From then

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Have been rather sporadic with my blogging of late.

Everything is going well, though.

For those of you who know me on facebook you will know this.

Here is a little something I wrote a while ago, mid-2011. I still reflect on this sometimes. It was good to have writing as an outlet.

ON LOVE AND MARRIAGE.

I do not profess to be an expert on this, or to have much experience.

I got together with a man at 19, fell in love, married at 25, and fell out of love somewhere between the ages of 31 and 32.5.

My only example of marriage, that of my parents, was overtly toxic. I grew up thinking there were two types of marriages – those with violence and fear, and the good ones. For a long time, I felt I had a good one, was one of the lucky ones, I was told so by my family.

However, for a long time I doubted things were right. The acute feeling a year or so after we got married was one of “I feel trapped”. This devolved into happiness, but with a nagging feeling that something was missing – perhaps passion or a deeper connection.

I accepted it as my lot in life, and made the best of it as much as I could. I tried to be a good wife – supportive, nurturing, not too much of a nag. I was by no means perfect but I put a lot of effort in, because it takes effort to keep somebody.

Slowly, imperceptibly, things drifted further and further away from satisfactory. It was mostly his job – he was there very long hours, and when he was not physically there, he was mentally there. He left me. It was insidious, and it gnawed away.

I would come home, really looking forward to seeing him, but he would not be there. The disappointment was reminiscent of waiting for my father to turn up for an access visit, but he never came.

I would spend the afternoon thinking of what I would cook him for dinner, and then cook it for him. I would have loved the same done for me, and I asked him, but I was told I had to come up with a schedule. Some spontaneous thought for what I desired was what I wanted from him, not just with regard to food, but to other things, too.

When we went out to eat, we would reach for our smartphones or a newspaper; something to fill the conversation void.

On the rare occasions that we had a good discussion or heart to heart, I felt so happy and relieved. These became increasingly rare. The chasm grew larger and I felt I had to shout and scream across it.

I felt like there had to be other people around to get him to come out of his shell, so I invited them into our home. When it was just the two of us, though, it felt lonely and desolate.

When I had depression, I thought he was wonderful, mainly because he did not leave me. My self esteem was too low to expect meaningful support. I knew it was hard on him, with me being depressed, so I did my best not to burden him. I continued home chores, and cooked the dinner. My way of giving back, really. Sometimes, I got so frustrated by not being able to talk to him that I said a few nasty things just to get his attention. A few nights, I took myself out of bed and sat on the couch, crying, feeling so very close to the edge, with nobody to take me off it. He was sound asleep and I did not want to wake him.

His mother was decidedly unsupportive when I had my bouts. He did not stand up to her on any level. So, when she was fierce, I felt I had to be more fierce in return, to protect him. There were many fights.

The lack of physical intimacy troubled me. I thought it was my lack of libido, my depression, my medication. I felt it was something I had to cross of the to do list every month. Initiating things was something I could do much better when drunk, and this became the only way I could become intimate with him.

I felt very guilty about not being attracted to him. Especially when I had become attracted to other men. Little paroxysms, stuffed down.

I felt everything I asked was a bother to him, it certainly did seem to bother him when I asked I eventually came to believe that I was asking too much, and that I was not worth his effort.

It was a death of a thousand cuts, and things got so bad, so far away from what I wanted, that I lost hope of them ever improving. I dreaded having a baby with him. I dreaded a future devoid of passion or conversation with him. These feelings were at odds with the conditioned “you have a good man who loves you, and you ought to be grateful”.

I realized I had had enough.

Now I am at the angry stage. I scream:

I WAS WORTH YOUR EFFORT ALL ALONG!!! YOU LEFT ME, NOW I LEFT YOU, AND I LOOK LIKE THE BAD PERSON!

And more subtle, more mournful: “Why did you not appreciate me? Why were you not there? Why could you not take some of the burden? Why could you not stick up for me with your mum?”

One day, not so long ago, I was sitting with a couple of colleagues. I found out that they were getting married soon.

I stifled my instinct to tell them “no, don’t do it!!!” I have become gun-shy.

I drew breath and looked at both of them intently. Then continued sternly, with pointed finger:

“Don’t spend too much on the wedding. Consider eloping”

“Never, NEVER take each other for granted”.

Then more.

“You will argue, get mad with each other, but always see things from the other’s side. Stand up for each other.”

“Put each other first, not work, not others, but each other.”

“Don’t rush into getting a mortgage, it means shit, just be content together, because home should be wherever you are together.”

“Have interests together, and encourage the other person’s interests.”

“Concentrate on the small thoughtful gestures, pay attention to what the other person likes, and do this.”

I wish somebody had told us that before we got married.  In saying all these things, I realized that I knew more than I thought I did.

It got me thinking about what I would want. I am quite put off by the whole marriage thing, but have not lost hope that I will have the love I want. My heart is open to it. I want it more than anything else in my life.

I want us to love equally – I want to love that person as much as they love me, a lot, but equally. 10 times 2 is 20, but 10 times 10 is 100.  I want 100. 20 has not cut it.

I will think about him during the day, and look forward to seeing him when I get home or back from travel. I need to know he is doing that for me. I will not need to be joined at the hip with him, but feel safe in the knowledge that, even when apart, he keeps me in mind. I don’t need his attention continually, but need to feel sure that I can get it when I need it.

I want us to be able to talk. Talk about world affairs. Make low-brow jokes. Share hopes, dreams and fears, without feeling clumsy about it, or not heard at all. When we are not talking, I want the silence to feel comfortable.

I am strong, but I want to have somebody to lean on when I need it. I would like to be relied upon when the other is vulnerable. When we are both feeling strong, it multiplies, so that when we are both feeling weak, there are reserves.

I will put in a lot of effort, and I want it to be reciprocated.

I want us to share a physical attraction. It may be a small flicker or a white hot passion, and know it will fluctuate, but it must be there. We will both work on keeping ourselves physically attractive to the other.

I believe in kissing – not just a peck, but proper kissing, kisses on the neck that make my knees buckle underneath me. We will regularly make a place to build up to the sexual encounters, so that we will remain enthusiastic about them, and look forward to them.

Being a mother is something that I want; it frightens me but I feel I have enough of a capacity to nurture. I am finally learning to nurture myself, so important for nurturing a child. I need to feel confident that he will also nurture me and a child, because I know that having a baby can make relationships harder rather than easier.

I will keep this all in my mind, and try not to compromise it. It is not a shopping list of qualities I look for in a person, rather an acknowledgement of what two people need to make a relationship flourish in the long term.

In Defence of Valentine’s Day.

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‘Tis a bit late, but better late than ever.

Ok, so many people I know are all very “bah humbug” when it comes to V-Day. (Was gonna put VD there, but that has other considerably less romantic connotations). Yet people spend squillions. Others bemoan the commercialisation of love.

I asked my PhD supervisor, a 64 year old man, if he had gotten his wife anything nice for the occasion. He replied “We don’t do Valentine’s day. We have been married 37 years”. I replied, without missing a breath “Joe, it’s like exercise. The older you get, the more important it becomes.”

A woman I heard of commented that she was not going to remind her partner that it was V-Day, but would yell at him if he forgot.

Some women complained about the presents they got from their partner. My nurse colleague got a copy of Grey’s Anatomy  (the reference book, not the drama series) from her boyfriend, and was very annoyed about the lack of romanticism. I offered to pop quiz her in a week.

Lots of people I know refuse to celebrate it with their partners.

I am not immune to the annoyance. For example, Valentine’s Day cards make me want to vomit. Never has the colour red been so blatantly abused.

The fella and I agreed not to exchange presents. A few days later, a week or so before the day, he had bought me a card and a terrarium.

(I had been eyeing one off for a while at the florist across the road from his place. I am very partial to a terrarium. We made one in grade 2, out of empty coke bottles).

I digress.

I bought him a candle he wanted. It was not V-Day, so I emphasised that it was not a V-Day present.

On the actual day, we returned to our “first date” restaurant. Had a lovely dinner, lots of wine, a cocktail. We pashed like teenagers. We held hands over the table and told each other about our days. I wrote him a poem and put it in a nice, tasteful blank card. No red. No glitter. No puppy dog saying “I ruv you”. I might even publish that poem on the blog.

Being a purveyor of trivia, I googled the meaning of V-Day. Something about some Roman empire dude who performed secret marriage ceremonies for army soldiers. Apparently the soldiers were not to get married but he martyred himself for the cause.

I don’t think many people know that. We just know about the nauseating cards, roses, teddy bears and the abuse of the colour red.

Being in a shiny, new(ish) relationship, with the hindsight of some epic fails, it was due that I thought about what V-Day might mean to me. Clandestine marriages don’t mean a lot anymore.

And here it is.

  • We can become so distracted by our lives, work, the daily grind. I feel so lucky to be in a good relationship, and I don’t want to take it for granted. Anything that reminds me can only be considered a good thing.
  • With V-Day presents being banned, we have to think of creative ways to make each other smile. This is a good thing too.
  • It gives the florists good business. Florists are usually small, family businesses. Anything that helps them, I am good with.
  • A good excuse to consume Champagne. I am good with this too.

When I was single, I learned the concept of romancing yourself (minds out of the gutter). It has to do with being very kind to yourself. Taking yourself out on a date. A warm bath. A delectable glass of wine, for the hell of it. Perhaps we should perpetuate this a bit more! We all could benefit from it.

So that’s my thoughts on it, my $0.02. Does anyone else have any thoughts?

 

Ok Kath…..

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I was stalking Kath’s blog errr procrastinating errr catching up when I found out Kath tagged me for a Liebster prize or some such…

Ohhhhkaaaayyyyy….

And these are the questions:

  1. What’s the weirdest thing you have in your handbag/wallet? A yellow highlighter. Yes I know. It’s boring.
  2. Where do you plan to travel this year? I have already travelled to Cuba. Just got back. I will post deets soon. But I would like to travel to Turkey. Or (EEEK) go to Bali. One of the classy bits like Seminyak. Pleeze. I is a classy Sheila.
  3. Tragedy strikes and you are stranded with your phone.  Who is the first person you call? Mike. Or Mum. Easy.
  4. What is the one thing you plan on doing in 2013 to maintain or get fit? I have registered for Run for the Kids. To train, I will take my butt back to running training, even though I feel a bit ashamed of my loss of fitness and weight I have put on. I need to get over self-shaming. I just need to get on with it. Also doing some stand up paddleboarding and bushwalking.
  5.  If you had to quit TV and other drama watching apart from one show, what would it be? Hmmmm…..Big Bang Theory. Love those Geeks
  6. Who was your teenage crush? Celebrity: John Farnham (age 9), Richard Marx (aged 10), Lorry D’Ercole (obscure, off E Street, age 13), Jason Priestley (13), Daniel Craig (33 – what? I still feel like a teenager. Non-celebrity: Warrick, Stephen – from School. Ergh.
  7. How do you take your coffee? In my mouth?…..no. In bed, At work and at various cafes.
  8. Best place to go for dinner in your town? Recent Favourite: The Estelle in Northcote.
  9. What’s the one thing – clothes or makeup item – you can’t live without? Recently discovered the lure of the eyelash curler. With Mascara, of course. My lashes are pale and thin but long.
  10. Do you drive to the airport to pick people up or tell them to get a cab? Pick them up.
  11. What is the one thing is guaranteed to make you lose your shit? I am fairly chillaxed. Usually it takes a number of things.

2012 In summary

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Achievements/Highlights:

  • London Marathon
  • Getting money for project
  • Going to first music festival, and seeing lots of live music
  • Salsa dancing in Alburquerque, San Francisco
  • Getting 15 patients through study
  • Moving in on own
  • Riding to work for first time
  • Finding love after swearing off it
  • meeting his family and friends
  • trying new exercises: stand up paddleboarding, burlesque

Lowlights:

  • speed dating and other dating fails
  • getting hurt, emotional rollercoaster, reliving pain – eg with man with kids, getting divorced, hearing about ex’s pregnancy
  • getting spinal nerve injury
  • gaining weight/losing fitness

what worked for me this year:

  • having a time-limited goal (eg marathon) with a plan
  • going easy on myself
  • just doing it despite desire for perfection, tendency to procrastinate, “it’s all too hard”
  • learning to manage negative emotions on own
  • having a “special friend”… ;)
  • focussing on what I could control
  • when in doubt, shutting up
  • learning who to trust to help me
  • being mindful of surroundings, emotions
  • asking for help
  • exercising in company/instructor
  • focussing on what will make me healthier (physically/mentally)

what did not work for me this year

  • lack of preparation (eg shopping for food)
  • too much alcohol
  • focussing on what I don’t have
  • setting non-achievable or nebulous goals
  • procrastinating
  • shooting mouth off esp in heat of moment
  • wanting people to change
  • comparing myself/my lot to other people’s
  • worrying

Goals for 2013

  • planning meals and shopping for food weekly
  • mastering 2 new recipes per month
  • no/minimal alcohol during week
  • R4TK – train with personal trainer
  • after R4TK – ?crossfit,
  • 1 pilates per week
  • 1 swim per week/fortnight
  • getting 120 participants for trial (ie doing most of recruitment
  • doing something creative – artwork/dance – 1 per week/fortnight

 

 

2012 – a man-retrospective. Part 1.

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*Results not typical.

**Warning – kiss and tell. Have to walk the boundaries between TMI and being cryptic.

So I have gotten out there. Got dating.

I don’t really believe there is a “good time” to start dating again. You can be totally unready after years, or raring to go after a month. I was more toward the latter. I had felt starved of a lot of things (attention, affection, nookie) for such a long time that I was like a kid in a candy store. A puppy let out of a laundry, all excited and doing happy laps.

I cannot learn by cliches. I must learn by doing. Then the truisms start to make sense. And truly, I have learned a lot, in the thick of things, “on the job”.

2012 has been a big year. A lot of blokes churned through (that sounds bad, does it not?) Any bloke I dated more than once, I learned something from.

Let me begin my odyssey..

NYE 2012 – I was at a gawd-awful ball. A couple of my friends had gone off with blokes. Me and my only other friend there went off to the pub across the road. I spotted a cute dark skinned fellow. I could not hear a word he said. We had a pash. Then about 3 minutes after that, he vomited all over the table. Nice. I left after that. I only sent a very terse reply to his text message the next day.

 

January – The BBG (big bald guy). He got in contact with me on RSVP, and took ages to send a message after I had replied in the affirmative. First date was a dinner, after which he planted one on me. We went back to my car – more of the same. He was quite nice, we talked well, but I called “friends” after a few dates. There was no spark. Also he sweated on my new sheets. That is a red-cardable offence ;)

We remained friends. A few times, there were clumsy tussles after a bit too much alcohol and/or me feeling vulnerable and there was “talk” about moving things further but  it never came to anything. It looked good on paper but neither of us had our hearts in it.

Late Jan/Early Feb – Around Australia day was my famous three-date weekend.

Bachelor #1 – A Singaporean fellow. We had brekky, got on like a house on fire. We went on another couple of dates. There was no spark, and I felt bad. But I liked him, I really did. So I said “I would really like to be friends” and meant it. And we did. We still yap every week. A few weeks after we went out, he met a woman who is now his fiancee. Things turned out well, and I may be his groomslady(?!)

Bachelor #2 – Lawyer. Photo – TDH (Tall, dark, handsome). Pre-date conversation was brief. We met in the city for coffee. His photo had been about 10 years old – there were 10 extra kilos, there was 50% less hair. {I must say here – I love a bald guy. 2 words – Bruce Willis. Indeed, there is little more sexy than a man who can say “if the hair is going, it is going on my terms” and swagger about like a boss with his chrome dome. Buzzcuts – ditto]

I felt a bit bad for being angry about the false advertising, but soon stopped feeling bad when he showed me his personality. What. A. Douchebag!!

Bachelor #3 = OMG. The anthropologist. Tall, ruggedly handsome, sensitive, intelligent. More about him here.

Feb(fail) – The adolescent artist. A few years older than me, reasonably handsome, very keen, but a few issues. – 1. my eyes glazed over whenever he talked for more than five minutes, I couldn’t  2. Whenever we went out, he had always lost his wallet/had it stolen/lost his keycard 3. Everything bad that had befallen him was everybody else’s fault and that SHITS me and 4. Bedroom. Mattress. Floor…..errrrrrr…… too old for that….me AND him.

March – The environmentalist. Very fit, very earthy, built a carbon neutral house with his bare hands. Drove a carbon-neutral car. Blind in one eye from an altercation with an occy strap incurred while rigging up a car with sporting equipment for multi stage adventure races. We finally had a phone conversation and he told me about the evils of coffee “I KNOW WHAT’S IN THAT STUFF”. I politely rebutted. Nobody disses coffee in front of me. I did not expect to hear from him again. However he called a couple of days later, asking me out, saying he was impressed with my rebuttal of his anti-coffee arguments. We went on a few dates. He was very complimentary of me. He would sit and stare at me admiringly (which freaked me out no end). He wanted to show me his 7-star energy efficient house. He wanted to take me driving in his brother’s fuel guzzling convertible in the dandenongs – I declined on the basis that I get carsick (hey, it is the truth). It all just missed the mark, for me. Again – all good on paper, but was not going to go anywhere.

I started to get a bit sick of the dating game and considered hanging up the boots for a while. Then I got a contact, the widowed man with kids. Against my better judgement I replied in the affirmative. We dated, hit it off, and it was all looking quite hunky dory…. then…..this.

 

It’s been and gone again.

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And a merry Christmas to everybody.

It has been a big’un. A busy week up to the big day. Adventures aplenty.

The fella has bought himself a stand up paddleboard, and, on Sunday, we played nicely and took turns at the beach before the heat came up.

I actually managed to stand up this time – kneel, set one foot, then the other, tighten core, then up. I managed a few circuits before the water got a bit choppy and I came off.

That night, a walk along the beach to St Kilda and back. I didn’t know that part of town. So lovely on a warm night.

I managed to bake my first pavlova, and what a beast it was. 2 little pavs, stacked into a monster layered with cream, raspberries, strawberries and chocolate flake. AND I made some scalloped potatoes with lots of cheese, onion and bacon. Yummm. These I took to our family gathering on Christmas eve.

Despite a bit of killjoy before the time (my sister sending around her usual message about not being able to afford presents this year, some disagreement about venues etc) we had a lovely time. It was made lovely by the fact that we had some extras (both me and my sister have a fella this year, whoda thunk it). We had a barbie. There were a few little hounds to join us, one of them a scottie dog very keen on playing soccer. Many laughs were had when the ball went into the Maribyrnong river and my brother went in after it!

Today, Christmas with last year’s crew. The fella really enjoyed it. Though the alcohol hit me harder this year; a big nap was taken after lunch. I was unrouseable, but not snoring or dribbling so I was left till I woke up. It was happy and relaxed and stress-free.

We are now sitting on the couch, the fella is asleep, and I am gently reflecting on my year. These reflections will follow. (Threat and promise)

I hope you all have had a lovely and safe Christmas.

 

I am the messy bits.

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I’m back.

I have been kind of microblogging on Facebook, but it is strangely unsatisfying. It is the blogging equivalent of white flour, with all the white and distilled stuff out there, without all of the husky, messy brown bits.

And I miss the messy bits. I AM the messy bits. Nothing important I have ever learned has been without making mistakes, or without a lot of thought.

And I miss my friends out there in the cloud, with their gentle encouragement. Just to know somebody was reading was a great solace to me. This is why we do it, no?

But it’s been, what, three months or so? A busy, whirlwind 3 months. No excuse, I know. But I will summarise what has been happening here…

1. Luff (or Love or Lurrrrve)

Just the moment I thought it was all a bit of a faff, I had given it a rest, along comes somebody. Somebody lovely, who thinks of me and shows it. Who is a big hunk of spunk. Who I can cook dinner with, shop with and run with (he runs slow to keep up with me). We can do lots of stuff or do nothing (we tend more towards the doing stuff). We have met each other’s friends and families. I went to Christchurch NZ just last weekend to meet his family and he introduced me proudly as his girlfriend. We have made plans for the future.

It has passed the honeymoon phase. Fears, insecurities, vagaries and frustrations have come out and reared their less attractive heads. So, indeed, have a few farts. But we have dealt with them with understanding and good humour.

As lovely as it is, I still find part of myself standing outside it, wondering how I got this lucky. Wondering whether I am worthy of it. Fearing it will be taken away from me at any minute without explanation. All this is diminishing over time, and with a lot of therapy. With that little sense of my own worth growing, and the skill of enjoying the moment. What will be, will be, and worrying won’t change it, but will do my head in. I do understand where all the insecurity comes from, so I can best deal with it.

2. Career wins.

I lovingly and painstakingly wrote  a grant application to the NHMRC for my project. Ideas need money, and this was the way to get it. The only problem is that these large grants are hard to come by, with only about 1 in 5 applications being awarded. This is among all comers, so even bigshots miss out and have to fire staff. My grant was refined and submitted by my prof.

Well, long story short, we got the grant – $600K worth, thankyou very much. I had very humble congratulations from some of these bigshots. My prof had given credit where it was due. My grant helps quite a number of people in work for the next year or two. Plus buys a few sachets of optifast and a few blood tests and xrays.

It has been a big boon to my confidence. Doing a PhD is fraught with “I am not good enough”, “what if it doesn’t work out” etc etc. This is normal. But the $$$  keep me hanging in there. They help make me proud to do what I am doing. Even though very little of it comes to me.

3. Career plans

On that last note, I am earning a bit less than my colleagues practicing full time. Don’t get me wrong, I do ok. However, when I was on my bike to work because my car broke down, I was thinking “how the fucking hell am I going to make this fucking PhD work for ME?” What niche do I sit in? How can I make things cushy? I have worked hard, I am now not ashamed to be reaping the rewards, or thinking about how I can reap them.

4. Body.

That old chestnut. I have lost the plot, a bit. The romance, wining and dining has not helped (it is lovely, though). But plans are falling in place. Christmas is a difficult time of year, but I am coming around to the simple things – exercise more days a week than you don’t, eat well and consciously most of the time, and drink alcohol fewer days than you abstain.

I have done a few things. I have started pilates again, and the back/butt pain with running is improving, to the point where I did my first fun run since the marathon (farrrk it was a struggle). I have entered the fella and myself in run for the kids. I have tried a few new things – stand up paddleboarding and burlesque to name a few. I have rode to work a few times. Just a matter of putting them into habit.

The theme of the new year (last year’s was courage) is wellness – in body and mind. I have had a bit of back pain, a bit more reflux et cetera, and these are amenable to lifestyle measures. I would also like to get off some of my pills – the antidepressants, the antacids. I need a bit of a plan for that.

5. News.

The ex hubby’s girlfriend is pregnant. That was fraught, hearing that. A bit of “the bugger, he has had it a lot easier than me, it’s all fallen into his lap” thoughts. It might not be the reality. The grief of the whole thing has been a little exacerbated. Of course it has. And I can go on and on about it but I won’t.

Except to say, they are going to Antarctica on holiday, on their babymoon. Hmmmm.

No good can come from comparing my lot to his. I know that.

6. Christmas.

You know, for the first time in a number of years, I am actually looking forward to it? I can listen to carols without cringing? Cool, huh?

7. Lessons.

Fall down 7 times, get up 8. This has been the best little saying. I have made so many little stuff ups that I am experts in either rectifying or moving the hell on.

8. Travels…

Christchurch – tick. CUBA – upcoming….then who knows?

Bye for now :D