Steve Schappell-My Blog

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Unatanium—make room on the periodic table for it

It almost sounds like a new element, doesn’t it?

Sometimes, it feels like a state of being for me.  Working at something, but never quite attaining it, but still working on it daily in hopes of one day reaching it.  My Christian walk is like that.  Not unattainable, but Unatanium.  Almost there...but not quite.

The reality is, I fail everyday.  I make mistakes, and from my perspective, have a God who forgives me and loves me unconditionally.  He helps me learn from my mistakes and move forward. 

And other than God, we know ourselves better than anyone else does.  For example, I know all my faults and shortcomings, but also all the things I am good at and excel in.  We all have secrets we don’t want anyone to know about.  Things we don’t want held up in a mirror so we either confront them or run away from them.  We all have strengths and weaknesses, and try to keep them in balance. 

So, let’s look with some traits where I have room for improvement.

-I’m can be an intense person
-I can talk a lot
-I can be emotional—wear my emotions on my sleeve
-I can get people out of their comfort zones
-I don’t always listen to what others are saying

Now, here are some things that I do well, or traits that I am good at.

-I am a nice person by nature—someone who is kind and honest
-I have a lot of love to give
-I am an active parent and father to my kids
-I want to take care of others
-I accept others as they are
-I don’t need a lot or expect too much

I have dated some while going through my divorce and in the almost 2 years since it was finalized.  There was one “fling” early on, and one and two dates here and there, but nothing of real substance until recently, when Unatanium almost happened.   And for 4.5 months, maybe I did.

We met online though a Christian dating website in late summer last year.  She winked first, and after some emails, I gave out my number and we talked.  Then we agreed to meet on a hiking date halfway since our distance was about one-and-a-half hours apart.  It went well and we went out again the next day.

From that point on, we talked every day and began growing as friends, then dating, and then into a relationship.  We worked through the distance and started spending weekends together.  First spending time with each other and then integrating both our kids into the mix.     

Parents and relatives got pulled in, as did ex-spouses on both sides (meaning I met hers and she mine).  The holidays came along and so did more time together.  The relationship became a focus for me, in fact too much as it turns out. 

Everything was going along great and for the first time since going through the divorce I was genuinely happy.  Happier then I had been in a long time.  I was in love and it felt fantastic.

Then came a weekend in January that started things going in Reverse.  And believe me, Reverse is not by best speed.  Without too much detail, she came down on a Saturday and we talked about slowing down.  It was getting close to burnout for her and hard to sustain the pace we were in.  Then on Sunday when I visited her, we talked more.  When I left the next day, I did not realize it would be the last time I would visit.  Slowly, a relationship became dating (We met for one date out), dating became boyfriend and girlfriend, and then became friends.  And on a lonely Sunday night at home, it came to an end on the phone…

A good friend told me that in some ways a breakup like this can be harder than a divorce.  And she was right.  That night on the phone, I told her that I would always love her, and I meant it.  There were other things said too…good things, kind things from two people at two different places in their life.  And two people who are sure what God has in store.

Remember the list of traits from above?  Well, they were all part of the relationship I just mentioned.  And I learned that when you take the time to really think about what happened and take a good look in the mirror, it’s amazing how it all comes into focus.

Had I listened more, I would have understood that I was too intense at times.  Realized that I took her out of her comfort zone at times.  That sometimes I got too emotional.  Had I gone slower and taken things more “casual,” we might still be together.  All the “good” traits I mentioned were there too and helped to offset the other ones.  I realized that for a time it was all about me and what I wanted, what made me happy.  Some of the relationship was on my terms and since the breakup, it has been on her terms.

They say time heals all wounds, and time certainly does help.  We keep in touch and I still care deeply for her and her kids.  I have done my best and am moving forward.

I believe that you learn something from every dating relationship that you can bring to the next one.  Learn how to correct things you did previously and how to maintain the things that you did right.  In this case, striving to be a better balanced person, a better boyfriend, and maybe one day again, a better husband.  There is one thing she gave me that I will be forever grateful for--she taught me to love again and made me feel loved.  I will never forget that.

Unatanium.  Almost had it once.  Maybe I will again someday…         

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Closure-We all want it, but do we ever get it?

To start this off, I decided to get the dictionary definition to give me some perspective.

Closure: (noun)  The act of closing; the state of being closed.  A bringing to an end; conclusion.
Psychol.  The tendency to see an entire figure even though the picture of it is incomplete based primarily on the viewer’s past experience.  A sense of psychological certainty or completeness: a need for closure.

This is an interesting topic and one that I could elaborate on for a long time.  However, I will use a recent example to illustrate an area that I think both women and men can agree on.

I mean it used to be you talked to the other person, and in person no less, when a relationship was ending.  You talked it out and usually got some closure.  Now with today’s technology, it’s breakup by text, email or a voice mail message.  (I’m through with you but I don’t want to face you, so I will take the easy way out)   

I’ve had relationships that were going along well and all of a sudden, “whoop there it is,” the situation changes.  Sometimes overnight and sometimes over time.  And when it does and finally ends, either messy or neat, we all want closure.  To answer the “Why” and “What did I do or could have done better?”  Or maybe it was “What was wrong with them, or why did they end it?”

I am better at giving closure than getting it.  For example, if I decide to end a relationship, or realize that after a few dates, there is no interest to continue, I will do my best to meet in person and let them know my feelings, what has changed and if possible, try to remain friends. (alas, another topic for another time)

Now then, back to my recent situation.  Let’s wind the clock back to a Saturday at the end of February.  I receive an email on my phone that I am added as a favorite on a dating site and so I proceed to check it out.  I see her pictures, read her profile and send her a message.  After a few emails, she gives me her number to text or call.
-We then talk Sunday night for 3 hours
-We talk Monday for over 2 hours
-Then Tuesday night for 2 hours
-And Thursday night for 1.5 hours and agree to meet that Saturday for a date 

Now during the week, she turned me on to “Words with Friends,” which is basically Scrabble on your cell phone.  We could have turn based play at our leisure during the day and at night.  We played several games during the week and she was quite good.

Saturday arrives and I had to work, so I change afterwards and head straight out for our dinner date.  I arrive early and so does she.  We meet at the bar before dinner and wow, make an almost instant connection.  From our body language and time that evening you would think we had been together for a while.  She texts her friends on FB things like “OMG, he’s adorable.”  (Well maybe I am)  Anyway, the evening goes great.  All we did was eat, talk and listen to music.  She even burned me a CD of music so I would not have to download it from i-Tunes.

The next day, I made a friend request for her on FB (OK, maybe too soon I admit) and she friended me.  I remember then “stalking” her page and seeing a post from her brother that she did not take his advice and that she hoped she would not regret it.

Anyway, we talked on Sunday, on Monday, and then met Wednesday night after work.  She is a stylist and literally gave me one of the best haircuts I have ever had.  Afterwards, we went out for a late dinner that had only one awkward moment.  Her boss and her boyfriend came to the same restaurant and sat across from us, but left before we did.  The date again went well and I got another CD of music out of it.  We kissed goodnight, agreed to meet again sometime and that was it.

No, I mean that was it….well OK, not entirely.  We texted, but the talking stopped.  I had my kids the following weekend and suggested that if she wanted to stop by and watch a movie, my kids would be cool with it.  Via a text, she thought that was a big step and not ready for that (OK, I will take the blame there) and thanked me for the invitation.   

Well the texts dwindled and the games on “Words with Friends” slowed and the calls stopped.  And then one week later, I get this text “It’s nothing you said or did.  I just can’t seem to sustain an interest past a few dates.  I’m not normally like that.”

I dropped her as a friend from FB so she could have the freedom back without me seeing any posts and I moved on.

So there you have it, closure of sorts.  I guess…right? 

Well, my best friend gave me some possible reasons for what happened.
-Fear of her own emotions
-Some criteria and figured out that I don’t meet all of it
-Met someone else and the new guy is always more interesting
-Maybe she is waiting for a prince charming and may be kissing a lot of frogs to see what they become.  Maybe I became a different kind of prince than she wanted

She went on to talk about something that will be an upcoming topic of mine, “Dating is like a job interview.”  And thanks to my friend, who actually gave me more closure than the girl I went on 2 dates with.

So I have learned again that we don’t always get the closure we were hoping for.  However, in this case though, I believe I will finally get it.  Why?  Well, after my first haircut and before our second date, I made another appointment.  So come that Wednesday in April when I am sitting in her chair, where will she go?

Finally, there’s an interesting end point to all this.  Although I don’t have closure yet, we are still occasionally playing “Words with Friends” on our cell phones...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

So how did we get here....

I thought that marriage was forever....

It's true.  I followed the conventional wisdom.  Late 20's, had a steady job, sewed some oats, and looking for settle down.  I meet my now ex on a blind date, set up by my mom and a friend of my mom who worked with my ex wife.  6 months later-engaged.  1 year later-married.  14.5 years later-divorced.

Without making this post a novel in itself, I wanted to at least give an outline of how I got here and some of the things that led to it.  Like all marriages, there are ups and downs.  Things you could have done better.  Words you regret saying.  There were some great times.  I mean, you fell in love and got married.  There was certainly something there.

Routine.  That was part of it.  We had our son in 1995, right after moving into our first home.  Had my daughter in 2000 and moved to Palmyra in 2002 (where I live now)  My jobs changed while her's stayed that same.  We did things with friends and neighbors, vacation with the kids, school activities.  Everything that you would expect and happens in most marriages.  A normal routine.  One though had some underlying cracks that start opening up until the one day then it all crumbled down.

I was one where the woman left the man for someone else.  Usually it is the other way around.  Affairs happen to most women, not that many guys, right?  As I have learned not always the case.

Then started the process.  She filed, you tell the kids, put the house up for sale.  Work on the agreement and go through the stages of grief (anger, loss, etc)  Learn that your "family" is now you and your kids.  And you begin the self-discovery and healing process that is different for everyone.

When you face it head on you eventually come of out it a stronger person.  So now, almost 2 years divorced and 3 years since it all came to light.  I'm here, writing a blog in my townhouse and moving ahead, while having an amicable situation with my ex and joint custody with the kids.

Like I said, this was just a summary and I will touch on this in future blogs.  I wanted to at least give some context as to where I am coming from.

Until later.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

The answer is 42...

With all apologies to Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is 42.  I'm 44 and still searching for answers.  Heck, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.

I think that Mr. Adams forgot to add something: relationships.  More specifically, the universe of dating, love, and relationships.

So I thought I would step in and create my own blog to talk about my life post divorce and the very interesting world of dating as viewed from my own perspective.

Why blog?  And why this?  Well sites like Facebook is too open and as I have learned, not conducive to share this.  And why this subject?  I wanted to shed some light and insight and bring you along for the ride.

I'll throw some other softballs too.  After all, my blog does have Life, Universe, and Everything in the title.

Until we meet again.