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Like all real things, there is a complicated side to ‘uncomplicated’.  

Oh, how the lovely romantic entanglements we have can also be heartbreaking. My dream date with Adonis , for example. It was lovely, but also puzzling. Sharing each other’s presence, I got more of a sense of his vulnerability and intimacy than I get from most people ever. (I know, I know, women confuse physical stuff with love all the time. But read about the date . . . the connection was on many levels.) But, he has proved to be also only ’emotionally available’, for fleeting hours of face time, and with no promises. In between dates, we have been practically strangers to each other. He’ll ignore my texts until he wants to talk to me. Much of our lives–such as the part in which we are both single parents with past baggage and future desires and mundane daily activities and other romantic involvements and struggles, are kept sealed away like nuclear waste. Now, part of me is very much ok with this kind of compartmentalization. I actually like it, because of the escape, and the passion. But. . .

There are times when I question whether I have the stomach for all this. 

This past Saturday felt like too much with regard to the ‘compartmentalized romance’ thing. I went to a breakfast cafe that happens to be a place Adonis and I had enjoyed together once in the past. I went with Tim for a fun mom-and-kid breakfast–after all, Adonis doesn’t own the place, and I wanted some avocado toast on sourdough, damnit! I made sure I was on my game, beauty-wise, as I usually try to do these days. You never know who you’ll see out and about in my city and I also just enjoy myself better if I feel proud of my appearance. And, in the back of my mind I did consider he might grace the place with his presence. I live in the same neighborhood with Adonis, and considered ahead of time that it could happen that we’d run into each other. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment? Anyways, I wore a cute bare-shouldered top, hair was strangely wavy today and down, and a glossy red lip. Meow. Sure enough, as Tim and I were finishing our trendy plates, in saunters Adonis with a beautiful lady who seemed conspicuously dressed in the previous night’s date-dress. Hm.  

Now, that may sound like a nightmare, since I’ve been involved with Adonis recently, but actually, it’s ok. Neither he nor I have spent one fraction of a second together under the impression that our involvement was monogamous–not by a long shot! He’s just a captivating guy I’ve dated with absolutely zero promises, and good for him. This morning, as Tim and I walked by and he waited for a table, he buried his head in some reading material, the brim of his hat jauntily hiding his divine, Greek godly face. No eye contact. No love. I have to be honest. I didn’t love that he didn’t look up. I felt squirmy.

And yet, it’s kind of fair; he couldn’t have been sure I wouldn’t be weird, wouldn’t do something uncouth or dramatic. Maybe it was even unfair for me to pop into ‘his’ cafe on his street on a Saturday morning?

Being ‘uncomplicated’, we hadn’t overtly discussed what we’d do if something like this happened.

I would have loved to have caught his eye. Not to stop and talk and get things tangled up in introductions or conversations–ick, nobody needs quite that level of complication. I just wanted to maybe just to give him a wink, a knowing glance to let him know ‘I see you. Rock on with your sexy self’. It would have been a human and decent thing for him to do, to show recognition to me, as someone he’d been intimate with recently. In my opinion, it is actually not cool or very nice to ignore people you are on good terms with and even less nice if they’re an object of your affections. But, it’s a complicated thing, to show that recognition in public, with other entanglements present. I’m not mad. But I’m a bit squirmy about it. 

But what did she know??

As Tim and I stood out front messing with our bicycles, I did what I probably shouldn’t have; I glanced back in the restaurant window to see if I was being seen.  I almost turned into a pillar of salt; the lovely lady was gazing over her shoulder at me! I wondered what was going through her mind, and even more, what did she know? I mean, why was she watching me? And–oh, ick. Had he gone through all of the same activities of the dream date he and I had shared, but with her, the night before? Was it all just a routine, not real, and an act? Was I just a passive subject in his self-absorbed Adonis Show?

Ah well, I’ll probably never know. And even if so, god that was fun and I don’t care that much. That still wouldn’t erase my take aways from that dream date. My feelings of inspiration and return-to-self and joy that I’d felt around Adonis. Those were real to me. 

I didn’t even exactly feel too jealous. After all, I’m a pretty lovely lady with a delightful son, and I don’t really need all the men’s attention all the time. I thought, jokingly in my mind, about how, later, I’d tease Adonis, saying that I didn’t say ‘hi’ to him because I was just trying to be discreet, knowing Adonis would surely be jealous of my captivating date (Tim). I rode away with Tim feeling both smug and disconcerted. 

I know, some of you might say this guy’s a snake. That his weakness is that he is unavailable, uncommitted, unkind. But I’m not so sure. I feel I ‘get’ his behavior, and if it’s inexusable, then I am also inexcusable, for he’s more like me than not.

Recently, I came across the poem I Know Someone, by Mary Oliver.

I Know Someone 

I know someone who kisses the way
a flower opens, but more rapidly.
Flowers are sweet. They have
short, beatific lives. They offer
much pleasure. There is
nothing in the world that can be said
against them.
Sad, isn’t it, that all they can kiss
is the air.

Yes, yes! We are the lucky ones. 

-Mary Oliver, Felicity

It is an appreciation of beauty, life and pleasure that takes my breath away. Adonis astonishes me. He loves life and makes no promises. Maybe he’s just figured out some secrets. Maybe he’s found his strength, and is playing to it. Maybe, like a gorgeous flower, he’s giving himself and others experiences of pleasure and beauty when he can. Maybe he’s living his life honestly but trying not to overthink. This is a quality I want for myself, more and more. What is the harm? After all, he’s never lied or broken a promise to me. Like a flower, what can I really say against him? All’s fair in love and war.   

If I had to choose right now, for all time, whether I wanted a string of enchanting dream dates without attachment, or a stable, serious, long-term, monogamous relationship, I’d chose the former, hands down!  

But here’s where I get complicated, Debbie Downer and cerebral: 1) It takes a lot of energy for me to get past that ‘squirm’ at something like what happened today. I had to do a little deep breathing and a little emotional gymnastics and a long phone call with a wise and polyamorous friend. And, 2) What about finding someone to be a stable man-person in Tim’s life? What about having a ‘relationship’ where domestic life can be shared, that is recognized in the public sphere? That gets some respect? Shit, that allows ME to be recognized as someone’s important lady in the public sphere?Aren’t these things aspects of love too? Isn’t that long term relationship the ‘right’ thing to do, that all romance movie plots slide down into in the end? What about going home to someone and talking about your day, or getting to know someone’s flaws and loving them still, the way you do in a committed relationship? I either kind of want those things too, or something, (Hollywood, patriarchy, capitalism, heteronormativity, whiteness, the illuminati?) has convinced me that I should want those things. Do I have to choose, or can I have passion AND stability? Right now, stability sounds so heavy, boring, and oppressive. 

I’m just going to let this complicated knot of conflicting ideas just BE

Like I tend to do when I’m at my best. I’m not going to try to make perfect sense of it right this instant. Today, Tim and I left the cafe, went for a beautiful summer bike ride. We got really hot, then found a Mexican grocery with cold beverages and nice guys who shared a spicy tamale with us, bringing me back to my senses and out of my head. We went thrifting and Tim started crafting his nefarious Halloween costume plans with our thrift store booty! I told Tim, as we biked through the city that we were basically living my perfect day–thrifting, biking, good food, and being with a loved one. Yeah, I’ll always have my memory of the perfect date with Adonis, but what’s way more important, I’ll always remember the joy of spending time like this day with Tim. My love and my family. Whether I ever settle down into something stable again some day, or stick with a string of passionate encounters, I’ll always have myself, too. And that is what I call complicated, messy, sexy happiness. 

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Ms. Single Mama by Molly Undercover - 11M ago

I love the idea of experiencing a reversal of night and day. Illumination in the shadows. Feeling very trippy and emotional. It’s also the first day of seventh grade for Tim. God, I cannot believe how fast time has flown! He’s at the same school he started at when he was three, and it’s crazy to see how all the kids have changed in what feels like literally a FEW years to me. 

STRUGGLING to get work done today. Too much excitement in the air. 

Also, does it mean something if a man I’ve been casually dating lately with wants to watch the once-in-a-lifetime in our region solar eclipse with me? That feels very heavy and even relationship-y! I’m not sure I’m cool with the conclusions he might draw if I took him up on his invitation–might infringe on my single self. Or am I being a worry wart? 

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It’s time for another round of dating horror stories:

A date with a guy that was not nearly as hot as I’d thought when I’d asked for his number:

Also I am getting over being sick and only out due to boredom. This guy is AWFUL to talk to. When a guy launches into a speech on the first date “I’m almost too nice. . . “: methinks thou dost protest too much? Why are you telling me this? You are either really boring, or you’re a monster! All I can think about is how people in earshot must be so annoyed to have to listen to our attempt to connect–like nails on a blackboard. 

It gets better though. As I was leaving the nightmare awkward date, above, I looked right and realized The Centaur had been sitting to my right, the whole time, hearing every word. This was before we’d ever gone out but after I’d met him and asked him for his number. At least it gave me a great excuse to text him and something funny for us to talk about. Just another embarrassing Centaur experience.

Sorry, the role of ‘My Baby Boy’ is already taken:

Then there’s the night where I was hanging out with a guy that I’d pegged as quite confident, cool, and cute. We started to make out a little. . . whoo hoo!! Kissing is fun! But then, something so strange. His face turned away from me, his left hand sliding up to mouth. He’d stopped kissing me to suck his thumb, embracing his cheek with his palm! I mean. . .I’m ok with it, I get it. It’s a tough world out there, and if there’s something that brings you comfort and hurts no one, by all means, you do You! But your thumb?? Right now?  Is better than my luscious lips? Even worse – was he showing me you need a mama (It doesn’t help that Mr. Confident was substantially younger than me) Forget it! That place is filled in my life. I don’t need an overground child hanging around, thank you! 

Be careful not to feed the rats:

Another very cute guy, I met while out for a walk in my city neighborhood. (In hindsight, red flag, obviously – be careful when somebody picks you up on the street!) We got a drink and got to talking. At first he told me he lived alone. I pressed. I got excited, it seems we had something in common! We were both going through divorces, with kids. But, as I pressed, I realized he was avoiding answering my questions about it his family life. Here’s why: actually after some questioning I learned he was still living with his wife, the mother of his children, and she didn’t know he was out picking up ladies AND he’d just right then lied to me first and told me he lived alone. The divorce wasn’t even fully decided on!!! I got the heck out of there. This dude had NO business talking to me, until he sorted this stuff out with his wife. Infuriating and icky!

Wishing you better dates,

Molly Undercover

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Ms. Single Mama by Molly Undercover - 11M ago

He showed me his and I showed him mine. . . 

–nickname, that is. When you’re trying to help your besties (or blog readers) keep date-people people straight, without the benefit of faces, nicknames help. A couple of weeks ago, ‘Wild Animal Man’ aka, ‘The Centaur’ and I had a funny exchange. It was endearing and revealing to learn what he calls me and to see his reaction to my secret name for him.

Background: When it comes to communicating verbally about matters of the heart, The Centaur is not great. For example, he’s never, ever, said many of the usual sweet nothings to me, such as “I like you a lot” or “I think you’re attractive/pretty.” We just don’t really talk along these lines. This may seem like a bad thing—but bear with me! That quality certainly keeps my walls up, which is kinda just the way I want it right now. And he has many other lovely qualities: he’s extremely fetching, he’s wild and passionate for life, and he’s great with his dog. 

I arrived at a music festival  knowing I’d see him there. I was looking extremely cute in a whole woodsy-hippie kind of way  (lace-up sandals and an amazing thrift store find of a bohemian dress). He looked gorgeous. He is very tall, with broad shoulders and sinewy limbs. Chocolate chip eyes, olive complexion, a mess of dark, long wild hair all over the place. Very untamed, very sexy. I always get a little flustered when I see him and do weird stuff like spilling beer all over him or tripping over my feet like an idiot or accidentally sending him texts about himself meant for my besties. This time, I saw him just as I was rubbing handwash all over my hands with a grossed-out face after leaving the Porta Potty. Very cute indeed. 

I flirted. He introduced me to his friends. I didn’t think a lot of it. A little later, he came over to my blanket. Was he. . . gazing at me? That’s the only way I know how to describe the goofy look on his usually distant face. His head was back, and he was half-grinning and looking at me as if he’d never seen me before in his life. Later, I went up to the front of the crowd to enjoy the last band. He popped up beside me and we had fun like we never had– dancing together, goofing off with his friends and loving the music. As the band took a break, and leaned into me. He’s so tall, he has to stoop to talk to me in a crowd. Swoon. The rest of the scene faded out and I was just visually, olfactorily and physically fixated on his undomesticated presence, letting him pull me close. He said something to me along the lines of “My friend wanted to know who I was flirting with and I was like ‘Oh, that’s just Mama Bear’ and she was like, ‘THAT’S Mama Bear? But, she’s really beautiful!’ and I was like. . . ‘DUH!’”

Did a grown man just somehow use ‘DUH’ in an attempt to formulate a compliment to my beauty?

:::::Cool story, bro:::: But also, his friends have had a nickname for me? Meaning he talks about me when we’re apart? My head spun a little with surprise and delight at this unusual, for him, self-revelation and the awkward attempt at a compliment. 

But more useful, as a moniker, I LOVE ‘Mama Bear’! I like it so much I almost want to trade out the name Molly Undercover for it! It’s cute, and also fierce. When ‘Wild Animal Man’ moves on, as I’m sure he will sooner or later, I get to keep this nickname. And I love it. Thanks, my hairy and huge Animal Man. 

‘The Centaur’ was a nickname that had been coined by a mutual friend one night, after this undomesticated man-person had stomped around for hours at a party in only cowboy boots and sparkly spandex–quite a sight worth seeing. The nickname just fit his oversized, lanky and beautiful presence. And, ‘Wild Animal Man’–another mutual friend started this after one night when he’d curled up right on my porch and fell asleep, snoring like an oversized bear, feet sticking eighteen inches off the porch furniture.

Right then and there, as the rest of the festival crowd seemed to fade away in the bubble of intimacy we’d created , I revealed back to him my secret names for him. He looked left for a moment, trying it on for size in his mind. And then, I could swear I saw his chest puff just a little, he rocked back on his heels, and nodded. Maybe he likes being seen, named, recognized, too.

Soon, of course, Centaur and Mama Bear went back to the no-talk, all-fun situation.

The brief, but cute, verbal interlude ended there.  That night, we danced, listened to music and partied with friends in the woods. How totally just right for my newly single self. 

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Ms. Single Mama by Molly Undercover - 11M ago

A dream date is so unwordly, that afterward I’m left unsure that it really happened.  .  . 

The opposite of nightmare dates; on a dream date, you feel like a million bucks, and your date seems equally delighted. Like the best dreams, it stands alone, carrying no obligation to the future and needing no memory of the past. 

This dream date story involves Adonis, the Pilot (that’s what I’ll call him here). Adonis is a dashing, motorcycle-riding, swaggering pilot; a poet, a painter, dancer and musician. He’s downright gorgeous, with a strong jaw, perfect stubble, a confident swagger, luscious lips, multicolored green-blue-brown eyes. He’s a muse, and he inspires me to live an elegant, beautiful, life. Whenever stars align for us to spend a little time together, I’m overjoyed. And, just the way I like it these days, he’s not looking for anything committed or serious. When we are not actually together, we don’t talk or text, (perfect, I have my friends for that!) and there are no promises of future dates. Just the present moment, which is, at least for now, perfect.

This story recounts our second date: the afternoon of planned date, he texted to say that he really felt like flying in his meticulously restored vintage plane – would I like to join? Terrifying, but come on–who says no to an offer like that? Plus, he’d been a legitimate pilot for twenty years. I trusted he’d keep us alive, and if we did crash and die, at least I’d be having an amazing time with a hot guy in the process. There are worse ways to go.

I got ready (always part of the fun) as the anticipation built. I called just before we were to meet, to ask if there were any clothing retirements for flying in a vintage cessna. He said no, and I decided on something vintage-y that matched the lovely old Cessna: dark flared high waisted jeans, a bright colored sleeveless top with a cute peter pan collar, and strappy red sandals. As we chatted he asked for a few more minutes to groom his lovely self. “Just because I’d like to. . .I like to look good even when someone beautiful isn’t coming over to my house,” he joked. Adonis has got game, I’ll give him that.

Driving in his car to the small airport, we talked. The conversation touched on living passionately, and our feelings about death and friendship. (Really, if that conversation had been the whole date, it would have been a dream in itself!) We got there, and first he did a safety inspection, then showed me around the very sexy airplane. I could see his slightly obsessive love for it as he nerded out, explaining how it works and, in a move that I thought was quite considerate, the science behind how tough it would be to crash it.  

Then there was the photoshoot. The midwestern sky was full of pink, blue and purple clouds. We did a couple selfies.  He snapped about a hundred pictures of me with the airplane on my phone, ‘for your grandchildren to see what a confident and fearless woman their grandmother was’ he said. I felt gorgeous, and like a model. 

We went up, and not only did he show off for a bit, but as an instructor, he gave me a chance to take the controls as well. This was thrilling, magical, and perspective-broadening. As I observed him in his element, and got out of my own, I began to learn what an intensely physical, mental and beautiful dance it is to fly a vintage small craft. For me, learning something new and getting out of my own element is my comfort zone. It makes me feel alive! I felt alive. When we landed, I was full of adrenaline.

We went back to his lovely apartment, full of his drawings and paintings, books, musical instruments, and vintage furniture. There was just enough red wine, and good lighting to made me feel like an absolute goddess. We sang folk songs together while he played guitar; at a few points, he’d thrust a harmonica or a violin at me to solo, (both of which–how did he know?–I used to love to play a million years ago when I was in high school. I now play very badly, but he still acted very tickled.) We danced and ordered food in–middle eastern. We had incredible conversations about philosophy, friendship, and more. He serenaded me to candlelight on his guitar. We danced in the pouring rain. 

I left many hours after the date began, feeling I’d been swept up in a spell. I was pretty convinced that I was a magical princess witch who can fly and should be treated, toasted and entertained with passion, skill and beauty at all times! And why not? I’m pretty special (wink). I am basically ruined for average dates now–thanks a lot, Adonis!  Guys, up your game!

Here’s where I get cerebral again, and a little Debbie Downer: there is a disconnect between a passionate dream date like this and a sustained relationship. Do the two even have anything to do with each other? If not, I might be ok with it. Maybe I never want a relationship again, but just a series of dream dates like this with different wonderful men. 

Today, I’m going to have to resist the urge to sort that tangled knot, out and at least savor my memories and photos of the night (I’d show them to you, but then I’d have to kill you). Adonis inspired me so much! I’d like to learn to bring the dream more and more into my waking life, to my own muse, and to increasingly live my single mama life with the elegance and passion I see in him. Anyways, thanks for reading, and letting me tell you my dream date story!

XO,

Molly Undercover.

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Ms. Single Mama by Molly Undercover - 1y ago

I’m going to need to be complainey here just for a minute, ok?  I promise, I’ll get it out of my system so we can get back to interesting and fun things tomorrow. But today, I had that ‘cry in the car’ kind of day, and each of my friends and siblings have done their patient duty of listening to me prattle this already month, and now it’s your turn, dear readers.

Lately I feel like I’ve slid back months in the process of letting go of my marriage.

Today, it’s the process of planning vacations that sets me off (I know, I’m pretty lucky if this is the type of thing that gets me upset).

I’m planning summer trips and adventures. Tim has his two middle-school aged cousins in town this week, and life is good. They are so cute together, cracking each other up all day, developing inside jokes and having fun. It’s early summer and we have tons of plans with family for the Fourth of July. I also have weeks of vacation saved up at work, and only need to make a plan in order to be on the road somewhere. I’m in a great situation.

But for some reason, I am having a terrible time committing to any particular plan for weekend trips or longer vacations. Even for this weekend with the cousins here. On the surface, it’s just indecision, but if I sit with my feelings a little bit I realize I’m feeling alone. This is the kind of stuff I used to get heavy input from Tim’s dad on. My decision-making skills are weakened from years of letting my spouse take the lead. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.

In addition, I worry that every plan I come up with will be inadequate. To me, vacation = family time. And up until recently, family was always the three of us; Tim, his dad, and me. At a time like this, I would have enjoyed sharing the fun of seeing the cousins together with Tim’s Dad. On vacation with just Tim and I, I’m afraid I’m not enough; not interesting enough, not good enough at planning. And I can never make our family go back to what it used to be for Tim, and what if a vacation with me as the only adult is just no fun?

None of these negative feelings change the situation that brought me here though. Vacations with Tim’s dad didn’t make up for a marriage that didn’t work. Yes, vacations were happy experiences, but I tried to use to make up for weeks and months of isolation and lack of support in my relationship.

It’s a good thing that I’m no longer sitting passively by and letting some man make decisions for me all the time, and feeling unhappy. It’s a good thing that I have a choice over how I spend my time, and that I am lucky enough to have vacation time and good friends and family to plan things with. It’s not light. It’s not fun, but it is what it is.

Today at work I went out for a walk. We have a little nature trail you can take that leads to a coffee shop. I walked with stress about whether I could give Tim enough fun this summer running through my mind. Then, I just started to feel like it was all pointless. What’s the point of having fun if families can break up, people get old and die, and everything can go to hell? Some dark shit was running through my mind.

Then I noticed. Some kind of fluffy wildflowers along the path were sending seed puffs waving in the wind and flying up into the sun. The weather was just about exactly 80 degrees, with light streaks of clouds and no humidity. The breeze blew across my face. I got lost in the moment. The words came to my mind, “All we have is Presence,” meaning, the only thing that matters is right now. Suddenly the pressure to create the perfect experiences when Tim and I are together lightened, and I realized that the elegance of every little moment matters so much more.

Especially with how quick he is growing up! My experience on this walk made me want to just hang out with Tim, just let go of any idea that I need to be ultra-fun. I like this super-zen, wise version of me. Maybe this is how I single mom, at my best? Still, I gotta plan a vacation. There’s so many places I want to go, both as a free single lady and with Tim. I’d love to take him on a bunch of weekend trips and a road trip out west. I would love to read comments – have you had any good single mama adventures with your kids?

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June has been a single parenting/adult child of dementia patient/dating/work/social whirlwind! The highlights since I’ve last posted are the following:

  • Tim stayed with his Dad for a week and I used the eerily free time to catch up on my social life–that’s why there have been so few posts!  I went to my first music festival, had one of my first parties at my house as a single to host some awesome new work friends, and took a quick flight for a weekend getaway with a girlfriend.
  • I took Tim camping. First time just the two of us. Tim set up the tent! I was very proud.
  • Tim met his Dad’s new girlfriend.
  • The dissolution of our marriage is not yet final but the lawyer’s working on it. This requires equal doses of paperwork and dealing with my sad and angry feelings. We technically hit our seventeen year anniversary this month, ironically on the day before the ex introduced Tim to the new woman in his life.  And no, I don’t approve that my ex chose to do that while we are still legally married, but I’m picking my battles.
  • I went on a few amazing dates myself! Nothing serious, though. In the mix: a very romantic, artistic, and gorgeous pilot; Centaur/Wild Animal Man; and from time to time, Cat Guy, who was looking for a relationship, but he now knows I date some other fellows, and that I’m keeping it light. I got a few asks for dates from people I just didn’t have time to see. The dating life is exhausting and fun.
  • My sister moved out of her family home and into an apartment by herself, starting her own, difficult single mama journey many hours away. My heart’s breaking for her and I’m concerned for the hurdles she has ahead.
  • My parents, two hours away, have reached a crisis point due to the onset of dementia – Alzheimers, (likely, dad), and Speech Aphasia, (confirmed and rapidly progessing, mom). They still live on their own, for now, and are pretty stubborn about accepting help. Their situation is terrifying and needs urgent attention. My newly single sister is taking a leave of absence to care for them while she can.

I feel like the true sandwich generation! Single mom, parents need care, and I’m still trying to achieve in my career, make a contribution to this world, and parent my pre-teen single. It feels busy, to say the least.

Of all of these joys and stressors, meeting the ex’s new girlfriend, having Tim meet her, definitely threw me for the biggest loop this month.

I’ve been determined since March 6 of this year to graduate from my grief over the end of my marriage. I don’t want to mope forever! I felt like I lost months of progress the week Tim met his dad’s new woman. I’ve got all kinds of feelings about it. Beforehand, I was just concerned that she might not be cool, or might not be good to my 12-year-old Tim. But she seems like a normal person and Tim really liked her. That brings me to my next worry. What if he likes her too much, and she’s gone in six months or a year? That seems like so much for a kid to deal with. And then, there are the bizarre feelings of jealousy. What do I care if my ex is with someone new? I know completely that he’s not right for me, yet it feels upsetting to think of him being with her. I catch myself in the middle of thoughts I’m not proud of, that their relationship fails spectacularly and that they both end up suffering. Not feelings I want to feel. I guess these tell me that I have more progress I need to make in letting go of the past and of my anger and bitterness.

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