kiss a guy and have him go around telling people my tongue was fuzzy, or perhaps go on a group date where the guy flees screaming “I never want to see you again!!” But THIS after spooning?  Ugh.  I feel your friends pain.

That being said, it’s time for your friend to brush the dirt off and move on to the next one. Would it help for your friend to think in the terms that her sucky experience is but a small microcosm of a far greater sucky entity? Because as we acknowledged before: dating sucks a big one. And it makes perfect sense that it would.

First of all, you’ve got the whole communication thing, which is tricky enough for people who have known each other for a life time. We certainly don’t know how to communicate with this new person!  Questions start racing:  “What do I say?”  “How much truth is too much truth?” “Will she think I am being rude if I tell her I don’t really like to spoon?” ” Should I tell her I am allergic to coffee?” Often times the racing questions become overwhelming and at this point we (read: mostly men) have a tendency to drop off the face of the planet.

Then you have got the date itself. You’ve got a wacky conglomeration of strangers thrown together, each with their own dating past, their own sets of fears and insecurities and sometimes their own personality disorders.  Often times there are  hormones and alcohol thrown in the mix and voila! —  you have a recipe for a potential disaster!  Like the girl who once approached the bar I was tending and demanded, “Quick! I need two shots of Jack! I am on a terrible date!”  Um, the worst part? This was said in front of her date. I poured three, one for each of them and one for myself to wash down the bitter taste that was rising in the back of my throat.

So we have a pretty good idea why dating sucks: people can be weird and love is complex.  We also know why we subject ourselves to the potential torture: potential romantic bliss or at least a good meal. But how do we make this process less painful?

I don’t know.

Sorry, but that’s the truth. I don’t know.  I am sure there are a lot of theories on how to date out there, books of rules and what not.  I don’t believe ’em. I am about to marry a man I met in a greasy grimy pool hall. I have dated a few men who looked perfect on paper, and quite possibly were perfect, but I guess I don’t do well with perfect. I have friends who have known each other for years and never thought once about liking each other romantically. They are now married with a perfect little cupid baby boy. I know a couple, complete soul mates, one is a New York City business woman and the other is a bona-fide cowboy. They met on Match.com. Don’t get me wrong, if one of those guides works for you or your friend, then sweet! But, I doubt that the same book would work for all three of your best friends.   I believe that love is way too vast to put in a one size fits all category.

It’s said that you have to kiss, er spoon, a lot a frogs before you find your prince/princess. Maybe yours is the very next frog? My best advise is to not take these dating dilemmas too personally, have a sense of humor and believe that one day these dating injustices will be nothing but really good stories to tell a special someone over a cup of coffee.

♥ n ☺,

C.

ps

What about you guys? Got any dating horror stories to share? Comparing notes on crazy can be really helpful!

Annnd, keep your questions coming! @ms.lovenhappiness@gmail.com

And I suppose we can all just be grateful we are not dealing with THIS:

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Awkwardly Honest

When little kids are not making up wild stories or telling bald face lies, like the time in third grade I told everybody there was a dolphin living in my pool, one of the best things about them is that they are refreshingly honest. Unlike myself, who is always wearing different “hats” and often feeling like I am presenting to people, my son is completely comfortable in his own hat at all times.  One day I was risking our lives in rush hour traffic when I lost my temper in front of Leo. “What? Where do you want me to go you dumb ASSHOLE??” I holler at the guy who is incessantly honking at me as we sit in gridlock on the highway. Leo cocks his head and says, “Momma, I don’t like the way your face looks when you are mad.” Then he thoughtfully suggests, “Maybe  that guy just needs a nap? Maybe he had a bad day?”

Regretting that my mom “hat” slipped and a bit of ugly truth slid out, I think:  God, he is completely right. Schooled by a four-year old.

Sometimes I think of my son as a little Buddha, spreading truth and wisdom. And then . . . he tries to eat one of his boogers and the whole image is blown.  Sometimes his honesty and openness is more embarrassing  than inspiring. Case in point:  I call The Ex to speak with Leo who is visiting him for the weekend.  The Ex answers using the hands free function in his car and my voice is broadcast over the speakers.  I hate being on speaker phone when The Ex is around, I can just feel him rolling his eyes at everything I say, however, he insists that cell phone radiation will warp our sons brain so I deal with it.

“Hey baby, what are you doing?” I croon to Leo.

“Oh, hi Momma! We just had Mexican food!”

“Yum Mexican!”

“Momma, my dad is on a date right now.”

“Oh!” I say, a little confused, because his dad just answered the phone.

“Yeah he is on a date with  _________n.  She’s riding in our car right now.”

“Oh! Mexican.” I have to say something!

“She is really nice to me Momma, but I think it’s because she likes my Daddy.”

“Did you have cheese dip?”   Why can’t I stop talking about Mexican food?

“Yes. But Momma, I wanna tell you something! You are more pretty than ___________!”

“Oh! Okay, well I am gonna go to the grocery store now. I’ll buy some taco shells!” What is wrong with me?

I hang up the phone, absolutely mortified. Why in the world would The Ex choose to answer my call, on speaker phone no less, if he had a date in the car?

Maybe this is The Ex’s version of being refreshingly honest and breaking ’em in quick? “Hey, I have a four-year old boy! He can’t sit still in a restaurant! He says all kinds of crazy stuff! My Baby’s Momma is always gonna be around!  She is awful in awkward situations! Can you deal? ”  And I hope she can, because dating someone with children is a huge undertaking, just ask The Fiance.

I can only hope that what ever woman gets the extreme joy of having my son in her life recognizes how wonderful he his. And . . . since we are all being so refreshingly honest, I must admit, I am wearing my shallow and petty “hat” and I am happy my son says I am prettier!

 

Because this guy is always funny: 

“Dear Ms. Love n Happness,” Like Dear Abby off her meds.

Dear Readers (all two of you),  

You lucky dog! You have experienced me bending your ear about my wack-a-do problems. Now it’s your turn.

 I thought it would be fun to experiment with a “Dear Ms. Love n Happiness” feature on my blog. Like this one: http://mslovenhappiness.com/2011/11/09/chicken-soup-for-the-soul-or-dear-ms-love-n-happiness/ and I could really, really use your help.

 Could you PRETTY, PRETTY, PRETTY please take a moment out of your crazy-ass life to do two things:

 1) Jot down a question about life and fire it off to me. @ ms.lovenhappiness@gmail.com

Don’t worry! You and anyone you speak about will remain completely incognito, unless of course you are glutton for glory.

Fear not! If you don’t have the time to craft a cutesy question, it could be a simple prompt. Think Mike Myers and Coffee Talk:  “I’ve been dating this guy for a few months and the first time I spent the night at his house he came to bed in pajamas and a breath right strip. WTF? This was an absolute deal breaker and now I won’t return his calls.  Am I shallow? ” I can take it from there. Of course if you fill inspired WRITE ON!

My areas of (supposed) expertise: Single parenting, parenting, dating, blending families, relationships, crazy ex’s, really, really ridiculously dysfunctional families, antics, rants, fun and trying your damnedest to live a good life. And!  Powered by the world-wide web and a library card, I will even do research if I don’t have the answer. I. Am. Not. Scared.

And, while I may be a snarky puss the majority of the time, I am capable of being rather kind: http://mslovenhappiness.com/2011/10/25/the-amish-instinct/ and kinda deep. Kinda. See: http://mslovenhappiness.com/2011/11/04/an-open-letter-to-my-father-the-meth-addict/

 2) Recruit a friend to do the same! Let’s face it, I am usually always stuck at a desk or chasing a toddler so getting my writing out beyond my circle has been tough. Please, let your friends, colleges and family members critic my perspective and crappy grammar! The more the merrier.

 Let’s Talk!

You are achingly beautiful and wise.

♥ & ☺,
C.
ps
This is like butta!

Chicken Soup for the Soul or Dear Ms. Love n Happiness,

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness,

You seem to have been around the block quite a few times and you certainly like to give out a lot of unsolicited advice, so I was hoping you might be able to shed some light on a relationship situation for me. I’ve been with my boyfriend for a little over a year. I’m not sure what to do anymore; I just don’t feel like he loves me. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that makes me feel this way but sometimes his behavior make me wonder if he cares one way or another about me or our relationship.  I’ve gone out of my way to show him how much I care.  I’ve begged and pleaded for him to show me a little bit of emotion, to let me know he cares in return. When I bring it up all I get in return is a blank stare. He tells me I am dramatic, that I have watched too many romantic movies and that life is not like the Notebook or Sleepless in Seattle. So, what do you think? Am I expecting too much or am I in denial of the fact that I am being settled for?

                                    Signed,

                                                Settled

 Dear Settled,

I am intrigued by your ability to both offend and engage me in just one paragraph! I’d also like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to feel as if, even only for a moment, that I am an expert at something. If that something is icky relationships then so be it! I’d also like to qualify any advice I give with the disclaimer that I rarely know what I’m talking about and that I am much better at analyzing strangers “situations” (which, by the way is a word that gives me the Heebiejeebies ) than I am at applying the advice to my own life. But you opened up Pandora’s Box, so here goes.

I once had a boyfriend who I suspected of  settling for me. For simplicity sake, for future reference and just because I find it fun to say, I will refer to him as Mr. Wrong.

Like you, there were certain things Mr. Wrong did that made me feel like he just didn’t care. The first time I met Mr. Wrong, he saved my number in his phone with my name misspelled. At the end of our relationship it was still misspelled. Telling, no?  Just a few weeks into dating he invited me over for dinner and left me waiting outside his door for over thirty minutes while he ran to the store for beer and ground beef. Did I mention that I didn’t eat beef? Once he broke plans with me to go out to a hot new restaurant with some of his friends. He called me late at night to tell me he was bringing me a surprise.  

Surprise!  Here are my leftovers and this is a booty call.

  Eventually I would get fed up and confront him with these behaviors. His response was to tell me that I’d read one to many romance novels, which just shed further light on the fact that this guy did not know me at all. I was a Literature major and I was too busy trying to translates Chaucer’s middle English, or attempting to figure out what in the hell was wrong with Hemingway to read romance novels. Or, he would hand me this line about how it was not him, it was me. Mr. Wrong explained that the real reason that I was offended that he always used all the hot water and that he still saved voice mails from ex- girlfriends was because I didn’t love myself enough. Sounded like BS, but he was older and believed himself to be wiser so I figured he knew what he was talking about.

I swear, a guy reads one article in your O Magazine and he can twist that shit around and use it against you in ways that will make you doubt your sanity. Perhaps I was off my rocker a bit. What young, hot, smart and capable woman gives years of her life away to a guy who always uses the last of the hot water before you can shower, does not know your friends names and does not know how you take your coffee? Please, don’t buy into the load of hoo ha about why he does not know what you take in your coffee. It’s not because men are from Jupiter or because he didn’t have a close relationship with his mom. He does not know because he does not give a shit!

As much as I value my coffee, it was actually chicken soup that put me over the edge. I was struck down with a horrible stomach bug and had to speed several days and nights in the fetal position on the floor of my bathroom. When I finally recovered enough to think about how empty my belly was, yet too weak to  do anything about it myself, I put in a call to Mr. Wrong to request some chicken soup. He was out but told me that he’d wrap up shortly and bring me some soup. Hours passed. I woke up around three o’clock in the morning and stumbled across the room to retrieve my ringing phone. I had missed a phone call from Mr. Wrong. Praying he was on his way with chicken soup, saltines and ginger ale I listened to his voice mail:

“Hey, uh, they didn’t really have any soup at the bar,” he slurs, barely comprehensible over the loud music in the background, “so I brought you something else. Look outside your door. Call me when you feel better.”

I open my front door to find an ice-cold chili cheese dog, half-eaten order of french fries and a warm Bud Light tall boy. I promptly lost my shit.

I fired off a text message that read: “Take your chili cheese dog and shove it up your ass. We are over.”

The height of maturity, I know.

(Look, the cute puppy relieves tension!)

I wish I could say that at that point I walked away for good and I never dealt with anything similar again. But that would be a lie. After Mr. Wrong dropped off a peace-offering of a  case of condensed chicken soup and gave me a brilliantly crafted part apology part blame speech, I continued to stand by my decision to take less than I deserved.

 I was dedicated to drawing out my suffering. When Mr. Wrong and I did finally end, guess what? All the same crappy behaviors and feelings that were there from the beginning were there at the end and I suppose I could have saved myself a few scars and a few cans of soup along the way.

So, what does all this mean for you, Dear Settled? I recommend that you take a look at the advice that Mr. Wrong gave me many years ago. Sure, he was trying to take advantage of  the power of Oprah, but he had a point. I didn’t love myself enough to demand a good relationship. And I don’t mean demand in some sort of deranged diva way that expects the world to be handed to her on a cushion with a tiny tiara and a fillet minion. I mean, deep down, I must have not thought I deserved real love. Why else would I knock myself out begging for scraps?

Too many romantic movies and books? Please, it is not as if we expected them to stand outside our house with a boombox playing \”In your Eyes\” or haunt a wind-swept moor on our behalf à la Wuthering Heights.  We just wanted more than questions and canned soup.

And finally, I find it curious that we spent all this time worrying that they didn’t love us, wondering if they felt as if they were  settling. When did we stop to consider, perhaps we are the ones who have settled?

♥ & 🙂 ,

C.

And we could all use a lil of this in our lives. . .

Unintentional Other Woman

June and Ward Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley and...

Image via Wikipedia

Lynn finally got her ass out of a less-than-lustrous long term relationship. It was not horrible. I mean it’s not like he cheated on her, or beat her, or had some alternative life style that she happen to stumble upon one day when she wondered into their basement on a whim. But she got out anyway, because she had this nagging suspicion that she deserved something better. This, in my opinion, makes it even more ballsy.

I for one have rarely (perhaps never) had the maturity to say, “Hey- this is just not quite the direction that I want my life to go in, I think there is something more out there for me.” No, I was the type to hang on until the very bitter, bourbon-induced- broken-window and shit blowing up in my face, end. I had to make it abundantly, some would say overly, clear to myself that this relationship was NOT going to work. It was easy for me to confuse love with other things. As in, “Oh, I just love him so much that I am going to stay with him despite the fact that he got mad at me and let the air out of my tires.”  Now that I am oh so much older and wiser, I can look back on incidents like that and realize: I didn’t love him. I stayed because I didn’t believe that there was anything better out there for me. I mean, who else was going to love me so much that they would go out and buy 10 cans of fix a flat so I could get to work?

So Lynn believes and she leaves the lack-luster relationship and eventually is ready to dip her toe back into the shark infested waters of dating. Enter the new guy, I shall cal him: Mr. LOL.

At first Lynn is not really that in to him. I am relieved when she tells me this because, to put it as nicely as possible, he is a cheese dick. There are 200 hundred text messages from him in a matter of three weeks.  He calls her pet names like “baby” and “gorgeous” which just seems creepy.  In my world, if I have not burned at least one dinner for you and you have never gone to the store on a tampon run for me, then sorry, but it’s too soon for “baby.” He also punctuates every sentence with a: ! and most often follows that up with a, you guessed it: LOL!!! Is this a man? Or a fourteen year old girl?

As it turns out, it could have been his fourteen year old daughter.  Mr. LOL informs Lynn yesterday that he is in fact married with kids. Ugh. Sucker punch to the gullet! “I am so, so sorry!” I tell her. “Eh, no big deal,” as stoic as Jay-Z, Lynn says, “on to the next.”

But it is a big deal- because she had the gumption to believe that there was something better out there then a boyfriend who didn’t believe in her. And what is the first flipping thing that awaits her in the supposed sea of single men? A friggen cheater and one who does not even have the decency to identify himself as such in the first place. If you are gonna be the “other” woman/man, you damn well get to decide that up front.

I try to make her feel better by relating a similar story that happened to me years ago. Out of nowhere comes this dashing Brazilian dentist who tries to sweep me off my feet. Literally. He once tried to tango with me in a pub while all my friends sat around drinking PBR and feeding change into a jute box. I suppose this sort of behavior sounds romantic in theory, but it was way too much after a very short while. Something did not feel quite right. One night, while out for my Birthday, he informs me that he is married with a child. I leapt out of his car, stood in the pouring rain, where I proceeded to repeatedly kick the tires of his overpriced tin can sports car until my friends came out of the bar and drug me inside.

And these are not isolated incidents. It’s not like I have done a formal survey, but just yesterday I found out that this has happen to three other friends. That’s five unintentional other women just on Thursday. This of course, does nothing to account for the wives and children and even future relationships that will be shaken by these cheaters. Because they will be found out. They always are. I will never forget the day I was 15 and Ward Cleaver, aka, my Grandfather, waltzed into my bedroom and informed me that he had been “Guilty of a brief indiscretion.” If June and Wards relationship was not safe, then whose was? The effects of these “indiscretions” as people like to call them last longer and go further than any lonely housewife or horny husband might realize.

And just one tiny effect is that it chips away at our collective faith in love. It slowly erodes the belief that there is something out there for each of us, and that when we find it, it will not end in two hundred LOL-ING!!! texts messages to another woman.

I say to Lynn, “Frigging cheater, it just fires me up. Oh, well there ARE good ones out there. Shit like this just makes you even more grateful when you find one.”

“True.” She says.

I hope she believes me. And for all of our sakes, I hope she keeps believing in something better.

 And now, something so terrible, I can’t quit watching. Freeeeak:

 

Shakespeare in Divorce

William Shakespeare, chief figure of the Engli...

Image via Wikipedia

To Thine Own Self Be True . . .

Besides boys and drinking, in college I studied literature. Yet, sadly I have to admit that my knowledge of Shakespeare goes about as far as Mel Gibson’s Hamlet to that one hit wonder from the early 90’s by his sister’s name.  However, I am absolutely gaga for the Bard. Or, at least I am supposed to be— a bookish girl who always loved words tends to make heroes and saints out of all writers, even the ones of which she is not entirely familiar. Then about four years ago, I fell even deeper for Shakespeare when I ran smack into him in Brooklyn. Rather, I ran into some of his words.  Although they were written about four hundred years ago, that day their appearance on an engraved sterling ring in a bohemian flea market seemed to come in a rather timely fashion. “To thine own self be true” read the inscription. “Damn Skippy!” I thought, did a mental fist pump, plucked the ring up and scurried back to Manhattan to continue loosing myself amongst the many people.

I was in New York for the soul purpose finding myself, trying to figure out what in the world I was going to do with my life, and sometimes the best way to do that is to lose yourself for a few days. I needed to go to a place where no one knew me, where no one needed something from me and where I was free to pound the pavement and scour the subway searching for answers. I had just turned thirty, my student loan bills were pouring in and every day I went into my office I felt as if I was spooning out a small portion of my soul.  My son was now almost a year old, and his father and I’s relationship was not going to get better. It was so diseased that it really just needed to be put down in a humane way. But—I didn’t have the balls, I was too terrified of the “what if’s” to see what was right in front of my face.

 As I wandered from burrow to burrow and NYC whizzed by me in a blur my vision started to focus and it became apparent to me that my dreams had shifted into a nightmare. I could no longer afford to press the snooze bar on my life and wait for things to get better, I had to push past my inertia and indecision and actually do something to wake up. When I saw Shakespeare’s words on the ring, I didn’t stop for too long to think about what they meant. I simply thought, “This is fate in a flea market telling you to get your sorry ass out of this pathetic relationship and get on with your life.”

 So that’s what I did. I went back to Atlanta and instead of tactfully putting my relationship to sleep; it turned out to be more of a “shooting a lame horse” incident that went terribly array.  I proceeded to go through one of the worst “divorces” and custody battles imaginable. Although, to talk about divorce as being something better or worse than you could have imagined is somewhat pointless.  No matter how many people we know who have lived through them, how many sickeningly simplistic movies have been made about them, or how many times we have heard the staggering number that is the divorce rate, really there is nothing neither real nor imagined, that can prepare you for the reality of a divorce.

 A divorce is two people who were once so in love that they could see their futures in each other’s eyes and who now can no longer look each other in the eye. Divorce is when a stranger comes into a courtroom, wearing a robe and a grim smile, and proceeds to divvy up your life with the precession of a surgeon and a scalpel. Divorce is when bailiffs and court employees herd you through the system as if you are one of many because you are literally one of many. You might as well be assigned a number. Instead of Jones v. Smith, the tittle of your case should be: 1407b v 2356a, because you are now a cow in a large herd, a number, a statistic. Your life is no longer “personal.” And guess who got you here? You and the former love of your life. I don’t care what anyone says about amicable divorces. There is no such thing. Divorce is insanely heartbreaking no matter what the particular details of you and your ex’s relationship were. No matter how happy you are to see his broke-down ass go, it always hurts when they hammer the final nail into the coffin of what was once your greatest dream.

And while I lived through that nightmare, I wore my flea market fate on my finger and would stare down at those words making them mean whatever I needed them to mean that day:

To thine own self be true. Yes- I can face this bully of a man in court.

To thine own self be . . .  yes, I can survive the pity filled looks from the other moms at school and show my face in front of the many acquaintances who had “heard” my story.

To thine own self . . . yes, even though all I want to do is crawl in bed and sleep until it all goes away, I can muster up the energy to be present for my son.

To thine own . . . yes, I can start to believe in love again.

And eventually, that nightmare passed and somewhere along the way I tossed the Shakespeare ring in my jewelry box and hadn’t thought of it much until yesterday while doing a little organizing. I came across it my heart stopped for a second. “to thine own self be true” it whispered and I stopped what I was doing, left the little piles of neatly folded shirts and stacked papers, wandered over to my desk where I proceeded to do a little Google research and read about what other people think the words mean. The line is from Hamlet and is spoken by a father, Polonius, to his son who is about to take off and do some traveling, the proverbial “finding himself” trip.  What preceded this famous statement was mostly a fathers lecture on how his son better not lose his ass financially and that he better damn well avoid slutty women.  So, for many it’s hard to believe that the phrase, “To thine own self be true” was intended to have quite the same introspective, feel good meaning we have attached to it. But, I had to wonder, did it matter what other people thought about the words? Did it even matter what the Bard himself meant by these words when he put them in the mouth of Polonius? Not really, to me they were my battle cry, and my fortune to read.

When boiled down to their most basic and least poetic meaning, I take the words on my ring to mean: “Know who you are, cus the more you know yourself the less likely you are to screw yourself over.”

When dispensing relationship advice people have a habit of saying, “Listen to yourself, just follow your gut.” If you are one of those people, please, go ahead and punch yourself now. How can someone listen to themselves when they don’t know what they the hell they are saying??  In order to follow your gut you have to know which one is yours. Knowing yourself, as it were in my case, turned out to be more difficult than I would have imagined. I was always confusing who I thought I was supposed to be and who others wanted me to be with who I actually was. In most cases when I should have been “listening to myself” there were so many conflicting voices going on in my head I felt like a Schizophrenic.

Had I known myself back then I would have known to pay attention to the voice inside my head that said, “Um, this shit ain’t right!” When my ex brought me leftovers from his dinner out as a consolation for not taking me with him, or when the day I was moving into his apartment he went out with his guy friends looking like a character from “Night at the Roxbury.”  If I had known myself then perhaps I would have trusted myself when after watching my ex miss the entire third inning of a baseball game because he had to take a pretzel back to a stadium concession stand based on principle, I thought: “This guy is impossible to please!”

So now, at thirty-something I am finally getting around to being true to myself, to feeling my gut, to picking out my voice in the crowd, and to knowing myself. And sometimes, it’s not all that pretty.  Am I always blowing love and sunshine? Hardly. But I can thank Shakespeare in part for this: I won’t ever have any dreams blow up in my face or my hopes perish before my very eyes again because now a days I deal in reality, a nitty, gritty, true to myself reality and that is better than a dream—it’s true to life. y

And . . . to lighten all this introspection up:

Breaking up is hard to do.

vintage girls in black skirts

Image by deflam via Flickr

Breaking up: it’s not just hard it’s horrific, and like grief and Pampers, break-ups come in stages. First there is the pre-break-up stage. For women in particular, this stage can drag on for what seems like an eternity. “I don’t know, I just don’t think he is going to change. I don’t know what to do; I think I should leave him.” If my girlfriends had a dollar for every time they heard me say that in my twenties, I think most of them would have paid off their student loans. If I had written down every piece of seemingly brilliant yet unheeded relationship advice I doled out to my girlfriends during their relationship woes I could have written a book on the topic; I could have been a twenty something dysfunctional Dr. Laura.

Then comes the actual breakup stage. In my case I usually crossed over from the pre-break up stage when I had absolutely no choice to remain in the uncertain agony of the unknown. My exes had a good way of making things clearly known. Such as the time I came home to find my live in boyfriend in our bed with another girl. Perhaps this is why I have never understood these people who are able to be friends with their exes. There is not a lot of room for friendship after you have chased a naked girl out of your bed with a candle stick.

Then there is the wallowing stage of the break-up.  Symptoms include: Crying, drinking, blaming, making bad decisions and burning up the phone lines to anyone who will listen. And even though all you want to do is crawl into bed and sleep for days, there is a lot of work to be done after a breakup, you have to sort through all the stuff.  Do you throw away pictures? Do you return the clothes they left at your house? Is it ok to ask for your cooler back or do you just go buy a new one?  Should there be a law that your ex should have to buy you a new bed if he screwed another girl in yours?

Eventually you have cried and raged all you could and with the encouragement of your girlfriends you peel off your ugly yoga pants and make a triumphant return. You are like Rocky Balboa; the world seems to be playing your song everywhere you run. Until you run into your ex. Back on go the ugly yoga pants, back to blasting Jeff Buckley and bottles of wine.

At this point your friends usually swoop down and rescue your ass. They sit by you on the couch while you eat cereal in your pajamas at two-thirty in the afternoon and they act as if they would rather be nowhere else in the world. They defend your honor to random people. “She has just been through a hellish break-up! Pee outside!” they shout at the person pounding on the other side of the door when you have been in the bathroom too long trying to recover from your public crying fit. They take away your phone and will not allow for any desperate whisky dialing. And the beautiful thing is you would do this for them too, in a heart-beat. And it does not just pertain to boys. You have stood by each other during death, family dysfunction, addiction and even natural disaster. No questions asked because this is what you do. They are your girls.

And with your friends support and with time, eventually you recover from your break-up. You get to the point where you (almost) forget what happen. Should you run into your ex when you are out it becomes more of a minor inconvenience then a catastrophe.

However, what is truly catastrophic and thankfully far less frequent are the times when the break-up is with one of your girlfriends. The only break-up I have never truly recovered from is the break-up of friendship. It just makes no sense. Sure, two people who were romantically involved could turn volatile when things don’t work out. But two friends who have shared secrets, swapped stories, wiped tears and held each other up through the years, for them to suddenly become strangers seems the saddest shock of all. Betrayal by someone you thought was a friend brings about an acute sort of agony, like the sucker punch you never saw coming. And to make things worse it is not socially acceptable, at least outside of junior high, to go through a hellish break-up with a friend. There is no period granted to you where it is ok and even somewhat expected for you to sit around forlorn and heartbroken. You can’t go returning boxes of borrowed sweaters and left behind hair dryers in the middle of the night There are no songs about two friends breaking up to blare until the neighbors call the police. You just sort of pick up and carry on and pretend like the biggest slap in your face didn’t sting a bit.

It’s possible that I “dated” some of the wrong friends. Perhaps I should have seen some of the red flags we always cite in the dating world in my friendships. Maybe I was not as good of a friend as I could have been because I was too swept up in whatever rollercoaster relationship I was riding at the time.

Sometimes in our teens and twenties it felt like girlfriends were just another accessory, someone to walk into a room with or to hang out with until the boy we were pining over asked us out. Even amongst the most laid back of girls, there could be cattiness and jealousy.  Often times we just didn’t know how to really be there for each other, we were still figuring out how to keep our own heads above water.  When I stepped into a new age bracket several things became very clear to me. And the importance of my girlfriends are at the top of that list. You are few in number but huge in heart and I am so very grateful for you!  I can only hope that I can be half as wonderful to you as you have been to me. We are in a long-term relationship now! There is no breaking up with each other’s asses so I guess we will just have to work things out.  So, whadaya say? Date night?