Feelin’s and Stuff


I was married very young, and since my divorce 12 years ago, I’ve spent the majority of that time being single. Partly because my primary focus was my daughter; I would only go on dates when she was with her father – lots of men objected that they wanted more of my attention and I refused to compromise my time with her. Also, having been in a difficult marriage, I was convinced I knew exactly what I needed in a partner. 

As often as not, the men I was interested in didn’t like me back or wanted other things than I did so these entanglements ended quickly. The three relationships I HAVE had were with people I loved passionately, but ultimately had unhealthy dynamics. My pattern for relationships was that they last either two weeks or two years. Literally nothing in between. 

After my last incredibly painful breakup I realized I needed to reset my radar. I had attracted/been attracted to people who were utterly ill-suited for me. I came awake to the sense that though I very much want to be in a loving committed relationship, it is in fact better to spend time and energy loving myself and being alone, than in or seeking a bad relationship. 

Thing is, it didn’t exactly turn out that way. Last fall, to take advantage of the superior school district where he lives, my daughter went to go live with her dad full time and I became the weekend parent. Without her to focus on as my day-to-day top priority I got bored. And lonesome. So, even though I wanted to spend time not focusing on romance, it became basically impossible to resist the temptation to start dating again. 

So, I went on dozens of terrible dates. Wasted time with people I knew were wrong for me. Tumbled into bed too soon a few times. Got hung up on guys that I shouldn’t have looked at twice, and hurt people I meant only to care about. 

It was freaking horrid. 

And then I imposed a dating hiatus. I gave myself a 6 month time frame to spend focusing on other things and refused to consider “looking for love” 

And it was freaking awesome. 

I took up running. I started eating better. I got back in the habit of going to the gym 3-4 times a week. I entered therapy. I worked on writing more regularly. I played my guitar and read. I did all the things I tend to neglect when my focus is on dating. 

Then when my 6 months was up, I dove back in and did all the same things I had done before I took my hiatus – but worse. 

It became clear to me that my search for a partner had all the trappings of an addictive/compulsive behavior pattern. I would rationally decide what approach was best and healthiest and then fail to do any of those things in the heat of the moment. I would fall back into the same unhealthy and self-destructive patterns as soon as I allowed myself the freedom to engage at all. 

So. I quit dating altogether. I don’t have an end game for this. I have made a profound lifestyle change without any expectation of giving it up. Like an addict, I look at it as a one-day-at-a-time process. I’ve structured my life around focusing on other things; I started mentoring a 3rd grader, I’m training for a triathalon, and I got a dog. All of this helps, but there are still moments where the longing for someone to share my life with all but overwhelms me. I am happy to say that with all these other soul-nourishing activities, those moments are fewer and much further between than they once were. 

All that being said, I remain open and hopeful that somewhere along the course of my much happier and fulfilling life, I will meet someone amazing with whom I can share it. Even still, I don’t intend to “date” anyone. I imagine that if I do meet someone along the way, we’ll  spend time doing things we both enjoy, get to know each other, and build intimacy that can lead to something romantic once we have the true measure of one another without the frenzied pace and enormous expectations that dating can create. 

It’s been going well so far. I’m only a few months in, but the oppressive loneliness and exhausting anxiety have eased considerably. I can’t say if it’s the right path for anyone else, but my own journey is a much happier and more peaceful one on account of it. 

I am in one. Not the good kind, that makes one want to shakes one’s booty. The bad kind that makes one want to mope and moan and crawl into bed for weeks on end. Probably for the best there is simply no chance of that last thing working out. 

Gotta walk the doggy friend.

Maybe if I listen to some Funk, it will help shake me out of mine… Worth a shot. 

BRING ON THE JAMES BROWN!

 

Sing it, Mavis! Testify!!

At least, that is what I like to tell myself…

But sometimes, it is very hard to remember to sit still awhile.

 

 

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it can be hard to tell the difference

[vee-uh-muhnt] 

adjective

1. zealous; ardent; impassioned: a vehement defense; vehement enthusiasm.

2. characterized by rancor or anger; violent: vehement hostility.

3. strongly emotional; intense or passionate: vehement desire.

4. marked by great energy or exertion; strenuous: vehement clapping.

“I know you’re an emotional girl. It took a lot for you to not lose your faith in this world” Billy Joel

I am, and have always been, a passionate person. I am nearly never ambivalent; only infrequently apathetic. I have opinions, beliefs, desires, and I am not afraid to share them, speak my truth, and advocate for what I want. 

I realize this makes some people squirm and I’m totally comfortable with that.

 I do not need, or even particularly desire, that anyone should subscribe to my particular set of universal truths. I declare them so that we may both know our relative locus in space; to best determine if we will fall into orbit around one another or bounce off at acute angles and speed away accordingly.

It seems strange and even occasionally malicious to me that not everyone seems able to do the same. In these moments when I am wounded thereby, I must remember the fears that I have learned to draw close to me; to look upon them with a tender eye and coexist more peaceably.   To accept that for some people, the prospect of discovering and declaiming their deepest truth is the most frightening possibility imaginable. 

To be grateful I have never known how that feels firsthand. 

 

And Not Knowing has lead to some crying, today.

 

 

“How cruelly sweet are the echoes that start, when memory plays an old tune on the heart!” 
― Eliza Cook

 

We enter this life as creatures infinitely adaptable. Born unto uncertain fate, we must win the devotion of those around us in order that we may survive. When we succeed, to whatever extent we do, we codify the process by which this was achieved; it becomes The Writ Of Love. For better, or worse.

I recently sat across a very short space and an even briefer acquaintance from someone who, in response to an offhand remark said knowingly,

“Ah. So, your picker is broken.”

I was taken aback by this pronouncement, and instinctively rose to defend myself, but upon swift reflection realized that insofar as the person who said it was concerned, it was true enough not to bother.

Yet regardless of the veracity of the assertion, its implication got under my skin; that I am somehow fundamentally incapable of selecting a good partner for myself. Clearly, if history is any guide, my track record is pretty lousy – but this can be said of virtually  anyone  who isn’t currently happily partnered.

I have been devoted to the considerable work of tending to myself for the first time in my life and I have made such progress as to render myself nearly unrecognizably happy and content. So then, I bridle at the prospect that any  part of me is broken.

Instead I can approach myself with compassionate understanding that my template, formed a lifetime ago, was based on a love attained only through absolute prescient submission to will and whim alike.  

And while I can intellectually encounter this information with full realization of its incapacity to nurture a healthy, supportive, reciprocal love, I cannot yet divest myself of the emotional responses inherent to that model. 

Which means I both attract and am attracted to, bullies.

Not the best news, ever.

If I internalize this information,  I begin to extrapolate on the theme and wonder if the very fact I am attracted to someone condemns them to being a terrible choice for me as a partner.

This troubles me mostly because this would, in some respect, require me to be omniscient; and as much as I think of myself, I have never really gone so far as to embrace that particular conceit. 

Attraction, in my experience is binary, instant, and irreversible. By which I mean to say, I am attracted to someone before they ever open their mouth. And no action, words, or deeds of theirs seems to change this response. Thus, I am drawn to them before they have a chance to demonstrate they are a bully.

Yet almost without exception (there really is just the one) it has proven to be true. How then, can I tell? Is it as I frequently claim, all in how they smell? Is there a hormone which expresses a demanding sense of emotional entitlement? A pheromone for bully? 

And if all this is so, how can I hope to edit this most profound and hard-wired inclination? How do I make congruent all that I desire with all that will serve to create the most nurturing and complimentary love?

Modern medicine is coming awake to the realization that sometimes, people are sad, or sick, because the wrong kind of things live inside of them; ideas, certainly, but also critters. Gut bacteria are the greatest arbiter of our ability to properly maintain a correct neurochemical balance, digest and absorb essential nutrients. What if the circumstances of childhood  – stress, access to daylight, proper nutrition – dictate what can survive inside of us?

The microorganisms that live in our bellies and on our skin, create the scent that surrounds us. What if in those early years, the only encounters with tenderness I was exposed to suffused the air with chemicals that cried submit  and yield. And this, as my template, literally flavored my experience of love for the rest of my life heretofore? What if all that could endure my internal landscape were those beasts who can withstand terror, tolerate constant worry, and survive total dominance?

Then I am left with a rather more practical consideration; how do I influence myself now, to thrive on peace, crave support, and yearn for equity? To create the change both conscious and chemical?

I believe the good work of shedding that which does not serve me is well underway.  The effort of creating in me conditions which will nurture such change. In so doing I can only hope to welcome near that which will crave only what serves me best.

Perhaps a transplant is in order…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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