It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness ~ Charles Dickens
Autumn again…its approach signals a great deal of personal reflection for me and it seems this year is no different. My birthday is in this season, I am Libran, the only inanimate sign in the zodiac. As Librans we are supposed to be able to stand back and look at matters impartially! Yeah right! Did you know that some astrologers regard Librans as the most desirable of types?Well, we are *special* because Libra represents the zenith of the year, the high point of the seasons, a harvest of all the hard work put in earlier in the year. I don’t suppose it’s any co-incidence that the Autumn Equinox also represents balance between day & night.
It’s pretty clear to me that I have always strived for balance in my life and that my most challenging times have been when balance is absent. I definitely do not have balance in my life at the moment and yet uncharacteristically I seem to be coping quite well. Other people’s problems and worries seem far greater than mine, putting my troubles and woes into perspective.
So why do I not have balance?
Consider these two views:
Last weekend I was staying in a beautiful hotel, eating delicious food, blessed with warm, unseasonal weather, in the stunning Wiltshire countryside (should I mention the company I was keeping?). This weekend a trip to the local amenity tip (sorry, recycling centre) with piles of garden waste from the previous day! That is quite a disparity!
For the moment these two parts of my life are distinctly separate but what needs to happen is integration and I don’t have a bloody clue how to go about this!
It has been over two months now since I re-embarked on my internet dating adventure and I thought that some of you might appreciate an update.
At first it was hell.
Then it got better.
Then it got worse.
Then it improved and so on…
I have definitely come to realise that I am in a good place to start a new relationship, unlike some of the people who I have either communicated with or met. I’m not really surprised though, I spent a great deal of time preparing myself and working out my motives and being sure. I loved, that is true. I can love again, that is also true.
I have been very honest about my past. It’s not something that I can change, nor do I want to. I am very aware of the fact that it is pretty unusual. In every case, if meeting up with a prospective date was a probability, I have shared my blog with them. In the first instance, it wasn’t intended that I would do that, but the questions posed to me naturally led me to take that step. As it turns out, I think it has served me well.
Some have said “will you write about me” and I thought (out loud sometimes), “don’t flatter yourself” and yet here I am. To be fair in the interest of your boredom some identities have been merged…
Mr Axe Murderer– had a great profile, lovely photographs, wrote charming emails at first, and apparently had strong family values. BE WARNED, not everything is as it seems. As communication progressed there were tiny little alarm bells going off in my head and all to do with the unusual grammar being used. Anyway, I shared my blog- after all it’s out there anyway- but I used a unique bitly link. I’m glad I did. He had already told me that he was in the forces and posted abroad, fair enough I thought. But when the link I sent was accessed it wasn’t from the same country where he had said he was. Not even close. The moral of this story is ALWAYS trust your intuition!
Mr Pervert– enough said. I’m not a prude, but I have had my education expanded.
Mr Rude– If I am not ready to answer a question then I will say just that. Patience as well as honesty is key as far as I am concerned. Don’t tell me I am stupid though.
Mr Unfaithful– Yep, not all people looking for a date are single.
On the plus side I have been out more in the last couple of months than I probably have in the last three years. I have been treated nicely, I have enjoyed male company, and I have felt feminine again. But not with any of the Mr Men mentioned above!
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am having another attempt at internet dating. It worked for me once before so I assume in my more optimistic moods that it can work again.
Initially a new profile on a dating site (particularly the one that I first tried) is bombarded with what I can only liken to a ‘new meat’ type feeding frenzy. To start with, before I changed sites, I was weeding out the daily onslaught of suitable matches using the following criteria:
too young- I mean REALLY young, I was certainly old enough to be their mother, apparently that’s a thing!
too old- I have challenge with my upper age limit because my stepfather is not that much older than me, so I don’t really fancy a date or a partner older than him.
Cross dresser- nope, not for me.
Kinky- as in ‘can you send me a photo of your *insert word here*?’
Potential axe murderers.
and yes, even “married but available”- these ones I would like to string up by their you know whats!
No communication skills whatsoever- I mean zero. How am I supposed to respond to a message that just says ‘Hiya’?
Blatant lies on profile.
Too many dog photos- dogs are fine by the way; I just don’t want to date one!
So despite telling myself emphatically that I would not return to the world of internet dating, I have done so.
It has taken a build-up of weeks and a gentle push from a friend for me to do this. The first step was writing my profile. I find expressing myself on paper relatively easy WHEN I have the right inspiration but in this case I was certainly lacking. I kept my blurb short & sweet with a view to expanding it if or when I become more comfortable with the idea.
In the meantime, if they want to know more, they will have to ask!
In the interest of keeping a sense of humour about all of this I shall share with you a few snippets of a conversation that ultimately led to me hitting the send button on this ‘adventure’.
On taking the plunge: They are your rules to make.
On casual shagging: It’s a bit like eating crisps; you really fancy them, they’re good while they last, then ultimately they are unsatisfying and best forgotten. (I haven’t got the time or the inclination for that.)
On grammar and poor choice of words in some profiles: Dominant? Or dominate? I’ve just choked on my tea (either way it means ‘deploy barge pole’).
On appropriate response to inappropriate suggestions: Send a message to him immediately- You disgust me you repellent arsehole, no wonder you are single.
So we all know that I like a man who smells nice and since the internet hasn’t yet identified a way to determine this, these are some of my first thoughts:
It feels like catalogue shopping.
I can’t get past a profile that doesn’t use at least some basic punctuation.
Why post a photograph in which you are not smiling or at least hinting at a smile, Mona Lisa style?
Why post a photograph in front of a fast car? ‘That don’t impress me much’ – Shania Twain
Why post a photograph in SPEEDOS?
And finally for the moment, I totally dismiss anyone who hasn’t taken the time to hit ‘rotate’ on their photograph.
I don’t understand the need to have identical hobbies, likes & dislikes. People are interesting, I like interesting people. They don’t have to like the same food as me, or have the same taste in music. I don’t want a clone of me. I want someone to complement me (compliments are nice too). In my experience the best guarantee of any relationship, be it romantic or otherwise, is a basic moral similarity and values that are harmonious. <This may have to go in my profile.
No. Wait. Before you go. One more thing… I have been categorised by my income, job and ambition and other personal statistics and that is fine except for the fact I am so much more than that. It will be interesting to see what happens next.
Last year I took the conscious step of trying to heal myself. This year I want to smile more.
Today I was reminded of something that I used to do whilst my daughter danced at The Urdang Academy in London.
Every other weekend we would travel to London for her classes. She saw very little of the city; we would travel up, she would spend 8 hours in a dance studio, eat and travel home, but I got to explore, shop, eat and observe. I used to try and make eye contact with people, endeavour to walk round with a smile all day just to see if I could get a smile back. It was VERY hard work!
Generally speaking, people don’t seem make eye contact in big cities. New York was different. Or maybe New York was different because WE were different, we were on holiday, we were happy, we were smiling and people respond to that. So here are some things that make me smile:
My children make me smile; they make me cry too, but mostly smile. I cannot think of a better reason to smile.
My friends make me smile; they also make me laugh, proper belly laugh spit out your drink laugh and last year in my ‘healing phase’ I found a new friend. I also found new friends that I haven’t met yet; lots of smiley faces have been shared. Thinking about people like this and remembering conversations- that makes me smile.
When I walk to work and drivers slow down to let me cross the road safely; THAT makes me smile. I have three difficult junctions to manoeuvre across when walking to work, some days the drivers don’t even bother to indicate and I spend ages hesitating at the side of the road. On other days I hit the jackpot and get let across all three. That’s a good start to the day! They can’t know that I got hit by a car when I was fifteen and spent months in hospital. They just slow down and take a brief pause in their day for me.
Cooking & baking make me smile; I ‘stress bake’ which means that if life is challenging I go into the kitchen and bake.I find it therapeutic. If the urge to bake happens when there aren’t enough people in the house to eat the resulting baked goods I give them away; take them to work, share with friends. I hope that makes them smile too.
Thinking about our next adventure coming up later this year, now that really makes me smile. More on that coming soon.
Some of my memories make me smile now and that’s a good thing because it means that part of my self-healing has taken place and it’s time to find more reasons to smile.
Unlike some people, I prefer to reflect in Autumn and I find New Year celebrations a challenge. What changes can possibly happen over just one night? Well nine years ago tonight my then husband told our children that he was leaving. I choose not to write too much about him because no good would ever come of it and this is my place for healing.
I am introverted. I have again chosen to be at home on 31st December; I am happy with that choice. According to famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung- an introvert is most obvious and vulnerable when he or she is in an overstimulating environment. As an introvert, parties are hell for me. I don’t like drunk people- I had a hideous experience with a drunk at a work Christmas party. I am not shy, I am just happiest with a close circle of people around me. I like to socialise, but with beloved friends and family and above all I like to laugh and love, passionately and unconditionally.
I hit rock bottom in March of this year, there was no major trigger point, I just fell apart and sobbed and sobbed whilst in the middle of a pile of ironing (maybe that WAS the trigger). My grief and loneliness had overwhelmed me, I was bogged down by work, the house, bills and the thought that life would never get any better, I no longer had any joy in life and it had to change. My daughter found me and the look on her face when she said ‘Mumma, please get help’ was enough to galvanize me into action. She tells me that I often go into automatic pilot and find solutions when challenges are thrown at me and this was no different.
I had to challenge the introvert in me, expose my thoughts and feelings, reach out. Guess what? I succeeded!
I have been educated in Doric, the dialogue of North East Scotland. It’s not lost on me that my partner was Scottish and I have somehow been drawn into a part of the world that he wanted to share with me.
I struggle to thrive in any kind of chaos and I had some work done on the house, this proved to be great therapy in so many ways!
I have enjoyed watching my children grow and develop into practicing adults. It has been a real pleasure for me to see their closeness grow now that they don’t have to live together! I can see that I have been a good role model and mother (oh yeah, middle finger to the ex mother-in-law who said I would fail and lose my kids).
If I had to give a name to 2014 it would be The Year the Laughter Returned.
Where do I even start? This is the letter that has been trapped inside of me for months. The thoughts rattle around in my head and bounce back & forth on a daily basis.
I want you to know that I love you, I love you with all of my heart and that will never change. I no longer know where you are or what you are doing or if I will ever hear from you again. I have tried my best with the resources available to me to find out what has happened to you but each time I have met with a brick wall. You either do not want to be found or something dreadful has happened (we are unable to confirm or deny blah blah blah). I now have to accept this.
If you are safe and well, I wish you love, security and happiness. I want you to find your place in the world and to find a peaceful retreat. I want you to sleep gently and soundly like you once did in my bed, in my arms enveloped in love. I used to love watching you sleep.
I want you to know how grateful I am for the time we had together. I do not know who said these words, but I wish it had been me –
“And even if we never talk again please remember that I am forever changed by who you are and what you meant to me”.
I mostly need to thank you for the way your loved changed me. You made me feel beautiful and adored, cherished and wanted.
I have some specific memories and a small box of cherished items. I’ve opened it today, the box that’s been close to me all the years that I have known and loved you.
~A gold gift card from your first Christmas gift to me. It just says “love Jon xxxxx” we’d only know each other a couple of months, a few weeks really, but five kisses showed a lot of promise!
~A card from La Fenice, the local Italian Restaurant where we first went out as a four, you, me and my two children. It wasn’t easy, but it was a milestone.
~A tiny orange post-it note with my name on. Remember the silly game you thought up for Christmas with my family? It descended into total chaos, but we loved it. They also all loved you.
~A piece of lavender from Spa Fields in Islington. We dropped Emma at dance school and walked for miles looking for a peaceful space, not an easy task in London on a scorching hot day! To this day, the smell of lavender reminds me of the conversation, the very public kiss (the place where the bandidos live) and the feeling of total absorption in one another.
~A tiny photo of the corner table in The Chesil Rectory in Winchester, the oldest building in the city. You embarrassed the waitress remember?
Waitress: Have you decided?
You: Yes I have. I have decided that I love her.
It wasn’t the first time you had told me, but it is the one that sticks in my mind.
~My ring, given to me for “love and commitment” it is beautiful, I’d like to put it back on but I dare not. It would undo these last few months that have got me to this point.
~Two small shells from Barton on Sea. I wanted shells; you sifted through heaps of stones to find me two shells with no cracks or chips. You wanted to be near the sea that day, but somewhere quiet. A big ask in August bank holiday weekend on the south coast of England. I took you to where my Dad used to live, I hadn’t been back since his death and I thought it would be hard for me. It wasn’t, it was like introducing the two most important men in my life to each other. It gave me peace and tranquility although I doubt I could go back again. This was the last day that we spent together.
~Lastly, a shiny 1p coin. The first thing you gave me, or rather lent to me. I hate owing money and you lent it to me the first time you had to go away. It was to reassure me that you were coming back. Every time you returned you asked if I still had it. I still have it now and I guess it’s mine by default; you can collect it any time.
These are just small things and big memories and wherever my life leads from this point on I will take a part of you with me.
All men are not equally attractive, I’m sure the same can be said of women too. It fascinates me how we are attracted to some people and not others.
Take my ex husband (go on, be my guest) at some point I was attracted to him but these days I cannot see how that was even possible. So apart from the lying and cheating what changed? I am pretty sure that we are genetically programmed to value those people who are just plain nice to us. So when they stop being nice, they stop being attractive. It would be fair to say that I stopped being nice to him when he couldn’t support me in my grief. A man who couldn’t care at that level just stopped being attractive to me. So he went and found someone who would be nice to him (he was a type 4 spouse). Simple.
My friends are nice to me. Some of them I love, some I adore, some I like to spend time with. I don’t want to sleep with them though. What makes that difference?
When I became single after being married for 21 years, dating was terrifying. I had two young children had been through a bit of an ordeal (my father’s death, husband’s infidelity and other stuff not for sharing here), but I absolutely knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone.
Internet dating? It seemed like a reasonable solution but I have to say, what a struggle that was! You look at pictures, rather like a clothing catalogue and decide if you like them, then order them, then try them on for size (metaphorically, of course). I was lonely NOT desperate! How on earth do people think that because you ‘dated’ them that you want sex with them!
I took a different tactic and focused far more on trying to read between the lines of their profiles, decipher what people were trying to say and what they were trying not to say. I found a description that I liked. I didn’t like his photograph though. I decided that I would only date someone who was prepared to invest the time in getting to know me online. Someone with patience. Someone who I could ask lots and lots of questions of, in a way that you couldn’t with a face to face meeting that early on in a relationship/friendship. By the time we decided to meet, some six weeks later, I already knew that I liked him.
When I met him, he smelled good, really, really good. That was probably enough for me. I love this man, I loved him more deeply than any other man I have ever known. He was kind, he was gentle, caring, compassionate & considerate. He was nice to me. All of the time. NO exceptions.
So there are two factors here. He was nice to me and he smelled good.
Fast forward a few years and I find myself in the same situation again. Single, I think. I think? Yes, because I don’t really know for sure. But I do know, sure as hell, I am not going through internet dating again.
So rather than looking for just a man, I am looking for a person who can be present in my life, who is nice to me and who smells good!
Why are family tickets mostly available for 2 adults and 2 children?
I appreciate that offering a discount is a good thing, but how about just reducing prices generally? What about proportionately reducing entrance fees the more people that you have in your party?
On a recent day out we decided that the historical venue that we wanted to visit was really just too expensive for us and over lunch we discussed the pros and cons of reduced entrance fees and the undoubtedly high cost of opening stately homes, castles and places of interest to the public. Is it just me or are days out just becoming prohibitively expensive?
I think it’s really sad. My son is a visual learner and these kind of days out can increase his knowledge of say, history, in a way that he really enjoys. It enthuses him and inspires his desire to learn more.
My family does consist of two adults now, it’s just that one is my daughter, yet we are still very much a family, we just don’t ‘fit’ the prescribed format to qualify for discounted tickets! Strangely enough, my son is also classed as an adult at some theme parks and also on some forms of transport. He has also reached the age where it seems I now need to buy him adult clothing (oh and pay the increased tax on them too)!
Life is complicated enough. Families come in all shapes and sizes and children should be classed as such until they are legally adult. End of rant.
Is moving forward the same as moving on? I don’t think so. Moving on seems more final.
On Valentine’s Day 2014 I took off his ring. It was given to me “for love and commitment”. The memory of the day he gave it to me is one that I treasure and one that I do not want to forget. We had a discussion about what finger I would wear it on, I know that he was pleased that I chose to wear it on my ring finger, left hand. That was a definite moving on moment. Moving on from the past of a painful divorce.
I do not want to forget. I do not want to feel unfaithful. I do not want to feel that I have let him down.
I took off his ring, not because I wanted to move on, but because I wanted to move forward.
Moving forward is hard, because I always have the “What if?” questions in the back of my mind.
What if he is still alive?
What if he just turns up one day and I have moved on?
I would rather just move forward, day by day. This is my choice.