Right around a year ago, I finally decided that with my kids getting older and the girls transitioning into the next stages in their lives, I would take the plunge. It was time to start thinking about my own mental health. I couldn’t wait forever. I was READY.
Since apparently no one – and I mean NO ONE – I know even a little knows someone else who is single, this meant on-line dating. I will spare you the 2,500 word treatise on on-line dating (believe me, there are at least 4 or 5 good blogs in there, why waste it all on one?). Good stuff for another day.
Forgetting about the online aspect for the moment, dating in your 40’s is a lot like dating in your 20’s. You get butterflies. You hope he calls (or texts). You relish in the fun of getting to know someone you connect with…and once in a while you even start fantasizing about what it’s all going to look like 3 months from now, or 6 months from now, or (sigh) 10 years from now.
You are not 25 years old anymore. First of all, there is very little left physically that is exactly where it was, or even close to where it’s supposed to be. You really hope he calls/texts, but in truth you aren’t getting to your phone any time soon and the fact that you now need to check it every five minutes obsessively is really just incredibly irritating (why hasn’t he texted me? why do I care? OMG what is WRONG with me?). You need to password protect your phone to prevent permanent damage to inquiring minds in your household, which is secretly exciting for about five minutes until you realize how annoying a six digit password that must contain at least one letter can be when you have to stealthily figure out in a meeting if the notification you just got is a sexy, clever text…or is about your boss delaying your 3:00 meeting until 5:00 (that’s not a problem, right??), kid 1 telling you she won’t be home to help with driving after all, kid 2’s coach cancelling/pushing up practice (you are KILLING me); kid 3’s music lesson wondering where he is (did you remember to get him a ride?), kid 4’s doctor’s office reminding you of your 11:00 a.m. appointment tomorrow (shit! and was I on crack when I made an 11 a.m. appointment?!). Or the Gap, telling you for the 18th time that week that the sale ends tomorrow.
(That last one is a killer. Like, seriously. I was hoping for hey sexy I can’t live without you, Gap. I don’t give a shit about 40% off your classic t-shirt. (unless it’s in hot pink. or blue. or maybe if I just take a quick look….))
Also, my keys have miraculously developed the ability to get up and move from the place I am positive I left them. All the time.
And really, really, even if it was a sexy text, do you want to be grinning like that at work in a meeting with the Owner and Senior Leadership team? They may be guys but at least half of them are probably guessing correctly about the source of your grin. Good luck explaining the variance on the G&A line item on your financials now.
On second thought, maybe I should just leave my phone in my office.
And 3 months from now? You’re kidding right? Do you even know what’s happening 3 days from now? 3 hours from now? Do you remember what just happened in that meeting (did I remember to save my notes before I shut down my laptop to race off to a baseball game and shit! I forgot to print out the lineup before I left who is starting again tonight)?
And where the hell are my goddamn keys, anyway?
The cold reality is that most humans, in general, don’t do well on their own. Or at least this human doesn’t. Also, just because I can, doesn’t mean I want to anymore. But at this stage in our lives, it’s incredibly complicated. We bring stuff with us – kids and jobs and families and mortgages and exes and in-laws…plus all of our old, bad shit – grief and sorrow and hurt – that we push through every day but sometimes lurks just close enough to the surface to convince us that it’s just not worth the trouble. All rolled up into a big hot mess which makes it no wonder that so many just throw up their hands and give up.
Maybe I should just give up? But this is fun, right? Casual dating? Because it’s so easy to juggle something else? But this doesn’t feel casual anymore? Wait, what does that mean? Is that my phone? Did I just get a text? Where is my phone – wait no don’t read that! Yes, my Gap e-mails are very private!
And for the LOVE OF GOD has anyone seen my keys I JUST PUT THEM DOWN RIGHT HERE!
And a deep, deep breath.
I wouldn’t wish my situation on anyone, but as a friend used to say, it is what it is. It is entirely within my power and control to do something about it…or not. After a while you realize that there’s a lot the 40-something you knows that the 20-something you couldn’t even fathom.
I am who I am, for better and worse. I am a deeply flawed person who is very comfortable in my own skin. I don’t cheat, I don’t lie and I don’t play games. I know what I want and I will not settle (the list will probably surprise you). I trust my gut (it’s been through a lot). You don’t have to be perfect and if you expect me to be, you should just move the hell on, because God knows I don’t have time for that shit. If you don’t make me laugh out loud on the first date there will not be a second date. No, I am not actually a redhead but I was meant to be. And ewwww. I am generous with my time and I am a very good friend to those I really care about. The group is far more selective than it used to be. I say “I love you” freely and frequently to all of the people I love, but I am careful with my heart. So believe me when I tell you that the first time you make me cry because you are shitty to me it will be the last.
And so my adventure continues. It never ceases to amaze me how much I am still a work in progress. I will keep you all posted.
For now though, the good news is that I found my keys. Funny how a deep breath, a little perspective/reality check and yes, a little fun and TLC can make things magically appear that you thought were gone forever. And so you’ll have to excuse me. I have someone I need to see.