Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Inadequacy and Control

My dear friend Zack recently pointed out to me that all my grumbling about being completely neurotic is a self-fulfilling prophesy. I think he's right. The problem isn't so much that I'm crazy, it's that thinking I'm crazy has made me crazy. And why do I think I'm crazy? Because I'm insecure about my feelings. As I've discussed before, I have many times sabotaged a relationship in an attempt to hide the fact that I like someone so damn much. And I fear I've been doing it again. The insecurity is even more problematic because I also have serious control issues. I exercise control over my environment. Control over my behavior. Control over my relationships. And yes, control over my feelings. I try to talk myself out of falling for someone before I've even had a chance to really do it. The only times I don't freak out about looking like an idiot are the times that I know the guy in question is a complete douchehound who will inevitably break my heart. Or, in the case of the last guy I dated, guys that are completely wrong for me. All this makes me think maybe it's not the fear of a broken heart that keeps me from opening up. Maybe I'm afraid it'll actually work out.

So here's the current situation. I recently reconnected with an old acquaintance of mine who I had always been attracted to, but never taken seriously. Well, either he's changed or I just didn't know him very well, because this guy is freakin' amazing. Truly. And we get along really, really well. And he seems to love hanging out with me. We see each other several times a week, sometimes just to watch Buffy (which he volunteered to start watching without me hassling him about it...I don't think that's ever happened). So basically, I'm totally hot for him. In pretty much every way possible.

But he hasn't made a move. Color me confused. I finally decided to just ask him how he feels about me, but then on Saturday my friend Latrell went on a drunken tiraded during which he said to the object of my affection "I know you're her new boyfriend or whatever, but if you ever hurt her I'll hunt you down and kill you." That was just the beginning. He went on. And on. And on. And the whole time I was trying to figure out how to get him to shut up without giving off the impression that I was disgusted by the idea of dating this guy. Cause the boyfriend word scares the hell out of me, but it isn't because I don't really, seriously like this guy.

So last night, I went to his place to watch Buffy, and in a move that was reminiscent of many of my adolescent encounters in the back corner of the skating rink, I reached over nervously and took his hand. And the excitement of touching him with any sense of purpose almost made me hyperventilate. And of course, I'm not any more sure of how he feels today than I was yesterday. I mustered all my courage and only came up with enough to make a totally amateur move. The irony of the fact that I've regressed to 7th grade only a few short months after casually dating a guy that I met at a bar by using overtly predatory tactics (that's right, folks--I've still got game). How can I be both the confident vixen and also the shy, insecure preteen who fears that her crush will never like her as more than a friend.

Perhaps this is a defining moment. One in which I discover that I haven't grown up as much as I think I have.

Growing up my insecurities stemmed from body image issues. I thought I was too fat and too tall and just not as pretty as the other girls. I got over that shit at some point in college and miraculously, I've finally reached a point where I feel good about my body. But my new-found confidence only masked the fact that I still think my feelings are totally freaky and frightening and terrifying. I remain convinced that if anyone ever really got to know me, they wouldn't like what they see. But everyone feels like that on some level. And we all need to get over it.

Maybe this is what people like Dr. Phil really mean when they say shit like "no one will ever love you if you don't love yourself." All these years I figured that meant people who don't love themselves are assholes. But maybe it means people who don't really love themselves...all of themselves...won't let anyone get close enough to love them.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I can't believe it's only been 6 months....

...since all the shit I was blogging about before happened.

In those 6 months, I managed to dump the single father who went to jail and gave me the biggest HIV scare of my life (which, by the way, was just a scare....I tested negative at my 6 month test), then I got laid off, and in a shocking move, left Colorado to return to my family in South Carolina.

It was weird.

It's still kind of weird.

I promised Laurie I'd be blogging a lot, but of course, I haven't been. The last 6 months have been kind of dark. I'm finally coming out of it.

I've also been blogging once a week at the esteemed Donnybrook Writing Academy. Oh yeah. I'm big-time now.

Hopefully, I'll return to my little corner of the interweb soon, but for now I must go research lyrics to very old Christmas songs (long story...it's a work thing).

Basically...if you just stumbled upon this blog, ignore almost everything posted before it...or at least you could ignore the posts about how I thought I was diseased and I was dating a guy in jail. Cause I snapped out of it...it just took me a month or three.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Losing Sleep and maybe a whole lot more.

Trust is a big thing. We all know this. Some people trust easily, some don't. I usually fall into the don't category, but this time I trusted someone right away and it's kind of bitten me in the ass. We'll see how bad the consequences are, but I probably won't know for about 6 months...when I can get tested for HIV.

So I had the condom talk with my new man-friend about a month ago. During the process of that conversation I told him that my usual M.O. is to require condoms for 3 months and then both of us get tested and we can have sex without them. It's a rule that's worked well for me in the past. He told me he hadn't had sex since he was with his son's mom...which was 3 years ago. I asked him how/why he would go so long and he told me he was involved in a long-distance relationship for a while and they never had sex. I told him since it had been more than long enough for symptoms to show up if he had anything and since STI screenings are so expensive, that all I would ask of him is an HIV test. He agreed.

Then I became really irresponsible. I've felt guilty about this for the last several weeks.

The night before he went to jail I was so worried about him that I just wanted to feel close to him. I know it sounds stupid. But I knew he didn't like condoms (although he did agree to use them) and I wanted to feel him. Really feel him. Without the latex barrier. So we did it. Then he got back and we had unprotected sex a few more times (that's the funny thing about condoms...once you stop using them, it's hard to go back). But I trusted him, so I wasn't worried.

Then last night he told me that he had in fact had sex with people after Joey's mom. He had sex with men. I reacted badly. I know how hard it was for him...a straight-identifying man...to tell me (or anyone) that. I should've been re-assuring before I launched into a paranoid lecture about sexual health. He said he used condoms 100% of the time...funny how he insists on using them with men but doesn't want to use them with me.

It was a totally straight reaction. I don't usually give those. I wish that I'd played the whole thing better and been mindful of his feelings instead of thinking only of myself. I apologized for being insensitive. But the thing is, him having sex with other men increases his risk factor...not cause AIDS is a gay disease, but just because of the nature of anal sex. And my having unprotected sex with him increases my risk factor.

I couldn't sleep last night and I'm still worried. I'm worried for myself. I'm hurt that he didn't trust me to handle the truth (even though he knows I've had sexual relationships with women). I'm angry that he flat out lied to me about being with people since Joey's mom...even when I questioned him incredlously. And I'm annoyed that he's still resistant to getting tested. That's how people spread disease: they're too scared to find out the truth.

He's not respecting himself and he's not respecting me.

The thing that's the most frustrating is that I really don't care who he's had sex with. I have absolutely no problem dating someone who has had sex with men...or even relationships with men. It doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that I made a bad choice based on what I thought was the truth and turned out to be a lie.

The first time I went to the gynecologist to get birth control she gave me a lecture about condoms. I told her that I had only been with Ron and that he'd been tested and that we were monogamous. She said, "It doesn't matter what he says or how much you trust him. Men lie. You need to make sure you're always protected."

At 19, I thought she sounded like a bitter old woman. Turns out she was right. I should've been protecting myself.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I Finally Got a Boyfriend and Now He's in Jail

Ok, so I don't know if he's really my boyfriend. I have issues with labels and I generally avoid that conversation so he and I haven't had it. But, to quote Buffy when Angel asks if Spike is her boyfriend: in my heart he is.

You see, I met Nathan a little over a month ago. I wasn't sure at first what my feelings towards him were. In fact, I didn't anticipate seeing him again after we met. But he invited me to a movie and I accepted.

The first date started off, as most first dates do, with a fairly high level of awkwardness. I had no idea what I was doing with this person: this person who lives in the suburbs and has a 5-year old. He works a part-time job, doesn't have a car and didn't finish college. While none of these factors were deal-breakers, I knew that he isn't the kind of guy I normally date and I wasn't sure if I was comfortable dating someone with a child. It just seemed like an extra complication, especially since I'm bad at the dating game when there's only one other person involved.

But once the awkwardness dissipated and we really started talking, I realized I felt totally at ease with him and it had been a long time since I'd had that with anyone. We spent about 3 hours together before heading to the movie and by the time we found our seats in the dark theater, I was silently pleading with the fates that he'd take my hand. And he did.

Due to the fact that neither of has transportation of our own, he has his son 5 nights a week, and we live kind of far apart we've only been able to see each other a few times a week. But even that has been nice. Through our daily conversations I've gotten to know him fairly well and we've grown close. Very close. I've met his son, he's met some of my friends, and I've grown accustomed to waking up in his arms...something I've never been particularly comfortable with in past relationships.

The second weekend we spent together he explained to me that he had a pending court date to sort out some child support issues. The issue being that he owes the state $1000 dollars in past due child support that he stopped paying when he became the primary care-taker for his son. But since the mother was still collecting, he owes money to the state. I'm not going to debate the injustice in this situation because it seems fairly clear. Anyhow, he told me that he was supposed to come up with 300 dollars by his court date or he would probably have to go to jail for the weekend. He said what he's seen in the past is that the person who owes money gets a 90 day sentence with 87 days deferred, so he expected to go to jail for the weekend and potentially go back for longer if there were future problems.

He came up the night before his court date and stayed with me so he wouldn't be stuck at home alone worrying about things he can't change. This has all been really stressful for him and he's been pretty depressed. It's hard to see him hurt like that.

Friday morning, I gave him a hug and a kiss and wished him luck, thinking that the worst it could be he'd be in jail for the weekend. I was wrong.

At a little before noon on Friday I got a text message that said "31 days". I responded, freaking out, but couldnt' get in touch with him. Then I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize, which turned out to be Jeremy, Nathan's best friend. Jeremy didn't know any more than I did, having recieved the same text message I got. Except he got another text...one with my phone number in it. So he called me, hoping I knew something, but when I didn't know anything he promised to keep me in the loop. He's done that. The next day I got a text saying Nathan wanted me to call his mom and giving me her number.

So I called and she gave me information about visitation cause he wants to see me. I called the sherriff's department to try and get more info and they told me it takes a few days for the visitor's list to get approved. So basically, now I'm just waiting. I can't see him and I can't talk to him. And even when I get to see him we won't be able to touch, cause we'll be separated by glass...just like in the movies.

This whole situation has made me realize how much I really care about him. I'm not mopey because I don't get to see him (although that's definitely a factor); I'm mopey cause I'm so worried and there's absolutely nothing I can do. He's probably going to lose his job, maybe his apartment...and if things get worse, maybe his son. And I'm worried about his son, because how do you explain to a 5-year old that Daddy's away for a month. He was stressed before, but it's going to be worse after being away for a month. Cause when he gets back he won't have any money at all even though he didn't have much before. But at least he could pay his rent then.

Before he went to jail I at least had the comfort of knowing I could support him, but now I can only support him from afar. And while I'm sure it helps him to know I'm here, I really wish I could do more.

And I wish I'd told him how much he means to me before he went to jail. Now I just have to hope that he knows.

This would be so much easier if he'd held up a 7-11 and I could just walk away and chalk it up to my bad taste in men. But this isn't his fault. He's in jail because he tried to do the best thing he could for his son. He's one of the best people I know and he's stuck in a cell for a month because the state has decided it's a crime to be poor.

And I'm stuck for a month worrying.


Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Calm After the Storm...or Why I've Been a Lazy Fucktard with this Blog

After a few tumultuous months, I took a deep breath and everything calmed down.

No really. I let it all go and realized how much easier life is when I'm not overanalyzing it all the time.

Although analyzing helps some things. And I guess I've still been analyzing, but I haven't been pushing so hard. That applies both to pushing myself and pushing others.

So I've got lots to write about it. Here are a few exciting blog posts that should arrive soon:

Me and My Parents: How good intentions still fuck up your kids
Chris Won't Call Me Back: Why I'm Re-evaluating all my friendships
How to Not Feel Like a Loser When Your Oldest Friend Gets a Full Ride to Harvard
Boys: Not So Icky and Confusing After All

I don't know what order these will go in, but I'll get them all written. Then Laurie, the only one who reads my blog, will be up to date on what's been going on since her boyfriend stopped returning my phone calls.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Breaking All "The Rules"

The first known incident of my incredible ability to self-sabotage was in the 8th grade. Josh Peterson, one of the most popular guys in school was my science lab partner that year. We got to know each other and, in true Colleen fashion, I developed a raging crush on him and was in constant fear that he would notice because I'm not so good at hiding these things. A girl in one of our classes asked me one day if I liked Josh and I said "No, of course not. We're just friends" with as much egg-head self-righteousness as I could muster. He asked me a few days later why I didn't have a boyfriend and, trying to play it cool, I told him that I hadn't found anyone good enough. When he asked me what my standard was I told him it was perfection. Lame, I know, but I was 14. In 10th grade he moved to Charlotte and on his last day of school he gave me a hug and asked if I would miss him. I said, "Of course I'll miss you, we're friends, right?" To which he responded "Yeah. Friends. I wish we could've been more, but I wasn't perfect."

Yes, I'm still upset that I didn't date the popular guy in 8th grade.

I bring up this story to illustrate a point. I'm confusing, but not on purpose. You see, I'm incapable of concealing that I have a crush on someone, but if I'm cornered by the person in question I will inevitably deny everything. Why? Because on the inside, I'm still a nerd in love with the class stud. Sure, I've developed a little more confidence since then, but I'm constantly saying dumb things in an attempt to hide my feelings.

Por ejemplo...

Last week while I was out with The David we were sitting at my apartment and he mentioned that his neck was sore. Because I love to give massages and I was eager to touch him I reached over to rub his neck. When he said "If you keep going I'm never going to leave", I said, "Don't worry, I'll kick you out when I'm done with you." Now, I was, of course, kidding. But I knew I'd probably been looking at him all googly eyed since he kissed me so I figured I should tone down my enthusiasm a bit. I expected a laugh. He didn't laugh. He didn't even comment. In fact, all conversation stopped. Usually when that happens I feel the need to express my interest after a move like that, but I figured since I like the guy and my verbal diarrhea could only get worse from there, I should just give up. So I did.

But then there was the calling thing. When he left I told him to call if he wanted to go out again and he told me to do the same. Do the same. The problem with that was that during my post-first-kiss bliss if I had called when I wanted to see him again I would've had to call as soon as he left. And even I know that's inappropriate.

Luckily, it's been almost a week now and I think I handled things well. I sent him an email the day after the date to tell him I had a good time. He responded and said he wanted to get together soon. So I called him today to see if he wanted to get together this week. I had to leave a message. I hate that. I am horrible on voicemail. We talked for a while trying to find a night that would work...which turned out to be problematic because he's working out of town two nights and then he's going out of town Friday. He asked if we can do next week and I said that was fine. I figure I must have scored some not-a-naggy girl points by letting him off the hook. And he did call me back so I figure he wasn't just postponing because he doesn't want to see me.

So all systems are go. I haven't fucked up anything and he seems to be at least mildly interested in seeing me again.

After the last blog I managed to calm down a lot about the whole situation, which is probably why I was able to act rationally about the whole thing.

Dating is complicated all on its own, but my dating dilemmas tend to be more annoying because while I have rather progressive views of relationships now, I did grow up reading "The Rules". This means that while I don't have an ideological problem calling a guy to ask him out, I hear my mother's voice in my head saying that I can't let him know I'm interested. And after a first date that involved a lot of making out and what my mother would call "heavy petting" (actually, my mother wouldn't know what to call the things I often do on first dates)I hear the voice of an old teacher of mine saying "no one's going to buy the cow if you're giving the milk out for free."

Although I don't like comparing myself to a cow and I'm certainly not on the market in the sense that they're referring to in "The Rules" i.e. prostitution...uh..i mean marriage..., these things still worry me sometimes.

You know why? Because some guys...yes...even the ones who say they don't like girls who play games...expect girls to play the games. I've mentioned this to some of my girlfriends before and they've usually responded by saying "I know, it's annoying, but it's what we have to do."

No, ladies. It is most certainly NOT what we have to do. It's what I refuse to do. Why? Because I don't subscribe to the "Trap a Man at Any Cost" idea. I'd rather get rejected than get a second date because I succesfully denied myself what I want. I'd rather have some guy think I'm crazy than be something I'm not.

Of course this plan backfires on me all the time...hence the plethora of craigslist dates and the countless hours spent alone in my apartment feeling like a crazy cat lady. But in the long term, I think being true to myself is probably going to be more valuble than following all "The Rules".

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

You May Think I'm 14 After Reading This.

I probably should've blogged about this last week when the saga began, but alas, I have been delinquent...so now I'm gonna have to provide some back story in order to fully communicate the confusion I'm enduring as a result of my date last night. Maybe confusion isn't the right word...well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. In fact, I decided I'm going to devote two posts to last night. One to the background, one to my confusion.

So...a little over a year ago, Tiffany, my friend since the 1st grade, met a guy at St. Mark's Coffeehouse and went on a few dates with him. I remember her calling me, excitedly, to tell me about her most recent prospect. She told me what he looked like, what he was reading, and all the things she'd learned about him that night: raised Greek Orthodox, did a stint in the military, M.A. in philosophy, makes a living by organizing labor unions. All these seemingly incongruent details woven together created a picture of a guy with whom I might actually be compatible. Of course, Tiffany was about to go out with him, so that didn't occur to me until she finished her description and said "I can't believe I'm going out with him; he's perfect for you."

They went out a few times and quickly realized that they had some irreconcilable differences. The things about him that made him totally wrong for Tiffany seemed to make him totally right for me. I even calmed her down and answered some questions she had when a few of his sexual interests shocked her. I knew after that particular conversation that things wouldn't work out for them, but it never occurred to me that I should find a way to meet him. After all, men attracted to Tiffany, generally aren't in to me. She and I are close, but we're completely different people, physically and otherwise. And most importantly, my friends are too important to me to knowingly walk in to awkward situations.

They only went on a few dates, but they kept in touch. Several months after they stopped seeing each other, Tiffany started in on me..."you have to meet this guy, Colleen, he's PERFECT for you." I brought up the attraction thing, stating that if he's attracted to 5 foot tall sorority girls then he's not going to be interested in an amazonian feminist. "But he said I wasn't his type. He's usually into taller, curvier girls,," she replied. For 6 months we debated this. I didn't want to meet him. Sure it was intriguing, but it seemed much more trouble than it could possibly be worth. In addition to my previously stated reservations, I didn't feel like putting myself in a situation where I would be comparing myself to Tiffany. I've always felt the need to compete with Tiffany (she generally doesn't instigate these things because, well she's too good for that....or maybe she doesn't see the point because she always wins), so meeting this guy, knowing that he'd been interested in Tiffany seemed like a trip to Self-pityville on the Insecurity highway. But eventually, she wore me down and I agreed to meet this guy, this "perfect" guy.

At this point I will give him a name, because at this point he became a real person as opposed to an idea in my head.

The three of us planned to meet for drinks the week after I returned from South Carolina last August. Tiffany suggested we get there early so I could have a martini and lighten up a little: I had never been so incredibly nervous in my entire life. As I was fishing a gin-soaked olive out of my glass I looked up just as an Adonis stepped into the bar. I was trying to remember the last time I'd seen anyone so beautiful when Tiffany noticed me staring and jumped up to say "David! Hey, this is Colleen." I think I made some sort of coherent introduction while trying to send Tiffany telepathic messages of gratitude. You see, if I made a list of all the physical traits I wanted in my ideal man, it would be David...right down to the curly hair and big nose. As the evening progressed, he seemed more and more ideal: we had the same favorite beer, we both recognized a Mozart concerto playing in the bar, I was even trying to get a job with an organization that works closely with his organization. We had a few drinks and he made an exit, saying it was good to meet me and we should get together again.

The evening was unique for several reasons. The most obvious being that I felt like I'd just met the male version of me. Secondly, it just felt different. I'm the kind of girl who generally pushes for what she wants...especially when it's a man. I've thrown myself into dead-end relationships time and time again because I seem to lack the ability to see that what I want isn't always what is best for me. I also have a hard time understanding how it is that I can be so happy and so sure of a good thing when the other person involved doesn't see it at all. I suppose I'm a dreamer of sorts and sometimes my fantasy life supersedes my reality. But meeting David, I felt no sense of urgency. I didn't feel a need to possess him, to be whatever he wanted me to be and do everything in my power to make him want me back. It was enough just to know someone like that existed...I suppose it gave me hope. This began my self-imposed celibacy period, or as my friends see it, the time I refused to shave my legs for months on end. After meeting David I realized that I'd been settling...I'd been compromising things that I wanted because I didn't expect to meet anyone who shared so much in common with me...I am, after all, a bit strange. I got a grip on my love life and found the courage to stay single rather than settling for someone who may be great, but still not what I want. I had felt so alone for so long, that I'd been trying to make things work when they so clearly shouldn't. And then suddenly, I met this guy, who I realized I would probably never see again, but it was enough to know that he was out there and there were probably others like him, though they may be few and far between. I was still alone in my day to day life, but I felt less alone in the world.

And for the record, I often have huge epiphanies as the result of insignificant encounters in my life...so there's no real over-dramatization of event, per se, but I often over-dramatize. So after a day or so of contemplating how meeting him affected my perspective of past and future relationships, I quit shaving, quit dating, and promptly forgot what it was that got me into such an introspective state. If I hadn't documented it all in my journal, I wouldn't have reason to give it a second thought.

But because I had documented it in my journal, which I picked up and re-read a couple weeks ago, David re-entered my thoughts. It didn't occur to me to talk to Tiffany and try to see him again or anything, I just had a few pleasant, reflective moments and then buried the journal in the bottom of a drawer.

Last week while wading through responses from one of my more ridiculous cragislist posts, this one involving my new-found love of men in drag, I opened an email from someone using the alias "David Hume". It's not uncommon for people to use fake names on email accounts when responding to craigslist ads...mine says Dagny Taggert, which is certainly one of the larger ironies in my life at present. "Oh, someone thinks they're a philosopher," I thought to myself. I read the brief email and had a strange sort of premonition before I opened the files attached to see the pictures that were sent. I felt like I might know this person. So I looked at the pictures and sure enough, it was David.

I wrote him an awkward response explaining how we had met before and he told me he had been attracted to me but assumed that I was "too sweet and nice" to be interested in the things that he is interested in: i.e. sex...very open-minded, progressive, sex. While no one has assumed that I'm "sweet and nice" in a very long time, I understood how meeting me through Tiffany could have led him to that conclusion. We exchanged a series of emails and decided to meet for drinks last night.

Again, I was nervous, but a strange hybrid of intense anxiety and inner calm. I was terrified and relaxed, paranoid and secure, cynical, but somehow optimistic. I was conflicted. I got to Williams a few minutes early, ordered a PBR and patiently (yet impatiently) waited.

David arrived shortly after and we quickly slipped into easy conversation. The positive feelings quickly took over and all my anxiety dissipated. Talking to him felt good...good like your head hitting the pillow after an 18-hour day. Good like your plane touching down at DIA after a weekend of binge drinking in Vegas.

David told me in one of his emails that he'd managed to avoid a long-term relationship for a while, and he wasn't looking to get involved in anything serious right now. As usual, I don't know what I want right now so the disclaimer didn't bother me. Lately I've been finding myself on the receiving end of un-wanted enthusiasm, so I appreciated that it was unlikely to work out that way. And I definitely appreciated the honesty. So when we reached that moment where our eyes met and neither of us were looking away, I broke the connection and stared absently at my beer. I couldn't remember which of us started staring into the other first...and I was embarrassed that it might've been me. The next time the staring thing happened, he broke away...by making some silly face, which I liked, since I tend to do the same in awkward situations.

We ended up at my house when he said "I hadn't planned on making this a late night, but do you want to find someplace to make out for a while?" The direct approach always works on me.

When he kissed me, I thought I would lose the ability to stand on my own. My mind completely shut down and all I could do was kiss him back. The world sort of went fuzzy while his lips were on mine. I'm not sure how to describe what it felt like, but it didn't feel like kissing someone for the first time.

Then, you know, stuff happened...use your imagination...but not too much of your imagination...i managed to retain a little decorum decide the world fuzziness.

When we were saying goodbye, he said "maybe we can do this again if we find time in our busy schedules." I suddenly felt conflicted again: wanting to see him again but not wanting to risk ruining the memory of such a good night, wanting to show him I was interested but not wanting him to know how interested, confident, but still insecure. So I told him to call if he wanted to get together again. He told me to do the same.

I closed the door behind him, replaying the events in my mind and trying to figure out what the hell had just happened and where the hell I should go from there.