Keep Your Arms and Legs Inside the Car At All Times

Well, right on cue, I’m getting neurotic.

I always wonder: am I the only one who gets like this? Or who gets like this beyond the age of 22? It makes me feel immature and destined to fail, like my nerves become a self-fulfilling prophesy as all the doubts flood my head and tell me, one way or another, “He’s going to ditch you. In a month, or two, at most, he’ll be gone.”

What evidence do I have for this? I hadn’t heard from Rick Tuesday, except for one response to a message I sent. That’s all. And I know. I know that’s stupid. I know it’s needy  of me. I knew he was at work, and very possibly in meetings all day long. The last three days he was off and had all the freedom in the world to talk with me, and he did. We’ve seen each other twice, there has been an official First Kiss, and he has said he can’t wait to see me again (when we can hopefully try the Next Kiss in an environment warmer than a parking lot at 2am in January). We’ve exchanged grin-inducing messages that made my face hurt for an hour.

He has told me I’m very pretty, and that I shouldn’t thank him for saying it because it’s just a fact.

Ohhhh, but I could fall hard for this one.

Enter the voices. He just got out of a relationship. Do you really want to be the rebound? 

(To which, quite honestly, the answer is, “Um, have you seen him? Yes. Yes, in fact, I do.”)

He’s still paying the rent on their place. Why is he paying it? Will he get his own place? Are they going to get back together? Why did they break up? Did he cheat? Will he wind up keeping me a secret for months because he thinks it looks bad that we went out so soon after his breakup? Or for some other reason? Does he even want a relationship right now or am I just salve for his pain? He worked for a politician and ran for office, himself… is he just a smooth operator? Is this chivalry of opened doors and pulled-out chairs just an act? Can I even believe him when he says such nice things to me? Will he just disappear, stop calling?

I have been kept a secret. I have been smooth-talked. I have been cheated on. I have been lied to. I have been disappeared on. These things don’t make me exceptional; most of them happen to everyone. I’m 35, so it’s happened to me much more than perhaps those who were married ten years younger and stayed that way. It’s a numbers game; the odds are stacked against me. And almost all relationships end. You really only hope for one Forever, and if you’re wise, you know that one won’t be perfect.

The problem is that when it ends those ways that many times, you start to think it’s because of you. And then every time it happens after that, your fears are only confirmed. And pretty soon you’re pretty sure it will happen again this time, no matter what, or who, this time is.

Today is Jack’s birthday. He was in a dream I had two nights ago, taking me to the doctor because I was badly ill. And that has happened in real life. But Rick was in a dream I had the night before that. Nothing too substantial, but he was there. Like real life. Jack will, I’m sure, be hovering on the edge of my consciousness today. This will be the first January 23rd in 10 years that I will not call and sing “Happy Birthday” to him, that I will not celebrate his existence. He doesn’t like fuss on this day, but I wonder if he will miss it.  And I’m sure that, in some way, Jack’s birthday is part of why I got neurotic about Rick.

Who, by the way, did end up in meetings all day, and we chatted through the night after he left work via those wondrous things with which I have a love-hate relationship: text messages.

Of course, once I heard from him, the neurosis cleared up. And we made a date for Friday.

It’s exhausting, being in my head. And my heart.

Guess I’d better buckle up.

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19 thoughts on “Keep Your Arms and Legs Inside the Car At All Times

  1. We’re all the same. You like the guy. I’m reading your blog and laughing because I have done the exact same thing. I’m now saying to you, what I’d say to myself if I’d just met a new guy I like. Stop being neurotic. Stop asking yourself all these questions. Stop worrying about “what if”. Just enjoy it for what it is right now; and let the rest take care of itself. It’s out of your hands anyway. I say this, even if it means I get deprived of reading about your exploits on your blog, which I really enjoy doing. This is a totally selfless act on my part. Because it would be nice if you just enjoyed getting to know this guy, whatever it does or doesn’t turn out to be. Like with life itself, the journey is as important as the destination.

    • Fransi, I tell myself that. It’s a relief to know that other women have to tell themselves that, too? You know the adage about comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides? I find so many women seem so easy-going and confident in new dating situations, and I feel so NOT like that… I forget that they might be nervous, too. But don’t worry – my blog will still give you plenty of neuroses to read about. Haha.

  2. Okay, so that’s four – you are so normal! All of those questions seem pretty normal for a new relationship to me. You like the guy, you want it to work out, so of course you’d be wondering all those things. You’re at the beginning and it takes time to get to know someone and put all of those questions to rest. I don’t think you can just turn off your anxiety like a switch. I couldn’t do that.

    • I’m relieved to know it’s common. I think part of the problem is that you get smacked with the unpleasant answers to those questions when you get to the point in the relationship where you think they’ve been put to rest… so you don’t want to let your guard down because that’s always when it hits. Of course, that’s counter-productive…

      • Well that’s a good point. You’re right, it’s counter-productive, but one can’t help being gun-shy. Still, the only thing to do is just keep going and do our best not to let our old relationship sorrows taint our new relationship joys. What choice do we have, anyway, if we want to keep looking for that forever love? It’s either take the risk or give up on love completely.

      • It’s funny… after I read your comment, I spontaneously started singing a particular song by Sarah Barielles. You can find it on YouTube if you search “Sweet As Whole.” When you hear it, you’ll understand.

  3. I haven’t been in this territory in a very long time but I can tell you a situation in my life that’s similar. My daughter is in a dramatic marriage … they sometimes fight big time. In the first few years, there were some “I’m coming home” calls late at night. They’re doing better but still dramatic. When the phone rings, especially late a night, my heart skips a beat. But here’s what similar to what you do. When we don’t hear from her for a while, I start to believe something’s wrong, particularly if she doesn’t respond to my calls or texts. Usually she’s just busy but I can’t convince myself. Then she calls and we talk about the grandkids and I’m fine again. My 12-step sponsor calls it catastrophizing, which is assuming the worst will happen so we won’t hurt so bad if it does. I think that’s a better word than neurosis What he tells me is that the good outcome is just as likely as the bad one although I don’t always believe him.

    • I appreciate the relatable story. I always thought that was just called being a parent – my mother is the same way. It’s part of the reason I don’t feel the desire to have children. I don’t think I could take the unending worry.

      • Amen. As someone whose mind always goes to the worst-case (and highly improbable) possibility, I’m right there with you. I’d probably die from ulcers, if that’s possible.

  4. It’s got to be tempting to preempt disappointment to protect your heart, but try to be positive about this. Who knows, this may be the “Special Guy”! Or not. But maybe the “Special Guy for Some Fun For A Little While” would be OK, too.

  5. Just read this and… I completely enjoyed it! You have such a comical delivery here.. which is very refreshing for me to read at this moment! I love the beginning to a new relationship, a new love, but yes, I would say to let go and let things happen, but like all advice, much easier said than done! I look forward to reading more of you.. ~ Jen

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