We’ll Always Have Pearl Jam. And Herpes.

I remember when one of my best friends was diagnosed with Herpes, in my head I thought, “Well that’s what happens when you sleep around!” Boy how those words have come back to bite me in the ass, almost literally.

Contrary to what educators would have us believe, safe sex isn’t always enough to protect you from disease or transmission of sex-related infections. I know this, because last week my poor doctor had to deliver the news that I suspected…I have the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1. That is the herpes that normally appears on your face in the form of a cold sore.Except my sores won’t appear in the facial region. They’ll appear in the genital region.

I can’t tell you how uncomfortable the last two+ weeks have been. To walk, to sit, to use the restroom…the only thing that came close to this kind of discomfort was the first two weeks post-child birth. Today, the pain started spreading down my left leg into the nerves in my thigh and just below my butt cheek – the kind of pain that made that whole area sensitive to even touch.

Dr Google tells me this is somewhat normal, and is similar to the sensation people with shingles have. The medication is the same treatment also. In my research, I came to learn that Herpes is the most commonly transmitted STD and if I am lucky, this initial outbreak will be the worst, and future outbreaks will be few and far between. I also came to learn that oral sex is not always “safe” and that someone with a cold sore or even a developing cold sore, can spread HSV1 to their partner.

Initially I was absolutely devastated and distraught. I thought I was getting what I deserved for sleeping around. What I remembered as a fun and intimate night of enjoying each other, and singing along badly to all the Pearl Jam classics, turned out to have a much bigger impact than I thought at the time. The truth is, the guy who gave me this may not have even known he was infected or at risk of sharing this virus. Even couples who have been married for years can give this to each other unknowingly.

The stigma associated with the disease is, supposedly, much worse than the disease itself, although after the last two weeks I am not sure about that. For me, the hard part now is having to have this discussion with future partners and dealing with the potential rejection because of it. For someone who was just starting to gain her confidence and sexuality again after a really long time of insecurity, this has absolutely knocked me for six. But, like I have every other situation I’ve faced in the last 12 months, I will learn to live and deal with this and it is Just Another Bend In The Road.

 

Casual Sex

Even in my 20s, before I met my ex, I wasn’t all that good at doing the casual sex thing. I had a couple of one night stands, but always thought they’d lead to more, and analysed every word spoken. If I was going to have sex with someone, I was either really attracted to them physically, or I already knew them and was hoping something more would happen. So either way, there was some kind of attachment there. And for casual sex to really be casual, and to not leave some kind of scarring on any level, there needs to be zero attachment.

I thought when my marriage was over that I’d enjoy the fact that I got to date again, and to kiss or have sex with anyone I decided I wanted to. No strings attached. I’ve slept with three guys since my marriage ended, and kissed twice as many as that. It hasn’t exactly all been as fun as I thought it was going to be. And it hasn’t always been as unattached or casual as I thought it would be. But I have had some liberating moments, some eye-opening moments, and some really “nice” moments (for the record I find “nice” a very boring word, but I mean it in the nicest way possible here).

But this weekend hit a new low, when I spent the night with a very cute guy, who I knew it was only a one night stand with for many different reasons, yet I still found myself cyber-stalking the next day. In my head I let all these fantasies carry me away. Out of the few guys I’ve been with in the last 8 months or so, he was the sweetest. He was the one I felt most comfortable with. The one I wanted to shut the door and spend all weekend with. Let me tell you how unfun and how unsweet it was to find out that he is actually married.

Now he is not the first guy, nor will he likely be the last, to visit the Gold Coast and pretend to be single when in actual fact he’s got a wife and kids waiting for him at home. I’ve met several of them before, however in the past the wife and family have come up before I did anything that had the potential to ruin a whole family.

While I wouldn’t say I feel particularly guilty – I can only go by what I’m told, right? – I can’t say I feel particularly great about it either. And the revelation has taken something that I had really fond memories of and turned it into something really cheap and trashy. But it also taught me something. Casual sex and one night stands will never be anything more than that. Either I accept it or I just refuse to participate in it. And there is absolutely nothing good to come of cyber stalking the next day.

But it also brought up an interesting question. If your husband was away on a boys weekend, and cheated on you, would you want to know? Or do you think ignorance is bliss? With the click of a button I could tell his wife what happened. I won’t, because it is not my place to ruin her marriage. Her husband seems to be trying to do that on his own and I am sure one day he’ll be found out. But I often think if I had never known about my ex’s other women, I’d have been none the wiser, and we probably would have been much happier and not separated. It’s just a theory. What do you think?

Linking up with Alicia from One Mother  Hen for Open Slather Monday

 

All The Emotions

Did you know, that even if you are the one who wants out of your marriage, and you’ve felt like you’ve wanted out for a little while, it doesn’t make actually getting out any easier. Not in the slightest. I feel like some people think, “Well this is what you wanted, so you must be over the moon?”

While the overwhelming feeling may start off as relief, it is quickly followed by doubt, regret, loneliness, fear, more doubt, and more loneliness. It is also often followed by irrational jealousy, a sense of competition and bitterness. So much bitterness.

A counselor I saw said it was important to recognise what I am feeling, explore why I am feeling it, allow myself to feel it, then move on. The last two parts of the process are the easy ones. The first two parts however are another story.

Recognising and exploring why you HATE the fact your ex has a new girlfriend is hard. Feeling spiteful and resentful that they have moved on so easily when you’re the one who wanted out feels just plain yucky. And the worst part is, there’s nothing you can do to stop the feelings.

I finally stopped trying to fight what I was feeling and figured out what she really meant by accepting it and moving on. It is OK to be jealous that your ex has moved on. It’s OK to feel resentful and spiteful. What’s not OK is holding on to those emotions. It’s not OK to be so focused on your ex’s life that you forget to start your new one.

And so that’s what I did – I started doing all the things I love to do on my child-free weekends. It gives you something to look forward to, and it also makes you get out and meet new people. Plus it is just good food for the soul, and something more people should make time to do, whether they’re in a relationship or not.

I won’t go in to how time-poor we all are these days, but finding even 30 minutes could be the difference between an average day and a great one. So, next time you’re feeling all the emotions, figure out why, allow yourself to feel them for a little while, then move. the. fuck. on. The only person who suffers when you hold onto it is you.

 

10 Things I Believe About Single Parent Dating

Kristy at My Home Truths is asking us to share 10 things we believe in her I Must Confess linkup today. I started writing a post about 10 Things I Believe About My Path, that was going to be so incredibly deep, moving and uplifting that it made me gag and I decided to write about 10 Things I Believe About Single Parent Dating.

I’ve been back on the market almost a year now. And as a woman on the wrong side of 35, who has a majority of custody of her son, this has not been as easy as I first thought it might be. In any case, I hope you enjoy these 10 things I believe about dating as a single parent.

  1. Dating in your late 30s and 40s brings even more baggage and ingrained personality flaws  traits that can’t be changed. If you thought you had to sort through the shit and the issues when you were dating as a 24 year old,  you have not seen anything yet. We are all walking around with the scars of our previous relationship, which after a marriage usually includes nastiness, hurt and multiple heartbreaks, because there is no heartbreak like a child’s heartbreak.
  2. Online dating is easier than meeting someone in person. As a single parent, it’s easy to sit online once the kids are in bed and “meet” people. It is convenient, and you can sort of get an idea if you might be attracted to that person or not.
  3. Online dating is harder than meeting someone in person. Meeting them online is easy, but it is impossible to gauge any kind of chemistry through a picture, a description and a few messages. In my experience thus far, online chemistry never converts to physical chemistry.
  4. Time is precious for a dating single parent. Personally, I only have every other weekend completely child free. There is too much going on during the week to date. I don’t have time to waste meeting people I am not a little bit keen on. And I don’t have time to waste thinking, “He could be ok” after I’ve met them. If there isn’t something there on that first date, I won’t bother going on another one.
  5. A 12 month break from relationships post-separation is a great idea for single parents. I met someone I was really interested in, just a couple of months after my separation. He kept telling me I needed 12 months on my own. I didn’t want to hear it. But he was right. As a mum/wife who also worked and studied, time on my own wasn’t something I was used to anymore, and I didn’t know what to do with my time. It took about 6 months, but I finally realised my child-free weekends were my time to re-discover what I love doing, and to do it!
  6. It is OK to date around and have fun. I have known lots of people who have jumped straight into another relationship. Probably because they weren’t told about #5 and panicked, thinking they needed to fill that gap that was now there. Just because you meet someone for coffee doesn’t mean you have to marry them. And if you want to have casual sex, then feel free to go for it. People may judge you, but it’s usually because they’re slightly jealous and wish they were free to do the same thing.
  7. Anyone under 30 without kids does not want a relationship with you. They just want that casual sex mentioned above. And you know what, if they are hot and you are keen, I say go for it! Then brag about it to your mates.
  8. Men without kids don’t get it. I’m sure they’re lovely, but if they are in their late 30s or 40s and don’t have kids, they may be ok with you having one (or some) but they’re not ever really going to understand what it means to have your kids always come first. They won’t understand why you can’t just get a babysitter to dating during the week. They won’t understand when you cancel on them because your kid is sick and just wants his mum, even though it’s his weekend at his dad’s. There may be exceptions to this rule, but I’d say they’re few and far between.
  9. It’s OK to wait for the right one. You’ve already wasted however many years on the wrong one. Don’t waste more. There actually are Plenty of Fish in the sea (FYI – the most successful dating site I’ve used is Plenty of Fish. Successful in that there is lots to choose from and they have to offer more information than Tinder). And I believe The Right One is out there for me. I might have to meet 100 other guys first, but he is out there.
  10. You have to put yourself out there. I don’t know about you, but hot available men don’t usually come knocking on my door, asking me out to dinner. Since separating I have upped the activities I do in my child free time, and I’ve joined a couple of different dating sites. It is scary as hell to meet someone in person sometimes, but I’m yet to have a date that was so bad he couldn’t at least hold a conversation. I’ve even been on a few 2nd and 3rd dates. The bottom line is, you’re not going to meet anyone sitting on your couch, so get out amongst it! It can even be fun!

Would love to hear your beliefs on single parent dating if you’ve done it. Or even if you haven’t, what your perception of single parent dating looks like.

Linking up with Kirsty at My Home Truths for I Must Confess

Having Opinions

People love to have opinions. I know, because I love to have them too. And I think…no, I know….that I’ve been guilty of having absurd and unfair opinions before. To those on the receiving end of said opinions, I apologise profusely.

Because since my break up, I’ve been on the end of some pretty ridiculous opinions myself. See, it turns out that when you tell people your marriage is over, there is no appropriate response or opinion to have.

“Oh I’m sorry.” Don’t be sorry, I am not. Why are you sorry? Because I finally got a back bone and did what I had wanted to do for so long?

“Oh, you’re much better off.” Really? How do you  know? Do you have a crystal ball to see how things are going to be? Are you going to worry about my rent and car payments?

“Divorce would never be an option for me.” I honestly hope it is never something you even have to consider. I didn’t think it was an option for me either, until it was my only option other than a lifetime of unhappiness and wondering what if.

“Well it was a long time coming, wasn’t it?” *Blink*

So you get through the initial pain of dealing with the responses to your separation, only to get more opinions on when you should start dating again, and who you should date, and where you should meet these dates, and how soon is too soon to have sex with someone who is not your husband.

“Oh you’re on TINDER?!?! Isn’t that just a booty call site? Isn’t it too soon for that?”

“Oh you’re dating someone? He makes you happy? Isn’t it too soon for that?”

I pretty quickly came to the realisation that there are some people who are jealous because you’re no longer as miserable as them. And unfortunately, when you make the decision to put your  happiness first, and to no longer be bound by the fear of the unknown, not everyone is thrilled for you or overly supportive. Fortunately for me, I could acknowledge that was on them, not me. It was a reflection of how they felt about their situations, not mine.

Now, almost a year later, I no longer let others’ opinions of what I choose to do with my life affect me. Be happy for me and follow me on this wayward journey or don’t. The choice is yours.

Just A Bend In The Road

When I finally got around to telling my family that my husband and I had separated, my cousin sent me an email with a poem inside.

Sometimes we come to life’s crossroads
And we view what we think is the end.
But God has a much wider vision
And he knows that it’s only a bend-

The road will go on and get smoother
And after we’ve stopped for a rest,
The path that lies hidden beyond us
Is often the path that is best.

So rest and relax and grow stronger,
Let go and let God share your load
And have faith in a brighter tomorrow-
You’ve just come to a bend in the road.

-Helen Steiner Rice

And so it is this poem that has inspired me to create this blog, and navigate this journey on an unexpected path. I hope you’ll join me.