The Art of Sentimentalism

The Art of Sentimentalism — are we defined by our stuff?

[Crossposted to Medium]

The collection of “me” stuff began in my late teens after one of my mother’s manic episodes when she tossed out most of my brother and I’s childhood. Since then, pictures, mementos, and anything helping to define who I am or was I saved no matter how insignificant it can or could be. (I saved the certificate for the year I won the school spelling bee which cracks me up years later as I’m a terrible, terrible speller. Long live autocorrect!) There is not much that marks my childhood other than spotty memories, a small wooden box of things I saved from grade and middle school, my baby book, and a handful of print pictures. My younger brother has fared much worse as his amount of childhood things is even less than mine.
I think often of what will happen to my stuff when I die. While my sites will go dark (no one would be paying the bills), I diligently have them crawled so one day, I hope, someone will stumble across my work and say, “Goddamn! This woman was prolific! (And far interesting as well.)”

Like most, I want to not necessarily be in the index but at least a footnote to the memories of the world.

As I continue packing, I occasionally find bits of past Lisa and now I debate, “Do I keep it or do I toss it?” While I have not read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I do know the book posits you should only keep things giving you joy. Imagine the shock of my bookish friends when I told them, since October 2014, I’ve donated nearly 1500 books to various library systems. My collection remains mostly of my Austens, my Pratchetts, my collection of Anglo-Saxon/Medieval/Viking histories, my Salingers and Fitzgeralds, and my TBR pile which is too fucking enormous. I got rid of books I didn’t see myself reading again, or referencing, or even in some cases, caring about. My Austens, my Pratchetts, and the rest of “my” books spark joy so those got kept. I slashed through my DVD collection as I spent several long nights converting the 100+ collection of physical to digital media to be placed on my server with 90% of the physical media to be donated. If I want to watch Bridget Jones’ Diary for the 900th time, it is simply a matter of a few clicks rather than digging out the DVD and going through that ritual. These are things bringing me passion and joy where as 4-Eyed Whores does not. (It’s nerd girl porn. Literally.)
(4-Eyed Whores was given to a friend and not buried in the pile to be given to the library. What kind of monster do you think I am?)
The book cull will get even more severe as I sort what I’m taking to my next future home versus what is going in storage until it can be retrieved – again. My Austens, my Pratchetts, and most of the books bringing me joy will be snuggled in their cardboard homes while a smattering of them will be placed in my new home while even more will be donated to the local library system.
(And for those nearly hyperventilating, I was vaguely smart into cataloging this current collection before the donated books went into their box. I did not do this to the first culling back in October 2014, which is my shame but I’ve already come to terms with that.)
(And I haven’t gotten into the details of the hundreds of books I lost when my brother’s basement flooded in the winter of 2008. My stuff was stored there between moves and I lost most of my paper everythings.)
Even with the great cull of books and physical audio / visual media, there are many, many boxes I have cataloged (of course, I am a librarian) simply labeled “office knickknacks.” Lanyards from the many conferences I’ve attended. The remnants of the Etsy shop I used to maintain and the items I cannot get rid of. Tchotchkes from vacation pasts like the miniature of the Pieta from when I was in Rome. (The Vatican has a killer gift shop, yo.) Plastic photo boxes of things saved from trips like brochures, plane tickets, and other small items (one plastic photo box for each European trip = six boxes). Stuffed animals made or bought for me. Various electronic doohickeys that belong to something but I have no idea what and I should probably not throw those things out. I am keeping those things, though those cardboard boxes outnumber the book boxes 2:1. Those things do give me joy and mark me as a person.

Lee Randall, in her piece “For the Love of Stuff,” furthers my argument stuff is a narrative of one’s life and “my things are me and I am my things.” I felt some relief in reading this essay because I was growing tired of the constant barrage of pieces written on the new “minimalism” and you’re saving the world when you get rid of things that you no longer “need.” Not want, but “need.” I want people to get a sense of who I am when they come into my home, to get a feel what I like and what makes me happy. White walls, sterile furniture, and smattering of arty pieces just don’t cut it.

I want physical reminders these are the things “sparking joy” which also give deeper meaning to my person.

We have come to the point of things given to us by boyfriends past. There is a tiny collection of Beatrix Potter mini-books M. gave me which I kept, the love note still inside. The picture of P. and I at his brother’s wedding and we both look extremely happy. The nightclub t-shirt given to me by A. when he was working as a graphic designer. The earrings given to me by TheEx though their matching necklaces have long since been donated. These trinkets do not pain me and for most of them, I smile at those memories. These are things kept.

When I got to my apartment in Connecticut, I found many things given to me by TheBassist which got tossed into a box. The breakup was still too fresh and I was indecisive on whether or not to keep them. Friends suggested, since the breakup turned out to be brutal rather than amicable, I burn them. Instead, I kept them. They’ve been taunting me since with their presence in my storage locker a reminder of a time in my life when things weren’t going so great. When I was unpacking, and now packing again, I pushed that box out of mind to be dealt with at another time. Now that time has come where I must ask myself, “Do I keep, toss, or donate these items?”

Memories are sneaky bastards. What seems so clear one day can be muddled the next.

I strive to keep a positive attitude on the relationship between TheBassist and I as a whole as it wasn’t all bad and we did love the other, but clearly not enough to give the relationship a foundation it needed to keep going. I have these things that while they no longer give me pain at times, I have given them some kind of value and I wonder if I get rid of them, will the memories fade even faster and soon to be forgotten? Do I want to forget him as completely as possible? How important was he in my life that keeping those items won’t intensify what pain is left even in their innocence of just lying in that blasted box? Will I “find joy” in getting rid of them?
These may seem like insignificant answers to many of you — the obvious answer would be, of course, to get rid of them. But these things, I’d argue, are not things to be easily replaced. The signs he made me when I got off the plane or his band’s CD he has lovingly inscribed to me or the Neil Gaiman book he gave me years ago, also inscribed. Once those things are gone, they can never be replaced since their tangibility and worth is only for me.
But I must reframe these questions to how keeping these things will affect my relationship with TheExHusband. As most of you know, he and I are working on getting back together and when I land in Louisville in October (after spending September at the cabin), we are seeing a couple’s counselor to work on the things we should have worked on in our marriage. TheExHusband has been and always will be my always. Is it fair to him for me to keep the mementos of TheBassist, even if I claim their innocence in value? Are they worth keeping as a potential sharp thorn to what has happened these last few years?

What fills me with joy?

For many, if not most, the building of one’s personality through things seem kind of silly, maybe even trite. We should be known, it would be pointed out, for what we have done and how we treat people rather than what decorates our homes. But I cannot agree to that point, at least wholly, just yet. My mother erased much of our childhood when she threw almost everything out and while many have things that spark them with joy about their growing up years, those years are empty for my brother and I. Keeping things, no matter how insignificant, allows me to fill in the holes of my life where once nothing existed. But I ask again – should I save anything or everything? Curate my memory to be only of joy and light and not negative reminders of things gone wrong?

Aren’t I, in effect, whitewashing my own history to satiate whatever I think will help me be whole?

I have issues with people wanting to erase our social history by, for example, taking cigarettes out of movies from 50 years ago now we know cigarettes are carcinogenic. The past isn’t always sunshine and roses and the idea of “the golden years” is a myth.

Each generation has its own atrocities and in the attempt to remove the bad, we’ve gilded the good and gilt can flake off.

In the end I will more than likely keep the book and the CD (and the Joy Division t-shirt I left at his house since it’s my favorite one) and the rest will get tossed. I don’t need the hand-lettered signs, the letters, or the random knickknacks he has given me. They are just “things” where as the book and the CD have whole different set of values. I’m sure, knowing me, the tossing of the rest will be some kind of exaggerated march to the bin shoot and the ceremony of dumping the items down the incline into the bowels of the apartment building. Those items blur the line of worth between keeping and donating and in the end, they are just simply junk.

The Move

The Move: mania v depression and the miles it covers and the miles to go.

[originally posted on Medium]

It’s a sultry soup kind of Saturday and I’m in my apartment sorting and repacking boxes for a move. The central air clicks on and off as I work; my pug chewing on a toy pug in an act of pug cannibalism. I am not wearing a bra and I feel the dampness under my breasts grow as I work. My legs feel a bit grimy and my hair is pulled into a fizzed mess on top of my head. I catch a whiff of body order and ignore it. It’s mid-afternoon and I haven’t showered yet and I’m debating if I even will.

I am tired of the packing and unpacking, the culling of my things to the point I no longer know what I own anymore. The move before this one saw another culling of trash bags full of clothes and seven boxes of books and DVDs. I am desperate for a cigarette though I haven’t smoked in ages. I survey my box kingdom and note some of the boxes have been moved so many times, varying stickers from moving companies are stacked up like little hills. As I pack, I remove the hills in some sort of shameful ritual. Each box bears a broad category name like “dvds” which are Sharpied out and rewritten to “clothes.” I develop a system to mark what boxes will go into storage and what boxes will go to my partner’s condo and inventory the contents in a spreadsheet. I eye my bookcases wearily because I don’t want to storage my Austens, graphic novels, or my Pratchetts but as I don’t plan on re-reading any of them in the near future, they will be tucked into their cardboard beds.

This is my sixth move in two years.

In the early part of the ’90s I was diagnosed as being manic / depressive which is now commonly referred to as bipolar. I am bipolar 1, which tends to run mania rather than depressive. Since that diagnosis, I’ve swam in the land of drugs only to come out on the other side stable-ish, but often exhausted. My sensitivity to most meds comes at a high cost: I cannot tolerate most common drugs after a few weeks of relief and have spent my non-drug years fighting for a drug free stability.

All of my therapists have called me “lucky” since I am so high functioning. “Self-aware” is used so often I silently grate organ parts upon hearing it and I feel that I’m being treated like an AI robot and not a person. I am told, with the severity of my illness, they are fascinated with my ability to stay high functioning without the drugs. I am told I am atypical and there is great joy watching me under a hypothetical microscope.

A comment often shuttlecocked from my various psychiatric doctors is my extraordinary ability to cope and manage my illness. “You are strong” is the cousin to “self-aware.” It is repeated over and over again I’ve handled so much this far in life I can keep going and things will get better.

My mania started to cresendo in late summer of 2014. It was a terrible year: My beloved dog died, I left my toxic job to write a book, I was sued for libel in a $1.25M lawsuit which the case has now been dismissed. (But that’s a story for another time.) My husband and I’s relationship was fraught to the point, I thought, beyond repair. Around this time a love from a decade prior came back and wooed me with what I wasn’t getting at home. Infatuated with attention, and tired of my husband constantly and mentally checking out, I left him. Six weeks later, I watched a moving truck pack up my things to cart them a thousand miles to my new home with my lover. A man I’ve spent a total of two weeks with over the course of a decade.

And it wasn’t even October.

The mania began to build for about six months prior. My triggers: massive shopping sprees (who needs six of the same dress just in different colors?), sleepless nights, and constant agitation were all there but this time I choose to pin point them on other factors such as my dog dying, being sued, and leaving my job rather than on my illness. Who wouldn’t feel that kind of life strain?

Then the downward slide began.

Caught in this middle world with no ties to either side, it is here that I started to crash.

The plan was simple: Move my things into storage, live with my new lover, and take a mental break for a few months; it had been a hell of a year. In the new year I would start looking for work, move out on my own, and create a new life with my lover.

That was the plan.

Instead of relief, I spent, it seemed, every other night sobbing in my lover’s bedroom or in the shower or when I was driving. I could not be comforted or appeased. Everything around me, even the simplest thing felt huge.

That’s when the ping ponging started. I begged to come home to my ex-husband. I promised to be good and to get back into counseling. I promised to work on finding a good drug combination, I’d do anything, ANYTHING, to be with him again. My soon to be ex-husband made plans of his own: he would get into therapy or anti-depressants or both. He would work to help save our marriage.

A week later I broke my promise.

Several weeks later I was making promises again, sitting in a hotel room writing lengthy diatribes about my luck having two men love me for ever after. After the weekend hotel stay, I’m in such crisis I use ZocDoc to find a local therapist who could see me that day. I am prescribed drugs to help with the mania, a booster for the depression, and Klonopin to help with the anxiety. I am told it’s going to take a few weeks to stabilize.

And even after the promises from the good doctor, weeks after the drugs were started, I still continued to cycle almost violently.

I choose you! I’d say to each man, alternating like laundry on laundry day. I choose you to be with and you alone. My ex-husband writes me a letter where he tells me he will change, everything will get better, and I deserve everything he had withheld from me. My lover begs for me to stay.

This back and forth goes for weeks until I leave the lover and drive a thousand miles back to my ex-husband. He has left the door open, our song is playing on the stereo, and he’s left me love notes from the door to the dining room table with a key taped to one of the notes. I am not home for 15 minutes where I tell him I have chosen my lover over him but and that I was going to change and try to stand on my own two feet.

What I did not tell him was I made it 300 or so miles before I broke down sobbing in a McDonald’s parking lot, begging to be taken back. After I arrive in town and before I had to my ex-husband’s house, I am in a parking lot still begging. The lover takes me back.

I am to stay in town, get my own apartment, stay on the drugs given to me by the doctor I found on ZocDoc (which finally started to work), attempt to write my book again, and try to form a life. Despite the drugs giving some relief, my mood continue to sway like a pendulum. I spend days in utter misery, holed up in my tiny apartment curled on the couch, often sobbing hysterically, making promises still to both men. Despite the promises to stay married, I break those promises (again), and the divorce is finalized on April 1.

Most of the summer I am back and forth between the two men and I’m rarely in my own apartment. In one of the many moves, my things are sent to my ex-husband’s condo to be put in storage. I’ve racked up nearly 15,000 miles on my car over the course of the year and tens of thousands of credit card debt. I am running out of money and the crash that started in October 2014 starts to intensify.

One summery day I am with my ex-lover and the need to leave again is growing so strong, I can barely swallow. My ex-husband owns a cabin in northern Michigan and he wants me to come home. I tell my lover I need to leave, again, under the pretense I am going to go open the cabin and he tells me he is powerless to stop me. “It’s what you do,” he says. Resignation is visible on his face and I know he’s been pulling away for months. As one of the conditions of being back with my lover is therapy, I head to therapy later that day and almost gleefully mention I have broken up with him and I felt great. I do not tell the group I am never coming back again as I’m leaving the state in the next few days.

The month at the cabin is carefree. The ex-husband and I’s relationship has returned to what it was, sans sex, in the beginning of our marriage and with the exception of the daily texts from my lover asking me when I was coming back to him, life goes on as if nothing happened. I keep pushing out the date with legitimate excuses: My ex-husbands car has died and we’re miles from nowhere. I get a terrible summer cold and I am to rest.

Then one fateful day, my lover tells me over Facebook chat, that it is over. He needs to advocate for himself and since I was with my ex-husband, the man who knows me best of all and can take of me, I’m to stay with him until I finally get my life sorted out.

The crash that had started, trickle by trickle, is now full blown. I spends days in bed, unable to move and barely able to breathe. I blame it my ex-lover dumping me but in reality my reluctance to deal with day to day life, being diligent in my drugs and therapy coupled with the promises, the lies, the ping ponging, had taken its toll. I want to blame everyone for everything that has happened. “Bad luck,” I’d say. “Rotten timing.” But even though the now ex-lover is not perfect, I cannot really blame him for leaving. Being with someone who is bipolar is a job in and of itself.

I remain in bed for weeks, barely able to move or eat. I take my drugs diligently but the depression is so smothering I feel pinned down by its existence. I start seeing a new therapist, anti-depressants are added to my regime and slowly the cloud begins to lift.

I tell myself I’m lucky because my ex-husband, now my partner once again, is standing by my side as he’s always stood by my side. It took all of this, as painful it is to say it, to realise how much I really love him. I have a small, but steady, support network and I have not ended up homeless though at times it’s been very close.

My meds have been tweaked and I am feeling the most stable I have felt in years. I mediate and do yoga daily to help with the balance. I see a therapist. The lying and pogoing have slowed and I can feel myself beginning to breathe again. And yet while the crash in October 2015 brought on strength to keep on moving forward, for which I am grateful, but I am much more sensitive to the world around me. More vulnerable. More cautious. There is hope, even in small doses, as I slowly move forward.

This will be the last time I will move, hopefully, a very long time. What’s left of my things will be placed in storage once again and only the necessities will be kept out and used. I have learned over the last two years that my things while my things don’t define me, they are a part of me. Whereas before I would get anxious at not having my books and my memories, now I know they will be safe and waiting for me just as I was waiting for myself.

palindrome birthday

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Dear Internet,
A couple of admin things before we get going:

  • Item the first: I’ve minimalize the site design after listening to a podcast on brutualist websites. Long time readers may have noticed the site design has been getting less cluttered over the years and now it’s stripped down to as basic as possible unless I dropped out of WordPress entirely rendering all entries static but with nearly 1300 entries that is not happening anytime soon. Let me know in the comments if there is anything broken or missing.
  • Item the second: You may have also noticed there is now an audio option in addition to the text. Starting this post going forward there will be mp3 available to download of the entry. In short, I’m turning my blog entries into a podcast and don’t be too surprised if the podcasts are a bit rough in the beginning. You (should) be able to download the mp3 here, iTunes, and LibSyn SoundCloud. Why now? Numerous articles and research discuss the changing ways of how people access content online. This also mirrors how I, and my peeps, access information. Newletters (you will find the subscription to mine at the bottom of this entry) and podcasts are now the new hotness. Lastly, turning my blog into a podcast has been something I’ve been wanting to do for ages.

On with the show.

Today is a palindrome birthday – I turn 44. Celebration will be chill until TheExHusband comes to visit in a few weeks for the ever continuation of Lisa-mas. However, presents and cards have been rolling in and I feel beloved by many. Thank you.1

No one is going to be shocked (and some might argue this is a long time coming) TheExHusband and I are, again, moving towards a romantic relationship. Part of the reason why I moved back to the east coast was to deliberate on whether starting a romantic relationship with TheExHusband was because I truly loved him or he was a crutch or he was a familiar.
In the last six months as my brain became less fuzzy, I ruminated what it meant to love and be loved. Many years ago I asked Rob G. if he and his partner stopped having sex for whatever reason, would he stay with her and he answered a quick “yes.” I swore to him I could never be in a sexless relationship, or a passionless relationship, and I would find someone who could fulfill both the sexy times and my intellectual hunger. All but TheExHusband had failed to fulfill both requirements. (I can feel Rob’s virtual head pat as if he knew one day I would know the truth about love.)
As I started unpacking at my new abode, I came across diaries from years ago where I do nothing but complain about how men seemingly only want sex and nothing to do with my brain. This complaint goes on for years, regardless of my relationship status at the time of the writing. It became interesting to me how the tables have now turned: I want nothing but sex (so I think) now and fuck all the intellectual side.
I know the psychological reasons why my behaviour is this way (sex = being loved) but at the end of the day this is not what I really want. I urgently need brain stimulation which leads me to having better sex and we shant be surprised it is never the other way around.
So I’m in a pickle. Sex with TheBassist was out of this world but I felt as if I could never get him to talk about anything other than day to day events.2 Sex, on the other hand, with TheExHusband had become nearly impossible and unfulfilling but he could stimulate my brain like no other. After our split in August 2014, he hied himself off to a therapist, got on Wellbutrin, admitted what he has always known – he was depressed. He has reported back to me now that Wellbutrin is coursing through his system, his sexual drive has returned 10 fold from its previous state.
I lived with TheExHusband from September 2015 until last month. During that period not a sexual event happened other than benign snuggles, forehead kisses, and the occasional hand holding. We both agreed participating in any kind of sensual romps would be detrimental to my mental health while spurring on more confusion for him which obviously neither of us wanted so we remained chaste. Pinky swear.
When I was offered my current gig, there was a lot of discussion between my brain and I on whether or not to take the position. The more I pro and conned it, talked it over with TheExHusband and friends, the more another thought took residence in my brain: I was deeply in love with TheExHusband and leaving him would tear me apart.
TheExHusband loves me. He really loves me. He has never wavered his support of me. He has taken care of me when I hit rock bottom and cheered me on as things started to progress and get better. He always has my best interests at heart; he likes making me happy. He likes making me laugh. He wants to go on adventures with me and eat the world (another criteria I have in a potential mate). His love isn’t the love of fiery suns but a slow burning ember that never seems to fade.
Most importantly, he never left me when things got really bad.
I heavily took stock in this. Isn’t this what most of us want? Someone who is our companion and mate, who understands us near completely, makes us laugh, and gives us unwavering support in our choices and our life? I know I do. I know I never stopped loving TheExHusband, never wavered for my own support of him, never not wanted to make him laugh. I could never imagine my life without him and even wrote that if you date me, he comes along as part of the package.
TheExHusband and I have our own rituals, our own language, our own sense of security in the other. Our own world where we happily accept others to visit.
TheExHusband has his faults just as I have my faults, but at the end of the day if there is anyone I want to be with, it is him.
TheBassist may have been the one, but TheExHusband is my always.3

Long time readers may be puzzled by these turn of events. For months I banged on TheBassist was the one, I would take him back in a heartbeat, and I was tragically in love with him. Those were things I believed then and those were my truths. I could forgive myself for my behaviour during the course of our relationship, I could even understand some of his behaviours such as the birthday incident4, but I cannot shake the pain of him dumping me onto TheExHusband’s lap because TheBassist could not take care of me when I was so very sick and then wiping his hands of me. What also breaks my heart is that after the big show of telling me he wanted to check in on me to make sure I was okay after we broke up, he never did. How do I know? I asked his best friends. I told TheBassist all that time ago, in the beginning, I was his ideal on a pedestal who he could not handle the real and everyday me. Even his mom agreed. TheBassist vehemently disagreed with my observation and yet, here we are, a fantasy who has been put to rest.

It’s now going on two months since I planted myself in Connecticut and while I’m an hour away from TheBassist’s home, nothing has propelled me to attempt a visit. There has been a single time I have driven past his exit, on my way to IKEA, and I flipped it off in true Lisa fashion. Childish? Sure. But boy did it feel good.
Another indicator my attitude has changed is the slight PTSD I have of olive green Subaru Outbacks. They seem to be car d’jour around these parts and I am forever checking to see if one’s back window is covered in stickers. So far, the coast has been clear.
I am human above all things and I cannot tell a lie that I do want to see him if only to tell him off. Lisa Rabey Is Always Right™ and my ego must never be bruised. TheExHusband predicted ages ago TheBassist dumping me had less to do with me being in love and more to do with a dent in my believed perfect ego. I am begrudgingly hold this may be slightly true.
I still maintain TheBassist breaking up with me was one of the smartest moves he has ever made and without that breakup, the crash would have been much worse.

I often need to experience things to get the things to stick no matter how many times someone tells me it is so. e.g. I need to touch the hot stove to believe it is a hot stove.
Most of the human population, upon reading my exercise in love on TheExHusband may be thinking to themselves: This is what is known to be love. We know that it ebbs and flows. This is a universal truth. It is not always just the hot burning passion but it is also vomit and money woes. If you want the treasure you have to fight the orcs.
I hurt a lot of people getting here and there is rarely a time I haven’t cried when thinking about everything I put TheExHusband through but he will tell you two things: The first being I was mentally sick for a long time and much of my actions were based upon the disease and not the real me and his depression caused a lot of rift he refused to believe was there also for a very long time.
TheExHusband and I discuss this on occasion and we’re brutally honest with the other. I am not afraid to admit that in some warped way going through all of this is what smacked me in the head about love, I am every so glad it happened.
P.S. The track isn’t bad but it’s still little rough. I’ve been editing for about six to seven hours today so next time it will be better.

1. Last year’s birthday was interesting. TheBassist took me the mall, bought his children presents, and couldn’t even be arsed to make or get me a card. He had a snit when I rescued a rather dismal day by helping his family sell strawberries and shortcakes at a church fete. When I told him how I felt, and that I wanted a birthday do-over, he promised with a “sure, sure” and yet, nothing happened.
2. Let’s call this a truce on the he said/she said. This is and was my truth.
3. When I first mentioned to TheExHusband he was my always, he thought it was terribly sweet yet he could not get the image of the Always maxi pad brand out of his head. One day whilst shopping  I came across the lady parts aisle, took a picture of the brand and sent him said image. He giggled.
4. What was the point of doing anything special for me if I was only going to leave and break TheBassist’s heart over and over again. Thin, sure, but I understand this may have been his reasoning.


This day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 20142012, 20021999


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making it rain

Dear Internet,
I got a job.
A real, in my field, letter of interest signed and sealed with a start date job.
Here’s the bittersweetness: I’ll be living in Connecticut.
OH! The irony.
So the gig is as a digital archivist in a corporate setting.1 I’ll be working with the processing and corporate archivists on a large project that is scheduled to run until the end of the year with an option to be picked up in 2017. I signed an NDA so I cannot tell you who I am working for.
I’m nervous. Excited. Grateful. Nervous. Lots of other emotions.
My start date is May 9th.
I am going to have to wear PANTS (which is anything not Chucks, t-shirts, or jeans). I will be out in the world interacting with other people. I will be paying taxes!2 I will be contributing to society.
I get to be an adult with my own things, my own place, and my own decisions to make.
It’s preeetttyyy exciting.
I made the announcement on Facebook on Thursday and nearly half of my Facebook BFFs liked/loved and some commented on the post. SO MANY PEOPLE are rooting for me. I never thought in a million years I would have this large of a fan base, but there you go — I have proof I am loved and wanted.
I’m leaving L-ville on May 4th, arriving in Connecticut on May 5th. I’m lining up the usual apartment and hotel shenanigans. I’m packing and getting business done here.
I’ve got a lot of shit to do.
Another great thing? I don’t have to look for a job! First time in 18 months I do not have to feel dehumanized and dejected on the job front. Oh happy day!
There is a kind of creepy part to this equation.
The weekend before I heard from the corporation in regards to scheduling my first interview, I decided to color my hair one color and take out my nose ring. That Monday I got the email with the request for the phone interview that afternoon. If I was moving forward they would reach out to my references and schedule the video interview.
References were checked Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.
They got in touch with me Tuesday afternoon to schedule the video interview for that Friday. After the video interview, the next process would be for them to confer, make their recommendation, and move forward with the candidate of their choosing. I would know by the end of the following week (April 22).
A few days after the interview, I had a discussion with TheExHusband on the need for more profesh clothes as it was spring, nearing summer, and my interview clothes were for fall and winter. He gave me a budget to work with, I surveyed my closet, bought flexible items to fill in the gaps of what I was missing. Clothes had been ordered before I even knew my status.
Thursday the 21st (nearly a week since the video interview), I followed up to find out my status and they said they would let me know as soon as they knew.
They called me that afternoon and I missed the call. We rescheduled the call for 5:15PM and within three minutes they asked if I was still interested and if so, they would like to extend the offer to me. I said yes and here we are!
Time from interview to acceptance: less than two weeks.
Academia can learn a thing or two about the hiring process.

So let’s get to what everyone wants to really know more than about the job: What about TheBassist?
Good question and not unsurprisingly the number one question I’ve received (privately) after my I AM PAYING TAXES announcement. (People worry about me and I love it and I am wholeheartedly always grateful.)
What about him indeed.
On occasion I’ve thought about different scenarios in different contexts if he got back in touch. As my mental wellbeing started to lean more towards being healthy than the crazy, my attitude went from “this is what I would I totally do” (see pre-Wellbutrin) to “I’ll deal with it when it happens. I’ve got shit to do” (see post-Wellbutrin).
Before I continue, let me make one thing clear: I am not getting in touch with him. I’ll be living an hour south of him so the likelihood of us running into each other is pretty slim.
But there is a catch: Many of his local close friends love me and can’t wait to integrate me into their social scene. I’m beyond flattered (and grateful) so I had to put some thought into a scenario where TheBassist and I end up in the same place.3
At first, my thought was, “Oh. No. I hope his friends understand I am not ready to be around him” and “I could never be friends with him after everything that has happened.” When those thoughts started creeping, I took to my journal to write it out.
Within a couple of pages, I had a 180 degree turnaround about the situation.
It’s pretty clear the last year has taken a toil on my psyche and mental health. My self-respect and dignity are making a comeback. I love the sassy me.
Making these wide gestures of “oh no, look at me” is creating drama, even unintentionally. As we’ve seen, even unintentional drama serves no one (especially me). So then I thought, “You know. I can pull up my big girl panties and handle this like a champ. If we’re in the same place at the same time, I can be gracious and kind. It hurts no one and being cruel has never been my forte. It serves no purpose.”
And the job, the move, and everything else? It’s none of his business. It’s my life and he has no say in it.
It came to me I had a choice: I could be a spoilt child having a tantrum or I could be graceful and keep my dignity intact.
I choose the later.
Once I came to that conclusion in my journal, I signed off for the evening and went to bed.

I’m a catch. I’m adorable. I’m funny. I can converse on a variety of topics. I’m kind to people. I’m loyal and I can be naughty as fuck when needed. The list of my good qualities and personality endeavours is as long as I am tall
(I am humble too.)
But there is a crazy Lisa and a mentally healthy Lisa. He came in the beginning of the crazy. If he can’t strip that away, disregard whatever fantasy (I believe) he had of me, and see the real me. Well, his loss.

I will be gracious and kind if I come across him in social situations. But to be coffee meeting friends? No. To wish him ill will? No. To cause drama and strife? No. Do I wish him to have a good life? Absolutely.
Will feelings about what has transpired hurt? Of course they will — my therapist assured me this is normal. How I respond to these feelings is what dictates whether or not my mental health is, well, healthy. To start out a bit panicky about the prospect of running into him in social situations and to come to the conclusion I’ll be fine and the situation will be fine is what differs from then to now.
I will be okay.

I’ve got a hunch he’s seeing someone. No one has told me, and I had asked them not to, so my hunch could be unfounded. But I’ve got a feeling and sometimes my feelings are right. Of course it hurts my heart a little bit to know he could be with someone or he’s pursuing someone. It has been six months since the break-up and while I have taken time out of the dating world to handle self-care it does not behold him to do the same.
In the end, all I’ve wanted was for him to be happy and for me, obviously, to make him happy. If I’m not the person who can do that, I hope he finds someone who can love him the way he wants and needs to be loved and to find happiness in that person. That is all I’ve ever wanted.
As for me? I’m a grown ass woman and I’ve got shit to do.

1. I swore until the ends of time I could never work corporate. Well end time is nigh and I’ve got to make it rain.
2. A friend of mine who is an accountant swore he’s never heard someone get excited about paying taxes before. It’s how I roll.
3. I give myself ideas of potential scenarios to get a vague idea of of how I would react to that situation. I like being, to some extent, prepared for eventualities. It’s what I do.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2000

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shut the fuck up and be happy

Dear Internet,
When you’ve been friends for a fairly long time with someone, you organically create your own schticks. As TheExHusband and I have known each other for 20 years (!), we have many schticks of which one is where we create songs and dances using melodies from popular songs except with our own lyrics. I have, for example, a dance and song routine when I get ready to shower.
Recently I created a song while waiting for my breakfast to heat up, TEH chimes in with his own lyrics and I start, as one does during these instances, laughing. It was, however, not the canned laughter we typically do when we find something to be funny, which comes and goes as if it was never there in the first place. No, this was genuine laughter that came from my belly and it felt authentic (as much as I fucking hate that fucking word, it applies here). My peripheral vision, my face mirrored on the microwave door, reflected a broad smile.
The days when I found my body beautiful are getting closer together. The return of myself in the mirror showed a face not so much glowing but perhaps calmer. More relaxed. (Except for the greys that are creeping up again (TIme for a new dye job!), I’m pretty satiated with my looks.)
Is this happiness?
The more I yoga, I find my day feels more complete. There is a hop to my step and a harmony to my life, even if  I am working from home. Days away from doing yoga don’t feel right. Something is missing. I have a routine in the morning and that routine I must stick to. I like knowing my body can now do some flexible things. When I started back a few months ago, I could only lean half way down in bound angle pose but this week I’ve been able to almost get the girls to touch the floor. Slight change, sure, but it is still something.
Is this what joy feels like?

“Happiness,” “mindfulness,” “gratitude,” “self-care,” “humility,” and another 44 descriptors1 I could come up with in a short amount of time are the hot trends in our lives. A reporter recently asked, When ‘mindful’ is a mayo, a diet, a mantra, does it actually mean anything? and I found myself asking that very same question of my own practice. Is what I’m doing — the meditation, the yoga, the journaling, the being mindful as much as possible — really working or is it some kind of placebo thin band-aid covering up my real (chemically imbalanced) ills? Perhaps it is the drugs and I’m just placing woo-woo around it to make it more palatable to others and myself?
But the real question we should asking ourselves, no matter where it comes from, is doing these things make us happy regardless of what other people think? I can certainly answer with a resounding yes. DBT, which is the science backed set of techniques to make one mindful, works. Yoga keeps me centered and lets me push my body into ways I didn’t think it could — see the aforementioned getting the girls to the floor. The little changes in my life that keep me going strong: the continual exercise (no matter how minute), the quitting smoking, the journaling, the meditation, and for the everything else that is important to me continues to push forward. I have a proven track record of making these things work in the past and I am determined to make them continue on that path. So for me, whether or not someone “gets it” is not important. It’s not important what others think. What is important is how and what I feel as I move my life forward in my own beautiful and fucked up way.
Is this being blissful?

A good friend, C., flashed a comment on Twitter recently about her gentleman caller. Piqued, I wrote her a note2 with only the words, “Who is this gentleman caller??” A week or so later, we gossiped online, though privately, about her new love life. He was a local to her boy. He had pursued her for some time, they met, fireworks occurred, and now they are a couple.
I was thrilled for her. C. is one of those people you KNOW is going to get snapped up by some lucky person and it finally happened. I am a nosey wench so I poked and prodded about their love life, how they were doing, any future plans, that kind of thing. C. and I may both be in our 40s, but it is never too old to gossip about lovers like we did in high school. (There are a lot of things we never grow out or tired of.)
Form C.’s side, there was a lot of swoony hearts emoji when the gentleman caller did something to win her affections. I loved and still love talking to her about him because her happiness is so infectious. C. never struck me as a person who needed others to make her happy but with a new lover, I needed sunglasses from her thousands of miles away glow.
But this is not about that story.
What struck me, and got me thinking the most about these new developments, was C.’s discussion of at least one of her local friends seemed to be getting tired of C.’s delight in talking about C.’s gentleman caller. We’ve all been there – we meet someone we think is the bee’s knees, everything they do is perfection personified, and all we want to do is talk about them. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, everyone who has ever been romantically involved has done it.3 And we all know of that one person or maybe several who get tired of our nattering and want us to quietly shut the fuck up. The reasons for our friend’s behaviour can range from general annoyance or bitterness at their own life.
Just like gushing about our new lovers when we meet them, we are bitter cynics when the relationship ends. We are done for; relationships are terrible; love is a joke and so on. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, everyone who has ever been romantically involved has done it. (See 3 below.)
I totally got where this friend was coming from — hell, I’ve been in that position recently myself and one could argue I’m still there. The last 18 months have been both the most wonderful and the worst in my life. I can still taste the heady high when TheBassist and I found each other again and I can still feel the deepening well of pain when we split. I’ve seen both sides of the coin in such a short amount of time, I could commiserate.
As C. and I talked about her gentleman caller, I mulled over the info she dropped about her cynical friend. I cannot lie and say I didn’t feel these feelings myself at that very moment — I fucking totally did. But a new thought came into my head as we talked: Was C. happy? Yes. Was her happiness important to me? Also yes. Why was I letting my own bitter heart take away her moment? I was being selfish and laying my own heartache to dampen C.’s excitement for gentlemen lover. Was that fair? Fuck no. So then I stopped.
Seriously, I just stopped thinking bitter and cynical things about my own life in comparison to hers. It wasn’t getting me anywhere. Was I bitter and angry at my own les amours? Yep. Was regret hanging out somewhere there too? Probably.
But this wasn’t about me, it was about C. Making it about me was one of the worst things I could do for her and it needed to be about her. I was also mindful this was not some kind of manipulation on my own part about the situation. I didn’t tell her what was running through my head, I didn’t give her lip service about her dating life, I just let her be and encouraged her to tell me more about her gentleman caller because it made her happy.
Is this humility?

Back to the posited statement and also a question: How does one just shut the fuck up and be happy? As you’ve probably get the gist of my thoughts on these topics lately, I hate, HATE, websites and authors and etc who slap on a one size fits all balm on what makes someone happy, grateful, or whatever. We’re told over and over again happiness and the 48 other terms are ours for a short step away. Do this thing. Buy that thing. Wear that thing. But our happiness is not one size fits all. What makes C. happy doesn’t necessarily make me happy and vice versa. We can be supportive of that person’s happiness but we are under no obligation to replicate what makes them happy in our own lives.
What these gurus also fail to tell you is happiness is hard work. It’s fucking really hard work and it will never fucking end. It will be painful and you’re going to want to smack people in the head. There will be times when jealousy reigns supreme or envy takes over your heart. You’re going to be spitting nails at your lover or willing your boss into a cave deep in the mountains.
And you know what? This is normal. Happiness is not a 24/7 thing. We’re human. We’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to fall down. A lot. You’re going to have days of glory. A lot. But what you do with what you learned, like me figuring out C.’s happiness in that moment was number one thing, is what’s going to make all the difference in the world.
And remember we are not perfect.
No matter what that guru tells you, we are not perfect. But do look for the times when small joys, no matter how  silly they may seem, make you smile. That is happiness. Whether it’s the smile of the stranger, the look of a lover, or the smell of freshly cut grass. The goal is to bridge more of these small things into larger and longer things. Look for those moments because they are everywhere.
And that right there, is the big fucking key.
And if you need a reminder, just learn to:

When TheBassist and I began again, he kept talking about coming to fetch me from Michigan to East Coast because that is what he does. I thought it charming and enduring but as the time moved forward, I could see his frustration. I kept leaving and he kept fetching me. The cycle was never ending.
I kept leaving and he kept fetching.
When the relationship ended, I remember he commented he needed to advocate for himself. Now, six months later, I understand what he meant. In that time since then, I held strong to the belief that it was I who needed to fetch him. Even if he kept leaving, I would always fetch him.
Today as I was running errands, a thought occurred to me that it was not one fetching the other. No, it was me fetching myself. He couldn’t do it. My therapists couldn’t do it. I had to do it on my own.
In that second I smiled and I was happy.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2000, 1997

1. I am not joking. I have a piece of paper with 49 descriptors in that same vein on those related topics. And I’m sure there is more.
2. By “wrote her a note” I mean I put pen to a notecard, put the notecard into an envelope, added a stamp, and tossed it into a mailbox to wing its way to her. Not only is she an online BFF, she’s also one of my penpals.
3. If someone has taken a lover at some point in their life and has not bragged near and far about their partner, they are lying through their fucking teeth.
4. While I have been diagnosed by at least four separate doctors over 25 years I am bipolar, ADHD, borderline, and have general anxiety, what sets me apart from others with my gifts is I don’t exhibit traditional destructive behaviours. I don’t drink, do drugs, have wontan sex partners, or anything construed to dangerous. This is why I am a science experiment.


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what the eff does it mean to “let it go”?

Dear Internet,
I woke up feeling particularly sassy this morning so be prepared for lots of salty language.

I’ve been musing about the concept of letting go as of late. But what frustrates me when I go searching for examples is the lack of real world examples. If you tell me X, what does X really look like? Yes, I get everyone’s path is different but what did you do, specifically, to achieve X? The response tends to be some mystical patchouli method, which are slightly helpful but in the end, kind of pointless.
Here is my explanation.

Hate your neighbor? Let it go. Terrible breakup? Let it go. Fighting with your friends? Let it go. Conflict with a colleague? Let it go.
And on, and on, like the repetition of the Disney song of the same name, does it go on for every painful act in your life, the kneejerk response is, let it go.
But what does this mean? How does one let it go? Out comes vague and jargon filled explanation with the zen conduit of non-attachment. The idea here is that if you remove yourself from something, be it a person or an object or situation that is causing you misery, you will gain better clarity and mindfulness into your own life. Viola, you’ve let it go.
But they always forget you to tell you the following is part of the process:

  • What they don’t tell you is while you’re busy simmering in the feelings of fear, pain, and regret, and letting them wash over you, is how fucking painful that process is
  • What they don’t tell you is it’s a long ass process; not something that goes away with a snap of one’s fingers
  • What they don’t tell you is while banging on how this only works when you make the conscious decision of what to or not accept, you’re going to go through a hundred permutations before finding the right combinations and you’re going to be in a lot of pain while you do it
  • What they don’t tell you is how you let go of something varies from person to person and situation to situation, it is not a one stop shop for everyone.
  • What they don’t tell you is that you’re going cycle through these emotions over and over again. One day you’re going to accept that the thing/person/whatever is done/gone and then you’re going to be wailing in grief another day. When the time between those days gets longer, then you are letting go
  • What they don’t tell you is you’ll be working on this, and yourself, for the rest of your life

I beg you once again: What does this look like in real life?

Most of the populace knows about the breakup between TheBassist and I. I was in a fuck ton of emotional pain and to be fair, it was not just about him but also everything about my life up to that moment finally tipped over when he cut the cord. Side step: I’ve said this a zillion times here and on various other places that I have much gratitude for the break up. Without it happening, my life would be a lot worse right now.
Back to the two step.
If you have been a steady reader since October, you have seen the anguish of the break-up. You’ve watched me writhe in pain because I had to write in pain. Moving on, or you know letting go, wasn’t going to happen unless I accepted what had happened was real and when you’re in emotional pain, you’re nowhere near the state of accepting it, hence the attachment.
It had to run its course.
It wasn’t just the online writing where I was writhing in pain, I writhed in real time, wailing and beating my fist against my chest calling mea culpa, mea culpa. Okay, not really — I chain smoked cigarettes, ate a lot of sweets, and cried obtusely on the couch while watching Pride and Prejudice over and over.
I also have a written diary I started right after the break that has 100 pages, at least, solely dedicated to him / us / break up / related. It’s insane, pitiful, and heartbreaking to read. I have only gone back to read it once and I probably won’t do it again. (The remaining 75 or so pages, which brings up to current, moves away from the break-up and more about what’s happening in my life.)
The grieving was everywhere and I, and only me, had to go down this path alone.
In the beginning I was brave and talked about I had already let him go.
But you know, and I know, that was some self-defense mechanism right there. By telling the world I was fine and everything was copacetic, I was moving on with life.
But I wasn’t. I knew I wasn’t but I was tired of people giving me a fixed timetable of when to stop the pain. “Well, it’s been three months, Lisa. Time to get the fuck on.”
In February I said,

Based upon friend’s reactions these last few months, it’s expected I should be discoing my way to someone else. As time marches on, this round of break up many feel I have already said all there is to say about him, the relationship, and the ending. What more could there possibly be? (A lot apparently.)
I spend most days without TheBassist’s presence hovering on the peripheral and then something benign reminds me he hasn’t been thought of and fuck, there he is!
God dammit.
Every couple of therapy sessions there is at least a brief mention of this occurring, how it pisses me off, and how my heart has ghosts of the devastation, which pisses me off even more.
There is no exorcism to dispatch a broken heart.


There is no arbitrary time when one person heals from emotional pain. There is no one fits all recipe. We’re assholes when we try to force the thought of, “Well. It’s been x months. Let them go and move the fuck on.” No one can really explain what “moving the fuck on” really entails or means no matter how much they want to. This is my interpretation of healing. This is how I work. This is what I do.
I’ve said it a million times before: If it takes me writing about it, talking with my shrink about it, or just plain thinking about to get to the point I can be freely undistracted (or triggered) by what happened, at my own pace, then that is totally okay. Fuck the haters.
(We are all changed, even a tiny bit, by the people important in our lives. To attempt to eradicate them emotionally and mentally is fucking impossible, unless you are a psychopath but that is not here nor there.)
These are some of the things I need to remember when the time comes to meet and accept someone or I will not have learned a fucking thing.

Friends always think they are trying to be helpful but to me, to you, in the end we want to punch them in the throat.

The letting go process started in December, when someone in his circle said unto thee,

TheBassist loves me and he always will, but I was a 24/7 flight risk. TheBassist broke down Borderline Personality Disorder and how I was sabotaging my life. He would never say never, but now? No.
It was in that moment when a switch flipped in my brain and everything changed. Something about the explanation of BPD TheBassist gave to the friend was that click. TheBassist knew, he’s always known.

When you end things with someone, doesn’t matter who does it, one of you wants to desperately talk to the other. About what? Doesn’t fucking matter; there is just this urgent need to talk. This is part of the attachment, if we don’t let go then it doesn’t end and if it doesn’t end, then there is hope. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a zillion types of pain because you still have something to hold on to.
So when the friend tells me the above, whatever burning need I had to talk to TheBassist dissipated. Poof. Just like that. This was the first hurdle that I sorely, desperately, needed to start letting him go.
The second hurdle came later which is the day I realised I was okay with the idea of dating again. I wasn’t holding myself to this impossible position of waiting until he came back, if he came back. If he did, great. If he didn’t, also great.  If not him, there would be others. I would seriously deep like again (I’m still doubtful of the whole “falling in love” business) and there would be  future lovers; a girl has needs. I had also accepted, without too much heartache, he is or will be dating again. In the end I just wanted him to be happy and if it wasn’t me, then I had to accept he would be happier with someone else.
All I have ever wanted was for him to be happy.
The third hurdle came when a few weeks ago my therapist noted TheBassist was no longer on my top five list of things to talk about. I was barely mentioning him other than an aside. “I found a present he gave me and I put it in his box”; that kind of thing. Most of my conversations these days were of the “Okay, this is what I want to fix” variety rather than some diatribe about TheBassist or related.
The fourth hurdle came a week or so ago when I came to the realization that other than the occasional mention in passing, he wasn’t dominating my thoughts or actions anymore. I was doing things for me and only for me.
The fifth hurdle, which has been ongoing, has been me not trying to put my hand back in the fire. I do not stalk his FB (or related) pages (truly); I do not read his Twitter; I do not read past emails or messages from him.  I’ve mentioned him on my public FB timeline once, a couple of week ago, as an example for a point I was making. I have told mutual friends I do not want to know if he’s dating. I am still friendly with all of his friends that FB BFF’d me in the beginning of it all, but he is never the topic or alluded to in conversation. Last week was the first time since October I asked a mutual friend how TheBassist was doing. Oh, I knew he was fine and kicking ass all over the place, but I wanted the confirmation, which I got. I asked if TheBassist asked about me and the answer, which I already knew, was “no.”
I wasn’t surprised and I wasn’t upset. I just accepted it at face value.
I do not put myself in positions where I feel I may get hurt or triggered. I have let it go.
There will be more hurdles, I’m sure, coming down my way but the hard parts are over. The next series will be smaller and easier. I have learned much and this will be the guide I need to continue moving on.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about a belief where I believe (truly) when treetops sway, the gods are talking to me. I always feel better, especially when I’ve been at Throbbing Cabin, sitting peacefully outside listening to the world around me and especially to the gods.
As time moved on, when TheBassist and I started getting more involved, I could always feel him around me when we were apart and when the treetops swayed. I would marvel, sitting on the front porch of Throbbing Manor, watching the sky streak from daylight to sunset, cigarette in my mouth, how close he felt to me, I could feel his arms around me. No matter where I was, if the treetops were swaying and we were apart, I could feel his physicality against me, his chest to my back, chin on my head, I would wrap my arms around myself and smile, knowing wherever he was, he was thinking of me and that he loved me.
When I told TheBassist this a few months into our relationship, and told him dates and times, he responded he was missing / thinking / loving me at those times. I don’t know if he humoured me because he liked this world I had created or if he truly believed it, but nevertheless, I always felt better to believe that it to be true.
But the crazier I got, the more I was out of control, the treetops stopped swaying and I could no longer feel him. Maybe I should I have listened to the gods all those months ago.
I was outside a week or so ago, walking Thursday as you do, when the wind picked up an the treetops swayed. I hadn’t thought about that otherworldly feeling of him around me in months at least since the break-up. But here we are, me standing in the middle of the grassy knoll, Thursday chasing the wind, and the treetops are swaying like mad. And here he was, around me, nothing said and everything understood. It may seem silly, or too woo-woo, or even you may believe JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, LISA you just broken down the method of letting go and you end with woo-woo and gods and treetops swaying. What in thee fuck?
I think that’s the biggest things these gurus and experts and the woo-woo purveyors also forget to tell us is: We carry our experiences with us, no matter what or who they are and no matter what has happened. We’re shaped and influenced by them, they are a part of us. To dismiss it is to dismiss respect of me or you and who I am or who you are. We’re not going to have the same experiences, or the same interpretation of the experiences, or the same outcomes — but that doesn’t make them any less valid! (That is what also pisses me off — a lot of these explanations are treated as one size fits all. NOT EVERYTHING WORKS FOR EVERYBODY.)
I do not read meaning into the treetop swaying woo-woo or the feeling of him around me, but it does give me comfort that no matter how wide the gulf of us may be, there will always another time and place where for a brief second, our worlds were together and they were perfect.
The regret I carry, and is of mine alone, is the wish I had been less crazy when we got together. Different decisions would be made and of course the outcomes would have not been the same. Even if we still broke it off under different reasons I would do it all over again.
But as we know, me most of all, this is not what happened and I cannot change the past no matter what kind of deals I make with the devil. This is where we are and tomorrow is going to be different but in these times in between, I am letting him go.
(And now I do some fucking yoga.)

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2011


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your taste in men is weird

Ólafur Darri Ólafsson from the Icelandic TV series, Trapped

Dear Internet,
After several episodes of the Icelandic tv series Trapped, the lead, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, has my current lustful admiration. When I declared he was my one true love to TheExHusband, he looked at me with a quizzical look — “Your taste in men is weird.”
Which I suppose is true.
If you’ve been hanging around me here or on various other social media spaces, you’ll see me often comment about my future husbands (and wives). This seems to make people uncomfortable with one of the biggest complaints of, “If you’re with $nameoflover, why are you lusting over other people?” Many saw it as some form of disloyalty because obviously I wanted more than what was being given in my current relationship.
This is poppycock.
Rebuttal 1. It’s a fantasy. The likelihood of myself partnering up with any of those people is about as great as winning the Powerball. Anyone who says they don’t fantasize is lying through their teeth.
Rebuttal 2. I can control the fantasy. Simple enough: When I’m day dreaming about  X, I control the what, when, and where (obviously we already have the who).
Rebuttal 3. It’s not so much the actor whom I’m lusting after but their character in a particular movie / tv series / whatever. All of them are gorgeous in their own right but it’s their portrayal in whatever I’ve seen them is what sets my heart aflutter.
Rebuttal 4. Men have been objectifying women since the dawn of time. While men continue to remain the ones in power, I have no qualms on turning the tables on them.
Rebuttal 5. It’s fun.

Here are a couple of examples of my current loves of my lives.

My darling Ólafur plays Andri, the chief of police in a sleepy, remote hamlet in eastern Iceland, in the Icelandic tv series Trapped  (which is currently available on BBC’s iPlayer1). The series is best compared to Fargo (the tv series). Throw in a blizzard, human trafficking, murders, a titch of romance and it’s obvious Ólafur has a lot to do. He’s 6’5 (always a plus), silent, clever, and brooding. (Brooding is always important.) But it’s not so much the tallness or the cleverness that pulls at my heart strings, whether it’s the simmering passion below the surface. The way he is passionate about his work, how he looks at his ex-wife, how he wants to do always do the right thing even if is at the expense of his own safety. There is depth that remains unexplored and ladies and gentlemen, I want to explore that depth.
(I’m not the only whose noticed Ólafur’s allure.)

Shawn Cortese from the TV series, Nothing Trivial

I subscribe to Acorn, a streaming service that specilizes in British (and sometimes Australian and New Zealand) tv series with an odd movie here and there.2 Nothing Trivial3 is a series based in Auckland, NZ about a group of misfits who met via a weekly pub trivia quiz. Shawn Cortese, which I’m sure many would argue is hot in his own right as a silver fox, plays Mac, a staid advertising man going through an acrimonious divorce. His love for Katherine, another pub quiz member, is buried beneath their pretense on being friends. As one does, their love ruptures when they’ve been drinking and ends with, “No. No. We can’t do this.” In one particular scene where he and Katherine are in a passionate embrace, he throws her down on the floor and rips her panties off with his teeth which leant me to giggle lasciviously. (Well, he rips her panties off in a lustful manner, which is the same thing.)
At first glance, Cortese’s character is nothing what you would expect me to generate impure thoughts™. He wears button downs and khakis. He’s in advertising. He has a big boy job. He drinks wine for christ’s sake. If I saw him in a bar, I would grant he was attractive but dismiss him almost immediately. But all it took was that one second action that would have me throw myself at him at first opportunity.
I’m such a hussy.

Most of those I meet expect me to woo at men like Henry Rollins. Tattooed. Cranky. Obvious rebel. Creative. Amitous. It makes sense: I’m tattooed. Cranky. Obvious rebel. Creative and ambitious. But there is much more to this world than just obvious physical attraction. The older I get the nuanced my love gets. Primarily, I look for wit and intelligence4. How they treat their families and friends. What they are passionate about and what they are interested in. They need to have spirit and soul. The more intense the better.
There needs to be more than great thighs, big hands, and height.
(And may the gods help me if they look at me like they are going to eat me up.)
(Obviously accents help)
It’s not their physical characteristic that makes me crazy about them, which does help, it’s these characters that burns them into my soul. This is why I love these men with the fire of a 1000 suns.5

Rebuttal 6: Taking control of my sexuality and sensuality.
When you’re a fat girl, the stereotype that continues to perpetuate is no one will love you let alone find you sexy. You will never find a partner who is going to adore you let alone desire you.
When it’s drilled into your head by words, images, and media you will not now nor ever will be seen as the object of someone’s lust, you believe it. The self-loathing is so deep even masturbation is overshadowed by your own self-hatred and touching yourself is taboo. The longer you go without a partner, the more evident it is, to you, all of those fat girl songs are true.
And the adage of, “If you don’t want you, who will?” continues to reverberate through your brain.
The equation is: No one will find you attractive + your self-loathing of your own body = more proof no one will ever want to date you.
It’s a catch-22.
And if they do love you, desire you, lust after you, it’s because you are a fetish and not a person.
No matter my weight, for most of my life I thought this all to be true.
In my early 30s, as I ended a serious relationship and was starting a new chapter in my life, I started to harness the passion that was I knew was simmering below the surface. Everything was sensuous from the food I ate to the perfume I wore to the fabric against my skin. Everything was to be loved and it would love me back.
And it did.
That is when the world opened up in new ways — the more I loved me, the more others loved me. Despite the often crippling social anxiety tossed about with bits of self-loathing, I was not always lousy with others wanting me but this was different. The confidence I was slowly building helped changed me on the approach and reciprocation of relationships, platonic and romantic. The self-loathing was beaten at bay and with that came self-esteem and self-respect.
All of this is tenuous. Fragile. Delicate. That brief period when I not only was in love with the world and myself was short. All that hard work started to slide when I started dating TheEx and by the middle of my marriage a few years later, the idea of someone finding me desirous was laughable.
It took everything I had to hold a shred of self-respect.
Then as I was then, here I was now: No one was ever going to find me desirable let alone love me and all of this came crashing to a head in October 2015.
It takes everything to hold on to a modicum of self-respect.
From a stranger’s glance, you know this is not necessarily true. Within the last couple of years, I have (had) two men declare I was the love of their lives. I have had many tell me, without fetishizing me, how wonderful was my body. Everything about me has been adored in some fashion or another.
I shouldn’t feel unloved or not lusted after and yet here we are.
Self-loathing has packed its bags and decided I was a long term stay Air BnB. Any good that came out of that period when I was in love with myself has long left. When I look in the mirror now, it’s very seldom I see an attractive person in front me. Instead I see myself as fat. Ugly. Not the least bit sexual or sensual.
Much as I felt in my 20s and late 30s.
At the root, logically, I know this not to be true. i know if I can bring out the sexy goddess who lives deep inside of me once, I can do it again. It’s going to be a struggle. It’s going to be hard. It’s not going to be pretty, but I will rescue her now as I had all those years ago and this time she will stay for good
So yes, there will be much lustful conversations about what turns me on. This body, my body, does not contain an unsensual, let alone unsexual, persona. I keep saying logically, but it’s true, logically I know that what I believe is bullshit — it’s the emotional crap that fucks you up and beats you down so bad you’re part of the floor.
You may not find this to be tasteful or have a purpose or part of your mores, but this isn’t your life, it’s my life. It’s time to tell the naysayers and the evil voices who make my life miserable to suck it haters and I’ll bloom like a fucking flower.
P.S. And dimples. Can’t forget the dimples. Also someone who can raise their eyebrow to give you a most stern look. No why that particular feat of muscular control drives me to lust but yes, yes it does.

1. I’ve been raving about the show after mainlining all 10 episodes over the last couple of days. If you can find it, I implore you to watch!
2. Acorn was the first service to have Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries long before it was on PBS or Amazon.
3. I’ve also mainlined Nothing Trivial‘s seasons 1 and 2 and am impatiently waiting for season 3 to show up on Acorn. Maybe if I sacrifice something? I’m on pins and needles here.
4. If you believe in such things, the average IQ score of my previous mens hovers in the 150 range.
5. The conversation with regards to my love life can be distilled to the two most important men in my life: TheBassist and TheExHusband. I loved the others as much as they’d let me but they never quite caught my heart as much as TheBassist or TheExHusband, especially TheBassist. The general quip I hear when I have said there will never be anyone else like him is, “Of course not! Those are separate people, etc etc.” To which I respond, “You poor soul. You have no idea do you?” Fuck ’em.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2014


Dear Internet,
If you missed it, the last couple of days I’ve been recording audio of various love poems. I planned on doing one a day until Happy Massacred Heart day, but I’m currently feeling a little eh right now, so WHO KNOWS if I’ll finish the series.

I’m coming up on nearly a month of being smoke free! With what money I have left in my checking, I’m transferring $12 a week (what I paid for two packs of cigarettes) to my savings to get an idea of how much I’ve saved since I quit smoking.
I expect millions.

I start rugby practice Monday.
I know. Rugby. WHO KNEW.
Level of entry is pretty cheap. I stole clothes from TEH (from his skinnier days which equal my fat days) and the only big purchase was my cleats (I wear a size 11 womens or an 8.5 mens. I had to buy a size 9.5 mens for my cleats because the fuckers run small. But hey! Cleats!) and the small purchase of my mouthguard. I’ll also have to get game day socks and shorts1 down the road.
I’ve either played or tried other sports before this; tennis, softball, and basketball to name a few. I either didn’t like them or couldn’t play for shit. Rugby seems to take advantage of my size and aggression and it’s a well known fact I have tree trunks for legs (I’m nice and sturdy) plus I love finding new ways to get my aggression out. If I ever move to a place where I can hang a punching bag, boxing is so going to happen.
Wanting to play rugby has been a long time coming. When I was still married, I tried to get a rugby team started in Grand Rapids, but it fell apart as there were only three of us gung ho about the idea and you need 15 people on the field. I don’t know what sparked me to start looking in L-Ville, but boom! Two seconds searching and I found an active team. Practice starts on Monday!
I have games all over the Ohio Valley region through March and April, so if you’re in Louisville, Nashville, Youngstown, Lexington, Cincinnati, or Dayton, let me know and I’ll give you info about those games for you to come cheer me on! (I’ll post the fall schedule, the second season, if I’m still in L-Ville at that time. Yay tree trunk legs!)

How do we get over heartbreak? No one really knows2 yet everyone seems to think they have the answer.
After reading Girl on the Net’s piece, I started thinking about my recent heartbreak and the process to heal.
Based upon friend’s reactions these last few months, it’s expected I should be discoing my way to someone else. As time marches on, this round of break up many feel I have already said all there is to say about him, the relationship, and the ending. What more could there possibly be? (A lot apparently.)
I spend most days without TheBassist’s presence hovering on the peripheral and then something benign reminds me he hasn’t been thought of and fuck, there he is!
God dammit.
Every couple of therapy sessions there is at least a brief mention of this occurring, how it pisses me off, and how my heart has ghosts of the devastation, which pisses me off even more.
There is no exorcism to dispatch a broken heart.

There is, however, only one thing of his that has remained in my life and that is the hair wraps I made out of one of his workout shirts3. The hair wrap thoughts are along the lines of when I’m getting out of the shower with and “Oh. A t-shirt hair wrap.” rather than some deep rooted creepiness on my part. I will admit, however, during the throes of the early stages of the break-up, I swore to never wash the shirt again as it still smelled of him (I sniffed it a lot. Don’t judge.), to never pack it away so I have a constant reminder of him, and all of this has led to letting those feelings go except with, “I need t-shirt hair wrap. Here is one handy. Cool.” (And yes, they do get washed on a weekly basis.)

I don’t have an exact time frame of when my heart began to heal when he broke it off with me in 2005. I know I dated a rebound guy a few months later, which was good times as rebound guy cried on my shoulder about his ex-fiance and I cried on his shoulder about TheBassist. I can safely guess I was open to the idea of seriously dating someone around the time I started dating TheEx in the fall of 2006. Heart beginning to heal sometime before then? Most likely. I was writing mainly on LiveJournal in those days, I didn’t divulge my soul, and I was not paper journaling so the timing is not terribly clear.

Then we had a few months of long conversations and one weekend together. Now we had a year of conversations and many months of living together. Both crammed with so much stuff in those too short times.

There have been twinges of him, sure, throughout the years. I checked TheBassist’s LiveJournal on occasion in the beginning, my heart hurting when he talked about his beautiful wife and wonderful family. Eventually I stopped torturing myself and let that piece of my heart be put to rest. This time after the great FB unfriending5, within a few weeks I stopped looking at his profile or any other social media we shared. Currently I’ve been navigating around any type of interaction of him within our mutual friends updates. I am the queen of curating Facebook news feeds.

We once agreed it was all or nothing. It is now nothing.

On some days when I’m alone and feeling particularly sad, there tends to be benign event that gets me thinking, and thinking leads to yearning, and yearning leads to heartache.
Those days are few and far between.

What I think about the most is not what has transpired from our time together, but a fear that at some point I will mark him as a memory of when I was high manic and crashed or I did not love him after all. I was delusional then and now about our relationship; fantasies were never meant to be real. I feel despondent when others tell me he was just the rebound guy from the dissolution of my marriage and all the trappings rebounds entail. That I am more upset my ego was bruised rather than the loss of him. That the words whispered in my ear about his predilections and indiscretions before me or hints of all the promises of forever was not for me alone but also repeated to all of his previous loves.
I was not as special as he said I was.

What I also often fear is one day he’ll put all the pieces together and believe he held out for an ideology rather than for reality so he never loved me at all. That everything he said and promised was nothing more than a huge mistake and he rued the day he found me again.

That is the borderline speaking.
I doubt my feelings, my emotions so I can be easily swayed by others opinions of what I should be feeling. I doubt his feelings, his emotions and I believe he too can be easily swayed by opinions, though history dictates this is not true. But the voice inside my head insists that is true and I get out of control.
It is far easier for me to create a world where it was all a huge mistake, and thus less responsibility for our actions, our selves. Nothing was real, whatever that means.
If I want to heal and move forward, it’s not about reconciling the logic and the emotion the relationships is over because that is already being dealt with but it’s about believing in myself and my feelings. Believing in him and his feelings. Stop second guessing every intent and act. A million decisions lead up to then and now. This is what is true.
Something I am having a hard time in believing as I think I can change the past as easy was with a snap of my fingers and the outcome would be much different.

Knowing I did and do love him. From the way he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose with a knuckle on his right hand to his rapid fire response when he was passionate about a topic to the way his feet felt when I rubbed them after a long gig.
Knowing he did and does love me. From the way I looked at him with my amazing (his words) eyes to my happiness being dependent on coffee and rides around cloverleafs to how I felt in his arms.
This is not about wish fulfillment of futures yet to be revealed; it’s about taking what I experienced and using it to learn to heal. To move forward. To not make the same mistakes again.

The few times I tried to reach out, in the beginning of the breakup in regards to things that needed to be settled, I was ceremoniously rebuffed. I may write here the longing for him, but I do not go begging back to those who act as if they do not want me. This could be the bipolar megalomania speaking but no matter of how low I am, this is a consistent self-respect I have for myself .
I never have gone begging for someone and I never will.
Remember: He left.

At some point I will date again. I am not going to stop living my life because he is gone. And I will need to place faith and trust in someone without reservation. I need to not assume after fights they are going to leave me and I need not question why they like me.
I have no intention of clinging to our life together as the end all be all to the point I am paralyzed by being alone or with someone else – I am not that unrealistic or truth be told, not shying away from taking a future lover. A girl has needs.
I need to put faith in myself to set boundaries, healthy boundaries, and learn how to negotiate a relationship without expecting the world on a string.
I am, however, pretty damned sure while others may come close (and go), there will never be anyone like him.
And I don’t want there to be.
(You could be an asshole and argue how no one is the same; no one is like another. I know that. He hit all the major points, something only one other person has come close to doing, and that will be what my soul will ache but continue to look for and the likelihood of finding someone like that will near impossible. So I’ll take the lovers and the suitors but it will be a goddamned miracle before I get heavily involved again.)
I need to have faith and trust in myself in all relationships, platonic and romantic.
To be happy.

There is no arbitrary time when one person heals from emotional pain. There is no one fits all recipe. We’re assholes when we try to force the thought of, “Well. It’s been x months. Let them go and move the fuck on.” No one can really explain what “moving the fuck on” really entails or means no matter how much they want to. This is my interpretation of healing. This is how I work. This is what I do.
I’ve said it a million times before: If it takes me writing about it, talking with my shrink about it, or just plain thinking about to get to the point I can be freely undistracted (or triggered) by what happened, at my own pace, then that is totally okay. Fuck the haters.
(We are all changed, even a tiny bit, by the people important in our lives. To attempt to eradicate them emotionally and mentally is fucking impossible, unless you are a psychopath but that is not here nor there.)
These are some of the things I need to remember when the time comes to meet and accept someone or I will not have learned a fucking thing.

1. No matter what sport I try to play, finding Lisa-sized clothes is always a fucking pain in the ass. The people complain about fat people being lazy assholes but the people won’t provide clothes for the fat people to work out in. I suppose it’s one of life’s mysteries .
2. They also know if you’re in emotional pain, taking acetaminophen can help. No joke.
3. Krazy Kate, whose hair is similiar to mine, convinced me to wash and style my hair with products free of parabens, *cones, and SLS.4 T-shirts are more absorbent for hair than towels, which is why I’m being I’ve kept said t-shirt. If you must know, my hair looks fabulous.
4. Too long of list of products I use but for shampoo / conditioner, I’m totally digging Burt’s Bees.
5. Let us not forget after all he dumped me via Facebook, something I quite right have to bristle about.

This Day in Lisa-Universe:

you are beautiful because you are here

Silly week 2 – February 9, 2016

Dear Internet,
Tuesday is post a silly picture day!  You can keep track on the page or over at my instagram.

When I published everything you f*cking need to know to be happy (but were afraid to ask) yesterday, I thought it would be a good idea to start breaking down some of the things I struggle with.
Today, it’s compliments.
The battle that rages inside is when someone compliments me on anything – appearance, work, or whatever, I think they want something. Because when someone tells you something nice, there is a condition attached to that compliment.
Today is a good example. I take the silly picture and post it on my FB and instagram pages. People compliment how pretty I am.
What do they want?
I struggle to find a way to answer. I used to be self-deprecating about those compliments but then I started thinking people would take the self-deprecation for shilling. So I stopped the self-deprecation and started thanking them instead and by changing my verbal response, I am begin the long road of accepting myself.

The gratitude of thanking people started when TheBassist and I were dating. I would tell him how much I liked/loved/adored X,Y,Z. How very handsome he is (because he is). What a great body / body part / thing he did because I saw it to be true. I know others think/thought the same way about him. So what was the problem? (It’s inconceivable to me others might have self-hatred issues. Everyone else is awesome!)
He always said something along the lines of the years of self-hatred, it’s hard for him to accept the things that people see about him. He doesn’t see them in himself so why would others see them in him?
Thus, whenever you tell him something kind about himself (he’s handsome, wonderful bass player, fabulous intellect, etc) he says, “Thank you.” No qualifiers, no explanation, just two words. He’s learning to start loving himself.
Thank. You.

My self-loathing runs deep and as far as my view of my attractiveness or brilliance1, I don’t see it. That’s not entirely true — I know there are attractive features about myself physically (I have great breasts, my eyes are fabulous, my hair is pretty killer) and mentally (I enjoy and have conversational skills on many things, I can often make people laugh), but as an overall package? No. I don’t see it.

A couple of years ago before TheBassist came back, the implosion of my marriage to TheExHusband is simmering below the surface. One discussion was already under our belts about how unhappy I was in our marriage and the reasons why. He didn’t want to see a couples counselor. I felt stuck. It wasn’t as if I didn’t love him, but the pain of being married to him was getting to be unbearable and I could not conjure up a reasonable explanation to leave him.2
TheExHusband and I’s love life had already begun the decimation. He said some pretty awful things. I took those awful things to heart. I would silently cry when watching any kind of romantic shenanigans on TV or in movies. I wouldn’t leave my husband, I was relatively young, but then I saw the rest of my life being in a near sex-less marriage. Having passion? Hah. Hah. Hah.
Not long after that discussion, I flew out to California for a job interview. It was a last ditch effort on my part to see if I could get a job before I left my old place of employment (and before getting serious about the writing). An old friend, whom I’ve known since my days with ExFiance #2, lives about an hour away from my hotel. Old friend and I recently got in touch after not speaking for years. We agree to hang out when I’m in California to catch up, have dinner, the usual.
Now I haven’t seen old friend in over a decade at this point. I’ve aged, I’ve gained weight, and I’m nervous about seeing him because I’m already assuming he’s going to find me an ignorant, fat slob which only adds to my loaded self-esteem issues. I need everyone to like me even if I perceive myself to be an ignorant, fat slob.
We make plans for dinner, he gets in touch when he’s in the lobby, and here we go. I swallow the bile of my thoughts and proceed down stairs. As I turn the corner, he’s leaning up against one of the pillars.
He’s grown insanely hot. He’s tall. His intellect is amazing. He plays hockey and his body just simply rocks. The rush of lust confirms I was not dead in the desire department, but logically and reasonably, I knew I couldn’t act on those feelings. I made a commitment to TheExHusband. I gave him my word. Somehow I had to fix my marriage but now?
Now here was lust. Desire. I bathed in it.
So there is old friend and I’m tongue tied. I am lusting after him and yet the bile of hatred is now brimming because there is no fucking way he’s going to want to have dinner, let alone desire me.
What the fuck am I going to do?
We scamper across the Bay Area, I get slightly drunk, and we end the night on hugs. I knew if I didn’t not get the fuck out of there, I was going to make a move and not only was in that moment would I be fucking up my marriage (I gave my word) but I was also ruining the beginning of a close friendship, with the bonus of adding more to the hating of one’s self for being an ass. Besides. He probably didn’t see me with the same lust, so hey, this is all working out. Off to prep for the interview I go.
Cut ahead a few months when old friend and I are chatting online and the only thing I remember about that trip was, other than the fact I didn’t get the job, I had empirical proof I was not dried up. So I tell old friend, with much bravado, if I had stayed later that night or called him after my interview the following night for dinner, I would have made a massive pass towards him – hah hah hah. I am hilarious.
Except he tells me if I had, it wouldn’t have been turned down.
Shut the front door.
Turns out old friend has had a massive crush on me since the days when ExFiance #2 and I were together. ExFiance #2 knew about it, old friend’s wife knew about it, and they would tease him.
Me? No. Fucking. Idea.
(I always act surprised when I find out someone has even thinks I’m remotely attractive. As if I’m not worthy for that persons lust/desire/admiration or they are fulfilling some kind of fetish. When they tell me years later, I’m even more flabbergasted.)

Compliments and admiration are multiple edged sword: They give you the admiration you desire from people, they reaffirm the good work you’ve done on X, they make you feel good, but they can be intimidating as hell. These feelings negate the the admiration someone has just given you, whether you’re looking particularly nice that day, wrote a brilliant piece, or you did something kind for them.
We all want to feel good about ourself but it’s hard to accept this kindness especially for those of us who have years, nay decades, of self-hatred to chip through.

There are a couple of things we need to remember:

  • When we feel like shit about ourselves, remember these are just thoughts. They cannot hurt or harm you.
  • Having thoughts about X is a shared human emotion. When you’re not feeling particularly kind about yourself, someone else is having a similiar or exact thought about themselves that very moment. This is not to say you two should have a pity party but that
  • You’re not alone
  • You can be kind to yourself by being thankful for what you have. Once you can accept on being kind to yourself, you will be more receptive to people being kind to you

It will take a long time, no arbitrary date can be set, but anyone can forgive and love themselves. I know you can.

Today I am grateful for my readers, far and wide, who share with me their own struggles and dreams. Who feel my word resonate with them. Who find me funny, brilliant, or just a bit goofy. Who think I have much to give to this world and yes, who think I’m attractive.
Thank. You.
P.S. As I was writing this, and the second I hit publish, the very first thought in my mind was those reading were going to think I was shilling for compliments. This is why it’s important to ditch the self-hatred because it gets you no where.

1. I have a post on this very topic hanging out in the wings. I need to summon up the courage to post it.
2. He has seen a therapist, he is now on anti-depressants, and we’ve had long conversations about this period in our life and he’s very contrite. He’s not a bad guy – he was just in a terrible place.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2015,  2013

and how we’re guilt-stricken, sobbin’ with our heads on the floor

Dear Internet,
I woke up at 4:08 AM today and the dream was innocuous about someone I know on the internets. I was able to go back to sleep fairly quickly. This will make sense further on.

I’m going to apologize and tell you this is another ripping off the bandaid confessional.
It is what I do best

With all of the emotional upheaval in the last few years, I run through my mind similiar experiences to compare and contrast as to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. I was stuck on ExFiance #1 this weekend because the relationship with him, to me, was almost identical to my relationships to TheBassist and TheExHusband.1
So I obsess and I stew. Stew and obsess some more. What keeps repeating itself through all of this obsessing and stewing is what a horrible person I am.
It was a good weekend.

ExFiance #1 and I had our first date in August of 1996.

I was working at a Blockbuster and he was working as a welder and he came into my video store 3x a week. I’d flirt with him and he’d flirt back and he will tell you he fell in love with me before we even went on a date! The night he asked me out, we were talking in the parking lot for an hour and “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (and I feel fine)” by REM came on the radio and I had danced in the parking lot like a madwoman.

And our relationship become complicated fast. Up until then, I had never met anyone who was close to being like me in terms of style, desires, and likes. It was heady. He proposed and I said yes, then I ran 3K miles away to San Francisco.
The back and forth started then and got progressively worse. When we had other relationships going on, we’d sleep with the other. When we were engaged to other people, we’d sleep with each other. No matter what state we lived in, we would find a way to fuck. We could not stop fucking our way through everything and fuck all who came between us, they just did not understand.
ExFiance #1 will tell you he put his life on hold for me.
Once I was done being an asshole, a liar, and cheating on perfectly good guys with him, I put my own foot down of my nefarious behaviour, asking him that I wanted to be killed off or made the main character in his life.
He killed me off.

He got engaged to someone else, a Lisa-Lite. “She’s everything like you, but not you. And not crazy” which is always reassuring. By “crazy” he is not referring to my mental shenanigans.
When the fucking between ExFiance #1 and I went completely dead, we tried to be friends and decided to double date with our current partners. I was dating a nice boy from Detroit2, ExFiance #1 had his Lisa-Lite, what could go wrong?
The double date adventure turned out to be a hilarious event or a big mistake depending on who you ask. The nice boy from Detroit looked almost identical to ExFiance #1 and Lisa-Lite looked nearly identical to me.
Everyone noticed.
There was a few embarrassed coughs and remarks made. I don’t remember if we ended up going out or if the nice boy from Detroit and I hustled our way out of there.
I am trying to recall if I saw ExFiance #1 after that, but I don’t think I did.
Until I started working at a bookstore.

2005 was a banner year. TheBassist broke it off with me twice. An old friend removed me from his life. A guy I was locally dating dumped me when I found out that my mother had cancer. I almost flunked the first semester of my first master’s program.
I’m not sure how ExFiance #1 found out where I was working, but he started coming to the store every month or so to see how I was doing. I didn’t think anything about his behaviour. I didn’t read into that he wanted me back, I didn’t read into it I wanted him back. Our toxic relationship was finally over and laid to rest.
Until the day he came in to tell me he had officially proposed to Lisa-Lite, they were planning their wedding (I obviously was not invited), and the big kicker? He told me he bought her a black diamond ring and suggested, seriously, I should go buy a pair of black diamond earrings to match her ring
I looked at him stunned, wished him a happy marriage (What the fuck DO you say in these situations?) and went to the break room and cried. Half hour? Maybe more, maybe less.
That was the last time I ever saw him.

I woke up Monday morning, at 3:20 AM, in a near hysterics. In my dream, I was in front of TheBassist discussing something, of which I do not remember, and but then I mention his (in my dream I presumed this was true) current romantic relationship3. He said the one he had told me was over then, was new now. I said you told me you used to not have feelings for her and it was long since dead. He was silent. I continued on, but now you have feelings for her? He just gave me this look that told me everything.
Then I woke up.
I was emotionally nauseous while I laid in bed and cuddled the fuck out of Teddy.
Sleep was elusive, fits and starts. I woke up 20 minutes before I was to leave for my therapy appointment.
I was not in a good mood.

Being emotionally nauseous is the term I use when I get emotionally shocked. My stomach cramps but I cannot throw up, my throat is a field of acid burn but it cannot be tamed by anti-acids, and my heart aches. Sometimes there is a headache, sometimes not and those cannot be erased with pills.
In the beginning of something ending, I torture myself by sniffing shirts, looking at old pictures, etc. It is anathema to my well being. Then I compartmentalize the emotions, the physical goods, any other reminders of that thing.
It is only then when I feel like I can begin to breathe.

I have never publicly admitted this but I have ExFiance #1 name tattooed on my left calf. It was done when the “relationship” was at its height, when I was convinced I could win him back. Let bygones be bygones, start fresh.
The tattoo was designed as to not look like a name but if you know it is there, it is obvious. When the toxicity was over, the “relationship” buried, I had another tattoo designed to be its mirror now it looks like some tribal bullshit.

And since we are among friends, during the height of TheExHusband and I’s marriage, I had a thorn done on my left wrist to symbolize our love. Why a thorn? TheExHusband was originally to be named Thor and I love medieval history.
Because if I am not anything but predictable, for TheBassist I had one his tattoos influenced onto my right forearm. His reaction was mixed. He loved the idea, but he was grumpy as to my use due to the words come from the first lines of the first song of an album by a band he loves. I argued while that is true, the sentiment is incredibly applicable to me. I believe we left it at that.
(Because I will beat a dead horse into the ground, for months (and it’s scary to say coming up on years), I’ve wanted to do a separate tattoo from to signify TheBassist.  I have other tattoos to get, so that one is down the road a bit, but when it is done, it will not be publicly announced and will only be explained when asked.
But I know exactly where I’m going to put it.)
(Because I know you’re going to ask, the tattoos for each of them symbolize a memento mori of the relationship. A reminder, if you will, of what is/was important and what I’ve (fucking hopefully) have learned.)

For ExFiance #1, I threw his engagement ring down a well when I was living in California. The rings were cheap bands we bought at a kiosk in some mall. I have no idea of the things he gave me went — more than likely burned, donated, or tossed out.

Does anyone else get emotionally nauseous? I have no idea. I don’t think I’ve ever discussed this with someone — ever. I’ve realized over the years the general we do not go beneath the skin to the really ugly parts of our psyche. As long as we are shallow, everything is okay.
It is things like this that despite the bipolar, despite every other fucking malady, I’ve always felt like I was crazy.
Wouldn’t you?

I brain dumped all of the obsessing over ExFiance #1 to my therapist on Monday. I cried when I was telling the story and beat myself up. “I’m an asshole,” I said. “I ruin everything,” I said. “The back and forth with ExFiance #1 was exactly the same as with TheBassist and TheExHusband!”, I wailed. On and on went the flagellanting of my soul.
She disagreed.
43 year old Lisa is not the same as 24 year old Lisa. Were you diagnosed bipolar then? Yes, I said. Did ExFiance #1 know? No, I said. So he had no idea on the status of your mental health? Yes, I said. Were you medicated? Seeing a therapist? No, I said.
You’re not the same. The relationships are not the same.
Don’t forget how ExFiance #1 treated you. He lied to you. If he cheated on his fiancee with you, he would have cheated on you with someone else. Don’t forget the awful things he said to you. (Brain screams, “But he was punishing me for the constant leaving and going!”) He is not punishing you. When you moved back to Grand Rapids in 2003, he tried to coerce you into sex when you didn’t want to (and almost succeeded) which he then turned into constant “teasing” of not sleeping with him. How he was insanely jealous and had problems with your male friends. He had no friends himself and you are his entire world. He had a child from a previous relationship and did not tell you until much later. Every single compliment was double edged and followed by “you should still be so lucky I still want you5.”
I was desperate, he said. Desperate for him.
I reasoned away everything with I never knew anyone like him and he loved me and I loved him back.
Yes, you may have had issues but do not forget he was an asshole to you. He treated you shabbily.
He was toxic. You are/were better off without him.
You deserve more.
More importantly? TheBassist and TheExHusband are not the same person to each other and they are not the same as ExFiance #1.
Best thing? You are self-aware of the mistakes made and you want to make sure you do not repeat them in the future.

Half the time I do not know who I am.

When I came home later, I reiterate the entire therapy session to TheExHusband. I left nothing out. Deep breath, sip my drink, more confessions come out of my mouth. I repeat this pattern until the story is told.
He agrees with the therapist. He and TheBassist were aware and could handle (to a large degree) the crazy. I didn’t cheat and the lying that was told were half-truths about shit that was unrelated to my relationships with them. I was on a long manic streak and then I crashed. It seemed complicated but it wasn’t complicated.
Remember, they have forgiven you for your behaviour because they understand it is more of your crazy than the actual you. TheExHusband reminds you, daily, what a good person you are, you are worthwhile, you are loved, and you’re safe.

When TheExHusband tells me my daily affirmation, I say thank you, but I don’t believe it. I often quip I knew I was going to be a late bloomer, my path in life was not going to follow a traditional template, and I am aware of this. There is one time in the whole of my paper journaling career I write down I am beautiful and I really mean it.

(“You are chaotic good, not chaotic neutral.” “What’s the difference?” “Your do not respond to a situation in relation to how it best benefits you, you respond to how it best benefit the other person.” “Oh.” “And that’s it for your D&D reference.”)

My vanity is not confidence on speed, it is because I feel if I am not following certain protocols, then people won’t like me. I know where it stems from, I am tired of knowing. I just want to fix these fucking issues and move forward.
That is what makes me self-aware. I have the tools, now, to not repeat.
(“I don’t know if your low self-esteem is masked by your blusterness or if you really do have spots of high self-esteem.” “It’s all a mask,” says the borderline.)

It is hard for my brain to acquiescence if what I feel is actually true versus if what I believe is true. I attempt to reconcile that feelings change, even minute by minute; that love is not an either or issue; the world is fallible and I am not crazy if I make a mistake.
These are all things I believe to be actually true but in my head, no matter how reasoned the things actually are, it has been and will always remain all my fault.

Friday night TheExHusband and I head to a local Irish pub that is within walking distance of his condo. I am in a goofy mood, zigzagging across the side walk and playing bumper cars with TheExHusband. Dinner is delightful, I have perhaps found the place to watch English Premier League football and the Six Nations rugby tournament.
Then I hear the bass thump from the other side of the wall. I stop eating. I have grown silent. “I don’t feel good,” I say. “I’ve got TheSads,” I say. “Is it about He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named?” “No. Yes.” “What happened?” “I heard the bass and…” “Do you want to get out of here?”
First I say no. I am fine, I say. I can do this, I think. As I am trying to make this not an issue, it became an issue as a band, unrelated to the bass thumping next door, brings their stuff in and starts setting up for that night’s entertainment. I stiffen. Flight or fight, I need to get the fuck out of there.
It does not help I am wearing a Green Latern t-shirt.
TheExHusband pays the check and we walk home. No zig zagging. No bumper cars.
I cannot articulate what I’m feeling so I bake brownies.

TheBassist is a good person. I said some awful shit (I am too ashamed to link) about him and now I am repentant. The shit I was angry about with him was typical relationship shit I blew out of fucking proportion. Rationally I know he didn’t do the things I said he did (what did NOT help was the greek chourus saying he “might have”.) He loves/d me the best he could; he tried to help me the best he could — even when I wanted him to save me and I could only save myself. He was not an abuser, he gave me everything he had, he loved me unconditionally and I — I have no idea what I did what I did. Mania? Being scared? Unworthy? Being crazy? Untrustworthy? No fucking idea what I did what I did.
I get emotionally nauseous when I think about my behaviour towards him.
I would have left me too.
TheExHusband is a good person. Could our marriage have been saved? I have no idea. I churn myself in knots thinking he will kick me out even though rationally I know he will not. Why does he give me the daily Stewart Smalley’s? As a reminder that I am not such the beast I have led myself to believe. He helps me anyway he can. He pushes when I need to be pushed and lets me cry when I’m having a bad day. He asks me daily if I took my drugs and how my brain is doing.
But he also knows all the work is on me.

I would have made an excellent moirologist. After recounting Monday morning’s dream to my therapist, I say through my teeth, “Look. I go about my day with logic and reason about the relationship. I’ve accepted these reasons and I am trying to move forward. BUT MY FUCKING BRAIN just cannot let sleeping dogs lie. I was haunted by the 2 AM hour when, without fail, one of us would reach for the other and make love. It took me weeks, and massive amounts of klonopin, to get through that period. NOW, it’s the goddamned 4 AM wake-up calls, dreams surrounding him even if I don’t think of him for the entire day. It’s beyond ridiculous.”
“Your subconsious cannot let it go.”
Irritated sigh.
“Look. I cannot be in touch with him, no matter how minute. My ecosystem is extremely fragile. These wake-up calls are not helping.”
“It will pass. Not in the speed you want it to go, but it will pass. Patience.”
Fuck patience. That’s what drugs are for.

Sometime after I came home from my therapist, I googled the fuck out of ExFiance #1 (“The worst thing about being a librarian is being a librarian.”). Within 15 minutes, I find all of his info: email address, current address, phone number, Facebook page, and pictures of him. He seems happy. The non-partisan assessment of his behaviour is forgotten, I am at fault. I will always be at fault. A wave of emotional nausea hits, dissipates, and then I felt nothing.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2015, 20152014, 2013, 2012, 2011

1. When relating this to my therapist today, she said they were nothing alike. I’m not sure if I believe her or not because it feels exactly the same to me.
2. I stopped my cheatin’ lyin’ ways before nice boy from Detroit showed up. The cheatin’ and lyin’ was only ever with ExFiance #1. Because I am an asshole.
3. I have asked politely, and was told my wish was granted, I was to never know when he dated again, if he ever moved with someone, or if he gets married. If my heart went through the floor for someone I was once engaged to when I found out (albeit in an assholish way) they were getting married, I would be emotionally decimated finding out about TheBassist’s new loves. At least for today.
4. In case you can’t tell, I was raised in a German-Catholic family. We know how to do guilt.
5. This is second to the, “With your face and Cindy Crawford’s body, you would be great at modeling.” comment made to me by a boyfriend before ExFiance #1.

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