If you’re wondering how that charter went over Christmas, it went exactly as badly as I thought it would. CJB, without me to bounce his negativity off of, was in a surly foul mood the entire charter. They wrote a bad review that the bosses called us onto the carpet about. Now our jobs are in danger, we may get fired or removed from this boat – either of which would screw my chances of captaining this vessel next season. Not arguing didn’t work.
I don’t know what to do with someone who is joyless. Who is bitter and resentful of every demand on his time (and with a boat of this size and the type of work we do, the demands are endless). Every time he snaps at me and is irritated towards me about something that is not my fault, I become resentful and defensive. That leads to us fighting.
We have a charter starting on Wednesday that will require us to bring our best possible game. There’s an owner charter right after that, and I’m sure we will be called onto the carpet about it. That will be unpleasant. Part of me wants to throw John under the bus – tell the truth about everything happening and let the chips fall where they may. But some of those chips may fall in ways I don’t want, so I’m scared to do that. I’m totally stuck.
This feels terrible. I do not know what to do, aside from making sure everything in my power to control is done the absolute best it can be. I’m working on that now, my to do lists long and exhausting. I am trying to remember my affirmations and keep my chin up.
Changing the way I react to #CJB is going to kill me. I’m sure of it. The first day he didn’t notice the second day he slowly realized what I was doing, and today (day 3) he is now trying to goad me into my old habits.
Y’all. It is SO HARD not to snark back at someone when they are shitty to you! I’m not someone who ever holds my mouth in check. Its oppositional to who I am as a person. But being snarky, clapping back, giving what I get is what got me in the mess I’ve been in last season, when I was having suicidal ideation from the sheer awfulness of his treatment of me.
I can’t go back there.
I had a tiny slip up this morning, after I stubbed my toe on his toolbox (which shouldn’t be in the galley on the floor). I decided to go run a few errands off the boat to get away and reframe my mental state.
As I stand here in this interminable post office line, I’m reciting some affirmations:
1. I choose to be happy and cheerful.
2. I am deserving of good things.
3. My attitude and reactions are in my control.
4. I am strong, capable, and hardworking.
5. No one has the ability to affect my mood without my consent.
I’m treating myself to a fruit smoothie before charter. I am sharing a bunk with #CJB this week, which will be an additional challenge. His entire aura, mood, and energy has spiraled down further and further into an ugly oubliette of hate, anger and frustration. Now that he can’t use me to vent his frustrations on, he is reaching critical mass with his negative emotions. I guess when I was in the thick of things, I couldn’t see how bad he was. Now that I’m choosing joy and nonconfrontation, I see it much more clearly. The trick will be making sure I’m not in the path of the eruption that is clearly coming.
The last post I made here sounded so hopeful. I don’t think I really felt all that hopeful, but I wanted to be. Iwanted to think that I could get over CJB with a little grit and determination.
It takes more than that, though.
I’m not sure I can articulate how impossible it is to get over someone when one lives, works, and spends all free time together. Every time he is nice, my heart trips up again. Every time he is cruel, my heart tears a little more.
The last two months have been almost all the latter. CJB has become vitriolic in his arguments with me. We were on shore provisioning for a charter and he verbally and emotionally abused me for ten straight hours.
The above video has no real picture, as I hit record and set my phone down so I could catch CJB’s words. Ironically, we were sailing over to the office in order to meet with the HR guy about how we were improving our communication and relationship (after the provisioning day, I called HR and asked for help. As you can hear, it’s really terrible and more than I can manage on my own). He has become so filled with anger and hate it has totally poisoned our friendship. We spent the entire off season together, mostly getting along (certainly not fighting like this), and as soon as we got back, all this ugliness came back, too.
Friends, I have tried reason. I have tried arguing back. I have tried waiting until the fight was over and discussing it with cooler heads. I was at the end of my rope long before I called HR, and boy did I hear about that!
This is the soundtrack to my days lately. I hate it. There are eight months left to our contract which feels like an eternity. But at the end of this contract, there may be a captain’s contract waiting for me. If I can stick it out, by August I’ll have the time I need to have the credentials needed to get my own boat.
I’ve hemmed and hawed over what to do. If I ask to be moved to another boat, I’ll lose twenty thousand dollars in tips. This boat is busy and expensive. Also, the bosses are on board with me potentially running this boat next year, so if I leave I’ll have a bitch of a time getting it back. I most likely won’t get it back if I’m being honest.
As of right now, I’m choosing two things: a rigid stance of nonconfrontation, formality, and reserve; and an intense focus on doing what is best for my body, mind and spirit. My interactions with CJB now only consist of work. I politely refused his offer to go flying in his plane the other day. I turned down dinner and drinks with a mutual friend and him last night. I bring up only work things and ask only work questions. He is still angry from Monday’s fight so he is being verbally agressive and beligerant. I am ignoring the tone and attitude and focusing on the work. Nonconfrontation – the new “don’t poke the bear.”
The other choice I’m making is myself. For too long I’ve made my schedule secondary to his. Made myself available to his plans. Things like staying aboard so he could have use of the dinghy. Waiting to watch movies for times when he is ready. Etc. Time for me to make plans for myself. Time to use the space and equipment I am entited to for my own happiness and growth. First up is fitness. I plan on getting up early and taking the dinghy to shore to go for a run when we aren’t on charter. I also plan on taking the time to swim my laps around the boat when we are on charter. I’m joining the gym next month and resuming formal fiddle lessons. Signing up for my next dive class and setting up the dives for that certification. Planning a trip for my vacation week in March, now that CJB and I won’t be traveling together. I’m looking at what things I’ve been procrastinanting and starting in on those things. I will be using the dinghy, the boat, our time off, equipment to find a way to bloom this season. And I’m doing some introspection work so that I can be sure the focus is on me, and not on how I should react to him. The first three questions are ones I’m working on this week; I want very much to use this blog as a reminder and aid for me to keep my eyes where they belong and my head where it needs to be.
Question 1: What makes me feel solid/strong?
Answer: starting my day out with good choices or accomplishments. Going for a run and making a smoothie for breakfast. Knocking out a big project first thing. Putting in the time to adhere to my skincare or beauty regimen. Completing a task I’ve been procrastinating. Successfully completing a difficult task. Practicing self care (swimming, sunning, a run or walk, playing my fiddle, painting my nails, etc.)
Question 2: What refills the well?
Answer: attention/dating. Doing something that feels decadant like cooking a full meal for myself, or spending a couple of hours knitting, reading, or watching a movie. A visit with friends. Small indulgences like an expensive smoothie from the juice bar or a burger at my favorite bar. A snorkel where I get to interact with my fish friends. Doing a good job with my work tasks. Watching the stars.
Question 3: How can I honor myself?
Do not get sucked back into wanting to hurt CJB back or make him understand or try to even the score. Wait five seconds before responding to anything. Try to do things on your own first before asking for help. Practice gratitude. Focus on your solo path. Plan time for things you love. Fill your days with productive endeavors. See (and try to be) the good. Allow space for your feelings.
This is what I have so far. I’m blogging so that I will put my energy and emotions here instead of laying them on my friends’ shoulders. I don’t want to be the girl who always whines about her life. It’s my life and I have the power to affect positive change in it. It’s well past time I did so.
I’m a sailor now. Full time. To be honest it’s more a combination of sailor, chef, tour guide, housekeeper, and mechanic/electrician/plumber, as CJB and I are the only crew on this boat. Our first season is behind us. We have sixty days off while our boat waits out the worst of hurricane season on the hard (dry dock) in Puerto Rico.
I feel like I simultaneously learned a lot and nothing at all. I had almost no experience on modern boats at all when I took this job, and even less of cooking fancy meals for up to twelve people. Our training was kind of trial by fire, trial by error, and sea trial. CJB and Idid it, though. Barely, but we did it. By the end of July I was able to handle all the myriad duties required of me in a day, and CJB was pretty good about pitching in where necessary.
It was a long hard road to get there.
This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Not the sailing. That’s actually not all that difficult on a modern boat in the Caribbean. Instead of hauling lines by hand and using the weight of my own body to force sails up, I push a button with my big toe. Rather, I’ve been forced to live the excruciating hell of living, working, and adventuring with a man I love with every piece of me but who does not feel the same way.
This blog is supposed to be about me healing from my past emtional trauma. About nurturing the tiny warrior inside of me. About learning to be whole on my own and not living at the mercy of a man who decides for me how happy I can be. I don’t want to go too into detail about the crushing loneliness and depression I suffered this year, nor about the suicidal ideation I experienced for the first time in my life. I may live in paradise, but I’ve been in a dark hole mentally and emotionally for most of this year.
And it’s not even all CJB’s fault. I’ve tried to date. Dating in the Virgin Islands is truly abysmal. The men are all running from their problems and this is as far as they can run without leaving the country. They cannot show up for me when they can’t deal with their own issues. I had my hopes up several times but in the end they mostly turned out to be garbage. I’m so tired of it. I’m tired of knowing my worth being coupled with others’ total inability to see or value it. I’m tired of being passed over, benched, ghosted, and put back on the shelf like some kind of generic brand snack food: probably fine, but just not what they want. Ugh.
Things with CJB remain the same. We live, work, and adventure together. We spend almost all of our time together. But he is constantly on the lookout for the next girl to put on a hook and he continues to push me away emotionally. He is still the fastest way for me to achieve my next career goal (that of becoming a captain and driving my own boat), and we are under contract together until August of 2021. I don’t know what will happen then. I’m doing everything I can to position myself to be ready to stand on my own two feet by then. Financially this job is a boon and walking away would be tough, but I don’t think I have the fortitude to continue living in a situation that might actually kill me just for money.
But things aren’t all bad. Box Girl is visiting much less frequently. The Caribbean is good for me. I’m able to take up more space there. Be more authentically myself. I’m learning to play the fiddle, giving in to my love of lingerie and buying myself things that make me feel pretty, discovering a love of SCUBA diving. I’m open water certified and hope to get my advanced diving certification when I go back this fall. I’ve become a powerful swimmer, found a beer I truly enjoy, and fallen in love with the beauty of the islands. It is, as Coulson once said about Tahiti, a magical place.
Maine, it turns out, feels less like home. The house I built that I was (still am) so proud of is rented and I have no plans to do more than visit my things in storage there annually. I have been here a week and visited all my favorite haunts. Been to all my favorite places. But it just doesn’t feel much like home anymore. I think maybe we’ve outgrown each other. This trip has felt like … permission. As though I was seeking approval to say goodbye to the life I thought I wanted, and Maine has obliged me. I will only return in the future to see my dog, who remains the best thing to have ever happened to me, and the only soul who truly loves me unconditionally.
This blog post is a bit of a downer, I know. I’m not “living my best life” as much as I was hoping I would be by now. But I’m not giving up. The pheonix doesn’t just rise from the ashes once. If necessary, it will burn that fucker to the ground again to rise up as something altogether different the next time. I will continue to fight to heal, learn, rise, grow, and bloom. It’s time I remembered that.
CJB were laying in our bunk one night during our first charter. I was tired and hoping to fall right asleep, but he likes to play on his phone before falling asleep. I rolled over to ask him to get off facebook, when I discovered he wasn’t scrolling – he was chatting with a girl. More specifically, a hookup he’d visited when he was last in Florida. While waiting for her replies, he switched to Whatsapp and Facebook messenger to conversations he was having with other girls, too. Most former hookups. I watched him tell every girl the same thing – all lies – about how much he truly connected with them and missed them, etc. As I lay there, keeping my breath shallow and even, heart pounding with adrenaline, I had a very uncomfortable realization: I was begging for the love of a man who is only interested in catching and keeping as many women on the hook as possible. He isn’t looking for one girl to sail the world with. He’s just looking for girls. Period.
All at once I felt supremely stupid and ashamed. I’d spent months trying to win him back into my bed, trying to show him my worth. But it isn’t that he doesn’t see it – it’s that he doesn’t want it. No matter how awesome I am I’m not going to be what he’s looking for. I’m not someone he can lie to. Someone he can pick and put down when he feels like it. I don’t provide him with that winning feeling when he scores with a “hot” girl.
How stupid am I?
And the more I looked, the more I realized he was keeping me on the hook, too. I’d asked him several times if he ever saw us together again and his answer was always, “I don’t know. I can’t predict the future.” That’s an answer designed to keep me on the hook and trying. Keep me around so I can make his life better and easier (which I do) without having to give me what I wanted. Just keep trying, Stupid Girl. Maybe this with be when he sees what he’s been missing.
After that charter CJB and I had the first of several knock down drag outs. I pushed him to tell me why he wouldn’t resume our physical relationship. Pushed him to tell me why he said maybe when he really meant no. Dared him to tell me that he’s not keeping me on the hook just like every other girl. And I told him how it makes me feel for him to accept all my help and hard work and love with no expectation of returning any of it. I told him what a piece of shit he is for not being honest with me. My false hope was what brought me down here to work with him to begin with. He needed me to get this job so he encouraged that hope. It wasn’t pretty. I cried and screamed and swore and we both said some pretty nasty shit. He moved to a different cabin on the boat and I’ve slept alone since.
For months we went on like that. Every time he brought a girl back to the boat to fuck (he loves using the boat, because girls give it up easy once they see this luxury sailing condo that he’s the captain of) it felt like he was throwing his rejection of me in my face. Look at all these hot girls I’d rather be fucking than you. He told me I could bring men back to the boat, too, but it was never something I felt comfortable doing. How could I bring a new guy to the boat when the old guy I was still hung up on was there? No thank you.
But then, finally, a funny thing happened. Somewhere in all this pain, rejection, and desperate feeling, I started to realize that he was doing me a favor. Every time he told a girl a lie I was glad it wasn’t me. Every time he got a girl’s number at the gas station or grocery store I was relieved I could see through his smarmy charm. As an honest person I was still horribly troubled by his duplicitous behavior but I stopped seeing it in terms of how it was a rejection of me. I began to see that these things that he does are things he can’t stop himself from doing. He truly doesn’t believe if he is honest he will be able to get girls. He knows on a deep level that he cannot be his authentic self with them, but can’t stop his need to “win.” So he tells lies and plays his games and gives every girl he meets just enough hope that they might be that magical one that she does what I did – she falls over herself to make it easy for him.
And you know what? I am worthy of so much more than that.
I’ve begun to see CJB’s friendzoning of me as a bizarre kind of life preserver. I felt at the time that he was casting me out, but in reality I think he was saving me. Because I know about all of the lies. I know who and what he is. I know what he needs, what he wants, what demons drive him … I know his authentic self. Because I’m not one of those girls, with me he pulls back the curtain. He knew that I am too important to him to lose, so he chose to cut off the bits that would put our relationship at risk. His method was garbage and caused me so much more hurt than was necessary. But … while I still sometimes feel the sting of knowing what we had is no longer something he wants, I can see now that we wouldn’t have it now even if we were still together. Because he can’t control his need to keep girls on the hook and wanting him, and if we were together he’d never be able to confine his interest to just me. That has nothing to do with my worth and everything to do with his unworthiness.
Thus I’m slowly beginning to heal from the utter decimation of all of my hopes where CJB is concerned. I once thought we’d spend the rest of our lives traveling the world together; now I’m trying to figure out what my future looks like without him in it. For my own sake, I need to let him go and LEAVE. We have a contract for the next year and half here in Paradise. I need to be ready to quit him cold turkey once that contract ends. If he can’t or won’t meet me where I am, then I need to enforce that boundary and go. He doesn’t get to use me as his girlfriend – traveling partner, masseuse, co-napper, adventure companion, study buddy, and more – if he has no intention of meeting my needs as that girlfriend. As long as he is the brightest and biggest star in my sky, I’ll never see any of the other stars that are shining. And I’m looking for a new star to hang my hopes and make my wishes on. I just need enough time alone in the dark to find him.
Hello, all. I’m typing to you from the salon/galley of a 52′ luxury sailing catamaran, moored in a quiet harbor off Saint John in the US Virgin Islands. I live on this boat as first mate and chef with CJB as my captain. While we are quarantined here we are drawing our salary (not a lot, but it covers my expenses) and maintaining the boat. We chose the gorgeous Hawksnest Bay as our quarantine hidey hole because it has some of the best snorkeling in the Islands and has few or no other boats moored nearby.
I realize that was a lot of information, without much context for how I arrived here at this table, sipping coffee as the boat rolls gently over the low North swell sneaking into the bay. I hope, since I have copious amounts of time these days, to update my life here.
It’s been a lot more cracks and a lot less phoenix than I was hoping.
So Christmas went exactly as I thought it would. It was a wretched day that really cemented to me how I have no one in my life right now who truly cares about me. It’s been more than a year since I’ve heard from either of my parents, and no friends or dating prospects so much as texted. But the next day I felt better, and by the 28th CJB was back in Maine with me. He came to celebrate New Year’s Eve and go together to our new job as charter boat crew down in the Virgin Islands. We got the job after delivering a boat here in November. He promised me I could make sailing my full time job, and he delivered on that promise. It worked out beautifully as we both lost our jobs last fall and both needed the other to get this job. He needed a chef and I needed a captain. I’d never cheffed before for that many people (our boat will sleep up to ten guests and two crew), nor made fancier style foods in line with luxury sailing yacht vacations. But we figured it out.
CJB and I are not together. When he came back in June I confessed my feelings for him – told him I am in love with him, and that all I want to do in this life is travel through it with him. He told me he sees me as a friend. Yup. He friend zoned me on an Eponine level. It has been incredibly hard to get over the loss of that side of him. Not only were we incredibly physically compatible, but he unlocked aspects of me I didn’t know existed. He opened a door and then just … shut it in my face. I had no warning; he never mentioned it while he was away in Florida last winter. When I forced the issue and he did tell me, he was home in Maine for the summer and living with me. I’ve seen him almost every single day since he rejected me.
A bit about me: I do not fall in and out of love easily. Once I set my mind and heart on someone, it takes an act of God or Mother Nature to change them. Spending every day with him, seeing all the things he does that make my heart melt … it doesn’t lend itself to me losing my feelings. So I didn’t. I spent all summer trying to seduce him back to my bed and to convince him to see my worth as a (sexual) partner. It didn’t happen. We hung out as friends because that’s what he decided we are, and I just died a little every day. I couldn’t wrap my head around how on Earth he can’t see how perfect we are together. We are far closer than just friends. We cuddle while we watch movies. We nap together like puppies, curled around each other. We cook together, each one of us riffing off the other until we have developed some unique and delicious dishes. We make each other laugh every day. We are equally astounded by the beauty of this place and the awesome of this job. He is planning on buying a single engine plane soon and wants to spend our off season flying all over the country.
I was trying and failing to get any kind of emotional distance from him. The physical proximity just makes that impossible. Then I learned a few things that both helped me and gutted me equally with regards to my heart where CJB is concerned.
This doesn’t feel like Christmas. I have no friends or family with me, or even who have checked on me. I am utterly alone and miserable.
It’s one day a year. I’ll be fine tomorrow. But today sucks. This is the loneliest I’ve felt since the destruction of my marriage. I thought I was doing the right thing by not burying my loneliness in another person. No three week relationships to avoid being on my own. I’m trying to just sit here and feel my feelings. But … God. This is the first year in my life no one has bought me a gift. Hard to know that so few people care about me.
I know that sounds dramatic. It feels dramatic. I just don’t get when I became such a side note in people’s lives.
I don’t like that. Feels like a failure, some how.
I’m sipping my coffee this morning and staring at my wall. I’ve taped up a number of Benjamin Moore paint chips and am admiring them in the daylight, trying to decide which to choose to paint these stark, white walls.
I’m ready to take the next step in feathering this nest. I plan on painting one color at a time, which will mean no one room is done before another. That’s okay with me. It’ll take a number of weeks to complete this project by myself, and that’s okay with me, too. I’m doing this with intention. I want to take my time, do my best work. Make my home even more the sanctuary it already is.
I’m known for making quick decisions, for deciding what I want with alacrity. So I’m pretty sure I know what colors I’m going to pick. But I am forcing myself to take the week to look at the colors, to imagine how they will work together in the space.
I may post before and after pics here on the blog, but I’m keeping it off the rest of social media. I want people to come visit my space and see how different it looks. I want CJB to be impressed with how different it looks painted and finished. I still have a couch, bookshelf, and tv stand to buy – those will get here before he does. After that it’s just accents and rugs, some frames to hang art on the walls, and it’ll basically be done.
So today I’ll be filling in the nail holes in my trim with wood filler and dreaming of color. I may start taping off the accent walls, which will be the darkest color and the first color I paint. Once I’ve done that and some work around the house, I’m going to treat myself to some tanning and vacation planning (I may be going back to Key West before CJB sails back to Maine).
These things I’m doing, they are small. But they bring me joy. I’m thrilled I can feel unfettered joy again. I’ve removed the asterisk over my head that placed conditions on my happiness (happy*, but still broken. Enjoying herself*, but still doesn’t know how to be alone). I’m finally living my life entirely for ME – and it’s an indescribable feeling.
I’ve turned a corner this year. Some time after the new year, I finally noticed that I’m not lonely anymore. That I can enjoy my alone time. When I returned from Florida and CJB, I decided to learn to play the violin (fiddle, really, although that distinction will come much later). I am just about ready to pull the trigger on picking paint colors for my walls. I have internet, finally, and enjoy a good Netflix movie now and again. And most importantly, I’ve set myself a ridiculously lofty goal of paying off $20,000 in debt this year, so I have a plan with my paychecks and a need to rebuild my business to grow my income. I am busy, but it’s a good busy. I’m not trying to keep my wheels from spinning or keep the demons in my head at bay.
I feel… whole. Complete. Healed.
It’s been more than two and a half years since I discovered P’s affair and my marriage failed. It’s been almost a year since B finally admitted he didn’t want to be with me any more. I have watched the time pass, and as it has I’ve reached that delicious place of apathy. I’m not mad anymore that P abandoned my friendship. He did me a favor, because I know he’d only keep disappointing me. I haven’t spoken with B since I watched his cats for him back in September. I don’t wonder about them, and I don’t feel hurt by them any more. It happened, I learned a lot, and I’m better for it. I will NEVER accept that kind of behavior again. In fact, I dated a guy over the holidays very briefly (about three weeks) and I pulled the plug when he crossed a boundary I wasn’t okay with. We are friends now, but he’s not partner material. He failed to meet my newly raised standards.
I’m pretty damn proud of myself.
I still have work to do. The demons still screech at me from the dark corners of my mind, rattling the bars where I’ve caged them. I still have trust issues stemming from a stubborn doubt about being enough, specifically for CJB. I know I am amazing. I know I’m the right choice. But I also know that I can’t make that choice for him, and he may be too damaged to see me for the awesome that I am. I’m working hard on being okay with that. On being firm that if he doesn’t choose me, he’s actively not choosing me, and that’s not what I want in a partner. The second I think he’s standing in the way of me finding someone to love me (when I’m ready for that, which I’m not *quite* yet), I’ll know it’s time to let go of the hope that he’ll be mine some day. In theory, I’ve accepted that. I have no idea what the reality will be like. I am so in love with that man. But what purpose does it serve me if he doesn’t love me back? None. And I do want to be loved.
I’m rambling a bit, but I think there’s a point here somewhere. I think maybe I did it. I managed, somehow, miraculously, to heal. To put my past hurts behind me, to take that tiny brunette warrior’s hand, and sail into the sunset together. It has been so incredibly hard. It’s taken so damn long.
But girl – I think I fucking did it.
I have no plans to end this blog – after all, healing is rarely neat and never linear – but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to transition into more stories of the awesome, kick ass life I’m living, and how I’m living for myself for the first time. Like the violin lessons! Oh my God do I love playing that thing, even though in three lessons I’ve only learned six notes and two strings. It’s a lot of Frere Jacques and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but I’m DOING it. My parents never let me learn growing up so I decided I’d learn. This winter I realized there was nothing stopping me and that I super needed a distraction from all my empty hours. Problem solved! My teacher says I’m doing amazingly well and will be playing better songs in no time. My ultimate goal is to fiddle to the setting sun on the deck of my ship (yes, MY ship), once we are at anchor for the night. I want it. I’m going to do it. You just wait – y’all will be the first to know about it.
Thank you, all, for your words of encouragement and support these last several months. You made me feel sane when I was sure I was going crazy, and far less alone that I would otherwise have been. I hope you’ll stick around for the next phase of my journey!