Learning what it means to be vulnerable

It’s been a while since I posted.  I guess the Summer was just really great and I was pretty busy!  That’s not what I’m here to talk about today though.  I want to talk about letting down your guard, and re-learning what comes with it.

In October I met a girl.  Well, actually I met a lot of girls over the course of August through October.  Pretty much none of them made it past two dates, the majority didn’t make it past one.  I decided to subject myself to the world of online dating, and meet as many new people as I could.  I had a theory that if I met many,  many women, I’d be able to narrow down what it was I was looking for and maybe meet someone special.  I learned that there are a lot of broken people out there in my age group.  I kinda tend to think I’m one of them, but maybe I’m pulling away from that stereotype and moving into a good place.  Anyway, I digress…

I met a girl in October, right as I was getting ready to shut down all my dating apps.  I had met enough people that I felt like it was time for a break.  She popped up a couple days before, but we hadn’t started chatting until the day I was literally about to shut down my profiles.  We got along really well.  We had the same sense of humor (immature).  We liked a lot of the same things.  Oh, and I found her to be really beautiful as well.

We had our first date, which went really well.  We didn’t really want it to end.

A week later, we had a second date.  It went REALLY well, and I was excited about someone for the first time in a really long time.

We proceeded to date regularly, which led to spending a lot of our free time together.  After a couple months we met each others kids.  Eventually the kids met each other.  We spent a good part of the holidays together.  I started to imagine a future with this woman.  We went on a vacation together.  Then, a few days after we got back, things started feeling weird.

She started creating distance between us.  She was cancelling plans, or making other plans instead.  I was receiving really short responses that were unlike her.  A week (and one or two hang sessions) later she broke up with me.  It all felt very sudden, and the reasoning behind it vague.

At first I took it with stride, “I’m okay, just gonna not think about it and move along”.  Then I started to feel sad, along with some other feelings I couldn’t quite pinpoint.  After some self reflection I realized that I was heart broken.  Now I remember why I didn’t let girls I date get too close.  Now I remember why I didn’t let myself be vulnerable… It hurts.

This pain I’m feeling was something that I subconsciously never wanted to feel again.  I felt it for a long, long time in way higher doses during my divorce.

A week after the break up I gathered the courage to ask WHY things didn’t work out.  I also told her exactly how I felt during AND since the break up.  I pushed down my fear of being seen as needy, because keeping my feelings and emotions bottled up made me even more uncomfortable.  I essentially made myself EVEN MORE vulnerable and it somehow helped me feel better.

It’s been 5 hours since I shared these feelings with her, and now I’m here writing this blog.  I wanted to document how I felt in the moment and share what I’ve learned.

Try hard to let your guard down.

When you start to date again, these people are not your ex.

It’s probably going to hurt at some point, but it’ll get better.

My thoughts, feelings, and emotions are right sized.  I’ve felt emotional pain on a much higher level, so while things suck right now my definition of rock bottom is MUCH MUCH lower.

This still sucks.  I’m hurt and sad, but I know I’ll be fine.  I’ve been through MUCH worse.

–Chris

P.S.  I need a fucking hug right now.

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That little voice in your head…

Last weekend I had a ticket to a live show that I was really excited about. As the concert approached I realized that none of my friends were in town/available and I very well may have to go by myself.

It may not seem like a big deal to some, but this was very daunting for me because I’m a really social guy. The concert was on a Sunday night, in a not great part of town, and all the people there willl be like “who’s this weird guy at a show by himself?”…

I haven’t spent much time alone over the last 20 years of my life and I definitely haven’t been to a concert by myself.

As the hours drew closer I started making up reasons and justifications for why I might not go.

This couch is awful comfy!
I don’t know where to park in that part of town.
That’s kind of a sketchy area, I probably shouldn’t be walking alone down there.
No one will know if I skip the show.
People at the show will think you’re weird for going alone.

So, about an hour before the show I got ready, and headed out the door. When I got to the venue I found nearby parking, and tons of people heading to the same place as me. It only took about 15 minutes into the show to realize that going alone was no big deal and actually quite fantastic.

I experienced the performance on a much deeper level than past concerts. There was no one to check in with, or try to shout to while the band was playing. Even though I went to the show alone, I had a very real, connected experience with all these strangers and I loved it. I don’t know if they felt the connection the same way, but I hope that they did!

As I walked back to my car, in that sketchy part of town with all of these people, all of the feelings I had before the concert were gone. In it’s place was a feeling of connection, joy, and a tiny bit of hearing impairment. 😁🥰

I guess the moral of the story is don’t listen to that stupid voice inside your head. Just tell it to shut up and jump in with both feet because we’re capable of more than we know and the experience is always worth it!

Two or three or seventeen things

Here are a few of the things I’ve been working on keeping as my primary focus.

  • There are no right or wrong decisions, just decisions.
  • If I’m feeling an uncomfortable emotion like sadness, allow myself to feel it and remember that all feelings are temporary.  Even big ones like love and infatuation grow, shrink, and change over time.
  • I will share the things that bring me joy with my daughter, so that hopefully she learns to love them as well.
  • Get outside!!!!!  This is THE summer of my lifetime!  I am in killer shape, my squad/tribe is fucking top notch, and I’m single with very few obligations.
  • Continue to surround myself with wise, beautiful, youthful people who can remind me of the journey I’m on when I start to go astray.
  • Take lots of pictures!
  • Life is a beautiful mess, so try to find some meaning for yourself because it’s also painfully short.

That’s what I’ve got for now. ❤

Good love is boring? I agree! But first…

Hello everyone, I’m back again with a mini update.

For a hot minute there I felt the need to meet someone and start a relationship, so I signed up for a few dating apps.  I took me about two weeks to realize that they’re stupid.  All of them, utterly stupid and probably horrible for us.

After swiping, and commenting, and slogging through the myriad of eligible women I decided that when I meet someone I want it to be organic.  I don’t want to perpetuate our instant gratification, consumer culture, detached online friendship/communication society through these apps.

So, here is my plan.  It’s quite simple, but I like how it sounds.

  1. I’m going to keep working on myself and move towards truly letting go of the little emotional scars that are still hanging around.
  2. I’m going to continue to work on being introspective and fixing/accepting the remaining unhealthy parts of me.
  3. I’m will put effort into doing the things I like to do with the people I love to be around.
  4. I will welcome opportunities to expand my circle and challenge myself.
  5. When someone comes into my life who intrigues me I will pull them closer into my circle and spend more time with them.  If something comes from that I won’t push it away.

This is my rough outline for happiness and success.  Wish me luck!

Before I forget, take a look at this article.  I think it’s kind of great!

Good love is “boring”

Three months???

Whoa, has it really been three months?

Where did the time go?

Let’s see if I can do the one minute catch up, shall we?

In November I went to Europe. I flew to Amsterdam to visit friends that moved there for work. I visited Belgium (Bruge and Ghent), stopped at a trappist brewery to pick up some of the best beer in the world, and spent a day in Koln Germany drinking Kolsch at the source.

Christmas was pretty great. My daughter had a great holiday. She got lots of great little presents that she mostly forgot about in a couple months.

In January I started focusing on lifting heavier weights to put on some size/muscle with my gym squad.

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I went to a friend’s dirty 30, which wasn’t really THAT dirty… unless you count the song they sang to her at the piano bar. 🙂

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I dated someone casually for almost two months, but decided to end it because I could tell she wasn’t “the one”.

I started playing indoor soccer in a casual coed league.

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I started snowboarding again.

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I had many pizza nights, all of which were filled with the most beautiful people (inside and out) that one could ask for.

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I went to a beer festival in Astoria Oregon with my homie.

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Attended a friends restaurant opening, did an escape room, went snowboarding some more, increased the size of my squad, etc…

Ummm… I guess that’s about it.

So, where does that leave me now?

Well, I’m once again kind of floundering on where to go with my fitness goals. I feel like I might need an event to train for, or some easily measurable goal. Maybe I should sign up for a spartan race? We’ll see where I go with that one.

One thing I have decided on is that it’s time for a cut. I’m going to shoot for losing about 10 pounds of fat over the next two months. It’s a little bit aggressive, but I know I can do it and I want to see what my increase in muscle mass looks like at a lower body fat percentage.

Also, I’ve scheduled a last minute mini vacation to visit my friend Kevin in Los Angeles. We’re planning on hitting up six flags, universal studios, and now we’re scheduled to catch a Jim Jeffries stand up show in Hollywood.

I’m also in the initial stages of planning for a return to Disneyland with my daughter this summer. I’m thinking that we’ll go for MY birthday this year, which means I will get a birthday pin! Also, it will be time for a rematch with the Incredicoaster. My daughter was a hair too short to ride it last summer, but this time it’s gonna be LIT!

When I get around to it my next post will probably go back to deep introspection, my “dating life” (hahaha), and the EPIC SUMMER that my friends and I are starting to plan.

Love yourself!

Why being alone is a good thing

Today while taking a brisk walk around the business park where I work, listening to a podcast, I had a thought about being alone.  I realized that when a really big life event such as a break up, divorce, or death occurs being alone can be a GOOD thing.

I’ve come face to face with my strengths, weaknesses, flaws, desires and how I can leverage all of them regardless of whether they’re perceived as “good” or “bad”.

The time you spend with yourself serves as a reminder who you really are.  For me this meant recognizing the little bits of me that I lost, or really just kind of lost focus of.  I’m not saying that I didn’t know who I was, but I absolutely lost sight of my authentic self.  I bent over backwards to try and help someone who seemed lost, to the point where it started to pull me down with them.

At this point you may be wondering what things I’ve re-discovered about myself?

I am a charismatic people person who’s also deeply introspective, empathetic to a fault,  and self deprecating.  (just typing that made me feel douchey…)  I’ve realized that this helps bring people together, but could also be used to convince people to carry out my agenda.  Don’t worry though, I promise I only use my powers for good!!!

I’m an optimist who wants the best for EVERYONE, but I feel it deeply and personally when someone is hurt or fails.  If those people fail, I feel like I’ve failed too.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE to fix things.  Whether it’s a physically tangible inanimate object, or someone’s emotional/physical/spiritual problems… I just wanna help, but I gotta learn not to take on other people’s baggage.  While it’s great to share most experiences in life, some are better left to yourself.

The inverse of some of these trains is that I can be a little bit of a control freak.  I’m “type A” mixed with a naturally anxious/panicky personality.  This was very bluntly pointed out to me in therapy, but I also recognize how this may have affected my previous marriage.

This desire to plan is a form of control that I’ve used to minimize my anxiety.  A great deal of time after my divorce I learned that a HUGE part of my anxiety was a response to the bad things going on in my relationship.  I’ve always wondered if any of that control and anxiety further contributed to the relationship problems.  Oh well, doesn’t matter now!

At this point you’re probably thinking this guy is quite the shit show…  🙂

But!!!! There’s more!

I’ve also learned that I love fixing myself.  I started going to the gym.  I started dieting, which became a new normal for me with my nutrition.  I’ve chosen to shoulder less of other people’s burdens.

I am forcing myself to not take negative comments or actions against me personally.  I try to do this by identifying what influence caused the person to do or say it in the first place.

I speak with intention, and try to be as direct and sincere as possible.

I share my thoughts and feelings freely.  I am not afraid to give a compliment, because I only give them if I mean it.  There is enough negativity out there, so why not be a conduit for positivity?

I quickly recognize and squash unspoken expectations I’ve put on others.  I’ll only share them if they’re reasonable and truly important to me.

In my future relationships I will remain one of two separate people who choose to share our individual lives with each other, not try to mesh almost every aspect of our lives together.

Finally, I will only pursue someone that pursue’s me back, because what’s the point of being with someone if they don’t truly desire to be with you too?

So, after all of that rambling I must address when being alone is a bad thing…

If you’re lonely, and you’re having trouble finding joy, whether it be in the little things or your favorite hobby, then maybe you shouldn’t be alone at that moment.

Call your friends.  Call your family.  Get outside.  Go to where people are.  Keep busy.  Find a repetitive trivial task.  See your therapist.  Get some exercise.  Just don’t allow yourself to wallow for too long, nothing good ever comes of it.

–Chris

I’ve found my tribe

This last week was the Thanksgiving holiday and it’s common to reflect on what you’re thankful for in your life over the previous year.

As we’ve established on this blog, the last year was a trying one to say the least…

So, what am I thankful for this year?

All of the wonderful people that have allowed me to pull them into my circle and/or let me into theirs.  The pre-existing friendships that have been solidified, and the new ones that I’ve forged have been the crux of my emotional recovery.

All of my friends have seemingly come from the gym I go to.  These friends allow me to challenge them daily and reciprocate by pushing me to give 100% every time I’m there.  We build each other up, and make each other believe that we can accomplish anythig.  We come up with silly modifications that make exercises more challenging, if not entertaining…  There’s flirty interactions, flattering comments, pats on the ass, heart emojis, deep thoughts born out of reflection and pure emotions, and the occasional casual wink in passing between friends.

I am excited about my prospects for the future.  It looks bright, and I’m ready for whatever the hell is coming my way.  Bring it on life, because I plan on making you my bitch!

Clarity, often sought after, seldom found…

Over the last week I’ve been participating in a meditation challenge brought on by a friend in my fitness world.  She threw it out to her internet friends to join her journey and I obliged.

My own personal experience with meditation is most closely related to breathing exercises I’ve done to combat anxiety and panic attacks, but I’ve never done “meditation” before.  The first couple of days were a little awkward, but left me feeling focused and energized to take on my work day.  Yesterday was my fifth day of meditation, and what I experienced was something of a breakthrough.  I reached out to friends that I value and let them know they are some of my favorite people.  I told them very directly that they’re cared for, and that I want them to take care of themselves so they’re around for a very long time.  I told them I have confidence in them.  I told them that whatever their challenges are right now, I knew they would be triumphant.

I also realized that I will absolutely forgive my ex-wife one day for everything that happened.  I don’t think that will be soon, but I know I will one day.

Yet another thing I realized is that I am well under way to filling the hole left in my life with new friends, experiences, and family.  Figuring out what’s most important to you and filling that gap with it is the single most healing thing you can do after the loss of someone significant in your life.

My final thought is this.

I want to live with intention.  For me this consists of having goals for personal growth  and to always work on them.  I will not be shy about telling people how I feel or giving them praise.  There’s enough negativity in this world and in our lives.  Plus, I’d love to be complimented by others.  If someone else were living this way and regularly told me what they like about me they’d quickly become one of my favorite people! 🙂

I guess it all comes back around to one of the first rules you’re taught in life.

Treat others as you’d like to be treated.

Taking stock

I recently made a post on social media that received a decent amount of attention from my friends.  I had been really hard on myself for the last few weeks because I lost sight of my personal goals.  I had a couple small injuries in the gym that caused me to slow down on my fitness, I wasn’t eating the way I should, and I was consuming way more beer that I was okay with.  I think it’s important to point out with that last comment that I am not an alcoholic and I do not have a problem with over consumption.  I personally feel that if I am going to be successful in my weight, strength, and overall body composition goals I should drink almost no alcohol.  This is a tough thing for me as I am THE definition of a beer lover, some may even say a snob, but I prefer connoisseur.  I was doing a lot of self talk that was very counterproductive.  If I stepped on the scale and saw a number 3 lbs heavier than I liked I really beat myself up about it.

This Wednesday, everything changed…

I decided to grab a mocha on the way in to work that morning.  One of my favorite local coffee shops is on my way in, and there is a muffin there that I am complete sucker for.  The amount of people waiting to get their drinks almost made me turn around and get back in the car but I came all this way, so I was getting that damn mocha!

Lately, in a situation like this I would grab my phone and waste some time browsing social media or something equally deplorable.  This day though, like many others over the last week, I decided to observe my surroundings and be in the moment instead of burying my face in my phone.  As I people watched I overheard the barista say, “Ahhh shoot, well at least I made it into something.”.  The other barista said, “Oh my gosh, that is so cute!”.  A few seconds later my drink was called out and I walked over to the bar.  This is what I found.

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This was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time.

This little smiley face completely flipped the script on my attitude.  For some reason, this little tiny act made me realize how hyper focused I was on negativity.  I’ve been so wrapped up in things like, should I date, stuff with my ex-wife, missing my daughter when she’s gone for five days, not saving enough money, etc…

NO MORE! It is time for me to slow down and enjoy the little moments.  It’s time for me to love myself.  I need to relax more often.  I need to refocus on taking care of me again.  I MUST work on making myself happy because I’m the only one responsible for it.

One part of this story that’s missing is I had been course correcting over the past few weeks.  I have told many people about my plans, because accountability is huge.  I was taking my lunch to work more often, because the food I bring is healthy and it saves me a TON of money.  I also booked a trip to visit my friends that live in Amsterdam.  They’ve been in Europe for a few years, and while part of the blame for not ever visiting lies in my failed marriage, I could have gone and visited if I really felt strongly enough about it.

So… here is to putting yourself first, to trying to live the fullest life you can as often as possible, to slowing down and taking stock of all the little things!  I hate to put something like YOLO here, but it’s true… You only live once.

❤ Chris

Original social media post below…

I’ve been really hard on myself lately. I’ve been doing this fitness thing for a year and a half, and I’m still not where I want to be.

I’ve lost sight of my goals. I don’t see what I’ve already achieved. I’ve half way fallen off the wagon on my diet lately, and I’ve honestly been doing a lot of negative self talk lately…

I was reminded today that if you don’t pay attention to the little things it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the big negative things.

It’s time to renew my focus on myself.

I am responsible for making me happy.

No more negativity!

I will recognize my progress, and remember that I’m never done improving!

All of this because someone took a second to put a little smiley face in my coffee this morning. It is indeed the little things in life that matter.

I am going to crush Wednesday!

Not bad… Not bad at all.

Things have been going pretty decent lately.  I had my daughter with me for an extra day when my ex had a work commitment, she learned to do the monkey bars on her own, and I’ve recovered from the strained calf muscle that plagued me for about two weeks.

Things having to do with my ex haven’t bugged me nearly as much lately, which is a welcome change.  There’s literally nothing I can do about that situation except focus on doing what’s best for me and the kiddo.

I recently went out for a quick bite and a few beers with some of the guys, which is always great.  Often the subject veers towards women and home life which is really just the guy equivalent of girl talk and is harmless.  We’re always respectful and it’s amusing when you get insight into your friend’s home and personal lives.

It’s these conversations that made me realize I have friends at just about every stage of their life.  I’m in newly divorced single guy limbo, there’s a friend who’s about 2 years ahead of me and dating again, a happily married friend, and one that’s having some trouble at home.  Life is definitely cyclical.  One day I’ll heal and move on… and dare I say I think I’m actually starting to feel it.