Reminiscing, Realization

I’m over the almost 2 month freak out about THE ex calling, I think. It hit a peak earlier this week, and suddenly, my feelings are very. . . different.

I started thinking about other men from my past that have looked me up.

I was talking to an old friend last night; let’s call him Jerry*, since using only initials will get confusing very quickly here.

Jerry and I didn’t really interact that much in high school. He was a close friend of my boyfriend back then. Funny thing is at this point in our lives, I have much more in common with him than I do with the high school boyfriend. . . It was kind of fun to remember that time. I was all of a size 10 (thought I was fat!)**, I was one of the cutest girls in our group of misfits, I was happy most of the time.

The high school boyfriend, A, has looked me up several times. He’s happily married to the girl he started dating after we broke up, and he proudly refers to her as “his high school sweetheart”. (We dated for almost 2 school years, and he only dated her for the last 4 months of his senior year, but, whatever. . . )

Jerry says, “I think he is generally concerned with your well-being. I dunno, maybe he wants to see if he missed out on something.”

Maybe. 

I always thought it was more of the latter, but he is a good guy, and there’s probably a lot of the former. Considering how screwed up my life has been at times, I’m sure he hasn’t missed out on anything, considering all the years of crazy.
But, that aside, after I stopped talking to Jerry, I started thinking about another ex, M.

M was probably the biggest ex-bf before THE ex discussed before.

M and I had a very passionate on-again-off-again affair for quite some time. We stayed in touch and on the periphery of each other’s lives for several years. I even invited him (and his then-wife) to my wedding. (They didn’t come.)

M has also looked me up several times over the years. The last time, he spent months trying to find me on the internet. There are literally hundreds of people in the country with my first name/last name combination, and he combed the ‘net looking for me in a time when I had virtually no web presence. The last couple of times, it was very easy for me to realize that he doesn’t hold that big a part of me any more. He did, for a long time, but now he’s pretty much a stranger.

There was a point in my life when I never thought I’d feel that way about him. I thought he was The One, until I fell for THE ex.

A brief aside here, as someone with bipolar disorder who wasn’t diagnosed until I was 30 years old, I had several years that were. . . adventurous. I often had more than one romance going on at a time. I slept with a lot of people.

The number of times I’ve been in love can fit on one hand, but I don’t know the number of men I’ve had sex with. I know that I have broken a few hearts, especially my first husband (I had two marriages end before I was 25).

My first husband looked me up a couple of times, but I felt so bad about how I treated him, that I didn’t even respond.

So, J is not the only ex to locate and contact me. He’s not the only ex that sometimes thinks of me. All of them are married to other people.

On the one hand, it’s nice to know that some of the people that meant a lot to me at one point think of me.

On another, I can’t help feeling like they think of me as a crazy bullet they dodged.

My friend synchronicity says you should always sleep with someone crazier than you.

I think I’m the crazier one for quite a few people.

That’s a little sobering.

Anyway, as I was reminiscing, I recall a time when a girlfriend and I discussed a group of friends. If girlfriend 1, girlfriend 2 and I were in the same room and a guy walked in, the guy would want to sleep with me, marry GF 2, and be a big brother to GF 1. No idea why, but that is the way men acted around us. Something about how we presented ourselves, I guess.

And I realized. . .

I’ve always been the one that guys wanted to sleep with, not the one they marry. The one they have an affair with, but not leave their wives/girlfriends for.

At one point, I liked that, even needed it in a sick sort of way.

But by the time I was with husband 2, I didn’t want to be that one any more. I really was ready to settle down and grow up and be the married one. But I had trouble making the transition from superficial relationships to a real, intimate relationship.

I think the reason his betrayal cut so deep was that I was ready for that, and desperately wanted it.

I also realized that part of what I wanted from him was for us to. . . grow up together. You know, all that stuff you learn in your 20s about being independent, living away from parents, taking care of yourself, learning each other’s quirks and compromising. . . I wanted someone to grow with while learning those things together. I wanted to raise kids with him, to share all those little moments of babyhood, toddler years and school years that you go through with kids.

And since I cannot go back and relive these last twenty years, I will never have that.

My reunion fantasies?

Can’t ever happen.

Because we can’t go back and do those things together.

Even if, by some miracle, he was suddenly single, neither one of us is who we were.

I’ve said that before, many times.

But I don’t think I really internalized it, really believed it, until I went through it from this direction.

I also think part of the reason I’ve stayed alone this long is that I don’t want to play the same role I did before, as the one men want to have sex with. For one thing, I don’t channel my manic energy in that way any more. I want more respect than that. But I’ve never really learned how to act with men when I’m not manic.

This seems to be my next challenge.

And it’s scary.

*names changed
** I know, I know! Jerry said he remembers me as ” you looked soft, for lack of a better word. but that was a good thing. ” 

I have an answer!

I’ve been beating myself up over becoming obsessed since the ex called. But I found a Psychology Today article that I think is helping me, a LOT.

Go ahead, read the article, I’ll wait (it’s four pages long). . .

Some of the quotes that got me:

These relationships may be so indelible, so off-the-charts intense, because they’re forged in the hormonal fire of the teenage brain. . .

Dan McAdams, a narrative psychologist from Northwestern University in Illinois, has found that it is during these years that most individuals also form their core identity and sense of self—their personal mythology. The teens and 20s give birth to our personal narratives and our lifelong ideals. . .

“The adolescent brain is exposed to heightened levels of testosterone and progesterone, the steroid sex hormones involved in sexual intensity,” he says. “There’s also an increase in oxytocin, the same hormone that aids mother-and-child bonding following birth.” Chemistry thus sets the stage for once-in-a-lifetime sexual intensity paired with a unique opportunity for attachment—creating a model of love that persists for life. . .

To explain why separation and other adversities can make the heart grow fonder, she has coined the term “frustration attraction,” the idea that threats to the relationship can actually increase feelings of longing and ardor. Passionate love stimulates dopamine-producing neurons, which generate the motivation to seek out the beloved. But if the lover is absent, those brain cells prolong their activities, Fisher hypothesizes in her book Why We Love. “As the adored one slips away, the very chemicals that contribute to feelings of romance grow even more potent, intensifying ardent passion and impelling us to try with all our strength to secure our reward, the departing loved one,” she writes. . .

Many say they want closure, but closure is a myth, says Kalish. “The old feelings come back. Married people who want to keep their marriages should understand this before they search for a lost love and get in over their heads. Once these relationships take off, they aren’t fantasies, nostalgia or midlife crises. They are loves that were interrupted, and the urge to give them another chance is very strong.”

This explains EVERYTHING.

My response and feelings are not magick or some Divine fate or a lost mythical “soul mate” or any of the other stupid overly-romantic things I was thinking.

It’s a biochemical response!

And hell, I fight biochemical responses every day. I’m not always successful but because I know what’s going on, I can deal with it.

And when I say it explains everything, I mean everything!

While J (the ex) was not my first love, I can clearly see a line connecting dots. I didn’t get over my high school boyfriend A until I met M (curiously, first husband was in between there, and didn’t make the cut. Hmmm, probably why I dumped him).

I didn’t really get over M until I was with J (again, despite other affairs in between).

I can clearly see how my feelings from the other two relationships were transferred to J.

J and I were forced apart by circumstances beyond our control: a military deployment – one of the factors of creating this bond. He couldn’t deal with the forced separation (something I was always aware of) and transferred his feelings to Her.

This explains:

  •  Why I haven’t been able to totally let go.
  •  Why I have the fantasies I have 
  •  Why he looked me up now. . . EVERYTHING.

And as G.I. Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.”

Perceptions of family

I don’t really know my brother, well half-brother. We share a father, and he’s 9 years younger than me.

I’ve only met him twice: just before he turned 4 and when he was 16.

We recently connected on Facebook. We chatted online, and then called each other on the phone.

We had a second talk last night, a really long one (I’m out of minutes now!)

Interesting things came out in the conversation. I don’t want to talk to much about other family members here, and I don’t want to say too many negative things. But my brother and I share certain viewpoints about our dad and his mother.

Considering that my major exposure to the both of them was when I was between the ages of 5 and 9, with a little sprinkling when I was a young teen, and he’s known them his whole life, I found this extremely interesting.

Our experiences are completely different, but at the same time, we agree on so much. I used to think that my point of view was a little skewed, but hearing that my brother thinks many of the same things that I do is very cool. Maybe I shouldn’t second guess my impressions so much.