For my sons

I don’t know if this is a subject you want to hear from me. I imagine not. But I think I am the best placed to give you this lesson.

I don’t envy either of you. The world is a very different place than it was when I was your age. But some things stay the same.

The world is filled with images of how we ‘are supposed’ be. Instagram, Facebook, advertisements, magazines, film…all telling us what is attractive. This is for men and for women. The pressure is there for both.

Remember one thing. Someone, somewhere made the decision of what ‘attractive’ is. They then published it for one reason only – so we will buy what they are selling so we can look and feel like that. Keep that in mind every time you see an advert for abs, or for bulking up or whatever else men are subjected to.

My advice? Be healthy. Exercise, eat well, keep clean and tidy and dress well. That, my sons, will be enough. No one is enamoured with someone who never brushes their teeth.

I’m sure you realise though, that the pressure on women is perhaps even greater and always has been. Not only are they presented with professionally made-up women with their perfect hair and make up, these women are airbrushed and filtered. Whilst the male physique never really changes from a fashion sense, a woman’s certainly does. At this moment, round bottoms and tiny waists are in fashion. How ridiculous is that boys? A woman’s shape can be in fashion or not. What message is that giving them?

So for that reason, here is my advice to you.

No matter how beautiful you find a woman there will ALWAYS be a part of herself that she hates. She might even be unhappy with most of herself.

How will you know? It’s the part that she covers up: with make up, with clothes, with her hands. It might be the parts that she is always working on – a new diet or exercise plan, a new cream or make up product.

Make no mistake, whilst she wants to improve herself for her own wellbeing, don’t be fooled. If you are with her, she is doing it for you too. If not, then for whoever she wants to find. How much that is an incentive to her will be different for every woman but it will be there. Why? Because we all want acceptance. We all want to be needed and wanted and desired by someone else.

So this is where is becomes difficult for you. How do you navigate this emotionally difficult situation? How can you seem supportive and non judgemental but not dismissive of her feelings? That my sons, is the tricky part.

Whilst it is not your job to boost the self esteem of every woman you ever date, it is certainly your role to support her with that difficult task.

How?

By noticing.

On the days where she has tried extra hard with her hair or make up or clothes, tell her you’ve noticed. On the days she gets out of bed with her hair dishevelled and wearing cuddly pyjamas, tell her how much you love her eyes or smile or whatever else made you want to be with her.

Tell her, this woman you love, that to you she is perfect how she is, flaws and all. Tell her you don’t care if she thinks her bum is flat or boobs are small or stomach is flabby or whatever else. You love her how she is – healthy and happy and her.

No one is perfect boys. No one. Maybe there are parts of her that deep down you wish were a little different. Know this – we each could describe an construct a perfect person to be with. But what is perfect for us may still not be perfect in their eyes. Loving someone is loving all of them.

At the same time, if you say these things too much then it can have the opposite effect that you were trying to achieve. She won’t believe you and think you insincere. I know that it is a difficult balance, and it will be different with every woman. Again I give you this advice…Notice. Pay attention.

Never, ever tell a girl she is too fat or thin even in anger, even if she is. The moment you say those words you will lose something in your relationship which you will never get back. If you are worried about her weight then support her with it when she asks. Exercise together, cook together, encourage and support never criticise or point out her mistakes.

A woman’s self esteem is fragile boys, no matter how confident she seems. If she loves you, it becomes all the more delicate. Remember that.

Hairline

Day two of sulking went better than I thought it would.

After posting my blog yesterday morning, I had real think about everything I had said and had written. I decided that if I was right then he needed more love, not less. He needed honesty.

So I sent my morning text, as usual, but I also told him that I had been thinking about him all morning which was true. But not something I would necessarily tell him, normally.

I got a smile in response and so I called him, not knowing if he was continuing the call ban from yesterday. He was still in bed, sleepy eyed, but we chatted and went through our routine. He was still quiet but I expected that.

As usual, the call ended as he got to work and I was happy with the nearly return to normal. So far so good. Patience and kindness is the way forward.

Not fifteen minutes later, he surprised me by calling. There had been an issue at work and he was on his way home. I was pleased he had called me and shared the problem. When he got home however, he was a little snippy and the call ended a little abruptly. But, considering the previous few days and the morning he had just had, I swallowed down my irrational fears and comforted myself with the fact that the morning had gone better than expected.

Early afternoon, I was doing some reading when I had an unexpected epiphany moment. Everything slotted into place: my anxiety, my behaviour. Things that I couldn’t understand. It’s like the muddle of emotions and thoughts and fears clarified so I could see the way forward. I love it when that happens.

I’ve realised that I am not being true to myself in this relationship, not all the time anyway. I try to hide some of my vulnerability: I hide my thoughts and feelings sometimes, or at least try to. I lie. And those things are not who I am. I’m honest to the point of being blunt. I don’t lie. And with those close to me, I openly share my feelings.

So, it figures, that if I’m not being true to myself, this is causing anxiety. It’s adding to my fear of losing him because I’m not showing my true self and I’m hiding things which then make him anxious. My anxiety and fear then builds to the point that I do something stupid which then causes further insecurity for him.

For him to love me, I have to be myself, vulnerable and honest and all. If I’m not myself then he’s not loving me, he’s loving something false. If I’m more honest I will be calmer. And if I’m calmer there will be less anxiety and less screw ups and definitely less drama. Annoyingly, these are things he has said to me already.

Around 3pm, I took the plunge and called him. I felt nervous but I had to say this stuff, get it off my chest. I changed my mind the moment he answered and was about to end the call but he asked me to tell him what was on my mind, so I went for it.

I could see that he appreciated my honesty and openness. He denied there was a problem still and he said he had no problem with me. He wanted clarification on the times where I had hidden some feelings and thoughts. In the end he said he was happy with my decision simply because I was happy with it. And he certainly seemed happier.

Later on I got a phonecall and he initiated both videochats too – everything was back to normal. The last call involved him once again making me laugh and my children got in on the joke, drawn to the sound of my persistent laughter.

This morning he called again and seems much more like himself. So, maybe the crack is hairline and nothing that a bit of reglazing will sort.

Breaking a plate.

John Lewis

I really wish I had published my last post. In it, I wrote down a conversation I had with my boyfriend. He said something so romantic and poignant that I felt blissfully happy.

Disappointingly, I have to report that we have met another bump in the road. A week after the last one.

My experience of relationships is that there are stages where things seem to go wrong and this is often when they tend to end. Around the three/four month mark seems to be a common one – when the lust and honeymoon period end and you realise that actually, this person isn’t right for you. Sometimes around six months. Then around two years – this is usually when one partner wants more commitment than the other is willing to give.

I’m hoping, with all my heart, that we overcome this six month bump in the road.

There are some factors that are having a real impact on our relationship. One, is that long distance relationships are not easy, not easy for anyone. Take all the usual insecurities and anxiety you feel in a new relationship and double it, triple it and you’re somewhere close. Of course, when you really love that person and feel that connection, no problem is insurmountable.

Two is the fact that I was unable to make my second trip to see him in April. I think this would have consolidated things for both of us, either way. I think, if it had gone as well as we both expected, we would have both felt more confident about our feelings and our future together. Instead it’s deepened the missing, added to the anxiety of the unknown.

Three, is coronavirus. Not only did this stop my visit, it’s potentially going to prevent a future one for sometime. It’s meant that we are both in lock down and whilst that initially meant we have more time to talk to one another, there is nothing to talk about. So you want to be together but there are silences. Most of those time we accept those silences because we just want to be in each other’s company. Sometimes, they cause an issue. See below.

Four – more recently, my boyfriend has started Ramadan. I have to state here that I fully respect his religion and his choice. I am amazed at what he is doing and am proud of him for doing it. The issue is, I had no idea how much it would affect his general mood and behaviour. He’s exhausted, most of the time. He’s sleeping in odd patterns. He’s quiet and grumpy. And for an anxious person like myself, far too many erroneous conclusions have been jumped to which have caused problems.

Take yesterday. Relatively good day communicating. Usual laughing and joking. Regular contact. All good.

But then, his last call of the day (which has been occurring just after his first meal of the day when he breaks his fast) went wrong. Typically the call doesn’t last too long. He eats, he gets drowsy, he falls asleep. I can cope with that. I understand. Occasionally though, that short time between the start of the call and him getting drowsy is filled with… Nothing. He’s silent. He’s staring into space.

I need to state a fact here: he is the silence filler. He’s the one that cracks jokes, makes me laugh, fills the void. I am pretty useless. I try to make conversation, but go back to point three. By this time, there isn’t much to talk about. If we were together, no doubt we would just cuddle together, watch TV, content in the physical connection and silence. It’s clear that’s what we want. But it’s very hard to achieve when you are staring into a phone. And have anxiety.

It doesn’t matter that he has told me before – more than once – that his silence isn’t to do with me. Sometimes, he’s just in one of those moods. It doesn’t mean there is a problem or I have done something wrong.

So, the fact that I asked him what was wrong and he said ‘nothing’, should have been enough. The fact that he also said ‘it isn’t you’ should have been enough. Or even that he looked exhausted and we had a good day.

Oh no. Idiot here strikes again.

I made a comment. Something that has really hurt his feelings. I knew as soon as I said it that I shouldn’t have. I didn’t even mean it. It was born of frustration and missing him and childish selfishness and anxiety. I did wrong, not him. I own that. I’ve apologised, profusely… explained myself.

My boyfriend is amazing in a multitude of ways. If he upsets me, he is apologetic and caring. He won’t let me off the phone until he knows I’m OK. He owns his mistakes. If I am upset because of my anxiety or a perceived (and often imaginary) problem, he is equally caring and patient. He talks me through, settles me. Leads my thinking into a better place.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said the other way round. If I upset him, he sulks. It takes time for him to come down from that – I, on the other hand am notoriously volcanic: I erupt, behave badly, quickly realise, apologise and forgive. Move on.

I will state again, this is my fault. I have taken a time where he just wants to be in my company and I have cheapened it and thrown it back in his face.

But. I have apologised. I have tried to explain.

He has said I did nothing wrong – we both know I did. His behaviour has changed accordingly so I know full well he is still hurt.

He’s not ghosting me. He’s still in contact, still answering calls and texting. But he is sulking.

If the past is anything to go by, he will slowly and surely come round. I will need to be patient and positive – like he is with me. Each day things will return to normal until it is forgotten.

Time will tell though. Six months in, we are experiencing each other’s flaws and working out if we can accept them. I know full well you can’t change them.

Mark Manson talks about China plates. That a big problem in a relationship is like dropping a plate. It breaks in two. But with hard work and determination, you can fix it. It may be a little weaker than before, but in time you will not notice that weakness and it will not impede on its use.

But break that plate two or three times and you have problems.

I don’t know if we’ve broken the plate. I don’t know if it’s just a chip – something you accept and get used to and eventually ignore. It might even have shattered and we are both trying, and maybe failing, to put it back together.

I don’t believe it is the last one. But one day it might be. One day, my stupid mouth and even stupider insecurity is going to smash that plate. Or maybe, his post-stupidity behaviour might cause me to smash that plate like an enthusiastic Greek.

I’m calmer than the last time he behaved like this. I was tempted to tell him, since I’ve apologised, to get back in contact when he’s forgiven me. But only for a second. I’m being patient, like he is with me. I was the one in the wrong and I hurt him. Yes, he’s being childish. Yes, despite telling me there is no problem, he is behaving otherwise and he is not in the right mood to discuss it.

So, be it a scratch, a chip, a break or a smash… Watch this space.

Boyfriend advice.

I don’t care what job you have. As long as you have one and take pride in what you do.

I don’t care how much money you earn. Just be careful with how much you spend.

I don’t care about your qualifications. Pieces of paper do not truly show a person’s intelligence or wit. It’s shown in their ability to listen and communicate and their willingness to keep learning. It’s shown in their tolerance and respect of diversity.

I don’t care what car you have. They all have four wheels and an engine. Keep it clean and safe and take me places and I will be happy. Oh. And make sure you can afford it.

I don’t care if you find other women attractive. Other women are attractive and most are more attractive than me. I know that, so you don’t need to tell me that they are – I just need to feel like you want me, regardless of that and that you will always be faithful and loyal.

I don’t need you to tell me I’m beautiful every day. Tell me when you notice things – remember to mention, now and again, when you like my smile, or my hair or how I’ve dressed. Those little moments add up to a lot. If I’ve put effort in to look nice, you need to put effort in to tell me you’ve noticed.

I don’t need you to like my family and friends. Just respect that I do, and be polite and courteous to them. If I want us to spend time with them sometimes, do it to make me happy. Because it will.

I don’t care if you don’t wear designer clothes. Just be clean and dress up when the occasion requires it. I will always tell you when you look good.

I don’t need expensive gifts to feel loved. I can buy things myself. A small thing that shows a lot of thought is much, much more important to me. The thought really does count.

I don’t care if you don’t go to the gym regularly. If you enjoy going, go. If you need to work out to be healthy, great. I don’t care about ripped muscles, six packs etc. Just look after yourself and encourage me to do the same.

I don’t care about going to fancy restaurants, hotels etc etc. Those places mean much more when they are for special occasions. Just be with me, focus on me – look at me when we talk, not your phone or the TV. Hold my hand when we go for walks. Give me a kiss when you walk past me. Ask me how my day has been and care about the answer. Cook with me, clean with me. Watch films that we both like – ask me to watch something with you. Suggest places we can travel together – I just want to experience life with you, from the boring to the spectacular.

I don’t need you to spend every moment with me. I like that you have a life and interests outside of me. Just make sure you keep me involved by telling me all about them – I want to share your happiness. And let me know you miss me when I’m not around.

I don’t need to orgasm every time we have sex. I can feel pleasure without an orgasm. I do need foreplay though. Every time. Focus on that instead. Make me feel like you want sex because of me. That you want me. If you do that, I will probably orgasm most times anyway.

Tell me, show me, that you love me, every single day. Forgive me when I’ve done wrong and I’m sorry – you don’t need to punish me as I will do that myself. Every day, make me feel like I’m yours, that I belong with you, and I will be faithful and loyal and loving for the rest of our lives together.

Advice

Happiness comes when you are at peace with yourself.

Facebook friend

So my sunshine and dark clouds mood has continued throughout the day.

I’ve been trying hard to process everything, as I do. As the hours went on, I came to the conclusion that whilst he was still in regular contact, despite his mood, I have to believe that there is not an issue between us.

The only problem with that was, the hours crept by and he didn’t get back in contact. But I had decided that, as he is not himself, it’s important to let him take the lead. Hounding him when he’s not in the mood is not a good idea. But as two hours became three became four, panic started to set in.

At this point I did three things that helped. I spoke to my sisters, I went for a walk and I read some articles online which helped me gain some perspective. I found a site called Markmanson.net. He’s quite informal in his writing and I like his tone. I read quite a few of his articles and what he said made sense:

Whilst reading the above, Wild Card called me. Once again he was a little more like himself – each conversation seems to inch him slowly back to the norm. We talked a little, we laughed. There were still some awkward silences and at one point he was a little snappy.

Being honest, as the call ended, the tides had turned a little. Whilst glad we had some semblance of normality, I actually considered that sometimes the way he had spoken to me was not acceptable and at one stage I had pointed that out to him. He is also still withholding some of the affectionate things he does and I again thought about how unfair that was.

He has said I have done nothing wrong, so why then behave that way? It’s one thing to be a little tired and irritable but another to be sullen.

I decided to heed someone of my own advice. This situation is challenging for everyone at the moment. I’m not making any decisions and I’m certainly not going to jump to any conclusions. I’m going to be patient and understanding but I’m not going to be walked over.

Funnily enough, whilst making these decisions, I received a few messages from the German man again: He pops up now and again for a chat. After a bit of conversation he told me the above quote. And it stuck with me.

How can I be at peace with myself?

Wild Card makes me happy most of the time. Why?

Because he makes me feel loved and wanted. And when that happens, I am at peace with myself. Because for him to love me and want me, I must be good enough.

So I crave his attention for that feeling. Because, as he is so attractive (in every way, not just physical) , his approval makes me so.

But, who makes his opinion count? I do. By showing me any positive attention, he has made me feel worthy. He doesn’t need to keep doing it – he has already done it. I don’t need him to keep doing it.

I don’t need him to justify that I am worthy.

I am successful. I have worked hard throughout my life to get where I am, without help. I worked two jobs to go through university. I worked to get myself through my postgrad in teaching.

I have a house, a car, a job. These are all materialistic things which show my success. But what about me as a person?

This is harder. And because I’m not comfortable with proclaiming my own virtues, I will recount what people have told me.

I’ve been told that I am a good teacher and that I am approachable. Pupils feel comfortable coming to me with their issues. Likewise, some staff have come to me when they haven’t been able to go anywhere else.

I’ve been told that I am beautiful and pretty. I’ve been told that I look younger than I am. People like my eyes, my lips, my smile, my bottom. I am attractive to some people.

I am strong and independent. I am a good listener. I’m not afraid to say what is right and stuck up for what is right.

I am loyal and faithful. I am honest. I have an infinite amount of love and will shower those I care about with that love. I will work hard to make them happy. I am sensitive and have good emotional intelligence. I am sensual and sexual.

And so, I have to let go. I have to stop seeking control. Him loving me or not does not make me worthy – I was that already. If he decides I’m not the one for him it is going to hurt like hell (it hurts just writing about it) but that doesn’t mean I’m not good enough or pretty enough. It just means I wasn’t right for him.

And that’s a bitter pill to swallow because I thought that we were. Maybe we are, maybe we are not. But I can’t force that. Worrying about it doesn’t change it. Willing it to be the truth doesn’t make it the truth. I can’t make him love me or want me.

He called back less than half an hour later and asked me what was wrong. I think he knew that he had been ‘off’ on the previous conversation and this was his way of acknowledgement – he was giving me an opportunity to bring it up. I didn’t tell him. We talked briefly but he was really tired. The call ended and I finally got my kiss.

Distance – 17th April, 2020 (daily prompt)

Oh WordPress! You couldn’t have chosen a more apt word for me today.

Today, my decree absolute – my divorce – came through. I am legally no longer married.

It is a very surreal feeling. I thought I would feel something but at the moment I feel very little. I don’t hate my ex, we actually get on well. I’m not sorry our marriage ended (I was about to write the opposite until I realised it wasn’t true). I am sorry that it failed and caused hurt. But I am glad that now, the distance between is is finalised. The end of a chapter.

What it has done, is added validity to my new relationship. In my culture, dating whilst separated means nothing. Not so in his. It’s another step towards being with him.

So, on that note, my post today will be about my experiences of a long distance relationship. (I met him online just under six months ago)

  • First of all, no matter what anyone else tells you, you can absolutely fall in love with someone over the Internet and without actually meeting them physically. I certainly did.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of videochat though. For me, this is how I truly got to/am getting to know him. I would be very wary of anyone who refuses to videochat with you. Videochat means that you get to know them – their facial expressions and gestures, their habits and homelives.
  • Regular communication and routine is vital and a sign that your relationship is progressing. My boyfriend messages me every morning and we always videochat in the evening. As time has moved on, this has evolved – school holidays and corona-quarantine has led to more videochats throughout the day.
  • If there is any reason that your regular routine is going to be interrupted it is essential to let your other half know, ideally beforehand but if not, as soon as you can. Abrupt changes to routine can cause anxiety, jealousy and unnecessary concern.
  • On that note, anxiety and jealousy are heightened in an LDR, particularly in the beginning. This is not just from my own angst ridden experiences but common knowledge. You can worry about the tone of a text, a missed call, a change in routine, an unexpected interruption, a mood change… And if you cannot get hold of your loved one, your mind will work overtime until they get in touch.
  • Without a doubt, trust and communication are the most important things in a relationship, even more so in an LDR. I also think they are initially harder to achieve in an LDR because all you have are words and frequent calls to base this on. But without trust and good communication, a LDR is not going to work. I’m working hard on this each and every day.
  • Part of the trust issue will undoubtedly come from the opinions of some friends and family. You will have to accept that some of the people you love and respect will not be able to accept your relationship. They will not like or understand it. They will be negative. You will also learn, very quickly, about the prejudices and bias of people you have trusted. This will be even more pertinent if, like me, your other half is from another country or culture. Whilst being cautious is important, and most of the people around you will just be looking out for you, you are the only one that truly knows him/her and your relationship.
  • That being said, exercise caution at first particularly if you meet online. There are enough fraudsters out there to break anyone’s heart and that’s the least they could do. Do your research, trust your instincts and keep an open mind. Having a trusted someone at home that you can talk things through is vital – they may see things that you may not and this could be a positive thing for your relationship too (my sisters have successfully pointed out my over worrying many times).
  • If they are from another culture, do your research. You need to understand it in order to understand them: their ideas, beliefs and therefore their reactions and expectations. Researching his culture was some of the best advice I ever received and it was right here from a fellow blogger. It gave me understanding and something to talk to him about.
  • Similarly, don’t underestimate the language barriers. My boyfriend has good and rapidly improving English but some – both hilarious and serious – situations have been caused by language misunderstandings.
  • Some people may disagree with me on this one, but I would suggest meeting up as soon as you are comfortable to and able. You are never really going to know if your relationship has a future until you’ve spent time together. For me, I knew within an hour – when my nerves and shyness allowed me to really see him. But over the course of the week, all the little things he did – things he wasn’t even aware of – are what I fell even deeper in love with.
  • Don’t underestimate the mundane and every day – little details about your day, photos of what you have done and where you have been make them feel a part of your life. My favourite time with my boyfriend is when he props me up on the dining table and I watch and listen as he and his family have tea and talk. I can’t understand and can’t join in but I am there and part of his everyday life.

Finally, you will have to accept that this relationship will be difficult at times. You have the challenges that every new relationship brings AND those that come from distance. You are going to miss them like crazy, each and every day. You are going to crave the physical contact – even just holding hands – more than you have for anyone else. But it’s when you realise that you’d rather have that feeling than holding hands with anyone else that you know that this relationship has a future.

There are lots of blogs, Web pages, YouTube videos and Facebook groups full of advice out there. Don’t be afraid to use them. You are not alone.

Readjustment to reality: Feast and Famine

After a romantic and fun filled week, then a weekend being apart but crammed with ‘I love you, I miss you’ and multiple video chats, the last two days have been really tough.

As I explained in my last post, Wild Card and his family made an 8 hour car journey on Monday as they were going on holiday.

I had a few messages throughout the day – he was driving after all – and he messaged when he arrived.

Later, we had a very brief video chat whilst he was out at a cafe with his family and then we had a couple of longer text conversations throughout the evening, including one late at night whilst we were both in bed.

I should be happy with that, shouldn’t I? But, I’m not. He preoccupied. He is in another place which means he is not free to talk. He’s with extended family so needs to respect that. So whilst my heart is still aching in the missing of him and my words have expressed that, his have not.

If anything he was in a weird mood Monday night and I have to keep reminding myself that an 8 hour drive as the sole driver will do that for you. I kept trying to end the conversation with an excuse of going to sleep but I just didn’t like the way I was feeling. He wouldn’t let me though and would ask me a question to keep me talking.

Yesterday I messaged in the morning to wish him a good day. Before his extended holiday, this was always his routine. I took over when he finished work. He replied, and we had a brief chat, but then I had a meeting. By the time I got back to my phone he had gone out. I told him I would speak to him later and I got a kiss in return.

I waited all day. I didn’t message him and he didn’t message me. He is on holiday!!!! My rational mind would tell me. How quickly he has forgotten you, my irrational mind would counter.

By 6pm I was in an anxious state. My sister told me to stop being stupid and just message him. An hour later I had a brief reply. Then nothing again. Anxiety overdrive.

Eventually, at around 9pm he messaged. He sent a picture of him sat at the table with all his family, I guess as reassurance and explanation. It was needed – the conversation was stilted and difficult. And yes, I know that was because he was sit sat with his family and was in effect disrespecting them by continuing to message me, no matter how disatisfying the conversation.

At one point, I sent the following due to a conversation I’d had with my sister where she said she wants to talk to him more:

His reaction to that made me feel a little better but I just felt dissatisfied at the end of the conversation, despite the amount of time and superficial conversation we’d had.

Four days ago I was on cloud nine. It’s not realistic that our communications would remain the same. It was my first time being with him, the first time of leaving him. It’s natural that this was going to be difficult to readjust.

And then, it’s how I feel about him. Not to mention my natural tendancy to be anxious anyway. My friend, a trained counsellor, summed it up for me. From his knowledge of me and my previous relationships, this is the first time that I have truly ‘matched’ with someone on every level. Every other relationship I have had has involved some sort of ‘settling’.

It was like a smack in the face because it was so true and I hadn’t thought of it like that before. Whilst wanting to believe that my true match was out there somewhere, I’ve been of the opinion that you find a good man, you love each other, you accept the faults and flaws and work hard to make it work. My impending divorce perhaps suggests the flaws in that plan.

I’ve met someone who makes me happy (when I’m not being an anxious freak), who challenges and inspires me, who cares for me and (usually) makes me the centre of his attention, and who I am wholly and physically attracted too. When with him, I felt the heady mix of being completely comfortable and settled as well as being excited and ‘alive’.

Is there any surprise that I am scared of losing this?

In my late night angst, I searched for some online advice and found a psychologist and relationship expert which has directed my thinking today.

Over the past few days, I’ve made it clear how I feel. He can be in no doubt of the depth of my love and how much I am missing him. But him being preoccupied is accentuating my natural tendancy to be anxious. This means that I am acting differently. I am being clingy and snippy and needy. He’s just trying to enjoy his holiday with his family. If I want him to miss me again, I need to stop creating this negative atmosphere when he messages in the only way I can.

So today I have not messaged him, as instructed by the psychologist. I’m giving him space to enjoy his holiday, not bombard him with my neediness, and therefore to miss me.

It’s so hard. It’s nearly 11am, 12MD where he is, and I haven’t heard from him.

The other advice, sound advice from what I can see, is that I need to renegage my social life: keep busy. Be happy. Be the person he fell for, not this needy, whiney, anxiety ridden nag. I need to take care of myself and be the best I can be.

And then, when he comes back to me and things go back to normal, then I can discuss how hard this week has been for me.

My dad used to say, you only know if something is truly yours if it comes back to you when you let it go.

To quell my considerable anxiety at this situation, I am trying my best to logically think of the positives of this situation if it all goes wrong.

If he doesn’t come back, if things don’t return, then he wasn’t right for me anyway. There’s no reason for this to happen unless I do something wrong. His words, remember?

My experience of travelling alone has been inspirational and life changing. I can do more than I think I can.

I’ve learnt so much about the prejudices of others but also the goodness of people: being open to that, not biased.

I’ve learnt that you cannot always accept the judgements of others, even when you trust them. Everyone has biased and flawed thinking.

Actions speak louder than words.

I’m worthy of love. Men find me attractive. I am liked. I don’t need to settle.

Whilst I’ve found love across the seas, I’m pretty sure that somewhere, probably closer to home, there will be someone else who would equally make me happy. (I didn’t like writing this one)

You’ve got to be open to love. Open to risks. Live life as it is supposed to be lived. Not just exist.

My previous relationships have caused some real hang-ups for me, more than I realised.

It’s dangerous to accept your first thoughts in a situation. Initial reactions are emotion and anxiety driven. It’s important to pause and reflect and think.

No matter how important he is to me, I have a life here. I have children, family, friends and a career. Those are some of the things he loves about me. Ignoring them over him is counterintuitive, however you think about it.

Live in this moment. I can’t always have control of the future.

I can’t make him love me or want me. But I can make him fall out of love with me by being stupid. I just need to be the best I can be. His words.

So there we have it. I’ll let you know how I get on.

One

It’s 3.30am and I’ve been awake just under half an hour. My stomach is churning and I feel like I’m burning up. I’m coming out of a gluten induced sleep and I feel lousy. That’s not the only reason though.

Yesterday morning I ended my conversations with Second. It’s hurt all day. I don’t understand myself.

I’d decided that it was the right thing to do. That I could not keep doing what I was doing. Even if it was just online. Even if I hadn’t met them both yet.

Having spoken to a few friends and family now, I’m sure you who may be reading this are as divided as they are.

A couple of my friends think I’ve done the wrong thing as I haven’t met either of them yet. They think I was seeing too much into it and that I should have allowed myself to meet both before even making a decision. Sexy penpals, remember? So why was I feeling so guilty then?

One of my sisters, my brother in law and one of my trusted friends think I’ve done the right thing. That it is clear that my feelings for Wild Card have grown stronger and that it was unfair on both to carry on talking to each of them. They think I’m giving Wild Card my best shot, now that I’m being honest with him. Whilst they are still advising caution, which I completely understand and agree with, they believe this was the only way forward.

And then there are the few that think I shouldn’t have ended it with Second. That whilst he may not have been as passionate as Wild Card, his steady consistency was something. That once, I ‘glowed’ when I spoke about him. These are the same people that wholly mistrust Wild Card. They think I should be suspicious of him, for no other reason that I can see than his nationality. They see this as doomed already. It can’t go anywhere. We can’t possibly have feelings for each other.

I told Second the truth up to the point of Wild Card. Which says something in itself. I told him that I felt like things had changed, that I had wanted more than him and that I was going to get hurt. I referenced the conversation from early December which had made me take a step back (probably rightly so).

In his own way, he showed his hurt that we wouldn’t meet. I can even go as far to say, that in his own way, he tried to show me that he does have some feelings for me. But that’s it. He didn’t deny anything else I said. Rather he felt like there was nothing he could say that would change my mind. He wished me well.

I spent the day churning all this round in my head. Feeling I’d done the right thing but missing him anyway. Sad that we wouldn’t be in contact anymore or even friends. Sorry that I may have hurt him. Scared he might hate me. I’ve read over the text conversation with him a few times. And I get a different understanding from it each time I do. I’ve nearly reached out to him a couple of times but have stopped myself. What good can come of it now?

One friend said that ultimately, only I can known of I’ve done the right thing. How true. It’s only me who has been talking to both of them.

Whether they had or have feelings for me or not… Whether I am right or wrong to even believe they should have at this stage… My conscience was burning. It didn’t feel right. The closer I got to meeting Second, I knew that I would hate myself for lying to Wild Card whilst I went on the date. And for all of Second’s ‘if a nice guy comes along, it’s fair game’ comment, I would have felt the same about him when I went to visit Wild Card. Once I started to get feelings, no matter how ridiculous you think they may be, I knew this had to stop.

I’ve chosen Wild Card, as my friend quite bluntly said it. I have flashes of self-titled stupidity, moments when I distrust him and our supposed feelings. When I allow myself to dwell, just for a moment, on the negativity of others and consider that this may all be a lie. That my own, apparently deep-seated need for affection is clouding my judgement.

But he has done nothing wrong! He has shown me consistent attention and care. There are no signs that he wants me for anything other than wantingto meet me and get to know me more. And believe me, I have over analysed every moment to be sure. He’s a different man than Second, much more willing to share and state thoughts and feelings. Like me though, he is conscious that this may not work out when we meet. That either one of us may feel differently. He acknowledges that this will never be easy but wants to try anyway.

Talking to him makes me happy. Putting aside my own natural tendancy to be insecure, the only negative thoughts I’ve had about him have come from other people. I know we are right at the beginning. I know this can go wrong at any point. I know I need to be cautious. But talking to him makes me happy.

So, I’m sad but I have a clearer conscience now: I’m being more true to myself and who I am. I’m cautious and realistic about my future but I am allowing myself to pursue whatever this is with Wild Card.

Morning reflections.

I’ve been up since 4.30am with two vomiting children. Now they’re settled and there is no point in me trying to go back to sleep, it’s given me time to think.

I’m conscious that my last few posts have mainly centred on Wild Card. Don’t think that is because I like him more than Second. My life is never that simple.

I’ve questioned myself about that. I still believe that I like them both but in different ways.

With Wild Card I feel excited and passionate when we talk. He makes me laugh. I’m intrigued by him. But I don’t altogether trust him either which makes me anxious. I can’t believe that he doesn’t have a number of women and I am still surprised that he likes me, although I do believe him when he says he does. You can’t fake some facial expressions. I get the impression that if we were to meet and we liked each other, I would fall hard.

Second is different, culturally as well as feelings wise. He was the front runner for a long time but circumstances – his working at sea for six weeks – has meant that we have only communicated by WhatsApp for the past few weeks. His contact is consistent and regular.

He also makes me laugh – we make each other laugh. We have similar backgrounds and interests. His messages have become more and more affectionate as the weeks have gone on. He is kind and complimentary. And I am attracted to him physically, just slightly less than Wild Card. That’s not a bad thing.

He makes me smile, inside and out. I feel more steady and secure with him, even though there are still no certainties – although he tells me he is certain we will meet.

If the messages, phone calls and video chats are anything to go by, I think we are going to get along well.

But his circumstances are even more difficult than Wild Card’s. Not only does he have a different Nationality to me, which is the reason we have not met yet and won’t do until January (he is spending Christmas at home with his parents), he lives in Scotland and has just bought a house there to be close to his children.

How would a relationship possibly work with him? We live four hours away from each other, when he’s actually in the country and not at sea or visiting his homeland.

So, if anything, I know I’m also wary of falling for him too. The reason I allowed the chats with Wild Card to initiate was to ground my growing interest in Second. Modern dating, remember?

At a friend’s advice, I’ve logged back in to Hinge in attempt to find some more connections to draw myself back into my original ‘flirt and date’ game plan. It’s not working. Despite some interest, I’ve found that I’m half-heartedly messaging back which is unfair to all involved.

The advice I have received on here has been sound and I am grateful for it. I need to keep pulling myself back, enjoy what I have in this moment. I haven’t met either man yet!!! I need to calm down. I’ve had the no-connection dates which had previously held so much promise. There is every chance that a date with either of them would turn into nothing and I am breaking the cardinal rule of no-textationships.

Grounded, grounded, grounded. Live in the moment. Learn and grow. Be open to all possibilities, good and bad.

Wish me luck.

Guilt

I had my second counselling session today. There is not enough time to write down all that we spoke about but a couple of things resonated with me which I would like to share.

The first was acceptance that my life is challenging and that it probably will be for the foreseeable future. And whilst I should look at little ways of easing the pressure in each area of my life, I also need to be proud of the way that I have managed. Moreover, I also need to look at ways of coping when ‘life happens’: you know, those extra things that happen in life that threaten to just tip you over the edge. This is the life I have and I need it to work for me instead of me always working so hard to please others first. In essence, by putting myself first I will be stronger in my responsibilities for them.

The second was guilt. My counsellor said that guilt was ‘like Marley’ s chain’ and that if we are not careful, we can feel the weight of that guilt all the time, dragging us down. I can’t tell you how much guilt I have, over so many things! The more I thought about it, the more if felt like that scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where the letters starts whooshing through the Dursley’s letterbox – unwanted and plaguing Mr Dursley. The things I feel guilt about or bad about kept coming to me, one after the other. I’m so negative about myself. I don’t believe I’m negative by nature: when myself I believe anything can be worked out if you try hard enough. But I am so negative towards me that it is no wonder I am what I have become.

I think I’ve spoken before about a working mother’s guilt and that has been with me for nearly fourteen years. That’s one very long, heavy chain to drag round. And as I have moved on in my career, it has added a few hefty padlocks too. A few more chains for not helping my kids more with homework (because we only get in at six and there is tea to make, housework to do, three year old to play with/bathe and then bedtime routine); guilt over the housework that I never finish… Forgetting people’s birthdays…. I could go on, and on. I am utterly weighed down by my constant guilt – guilt that I can’t be the person I think I should be. And if honest, this is also the reason why I haven’t tried to find someone new: I don’t believe I’m worthy to find anyone yet. I’m not good enough: I’m not managing my life the way I think I should.

More thinking to do then. 😊