Sunday, November 10, 2013

"Don't be sad on the internet. Don't be sad on the internet."

I am repeating this to myself. I can be sad here, in this blog, if I want to be, and I did post a breakup announcement to my "close friends" on fb (I really love that feature, btw, and I don't think enough people are aware of it or use it) yesterday, but I am trying to limit it to that. No poignant song postings, no vaguetweets or vaguebooking or any of it.

I don't want to be sad on the internet this time. And I've blocked Joey on every social media we previously shared. It has kept my anxiety at a minimum. And the sadness too, I think. There has been a little bit of crying today. A little bit of kneeling on the floor, scolding the vial of ashes from bbqs in Minneapolis, topped by stones from a creek in Wisconsin, topped by tiny shells found on the bank of the Ohio the first week after I arrived in Louisville. A vial to represent my journey, that I sat on the floor and chastised, only to realize I was not helping myself.

All of this now is about helping myself. Find friends, find a good group of people, find my place.

I get angrier and angrier at Joey. He only gave me two months. Two months in the worst period of my life wherein I was still charming and funny and warm and made him dinner and loved him despite all of the shit happening to me.

Fucking hell.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Not Girlfriend Time

Welp. Apparently, it's over. He wants to be "friends." I'm not going to prattle on about it. Not too much.

I think I might be okay. I feel a little bit of sadness creeping in today, but it has nothing to do with missing him, or feeling lost or any other thing related directly to us breaking up. It's mostly that I'm broke and my social circle here is currently very limited. I don't have a lot of outlet. I am and will make friends, I will find my place, but it's 6:36 on a Friday night, and I know I'm staying home. I know no one will be calling me to see if I want to go to a thing. I know no one will say, "Hey Sarah, I need to talk. Can I buy you a drink?"

I have plans tomorrow night. With my two new friends, Mia and Sharon. They are insta-likes. My people. My age. I think Sharon's a little older. Sarcasm, dark humor, graphic sexual conversations, warmth. My people. We're going to see a band I saw on Tuesday that's fantastic. Right now, I don't have enough money to pay the door fee. Wait. Maybe I do. I've got $4-something in my bank account and a few coins on my mantle. Together, I may be able to pull together $5. This is where my life's at. That means a 2-mile bike ride to the bank before noon so I can pull out that money.


For Joey, this has all been intense. For me, it's been the first time I've done a relationship closer to the way I see others doing it. Smartly. I picked my battles more wisely. I kept many things to myself that annoyed or frustrated me that were not important. I "fought" when I had to with as much grace as I could. And I fell slowly in love with him, and deeper as time went on, instead of feeling everything all at once and needing to fulfill myself with intensity within the relationship. I learned to allow myself to be inside the relationship without over thinking it. But, it is a testament to my sometimes faulty ability to read people and a situation that somewhere in the last few weeks, he decided to break up with me, while I was falling deeper in love and thinking of him less and less as a temporary object, or something to be regarded tentatively. And maybe he sensed this, because it happened shortly after I began to fall deeper, that I could sense certain problems forming. A couple days before we broke up, we went out to dinner. I mentioned my ideal way of dying, at 85, in bed with my partner of 50-ish years, of carbon monoxide poisoning. It was all well and good until I laughed and said that he'd be 77, which seems a little young to die. I felt him get just the slightest bit colder. I think he was already near his decision at that point, at least subconsciously. Somewhere in the last month especially he started to make the pile of my faults that would tip the scales in favor of the decision he already made. I learned a long time ago not to do that. It's just a shitty, shitty thing to do to love. Instead, I let those things make a pile and make sure I keep very clear that there's another pile, too. One of love, past good deeds, the way the sun bounces off his eyelashes. And those things always bring me back to the right place. And eventually, things get better.

I won't be writing any songs about this one. I won't be waxing rhapsodic about it being the best relationship I ever had with the best sex and the best connection in all ways. That isn't what this was. This was a kind love. This was patient and warm and safe and I loved it very, very much. It didn't have peaks and valleys of emotion, it stayed steady. I got mad and frustrated and upset with him, but it was never that mad, that upset, that frustrated. For the most part, it was just good.

He disagrees.

Well, okay then.

I need time to not be Girlfriend. I told him this. My offer was we take this month off. I'll be out of town for two weeks for Thanksgiving anyway. I can get my head together about this place I live in, get some money made, etc. I'd leaned too hard on him for emotional and financial support in the tumult that's been my first two months here.

And you know what? Things feel better without him. That isn't to say I don't still want to be with him. That isn't to say I want this love to diffuse itself so it can coalesce some other day for another. I just need a fucking break.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Barf. Child.

It's about 80% hangover making me feel nauseated, but there's a good chunk of wtf doing it to me as well.

I've been thinking about having children.

Who am I fucking kidding. I'm 35. I'm not going to have a child. I'm 35 and have a life about as together as the average 27 year old.

It's just not going to happen.

I started watching one of those Wigs shows on YouTube, where actresses of some note get the opportunity to delve into a "character," a "wig," if you will, and the shows are all about some serious issue women deal with. All well and good. The first I watched, Blue, with Julia Stiles, threw me last year as it was about a mom who has to prostitute herself in addition to having a day job, in order to make ends meet with her young son. A lot of the same issues I've dealt with, in my work, and in my life, were raised in that show.

The shows consist of clips that are about 7-12 minutes long. Little show blurbs to watch on your coffee breaks at work, and the like, I'd guess, was the pitch idea on that one.

Susanna, the one I've started, stars Anna Paquin and Maggie Grace. It's honestly not that compelling and it's more upsetting than anything in a way that makes my gorge rise a bit.

Anna's character is a new mother suffering an obsessive compulsive post-partum depression meltdown. Maggie's character is her stable, mature younger sister with a "real" job.

I've always wondered if I'd be a good mother. I've sought assurances in friends on that front. I used to have a terrible temper. Physically violent sometimes. It's still in me, it's just that I've learned ways to diffuse it within myself in seconds instead of letting it out. It's amazing what just stopping for a second and looking at the situation while in the situation can do. And understanding consequences is a lot of that. "If I throw my phone across the room at my boyfriend, it will hit him hard enough to hurt him, might break my phone depending on whether it hits him, might ricochet and hit something else breaking my phone AND the other thing, and then the fight will escalate, boyfriend might leave me, then I'll be out a phone and a boyfriend and have to replace thing that got broken."

But with a small, vulnerable thing that can't defend itself that's been crying for hours? I don't know how my brain would work with that. I am terrific with other people's children because you can always give them back to their parents when things get stressful. You can go to your quiet home and blare Ryan Adams and sing at the top of your lungs and not have a baby to wake up. You can always get away from the small, vulnerable thing.

And there's the dependence. Sometimes, with four cats, as much as I love them, I think, "Dear god, you are making my life so much harder." You can't just pack up and leave any place with four cats. It's hard to find apartments that will take you. People call you "Crazy Cat Lady" and they think they're hilarious. I can't even go on vacation or a trip for a few days without lining up someone to check in on the cats, change litter, replenish food and water. And that dependence is very, very minor compared to a baby. A baby that becomes a toddler that becomes a child that becomes an adolescent that becomes a teenager.

If I told Joey any of this, he would think I am only thinking this because he is freaked out and doesn't want kids right now and might never want them. While it's true I am thinking this out loud because of the conversation we've been having, it's always been there. Always.

And I know all of these fears are normal. But I'm 35. I really just want to be in a happy, stable relationship. I don't think about the future with Joey. I just love him.

I just wish he could do the same with me, be willing to consider compromises down the line, and acknowledge in a meaningful way that I have moved my whole life to make this work, and that I am willing to get rid of my cats down the line, or even sooner, to have an environment he can be with me in.

Okay. Writing this out makes me feel less like barfing.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Louisville! It's... Kinda shitty. Right now.

It has been three months and some days since my last confession.

I am in Louisville.
My apartment has roaches.
The downstairs neighbor, and cause of the roaches, is a mentally ill, opportunist, dick bag shut in who has a slightly less mentally ill "roommate" who scream at one another at least 2-5 times daily and that likes to yell nigger at him when he doesn't come to supper fast enough. To wit, neither of these men are black.
They both chain smoke, and it comes straight up into my apartment. So bad, sometimes, that the smoke actually makes my bathroom hazy (where the worst of it infiltrates). I have to close the bathroom door at night to actually sleep, turn on the ceiling fan in my bedroom, and sometimes the fan on the air conditioner near my bed that is inexplicably caulked into the window it rests in.
Thankfully, it is not cold enough that any of those helpful things matter.
Thankfully, those two mirthful residents of apartment #1 have been evicted as of Tuesday, and will be forcibly removed from the property this coming Tuesday, if they do not go willingly. Thus far, there has been no packing.
I do not expect Tuesday to be anything less than a parade of expletives and screaming 'til they are both hoarse.

Typing hoarse, I realize I have rarely, if ever, typed the word. It feels quite clumsy to my fingers.

My relationship with Joey, as a result of a lot of this, is, to put it mildly, strained. He broke up with me on Halloween night, in the parking lot of the ValuMarket where we get our groceries, where we'd parked intending to walk down the block to trivia with some of his friends. I was looking forward to it, I greatly enjoy those friends of his. They are my kind of nerds. Warm, friendly, attractive in the way that those kinds of nerds are. They remind me of many of my male friends back home, of the Dan who is not my ex, and of Steve, my Guardian Gnome. The nerds I also played trivia with in Minneapolis.

Joey had shown up an hour late, and didn't notify me that he was running late. I had been in the middle of something, work, that I'd had to stop to get ready to be picked up by him. I sat for almost an hour, in my coat and scarf. I could have been working. I could have made anywhere from $10-$100. Who knows. Such is the way of my work.

And right now every penny counts, counts to a dramatic, borderline operatic level. And he knows this.

I wouldn't say he was spoiling for a fight, but he'd been keeping several things to himself that had been bothering him, and there are certain things we do, as fallible creatures, to piss other people off when things boil too long under the surface. Whether we realize it or not. I don't think he was late, an hour late, knowing I could have been working, on purpose. I think he did what I've done a million times, and that's to occupy myself with other things that stretch into the time I'm supposed to be somewhere else, because I am mired in thoughts and feelings I can't quite make sense of. It is sabotage. Self-sabotage, relationship sabotage. So I told him plainly that not informing me was not okay. He responded tensely, and with sarcasm, that he'd been busy. Too busy, apparently, to say, "Oh hey, I'm busy over here, I'll be there closer to 7 and we can go to Target after trivia."

It came out pretty quickly that my work bothers him. A lot.

I work in the sex industry. I have, in some form or another, for years. I was a SuicideGirl (still am, as they own my "persona" on there in perpetuity due to the ugly contract hundreds of us signed because we were so thrilled for the "honor" of being named an SG), and that started ten years ago. I worked as an erotic masseuse for a year and a half before I moved here. Since July, I have been working as a cam girl.

I am neither proud nor ashamed of this as a job. I do nothing I don't want to do. I am free to choose my own hours, to deal with the people in my channel in any way I choose. If I don't like what someone says to me, I can block them. If I want to give someone a stern talking to for their disrespect, I can. And I do. In about four hours of work per day, I usually make around $100. I am hoping to increase that amount to two or three times that, and to be online more often than I have been.

But, I just started going full bore on this about two weeks ago, once I started being able to be in my place more, once I was able to unpack (the fumigations and roach issues have been enormously stressful on me and on the four cats I've had to move several times to live with strangers since they can't stay with Joey). Once I was no longer almost entirely living at Joey's (which is just about the worst thing that can happen to a new relationship, no matter how much you care about one another. These things have to breathe).

So, I guess it's bothering him now. It's a reality, and not an abstract thing. I am actively getting attention of men who pay me to see my body without clothing. I am very comfortable with this, and I am good at it. It's not as lewd as one would think. A lot of the time, it is fun, and I spend a lot of time laughing with these people. For every 68 year old war veteran who is offering me $100,000 to impregnate me (good lord), there are a dozen men who are between 21 and 37 who tell me I'm beautiful, treat me with respect, and tip me with kind words, often not even expecting a flash of flesh in return. There are a lot of lonely people in this world, and I have always been good with lonely men.

In massage, I formed much more serious bonds. It was physical work, first of all, I was actually touching them. Sensually. I have enough of a compartmentalization capability that it didn't matter that much to me most days. It was work. But some men were gross, entitled jackasses who believed they were going to enjoy a handy despite the repeated, clear language in all of my emails that that is not what would take place.

But yet, I did become friends with some of these men, and even this morning, I thought, "I should write to Jeff and Chris and see how they're doing." Jeff has a marriage that doesn't involve much affection, with a wife who is depressed, chronically. He loves her, but he goes to women like me because it is a grey area. It's not "technically" cheating, in most of their minds. They enjoy physical bonds, snuggling, I would kiss their faces and necks, their backs, rub my breasts on them. And in the end, we would masturbate together. It is a strange thing to feel like good friends to these men who had such sensual encounters with me that I got no real pleasure out of. Yes, I orgasmed, I could probably get off looking at a bowl of maggots. Mind over matter. And I'm not saying these encounters were anything even approaching a bowl of maggots. Anyway. It wasn't an intimate bond. It was work. But still, they became friends.

A couple of my former clients are Facebook friends. A couple have come to see my band play. They are respectful of the boundaries I put in place. That's the world I cultivated in that work for myself.

And now, with cam, it's a similar, but far, far more removed situation. I have never been a prude, I have never had any real sexual hangups. Sex and sexuality are a many splendored thing.

Would I be jealous if the tables were turned? Absofuckinglutely. In fact, I honestly don't know that I would do much better with it than Joey is. But I wouldn't break up with him over it, and all I can do is reassure him that while yes, men are ogling me and getting off while doing it and paying me for the pleasure, I am doing a job, and that's all it is to me. I am forming less of a bond with these men than I did with the majority of my massage clients. And good lord, if I can get this to work for me financially, maybe, finally, I'll have some money sacked away and I'll be okay.

This move has been absolutely fraught since the moment I got here. I suppose I have come to a level of comfort with the baseline of stress, but fucking hell, that I've been working on cam and making the money I need to pull ahead and no longer rely on Joey to keep me fed (I couldn't cam while living at his house, where his sister and best friend live for obvious reasons, nor at my place, given it was too roachy and utterly unpacked until about three weeks ago). I'd had my bills paid through October from my grandma's estate money. But him feeding me, and footing the bill to drive us to Minneapolis over my birthday weekend for my band's last show, and fronting the money to board my cats during fumigations, well, that's taken its toll on us, on him. So coming into my own again financially has eased so much. Until he said he couldn't deal with the work I'm doing.

Which, is kind of an ultimatum. My other option, as a 35 year old woman with no real education is to be a waitress, work 16 hour days, get sexually harassed daily and have no recourse for fear of losing my job. I did that shit for 18 years, off and on. I know where that leads. It leads nowhere. It leads to frustration, feeling small, and depression. Not to mention illness from working long hours around tons of people and consistently not getting enough sleep.

Fuck that noise.

And I am bored with writing this. The other deeper issue is that he is worried, because he is 26 (nearly 27) and not interested in marriage and kids, that I will feel I have wasted my time and will resent him if I stay with him. Fuck that noise too.

It's on the same line as "You're moving in two months, let's break up now to spare the heartache later." It's fear, and it's a cop out. And it's silly.

To end a mostly happy relationship because you're afraid it'll be harder later is just about the most ass-backwards love-related self-sabotagey thing I can think of.


I haven't slept next to Joey since Sunday night. We're talking on Wednesday. No point in being pessimistic about it, but shit snacks.

I want a bagel.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Oh Good, Grief.

Twice now out of nowhere, I've found myself sobbing in my bed, clutching my grandmother's ashes. Once about three weeks ago, and again last night. I'm having trouble with my mother, it seems that her way of channeling her grief may be to grill me and lash out at me about my life choices. By all visible accounts, I am as happy and stable in every way as I've ever been, which isn't saying there's not room for improvement (note opening sentence), but her supportiveness and open-mindedness of a few months ago appears to have reverted back to the judgement and lack of support I've received my whole life.

I'm moving to Louisville, now, in just a month. Friends were looking for a place for September first, and they love my home and were here last night to fill out paperwork. Assuming my landlords find no issue with their rental history or employment confirmation, they're in here in just over a month. Money from grandma's estate comes in, supposedly, around the same time. My mother doesn't seem to know any more details, and I don't want to grill my uncle who is the executor, since I know he's being bombarded by similar questions from other members of the family.

What this means is that I may still be living here when my friends move in. They hardly have any furniture, so I'll have moved most of my stuff out to be stored using these fun pod things we've got these days that come with a month of free storage, and then they'll ship said pods to wherever they need to go. My friends also want to possibly keep a lot of my furniture. In short, it's been made clear that I am welcome to stay here a week or two until I can get things sorted financially to make the move.

But, I am hoping it doesn't come to that. I am going to Louisville next week, and I am going to ask Joey if it wouldn't make him uncomfortable to loan me the money so that I can have everything settled and get there asap. He wants me there asap, he's offered to help me financially several times lately, and he's got the money to do it, plus I know that I can pay him back in a matter of just a couple of weeks.

Back to the sobbing, though. This week, my mom decided to text me, insinuating I'd sell off all my grandmother's antiques and other things I've got that are of some value, stating that "the past" dictates she ask this. I have never once sold off a single thing from my grandmother, or things that friends and family have given me over the years. If anything, it could be said that I hold onto things well past their value because of their sentimental worth. There is no way in hell I will get rid of any of these things. What I may part with are a fair number of mid-century pieces of furniture that are worth something and have almost no sentimental value to me. That's it. I have collected these things over the years as giveaways from various places or pulled off of boulevards. I don't know where she gets these ideas, and she's ALWAYS had these ideas about me.

She also grills me about my work. Though it's more complicated than the pat answer of, "I freelance, mom," she also has no reason to assume I'm not getting by better than ever. I haven't asked for money but once in probably two years. That doesn't appear to count for anything. She is hardwired in the belief that "work" means going to another place, punching a clock, and getting a single paycheck from one employer. When I tell her that that is just not how things are for a lot of people these days, that what I'm doing is what a dozen of my friends and acquaintances do, it goes right over her head. When I tell her that the money is erratic and yes, sometimes I'm really, really broke and struggle, but that I am happier and healthier and more stable in every way than I've ever been and set my own schedule and don't answer to anyone but myself, that all sounds like laziness and frivolity to her.

It was so nice, for the few months after Chris and I broke up, to have the mother I've always wanted. It's not easy to adjust to the idea that that was just her knowing her mother was dying and softening for a while. Apparently, we are back to the same damn thing that's broken my heart for the past 30+ years.

I prayed to my grandmother that if she could, if she could hear me, that she would let her daughter know that this is not helping me. That this behavior, which she believes is "support," and "love," only serves to drive me from her. My grandmother never approved of the way my mother treated me. None of my grandparents did. They saw the way she treated my sister as indulgent and over-protective, and her treatment of me unsupportive, often mean, and sometimes abusive. My sister has had her problems (conflict avoidance to a fault, a sniping brattiness here and there), but she has mostly outgrown that, and as a result, we've gotten closer (I, too, have obviously overcome several things as well), and she's less close to my mom.

In any case, one of my grandparents heard me. I had a nightmare, a dream I was in a car, something old, a sedan with a bench seat. My family may have been in the back, I can't recall. But I know my dad's father was driving. A country road, and the way the sky goes green just before a tornado. I used to dream about tornadoes all the time. In every one of these dreams, no one saved me, and I had to save everyone else. It was just my responsibility. Dreams about nuclear bombs, too, where I was the only one who seemed to know how to take care of everyone and save them from themselves. I used to have these nightmares two or three times a month. In the last few years, I almost never have them. I can't remember the last time.

Out of nowhere, a huge bank of black clouds turned into FOUR huge tornadoes in the fields just to the left of this gravel road. My grandfather just looked at me and smiled, and I smiled too, turning to the back seat to tell everyone it was going to be okay. Grandpa took a sharp right and drove right into the field on the other side of the road, toward blue skies. We both grinned the whole while. Once we were clear of the storm, I laughed and told him he could stop driving, that we could wait it out and go back. But he just kept smiling, and told me something to the effect of, "I am going to get you as far away from those storms as I can."

Putain de pluie. Putain de pluie. Putain de pluie. Fucking rain.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fail on the way to win

It is taking some adjustment to be in a happy, healthy relationship. Joey accepts me, unconditionally. He is patient and loving. With him, I am not pushy, or intense, and when he tells me he's eaten some horrible food covered in cheese and I chastise him, he tells me to push harder because he wants to be healthy--he's got myriad seasonal allergies and has a shit immune system and I'm trying to help him eat better, and he loves that I care and give him helpful suggestions of things he can eat that are healthier. With him, I haven't experienced any anxiousness at all, at any moment, aside from the anxiety and frustration I feel that he is so far away from me and there's not much to be done about it right now. It's been three and a half weeks since I last saw him, and my finances are currently in a shambles (it's the 7th and I have $0 toward rent, so rent plus other bills and debts I'm behind on total $2574.39, all due before August 5th. Normally, that would be totally doable, but my work has slowed to a crawl, and I'm transitioning into other work that so far is also proving to be a bust. It seemed like this new job would be something that would really open me up to getting squared financially and starting some savings and finally being on my way to buying a house, but it's been completely disappointing thus far. It is something that can potentially pick up, though, so I'm going to persevere. And quit the other job to devote more time to this.

So, the happiness and excitement I felt initially when I began this work has resolved itself as the image of a brick wall, again. The wall I've seen for the last year, the wall that says, "Sarah, you're almost 35, and you're a failure."

Today, I realized something important, though. I realized that having someone like Joey in my life does not make me a failure. I have had people love me, care for me, be patient with me, but not like this. He is a natural caretaker of the anxious and the neurotic. His actions are preemptive. I never react badly because there's nothing to react badly to. He curtails my usual fears by simply being himself. Instead of being frustrated that we haven't seen one another and that our next meeting is uncertain because I can't afford to get there (he's got a 9-5 M-F job, so coming to see me doesn't make much sense, especially since flying is several times more expensive than me traveling to him by bus), he just says that everything will be okay, that he'll be there any time I can get to him. He tells me he misses me every day, but his patience is contagious. It's okay, it's all okay. Three weeks may feel like a long time, but by October 1st, which is two months and three weeks away, I'll be living there, and I can see him all the time.

Yes, I'm moving to Louisville. I will be getting an inheritance of $5,000 from my grandma's estate, and it should arrive within the next month or so. I had really hoped I could piggyback another few thousand onto that and buy a house, but I will have to wait. It is what it is, and it is what I have to accept.

I am learning how to make sense of someone good. I am feeling my neural pathways reset. To stop craving extremes, and to accept that being with someone so even-keeled is going to mean being bored or not wholly stimulated all the time. I am going to have to learn to be easier going. And I am.

What's most noticeable to me is how I perceive the world around me now. I have always made excuses for bad behavior because I understand it. One of my first therapists always cautioned me against this behavior in myself, and while I took his advice to heart, I was never able to act on it. I find myself doing it now. There are so many things about Chris and our relationship that were destructive. From the first hours. Within the first 24 hours, we had gotten into two minor fights and he'd made me cry by being insensitive and rude. We had an intense connection, and we got on famously in so many ways, but looking back on that, that kind of constant intensity and tension, it frightens me a little. He is not a bad person, but that was not a good relationship. It pains me so much to say that, and to acknowledge it, and I find myself feeling angry with myself and at him. I know what I could have done to be better, but I also know he needs a lot of help to be better himself. I am also seeing how I have been an enabler to so many of my lovers and boyfriends and friends. Chris is a mean drunk. And he IS a drunk. I made excuses for him, when he told me he was an alcoholic, I told him that it wasn't true. But it is true. He doesn't get through more than a day or two without getting drunk. And he is rude, and unpredictable, and he blacks out when he drinks, and so much of our fighting happened in those situations, and yet I always encouraged us drinking a bottle of wine together, or him drinking when we were out. I, and Chris, and Lindsay, have been operating in the mindset of drinking = fun. But I'm finding out that's simply not true. I go out and don't drink or drink half the amount I used to, and I am still having a ton of fun. I'm just choosing much better people to have fun with, these days.

I may have curbed Drunk, Slutty Sarah a while ago, but Drunk Sarah remained. A friend is going through AA. She's really together and amazing now. I was an enabler to her as well, and I'm ashamed. She is far more fun now than she ever was drunk, but yet I always encouraged her drinking, even though I knew she didn't know when to stop.

Things are changing. It's so good. Every day is still a challenge, but I am surrounded by the love and support of my family and friends and a man with a tremendous heart. I'll be a winner yet, by gum!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Baby Steps

I'm trying not to over analyze, let things happen. Try some thought processes I've learned in therapy, and avoid other behaviors that have found me feeling and reacting too intensely in the past.

Yesterday, Joey and I made plans to meet in Chicago next weekend, to stay with friends of mine in their lovely new house, where we'll have our own room. Feeling a little panicky after we talked about it, I told him I needed him to come into this not really expecting anything, that I have to approach things conservatively. I'm not freaking out, I'm just feeling cautious about it. Sex tends to be how I get to know people. It's how I see them vulnerable, it's where I gather and sort the most data, in the spreadsheet that makes up the whole of who they are.

That's another thing we talked about in therapy, that I'm very logical and rational and I want hard information, but yet I am also incredibly emotional. These things, obviously, fight against one another.

Mostly, I don't want to feel pressured. I want to see him, and feel comfortable with him and ease into spending time with him.

It always amuses me how problems in my previous relationship for the other person become something I'm suddenly feeling myself or hyper aware of in the next relationship. I do work really hard to see things from other peoples' perspectives. It's just not always an instantaneous thing. Sometimes, years later, something will happen, and suddenly I'll understand everything that someone was upset with me for or criticized me about. It's like hearing a song you've known all your life and suddenly hearing the lyrics clearly, whereas before, you just mumbled along. Or thought the words were something else entirely.

I observed a lot of these things while with my family while my grandma was dying. Certain things my mom's side of the family does that I had had an inkling of an understanding of, that I now "get."

For instance, arriving at the hospital, to see my grandma, my mom, sister, father and I sat around her bed, talking to her. I wrote about this before, we tried to get her to eat. She did, some. Not enough, but some.

Then, my uncle and aunt came in and we left. When we all were back at the house, one by one, my mother and her brothers voiced some way in which they were special. "We got her to eat!" "Oh, she always takes my calls, no matter how tired she is." "She got really emotional while we were there." It's never said with a tone of celebration, it's all subtle, passive-aggressive one upsmanship. And it's gross. And I see how I do that in my day to day life, trying to prove that MY contribution to a person's life is somehow more valuable, and that ultimately, they are successful or somehow achieved something because of me.

And it's not quite as gross as that, because it does come from a place of caring. Mostly, I think it's part of the abandonment issue schematic; I have to prove why I'm valuable to you so you can't leave me because you'll realize you can't do this without me. With my mom and her brothers, it's a little more sinister.

In my life, it's also something that drives people from me. I see that now. I am not responsible for them, or their success, any more than they would be responsible for mine.

Baby steps, in any case, with Joey. LOL. Joey. Baby. Joey, baby kangaroo. It's bad enough that he's 26, does he need to have a child's name, too!? Oy.

Baby steps. I suppose my biggest fear is this will be something that fizzles fast for me, that it will function as rebound, and I will hurt him. I don't want to keep him at arm's length, I don't want to move too fast, and I don't want to write checks I can't cash. There's a happy medium in there, and I think we're doing pretty well in that frame.