Beaten by the Storm, Blessed in the Aftermath

It seems that no matter your age, life goes through cycles that comfort or challenge us. No one is immune, but it sure seems that some cycles find us taking on more than our fair share of challenges. I seem to be in that place and I have had an avalanche of excrement showering me for the last several months. While I try to maintain a positive attitude and remain hopeful, the rapid rate at which life keeps knocking me on my ass is making it difficult to keep getting back up.  I think it is moments (or months) like this when being not just single, but alone, feels the worst. Some days it would be nice to come home, curl up with someone and bawl your eyes out and be reassured by them that it will get better and you will tackle the bullshit together. But that is not where I am. I am on the single and alone side which means I pretty much handle everything myself and to give you some idea of the avalanche I have been under, here are just a few things on my plate:

Work. My job has been getting consistently worse by the day. When I started my job, I loved being at work. I was in my element dealing with customers and I loved the people I work with and the job I was doing. I got promoted and was put in a department I didn’t want and never would’ve asked for. I found that after being in that department for a while, I loved it. It was a department that no one wanted, but again, I loved it. Then she happened. She made my work environment a hostile one. She complained about everything and everyone constantly. Especially me and it seemed to be her mission to submarine me and get me in trouble with management, even lying and taking credit for my work in doing so. I tried to be the bigger person and just let it go, but when you have a large number of coworkers all telling you she is talking shit about you to anyone and everyone that would listen, it grows old and stressful very quickly. Add to that, one shift (mine) was made to do 3 shifts worth of work because 2nd and third shift weren’t doing their job, either because they couldn’t or we didn’t have the workers available. We have been shorthanded for a very long time and my store has a rather high turnover rate. Being made to do all that work meant that our departments were not getting the attention they need. Then, getting pulled to other departments constantly added to the problem as well as a manager that wanted nothing to do with the area (mine as well as a few others) he was given and stayed out and essentially avoided helping or participating in the running of the departments. One shouldn’t have to chase or beg to be listened to or heard when assistance is needed. I was reprimanded twice for bullshit reasons and if I had been given the opportunity to stay in my department and actually do MY job, it wouldn’t have been a problem. Meanwhile “She” no. 2 is doing her best to tank me and my job. I knew she talked about me behind my back and went to management for stupid reasons, but OMG, she is ruthless. My friends have come to me and told me to watch out for her because she is trying to cause trouble for me. I know I am not the only one because management has received numerous complaints about her. I spoke to my manager and was told to basically suck it up because she is untouchable. She is the biggest shit talker and pot stirrer and no one will do anything. Imagine the teacher’s pet, mean girl, play ground bully and hall monitor–that is her in a nutshell. So, needless to say, I am looking for other employment opportunities, ones that don’t foster drama and truly have a culture of fairness and opportunity.

Illness. Because my immune system is already in overdrive (thank you auto immune disease) fighting itself and has nothing to fight the cooties that get dragged into work or home from school, I am prone to illness. A few weeks ago, I started feeling sick and it got to the point where I couldn’t work. My employer has a point system for absences and you basically get penalized for having the nerve to get sick. Now, I understand the reasons for the system. Without a system of checks in place, people abuse the privilege of having paid sick time. I called in on a Saturday, had my regular days off on Sunday and Monday, tried to go to work on Tuesday, but felt like I was dragging my self through wet cement and could not stop coughing. I took my lunch early to go see the doctor who, thankfully, was a couple miles from my work. I got a breathing treatment and was told I needed to go home to rest and the doc gave me a note to give to my employer. That not was not enough and I had to file a claim to get FMLA time for 2 absences. Two. A lot of paperwork and process to avoid getting points. I am sure that the stress from work didn’t help my immune system, but what can you do? I have to work so I learn to just deal. Here it is three weeks later and I still have a cough and lung butter, but I am slowly recovering.

Car accident. This one pisses me off because it was my fault. I am a careful driver and it has been 20 years since I had a collision accident. I was at a roundabout, the guy in front of me had started pulling forward into the roundabout, I started pulling forward and glanced left to make sure the roundabout would be clear, turned my head to the right and he had stopped. I smacked into him. The impact was not enough for either of our cars’ airbags to be deployed. I gave him my information and we went on our way and I found out later that morning my car was pretty much totaled. I will never own another European car.  It kind of broke my heart because I loved that car. It suited me.

My Grandpa. Now my grandpa can be gruff. He can be very blunt. At times he can be a little unkind. That being said, my grandpa can also be an amazingly generous person. While I was married he bailed my ex and I out a couple of times financially. Shortly before I left my husband, he bought me a car (a 2001 Hyundai Tiburon–another car that I absolutely loved). When I left my husband, he let me move into his house, rent free and bill free until I could find a job, get on my feet and find a place for me and my boys. The morning of my accident, I found out he had been taken, by ambulance, the night before, to the hospital. He was in the ICU–bad heart, infection in his lungs, blood sugar out of control, unstable blood pressure, dementia.  Two weeks of blur and tears on a hair trigger.

UPDATE: It often takes me several days or weeks (unfortunately) to complete a post and this is no exception. A lot has happened since I started this one and all of it positive. So–here’s what happened.

My grandpa, much to the surprise of the medical staff, got stronger and was able to leave the hospital and then the rehab center they put him in. Things are somewhat under control. His heart is pretty much on borrowed time, but the other things leveled out and improved. Except the dementia. That won’t ever improve. We had suspected for a while that dementia had taken hold, based on his memory issues and behavior, but since being admitted to the hospital that night, it has gotten monumentally worse. It is tough seeing him so feeble and quiet.  But he is still with us for now. My parents have taken on his care and he has moved in with them, but that is proving to be a challenge. My mom works and my dad, while retired, had knee replacement surgery in October and he is having his other knee done next week. Life is certainly not without challenges.

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of changes and blessings and I have gotten sort of a mini restart.

I am almost completely better from the bronchitis. What takes a normal person 2 weeks to get over will take me 4, pretty much guaranteed. My lungs aren’t completely clear, but I think that once I get back into the gym, the activity will clear out anything left in them. At any rate I feel tremendously better.

Mid-February I found new employment. I was offered a job at an airline doing reservations. It is not like anything I have done before, but it is with a company that has happy, content employees. Everyone seems to love their job and their employer. That is one of the things that was a priority for me.  Knowing how unhappy I was at and with my job in the last year and how unhappy a lot of others were, finding something with less bullshit, favoritism and drama was paramount. I know that each job is unique and comes with its own set of issues and drama, but one of the best parts of my job is that after about 7 or 8 months, they will be setting me up to work from home. I will still have crazy shifts, including graveyards, but I will be at home and won’t have to inconvenience others so that I can do my job. Not only that but I will work them for 3 months at a time and not one week a month, 6 months out of the year. Stability! Yay!

Leaving my job was an interesting experience. The woman that made my life hell and constantly put daggers in my back the minute it was turned, got a tad nastier than normal. I confided in someone I mistook for a friend about her trying to start shit again with another friend who quickly put the kibosh on her attempts to run me down yet again. This so-called friend, who warned me numerous times to watch my back because the nightmare was at it again, immediately told said nightmare what I told him. The nightmare immediately started texting me, telling me I was the cause of the drama in the store, claimed I had created a hostile work environment for her and hinted at possible legal ramifications. It was hilarious because this person spent the majority of her shift, every single day talking shit about one person then moving on to the next to talk shit about the last person. She was mean, condescending, rude and disrespectful to almost everyone. Her whole entire life was the creation of drama and discord in the workplace. And she tried to put her entire life’s work on my shoulders. Effing Hilarious.  It must suck to be so miserable that you must inflict that misery on everyone around you and then not see that you are the cause. Or enjoy being the cause. I am not sure which. At any rate, I was sick, just sick of her shit and management’s refusal to handle it. So I went above everyone’s heads and called the corporate ethics hotline and there will be an investigation. Now, I don’t want anyone to lose their jobs, but I definitely want to see justice done so that others are not subjected and forced to shut up about such things in the workplace. I no longer work there so I will not be subjected to retaliation. If I can make the environment better for anyone else, then that crap I was forced to deal with will have been worth it. I only wish I had been brave enough to do something sooner.

My car situation has been resolved in a big, amazing way. For a little over a week, my insurance company paid for me to drive a rental while they determined exactly what to do with my car. Once we figured that mess out, I was given limited time for the car and did not have a replacement. I was still waiting for my tax return to be able to take care of it. Now, while all of this is going on, my grandpa can no longer drive or live on his own. His house remains vacant and he had two cars sitting at his house. My dad started driving my grandpa’s truck and I asked to drive his Focus until I could get a new car. My mom informed me that my sister, who has two incomes, two working vehicles and is better off financially (although not by much) was driving my grandpa’s car. I got a bit bent out of shape about that because at this point, I am a single mother with one income and NO running vehicle. Now, don’t let me lose you, this ends well. Really well. Since my dad is now the owner and driver of my grandpa’s truck, he let me borrow his Buick until I could get another car. It’s 17 years old but runs pretty well and it was getting me from point A to point B just fine. My parents discussed actually giving me the car, but they weren’t sure, given its age, just how long it would last and I really did need a good, reliable car. So their solution was to sign over the title as a trade in toward a newer, more reliable car. Oh hallelujah!!! This worked out wonderfully after all and I am extremely happy. I bought a 2016 Dodge Dart Limited with all kinds of bells and whistles. I actually like this car more than my Fiat and I LOVED my Fiat. Things couldn’t have worked out any better than they did. God (or the universe if that is your belief system) truly knew what he was doing. Everything landed just right.

After dealing with a constant barrage and downpouring of excrement for the last year and especially the last few months, things turned around marvelously better than I had hoped or could plan. We all go through storms, sometimes for an overwhelmingly long period of time, but after those storms, the sun comes out and we get to enjoy the blessings that follow. Right now, I am going to enjoy the blessing-steeped sunny weather and not worry about the next storm that comes, because I know it’s coming. When it does, I will fight my way through that one too.

The Cesspool of Romance, part 1

2016 regrettably found me back in the dating pool. I went back and forth on whether or not I was really ready to date post-divorce, but at the coaxing of a friend (read: pushing) I went ahead and put up a profile on Plenty of Fish. I am still not sure what made me think that online dating would be a good idea since online was where I met my ex. And Plenty of Fish? Well, much to my chagrin, it’s mostly a bunch of horny douchebags and douchebaggetts looking for nothing more than easy, semi-anonymous sex, friends with benefits (which generally means benefits with a little friendly conversation) or easy non-challenging relationships where one party gets what they want, when they want, how they want it and immediately loses their shit when the other party actually has a mind and opinion of their own.

Please don’t get me wrong. I DO NOT think that all parties on said dating site are bad people looking for the above-mentioned things. I have met some really nice men online and some of them, while no romantic connection was made,  are now friends, at least on facebook where we occasionally chat or make plans that never really come to fruition.

But–if you have ever attempted the online dating thing, you know what it is like and how disappointing, and sometimes even frightening, it can be. And not all bad dating/relationship experiences are confined to online dating either. I have had some of those in the real world where we have been friends or acquaintances for a very long time (high school, or, in my case in the army immediately after high school as well).

So, here are just a few things that might be helpful to know or watch out for when considering stepping back into the cesspool that is the dating world.

  1. Benching “happens when someone repeatedly leaves you on a bench to wait around hoping they may choose to play you again. (Similar to what happens in sports games.) They might want you, but they aren’t quite sure if you are good enough, and there may be someone who they think is better right now. Or they are afraid of love, and they get emotionally scared, so they leave you in a position where they can pick you back up and use you when their interest spikes—or more plausibly in the dating world: when their ego needs a boost” (Elephantjournal.com). Who knew that, in your forties,  this is still a thing and even has a name? By your forties, you should be mature enough to know what the hell you are doing and enough to not do something so disingenuous and hurtful to someone else. This happened to me with someone I knew in the army. We have known each other for over 25 years and, while he lives in another state,  we decided to engage in a long distance relationship and,after a  month or so, began discussing him moving to be closer me to actually have a real relationship. A little over two months in, he flips out and suddenly can’t be away from his family and whatever the hell is in his state of residence. So, on the bench I go. Fool me once, shame on you. Almost 2 years later, the discussion comes up again. Thinking he may have matured in that time, maybe knows a bit more about what he wants (me?), I fall for the bullshit again. Very quickly in, he gets very icy and distant and conversation from him becomes very calculated and careful. Fool me twice, shame on me. Benched twice and I have learned my lesson. It will not happen again with him. Ever. My advice is if you get benched once, don’t let it happen again. The big, bad love/relationship thing will more than likely scare them again and you will have wasted your time, energy, effort and affection that might otherwise be applied toward someone who actually deserves those things from you.
  2. Ghosting. “The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels” (urbandictionary.com). This hasn’t really happened to me in the real world, but occasionally happens online when you have been conversing with someone for an extended period of time and they either meet someone they clique with or you say something they don’t like. In the real world, based on what a couple of friends have shared with me, it usually happens when a. they have sex once or a few times, or b. when they meet someone else who gives them what the first party hasn’t yet or isn’t willing to give them (and I don’t necessarily mean sex). I think that you really need to pay attention to dialogue, attitude and language. If they are  obsessed with the topic of sex, and I mean beyond normal guy obsession (is that even possible?), evasive or vague, you might have a potential “ghoster” on your hands and you might want to reconsider giving them the time of day.
  3. Self centered men. These men are looking for someone to be their on-call playmate and expect you to mold your life around their schedule and do the things they want to do, when they want to do them. They have little regard for your schedule, family obligations, job, needs etc. If you don’t mold yourself around their needs, you will be seen as a problem and will be left at the curb rather quickly, but let’s face it, that curb in all it’s mundane “blah-ness” is a damn sight better than being with someone who is incapable of giving you even a tiny percent of what you deserve. Case in point: I had been messaging a guy for a couple weeks (what can I say, I am wary and need to talk to someone and get to know them before I hand out my personal info like email or phone number). We had been trying to make a meet date but for some reason our schedules were always conflicting. We finally had a date to meet for coffee on a Friday. Turns out his son had a football game that day and he said we would either have to reschedule or we could attend the game together. Now, I have this policy (or rather my ex and I do) that until something is serious, the kids don’t meet a significant other and definitely not casual dates. I won’t do it to my kids and I won’t do it to someone else’s. It creates confusion and it is unfair to parade a bunch of men in and out of their lives. So we rescheduled for breakfast the next day. I get a text that his brother came into town unexpectedly and we would need to reschedule again. My friends said “Red flag! Don’t do it!”, but because my family is a priority, I assume his is as well and I give him another pass. Reschedule for Monday. Coffee in my town at 5pm? No, he had kid stuff going on starting at 5. We decide to meet for pizza right after I get off work. Meet. Talk. Spiral. Seemed nice, but not immediately comfortable. True nature comes out about 30 minutes in. My kids are my priority so I don’t care who you are, if you don’t get that, it’s not going to work. If you have kids at home and they aren’t your priority, again, it’s not going to work. So, because of the number of days I have my kids with me, my dating availability is limited.This gem told me that because I couldn’t make him my priority, having just met, I was using my kids as an excuse. I was a little dumbfounded. An excuse? They are my offspring. I brought them into this world and I am responsible for them. Things rapidly deteriorated from there, and the date ended abruptly when I got up and walked out on him. My kids are an excuse, but him rescheduling twice and then my schedule having to accommodate his was okay. I have zero respect for a guy (not even a man) who would treat my kids as if they were disposable or an inconvenient option.  When I make them a priority, it is an excuse.

You’ve heard that the tip of the iceberg is just that–the tip. What lies beneath, is so much larger and more expansive than what is immediately visible to the eye. That is kind of the nature of this subject. There is so much more to discuss than just these specific types or problems. I thought I knew what dating was going to be like and what kinds of pitfalls I would run into, but being naive has always been my problem. A little foolishly optimistic too. I kind of expected that the good in people would outweigh the not so nice or honorable. What I am finding is that there are a lot of creeps out there, but I still have faith that there is a gem worth waiting for. Somewhere out there, is a diamond, I just have to sort through a lot of stone and dirt. Someone please pass me a pick and a shovel. And possibly some dynamite.