Still not whooping cough, woooo! I got upgraded from sinus infection on its way to bronchitis two weeks ago to bronchitis on its way to pneumonia now, though the sinus infection part is better. A huge bag of new medicines is downstairs, an appropriate representative sample in my stomach, and I hope I’m starting down a new path where I won’t pull any muscles by coughing too hard.
Work is easing up and I’ll have a little downtime between now and the end of the year, plus I’ve been taking downtime because even if I spent as much of the day as possible in bed, I was barely able to function for the last week or so. I have the girls tucked into bed and was excited about taking a bath, but getting down there and running the water seemed like way too much work, so I’m curled up in bed and will maybe stay up to finish this.
It was a decade ago this week that Lee and I met, were dating a month later, and then a couple for the next 8.5 years. I don’t regret that in a way that would undo it, because I ended up with these wonderful young people in my life, but it did a number on me in various ways. Even being free from that didn’t mean I could look at myself without thinking about whether I was too fat to be seen with or if I was going to interrupt or answer a question wrong and make people hate me. Even being with her didn’t mean I totally gave up on believing I was great and worthwhile the way I am. So I’ve carried this awkward unbalance for a long time, sometimes openly and sometime surreptitiously. Tomorrow I start therapy with someone who’s going to help me work on that directly, to address the things I keep private and make sure they’re getting the airing they need.
Meanwhile this week I installed a dating app for women and all of a sudden I’m getting matches I don’t get on tinder, which I’ve had on and off since summer, or okcupid, where my profile went live over a year ago. My first date was with a fantastic woman who is studying psychology and understands trauma and the effects of parental separation on kids. We ended up dating casually for much of last year before I was able to articulate that it wasn’t what I wanted and I took a break from dating and we became better (to my way of thinking) as friends than we had been as girlfriends. I had a few more first dates that didn’t go past one, and now I’m a decade out from a woman in a restaurant catching my eye and being impressed to having a half dozen people want to chat with me because they like the way I look or something I’ve said to describe myself. This is such an odd dynamic and I’m not sure what I make of it, but even when we’re going by looks and not screening for political involvement I’m meeting therapists and hospital chaplains and youth librarians and lots of people interested in how they could become foster parents someday or support foster youth even before then. It’s still an alien world, but I’m finding my way in a way that’s comfortable for me.
The girls have asked whether I’ll date, asked whether I’ll date a man so they can have a dad. It’s very tough at this point to imagine bringing anyone into their lives like that. They met the woman I dated as my friend and they’ve seen her since our breakup because she is my friend and was a lifesaver in the early days of my bad ankle sprain while we were still moving from the old house to here. Mara says she wants me to date because “I just feel like you’re lonely,” to which Nia’s prompt response was, “How can she be lonely when she’s always around us???” They’re both right. I need adult connection and conversation, but it needs to be more than just dating and dating needs to be in some ways less than just dating, with someone who can understand I may have a lot to give in terms of being a wonderful person but I don’t when it comes to having free time or significant flexibility. I realize this will be a challenge and it’s one I don’t feel pressured about, one that might lead somewhere. I like my bedroom and I’m glad it’s mine. I don’t feel an obligation to do what some have suggested and model a healthy relationship for the sake of the children. But I don’t want to miss out on a healthy relationship either, because that would be a nice change for me.
For now, though, the amazing thing is that I can do any of it well enough. I’ve gotten all the girls to sleep and I know where their clothes are for morning. The house is going to be a disaster until my ankle is fully functional, but it’s our disaster and I know where things are and how to get through. And if we’re going to add to that talking to actual adult people, I think I’m ready for that too. Writing here is sort of a practice, but only one piece of it and this was a particularly clunky and inartful post. But I’m falling asleep now and not coughing too hard, both thanks to cough syrup, so I’ll leave it at that and maybe try to make more sense of it later. Sleep is better than sense these days anyway.