The Gal Nextdoor

Dating at any age isn’t easy. You’re looking for that one person out of billions that compliments your personality, your quirks, your morals and beliefs. You want that one person that makes you a better one just by being with them. Some people, like four of my friends, are lucky enough to have found that person in high school and are happily married now. But what happens after you date for three years only to find the ones that leave you worse off than before you began? What happens when find out that some people think you owe them your love?

For example, one of my favorite websites I’ve discovered since moving to Dallas is called Nextdoor, a website designed to connect you only to people in your neighborhood and/or the surrounding ones. A few days ago I posted my West Elm rug for sale on this site and not too long after I got a private message from a guy just about my age. “Cool rug Melody. Not interested in it but thought it was pretty cool.” After I thanked him, he immediately took that as an opportunity to ask why and how I moved to Dallas, about my life, what I do, where I hang out. In the eighteen hours we messaged, he asked me out three times. The third time I turned him down because I already had plans, he snapped at me. “I’ll just quit trying then,” he said. “What?” I asked. Four hours later, he asked me if I was even interested in meeting him. “I have no interest in dating you. I’ve been busy every time you’ve asked me out.” He claimed he had no interest in dating, either, and that he was probably being annoying but wasn’t trying to be. Right here was the first time he tried evoking sympathy from me. After I called him on snapping at me, he told me that once I meet him and “hear his story, things like that will make more sense.” I ignored that and reluctantly agreed to meet.

So I said yes. And then the next morning, no. (HOORAY! BACKBONE!) Specifically, “Hey! I know this is rude because I’ve already agreed to hang out, but I’m very uncomfortable meeting. I don’t think your intentions when you messaged me on Nextdoor were just friendly. We don’t even know each other and you snapped at me for not being available enough to you. I don’t owe anyone my time or conversation. Good luck in school! I wish you the best.” The second time he tried evoking sympathy was when he told me that this was nothing new to him because every woman leaves him. When I again told him no one owes him a date, he claimed all he ever wanted was friendship and that I obviously don’t want anything to do with him. That’s the third attempt to elicit sympathy from me, if you’re keeping score at home.

You see, the problem with this is, well, a lot of things. First, no matter how pure he perceived his initial intentions when he messaged me, they were not. Six years ago, or even probably one year ago, I’d have fallen for it. I’d have said yes, met the guy at Chipotle because he doesn’t drink, and hated myself for all of it. The problem with Gary* is that he expects anyone (girl) to say yes. That because he took the time out of his day to send me an unsolicited message, I owe him some sort of token. A date, my body, my conversation, my sympathy, my love. Second, the problem isn’t just Gary’s. It’s generational. There are countless stories just like mine. I’m limited to the scope of my generation, but I’d be willing to bet this is just a people problem. Third, Gary was disrespectful. So much so in fact, that he didn’t want me staying committed to the plans I’d already made before he ever messaged me. He didn’t respect my time enough to let it be just that. Mine. He had already claimed my time as his own before meeting me.

2016 Melody won’t stand for this. I’ll let 2014, 2015 and early 2016 Melodys speak for themselves.


2014

2014 Melody was unstable. And by unstable I mean I dated a guy that flat out told me in a Papacita’s that he wasn’t done cheating on any of his girlfriends just yet. I squirmed in my seat and my brain literally blocked those words out and didn’t let them process. I intentionally ignored everything he was saying because I wanted to believe he was good. You know what? I STUCK AROUND. He made wild promises about the future, mentioning marriage and a house and even named one of our future kids Thomas. He’d have red hair like me and long eyelashes like him. (I’m serious, you guys. This was my life.) A month later when he broke the shocking news to me that I was not the only broad in his life, I couldn’t believe it. When he looked me in the eye in White Rock Coffee smelling of cologne and dressed for a date with another girl and told me he’d been seeing her for two years, my body literally turned rigid. How could he? I loved him! Didn’t he love me?

The next day, I’d set up an appointment at the Apple store where he used to work and talked about all.the.time. because my iPhone’s lock button was broken. Coincidentally (NOT), this other girl worked there, too! (No wonder he talked about it all the time!) You know what ol’ boy did? Told her I was coming so she could handle my appointment. He set up his two girls so they could meet. Isn’t that sweet?

2014 me was dependent. My formative years were spent dating someone else. A serial monogamist, some would say. So when I met my ex-husband, I thought it was the natural next step. Get married! Have kids! Be happy! I desperately wanted those things to come true, I just didn’t know you had to work at them. When everything finally fell apart, I was able to see just what I was: a co-dependent child that hadn’t done anything for herself. That might be a little harsh, I mean, I did finish school on my own, bought my own cars, took care of a dog. But emotionally, I was stunted. For whatever reason, a relationship was the only way I knew how to be whole. Course I wouldn’t come to fully realize this until a little while later. And not really until I’d dated all these other yahoos.

2015

2015 me was alright. I’d dated a very professional lawyer that doted on me, saved and bought a new car and was finally saving to move to Dallas. After Lawyer, I was in my first serious relationship after the divorce in ’13 and was learning a lot, even though he was dealing with his own divorce. I loved him, he loved me and we did the best we could. I learned how not to be passive aggressive. I learned how to better communicate, how to express to someone I loved that what they were doing was hurting me. I got to experience what it was like to date someone not living in my parents’ house (!!!). I had someone to rely on, someone to call when things got hard and someone to complain to about how lonely it was moving to a new city. When we broke up, I learned again how to deal with heartache, this time on my own. I learned how to reach out and ask for professional help when talking it out with friends and family just wasn’t cutting it. I learned how to let go and forgive. I learned even more about what I need in a partner. I learned that breakups can be healthy and they can be really good for you. A really shocking revelation to me at the time as a co-dependent person.

Honestly, I still attribute a lot of my growth to this dude. Even though he’s long gone and we’re not even in the same city, I’m afraid I’d still be just like 2014 Melody if it weren’t for him. So thanks, Jon.

Late 2015 Melody, though, that’s a different story. As a classic serial monogamist/co-dependent gal since age 14, (I know) I started dating someone “seriously” three weeks after my nearly nine month long, very serious relationship. Totally healthy. He was kind, affectionate and generous, but constantly left me places alone if his mother called. We were waiting for a table once at a nice restaurant in the middle of a conversation when his phone rang and he excused himself for ten minutes while I stood inside alone. This happened at least twice every.time.we.went.out. Two months in, I caught him texting another girl all the time. He claimed she was a friend (a good Facebook stalking revealed they had seriously dated for over a year) and vowed to stop talking to her if it made me uncomfortable. A month later, when I caught him again, he got very quiet when I asked if she knew he was dating someone. When I broke up with him the next day, he told me not to think that it was my fault. Great! I feel so much better that you texting another girl isn’t my fault. Whew!

He taught me that I was not a top priority. Leaving me alone places to answer a phone call or letting his phone light up with another girl’s name taught me that I was not enough for him. By this time, at least, I’d learned enough to know that I am worth something and had the guts to break it off.

2016

Early 2016 Melody isn’t much better. There was the time I met someone and three days later they moved four boxes and three duffel bags into my house behind my back, the time someone abandoned me at a concert at midnight without my keys in what used to be a bad part of the city, the time someone else wanted to marry me after knowing me for four days, that time the same person told me I was the biggest girl he’d ever dated but he “didn’t date ugly girls” then showed me a full body nude of his ex, the countless times I was emotionally manipulated and called worthless, in so many terms, and the time a guy told me I shouldn’t be on a dating site if I wasn’t ready to get married. (Those sound really traumatic when you string them all together like that. Woof.)

Now, look. I’m not blameless here. Yeah, a lot, and I do mean a lot, of the guys I have dated are not good for me, but I chose to be with them. I chose to put myself in those situations. There were red flags in the very beginning of ALL of these “relationships” that I willingly chose to ignore because I thought that’s what I deserved. That’s what my divorce taught me; it shamed me into thinking I deserved someone that didn’t really love me, someone that wouldn’t show up for me and someone that wouldn’t fight for me. I let that become my reality and my idea of self-worth. I played into the manipulation and games with men nearly ten years older than me in some cases and counted that as love and commitment.

No one in these stories is blameless, but these guys deserve an emotionally healthy life just like I do. I want the person that doesn’t believe anyone will love him to realize that he’s already loved. I want the person that treats women like objects to realize what a treasure people are. I want that person that abandons their girlfriend in a restaurant to realize that some things can wait. I believe that everyone is worthy. Maybe that’s just me being sappy to a fault, but I think that’s true. No one on this planet is inherently worthless.

So, how, if you aren’t inherently bold like me, do you break the cycle?

First step, realize you’re worth. Realize you’re worth something more than whatever person said you were worth. If someone called you dirt, realize you’re the flowers coming out of that dirt.

Second step, let that permeate every part of your being. It’ll bleed out into everything you say and do, and when someone steps to you like Gary here, you’ll have the courage to step right back to them. No one, listen to me, no one gets to tell you what you’re worth. Do you hear me? No one.

The last step? Surround yourself with people that lift you up. People that’ll fight with you and for you against those that call you something other than worthy. Real friends that encourage you, believe in you, love you. The ones that’ll drive three hours in Temple, TX traffic to see you for one day. The ones that’ll still love you after everything you used to be, especially when you were 2006 Melody. (Yikes.) Surround yourself with people like that.

 

Current 2016 Melody is good. Really good. I deleted my profiles off of both of the dating apps I had, blocked numbers I shouldn’t be texting, spoke into the universe that I was fully single, and asked God to make my heart stone for a little while. Just until I was ready, really ready, to date again. It’s been about six months since then and despite missing that emotional connection, I’m okay. I’ve realized that I can want to love someone and know that I’m just not ready. I’ve realized that I can pour myself into my friendships instead. I can have year long crushes on someone without acting on it. Most importantly, I can be happy sitting alone on my couch at night.

In the end, know that you are loved. Even if only by me, someone on the internet whose writing you’re reading. But most, most, most importantly? Love yourself.

 

Love you.

xxx

 

 

*name changed to maintain anonymity. still a dumb name, though.

When you don’t feel worth it…


When you feel so broken wondering why you’re like this. When you wonder if you’ll literally ever be able to love someone in a healthy way. When you’re wondering where your self worth went. When it’s breaking your heart that you can’t see yourself the way your parents do. When it’s crushing you to see their eyes well up when you tell them you don’t love yourself. When you hear them tell you you’re worth it. When you’re wondering why someone that’s harbored feelings for you for years won’t even make it work with you. When you miss your ex. When you doubt if it’s love or you’re just holding onto something that makes you feel good. When you wonder why you need to hold onto someone to make you feel good in the first place and can’t be satisfied with your own self. When you know that fall is coming and probably along with it your depression. When your favorite shirt is dirty. When you text that guy because you’re bored or lonely or some other lame excuse. When no one shows up for your birthday. When you realize how far you still have to go. When you’re wondering why you’re not fixed yet. When you’re wondering how you’re so messed up. When you’re lonely. When you’re sad. When you wish that guy you have a crush on would just pay attention to you. When you know he isn’t the one for you. When you say something mean. When you say something passive aggressive. When you speak out of turn because your feelings are hurt. When you don’t get a reply. When an “I’m sorry” won’t work. When you’re broke. When you just want to delete everyone out of your life. When you believe you’ll never be married because you can’t be 1000% single for one single second. When you wonder what that is inside of you holding you back. When you’re sorry. When you’re broken. When you’re depressed and being so makes you even more depressed because you think of all the people pulling for you that really love you. When you think about how much your family loves you. When your heart is absolutely smashed like a month old Halloween pumpkin. When you think about how many people haven’t shown up for you in your life. When you remember the ones that do. When you don’t want to read that message that’s gonna hurt. When you feel weak. When you feel strong. When everything is sh*t. When everything is incredible. When you’re sick. When you can’t find your people. When you’re waiting. When you can’t understand why you’re not as far as you thought you’d be. When you don’t get that job. When you don’t have a loft in Deep Ellum. When you get married. When you date again. When you’re sunburned. When you’re healthy. When you find your people. When no one shows up. When you’re homesick. When you’re anxious. When someone dies. When you feel isolated. When you realize, again, that you moved away from everything familiar. When someone takes something from you. When you wreck your car. When you feel like no one loves you. When you feel more hopeless than you’ve ever felt. When you want something but can’t get it. When you feel worthless. When you think you’re nothing. When you wonder who spoke that to you and why you let it in. When you can’t shake the incessant down talk you hear your soul speaking to you. When you want to adopt every homeless animal. When you think you’re too far gone. When you want to jump off your balcony. When you feel higher than that one time you got your wisdom teeth out and were under anesthesia. When it’s raining and you’re happy. When you’re elated. When you kiss someone you love again. When you’re a girlfriend. When you’re a wife. When your dream doesn’t come true. When you finally let it all go.

 

Love yourself. Somehow find the strength deep down inside to keep going. And remember, it’s all going to be okay.

#YDMGoesNatural: Whole30 Update

Well, we’re about halfway done with Whole 30 and despite some very minor setbacks, I’m doing great! I wanted to give an update on what I’m eating, how I’m making it work, and my thoughts so far.

SETBACKS

At Chuy’s for lunch one Sunday, I’d had a coldbrew coffee for breakfast (bad idea, already starving) and we waited for our food for three hours. Sue me, I ate some chips out of sheer starvation. When I say starvation, I mean the kind of starvation where you see your dead relatives floating around you beckoning you into that foggy meadow over there. Then there was that time a LITERAL teaspoon of cheese was mixed in with the breakfast taco guts. And that time I put in two of those tiny plastic half and half cups in my coffee and I couldn’t pour it out because the person who’d just made it was standing right next to me in the break room. And I’m sure the two times I’ve been out to eat haven’t been 100% kosher, either. But, hey! I’m halfway done and feel really good about myself despite The Chip Incident.

GETTING CREATIVE

During the first week, it was easy. Chicken, vegetables, fruit, repeat. No big deal. But when you eat chicken that way that often, it can get old. So you think of things you’re hungry for and figure out a Whole 30 way to make it! Ergo, my homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise and tarter sauce! There’s millions (probably) of recipes for Whole 30/Paleo sauces out there; ketchup, ranch, barbecue, steak sauce. My perception with Whole 30 was that if it’s rich and creamy, it’s out. But that’s not true! Like I said, you’re eating like a caveman. If cavemen had almond milk. It’s impressive how many recipes come up just googling “Whole 30 recipes.” I mean, things you thought were off limits have suddenly been transformed into something natural and delicious. The hardest thing to do during these 30 days is plan a meal. If you can do that, you’re golden.

Here are some of the things I’ve made so far:

-Chicken and broccoli stir fry
-Creamy foil packed potatoes and onions (I made this up! Want the recipe?)
-Turmeric and dill pan fried tilapia
-Tarter sauce (homemade mayo + dill + pickles)
Hollandaise
Mayonnaise
-Mixed greens and vegetable salad with balsamic vinaigrette
-Grilled chicken and vegetables
-Mashed potatoes
-Cherry lime-aid

WHAT I CAN’T WAIT TO EAT AGAIN

Breakfast has been the hardest for me. I keep oatmeal in my drawer at work and normally eat that, but oats are off limits with Whole 30. BUMMER. I’m not a huge fan of eggs either, fried or scrambled, I mean, I’ll eat them, but they’re not my #1. I usually just eat fruit. So, oatmeal. Cereal. WHISKEY, for God’s sake. Cake. Chocolate. Chips and salsa. CHEESE, DAMMIT. Sugar! (It’s literally in EVERYTHING.) Whole grain mustard. I really don’t miss a lot of things. I haven’t really been that much of a bread eater this last year, and I’ve severely cut down how much sugar I intake. Whiskey, though? I miss it. Not like in a dependent sort of way, like, I’m at a concert and want a drink kind of way. Before I started Whole 30, I ate and drank literally whatever I wanted. These 30 days are forcing me to be more intentional and thoughtful about what I eat and the things I buy.

HOW I EXPECT TO LIVE WHEN THIS IS OVER

I expect to live lighter. By that I mean, keep being intentional and thoughtful about the food I eat. I’ll still eat whatever I want, just less often than I did before. I’ll eat better fats, still cut out a lot of sugar, plan meals more, cook at home more often than not and generally be mindful. Can I make something at home instead of buying it? (ie: mayonnaise!) Probably, yes. Can I eat a salad for lunch and then cake for dinner? Sure. You’re an adult. Should I walk the dogs for an hour or keep binging on the Olympics? Probably binge on the Olympics, but w/e.

THE NEXT FIFTEEN DAYS

They’re probably going to hurt. But now that I’m on the downhill slope, maybe it’ll make it that much easier to resist temptation. Or that much harder. While at my parents’ last weekend I had a dream I ate a bag of chips from Chili’s. Like, I’d hidden them in a closet and ate them in my sleep. It was the saddest dream I’ve ever had. AND SHOULD TELL YOU HOW MUCH MY BODY MISSES CARBS. My brain is literally talking to me and asking me what is happening because we never go this long without carbs. Someone wrote out a timeline of how most people feel during the thirty days and it’s hilarious. I should’ve read it before I started this whole thing and maybe I’d have been more prepared. Last week when I was exhausted for no reason, right on schedule, I realized my body was finally starting to learn to live and run on good things. Not carbs. Way to go, body! You’re pretty cool.

 

Now the question is, who wants to take me to dinner September 1 when this is all over? #whiskey #missyou

 

xx

Dallas Bucket List: Nasher Sculpture Center

Just a quick post this morning! I remembered that I marked something off my list! Yay!

Downtown, there’s this incredible museum with all kinds of sculptures displayed. Throughout the year, they host a big party in their backyard. There are food trucks outside and a band and popsicles and beer and when it gets dark, they start a movie on a big inflatable screen. My friend Cait and I finally got to go to one this summer! On the night they do these parties, the Nasher and the Dallas Museum of Art offer free admission! It’s a perfect way to see all that art. Just be prepared to be surrounded by people all night.

A perfect evening to cross one off the bucket list! We nearly melted in the heat, but a couple of Steel City Pops kept us cool. Along with some beer and food truck sushi. I can’t wait to go when it FINALLY gets cooler here in Texas! String lights overhead, hot chocolate…yay fall!

 

 

xx

#YDMGoesNatural: Whole 30 + A Fitness Challenge

On August 1, someone at work thought it would be fun/funny to start a company wide fitness challenge. In a baptist building. Where there’s cake more days than not. (WHY.) So, I think just to save themselves, they put up a cash prize. And if I’m being honest that was the big hook for me getting involved. $$$. Everyone that wanted to participate put up $25 and weighed in. On the last day of the challenge, October 31, we’ll all weigh in again and whoever loses the most weight percentage wise wins the $$$!

Remember on my Facebook page (why don’t you like it?!) when I said I was starting to transition to an all natural, toxin-free lifestyle (post to come on that, too!)? There’s no excuse for me not to do this challenge. I think it’d look a smidge hypocritical if I’m chowing on Chick Fila in the break room watching my coworkers suffer but hey I’m wearing all natural/toxin-free skincare can you tell. It literally will not kill me. I (probably) will not die from trying to eat better and exercise.
Coincidentally, the day I found out about the fitness challenge one of my dental hygienists turned friend (hi, Jennifer!) posted she was starting the Whole 30 challenge the same day our fitness challenge started. I’m a skeptic so I read up on wtf Whole 30 even is, decided it didn’t sound like a cult, and joined her. The hardest thing about this challenge? No alcohol. Or butter. Or sugar. KILL ME. (No, no. Don’t. I put this upon myself and not drinking will not kill me. Right? I mean, the sugar withdrawals might do a serious number on my psyche, though.) My goal is not to transition to a Whole 30 lifestyle 100%, although that might work for some of you, it’s more of a reset for me. A test of what’s left of my will power, if you will. I’ve never been one to go out of my way to be challenged, but I’ve found myself this year asking for hard stuff to be handed to me. (Don’t ever do that, btw. Because it happens.) The only reason I can think of to not do this is because it will be hard. (But Whole 30 kinda busted that theory out of the water.) AND I QUOTE:

“It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.”

*Gulp* Besides, who couldn’t benefit from a little challenge?

WHAT IS WHOLE 30?

I’m the wrong person to be asking since I literally just read about it four days ago, but I’ll try to sum it up. Whole 30 is a 30 day challenge where dairy, sugar (real or artificial), beans and legumes, alcohol (even in cooking), MSG and all grains are banned. You can eat whatever you want–inside those parameters. (Jennifer made ranch!) The point is not, however, to cheat the system and make Whole 30 approved pancakes or ice cream. (Don’t get them started on pancakes. Geez.) The point is to rid your body of junk and to teach it to live almost like a caveman, if cavemen had almond milk. Whole 30 will never hold a gun to your head and force you to eat anything. (It’s an inanimate website. It can’t.) It simply gives you a list of yeses and a list of nos. Abide by them. You’re an adult, for God’s sake. No cheating, no weigh-ins, no slips for 30 days. If you want to read more from the website itself, I’d start here, then go here, and end up here. If you’re serious, just read the whole thing!

 

WHY AM I DOING THIS?

I once did a juice cleanse for five days (but ate dinner!) and got dozens of weird looks and comments that sounded like, “why are you doing that,” “that’s so stupid,” “you’re an idiot,” “you look ridiculous,” “I’d be so hungry. I can’t understand why you’d want to do that,” “why are you licking the counter where I just made a sandwich,” so God knows I’m not doing it for the attention. My goal for years growing up with insanely low self-esteem was to lose weight. I’m talking the entirety of my teenage/early 20s. That damn BMI scale screwed up my brain and I always thought I needed to lose 20 pounds. (I didn’t.) After I got divorced and finally found some self worth, I decided I liked myself! (WHAT A CONCEPT!) Like, loved myself for the first time in 22 years. It was pretty awesome. Then I moved to Dallas and started a list of restaurants I had to try, and while (most) everything I’ve eaten has been utterly delicious, I’d like to maybe save some money and cook more at home. And hey, maybe eat a little better too while I’m at it. Oh, and probably do that workout DVD that literally has six layers of dust on it because I haven’t touched it since I moved. I just want to be a better steward of this kick-ass body while I’ve got it.

THE PARAMETERS:

  • Fully complete Whole 30 with no cheat days or resets
  • Exercise at LEAST three times a week, preferably five
  • Only water and black coffee
  • NO sugar
  • NO alcohol
  • NO grains
  • NO dairy
  • NO beans or legumes
  • NO artificial anything
  • ONLY what is on the approved list and what I make from it
  • Ignore the haters
  • No weigh-ins for 30 days

THE GOALS:

  • To challenge myself and win
  • To lose one jean size (losing weight isn’t my ultimate goal, but it’s a welcomed side effect)
  • To develop a habit of working out consistently
  • To treat dis body good, girl, and mean it

 

So here’s to me! Here’s to treating my body better and ultimately feeling better. Here’s to the next 30 days.

 

Today is August 8, day 8 of 92 of the fitness challenge and day 7 of 30 of Whole 30. Be sure to follow me on Snapchat (@melodyrich) where I’ll be documenting all my meals!

xx

Granny Shades by the Water

See? I really did add more dresses to my wardrobe! A few weeks ago, Old Navy was having an $8 sale on dresses and this is one of the three I snagged. I don’t normally go for brighter colors but I’m glad I jumped on this one. It’s one of the more flattering dresses I now own! It also has adjustable straps. Very cool.

I was entirely too hot for anything other than the thinnest dress imaginable. We took the water taxi over to Charleston and walked around a bit to get a feel for the town. When I tell you that my entire body was covered in sweat, I mean my entire body. Okay? 

dress: Old Navy, booties, earrings: Forever21, sunnies: thrifted

I’m eternally grateful to my past self for buying these flat booties. They’re pretty masculine and I love them. They’re also fuede*. Have you ever been to Charleston? I’d love to go back with a much smaller group and explore the city more and learn all its history. What were your favorite places?

xx

*fuede: [fwaid] fake suede.