Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Search for a New Normal

Dating after a divorce is an incredibly intimidating thing. Personally, I felt like damaged goods, like I was someone else's leftovers. Why would anyone want me?  All these incredibly self-deprivating thoughts kept going through my head...

     "You're too old to date"
     "You're too fat"
     "Who would want to date someone who can't have children?"
     "You probably don't even remember how to date."
I can't even explain all the bullshit that went through my head! 

I didn't really want to jump right into dating, but I couldn't stand just sitting at home alone all the damn time, and none of my friends understood at all what I was going through. I needed someone to spend my time with, at the very least as a distraction from my tragic life... 

A relative set me up with a guy she was close to. He was also going through a divorce and he was one of these calm, quiet types (or so I thought - ha ha).  My uncle's wife had suggested we try spending some time together & I trust her judgement. She knows him really well & thought being around someone who was going through the same thing might benefit us both.

I thought it would be the perfect scenario for me - a nice, quiet guy with his own place who already had kids (and probably didn't want anymore), and he was someone I knew, which made me feel at ease.  Well, that was the second worst mistake I've ever made!  Two months and one incredibly insane run-in with my ex-in-laws later, I was sent packing. I won't EVEN go there. Just thinking about how crazy some people can be once you scratch the surface is really scary! (And I'm not talking about my in-laws.)

I thought long and hard before going out on another date, and yet, I found another emotionally confused man who SEEMED like a calm, laid-back type of guy (with two kids) who was well-dressed, smart, & quite the gentleman.  THEN he started changing his mind every 5-6 hours as to whether or not he wanted to be with me.  He even threw the "L" word out there a couple of times before breaking up with me, offering to "just be f*ck buddies", & then asking my permission to date my best friend. YIKES!!!!

Finally, I was out with my friend "BD" one night & met this really handsome, smart, well-dressed, and INCREDIBLY talented guy. We'll call him "TJ".  He was tall, broad shouldered, super intelligent, well-spoken, well-dressed, adorably cute, & an amazing guitarist to boot. In fact, when I was younger I had followed one of his bands around a little bit & knew just how good he was! I was definitely impressed & kind of shocked that he took the time to flirt with me. (It turned out he thought I was much younger than I am - This turned out to be both a compliment and a devastating blow.) Again, he seemed like the calm, quiet type (because NO ONE honestly likes the loud & proud

type, guys, just in case you're wondering).  And it was nice to have an intellectual conversation with someone of the opposite sex  who shared some similar interests for once.

I had one of those little girl crushes right away.  However, I was still completely reeling over the last nine months of dating debacles.  I wasn't really ready for any type of serious dating relationship. I just wanted to be friends, feel it out, and see where it went.  As calm, cool, & collected as TJ was, I could tell he had some secrets that deeply troubled him.  He was nervous, skeptical, and pretty judgemental at times.  The more time we spent together, the more comfortable he seemed drinking around me, and the more he drank, the more honest he was. There were a few times where he hinted at a long, lost love that he was somehow still (at least slightly, if not totally) in love with and apparently still had connections with.  I'm no home wrecker. I wanted to feel out this whole "one that got away" situation and get to know him first.  I began spending every weekend (and some weeknights) with TJ and his friends & I really grew to like them. I know it's cliche' and cheesy, but this group of people made me feel like I was on an episode of "Cheers" every time I was around them. Everybody really did "know my name" and they welcomed me with open arms. I felt right at home with them, and the more time I spent with TJ, the more I liked him.

"He brought out the best in me."


I was very careful not to get too close to TJ too fast, but let's face it. I was incredibly attracted to him, was absolutely ecstatic to have an intelligent conversation with a man who could keep up, and every time we saw each other I liked him even more.  And the truth is, I REALLY need to have sex with SOMEONE. It might as well be someone I like, someone I know at least remotely, and someone I trust!  I know men think women have this on/off switch and we can just shut down our sexual desires on command. That's not entirely true. In fact, men usually have a way of shutting that switch off FOR us so that we don't have to, but TJ had a way of turning me on  like no  one else ever had.  It wasn't just pure sexual desire. There was (and I think still is) a certain respect between TJ and I, and quite honestly, I was a totally different person than I had been with EH or any other man when I was with TJ.  He brought out the best in me. He made me want to let my true self shine. He had a way of knocking down my walls and letting me be myself. I'd never felt that way before, but his walls were much harder to crack than mine.

One night I just laid it all out on the line. TJ was mid-sentence talking about his lost love & what a terrible person he was for continuing to love her long after she had moved on and pursuing her when he shouldn't have., for spending time with me when he was still in love with her. (Red flag, I know.)  I finally just took a shot, slammed the glass on the table, and laid one right on him.  I kissed him long and hard, as if I thought my lips might fall off if I let go. I had never done anything like that before, especially not in a public place, but I just couldn't take it anymore. I was pleasantly surprised when he kissed me back, and he kept kissing me the rest of the night, until after five o'clock the next morning!  I won't lie. In the back of my mind, I knew TJ was too good for me and that it would probably NEVER work, but that night was one of the most magical nights of my life.


I had NO CLUE how complicated it would get after that, but I was just enjoying the ride.  I grew closer and closer to TJ's group of friends over the next month or two and I just never wanted it to end, but things were complicated. As much as I wanted to pretend they were simple and easy - that TJ and I were just "friends with benefits", I knew it wasn't that easy.  I liked him more than he did me, and he was still in love with someone else. Then, one night it came to a head.  I made the horrible mistake of trying to get more serious with TJ and he laid it on me - he couldn't be with someone who couldn't have children! OUCH!!!! 

Needless to say, things got kind of weird after that. We still hung out, still had sex even, but those feelings of ecstasy & excitement - the joy of the "crush" was gone. It was no longer easy, no longer uncomplicated.  In fact, it made me feel dirty. We were just f*ck buddies who occasionally sat around singing songs together.  Looking back, we never went on a real date. We never gave each other titles like "girlfriend" or "boyfriend" (at least not when we were sober - which was rare).  I had been kidding myself all along.


The thing that REALLY sucked about what was going on between TJ and I was that I had finally started to feel like I had found my "new normal".  I was working regularly, had a routine, & had a brand new group of friends - TJ's friends.  How could I walk away from him w/o walking away from them? And walking away from them meant walking away from the closest thing I had experienced to a "real life" in almost a year (longer if you consider the last 6 years of HELL).

More than losing TJ, I didn't want to lose the one thing I had to look forward to every week, hanging out with my "Cheers" gang.  There was this whole long back story as to how this group of friends began about seven years ago. I knew I was an outsider, a secondary (if not tertiary) member of this band of misfits, but I wanted SO BADLY to remain, even if on the outskirts.  The thought of starting over (again) was worse than the thought of losing TJ.  I had finally found my new normal and was risking losing it. And if I thought THAT was going to be tough, something was about to happen to turn our entire world upside down. Talk about a new normal? How does a completely new universe sound?


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