Co-Dependency: I’ll Scratch Your Back If You’ll Scratch Mine

Co-dependent: I’m quick to use the term. It’s not so easy to define, though. I’ve been trying for better than a decade to find just the right words. It seems most psychology publications are in the same boat as me.

PsychCentral defines it as “a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. It also describes a relationship that enables another person to maintain their irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behavior.” So really, they provided two definitions, not just one.

GoodTherapy.org breaks it down with a good ol’ list (because we love bullets) and explains that the “old” way of thinking was that everyone’s feelings were centered on one person’s addictive behaviors. Now co-dependence is recognized in much broader terms to include the role of caregiving, denial of personal problems, low self-esteem, feelings of guilt when offered help or attention from others, sensitivity to criticism, perfectionism and fear of failure, a projection of competence and a need to control others.

But the definition from GoodTherapy.org doesn’t make clear that there has to be at least two people in the relationship to make it co-dependent. At least one of the parties has to have low self-esteem and be sensitive to criticism and project a false sense of competence, and have support and attention from another party to continue carrying on with those behaviors. And let’s be clear, here: both or all parties can be co-dependent upon each other. Mothers and daughters, friends, teachers and students, lovers. Of course, some relationships are much more intimate and lasting than others.

Here is a comprehensive list from CoDA.org (Co-Dependents Anonymous.org):

Patterns and Characteristics of Co-Dependence; Co-dependents often:
• have difficulty identifying what they are feeling.
• minimize, alter, or deny how they truly feel.
• perceive themselves as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others.
• lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others.
• label others with their negative traits.
• think they can take care of themselves without any help from others.
• mask pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation.
• express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways.
• do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom they are attracted.

Low self-esteem patterns; Co-dependents often:
• are extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
• compromise their own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger.
• put aside their own interests in order to do what others want.
• are hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings.
• are afraid to express their beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others.
• accept sexual attention when they want love.
• make decisions without regard to the consequences.
• give up their truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change.

Control patterns; Co-dependents often:
• believe people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
• attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel.
• freely offer advice and direction without being asked.
• become resentful when others decline their help or reject their advice.
• lavish gifts and favors on those they want to influence.
• use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance.
• have to feel needed in order to have a relationship with others.
• demand that their needs be met by others.
• use charm and charisma to convince others of their capacity to be caring and compassionate.
• use blame and shame to exploit others emotionally.
• refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate.
• adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate outcomes.
• use recovery jargon in an attempt to control the behavior of others.
• pretend to agree with others to get what they want.

Avoidance patterns; Co-dependents often:
• act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward them.
• judge harshly what others think, say, or do.
• avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a way to maintain distance.
• allow addictions to people, places, and things to distract them from achieving intimacy in relationships.
• use indirect or evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation.
• diminish their capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to use the tools of recovery.
• suppress their feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable.
• pull people toward them, but when others get close, push them away.
• refuse to give up their self-will to avoid surrendering to a power greater than themselves.
• believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness.
• withhold expressions of appreciation.

As I revisit the definitions, I evaluate first my own behavior, but also a few specific relationships near me (that I have to be careful not to become too invested in, though I tend to become protective and outraged when I spot misbehavior). I think that the actual name “co-dependency” will be adjusted within the next 5-10 years, though what it will morph into will be a great mystery.

Advertisements

Dude, You’re Stepping On My Personal Space

I wrote this article for Patient Worthy on February 14th; since that day I got daily (sometimes twice daily) texts from this guy saying, “Good morning cutie” or “sweet dreams cutie.” The most recent ones – because he still won’t stop – say “Just got to my hotel” and “How are you?” For the life of me, I can’t figure out why he would bait me with the hotel remark because that one really came out of the blue. I haven’t traded texts with him since February 10th. Was the hotel text his clumsy attempt at a booty call? Or was it not intended for me, and instead should have gone to whomever was playing the part of his dirty little secret?

Dude, just…stop.

Boundary Waters and Dating Boundaries

We’ve Got a Live One Here

Just as a reminder, this is the very first few lines of my slimmed-down, to-the-point profile:

*******I’M ALLERGIC TO:********

– Hookups, FWB, DTF

Got a message from a guy with a picture of a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
Him: Interested in something casual?
Me: In the first line of my profile, I said I’m not into FWB or DTF.
Him:  Okay. I just found you attractive and wanted to make sure I wasn’t an exception. I will leave you alone.

Did you catch that? I’m not sure if he thought he could be the exception because he found me attractive (is it too much to ask that every man who wants to bang me finds me at least moderately attractive?), or if he thought waving his penis as bait was going to change my mind, because so many men don’t think to do that?

This also seems to be a case of, “Oh, you don’t really mean ‘no.’ I mean, there’s no way you could actually know what you want, because you haven’t met my penis yet.”

Duck – Here Comes Another Turkey!

The Quiz Master (previously referred to in “What’s Going On With Your Face?” post) messaged me today and wished me a happy Thanksgiving. It was not his first message to me since he signed off with a “goodbye and good day” after I told him to stop contacting me. Oh, no. I knew he couldn’t be counted on to leave me alone, considering how obsessive he is. The Quiz Master also texted me on November 15th and said, “Hey, how are you?” as if I hadn’t cut him off. As if I would come to my senses and say, “Oh, you’re the best Quiz Master ever, I don’t know what I was thinking in telling you to go away.” He, of course, told me that I was pushing him away just because I am stubborn – not because I actually want him to leave me alone. “No” doesn’t actually mean “no” and all that bullshit, according to him.

I also got a cutesy cartoon from the church guy who went radio silent in “Showing Up is Half the Battle.” This was after he sent me messages saying “happy turkey eve beautiful” yesterday, and before that a message saying his aces were up while playing poker and that he wished I was by his side as he was winning.

Don’t worry, I didn’t reply to either of these jackasses. And in perfect harmony with this post, “A Little Respect” by Erasure played on my Pandora while I was typing.

On a different note, I traded emails with one of my mom’s sisters and updated her on what was happening with my situation. She said she had contacted my cousin, who is a doctor of osteopathy (DO), and he said that the doctors are turning me down not because I’m giving them too much or too little info, but because they can’t “win” with me – there is no way they can diagnose me. As it stands right now, there are approximately 7,000 diseases out there in the world that have no name or etiology, and the majority of them are similar to mine only in that the symptoms are neuorological in nature. I have been in contact with some groups that I think should be able to put me in touch with the proper researchers, and there are rare disease groups that focus on finding resources for patients. However, I’m feeling a bit like I’m drowning again. A lot of these groups talk specifically about patients that are children. I know it’s especially troubling when children are stricken with major illnesses; after all, I was sick for most of my childhood. However, now that I’ve managed to become a middle-aged adult while this particular disease popped up, does that mean that my life is worth less? I had my chance to reach adulthood so am I therefore not worthy of assistance?

Every person I talk to tells me not to give up. I am not sure I can anyway. I mean, I had to give up my house, my car and working – what else am I going to do with my time? But at some point I need doctors and researchers to fill in the blanks. I can’t imagine going another 10 years like this and waiting for technology to catch up.

Today was the first time in about 23 years that my sister, my mom and stepdad and I were actually in the same state for a holiday, so we pigged out at my sister’s place. Yesterday and today were pretty difficult for me and I think it has to do with the temperature, air pressure and humidity; we got snowfall that actually accumulated and stayed today. I had to spend most of the time in bed because of fibromyalgia pain, but also my CSF was accumulating like the snow. I was hoping I’d be able to hang out for a few hours before my brain started being crushed, but instead I began drooping noticeably as soon as my stepdad picked me up, and I had only been upright for about 45 minutes at that point.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope that you can find things to be thankful for every day. I’m working on my list.

 

The Dog Days of Dating

I’ve got two accounts going, one on OKCupid and one on Match. After making one acquaintance and laughing about my crazy exchanges, it really drove home the fact that I am likely expecting too much from one and too little from the other (Match is supposedly where the more serious people go to look for love). So I changed the first line of my OKCupid profile to say, “I’m not looking for a hookup.” I also removed some items and added some more to dumb it down. For instance, my introductory paragraph has bullet points and includes, “I’m a feminist. This includes the concept that no means no” and “I don’t believe in organized religion.” Further down for the section that starts with, “I spend a lot of time thinking about” I finished it with “equality, healthcare, social justice, cats and dogs and why I can’t have them, and how much I want pizza.” Lastly, in the section that begins with, “You should message me if” I entered “- You are a non-smoker (of all things); – You really are single, not looking for a third in your threesome or looking for someone “discreet” so you can cheat on your wife. C’mon, it’s NOT complicated – you just wanna catch you some strange, let’s call it what it is; – We live in the same country. Please, no penis pictures. Seriously.”

So the first message I get after my revisions is from a guy with one photo where he looks like a total mouth breather, 34:
Him: How are you doing today? I would love to talk with you more. You are very beautiful by the way 🙂
Me: Hi, thanks. What would you like to chat about? What style of literature do you normally read?
Him: I read all sorts of books. What are you doing today?
Me: Today is laundry. If you are going to say “Let’s do something,” I have to warn you – I can only be upright for about 30 minutes, tops. We could probably do a high five on the sidewalk. 🙂
Him: Why only upright for 30 min?
Me: Super rare brain disease.
Him: Well we could have fun lying down? Lol
Me: Nope, not looking for a hookup. That was just a line about wanting to chat, huh?
Him: Why no sex
Me: Am I just here on this earth to fulfill every man’s fantasy and whim? No. You want to stick your dick in me without treating me like a fellow human being with value. I’m not interested. After that he blocked me. I am just going to assume it’s because he’s trying to stop himself from making the same stupid mistake again because he won’t remember soliciting me for exactly the same thing I specifically said I didn’t want.

Man, 50, lives 80 miles away:
Him: you want to take me out to lunch your treat
Me: Aerosmith, “Dream On.” It’s my song gift to you.
I blocked him. I didn’t have the energy to educate him on how to score.

Man, 39, local:
Him: Wow…..you are absolutely gorgeouz!! I wish I was your type.
Me: Thanks. So why aren’t you my type? Would you be mean to me, or try to send me inappropriate pictures? Or rub your cats in my face and send me into anaphylactic shock? (He has a couple.)
Him: None of the above…I’d actually treat u like a queen….but I’m sure my cats would cause an issue……hence..not ur type??
Me: Yeah – I looooove cats (and dogs), but have to take four meds and only hang out for two hours, tops. Maybe in my next life I can have pets. 😦 So best wishes to you in your search!
Him: Well….I could always,come over…undress and.hang out. No cat then. 🙂
Me: Would it surprise you to know that’s not the first time I’ve heard that offer?
Him: No….but I’m sure I’m not gonna be the first you say yes to though…
Me: Well, that got weird.
Him: Lol….how so?
Me: It’s never fun to be on the receiving end of implied sluttery.
Him: Oh…no…I was implying the opposite my dear. That you have yet to accept an offer…
Although I’d dig being the first….
After 8 hours:
Guess not
I didn’t bother responding. How would you respond if he acted the exact same way he claimed he wasn’t acting? It boggles the mind.

Kid, 26, 80 miles away:
Him: Hi you’re sexy
(I’m marginally impressed that he knows the proper usage of “you’re” but not enough to reply)

Man, 48, local:
Him (obvious copy and paste without reading anything about me): I am a single father, a bit shy at first. New to the dating scene. I actually look forward to just meeting and getting to know someone, I want that someone to enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. I do not like to play games, I like honest and sincere people Have a blessed Day…
Me: Hi, honesty and sincerity are great. Is your work winding down for the winter, or do you stay busy with projects?
Him: am off work for Now … How Are you doing ? would you like to txt me .. i don’t get don’t the site that much ….. what’s your name Beautiful
Me (cringing at being called “Beautiful” – not at all sincere – and the “blessed day” already rubbed me wrong): I’ve had a few stalkers, not comfortable with immediately giving out my cell.
Him: I understand How you feel … i can see you real an honest and open minded woman … and that what i want in my woman … what do you like doing sweet woman
With only 45% of our answers being marginally close and 70% flat-out enemies, I am going to let him pass me by.

Then I got a message from a man, 30, and in the U.K., and I immediately went on high alert:
Him: hello how are you today?
Me: I’m okay, how are you?
Him: im doing well thank you
just back home from work
i ve had a long day
Me: Ah, you’re working late!
Him: a little bit but have u seen that im living in england and im just having a trip soon to MN and lookining for friends and maybe more….
Me (really, really frustrated at this point): Ah. I’m not open to a hookup or a long distance romance. I’ve got a lot going on with my health right now.
Him: what are u looking for in here ?
Me: I’m looking for a long term relationship. What about you?
Him: im same really just its not easy o meet the right one
After this, I decided to put away my baseball bat before I smashed my computer to bits and give him a chance. We actually had decent conversation and it seems like he is sincere, but obviously I don’t know him at all, so I’m still on guard.

Man, 38, Philadelphia:
Him: hi how r u
Me: I’m fine.
Him: Don’t let the distance fool u I get to fly for free
Me: So, whose photo are you using for this site?
Crickets. I did a reverse Google image search and found that he had downloaded some photos from a bodybuilder’s site who was in the UK competing at the same time we were chatting.

Lastly, I got a message from someone that I knew 24 years ago. My gut reaction was to say “CRAP!!!!” because I’ve never lived in a city long enough to have my past come back to me like that. Now that I’m back in my old stomping grounds, I have to reconcile concepts like my family being fully aware of my dating life, and for previously-known people to find me again. I asked this guy about what his experience has been on OKCupid, and he said he’s had bad luck. I commiserated with him and told him that a lot of guys were just approaching me for sex, and he said he was getting the same thing from the ladies. (Really???? Man, I have a hard time believing that. I mean there’s always going to be the ones who have been married for 20 years and want some action, but I don’t think that’s all of us. Maybe I’m naiive.) He told me that not all men were just looking for sex. I then reminded him that he messaged me out of the blue about 2 years ago on Facebook to tell me that he was horny after we hadn’t talked for 20 years. His reaction was, “Oh, sorry about that – I must have been a little drunk.”

The quest continues!

 

 

Paper Doll

Warning: Read at your own risk. Adult situations discussed.

Okay, so we know about Mr. Friday Night and his toe and pantyhose fetish. I did him a solid and dressed up and painted my toenails to his specifications. It wasn’t that big of a deal as far as fetishes go – not like he asked me to shear a sheep so we could screw on some real lambswool.

Another guy on OKCupid caught my eye. I was actually looking forward to chatting with him because according to the algorithm, we answered over 90% of our questions the same (or similar enough). His profile had enough funny stuff to show that he had a good sense of humor, and we had a love of the arts, board games and museums in common. Pretty promising, right? So I struck up a conversation with him, and during the course of chatting, I discovered he was a brass player. I’m going to christen him Gabriel.

Gabriel wasn’t very forthcoming with info about himself when I would ask him open-ended questions. He would give me one or two-word answers, or it would take him a long time to answer. Then he started dipping his toe into the sex pond, and he couldn’t stop talking.

At first Gabriel wanted to know if I liked to cuddle, and I answered yes. Then he started asking me about my favorite sexual acts. I informed him that I had a FetLife page and he revealed to me that he did as well, so we checked out each others’ pages. Gabriel then confessed to me that he wasn’t really single, like his profile said – he was separated, and he claimed that he was living with his parents and his wife and kids were living in the house. However, he assured me that there was no going back and that divorce was a sure thing. We talked more about our likes and dislikes, and Gabriel admitted that he had only been intimate with three women. My number is nowhere near his – I mean, I have never been married, and for the majority of my adulthood I haven’t been in a relationship. We had a chat about STDs.

Eventually we worked out a date night. At first it was on the premise of cuddling and a movie. Then it evolved into him asking if we could do certain things. Gabriel also specified what he would like me to wear – which included a skirt, pantyhose and heels. Luckily for him I had gotten two pairs of pantyhose because of Mr. Friday Night, so I could accommodate that request. I told Gabriel that if his penis was going anywhere near me, he had to tell me his last name.

The first time we got together was very nice. We did cuddle, and we both got some action. He reminded me a lot of the guy who plays Kelly Severide on the show “Chicago Fire,” though a bit beefier. When we were done messing around, we laid in bed and laughed and talked, and Gabriel did his impression of Christopher Cross/Michael McDonald/Peter Cetera, which he admitted sounded like the same guy. We discussed his frustration at not being able to find a job that matched his degree, and I offered to put some feelers out with my friends. It’s just the sort of exchange you’d expect with friends with benefits, which is what I assumed this would be, since I couldn’t go on real dates with him.

The second time he came over, Gabriel asked if I could do some very specific things he wanted to try that he had listed on his Fet page. I will just be clear and say that it was stuff he wanted me to do to him, not with him. Gabriel also asked me if I could wear a specific undergarment, and since I had it in my possession already, I obliged. He asked me if I would ever try some of the things that he wanted to, including three-or-moresomes and anal sex, and I told him I had tried them – many times – and I wouldn’t do them anymore. First, I’m not attracted to women. Second, my health problems extend to my bowels and anal sex is painful. So keep in mind that this conversation about my hard limits happened face to face. Gabriel left after what he wanted to happen happened. I gave him a smooch and told him it was okay, he’d get me the next time.

Between the second and third dates, we chatted via text a few times, but it was only late at night, and he would only talk about sex. Gabriel would ask things like, “Do you ever just walk around your apartment naked for no reason?” I told him no, it was never for no reason – usually I was changing clothes or hopping in the shower. Then he would ask me if I was playing with myself. I get weary of being asked the same questions every time a guy talks to me, so I stopped playing along – I didn’t pretend that I was doing that just to make him happy. I even reminded him a couple of times that I was a whole person, not just interested in sexual acts. I mean, for Pete’s sake, we had a lot of common interests.

For our third get-together I didn’t have to wear any specific clothing, thank goodness. We messed around (no p-in-the-v, but honestly, that’s not the only sex act as far as I am concerned), and had another talk about my hard limits. Gabriel said that the next time he came over, he thought it would be nice to just watch a movie, and I agreed.

Gabriel’s texts became further spaced out; sometimes I would send him a quick note to joke about something that popped up in the news that we had discussed. He would only text me to ask me if I was playing with myself. Then he started only asking me one word at a time: “Anal?” “FFM?” “Swallow?” My tolerance level is pretty low, especially if I have to repeat myself. I know what guys think, which is that if they ask the same question enough times, eventually they will wear us women down into agreeing to do stuff. After I said no, Gabriel had the balls to tell me that maybe I would like that stuff if I tried it – as if our numbers were reversed and I had had three partners, and he had…not three.

I finally texted him back to say, “Look, I have tried what you have listed, and I’m not going to do it.” Then I told him, “I feel like we get along well enough, but now you’re listing stuff that we have talked about that I’ve already told you that I am not interested in revisiting. I don’t want to hold you back if you want to find someone to help you check these things off your list.” Gabriel hates anything that is not “Minnesota Nice,” meaning he would have preferred me to agree to do these things to fulfill his porn-driven fantasies, or to lie to him and tell him that I would do them eventually. So Gabriel has cut off all communication to me.

My prediction for Gabriel: He and his wife are going to resume their marriage “for the sake of the kids” after he has checked everything off his list. And they’re going to hate each other.

I have been chatting with another guy from OKCupid who had actually hit me up on FetLife first. Here’s the kicker: he has a foot fetish too. So one of the first things he asked me to wear if we met is a skirt, pantyhose and heels.

My only conclusion I can come to is the reason these poor, deprived men in Minnesota crave heels and pantyhose is because it’s thirty below zero all of the time and it’s not safe to walk in heels in snow and ice. Snow boots are decidedly less sexy.

Please enjoy this song by one of my favorite singers, Rachael Yamagata. Every time a man asks me to dress up to his specifications, I feel like a paper doll.

Netflix ‘n Chill

Minnesota is a pretty great state to live in right now. There’s lots of resources – especially in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area – and a push towards smarter and greener living. Unemployment is super low. I have forgotten what it’s like to be around nicer people (rather than worrying about being shanked), so I find myself thinking often, “Wow, that person is so nice!” Don’t worry, I know about “Minnesota Nice” – but usually I’m on the giving end of it, not the receiving end. On paper, it would appear that I wouldn’t have any trouble at all finding a match, because there are a good number of people with shared values.

However, I’m that person. I can’t go out on dates. I can’t join someone for a bike ride and a hike. I can’t say that I have to work until 6 pm, and then can we meet up for dinner later? I can’t go out on multiple dates with someone and then decide he’s not a match for me, and never have him know where I’m living in case he turns out to be stranger danger.

My only option left, really, is to tell dates they can come over to my place to, you know, watch Netflix and chill. Except every one of them thinks that I want to bang. I don’t!! It looks bad, I know. My apartment is a studio so the couch I have for visitors is in very close proximity to my queen-sized bed, so even if I told a date that I didn’t want to have sex, THERE IS MY BED, calling like a siren song.

I want to go out with men who are active and enjoy movies, wine tastings, art festivals, live theater and traveling, but those are the ones that do a crab crawl backwards away from me. Instead, I get messages on OKCupid from guys like Alex (age 28), who wrote two sentences to me, didn’t answer any of my questions, and then a week later said, “Hey, how about after work we have a lazy evening on the couch and watch shows?” I said, “You mean, ‘Netflix and chill?'” He said, “Does it sound better if I say that?” and I said, “No. I’m not interested in sextracurricular activities.”

On the flip side, someone whose junk has been up close and personal texted me a hello and asked what I was up to, then said that watching a movie sounded really nice. I asked if that was code for Netflix ‘n chill, and he said, no, he really did want to veg out and watch a movie. See? Sometimes men can act like normal human beings and not try to hump everything in sight. I’m guessing we have to put you on a 60+-hour-workweek first, though.

So, anyone wanna come over for Netflix ‘n chill, but not?

Send Up The Bat Signal

From Thursday morning until today at around noon, I was so excited. I felt this enormous surge of energy, and I wanted to do everything – go to the movies, go on job interviews, retrieve my car from where it’s being stored and drive around, go on real dates, go to Costco and buy 30 rolls of toilet paper. I felt like my old self. For 108 hours, I felt capable. I was sitting and standing and walking just like everyone else. The vertigo was still present but I wasn’t running into furniture or doorways.

The weather has been unseasonably warm, so I went on a few walks around my neighborhood for the first time since moving here. The last one this morning was to walk a few blocks to Redbox to rent a few movies. And just like that, the drooping face appeared again. As I was approaching my door, my steps became slower and slower, and all the while I was chanting to myself in my head, “No, no, please no.” I often have to try to explain the sensations to doctors and nurses who haven’t seen me before, and this is the best I have come up with: It feels like a big slab of raw steak has been laid across my forehead and left eye. The weight of it and the paralysis makes it impossible for my eyelids to stay open, and if you look closely, you’ll see my left eyebrow twitching because the nerves are misfiring or losing their connection completely when I try to move it. Everything becomes very blurry and starts swimming in front of me, kind of like what movie directors do to try to portray fainting from the viewpoint of a character. I lose depth perception and peripheral vision. I also become immediately exhausted.

I had seen my sister before I went on my walk and we were discussing the mystery of the symptoms lifting. After I got back, I had to send her a text saying, “Fuck it. Sell the car. It’s back.”

Today we talked about how this has been a really tough year. We lost our oldest sister, and then just a few days later my friend died, and now our uncle is running out of options to treat his stage IV throat cancer. My sister has health issues herself, and though she has told me numerous times that she is happy to help and that she knows this has been difficult for me too, I am fully aware that I am a burden to her. I don’t want this to be my permanent reality.

Some of my friends have gotten involved with getting in touch with people in the TV industry to see if there are news stations or shows that would be willing to feature my story. (I told one person that if I got on “Ellen,” I don’t want a car or cash, I want a doctor.) An uncle’s girlfriend is a freelance writer and we have been in contact with countless publications; I have been turned down by all of them because they want a happy ending. I am still hoping that I can get some exposure and a fire will be lit under someone qualified and knowledgeable enough to deal with this shit.

Oh, and Mr. Friday Night is done. When he was here, he asked me over and over again if he could return on Saturday for some more nookie. Late Friday afternoon, he texted me things like, “Miss me yet?” and “I’ll be back, I really like you.” I never asked him for another session, so this isn’t me baiting him to push him to say that he wants to see me again. Late Saturday afternoon I texted him asking if he was still planning on coming over, and his response was “:))))).” That was his last communication. So I sent him a text this afternoon telling him that he shouldn’t beg to come over and then act like I died – he needs to be more up front and honest with the next woman (Bye, Felipe!). It’s depressing that he got any of my good hours. Fear not, though – I have been chatting with others on OKCupid and initiating them into my weird and wacky world. One guy is 14 years younger and a great conversationalist but he’s so young. I may use a cane, but I’m not comfortable with being a cougar.

As disappointing as today was, I am happy about one thing: a ghost from the past contacted me through Twitter. I’ll call him Socrates, as he is a deep-thinking man. Socrates found me just by chance when he was searching for a former client’s info, and when I saw that he was following me, I sent him a message. I have actually been trying to look him up for the past few months. Socrates and I met when he was going through an especially difficult time; his business had folded, he was nearly penniless, his family was spiteful and sucking his soul dry, and he didn’t have access to healthcare.

I enjoyed his company despite the turmoil that burdened him and seeped into our time together. Socrates is incredibly intelligent. I could actually hold conversations with him that did not center around sports or the weather. He is much more concerned with the human condition and continuously trying to improve himself and the world around him. But the one thing that broke my heart, as it always does, is hearing that I am fine to have sex with but that person isn’t going to get into a relationship with me. And Socrates gave me that speech. I can’t help but take that personally, no matter if I also realize that it’s not the right time or the right person for me. Some day I’d like for some man to tell me that all of my parts are wonderful, not just the sex parts.

So we entered into a true friends with benefits arrangement. I helped Socrates to pack up his apartment so he could move. I found a sliding fee scale clinic so that he could try to get the healthcare he so desperately needed and wanted, just so he would know that there were options. I also gave him blowjobs he rated as, “Ohmygodthatwasthebesteverthatwasaten.” Socrates was always open and vocal with me, never just saying what he thought I wanted to hear, because he values authenticity over flattery.

Our last contact (and correct me if I’m wrong, because I know you’re reading this, S.) was over email in 2007. Socrates was overwhelmed with every part of his life and not interested in communicating with anyone for the foreseeable future. I was left to wonder if he was okay and how he was surviving because the messages simply stopped.

That brings me to today, and our renewed connection. I am relieved to know that he is in fact okay, and that he has done some serious work on his soul to try to repair some of the damage and to release the parts that are past rescuing. Socrates is also married! He and his wife seem to be true partners and supportive of each other, which is the best anyone can hope for in a loving relationship. Socrates is now in a position to help me with spreading the word about this crazy disease, and I am gratefully accepting.

The Weirdness Of You

Let your freak flag fly.

The hardest thing to do is to find someone who loves your weirdness.

This week I initiated another person into FetLife. My Friday date has a pantyhose and toe fetish and before coming over, he put in very specific requests for dark red toenail polish and nude pantyhose/stockings. I asked him if he had a profile on Fet. He had to look it up! I would not be surprised if he suddenly appeared. However, his fetish does not seem to be hardcore – he enjoys other acts as well, thank goodness. Main reason: I’m not a foot model. In fact, some have called my feet “Flintstone feet,” not exactly drool-worthy. All of this week I have been soaking, scrubbing and grinding away calluses because I was very aware that these toes could end up in his mouth – and they did.

As far as fetishes go, his is pretty harmless. However, I still had to accommodate him and find pantyhose and nail polish. I didn’t give him a list of anything that I required. But so far, he has won points with me because he isn’t telling me that I’m not doing “enough” to get better, or making me feel like a loser for not being able to work or really, just leave the apartment for more than 30 minutes. He also didn’t freak out when I told him that I had to wear wigs. That one is a big one! The real test will be to see if he sticks around and/or comes back again in the near future.

Something strange is happening with my body. I’ve been dealing with these crazy symptoms since my shunt failed on April 10th, but for the past three days without changing my medications, diet or supplements, I have been able to be upright for hours. HOURS. Like a normal person. I’m still having some issues with vertigo, but the pressure isn’t so strong on my brain that my face becomes paralyzed like it usually does when I’ve been upright for 30 minutes.

I honestly don’t know if the change is because it’s not terribly hot or cold. I don’t know if it’s because the humidity is relatively low for this part of the country at this time. I don’t know if it’s because the air pressure is at a certain level and is holding steady. I don’t have a clue.

But because I don’t feel like I’m dying, I suddenly have energy – at least, I’m back at fibromyalgia-style energy. I feel guilty for not getting in my car, which is currently being stored at my sister’s house and being prepared to be sold, to go to a concert, or the library, or the grocery store. I want to go out on dates like a real person! I have even thought about working because when I have this energy zinging through me, I hate to be idle. (Honestly, that’s what gets me into trouble. I either get really vocal on Facebook or I chat up a bunch of men on OKCupid.) But I don’t know why this is happening, and I don’t know how long it’s going to last.

My reminder of that is the notice I got from Metro Mobility letting me know I am eligible to use it until May of 2019. It’s a service set up through the bus system in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for people with disabilities who can’t use regular buses. Normally I can only take the bus if my aunt rides with me and takes care of the fare as well as keeping an eye out for our stop because I can’t see well enough. I have to ride the short bus now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for this service. I just really like my independence and, you know, being able to see, and using this emphasizes just how handicapped I am and what I have had to give up.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

In another nod to normalcy, I just got a message on OKCupid from a guy who is seven years younger than me who claims to be “long and thick just for [me].” I did specify in my profile that I didn’t want to receive any penis pictures. At least he stuck to the rules and described it instead?? I replied and told him his DNA determined his length and girth, and has nothing to do with me.

The Broad Squad

CutBanana

The internet is a fantastic invention and I don’t know what I would do without it in my life at this point. I use it to search for rare health cases and symptoms like mine. I use it to communicate with my friends around the world. I watch movies and TV shows via four different streaming services while my laptop is propped over me at a tilt. I’m talking to you stranger dangers, for Pete’s sake.

One of the first ways the internet was initially used for “evil” was that producers and distributors suddenly realized how they could reach a much larger audience to pander their porn.

Another is that it is super, super easy to create a profile and an entire backstory for a person that is not at all based in truth.

Hulu has every episode for the show “Catfish: The TV Show,” produced and distributed by MTV. I was a fan of the movie, and now that I have loads of time on my hands, I am watching that show like I’m loading it up on an IV leading directly to my veins. The movie “Catfish” was made because a guy in his mid-20’s, Nev (pronounced “neev”) started an online romance with a woman long distance, and his brother and their friend taped the progress of his relationship. He is a good looking guy (dark hair and eyes, strong jaw, lovely constant 5 o’clock shadow), and the woman he thought he was talking to was gorgeous with caramel-colored hair and big turquoise eyes. Thought. Nev was crushed and confused when his journey that ended with him meeting this mystery person face-to-face. This is not how he imagined his fairy-tale story would end. Turns out the woman was a middle-aged housewife with special-needs kids who wanted to momentarily escape from her life.

Now Nev’s mission is to help others facing the same dilemma. People write to him because they have been carrying on long distance internet romances with someone who they aren’t sure is being truthful about their appearance, their job, their marital status, their gender, their location, their offspring, their names…you get the idea. “Catfish” is no longer a subject – it’s also a verb.

So, have you been catfished?

Internet dating sucks. I’ve said it many times and I’m sure I will again. At the very least, people don’t like to post their recent pictures, usually because their weight has changed from when they were 17. I get it – I would rather people see me at my best too. I actually haven’t taken any pictures of myself for the past few years because bed rest has not been kind. But I have never lied about my marital or relationship status, the city where I live, my age, my name, my gender, or any other item you can dream up. I don’t tell men up front that I’m bald, but those same men also don’t tell me if they have a 4″ dick that is bent at a right angle.

A good friend I’ll call Svetlana is still braving internet dating, and I am presenting you with just one of her stories with her permission. She had closed down a profile after feeling disgusted and defeated by the men who approached her, but she stayed in touch with a few, including one I’ll call Fernando. Up to this point she has not met him. Fernando had finally asked her out on a date, but Svetlana hadn’t had a chance to accept or decline; instead, she received this message:

Hello Svetlana, I am the girlfriend of Fernando and I don’t think you know anything about it. Since July I live in Germany. 10 days ago I came to his sister’s home in Skokie to visit him for a week, just yesterday I came home. I had seen in his phone and the text messages that he sent to you (unfortunately you are not the only one with who he communicate, at the same day another woman probably from Brasil because it was in Portugese language got from him a love message the same words that he said to me words that he said to me a lot of time, I know that because my friend translated it)…so sad because at that time I was with him, what he would do is ruthless,phony and disrespect. He used me just for his advantage and benefits, he needs european passport to stay legally in Europe and after that study in Amsterdam. He asked me to marry him, now I understand that he wanted just passport and then just cold bloody leave me for another woman. Now I know that he is just liar and cheater, he promised me never to hurt me because my ex boyfriend did it and he knew whats happened in the past to me. I am very angry, disappointed and upset what he did to me, everybody helped and like him cause he looks as innocent and lyal person but he is not like that…unfortunately not! I release my self from him. Why I send you this message? because I want to warn you, no woman deserves this pain. He promised me not to dating you when we stay together but I don’t want to share my life with somebody like him. So enjoy his company.”

First and foremost, Svetlana felt like this took a lot of courage for this woman to reach out to her and warn her. Svetlana has done the same thing when she has discovered men who have been lying and cheating, but sadly, she has had vitriol thrown back at her – other women calling her a slut, whore, desperate, and any other derogatory name you can think of. Second, she responded to the woman and thanked her for warning her, because she wanted nothing to do with men who conduct themselves in this manner. Third, she felt immense relief because this woman did not treat her badly, especially since she had not knowingly become one of many other women he was working on.

How would you react if someone contacted you to warn you that the person with whom you were conversing with or in a relationship with was being duplicitous or dishonest? Would you listen to them rationally, or would you call them names and try to shame them for telling the truth?

Svetlana suggested that she could send a message to Fernando saying, “You think you’re so clever, don’t you?” But really, I thought it would leave much less room for him to wiggle out of if she asked him when he’s planning on moving and who he is going to marry in order to get the proper passport. She did and then blocked him.

My wish is that women would stop buying into this theory and practice that we should compete against each other for the attention of men. Every woman Svetlana warned should have thanked her and cut off all ties to the liars rather than turn against her. I would love to start up a Broad Squad, where we take the time to research things like marital status, number of offspring, jobs, cities, etc., using our favorite tool, the internet (because I can’t very well drive around in disguise and take pictures). Then we warn each other. Then we believe what the other women are saying with proof to back it up. Look, I know we don’t want to think the man who is sticking his dick in us and saying very pretty words could possibly be saying the same to other women, but it’s time for the women to stop hating other women for the lying that men do. And it’s time for men to change their internal recordings from “that bitch messed up my plan, now I have to find new victims” to “I’m sorry, and I will never be a shit again.” Really, wouldn’t we all be happier if we were trying to be our best selves?