Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Runaway as fast as you can."

So maybe I lied...

I know my public blog has been fairly quiet, but the same can not be said about my personal, private journal.

Most of you know that I've been on an exuberantly embarrassing, uneventful relationship streak over the past year and a half. Furthermore, it wasn't till a month ago that I realized just how ridiculously ridiculous it had actually become. - So much so, I decided I should take a much needed breather away from dating, boys, drinking and all the other stuff that goes along with unhealthy coping practices.

Allow me to elaborate a little: The stand I took behind the ending of my last short-lived "relationship" with a man who was in theory "PERFECT" for me on paper, was that I just didn't have the time to devote to a full-on relationship in between juggling all of the following: being a mom, a student, an intern, a business owner and even a part-time employ - not to forget attempting to maintain the balance in my relationships with my friends. I concluded that I just didn't have time for a boyfriend.

As weeks went by, I began realizing that it wasn't that I didn't have the time, it was more like I didn't want to give up that time for something I wasn't 100% into. The reality of it was, my heart just was not in it at all. Sure, I loved him, but I wasn't by any means, in love. And that makes a world of difference when dealing with matters of the heart. When you're in love, you want to make accommodations, you want to re-prioritize, you want to make them fit.

Allow me to elaborate a little further on another related subject: My dating M.O. and my "In-Love" record.

Okay, sure, I've dated... a lot. It seems that I'm always the one with a new "boyfriend" or "crush". What can I say, I suck at casual dating. I would much rather be in some sort of committed agreement, even if it's very light, rather than having to worry about the safety and sanctity of my body. - Granted, rarely are these encounters substantial, nor do most span longer than a few months. - Mostly because I am a classic example of an emotional "Runner". I am someone who over analyzes, thinks entirely too much about the future well before the future should even be thought about, throws up Red Flags left and right early on and then runs away never to look back.

Not only am I a runner, I also have a "Date Safe" Protocol. Which basically means, the men I choose to date are usually men I feel could never hurt me. They almost always have some minor character flaw that I just can't get past which conveniently stops me from moving forward emotionally in the relationship. - Whether it be an awkward set of social skills, ridiculous eating habits, frivolous spending habits, the state of cleanliness of their living space and/or even the simple fact of them not being all that easy on the eyes - all have been superficial reasons for throwing a red flag in my quest of finding (more like, avoiding, really) Mister Right. All in all, this has almost always been my "modus operandi" when choosing to date someone: Date safe.

There have been a few exceptions to the rule; the very few times I did let my guard down. Names have been changed to protect those guilty of wrecking havoc on my heart.

Love #1
: I shall call him "The BFF" - It was mid-2000, I was 21. Working two jobs - both of which I loved, not because I needed to work as hard as I did. I had just moved into an apartment of my own in Panama City, Florida.

Since I was 16, working at a local music store in the mall, "The BFF" was pretty much a best friend to me. After I graduated in 1997, he moved away from Florida and we lost touch for about two years. After my father passed in 1999, we reconnected.

We decided to date - despite it being long distance - in October 2000. By December, I uprooted myself from my comfort zone and moved across several states to be with this man.

I won't go into details as to all the things that went wrong in my very short stay there, but none-the-less, things went straight to hell in a hand-basket and by March of 2001, my old roommate, Amy, along with my Ruby Tuesday manager had driven across several states to pick me up and bring me all the way back home to Florida.

I don't know if he actually knows this part of it, but since we are friends now, I imagine he will eventually read this.

I wouldn't have moved away from every single security if I didn't have the hopes and dreams of being married to him one day. At the time, I trusted without question. Even in the midst of his blatant betrayal, my first initial reaction wasn't to run. - Wait, read that again. - I didn't want to run home. My first thought was: "I can make this work; I just have to; we can make it work." - Wow, I was so naive.

Love #2
: "The Musician" - Summer of 2001 - I was working a lot. Throwing myself back into the work of a dinning room server aboard a Riverboat out of New Orleans. My rotations were 6 weeks on, 2 weeks off - where I would then work at good old Ruby Tuesday in Panama City till I had to return back to the boat.

I was still very much jilted and jaded from the happenings surrounding "The BFF" so when I made an emotional connection with a co-worker, I was completely shocked and scared to death. - Though, this one fit the "date safe" protocol to a "T" - or so it seemed.

We put each other through hell from the get go. It's amazing to me that we are still great friends today. I was dishonest. He was dishonest. We were a volatile mix romantically. But damn it, we loved each other.

I took a backseat to his dreams of a "career" in music most all of the time. I was the proverbial "band-aid, rock show groupie" at every single show. I would help with load in, stay till all hours of the morning to help with load out and then fight with him in my drunken stupor all the way back home about how he completely ignored me whilst fraternizing with the waves of barely legal girls that were SO MUCH prettier than me that are always present when a band full of hot, sweaty musicians get off the stage to start mingling with the crowd. - Insecure much? - Absolutely. - Goodness yes. I'm even laughing at myself now as I am typing this.

So after about 3 years, I made a conscious decision that I needed a life of my own. I had since quit working out of town on the Riverboats and had moved on from Ruby Tuesday. I started working at a new upscale restaurant on the beach and started making new friends and going out doing my own thing instead of waiting around for "The Musician" to call me. This didn't sit well with him at all.

I finally had had enough. My confidence had somewhat began to resurface and I was looking for means to run from the relationship I had once fought so hard to keep. The only problem was he was just beginning to think I was something he wanted to keep. Towards the end of 2003, I checked out emotionally. - And I cheated.

Enter Love #3: "The Ex-Husband" - February 2004 - I was 24, about to turn 25. I had pretty much sworn off men, yet again. In fact, I remember being at a local bar, completely sober, dancing with two of my girlfriends and laughing about the plethora of jerks I had been out with lately. I was completely done. Then BAM! - My girlfriend points out a tall, handsome man with amazing teeth standing on the outskirts of the dance floor. "Go dance with him, Sylvia." - She says as she shoves me in his direction. - And the rest was history from there.

We fell quickly for each other. Though, at the time, my drinking had become quite ridiculous. I can recall several morning-afters where I had woken up beside him, only to not remember what had happened the night before and to realize that I had started a fight and said things I had no justification for saying and ultimately hurting the man I loved so much. This should have been a BIG wake up call for me. But unfortunately it wasn't.

Within a few short months, I was pregnant. Scared to death, but definitely still very much in love. It's amazing how crazy several years of living a life filled with alcohol, drugs and promiscuity can make you... and how much of a freak you'll feel like once all those things are taken away from you without any preparation. You are then forced to deal with the plethora of issues you chose not to acknowledge from years past with a whole new, very unfamiliar set of coping mechanisms.

Needless to say, my marriage failed. - For a multitude of reasons really. We both were not properly equipped at the time to deal with a new child, a new marriage and the years of emotional wreckage I had endured prior to meeting my husband that began to surface.

So I can honestly say "The Ex-Husband" didn't break me, per se. I was already broken well before we met. I ran without much heartache from my marriage to salvage and rebuild my sanity for my daughter's sake. I could not allow myself to become a mother like my own.

-- I left in October 2005. Our divorce wasn't finalized until April 2007. I think this is when all the random, "safety dating" officially began. Seriously, I look back at some of the guys I dated over those few years and quite literally laugh to myself. - Why in the world did I date him... and him... and HIM??? UGH. Seriously, what was I thinking??? --

- Anyhoo, fast forward to 2009 - I reconnect with a guy I had met for coffee a year prior. - Let's refer to him as "The Bad Rerun" - We met in April 2008, after he sent me a random Myspace message. - Now, typically, I don't respond to random men that I don't know via social networking sites, but for some reason, after stalking his profile and reading everything I could about him, I was surprisingly somewhat interested even despite the fact that he was 1. Eleven years older than me and 2. A smoker. Anyway, we meet, go out a couple of times and I end up choosing to date a friend of mine for 8 months instead - someone who was in fact, "safe" and could/would never hurt me.

- January 2009 rolls around and we randomly end up at a stop light at the intersection of Murfreesboro Road and Donelson Pike. He's behind me with one car in between. I'm oblivious when I drive. I get a text that says, "Hey, I think I'm behind you." I immediately look in my rear-view and see him waving at me like a dork. Umm, okay, adorable.

I call, we chat momentarily and make plans to meet up in the near future. Within a very short period of time, I knew this man was "The One" I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I was stupid in love. But more importantly, I thought I was better equipped to be in love. I had been through 3 years of therapy prior. I was new and improved. Sylvia 2.0.

Things were great. Moving quickly. Plans to move my daughter and myself into his home in Gallatin had started formulating. We set a date for the move to take place in May. We even picked out paint for Emily's room. A beautiful hue of purple. By the time we finished painting, things had started to shift.

March - I got let go from my job without valid reason. I turned 30 shortly after. - Then, the depression started. - Then the drinking. And when I would drink heavily, every single one of my insecurities would surface and I'd wake up the next morning, disoriented, unable to remember the night before and wondering why he wasn't in bed next to me only to quickly realize that I had picked another drunken fight and said things that had hurt him.

Sound familiar??? A pattern perhaps? - The only difference this time, was that I was mentally and emotionally healthy enough to recognize it and wanted so badly to fix myself as well as the damage to the relationship I had caused. For the first time in my life, I actually loved someone enough to want to address MY own issues, instead of blaming the other person and running away.

I threw myself back into therapy and tried a few different anti-depressants. The meds were making me crazier than I already felt. The frustration of not being able to procure another job added to the chaos in my head. - And on top of all that, seriously, who decides to change careers and start school in the middle of a recession?? - Umm, yeah, apparently that would be me.

- Then it happened. He shut down. Completely closed up. Disappeared and told me that moving in wasn't such a great idea. - Not necessarily in that particular order, mind you.

That. Broke. Me.

I remember asking myself, - him, - anyone who would listen, really, over and over again, "Why can't he just love me through it, that's all I need?" I still to this day don't understand how someone can just flip the switch so easily.

Over the past 16 months, I've dated a couple of people for months at a time, only to break it off because of some minuscule glimmer of hope that would surface with "The Bad Rerun." - We'd meet up, talk, cry a lot, see each other for a week or so and then one of us would get spooked, then just like that, he'd up and disappear again.

Lather, rinse and repeat... Repeat, repeat, repeat.

I've been too embarrassed, scared and/or prideful about telling my friends/family that we had been talking again. After all, they experienced my brokenness first hand. They saw the months where all I could do was cry; where I couldn't eat or laugh at something funny my daughter would say. They were the ones who had to pick me up on the side of the road and take me to the E.R. because I was having severe panic/anxiety attacks. They were the ones that had to unpack the many, many boxes of my belongings stacked neatly up against a wall in Emily's room waiting to be moved for months and months. I was embarrassed by my debilitation and even more so embarrassed by my ability to overlook it all for the sake of love, therefore I never said a word about it to anyone, until now.

Whew... deep breath...

Anyway, my last episode with "The Bad Rerun" aired early this month. And of course, it ended pretty much the same way as it always does. Only now, it doesn't hurt as much every time it happens. I have become comfortably numb when it comes to dealing with him.

So when is enough, enough?? I've asked myself this very question time and time again. It's a shame that it's taken me so long to even get to a point of believing that I just may have finally had enough.

I'm a strong believer in the fact that God places people in your life and strategizes their exact entrances and exits into and out of your life with unfathomable precision. It's mind-blowing.

Over the last month, in particular, I have learned a few valuable things by the simple act of people passing through the proverbial In/Out door of my life.

1. Everyone has regrets. Even though it doesn't seem like that person who allows you to waltz so freely out of their life cares so much right now, but you can bet your ass they will be kicking themselves for it later.

2. Don't sell yourself short of anything less than you deserve. It's okay to say, "I need more than you have to give." Don't allow your head to make justifications for what your heart desires. What you want and what you need are two very different things.

3. Don't settle for someone you know you don't want just because they are saying everything you want/need to hear at that particular moment. You may desperately want to hear those things, but from someone else, not them. Do NOT settle.

4. Life throws you unexpected curve balls all of the time. Don't get too comfortable in the things you think you can control, because in reality, it's all out of your hands.

-- Case and point: This past week. I've had the best week. - The proverbial rug has been yanked completely out from underneath my feet - despite my best efforts to prevent that from happening.

So yes, I did lie.

It's always when you think you've got it all figured out. You stop looking completely. You hand it over to God. And when you're least expecting it, you connect with someone that completely throws you for a loop. Someone who understands you better than you understand yourself. Someone who takes a genuine interest in all your many, many quirks, interests and life altering experiences. Someone who is aware of you're many faults and failures, yet tries to understand them but more importantly, accepts them regardless of circumstance.

Yes. The cat's out of the bag. I am completely excited over a boy. And as much as it pains me to say this: it feels damn good to be this girlie and stupid over someone again. I honestly didn't believe it would ever happen. Just like that. I feel hopeful. - Scared out of my pants, but hopeful nonetheless, and that in itself is so, so amazing.

I guess there's a lot to be said about your intuition and gut instincts. If it feels right, by all means, go for it. But if there's doubt early on, don't ignore it by reasoning any or all of the following out in your head: "but he's a genuinely good guy" or "he's good to me" or "he looks good on paper" because ultimately in the end you will just end up hurting someone else who didn't deserve to be hurt.

You'll know when it's right for you. And just promise yourself that you won't run away when the opportunity is staring you down straight in the face.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Life shouldn't hurt; doesn't hurt so badly."

"Do you feel light shine in the darkest of nights, or does the pain stack up from the skin to the core? - Do you find every time that you cover your eyes to keep the tears held up, dripping down even more?"
- The Flight of Apollo by Angels & Airwaves

Over the last several days, I've allowed myself to come to a pretty substantial conclusion in my life.

I've not only realized but finally accepted the fact that I am just going to have to give in to this void in my heart and make myself hurt through it.

I've spent the last 16 months desperately trying to fill this emptiness with an obscene amount of not-so-fulfilling distractions.

- And not so surprisingly, all those "distractions" have left me feeling even more empty and disappointed in myself.

To have expectations of someone seems to always end in disappointment. - But is it really possible to not have expectations of the people you love and those who claim to love you in return?

Validation has always been something I've struggled with in my life. I tend to seek if from the people closest to me, and even more so from the men that I'm somewhat attached to. - Of course, how can we forget the plethora of "Daddy/Abandonment" issues addressed in my several years worth of therapy, right?

All I want - wait, all I "need" is more like it - after completing something personally challenging is to share that victorious moment with someone that will wrap their arms tightly around me, kiss me on the forehead and say, "Sylvia, I'm so proud of you" but lately, I haven't had many people to share those specific moments with. A phone call, text message or someone clicking the "Like" link on a Facebook status update just pales in comparison.

I remember reading an article on depression somewhere a while back that stated the average person needs 8 to 10 physical touches per day to ward off depression. I think I concur.

"Life's better with company. Everybody needs a co-pilot." - Quote from the movie "Up in the Air."

True. So true. But it has to be the right co-pilot. One that shares your views, your ambitions, your goals, your dreams, your life's wants... One that understands your emotional needs and one that can communicate with you effectively regardless of circumstance.

With all that being said, I'm tired of being disappointed by the unfulfilling people and things I keep investing my time into. So I'm refocusing, yet again. On myself. My family. My last two weeks of school. My business. My health and fitness - which includes my physical, emotional and mental well-being. My creativity and art.

I'm swearing off the plethora of unavailable men I always seem to attract.

I'm cutting back on the alcoholic beverages I consume on a weekly basis - and vowing to only indulge in them in very controlled situations.

I'm going to allow myself to feel the waves of pain that come along with the healing process - and try my hardest to not numb them by indulging in things that only temporarily make me forget.

Instead, each time it hurts, I'm want to attempt to focus that hurt into something positive, like a nice long run, or a bike ride, or a hike in the woods, or unleashing some creativity onto a new canvas.

In the words of U2, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" but at least I know I have to allow myself to hurt and then heal before I can truly be ready for whomever it is that God has lined up for me in my future.

So off I go to get lost in the woods on a nice, long hike.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"I wouldn’t change a thing. It's made me all of who I am inside."

Bump, bump, bump... Yes. Yet another series of bumps in the long, treacherous road.

No matter how long of a "happy, positive and optimistic" streak I may be having, it never fails. The moon and the millions of stars can somehow spontaneously align and blow my positivity and optimism right out of the water.

Case and point: This week.

Monday evening, I received some alarming news concerning my future place of employment. Here I am, working on an art piece specifically for my treatment room and all of the sudden, just like that, the question of if I'll even have a treatment room to decorate is a very real question.

I woke up Tuesday morning already in a foul mood. I didn't sleep well at all. That in itself didn't make for the best of moods.

It was a gloomy day weather-wise here in Nashville. I somehow made it through another excruciatingly boring day of school. On the way home, I got word of a friend's mom passing away. The tears immediately started flowing from my tired eyes.

I go home to clear my head. I end up trying to focus some of my energy on my painting. The work I had done to it on Monday left me hating it, so I desperately wanted to get it to a point where I loved it, or at least liked it again. I succeeded for the most part.

I settled into bed fairly early that evening, in an attempt to escape any chance of receiving even more bad news. Then, of course, the phone rings.

It's Larry, my ex-husband, the father of my child.

He starts the conversation off lightly... informing me of the dates that he will be gone for tech school. Three weeks in January. I say, "No problem. Okay. What else?"

Then he prefaces what he's about to tell me with this, "Well, it's pretty shitty news."

Shocker. I called it, didn't I? I knew more bad news was already on it's way when I decided to go to bed at 8pm.

He then proceeds to tell me that he's scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan for a year in August 2011. - What the hell? - Seriously. - A year?? - I thought I had just heard that they were starting to pull all the troops out of there?

I immediately started crying again. There I am, crying, trying to ask questions and googling any and all information I can on the current happenings in Afghanistan and reading them aloud over the phone.

That, needless to say, was the icing on the cake.

Yesterday, which was Wednesday, I felt myself retreating into the safety of my own silence. I somehow made it through school without incident and went to work a very entertaining photoshoot at Springwater, of all places, with a photographer who, in the words of Ron Burgundy, is "a pretty big deal." - In fact, he is currently one of the most sought after photographers in the world, Joe McNally. - On a normal day, I would have been on Cloud 9, but all that was seemingly overshadowed by my worry, confusion and sadness.

The shoot wrapped promptly at 5. I made it home by 6. Showered the funk of Springwater off of me and slipped into bed by 7pm. I literally could not handle anymore bad news. So as I popped a Unisom, I turned my ringer down and sauntered off to sleep.

Which brings me to Thursday... Today... I have quite literally cried off and on all day today. Not sure exactly what over. But just emotional and overwhelmed in general. Most of it being because of recent circumstances, but part of it, I suspect, is due to other contributing factors.

One being, I'm a creature of habit. I live for a life of organization and scheduled events. Three weeks of living "fly by the seat of my pants" without having to worry about or care for my child has put me in some weird territory. I've realized that I don't know how to be a completely singular individual anymore. I am forever altered. And I still long for the days of having a family of my own to come home to and to cook for and to care for on a daily basis. - Which brings me to the next point.

Two being: The reality of my age versus my current relationship status. It has finally settled in and hit me with an unexpected fierceness. I'm 31, going on 32. Single. - By choice, for the most part.

The question of if I want to marry and have another child surfaces everyday. - Realistically, I doubt that another child will even be an option for me, but right now, I'm doubtful that re-marrying will be as well. After all, I broke off a perfectly good relationship because of unfinished matters within my own heart. I chose to use my insane schedule as an excuse. - It's valid, very valid actually, but not completely true. Most everyone that knows me on a personal level knows that my heart is still attempting to heal from a past heartbreak.

But if I so adamantly long for that picturesque family life, then why in the hell do I continually run, with a vengeance - no less, in the opposite direction from potential "keepers". - Is it me??? - Will I ever allow myself to open up those chambers of my heart that are so tightly sealed off to everyone else except the one person who wrecked and ravished it in the first place? - I just don't get it.

Albert Einstein once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - I'm beginning to think I may be slightly insane. Something has seriously got to give.

"Cause what's left to lose? I've done enough. And if I fail, well then I fail, but I gave it a shot. - And these last 3 years, I know they've been hard, but now it's time to get out of the desert and into the sun... Even if it's alone."
- "On Your Porch" by The Format

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"I just want to feel safe in my own skin."

"I just want to feel safe in my own skin. I just want to be happy again.

I just want to feel deep in my own world. - But I'm so lonely I don't even want to be with myself anymore.

On a different day, if I was safe in my own skin, then I wouldn't feel lost and so frightened. - But this is today and I'm lost in my own skin.

And I'm so lonely I don't even want to be with myself anymore.

I just want to feel safe in my own skin. I just want to be happy again."

- Honestly OK by Dido

This particular album came out in 1999. I remember listening to it repeatedly throughout 2000. - Especially this song in particular. For many years to come, actually.

I felt the lyrics completely defined me. If you could look "Sylvia Lynn Fox" up in a dictionary - this would be the exact verbiage that followed my name. So much of what I felt for so long was expressed exactly as I felt them in the song.

Today marked my year anniversary of starting the Aesthetics program. I started an 8 month course of study on this day last year, September 1st, 2009. - Yes, you read that correctly. I will be completely finished with my hours by the close of September at the very latest. It has taken me one year and one month to complete an 8 month course.

When I first got the news from my instructor that I had to return to school for a THIRD trimester, I was ridiculously frustrated. - Not to mention the ridiculous amount of money I just had to fork over for tuition today because my financial aid is in an appeal status.

However, today was a good day.

I walked to my car after class, rolled down the windows, plugged up my iPhone and hit the "Shuffle Songs" option as I began to pull away from campus. Low and behold, the above referenced song began to play.

Now in past moments of listening to this song, I recall always feeling a bit melancholy and generally mellow. - But today was substantially different.

For the first time in my adult life, I feel safe in my own skin. I am happy again.

I am 31. Divorced. Single - for once in my life and actually looking to stay that way for a while. Mother of one. Student, soon-to-be Aesthetician. A very qualified Nashville Makeup Artist. I'm an avid writer. And as of lately, I'm a painter. I'm a workaholic. I have a wonderful, supportive extended family as well as a handful of wonderful, reliable, supportive friends who love me unconditionally.

Life feels good again.

I've worked so hard for seemingly so long to obtain this sense of confidence in myself and my ability to perform any and all tasks God decides to lay down in front of me that was lost so long ago. There have been so many road blocks, speed bumps, pot holes and detours along the way, and I'm pretty sure there will be many, many more in the future. However, it's a great feeling to finally feel safe in MY own skin. - To feel completely happy again without having to fill any of the voids in my heart with unfulfilling, meaningless vices. - And I ultimately feel pretty well-equipped to handle whatever it is this crazy life might throw at me at any given moment.

That in itself is an inspiration for me to keep on keepin' on... keep chasing the dream... Keep pushing myself creatively... Keep working towards being that positive, infectious force that I so want to be.

The light is getting brighter and brighter with each passing day. I'm almost there.

So, bring it on, Life. You've finally met your match.