You could post about puppies or a lemonade stand and sooner or later, it will turn it into a political divide.
I have a theory. Ego.
As much as people claim they hate labels, they don’t. People love labels so much that if these titles were human, they’d be whisked off to Vegas and married in a little chapel by Elvis. For the sake of this article, I’ll say “we” (but I kinda mostly mean you.) We define ourselves with a variety of tidy markers that make sense to us and others. Liberal, Conservative. Vegan, Paleo. Christian, Atheist. Straight, Gay. Actor, Builder. Mother, Father. Husband, Wife. And so on. Some people even allow their illnesses to define them.
Part of why a breakup can be devastating is because we’ve lost our identity. We’re no longer a girlfriend or boyfriend, stepmom or stepdad. We’re set adrift, left to gather ourselves. We can recover like a party animal or an athlete. Some jump right back into anything, immersing themselves in destructive behavior in order to avoid feeling lost. Others reassess and get healthy by leaving the hurt area alone to heal while working out other areas instead.
I digress. When a discussion on social media about ANYTHING turns political, it’s nothing but ego. This is a person asserting their label rather than “I” into the conversation. And depending on the tone, it often means, “YOU are the problem. I am not. I am better than you.”
The reason we get offended and engage rather than staying silent and/or rational? Because at some deeper level, we recognize that this person has insulted us. They’ve shit on who we’ve decided we are.
There’s an enormous difference between reacting and responding. Most of us lack the ability to step back and look at the bigger picture in a neutral, removed fashion. We lash out and cling to our beliefs because they ARE us. They define us.
But they don’t have to. It’s a choice. And if my theory is correct, you have the choice to recognize this next time someone turns a casual discussion about buying patio furniture into a split sided political argument.
There are 2 types of people: Those who want to know, and those who want to believe.
Everything is an exchange of energy. Currently, we’re a fractured country and we all know we shouldn’t continue down this path. Too many would rather be RIGHT than happy, which lends itself to the anxious and hostile energy many have been experiencing.
Hurt people hurt people.
If only one person gets something out of this, the time spent writing was worthwhile.
Once upon a time, there was a lovely princess with long red hair and a short-legged dog. She ruled Castle Huntress quite efficiently. Her wares sold, she frolicked by the water with her little dog, and the villagers spoke well of her. “Oh, yes. This is our favorite princess yet! She has a generous nature and a very naughty sense of humor,” said they.
But after hundreds and hundreds of days alone, she began to seek a Prince. Not because she needed one, mind you, but because she had no one with whom to laugh.
Word got out, and soon the village was buzzing. A notice arrived from Prince Haddad of Romania with the offer of companionship. He was tall, dark, and handsome. The prince was also an accomplished warrior who frequented the battlefields. She, a former warrior in her own right, felt a kinship. After all, blood is thicker than water. Following an exchange of letters, the princess accepted.
But he did not appear. She inquired as to his absence and he replied with, “Soon, my dear. For now, I must fight.”
She couldn’t wait for his return from battle, for they had much in common and plenty to talk about. Their letters were never a bore, and they conversed endlessly about everything. The prince made her laugh, was well-traveled, and had a quick wit. He seemed perfect for her.
However, the days turned into nights, and the nights turned into days as the princess sat by the window, brushing her long, red hair and petting her short, black dog. She watched the leaves turn crimson and drop. Then, the snow flurries came and blustered forth. Eventually, spring brought new life and the same promises. “Soon, my dear.”
The princess’s hair grew longer, and her dog grew shorter.
Lady Amy and Lady Susan came to tea. They both agreed, the Prince should be there. If he wanted to see the Princess of Huntress Castle, he would find a way. “Actions are telling,” they warned. The princess did not want to hear their words, but she could not deny them.
Instead, she filled her time with art, entertaining, selling her wares, and tending to her affairs, but she spent most days and nights in solitude.
On a warm day when the sun was high in the sky, she sat by the window watching the clouds form the shapes of postal letters that said, “My dear, I’m on my way.” They burst apart before she could grab one.
Her thoughts were abruptly interrupted by a voice with an accent from a land far away.
“Oi, Princess! Your hair is like fire!” She looked down and saw the Duke Liggitt of Birmingham. He stood below her window with a toothy grin and gazed up at her through spectacles. Though he was slighter in stature, he was reputed to have a robust character and a heart so vast it could fill a castle, along with a title from the Shah dynasty.
“Is it?” She asked. Admittedly, not her wittiest response, but she was quite out of practice, having only spoken to her little dog for days on end.
“Christ on a bike, you’re beautiful,” he said as he bowed and pulled forth a striking white rose swirled with hues of pink, red, and violet. “I’ve traveled a great distance to request the pleasure of your company, and behold, I would be willing to travel even further after setting eyes upon you. I should like to take you dancing. We’ll have such fun!”
“Return as the sun sets,” the princess said. “If my answer is yes, I shall meet you in the foyer.”
Now, the princess was in a quandary. Wait for the handsome prince or dance. Wait…or dance. Her heart was torn. Suitors had called after Prince Haddad, but none were as charming as he or the Duke.
As the clock chimed behind her, her little dog yawned with its greying muzzle glinting in the sunlight, and a vision of her mother on her deathbed appeared. “Don’t be a fool, child. Time is the most valuable thing, meant to be spent, not squandered. Go.”
She knew her mother was right. As she gathered all her hair, the post arrived with another letter from Prince Haddad. “The fight goes on. There’s much to be done. I’ll be there as soon as I can, my dear.” She sighed as she placed the letter atop of the pile of his other correspondences, which mounted several feet in height on her boudoir.
It was just a night of dancing. She could always return early to the castle with the explanation that she simply must walk her short dog by a preferred hour.
As the sun sank in the glowing sky, she stood tall in the ornate foyer, clad in her best dancing slippers. Encrusted in shimmering beads and stones, her servant had given the shoes a quick dust-off before he opened the door with a flourish to reveal the awaiting Marquess of Birmingham, decked out in his finest.
“Good evening, Duke,” the princess said with a curtsey as she held out her hand to be kissed. “I am ready.”
“So,” the server asked disinterestedly while smashing avocados. “How did you two meet?” We both laughed.
“Nope,” I shook my head. “You go right ahead.”
He summed it up nicely in about a minute. The kid hastily shoved the bowl of guacamole at us and backed up a step. “You’re a cop?”
I understood. That’s kind of how I met him, too.
If you’ve read my blogs, then you know about some unbelievably weird dating stuff that goes on in my world.
The time a deputy served me a (falsely filed) restraining order for domestic violence and asked me out in my driveway while I was holding my bags. Or, how my defense lawyer from that same injunction…nevermind. Yeah.
Well, I’ve got a new one that might top those. I could not make this shit up.
For the record, I originally wrote this on February 15th.
Valentine’s Day was just Taco Tuesday to me. I’d planned on a titillating evening full of blowschoolwork and sexy gym time. Being a student is hard. Being an adult student with a career, mortgage, traveling for shoots, a homestead and small soy candle business can really suck unwashed, hairy balls. Most weeks, I feel like I’m gasping for air, nearly drowning in deadlines, assignments, past due orders, owed work and lost emails. I haven’t had much of a life in the past year other than occasionally seeing my friends and some random dating.
Yesterday morning, the doorbell rang while I was still in my pajamas, drinking coffee. Usually, it’s mail delivery. But as I passed the window, I saw a city truck outside.
Shit, I thought. That’s never a good sign. I have an extreme dislike for people showing up on my doorstep. There’s a pleasant sign telling them to piss off unless they have an Amazon package or Girl Scout cookies. Clearly, this guy couldn’t read.
I yanked Bella back and opened the door. “Yes?”
A youngish-looking guy in an official shirt greeted me and said, “Do you have chickens?”
“Yes. Why?” I asked, as Bella practically went into convulsions trying to get the infidel to pet her.
“Well, we received a complaint from one of your neighbors about this property and another a few streets over.”
“Uh, OK. You’re welcome to look but I’ve already been through this last year with the other guy. We went all the way to mediation and won, plus everything is up to code. I don’t have a rooster. They go to bed at sunset. The coop is cleaned daily,” I wasn’t sure I did a good job containing my hostility, but I tried. “I’m not sure what the issue is?” I visualized hopping the fence and stabbing my whiny neighbor in the face with a metal spoon, simply because it would hurt more. This gave me enough momentary pleasure, I was able to calm down and hear him out.
“Look, I just took over for the last guy,” he said. He was cool and polite. “If there’s a complaint, I have to follow up. It’s my job.” Excessively polite. But he didn’t seem like he was playing around. If he could tell I was upset, there was no acknowledgment.
He later told me I should never have let him in. But if I hadn’t, the story would end right here.
I’d only been awake for an hour and was wearing a short, charcoal colored chemise slip with a clingy, light gray “Hollister” tee-shirt over it. My long, red hair was twisted up and clipped into an unflattering bun and my face was bare. So was my spirit, since I hadn’t yet caffeinated to completion.
I stepped aside and let him in, walking him through the main room. He paused and looked around.
“Wow, this is really nice. How long have you lived here?” Thank God I filed all my permits.
“Thanks. I bought it as a fixer-upper and did it about a year and a half ago. I don’t know anyone from the area yet. I work and go to school from home.”
The New Guy was a former deputy with a sturdy physique who looked like he’d been in more than a few brawls. He was a remarkable blend of badass and unwaveringly respectful.
I called, and the chickens came running, which amused him. He’d never pet a chicken before, so Ginger took one for the team. He determined that he probably wasn’t going to ask me to get rid of them. I waited to inform him that they’re registered ESAs (Emotional Support Animals) and he can’t. I politely let him know I’m versed in the laws of the county and city and would fight him on it. He politely acknowledged that I wasn’t incorrect. The conversation was done. Yet, he didn’t leave.
“Oh, a yoga trapeze,” he said as we slowly headed back inside the house. I just had it installed a few weeks earlier and love it.
“You know what that is? I’m impressed.”
“Yeah, I have one. I got a lot of injuries when I was on the force. You ever try the Smiling Mind meditation app?”
I’d been blinded by irritation, but at this point, I actually looked and saw him. Officer was a tallish, broad shouldered guy with dark hair, bright blue almond-shaped eyes, neatly trimmed facial hair and great teeth. He had a healthy build, a boxer’s flattened nose and looked like he could kick my ass with one arm tied behind his back. I don’t have a type, but if I did, he’d fall into one of my preferred categories. He seemed the kind of guy who would be content in a cabin in the woods with nothing but a fishing pole and a beer. Country boy-meets-Parrothead. (<–Jimmy Buffet reference for those of you who aren’t caught up on all things tropical.)
I became painfully aware I wasn’t wearing any makeup and was still in my pajamas. Shit, shit, shit. I self-consciously pulled the clip from my hair and let it tumble down around my shoulders and back. It was all I had to work with. Mid-sentence he trailed off and just stared.
“Great hair,” he said after a seconds’ pause.
“Thanks,” I said. We both stood there.
“So, uh…what are we listening to?” He asked.
“Never heard of him. Great song.”
“I lived in England for a while. He’s kind of big deal everywhere else but here.”
“I’m going to add him to my Pandora.”
He strode across the house and bid me and “my husband” a good day.
“Him?” I gestured to Matt in the kitchen with a wave of my hand as if to say that old thing? I was just about to toss it in the trash. “That’s my cousin and roommate.”
“Oh? Really?” He lingered at the door. “Would you maybe want to continue this conversation later?” When the officer grinned, his eyes smiled, too. Something about those devilishly bright eyes grabbed me. “I know its short notice, but do you want to go out for a drink tonight?”
Right. I can hear you thinking, “Oh, April…so soon? You just met him and went out that night? Have you no game?”
Here’s the thing: Some of us think people come into our lives for a reason. (Ahem.) It could rather simple. Maybe it’s a lesson or a blessing. I rarely meet anyone (ever) since I work and attend university from home. When the universe delivers a good-looking dude on your doorstep – on Valentine’s Day, no less – you should probably say yes.
“Pick you up at eight?” I hadn’t been picked up since high school. I meet people. It’s safer. At least until I know them. But it’s not like he didn’t know where I live.
“So, I guess you’re single?”
“Yeah. Guess you are, too?”
“Have been since summer. Wait. Um…are you crazy?” I asked.
He laughed. “No. But most crazy peopledon’t know they’re crazy.”
“Good answer. See you at eight.”
It dawned on me I haven’t met a person in real life in years. When I date, I meet people through OKCupid or Match. The great thing about online dating is that all the important information, like politics, height, age, religion, and kids, is out in the open.
The bad thing about online dating is all that information is out in the open. We filter and dismiss people quickly and harshly. Or, maybe that’s just me. No smokers, no one under five-foot-eleven, age range 35-45, middle of the road for politics, kids ok, social drinking only, prefer atheists. That last part is simply because atheists tend to be educated and/or foreign. I relate well to these types. Sexually, I’m equally (if not more) stimulated by the intellectual as well as the physical. Little is hotter to me than a deep, meaningful conversation. (Sometimes a good kisser can cut to the front of the line.) However, I’ve met people in real life, like my short ex-husband-turned-good-friend, whom I would never have given a chance had I seen his stats on a screen. With age comes wisdom, so my mind remains open.
I knew nothing about Officer. I didn’t even know how old he was. He looked young. What if he was too young? Granted, age is just a number, but with going on dates between the ages of 27 and 59 lately (don’t judge me), I was hoping to narrow it down to one generation instead of three. So, I Googled him. Nada. Cops and prosecutors are ghosts; they have to be for safety. However, university journalism class taught me how to stalk search for anything. In short time, I was able to ascertain he was younger, but only by three years. Also, a Trump voter. Oh, no. There are two types of Trump voters: the observable (douche types) and those who simply want change from a non-corporate president. I can deal with the latter group.
The post Officer vs. Chicken conversation with my roommate: “I dunno. I just don’t think we have much in common.”
Matt: “You both have the same amount of letters in your last names.”
“Spoken like a psycho.”
Matt continued as if I hadn’t said anything. “You both have two hands and ten toes. Injuries from fighting. You both like Robbie Williams. You both have good manners. See? There’s plenty if you look.”
“I’m not sure that’s the stuff you build on,” I said as I brushed my hair.
“I’m just saying you can find common ground if you really look.”
“Right. Like, oh hey – how are all ten of your toes doing today?” I rummaged through my closet looking for something to wear that wasn’t in the pajama category. “We are assuming he has all ten toes?”
“Exactly.” He poked his head through my bedroom doorway. “Don’t forget that he met you like you look right now. You don’t have to bother doing that much.”
Yet, I did. I spent an absurd amount of time doing my face and hair, as if I had something to prove. It dawned on me there could be a murky future. I thought forward: my hair in a bun, no makeup, ripped sweat pants. Upon failing to make him a sammich due to marathoning my favorite shitty reality show, he’d comment snidely over his eleventh beer: “Wow, April. You have really let yourself go.” Me, jabbing my finger in his face and screaming at the top of my lungs: “Fuck you! YOU MET ME THIS WAY!”
Such a fatalist. Let’s just erase that. I’m not the “fall to shit” type, anyway. We all know there’s no such thing as an ugly woman, just a lazy one.
The date commenced. It was a combination of interesting pierced with some truly awkwardmoments, as many first dates typically are. Occasional silences stretched for seconds while he gazed at me with his light eyes, like he was memorizing my face. It was unnerving. I felt like I was in an unwinnable staring contest with a cat. I am almost always the alpha at any given table, so it threw me out of my comfort zone.
The best part about going on date with someone not in the business is attempting to explain the business. Pure sarcasm. This is especially discomfiting when they are trained to fight.
Him: “So, uh…I googled you. And there was this arm wrestling video–“
Me: “Oh, God. Please don’t watch that. It was a custom match. There’s a bunch of bullshit on the internet fans put up from customs.”
Him: “From what? Customs?”
Me: “Yeah. Customers order them and book it, right down to the grip and what color nail polish we wear. They’re fetish videos.”
Him: “That’s someone’s fetish? Really? Well, I really didn’t want to be disrespectful, but you weren’t doing it right.”
Me: “I know. You are correct. We were just following the script.”
Him: “They write scripts? Are they there while you film?”
Me: “Yes to scripts. No on filming. We generally don’t know who orders them.”
Him: “So, how much does something like that pay?”
I told him.
Him: “Are you shittin’ me? I’m in the wrong business. I shoulda been a hot chick.”
I wish he hadn’t seen that as his first impression after telling him I was a pro wrestler. I scrambled to pull up some matches with credibility.
Him: “Holy shit, you’re a bad ass. I like it! Wanna spar?”
“No. Maybe.” I should have left it at that, but my dumb ass sparred with him and he took me down in .03 seconds. Maybe less.
I won’t lie – it hurt. And it was pretty cool.
However, he genuinely seemed to be a decent guy, and not in a ‘friend zone’ way. I’ve always been partial to the ‘nice guy’ and I think women who dismiss this type are missing out. True alpha males are quieter, confident, reluctant to fight unless they have to, and play well with others. The term ‘alpha male’ originates from wolves. If wolf alphas acted like our human version, their pack would die. What we mistakenly call ‘alpha males’ are usually just loud fucktards with big egos. Read more on that here: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2016/04/24/how-to-really-be-alpha-like-the-wolf/
As a rule, I’ll only date alphas now – the real version. I cannot do a weak personality. Nor can I deal with men who play a victim, complain, aren’t pro-active, take my shit, are indecisive or let me walk all over them. I lose respect. #Truth. I’ve learned how to discern this in order to not waste time.
Alphas: It’s how a man carries himself, with confidence. He’s comfortable in his own skin,(even if that skin has flaws.) He maintains eye contact, allows himself to be vulnerable enough to admit personal things without apology, and he owns his mistakes or has learned from them. Alphas don’t put other men down. They know they don’t know everything and constantly seek to educate themselves. They are accommodating and willing to compromise, but not willing to sacrifice who they are in the process. An alpha doesn’t seek compliments but appreciates being appreciated. He does his own thing and doesn’t follow trends. He respects others. He respects women and appreciates their beauty. He is supportive and views them as equals. He has both male and female friendships. He gets along with his exes. Others seek him out for advice. He is calm, thinks before speaking and generous in the right moments.
I wondered if Officer was a little too nice. I’m kind of an asshole. I don’t want to feel like a massive dickhead because the person across from me is a saint. I’ll own my heathen ways. I know I have to be with someone who thinks outside the box, is a little dirty, curious in life, not jealous, not the least bit politically correct, a nonconformist and who thinks nothing can’t be made into a joke. I’m just a “fuck the establishment” antihero to the core. Annnnnd, he was part of the establishment.
Speaking of being laissez-faire, despite the Trump thing (I’m non-party affiliated, but have shloads of Mexican, Muslim and foreign friends whom I adore), he was pretty damn religious…like very religious (“I believe Christ is my savior. What’s your stance on faith?”
“Oh, uh…I don’t believe in Jesus. I grew up in the church, but none of that ever made any sense to me.”
“Well, how do you think we got here? Evolution?”
I still planned on kissing him. Why not? Life is short and some of these Christian conservative types are total freaks! Kidding. Or, am I?
But for reals, I have no issue respecting someone’s beliefs, even if they’re vastly different from mine. Not only does it make for interesting conversations, but regarding spirituality, the only thing I know is that I don’t know. I don’t care what someone believes, as long as they’re a damn good person, and they like a finger up their–
Kidding! Or, am I?
If someone respects me in return, there’s no problem. My bigger issue would be if he wasn’t fluent in sarcasm and didn’t swear. Those are fucking deal breakers.
Despite the inauspicious beginning, we were on the same page with end-of-date opportunities. He walked me to my door and kissed me goodnight several times …and bit me once… (he isdefinitely a little freaky,I knew it.)
As he turned to leave, he pointed at me and said, “Thank you for having chickens.”
To recap the untied ends: I HAVE had conversations with him other than “How are all ten of your toes?” He did add Robbie Williams to his Pandora, was in the “drastic change” Trump voter category and we did have a second date. He has all his toes. I counted them.
He’s also not as nice as I originally thought.
NOTE:It’s been two years (today, actually). We are “labeled” LAT’s. That’s a new thing mostly known in Europe/Canada. It means Living Together Apart. We like our autonomy, but we also like coming and going from each others homes. For me, it works for now and I think it does for him, too. In my past, I’ve given up way too much for the relationships in my life, putting them ahead of myself, my goals – to the detriment of my career and more. He’s done the same. With with school and running a small business (www.etsy.com/shop/aprilsscentsations) I’d like to put myself first while also making him a priority.
There’s no sappy, romantic end to this story at this point in time. Nor would I share if there was because I tell more than enough. He’s been up front about not wanting anything serious, which works for me, too. He confessed he isn’t a fan of my career path, and that was one of the major hesitations I had with dating someone devout. Admittedly, it bothered me because what I do isn’t who I am, and I like him as a human being. (“Any man who cares about you would have a problem with what you do.” Me: “That hasn’t been my experience at all. They understand one side is a business and the other is me. I’ve never run into problems.” Him: “Well, I’ve tried to imagine introducing you to my parents and I’m not sure how I’d explain it.” Me *feeling slapped*: “So, don’t. To any of it. That’s obviously how you see me. It doesn’t mean others do. If you see me as what I do, that’s your issue.”) And this is one of the many reasons religion (its perceived ideals and dogma) can be harmful and keep people from living. If you’re not doing anything to hurt others, I’m guessing you’re probably still a good person. How ironic that religion can be what hurts people or holds them back the most.
In all fairness, he had no idea what I did until I told him. I was just “the hot chicken lady”. But the start of this story was too cute not to share.
I’ve met his kids, and his parents know about me. It turns out neither of us was like the other had harshly assumed. While no one is running to any altar, (Ha. I think it’s safe to assume practice doesn’t always make perfect?) I reluctantly gave up all the other dick I’d been getting. KIDDING! Well, about the reluctant part, not the all-the-dick part. 😉 He treats me very well, is ridiculously spontaneous and fun. Now that’s he’s been around my business more, he understands it. Oddly enough, being with someone so Christian (and forgiving) is exceptionally helpful with bipolar disorder.
That’ll learn ya.
If you get nothing else out of this story, bear in mind two small things: Often it takes more than 90 minutes and 2 drinks to decide if you like someone. Especially if they’re introverted.
And, don’t shun someone simply because they don’t see the world exactly as you do. If one is open-minded, it can lead to deep conversations.
My own two bucks (because two cents, really? At least you can buy a protein drink with a couple dollars):
Some women aren’t meant to be tamed. They just need an equal to keep up, laugh at life and experience this crazy world along with them.
After much introspection, writing, screwing up, therapy and learning, I’ve come to the conclusion that I fall into this category. Any other stab at normalcy will likely be met with the same previous (ill-fated) results. The definition of insanity is…right. That. Doing it over and over again and expecting a different result. I think it’s time to embrace my weird, colorful inner flamenco dancer. If someone can keep up, fine. If not, also fine. I’m not sure I go dates, per se – it’s more like holding auditions. Some get call backs. Most don’t. I’ve learned the hard way not to shove square pegs through round holes.
I’ve also learned to own it. Everything dire that’s happened to me in some way, shape or form, is my own responsibility. Therefore, it’s my duty to be alert and not let it happen again.
Perhaps more of us need to examine ourselves closely and see what works and what doesn’t. Societal opinion be damned. (This is called being Self Aware, which is so rare for most human beings it’s considered a super power.) If things are meant to be, they’ll flow. And it won’t cost a chunk of your heart and soul.
That said, on the topic of dating in general, I may not have a string of successful relationships behind me, but I am extraordinarily good at love. Love is when you want the best for someone, even if it’s not in your best interest. Love is when someone makes you want to be a better person. Love is autonomous; accepting and respecting that they are free to do as they please without restrictions. It’s wanting someone, not needing them.Love is when you never fail to appreciate that there are seven billion people on this Earth, and someone chooses to spend their time with you. Love is always learning, so you don’t sit across from each other at the table with nothing to talk about. Love is always compromising. Love is respecting boundaries. Love is choosing your battles and knowing when to sincerely apologize, even if you feel it’s not your fault. Love is communicating, waiting to respond instead of having a knee-jerk reaction and always remembering you are a team. Love gives, it doesn’t withhold. Lasting love is when you truly like someone as well as love them. Lasting love is WE, not I or me.
If you take a plate and throw it on the floor, it’ll shatter into little pieces. You can tell those pieces you’re sorry. You might feel better, but the plate is still broken. Even if you manage to glue it all back together, it cannot be unbroken; ever.
Well, that’s not one hundred percent true. The Japanese tradition of Kintsugi uses melted gold to repair broken pottery and dishes, which makes them even more beautiful than before. Maybe when it matters, we have to use precious metals instead of glue.
That’s all I know. The rest is a work in progress, an open experiment in life.
I’m simply sharing some insight with you from years of fuckups so perhaps you can avoid some of my costly mistakes or melt some gold for your own.
Free tip #56798:Don’t ever complain about your partner publicly on social media. Ever. Just don’t do it.
Same goes for publicly posting loveycrap. You have text. Use it. Nothing says “we have some serious issues” like endless status updates about how in love you guys are. No. We are all watching, knowing the other shoe is about to drop and betting cash on the date papers are gonna be filed. We love Schadenfreude. Makes us feel better about our own lives. So, stop that shit. You’re welcome.
April Hunter is a writer, professional wrestler, full-time student at Full Sail University, professional cosplayer and pin-up, Playboy and fetish model.
She’s also a fitness competitor, former Met-RX & Extreme Nutrition spokes-model, the subject of several comic book characters, an admitted coffee snob, road rage enthusiast, Mother of Chickens and world renowned potty mouth. She uses the C-word as liberally as you use butter on your biscuits. Which you shouldn’t be eating, since you know…carbs and gluten. She struggles with bipolar disorder and Lupus and chooses to view challenges as opportunities.
See more of April on Instagram @realAprilHunter, www.AprilHunter.com and Twitter @AprilHunter. She’s also on Facebook.com/AprilHunterOfficial and owns AprilsScentSations Soy Candles.
Special thanks to Hubert O’Hearn and Matt McDermott for editing! Time is valuable and I appreciate yours!
I’ve spent most of my adult life in a relationship. I’ve always put someone first, even at the cost of myself, my career or both. This is the very first time I don’t have to answer to anyone. I’ll admit, I kinda enjoy it.
There was an adjustment period after a tragic breakup with someone who had undiagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder. He was also bipolar. Well, shit. If anyone could help him, it would be me, right? As a card-carrying member of Club Van Gogh, I understand crazy. I know what to expect.
What in themuther-of-fuck was I thinking?
The difficult part for me to swallow is that before I saw all the mental issues, I actually *thought* I was in my first healthy relationship. Yeah. Then I stuck around out of hope and loyalty. That really fucked my head up.
It didn’t help that of the two of us, I was the calm, nonviolent one (yeah…me!) and with his disorder, he had the ability to twist things around, convince me I was the problem and everything was my fault.
I spent a lot of time on therapist’s couches and having coffee with friends working on rewiring myself since. Luckily, these are also the same couches he sat on and friends who knew him, so these people had insight as to what was really going on.
My own bipolar medication doses have been spot-on the past few years. I get regular blood tests and the aforementioned therapy. I’d been better than ever. And yet, that happened. The lack of judgment and constant second-guessing made me unable to figure out what was up from down. Now that I’m dating again, I’m very cautious and wish I could rely on my instinct and judgment. You know, like normal people don’t. I over-think and get confused at times. Living alone has been challenging, too. There’s no one to reign me in when I go a little too far outside the lines. I think that’s one of the things you need to find in both your closest friend(s) and a partner when you’re bipolar, or it won’t work.
My Fucktarded Brain:
“Is this what’s going on in reality, or is it just my mind seeing things in the worst possible light?
What if I’m simply being paranoid that it’s my bipolar mind, but it IS really going on and I’m talking myself into staying calm and letting things go while I’m actually getting completely fucked over?”
That’s what it’s like to be crazy. Even on stabilizing medication, it never completely goes away. I’m just able to keep it hidden better.
It’s like a little MMA/Lucha Libre match going on in my head:
“In this corner, Irrational Thoughts! Coming in from Parts Unknown at 6’5” and 385 pounds! His opponent, the high-flying Lucha Libre sensation known simply as SANITY! Sanity hails from Doctor’s Orders and weighs in at a sleek but deceptively quick 135 pounds! Ring the bell!
Oh, wow. WOW! Sanity is just taking a BEATING from Irrational Thoughts! It’s going exactly as we’d thought. Irrationality is all over, just cleaning freakin’ house. It got real ugly, real RAPIDO, folks. He’s got Sanity locked in the WTF-Are-You-Thinking submission and is not letting go…oh, ouch!…but Sanity refuses to tap! He goes for the pin! 1…2…no! Shoulder raised!
Irrational has just put Sanity on top of the cage…he’s backing up…he charges at him… OH MY GOD…Sanity has KICKED Irrational Thoughts IN THE FACE! IN.THE.FACE! And here comes Sanity OFF THE CAGE with a flying triple Functionally Balanced! HO-LY SHIT! Sure didn’t see that coming! Ay, Dios mio! 1… 2…3! Sanity! Sanity! Sanity WINS!”
But Sanity doesn’t always prevail, does he? Sometimes Irrational Thoughts hits the ring and it’s a travesty of a squash match. There have been several times where I have connected the dots to something and let someone have it. Friends, lovers. Over something that wasn’t there. This, while stabilized. Meanwhile, those dots connected clear as anything to me. For me, it was a calm, rational connecting of dots. THE FUCKING DOTS CONNECTED. Not only did they connect, but they fit together like Legos.
But, the other person couldn’t have been more shocked at how in the blue hell I came with my dots OR connections. Oh, and my Legos? They can just piss the fuck off, mate. After that, my dot connecting ability was severely questioned. I lost a lot of my dot connecting credit. I was put on dot connection suspension.
Now, what kind of defense does one have in this case? “Well…you knew I was bipolar!”
Sure. OK. They can say, “I know. You were straight up about it.” (Or in my case, “I read your blogs.” Nothing like having it all out there.)
But does that actually work with someone who really has no clue what it’s like to be something they cannot possibly imagine? Maybe they can look past it, but are fissures not created, tiny hairline cracks?
Meanwhile, they’ve put you in dot connection Time Out.
(Note: There have been a few times where I thought I was crazy because I was told I was wrong – but I found out later I wasn’t. This has happened when I’ve been seeing someone and they simply weren’t comfortable with me calling something so accurately or being brutally truthful. I’m not one for games or bullshit.)
It makes me crawl inside myself. I apologize, back away. Far away. It makes me not want to interact with anyone. Because, clearly, I can’t. I can’t sustain a normal fucking…whatever you call it. Just when I think maybe I’m OK – surprise, mutherfucker! -Nope.
And this, onmedication.
Previously, I hurt everyone around me and walked away unfazed. Now, I just hurt myself trying to make sure others are okay. I suppose it’s an improvement.
Let’s skip the n-word (normal), in lieu of aiming for “functionally balanced”. One day. Not just out of debt, paying my bills, healthy and responsible. I’m already there. But I’d like to be completely balanced. I’d like my mind to quit fucking with me – and I’d like to retain the quick wit and creativity bonuses that come with being crazy, por favor.
I want it all.
Functionally balanced. So much prettier of a phrase than the n-word.
April Hunter is a writer, professional wrestler, full-time student at Full Sail University, professional cosplayer and pin-up, Playboy and fetish model.
She’s also a fitness competitor, former Met-RX & Extreme Nutrition spokes-model, the subject of several comic book characters, an admitted coffee snob, road rage enthusiast, Mother of Chickens and world renowned potty mouth. She uses the C-word as liberally as you use butter on your biscuits. Which you shouldn’t be eating, since you know…carbs and gluten. She struggles with bipolar disorder and Lupus and chooses to view challenges as opportunities.
See more of April on Instagram @realAprilHunter, www.AprilHunter.com and Twitter @AprilHunter. She’s also on Facebook.com/AprilHunterOfficial and owns AprilsScentSations Soy Candles.
They say the way to stop time is kissing. She stood under the shower, warm water streaming down her face, and she imagined their wedding. A Hollywood themed wedding, with R.S.V.P. cards that looked like theater tickets, guests arriving on a red carpet and metal film reels for centerpieces. He loved movies, she thought.
She tried his last name on. Could work.
No, maybe not.
Of course, there would be no wedding. She had no interest in getting married again. But she imagined it, just because. Because she’s a woman. She did this with everyone she dated; tried on their last name. She just did.
Not with the redhead. There wouldn’t be any wedding, real or imagined. Because he was already married. She knew she should feel bad about dating a man who was committed, but she didn’t. She just didn’t.
She’d known him fifteen years. He was barely twenty-one years old when he arrived from a small farm town in another country. They sat across from each other on the frigid concrete floor in a dim locker room in snowy Pennsylvania, and he averted his eyes, polite, but intimidated. They faced each other around the ring, meeting the first time as fighters, and later as lovers.
He remembered what she’d worn that night.
She walked through the entrance and the host pointed to his table without asking who she was meeting. He embraced and kissed her, then she slid into a seat, once again sitting across from him. Now he was a man, with the confidence of someone who had been through the rigors of life and ended up on top.
She studied his face, which was no longer familiar. He looked like the professional athlete and fighter he’d become. His thick, muscular physique was covered in tattoos and his nose looked like it had been broken more than once. His unruly auburn hair was shaved into a punk style and he was attractive in an unconventional way. He looked like he stepped off the set of Vikings. They had common views and values, yet he knew little about her. None of the deep stuff. None of the illness. None of the things she struggled with. And that was fine. He was a fun distraction. It was genuinely light. After the heavy mess she’d gone through the year before, something sweet was welcome.
She rarely connected with people, but something felt right about him and she didn’t know what it was. They were cut from the same cloth – that’s how the host knew. He was familiar. They knew all the same people, they traveled all the same paths. He felt a little like home.
He made her feel things she hadn’t felt in a long time. Elated, euphoric. When he texted, which was frequently, she smiled. He was there as much as the other wasn’t. He was warm, sensual and animalistic. It wasn’t mental with him, it was physical.
She wanted to rip his clothes off and bite him, feel him pressed against her. He told her his dreams of her, how he couldn’t wait to see her in a few days, he wished he could fast forward.
She had never been attracted to vapid or stupid, no matter how pretty a package it was wrapped in. He was bright, not afraid to say exactly what was on his mind or ask for what he wanted. They never ran out of things to talk about, but there were no profoundly deep conversations. An avid reader, he asked about her writing, which fascinated him. He didn’t probe for more about her life, and she was grateful. He texted to say he was thinking of her, morning, noon and night.
She liked him.
I’m into you, he said. I like being with you, around you. You’re easy to talk to. I want this to keep going…if you’re OK with it. I knew we’d be right. I haven’t been wrong yet.
And they were, but in a different way than she was right with the other. She wondered if the redhead was like her, crazy. Game recognizes game. He laughed when she suggested it. She appreciated crazy. She appreciated redheads. She appreciated tattoos. She appreciated kissing.
Anticipation. Waiting to do things they weren’t supposed to be doing. It was utterly intoxicating. He brought out the best in her. He brought out the worst in her. He brought out her, the person she knew for a lifetime, before the bipolar diagnosis and stabilizing medications.
He will never be mine, nor me his. It’s fleeting. Safe. I know exactly where I stand with him. He was honest; never afraid to say how he felt, never holding back. They agreed to that from the start, brutal honesty. He traveled distance to be with her, driving several hours after a day rife with flights, appearances and filming.
It was temporary. Dangerous. Was it the illicit element? Living in the moment?
When he stopped on the street lit sidewalk on that first chilly night and pulled her into him, people stepped around them or stared as he wrapped his hands in her hair, his lips on hers, and neither of them cared.
Maybe eight minutes passed. Maybe thirty. He pressed her against the brick building, and with his hand still wrapped in her hair, he pulled her head back and his full lips were on her jaw bone, down her neck…he came back up, parted her lips with his, and bit one, holding it gently with his teeth. His blue eyes crinkled at the corners as he grinned devilishly down at her. It was an audition. An invitation. He never once touched her anywhere else. He didn’t have to. This is what I can do for you…if you let me. The glow of the street lamps glinted off his dark ginger beard as they sized each other up. He brought her hand to his warm lips and kissed it softly, then tucked her arm under his for the remainder of the stroll. He wasn’t wearing his wedding ring. It wouldn’t have mattered if he was. She already knew the answer, and so did he.
There it was. That ever-pervasive drug, her drug of choice — hypomania — seeping its way back into her life again. It pulsed through her veins, splashing vibrant hues of color to her world, as time stood still.
I’m ‘bout as low as I can get, I’d leave but I can’t forget.
Still wonder why it ain’t right. It ain’t right.
Now we’re as low as we can get. Can’t leave and can’t forget.
We ain’t right. Not right.
Well, it’s hard to believe that somebody tricked you.
When you can see you were only high.
It’s all up to you, so you gamble.
Flat on your face and into the fire.”
Written July-September 2016
The moonlight shimmered off the ocean as the waves broke and lapped at the sand. Walking along the beach, puddles of sea water felt warm and cold at the same time. Bob pranced alongside us, a glowing ball in his mouth. Scooter said this was the only time Bob could play in the water since The Powers That Be decided dogs weren’t allowed on the beach. Makes sense. Dogs digging holes or pooping is far more devastating to the beautiful beaches than the endless broken beer bottles, cigarette butts, cans and plastic wrappers we humans leave.
Scooter and I were in a parallel situation with our significant others, but mine came with a deputy eviction and lawyers. He was mostly angry; I was mostly beaten down.
We commiserated. Words of frustration and hurt tumbled from our mouths, often crossing over each other at the same time. Taken advantage of, damaged, misunderstood, unappreciated. Incensed.
“Oh, your neighbors are definitely talking about you,” he said.
“I know.” The endless parade of police cars and drama in our driveway was mortifying.
“The minute you guys leave, they are SO turning that place into an age 65+ community.”
“Probably,” I said.
“What I want to know is how this happens,” he said, gesturing around with his hand. “This. How two people, who mean the world to one another, get to the point not being able to stand each other?”
“How it goes from that person consuming your every waking thought to just get the fuck away from me?”
“Yeah. Exactly.” He threw the ball out to the waves and Bob scampered off into the darkness to find it.
“If we could figure that out, we could write a book called “Break the Pattern”. Which would obviously hit the bestseller list and we’d rich,” I said.
I felt fortunate to have landed softly at the beach after falling hard. There was something about the water and waves that calmed, and I spent my days holed up in that secluded location walking along the sand until I couldn’t remember which inlet led me back.
The fact that Scooter allowed me to stay at his rental getaway by myself was the proverbial last straw between him and his girlfriend, who, despite being incredibly friendly towards me, hadn’t been happy. Unfortunately, I’ve lost a lot of male friends due to their significant others not being comfortable around me. I never understood this. I’d known them for years before these women came into their lives. If anything were to have happened, it already would have.
To be fair, unlike most of my male friends, I briefly met Scooter on an online dating site, before my profile was yanked down for being “fake”. He looked (stalked) me up on Facebook and said he was surprised I wasn’t some bored guy with stolen photos. We chatted for a while and then got caught up in traveling for work. However, we made a date for the following month. Meanwhile, things with C got more serious. Upon finding that C left his dating profile up, I decided to keep my plans with Scooter. I was up-front and told him that I was seeing someone and thought it was going somewhere, so he probably wouldn’t want to keep the meeting. He said he’d take his chances, thankyouverymuch. I reluctantly met the man and his dog that would go on to be part of my life in the future.
After a glass of wine and witty conversation, I liked him. It was nearing my birthday and he arrived with gourmet dog cookies for Bella and a bullet for me (we share a similar fucked up sense of humor), which I still have. His dog, Bob, sat at my feet, tail gently wagging every time I looked at him.
“Your partner in crime?” I asked.
“Well, we get along well. We’re very similar.”
“We both love food. For another, we both get super excited when we poop.”
He was tall and lanky with sandy-colored facial stubble. He could have used a few pounds and didn’t always seem comfortable in his own skin, but he had a bold, blue-eyed gaze that dared you to look away first. As my friend Heather would say, “Guuuuurl, he is hot!” Though he’d been in Tampa for a while, he hadn’t quite lost that California surfer laissez faire personality. He was confident, humble, independent, and I would eventually learn, self-aware. This is a rare superpower most people don’t possess. Too many choose to place emphasis on their looks or acquiring material possessions rather than take the time to learn about themselves. While it’s great to keep yourself up, looks eventually fade. Who you are will not, and an education of any kind is always a solid investment.
The evening ended with a bro-hug in the parking lot and him saying that if anything changed to let him know. Had Christopher not solidly been in the picture, I’d have seen him again. He had a vintage German car habit, was more broken down from various sports than I am (which is no easy feat) and his dog was quite literally his best friend, but that’s who he was.
We routinely text sarcastic jabs back and forth.
Him: “Many unanswered questions in life. What if Rosa Parks had a car?”
Me: “Well, December first and February fourth would be way different for many of us, that’s for sure. I think cars ruined the Civil Rights movement. Had more people sat their asses in the front of the bus, shit would be further along now. I blame cars for these bullshit shootings and retaliation riots. One hundred percent. Are you putting baby in a corner tonight or do you want to grab something for dinner?”
Him: “So, what do you think the handicapped parking situation is at the Special Olympics?”
Me: “I just want you to know you ruined my night. I’ll be thinking about this for the next several hours. Thanks, Fucker. ”
“Anytime. Do you know what fastest car in the world is?
Me: “Uh…something Italian?”
“A rental car.” He usually wins.
A couple weeks ago he asked, “Level up. Are you ok?”
A pause. “Why are you asking?”
“Because you seem off.” I stared at his text and exhaled as tears welled up. It had been a long time since anyone had noticed how I was doing or cared. Fuck. I thought I was hiding the cycling mania/depression hitting from all angles. I cover it well and don’t talk about it. A key thing with bipolar disorder is awareness. I was aware that I was currently fucked in the head from all the crap going on around me in the aftermath of C. Most people close to me can’t tell. This person, whom I see once I week, could tell how I was doing through text?
“Nope. Not really ok.” And I told him the brutal truth, like I always do, figuring it’ll freak him out and scare him off – for his own good.
“So, where do you want to go for your birthday?” Guess it’s gonna take a little more time.
Photo: Getty Images/Doug Benc
We had a lot in common, so it hadn’t been tough to move into a friendship after we first met. He traveled a lot and once lived in that elusive limelight, signing autographs and trying to catch sleep on planes while winning trophies in professional sports car racing. (We probably share more than a few of the same fans.) I didn’t have to explain my life to him. After that first meeting, every once in a while he’d email to say hello and ask if C had suddenly died in a fiery automobile crash. He found a girlfriend not long after our date, one whose muscular thighs and gym dedication put mine to shame. I followed their escapades on Facebook, often wishing C was the adventurous just-get-in-the-car-and-go type. Or even a workout-without-complaining type. The couple of times we vacationed, it because I arranged and paid for everything. Scooter had once told me, “I have no doubt that we would be an amazing duo. Partners in crime and traveling companions.” I occasionally wondered if I had chosen wrong.
Photo: Dustin McClease
Bob bounded back with the ball, wiggling his entire behind.
“Here’s something entertaining,” I said. “One of the deputies who evicted me asked me to hang out.”
“Guess he didn’t think you were guilty.”
“Yeah, well, dates aren’t going to be a problem for you.”
“Ha. Dating. I can’t even fathom that right now. I think I just need to do my own thing for a while. School, work, get back to making candles. Be alone for a while. This one is probably going to mess me up pretty good. My douche bag radar is clearly wrecked. I don’t know if I can trust myself to make a good decision anytime soon.”
Looking back now, my stomach was in knots from the first day C and I stepped into the house as owners. Once we got inside, we saw it needed far more work than we’d first realized. Our previous walk-through had been while the former owners were living there, clutter piled high against walls and windows; walls that had water damage and windows that didn’t open. He flipped out. I love a challenge and told him not to worry, I’d done this before and it would be fine. He stalked off to the garage and I continued to take inventory of the house. When I found him, he said he went out to the garage to find rope and was seriously contemplating killing himself. That day. The first day.
Oh… my… fuck.
What had I just gotten myself in to? We signed a thirty-year mortgage together. I never saw any of this until that day. He’d always come off as calm, stable and logical. I spent the next year that we lived together trying not to let boiling water spill over. My own life, career and hobbies suffered. I gave up candle making, barely had time to read a book, blew off bookings and didn’t have energy for anything other than putting out fires.
To recap: Between the house renovations and the first contractor ripping us off, then the neighbor’s incessant complaining about everything we did (along with surprise inspections by city and county) which brought the HOA coming down on us about the shed and chickens. (It’s a big yard surrounded by woods, no rooster. No one else had an issue except the guy who shared a property line.) Meanwhile, two of our three chickens mysteriously died, and then I was diagnosed with Lupus. All the while, the aforementioned neighbor went house-to-house around our (elderly) neighborhood with topless photos of me, telling people I was a “porn star, who will bring the property values down”. We had to go to court to get a harassment & stalking restraining order against him to make him stop. Court again to get the HOA to leave us alone. Once we were on their radar, the letters and threats kept coming. We won that mediation as well, but it was stressful as fuck. As soon as it calmed down, C got injured. I’d just started Full Sail University and had been unsuccessfully trying to balance work, travel, school and learning to be a full-time student in an accelerated degree program. His niece moved in. While it was a great help at first, it became a game of pitting us against each other while trying to take care of him. I often felt unwelcome in my own house.
(Note: Despite my big ass titties, I’m not a porn star. I am a centerfold/fetish/pin-up model, pro wrestler, comic book model and professional cosplayer. I’m also an entrepreneur, freelance ad writer & blogger, student, own a small soy candle business called AprilsScentSations and run two websites. Sometimes things are busy, sometimes they’re not. It depends on the market, exposure, and time of year. As far as I can tell, my big ass titties haven’t ruined the property values. However, it’s always entertaining to come home from a convention dressed as Poison Ivy or Jessica Rabbit to get the mail and wave hello to someone walking by. Never gets old.)
Photo: Steven Griffey
In the end, shortly before he evicted me, I’d started to emotionally pull away. At one point, after he broke or punched something in rage, I told him a friend said I should file a restraining order – but I was doing my best to handle everything. I told him I needed more from him. Shortly after that, he filed for a restraining order, claiming he “feared for his life”.
While I was out on my thirty-day eviction, C reported me several times for violating the protection order. First, over some magnetic letters on the fridge I’d had up since the day he left, which he perceived to be a threatening message. (The letters: break-up song titles. Pantera’s This Love and I Will Survive aren’t usually frightening to read.) Another was when I sent him a brief email* after not being able to get in touch with my lawyer all day, asking him to please contact USAA because our mortgage company was about to put us into collections because he hadn’t paid the due payment and they didn’t have his new phone number. Instead of handling the situation, he opted to call the police and file a violation against me. He never did pay it until after our final day in court, where I was forced to split it with him because he had to pay attorney fees. I hadn’t even lived there in June. He also filed a complaint against one of the deputies he knew I used to be neighbors with for “being partial and unprofessional.”
(*Note: I paid the entire down payment for the house and the renovations. C was to handle the mortgage/electric/water/insurance so I could cut back on work and go back to school for my degree. That’s why it was his responsibility to take care of it.)
We went to court after fourteen days, and he and his lawyer pushed for a one-year permanent injunction. Had it been granted, I wouldn’t have been allowed back into my home. C played his head injury to the hilt, claiming total disablement and that he needed “exclusive use of the home.” (Incidentally, Bipolar Disorder has been listed on the Americans with Disabilities Act since 2008.) The judge waived their motion but allowed the original order to stay in place for two more weeks until we could figure out a living arrangement regarding the house. After court, he got into his car and drove away, but not before posting on Facebook, “Time to celebrate! Who’s up for drinks?”
I’d been granted a one-time visit to the house to collect more things. C changed the door locks, which under a temporary restraining order, he wasn’t supposed to do. I couldn’t get in. He let my houseplants and garden die, too. He made me wait four hours, presumably to enjoy his celebratory drinks first.
It’s never just one cop car, there are always two. A deputy escorted me into my own house, checking my ID and paperwork with his left hand, right hand resting lightly near his gun. There’s just something about that that made me feel guilty, no matter what. For this latest episode of That Nice Looking Man vs. The Weird Chicken Lady Who Looks like a Porn Star, the neighbors hid behind their shades.
When I finally got in, I went straight into the bedroom and started packing underwear and dresses.
“Can I talk to her?” C asked the deputy.
“No,” I said.
“Sure, as long as you two don’t fight.”
He followed me around like a puppy, talking about normal household stuff as if he hadn’t just tried to take everything away from me that morning.
I then asked what the hell he was thinking. He told me he filed the order because he ‘just needed a break.’ The deputy looked at him incredulously.
“Sir, that is not why you file an injunction. They’re used because you need someone to stay away long enough so you can move out. Not for a relationship break.”
“Pull the order, C. You said you would.”
“I can do that?”
“Yes,” the deputy said. “You can.”
“Ok, I’ll see about it.”
“Ma’am,” the deputy said to me, while looking directly at C. “No matter what he says right now, there is a chance he is not telling you the truth.”
Driving back from a frenetic weekend of taping customs for SlamminLadies after that, the thought of facing the secluded bungalow became overwhelming. I just felt as if there was no point. If the one person whom I would put first and trust would turn on me for no reason; if everything I’d worked for could be taken away by the county without a single shred of proof – even my ability to earn a living and my pets, it all seemed futile. I started to calculate exactly how much sleep medication I had, and if it was enough to do the trick.
Then…FUCK. His asshat lawyer (“Your Honor, I have the privilege of representing Mr. C…and we request a one-year restraining order, as my client is disabled and needs sole occupancy of the home”) stated we were “tenants in common”. Should one of us kick the bucket, the house would automatically go to the other. Suicide would be a fucking Christmas gift to this guy. Hell, he was probably hoping to drive me to that point in order make things easier for him. No. I’ll die one day, but it wasn’t going to be that day. Plus, it would’ve been extremely impolite to leave a body in a place that someone had so kindly lent me, especially in brutal Florida summer heat. Can you imagine the smell? Scooter would have to burn my soy candles twenty-four-seven. There’s also the fact that my fat cat would’ve eaten my face off within a scant few hours if his kibble wasn’t replenished.
Two days later, C’s sister in law was dead. She’d killed herself, leaving behind two great sons whom she loved very much. There had been a huge betrayal by C’s brother, and C moved him into our home the day I was taken out. She had a very public meltdown in our driveway, where she hysterically dumped his brother’s stuff all over the yard while screaming and crying, and then overdosed the day after.
While we were married, Jordan had given me crap for wearing old tee shirts around the house. “Your fans see you looking hot, so I should, too.” Not an unreasonable request. I bought a bunch of cute little chemise slips that were comfy and perfect for the hot Florida climate.
Pre restraining order: Chris said I was showing too much and he was getting impervious to my “constant nudity”. He stood in the living room, vein bulging in his neck and yelled at me. “Did you know my niece [whom we took in because her father/his brother wouldn’t take care of her, which turned into an excellent six months full of C pitting one against another] saw your VAGINA??”
“Uh, she’s 19, female, it’s just us and she’s living in our house. Vag happens. It was an accident. It’s not like I’m running around naked or anything. I’m not sure the issue here?” He was so irritated, like he was looking for anything to berate me about.
“You need to cover up more. I’m becoming immune to everything.”
“Oh, Jesus. It’s always something with you and your reason to not have sex. Now it’s too much sudden vagina. Fantastic.” I finally caved and went back to shorts and tee shirts to keep the peace.
With a lot of time alone to think while couch-surfing, I eventually realized that a large part of C’s appeal was his complete “normalcy” compared to my life. In society, he was average, safe. Normal. That dreaded N-word. I wanted to avoid the crazy, a circus, and the insane. When my Gram and Mom died back-to-back in 2012 from battling dementia and cancer respectively, then I got divorced, it was gutting. I was neck deep in the entertainment and fitness businesses and walked away from nearly everything for almost two years while coping with depression and nonstop respiratory issues. As awful as that time was, it wasn’t half as traumatic as this past year has been with C.
I think that I believed if I was with normal, then I would be normal. Clearly, it didn’t exactly work out that way.
“Sometimes, when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.” – Unknown
What I didn’t know then is that ultimately, I’d be grateful to C for filing that order, even though he put me through hell and so much embarrassment I still avoid walking my dog during daylight hours so I don’t run into neighbors. As brutal as it was to go through at the time, it worked out for the best. He severed everything clean. Had he not, we’d still be limping along. I would never have left him, not with his head injury. I still don’t know what happened. One moment, we were cuddling in bed in the morning. In the next, he drove himself to the courthouse and filed a domestic violence report. Those around me said he probably set it up ages ago. I’ll never understand it. The only thing I’m certain of, if I go by actions and not words, is that C only cared about his own interests.
You shouldn’t always put someone first, because that teaches them you come second. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this story, he said, “All my exes are crazy.” I have no doubt I’ll be labeled as yet another crazy ex, despite the common thread in the constant insane equation being him. If someone calls you a horse, tell them to go fuck themselves. When four or five people call you a horse, you might want to think about buying a saddle.
I think Scooter and I needed each other during this bleak time. No one understood the frustration, grieving and dashed dreams better than we did. And besides, our friends were sick of listening to our shit. We also talked about some fairly deep life-politics-religion-thoughts stuff. It had felt like forever since I’d really talked with anyone. My dad used to quote: “Great minds talk ideas. Good minds talk events. Small minds talk people.” After nothing but tears and frustration I’d been starving for real conversation and laughter.
“So, wait. He filed a bullshit restraining order and had you taken out of your house,” mused Scooter. “Then you had to pay him to get him to leave, and he’s tried to contact your exes. You do realize you were the man in that relationship, right?”
“Seems to be a role I play too often.”
“That’s not a role anyone should play.” He shook his head. “OK, let’s get this out of the way right now. Exactly how big is your dick?”
“Not big enough.”
I talk to him about some no-holds-barred shit. Through all of this, he’s pretty much seen worst of me and is still there. He’s going through his own realizations/mid life crisis/epiphanies as well. Our conversations run the gamut from the works of Hunter S. Thompson to Hunger Games, obscure documentaries to obscure dog breeds, Trump to tranny porn.
Him: “You really need a fuck buddy.” I *may* have mentioned missing human contact.
Me: “Think so? I imagine being solo for a while might be smarter. I’m a mess. Plus I don’t wanna confuse sex for something it’s not.”
Him: “That’s why it’s necessary to have more than one fuck buddy. Keeps it from getting serious.”
Me: “Player teaching me how to be a playa? Hmmmm, no. I don’t think that’s a great idea. Don’t need any more complications. You bitches be crazy. Or haven’t you noticed?”
He’s right, of course. Both therapists have encouraged me to ‘get back on the horse again’ to some degree. I refuse to let Chris break me, even if I feel broken.
Not sure what you’d call what we have. Companionship. Going places and doing things. It’s more than friendship, but less than dating. Why isn’t there a word for this? Frating? Diendship? It’s kind of dating without actually dating. I’ve had this before, mostly while traveling. I tend to connect with people more easily on the road than home. With frating, there aren’t any expectations, no physical entanglements, nothing owed or promised, but we’re there for each other. Middle finger to the world, he is opinionated, quickly helps those in need, honest, unapologetic, open minded, introverted, moody, loyal, kind, and considers himself a bit of an asshole.
He’s a whole lot like me and I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing yet. However, the sheer irony of turning away this guy for C only to have C inadvertently reintroduce us was not lost. While I felt exceptionally connected to him mentally, we stayed far away from each other physically. There was a constant polite awkwardness present, likely from the overall situation and how we originally met.
Learning to be alone – and not angry. “You always keep what you give away.” For many men, anger is the first response that comes hard and fast. Being “kind of a dude” (as Scooter had called me in Part 1), it always had been for me, too. It gnawed at me. I carried it over into everything else in life. With years of reprogramming, I try not to let it rule me any longer, and I forgive easier. I’ve been allowing myself to mourn. Feel it. Be alone. Not bury my sadness under another person or in a shot glass. American culture tells us that “grief is bad”. We try to distract ourselves from sad feelings rather than embrace them. “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone new.” Maybe, if we are the type who doesn’t mind repeating mistakes over and over again and hoping for a different result. But then, that’s the textbook definition of insanity, isn’t it?
There was no unfaithfulness from me during our relationship, or even after the incident. It never even crossed my mind. I didn’t feel that need to go looking for what was missing elsewhere, even though a lot was missing from our relationship. I think I just wanted it to be fixed. Or, the meds worked in keeping me sane enough to realize that infidelity wasn’t an answer to that problem.
But I’ll tell you this; being angry is a great deal easier than being sad and gutted.
However, at that moment in Scooter’s tiny luggage-laden bungalow, all I needed was a place to stay and an ear to bend. And, that was all he offered. After dinner, the beach walk, a Wi-Fi password and an awkward hug goodbye, he and Bob Barker stepped toward the car.
He opened the door to let the gentle blond dog climb in, then he turned and said, “Don’t waste your days. You don’t get them back.”
When the vintage Porsche drove away, I washed Bob’s slimy, rubber ball and placed it on the windowsill to recharge for his next illicit beach adventure.
Coming soon, Part 3: Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn – An Ex-Wives Club of Sorts & Predatory Habits of a NarcissisticSociopath
As I’ve written before, I’ve almost no family left, and none of whom are here in Florida, so my friends are my support network. They mean a lot to me. My sanity is a direct result of being able to lean on them some days. Scooter has been a good friend (not a boyfriend…he seems perfectly satisfied with his free-range single status, and I am happy with remaining that way myself for now) who stepped in to help with wise insight and ridiculous humor during a critical time. History has proven I’m lousy at picking people to date, but frating… got that down to a fucking art.
Thank you to Danielle Dadamo, Hubert O’Hearn, Jeff Ritter, Brian Hairbottle, Nick Wilkinson, Carroll Grant, Matt McDermott and Mick Foley for their valuable time editing.
I am deeply grateful to my psychotherapist, Amy. She goes above and beyond, keeping me grounded in times of upheaval despite having her own battles to fight.
Thank you to those who have reached out to help. So many of you were good to me during this time and I feel incredibly fortunate. You know who you are, and so do I.
Note: I wrote about this because I withdrew from nearly everything from this time until the present with little explanation other than “lots going on right now.” Work, customers, friends. I blew a lot off and let people down. It was too much to talk about and explain. I’ve always been better at writing than speaking.
Disclaimer: This is my recollection of events and I’ve related them to the best of my knowledge. Some names have been changed or omitted.
No part of this blog may be copied or used without permission.
*This blog is dedicated to Dr. Wendy Potts, who committed suicide after she was suspended from her practice because a patient of hers complained about a blog in which she openly chronicled her struggle with bipolar disorder. For those who battle this challenging illness and try to make sense of it by publicly exposing ourselves and our issues, while hopefully helping others in the process, her death won’t be in vain because some self-serving asshole used her disorder against her. It’s difficult enough to deal with this. Having it used against you in life, court, work; to destroy everything you’ve built and worked for is criminal, inhuman and immoral.
The highway asphalt gave way to bridges flanked by sun-soaked palms and colorful beach motels. The Florida heat, oppressive for June, beat through my windshield while my air conditioning struggled to keep up. I turned onto a street where everything looked the same; block after block of Spanish tiled houses, pink, yellow and blue pubs boasting live music, Cuban restaurants. I slowed to “Florida driver status” looking for the turn that would deliver me to my new home.
Thoughts pinged around my head like mad on the drive from Valrico to Redington Shores. One resounded above all others. Fuck me. How did I get here?How could a man who claimed he loved me file a restraining order against me when I hadn’t done anything to harm him? Why did I have to hire a criminal attorney?
Someone I barely knew from a dating site offered me a place to stay. I swallowed my pride and accepted, since the (fantastic) friend I’d been staying with was expecting company and needed her spare room.
Oh, this is where I casually mention that this was the same man I’d basically declined for the one who’d just had me removed from our home.
I opened my car door and the humid, sea air enveloped me. Bob Barker ambled over to my car with his tail wagging. I hugged his big, blond Labrador head and kissed his pink nose, waving at Scooter (not a dog) who was stretched out barefoot, sitting in a lime Adirondack chair on the deck. He came over for a hug and proceeded to help me haul my belongings into his tiny beach bungalow.
“Women,” he muttered. “None of ya can pack light.”
I put my fat, gray cat down, and opened the pre-filled disposable kitty litter box I’d picked up from the store. Whoever created the portable cat poop tray is brilliant – and hopefully a millionaire. Bob shoved his face into the pet carrier, hoping for a playmate or a treat. Finding neither, he decided his water bowl was more interesting.
After loading the little tiki-style bungalow to capacity, Scooter and I sat opposite each other on patterned blue futons serving as couches. The hard surface bit into my tired body and I shifted around; trying unsuccessfully to get comfortable. My health had been an issue lately. I hadn’t slept right in weeks, hadn’t had a period in months and was doing all I could to keep the painful Lupus joint flare-ups and rash to minimum. I felt nauseous and weak. Trouble jumped up and laid next to me, purring, satisfied with this new living arrangement.
Scooter spoke directly, skipping the small talk as usual.
“So,” he said. “What happened?”
I handed him the injunction, which removed me from my own home on a false domestic violence charge for thirty days. My boyfriend – pardon, ex-boyfriend – listed bogus claims alleging I was a drug user, had a violent criminal record, was non-compliant with my bipolar medications, and previously had a restraining order issued against me. Of course, he knew all of this was untrue. That did not stop him from stating lies under oath in order to (successfully) achieve his goal of having me removed from our house. This, after a weekend of arguing.
To prove to the judge what a threat I was, he’d even listed my “intimidating” wrestling height and weight that I use for gigs, instead of my real size and actual measurements. How could this man lay next to me every night and not know how tall I am, or what I weighed? I wondered if he knew my eye color when he filled out the “description” for the police. Or did he have to Google that too? He also marked down that I was armed… with toys. Costume props to be precise.
He blatantly used my career and illness against me to achieve his goal. Of course, anything can be considered a weapon, even a pen. This meant that an Airsoft bb gun and plastic sword can potentially kill someone, as could my coffee cup and hair dryer. Jackie Chan could prove this theory, but with five magic words he got his wish. “I fear for my life.”
Done. Signed, sealed and delivered. I was evicted.
Scooter shook his head. “What’s his deal?”
“Wish I knew. Never saw this coming. He said all his exes were crazy. Giant red flag, right?”
“Well, all my exes are crazy,” Scooter said.
“Here’s a thought: maybe you guys are the ones that drive us crazy?”
Unlike most ex-girlfriends who were (allegedly) crazy, I am legitimately crazy. Bipolar 1, with a side order of anxiety, ADD and OCD, which I’ve gotten under control with stabilization medications, diet, exercise and regular therapy. I get mandated blood tests every couple months to verify all my medication levels are on target and I’ve never once (ever!) not taken my meds. I love them. Being a control freak, I like that I finally have power over of my emotions and temper. I’m happy to have the choice to decide whether or not to get upset or just let something go and walk away. I have an extreme dislike for the saying “I’m in good place” but that’s exactly where I’d been before all the bad stuff with C (that’s what I’ll call my ex – C. It’s an initial, not a grade) started happening. (Note: I am the one with bipolar disorder, although C has a couple of his serious mental diagnosis’ I can’t disclose. Because of what I went through when living with my father, who had bipolar disorder, then getting myself on the right stabilizing medications, I honestly thought I could help him. Who better to understand it all than me? Ha.)
However, for the sake of safety to others, I should mention that his name is Christopher Leonard Harris, born May 23, 1971, he is also known as BlueEyedPrince71. Hopefully, this never happens to anyone else…but it will, over and over again.
With luck, the next woman Googles him and reads this. By the way, dear future ex-girlfriend, keep reading. It gets better. While you may think I *could* be making things up out of spite or bitterness, there are quite a few of us, and you’ll hear tragic and heartbreaking stories from all. It’s a damn Ex Wives Club. Actually, the “Nearly The Ex Wife” Club is more like it. The devil doesn’t come to you with a red face and sharpened horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wanted. The reason Chris seems so into you and asks so many questions is because he’s trying to find an “in” to work.
He will be so damn perfect – the most perfect man you’ll have ever met. And, we, his exes, will be “crazy”. Or, he’ll read this and change his tune a bit, but it’ll be the same ending for you. It never lasts more than about two-ish years and you’ll be broke and broken, because he’ll have taken everything from you. He’s a sociopath who can’t feel, and he preys upon women he finds online who are independent and doing well in life. Therein lies the challenge. Sooner than later, he’ll be pushing to move in with you. After passing six weeks of church pre-marital counseling with flying colors, he left one of us at the alter two days before the wedding. He packed up and walked away from another while she was at work without any reason or goodbye – and she’d paid for him to go back to school, supporting him while he got his degree. He threatened to have a pet dog put down by animal control for “attacking him” if one woman didn’t shut her mouth when she started to come forth with the use and abuse she’d dealt with. And me? Well, this is my story. Read on to see a little of the details from when he demanded a five-figure payout on a house he didn’t buy after leaving me in debt while in school. The best part? He filed a completely bullshit restraining order against me for ‘domestic violence’ (I never laid a hand on him) which had me kicked out of my home for thirty days until court, where I had to hire a defense attorney. Charming, huh? And the threats? Lies? Back stabbing? Head games? It’s still going on to this very day.
Another lesser thing to be aware of: his flag only flies at half-mast and the guy was never interested in sex. None of us could figure out what was up with that. (Or, wasn’t up with that.) Not much of a conversationalist after a while, either. Anyway, no matter how “perfect” he is right now, you are simply a means to an end. Not the wonderful, beautiful soul his empty heart has yearned for like he’s likely telling you. Even if you are all that. And chances are, you are. Because he tends to go after women who are amazing, smart, talented and beautiful. Which is why I am warning you!
Once this blog was published, other’s surfaced with similar stories. These women let me know that what he did had nothing to do with a head injury. It’s just how he is, and that it’s part of his Borderline Personality Disorder. He is what’s called a Narcissistic Sociopath, which I didn’t realize…until I did.
There are two sides to every story…and then there are screen shots. Please scroll to the bottom for more information.
A few days after Memorial Day, two deputies knocked on my door and served me papers. I was sitting on the back porch in my nightshirt, with a coffee. I was told I had twenty minutes to pack and leave the house. I was also instructed that I could not come within five hundred feet of my property, and when I looked down at the phone in my hand, I was warned not to contact C and ask him what in the blue hell he was thinking, or they’d arrest me on the spot. He already had the courts issue a no contact order.
We’d have to go before a judge to find out when – and if – I could return.
To my house.
Which I paid for.
Where I lived, worked, and went to school. With my pets. Where I planted fruit trees and veggies. (The majority of which didn’t survive my absence. I waited two years for those damn pineapples and almost managed to save them. But “almost” only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes.)
I put in for an emergency withdraw from the university I was attending. Since most of my “day job” work was done on my desktop computer, size and circumstance forced me to leave it behind. I also left my shoot clothing, school books, wrestling gear, chickens, dog and the life that C and I made for ourselves.
In a roundabout way this sudden “forced vacation” was probably for the best. But that was not my mindset at the time.
After being served the order, my head was spinning. I grabbed as much as I could make sense of in those few precious minutes I had: clothes to sleep in, gym stuff, makeup, an overnight bag, medications, important papers, cash, laptop, protein powder, the cat, and very little everyday wear. Oddly enough, I packed my travel coffee pot first. Priorities? Foreseeing how long I’d be gone? I put the chickens in their coop, refilled their water and food, fed Bella, grabbed my stuff, locked the door, and not-so-silently cried every step of the way. I figured it was all some kind of huge mistake and I’d be back later that night. I was advised to go straight to the courthouse and file an appeal.
My ex-husband, Jordan, whom I remain on good terms with, went over later with a police escort to get Bella. At that point, the neighbors were sitting at the end of their driveways, unabashedly eating popcorn and refilling their Cokes. To his credit, he kept his “told-ya-so’s” to a minimum that day.
This also happened:
Cute Deputy: “So, I guess that relationship’s over.”
Me (standing in front of my car, wiping tears): “Ya think? I can’t believe he would do this.”
Deputy: “Well, when it all calms down, do you want to go to the beach or something?”
Me: “Um…too soon?”
But, let’s be honest… it’s only sexual harassment when they’re ugly. Or someone is trying to make a quick buck. Everything else is flirting.
On the way to the courthouse, I called an ex-boyfriend, who was an attorney.
“Holy shit. Are you serious? OK, wait. Don’t fill anything out yet. Let me make some calls. We know the right words and most of the judges,” he said. (See a pattern here? I generally get along with people after we split up. This one had been particularly sweet to me with the many legal issues I’d encountered this year.) He referred me to his close friend, who quickly filed the appeal paperwork.
Several hours later, the phone rang and the thick New York accent told me what I didn’t want to hear.
“It’s Friday. No one at the courthouse does jack on a Friday. C. fucked you. He fucked you good. Judges don’t consider injunctions a high priority, so prepare to sit this one out. I’ll do the best I can.” My phone rang again and it was his office collecting their (discounted) fee. I’d been sitting in the courthouse cafeteria all day, waiting, with a soggy sandwich in front of me, too nauseous to eat. Surrendering, I walked out to my car. I opened the GPS app to enter an address and realized that I didn’t have one. That’s when the weight of the situation I was in hit me and I fell apart in the parking lot, in tears.
My lovely friend, Matt, used points to get me a hotel room for the night, which was highly appreciated. After unceremoniously appearing on my best friend’s doorstep in the form of a snotty mess while she was making dinner for her kids, I headed over to my new current residence. Despite copious amounts of Xanax, there was no sleep. I still couldn’t believe what happened that day. The next morning, I gathered what little I had with me and drove the hour out to Valrico to stay with my friend Lexie and her family for a while.
I experienced a lot of feelings at that time, but the most prevalent was utter disbelief and betrayal. I would have preferred him to cheat on me. He’d never so much as broached the subject of splitting up. It was insane.
Let me give you some back-story for context. Seven months’ prior, C had fallen at an ice rink and hit his head so hard that he’d (allegedly) suffered some brain damage. This was only four short months after we bought a fixer-upper house and renovated it together.
Living together was awful from the start. We powered through a series of not-so-comedic tragedies which included contractor rip-offs, a nasty stalker for a neighbor, pet deaths and learning that our HOA was intent on taking us all the way to court over a shed, our pet chickens or both. As you know, I’m a fighter, so we kept moving forward. But it took it’s toll on me and my body started to break down. Meanwhile, I put Chris first.
Told not to drive or work, he wound up on disability. The rational, patient, fun man I knew and adored was replaced with someone who was unpredictable, hostile, violent, emotional, and depressed to the point of being suicidal. He reminded me of me before I was on meds, and I wondered if this was some kind of karma coming back to me for all the bullshit I’d put my exes through. (Dear Jordan, Paul and Rick… the words “I’m sorry” don’t nearly convey what I feel now that I’ve been on the other side. I’ve since learned to deeply appreciate and understand all you did and gave for me. I’m grateful to still have you in my life, as you three are amazing – and forgiving – human beings.) There were countless days I skipped the gym, or blew off work, because I was afraid to leave C home alone.
At one point, he spelled out to his niece and me exactly how he was going to hang himself from a tree out back, so I called his doctor on a Sunday in a panic asking what to do. She told me to Baker Act (institutionalize) him.
“I can’t. I can’t do that to him. I wouldn’t want that done to me.”
“Then reduce his Depakote by half and let me know how he does in a week.”
My friends and therapist said I should have Baker Acted him. They were right. He continued to put us both through hell.
That Memorial Day weekend, we argued.
I was on edge from end of semester school overload, and he was dismal from having officially been let go from his job. I remember him flipping out because his boss unfriended him on Facebook and the reaction was similar to learning that a close friend had died. He was utterly morose, dejected, and pissed. He was also filled with spite. I still didn’t put two and two together. I had no idea what a Narcissist was. I thought it was just someone who took too many selfies or they loved looking in the mirror or talking about themselves. I was about to find out it was none of that – and very, very dangerous.
We found out we were about to lose our health insurance and had spent the week cramming in doctor’s appointments and med refills. For once, I didn’t back down when we bickered, and I should have. After arguing all evening, it culminated in him trying to leave the house intoxicated on sleeping pills and xanax. I asked for his keys and he refused. I then tried holding him back by the waist, to stop him from leaving and driving while under the influence, insisting he sleep it off in the spare room. He said he wanted to sleep in our bed instead. I said OK, and the issue was put to rest for the evening.
THAT is where I made my mistake. Never hold someone back from being self destructive, even if that person is going to possibly take someone else out with them. That’s how the laws work in the USA. You just have to let them go, or YOU are the one who will take the bullet. Holding him back from driving intoxicated was what he called “abuse.” Doesn’t matter that he came back and slept in our bed with me. He’s a sick little scorpion. All they know how to do is sting, it’s just their nature.
The next morning, we decided to take a break. He agreed that he would go stay with a friend. He stood in the doorway with his duffle bag in hand and told me he loved me. Little did I know that when he left, he contacted his friends, family and police. C claimed that he thought I wanted to ‘murder him’ and single-handedly blew our entire life up. He was advised to get a restraining order.
He even contacted my own brother. I wasn’t raised with my brother past the age of 13, and my brother was barely 10 years old then. After our parents split, I was sent to live with our father because my mother felt he could ‘handle’ me better. My brother has never known me since I’ve gotten medicated, which has turned me into an entirely different person. (C has never known me as anything but medicated.) Brother has mostly only ever known me through stories and my mother’s rants about what I’d done this time, often inserting himself into situations that had he little to do with, which made them much worse. Gas on fire. To this day, he has no idea what bipolar disorder is or how someone acts with it. He doesn’t know that things he had done were exactly what someone should never do when dealing with someone with bp. Lack of education destroys. Lack of understanding keeps wounds open. Lack of forgiveness makes it hard to move onward. Despite these things, we had managed to put issues behind us and move ahead to the point of being acquaintances. For Mom. Honestly, I was happy about it. I have almost no family left and lots of fun, shared memories with him from when we were kids.
C was quite aware my brother and I had a tremulous relationship at best, which was based upon our mother’s dying wish for us to get along, yet he managed to drive a wedge into it. Why he would contact someone whom he’s never met, who has never been to our house, never invited us to visit, never even sent a Christmas card, was beyond me, but he seemed to think the advice held validity and later blamed the entire thing on my brother. My brother blamed me, even though he used the opportunity to twist the knife to scare someone whom he knew to have brain damage by plying him full of stories about irrational behavior during manic episodes and urged him to get the restraining order.
C, who doesn’t have strongest of spines on his stellar days, decided this was the best possible advice, despite there being no threat, no violence and having never seen any of that behavior. Ever.
C never experienced anything more violent than me raising my voice and the rare smashed plate on the floor. I handled him with kid gloves. Apparently, worst thing I ever called him was when I told him he was acting like his brother by ignoring issues when he needed to be there.”FUCK YOU, YOU CUNT,” was his response. I think my reply was, “Well, thanks for finally getting back to me.” I was told saying that was “unforgivable”. (He wasn’t a huge fan of his brother’s. He viewed him as an eternal fuckup who did nothing but complain, was ungrateful, entitled, didn’t raise his kids, hurt everyone around him and completely self-centered. Then, C moved the guy into our house a few months later, while I was gone.)
Anyway, just like that, my brother and C had me removed from home. I was unaware any of this was going on until C later told me, pointing the finger at my brother for all of it. He even named him on the court document. But, at the end of the day, it was C’s writing on the paper.
Brothers, huh? I knew I should have let the end of the see-saw drop a little harder when we were at the playground.
I’ll never know what happened, so if I use Occam’s razor, with the simplest answer usually being the correct one, here’s my gut feeling (which has a very high success rate when I bother to listen to it): I think C didn’t like or respect me as a person any longer (that, he told me), especially when I asserted myself a little and explained that I needed care and help, too. I’d recently been diagnosed with Lupus and the stress was wreaking havoc. Before that, it had been all about him. I think he got overwhelmed with everything we’d been through since buying the house and was looking for validation to do what he wanted to do, which was leave in any way possible. My brother simply gave him enough information to make him feel OK about doing something shitty. This is the only explanation that adds up.
(When confronted with this theory, he shut down. The court dismissed all charges in a matter of minutes on “no sufficient evidence” and the judge reminded us that injunctions shouldn’t be used as revenge. Only 30% of restraining orders are actually legitimate. 70% that are complete bullshit. That is a serious system failure.)
I would may never have realized what was going on if it weren’t for Scooter. He texted me that “Here’s the deal, sweetie” at the very bottom of this story with a note that said, “this sounds like what you’ve said about Chris.” The more I looked into it, the more unfolded. I researched talked to my psych. I talked to OUR couples psych. I talked to his psych. It all fell together.
But because I didn’t realize how off the charts he was in his NPD, which is under the Borderline Personality Disorder spectrum, I never understood any of this insanity with C. This man, who had been in the military, was freakishly strong. At almost four inches taller, and at least fifty pounds heavier than I, was suddenly “afraid of me” (on paper at least), even though I never threatened, let alone harmed him. I’d never done anything but look out for him, even when he pissed me off. It just didn’t make any sense. The lies. The manipulation. The weird behavior. The total lack of empathy. The drama. The outbursts of anger, the shaming, the mental abuse and laying on the guilt…the reaction to his boss pulling away from him…the reaction to ME pulling away from him.
Remembering back, his ex-girlfriend emailed me through my blog with a warning back in 2014. She said that he was a “sociopath”, the most vindictive person she’s ever known, would ruin my life, and I “wouldn’t even see it coming.” (She also said some other stuff I won’t print here that was a little, ah…revealing.) I did not presume that she was clinically trained to make any kind of medical diagnosis and figured she was simply being spiteful. After rereading her words post-eviction, I wondered if his irrational behavior was not part of his head injury at all. I recently remembered that C told me he had contacted her ex-husband on Facebook (who had nothing nice to say about her, thus giving C the words he needed to hear), which seemed to be a pattern for him. He contacted my first ex-husband as well. Rick chose to ignore him and alerted me.
Normally, I have caused the majority of the problems in my relationships. As most bipolar people who aren’t on (any/the right) meds will (delusionally) tell you, “it’s always them, it’s never me!” But guess what? That’s a load of fucking horseshit. If the constant in the equation is you; if you have done this to everyone, then it’s you.
Pre stabilizing medications, it was always me. I’m fortunate to have forgiving people in my life and the opportunity to be stabilized.
However, this time it was notme. And I am no longer delusional. Even our therapist took me aside and said he didn’t understand what was going on with C.
Before the accident, if things were going smoothly, C would find a way to create conflict. He could never just be. He always had to be doing something; playing a game, on Facebook, checking email, cleaning, or rattling around. Sitting still, reading a book, or enjoying the patio just wasn’t possible. He had untreated anxiety issues and started spats over cleaning, how I folded towels, or how much room my varied coffee creamers took up in the fridge. For a guy who’d nearly died from a heart problem a couple years earlier, he didn’t seem to treat his second chance in life the way most people would. C was the world champion of causing death by paper cuts.
Our values and morals weren’t aligned and I didn’t realize this until we lived together. I came from a household that managed on one military paycheck and a stay-at-home mom. We had a garden, used a wood stove, and if we ever went out to dinner, it was an event. We got what we needed, not what we wanted. He came from privilege. I conserve (read: am cheap as fuck), don’t believe in debt, am environmentally conscious and think taking care of yourself is important. He viewed me as “narcissistic” (and later posted about it publicly), abhorred exercise, spent time looking up articles that stated recycling is a waste of time, put everything on credit cards while making minimum payments and had no issues running water full force for two minutes while brushing his teeth.
Dr. John Gottman wrote that when people argue, it’s not really over money or chores. It’s rooted deeper. Their values are different and that is the problem. So, despite trying to resolve things, arguments keep happening. One of the main factors in relationship success is finding someone whose values match yours, or getting on the same page as far as understanding and respecting each other in this department. I felt C misrepresented who he was to me, but we were in a thirty-year mortgage together and I loved him, so I wanted to try and make the best of it.
To be fair, he tried. We both tried. I posted a rant or three on Facebook myself, before hastily deleting them. I am most certainly not saying I’m wonderful and he’s evil. That’s not the case. C had a lot of really amazing qualities about him (which I’ve also written about), and that’s why I wanted to share a home with him in the first place. But this is the story of how it all ended… abruptly and without any rhyme, reason or remorse on his part.
Perhaps with the injury, Chris wasn’t able to hide who he was any longer. Or, with a head injury that scary, it consumed him (us) and thinking about others just didn’t matter to him anymore. All I knew for sure was that I didn’t know this person who had me put out of our home with absolutely no regret. I’d never touched him in any harmful or physically violent way. My best friend, who used to adore the ground he walked on and often defended him when I complained, said: “He’s just a fucking asshole and liar! No real man does that. He’s a pussy!”
Over winter, he became violent. He first snapped when I reminded him the doctor told him to stay off device screens for brain rest, which he found impossible, and threw his iPad across the room. He ran over and stomped it repeatedly, breaking it and the heel of his foot in the process. In a rage, he went out to the garage to throw the iPad away and when he came back through the laundry room, he looked at me like he might kill me. I don’t rattle easily, but he scared the shit out of me right then. It was the first time I was afraid of him, and it wouldn’t be the last. He smashed picture frames, threw his eyeglasses at me and broke them, threatened to put me through a wall, called me every name in the book and punched a hole through our pantry closet. He screamed, “I hope you rot in hell, just like your father.” (My father was a firefighter pilot and died in a plane crash putting out wildfires in California when he hit a mountain.) I was told I should put my sixteen-year-old cat to sleep (several times) simply because Trouble didn’t care for his young Siamese kittens and would go to the bathroom outside the litter box as his way of acting out. (He later apologized for both comments. C, not Trouble. Trouble doesn’t do apologies. Trouble also starting using the litter box again as soon as all the strife disappeared from home.) C didn’t understand that what I did for work was actually work because I did it from home. “Just get a real job.” My dog, Bella, was afraid of him. I often sent her to stay with my ex-husband, Jordan, who shook his head. “You can’t date a civilian. Let alone a mentally unstable one.”
He berated me endlessly over putting watermelon in the refrigerator because it leaked off the plate. He used a divide-and-conquer approach to dealing with me vs everyone in his life: his sister, his niece…it was messed up. He even flipped out at me for not…wait for it…wearing underwear underneath my nightgown at home while no one was here except his 19 year old niece – who apparently never saw or owned a vagina, despite going to nursing school. He ragged on me so hard about how “clean” I kept the house scornfully asked, “April, really…do you think other people really live like this?” waving his hand around the room…which was clean. But apparently, NOT CLEAN ENOUGH. (For him.)
In calmer and less hurtful moments, C asked if he could get me anything on the way home, offered to proofread my writing, helped cook dinner, slaved over keeping the up the pool or fixing things around the house, and was as sweet and affectionate as one can be. I thought I could help him. If anyone could understand his erratic behavior, it was me. In other words, despite his regular psychiatrist, neurologist and neuro-psych visits, I was living with an unstable psychotic who often told me I was the unstable one who “needed to have my meds fixed.” It was always “my fault”. I “pushed buttons”. It was never him.
It was extremely rare that I lost my proverbial shit and yelled back because my stabilizing medications kept me calm. He once screamed at me, “I can’t push your buttons. You’re like a fucking stone wall.”
However, C managed to drive me close to the edge a few times, and after smashing a jar of my favorite jam in the kitchen out of frustration (which I instantly regretted, because it was Bonne Maman’s Four Fruits and not that easy to find, dammit), I realized living with him was not healthy for me.
I spent Christmas Eve in Starbucks. He’d started in on me because I left the laundry in the dryer when my friend showed up at our door after driving 17 hours from Louisville to stay the weekend, and it escalated. I turned away from him, shattered my lunch plate on the kitchen floor (a month after the jelly incident), grabbed my purse and left. We had gone to the beach the day before with my friend Joe and my debit card was in another purse, so all I had in my wallet was my Starbucks gift card. I camped out with a breakfast sandwich and a cappuccino. He texted, repeatedly: “Please come home.”
When things were good with C, they were really good. I honestly thought he’d get better. But, they didn’t, and I felt trapped in a mortgage and a school commitment with a half-lunatic, hanging by a thread of hope that was stretched to its limit.
“I’ve heard of this happening from some of my buddies, but never a female,” said Scooter.
“Yeah, well… I guess I’m just lucky,” I said.
“Yeah, well… you’re also kind of like a dude. How many women do you actually hang out with? Women are fucking crazy,” he said. He was wearing glasses and looked good in them. I like glasses on men. I think it’s the whole sapiosexuality (Google it) fetish I have. I prefer the men I date to be intelligent, curious and witty. Most people aren’t.
“I know. I’m in a locker room full of men and hear about it all the time. I just never thought it could happen to me.”
I had to leave for an appointment back in Clearwater. Despite his hospitality, it gave me an uneasy feeling leaving my cat, makeup, clothes, cash, passport, medication, mortgage papers, and laptop with Scooter. Trust was now an issue. It took everything I had not to completely lose my mind after what had just happened. All he had to do was lock his door and what little I had in my possession would be gone. I’d be fucked. My stomach churned with uneasiness until I pulled back into beach bungalow a half day later, where he was still barefoot on the same green chair as before.
I felt foolish for being so paranoid and angry at C for making me think that way.
The night, the moonlight shimmered off the ocean as the waves broke and lapped at the sand. Walking along the beach, puddles of sea water felt warm and cold at the same time. Bob pranced alongside us, a glowing ball in his mouth. Scooter said this was the only time Bob could play in the water since The Powers That Be decided dogs weren’t allowed on the beach. Makes sense. Dogs digging holes or pooping is far more devastating to the beaches than the endless broken beer bottles, cigarette butts, cans and plastic wrappers humans leave.
We were in a parallel situation with our significant others, but his was without a deputy eviction or lawyers. He was mostly angry; I was mostly beaten down.
“Oh, your neighbors are definitely talking about you,” Scooter said.
“The minute you guys leave, they are SO turning that place into an age 65+ community.”
“Probably,” I said.
“What I want to know is how this happens,” he said, gesturing around with his hand. “This. How two people, who mean the world to one another, get to the point not being able to stand each other?”
“How it goes from that person consuming your every waking thought to just-get-the-fuck-away-from-me?”
“Yeah. Exactly.” He threw the ball out to the waves and Bob scampered off into the darkness to find it…
Note:I’m writing about this because I withdrew from nearly everything from this time until the present with little explanation other than “lots going on right now.” Work, customers, friends. I blew a lot off and let people down. It was too much to talk about and explain. I’ve always been better at writing than speaking.
Thank you to Danielle Dadamo, Hubert O’Hearn, Jeff Ritter, Carroll Grant, Matt McDermott, Brian Hairbottle and Mick Foley for their suggestions and valuable time editing. I am deeply grateful to my psychotherapist, Amy. She goes above and beyond, keeping me grounded in times of upheaval despite having her own battles to fight.
Thank you to those who have reached out to help. So many of you were good to me during this time and I feel incredibly fortunate.
You know who you are, and so do I.
(See below for more screenshots.)
Disclaimer: This is my recollection of events and I’ve related them to the best of my knowledge. Some names have been changed or omitted.
Thank you to Pam Ella Lee for the photos around my home. Thank you for Steven Griffey Photography for the cosplay photo of Thundra (not Flash!)
The restraining order/injunction, which was dismissed.
Above: Chris trying to access my accounts – always – after he moved back to Michigan.
Below: Accounts from previous exes who assured me his crazy behavior had nothing to do with any head injury and had everything to do with him being batshit crazy and just a horrible, vindictive person.
No part of this blog may be copied or used without permission.
“Don’t choose the better guy. Choose the guy that’s going to make you a better girl.” Chelsea Handler, This Means War
Jordan (my soon to be ex-husband) wasn’t thrilled with the way he felt I portrayed him in my writing. To clarify, with honesty: He is, and always has been, one of the best people I’ve ever met. He has always treated me very well. This is one of the reasons I was on the fence so much during this past year of being “single-ish”. The “-ish” meant that we still spent a lot of time together. He knew I was dating and was far from okay with it. He had been doing all he could to try to keep us together. When things went bad, I called him. When something good happened, I told him first. When I had a booking, he would look after the house and water all my plants. Oh…and he had his own set of keys.
Even though I’d told him I was seeing others, I’d always felt fairly rotten about it until the last few months. I would teeter-totter on that fence of indecision weekly, daily and even hourly. We brought out the worst in each other as a married couple, but he was still my family.
I cancelled my Match.com membership, but it was still active for another couple of months. I wondered if I should just stay married. I hadn’t filed the divorce papers yet and needed to make a decision, as the one year anniversary was fast approaching. My head wished I could keep my vows, but my gut was saying, “Hell, no.” My husband and I were like two North ends of a magnet repelling each other. Even in the worst travel situations and high stress moments, I had been calm and cool all year, but I still found myself breaking plates around him. Our marriage therapist had called us the classic “Can’t live with, can’t live without” co-dependency. When we met, we were very happy. We lived together and worked together, often booked photo shoots and shows as a team. I wonder how couples go from elation in each other’s arms to the entire relationship no longer working. I suppose if I knew that, I’d know how to stop it – and I could sell it and get rich.
Finalizing a split with Jordan meant losing my best friend as well as my spouse. So in utter selfishness, I’d strung him along at times because he was the one person I trusted and loved hanging with. Sometimes, I was afraid to be alone. Lonely is a better term. I like my own company and enjoy being alone. Lonely, not so much. I’d been married for nearly nine years and now I was eating, going to the gym and sleeping solo. In the back of my head, I was afraid I’d die and it would be days before anyone found me. By then, my cat would have eaten my face off. It was a wasted worry since my cat would eat my face off if I missed one feeding.
Even if I didn’t want to be married, I still wanted our friendship. As things got more and more unfair, I told him to go and see other people, but he chose to stick around. When the plumbing in my bathroom broke, he came over to fix it. If I had traveled for a long weekend of wrestling matches, he would bring me groceries, knowing I’d be too beat up to do much for a day or two. There was even a brief period when I had a weird time with someone I was dating and he was the one who was there and talked me through it. That’s why I stayed even though our personal relationship was chaotic for a long, long time and his negativity triggered me into episodes.
During the final months, our visions for what our marriage was differed dramatically. He thought that since he’d stuck with me through the non-medicated times, I now owed him the “good times”. I saw us as irreparably broken and wanted to move forward. He viewed my dating as “cheating” despite living apart, since we were still married. I viewed the separation as a time to think and see what I wanted, which included seeing other people.
I downloaded and filled out the divorce papers and hoped I could keep Jordan in my life to some capacity as a friend, because he is a good person and I’m pretty sure I’ll always like and love him as a human being. It hurt to lose my Canadian family. Unlike most in-law situations, I very much adored them and when Mom2 said, “You’ll always be our daughter-in-law and we love you,” I’d believed it. He had not told them that I was dating around, in order to protect me should we get back together, so it was quite a shock when they found out via a photo on my Facebook page. They haven’t talked to me since.
Jordan is not entirely happy with me at the moment (“rather hostile” might be a more accurate description at times), but I told him he’ll thank me someday – when he is with the right woman.
“There’s a time when you can share and you hold hands and be on the same path. But there’s always a fork in the road, at some point. Sometimes you have to go on one part of the fork and they got to go on the other part of the fork.” Alan Tudyk, 28 Days
Jesus & Babies (Leo) contacted me out of the blue. “I miss hanging out with you.”
“Yeah, well…you had issues with many things about me,” I said.
“No, I didn’t. You got defensive, so I backed off. I texted you from Dublin and never heard back. ”
Of course I met him for lunch because he is ridiculously hot and I had nothing else going on. And I’d never slept with him, so curiosity won over common sense. (That’s the chemistry vs. compatibility thing I was talking about. Chemistry doesn’t always add up to “good for you”.) He walked in and lit up when he saw me. He was still tall, handsome, blond, athletic and lean. Damn. The entire place turned to stare at both of us as he hugged me and took my hand.
However, not long into my arrival, I suddenly remembered why I had walked away. He was hot but had no sense of humor. There was also an edgy bitterness to him. How in the blue hell had I missed that? Oh, right. Probably because I was too busy reacting to chemisty and not paying attention to what was really going on. He kissed my cheek, stared down at me with his bright blue eyes and said with a smile, “We would have such beautiful babies. I am going to get you pregnant.” Mein Gott. No.
He was a fantastic kisser though and I indulged myself, knowing full well it would be the very last time. It was chemistry without compatibility, and I was old enough and smart enough to know better.
Nothing fucks like crazy, but I guess I wouldn’t be finding out that night. I just didn’t need that headache. Dating bonus: None. Wait…yes, there was. A solid learning experience.
“You write short stories. I think you like living short stories. I’m kind of ready for the novel.” –Kate Mara, Happy Thank You More Please
As a die-hard romantic, there’s little I like more than kissing (and everything else that comes with it). I’ve realized that I’d been missing out by dating people younger than I am thanks to being in entertainment and also looking younger my whole life. Men my own age seem to know what they’re doing. Conversations were my favorite part of dating, but the romance was in a close second place.
My friend Lonette wanted to know where I was going and who I’d be with all the time.
“Why? I’m a big girl.”
“Are you crazy? Don’t you watch Dateline? These guys could be ax murderers!”
“No, I don’t watch Dateline. Why? Was there an episode called ‘The Match.com Ax Murderer?’”
I think Lonette would be an excellent murder mystery writer.
There were some pleasant, but ultimately dead-end conversations with various men that led nowhere, and then a former well-known race car driver-turned-restaurateur (Cancer) who was resourceful enough to find me after meeting without even knowing my name. His preferred nickname was truly strange (Scooter), so I shall just call him Todd. He was tall and nice looking with a piercing look that gave the impression he could sort out bullshit in .02 seconds. Todd colored outside the lines in life, made me look like an amateur when it came to sarcasm, treated his dog better than most people treat their children, was a free spirit, happy to be childless, successful in life and knew what he wanted. He was bluntly honest and I liked him.
“I’ve been mostly lucky,” he said. “Things have gone very well for me, except my love life.” He seemed absolutely convinced that we would be good together and had no problem being very upfront about it. “Everything about you is rare. It’s on the level of seeing the tooth fairy blowing Santa Claus on your front yard. It’s terrifying how much we have in common.” He may have been right. I have no idea. I didn’t give it a chance because I’d already met someone else whom I’d clicked with like no one I had ever before, despite me liking Todd very much as a human being. He was pretty darn cool, but along came Christopher…and everything changed.
Dating bonus: He brought me a big bag of organic puppy cookies for Bella and had some very interesting stories.
On the plus, I was getting much better at picking dates with different names.
“To find a prince, you gotta kiss some toads.”
— Foxy Brown
As the time left on my Match.com profile was running out, two interesting men had emailed me at the same time. As I mentioned in my last blog, Match kept sending me Leo’s and Gemini’s. As a Libra, I’d mostly dated Virgo’s and I can assure you, that failed. I’d found out recently my best matches (if you believe this stuff) are Leo’s and Gemini’s, so I thought it interesting to be sent nearly nothing but.
Both men were witty. Both had a firm grasp on grammar. The first one was named Jake (Leo); a tall, stunning Italian with the chiseled physique of a Greek god. He was 52-years old and had “never been married”. When I asked why, he said he was “waiting for the right woman”. He also told me he was going for an appointment to get Invisaline braces. Flaming red flags punched me in the face. If you are still “waiting for the ‘right’ woman” at age 52 and worried about your teeth and abs to the point where no one in the entire world has ever wanted to marry you, there may be some issues. Additionally, I wasn’t dating in the entertainment business for several reasons. While I appreciate a man who takes good care of himself, high maintenence male vanity is something I’d rather not deal with.
Then there was BlueEyedPrince (Gemini). I almost skipped over him on Match.com because of having such a gay screen name. Additionally, he was listed as Christian, conservative, “Wants Kids: Someday” and enjoying “walks on the beach” (sans anal). That’s a dead sexy combination right there. (#Sarcasm.) I was more than slightly concerned he would be Jesus & Babies Part Deux – The Remix, but I’m totally shallow (as we’ve established) and his photo depicting dark hair, bright blue eyes (bet you didn’t guess that), full lips and an easy smile was quite intriguing. Full lips on a man is highly underrated. Translation: He was fucking hot.
NOTE: This guy, Christopher L Harris, born May 23, 1971, turned out to be BAD NEWS. His ex tried to warn me in the comments below, and I didn’t listen. He has Borderline Personality Disorder and is a Narcissistic Sociopath. He pretty much ruined my life for a while and I didn’t even see it coming. Be warned, because he is back out there again and only preys upon smart, attractive women who have their shit together. He’ll tell you anything you need to hear and all those questions he asks? He’s not that into you. He’s simply trying to find an IN. He is not who he portrays himself to be. He’ll be everything you read in this blog. Be sure to read Expensive Lessons after this HERE: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2016/09/21/expensive-lessons-part-1/
Ignore the warning at your own risk. He took me for a 5 figure payout and I almost lost my house, my friends, my health and my sanity.
If Kevin Sorbo and Robert Downey Jr. had a love child together, it would be BlueEyedPrince. His teeth were where they were supposed to be, he had lots of hair, was several inches taller than I, and used “your” and “you’re” properly on his profile. Added bonus: His name wasn’t Ryan! His body type was listed as “average”, so at least he wasn’t delusional. He sent me a short email introducing himself and he commented on how my profile was entertaining.
We talked for about almost a month before actually meeting. That was partly due to my travel schedule, but also because I’d decided I was in no rush with anything or anyone. He was weird. I liked that.
“I don’t care for shallow conversations,” he stated almost immediately. “I have no time for anyone who isn’t deep.” So the emails kept going back and forth.
Unlike everyone else, I told him I was bipolar right away after he confided his past heart condition to me. I’d also told him what I did early on. I’d taken a “Fuck it. Take it or leave it because this is me” stance and he seemed unfazed.
He’d sent me a Facebook request and I didn’t think twice about accepting it, which broke the cardinal rule: Thou Shalt Not Add Dates to Your Facebook Page. However, I liked who he was and figured if the entire thing was a wash, I’d still want to know him as a person.
I stood before the mirror in my bathroom and thought about cancelling the hour before meeting him. Not because I didn’t want to meet him, but because I did. I was the one who had asked him to meet me for lunch. I’d picked up a bronchial issue while traveling and had a legitimate excuse. I told him, but he said he had a strong immune system and didn’t care. I was extremely nervous, and more than that; I had a feeling that everything would change if I went.
He was already at the restaurant when I arrived (with his ax carefully hidden?) and looked like his photos. BlueEyedPrince (Also known as Christopher) came off confident, ballsy, witty, positive and fearless, which is exactly how he was.
“I know what I have to offer someone. I’m a great catch, or else I wouldn’t be trying to date right now. I’d be busy getting my life together. A lot of women aren’t like that from my experience. They’re looking for someone to fix them, make them happy, or make their life better. To me, it doesn’t work like that. It’s more about two “happy with their own lives separately” people coming together to make things even better as a couple. I believe the term is “synergy”.”
Me: “I’m not looking for someone to fix me. I’d just like to have someone to do fun things with and a conversation that isn’t, “Wanna go outside? Go pee-pee? Good girl! You’re such a good Corgi! Want a cookie?” He laughed.
Christopher was an eclectic app developer from Michigan with a sense of humor and ADHD. We were the same age, with him 4 months my senior. He’d been divorced for five years, still got along with his ex-wife, appeared much younger than he was, both in looks and how he carried himself. He also had an oddly parallel life to mine; he grew up the “difficult child” with his temper tantrums in a neglectful household with a bipolar father. He’d suffered a severe back injury from an accident, had been through a few near death experiences, and was an introvert. He’d also had several careers including the Air Force and working with a variety of car companies in Michigan before going to work for one of the firms in the area as an app developer.
Christopher sparked to my Latin/Italian ethnicity battling my Anglo-Scottish work ethic, as he was French/Russian and dealt with the same challenges. Toil away through the evening – or just blow everything off and enjoy the sunset, drinks and food? (Case in point: It’s 3:18 a.m. right now and I’ve been working all night without dinner.) I was raised by devout Christians, and ended up agnostic. He was raised by devout atheists, and ended up Christian.
When we met at lunch, he insisted I try his food, was straight up about seeing another woman and stated that he couldn’t stand jealousy. All fine by me, since I was talking to others, and jealousy – like sommer teeth – was a deal breaker.
He looked at me while we were comparing dating stories and asked about my marriage status. Then he asked, “Did your husband complement you?”
I knew what he meant. Had he been the frosting to my cake? I paused, thinking…wracking my brain. I finally shook my head and said, “No.”
“Well, I believe a couple should have their own individuality, but complement each other.”
I muttered something in German and he replied back in perfect Deutsche. That got my attention. So did the fact that he didn’t let me leave our first date without kissing me. Then kissing me again. And again. Compatibility plus chemistry.
I found him fascinating. After our first date, I lost interest in talking to others, who seemed boring by comparison.
Him: “I know this sounds crazy but you’re the first person who has ever been able to keep up with me. I feel like you get me.” Yes, well – I’m all over the place too, so it isn’t hard with manic racing thoughts which are – SQUIRREL! – pretty much like having ADD at times. We’d run 3-4 radically different conversations at once, ranging from eighties songs (he was a pretty good guitar player, so we both live and die by music), to neat invention ideas, recent sexual studies to Red Wings vs. Bruins, and neither of us had any problem keeping up with all of them. I realized my world must seem pretty strange to a “normal” person, so I threw him to the wolves quite a few times, both in the wrestling locker rooms and at comic cons. He held up like a champ and seemed to enjoy how colorful my life is. My colorful friends liked him, too.
I found I liked his ADD because it made him interesting. I could relate to many aspects of it and we always had something to talk about, but there were matters I had to learn my way around. On the outside, Chris had stated he was “what you see is what you get”, but in reality, he was a complicated person. More like an onion, with many layers he chose to peel back little by little once he felt comfortable. I think this is common with any type of disorder. There are often a number of quirks we all have – anxiety, depression, habits, hypomania, the need for solace, health issues – and one can feel vulnerable exposing these flaws to others. Once again, this was something I could relate to. Chris was in touch with how he was doing, med compliant and regularly saw a therapist.
BlueEyedPrince played no games: “I think I like you. You know. Just a little.”
Me: “Just a tad? As long as it’s a little, I’ve got something I can work with there.” I could talk to him about anything and he accepted me as me. He made me smile more than anyone had in a long, long time and treated me like a princess. Plus, this guy ended up being the best kisser of them all. That’s saying a helluva lot.
After a few shorts weeks, he looked at me and said, “I think we’re past the ‘just seeing each other’ point now.”
Me: “Oh? So, what does that mean? You’re requesting an upgrade to the word “Dating”? How does this work, exactly? I’m new to this game.”
Him: “I’m not seeing anyone else. I stopped seeing others after our first date. I probably should have told you that. You can do whatever you want…I’m not telling you what to do. I just wanted you to know that I’m not.”
Me: “Oh, really? I can do whatever I want, with anyone I want? Sex, too? Sweet. No issues?”
Him: “Well…look, I’m not really good at this kind of stuff.”
Me: “So I gathered.” I’d already hidden my online dating profile from public view, but I didn’t tell him because I didn’t want him to feel obligated to pull his.
He just looked at me.
“If you’re asking if I’m seeing anyone else, I’m not,” I said.
On top of having a having a very winning personality and handsome face, Christopher did something no one else has – he didn’t drain me. I never felt that urge to shove him out the door on Sunday after staring at the clock for a few hours until enough time had passed so I could breathe. Quite the opposite, really. He recharges me. I feel energized around him. It’s effortless to be together. When he holds me, I feel safe and the world just goes away.
I am slightly alarmed that I’m not alarmed at how quickly we clicked. I should be scared, but I’m not. I’ve been honest to the point of embarrassment with him. I’ve told him things I haven’t told another soul, and he is still here. I always feel connected to him, even when we aren’t together, perhaps in more ways than one.
I realized it was officially time to warn the BlueEyedPrince that he might not want to get too involved with me. The thought of hurting yet another decent person was something I just don’t know if I could survive. It was a very hard, very sad conversation to practice in my head. I was gambling with the chance of losing him, but I felt I needed to tell him how shitty it could all be. I explained that I was trying to protect him from me and that one day, the meds might stop working or need adjusting and I am very different without them.
He’d read all my blogs and a lot of things I’ve written and never published. He looked at me and said, “Do you think you’re going to scare me off? You’ve allowed me into “you”, as I have done the same with you. I fully understand there will be times where you’ll need me to be strong and take care of you.”
Ding, ding, ding. Right answer.
This time, the situation and person seemed quite unique. I shut down my Match.com profile and am taking it one day at a time.
After all…he could still be sharpening his ax while I’m sleeping.
“There is no greater feeling in the world than to feel ‘gotten’.” – Bruce Willis, The Story of Us.
Dating bonus: I love when we are just being us and how encouraging he is about everything I do. I love listening to his ideas and observing the way his mind works. I love how positive and fearless he is. I love being with him. He is good for me. I adore him and am happy he’s a part of my life. He makes me smile more than anyone has in a long, long time.
However, I worry about being good for him. Routine is healthy – especially for someone with bipolar disorder, yet sometimes it makes me antsy. In the past, I’ve felt like pulling back from someone perfectly wonderful for no real reason other than that feeling or I try to push them away before they have a chance to do it to me. (I’m not like this as much anymore thanks to the medication.) I wish I could say I have no fears about moving forward, but that’s not true. I know how I am (have been). If someone is too nice, I may get bored and I will/can eventually hurt them. “It’s not you, it’s me” is always the truth in my case. I cannot live with the idea of hurting another good person. Obviously, I’m not writing this anonymously, so it’s something we’ve discussed long before words hit this blog.
And then, there are his episodes. He occasionally has them, too. I saw one for the first time recently and it scared me, because I thought I was watching myself, off meds. Frustration had set him off and I knew exactly how he felt during his tangent, along with the gutting pain he felt afterwards.
I did what I’d learned to do around bipolar people (mostly from living with my father) – I stayed still, kept quiet and let him run his course. Ten minutes later, he calmly came back into the room, checked his wall to ascertain how much damage he’d inflicted and his hand to see if it was broken.
Then he crawled back into bed and buried his face in my hair. “I’m so sorry.”
“I know,” I said. And, I did.
I started to cry. He seemed even more crushed. He thought I was upset because I was scared, but I was really crying because I didn’t know if I could do “us” any longer, and my heart was breaking. We were a twinship in so many ways. Apparently, a lot more than I’d realized.
With my newly found Lamictal-induced rational outlook on life, I was doing my best to not repeat destructive patterns. In the past, I had ignored signs that I shouldn’t have in the beginning of a relationship only to kick myself later.
Was this that? What if it wasn’t? What if it were me?That episode could easily have been mine.How would I like someone walking away from me? Not to mention how much I care about him. He’d generally been honest about his issues. Mostly. Even if he had rationed them out a little at a time. “I didn’t want to scare you off. I didn’t want you to think I’m defective.”
I pondered that. Would I have been scared off? I mean, honestly…would I? I’m not so sure. I think as someone who is pretty damn defective herself, he’s even more relatable with his so-called flaws.
However, I found myself second-guessing everything I knew about us the next day and felt like I couldn’t breathe. Being sane sucks. Being level-headed sucks more. I had no idea if I should stay or go. I have never been in a relationship as a stabilized person before. This is my first. In addition to not really knowing who I am yet (I’m not the same emotional mess I was, that’s for sure), I’m also not sure what’s acceptable and what’s not. At times, I’ve been a little too cold and calculated.
I rely on my friends for help when I’m in this position. They seemed to either think the entire thing is no big deal or that I need to be sure I’m taking care of myself first.
Them: “Did he try to hit you? Or do anything to avoid hitting you?”
Me: “No. Nothing like that.”
Them: “Oh, ok. Sometimes guys just need to punch walls.”
My panic stems from the fact that wall punching has always been the tip of a very large iceberg. My father had punched walls and eventually a loaded gun was being pointed at us or him. (He shot my mother in front of my brother and I. That’s a whole ‘nother blog.) In the past I’ve started at walls and progressed to kicking out windshields and ripping car doors off hinges. When I see someone punching a wall or having a fit, it has a Pavlov’s Dog effect on me.
I had every intention of taking a few days to think everything over…as in, take a break. That seemed logical. But, here’s the thing: I didn’t want to take a break from us. Had it been the other way around, I wouldn’t want him to take a break from me.
I dunno. Maybe some guys just need to punch walls.
Been there, done that, have the Spackle to prove it.
So. Treats me like a princess? Check. Smart, funny, kind and driven? Check. A little crazy? Check.
It’s funny how someone who was a stranger a short while ago can come to mean so much. I look forward to our time together, immensely. Half of me is ultra cautious on going slow because I don’t want to ruin what we have…as in, take any of it for granted. The kissing, missing each other, really listening. After having been down the “for granted” road, I know what it feels like. I hated it. I savor every moment now. I memorize what I see; his face, his hair, his smile. I don’t ever want to look, but not see. I don’t want to be one half of that miserable couple we all see in restaurants who don’t talk to each other any longer. I think I’ve learned a lot of lessons from my past relationships but some of the biggest are saying thank you, showing appreciation, compromising, being willing to work at things and work well as a team. I believe these things have to be there daily for two people to exist in a copasetic fashion. It’s quite fucked up that we put so much emphasis on the wedding and not enough on the “happily ever after”.
“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether is is the same problem you had last year.”-John Foster Dulles. This note is taped to my computer monitor and has haunted me for years. For a long time, I’ve had the same problems and been stuck in gridlock. This is the first time I’m not, which was completely up to me to change. It was terrifying. I left everything I’ve known…my job, my way of life, my husband and where I’m from. I’d always thought I’d end up back in Philadelphia. This year, in addition to becoming single, I bought my first house in Florida, began taking classes, started a new job as a ghostwriter while being able to keep aspects of my other careers I still enjoy, made friends outside of the entertainment business, and I can say I’m happier for it.
The men I dated had absolutely nothing in common except that each was extremely smart and witty. (Oh, and most were delusional about how fit they really were. Either that, or I’m spoiled from being in wrestling locker rooms.) Clever and witty is a big deal for me. Looks will fade in time and you can always improve a body. But you can’t turn a dull or narrow mind into something brilliant and you cannot fix stupid. Personality and conversation matter. Is there anything worse than sitting across from someone for a meal and having nothing to say?
Guys, there’s a lot to be said for not playing games and being honest. That’s not being needy. It’s being real. Calling, emailing and texting non-stop when you’re not getting a response back is needy. Saying good morning or good night? That’s sweet.
What have I learned on this little Match.com venture?
-There are a scant few women who look like their photos, are actually in shape, can hold up a conversation, don’t have kids or want to have babies right away, aren’t bitter, don’t need someone to “fix them” and aren’t looking for free dinners. Apparently, I am somewhat of a unicorn. When you thought you were completely broken and had nothing to offer, this is not a bad revelation.
-Men are just as guilty of not looking like their photos. Of all the dates I went on, 4 guys resembled their photos… and that was after a lengthy screening process ahead of time. Of the 4 I’d met they were still somewhat thinner, heavier or shorter than stated. One guy was actually taller. I get the feeling that many of us see ourselves by looking into Fun House mirrors.
-Seasoned people tend to be more dismissive of “baggage” than I’d thought they would be. It’s just not as big of a deal. Anyone who has lived past a certain age has it, so it’s universally accepted and if you like someone, you’ll deal with it.
-A common theme from the guys: “I can GET LAID. That’s not the issue. I wanted to meet someone I can talk to. Someone with substance.”
-I learned that married men really like when their wives go away so they can do nothing but masturbate. Yeah. It seemed to be a common topic of discussion when comparing my date’s single life to their married friends. “My buddy can’t wait for his wife to visit her mother just so he can jerk off.” Ladies, you might wanna give your men a little more breathing room. I suppose that knife cuts both ways.
– I am not around a lot of people my age, so talking to people who are around 40 was enlightening in many ways.
-I learned that men in their late 30’s to mid 40’s in the Tampa Bay area are staggeringly attractive and well-kept. Many were better looking than some of the twenty-somethings I’m around on a regular basis in wrestling. Not at all what I’d thought it would be like. I figured my dating pool would be limited to balding, paunchy, mini vans and bags around the eyes.
– I learned from Jesus & Babies that if a man doesn’t like his mother, has never been married and blames everything on all the women in his life, he’ll probably blame things that go wrong on you.
-I have learned that the name Ryan was really fucking popular at some point.
-I learned that you tend to garner a higher quality of people when you have to pay to get on sites like Match.com. This is from comparing my own notes from both Match.com and OKCupid along with others of both sexes who have used multiple free and pay sites.
-I was hoping that by dating men my age, I’d be meeting people who had Alice in Chains on their iPods and recognized how badass Public Enemy is. That didn’t exactly work out as I’d hoped. They had Slayer. All of them. Win some, lose some. On the plus, they generally had more Pantera and Megadeth than I did.
-Men like to chase, so let them. I never texted or called anyone I was dating first.
-I also learned that men of this age group are not playing around. They are generally online to immediately get into a relationship. From Date One, I was being sized up as full-time partner material, which feels a whole lot different than a “I’d like to bang this chick” sizing up. There were many times when I truly felt like I was the man with all the ducking and dodging of a serious relationship, and I’ll admit that I was easily scared off. I didn’t always know how to not hurt someone’s feelings and eventually just learned to be honest and straight up, but it took a while. I also don’t believe in forcing something just to be in a relationship. I’m too old for that and fine with being by myself if nothing had clicked.
-I learned how to simply have fun and not jump right into a relationship.
-I learned how to flirt again and really take time to savor conversations.
-I’ve learned that catching the man I’ve been talking with staring at me as I leave can still make me feel alive.
-I learned that nearly everyone I met on Match.com was self-employed (or worked long hours), so they didn’t get out much, and either I was great at screening or just lucky to have met some very nice guys.
-I learned that I enjoyed dating. I’d always heard horror stories but I found that it was fun. However, it was horribly time consuming, and I’m sure it can be terribly expensive for men.
-I learned that forcing myself to go out, even when I didn’t feel like it or want to, was probably good for me.
-For some reason, nearly every guy wanted to cook for me. I think it was a “See? I’m domesticated! I have a clean place, too. Pick me!” kind of thing. Either that or they didn’t feel like paying for dinner. (I kid. I only went out with those who were ‘gainfully’ employed. Part of not dating in the business is not dealing with the ‘struggling artist’ thing. Been there, done that.)
-I got as many comments on what I’d written on my profile as on my photos, which I thought was interesting. Apparently people do ‘read the articles’.
-I realized that maybe I’m not as shattered as I’d thought. Maybe it was something I felt because I was told I was…and when you’re told something often enough, you believe it. A three legged dog gets up and starts walking again right away because no one is in his ear telling him how bad off he is. He just gets on with it.
-Every guy I went out with asked for another date. Granted, guys will bang anything, but I figure at least one or two of them would have shied away if I was putting off some kind of messed up vibe. None of them did. I used “busy” and “hectic travel schedule coming up” a lot to get out of follow up dates.
-Women aren’t the only ones who go baby crazy. “Wants Kids: Probably not.” I’d never really given it much thought. My husband hadn’t wanted kids, and as always, I caved to accommodate others around me. When we had separated before and I was seeing the wrestler/actor, he’d had a son, but had talked to me about having another child. It’s the only time I really gave it any thought.
After putting “Probably Not” on my dating profile, I realized how much of an issue that really was. Most men my age either had kids or wanted them. Something happened when they hit a certain age, and they got a little kid crazy. After discussing it so much this past year, it gave me a lot of time to think. Part of the reason I’d never had any children was because of my unstable income and lifestyle.
Now that I’m older, I wonder. I was never delusional enough to believe I could do it on my own. Props to the strong single moms out there, but I believe children need their fathers. Nor would I do it with someone who didn’t mean much to me just to have a kid. That’s a tie you can’t break. I don’t understand people who don’t think this through first.
Could I do this…if it were to happen? Both my doctors have given me a green light as far as me being healthy and have said that age doesn’t play as much into it as originally thought, but said I’d have to get off all my meds. And then there is the possibility of passing on the bipolar gene, of course.
Then again, being able to keep all my income, get in the car and run errands without thinking about it, choose gyms that have no daycare, travel, not change diapers and sleep through the night are not a bad way to live.
Ultimately, I’m still on the fence. Or, the proverbial baby-gate.
-Most of all, I learned that being bipolar but working on yourself (medication, therapy, acupuncture, etc) is not viewed as much of an issue. You’re not broken. You’re not considered a second class human being. Oddly enough, I found I was valued more by this age group for my unique (bipolar) way of thinking and seeing things, because I do it differently than so-called “normal” people.
-Side note: Psychiatric studies recently conclude that those with mental illness are, in fact, more creative and witty, especially those with bipolar disorder. WHOOT! I knew it. Of course. Because I’m witty and smarter like that. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22045939
I’ll end with this novella with a blog link: “Fuck Yes or Fuck No?” If you’re like me, it will instantly clarify what’s important in your life in a way that nothing and no one ever has before when it comes to a significant other. http://markmanson.net/fuck-yes/
I’m fortunate that I still talk to nearly everyone I’ve ever dated and consider them “friendly”. Every so often we’ll share memes, movies, good songs or just say hello. That’s a testament to me either choosing good people, being a good person, or both.
I think many of us could be that unusually shaped light bulb – that one light bulb trying to fit inside a complicated desk lamp that’s difficult to put together. Instead, we either give up too soon or force it or break it trying to make it work in the wrong lamp, before clicking it into place, the way it was intended.
I got on Match.com because a friend said she used it and enjoyed herself. I know she sure enjoyed a lot of those free dinners.
For me, it’s been a life altering learning experience.
P.s. To everyone I dated who reads this blog – which I think is nearly all of you – you know my policy on being honest on here, so please realize I’m doing only that and there are no personal jabs. I view everyone who passes through my life as adding to it and teaching me things. So, thank you for that.
COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS WRITING/BLOG MAY BE COPIED OR USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.
“Even husbands and wives who might have lived together for many years, may be just acquaintances. They may not have known each other. And the more you live with someone the more you forget completely that the centers have remained unknown.
“So the first thing to be understood is, don’t take acquaintance as love. You may be making love, you may be sexually related, but sex is also peripheral. Unless centers meet, sex is just a meeting of two bodies. And a meeting of two bodies is not your meeting. Sex also remains acquaintance – physical, bodily, but still just an acquaintance. You can allow somebody to enter to your center only when you are not afraid, when you are not fearful.
“There are two types of living: one fear-oriented, one love-oriented. Fear-oriented living can never lead you into deep relationship. You remain afraid, and the other cannot be allowed, cannot be allowed to penetrate you to your very core. To an extent you allow the other and then the wall comes and everything stops.
“The love-oriented person means one who is not afraid of the future, one who is not afraid of the result and the consequence, who lives here and now. Don’t be bothered about the result; that is the fear-oriented mind. Don’t think about what will happen out of it. Just be here, and act totally. Don’t calculate. A fear-oriented man is always calculating, planning, arranging, safeguarding. His whole life is lost in this way.
“I have heard about an old Zen monk: He was on his deathbed. The last day had come, and he declared that on that evening he would be no more. So followers, disciples, friends started coming. He had many lovers, they all started coming; from far and wide people gathered. One of his old disciples, when he heard that the master was going to die, ran to the market. Somebody asked, ‘The Master is dying in his hut, why are you going to the market ‘The old disciple said, ‘I know that my master loves a particular type of cake, so I am going to purchase the cake ‘It was difficult to find the cake, but by the evening somehow he managed. He came running with the cake.
“And everybody was worried – it was as if the Master was waiting for someone. He would open his eyes and look, and close his eyes again. When this disciple came, he said, ‘Okay, so you have come. Where is the cake?’ The disciple produced the cake – and he was very happy that the Master asked about it. Dying, the Master took the cake in his hand… but his hand was not trembling. He was very old, but his hand was not trembling. So somebody asked, ‘You are so old and just on the verge of dying. The last breath is soon to leave you, but your hand is not trembling.’
“The Master said, ‘I never tremble, because there is no fear. My body has become old but I am still young, and I will remain young even when the body is gone’ Then he took a bite, started munching the cake. And then somebody asked, ‘What is your last message, Master? You will be leaving us soon. What do you want us to remember?’
The Master smiled and said, ‘Ah, this cake is delicious.’
This is a man who lives in the here and now: This cake is delicious. Even death is irrelevant. The next moment is meaningless. This moment, this cake is delicious. If you can be in this moment, this present moment, this presentness, the plenitude, then only can you love.
Love is a rare flowering. It happens only sometimes.” –OSHO
Dating Bipolar: Don’t Ask Me No Questions, I’ll Tell You No Lies – Part 1
“Don’t you worry…you’ll find yourself. Follow your heart and nothing else.” –Lynard Skynard
I was putting together a complicated desk lamp that came in pieces and had an unusual bulb. Realistically, the bulb was supposed to simply click into the piece, but it wasn’t. Each time I slid the pieces together, it wouldn’t fit. I tried another way. Nothing. This kept happening, despite me trying to force it. About to give up, I flipped it over and thought I’d give it one more shot. With a click, it all came together beautifully. I thought to myself, this is how dating should be.
My hand hovered over the keyboard. Click. I’d just joined Match.com. I certainly hadn’t planned it an hour ago. It just happened.
“You are going to end up old and alone!”
Yes. Yes, I know. I’ve been told that by everyone I’ve ever dated as I walked out the door.
I decided to date after a long, roller coaster marriage that was in a one year freeze with a separation before permanently ending. I thought I owed it to myself to try it out. In my lifetime I’ve never had a relationship while stabilized. I’ve never dated as diagnosed.
Actually, I’ve never dated.
Every relationship I’ve ever had was one borne from convenience and because I had no one else. My family life was nearly nonexistent for most of my life, and rocky on its best days. I would try to make a relationship that worked…a “create my own family, so fuck you” sort of thing. When it failed, I jumped right into another one. The only relationship that was not that way was my marriage to Jordan. Being that I was from New England at the time and he from across the continent in Alberta, Canada, there was nothing local, convenient or inexpensive about it. A visa, green card, waiting periods, dealing with the immigration nightmare and not being allowed to work in this country put a huge strain on us, but we weathered it. The wrestling and entertainment business was another huge strain. We managed that, too. Moving often, not having family around, no steady paychecks, sharing an office and deciding not to have kids for some of those reasons caused more strain. We actually had to work hard to be together, which is why we lasted so long. Much of our strain united us tighter but some didn’t. I don’t regret a minute of it. However, being undiagnosed with bipolar disorder had its effect on our marriage and everything got blamed on my disorder. This translates to the whole of the failure being solely on me. I’ll readily admit I was no picnic to live with without the meds, but not all that went wrong was the fault of a genetic disease.
By the way, it is never okay to ask a couple when they plan on having babies or why they don’t have kids. That’s akin to asking, “So, how much money do you make? Oh, and how big is your dick?” Just don’t do it. It puts people on the spot and usually one of the two is not completely at ease with the idea of being childless. After a while, I just started to respond, “Oh, gosh…no plans on kids. I like my vagina just the way it is. How’s yours, by the way? Still blown out pretty badly?”
August 2014 marked the one year point since I bought my house. I ventured out into the dating world with major trepidation after waiting six months. How could I explain to people what I do? What I had? When exactly do you bring up the fact that you’re bipolar in a dating situation? After the appetizers so your date can run away screaming before the main course? After sex? Maybe you never mention it and surreptitiously swallow your pills on the side?
What do you do about the fact that the medications that stabilize your emotions make you somewhat emotionless? After a lifetime of making (often irrational) emotional decisions, I was all of a sudden a level-headed, logical being…and I had no idea who the fuck this person was.
Among other things to control my bipolar disorder, I see a therapist, who makes me feel normal. She said as far as relationships go, I should be a delicious cake all on my own, and my partner should only be the icing. He would be complimentary, but not necessary. Wanted, but not needed.
My husband had been amazing. He was one of the kindest, funniest, smartest people I’ve ever met. He was handsome, in great shape, smart, driven and has always been there for me no matter what or how awful I’ve been. He’s the one who encouraged me to write honestly (“Oh, God no. I can’t put this stuff out there. This is more naked than I’ve ever been without clothes. I can’t.” “You should. You need to. It’ll help others.”) Yet I felt something was missing, although I did’t know what. He was (ultra) negative with his personality and it tended to trigger me in a badly. He’d cling to a belief in a close-minded way and never consider any other possibility to the point of insulting anyone who thought differently…religion, politics, workouts… It was his way or no way, and resentment set it. Things became a power struggle. We would bring out the worst in each other. Half the time I’d acquiesce to avoid another fight and hate myself later. I’d come out verbally swinging the other half of the time. Simple tasks like going to the grocery store or gym would degenerate into an argument nearly every time. With my immediate family dead and his in another country, we were all we had, so we stayed together and fought every day.
It was a rather unhealthy co-dependency. We were not a good team, or the icing to each others cake. If we were on The Amazing Race, we wouldn’t have made it out of the first airport.
My (our) therapist’s verdict: “I like both you and Jordan…but I don’t like you together.”
I found I enjoyed living alone once we split. As soon as I got into my house, I felt relief at the peace and quiet. We originally agreed we wouldn’t date others, but months later, I was confused as to what I wanted. I felt stuck in gridlock. I wanted to move ahead but was afraid to let go of him. He accepted me as me, entirely. He was also a good friend and the only family I had left. However, we did a lot of damage to each other and wasn’t sure moving past it was possible, or that I even wanted to try.
I’d never felt more alone than in September while packing by myself while he worked a wrestling show the weekend before we moved. I had spent Christmas by myself, got blamed for an accident with one of our dogs (who tore his knee out on my watch because I’d taken him to the dog park) and dealt with a case of pneumonia alone so strong I wasn’t sure I was going to survive. At the six month mark, I didn’t know if I wanted to be solo full-time any longer.
I’ve toyed with the idea of avoiding relationships and becoming a nomad with a string of guys in various cities (Texas boyfriend. Saskatchewan boyfriend. Irish Tour Bus boyfriend) like some of my male entertainer friends managed to pull off. Being that I’ve been a destructive person-or rather, that I have a destructive disorder-I wondered if it was even fair to try dating again. The absolute last thing I wanted to do was hurt someone else.
However, I missed romance. I missed conversation. I missed the “partner in crime” aspect of being with someone I connected with in some way. I felt life was passing me by…one ComicCon at a time.
“I think I’ll get saddled up and go looking for a woman. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of days. I’m not picky. As long as she’s smart and pretty, sweet and gentle and tender and refined and lovely and carefree.” –Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
I watched the movie The Wolverine while at a hotel in Connecticut. Mariko sat across from Logan, who’d stuck his chopsticks upright in the rice. “Don’t do that. It’s a bad omen. It reminds us of incense at funerals.” Later, Logan does it again. Mariko removes the chopsticks and shakes her head sadly. “I don’t expect you to understand. You’re not Japanese.”
How can I expect a man who isn’t in some form the entertainment business to understand what I deal with every day? When I talked to a couple of my male wrestler & cosplay friends about this, they suggested that dating outside the business is a good thing – to keep the mystery. Just deal with the fans, aches and pains and let them stay in the dark. It gives you more to talk about when you’re not in the same business.
I’d written this excerpt an earlier blog: “I am so fucking fucked, it’s fucked up. There. That’s about my entire story in a nutshell. I am broken. Completely broken, and like shattered shards of glass, anyone who comes near me walks away bleeding. So, I have become more and more of a recluse, afraid to have friends or relationships, because I know I’ll just end up destroying the people I care about, which kills me inside and makes me—once again—want to kill myself. It’s a fantastic pattern, isn’t it? And that’s what being bipolar is.”
Feeling shattered for so long and like I had nothing to offer, I think I just wanted to see where I stood in the real world-the one without spandex, 28-year-olds hitting on me, and camera lenses.
My first kiss outside of my marriage was with one of the You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out kids who was now about my age. We’d done a convention appearance together and I went out with him after. Then I went on a date with a young marine who had PTSD so bad that he said he couldn’t sleep…instead, he drank. Nothing came of either of those situations other than friendship.
So, on a Sunday night, I clicked JOIN on Match.com. As I was filling out my profile, I decided not to tell people what I do, limiting my career to a vague “writer, comic book model and former athlete”.
This is where a girl goes when she doesn’t frequent bars, doesn’t want to date co-workers, doesn’t want to date out of her age group and doesn’t want people to know who she is until she decides to tell them. For the first time in my life, I’d like to have someone know me before they Google my boobs.
My problem has always been that I’m not attracted to many people. Sure there are a lot of good-looking people around, especially in the Tampa Bay area, but I lean 60/40 towards wit and intelligence. (Sapiosexual. Google it.) If that’s not there, it doesn’t matter how pretty someone is…I can’t get into them. Once I walked around a 3-day comic convention looking to see if there was anyone I’d sleep with if we were the last two people on Earth. Out of all the celebrities, fans, rock legends…not one. That’s not a knock on anyone – it’s just a deficit on my end.
“That’s the trouble with falling in love with a dream girl. They have a habit of becoming real.” -Nicholas Cage, Lord of War
I put up a handful of “me being normal” photos and I was off and running.
Within a few minutes of joining the site, my inbox was flooded with emails. 151 more the next morning. I soon realized I’d have to quit my job if I wanted to go through them all or date.
Most were crap. I felt obligated to write back to most until it got too tiresome and I realized it was screwing up my odds. If you write to people you don’t like, they send you more of that exact type.
Match.com puts all the stuff no one likes to talk about front and center. For me: Wants kids? Probably not. Spiritual not religious. Politics: Middle of the road. Looking for tall, gainfully employed in a real career, witty, loves pets, no smoking, no drugs, athletic and toned. Race? Whatever. Hair color? No preference.
As it were, “athletic and toned” has a broad definition on Match.com. It ranges from bodybuilder to “I played football for a semester in high school”, but it mostly means they worked out twice a week and weren’t serious about it. I realize fitness isn’t the highest priority when you’re dealing with CEO’s, app developers and doctors, so I had to be more open-minded. As with everything, there’s a trade. For this, less fit meant educated, intelligent, traveled and financially stable.
I was still getting emails from 27-year olds, too. Half the men my age seemed on the defensive, clearly having been hurt before. The other half looked like shit. It was a shame. There were some really witty, interesting people who just didn’t keep themselves up.
“Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating, and religion.” — Scott Adams
I created a system for narrowing down all the replies. Any spelling or grammatical errors I crossed them off my list (unless English was their second language). I don’t care how hot someone is. If he can’t figure out ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, no deal. I also crossed people off who took themselves too seriously on their profile, wrote that their spare time was filled watching sports or who wrote an entire profile dedicated to any female reading it. (“My favorite thing? Coming home to YOU.”) Seriously? He wrote that? Piss off. I can’t even imagine the type of woman who would fall for that kind of crap. Wait, yes I can. Additional cuts: Guys who had no profile photo, guys who only had photos with sunglasses on, guys who only had one photo up and guys who had 11 photos of the same exact selfie in a different shirt. There were also guys who were extremely religious and wrote all about Jesus and church on their profiles. No can do.
Then there were the bad profiles: the ones who were negative, bitter, railed about women who were looking for free dinners or the one guy who insisted he and his date would “go Dutch” so no one got their feelings hurt and to keep it fair. In other words, he didn’t have a job.
I’m the furthest thing from a gold digger, but if I’m taking the time to know someone, get dressed up and meet him, he is damn well paying for dinner or drinks. Call me old school.
Two out of three guys listed “Long walks on the beach” as something they enjoy. Holy cliché. “I enjoy long walks on the beach…after anal.” At least that is honest.
Then there were the…interesting…ones. One guy was a Latino painter with the screen name PassionatePainter and a photo of him reclining on his side – naked – with just his bits covered and a gayer than gay look on his face. His byline: “Do you have passion? Real passion?” He kept emailing me to ask why I didn’t want to meet him and then stated that clearly I was missing out and not ready to experience…Wait for it…passion.
LowSelfEsteemGentleman. (Names have been changed to protect the delusional.) “You probably won’t write back, but maybe you will.” Yeah. I need that headache. I can see the future already: Me constantly reassuring him that my tour schedule won’t include other penises. No thanks. ChubbyAndCan’tTakeAHint: “I like you. I hope to hear back soon.” (I didn’t write back. Ever.) Day 2-46 a new email each day came through along the lines of this: “I was wondering why I didn’t hear back from you? I think your (SIC) pretty. I hope to hear from you soon.” ImMuchOlderThanISayIAm: “I read your profile and think we have a lot in common. Here’s my number. We should meet up.” This person usually looked like my grandfather. IHaveNoShirtOnAndWillBoreYouToDeath: “Sup? We should meet.” That’s all. Nothing else. This guy usually was shirtless, jacked and/or shredded and boring as fuck. I’m sorry. That’s rude. I meant that he was wit-and-charm-challenged. IHaveNoIdeaHowToTalkToGirls: “How is your day going?” I’ve never met you. Why are you asking me that? I am not lying when I tell you that this type of reply is the majority of what came to me. Eloquence at its best. Guys, there is an entire profile there and most women LOVE to talk about themselves. Try reading it and picking 1-3 things to hone in on and talk about in your intro email. Other than her tits/ass/feet/WhateverItIsYouHopeSheIsWillingToUseOnYou. You’re welcome.
HeyArentYouAprilHunter: Shit. Yeah, I got some of those, too. “Why are you even on here??” Um…the same reason you are? In my twenty years in the wrestling business, I’ve dated a grand total of three wrestlers. Before that, I was still in the entertainment business with fitness and modeling and dated mostly “civilians”. One of the wrestlers I dated was also an actor; the attention we got just walking through an airport or standing in line for a coffee was ridiculous. We couldn’t go anywhere without people stopping to talk or snap photos. He seemed unfazed by the attention. I hated it. When I’m not April Hunter, I am not April Hunter.
I even got an email from a guy who went to the same college as I in Pennsylvania. Small world.
“I’ve always liked smart women but it’s been an expensive hobby.” Javier Bardem in The Counselor
Chemistry isn’t compatibility. Chemistry is when you physically click together, regardless of how good or bad you are for one another. Compatibility is generally sharing the same values and balancing each other out. That can occur without chemistry. That said, if you fill out your Match.com questions honestly, half of that will be taken out of the equation, since you’ll be matched up according to compatibility. So, 50% of the work is pretty much done for you.
“It doesn’t hurt to ask. Sometimes the most beautiful girls are the loneliest.” – Jaws 2
I selected some men in the age range of 37-45 and began talking with them, based first upon their profile photos and what they’d written. Everyone I met, other than two, should have listed “average” as their body type instead of “athletic and toned”. This is where online dating worked in my favor. I got to know their minds first. They had to write something witty or intelligent enough to make me want to write back.
“The biggest aphrodisiac in the world is someone who likes you and isn’t afraid to show it.” –Mark Manson
First there was a guy I call Jesus & Babies. More on that in a moment. He was my first Internet date and I was fairly concerned he’d be an ax murderer. He wasn’t an ax murderer. He sent a very sweet, bright email about how he was about to quit Match.com, but it sent him my profile and his heart skipped a beat when he read my profile, etc, etc, etc. (I suggest you use this line in the future, guys. It’s a solid one.) Before we met, he asked, “Do you really look like your pictures?”
“Uh…yeah. Why wouldn’t I?” “Ha. You wouldn’t believe how many don’t.”
I was surprised when I saw him. He resembled the adult version of a pretty boy band singer (or the twin brother to actor Michael Vartan). Tall, blond hair, blue eyed and extremely fit. He was actually much better looking in person than in his photos, thus ruining it for a good portion of my dates after him, and a ridiculously profound kisser. He looked like the beach volleyball player he was on the side, not someone who spent his days in Tampa General Hospital. Apparently I was okay too, because he hugged me, kissed my cheek and exclaimed in his Louisville, Kentucky southern accent, “My word, you are beautiful!”
I asked who he usually dated, and he rattled off a tirade of frustrations. Most of them were 20-30 pounds heavier in person or who looked a decade older. I would find this to be a common theme for many men. Ladies, don’t lie or put up out-of-date photos. You’re eventually going to meet someone in person, so there’s no point. Plus you never know who is going to like you for you. Some guys are intimated by someone too pretty and prefer a few flaws here and there.
He also said he only dated Latinas. I’m always taken as Spanish. I told him I was Latin, not Latina…he said “Well, you look like you are and that’s what I am attracted to.” He was a wine expert and somewhat of a chef, with a talent for throwing together anything and making it taste incredible. He ate like I did; low carb, high protein and red wine. He also used paper towels torn in half as napkins, something that was just a touch “white trash” and reminded me of home.
However, he was legitimately fucking insane.
After our meeting, I hadn’t even pulled out of the parking lot when he texted me. Him: “Oh, my. I want to see you again. Like sooner than later. You’re brilliant and insanely beautiful. I’m overwhelmed with my thoughts right now. No one has ever grabbed my attention like this before…you are different. When can I see you? Tonight?” I pretended I was busy for the next day or two and set a time in the future.
My friend Kyle (who met his fiancé on the same site) texted afterward: “How did it go?” Me: “Better than I expected. Good looking, smart as hell…has a career…he’s probably an ax murderer.” Kyle: “Sounds like he might be ok, but don’t buy the first car you drive.”
Sage advice, my friend.
Jesus and Babies: “I’m yours until you break my heart. I’m pulling my online dating profile.” Me: “Um…are you sure? That’s really sweet, but we just met…everything is new…” I thought he was rushing everything. And I had no plans to pull MY profile. Jesus and Babies: “Yes.”
His hot streak was a nice change after a marriage that was lacking in heat and compliments. (My husband rarely (never) said anything nice because he felt my fans said it, so I didn’t need to hear it.) He thought nothing of picking me up and throwing me onto a bar stool or against a wall somewhere for a make out session. However, you know how game recognizes game? Well, I’m pretty sure he was undiagnosed with bipolar disorder, amongst other things. He was sharp as a tack, but in a way that seemed to be looking for weaknesses. He would also flash between happy and outgoing to moody and withdrawn.
He earned his nickname because despite reading “Spiritual, not religious” and “Kids: probably not” on my profile, he insisted on contacting me and then spending our time trying to convince me we should have children who believed in Jesus. (#KentuckyProblems.) During dinner, he had the annoying habit of staying glued to the basketball game, yelling at the TV for Louisville. I couldn’t help but think, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, scream at TV’s.” One day he’d be all over me nonstop, the next two would be silent. I can’t do hot and cold. It’s too much like the household I grew up in. He flipped out on me when I told him.
Me: “Well, maybe we shouldn’t see each other anymore.” Him: “Really? REALLY? Oh, that’s great. Not again.” Of course it was my fault. Did I mention that he had Mommy Issues and at 39-years old, had never been married?
One day after blowing me off for basketball (“Can’t. Two words for you: NCAA Tournament.”), I’d had enough. I just shut it all off. I have a weird ability to shut down after enough disappointment. When he texted a few days later and asked me to dinner, I no longer cared, had started dating others and had decided to push him as to why he ran cold. “Seriously, just tell me. I want to know. You won’t (can’t) hurt my feelings.” He denied it at first, and then told me he’d decided because I didn’t accept Jesus into my life and didn’t seem to want to have babies (with him), he was not okay with our situation. “I’ve waited long enough for a child. I don’t want to be a 70-year old dad.” He also didn’t like that I wasn’t “low key.” He seemed horribly uncomfortable with women whom he thought would get attention in any way. (The irony is, when I’m not being paid to get people’s attention, I don’t crave any attention.)
I wouldn’t contact a flame-haired comic book model with huge boobs if I had a problem with that. Would you? Thing is, he’s not the first baby crazy guy I’ve gotten. Not even the third. Something happens to guys when they hit a certain age…or I bring out the crazy-for-babies types.
At one of our dinners, I had casually mentioned something about mental health and his response: “Those people get addicted to their meds and really don’t need it. It’s all psychological.” Considering he was in the medical field, I was kind of floored by his comment.
My therapist’s verdict: “Do NOT date this guy. Sleep with him if you want, but don’t date him.” I didn’t end up doing either.
This was my very first online dating experience. Or maybe I should refer to it as my first online learning experience. I felt it was too soon to sleep with anyone after my husband and I wonder if that’s why he was so odd towards me. After Jesus & Babies, I decided it would be smarter to date several men at the same time, not get sexually involved with any of them and keep all at a distance. Just have fun and be straight up about everything.
“I have a lot of boyfriends; I want you to write that. Every country I visit, I have a different boyfriend. And I kiss them all.” — Anna Kournikova