Materialism

My skull ring arrived and it’s basically the best thing ever. Worth every single penny, for real.

For years now, even when I did spend money on something kind of substantial, it was usually a cheaper version of something I actually wanted (which, as I said in a previous post, often backfired because the cheaper thing would be substandard enough that I’d have to get yet another version of it).

The feeling of buying the absolute best thing – the thing I originally wanted, not a compromise – is nice. Really nice. Holy shit.

It’s probably too soon to tell, but I suspect that if I keep giving myself license to spend money on good stuff, I’ll spend less money on crap. I don’t mean “crap” as in “knockoffs of the expensive thing I wanted” (although obviously that, too, is true) – I mean sometimes it’s been a while since I’ve bought myself anything fun, and I have an urge to treat myself to something, but I’m so scared of spending money that I’ll “treat myself” to $15 of dollar store craft supplies I’ll likely never use rather than buying something that’s more expensive but amazing. And the buzz from the craft supplies will wear off fast and I’ll go buy some other dumb thing.

Whereas my $200 skull ring is…breathtaking. It makes me happy every single day. Way more satisfaction than $200 of sporadic dollar store purchases could give me. So maybe this giant buzz from the skull ring will keep me from buying dumb dollar store stuff.

On the other hand, my giant buzz from the skull ring is making me cast about to see what other super fancy expensive things I can buy in order to feel that same buzz again.

But, like…I’ve been depriving myself of nice things for a long, long time. I don’t think my little spending spree recently (and the fact that I want to buy more big things soon) means I’m gonna be hugely spendy forever. I think it means I need to catch up a bit on getting myself stuff, and once I get some of the things I’ve been wanting for ages, the spending urge will slow down.

That’s my theory but we’ll see.

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Birthday story

My birthday was in April and it started off badly but ended up okay.

Regular readers may remember that I have some baggage around my birthday, in that I want the people closest to me to make a bit of a fuss over me* and they have typically disappointed me.

This year, like last year, The Dandy and I designated an entire weekend in order to celebrate. And I was clear that I consider the end of work on Friday to be the start of the weekend. I told The Dandy a few days ahead of time that I would probably be wanting to make a grocery run on the Friday night because we were running out of a lot of things.

Meanwhile, I had decided that what I wanted The Dandy to get me for my gift was a new pair of boots. I had no specific pair in mind, though, and hate shoe shopping** (especially alone) so I didn’t do any recon in order to find something workable; thus there was no option to say “Dandy, go get these boots for me and present them to me on my bday weekend.” So, with time running short, the plan was for The Dandy and I to go shopping together on my birthday weekend and if I found something that looked good and didn’t rip my feet up, he’d buy it for me. That’s a pretty big “if” though so I had a lot of trepidation. Finally, at the last minute, I decided to forget the shoe shopping and go straight to getting a pair of boots custom made; The Dandy knows a place that apparently has very good reviews. I’m a dummy for taking so long to come to that clearly superior idea but there you have it.

Also, The Dandy had asked me a while back how much rent I was due to pay in April (we agreed a while back that my portion of the rent would be 25% of whatever I’d made the previous month). I told him it would be around four hundred bucks and he said that it would make more sense for me to just hold onto that money and buy my gift with it instead of transferring it to him, only to have him spend approximately that amount on my gift. Eliminate the middle man (and some minor banking fees) sort of thing. I agreed that this would make sense. Then I almost immediately realized that a big part of me feeling “treated” is the act of someone else physically using their cash or card or whatever to buy me a thing. Using my debit card for my own birthday present would feel kind of sad, to me, even though it was still The Dandy’s money I was paying with. But I felt silly for putting so much significance on such a dumb, minor thing, so I didn’t say anything. It really did make more practical sense to do it The Dandy’s way.

On Friday night, The Dandy got home from work a bit later than usual – 8ish instead of 7ish. I know he likes some decompression time; I felt it would be rude to accost him at the door like “Good, you’re home. GROCERIES NOW.” So I let him go fuck around on YouTube for a bit, but time got away from me somehow and suddenly it was 10pm and the store I wanted to go to closes at 11 so there really wouldn’t be enough time to get over there and do a proper big shopping trip. I grudgingly decided to skip the whole grocery thing for the time being.

The next day was earmarked for going to the custom boot place and getting measured etc. The Dandy looked up their hours on the Friday night and it turns out they had pretty minimal opening hours on Saturdays; The Dandy said we’d better leave the house by noon at most. I’d been keeping a pretty nocturnal sleep schedule lately and waking up in the actual morning was gonna hurt, but it would be worth it because CUSTOM BOOTS.

So, on Saturday morning I dragged myself out of bed after only hitting “snooze” on my alarm a time or two, and made myself breakfast. The Dandy hadn’t set an alarm and hadn’t gotten out of bed when he heard me being up and about; he’s not a morning person, either, so I figured he was gonna lie around a bit longer before leaping into action. To allow him a bit more lounge-in-bed time I made him breakfast, too (just FYI, I’m a scrambled eggs person, he’s a toasted bagel with coffee person, so this was two separate sets of tasks). When I first wake up I’m slower than a tree sloth but I wanted those boots and also I didn’t want to keep The Dandy waiting, so I got myself fed, showered, and dressed, and at noon on the dot I went to The Dandy’s room to announce that I was ready. As I approached I could hear the creak of his computer chair, which I assumed he was sitting in to put his shoes on so we could go.

I reached the doorway. The Dandy was naked and surfing the internet. I stared at him until he felt it and looked up at me. When I said “pants!” he didn’t seem to understand my urgency and I had to remind him that he himself had said we should leave by noon.

But then he understood and got dressed, and we left in a mostly timely fashion.

And when we got to the boot place so I could use my own debit card to pay for my birthday gift that I wouldn’t actually get to have until weeks later…they said boot-ordering is by appointment only and we’d have to go home and call them to set something up.

So we went back to The Dandy’s car, where I promptly curled up in the passenger’s seat and burst into tears.

The Dandy seemed a bit blindsided by how upset I was, so I explained to him:

  • That birthdays are kinda fraught with hope and fear for me because of all my past disappointments.
  • That EVEN ON MY BIRTHDAY WEEKEND I was still so flinchy about bothering The Dandy that I screwed myself out of groceries, and we were out of most things and whatever was left didn’t appeal to me, so I’d been hungry since pretty much the night before (At this point I asked if I could make him be my minion for the rest of the weekend – like, ask for what I want and not get tied up in knots over whether it’s bothering him – and he said sure).
  • That making him breakfast and having to prompt him to get ready kinda sucked. Like I’m not terribly resentful about it – I’m not gonna be bringing it up for the next twenty years or anything – but it just would’ve been so much better if The Dandy had set an alarm of his own instead of relying entirely on me, and woken up thinking “Okay, time to get up and get ready to take Cowgirl to get her birthday present!” and been ready by the time he’d determined we should leave.
  • That paying for my gift with my debit card kinda felt shitty even though I know that doesn’t make logical sense.
  • That it already sucked knowing I wouldn’t actually be able to use and enjoy my gift on my birthday weekend (which I understand is my own fault for taking too long to decide, but still), and then not even being able to get the process started was just kind of the last straw.

The Dandy asked me what I wanted to do now. I didn’t know. I was starving, but didn’t know what I wanted and didn’t want to go into a restaurant or grocery store with my face looking so blatantly as though I’d been crying. So I figured we might as well just go home.

Then halfway home I was like “No. Change of plans. I require a hamburger from [burger place]. And a chocolate shake. But I don’t want to have to deal with people, so I’m gonna need you to order for me.”

The Dandy agreed to this easily and it made my heart sing. 🙂

After burgers, I insisted on us popping into the nearby Winners so I could see if there was any good discounted makeup (nope). Over the remainder of the weekend I used my birthday privilege to get The Dandy to take us grocery shopping***, watch Netflix with me, order in some food,  have sex with me, and…I think that might be about it. And he took it upon himself to make me breakfast on Sunday morning (even though he doesn’t like eggs and isn’t used to cooking them).

Also, during that weekend he asked if I’d like him to take me to my favourite sushi place on my actual birthday (the weekend was just when I decided we’d celebrate – the day itself did not fall during that time) and that absolutely blew me away. As I said, I’d decided that we would celebrate over the weekend (which is already two days). I’d planned to basically ignore the actual day when it came, because we’d already celebrated. But no, The Dandy volunteered to spoil me a little extra, and I was thrilled to say yes to that plan. And, a few nights later when The Dandy noticed it was past midnight, he grinned at me and said “Happy birthday” and just that simple acknowledgement made me so happy I thought my heart would explode.

So everything ended up okay.

Happy birthday to me. 🙂

 

*not even extraordinary amounts of fuss, I don’t think; just wish me a happy birthday and give me a present and/or take me out to eat. And I’ve since narrowed my parameters to where I only expect partners to do it, not even friends.

**I’m a women’s size 12 wide and my feet are weird-shaped or something, so finding comfortable footwear is really hard and I end up feeling like a freak.

*** Where – in addition to all the normal grocery-type things we needed – I procured a big piece of gluten free chocolate cake, a gluten free key lime cheesecake, and a package of birthday candles, and every time I had a slice of either dessert I would put a birthday candle in it and light it and think “happy birthday to meeeeee!” and then blow it out again. This went on for a few days (but I only used up two candles because I kept re-using the same ones). It’s amazing how happy this little thing made me feel. People should put candles in all their food ever!

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*Spending intensifies*

I just bought a second, different skull ring so the first one will have a little friend. BAHAHAHA I AM ON A RAMPAGE.

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More money talk, and some show-and-tell.

So like…when I say I’m really paranoid about money to a point of disordered thinking, I’m not saying I never ever buy myself anything. I’m saying it’s kind of a binge/purge thing where I deny myself anything nice for super long and then finally just snap and buy myself something frivolous because I’m sick of never having cool shit (or, y’know…more than one functioning bra). And then I feel bad and weird about it.

And given my tendency to snap and spend a bunch after a period of denial, I’m not convinced that my cycle of suffering and guilt has really saved me that much money overall. I mean I suspect that if I could somehow add up all the money I’ve spent on non-essentials in my life, and then add up all the money I would have spent on non-essentials if I were a well-adjusted human who could just think “Hey, I want this thing, I’m gonna get it” or “Hey, I want this thing but it’s too expensive so maybe not right now” without agonizing over it, the two numbers might not actually be that different.

So I might as well try not to have the suffering and guilt part.

I’m trying to figure out how to get there.

One idea I have is that every time I cave and take a model shift I really didn’t want, I should earmark that pay for something fun. I figure this might reinforce for me the idea that people work so they can have things. My usual goal of working so I can put money in the bank and then not use it translates, unsurprisingly, to me feeling like I’m working for no reason, and then I’m just a resentful person who doesn’t have cool things. If I use the money from my shittiest shifts to buy some new shinies, I become a less resentful person who does have cool things!

Another idea I have is that I should make a goal of buying myself one expensive/luxurious/frivolous (to me) item every month, or spending a certain amount of money on non-essentials every month. Like just build the buying of things right into my life as a regular and accepted event. Maybe if I do that, I’ll feel like I’ve met a quota when I buy something instead of feeling guilty. I noticed that when I took The Dandy out on the town for his birthday last year, I didn’t cringe at the money-spending, and it’s because I’d already set $200 aside for that evening. It was a given that I would be spending up to $200, so when I did in fact spend money from that stack of bills, it was just par for the course.

So anyway, my birthday was in April and my parents sent me a thousand bucks(!) and instead of hoarding almost all of it, I decided to get a little splashy. I mean on one hand the hoarding was tempting but on the other hand this is a rare opportunity to be able to spend a lot of money on myself and still “break even” by the end.

And, oh, here’s another shitty thing about my disordered money-handling: I’ve often bought a thing that was not quiiiite what I wanted, just because it was cheaper, and then the cheap thing broke and needed replacing or required some sort of additional expenditure in order to work and I ended up spending more money anyway. Or sometimes the cheaper version of the thing I really wanted was just fuckin’ disappointing, even if it didn’t require more spending. Like the moonstone ring I bought online a few years ago for ~$40 because I couldn’t bear to buy the gorgeous $60 one I saw in a store. The moonstone in the store ring was a glorious polished pebble of blue fire. The moonstone in the ring I bought online is just milky and blah.

I’ve been wanting some new jewelry and I decided not to be stingy about it this time, so I got myself this ring in morganite and rose gold* (a combo The Dandy’s mom recommended when I said I wanted something that’s sparkly and fancy but not super mainstream like rubies or sapphires).

morganite

From Aquamarise on Etsy

By the standards of most people who own genuine precious gem jewelry, this probably isn’t that expensive. But at $75 including shipping, it’s far and away the most expensive piece of jewelry I’ve ever bought myself.

UNTIL I BOUGHT THIS:

half skull

by skeletos on Etsy

I decided on a whim that I wanted a skull ring, but that I wanted it to be simple and anatomically correct and sort of bold yet feminine at the same time. I spent days looking at skull rings online, and most if not all of them were craggy-looking and/or wonkily proportioned and/or made to look as though they were angry. But then I saw this one and fell absolutely in love. It’s big and chunky, but the smooth lines make it look elegant. And apparently the guy used a real human skull for reference when he carved the mold. It has exactly the “I’m into human anatomy and black humour” vibe I was looking for. It was around $200.

The morganite ring has arrived already and HOLY FUCKBALLS IT IS SO GORGEOUS I COULD DIE. It’s big and sparkly and looks amazing against my skin tone. It makes me feel rich and fancy. I’m so happy I spent the money on it instead of scrounging around for something similar but cheaper! The only thing is, despite my careful (one might even say obsessive) attempt at measuring my ring finger, I ordered maybe a size too big. And my inner demons started shrieking that I’m a dumbass for ordering the wrong thing and The Dandy had to talk me down a little bit. 😛

It looks like the seller accepts returns, but I’d be responsible for postage costs, which means I’d be spending $20(?) to ship the slightly-too-big ring back and then paying another $20 shipping when I reordered it in a smaller size. So that’s not practical at all. I’ll just wear the ring on a different finger or something. Actually, my fingers tend to get bigger in warmer weather so maybe in summer it’ll fit perfectly. 😛 But yeah it’s pretty IT’S SO PRETTY. Overall, I’m thrilled to death that I bought it.

The skull ring won’t arrive for a while yet. I dearly hope I didn’t order too big on that one. I don’t think I did; I intend it for my middle or index finger and I already have a band that fits those fingers well, so I just measured that. But maybe I measured wrong.

I have since ordered a ring sizer online so I can hopefully measure more accurately in future. I have more rings I have my eye on. Lots more.

 

*Well, rose gold plated. And the little white stones are cubic zirconia, which I have recently learned is an actual stone, not a fancy word for “glass,” so I respect them more now.

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Exhausting

Pupper is history.

TBH, things were sorta not working for me for a while. Nothing horrible, just I found myself not specifically looking forward to texting and camming with him anymore. He was just kinda there. I kept on hanging in there, because he’s cute and he’s into me and I thought maybe if we met in person, sexual attraction would sort of smooth things over and make it work again. One of my major Love Languages is touch, and that’s a big reason why long-distance relationships don’t work for me: if I can’t snuggle with someone, my feelings for them start to die.

My other huge Love Language that I need to receive is acts of service – someone doing little things to make my life easier or better. There’s not much a person can do, long-distance, by way of acts of service. One thing that does work nicely is to buy me things. Pupper used to email me gift certificates to my favourite stores from time to time and it really lit me up inside, y’know?

More recently, though, he expressed that it was gonna take a bit of doing to save up the money to come visit me at the end of June, and I said he should stop buying me stuff for now and just focus on having the means to come here so we could be together.

And then he told me that some costly dental issues had come up and asked me if I could front the money for our suite and he’d pay me back later and I was like “Yeah no” and told him he needed to figure out for himself what to sacrifice in order to make this plan work: postpone his visit or make it shorter or not take me on the shopping spree he’d promised me or something. He opted to do away with the shopping. Which is disappointing (I love having money spent on me in person, too :P), but fine. But the other day he mentioned he’d just bought himself a $150 record. I’m pretty sure he mentioned buying a record or two a while before that, too.  And this is just feeling like The Pedant all over again. Like I feel like a bitch being mad about this – it’s Pupper’s money and obviously he can spend it how he wants – but, as with The Pedant, clearly what he wants first and foremost is to spend it on fun things for himself, not on being with me or getting me presents.

I was really starting to wonder if he’d end up making it over here or if his poor impulse control would prevent him from ponying up the money.

Anyway, the other thing that works long-distance for me as an act of service is when someone researches things for me on the internet. Between my anxiety and my shitty attention span I sometimes have a hard time finding out shit I need to find out. I really love being able to make someone else do the legwork for me. Pupper has most of the same mental issues as me, though, and the last time I asked him to look something up for me he said he was having a bad brain day and couldn’t do it. Before that, there were a few times that I said “Can you find out stuff about X for me and present me with your findings by tomorrow night?” and he said yes but then didn’t ever come to me with results. I don’t know if he entirely forgot or if he’s the kind of sub who needs to feel the constrictions of me following up on things and holding him accountable. I don’t like having to follow up etc, though; it makes me feel like a mom nagging my kid to do his homework. I don’t want a child, I want a sub who does what I tell him to do, promptly and well, because he agreed to.

So yeah. The things I need in a romantic relationship just weren’t there anymore, and it’s amazing how quickly that cools my ardor – like a pilot light blown out.

And then there was the other night’s cam conversation, in which a bunch of pre-existing issues I have with him were hugely amplified and a whole crop of new red flags emerged.

He was being very…twenty-six-year-old-dude. The camming was not a conversation per se, it was The Pupper Show, Starring…Pupper! He bragged to me about how his friends say he’s super funny, and gave me examples of his wit, and a lot of it was dumb shock humour (“my favourite swear word is ‘cunt’! I call people cunts a lot!”) or humour that “punched down” or otherwise ignored his privilege in a way I found pretty cringey. I tried to explain this stuff to him – basically, I was trying to gauge whether he’s clueless or actually racist – but he didn’t seem to understand what I was saying. Or he was irritated by me being the SJW Snowflake PC Police but didn’t wanna say so for fear of annoying me.

(And that’s another thing: Pupper recently told me he has borderline personality disorder and I know one of the big defining features of that is fear of abandonment. Another is kind of all-or-nothing thinking re: other people, where you either idolize them or demonize them (often swinging back and forth between the two poles with the same person). Pupper seems to idolize me, and between that and him being desperate not to lose me, I kind of can’t trust him to be honest with me.)

I had had a coffee meet with a local guy that afternoon, btw, and I texted Pupper that this was happening because that’s my default mode with partners: I assume (perhaps wrongly, I realize now) that they wanna be kept in the loop, and I don’t want to feel like I’m hiding anything.

After Pupper’s awkward humour demonstration on cam, the subject of that other guy came up and Pupper told me that he doesn’t want to know about anything I do with other guys (fair enough) and told me “To be honest, I kept waiting today for you to text me asking how my day was going because I was having a really shitty time, and instead I get a text that you’re out with this other guy and I think to myself ‘great, I might as well just put a gun in my mouth.'” Sooooo that seems guilt-mongering and gross. He somewhat recovered from it and admitted that I couldn’t have known that he was having a bad day or that he preferred a don’t ask/don’t tell arrangement as far as the poly goes. But still. He was showing signs of anger because I forgot to text him bland niceties that day and he obliquely threatened suicide because of it. NOT COOL. NOT COOL AT ALL.

Pupper has terrible taste in people, btw. I mean his family is abusive and fucked up so I guess he has no idea what a healthy relationship looks like, and he seems pretty desperate for affection (I’m fairly sure he liked me just because I was there, not because he could see that I’m super awesome). And a lot of our increasingly one-sided conversations have been just him telling unintentionally horrifying stories about people he knows. The night of our last convo, the friends he chooses and the way he interacts with them got to me more than usual.

He was telling me about a guy in another city who’s been in love with him for years but Pupper isn’t attracted to him at all (Pupper is bi, so he’s attracted to some guys. Just not this one). And he said how this guy will be chatting with him online and randomly say “I wanna fuck your ass so hard” and Pupper just awkwardly laughs it off. I asked if Pupper had ever expressly told this guy that he isn’t interested, and he said yeah, he’d said “I only want platonic friendship with you.” He went on to tell some other anecdote about the guy, during which he described him as “really nice” and I was like “well, no, he’s not ‘really nice,’ he sexualizes you even though it makes you uncomfortable and you’d told him you’re not into him.” Pupper protested that the guy has lent him a bunch of money and never asked for it back, and even offered to buy him that $150 record the other day. “Yeah, because he wants to get into your pants, dumbass!” I blurted out.

And then he told an anecdote about another guy-friend of his and just on a side note he said “he touched my penis once. And I thought ‘oh, things are finally gonna happen with us’ but then he disappeared for a couple years. He’s flaky like that.” I, ever the perv for guy-on-guy stuff, was titillated by the penis-touching story and said “Ooooh, is he cute? Do you liiiiiike him?” Pupper said no to both questions. I was like “But wait. If you’re not into him, why would you think ‘oh, things are finally gonna happen’ when he touched your dick, instead of something like ‘shit, he just made the friendship awkward’?” Pupper said it was because the guy had had a crush on him for ages.  I am just baffled by Pupper’s passivity there – like the other guy is the only one who gets a say in whether or not they fuck. Well, maybe I’m not that baffled – when I was younger it rarely occurred to me to say no to people, either. I don’t entirely even know why. Partly my mom overzealously teaching me not to be rude and partly my desperate need to be liked, I guess? Hell, I’ve wondered sometimes if I have borderline personality disorder, too. The fear of abandonment part sure fits.

Anyway.

From there, The Pupper Show turned into him telling me one horrifying anecdote from his life after another. Stuff mostly from long ago, so there was no real reason to be unloading it all on me at that particular moment. He told me he once threw a desk at one of his teachers. He told me he got sent to the principal’s office because he threatened to chop off a couple of bullies’ heads (“Okay but…kind of an empty threat, isn’t it? How would you even do that, saw away with the side of a pencil for five days?” “I carry a knife on me,” he said. Well that doesn’t freak me out at all…).

He told me his mom got pissed off at her best friend, once, and was drunk and got a knife and declared that she was going to go stab this person. When Pupper said she couldn’t drive in that condition and held her back, she held the knife to his throat and said “If I can’t stab her, I’ll stab someone!” (He did get things de-escalated in the end.) I expressed anger and dismay that he still lives with his mom who tried to stab him and he kept making excuses for her. “But I pay her bills! She can’t survive without me! And sometimes she’s really really nice!” “Yeah every abuser is nice sometimes. That’s how they keep you around,” I snapped. I mean the bottom line is, I can’t be dating someone with such bad self-preservation instincts. How could I let myself get attached to someone who lives with a woman who might kill him? Seriously!

Pupper never actually cut me off when I tried to speak during that cam convo – it wasn’t an “I can’t get a word in edgewise” scenario – but if I said anything about myself, he would consistently steer the conversation back to him. At one point I disclosed that I was convinced for years that my father wanted to fuck me. He segued immediately into a story about his sister accusing their dad of raping her, and aside from the incest theme of his story he kind of didn’t acknowledge what I’d said at all. No “Holy shit that’s awful” or even “wow weird why did you think that?”

All in all, our cam convo was two and a half hours or more of Pupper telling me horrifying stories and me acting shocked and sympathetic because that’s clearly what he was looking for. It burned me right the fuck out and I wanted to sign off and do other things. But I was afraid if I said he’d worn me out with all his sad stories he’d get upset, so instead I told him that I’d done an above-average amount of peopling that day (I had, too; and the guy I had coffee with that afternoon was a smart, witty, opinionated fast-talker with a Russian accent and the coffee place was noisy, so that was really draining for me) and that I needed to end our convo and just have some quiet time before bed.

The thing is, it was 1:30 am at this point and originally I’d told Pupper that I could talk until 2. So when I said that I needed to go have some silent recharging time, he response was “It’s not two yet.”

I was taken aback by this. He was supposed to be my submissive and he always talked about how his job was to give me whatever I needed, and here I was telling him what I needed and he was ignoring it. Incidentally, this was just the latest incident of this; he would pout and stall every time I wanted to end a cam convo. I note that anytime he wanted to end a conversation first (whether text or cam), he had no problem just saying “Okay I gotta sleep bye!” and just going. He didn’t ask permission or act tentative or anything, even though he supposedly was my sub. He just left when he needed to. But apparently he didn’t think I deserved that same right.

I reiterated that I was burned out and needed to go, and he put on a pouty voice and said “No!

I must admit I have a hard time asserting myself sometimes – that’s my mom’s training. I do it anyway, usually, because I gotta enforce my boundaries. But it’s hard. And when I muster up all that courage to say something and then the guy ignores it, it’s way, way harder to assert myself yet again (which I’m sure these guys know, and that’s why they do it).

So when he said that “No!” I was tongue-tied for a minute. I wanted to say “Pupper, I’m telling you clearly what I need. Respect that.” I should have said that. But I couldn’t, especially since he seemed to be in a very weird, self-pitying, possibly suicidal mood that night. I think I kinda freeze-framed for a minute and then tentatively said his name, or something? Whatever I said, he repeated his pouty “no!” several times while making a cutesy-wootsy face at the camera (DUDE, making that face while you break my boundaries doesn’t suddenly make it endearing, fuck off).

Finally I pointedly said “Last chance to say goodbye politely before I shut the laptop.”

He said one more “No!” and then relented and said goodnight to me. I logged off and immediately thought “Yeah I don’t want him in my life anymore.” The Dandy gave me a pep talk (or a stop-making-other-people’s-feelings-your-responsibility, accept-that-no-matter-how-you-do-this-it’ll-hurt-him-so-focus-on-taking-care-of-yourself talk) and I ended up breaking up with Pupper via text right on the spot, just to get it over with. I really didn’t know if Pupper would cyberstalk me or threaten suicide or what but so far he just said okay and that he’d still like to be friends.

I’m reminded of Dandette – how she was a fucking trainwreck but she’d learned to parrot some of the stuff emotionally healthy people say. So, she’d sometimes say the right words in a situation, but it became clear later that there was no meaning behind them. I think that’s what Pupper does, too. He said lovely little speeches about how he’ll support me no matter what, because he knows that’s what you say to a partner, but his actions didn’t really back it up. And for sure his response to me breaking up with him – which included the phrase “I’m not upset” – is bullshit. I expect he’s going off the rails about this. But thankfully, that’s not my problem.

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Disordered

Pupper and The Dandy both pissed me off recently in sorta similar ways. They both apologized after (it may have been the first time The Dandy has ever said the word “sorry” to me, for real) but I’m just so baffled by how they could be that dumb in the first place that I have to rant a tiny bit.

So…I’ve mentioned before that I’m cheap. Or like…more than that. Paranoid about money. Lots of fear wrapped up in spending. And The Dandy is…not plagued by these sorts of problems at all. One time when I was talking about wanting to buy something for myself and doing my usual white-knuckled “I probably shouldn’t. But I want it. But I shouldn’t. Should I?” thing, he said “Money is for spending.” Stupid though this sounds, this hadn’t occurred to me before. To me, money is for security – it’s for having, just in case, but never actually using. But The Dandy is right: money is for spending. That is its literal purpose. If you never use it then you might as well not even have it.

The Dandy continued: “What’s the point of spending a huge chunk of your life at work if you don’t get to have nice things? You could die tomorrow or the bank could go under or who knows what, and then what? You’d’ve lived your whole life denying yourself for no reason.”

His words struck a chord with me and made me realize that my ideas around money are pretty deeply fucked up. I don’t want to be like this anymore. I was trying to explain to Pupper the other day via text:

I’m trying to reformulate my attitudes about money.

When I lived alone I took as many model shifts as humanly possible (more, really) because if I blow out a knee or something, I can’t work and won’t get sick days. So I needed to try to build a nest egg, AND pay my ridiculous rent, AND save up enough to get me through the slow season.

So pretty much my whole goal in life was to make as much money as possible so it could sit in the bank. Which did make sense at the time.*

But now I’m not in that scary situation anymore. I don’t need to take every job AND I don’t need to save every extra penny I make.

So now I’m experimenting with the idea of taking gigs because it’ll allow me to buy myself stuff.

I know that concept is normal and obvious to most people.

Maybe I didn’t articulate the depth of my issues that well or something but Pupper responded by saying “But you should still save money!”

I said “I’m gonna, but I really need to have a better balance than what I had.”

And he responded again urging me to be cautious and not jump into anything, at which point I said “I know you’re trying to be helpful but it’s kind of upsetting me instead. Please stop.”

Because…okay. Let’s say you’re anorexic. You’re terrified of getting fat, so you mostly don’t eat, and when you do it’s because you snapped from self-denial and finally had something you’d been craving for ages, and then afterward you screamed at yourself for being a weak piece of shit. Say this had been going on for long enough that you’re pretty dangerously underweight.

Then let’s say you realize that your food habits are fucked up. The slide to anorexia had been so slow that everything seemed to make sense at the time, but you’ve realized that you are Not Okay. And you tell your friend or partner “Y’know…I’ve realized I can’t go on the way I have been. I think I really need to get to a place where I can eat when I’m hungry, like other people do, and like be able to properly sustain myself and stuff.”

And your friend or partner says: “Be careful though! You don’t wanna get fat!” Like OH DOES EATING FOOD MAKE YOU FAT I HAD NO IDEA. I DEFINITELY HAVEN’T BEEN LIVING MY ENTIRE LIFE AROUND THAT ONE CENTRAL FACT FOR MONTHS TO A POINT WHERE IT’S HURTING ME.

That’s what it felt like Pupper was doing. For shit’s sake I told him I was trying to get over being afraid to spend money on myself. Who thinks it’s a good idea to react by plugging straight into my fears?

The Dandy came home at that point, and I told him what had just gone down (and made the anorexia comparison to him). He seemed to understand.

In case he didn’t understand, though, I gave him some info he might not have known before about just how fucked up my spending habits were/are.

I told The Dandy that when I first left my husband and lived on my own – so, supporting myself entirely for the first time in almost a decade – any time I ate or drank anything, my brain automatically tallied up how much it cost. “That was about a bucks’ worth of orange juice you just guzzled. You could’ve had tap water instead if you were thirsty, but noooo, you had to have juice. Why don’t you just flush your money down the fucking toilet!?”

…Yeah. I wanted to not eat or drink in order to save money. It took a pretty long time and some concerted effort to break the groceries-money connection in my brain and be able to eat and drink at home without telling myself what a wasteful piece of shit I was being. (I’m still not quite there yet with restaurant food.)

I told The Dandy that one of my big rules for myself is that “outside food” (restaurant/cafe/etc products) costs more than groceries so I should never, ever buy any. I have a stupid high metabolism and/or hypoglycemia or I don’t fucking know, but I get hungry like every hour or two and it fucks my shit up. My self-imposed “no outside food” rule means that I often get hungry (or thirsty) while running errands or whatever, and refuse to get anything to tide me over. “Don’t be stupid, that package of convenience store peanuts is three bucks and if you just wait another hour you’ll be home anyway. Suck it up, wait til you get home, and eat something from the kitchen.” And I’ll finish up my errands with stomach cramps and the shakes and my energy so low that I can barely lift my feet to trudge back to the bus stop. I have seriously spent so much time dragging myself around feeling like shit when I didn’t need to.

I told The Dandy that my whole purpose in life for about as long as I can remember has been to save up a nest egg for emergencies, which is all well and good, but my brain overfocuses on the “YOU NEED TO SAVE UP YOUR MONEY” part and thus refuses to acknowledge anything as an emergency. I’ve been postponing dental work for the past year, not because I can’t afford it, but because it would stress me out to see my bank balance fall by $950. A few times in the past I’ve put dental work and vet bills on my credit card, even though I had more than enough money saved up, for the same reason: saving up a nest egg was my entire reason for being and I couldn’t bear to see the amount drop by hundreds of dollars. That’s all my hard work gone to waste! Except it’s not, it’s my nest egg being used for its stated purpose, and I’m just fucked in the head.

I told The Dandy that for years now I basically haven’t gone to any social thing that cost more than a cup of hot chocolate. I skipped a bunch of events I would like to have gone to and lost several friends because I kept saying no to their various invites and they gave up on me.

“Tell me I’m not being a drama queen by comparing my money issues to an eating disorder,” I said. The Dandy paused and then said “You’re not being dramatic. The evidence…would suggest that there are similarities.” The pause, for the record, didn’t feel like an “I disagree but I’d better just say what she wants to hear” pause. It felt like a “how can I say ‘you’re seriously messed up’ in a tactful way” pause. Which means he’s taking me seriously, which is what I want.

And then Pupper texted his apology so all’s well that ends well.

Today it was The Dandy’s turn to be sort of awful.

I feel like I look fatter than usual, lately. But I get randomly bloaty so there have been lots of times I thought my belly looked huge and then at some point I had a continuous 45min fart attack and was thin again afterward. So I don’t panic much about the size of my waist anymore. This morning, though, after a resounding poop, I decided to weigh myself just to see. Usually I’m 207lbs or less but today I’m 211lbs, which is mildly distressing (is it a response to all the junk food I’ve been eating lately or is it my body deciding to gain weight for no other reason than middle age? Is this a controllable thing, in other words, or is my body slipping even further out of my grasp?)

Anyway, I remarked to The Dandy “I’m getting fatter.” I wasn’t actually looking for, or expecting, any response but “huh.”

But his actual response was “Time to throw out all the ice cream and mayo!”

Which, first off…I’ve been poor and in bad health for long periods in my life, often simultaneously, and it’s left me a bit of a food hoarder – like, I need there to be a base amount of particular staple foods in the kitchen or I start to get really, really antsy. I’m unwilling ever to order in, remember, and even if I were I have some pretty big dietary restrictions so I don’t have a lot of options. Which means that when I lived alone, if there was nothing in the fridge I needed to either haul my ass to the store (and maybe I’ve worked a long shift and can barely move) or starve. I’ve been living with The Dandy for a couple of years now and my hoarding tendencies are starting to fade – he has a car, he has money, there will be food if we need it – but his joking threat to take the most delicious foods away from me kinda stirred up some baggage. And btw it’s not the first time he’s said stuff like that in response to me talking about (not asking him to help with, mind you, just making observations about) my weight.

When he did it this time I sarcastically said (pretending I was him talking) “‘She made a factual statement! Take away everything she loves!'”

It’s not clear if The Dandy heard me or understood what I was getting at. He didn’t reply at all.

Later, on the bus to go see a friend, another layer of baggage floated to the forefront of my brain, so I texted The Dandy the following:

So, for about twenty years now I’ve been living my life around one group of food restrictions or another. Including adhering pretty rock-solidly, for YEARS, to a low-carb diet even though it was robbing me of energy and starving my brain.

This running joke where you need to throw out the fattening foods – presumably because I can’t be trusted to monitor my own intake – is spectacularly tone deaf.

Coincidentally, it’s also a creepy-ass echo of how my dad reacted when I was a kid and trying to change what I felt were damaging food habits**. So there’s that.

The Dandy texted back “Sorry. I’ll stop.” And I was flabbergasted because, like I said, He’s never used that word with me. I don’t know if it’s easier for him to say it via text than face-to-face or what.

But yeah. I’m a control freak with iron willpower and a tendency toward disordered eating. My big challenge, if I decide to try to lose some weight sometime soon, is to do it without denying myself everything delicious in life. I don’t need The Dandy to propose cutting out all ice cream and mayo – that’s usually the first conclusion I come to on my own. No ice cream! No chocolate! No mayo! No peanut butter! No salad dressing! No full-fat dairy products! Nothing but piles of dry, leafy greens with grilled chicken on top…forever!!!! Actually wait how many carbs are in salad greens? I should probably measure them out to make sure I’m not having too much. Also I should switch from chicken thighs to chicken breasts so there’s less fat.

So in a weird way The Dandy did the same stupid thing Pupper did a day or two before: played directly into my disordered thinking. Odd coincidence.

 

*As I typed this to him I started feeling teary and realized that I was, in part, comforting myself and trying to convince myself that I’m not stupid for being as fucked up about money as I am. I am reminded of a meme I saw on Facebook, aimed at people who have PTSD from abusive situations, telling those people that their hypervigilance etc makes sense – that it was a legitimate survival strategy. It wasn’t stupid to do those things. It’s just not useful anymore, now that the situation is different. That would seem to apply here, too. But I feel stupid anyway.

**So, I’ve always, my entire life, had this big paranoia about addiction. I hated the idea of being addicted to anything. And when I was a kid (ten years old, maybe? Eleven?) I got the idea that I was addicted to chocolate. Not sugar in general; for whatever reason I felt the problem was only with chocolate. (What kills me is, I know now that I had celiac disease preventing me from properly absorbing the nutrients in my food, so glucose would have been the main place I got my energy from – like, even more so than someone with a properly functioning digestive system. It seems harsh to label my craving for sugar an “addiction” under the circumstances. But anyway.) I was aware that I craved chocolate powerfully and often, and I decided to quit chocolate cold turkey to free myself of the addiction. Shortly after that, my dad and I were at the mall and the Laura Secord kiosk had some free samples out and I ate one totally without thinking. They almost never have free samples so I guess I just automatically had an “oooh I gotta take advantage of this!” response and forgot about my whole “no more chocolate” thing. A few minutes later I suddenly realized my mistake, and I lamented to my dad: “Oh noooo! I was trying to not eat chocolate anymore and I just screwed up. I guess I’ve probably set myself back, now.” I don’t know why this made my father angry; perhaps he just hated my slightly whiny tone and figured he could shut me up by rectifying the underlying issue. At any rate he put on an ominous tone and snarled “maybe I should just forbid you from having chocolate.” And I was gobsmacked that he would threaten to shove his parental authority into this thing that was my personal goal and that I’d been actually handling quite well aside from that one totally accidental lapse.

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Borderline

Pupper and I talked a bit about his confession of having borderline personality disorder, and I’m feeling better about things now. He assured me that he doesn’t have big outbursts of rage or anything. Although, only an idiot would admit to that.

Here’s what I’ve observed during our months of texting/camming, though:

  • He may be anxious etc, but he mostly keeps it to himself. Like if he texts me and I forget to respond for a few hours he doesn’t barrage me with “why haven’t I heard from you what did I do I must have done something wahhhhhh!” messages like so many other anxious/insecure guys have.
  • He’s self-aware enough that he seems to know when his anxiety is fucking with him. Or at least, if I tell him I think his anxiety is making him be a certain way or think a certain thing, he doesn’t insist that it’s not and that his feelings are real and logical, dammit!
  • He’s mentioned some coping skills that he uses when things get rough – focusing on his breathing and talking himself down and stuff. He’s not just having mood swings willy-nilly and insisting he can’t help it and nothing can be done.
  • I often second-guess myself due to anxiety, but when it comes down to it I think I have a keen sense of people. And never in our time together have I caught any whiff of violent tendencies or suppressed anger in Pupper. I’ve caught whiffs of clinginess and overinvestment, and now that I know he’s borderline that all makes perfect sense. But rage issues? No, I don’t think so.

So it’s…probably fine?

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