Monday, September 7, 2009

Dating Disclosure Dilemmas

Telling the man I just met on Yahoo that my ex-husband recently got out of prison for being a pedophile probably won’t inspire a lot of confidence in me. I hate it when people shudder, like they barely missed being hit by a bus. That’s usually what happens. I don’t want to drop the “p” bomb in between the salad and the main course and ruin a perfectly good meal.

Do I wait until the third date? If I tell him tonight, on the second date, there might not be a third one. There’s just so much to explain. In the past, I’ve waited until they could see that I am a perfectly normal, felony-free, sane, stable, accomplished, hard-working, multi-tasking, single, professional woman who’s raised four kids on her own for the past seven years, and to a large extent, long before he was ever sent to prison.

Why bog down what could be a perfectly normal “interview?” That’s what I call these Internet dates. Not that I’ve been on a slew of them, less than a dozen, matter of fact. But really, that’s what it is. I have been a journalist for more than 20 years, and I know a fact finding mission when I see it -- not in any duplicitous kind of way, just the facts, ma’am.

When the tables are turned, however, when do I go down that prickly path of recalling how my life imploded the night my ex was arrested? How do I begin to explain what this seven-year combat tour of duty, has been like? I scoff when I hear other divorced women gripe about only “having every other weekend free.” Try 2,390 solitary night watches with kids ranging in age from 13 to 23, on the day this “Extreme Single Parenthood” began? And when do I segue into how my heart swells up like a deployed air bag every time I even speak of my children, whom I love with a ferocity that words fail to describe? Because, when I do talk about them, I cry. Damn hormones.

If I mention that stuff too early in the discovery process, the “prospect” either thinks I’m a pervert or an accomplice (like his sickness rubbed off on me) or that I’m invincible, (I’m not) or that the uberbond between my children and I is impenetrable, (hmm, that might be true....) or they think dating me will be difficult, (that’s probably true, for none of the reasons above.)

It’s been my experience, that men are far more comfortable with more run-of-the-mill baggage: alcoholics, bi-polar disorder, stranded former housewives who’ve never had a job, high maintenance divas who get fired from jobs, women with bratty kids, or kids in jail, (easier to swallow than an ex who’s a sex offender) lesbian experimenters, compulsive gamblers, compulsive shoppers, compulsive eaters, compulsive liars.

The ex-con, ex-husband notwithstanding, when would the timing be right to tell this new fella about the fella who inspired this poem?

Sometimes life grants us moments, so perfect,
a person could die happy, having had just that one.
I had such a moment,
your face bathed, so golden,
the sky, your eyes, so breathtakingly blue,
and you held me.
Fiery orange and pinks gave way to twilight hues,
the eyelashes of the sun descending like a blanket,
good night.
And the world at that moment
was perfect.

When do I tell him about that, the most inspired, romantic, passionate day of my life? And the free fall which ensued shortly thereafter. How do I help him understand what I am made of, how I got this way? When a person has experienced the highs-of-the-highs, (non-drug induced) and the lows-of-the-lows (mostly, not self-induced) is it important that the person they’re connecting with has too?

How will any man relate to a woman who revels in the notion that life is stranger than fiction, (“you can’t make this shit up!”) who’s coped with a broad spectrum of panic; ranging from;
“what has he done?” (on the night the cops arrested my ex-husband) to “what is happening?” as my son lay in an emergency room clear across the country, to “what’s my balance?” -- the magnetic stripe anxiety I feel every time I swipe my debit card at the checkout.

Oy vey, there’s so much to tell! Such is the disclosure dilemma I face every time I try to date again.

But, I really am a nice gal. Cute, too. I don’t want to end up the poster child for “unlucky at love.” Really. I want somebody to hold. I want somebody to hold me. I want to go on trips to lovely locales, stroll down the sidewalk, stop in some pretty cafe, for a bite to eat, hold hands and tour museums and ancient ruins and night clubs and wide open spaces sitting on top of majestic mountains and then have sex. Maybe even on the mountain. Hell, I just want to go to Home Depot with somebody other than the dog. The next time there’s a crisis, I’d like to not go through it alone. I’m so fucking tough at this point, I scare most men. But really, I’m a turtle, dude.

I’m such a little, tiny, turtle.

But, I think I’ll wade into all of this detail. I’ll know when it’s time. When I feel as though I’m being dishonest by not saying anything, I’ll know.

And then, there’s all that other stuff.

Gotta go. I’ve gone through my closet and everything makes me look fat.
I’m going shopping.

As soon as my toe nails dry.