I had a date the Sunday before Thanksgiving which is an extremely rare occurrence. I hadn’t had a date since 2008. I met him online and we began to chat. He was everything I had thought I wanted; he was intelligent, able to discuss Salinger and Rainer Maria Rilke, he was a writer and sent me poems that he had written. He had come from a fucked-up family as had I and he had struggled with depression. When I revealed that I too had battled depression and even anorexia, he didn’t blink an eye.
We e-mailed each other every day. It was my choice not to talk on the phone – I’m terribly awkward on the phone. He was sixty to my fifty which I thought was a manageable gap. He revealed that had been married for the last thirty years, and had been in a sexless, roommate-like situation with his wife for the last six years. I took a couple of days to consider the implications and thought that it might work. I knew I didn’t want to get married and I didn’t want to live with anyone. I realized the risk I was taking was that I could end up wanting him, needing him more than he could give. But that was a risk I was willing to take. I resumed e-mailing him.
We set a date for lunch at a nice restaurant that served northern Italian food. I did the usual female primping; choosing a nice outfit, jewelry, getting my nails done and playing with my hair and make up. As I entered the restaurant on time he called – he was running a little late. I sat and sat and then a half-hour later he called. He had just parked the car. I caught a glimpse of him walking up the block and I was mortified. He was wearing sweats. Not just a sweatshirt hoodie, but sweat pants, a faded tee-shirt and a wrinkled hoodie. I cringed as I greeted him, trying not to let my embarrassment and also my anger show. After a month of pouring our souls out to each other, this is all he thought of me?
The first thing he told me was that he had lied about his age. He was actually five years older than he had put on his profile. He was also very heavy, a possibility for which I had prepared myself, but the reality bothered me more than I expected. I know what’s on the inside is more important than what’s on the outside, but I also believe that physical attraction is a part of chemistry and I wasn’t physically attracted to him because of his weight. He kept commenting that I seemed more “on edge” that he would have expected. I didn’t know how to respond. I felt trapped by my anger; I reverted back to the good girl I had always been.
He said he would like to see me again on the upcoming Friday – we were off due to the Thanksgiving holiday. When I asked what he would like to do he replied, “Make love.” Shocked beyond comprehension, I collected myself and said it was too soon which he accepted. But I didn’t know how to say I didn’t want to see him again. He took my hand in both of his and stoked it sensually. Inside I was freaking out, thinking get your fucking hands off me.
I went home at 4PM, crawled into bed, curled up into a fetal position and rocked myself to sleep. My psychiatrist, Dr. Adena is in Europe for Thanksgiving week. From work on Monday, I called the psychiatrist who is covering for her whom I have seen before and made an appointment.
“Why did he get you so dysregulated?” Dr. Stack asked me gently.
“I don’t know,” I managed to choke out through the sobs.
We figured out I was freaking out at the thought of having to see him again. I had gotten my hopes up over the course of our on line chats and it was more than a big disappointment; I didn’t expect to feel embarrassment and anger as well.
On Thanksgiving Day he sent me an e-mail asking about Friday. I sent him a reply saying that I didn’t want to see him; saying it was me, not him; that I wasn’t ready for a sexual relationship. The first sentence of the e-mail he sent me back read “I’m not surprised.” I haven’t read the rest of it; I’m waiting to read it with Dr. Adena.
Maybe it is me, maybe it was him. Probably, as Dr. Stack said it was a combination and he wasn’t the right guy for me. Too many red flags. All I know is she was right when she said emphatically “You’ve worked too hard, you’ve come too far to let this one guy derail you now.”
I nodded in agreement, silently afraid to tell her what was on my mind.
The session was coming to an end.
“Look, if you need me, e-mail me, text me, or call me.”
You text?” I was astonished. Dr. Adena didn’t e-mail or text.
“Yeah,” she laughed. “I’m all modern now. She scribbled her e-mail address and cell phone number on her card for me.
“Thanks,” I said. “Thanks so much. You’ve really helped. Have a good Thanksgiving.”