Confessions of A Recovering Romance Novel Junkie

About 10 years ago I heard a woman talk about romance novels and soap operas as porn for women. While I didn’t care much for soap operas, I was consuming at least one romance novel every two weeks at the time, sometimes even one a week. I didn’t see the harm in them. Most of them weren’t the trashy kind anyway so clearly they couldn’t be considered porn. I just liked reading them because they were quick reads and they made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I would get lost in the intense passion the characters had for each other and the certainty that there was a happily ever after for them. I imagined that was how it really felt to be in love. When I’d finish the book the reality of a passionless marriage and the uncertainty that I was with the right person set in. I couldn’t see a happily ever after in my future. I’d even question if something was wrong with me? Why didn’t I feel that way about my husband? Why hadn’t I ever felt that way about anyone? My belief that being in love was a possibility turned into a theory that there was no way that level of passion could be real in a long term relationship. Of course there is passion and a feeling of infatuation in the beginning of most relationships that’s mistaken for ‘being in love”. This I knew from experience. How many times had I “been in love”  with someone only to lose interest a few months later? It was just something movies and books created and endorsed to sell their products. That perfect love between a man and woman couldn’t really exist!

Regardless, I kept reading and the books turned into an escape from my lacking reality. They made me yearn for something I knew I could never have. They became an addiction. Nothing my husband said or did was as good as what I read. I mean, you know it’s bad when you read a romance novel to get in the mood for your spouse! That’s when it clicked. The reference to romance novels becoming porn for women made sense. And it didn’t stop at novels. I would watch any rom-com I could get my hands on. Anything to give me that borrowed high from another (very fictional) characters completeness in the love they’d found.

Did the addiction to fiction lead to the dissatisfaction of my marriage? NO! There was plenty of that before my one a week habit started. But it didn’t help make my marriage any better either. Instead it intensified the dissatisfaction and created unrealistic expectations for my marriage. There was no way my  husband was ever going to say the right things or act the right way because first, he wasn’t built to talk and act that way since he was a real person, and second, because he wasn’t reading the books and had no frame of reference by which to even understand my misguided ideals.

Do I think all women should stop reading romance novels because they create unrealistic expectations for relationships? No. I think it’s a personal decision. For some, it doesn’t affect them the way it did me. I do think it’s wise to understand that the relationships in books and movies are fictional. If they cause an increased dissatisfaction in your committed relationship, it may be time to set aside the media form you are devouring and pay attention to the work at hand (i.e., your marriage).

That said, my habit is thankfully not an issue anymore. And not just because my unhappily-ever-after marriage is over! The desire to read about/watch the love lives of others, no matter how fake they are, is almost non-existent thanks to the happiness I have in my current relationship and my resolve to live my life. I was given a second chance. I know that’s not the case for everyone. However, I am still a firm believer that two people who are committed and choose to work on their relationship together, can have a stronger more satisfying relationship than any book or movie! My earlier theory has sufficiently been proven wrong by my own experiences.  It may be the only time I’m glad I’m wrong (at least that I’ll admit).

That’s it for my ponderings today. Please add your thoughts on the topic of romance novels/rom-com movies below.

Would The Real Knight-In-Shining-Armor Please Stand Up

To say that I’m a scardy-cat would be an immature thing to say but it would also be mostly accurate. When I was a little girl I had a fear of someone hiding under the bed or in the closet. My dad used to roll his eyes when I asked him to check for me, but he did it because he knew it was the only way to make me feel safe enough to sleep. That, and it was the only way I’d leave him alone! I’d love to say that this is something I grew out of, but sadly it is not. I don’t necessarily think someone is waiting to get me anymore but I am easily startled. That’s why when B and I came home the other night and the back doors were unlocked, I kinda freaked out. My first response was to ask B to check the house. His first reaction was to be reasonable…I didn’t like that one bit. Not because I don’t think he had a valid point – find out if there is a logical reason they were unlocked and then freak out if not – but because he didn’t do what I thought would make me feel safe right away. He didn’t check under the beds and in the closets, at least not at first. What if someone was there? Was he going to stab him with a paring knife? Or spray him in the face with Windex? Instead he asked me to call anyone (as in relatives) that may have been in the house and left the back doors open. Once I made the calls he checked the house. Thankfully there was not one hiding out, but it still took me a while to feel comfortable moving about.

I had to process through this new way of approaching my fear. At first it seemed all wrong because my feeling of safety was delayed, but that had more to do with what I was used to than actually thinking through the situation. If we had really felt we were in danger we shouldn’t have checked anything in the house. Rather we should have called the police. B was absolutely correct in this approach. And as much of an advocate as I am for individuality and creativity in approaching a situation, I still fell into the that’s-the-way-we-do-things mentality. Tisk tisk Dyana!

It’s one thing if you have this revelation about yourself once in a week, but twice? Now that’s a whole other beast, and one that need to be dealt with.

The day after the unlocked doors incident, I had a conversation with my ex in which he exclaimed “If anything happens to [the boys] you’re gonna get it!” This was his response to me allowing my two oldest sons to stay home by themselves. It didn’t matter that the reason I let them stay home was because he gave one of them a blue pain relief pill that had he read the bottle he would have realized was a Tylenol PM! I thought if they were home at least my son could rest it off. When I relayed the conversation to B he asked with concern “He threatened you?!” Nah, I thought, that’s just the way he is. However the more I thought about it, yes he did threaten me and he’s done it over and over again for years! When did I accept his threatening me as acceptable? Really?! Again, tisk tisk Dyana!

Well, can I just say that B did the most unexpected and possibly the most romantic thing anyone has EVER done for me? The next day he called my ex to discuss why he felt he had to threaten me and what exactly “You’re gonna get it” referred to. When B told me he’d just had a 45 minute conversation with him I couldn’t believe it. B stood up for me! To my ex! From his recounting of the conversation it went fairly well. He was able to discuss the situation with maturity. In this one gesture of love B has made me feel extremely safe and secure, something I haven’t had in any other relationship. And because of his concern for me, he’s also made me realize that even if “that’s just the way things are”, “that’s just the way he is”, “that’s just the way we do things”, doesn’t make it right! Thank you B for this week’s life lesson!

The Power Of A Kind Word

Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean pretty much everyday, B will say something so incredibly sweet to me for no particular reason. Today, during our after-dinner-cuddle, he looked at me in my sweats with my hair all mussed and told me that I am incredibly beautiful. He’s also been known to call me gorgeous and stunning (<– I love that one.) Sometimes he’ll thank me for working two jobs, or tell me I’m a great mom and tell me how proud he is of me. AND I don’t need to fish for it. EVER! He’s a treasure trove of affirmation that I never expected to find in a significant other. It is a key to the awesomeness of our relationship.

When we first started dating I thought his words of kindness were really cool, but figured they would slow down the longer we were together. I was wrong. If anything they’ve increased. I don’t ever wonder if he’s happy in our relationship because he regularly affirms how he feels. As you can imagine this is all new to me. So much so that I wasn’t able to express how I felt unless I wrote it in an email or text. Written communication has historically been better for me. Maybe because I had time to put my thoughts together and I’m less likely to jumble my words when they are inked on paper. Maybe because there is no distraction or interruption from the other person. But his ability to verbally lift me up drove my desire to do the same for him. Slowly I began expressing my feelings for him, sometimes using the same language he used like a baby learning to speak. It felt foreign to my tongue. The more I told him how I felt, the easier it became. Although I am still not as eloquent as he is, I’m secure in the knowledge that he is equally affirmed on a regular basis and know’s how I feel about him.

With my own relationship experiences and those I witness in the lives around me, it’s surprising how uncommon kindness is. In the one relationship that is supposed to be the safest and of greatest support, there is rarely the regular affirmation necessary to build security and intimacy. Instead people mistake “safety” for having a free pass to say what they want when they want regardless of how it makes the other person feel. They mistake “intimacy” for something that happens after the kids are in bed and before they roll their backs to each other as they fall asleep. I wonder how saying a kind thing about one another once a day (without any ulterior motives) would improve the poor communication and insecurities running rampant in so many relationships today.

It’s common sense really. That’s what makes the fact it took me 36 years to fully understand it absolutely frightening. The idea that he/she has to love me because he’s/she’s my husband/wife, father/mother, brother/sister, son/daughter isn’t enough! They love you because they choose to love you. In the same way you can choose to be kind. Not because you are trying to get them to be kind in return, but because it’s the right thing to do. It’s an action of love. Love is a verb after all. And it can be as simple as telling your loved one what you love about them. Try it today.

I’d love to hear an example of how a kind word affected you. Please share in the comments section below.

Graphophobia Gives Me Collywobbles

I AM SO EXCITED!!! Today I get to feature my very first guest blogger (something I hope to do much more of). My dear friend,super talented photographer and mother to the sweetest little boy took time in her busy schedule to share a story with us. It is a great example of how growing up sometimes means knowing when to let go. I seriously enjoyed reading it and I know you all will too. Without further ado please welcome Simo…

If you had asked me before my lunch break this afternoon if I would ever write a blog entry my answer would have been unequivocally, without a shadow of a doubt, absolutely, NO! However, it would only be Dyana who could coerce me into something that I loathe doing: writing. Thing is, to be quite frank, I am not that deep. I don’t have many “AH HAH!” moments in my life. I have had lots of adventures. I have seen lots of places. But in reality I learn life’s lessons relatively well and come out reasonably unscathed with my emotions intact. Since story telling is what I do, I will tell you all the adventure of a most torrid love affair. I will call it…

Happily Never After

We all have that one first love. I was 12 years old when I saw him standing on the football field in Trexler Middle red and white. I was the typical dingy 7th grader pining for the 8th grade upperclassman. I saw an aura glowing around him and angels singing “AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH”. It was a magical moment
when I set my eyes on… let’s just call him…“Jaden” for all intents and purposes. I told myself one day he will be mine.

That one day came my freshman year in high school during football season. I was officially floating on cloud 9. I loved being able to stay out late watching his football games, basketball games, and baseball games. I got to be his homecoming date. I just loved being his little girlfriend. However, those were a short lived 6 months. Just as quickly as he came into my life he was out. All due to a rotten piece of CANDY who gave him something sweet to eat and I didn’t. (Insert tragic crescendo here). But that was ok. I wasn’t that bent out of shape. I realized swiftly we were kids and right now wasn’t our time because he had to “sow his wild oats”.

Throughout the 4 years of high school, though we weren’t dating, there was still something there. An unrelenting magnetism always drawing us together, sneaking kisses, quick make-out sessions, mini dates, etc. Which had me convinced when prom time came around he would ask me to prom, right?

WRONG.

Now, I can say I was officially crushed. I even cried for the first time over him. The girl he took was hideous. I can’t help but laugh though because little did that girl know…I stole kisses from him that night too. This was only the beginning of a sordid 15 year relationship.

Shortly there after he graduated and went off to college. We didn’t talk the entire year. I thought he had forgotten about me, but I never forgot about him. It wasn’t until Christmas of my senior year when I finally saw him again. Do you think I learned my lesson? Nope. I saw him and fell for him all over again. I dove head first into it and then he was gone again like the wind. I didn’t have a number, an address, not a thing. Only the sweet taste of his mouth on mine.

I too graduated and went to college. It was two years before I saw him again at Christmas time. I resolved to act appropriately and not let him get to me this time. Epic fail! I folded up as I always did. He was so cute. Actually, cute was turning into handsome as he was starting to get a feel for the man he was becoming. However, I was still trying to figure out who I was as a woman and he was the only man who had ever made an impression on me that actually meant something. I had dated other guys. I’d traveled the world. But he was always in the back of my mind. So when I saw him that night I just had to ask if he thought of me too. He said he did. He wanted us to be together but our circumstances wouldn’t allow it. There was no way we could have been faithful to each other and we both knew it. He said he would call me and see me from time to time. However, once we went our separate ways he was gone again, just like the wind. It would be 3 years before I talked to him again.

After college I moved to Germany to play professional soccer. I got a Facebook account to reconnect with friends while I was overseas. Guess who was suggested to me as a friend? Well, well if it wasn’t Jaden. Handsome just upgraded to FINE. We chatted casually throughout my year overseas. It was nothing serious just two friends reconnecting. One thing I can say hands down is he was the BEST friend a girl could ever have but the WORST boyfriend material in AMERICA. I won’t say the whole world just yet (wink).

Upon return from my year spent traveling Europe I moved to Raleigh NC. You wouldn’t believe it if I told you but Jaden lived a mere 8 miles away from me in the same city. Of course I had no will power and called him immediately. He helped me move into my first apartment and I almost cried when he walked through my door again after 5 YEARS. He was a very welcome sight for very sore eyes. The boy, now a man, and the girl, now a woman, finally staring each other face to face. You could feel the unresolved tension between us and could cut it with a knife. I’m so glad we were able to play it cool because mom and dad were also at my apartment that day.

That entire year felt like old times and we just picked up were we left off. I called him my daytime boyfriend because he always went home at night. What we had was a friendship not a relationship. We vowed not to cross that line again and just be best-friends. We hung out, watched movies, ate dinner, shopped, worked out, went to bars, etc. Then it happened, the line was blurred. Once again we didn’t know what to call ourselves anymore. We weren’t dating but we were certainly more than “just friends”. We were playing house and saw how happy our lives could be together. He told me he was all in and asked if I was. Was I? For the first time in 13 years I hesitated. The little 12 yr old girl finally got her man 13 yrs later but I was scared. There he was, the man of my dreams. He finally chose me, wanted only me and I couldn’t do it.

I am sure you’re wondering WHY?! Well, I had already been hurt too many times by broken promises. I had been cheated on, forgotten about, stood up, and left behind. I was never a priority and it was hard for me to believe him when he said I would be, though I wanted to with all my heart. My head hit the brakes and I came to a screeching halt. That screeching halt had a name: Deacon.

He was tall, handsome, smart, a gentleman, and someone who put me first from the first time he met me. He always told me the truth even when it meant me being angry with him. My head could really see a real future with him. I was literally trying to figure all this out in a mere few seconds. Deacon or Jaden?

The girl in me would always choose Jaden, but I wasn’t a little girl anymore. The woman I was knew her worth. She was over being hurt and manipulated. Though it broke my heart and I lost my best friend, I knew our time had passed. It still took me 2 more years to push Jaden completely out of my life. I will never forget that last phone call I made before I changed my address, email, and phone number. I told Jaden how he meant everything to me once and I loved him. However, he could not remain in my life or he would ruin what I had with Deacon (our friendship only ever ruins the relationships we are in.) I saw myself marrying Deacon one day. I told him that this would be the last time I would ever talk to him. We are too old to be acting like kids anymore and I would not jeopardize the things God was blessing me with.

Days turned into months, turned into years, and I had all but forgotten about Jaden. Then one day the phone rang and like the wind there he was. He said he had gotten my number from a cousin and he wanted to tell me he was getting married. To my surprise I felt a twinge of sadness followed by overwhelming happiness for him. I was so happy that he was going to have a loving wife as I had a loving husband and son. He said now that I am getting married this means we could be friends again right? I said I wish I could be but our time has passed and that is ok. We didn’t need each other anymore because our lives were already full of people who loved and cared about us enough. He said he understood but I know he didn’t really. After he hung up I wanted to call him back and make him feel better like I always did, but I did not. I instead sat in the rocking chair on my porch and I saw my husband playing with my son through the window while making dinner and it filled me with gladness. I realized that what I had was all a little homeless girl from Bahia could ask for. A beautiful home, a loving husband in Deacon, and the wonderful son he gave me.

THE END!

**Editor’s note: In case you are wondering about the title as I was “Graphophobia” is the fear of writing and “Collywobbles” is pain in the stomach or bowels. I don’t know what she’s talking about though since I think she is as great a story teller in writing as she is in person. If you have an encouraging story you’d like to share please email me at unforgettablyordinary@gmail.com.

This Diet Works! (as long as you don’t get too happy)

There is a diet out there that works. I know because it worked for me. Without adding anything to my daily regimen of NOT exercising I dropped 20 pounds! And this didn’t just happen once but twice. I call it the Separation Diet. All you have to do to achieve this dieting phenomenon is experience the loss of a spouse or significant other in the form of an emotional or physical separation. That’s all folks! All this could be yours for the very low price of a broken heart, shattered dreams and a dismal outlook on your future. So who wants to sign up?

Haha. All joking aside, this is an actual observation I’ve made and I’m sure it’s been scientifically proven at some point. If not it definitely should be. When I was going through my separation/divorce, I noticed a handful of others going through a similar situation also losing a ton of weight quickly. Some looked better than they ever did before and some looked like the walking dead (I specifically make that reference because I hear B watching The Walking Dead downstairs. Always a pleasant mood enhancing soundtrack…if you want to eat some brains or shoot some zombies in the head! Or maybe write a blog?).

Rabbit trail:  Has anyone else noticed that when you are going through a particular something you all of a sudden know so many people going through the same thing? Whether it be marriage, pregnancy, divorce… it’s as if your awareness is heightened to others of likeness. Sort of like when you buy a car and all of a sudden you see the same car everywhere! Okay, ending the rabbit trail now.

I received many compliments when I was losing the weight. My favorite was from my then sister-in-law (case in point to my earlier rabbit trail: we are no longer technically related due to her own divorce). She told me I looked like I had peace, that I smiled more and just looked like I felt lighter. I replied that it was probably because I no longer had to worry about not meeting my husband’s standards which were impossible to achieve anyway. It was seriously a HUGE weight lifted. I was able to be myself…finally.

So everything is great now, right? I survived the heart-wrenching failure of my marriage, I radiate peace and lightness, I’ve met the love of my life and I loss a lot of weight!

Disclaimer: Unfortunately there’s a flip side to the Separation Diet and that is Happiness Weight. Beware! It just seems to creep up on you when you’re busy living your happy life!

It’s true. Since I’ve met B I’ve gained 10 pounds back…eeek! B has also gained some weight back although I still think he looks like the Tall Blonde I fell in love with. B and my moms will say I still look beautiful and I believe they mean it biased or not. BUT I can definitely feel the difference and I DON’T LIKE IT! As in every facet of life there is still hope. Since the Separation Diet is no longer an option (AHEM, B) I guess I’ll have to do it the old fashioned way. Eating well and exercising! WHY OH WHY?!!! I think I’ll start next week. 😉