Dating but…

Just a little break from work and school stuff to share something I’ve been pondering the last week or so.

This pretty much applies to my single friends, but of course, anyone’s thoughts are welcome.

So…I’ve been dating for a couple of years now. If you know me, you know that the whole dating scene was pretty new to me after the divorce, right?

Let’s just say I’ve learned and continue to learn so much about myself and about my own patterns (good and bad) through this process. It’s easy to go where I am comfortable, even if comfort is not in my best interest.

If there is interest on both sides, I am learning the value in sticking with one person at least to explore each other for a time and not going on other dates during that time frame.

A dear friend and I had this conversation and I found so much significance in it. Online dating gives us the constant option to keep looking ‘for the next best thing’ and in doing so…we aren’t being present and exploring what’s right in front of us.

Why? For me, I think when I started dating, everyone just told me this is what we do…date lots of people…so I did with the exception of those two relationships. Honestly…not so fabulous.

All of that said…I have an observation. Out of the ‘sample population’ that I have dated…there have been a couple of relationships, many first dates, and a few several time dates. I think that sums it up.

Out of all of these, I can name only 3 people who have been totally honest with me. I mean honest in saying what their intentions are, whether they be a long term relationship, marriage, fun, or just sex. Three men. Not cool. (except one that was a little creepy honest and I could’ve done without that).

I get it if you aren’t sure what your intentions are…say it. I get it If you desire nothing but a sexual relationship, say it. To engage someone on this level and indicate that you want a relationship when that is not at all the truth…just a jerky thing to do. Give them an informed option.

I’m quickly losing my naivety but don’t want to become jaded in the process.

If you want to explore your relationship with someone and would like that to be something you are on the same page about, say it.

And for goodness gosh sake, if you are no longer interested, please, please, please be honest and kind and tender. Don’t just disappear. It is mean and it is cowardly.

We can all be grown up’s, right?

It just feels like dating increases the likelihood of disposability, like people are seen as objects rather than humans with a heart, emotions and a brain.

So…what’s your view? I am kinda not in the mood for jokes, I am truly seeking thoughtful feedback.

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TRY

I wasn’t going to write tonight.  Each time I had started to do so, I came up with nothing but feisty, unkind, passive aggressive wording, yet, here I am.  Thanks to the love, prayers, positive energy and encouragement that surround me, I have decided to try to be brave and share my heart.  Let’s hope I don’t regret it in the morning.

This is not a pretty post.  Not at all.  It’s kind of ugly and I just pray that I keep it about my experience and not someone else’s story.  Whatever.

I am in the middle of learning some tough lessons.  About myself, relationships, the difference between love and lust…so much.  So fucking much.  Lessons that I expect I ‘should’ have down by down at the ripe age of 46.  I guess after being with one man for 23 years, I’m not joking when I say I am like a teenager at times and these growing pains are simply yuck.

My heart aches.  Deeply.  Every time I face rejection from a man, in any aspect, it’s like I bring into it a lifetime of rejection.  It rapidly becomes all about everything I am not rather than about what the situation really is.  Tonight, someone I am particularly fond and who has been precious (in my eyes) ‘defriended’ me on social media.  Really.  So familiar to what I hear my teenagers struggle with at times.  I don’t even know why.  It doesn’t matter.  It stung and started a flood of tears that I can’t seem to stop.

An onslaught of failures, lies and struggles suck me in.  Failed marriage. Poor choices. Less than. Never enough. Won’t happen. Negligent. Disorganized. Scattered. Settled for. Two faced. Fat. Broken. Messed up. Crazy. Damaged. Wounded. Stubborn. Less than, again. Optional. Disposable. Debris. Stupid. Boring. Too much. Not enough, again. Temporary. Unworthy. Plain. Short hair. Gross. Hurting. The list goes on.

Through it all, my mind keeps hearing the words of a dear friends prayer for me, along with a sermon that I have listened to numerous times lately.  It’s all about the story we tell ourselves.  We might tell ourselves something that is not necessarily a lie, but instead a twisted up version of the truth.  It really pinged my heart because I know that I tend to live in the truth of my story instead of the truth of who God really made me to be….especially in regard to my relationships with men.

I am happily confident in my job, work hard in school, and adore my internship.  I am a magnificent friend, the best Momma for my kids and try hard to fill my other roles with all the love, giving, compassion and care that I can give.  Bottom line, I feel ‘good enough’ in these roles for the most part and when I don’t, I make changes accordingly.  That’s one Sarah.  She knows who she is and what she wants.  She believes it is just as important to play hard as it is to work hard; she is not hesitant to go for what she wants.

Then…there is the Sarah who sees herself as disposable.  She is seeking a real and deep love, a true connection with a gentleman that holds truth and freedom in it.  She is looking for the hands that will hold her heart with love, gentleness and protection.  She knows she has much to give BUT….this woman sees herself as a young girl who is overweight, awkward, painfully shy and unwanted.  No matter how she ‘looks’ to others, and despite the way she works on positive changes…she mostly sees herself as someone broken, deeply lacking or undesirable.  This feeling sucks. I know it’s not truth, but it ‘feels’ truthful in the moment and operating from that truth leads to a plethora of poor choices.  Choices that disregard who I am at my core and what I hope for in this life.  Choices that are made out of a fear of being without companionship.  Choices that give a temporary band-aid to lonely feelings but absolutely do not result in long term fulfillment.  Choices that are made because there is gratitude that someone desires me vs. knowing it is a privilege to have time with me.

I’m not speaking to intentional choices I make as a grown woman to participate in relationships that are fun, fulfilling in their own way and not long term.  I am referring specifically to participating in relationships knowing full well that it won’t be what I want it to be, but choosing to believe I can change it to what I desire.  I can BS myself like no other, but don’t worry, I speak the truth to others.  So often that it gets me in trouble…not everyone wants that.

The story that I tell myself is that I will never find the love of my life, so I may as well enjoy whatever the moment offers. I will not ever be ‘the one’ to someone special, so I shall act accordingly.   I’ve already had that, kind of, so God wants me to live the rest of my life alone and serving others.  (I put those words to God, nothing I feel from him). I may as well go for the men who are not going to be long lasting, because in the end, they will leave.  So why choose the ones I will really give my heart to? They too, will leave.  Both will hurt but the latter will hurt far less.  Choose the lesser of two evils, right?  In the process, I am getting hurt and I am hurting others…unintentional as it may be.  All of my protective forces are accomplishing nothing worth mentioning.

Who knows what of this is true and what is not?  I know I am supposed to honor who I believe I am…a brave, worthy, happy, truly loved by God, whimsical, whole and surrendered woman.  That is who I believe I was made to be, yet when I am engaging with men I am willing to trade that in for whatever they need me to be.  That’s got to be better than what I really have to offer, right?  Better even, let me serve as therapist and best friend ever, maybe even as a nurturing mom role.  Ewwww.  But it comes so natural.

A precious friend recently told me that “God made me and his work is always beautiful”.  I love that friend and his heart.  I want to believe his words.  My heart agrees, it is beautiful…my brain taunts me by letting me know I’ll never measure up.  But to who?  How long am I going to let others opinion of me determine how I view myself.  It’s ridiculous.  Real stuff, but ridiculous.

I have a safety plan.  Another dear friend and I have a ‘twenty year plan’.  If neither of us are married at age 60, or in 20 years…we can marry each other.  This is our little funny!  In truth, I freak myself out.  What if I die before then without experiencing the gift of a deep and abiding love with the ‘right’ man.  I know…God’s timing…it’s just so hard for me to trust.

I am tired.  I cannot believe I am ‘here’.  There are new crinkles around my eyes and I see faint wrinkles on the delicate skin of my neck. I can’t seem to keep up with the fastness of passing time.

My precious children…lots of love and hugs from them tonight.  That should be more than sufficient.  Why do I long for anything more?  I just do.  Even in my deep gratitude, there is a constant yearning.

This is my story.  I’m trying to figure out how to live in the truth of who I am…in ALL of the circumstances and with ALL of the people.  I am trying to let go of the story I once helped me survive and embrace the story that is truth.

This is my honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

Funk town

I’ve been waiting on pins and needles for a dear friend to get his pet scan test results today. Cancer was suspected. He is brave and accepting and when he called, I held my breath and waited for the news. ALL CLEAR. I am so grateful.
 
Spoke with another angel in my life who has struggled with a heroin addiction for years. I was sharing with him how different it was to learn the clinical side of heroin addiction versus seeing him struggle and suffer with it. Right now, he is doing well. Right now is all we have. Again, so grateful.
I received a schedule of the remaining classes I am to finish before I graduate in December.  Six classes, my internship hours and a HUGE project, and grad school will be done.  I get overwhelmed (aka freaked out) with the seemingly impossible task of finishing all of this in a timely manner, yet I am ecstatic about the possibilities.
I have been in a serious funk this week. It has taken the feedback of two dear friends, a sibling and my Momma to get me to see this.  I’ve been entirely consumed by something that has hurt my feelings,  and I’ve failed to remember all about how wonderful this life can be. 
I’m sad that someone I care about might think poorly of me, and I’ve been stuck on spin cycle trying to figure out how to ‘fix’ it.  In other words…how to best control the outcome.
That’s funny, right?  Control…doesn’t look very much like letting go.  Completely opposite of surrender or trusting the process.  Certainly not believing that I am right where I need to be and absolutely not absorbing joy because anxiety is winning out.  So.not.cool.
I posted some quote the other day…I can’t remember the exact words but I know it points to letting go of shit.  (but much more eloquent).  It’s possible to let go of the past while still clinging to the negative cognitions or emotions of it.  Thus, it has to be possible to LET IT ALL GO too.  I’m just not quite sure how.
I’m a little all over the place, please just stick with me because I’m confident that this all fits together some way.  (maybe?)
I’m a fairly confident person in my work, at home, socially, with family and friends, etc.  But, in relationships with men, I turn into an insecure teenager.  (not dissing teens, I just missed out on dating in those years so I’m fully experiencing the turmoil of it now, lol!)  I despise these feelings of doubt, worry, angst, less than, broken and not good enough.  I figure maybe someone else struggles with similar things, and if not…just enjoy a good giggle.
I have this ever growing list of thoughts and conundrums that would really be beneficial for anyone I date to know.  I am considering typing them up and handing them out on an index card on our first date.  Too weird?
Additionally, and important…this list is NOT directed at any person.  It’s just a gathering of my own collective experiences and I am certain that any man could quickly come up with a double the size list for me.
I have gotten immense value out of all of these experiences and although I’m frustrated in this moment, my frustration has far more to do with my own doings than anything else.
1)  If I have taken time out of my life to spend time with you in any capacity, this is a good indicator that I take interest in you and getting to know you.  Unless it is urgent, it would mean the world to me if you would refrain from texting, phone calls, or other technological conversations while we are together.  For the love of all things good, please take special consideration of this tip when it involves others you might be dating.  Despite the status of our connection, it’s just respectful.  I like to feel treasured and present in the moment together.  Doesn’t everyone like that better?  This has happened to me too many times to count and I can’t decide if it’s just today’s dating norm or if I am an attention hog.
2)  If we have been at the point of conversations previously that you have called me ‘beautiful’, ‘cute’, ‘incredibly smart’, ‘sexy’, ‘pretty’ or the like, please continue this during our time together.  Otherwise, I believe that you said what you needed to say to get me where you wanted me and that feels really yucky.  Again, I have chosen to spend this time with you because I take interest in you.  I do not need affirmation every five seconds, but it does feel nice to be noticed.  
I have my insecurities.  Just like my daddy said, “there will always be someone prettier, richer, smarter, etc but you aren’t better than anyone and no one is better than you.”  That is so freaking tough for this heart of mine to absorb.
3)  I can’t speak for everyone, just for me.  Feel free to hold doors open for me, walk me to my car, kiss me hello/goodbye and make sure I get home okay.  It’s just a thing.  When you do these things, I feel valued, safe, and cared for and I will return this tenfold.
4)  I think sex is fabulous.  I believe kisses are the best thing ever invented.  Being held is incredibly delicious.  That said, I also cherish hand holding, deep conversations, sharing views respectfully (even in opposition), laughing, being goofballs and doing things.  You know?  Human vs. object….huge difference.  Treat me like a lady, please.  It lets me know I matter to you.  
5) I am pretty darn cool, but am not anywhere near perfect.  I am intensely, constantly aware of this.  Chances are, you aren’t perfect either.  How awesome if we could build one another up and draw out the good rather than point out one another’s flaws. 
I am consistently working on personal, spiritual, physical and emotional growth.  However, I haven’t ‘arrived’ and doubt I ever will.  It’s all a journey.  If you are at the place that you have achieved perfection, we likely will not be a good match.  Perfection is exhausting…I know…I’ve tried.  I just want to be loved for who I am, don’t you?
6)  Be honest and be gentle.  It’s quite possible for the two to co-exist.  You are deeply interested in someone else, but you want to spend time with me?  Please give me the dignity of being upfront ahead of time and allow me to make a fully informed decision.  I might value you alot more than you know, trust is already hard for me and really don’t want to walk in blind.  Likewise, I will be honest with you from the get go.  I have made the error of not doing so in the past and it’s completely icky.
7)  We are both grown ups by this time in life.  We both bring baggage.  We also still have a lot of fabulous goodness in us as individuals and maybe as a couple.  Recently noted…focus too much on the baggage and old relationships and you will certainly end up in a stuck zone.  No fun.
I’m learning…so many different types of connections.  Just please be real.  Be genuine.  Be truthful.  Be forgiving.  Be present.  I’ll do the same, we are all learning.
I guess I’m holding onto some things.  
Let go.
It’s just stuff.
I’m sure it still all fits together somehow, but hell if I know the how of the some.
Whatever.

How to take baby steps when you must eat an elephant

I was trying to do a good thing this morning; I woke up at 4:30 a.m., without an alarm. I decided to use this unexpected wake time to read my Bible and write a bit, it’s been too long since I’ve allowed myself these self care luxuries. Even mentioning self care right now makes me cringe; it feels like just another thing that I can berate myself for not doing or not doing well enough.

Gut level honesty….My physical reflection results in more self loathing. Yes, I know that I “should” celebrate my health and the mere fact that I can walk. That ability, I will never take for granted again. I want to puke as I admonish myself for being overweight, walking ungraceful lso that I sound like a herd of elephants or dropping and hitting everything with “lefty”. I recoil when I consider how far I’ve gotten away from my God and our closeness. My thinking is stinking….PEE-YOU! Yes, I have complete and utter awareness of what I “should” be doing and thinking. My head and heart are dual forces fighting against each other. Pretty ironic since I chose serendipity and synchronicity as my words for the year.

I’m aware that this is a problem. My brain knows that if I don’t care for myself first the rest will suffer. My body and spirit support this theory by expressing their various random aches and emptiness. I think back to two days ago when I took a first baby step by going for a 20 minute walk. Although my legs and mind were in motion; my spirit was quiet and my tears were flowing. I cry often. I cry out of oppressed rage; underlying guilt; heavy shame and unexpressed fear. As of late, tears of uninhibited joy; belly laughter; overflowing gratitude; scary vulnerability; and loaded sadness are amiss. I have hidden those deep inside me as I stay in survival mode.

I sobbed uncontrollably in front of someone I care for deeply just a short time ago. I cried for yesterday’s gone and for memories remembered. I cried for unspoken hurts and persistent grief. I knew this person was terribly uncomfortable with my tumultuous emotions; yet the harder I tried to make myself stop crying, the harder I cried. The event ended in an ugly, heated argument between the two of us. I did stop crying but my unshed tears converted to a slow simmering of emotions inside that eventually boiled over and now here I am. There is an abundance of fierce intensity churning inside of me; I am at a loss at how to ‘deal’ with it. Baby steps.

There was a walk…now there’s writing. These are good beginnings, trying to climb out of my poop filled rut.

Returning to “trying to do a good thing”….I woke up this morning and knew it was time to do the writing I have been putting off for so long. This heart sharing is a part of my healing; it’s an integral portion of my self-care. The house is quiet except for the load of laundry that is working hard to get clean. There are two sweet, snoring puppies on the bed to keep me warm with soothing piano music playing in the background. My bedside lamp is the only light on. In preparation mode, I snuggle in my soft sheets, propped up on pillows with my laptop in tow. I read Ruth from the Bible and today’s devotional from Jesus Calling. I indulge in a few sips of crème brulee coffee with the perfect amount of creamer, it is just right. I am ready.

My coffee spills. My coffee spills all over the floor (knocked over by my non-jerky hand), it runs under my bed and into my school bag. (Breathe again, say goodbye to my beautiful cup of coffee, clean said coffee up with newly bleached white towel.) Crawl back under covers, resituate myself…ready. I don’t really know where I want to go with this post; I’m trying (“there is not try grasshopper, only do or do not.”) to trust God in this process and let it flow.

I have been in a relationship for the last few months; my first since the divorce. I am learning some incredibly great things about myself through this; and a few harsh realities. Here’s what I’ve got…

1) I don’t know how to play the games and when I try to play the games, I lose. I lose because I don’t like the games, nor do I care for rules that get made up as I go along; nor do I care for uncertainty. (I’ve always known that last one, just feeling it big as of late).

2) I know how to be a wife. I am not familiar with knowing how to be a girlfriend or even how to date.

3) My initial goal after the divorce of learning to love myself is still very much in play. Honestly, I just don’t know how to get there. I thought maybe I was still grieving my sweet daddy’s death and the divorce from my precious mate. Im realizing I’m only just allowing myself to grieve.

4) I need great therapist. So do you. We ALL need a great therapist. No one (self included) has the right to put you on a feelings timeline.

5) I am a danger to myself as I am still exceptionally able and willing to contort myself into any shape for someone else’s happiness. I forget easily that I am at great risk of drowning in someone else’s emotions.

6) Dating is not therapy. I am not a therapist. I am not my dating partner’s therapist nor am I their savior. Amen. The End!

7) Being desired as a woman feels like a luscious longing is being fulfilled. Desiring a man is grand. Reciprocity is extraordinarily wonderful. None of this fills a spiritual or inside void.

8) It is not okay for someone to berate you, control you, gaslight or mess with your head and heart, no matter how hurt they’ve been. Never, ever, never. Take note, sometimes it feels okay, even good. If their stinking words and actions match my stinking thinking this almost feels comfortable and affirming…I was right.

9) After 45 years of living and 23 years of living that life loving one partner; sometimes you think you are upset at the person you are dating and really you are upset at a memory, a loss of a dream, a projected fear, etc. There is wisdom in reflecting on where our emotions are coming from. (which is a much better option than shoving the emotions down or numbing them with oreos…ask me how I know).

10)Listen to your gut, follow your heart, don’t forget your brain. Working on these. Like my friend Jenny always says, it’s just practice.

I think that’s it for now. Breathing in lavender from my bedside diffuser and wishing I could go back to sleep for a couple of hours. Thanks for letting me do this writing thing. It’s good for my heart and my prayer is that someone reading this needs it too.

I’ll leave you with this simple profundity. How do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Baby bites if we must.

Namaste, peace, beauty and love to you,

S.