Day 20: Vulnerability, Mermaids, and Jeans

Tonight I am celebrating embracing vulnerability, which managed to show up several The Sirenways throughout the day. It began with my 13-year-old mistakingly getting dressed wearing my jeans. As she realized that they were a size too big, but not unwearable, she begged me to borrow them for the day. Normally I let my girls borrow my clothes whenever they want, but I found myself telling her a very quick “No!” When she asked why, I instantaneously answered in full honesty, “Because I only have a few pairs that fit me right now!” Eeek! Did I just say that? Did I just admit I those were my fat jeans?!?

I could see the look of her concern in her eyes. “Are you ok, Mom? What’s going on.” I had just walked into the very discussion I had been trying to avoid with both of my daughters; the “I’ve gained 20 plus pounds and those are one of two pairs of fat jeans that I own. Oh and I’m struggling with my overweight body” conversation.

I was so terrified of sharing my own body image issues out of fear they too would take this burden on. I thought I was somehow be protecting my girls. But guess what, not only do they both have body image issues, they both suffer from emotional eating.  Go figure!

The recognition of a pattern that started with my own mother caused me to launch into a seriously vulnerable moment. To this day, I still harbor some resentment toward my mother for hiding various truths from me. I felt that I would have benefited from her knowledge over the years, but instead I inherited shame.

It was right in that moment that I knew I had to break the pattern and be vulnerable for the sake of my daughter and for me. Hiding my Truth from her was in no way shape or form protecting her from the struggles almost all women have. If anything, it may have made her feel more alone and  therefore worse.

On our way to school, I shared with her that I had gained weight and that I was mostly frustrated with how my body felt. I told her that I too have to work on body acceptance, and we shared our sadness of the fact that there was absolutely no chocolate in the house.

I mostly emphasized that as an adult, it isn’t uncommon to have weight fluctuation, and I knew that I wasn’t supporting my body with a healthy diet or enough exercise this winter. We talked about our most challenging emotional eating moments and started to brainstorm ways to support each other.

I feel horrible for passing emotional eating onto my daughter, but at least now, I can be vulnerable with her and share that I am nowhere near perfect, and I also struggle at times. It’s a delicate balance when dealing with body image, but lying just doesn’t cut it. Kids always seem to pick up on any major issues whether they are discussed or not.

The second and third place that vulnerability made an appearance today was in my painting and drawing classes. Both classes consisted of critiques of our last few assignments, and let me tell you, there is nothing more terrifying then displaying your art for open discussion. There is something so raw and exposed about this whole process.

However, I am extremely proud of myself for putting it all out on display, especially in my figure painting class, where we work from live models. In one of my paintings, I had screwed-up the legs and didn’t have the model to work from to complete the painting. So, I turned her into a mermaid. I flat out told the class what had happened, and was commended for my imagination as well as figuring out a perfectly logical solution.

My teacher explained that she would rather us add something in than leave the painting in a place that we were unhappy with. It felt authentic to share my process with the class. Perhaps it would help someone else in the future. Either way, I am glad that I mentioned it rather than smugly pretending that it was my creative intention all along. It was my Truth.

I used to think being vulnerable was telling truths about yourself in the form of stories from the past. This may be part of the picture, however, I am quickly learning that true vulnerability stems from living authentically and in your complete and total Truth, and then stepping out and owning it. It is not easy, but I have to say, it feels damn good. And that is something I am truly proud to model for my daughters.

With love,

Anatheia

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Day 1: Depression, Chocolate, Yoga and Maltipoos

As I sit down at my computer tonight, I realize that I have drifted away from my main purpose of this blog. I originally set out to chronicle my journey not only as a healing process for me, but to share my vulnerability with others and remind you that it’s ok to not be ok. What has resulted is  months of paralyzing perfectionism. Writing became a chore, because I didn’t want to post anything that was less than stellar. And of course there were the images…Every post needs to have amazing copyright-free images. Believe me, this process is even more time consuming than Facebook. Then there’s the editing, re-editing and editing some more.

So tonight, I am taking a stand against my true Virgo nature and saying fuck it! The truth is I have hit a pretty low point in my depression and I am sick of feeling stuck in a dark hole. This may not be my best writing and there may be errors, but if I don’t start writing again or doing things differently, nothing will change. In fact, I’m writing this straight on WordPress and not as a safe document in Word or Pages. I will tap into my new love of photography and use my own photos or none at all. No copyright issues there. I release my perfectionism…well, for now anyway.

To catch up on my 40th year thus far:  While I have maintained my celibacy and isolation from men, I have secluded myself from other forms of fun and joy in addition. I have disconnected from friends who seemed unhealthy (which isn’t a bad thing), but at the same time have completely cut myself off from the social world. My search for a job has been met with many rejections in a variety of fields. I have been officially looking for work for a year now, with way too many versions of my resume and cover letters to count.

Food has become my numbing agent and the gym is but a distant memory. I’ve gone back to school 3/4 time to work on prerequisites for a graduate program, which I’m waiting on pins and needles to hear my fate of acceptance or rejection, and am working on a coaching program. In my spare moments, I am running kids to sports and school, dealing with teen drama and binge watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix while I step away for more chocolate intermissions than I would care to admit.

My depression has taken such ahold of me, that I have not only gained over 20 pounds, but I am lethargic, out of shape and mopey. This is not who I am. This is not what I want to model for my girls. I feel so out of touch with myself that it only makes me want to eat more chocolate. To make things worse, I am supposed to travel to Mexico with my uber weight-judgey family in 5 weeks and cram my plumper self into a bathing suit. Sigh…

As I sat on the floor trying to motivate to do something today, my incredibly sweet, fluffy and healing Maltipoo sat beside me and gave me a knowing look. She gazed at me with unconditional loving eyes and jumped up to lick my face. She didn’t care that I was overweight. She didn’t care that I have gone into serious debt or am unemployed. She saw me for love and love alone, my true essence. If she could see me this way, why can’t I? I dragged my ass up, got dressed and went to yoga for the first time in many, many moons.

I’m not going to lie, it was hard. My overweight body argued with every pose, feeling more awkward than ever. I had to constantly reign in the mean girl thoughts every time I looked in the mirror (they should really cover mirrors in yoga) and winced at this unrecognizable body. I had to constantly remind myself to be gentle when I couldn’t even hold poses or get into them comfortably. Something I’m not used to.

After all of this internal struggle, I left class feeling refreshed. Today I made the choice to leave the house and chose movement instead of napping or eating or shaming myself. And although it will take some time to feel good in my body again, I took the first step today, and that is huge.

As the day wore on, I still battled with 3pm exhaustion and emotional eating. I gave myself permission to be ok with that, and am fully aware that the one baby step of going to yoga is monumental.

And so it is that I have decided to embark on a 21-day Bringing-Myself-Back-to-Radiance Adventure. I decided to not call it a challenge, because the word challenge itself is just that, too challenging- a sure-fire set up for failure.  And why 21 days, you might ask? I don’t know, it seems to work for Deepak and Oprah. Oh and I guess there’s that whole 21 days to change a habit thing. Let’s face it- it just sounds good.

Each day I am celebrating one thing about my day and sharing it here. If I try to change everything at once, I will fail, backslide and the shame spiral will continue. If I only do something active once everyday this week, that is a start. The food can come later and I’m ok with that.

If you have ever been in this situation, I would love to hear your success stories in the comments. I would love to hear your failures. I want to hear it all and celebrate you too. This is such a challenge for women and we need to support each other in community. Being raw, vulnerable and real is my gift to me.  And so I share my adventure here- unfiltered and only re-read once for editing.

With Love,

Anatheia

 

The Victim vs. The Hero

The Victim

There once was a girl who lived in fear; fear of who she was at her core, and who she would become if she didn’t transform into the woman her parents and society dictated. She had heavy, deep emotions, which often made her feel embarrassed or ashamed. She quickly learned to make up stories and excuses as to why she was crying over things that didn’t seem like a big deal to most .

girl in braids

Not understanding why her emotions were so amplified, she assumed there was something wrong with her. There were many times she found herself confused about various aspects of life, as her parents communicated little to her. Even the dynamics of their marriage seemed troublesome. She feared her father’s anger and viewed her mother was weak for never standing up to him. Nothing she did was good enough for her father. In his eyes she was always wrong, even when she was right.

As she grew up, she learned to stuff her emotions away, ignoring the intense pain. However, with this avoidance, she blocked out the good feelings as well. She became numb to emotion and feared intimacy. Although she was given everything she needed and wanted, in terms of material goods, she always felt guilty and underserving. Later in life, this would shift to a feeling of expectation of financial support, coupled with the burden of guilt, shame and unworthiness.

She attracted friendships and relationships that emulated her feelings around her parents. Her early sexual experiences led her to feelings of inadequacy and shame and set the stage for relationships with men who were emotionally unavailable. As she began to determine her self-worth by how someone treated her, she often became enmeshed and co-dependent in her so-called intimate relationships.

victim of ice cream loss

She spent most of her time taking care of other people, inevitably leaving her resentful when her needs were unmet. However, she was never able to express herself, because of her fear of hurt and abandonment, believing that if she spoke her mind, she would be construed as whiney or needy.

When given the opportunity for freedom and independence, she often became fearful and used an excuse of obligation and responsibility to end the experience prematurely. She did not follow her dreams after college because they were not practical, and instead chose a profession that was stable, and would be easy to abandon when children entered the picture.

She faced a constant internal emotional struggle of extremes, vacillating between calculated responsibility, and passion and sensitivity. As she suppressed her creative side, she became miserable.

Sixty-plus hour work weeks became the norm, allowing her perfectionism to provide extra work and an excuse not to spend time with her husband and herself. She became increasingly unhappy, and because she couldn’t express herself, she began to gain weight as a result of emotional eating.

The girl married too young out of fear that she would never meet anyone again. Her husband was safe, stable and predictable; boring. But, she did what she was taught to do, marry someone who could financially take care of her.

After several years of marriage and two children, she began to feel isolated and ignored. She sank into a deep depression using various forms of addiction to mask her pain.  Eventually, she created destructive behavior as a way to end her miserable marriage. She carried all of the pressure and guilt feeling that she ruined the lives of her husband and children, which led to intensified feelings of self-loathing and unworthiness.

Today, she continually repeats the same relationship over and over again, still becoming enmeshed and co-dependent, attracting emotionally unavailable men, because she herself is emotionally unavailable. It is easier not to feel.

Now she has no savings, barely scrapes by each month, and is financially dependent on her ex-husband and parents. She still struggles with large weight fluctuations and emotional eating. She feels run-down and ragged driving her kids from one activity to the next, and beats herself up for not being a better mother. She doesn’t make enough money to support her and her children and feels enabled by her parents, but is afraid to stop taking their support. She feels lost.

The Hero

There once was a girl who grew up in very happy home with parents who loved and adored her. Though they didn’t have a perfect marriage, she understood that they loved each other and were able to work through their issues to remain married for many years. She looked to them for guidance and support. She had few concerns, as she lived in a pleasant home, and was always provided for with many comforts. She grew up feeling safe, secure and loved.

This girl had an amazing gift of empathy and sensitivity that would serve her greatly throughout her life. Her parents recognized that she also had ambition, fire and independence. They nurtured these traits by allowing her to travel to foreign countries before the age of 18, without parental supervision. These trips instilled a love of culture and appreciation of the beauty in her world. She was also fortunate to travel with her family at times, enjoying many relaxing vacations.

As she grew up, she developed friendships where she could use her gift of empathy and sensitivity to help those in times of need and emotional despair. She had many intimate relationships, and while not all of them ended or progressed how she would have liked, she learned valuable lessons about herself and the world in the process. She was always able to speak her truth, without fear.

She was blessed to have been able to attend college out of state and study abroad. During her travels, she met people from all over the world and learned several new languages. She was fearless and adventurous. Because of her parents generosity, she was able to explore many new environments and create memories that would stay with her forever. However, her deep value of responsibility led to her decision to cut her travels short and finish school in a timely manner.

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Soon after college, she married a kind, easy-going man who was devoted to her. She chose a noble profession, and although the hours were long and the pay less than ideal, she worked above and beyond and helped many children in the process. During this time she lived on the other side of the country, and once again was able to travel to places that would’ve been challenging to access otherwise.

She became a mother and was fortunate to be able to leave her career to stay home with her two beautiful children, while her husband supported them. Several years later, she consciously recognized that she had made choices which were no longer in alignment with her true self. Life at home needed to change, and she realized she was not meant to spend the rest of her life with the partner she had chosen. Exhausting all resources to make to best decision for her family and herself, she ultimately had the immense courage to leave the relationship. She knew that although it would be challenging, it was the right thing to do.

Now she embraces her life as a single mom. Welcoming her wide range of emotion, she practices balance between her practical, analytical side and her creative, emotional dreamy-self. She has the impressive power of manifestation and understands that both positive and negative aspects brought into her life are appreciated as valuable lessons to expand, prosper and grow.

She is wonderful mother and her children adore her. They constantly mirror who she is and share many of her traits. Although they express themselves in their own unique way, she constantly works with them to understand their gifts, so they too can practice balance. In the process, she often finds they teach her many lessons about herself.

Applying her gifts of practical organization, intuition, empathy and sensitivity, she has established a business where she can help assist people to create positive energy in their lives. Her business continues to grow, and although she has decided to forgo the stability of consistent income, she is blessed to be able to spend time with her children after school, participate in extracurricular activities, as well as nurture them when home sick, and during holidays and summer.

She is fortunate to have the temporary financial support of her parents and ex-husband, so she can continue to grow her business and take care of her children. She even is able to travel every year with her family. She lives in a beautiful home, where she has created a beautiful workspace, providing amazing flexibility to nurture and take care of her own needs during the day. She loves and respects her body, knowing it is perfect regardless of its shape or size.

Every moment, she appreciates her life and looks excitedly into the future of what adventure lies next. Although she doesn’t not know the exact details, she is ready bring in abundance on her own. She lives in her true authenticity. She is optimistic.

I’m sure you’ve guessed it. These are both my stories told from different perspectives. It is easy to look at our lives from the place of the victim. I spent a lot of time not even believing I had the right to tell my story as a victim because my “life wasn’t that bad.” That statement in itself is pretty victim-y considering I am only devaluating myself in thinking I don’t deserve to feel badly.

SuperheroEveryone has their story to tell, and while some may seem much more horrific than the white Jewish girl growing up in an affluent area, it is indeed my perspective. And today, I make the decision to change that perspective and recall my life from the hero standpoint. I can make the choice to release the victim and live in my truth; the truth that I kick-ass on a daily basis, and although that may look different on any given day, I still kick-ass and take names. Today and from now on, I recognize that I am, and always have been a Superhero…after all, every hero needs a good back story.

Why Shopping for Men Should be More Like Shoe Shopping

women-trying-shoesAs I continue with this strange concept of dating in my late 30’s (and my latest month-long attempt at online dating), I feel like so much has changed since I was a teen-aged, hopeless romantic. And yet, the older I get, things actually remain the same. There is certain level of vulnerability that comes with this whole process, and it can be absolutely terrifying at times. We react in a multitude of ways. Some numb the senses with drugs and/or alcohol and welcome the party and bar scene. Some are so frightened, that they completely shut down their libido and convince themselves that sex and dating have no place in their busy lives. Others can take the next step and attempt relationships, but still become so paralyzed by the fear of rejection that they put up a wall and never truly let someone inside. Then there’s the vast majority that get caught up in the unhealthy mesh of entanglement with a partner. This is the place where the games are played; the games that stem from insecurity. Does he like me? Should I text him or wait two days? Should I wait three hours to text back so I don’t seem too available? The world of immediate communication and instant gratification has become a bittersweet curse.

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This is where our vulnerability and uncertainty peaks, mostly because of lack of communication by one or both parties.Those relationships are the ones that deep down, we know are not the right fit. However, for some odd reason, we don’t listen to that wise inner voice of wisdom. We rationalize why this should work, and maybe even convince ourselves that there is a bright future ahead. We find it so hard to let go, and possibly make ourselves miserable in the process. Several times this year I have found myself in this situation of knowing deep down that a relationship wouldn’t work, but unconsciously, I waited to see what the other person would do. For whatever reason, I wasn’t quite ready to walk away, and when the guy started showing lack of interest, this hurtful upset covered me in a cloud of pity party-like depression. Wait a minute…why should I care if he isn’t interested, especially if I’ve already made the assessment that I’m not interested? Why am I so attached to his behavior? Why do I need his approval?

The waiting game can feel so painful. It would just be easier if men didn’t just ignore you as a way of showing disinterest like a 16 year old boy. Man-up and just call it off! Why do we still feel vulnerable when a relationship isn’t a good fit? Maybe the vulnerability comes from uncertainty of the fit. Can we be uncertain without being vulnerable? This is when I had the epiphany that we could apply some important life lessons to shoe shopping.

UnknownSo I pose the question, why can’t we try on guys like a sassy pair of sparkly pumps? Imagine it. You walk into Nordstrom, and there they are; a glimmering sight of beauty and elegance. The perfect pair of shoes catches your attention and draws you in like a moth to the flame. As your heart begins to flutter, you think, God I hope they have these in my size…please, please, please, pleeeeeaaaase! As the shoe sales person emerges with a pleased look and a box, you know the first task has be passed. The shoe is unveiled it all it’s glory. Like Cinderella, a sense of confidence washes over you with the knowledge that they will l fit, and if it doesn’t, then dammit, I will make it fit! You slip your foot in, and at first it feels pretty good. You get up and take them for a little spin around the store, just to make sure. A peak in the mirror displays this shoe as perfection with your complexion. You imagine all the places you and these shoes will go and all the amazing things you will do together.

Then as you strut back to the chair, you start to feel the slightest rub in an odd spot. At first, you ignore the discomfort and tell ourselves that it is just a fluke. But the more you walk, the more the shoe begins to grate on you. You want this perfect shoe to fit so badly, that you try to ignore it. Then as the pain starts to build, you try to convince yourself that you can tolerate the blisters that this shoe might cause, and it will probably break-in and be comfortable eventually. As your sexy strut transforms into an awkward limp, you finally come to the realization that this perfect shoe just isn’t going to work. You are temporarily devastated. You maybe even throw a mini-tantrum, but in the end you understand that the amount of pain caused will not be worth it, especially if these shoes are expensive. And while some may not mind the bunion resulting from tight shoes, many of us are not fashion before comfort kinda gals. So, you put the shoe back in the box, maybe let out a heavy sigh, and go on your way looking for a new pair. You might even decide to take a break from shoe shopping that day altogether.

For some reason this concept is entirely foreign to me when it comes to dating. Some women are fantastic at recognizing when someone isn’t a good fit. They are able to let go and move on without batting an eye. Then there is me. Maybe I just don’t have enough practice at this or maybe it’s a confidence issue. Or maybe it’s just exhaustion of too much shoe shopping. It is so easy to caught up in the lack of responsiveness, that it becomes all consuming. However, a good friend pointed out that how men behave is irrelevant, because the shoe didn’t fit anyway. Yet we find ourselves caught up and emotionally drawn in. Why isn’t he interested in me? Why hasn’t he texted me all weekend? You know what..It really doesn’t fucking matter! You don’t like him anyway!!! This need for constant approval from men only drains us of our strength and power. YOU are the only approval you need. So, move on and find a pair you actually like. Or better yet, go grab a latte and shop for a purse!purses

My Two-Week Stint as a Cougar: A Cautionary Tale of Dating a Multi-Level Marketer

kissingIt has been a long time since I’ve blogged and I have realized that there are so many stories to tell, I have become a bit overwhelmed with which adventure to share first. As none of the stories floating around in my head have yet to be written down, I decided to take the photo-album approach and start with the most recent. This story may be a little lengthy, but as it has many lessons in it, you may find it worth the read.

My friends and I have a joke that when one of us is obsessing over an issue or person, we say it’s time to let it go and “put it/him/her in the box.” It’s our code for go ahead and vent it for the last time, and then never speak of it again. At any rate, this is my therapeutic way of keeping me from hunting down an asshole and castrating him. OK, a little over dramatic and maybe out of line, but I’m a woman, what can I say? He definitely needs to go in the box.

To preface this story, if you’ve never had any experience with a multi-level marketing company, aka, MLM, aka, direct sales or direct-marketing, feel free to Google it now…I’ll wait…They are companies such as Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Amway, Juice Plus and the list goes on. This blog is not a platform about the dangers and/or wonders of these types of businesses. Make your own opinions and judgments, this is just my story…the story of how I got suckered in and manipulated by a smooth-talking, charismatic, good-looking, twenty-eight year old asshole.

It starts out on a warm summer Thursday night. Ironically it is the night that would have been my 15th wedding anniversary if I hadn’t ended my marriage five years ago. I need to go out; I need to be seen. I am wearing a fun/sexy sundress, having a decent hair day, made-up and ready to go on a date. The only catch is the guy isn’t sure if his kids are going to be spending the night with him or not. Fair enough, kids come first in my book. So, as I wait to hear the outcome of our evening, several girlfriends “twist” my arm into grabbing a drink with them for ladies night. I figure I might as well start the night off since I’m dressed and ready. If he cancels, at least I’m already out with good friends.

A few drinks in (and now being joined by one of my friend’s husband, our now token male), I receive a text from my potential date stating that he can’t go out because his children are spending the night after all. As aforementioned, I’m completely OK with the situation until I read the follow-up text; “Sorry, but I can’t sneak away because my girlfriend just showed up.” WTF?!?! (Note: this will be another blog down the road).

Side note: I should mention that at this point, it has been five months since I have had really satisfying sex. There was a quick night in the middle of this time span, but I’m not even sure it is noteworthy enough to write about or mention much more than the fact that it happened (ouch, but true). Needless to say, my 38 year-old libido is ready to explode. Not that I am justifying my actions, but it does provide a little necessary back-story.

My appalled friends order me another drink as they decide to make it their mission to find me a replacement for the night. Now mind you I am in a group of four married women and now inebriated token-male spouse, who not only is providing entertainment, but he decides to take it upon himself to bring over a young man we were ogling earlier. As it turns out, this drop-dead gorgeous guy is married, but his also very good-looking friend happens to be single. Hottie-McHottie brings his friend over, and to my complete mortification, I am introduced as, “The single one out of all of us.” That isn’t embarrassing or anything (insert eye-roll). The two of them join us and we all carry on varied conversations. As it turns out, the single friend and I share a birthday, only his is a decade before mine! Suddenly I feel a bit cougar-ish, but I don’t really care at this point because he is incredibly attractive, extremely witty and let’s face it, after essentially five months of celibacy, I was just fine with having some fun. Even his slight arrogance is appealing.

As the night wears on, we find out they are both part of a multilevel marketing business that sends people on their “Dream Vacations.” For those of you who have any experience with MLM businesses or the people in them, sometimes they can come across as, well, pushy. However, this guy seemed to be the anomaly. In fact, he was being quite cryptic about what he does for a living.

Side-note: this is a proven tactic to spark someone’s curiosity.

When I ask for a business card, he gives a long heart-felt speech about how he finds cards to be impersonal and a waste of paper, as most people throw them out. An environmentalist; score! He has strong beliefs about when making a connection, whether it is personal or in business, it’s better just to exchange numbers and put them directly into your phone. As I’m listening to this guy talk, I realize that he is probably way too young. How could he possibly be interested in a woman close to 40?  At some point, our token male leans over to me and whispers, “You can do so much better than this guy. Find someone real.” Deep down, I know he is right, but he is drunk and let’s face it, I’m in need of some action, and soon.

The night winds down, he takes down a few of our phone numbers, and we all go our separate ways. As I lay in bed wide awake at 1am, I receive a text saying how much fun he had hanging out with all of us and we should do it again. We end up continuing on with an hour-long texting conversation until we both pass-out mid-sentences at some point.

The next day, I feel excitement wash over me as he sends a text saying good morning.  Not only that, but I find out I am the only one he texted. The faint, little voice of reason says this is not a good idea, but she is soon squashed by the booming voice of my ego. We continue to text for a week or so, flirting, making sexual jokes and being very playful. I keep telling myself that 28 is way too young and I should just walk away, but Ego just cannot seem to let it go. I’m drawn in by the fact that he has a 9 year-old son. I decide this gives him street credit and maybe a bit of maturity. Despite my slight annoyance with his text-only conversations (so typical of the millennial generation), I decide to continue my pursuit.

We finally meet up for coffee a week and a half later. I find out he has a little more depth than I expected, and I convince myself that we could potentially have an intellectual connection. He doesn’t seem to want to discuss his business or “pitch” me, but curiosity of how you sell vacation in an MLM business takes over. I ask a few questions, but he doesn’t really want to get into it and casually suggests that I should go to one of his presentations. Then he hits me with the mother of all MLM lines, “I don’t need anyone else on my team at this point, I just think you could use an extra stream of income and would be really great at it! It’s really your call.” Phew, that relieves the pressure, as this language is designed to do. Of course at this point, I am completely unaware of this tactic.

Steamy scene from the Notebook

One can only fantasize.

We sit through a torrential down-pour huddled under an umbrella at Starbucks. It was a complete romantic cliché movie moment, minus the fact that he spends a large amount of time texting.  Apparently he has a vast down-line, because he is quite successful in this company. So, I confiscate his phone and pretend that it isn’t a big deal. When he puts his arm around me for the traditional coffee-date-side-hug, I feel my entire body tingle. I let my ego win, yet again, and decide to pursue another date.

Trying to set this up, however, seems to present a challenge as he has some meeting or presentation almost every night. My kid-free nights are running out and I’ll be damned if I’m going to wait another two weeks! I allow myself to be persuaded to go to a meeting where he is presenting, which would be followed by a date of some sort. Or so I thought…

After making a conscious effort to be ready on time, he shows up 40 minutes late. He can’t be bothered to come to my door, but I am graced with a phone call (one of the first ever), announcing his arrival. I am beginning to think he wasn’t aware that a cell phone can be used to make actual voice calls. I probably should walk away at this point, but Ego says, “Nope! He looks too sexy and you spent too much time primping to walk away now.” Libido chimes in, “You shut me down for way to long, so let’s just see where this goes. ”

I sit through his long hour and thirty minute presentation, half paying to what’s going on and half enamored with his charismatic charm. Ego chimes in, “That’s right people! I came with the hottie on stage and I’m taking him home with me too! I may be just about middle-aged, but I’ve still got it!” The parts that I pay attention to actually seem fairly interesting. Who wouldn’t want to travel at wholesale prices? There’s some mention of an intro fee and monthly fees, which are waved once you sign up additional people, blah, blah, blah, but at this point I’m incredibly exhausted, extremely hungry and ridiculously horny. My mind is no longer able to focus clearly. As he wraps up and sits down next to me,  he leans in with a seductive crooked smile and bright blue eyes,  and asks if I’m in. Sure, sounds good. I’ll do it; can we just get out of here and feed me in every way possible?

Before I know what I agreed to, I’m being handed paper work, but I only start filling it out in hopes that we can escape this exhausting place and finally get to our date. By the time we get to a restaurant, it’s after 10 and now I really need a drink. My head is pounding, stomach grumbling and all he wants to talk about is getting my paperwork done and logged-in. I tell him I don’t have my credit card, hoping he will drop the sales pitch, but now I’m too fried, buzzed, and hungry to carry on with normal date conversation. It is probably around this point that I make the decision to let all inhibition go and unleash the cougar.

After dinner I invite him inside under the pretenses of getting my credit card, but really at this point, my plan is that of attack. We start kissing, which leads to touching, which leads to under the clothes kind of touching. But then he stops. He pauses for a deep breath, and says that we can’t do this if I intend to do the business. It is up to me to make a choice; sex or potential income. Really?!? Those are my options? In this moment, all I really want is sex, but then he cleverly adds that once I don’t need his help anymore and my business is off and running,  we could then pursue this course of the relationship. Choosing sex now seems a bit slutty. Ego informs me to go ahead and say yes to the business, because we can still seduce him, if not now, then later. That way we get both needs met! The realization that he is way too young seeps in again, and I imagine there is a chance I will get bored after a few months anyway. I might as well see if I can make a go at the business and save the sex for later.

I do next what any rational cougar would do; choose to become a network marketer, and still try to attack him. I can tell he is conflicted as we vacillate between kissing passionately and “no, we really can’t do this.” He seems to be OK with the current touching and kissing level as long as actual sex isn’t on the table. He says I made the right decision, yet doesn’t feel the need to zip up his pants just yet. I suddenly turn into “the guy” using all of the lines women generally roll their eyes at and become disgusted. “Oh come on, just for a sec? How ‘bout just the tip?”

After fooling around for a while, I give up my full body assault. He really is trying to be somewhat professional. Maybe he hasn’t fully succeeded at that, but he is trying, despite me throwing various naked body parts at him. I’m too tired for this battle, so I cease and desist. He leaves around midnight, walking a little funny, but in my mind, that was his own fault.

I wake up the next day feeling a little conflicted and embarrassed about the whole situation. On one hand, it doesn’t bother me that my cougar instincts took complete control. But now that he is going to be training me, would the fact that we have seen naked bits and pieces get in the way? I ask him to meet me. It feels necessary to see him in person to apologize for my behavior and assure him that I will be able to keep everything on business level (for now). However, now he is too busy and can’t possibly meet me in person. I am given instructions to watch a training video and text 20 people with the message “coffee?”

As I mull over the training videos and presentations, reality begins to sink in. What the fuck did I just sign up for? The language that I am to use to dupe people into watching a presentation not only does it sound deceitful, but it is language I would never ever use. OK, maybe I can get around it and add my own touch. No! You have to do it this way or else no one will meet you for coffee! I’m instructed to be vague to my closest friends, deceive them into a coffee date, where they will be ambushed with a presentation, and I have to do this 20 times in the next week! Wait, how much did I pay for this? Did I seriously just sign up for something without reading the contract or doing the research? Of course you did! You let your deprived sex-drive and ego run the show! Logic, discernment and basic brain function took a serious back seat to the prospect of sex with a 28 year-old!

As my breathing becomes erratic and panic sets in, I try to spin this positively. OK, so I got myself into this. At least I can start to travel at inexpensive rates and maybe even take my kids somewhere special. I begin to research their travel search engine to see what kind of vacations I can find and watch more videos hoping that I can turn this into something useful. Every video exudes an obnoxious MTV spring break-like scene with a plethora of 20 something year olds partying at the pool, on the beach, in Vegas or in a hot tub, etc. They are all waving the characteristic blue sign “You Should Be Here!” No I shouldn’t! I don’t want to spend my vacations with 2000 other network marketers! I don’t want to party until I am sick and have no stomach contents left! And I certainly don’t want to waive that ridiculous blue sign around and post it all over my Facebook page. And then it occurs to me how they sell cheap vacations. They mass-book a resort so you can travel with 2000 of your closest friends. I am officially speechless and filled with intense regret.

I try to call MLM-guy to talk me down from hyperventilation, but his “millennial” issue comes up again. Only have time for texting. I finally get a hold of him, but he only has a few minutes before his next call. I begin to express my concern about lying to my friends and how angry they would be. He belittles my concerns with, “your friends are no different from the 400,000 other people’s friends in this company. When you tell them that you don’t care whether they join or not, it takes the negativity away.” In a flash, I understand that I have been completely taken. All of the tactics I am now being trained to do are the same ones he used on me! I replay the course of events of the past week. Not only did he act like he didn’t care, he acted vague so I wouldn’t get my questions answered. He even tried to get me to attend a presentation earlier in the week disguising it as a date. Even giving me the “choice” of the business or sex was a manipulation of sorts. He subtly worded it in the, “You can have your cake and eat it!” sort of way. Do the business now, and then you can do ME later!

He finally gives me five minutes of phone time late Saturday night, and when I question him, he is annoyed. I pathetically ask how much I invested when under the influence of my hormone-driven state. I feel like an embarrassment and disappointment to my Virgo sign. I have NEVER given my credit card to someone or for anything not knowing what I was paying for. $365! To say that I am horrified is an extreme understatement. I can’t decide if I am more upset with myself for being such an idiot or the fact that he is handling my naivety like a complete asshole! I tell him that I had in my mind it was somewhere around $100 and he snidely replies that it was only shown on 5 slides during the presentation. Right, the presentation I was half paying attention to and half drooling over his biceps. On the verge of tears now, I can’t speak. He tells me he has a conference call and we hang up.

The next morning I text, “I can’t do this.” Surely this warrants a phone call. Nope!

“Haha why is that?” He texts.

“It’s just not a good fit for me.”

“Why do you think that?”

Could you please pick up the fucking phone and call me!!!! is all I can think, but I politely respond, “Hard to explain via text.”

Knowing I most likely won’t be graced with the melodic sound of his voice, we get into heated discussion using  book-length texts. When he sends me the most back-handed compliment anyone can possibly give, where he essentially tells me I am a quitter and a horrible role model for my girls, I can’t help but wonder if he has some marine background. It was like he was breaking me down and sort of trying to build me up. “You suck, but you’re so amazing at strong at the same time,” is the message I get. I plea my dissatisfaction of his lack of in-person time given to me, and he tells me that he gave me a couple of hours and my excuse mindset needs to go.

He gave me a couple of hours of his precious time??? Wasn’t that a date?

After a fair amount of bullshit, I really have no patience for this text argument to continue. So, I simply reply, “Thank you for your kind words and couple hours of your time. I already sent an email resigning,” hoping my severe sarcasm comes across beautifully. No response. He’s realized I am not longer worth any time or energy, so he doesn’t bother to reply.

I feel used, frustrated, but probably more than anything, I am mad myself. How could I let myself get so carried away over a guy; especially one I didn’t see much of a future with? Deep down, I think I said yes to the business because I wanted to get out of the presentation and get him into my bed. Turns out that was a bad plan. Ego crashes and burns and it hurts.

The next day I receive my marketing materials with my awesome blue “You Should Be Here” sign. I just want to throw it in the trash. The playful side wants to take a naked picture with the sign and text it to him, but the fact that he is completely ignoring me starts to anger me so much, that I quickly dismiss the idea. I receive a mass text from him reminding his team about some great big meeting that night. I respond with a “thought you weren’t talking to me ;), deciding to be civil and a little playful to show that there’s no need for hard feelings.

No response.

I send another text the next day politely asking what I should do with the marketing materials and if he had any use for them.

No response.

And now my “crazy” begins to set in. You know we all have it, some keep it under control much better than others, but it’s there, hiding deep in the shadows, ready to escape with the proper trigger; a woman scorned and all. Who the hell does he think he is ignoring ME!?! Why won’t he just talk to me? And why should I care?

Uh oh, here she comes…my irrational wounded fourteen year-old self, looking for approval and love. I send some other kind of angry idiotic text, not truly understanding it’s purpose. No response. Now I just feel pathetic. Why must you do this crazy, irrational, wounded teen-aged version of me? And then it occurs to me…Ohhhhh, that’s who was in the driver seat that night at the presentation, not the 38 sex-crazed cougar (well maybe she was there a little). It was the  teen who believes, if I say yes to the business, then he will like me and will want me.

I think I’m going to be ill.

Why does she continue to engage with this asshole who clearly isn’t worth an ounce of her energy? Why is she so triggered when he doesn’t respond? What could he possibly say to rectify the situation? An “I’m sorry” will only draw her back into the toxicity. When will she learn that she doesn’t need anybody’s approval? Self-worth and love does not come from another person, let alone from an egotistical douche bag. It comes from within.

Clearly she and I still have some work to do, but that’s OK. I can’t sit here and beat myself up for this mistake. She and I send one final request to take us off the group list after another mass text is sent and hopes that will be the last of it.

I’ll chalk this one up to a multi-level learning experience (pun intended):

  1. No more dating men under 35, no matter how pretty they are.
  2. Don’t go so long without sex.
  3. Maybe more appropriately, learn a new way to channel unexpressed sexual energy so that the libido and/or ego aren’t making poor decisions.
  4. Never, under any circumstances date someone in a multilevel marketing business unless you truly have a desire to participate in that life style.

My money has since been refunded. I’ve shredded the blue sign into several million pieces and recycled the rest of the materials. I’ve written my long-ass therapeutic story.

I can now forgive myself and let it go.

But one last thing… click: “unfriend.” MLM guy is officially in the box.

You Should Be Here Gets Shredded