Clearly the time has come to work through all the issues surrounding my “relationship” with Boo. No one should absolutely lose their shit because somebody they work with is moving to a job across town. But my shit I did lose. The very real, desperate pain I felt over the weekend was incredibly out of proportion to the actual event.
I have to figure out why this has such a hold of me – why I can’t let it go. I can’t allow this delusion to continue to control my life, obsess me, and craze me. I think the easiest way to work through it is with some lists with occasional narrative thrown in for explanation.
Who Is Real Boo? – The Good
*Best first date EVER!
*Never completely lets me go (no matter what dumb shit I do)
Who Is Real Boo? – The Bad
*Wrapped up in his work
*Not there when I need him
*Never completely lets me go
*Coming out of a BAD divorce
*Mean streak disguised as humor
Why I Deserve Better
Clearly, the real Boo and the Boo I make myself sick over are not really the same person. That’s not fair to him. That’s not fair to me.
So why do I continue to cling so desperately to my delusion of “SuperBoo” and to my efforts to forge a romantic relationship with him?
Why Do I Continue To Fight To Keep It Alive?
*I’m desperate for male approval.
*I need to know that I am desirable and lovable.
*I don’t want to be alone.
*He’s my only option. He’s the only straight, single man in my life.
*I need to win, not fail.
*I can’t stop believing I can make him love me if I say and do the right things.
*I need to prove that I can “do anything I put my mind to.”
*I can’t accept that I can’t control him or the relationship.
*I want to fix him and heal his emotionally broken places.
*I want him to cherish me for fixing him and showing him how to love again.
*Letting my hopes for SuperBoo go means giving up on the hope for love, acceptance and companionship.
*If I stop looking at him, I have to look at me.
*I have no intrinsic identity.
*If I stop chasing this, I don’t have anything else to concentrate on.
*I have no other goals or dreams or desires for my life. (Sadly, I’m serious.)
The self-identity piece of this fascinates me. Boo is not the first man who I’ve gotten super-crazy about like this. First of all, I didn’t date growing up. I had a boyfriend for two weeks in 9th grade and then a couple of short term boyfriends in college. And then I got married when I was 25. So I never practiced relationships. I’ve always been so desperate for them that I clamp on like a bear trap as soon as a possibility arises, and my hopes shoot through the roof. That’s the biggest problem. I can NOT control my expectations. And inevitably the disappointment CRUSHES me. I can’t just brush it off and let it go.
But none of this started happening until I started graduate school. I got there and it turned out I WASN’T the smartest person who ever lived. I was out of identities. So I started looking for a man to define me – to put the socially-acceptable stamp of approval on me. I didn’t know how or who to be without an extrinsic label. I still don’t
So Who Am I Now?
*Not an athlete
*Not a scholar
*Not a runner
So Who Am I Inside?
So What Does That Mean I WANT To Be?
*Someone’s girlfriend so I can prove to the world that I’m straight, loveable, and OK being me.
*Someone’s girlfriend so I can be protected and appreciated and loved.
What I Probably Need To Be
*Alone until I learn to define myself without a man, and learn to know who I actually am inside and not just as defined by the things on the outside – the things I do or wear or how I cut my hair. (I don’t wanna! *sniff!*)
*A woman learning who she is and why she’s OK.
*A woman who likes herself without needing any external approval to do so.
*A student (literally) of casual dating who doesn’t lose her emotional shit over one dinner.
And so here is the stupid postscript to all this. How do I deal with my ongoing relationship with real Boo in light of these admissions and realizations? Is there a way I can step back and start over again looking at him with new eyes? Can I unravel these emotional ties I’ve woven? Will any kind of relationship with him continue to bring me grief and disappointment? Can I ever get to a place where we can just be friends without me wanting him and feeling jealousy and hurt? I’m just not sure what to do. I don’t want to cut ties with him. But is that just a symptom of the problem at hand?
Hahahahaha! I can’t believe this is a song!
I was sweating my recurring holiday anxiety the night before Thanksgiving. I SO want this year to be different. I really, really want to enjoy the holidays again.
But I drove to Thanksgiving lunch Thursday with a sense of dread in my stomach.
Anxiety is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. You worry about the possibility of feeling anxious which makes you feel anxious and you think, “Well damn! Here it comes again.” Which makes you feel anxious.
So as I tooled down I-20 West with a knot in my stomach, I finally took a deep breath and said to myself, “OK. You’re smart. What is it that you’re really dreading? Be honest.”
So I thought for a while, and I realized that going to my grandmother’s house makes me feel anxious, first, because the whole atmosphere at her house is a bit cold and tense. She’s not a huggy, “make you an apple pie” grandmother. She’s a “get mad at you for sitting on her bedspread” grandmother. She’ll tell you you’re fat. She’ll tell you she doesn’t like your hair. After all, wearing it that way makes you look manly. *sigh*
Secondly, half the people there don’t WANT to be there and spend the whole time making snarky comments about my grandmother. And that makes me feel bad.
Finally, as Grandmother’s gotten older, she can’t hear much and so my mom spends the whole day yelling at her trying to communicate. It’s not intentionally confrontational, but they start to get irritated with each other and between the yelling and the frustration, the tension rips the scab right off my confrontation anxiety.
I thought about those things after I let myself admit them and said, “You know. Hating those things doesn’t make me a bad granddaughter, daughter, or Southern woman. It makes me human.” And I felt better.
Then I asked myself what made me uncomfortable about going to my mom’s house – the house where I grew up. And that one was easy. Although I’d never really admitted it, I feel such an yawning emptiness there since my dad died. My mom is amazing and I love her and I like spending time with her. But there is a gigantic love and laughter and warmth hole in that house since Daddy’s gone.
I thought about that for a while and realized that it doesn’t mean I don’t love my mother or that I’m a bad person for feeling some negative emotions when I’m at the house. It only means I love my daddy, that I was blessed to have a magnificent father, and I miss him at the holidays. There’s no shame in feeling that. And I felt better.
I realized that it doesn’t make me a bad person or a Scrooge to have things about the holidays or my family that make me uncomfortable or sad. It’s OK to feel negative feelings. Feelings can’t make you a bad person. The world is not perfect; the holidays can’t be perfect; my family isn’t perfect; and I don’t have to be perfect. “It’s OK,” I thought. “It’s all OK.”
Then it felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I took a deep breath. My heart didn’t race and there was no hint of hyperventilation.
I went on to grandmother’s and had a good time. I let it be what it was. And we ate good food and we had good conversation. My cousin and I put up Grandmother’s Christmas tree and we watched a little football. And I felt satisfied and relaxed, not like I needed to escape.
Then I went to my mom’s for a while and hung out. And my dad wasn’t there. And I didn’t like that. And it was OK. We watched TV and fed the cats and put her big, light up, plastic Nativity scene on the front porch. Then we kicked back in our recliners and watched the lighting of Macy’s Great Tree. And it was OK.
Back home last night, I decided to put up my two-foot tall fiber optic Christmas tree and my tiny figurine of Snoopy and Woodstock decorating their Charlie Brown tree. I was hurting so much and feeling so bad last year that I never put them out.
And as I turned off the living room lights and watched my little tree spin and change colors, I was content. It was beautiful. It was a little tacky. It made me smile. And at least for the moment, I didn’t fear Christmas coming.
C’mon, Meat! Throw it! You know you’re not gonna hit me, cause you’ve already started to think about it, eh?! Thinkin’ about how embarrassing it would be to miss in front of all these people, how somebody might laugh?! Come on, meat, show us that million-dollar arm, ‘Cause I got a good idea about that five-cent head of yours!”
– Crash Davis to Nuke LaLoosh, “Bull Durham”
I gave up. I’m so ashamed of myself.
When the Garmin finally beeped 20 miles and I pushed the stop button, I took off my cap, put my hands on my knees and said out loud, “Fuck! Fuck this fucking run!”
That about sums it up.
The first half of the run was fine. I turned around north of Oglethorpe at about 10.25 miles. And then I’m not sure what happened. A weak place in my brain cracked and said, “You should stop and walk.” And I did. And the run was done. Oh, I still had to make it all the way home, but I was finished.
This is the same five cent head that had me shoot at the wrong basket in my first middle school basketball game. The same five cent head that made me throw a million balls into centerfield trying to catch runners stealing second. The same five cent head that lost the league championship when a routine ground ball rolled between my feet at second base and into the outfield.
My brain doesn’t allow me to let those things go. I spent the last 9.5 miles of this run taking account of all the ways I’m a loser. My negative thoughts spiral and spiral and spiral down a dark hole of regret and self-doubt. I ruminate on all the things that are wrong with me – all my weaknesses and failures.
And I’m terrified that blowing this last 20 mile run before the race is going to keep me from reaching my goal, and all this time and suffering and all the 4:15 morning runs are going to be for nothing.
Then I will be a failure. I will be weak. I will be embarrassed.
I asked myself again after a little cry in the middle of Buckhead, why I feel like I have to run another marathon. I think I’m trying to prove that I’m strong, that I’m not a quitter, that I’m special.
If I’m strong, then I’m invulnerable. No one can hurt me. I can take care of myself. I don’t have to care what anybody thinks about me. It’s not scary to be alone.
If I’m not really a quitter, then quitting graduate school, and my marriage, and working my steps, and therapy, are all just flukes.
If I’m special, then I can be self-righteous and judgmental and self-confident and proud and cocky.
When I read back what I just wrote, I see that I’m running to be a person I’m not. Oh, I am strong and determined and special, but those words don’t mean what I’ve defined them as there. I need to see and accept the person I really am – strengths and weaknesses – and be OK with her. (Maybe even like her a little….)
So I suppose the real question is, what happens if I don’t break my 5 hour goal in Savannah? I’ve never dealt well with failure or losing or not getting my way. I was still crying after losing softball games well into my 20s, and I STILL think if I pester Boo enough I can get him to love me. Acceptance is not my forte.
It occurred to me several weeks ago that I don’t like this level of training. This probably needs to be my last marathon. I’m trying so hard now to focus on doing things in life that make me happy.
But am I stubborn enough and so driven by shame that I would train for another miserable five or six months to try again if I fail this time? Would I suffer again just for some arbitrary goal that doesn’t mean anything to anybody but me?
Could I simply accept that I didn’t reach my goal and that I don’t want to try again?
That sounds an awful lot like quitting.
Sigh. Why can I not be OK with that?
130 avg heart rate
13:09 avg pace
Total weekly miles: 40.5
Compare to Last Week
Weeks to Savannah Rock n’ Roll Marathon: 3
Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon – November 28
Battle For Black Rock 12 Miler – December 6
I am so proud to be a member of St. Mark United Methodist Church!
In the 80’s, long before I came around, the congregation had dwindled to a few older folks who had been members for years. Midtown Atlanta had long been a haven for the gay community in the south and St. Mark was there at Peachtree and 5th Street, right in its center.
A gay PRIDE parade had started marching past the front doors of St. Mark down Peachtree St. once a year. The giant Southern Baptist Church across the street hired security every year to protect their campus from the “pink hoard.” (My friend Bill, resident church historian, says maybe they were afraid the gays were going to break in and redecorate.)
As AIDS began to decimate the gay population, the tiny St. Mark congregation decided to reach out and open its doors as a welcoming and accepting sanctuary for worship, comfort, love and solace for a ravaged, battered and feared community of men.
In 1991, the 20th annual PRIDE parade day rolled around and as usual, the Baptists high-tailed it out of town. But the little old ladies of St. Mark proudly set up their table on the sidewalk in front of the church and handed out water to the parade participants as they marched down Peachtree Street. That became known as “The Miracle on Peachtree Street.”
As the word spread that St. Mark was a different kind of church, the membership began to burgeon and today St. Mark is a thriving United Methodist church, proud of our diversity, but focused on doing Christ’s work in the world through our robust mission programs, ministering to the people of Atlanta and beyond, and fostering thoughtful and open-minded worship and learning.
I invite you to come experience one of our many PRIDE week activities this week. If you’ve never spent time in a house of worship that’s truly accepting of who you are, your mind and heart will be BLOWN! (Particularly the Sunday worship services.)
St. Mark United Methodist Church PRIDE Week Activities 2014
Tuesday, October 8 – Saint Mark hosts the annual Atlanta Pride AIDS Vigil (7p) featuring music performed by the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus
Thursday, October 9 – Diversity Dinner (6p) & Service (7:30p)
We are delighted to announce that our guest speaker at this year’s Diversity Worship service will be the Rev. Frank Schaefer! Rev. Schaefer stepped in the national spotlight in 2013 when he faced charges in his home United Methodist conference for performing his son’s marriage to his partner. The jury who heard Frank’s case declined to take away his ministerial credentials for doing his son’s wedding, but then tried to bind his future ministry by insisting that he promise not to do another same sex marriage. He refused—not only because he has two other gay children, but because he truly feels for the marginalized LGBTQ community within and without the United Methodist Church.
Frank Schaefer will be signing his book, Defrocked: How a Father’s Act of Love Shook up the United Methodist Church, directly after the Diversity Worship Service.
Saturday, October 11 – Saint Mark booth in Piedmont Park
Sunday, October 12 – PRIDE Sunday – Worship at 9a and 11:15a
Barbecue for sale in front of the church from Noon to the parade’s end. (All proceeds go to St. Mark missions.) And we don’t play about our barbecue either. This is the real deal! Pork, chicken or vegan: come get your grub on and watch the parade!
Join us, y’all! We’re not into proselytizing. We meet you where you’re at and love you for it.
Come say hi! I’ll be the girl in the baseball cap and shorts behind the sound board upstairs!
Meet you there!
“For example, a young girl who was physically abused by her father might find herself constantly seeking out abusive and unavailable men. Although she might not realize the reason behind her string of bad boyfriends, subconsciously, she is choosing these mates because she wants to recreate her trauma and ‘fix’ the situation. She tries to be ‘good enough’ for her partners, to be sweet enough, pretty enough, smart enough, obedient enough — anything to earn this partner’s love and hence rewrite history. She figures that if she can find a partner who is similar to her father and find that unconditional, supportive love he never offered her, it would almost be as if the pain of her childhood never happened.”
How Childhood Abuse Can Manifest in Adult Relationships – Dr. Laura Berman
I read this quote today and my heart raced and it was hard to breathe for several seconds. This explained me to a T. And suddenly everything made sense.
This is exactly what I’m doing when I chase men who are unavailable. And this is precisely the source of my deep emptiness.
I’m trying so hard to prove to myself that I’m OK and worthy of love, trying so hard to fill that empty pit inside me that says I’m no good, that I will debase myself in pursuit of a man I care about hoping that he’s the answer to that emptiness. It’s the same emptiness I’ve tried to fill with food and alcohol and Star Trek and running and cutting and Dr. Who and books and television and Facebook.
But when I read this today, I realized that I can’t fix the situation. I can’t rewrite history. And it turns out, that impossibilty makes everything OK.
The evil of the sexual abuse I experienced at the hands of my grandfather does not make me complicit in or guilty of his sins. The things he did to me were his fault, not mine. His abuse of me doesn’t make me worthless. His abuse of me makes him worthless. I’m OK. I will no longer allow his ghost to whisper to my soul that I am not good enough, that I am somehow empty or bereft. My heart and soul are not empty. I am full. I am plenty. I am enough.
The time has come to stop worrying if I am pleasing others. The time has come to stop begging people to love me. The time has come to stop living in fear of being a disappointment.
I am good enough to deserve good love. I am good enough to be myself. I am good enough to stop chasing men who can’t offer me what I need. I am good enough to be.
The time has come to take a deep breath, to take a deep rest. It’s time to be OK with myself.
Maybe I’ll wear dresses with Doc Martens and baseball caps. Maybe I’ll fly to London alone and see the Thames. Maybe I’ll eat something decadent and not track the calories in my food diary. Maybe I’ll go out on a date with someone I don’t know. Maybe I’ll learn to knit. Maybe I’ll buy a car and drive to California. Maybe I’ll go for a run without tracking the time and distance. Maybe I’ll rent a pickup truck and drive out into the country with a bunch of pillows and blankets and listen to Conway and Loretta and look at the stars all by myself. Maybe I’ll cry in front of people without shame. Maybe I’ll holler “Fuck you, motherfuckers!” with impunity.
No matter what I decide to do, it is enough. I am not broken after all.
“If you want men to like you, you need to look more like a woman,” someone important said to me yesterday. She said I should wear my hair softer, wear more feminine clothes and maybe wear some makeup if I wanted to attract men. At first I was aghast. Then I felt shattered.
I have always fought a mighty war of self-confidence inside myself because of that idea. I have felt that I am not a “good enough” woman because of how I look on the outside. I have only very recently come to a place where I feel comfortable (most of the time) being exactly who I am. I love my super-short hair. I don’t feel like myself when I wear frilly things. I occasionally like wearing a baseball cap. And I know that makes me look like what society thinks a “man looks like.” I don’t even get mad anymore when they call me “Sir” at Chick-fil-a. I understand.
Maybe I fall in the category of genderqueer – leaning towards the male end of the spectrum in my physical presentation. But I am not a man. Nor am I a Lesbian. I am a straight woman with super-short hair, maybe a pair of Doc Martens, and sometimes a baseball cap. And I am so much more than just what you see on the outside.
I was Little Miss Bill Arp 1971. I was a hell of a softball player. I finished 7th in the state in the shot put in 1985. I majored in Church Administration at Berry College. I worked five summers with developmental disabled campers.
I like to read. I like to write. I like to bake. I adore baseball. And I can explain the infield fly rule.
I love the Georgia Bulldogs and Star Trek and The Twilight Zone and King of the Hill and Frasier. I love animals and my family and my church and the internet.
I like to cuddle and hold hands and hug and kiss. I don’t mind going outside and getting dirty. And I’m so low-maintenance I can get out of the house and be ready to go somewhere in five minutes.
I’ve run two marathons. I work with the homeless. I sing in the church choir. I have a great smile and a big heart. I have a tie-dyed bikini. And I have wonderful friends who love me.
I am funny and I am generous and I am smart. I am kind. I am thoughtful and open-minded and sensitive. And I have a picture of myself as a little girl with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.
I like barbecue and buttered biscuits and brussel sprouts and sushi and Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Unfrosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts. I like things that light up or sparkle or twinkle. I like pigeons.
I am awesome.
But you’ll never know any of these things if you only look at my outside and decide that I somehow don’t qualify as an “appropriate” straight woman.
I know who I am. I am beautiful – inside and out.
And if you can’t take the time to get to know me, and to get to know that, then fuck you.