Love Gurus 

People are making careers out of relationship advice.   Some of these people have really important things to say.  Some of these people are peddling bull shit.  Some of them are selling step by step instructions on what to say, how to dress, how to act, and who to be.

Jesus Christ.

 I will admit that I’ve watched some of these videos.  I like Matthew Hussey’s lecture about how ridiculous unrequited love is. I love Derrick Jaxn’s video about recognizing a grown ass man. Actually, I love all of Derrick Jaxn’s videos. That man talking about the value of a single mother is my very own version of hardcore porn. But some of these gurus take it a little too far.  Some of these people are like vultures, preying on the desperation of lonely cat ladies everywhere.

Some of these videos contain beautiful advice.  I’m always an advocate for gaining knowledge. But where do we draw the line? Doesn’t it seem a little crazy to pay for someone else’s word-for-word text messages? How in the actual fuck is someone supposed to get to know you when you communicate with someone else’s words? How is a marriage supposed to work when one partner literally tricked the other partner into love and commitment? What does this say about love?  

I will tell you what this says about love. It says that we can fall in love with anyone, if we want to fall in love. It has everything to do with timing and very little to do with our hearts. The number one concept that is talked about amongst all of these gurus? In order to get a man to commit, you have to find a man who is ready to commit. And so there you have it, when it’s time….it’s time. Just like death. 

But here’s the beauty in that concept. This also means that you can fall out of love with anyone as well. Love is a fucking choice, not a fated event. You can give it and take it from anyone you choose. The key has always been about finding someone worthy of your time, who also believes that you are worthy of theirs.  Time, however, can be a real bitch.  

Here are five of the very best relationship advice videos that I have ever seen…. 


Sunday Sundae 

This weekend was a bonus weekend for me. The girls stayed with me because their dad had to work all weekend.  

My eight year old and I danced until midnight in our living room last night. It was the first time in almost a month that I had truly felt joyous. As we broke it down to Lady Gaga’s just dance, I dropped some pretty awesome relationship advice on my daughter. I said, ‘Honey, when you get older and a boy breaks your heart, remember to dance that boy right out of your mind.’ She just giggled at my silly advice and kept stomping around the room. When I tucked her in, she told me that she had a good time dancing. I did too.  

Sunday morning, I was driving my girls to meet up with their dad when my eight year old started freaking out and yelling that there was a lizard in the car. I actually started to worry that she was hallucinating or something. We don’t have lizards in Michigan. I pulled over only to find that we absolutely do have lizards in Michigan and one was in my damn car! I tried to catch it, but it scurried under the seat and is possibly lost there forever. My nature loving eight year old was over the moon. She has texted me twice now to see if I caught it yet.  

After the lizard situation, I dropped my girls off at the restaurant where their dad and I used to have breakfast every Sunday when we were married. Only this time he was waiting for us with his new girlfriend. The one that tried to steal him away from me years ago when we had just begun dating. This was my first face to face encounter with her since their little reunion. I think I handled it well except for when I literally walked away while she was telling a story. I didn’t feel like listening about her trip to Florida. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I don’t know why I struggle with these things. I just do.  

After that I met up with my mother and niece to go to a painting party. It was my mother’s first attempt at spending time together in several years. She has been trying so persistently to be nice to me. I was excited for the chance to heal our relationship. But as I listened to her complain and criticize people through out the entire ride to the party, I found myself thanking God that I had hit that roach in my car on the way. She is draining. But that is all she knows. She has no personality. She has no social skills. She is just a big energy-sucking, negative vortex of criticism. But she’s my mom and she is trying. So I tried too. And I do love her. She is just broken. I know this, because I am a little broken too. The pot helped. Having my sweetheart of a niece there to buffer the awkwardness helped too.  

We also stopped to visit my grandparents. I fucking love my grand parents. My grandpa showed me his patch of canna flowers, and pointed out that they were taller and better looking than my grandma’s patch of canna flowers. This is because he planted them deeper than she planted hers. I think they were both beautiful patches of canna flowers. My favorite thing about today was watching my grandpa smile when I told him about my daughter’s lizard debacle. His eyes filled with pride as he told me that she gets her love of nature from him. He said he was just like her at that age. I love that about her, and him.

And the cherry on this Sunday Sundae? The guy that I had ghosted on Friday… The guy that I have been trying to get out of my head for nearly a month…messaged a pathetic ‘Hi there,’ today.  I didn’t respond. I just danced like a mother fucker and smiled while my feet scattered around the room, to the bone chilling voice of Sharon Jones.  I danced that boy right out of my mind and it felt good.

This was exactly the kind of weekend that I needed.  

Man Overboard!

I blocked a guy today. It wasn’t easy and I know it’s immature. In some ways it hurt, because I really liked this guy and still do. But in other ways, I think it was easier than trying to explain the 5,000 knots in my mind to someone who could never make sense of the mess. I took the cowardly road. I know for a fact that he would never have done that to me. But in my defense, he was the guy who made me feel like a Godess one day and invisible nothing the next. And that is the cruelest shit you can do to a person.

My heart is a ship sailing into oblivious adventure. This guy was playing twister, with limbs stretching out from the shore, but never really giving up the sand.  

That guy mistook my kindness for weakness.  

Fuck that guy.

The Aftermath 

I recently wrote a post about my week on Lake Superior with my ex husband and our children.  I wrote about how awesome it was to vacation with an ex, because it was amazing for our children to experience being a ‘together’ family.  My eight year old is actually self conscious about being a child of divorce.  

I always assure her, that when she gets older, she will have more friends of divorced parents than not.  And then I tell her that since she went through it first, that she will be a great friend to help the newbies when they experience it.  Still, she was so happy to go on that vacation, to have her dad around.  I wrote about the absolute joy it was to actually have an ex husband that I can get along with.  It really was a great week.

What I haven’t written about is the crippling depression that followed our adventures.  I crashed hard after the high of being part of the family that we could have been for a short time.  It was incredibly emotional for me to experience that, only to have my kids go with their dad for two whole weeks right after.  I went from having everything that ever meant anything back for a week to being completely alone, in a day.  My girls have never been gone this long.  It has been a dark time for me.

These emotions are more complex than what I’m used to.  It has nothing to do with wanting my ex back.  I absolutely do not want my ex back.  But at the same time, he remains the only man I’ve ever really loved.  He represents my greatest achievement, being a mother with a family of my own.  He also represents my greatest failure, tearing that family apart and struggling ever since.

It was the nostalgia of the way it used to be.  It was talking with my ex mother-in-law, who I love talking with now.  But also remembering that she used to drive me insane.  And then realizing that I always took her unconditional love for granted, because I didn’t really know what the hell to do with it.  I resented her for being everything my own mother wasn’t. I pushed her away, divorced her son, and she is still the closest thing to a loving mom that I have ever had.

It was listening to the old CD’s and talking about our first date.  It was reminiscing about bringing our little girls home from the hospital.  It was admitting that we had both done wrong, understanding that we went through it all together, and seeing each other as both family and strangers in a vulnerable new blending of the people we had become after hurting each other for ten damn years.  

And while he drove off with our girls in his truck, on his way to see his patient new girlfriend and assure her that his heart is hers now and no longer belongs to me, I was left in the emotional wake of being completely alone.  Just me and the cats, sitting around thinking about how my life has been a series of bad decisions that landed me alone in a trailer and crying over the fact that my kids really are probably better off living with their dad.  He is building a home and a family for them that I will never be able to give.  He cooks beautiful and healthy meals and manages his money like an accountant.  I can barely take care of myself some days and am starting all over again in life because I fell in love with another guy who couldn’t stand me.  

And this is the darkest side of single parenting.  The guilt never really goes away.  The pressure of doing it all never really becomes bearable.  And sometimes you sit and think about how much better it would be for them if you weren’t in the picture.  And then you remember that you love them enough to try harder.  So you get up off your whining ass and get started with rebuilding your damn life again.  Because eventually, if you keep trying, you know you will get it right.  And if you don’t, they will at least know that you tried.  And kept trying.  For them.

The Crab and the Kite

So I spent the past week rambling through Northern Michigan with my ex-husband, our two daughters, and a three-legged American bull dog. It was a crowded 900 miles altogether, packed into the extended cab of a Silverado with pillows and blankets and Capri suns. I was nervous about this co-parenting experiment with the guy whom I spent the entire decade of my twenties with. We have always done little dinners or day trips every once in a while. We’ve done holidays together and apart. We have also had some challenges over the past six years, since the split. I wasn’t sure how this was going to play out. This was our first week long family vacation. I was hopeful, but apprehensive about how this trip would feel, to me or the kids. It’s a little strange to spend a week as the family that we used to be, but that no longer exists.

It couldn’t have gone any better. Everyone was happy. Our fourteen year old daughter had no service on her cell phone. She played scrabble and laughed so hard, she had to hold her belly. We had a family joke, where she said that I looked like a Susan and her dad looked like a Brad. Then she joked about making ‘Starter Pack Memes’ with our new names. Like the Brad Starter Pack would include a vape pen and Jordans and some shitty techno music. The Susan starter pack would include tarot cards and cats and cheap leggings from Dollar General. We made up names for the girls and carried this cheesy joke through the whole trip. I think that joke will end up being our favorite souvenir.  

My eight year old went fishing, and impressed her grandfather with the ability to bait and remove her own hook. She smiled so much, her cheeks hurt. I think ‘Brad’ and I both enjoyed the scenery of watching our girls play together, and discover the breathtaking beauty of Northern Michigan, along the Lake Superior coastline. We had real, family conversations about the steady stream of changes in all of our lives, while hiking through a wild wonderland of beautiful waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, and forests that could heal your soul.  

We got to be those nerdy parents who sat by the fire and shared dating advice with our fourteen year old daughter while we drank some two hearted ales, just miles away from the actual river that beer is named after. Our daughter got to engage in a very entertaining conversation about how we met, and the things that we went through, and how she came about, and how much we loved her. It was the kind of conversation that could have never happened, had we stayed together. Because her dad and I have dated other people off and on for the past six years, we both have a lot of knowledge to share in that department.  

There we were, in our old tattoos that used to read each other’s names, now covered up by a crab and a kite, explaining how dating was different in the nineties, and how some things will never change. My daughter must have been impressed to receive dating advice from her divorced and relationally dysfunctional parents as we sipped just enough alcohol to take the edge of the awkwardness off. But I will bet you, she will remember that night for the rest of her life. She will know that her parents love her enough to plan a crazy divorced family vacation for her. And she will tell her children one day of the time we hiked to Mosquito Falls, uphill both ways, with a three-legged dog and a family that stayed a family even though it exists in different households and in different cities.

Now that the trip is over, and life is back to normal, I am filled with gratitude for the way things turned out.

 And I am very proud of the fact that my children will continue to benefit from a truce that turned into a genuine friendship.

Girls Growing Up

“Be good to her.  She’s rare.”  ~r.h. Sin

My daughter is exceptionally beautiful.  I’m not just saying this because I’m her mom.  She is fourteen years old and she turns heads everywhere she goes.  People always tell me that she should be a model.  I’m not saying this to brag.  I’m saying this because it is terrifying to have a fourteen year old daughter who walks in front of me at the grocery store while creepy old men walk by, staring her up and down like a piece of meat.  They don’t even notice the madness in my eyes while they are so obviously drooling over the little girl that I have nurtured and protected since she was a seed in my belly.  I could dig their eyes right out of their fucking heads with my bare hands.  

She met a boy last weekend while we were on vacation.  He won’t stop sending her pictures of her name drawn in the sand with hearts around it.  I like that boy, he is her own age and lives miles away from us.  I don’t like the soon-to-be eighteen year old boy who keeps inviting her out for dates.  She thinks he’s hot AF, as she and her friends describe him.  I want to grab an ax and go all Paul Bunyan on the pedestal these girls have placed him on.  He looks like a complete douche to me, and I think he should find a girl his own age.  

I’ve done my best to educate her on soon-to-be eighteen year old boys and their intentions.  I’ve tried to encourage her to love herself so fiercely, that any guy would have to prove himself undeniably for a piece of her heart.  But she’s fourteen and full of hormones and hungry for life experience.  

I was a fourteen year old girl too.  I get it, I do.  But I can’t help but to realize that my grip on her is fading.  Every passing day, she is less mine and more her own.  I’m learning how to replace leading her with guiding her.  And it’s so fucking hard, but I know that she will be grown and gone in the blink of an eye.  

She’s completely oblivious to the creepy old men.  Her eyes are fixed on their sons.  And I want so badly for her eyes to be fixed on her own dreams.  I want her to fight vigorously for a future that suits her, one where she lives happily with all of her greatest aspirations attained.

I see pieces of myself in her, and it scares the hell out of me.  I always took the wrong roads, the hard roads.  I want so badly for her to hear my voice, to see my fingers, pointing her into the direction of least resistance.  But she is my daughter and her will to make her own road is unwavering.  

It’s an odd thing, giving precious life to a child and watching them take it into their own hands.  I needed more time.  I will always need more time.

Short and Sweet 

I ended my fling with the drug dealer today. It wasn’t easy to walk away from someone who literally woke me up after a passionless slumber of three years. But it was the right thing to do. We were a fish and a bird. Two different worlds that could never merge into one, and I am a girl who will conjure up feelings for anyone who sticks around long enough. So I gave him a respectable goodbye text.  It was short and sweet.  He responded by letting me know that his door is always open.  

The challenge now is for me to stay the hell away from that door, no matter how enticing it may be.  

I’m proud of myself for not falling down another rabbit hole. I stepped into it, wandered around a bit, admired the scenery, and then climbed back out into my own world. This emotionally detached life is not an easy one, but it certainly can be adventurous. And I think I have finally figured out how to appreciate the adventure. 

I’m going to miss him.