Dating?

I have been thinking more and more lately about opening myself up to the potential of dating.  My marriage is in collapse – we have been separated for over 3 months; talk off and on, but it feels more and more like it’s over and kaputz!  Oddly enough, I’m okay with this and I am getting to a point where I am considering opening myself up to some platonic kinds of relationships.  But, I have no clue what I’m doing…

I haven’t been on a date with someone else in years and years. I don’t really understand the ins and outs of dating, social interaction and all those things that go into it.  Truthfully, now that I’m writing it down, my palms are sweating and my heart is pounding and my breathing is deep (For frick’s sake, it sounds like I’m having sex…). I’ve mentioned it before, but since my life is different than it used to be, I think I’d like to eventually have a boyfriend (but I would not turn down the possibility of a girlfriend).  I’m not interested in going too fast, I’d rather spend time just getting to know some people and form some friendships and if I ever get to the point where I’m ready for something intimate, then I am prepared.

I don’t know if any of that makes sense, but if I am being totally honest, I miss intimacy, I miss being touched or touching someone, I miss conversations, I miss those things that a couple might do. And I know and I feel like anything very serious right now, just isn’t right, but I would like to curb some of the loneliness…

Am I wrong for feeling this way?

“Stephanie, where have you been?” – an update.

Today, I opened an email, among many, asking something that many of you who have emailed me have asked, “Stephanie, where have you been?”  And it truly touches me to have you all ask me where I have been.  I’m sure, on some level, based on some of the conflicts I have been mentioning in my most recent posts, I had a few worried.  I’m okay…physically, I’m okay.  I’ll be honest though, I am still struggling.

I don’t know why I do that…

I suppose, I might be leaning towards accepting that me not accepting myself is my normal.  I don’t understand how to function without stress and turmoil, I guess. I’ve done nothing drastic, however, but I am just trying to live each day as it comes and just accepting that I will continually question myself and ponder what might be my true and authentic self.

I have noticed, the dichotomy of myself is even extrapolated to many of you.  I have some of you email me with the name my mom gave me at birth (some might call this my real name) and I have notices some of you call me Steph or Stephanie (Obviously, this is a real name, as well), and yet a lot of you also call me Tar (ahem…short for Tarnished). I receive so much encouragement from so many of you that I feel more content with myself during those times.

The reality is, of course, that my life is in turmoil. I’ve been back and forth with my wife lately. We talk, we argue, we agree to continue with the divorce, we continue to reconcile, we are obviously nuts. I am trying to work my way through school. I am working a job I no longer enjoy, but doing it because it is important. And trying to manage the various hats I wear with my differing relationships.  The only thing I have taken any peace in is focusing on doing the best I can, praying (even God might hate me or the sins I commit), focused on being the best me I can muster for the current day.

I take pleasure in knowing that there are great people here that follow me and encourage me.  But I don’t feel on solid ground and I feel like I’m floating along and just trying to pick up pieces. My public persona is highly masculine and yet I am still desiring the softer, more feminine nature that I feel is a major part of who I am.  I am not engaging in any relationships, although I still get messages on dating profiles I opened when I assumed my marriage was over. I just don’t feel like I’m capable of giving myself to anyone right now.  I’m simply unstable in my life and it’s not fair to anyone I would make a horrible boy/girlfriend right now.

What I know is that I like who I am online, but I am quite comfortable not bucking anything in my real life.

I am becoming accustomed to anonymity…

…no one knowing me.

There is no obligation to please anyone.

 

I think I want to feel love…

As some of you know, I am separated.  And I had considered finding a boyfriend at one point, but I quickly became unimpressed with the online experience. Although, I had considered it, I’m also trying to change myself and feel like I just don’t have the ability to be in any committed relationship right now.  But I’m also fully aware how alone I feel right now.

There are days, I just want someone to…

wrap their arms around me,

tell me my worries are not silly,

explain to me that I’m not a weirdo-freak,

give me compliments, reassure me,

offer my some semblance of peace,

desire me,

want to be close to me,

appreciate my love,

touch me,

make love to me…

…or whatever.

Detached from Reality

Last night, I was reading someone else’s blog and a statement was made about living life online too much (I’m paraphrasing, but the mention is important), rather than experiencing relationships in real life. And it hit me that I might be someone that lacks “real” relationships, because the overwhelming majority of my friendships are online.  In fact, I haven’t done anything – lunch, telephone call, anything – with a real friend in a long, long, long time. As I write this post, I sit back in my chair, cross my legs for the moment and try to think about the last time I’ve had a conversation with someone I am not related to or online and I am sad to say, I can’t really remember. I do almost all of my communication with some sort of digital device too.

And, the more I think about it, the anxiety being created in my mind is starting to manifest on a physiological level too – I’m starting to breath hard.  There is something scary to me about real life, I think. I used to be so engaged, so energetic, so much fun to be around, but I have become a hermit – practically a shut-in. I have always been a likeable person, so I don’t understand why I don’t just go make friends with people.  I try to think of all the reasons why I became detached, but I think the reality of it all is that I tend to escape from the things I struggle handling.

Take the bout of alcohol fueled escapism I participated.  I would drink to solely numb my mind, to ease any emotional pain I felt. I wanted to hide from the world, my job, my family, life. I found so much escape in drinking, I found so much self-medicating the emotional sicknesses I had. There was an answer to everything, if I could just have another drink.  Eventually, I found that there was no end…the pain, emotions, everything still existed. I was only destroying myself.

The detachment from real life is obvious in my online life, as well.  I can create whatever I want in virtual reality. Stephanie is real, my sexuality is real, my love of life is real, my ability to form friendships is real, the connections I have with people online are real.  Or are they?  Have I just found another way to exist without existing? I can say, I’ve found ways to do my job, without giving up any online activity. I’ve found ways to be online to avoid doing things that are important. I’ve replaced things I love, because I felt I needed to be online and “express myself”. But for what? What benefit?  The benefit in my mind?

I remember being at an AA meeting and hearing a guy say, “When I drink, my values changed…”  And sometimes I wonder if the internet has been an addiction of mine. I ponder what values and morals mean, in the scheme of life. I can easily recite parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to you about some topics and the moral obligations we are supposed to have as human beings – things I don’t ascribe to anymore.  But have I allowed myself to be changed and influenced by the things I see online?

Values and morals?  The topic is one all on its own and can’t be covered in one blog post, that’s for sure. To some there are Moral Absolutes; to others, there is Moral Relativity. What are mine?  I used to adopt the ones of my upbringing, I used to believe in those as solid as my core – sometimes to spite some of the other feelings I had about life and people – or was I simply trying to convince myself? I’ve read some blogs lately that have me pondering my very existence, as well, and sometimes I think my morals and values have changed and need to be sent back to what they were before. But have I gone to far?

What I know, is that I contemplate things a lot (As if none of you knew that), and I want nothing more than to feel the happiness I felt before. That happiness of knowing I’m on the right path in life, that feeling that people like me (I know many of you DO like me, but I’m referring to the feeling and not the knowledge), that idea that the things I do matters to someone – anyone; these things seem to escape me now and I wonder, at times if I have simply become too detached. Am I online way too much? Is this my alcohol?

Online is different than real life. I have said things, done things, shown things, shared things, discussed things that would have never been done in real life. I have become different online than I have in real life. I lose my inhibitions online that I maintain in real life. This always leaves me pondering if any of this is worth it. Am I playing with my own mind and happiness? And there have been times when I could not keep the mind I have online different than the mind I have in real life, but were they ever separate to begin with?

I have had these feelings and thoughts before and they typically come with me shutting down my existence online. I go away. I’ve done it before. I disconnect. I then feel ashamed, I run back to Church, I see a priest and confess everything I feel is a sin and a sinful way to live. I’m welcomed back and people I know in real life – knowing nothing about me online – accepted me fully because they know nothing about the way I am. There are times, when I feel that the best I’ve ever felt were the times I participated in real life. But those were also times, that I never felt the way I do now. Those were times, washed away in the past, but it’s the only comparison I have to what happy feels like.

Now, as I’m writing this, my mind is starting to fire off like rockets. The thoughts are going every direction again, and it is becoming difficult to think again. And I need to begin to concentrate, but I don’t know why?

Maybe it’s time for me to go and figure out my life…

How does one remove the spot on the floor?

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I admit, the thoughts and feelings going off in my head the past several days have seen me hit some emotional highs and some emotional lows – to the point, that I am considering seeing a therapist again to work some things out.  I’m feeling quite happy today, however, and I feel okay with myself.  This is a good thing, I believe.

Well, if you missed it, over the weekend I posted my picture.  I don’t intend to leave it, but I was kind of wanting to let go a little.  Sometimes, I feel like I am wound up like a tight ball just bursting at the seams to get out of myself. The point, however, as to why I posted the picture was to show how different I look than I imagine Stephanie would look. I mentioned that I was feeling absolutely horrible, because I don’t ever feel like I could look the part in anyway shape or form. Of course, it sent me into a spiral of self-hatred that I’d like to think I side-stepped gracefully. But I think I might have come up with a solution.

I mentioned to someone yesterday that there is always a spot on the floor that annoys us.  That spot is there, we see it in the corner of our eye. We’ll try and pick it up, but it won’t move. We try to kick it away, but it’s still there. We try and wipe it up with a cloth, but it’s still there!  We’ll go so far as to get 409 and squirt the little devil and try and scrub it out, but it doesn’t go away. Bleach?  Yup, you guessed it; it doesn’t go away.  Sometimes we’re so focused on that spot that we fail to realize it’s a part of the natural hard wood floor that gives it it’s character. If we’re not careful, we could gouge that spot out and ruin the beauty of that floor.

This is my reality. I’m such a perfectionist that I feel the need to fix everything about myself. I’m not straight enough. I’m not gay enough. I’m not bisexual enough. I’m not manly enough. I’m not feminine enough. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not attractive enough. I’m not a good husband. I don’t have enough money. I don’t have the perfect job. I can’t make a marriage work. No woman wants me. No man wants me. No one wants me. I can’t be a wife. I can’t find the outfit that looks best on me. I’m not thin enough. I’m not attractive enough. These are things that I want to gouge out of the natural beauty that is me (And if you think I’m bragging, you apparently have not read much of my blog… My palms are literally sweating referring to myself with the word “beauty”). I have been chipping away at myself for so long, I’m honestly surprised there is any hardwood left in this floor of mine.

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Last night, I had the chance to do something for myself. It wasn’t major, it wasn’t extreme, it was just something to make me feel good. I watched videos of women walking. I watched them and I tried to mimic them. I felt good. I felt graceful. I felt elegant. I was all alone for a little bit and no one was around, but for that brief moment, I was able to imagine. And it led me to deeply understand something profound – and even now, my desire is to be critical, because I have had so many of you tell me – I need to love myself more.

I have been trying to make small changes in my life, and I haven’t been on a scale in almost two weeks, but I feel my clothes fitting a little less snug.  A couple of the change, I have made is to introduce vegetables back into my diet and to drink a lot more water. I’m probably drinking 2 liters of water everyday and maybe getting two servings of vegetables. And I’m not forcing myself to do it, and I’m not feeling guilty if my diet isn’t perfect. I’m simply making small choices in this one aspect of my life. I’m doing it because I want to love myself.

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And since I want to love myself, I have come to the realization that the number one, most important way to show myself how much I mean to me is to be a little more healthy. I am no spring chicken, anymore, so it’s critical for me to begin cutting my weight and trying to return to a semblance of healthy living. I have been struggling with this for well over a year, but I’m beginning to think it’s working a little. Obviously, this addresses my physical health, but my mental health is important too.

I’m not going to stress about myself as a bisexual male, as a woman, as a trans-anything. I’m simply going to have to learn to just accept things as they come. So many of you are comfortable with me – at least you express it and it is appreciated by me – I know I need to be comfortable with me. I’m still not ready to be “out” and I have no desire to try and go out in public dressed as a woman (Okay, maybe a little desire…but not much), but I don’t have to hate myself for it.  This self-loathing over my sexuality, my problematic gender identity, my doubts about relationships, and anything else has got to stop. Honestly, it’s draining the life out of me. I need to be okay with me, I need to love that spot in the hardwood floor.

And that God thing I struggle with? A few of you have offered prayers and I’m so thankful for that. I try and pray too. I struggle with this a lot and I appreciate all the advice and insight people have too. I think there is a god…or goddess…or some sort of higher power, but I have not figured out all of that yet. I am willing to explore, but I’m also okay knowing that sometimes my mind, heart and soul just can’t handle it and it’s okay. It’s okay to question. Intelligent, heartfelt people question and they do it because thy care not because they don’t care.

I have a long ways to go and there is plenty of work to be done; hardwood floors need refinishing sometimes, but that one spot is part of its natural beauty.

Catholicity and my Sexuality.

I am not normal.

I don’t remember the exact words the Catechism of the Catholic Church uses in describing homosexuals (and in my case, bisexual).  I’ve mentioned, before, however, that I see the word “normal” from a mathematical standpoint and I can understand the exact nature of normalcy. Normal has an exact definition and I’m not offended when I hear that I’m not normal. Normal has everything to do with the distribution curve of humanity – breaking people into numeric descriptions that yields a data point on a curve and seeing that the bulk of that curve lies within a standard deviation of the data.  It has a quality to it that expresses a certain flavor of uniqueness.  I would lie outside that “bulk” of the curve. That is EASY to embrace – I am unique and my sexuality is unique.

An abomination?

That is the more glaring understanding of how Christianity and Catholicism sees alternative sexualities. Specifically, it’s not that one man loving another man is a sin, because that is the reflection of God’s love for all humanity. No, this judgment and assessment is focused on the homosexual act – the act of one man lying down with another man. There are a few references in the Bible that addresses this behavior – among many other behaviors.  So, I can grasp and see where many of the opinions originate from the Christian community.

Lately, however, I have received more followers to my blog that are Christian. I have several people that are Catholic following me, as well.  Having been raised in a Catholic home, I have an understanding of the….hmmm…for lack of a better phrase…an understanding of the mentality that goes on from the Christian community with respect to alternative sexualities.  I have mentioned in previous posts, that I had a decent grasp of the apologetics of Catholicism at one point in my life. I read the Catechism, the Bible, and various Catholic literature on a regular basis.  So, I can see and understand some of the reasoning that goes on in that community.  But I am always amazed that anyone from the Christian community would have anything to do with me – I am the abomination that they have learned.

Recently, I mentioned that I had an old friend that I almost revealed my sexuality. It was almost a scary moment.  Well,when she and I were much closer as friends, I had a suspicion she might be Catholic, although it was never discussed – mostly because I was immature and made rash assumptions without ever knowing facts.  During our recent conversation, however, she had mentioned she was Catholic but still supported LGBT rights.  She had several friends that had come out to her before, but she had taken her father’s understanding of sexuality because of her friends’ sexualities – that God loves us all and that loving someone is an example of His love. She also mentioned that her dad had expressed that God doesn’t make mistakes, so being born a certain sexuality doesn’t seem fair that they couldn’t love someone based on their birth. Of course, hearing this almost pushed me over the edge, because I had a lot of respect for her dad too.

But there is something else that stands out in my head from what I have learned about Catholic theology: Although God does make some of us with an “abnormal” (based on my definition of “normal”) sexuality, He still has rules for how we express sexual love – that it should only be expressed monogamously among a man and a woman who are married to each other. The idea that someone has been born as bisexual does not relieve him or her of this responsibility; this person has a special cross to bare (Side note: I can’t remember if I should be using bare or bear…I’m running into this a lot in my writing, lately…and it’s beginning to piss me off).

That seems like a wide river to cross as I am now in the midst of a failed marriage. Naturally, I have questions about what direction to take my life and whether or not I should pursue another relationship sometime in the future. I certainly don’t believe a relationship would serve me in the best way in the immediacy, but I am curious about that possibility in the future. I fluctuate in my sexuality too -What if I find another woman that I love?  What if this is the springboard that brings Stephanie out? What if I fall in love with a man? Or, maybe this is the time I give everything about myself up and hand myself over to God?

This concept of a Higher Power has been a struggle of mine for quite some time, as many of you are aware. I have not read my Bible in years, but for some reason, on a whim, I brought it with me on this time I am away for work.  And last night I read it. I opened it up to Psalm 62. I have taken comfort in this particular Psalm before and it has been recommended to me from a priest before.  I went to bed last night and read it before sleeping and I can’t really explain what pulled me in to read it.  I am at a crossroads in my life, again, and I have rarely approached my life without deep thought (A predisposition to my anxiety, obviously). But I read something last night that pulled me into this thinking.

I follow a blogger that I really find inspiring. I won’t mention her name or cite the post of hers I read, because I have not asked for permission, but she wrote something yesterday that got me to thinking.  She is “pro-life” and so am I.  I don’t want to get into a debate about the topic, other than to say her post really got me thinking about how much I have pulled away from my faith.  It made me question myself, again. In many ways, I feel ‘right’ about the part of my being that is Stephanie, but there is another part of my being that tells me I’m not on the right path in life at all.  There are times when I miss the faith in which I was raised, but there are other times when I feel like being bisexual, being Stephanie, being who I feel I am makes more sense. And then there are times when I look at life through the lenses of science and I question the reality of my life and what it means to me.

“Trust in God” is a tough piece of advice for me, because the reality for me is that I don’t trust God.  But it is this piece of advice that is suggested time and time again by priests, family, friends and others that have a strong belief in God.  And as a Catholic, I have not done Lent this year or in recent years…

And now, I wonder if I might be backtracking on myself – not a good place for my mind to be.  It makes me wonder what is next for me. It has me questioning if I have been using sexuality as a means to hide my own personal responsibilities in life. Am I a scared little boy unable to handle life? Or am I a woman coming into her own and this is the natural process that has to occur? Or worse, like alcoholism, have I been using my sexuality as a means to achieve some short-lived, superficial happiness based on some mental defect? Is this simply a manifestation of a disturbed mind?

These are my thoughts this morning, as I wake and have a cup of coffee and I prepare to work in one of the most male-driven, masculine-based industries known – drilling for oil.

Some Backstory…

The other day, I mentioned I told my wife I am ready for a divorce.  This was a tough place to be, but I wanted to discuss the proverbial straw breaking the camel’s back.  Because it had been a recurring theme in our relationship – almost since day one.  I have made no secrets that our relationship is toxic and I bare an awful lot of responsibility in the relationship, as well, but there are something I am no longer willing to take responsibility.

I’m not sure if I had mentioned, before, but during my time of being laid off I drove for two different ride sharing programs (I won’t mention names, but they rhyme with “Floober” and “Plift”).  Well a couple of months ago, I picked up a couple from a club – a young man and a young woman (compared to me, of course) and began to take them back to the young woman’s apartment.  Along the way, unfortunately, the man had struck the woman in the backseat of my car.  Obviously, I felt I needed to call the police.  Long story short – he was arrested and the young woman felt I had done her a solid – so to speak.  So, a couple of days ago, the young man had a court appearance and I was called as a witness.  I invited my wife to go with me.

The process was annoyingly long, because the judge had a lengthy docket and when the young man’s case was called, he had made arrangements to plead the case out and receive a disposition.  The young woman happened to be present, as well, along with her mother.  When everything was said and done, she approached me afterwards to thank me for what I had done.  I introduced her to my wife and told her I was glad to help.  We parted ways.

Afterwards, my wife didn’t say a word to me.  I asked her what was wrong and she said, “Like you don’t know”. I expressed that I had an idea, but it made more sense for her to tell me.  She told me…off. I heard everything from wanting to have sex with the young woman to wondering how many women I had slept with while driving for these two companies.  I’ll admit, the young woman was attractive, but I was not interested in anything other than doing what was right.  My wife went on to call me every name in the book and I think she might have invented some, as well.  What I have always found as interesting is that she is well aware of my sexuality, but accusations of cheating on her with guys are rare – they do happen, but they are rare.

Well, I have stopped arguing with her. I have long since stopped trying to explain myself in any way.  I used to try, but I was never listened too. I get accused of not listening to her, and I hear that she feels like there are threats to our marriage (oh, just a side note…I mentioned this to another blogger on here, but I’m going to mention it now – she has been texting ex-boyfriends for quite some time). I know I’m not cheating, I know I am not interested in cheating and I know that cheating will destroy a relationship.  And I have done things in our marriage that are not right, but I have never been violent (she has), I have never used our children as a pawn (she has), and I have not brought up the D-word because it hurt her (It flies freely from her mouth, because I’m supposed to understand how she feels).  The bottom line is that I don’t do it and I am not doing it.  She just doesn’t want to see it or doesn’t want to believe it. The argument continued, without me having a chance to voice my feelings or thoughts (very typical for us).

Eventually, she began demanding to know what I want out of the relationship. I expressed that I Wanted to be with someone that allowed me to express myself. I was cut off and told that it was the same old “bullshit”. I told her I couldn’t do this anymore. I told her I didn’t feel like I mattered. I told her that I felt like any changes I’ve made in the relationship have been for nothing.  Then she began asking me to tell her what changes I’ve made I’ve learned that this is a tactic to get me to engage, so she doesn’t have to look at anything she does). I didn’t reply to that, I just said, “I’m not cheating, I’m not interested in any young women. I’m doing the best I can… You either accept me the way I am or you don’t.” Her response was, “You wanted her and the only reason you didn’t try anything is because you know she wouldn’t want you. There is no way any woman would want you and the only reason you’re with me, is because no one wants someone like you.” I smiled at her and said, “I’m ready for a divorce.”  She told me, “Good, because no one wants you here. I don’t want you and the kids don’t want you.”

I left for the evening. And now I am away for work for the next two weeks. I’ve already received texts and voicemails apologizing.

I haven’t responded.

 

(Edit: I just noticed all of my grammatical and spelling errors.  I wrote this in a rush and have no desire to fix anything…I really am done.)