Starting to Couple Up a Bit, and Get Interrupted

Obviously I needed to get my hands in that hair, so we parked in what we thought would be a quiet spot.

I’m really liking this not dating thing.

Yesterday I had an afternoon haircut appointment that seemed better used for David. He’s going back to work shortly so I’m making as much time to be with him as I can, and as much as I like the long curls, he could use a look that is less…feral (his words!). That turned into lunch, which turned into forgetting about lunch until we got interrupted like a couple of teenagers.

So we went to lunch.

There’s a really yummy (mostly) vegan place that was quiet after the lunch rush. We had tea and salads and a few kisses, and the waitress got to talking to us about playing full-contact women’s football. She goes by “Red”, and she is awesome. It’s so fun to watch someone light up talking about something they’re passionate about. I learned something new, and I admire her passion and physicality.

We had just enough time for a beer before haircut, and the kid at the bar was new, so David told him a few things about selecting beer. He was so genuine, and young, and he was all-in on our hog-hunting plans. We had to run off before we got to tell him the plan, which was possibly for the best. Jessica is amazing, and was very nice about switching clients at the last second. Obviously I needed to get my hands in that hair, so we parked in what we thought would be a quiet spot.

No.

Some creepy guy showed up and made a full circle around the car while we were snuggled in the back. What a nut.

It was too cold to be outside long, and on the way back to my house I asked him to pull in at a cheese shop on a whim. I had been wanting to go, and they were open another hour. That turned out to be a decent substitute for snuggles, and once again we encountered a passionate professional who was open and willing to share herself, her knowledge and her art. The cheese was so good it made my face twitch once or twice, and we got a few favorites and a bottle of wine for a picnic to be attempted later this week.

Until then, I need to scheme a bit on how to not get interrupted…

Anti-Dating

I want more. Dating isn’t more, it’s why I stopped trying that.

My latest PTSD episode was a negative experience for both David and I. You can tell someone what it’s like, you can tell them what to expect, but they don’t understand until they experience it with you. Even then, they only see the outside. It’s worse when they think they’re at fault. This really is just about me and what goes on in my brain. I hate that it can hurt someone I care about… and that there wasn’t much I could do to prepare him. I got blindsided and was scrambling to understand what had triggered me. Not a very helpful place to be when you’re trying to communicate what’s going on. Add Xanax to the mix and I don’t even remember most of what I told him. It was probably better for both of us that we had a Christmas pause. I wanted to make a play on words and say Christmas break, but to his credit we didn’t actually break.

We hiked several miles yesterday in the cold to talk about it, without spending too much time talking about it. I knew it had affected him, I just didn’t know how much. I hate that something I can’t control just brought a really wonderful month to a sharp halt. I hate that I killed the fun. I hate that someone hurt me so badly that I have a negative neurologic response that is so severe it put a relationship I value at risk.

I hate dating. I’m terrible at it. So I asked if we could not date. Anti-date, actually.

Dating doesn’t work for me. I like to do what I like to do while living out what I believe. I like creative energy and being productive and dragging people into my schemes and solving problems and drinking good coffee and walking and talking and eating bagels on Saturdays. Once in a while I like to get hella dressed up and blow money on an amazing dinner. Most of the time I like to cook. I like heavy blankets and BBC Masterpiece and pretending I’m athletic. I like people who see the world differently than I and I like ridiculous high heels. I really like burgers that ooze cheese when you bite into them.

I like all of those things by myself. I think I’d like them even more with another person. I think I’d like them more with this person. I like to share things I enjoy with people I enjoy. “Dating” doesn’t seem to really fit that – or me. I want to live my life and invite someone to join me, not spend my time barely scratching the surface and deciding if we have enough chemistry to try to ignore the problems.

When you’ve been hurt deeply, when you’ve broken deeply and when you’re healing deeply, the surface barely registers. It’s not enough to make me look up from my knitting. I want more. Dating isn’t more, it’s why I stopped trying that.

Then average-height, dark and handsome shows up across the table from me and I think I have to date him because that’s what you do.

Until a scratch on the surface digs up something much deeper, and you have to tell someone they’re free to go for fear of what you might pull them into. I had to be painfully vulnerable to hold my hand open and accept we might not be the best thing for each other. Living with PTSD requires courage, and courage is painful.

I drove home in my three most-feared driving conditions – wet, dark and fast. I was so relaxed I was in shower thinking mode.

THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN. 

It indicated how far I’ve come in processing and putting to rest my car wreck. It’s taken two years, but I was on autopilot and concerned with more pressing issues. I’ve beaten it… So I can beat the next one… the one that’s still blindsiding me with trauma. That’s when I said to hell with it all, I’m doing this the way I want. The only way I know how to not run this relationship into the ground before we have a chance to see if we want this to work.

“Let’s anti-date.”

He said ok.

Dates = 2, Me = 0

This guy is going to think I have no elegance, and that couldn’t be further from reality.

Surprisingly (my dating history inspires no confidence in the activity), dating Client’s Brother is still going well. I might even give him a real name next week.

Dates, however, have resulted in a 50% injury rate for me.

On our first date I scalded the hell outta my throat eating pizza that was way too hot. I almost only ever get it takeout or delivery, and in that case I can eat it straight away with no problem. I somehow missed that it would not be so eating pizza right out of the oven. I also did not want to spit out my food. It took 5 days to recover.

Yesterday we went for an afternoon hike along a creek on a moderate trail. There’s a bit of climbing around and walking on rocks to cross the creek in places, and while it was warm enough that the water wouldn’t freeze us, no one wants to hike in wet shoes. We were on the last creek crossing on the way back to the cars and I had carefully made it across. He was ahead of me and kept going when he got to the bank, I stepped on the bank, my left foot slipped and I crashed into a bush, cutting my ankle on the rock I slipped on in the process. Yeah, that’s an attractive quality in a hiking partner.

When I realized I was neither injured (hadn’t seen the cut yet) nor impaled on the bush branches, I started laughing at myself. Whatever, spills happen. I did have a branch of the bush stabbed through the band of my Fitbit next to my wrist, and how that happened without even scratching me I have no idea. By this time Client’s Brother realized I wasn’t behind him, and he and the dog came back to see what was up. I was still laughing at myself and getting off the ground, and the dog kindly removed the stick from my arm. Good puppy.

None of this kept us from kissing in the car before we headed off to separate obligations, and I found the cut when I got home. I almost never have this kind of thing happen to me, but ya know, ya fall down, ya get up, and I’m thankful that I could laugh at this spill.

About That Date Last Night

Really not ready to date yet. I did it anyway.

I met up with some friends downtown for the annual turning on of the Christmas lights. I don’t care for crowds and getting bumped can trigger me so I generally avoid this kind of thing, but I figured why not? Client’s Brother decided that was a great reason to meet up with me rather than wait for Sunday, so we ended up on a spontaneous date. We grabbed some beers, watched part of the game, took a picture with the most epic ugly sweater ever (the guy also had Christmas ornaments hung in his long beard) and made out in my car for over an hour.

My post-trauma dating history is terrible. My ex did damage I am still trying to recover from, I have gone out with psychopaths (clinical) and guys with severe attachment disorder and it has all left me not wanting to date again, because I am tired of picking the bad apples. I’m pretty skittish.

But, you know, what the hell.

Thankful

Practicing gratitude does a lot for mental health.

I woke up in the middle of the night with searing pain in my tension spot. I have a place near my right shoulder in my trapezoid muscle that seizes up when I am really tense. It feels like the muscle is being ripped out. Fun times, right? I had just finished a REM cycle and had had a nap yesterday, so I ended up being awake for about an hour, which was plenty long enough to slap a Tiger Balm patch on it and consider just getting up already.

I went back to sleep.

I previously wrote about living with near constant physical and emotional pain. It can be hard to be thankful, but gratitude is so necessary to a good life. A friend asked me yesterday how I deal with it all. I do exactly what I was doing yesterday – serve other people and meet their needs. I mixed dressing (not stuffing cause it was in pans, not in birds), filled to-go boxes, made friends and delivered meals to elderly members of the community. I sat with a woman who cried because she is lonely, having lost her husband about this time last year. They were married for 74 years. I offered to come back to see her and bring some friends, and she accepted.

I got so much more out of that than I gave.

I met a woman who also has PTSD, who works with veterans because it helps her to be around people who get it. She, too, is a survivor of sexual assault, and she, too, knows the incredibly stupid things people say when you open up about an experience others don’t understand. That connection was such a blessing, and we plan to get to know each other better. She is surprised I am still here. I’m thankful someone recognizes the hell.

Client’s Brother (I really love ridiculous nicknames so that will be hard to change if this goes forward) asked me out, and we’ve been talking in the meantime. He invited me to lunch and a brewery on Sunday, and I countered with my commitment to make wall art to sell to support an orphanage. He offered to help with that instead and said the brewery could wait. I’ve been clear about having PTSD, that crafting is with some bonkers 20-ish church kids, he knows I have a stalker because stalker emailed me yesterday to wish me and my family a Happy Thanksgiving (ugh) and so far the date is still on. I’m not used to people just rolling with me. I’m also not used to standing on a position of join me or don’t, this is what I’m doing regardless, because this is what I want.

So many reasons to be thankful, not in spite of, but in the midst of.

A Man Brought Kumquats From His Garden

It was a snackluck – snack + potluck.

I was at a house concert last night, a gig my friends play twice a year. They play a bluesy, country folk vibe, and brought in some hymns to their set last night. I like that kind of church.

I’ve been looking forward to this for a couple of months, and no-shows on the part of my friends, (former) crush and brother (to be fair, brother had to work and couldn’t get away long enough so he’s excused) weren’t about to deter me from having fun. I was at least half the age of most of the people there, and I made a lovely friend named Eloise. I was also very admired – jewelry, boots and looks – by a man who brought as his contribution to the table a cup of kumquats from his garden. I had never eaten one before, and it was a delightful experience. You can eat the whole fruit in a bite or two, and while I really dislike biting into a whole grape or cherry tomato, I do like biting into a kumquat. I really want a tree for my garden now, because those sound like fun to grow.

In addition to two hours of soulful music, there is a snackluck. People bring snacks, treats, wine, beer, and this time hibiscus flowers in syrup. The offerings were a little slim compared to the last time I went, so I was glad I brought pumpkin pie bites and a bottle of Prosecco. If you make pumpkin pie filling from the recipe on the can and use little filo dough cups instead of a traditional crust, you can have crispy little pumpkin pies that are lovely for holiday potlucks. Top with a touch of whipped cream and you’re in business. It’s the only way I’ll eat pumpkin pie.

I like the kind of funk that happens in the cozy places, the snug moments, the meeting of strangers over food and wine. I may look a little bonkers (Real question to my Mom as I was leaving, “Ok, do I look adequately bonkers?” “Yep. You look cool though.”) but it’s a conversation starter. I wear interesting clothes and jewelry because people comment on them and ask about them and it serves as an ice breaker. I always take an opportunity to pet the arm of someone wearing an interesting and soft-looking textile, because it’s a connection based on appreciation for a comforting fabric. As much as you can try to not stand out because you don’t want to draw attention, standing out can open doors to conversation and make things less awkward and uncomfortable.

How am I still single? Yeah, haha, that’s a very different conversation for another day.