Kiss 2018 Goodbye

On NYE last year one of my best friends gifted me this candle. He told me to light it every time I had a sad memory from 2017. The idea was that by the time the candle burned down to the bottom of the glass, all of the pain I felt in the second half of the previous year would also dissipate.  Ha, it didn’t quite work out this way for me. I believe I got to the bottom of the glass well before January was over (it was cheap, smelled nice and I had a lot of sadssss geez).

2018 has been both the longest and quickest year all at the same time. It has been draining and yet incredibly rewarding all at once. I know that makes no sense, but let me explain…

There have been so many ups and downs and stunning revelations. It’s hard to believe a year ago I was in a drunken stupor trying to piece together healing and moving forward. I managed to grow more in this one year than I have in maybe the past 2-3 combined and I am so very proud of myself.

I stepped out of my comfort zone quite frequently, which awarded me some of the most amazing experiences, introduced me to some of the most phenomenal people and reunited me with some of my favorite amigos.

I think some important themes for me this year have been:

  • step outside of my comfort zone
  • love and respect yourself first and foremost before expecting anyone to love you
  • it’s ok to stumble, but learn to recover gracefully
  • be the kind of friend, daughter, lover, co-worker that you’d want to have in return (to others)
  • find a healthy and creative way to express yourself
  • pay attention to people’s patterns. when someone shows you who they are, take note and adjust accordingly (even if that means letting them go)
  • live life by the golden rule
  • remove anyone or anything from your life that threatens your mental  & emotional well being
  • forgive, but do not forget. use every experience as a learning moment and reflect
  • the past is the past for a reason, look forward
  • never let an opportunity pass where you can remind the special people in your life how much they mean to you
  • baby steps, baby steps, baby steps
  • make time for YOU

I have no idea what 2019 has in store for me, but I hope whatever is ahead is amazing. I hope I continue to grow in every aspect of my life and I hope I continue to remain happy. I’m optimistic that it will be a great year.

I haven’t quite settled on a resolution, because I’m horrible at them, but these are some of the goals I have for myself:

  • travel more
  • eat better
  • manage/save money better
  • manage stress better
  • career change/advancement

Well, here’s to 2019!

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That time I decided to be grossly sentimental

I can’t believe Christmas is less than a week away. This year has just flown by. There have been both GOOD and not such great times, but it’s been a YEAR, that’s for sure.

Because I was emotionally incapacitated this time last year and literally did everything in my power to NOT be in the Christmas spirit (bah-hum bug), I’ve been trying to “make up for lost time” this year. Plus, being in a happy and healthy relationship has pushed me into being a bit more in the holiday spirit than usual. It’s nice to have someone there to share all the little sappy holiday season things with.

In my usual over the tap manner, I decided I needed to do something super sentimental leading into December. On our Thanksgiving stroll (last month), The Teacher happened to mention that growing up, his family had an advent calendar. He went on the explain how excited him and his sister usually were each day they got to unwrap a little treat as they found themselves one day closer to Christmas and how he “missed those days”.

So insert a mental health day off and several hours later, I created an advent calendar for him (for this year). I loaded it with his favorite treats, a Christmas trivia fact (and answer) for each day (he’s a HUGE trivia fan) and a “what I like about you” statement for each day (things that he probably already knows I like about him, but things I wanted to emphasize).

 

advent calendar 1

I made the calendar out of a hanging shoe storage thing (bought it new–would not have used a “used” one for this)

 

advent calendar contents

Each day includes a small treat (candy for some days, airplane bottles on Saturdays (of his favorite liquors), socks on Fridays, full sized candy on Sundays), 1 Christmas themed trivia question with an answer (because he loves trivia) and 1 “What I like about you/something you do” card. Every single thing about this calendar and its contents was VERY calculated and carefully thought out.

 

calendar edited

He’s standing in front of the calendar the night I gave it to him. Upon receiving the calendar, he immediately hung it up. He seemed genuinely touched.  He was very excited (but I intentionally cut out his face). Because we had plans after he put up the calendar, I didn’t get to take a photo until we got back later that night. I made him take this photo IMMEDIATELY after he hopped out of the shower–haha.

Since receiving the calendar, he’s mentioned how excited he’s been each day to get up and open up his treat bag, which makes my heart smile.

socks

In addition to candy on Fridays, he also receives socks. He’s mentioned that he liked Batman a lot as a kid (and maybe a little now as an adult).

But one of the more touching things from the advent calendar has been knowing that he’s been saving all of the cards/facts from each day and remembers what each card says and will reference them in conversation. Some of the trivia cards are actually Christmas related facts about me that he may not know (like my favorite Christmas movie (Christmas Vacation), favorite Christmas song (This Christmas – Donny Hathaway, etc) and he’s actually remembering these things!

What I like about you cards

His collection of cards and box of candy from the other day. My handwriting is terrible LOL

For me, so as long as each treat bag brings a smile to his face, I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do (to spread Christmas joy and to remind him of how very special he is to me).

And maybe the calendar has helped, because prior to the calendar, he didn’t seem particularly concerned with being in the Christmas spirit. Wasn’t concerned about a tree, putting up decorations or hanging up cards he’s received.

Christmas table

The “Christmas table” (at his place — I actually have a tree up at my place–well, until my cat decides to knock it over, I guess)

He still doesn’t have an ACTUAL tree, but now at least has a “Christmas table” with decorations, cards and our wrapped gifts to one another that we plan on exchanging in a few days. Baby steps!

I have to say, that out of all of the cheesy shit that I’ve done, this has probably been my favorite. It was a fun project and a creative way to show The Teacher that I care.

I Thought I Would Be ELATED.

So I caught up with my ex yesterday…

A year ago, I was EAGER for the day when we would catch up and he’d essentially not be in the best spirits or “got a taste of his own medicine” (by ending things), because I was bitter and heart broken. I imagined myself as Demi, belting out how I was SORRY, I’M NOT SORRY for being better off without him (it is a hot song though, I’m not gonna lie).

Not sorry.gif

Obviously, time heals wounds and over the months I’ve gotten better, gotten over it, and learned some valuable life lessons.  I’m fine, but hearing that he perhaps is going through some “bad times,” (in regards to his love life) didn’t give me the satisfaction that I thought (a year ago) it would have and I felt like a shitty person for even telling him that I was doing, “REALLY well and was HAPPY” (though I didn’t necessarily reference my current love life, but we’re facebook friends still and I’m sure he’s at least seen clues or references of The Teacher and might have put two and two together by this point) .

It’s been a crazy year since we parted ways. Some ok times and some really bad ones…but I think I’m on the road to being ok. I’m glad to hear that you’re doing well though.

I thought when this moment came, I’d be elated to know that he felt some OUNCE of heartache, sadness or emptiness that I STRUGGLED with for MONTHS after we broke up, but if anything, I felt genuine empathy and a bit of sadness for him. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone, especially this time of year. And while, I’ve moved on (and I am happy), there is still a part of me that wants genuine happiness for him too. Though we didn’t work out romantically (and now I can see that we probably weren’t as ‘perfect’ for each other as we both thought while dating), he’s a good person and deserves to find his peace and happiness too. He’s also continued to treat me with respect and not like a terrible ex, which I appreciate and I’ve tried to do the same with him.

I chose not to elaborate on my love life, but instead offered support and words of encouragement. I hope that he finds peace or some glimmer of hope that eventually things will look up for him. I hope that he finds that special someone that loves him in a way that I was unable to and treats him like fine china.

I have to say that I’m extremely proud of myself for getting to this point. This is HUGEEEEEEE progress!

Thankful.

Well, I’m happy to report that I made it through all of the anxiety ridden Thanksgiving festivities this year. When I last wrote, I was gearing up to spend the holiday with the Teacher’s family (I previously met his father and step mother, but would be meeting several other extended family members and his actual MOM). To say I was a wee bit nervous was a bit of an understatement!

Let’s start from the beginning…

Before even heading out-of-town to visit his family, we (well I) made dinner plans with two of my best friends from high school. The Teacher had previously met one of my best friends (that lives locally) the same weekend he met my parents, but hadn’t yet met the other BFF, who lives out-of-state. When I found out this friend of mine would be in town, I jumped on the opportunity to introduce him to the Teacher. It’s been important to me lately to introduce The Teacher to every important person in my life so that he gets an even better idea of who I am and what the people who matter to me the most are like. Of course, by this point, anyone who I’m relatively in consistent contact with has either met the Teacher or at least knows who he is (and that he exists).

Dinner went over well as I thought it would. He seemed to get along effortlessly with two of my OTHER favorite people, which made my heart smile. I remember sitting back quietly observing the three of them (all guys) having a conversation like they’d known each other for years and it just made me warm and fuzzy inside. They all genuinely seemed to have a good time and it was great (later) to hear (from them) that they liked the Teacher and it was great to also hear that the Teacher genuinely like them as well.

charlie puth hearts

The following day we were off to his childhood home for Thanksgiving. While I wasn’t entirely nervous to see his father and step mother (since I just met them last month), I was a bit nervous to meet his mom. Throughout the entire time we’ve dated, the Teacher hasn’t said a great deal about his mom, outside of the fact that she was significantly younger than his dad and at times seemed to struggle with being “independent”. It was hard to visualize this woman who gave birth to this wonderful man. Was she a good person?? Would she accept me? What all did she know about me?

I remember at one point semi early on in dating one another (I think when we were more casually dating–but still seeing each other frequently enough for things to be “going somewhere”), having a conversation where he admitted to alluding to his family that he was “dating someone”, but failed to really provide a great deal of specifics outside of that (I’m starting to notice a pattern with the Teacher’s lack of details/substance in his description of the people in his life lol). That’s fair and I remember not being offended by his comment. I was actually relieved that he hadn’t said much about me. At the time, I doubt I had said much about him (if anything) specifically either. I guess we’re both guarded in that way and choose to keep our “love life” private until we feel it’s serious and stable enough to include the other people in our life. Of course now we’re in the “free fall” stage of literally meeting every friend, family member/loved one, neighbor, co-worker, pet, etc in the other person’s life….yeah, that’s been uh…eventful to say the least, but mostly great.

Anyway, on the ride down to meet mom, he explained to me that his mom was a “good person” and was “very nice”, but paused and frowned a bit when describing her now fiancée. Let’s call him Bill.

I have to be transparent in saying this though…Bill seems to be a nice guy, but he’s very…how to do I put it? Conservative? Southern…old? A little set in his ways…possibly a Trump supporter? He *may* say something stupid in those regards…

So…indirectly what he was trying to say is that Bill possibly had some “deep-rooted” backwoods racism brewing and the idea of his step son–who he probably already doesn’t quite ‘understand’ bringing home his black girlfriend would probably be enough to send him to glory on this fine holiday?!

Throw it away.gif

Check. My heart sank a bit when he said this, even after he told me his mom was absolutely not that way (even went as far to say that his mom was very liberal–how that even works, I’m not sure). My nervousness swiftly changed to internal rage coupled with activated defensiveness on justifying who I was as a person.

The plan was to meet the mom at the movie theater and then dinner after, because apparently that’s what the Teacher and his mom do whenever they get together. How was I supposed to make a good impression in the dark? When we walked into the lobby, I nervously trailed behind him as he strolled up to who I assumed was his mom and Bill and the introductions began. His mom seemed genuinely happy to meet me, but perhaps also nervous?  Bill didn’t say much, but smiled and shook my hand (probably thinking in his mind, “I don’t like black people, but I’m trying to be on my best behavior for my soon to be wife”).  Shortly after the introductions we took our seats in the theater. We were there to see: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which in my personal opinion was all over the fucking place plot wise, but then again I wasn’t the BIGGEST fan of the first one, so who am I to really comment?

Dinner followed the confusion of the movie and by this point my nervousness (and defensiveness) had semi worn off and my hunger kicked into high gear. It was going on 8 o clock and the Teacher and I hadn’t even had anything to eat that day! WTF?! His mom opted for a Thai restaurant where we dined on spring rolls, Pad Thai and plum wine. Speaking of wine, I gifted his mom with a bottle of her favorite wine after The Teacher let it slip out that his mom recently had a birthday AND what her favorite wine was. Brownie points!

Throughout the dinner, his mom seemed to keep a steady conversation. She didn’t grill me on anything and naturally let me elaborate on things in my life as I felt up to it. Of course, she did the mom thing and told embarrassing stories about him and how she “owed” me “naked baby photos” of him the next time I was in town, since The Teacher told his mom how my mom the previous weekend (while having him over for dinner) showed him all of MY baby photos! There was one moment where the Teacher got up to use the bathroom and his mom shared with me how much he had spoken about me (to her) for months and how she was very eager to meet this “lovely lady” in his life.

wine.gif

After dinner we ventured back to his dad’s house for the evening to retire to bed before having to be up bright and early to great the rest of his extended family for Thanksgiving. In my mind, I felt like things would be ok meeting wise, but for some reason after laying down for bed I started to get fairly anxious and had a full-blown anxiety attack while laying in bed. I haven’t had an actual full-blown “I feel like I’m having a heart attack,” anxiety attack in several months. My body temperature climbed quickly, my heart was racing–almost beating out of my chest and I couldn’t breathe. Luckily, The Teacher (who was laying beside me during all of this) managed to help me through it and assure me that things would be fine with his family the following day. He stayed calm, held me in his arms and kept speaking in a really calm and empathetic voice. He stayed up with me for a good two hours before I relaxed enough to attempt to go to sleep. While I was partially embarrassed for him to see me in such a vulnerable state, it was good to have him there as comfort as well.

The following day went better than expected. His grandfather, aunt and cousin all arrived promptly at noon and we had a few hours of wine and cheese nibbling before dinner. I had a chance to casually speak to his aunt, grandfather and cousin, which was nice. I especially enjoyed speaking to his grandfather, who seemed to share a similar sense of humor with The Teacher’s father and The Teacher! Now I see where his goofy nature comes from.

Dinner-food wise was interesting, and here’s where our cultural differences stood out, big time. Thanksgiving for my family has traditionally been: Turkey (maybe also a ham depending upon who decides to host), BAKED mac and cheese (the baked part is important), green bean casserole and/or greens, sweet potato casserole, HOME MADE cranberry relish (NOT the stuff out of the can), stuffing, some sort of roll and an assortment of pies (maybe cakes if someone brings one).

The Teacher’s family had the following: Turkey w/ gravy, mashed potatoes (also with gravy), I can’t remember the green veggie (maybe green beans?), carrots, mashed rutabaga?, cornbread pudding? something else that was tan/neutral color?, cranberry sauce in the SHAPE of the can And two pies: pumpkin and pecan. It wasn’t bad, just an adjustment from what my family usually has. I didn’t ask for seconds.

After dinner, The Teacher got a call from his sister, who lives across the country on the west coast. From my understanding, she isn’t necessarily “estranged” from the family, just never makes it out to visit (though she does keep in touch). Somewhere along the conversation he told her how he brought along his “girl pal” to “meet the fam” and then went into some ten minute ramble about how great things had been and how happy he was (d’aww). Of course, he probably knew I could HEAR him (since I was sitting right beside of him during all of this) and eventually told me his sister said, “hello”. Like his mom, he hasn’t said a great deal about his sister (aside from what I’ve said before), though his mom did share that they were relatively close (as siblings) growing up and even shared some of the same friends (as they’re about a year and a few months apart in age).

Later on that evening after the extended family left and his dad and step mom retired to bed, we spent a few moments to ourselves goofing around and watching netflix before bed. It felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I had done it. I managed not to completely fuck up meeting his family and to celebrate, we managed to have relatively quiet love-making much later on that night. Now, the first time this happened, it caught me by surprise because I just assumed none of that would go down out of respect for his parents, but to be honest, there’s something wildly intoxicating about it (and to his credit, he did ASK if I felt comfortable considering the environment we were in this time before proceeding). Maybe it’s the fact that we could potentially be caught with our pants down (literally) or who knows, maybe his parents know and because we’re in our 30s, they don’t care? I’m not sure if I’d be so willing to try that in my parent’s house though. Not that they’re super strict or anything, but they’re both very light sleepers.

We left to head back home the following afternoon, but not before The Teacher took me on a nice romantic walk around the water front across the street from his dad’s place.

Lake 11.23.18

Lake 2 11.23.18

On our walk, he told me more about growing up in the area and even pointed to a few houses where friends of his in the neighborhood used to live.

I have to admit that when I agreed to join the Teacher for Thanksgiving, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into, but to my surprise, everything seemed to be fine, or at least as fine has they could have been considering. His family seems mostly accepting of me, which put some of my anxiety to rest. This Thanksgiving was definitely better than last year’s.

Next on the agenda is figuring out Christmas. The Teacher has already started to coordinate when/how we plan on linking up all while attempting to spend an appropriate amount of time with our own families. Luckily, my grandfather lives about twenty minutes away from his dad’s place and that’s where my family typically spends Christmas day, so maybe something with work out with that. We’ll see.