Saturday, December 11, 2010

When I moved from my Hometown to the suburbs of Philadelphia, I moved into Asshole's parents' house.  The plan was to look for jobs and find an apartment to rent.  Asshole's parents were very happy to have me. Their home is large and they were gracious hosts.  They seemed to really want this arrangement to work out.  They gave me a car to use for work and basically helped me get on my feet. My perception was that they were genuinely happy that their precious only child, their son, had met "a nice girl from Canada".  Both of Asshole's parents have done things for me over the years to let me know how much they wanted this to be a good thing.
Each week I went through the Help Wanted section of the Philadelphia Inquirer and applied for jobs asking for "social worker wanted".  After all, with a Bachelor's in Social Work, that's what I was supposed to do next, right?
I applied for and was hired by a Nursing Home in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.  I was assigned to an office on the second floor where I met and got to know Ms. Myra.  Ms. Myra was a 60+ year-old black woman with a graduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania who had literally seen and done everything.  She was my very own personal Yoda.  Myra would hold court in her desk chair, leaning way back with a satisfied Buddha-grin and tell me the most amazing stories of her life, her past jobs and share her wisdom with me.  Myra's famous line was "Honey, God don't like Ugly".
My commute back and forth from the Nursing Home to Asshole's parents' home in the Woods took over an hour.  I came to love that time.  I relished the time on my own, in my own car, listening to NPR on Philadelphia's WHYY.  It felt good.  
Things at home with Asshole were more than a bit stressed.  Asshole and his mother seemed to be at eachother all of the time but in the next moment they were conspiring together against Asshole's unsuspecting father.  I'm sure that these family dynamics had been in play since the beginning of their little family but I certainly didn't have a place in them.  I didn't really want a place in them either.  I think I withdrew myself during that time.  I remember not fitting in, feeling alone and missing my family.
I hadn't lived at home in three years, having stayed away after leaving home for college.  I knew that there wasn't really a spot for me at my parents' house but this life wasn't quite right either.  I remember missing the fast-pace, dog-eat-dog dinner conversations from Home where my brothers teased my poor sister mercilessly.  I missed the loving teasing between my Mom and Dad. 
What I told myself, however, was that this was what I was supposed to do.  I was supposed to be starting my own life, my own family routines.  I told myself that I just needed to adjust to this new life.
And much of this new life was ok.  I really liked my job.  I loved the fast pace, interacting with other disciplines.  I was a quick learner and could pick up a process, understand it and start to make improvements in short time.  And home life was ok, sort of.  It was different, but different isn't always bad. It's just different.
We were all trying very hard to make it work.
That's important to say.  We really were trying.
Sometimes even our best effort isn't enough......

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What comes after the Ring?

Ok, true confession time.   That last post was easy to write (it sort of spilled out of me) but tough to digest.  I really thought that after all this time, this stuff wouldn't affect me anymore.  I was wrong.  I was raw nerves, jumpy, and emotional after I wrote that.  I'm not sure what I expected, but it wasn't that.
Here's how my life is different than 15 years ago.  Instead of stuffing all of it away or sticking my head back in the cool, quiet sand, I shared that post with a few good friends.  While gauging their reactions and fearing rejection of that stupid girl, I was given a a gentle reminder that people who care about me aren't running away because of my ugly stories.  I don't know why, but that's a lesson I need frequent booster shots of.  I seem to need so much reassurance from my loved ones.  (I have always been that way ~ there's clearly something there that needs to be dealt with.)
I shared that last blog post with my good friend, Bea, at work.  She sits next to me and we have grown close over the past year and a half.  Bea is very astute and not just because of her clinical degree and years as a therapist.  She's more intuitive than analytical.  Sometimes she can just sense something that I had struggled to find a name for.  Bea's reaction to my story opened my eyes to what I believe is my next task in this whole mess.  She read the story, looked over at me and said, "I know why Asshole still tortures you.  I know why he tries to control everything still, even after all this time?"
I said, "it's because he's an asshole.  That's all there is to it."
Bea said, "no, that's not it.  I knew there was more and now I know what it is."
I said, "fine.  You are smart.  What is it?"
Bea paused but then answered me. "He is terrified because you are the one person on this earth who knows every ugly, repulsive, and embarrassing thing about him.  You could expose him.  He tries to control you because he can't stand that you have this over him.  Your job will be to show him Grace."
I was stunned but instinctively I knew that Bea was right.
When Bea says that I need to show Asshole "grace", she's not talking about some religious, "Sunday-only" version.  She means it in the everyday, "it really sucks but here it is", way that you treat someone who definitely doesn't deserve it.
I'm sorry Bea, but I'm not totally there yet.  Maybe soon though.

Ok, back to my story.  When we left off, good readers, the scene was set in a tiny studio apartment in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.  Having returned from that disastrous dinner, our heroes (now newly engaged) sit staring at each other wondering what to do next.
Asshole was flying out on Sunday but today was only Saturday.  We did some sightseeing and there are even a few pictures of the two of us.  I'm shown in these pictures with a diamond ring on my important finger and a sincerely stressed out smile plastered on.
There were no other temper tantrums on Saturday although Asshole broke into a sweat each time we were confronted with an elevator.  He started to avoid elevators that day.  I hadn't noticed this behavior before.  When did this start, I was thinking.  We walked up and down alot of stairs that day. Not a big deal but strange, nonetheless.
On Sunday, we rode Chicago's Metro system back to O'Hare where my betrothed was scheduled to depart and fly back to Philly.  Asshole had a complete melt-down just before the boarding call.  He was hyperventilating and his nose was running.  He couldn't stand still or sit still.  He was a mess.  (text book example of a panic attack, but what did I know back then?)
He called his father from a bank of payphones (remember those?) and his father tried to calm him down.  I was shocked to overhear him tell his father that there was no way in the world that he could get on the plane.
His father offered a solution and Asshole hung up the phone and told me that we were going back to my apartment.
The details and timeline are fuzzy here but I remember that his father ended up FedEx-ing several Ativan tablets to his freaked out offspring.  I don't remember how many extra days he stayed or what we did during that time..... I have literally blocked out those memories.
I do have a sharp recollection, however, that this was a nightmare for my roommate. 
Our studio apartment was the size of an average walk-in closet.  There was no room for an overnight guest but she agreed to that weekend visit because she is really one of the nicest people on earth and knew that Asshole and I didn't have another option.  (how about a hotel Asshole?  that probably would have been perfect.)
When our house guest stayed an extra few days, it was a terrible strain on an already bad situation.  From my spot in the sand, I was oblivious to this and did not do a thing to protect my relationship with this girl.
I regret this so much.  I was completely ignoring my relationship with her.  I had my hands full with Man-Boy's crazy moods, his neediness and panic attacks.  No excuse though -- I ignored what that weekend did to her.
He eventually made it onto a plane and got back to Philadelphia.
I was in Chicago, going to classes and doing my work-study program at a Children's Residential Treatment facility. 
I loved the city.  I loved taking the "El", seeing the sights, and walking through Lincoln Park's (free!) zoo.
This part of my life was ok  I liked the work and was learning from very bright and experienced people.
I had daily phone calls with my fiance.  We started to plan a wedding.  That's what you do, when you are engaged.  We were going to be married in my hometown, in the church I grew up in.
We fought frequently.  Our fights were usually comprised of him accusing me of something and me trying to defend myself until I eventually gave in, compromised and apologized for making him doubt me.
This was clearly not a healthy, happy relationship.  I was already completely giving up myself.  We established that pattern nice and early.  He had all of the needs, and I was there to try to meet them.  When I couldn't or wouldn't meet his needs, there was a price to be paid.  I gave up my preferences, my tastes, my plans, my everything.
In such a short time, I completely lost myself.
I worked hard to keep up appearances -- denying there was anything wrong, making excuses for Asshole, covering up for his crazy decisions or statements.
It is unforgivable that I did all of this from the very beginning. What was I thinking?  Why didn't I stop this madness?  Why didn't I get out before it was too late?
Here's why..... last time I told you about the lies we tell ourselves when we are young and stupid. "I can change him.  He can change and he will change." "Things will get better."  "These are just hard times." "I need to stick by him."
yuck. While noble as that sounds, it is total crap.  Not once did I have the nerve to look myself in the face and say "what the FUCK are you doing?"
It wasn't self-sacrifice that resulted in me losing myself for a decade.  It was pure insecurity.  I could not look at that girl -- she was too scared, too needy.  Too stuck.

There was one moment when I could have stopped it all from happening.  I had just returned from Chicago to graduate with my class.  Following graduation I went back to my hometown.  The plan was for me to stay in my hometown for a month to pack up and move to Philadelphia.  I had my shiny new Bachelor's degree in Social Work and was sending off cover letters and resumes from Canada in response to Help Wanted ads from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Still communicating by phone, things with Asshole were still rough.  He was anxious about finding a teaching job and my belief is that his mother was driving him completely crazy (as if he needed help in that department).  After a particularly brutal fight over the phone where I again did all of the compromising and apologizing, my mother stepped into the room.  She had been listening from the hallway. She stepped in the room with an expression of all-knowing awareness.  She asked, "are you sure about this?"
She didn't even need to say anything else. I knew that she meant "are you sure about everything?" She was saying "are you sure about him? about the wedding? about moving 9 hours away to Philadelphia? about making a life there? away from us? Are you sure about YOU?"
No Mom.  I'm not sure about ME.  I don't know where I am. I don't know where to look to find myself.  I can't even look myself in the eye.
What I said that day was, "Mom, you need to trust me. Things are going to be ok.  He's just (whatever excuse I made, it was lame and predictable). Please don't worry."
She didn't bring it up again but she never stopped worrying. She kept on worrying from that day until April 25, 2005 when I told her it was over.
I moved to Philadelphia a week later.  I drove myself there with my belongings in a tiny car.
I left somewhere safe and took a risk.
Bad move.  Hindsight sucks.  Seriously.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The beginning.....

I told you that I would tell you the story of when I lost myself for an entire decade.  It's not an easy story to tell, made more difficult by the fact that I've conveniently misplaced some of the memories that help the story hang together.  They say that hindsight is 20/20 but in my case hindsight is like looking in a rear view mirror while someone's headlights are blinding you.  As much as you try to make sense of the details, your head is aching and you stop looking that hard.
I know the basic statistics for the story and can probably drum up the "who", "what", "where" and "why" answers but the real analysis is lost to me.  The insight that I do have and can articulate was gained much later after friends and family confronted me with their recall of that dark time. 
Shame and regret have played havoc on my ability to make sense of it all.  There's an aspect of my personality, one that Big Dog is always challenging me about, that makes it very easy for me to simply "put my head in the sand" rather than face an uncomfortable truth.  I attribute this special gift to my Canadian Dutch CRC upbringing.  As Canadians, we excel at seeing the best in people and things and genuinely expect people to behave decently.  As Dutch Christians, we are stoic and reserved and very likely to avert our eyes when something is uncomfortable or embarrassing.  I hate making excuses for myself and find it kind of "small" when people don't "man up" and accept responsibility.
I would like to accept responsibility for that last decade but can't seem to come up with a convincing package that makes loved ones and family members believe that I know what I'm talking about.  Anything I say or have said sounds trite and disingenuous.
Let's start with facts.
(1) I got married less than 3 months after I turned 21 years old.  I married Asshole (the name is appropriate and was used often after the Split.  I should come up with something else now that is clever and takes our distance into consideration, but I haven't yet.  So, Asshole it is.).  Asshole is two and a half years older than I am and we met in College.  (If anyone has read Jane Smiley's "MOO U", that is my College to a tee.  More on that later.)
Asshole came from a small town outside of Philadelphia.  He is an only child of two very doting but very conservative people.  He went to private Christian grade school and high school, just like I did.  He was accepted to my College (because they have very LOW standards) and somehow decided to attend there even though it was a 24 hour drive from home.
I met Asshole because I knew all of his roommates from being in school plays and choir together.  His roommates were a great group of guys ~ funny, active and from good families.  Asshole blended well into that group.  That is his special skill ~ the ability to blend in like a chameleon.  He can shift shape so well that for a while you don't have a clue what his real character and personality are. 
What I was immediately attracted to was how different he was from me.  Prior to him, I had mostly only known Canadian Dutch CRC people.  He is American, German and English mix Orthodox Presbyterian.  And an only child.  I am the oldest of 5.
At one point in my 20s, I read "The Birth Order Book" by Kevin Leman, which states that an Oldest and an Only should never date or marry.  No good can come of that.  Boy, was he right.
But the idiocy of youth is that you are sure that stereotypes won't apply to your life or situation.  In your 20s, you tell yourself things like, "we are different", "he is different" and (the worst by far) "I can change him".
So there we were, far away at College.  I was dating a guy with a car and a bank account.  sigh.  It makes me cringe just to say that out loud, but there it is.  There was security that I didn't have at that time.
I was on scholarships and grants with no money left over for a food plan.  I could have gotten more student loans to cover a better meal package but I'm Dutch, and therefore wired to believe that "I can make do without that".
I feel some instinct to defend myself here.  I didn't date him just for the better meals or the last minute trips into the city or the excitement.  I did love him.  I think.  I know, at the very least, that I loved the idea of him.
Isn't that where many women go wrong, after all?  Isn't that something that happens all the time?
Women over-think, over-analyze and do real damage in the process.  We talk ourselves into the myth that I can change him and no one else sees him the way that I do and My love will show him that there's another way to be.  Classic mistakes. 
I never changed him.  He only got worse.  Sticking my head in the sand never made my problems go away.  My love didn't even once show him that there is another way to live.
Back to facts.  I do know the facts.
He graduated before me and then stayed off-campus to do student teaching.  He was getting a BA in Education.  The semester before my graduation I went to Chicago for my internship.  And he moved home.
He proposed a month into that winter semester.  He came to Chicago.
He was excited on the phone when he was telling me his travel plans.
He told me that he had something he wanted to give me.
Duh.  No big surprise.  I guess i'm getting engaged on Valentine's weekend.  I should be more excited.
He got off the plane, hugged me and we got on the train that took us downtown from O'Hare.
He was excited, like a little boy who has to go pee.  There was an annoying juvenile feeling to it. I was not excited.  I just wished he'd do it better.
Trying to control the situation, I made a reservation for dinner at a small, intimate restaurant.  I told him this.  I was trying to control this.  I was thinking "please hang on.  Do it there.  Don't jump the gun".
Here's the lesson for this part of the story.  Trust your instincts.  If it feels weird, it IS WEIRD.  Do not accept weird.  Don't allow weird to be your new normal.  That's what I did.
He jumped the gun.  We got off the train, walked into my tiny apartment, put down his suitcase, said hi to my roommate (she was heading out in a few mins).  I left him in the living room so that I could use the bathroom. 
Deep breath
I walked back into the living room to find him on the floor.  He said "I think I have lint in my belly button".
"Can you come check?"
This is how he proposed.
Let me say it again, if it feels weird.  It is weird.
My roommate walked in just as I was fetching a diamond ring out of his belly button.
I don't think I said a word.
She said, "Oh.  um...  Congratulations?"
What will I tell my kids?
Then we went to dinner.  It was a fixed menu. For normal people this is an annoyance but you deal with it because there are bigger things to get upset about and heck, it was your decision to go out for dinner on Valentines Day.
I'm silently hoping that we will save this debacle by having a very nice, grown up dinner where he says amazing things and erases the memory of a ring in his belly button.
That didn't happen.  What did happen was a panic attack.  I didn't recognize it for what it was right away.  The ability to name it as "panic attack" came many years later.  Not helpful in the moment.
In the moment it looked like a grown man (actually a child trapped in the body of a 23 year-old) was having a temper tantrum in a nice quiet restaurant.  The trigger for the tantrum was an order of filet mignon prepared medium rare.  The man-boy ate a few bites and then started to choke, spit out his food (a NICE, quiet restaurant!) and started yelling that he was going to be sick because the meat was bloody.  Not bloody, Man-Boy, just rare.  Get a grip.
I didn't say that to him.  I was mortified but supportive of my 1 hour-old fiance.  OMG. What are we going to do?  We left.
We left. We didn't say another word to our server. We walked out.  I was just trying to get out of that situation so the Man-Boy's temper tantrum could de-escalate on the sidewalk inside of at the table where 12 pairs of eyes were on us.
If it feels weird, run.  Don't walk. Run!
I didn't walk away.  I didn't run away.  I stood silently by as Asshole explained himself.  None of his empty words made any sense to me but with my head stuck so firmly in the sand, I couldn't really hear him. 

And that's how it started.
I hate this story so much.  I hate that girl, that stupid girl who didn't listen to her own instincts.  I hate the girl who didn't tell anyone the truth that day, or the next day, or the next month.... or the next 10 years.
I hate her.
I am her.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Tuesday Juggle

Today is Tuesday.  I left the house at 6:50am this morning, drove a block and a half to the Wawa to buy a gallon of milk for breakfasts.  We go through 3 gallons of milk per week.  Big Dog said that he was going to run out and pick some milk up last night but when I walked in the den at 10pm to remind him he was sound asleep on the couch.  No help at all.  Because I was in the middle of 9 loads of laundry, I didn't run out either.
So at 10 minutes to seven, I am running out for milk. Of course.
Ten minutes later and I'm officially commuting.  My daily drive to the office is one hour (50 miles) one way.  I hate it.  I hate being on the highway, paying $2 in tolls every time I need to avoid I-95 and getting stuck in traffic tie-ups.  I hate leaving home at seven in the morning and not getting home until 6 o'clock at night.  I hate never being part of the kids' daily morning routine, being helpless when Big Dog calls to report that Child X had a melt down and left for school in tears.  I really really hate it.

But I love my job.  More specifically, I love the pay check.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not bringing home six figures by any stretch of the imagination but for my profession, my yearly salary is decent.
I love the work too.  I work for a large company that is responsible for managing how behavioral health services are delivered to families in my community.  In social work classes (over a decade ago now) we learned that my position would be considered "macro social work" because rather than working directly with individuals and families, I am involved with the services on a larger scale.  I love having that kind of impact and I don't mind admitting that I don't miss all of the charming things that go along with direct practice including carrying a beeper for on-call coverage, being in families homes that are less than sanitary and parking my car in completely dangerous neighborhoods in order to visit my clients.  I have so much respect for the clinicians who choose to do this type of work.  I am also very happy that I'm not doing it any longer.

I have worked in the field for over 10 years and I have "paid my dues", so to speak.  I've worked in psychiatric hospitals, mental health clinics, nursing homes, treatment programs, etc....  I loved it.  I have the best stories about crazy people making insane decisions.  These are not clinical descriptions obviously but sometimes you just need to call it what it is.  Crazy, insane.  And I love it.
I am fascinated with the brain and everything that can go wrong and right.   I am amazed by how much impact a person's family can have on the brain's physical development.  It is remarkable to witness the amazing resilience that people show in face of life-crushing traumas.
This is not everyone's cup of tea.  I know that.  I can't usually tell my stories in groups of people who aren't clinicians.  "Normal people" are sure that I"m making this stuff up while folks in the field always smile and nod knowingly.  Big Dog tells me not to tell my stories to our friends.  He's not embarrassed by me, just more aware than I am of how "normal people" perceive them.

Back to Tuesday. 
After a relatively calm day at work, the highlight of which was creating a brand-new shiny Excel spreadsheet, I left early (3:30pm instead of 5pm) so that I could be home in time for Big Dog to get to his game.
I pulled into the driveway at 4:30pm, met the crew on the driveway, got hugs from the little ones, and got instructions from Big Dog.
"Micro is at CCD.  You need to pick him up at 5:45pm."
I said, "I know."
"Micro and Belle have Tap Class from 6:30pm to 7:30pm."
I said, "I know."
....... (pause from Big Dog)
"Your kids didn't do their homework.  There were problems."
I said, "Ok.  It's fine."

Big Dog left.
I cleaned up the dishes in the sink.  I took out the trash.  I picked up everything from the living room and dining room and then vacuumed with help from a few of the little kids who moved chairs out of the way.
"What's for dinner?" asked Belle.
"Food", I replied.
"What's for dinner?" asked Lala.
"What's for dinner?" asked Big Bug
Time to figure out an answer......  20 minutes later and dinner was on the table.  10 minutes after that and I was picking up Micro from CCD.  I told him he had 12 minutes to eat.  Poor kid.
12 minutes later and everyone was loaded into the car to bring Belle and Micro to tap class. Thankfully there is a library next door.  Lala and Big Bug got their homework done there.
Now for showers.  ...... Gotta run...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dating Big Dog

I met him online.  This is becoming more and more normal for grown-ups who can't stomach the bar/club scene.  Internet dating is main stream now.  I barely get an eyebrow anymore when people ask us how we met.  In fact, the usual follow-up question from the inquirer is "really? which website?"

It wasn't E Harmony, that's for damn sure. (more on that later.)

Our first date was at a trendy bowling alley in downtown Philadelphia.  I gave careful thought to my first date outfit.  What did I want my outfit to say?  Sexy, confident? of course, but I also wanted my clothes to say "there is no one quite like this girl."

My go-to designer jeans (I still can't beleive I ever paid $125 for a pair of jeans) were the perfect starting point.  Shoes were important but not imperative because the first thing you do in a bowling alley is trade them in for a pair of sweet patchwork leather lace-ups.  The top?  That was the key.  Couldn't be too sexy (hello. bowling alley) but it couldn't be boring either.

I chose a 3/4 sleeve zebra printed cotton top with a fit that was perfect for me.  I found it in the Urban Outfitters catalog and immediately ordered it with express shipping.  As for jewelery, my selection was perfect and has become the stuff of legend in our circle of friends.

I chose a necklace with delicate silver leaves strung together with a Y-shaped drop.  I was thinking "it's perfect, organic, fits the theme".

Big Dog complimented me (nice move) and then noticed the necklace.  He said "that's an interesting necklace."
I answered , with a smile, "it's leaves for the zebra to eat in case he gets hungry".

Big Dog looked at me, eyes wide and mouth slightly agape. He was thinking Did she really just say that? Food for the zebra to eat? Who is this girl?  There is no one like her.


So now that Big Dog was interested in me (how could he resist?), it was time for him to make sure that I was interested in him.  Besides my kids, the quickest way to my heart is with my favorite sports team.

Like any other rabid fan, I craved access and inside information.  Big Dog covers my favorite team -- he is a sports writer, kind of like Ray Romano's character on "Everybody Loves Raymond".  He is a self-proclaimed "jaded SOB" when it comes to sports (it's just a job after all and players are just the hired talent) but he put this aside and started offering me an inside view.

A month after we started dating I went on my first away game with my favorite team.  I had a million questions, of course.
"Are they staying in our hotel?"  (no)
"Do you know where they are staying?" (no, don't care)
"Where do they hang out before/after the game?" (they are getting off a bus and then getting back on one to go home)
"Where is my seat?"
Big Dog said, "um actually I couldn't get you a ticket.  You can try to buy one at the box office.  Good luck with that.  I have to go into the stadium now and get to work."
I thought WTF?  I have to go buy my ticket?  Where is my inside access?

The highlight of that "road game" was saying good-bye to Big Dog at the Media Entrance and running into the General Manager of the team along with the TV broadcast team.  The guys noticed us, smiled knowingly and said "hey there (Big Dog)". 
I thought OMG.  The broadcast team knows him.  Cool!  (I was easily impressed)

A few weeks later Big Dog started to tell little stories about people he works with finding out that he was seeing someone.  I learned that Big Dog had been single for quite a while and folks were interested to hear that he had met someone interesting.
Apparently even the players started hearing stories about Big Dog's new girlfriend.
One night I got an email from Big Dog telling this story:
"Your favorite player heard that I was dating something. He also knows that he is your favorite player. You know that he (scored twice) tonight, right? Well, he came into the locker room after the game and told me that I should tell you that he scored the second one just for you.  He was thinking that by telling you this it might help me "get lucky".  I laughed at him and told him "thanks" but that I didn't need his help to get lucky.  LOL!"

Ok, so my favorite player knows that I'm out there cheering for him and "getting lucky" with Big Dog.  Was this what I had in mind when I craved access to my favorite team?  lol.  not really.
You have to give Big Dog credit for trying though.....

The following weekend we were out for another road game.  Driving along the turnpike, Big Dog casually mentioned, "You know, I bet we will be arriving at the hotel around the same time that the team bus is leaving for the stadium."
I gasped.  "What?  We are staying at the same hotel as the team?  Why didn't you tell me this?  I would have brought a different bag!"
Big Dog rolled his eyes and said, "why in the world would any of the players on this team care what kind of overnight suitcase you are carrying?!"
I shrieked "You just don't understand!"  (in hindsight, neither do I actually)

As we pulled into the parking lot of the hotel a giant tour bus was parked 50 feet from the entrance to the main lobby. 
I took a deep breath in.
Big Dog laughed at me.  "You will be fine.  Breathe."

Then it happened.  Just as we were walking through the double doors of the lobby, my favorite player came walking out to get on the bus to the stadium.  He looked at us and said "hey (Big Dog)".
Big Dog said "hi" back.
I nearly fainted.

Up in the hotel room I was able to regain my composure. No big deal. The players are staying here.  They are in the lobby, standing around and getting ready to ride over to the stadium.  No big deal.  Let's go.

We were riding the elevator down to the lobby when the doors opened again for another rider.  Into the elevator walked the captain of my favorite sports team.  Are you kidding?  I just started breathing again!  The Captain and Big Dog said "hey".  I stayed cool.  Sort of.  And then, for no reason, I said (out loud. OMG) "Big Dog, we should go bowling again soon."
Big Dog stared at me dumb founded. The Captain kept his eyes forward.
Oh no, what did I just say? why did I say that?
Thankfully the elevator doors opened just then and deposited all of us into the lobby. 

Big Dog smiled at me and said "well, that went well."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Big Dog

I met Big Dog online after dating for 2 years.  Previous to meeting him, I seemed to specialize in meeting "assholes and cheaters".  It was becoming a catch phrase for me.  "Assholes and Cheaters".
Here was a typical Sunday morning conversation with one of my girlfriends:
"So you went out with (insert any name here) last night?  How did it go?"
"He's an asshole."
"Really?  He looked so good in his profile.  I'm surprised."
"I'm not.  They are all assholes or cheaters."
"You are getting cynical."
"Not cynical. Experienced.  I think I have now dated every so-called eligible man in a 30 mile radius.  If he isn't a pompous, immature prick then it usually means that he is out cheating on his wife."
"Sam, you will meet someone.  When you least expect it, he will enter your life".
(groan from me)
"Nope.  I'm done.  I'm not dating anymore.  I just can't do it.  I would rather be alone and pay for my own meals on Saturday nights then put up with this crap any more."

Sound familiar?  This exact conversation probably repeats itself every Sunday morning millions of times with millions of good friends bemoaning the state of things.
As a newly divorced woman with two kids, I wasn't out there looking for a hook-up.  Certainly not.  I was looking for someone to restore my faith in monogamy.  I needed someone who would tell me that it was going to be ok.
Not finding anyone, I did the next best thing.  I found myself.  Good thing too because I was completely lost for most of a decade. (more on that later)

So, true to the saying "you find what you are looking for when you stop looking for it", I found Big Dog.

Here's how it went.
I was taking my profile down from the personals site but decided to do one last search.  I entered my favorite sport in the search box and expanded the search radius to 100 miles. Clicking through the pictures (no one reads the profiles), one image caught my eye.  The picture showed a normal guy in a suit standing front and center where my favorite team plays. That was weird.  What was this guy doing?  How did he have access to that spot?  I clicked on his profile.

It was written just for me.  He was looking for me.  His description of himself and dreams for the future were compelling.  I "winked" at him.
A few hours later I got an email from him.  He was funny and smart and interested in me.
I paid my $20 for another month's subscription to the online service and emailed him back.
And the rest is history.....

Big Dog is a professional sports writer for a large newspaper chain.  He also happens to cover my favorite team on a full-time basis.  He realized quickly that this was a good feature in my eyes and certainly played that card often in the early days (but continues to play it now too).

Big Dog is very good at what he does. He is smart, opinionated, charismatic and a master strategist.  Obviously he is everything that my ex-husband wasn't.  Big Dog loves what he calls "social experiments".
I say this often, I don't ever want to be on his bad side.

Big Dog loves me though. He accepts me for exactly who I am while simultaneously supporting me to be the best person I can.  I am stronger because of him. I am more confident.  I am more realistic.  I am hopeful. 

Welcome to the Juggle

Hi there,
Welcome to the Juggle.
The Juggle is the crazy day-to-day life of my family of seven.  That's right, 7.
We are a newly blended family consisting of me (Sam, the Mom), my significant other ("Big Dog" -- more on him later), and our kids -- "Junior" (age 14), "Belle" (age 10), "Micro" (age almost 9), "Big Bug" (just turned 8) and "Lala" (6).
The youngest two are mine and the oldest three are Big Dog's.
Big Dog and I started dating almost 4 years ago.  Those of you who are divorced with kids know how tricky dating can be.  We went through lots of normal ups and downs but we definitely figured out that we were going to be together for the rest of our lives.
So here we are.  Now performing the same Juggling Act that countless other families are doing each day..... How exactly do you get 5 kids to sports, dance, Girl/Boy Scouts, finish homework, provide enriching experiences, hang out with friends, feed, clothe and nurture..... etc., etc., etc........
 I figure I'm the perfect person for this new blended life.  As the oldest in a family of 5 kids, I got my necessary training hours in early.
sigh.   Gotta switch the laundry.  Stay tuned....