Lest you think my life is all bunnies, butterflies and coffee dates with God, here’s a post to let you in on the real stuff.

I had two police officers at the house tonight.  They’re becoming more the norm than not. We invite them in, give the info, listen to what they say. I’ve met some lovely gentleman and ladies through this process. Nice keepers of the peace. I should invite them for dinner some time.

And why do we have police officers at our door? Do we have the best coffee? Was the wafting smell of Kid #1’s cookies bringing them to the door?

Nah.

Kid #2 has decided the best way to get what he wants is to run away to The Wizard, his dad, my ex, tell him he is being abused, and have him call the police.

The police come to my door. I explain. They listen with a little smirk on their faces. Their heads begin to nod. Then, they tell me it isn’t abuse — it’s a teenager who is struggling with his parents divorce.

I always have my divorce paperwork in hand. I stay calm. I ask for their guidance. And they give it to me.

Today began so innocently.

Chef Man stopped by for some morning coffee. He was here last night, too. I guess that time talk helped.

I went to court for some final financial stuff with the divorce.

I worked.

I took care of The Kids, driving them to their activities and adventures.

I worked on personal paperwork.

I emailed The Wizard a spreadsheet and receipt for what is due on The Kids’ activities. In the email, I mentioned that I was not paying for their cell phone bills, a contentious issue in a crazy divorce.

I guess that was the wrong thing to say. Within minutes, all hell broke loose.

“I’m blocking your calls, Mom,” Kid #2 announced from the couch. He’d gotten off the phone with his dad.

“Why?”

“Because you’re not paying for my cell phone.”

“What?”

“You’re not paying anything on my cell phone. So, I’m blocking you.”

“Um… no, you’re not,” I said. “Block my calls and you lose your phone.”

“You can’t do that,” he said. “It’s not your phone. You don’t pay for it. Legally, it’s Dad’s. So, I can block you.”

“Who told you to block me?”

“Dad.”

“Listen,” I leaned in very close and looked Kid #2 in the eyes. My voice dropped to a whisper. “You block my calls; you lose your phone. It’s that simple.”

“Well, you can’t do that…”

“Watch me.”

I took his phone out of his hand.

He grabbed for me, screaming for his phone. I’ve learned to stay out of the grasp. He ran to the kitchen for my cell phones — one work, one personal. He put a pass code on my work phone so I couldn’t access it. He put my personal phone in his pocket.

I asked for it back.

He wouldn’t turn it over.

I took his arm, moved it behind his back in an “uncle” like hold, reached into his pocket and took the my phone.

This isn’t the first time this has happened.

Last week, same thing.

Week before, same thing.

Week before that, same thing.

There are slight variations on the story — refusal to do his math work, not doing his reading work, not getting simple chores done. I take away his electronics. He says I’m abusive, grabs my cell phones and runs like a puppy with a new toy. I often have to remove the phones from his hands using moves my sponsor showed me how to use when she works with special needs kids.

I’m tired, folks. I don’t want to live like this.

Children and family services are coming out tomorrow.  The officers assured me I didn’t do anything wrong.

“They can help you,” the one officer said. “They have access to special services that even I don’t know about. My report will say that I don’t see any signs of abuse or neglect. But, your son keeps calling so I do have to get them involved.”

“Absolutely,” I said. “It gives me a paper trail. Thank you.” I felt more relief than fear. And no, I’m not cleaning my house tonight. This is how we live, dust bunnies and all. OK… I did change the cat box and throw a load of towels in the wash. Maybe I’ll mop the floor tomorrow. Otherwise, I have nothing to hide.

I’m asking for help. For my son. He needs special services and I don’t know what to do. There’s talk about possible autism. I’m worried about bi-polar issues. I want to put both kids in the car and run… run as far away as we can from the crazies. But, I hear they always find you.

Dustin John over at My Sober Life and Paul over at Message in a Bottle both posted comments to my declaration of in-love-ness in my previous post. They gave me a kind, gentle, “Uh, Dorothy, pause and look around. You sure this is what you want?” That is, if they don’t mind me paraphrasing how their words hit my brain. Their words were a whack upside the back of my head — the sort of whack one sober person does to another when they see something is amiss.

I felt the whack, guys.  Thanks. I needed it. I heard it. I felt it. Now, I’m going to write about it. That’s how it works. I gotta put the thoughts in black and white to begin to see what’s really going on. 

Here’s what I think I know. Or, Dorothy’s Interpretation of Reality:

I’m dating a busy man. 14 – 16 hour days busy. 

He has a lot of qualities I admire — intelligent, well-spoken, well-read.

I care about him.

I enjoy his company.

He is kind to me and others.

He talks a lot when he gets nervous.

He withdraws when he is stressed. 

He doesn’t play mind games with me, or at least none I’ve experienced so far.

He’s friendly to everyone. 

He is employed.

He lives in a house.

He drives a car.

He plays drums.

He supports his children.

He has a colorful past.

I love him — whatever that means.

There is a chemistry I enjoy. A lot. Have you ever just inhaled someone — rested your nose on the person’s neck in that spot where the shoulder curves into the neck and taken a long, deep, slow inhale of a scent so sweet, so delicious, so perfect? And when the person leaves, the scent still lingers on your hand — not cologne, not lotions, not soaps — the person’s scent. It’s there on your hand and you find yourself bringing your hand to your nose to inhale. That’s the sort of chemistry I’m talking about.  

 Can I see a future with him? Some days I can; some days I can’t. Most days I am too terrified to contemplate the possibility. On a smattering of days, I start thinking what my wedding dress will look like.  

Yet, I don’t know if he is The One and I don’t think I really need to know that information right now.

This morning I woke up with the squirrelly feeling again, that restless, irritable and discontent crud creeping through my brain. What the hell have I done? I’ve just said I’m in love. I need to dump this guy and run. This ain’t right. I need to shop around some more, see what other options are available. Maybe I would really rather have one with all-wheel drive and more horsepower.

The spin started spinning, faster and faster and faster and faster. He needs to be taller and less busy. I really want one who…

Faster and faster and faster and faster and faster and faster. The inside of my head looked like something out of The Exorcist. Pea soup almost spewed out my mouth. 

I used the only thing I know to use to calm the spin. I said a prayer. It calms me, settles my brain, realigns the energy and keeps the pea soup in my stomach.

Folks, I honestly don’t know why Chef Man is in my life. I don’t know if he’s a passing fancy or something more. I don’t know. I really don’t. I don’t know if the thought flash I had when I first met him over a year ago — the thought-blink that  I had just met my next husband — is intuition or wishful thinking. 

I realized yesterday, as I sat there with Chef Man sipping coffee not sure if I was going to say good-bye, my feelings for this man are more than I pretended they were. He’s important to me. This thing between him and me isn’t just the casual relationship I was presenting to the world. I love this man. 

That doesn’t mean I run off to the Elvis Chapel in Vegas with him anytime soon. That doesn’t mean I give him the password to my bank account. That doesn’t mean I rent the Uhaul. 

It just means I admitted to God, to myself and to several other human beings that I am experiencing what I think is probably love for another human being and it scares the sh*t out of me. 

 

 

 

I did the work: talked to my sponsor, made a list, talked to my sponsor again.

“Time,” I said. “I want more time with him. I want to be able to read the newspaper together.” Him, being Chef Man — the beau, the boyfriend, the man in my life.

I read her the other items on my list.

“All those sound reasonable,” my sponsor said. “Now, you have to tell him you’re ready to be more than a f*** buddy.”

“Yep, I guess I do. I’m really good with this if it ends,” I said. “I’m OK moving on to whatever else.”

“Well, then, you have to talk to him so you don’t block the next person who’s supposed to come along.”

That was last night.

I prepared to explain to Chef Man what I needed. I was ready to break it off, move on, explore new frontiers, get my profile up on the online dating sites. I need a man who can give me time, d*mn it. Yep, time is what I need. More time with him. That’s the solution. And, d*mn it, I’m going to ask for it and be ready to move on if he doesn’t give it to me.

As busy as Chef Man has been, I figured we wouldn’t get a chance to talk for another week or two. The man is working 14 to 16 hour days now. The delay would be good — more time to prepare my talking points and the Power Point presentation with charts and graphs showing how my needs vary inversely with his work schedule.

7:15 a.m. my phone jingle-jangles with a text.

“Coffee 10 a.m.?” Chef Man wrote.

“Love to.”

Crap. Now, I have to have The Talk.

“Parking lot my place? And you need to bring the coffee. I’ll pay if you bring,” he said. He was opening the restaurant and needed to be there for the prep work.

“Coffee delivery is my specialty,” I said.

Crap. Now, I really have to have The Talk. D*mn it, God.  You’re really opening the door this soon? Can’t we wait a week or two?

I talked to my sponsor again. I had to. Making a 10:00 coffee/break up date meant I had to leave my regular meeting early. “I think God just opened the door and I need to step through it,” I said. “I’m going to duck out of the meeting a few minutes early.”

“You’re going to have The Talk?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“I think that’s a good idea.”

9:58 a.m. I got a text from my sponsor, not long after I left the meeting: “God likes to go on coffee dates, too.” Come on, God. I didn’t get a cup for you, but I’ll share mine. I need You to help me hear what You really want me to hear and to say what You really want me to say.

10:00 a.m. I sat in the parking lot of Chef Man’s new restaurant, two cups of coffee in my car’s drink holder and a paper bag with chocolate croissants in the seat next to me.

He pulled in a few minutes later and got out of his car with two dozen eggs.  “I’ll be right back,” he said. “They’ll need these today.”

A hug and a kiss later, we sat on bench, the coffees between us and croissant crumbs littering our legs. He told me about his day yesterday, asked my opinion on a few restaurant things, explained his schedule for today.

I knew time was ticking and I knew my sponsor would kick my ass if I didn’t say something. I left a meeting early for this. I even shared in the meeting why I was leaving early. Hell, it wouldn’t be just my sponsor — the entire room of women would kick my ass.  D*mn accountability.

The conversation lolled. We each took another croissant nibble.

“Do you have time for this — us, you and me?” I asked, the words popping out of my mouth with relative ease.

He got quiet. His forehead wrinkled. He kept his eyes on mine.

“That’s a big question.”

I remained quiet. He began talking about the reality of his schedule — kids, work, the new restaurant.

“I’m struggling with the time thing,” I said. “There are a thousand things I love about you, but this impromptu stuff… it’s getting harder for me.”

“Yeah, there’s been a lot of impromptu for a long time,” he said, each wording slipping off his tongue rather than firing in the usual rapid pattern. “We grab a lot of stolen moments. And, it’s not gonna get any better. We just opened. I need to hire more staff. I haven’t seen my kids like I should. I feel like the world’s crappiest father.”

There was more quiet.

“I care about you very deeply,” he said. “This is what my life is like. This is my schedule. I’ve got two kids. I get up at 5:00 a.m. every morning…  I understand if you want something else, if you want to be with someone else. It’s OK. I really understand. Do what you need to do.” These words left his mouth without manipulation, without control, without expectation. I don’t know how to describe the sound of acceptance and freedom, other than to say you know it when you hear it. His words lifted me into the breeze, allowed me to stretch my wings and fly any direction I wanted to fly.

In that moment, with those words hovering over my heart, a ton of bricks, a million lightning bolts, a thousand butterflies whacked me in the head and I realized I really want this man in my life. There are too many good things about this relationship to throw it away. I don’t want to end this. This is what I want.

Our time was up. The restaurant was calling. Customers were beginning to arrive.

He gave me a quick hug which held an almost sadness in its weight. “I want to be patient awhile longer,” I said. “I want to keep trying.” I reached out and rubbed his back with what I hoped was reassurance.

When I got home, I sent him a text. There wouldn’t be any extra time to talk today and I wanted him to have my words.

“I don’t want to lose you,” I wrote. “You and what I feel for you are too important to me to walk way from. I’m still here.”

11:03 a.m. I called my sponsor again.

“Hey, how’d it go?” she said.

“I’m in love with this man and I don’t want to lose him,” I spewed.

“Awesome. I’m glad you’re finally starting to show up honest. Now, when you start all the negative talk, you’ll know it’s your disease telling you that what you have isn’t enough.”

My second phone call was to another recovery friend.

“So, explain to me how to date a _______ (the branch of military Chef Man served in) because I’m in love with one.”

“Oh honey, I’m so happy for you,” she said. “The most important thing to know is that they are loyal and they say what they mean and mean what they say. Don’t ever lie to him. He’ll know. Their training… it breaks them down and rebuilds them as better men.” She’s married to a military man from the same branch and her son, brother, and father all served in the same branch.  Hell, she could make her own battalion with just family members.

“I have a feeling about this one,” she went on. “I know I’ve never met him and I’m not psychic but everything you’ve said about him… you’ve got a good one.”

“I don’t tell a lot of people this,” I said. “But when I first met Chef Man, the very first time, as I turned to leave, my first thought was ‘I just met my next husband.’ And, my second thought was, ‘F*** no.'”

“That was exactly what it was like with my second husband,” she said.

OK, folks, I’m finally willing to admit I am in love. I want this man in my life as long as it works for both of us. Maybe it ends tomorrow. Maybe it lasts a lifetime. Either way, I’m so grateful for this completely imperfect experience.

#&$%, I’m in love.

 

Self-righteous indignation, I’m tellin’ ya’.  Yep, had myself a heapin’ dose of it.

A**hole. Jerk. Doesn’t deserve someone like me. I’ll just go find someone even better.

Chef Man and I had a bit of a disagreement last week. We walked to our separate corners and played quietly by ourselves.

It all started when he asked me to keep our relationship quiet after he invited me to come into the new restaurant he just opened with his brother.

I said I wasn’t comfortable doing that and wasn’t coming in.

The radio waves went silent. Hhhmph!!

In the rest of the world, that probably would be the end, the grande finale, the curtain closing. In the recovery world, that means more work. For me. Damn it.

I did a spot check inventory of my part. Where was I selfish, dishonesty and all that other stuff? I talked to my sponsor.

“So, what are you really feeling?” she asked.

“Pissed off. Rejected. Like he wants to hide me. Like I’m not important. Like I’m not wanted,” I said.

“Sounds to me like your looking at him through some of your past,” she said. 

“I feel like the other woman.”

“Well, you’ve got experience with that,” she said. “Is it possible he was saying what he really meant? Maybe he really did want you to come in and give him honest feedback on the restaurant.”

Crap.

I sent Chef Man a text asking if I could call him on Sunday. 

No response.

I sent him a text Sunday night asking how he was.

No response.

I started writing my profile for an online dating site. Really. I did. 

Three days later, just as I was getting ready to go live with my dating profile, an intuitive thought popped into my head. Why not email Chef Man? I still had an amends to make. And if he wasn’t calling or responding, I was still responsible for doing it.

So, I wrote:

“I’m in foreign territory right now.  What’s the protocol for proceeding when a gentleman who’s had almost daily contact for months goes to radio silence? My life manual is missing that page. It goes straight from how to handle snake bites to what to do during a tsunami…”

I admitted my wrong in not communicating with him how I felt about him and us, how I felt like the other woman, how I wanted us to be more, how I was disappointed.

He responded almost immediately: “I’m sorry if I made you feel subjugated in any way…” He went on, paragraph after paragraph, apologizing and explaining. 

Ladies and gentlemen, this man works a full-time job, then goes to the restaurant and works until after 11 each night. The exhaustion showed on his face when I saw him today. 

“Please don’t ever think I don’t care about you, that I don’t desire you,” he said. “There’s just…”

“…only 24 hours in a day and you’re cramming in 36,” I said.

I was at the restaurant tonight. I gave him my honest feedback. And, I met his brother.

When Chef Man stopped by my house after closing up, the faint smell of the restaurant still embedded in his skin, he laid his head on my lap. “I’m exhausted. I’ve got nothing left. I’m so overwhelmed.”

No other words were necessary. 

 

 

 

 

Chef Man opened his new restaurant today.

Pause.

Long pause.

Give the crickets time to chirp.

Squiggle in your seat a little at the uncomfortable silence that doesn’t translate well into blogs.

 

 

 

I wasn’t there for his opening day.

I sent Chef Man a text last night asking how things were going. He told me about the 40 people he had at the restaurant last night — a private party with family and friends prior the opening.

I wasn’t there. I wasn’t invited.

“Great to have tasters,” I replied. My airwaves went silent.

Today, Chef Man sent me a text, letting me know the restaurant he owns with his brother is now open for business. I’ve never met his brother.

“Congrats!!!!” I replied.

“Do you have your kids?” he asked.

I explained the situation. The Wizard, their dad, is in another binge (prescription or alcohol, I’m not sure which) so I wasn’t sure if the kids were with me or him tonight, though tonight is The Wizard’s regular parenting time. We had to see how the course of the binge went.

“If they’re with you, bring them by.”

Pitter-patter went my little heart.

I had done the line-edits on the menu, going through at least five drafts. I had given my thoughts on some of the dishes. I had shared some insight into the dining habits of suburban, divorced moms. Chef Man asked. I shared, feeling like I was offering a bit of knowledge to support his dream. I was excited to see the finished product.

I clarified when Chef Man was going to be at the restaurant today. We exchanged a few more texts. Then…

“Let’s keep our private connection private for now,” he added.

I laughed it off, made a few jokes, dismissed the butcher knife sticking out of my chest. But, the butcher knife kept boinging, annoying the hell out of me all day.

Private?

Private.

Private!

Oh hell, no. 

At the point where the knife was beginning to interfere with my daily functions, I sent Chef Man a text:

“I can’t make it tonight. I know I joked about being a secret agent, but the more I think about it, the less comfortable I am with pretending like I don’t know you. I prefer to do things on the up and up — it creates less wreckage to clean up later. I really want to support you in this exciting adventure. I believe what you’re doing is really amazing. When things settle and you feel comfortable with me stopping in, I will and would love to give you my honest feedback. Just let me know.”

He asked if he had offended me. He said he wasn’t trying to hide me. He said he wanted my feedback on the service and the food without any special treatment. He said he wanted help judging the experience.

Folks, this isn’t the first time he’s hidden me. It’s happened multiple times. This is the first time I spoke up and said, “No, I’m uncomfortable with that.”

I explained that hiding is part of the old me, part of the things I did in the past.

“To pretend like I don’t know you, feels wrong. Not judging,” I said. “It’s just wrong for me.”

Tonight, in the quiet of my room, I cried. I cried for who I once was. I cried for who I am becoming. I cried for the hiding. I cried because rejection hurts.

Hiding and secrets are at the core of my active alcoholism. I can’t go back there.

“You home?”

11:18 p.m. Teeth brushed. Face washed. My pajama-ed body had just found its spot of cool, comfort in my bed.

“Yep I am,” I text back, sliding my glasses back on my face so I could see my phone and avoid responding with an unfortunate autocorrect of “Uruguay I ax.”

“Mind if I drop off a dressing I made?”

“That would be great.”

I turned on my bedside lamp and rolled out of bed, debating whether my PJs were boyfriend-worthy.

Five-minutes notice after 11:00 p.m. — he gets what he gets, I thought.

I met Chef Man in my driveway. The Kids were in various stages of teenage weekend sleep patterns and I didn’t want to disturb them. It’s their house, too, and I’m not going to have them feel like they need to get dressed for Mom’s boyfriend when they’re in comfort-mode.

“Here, stick your finger in this and taste,” Chef Man said, as I stood in my driveway in pajamas, the neighbors tucked in for the night. He removed the lid of the styrofoam container.

I dunked my pinky in the liquid and sucked the sweet and sultry flavor off my finger. A hint of citrus danced in my mouth. A delicious, creeping heat followed.

“Damn,” I said. “That’s amazing.”

Chef Man has taught me how to taste, to pause, to wait for the individual flavors to emerge. It’s one of the things I love about him.  The other is how he watches for my satisfaction, not saying anything as I experienced the full explosion.

We stood under the summer stars, leaning against his car and talking for another 45 minutes about health department inspections, ex-spouses, kids and Picasso’s Guernica. He was tired. His legs hurt. Twelve hours on his feet testing sauces and creating recipes for the restaurant he is opening will do that.

A last kiss and he crawled back into his car.

“Good night, Love,” he said. I get butterflies in my stomach every time he says that.

“Good night. Be careful driving home,” I said. “I know you’re tired.”

He backed out of the driveway. I stood there holding a container of dressing, its essence still on my tongue.

That, folks, is my dating life with Chef Man. It exists in limited increments, at odd hours. It doesn’t fit any dinner-and-a-movie model I’ve ever experienced. It’s flavorful, adventurous, non-traditional and always rushed, squeezed between this and that.

This morning I sat on my deck, sipping coffee and reading the Sunday New York Times. After I finished one engaging article, I looked up and took another sip of coffee. Sunshine. Birds. A gentle summer breeze. No one sat next to me waiting to hear my thoughts on the turmoil in the Ukraine, farm amendments in Missouri or the role of ramen noodles in one writer’s life.

I text Chef Man and let him know a friend of mine had invited both of us for dinner tonight. Discussing the Sunday paper is hard to do via text.

I haven’t heard back from him. I know the answer without asking.

I spent a lot of time alone in my marriage to The Wizard. I spent a lot of time alone in the aftermath of the divorce — time I needed to heal. Now, I’m ready to share my coffee and newspapers on Sunday mornings with someone who has the time to linger over the news and enjoy the flavors of coffee from Papua New Guinea.

My 12-step recovery has taught me to accept things as they are, not as I want them to be. As things are, I don’t have someone in my life who is available to share the newspaper and coffee with me. And, that is important. To me.

I think it may be time to ask for my Higher Power’s help to form the words to say to Chef Man and to let go of the results.

I’m dating Chef Man, a gentleman I met in a chance encounter over a year ago. It’s been a slow relationship, a few bumps, an unfortunate photography incident, and many different time zones, keeping us apart. We get together when we can.

The last few weeks, however, I’ve found myself more and more restless, irritable, discontent with the relationship.

He is always busy. Always. When I’m free, he isn’t.

He’s a nice guy.

Hot.

Intelligent.

Great stories.

Good taste.

Colorful past.

Kind.

Gentle.

And busy.  He is so f***ing busy. He warned me when we first started dating his schedule is insane. He spends his free time with his kids. He wasn’t sure what kind of time he had for a relationship, but he wanted to try.

And we have.

Now, I want more. I want someone who walks the path with me and isn’t just dropping in between appointments. I want long conversations over coffee, quiet evenings with movies, loud days with music. I want hikes through the forest and walks by the lake. I want something different from what I am getting now.

A few weeks ago, my eyes started scanning the meeting rooms again, trying to catch the eye of any unsuspecting and attractive gentleman with multi-year sobriety. Sorry, new guys, less than two years and I don’t make eye contact. My rules. It keeps us both safe. 

I noticed what I was doing and told my sponsor. She asked me to write and pray and talk to Chef Man about what I want.

I also started some online shopping. You know, those dating sites where you pick the options you want, then the binary code in the biosphere assembles the man of your dreams and delivers him to your doorstep by drone. I don’t have an online profile. I haven’t placed any orders. I’ve just done a little window shopping, checking the options, seeing what features are available on the newer models.

Restless, irritable, discontent — that’s me.

My family and friends recently started the Let’s Find Dorothy a New Husband campaign, too. Not at my prompting. This is their own pet project.

My brother and his wife think I need a rich rancher in the western state where they want me to live.

The Kids want me to get one who knows how to sail, if we decide to sail around the world.

My good friend suggested I find a county cop — someone who will be the heavy when The Wizard starts acting up.

Chef Man is not a rich rancher, sailor or cop. And he is incredibly busy.

The former me, the one who downed a few beers and some shots and hit on anything sort of male, would keep Chef Man on the hook, line up the next Y-chromosome carrier, then dump CM in some drama-queen fashion that would make me look good and him look like an ass.

The sober me, the one who works on progress not perfection, knows I have to ask for what I need, say the words in my head and show up real. I don’t get to cut and run. I get to communicate and let go of the results. If I haven’t told Chef Man what I want and need, then he doesn’t know.

Crap.

I’d rather take the easier, softer way and cut, run then order something from the check list:

Intelligent

Well-read

Enjoys good food

Has a sense of adventure

Wants to travel with me

Respects and accepts me for who I am now

Doesn’t want to rescue me

Doesn’t drink or smoke

Has a spirituality in whatever form exists for him

Divorced or widowed with kids

Has time for me

Likes hiking, reading, kick-a** coffee and the Sunday New York Times

Can read my mind.

Oh, and is a rich rancher, sailor, and cop.

That’s realistic, isn’t it?

Submit all inquires with a résumé. Please include the title, author and synopsis of the five most recent books you’ve read, three writing samples, photos of your favorite vacation destinations and a sample of your favorite food. Background check and drug testing required.

“I’m really proud of you, sweetie, for going to Alateen,” I said. “That takes a lot courage.”  We were walking out of an Alanon meeting where one of Kid #1’s Alateen friends spoke. Kid #1 is a regular in the 12-step recovery world now. She has her meetings, her friends, her sponsor in the Alateen realm.

“I’m proud of you, too, Mom,” she said. “It’s been really cool seeing you create your own job.”

“My own job?”

“Yeah, you decided what you wanted to be and you did it. It’s cool watching you become so independent.”

Me? Independent? Oh man, Kid #1 has no idea her mom is really a 5-year old girl in a frilly lace dress, twirling with her lollipop and hoping someone will hold her hand to help her cross the street. I don’t have a freakin’ clue what I’m doing most days. 

“I saw your job on the forms for choir [an extracurricular activity Kid #1 has done for years] and thought it was really cool how you created your own job,” she said.

Yes, she really did use “cool” three times. I counted.

This kid doesn’t have a clue how terrified I am most days — thank goodness.

For the last three years, as the insanity of divorce, alcoholism and sobriety swirled around me, I began to freelance, which is another way of saying I begged people to let me write for them. I stood on virtual street corners with my “Will Write for Food” sign. I had a few takers, mainly family and friends. But, it was enough to bring in a few dimes and one or two pennies. And, it was enough to build a small portfolio — very small, tiny, miniscule.  Now, when I apply for a job or want to showcase my wares, I can sorta, kinda, here and there look like I might not be completely ignorant — the last Dorothy Recovers blog excluded. Did you see all the errors in that thing? Damn! It looked like a kindergartener on crack broke into her mom’s magnetic poetry. And, if you find any errors in today’s blog, give me a day or two — I usually catch them.

Freelance work is fabulous when there’s a hot and wealthy body waiting in your bed at night. It is terrifying when the only body in your bed is the lukewarm one that is in debt up to her nose hairs. I’ve had to face the reality of my now: freelance work isn’t likely to generate the income I need to sustain my lifestyle or pay my electric bill.

So, I’ve done the Big Girl thing and sent out resume after resume after resume after resume until my lips hurt from all the ego inflation:  please hire me because I am so awesome and cool and will make your company awesome and cool, too. And, I’ve gotten rejection after rejection after rejection.

Tonight’s comment from Kid #1 got me thinking. Or hoping. Or, at least, wondering. Was her comment God’s 2 x 4? Do I put all my worry and work energy into continuing to create my freelance career or do I shelve the idea and get a real job?

I don’t know.

I do know property taxes are due in September, a car payment and health insurance premium are due the first of the month. I’ve got credit card debt and an attorney to pay off.  And I’m rather fond of electricity and hot water showers. Cable and internet are nice, too.

OK, God, if You want me to freelance, if this is Your will and not my ego, if this is really the direction I’m supposed to walk, then help me and guide me and show me how to pay my bills and do the work you want me to do.  And, thanks for letting me see myself through my teenage daughter’s eyes — that was priceless. 

 

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I know.

Life. It gets busy.There’s a lot of living to do.

So, tonight, I lived.

Chef Man — the beau, the boyfriend, the guy who intrigues and baffles me — invited me to see his band play. He’s the drummer.

Yes, ladies, Chef Man cooks and plays drums. Hot, I know.

The last time I played groupie I was 19 and wore a tight black mini-skirt and could do beer slammers and tequila shots all night. And, I was dating the drummer. After I barfed chicken nuggets and cherry slushy on his bedroom floor, he said, “You don’t know when to stop, do you?” He said I shouldn’t drink. The party guy told the good-girl-A-student she shouldn’t drink.  How dare he! 

Tonight, 25 years older and sober, I wore a cute little black dress. No beer slammers or tequila shots or tight black mini-skirts. And, with any luck, no chicken nuggets will end up on the floor. It’s one of those really cool gifts of sobriety — no morning barf patrol.

The party tonight was a small, private one. No bar scene. Just a little gathering of friends.

There was alcohol but nothing over the top. I had my bottle of water and my Higher Power and my heaping dose of meeting mojo. I was prepared, or as prepared as any alcoholic in recovery can be.

What I forgot about was the female hierarchy in second time around dating.

First, there were the first wives. Stately. Well-groomed. They kept careful watch on their husbands when the new girlfriend (me) entered the room. The new girlfriend (me) got a careful glance, then was dismissed. She (me) had not yet earned her stripes.

Then, there were the second wives. A little more fun. A little more loose. They smiled and intermingled with the first wives, yet a different energy floated from them. More confident? More real? They greeted the new girlfriend (me), but didn’t necessarily welcome me. She (me) had not yet earned her stripes.

Then, there were the long-term girlfriends. They were fun. Chatty. Personable. Welcoming, in a cautious sort of way, like their positions were precariously balanced between commitment and dumps-ville.

Then, there was me: the new girlfriend.

See, back in the day when I was barfing chicken nuggets tinged with red slushy, I was The Girlfriend. Capital T. Capital G. I welcomed the new girlfriends of the band members. But, I was there first. I was always the one at all band practices and gigs because I was The Girlfriend. Capital T. G. And there was beer and tequila shots, slammed by me, The Girlfriend.

Tonight, I was new girlfriend. Little n. Little g. No beer. No tequila shots.

Do you have any idea how long it has been since I was the new girlfriend? Stone wheels rolled down the road and pterodactyls soared in the sky the last time I was the new girlfriend.

The long-term girlfriends and wives welcomed me to the table, introduced themselves by name and by who they belonged to in the band.

“Who are you here with?” they asked — the long-term girlfriends, that is. The wives had moved on.

“C.M.  The drummer.”

“Are you his new girlfriend?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“How long have you known each other?”

“Oh… ah…. 6, 8, 9 months.”

“How’d you meet?”

“Chance encounter at a restaurant. He was coming in with his son. But, it took him two months to call me.”

“Really? Why?”

“Well, we’re both really busy…”

“You want me to ask him why?”

“No, that’s OK, really…”

“I will. I’ll ask him.”

‘No, really.”

“Is it serious?”

“Um… well… I don’t know… We’re… um…” I stumbled.

“How long have you been divorced?”

Oh crap.

“Well, the gavel fell in February,” I said. “But, it was a three year process.”

Long-Term Girlfriend looked at me, eyebrows raised. Apparently, my new divorcee uncomfortableness leeched through my pores.

As the band of 40 and 50 year old guys, with high-powered jobs and six-figure salaries, revived their teenage dreams of playing “I Love Rock ‘n Roll,” Chef Man included, I walked the wives and girlfriend gauntlet. Sober. With a smile.

It ain’t easy, I’m tellin’ ya’, to be a mid-40’s sober groupie and new girlfriend.

I guess this is my second chance, my do-over. God is giving me the opportunity to live the life he intend. New girlfriend status and all.

 

 

“I want runway lights,” I said.

“If you get runway lights, it means you’re ready to land,” my sponsor said. “You’re still flying.”

“But, I want to know what the f***ing path is.”

I sat in my car in the garage, my cell phone still hooked up to the Bluetooth on my car. I don’t know how to switch it over, and this was an important whine session.

Several more minutes into the conversation, after meandering around and through and over things, I paused.  “Holy shit, there are the runway lights. I am headed in the right direction, aren’t I?”

Talking it through with someone, rather than flapping in random directions hoping I’d figure it out before I crashed, works when I am willing to give it a try.

Right now, The Wizard’s financial support of The Kids is nearly nonexistent. The judge granted The Wizard’s request to reduce his financial contributions. I’m not ruined, but I’m sure not going to be traveling to Paris on a private jet tomorrow. Not that I ever was, but I like to pretend.

My reality: I am in debt. Living on credit cards through a divorce will do that. I owe my attorney a lot of money. And, my own income is minimal at best. It’s enough to survive, not thrive.

So, in the truest of alcoholic ways, I decided my solution was to move to where I have a job waiting for me, where the cost of living is lower, where I have family support. The 5-year old alcoholic who lives in my head began running the show, packing her bags, picking out the house with the white picket fence and decorating her pink bedroom with unicorns and butterflies.

“That’s your 3 to 5 year plan,” my sponsor said. “You need to deal with what is right now and right now you don’t need to move.”

She reminded me I am generating income, enough to keep my nose above water. I talked to my brother, who is my primary employer and who has given me an opportunity to fly with his new business, about how I need to increase my income (the minor detail is his company is a thousand miles away and I work remotely — thus, the urge to pack my bags and move). “What can I do to generate more income for your company, so I can generate more income for myself?” I asked.

We worked out some sales numbers.

I have a direction and a lot of work ahead of me. I don’t need to rent the UHaul, yet.

Today, one of my local employers said, “We’re not going to lose you, are we?” He knows about my remote work.

“Nope, I’m here.” I don’t know if I said it with confidence, though. That pink bedroom with unicorns sure looks appealing.

Runway lights — just keep ’em lit for me, God, ‘cuz I’m counting on you to help me on this wild flight.

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