Dear Mr. Man

Dear Mr. Man,

I was super excited to go out with you because you seemed a little bit different. Smart, funny but serious too, and kind. I enjoyed hearing all about your health journey (initially).

Your muscles are amazing, I love them! Your smile is great, you smell nice (I would like your cologne to be less sweet). You are lovely to look at, good for a kiss, and very tall.

However…the fact that you are consistently referring to how awesome you look, how sexy you are (especially in comparison to other guys in your age bracket), what an exceptional lover you are, how intelligent you are and what a great catch you are ON THE FIRST DATE is really super unappealing.

Suggestion…maybe ask how I am, what I do, how’s the weather….anything that’s not about you. Obviously you are a busy man, as demonstrated by your strong connection with your phone. Although, I’m thinking you might have an even stronger bond with your mirror.

So…a bit of Wednesday Wisdom…It does not matter how beautifully the cake is frosted when the inside isn’t baked.

Just saying!

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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.

Dating sucks…or maybe it’s me

The first man…he prefers a woman with long hair.  Mine is on the shortish side and even when it’s long, it’s soft and baby fine.  He tells me he longs for a woman with a tight, thin body as I sit next to him thinking that no matter how hard I work out and how much weight I lose….my body will still have carried two babies and is marked with scars that mean life to me.  My breasts are small, my booty flat and my tummy round. I want to hide myself but there is nowhere to hide…so I distract him with humor or kissing or listening or whatever the situation calls for and I hope he cannot feel how much I have adored him and how sad I feel in this moment.

The second man doesn’t understand how an intelligent girl like me can believe in a pie in the sky mythical being.  How can someone who thinks for herself and is smart claim God and faith as her foundation.  He does not have a clue what I’ve been through and really has no interest in knowing. He might never grasp that all I wanted was to show him respect for his path and how deeply I hoped he could respect my own path.  He is not going to go deep into the topic.  The walls are palpable.  I can get up and leave or I can dive out of the discomfort and into his body.  I choose the latter.

Third guy…we have met in person, because we were at the same place at the same time.  We bumped into each other again on a dating site.  I had heard he thought I was flirting with him.  He was beautiful to look at yet I had been doing nothing but being my normal playful self.  He also knew he was hot…he just had that air about him.  We chatted a bit….teased about the flirting comment.  Before I know it, he is inviting me to be a friend with benefits.  If I just wanted eye candy, that may have served me well.  Friends with benefits I am not searching for, that’s been an easy come easy go disaster.  He still pops up with an out of the blue text now and then.  Just not gonna happen.

Last guy, he is a dear old friend going through a divorce.  He thinks it would be a great idea to ‘get together’ and he has been very explicit about what that might look like.  I know the depth of his loneliness and my heart aches for him.  I am not interested in being a distraction from his pain in that manner.  Gotta appreciate his asking though…I guess.

Just a teeny sampling of dating life as it is right now.  I’m feeling pretty down and out tonight.  I did something horribly stupid to someone I value greatly and I probably won’t be forgiven.  It is what it is. 

I am beginning to see that I have a habit of sabotaging something with great possibility before it has a chance to happen.  Just in case it doesn’t.  Guess what?  I am the one hurting and sitting in the shit I created.  Again.

I did this to someone dear that I dated a few months ago.  He cherished me.  Adored me.  Treated me like a gentleman treats a lady.  He is also the only person that I have been 100% myself with from the beginning.  He appreciated my intelligence.  He encouraged my feminine energies.  He laughed at my jokes and truly thought I was beautiful just the way I was.  He traced my scars (both the physical and emotional) and said they were lovely reminders of the preciousness of life.  He was kind.  I messed that up by doing something very hurtful and although I know we are not each other’s long time person, I am incredibly thankful for the experience and forever sorry for my actions.  He gave me a glimpse of what I deserve and that it is possible.

So…why, why, why do I feel more comfortable seeking out the men who I know are going to give me crumbs; see me as their back up, or just plain use me?  In saying this, please realize I am no victim of anything here.  With the exception of one toxic relationship, I have knowingly and willingly walked straight into, or even instigated, these types of relationships.

I seem to have a radar that tracks these men, specifically.  The ones who won’t last…and although I know this, I begin the process of wondering if it can work and how it will look.  EVEN THOUGH my head and heart both know better.

Lots of tears, guilt, shame and deep thoughts today.  I’m really trying to identify my own actions and behaviors that are a detriment to me.  I could blame others all day long but that’s useless…in the end, my unhealed stuff is what hurts me most.

A hot truth smacked me in the face this afternoon.  With the exception of the one dating relationship (that very healthy one where I was absolutely cherished), there is not one person with whom I have been purely me.

This only applies to dating relationships. I don’t do this in other areas. I think I so deeply want to be accepted and loved and I’m certain no one wants me for messy me.  This feels a little like desperation and the feeling makes me sick to my stomach and doesn’t at all line up with my desire to live authentically.  I’m still trying to figure out who I am as a single woman, not as wife and mom.

I have contorted myself all kinds of ways just to make sure I keep the attention or approval of some guy.  “Two-faced” would be painfully accurate here and getting this understanding feels like a punch in the gut.

Just in case there’s not ever a man who doesn’t think I am broken, I am striving to make sure I am going to be thin enough, pretty enough, sexual enough, fun enough, smart enough etc to please them. So far, save one precious soul, I have not been enough.

I mean…I’ve been enough to be a friend with benefits (again, my choice to walk into), but not enough to enter into something healthy with.  And those ugly tapes are loud.  If I were thinner, richer, louder, bigger boobed, not shy, blue eyed…whatever fits.  I type and I ask myself how in the world I could expect someone to cherish the real me when I have turned myself inside out to be someone else for them.

I feel so sad and ashamed. Desperate.  Icky.  A little unhopeful and maybe even a little scared.

Also, I feel that the way I’ve behaved at times, someone is going to not get my heart and instead view me as the crazy chick. Since I was raised by a mentally ill person, that terrifies me.

A wise person just asked me two hard questions.  “How would life look if I decided that I was not somebody who had to be settled for?” and “How would my dating life look if I decided you weren’t going to settle for anybody who didn’t want me exactly as I am?” .

I have often said I will not settle (I call bullshit on myself).  Never have I considered this perspective.  I absolutely believe if someone is dating me they must be settling for me.  That helps me rationalize that when someone better comes along, they will move on and that is to be expected.

Settle for someone who didn’t want me exactly as I am?  What else would I do?  I can be an expert chameleon as long as it means I am pleasing someone.  It is horribly yuck to admit that.

“Becoming all God sees you as begins with the courage to let go of all He doesn’t”…my list of the doesn’t(s) feels everlasting.  I’m so tired of putting myself in situations where I feel less than.  I do it.  I choose the opposite of what I desire because I know I will get that.  Ewww.

My heart hurts.  Learning to fully love myself is so super hard when I am trying to be someone else that ‘he’ might like better.

There’s got to be something better than this.

Loving me isn’t easy…

So…for dinner tonight we had our traditional Irish meal of freshly baked Irish soda bread, Corned beef with cabbage and potatoes and cherry cheesecake (because the one of the young leprechauns asked for it).
We aren’t Irish at all (I don’t think) but the preschool teacher inside of me will always enjoy these themed days.
Also, I should correct this to say “for dinner, I prepared” rather than “for dinner we had”.
We are a family of differing dietary preferences.  Stella enjoyed Irish soda bread with vegan chicken nuggets and cabbage (and made her own butterbeer floats for dessert). John had beef with potatoes and cheese on top, and of course bread…and I enjoyed a nibble of each.   He will probably have no problem finishing the cheesecake by himself…Stella won’t eat things containing gelatin (did you know it is made of animal bone marrow?) and it’s not on my diet…but it was fun to make.
I almost did not make this meal; the days of green eggs and ham are over and I know all about everyone’s individual needs.  Also, everytime we are around a holiday that was once celebrated as a family tradition (before divorce days), it’s a challenge for me to still celebrate.  It’s all about making a new normal, letting go of the old and building the new.  It’s hard work.
This season feels like it’s one of transition, and I must constantly tell myself to just hang in there.  Typing that out doesn’t even seem accurate.  Life, it’s all about transition and change but these days, it just feels very in my face.  I’m facing some old demons and really being given the opportunity to see who and what I am.  Simultaneously, there are new adventures and a bundle of fun.  I wonder if this is how my teenagers so often feel.
At the end of this month, my current work position will end and a new one will begin in April.  That seems like a good flow.  April is my favorite month, a time of new beginnings symbolically in now, in reality too.  My internship is getting busier and I really can’t believe that I will soon be a ‘real’ therapist.  It kind of freaks me out and I just pray that I continue to trust I’m equipped for this and step all the way into my gifts.  This part…it’s not about me.  It’s about so much more.  I can’t even express right now how grateful I am to be at this part of the journey.  My kiddos…I am catching on.  They really love each other but love looks different with teen siblings!
While this is all commencing, I am working on being the best me I can be.  I have a plethora of negative cognitions that I am trying to understand and reframe.  Why?  Because what once served to protect and serve me is now a futile energy force.  An example…
Recently, one of my dear sisters commented on how my body was so much smaller.  I immediately ‘phhhh’ed’ her and let her know I hated how slow my progress was.  She asked how much weight I had lost.  I told her I didn’t know bc  I was choosing to stay away from the scale, because it had way too much power over me.  (I keep intending to take measurements but haven’t done that yet.)  You know,  “I’ve looked at many before after photos of people who had lost weight and worked out…their scale said the same number but their bodies were completely different.”   She got exactly what I was saying….I don’t know if it’s a girl thing or a sister thing or whatever, but it’s nice to be ‘gotten’.
I didn’t (at that point) have a clue what my weight was.  I hadn’t weighed on a scale in six weeks.  What I did know…my jeans fall off of me without a belt; I’ve worked out every day for nearly 3 weeks; my energy is steady throughout the day and my skin looks good (except for a few breakouts).  That should’ve been sufficient, yes?
Nope.
I got right on that scale as soon as I got home from my sister’s house.  Guess what?  The flipping number is .07 more than it was the last time I weighed.  Guess what else?  This number sent my brain into tailspin mode. You see, it’s not just a number on the scale to me.  It’s a loud voice screaming inside my head that I will never be ‘hot’, it doesn’t matter, I should continue to seek out men who aren’t best for me because girls like me settle, etc, etc.  Ugly fucking thoughts that erased every positive thing I have noticed in the moments (hours) I spent going down that path.
It has taken me two days to begin to get into a better mode of thinking about myself.  There is so much negativity tied in a bundle for me around body image.  I am so thankful that I have strong legs, a healthy heart, a never ending ability to think and learn and so much more.  I hate that I get wrapped up in superficial shit, but I’m human, and I do.
It was not until Stella (my 14 year old daughter) was in the bedroom and she overheard me talking to myself in the mirror.  I don’t know my exact words but I know they were defeating and probably included the use of F-A-T.  She zipped into my closet and stood there with her hand on her hip; “Mom!  What do you think you are teaching me is important right now?”  There was no squirming away from the discomfort of her question.
How can I tell my children how very important self-love is and at the same time, demonstrate self-hatred at any level? I can’t, and it sucks.  Either I say what I mean and mean what I say or I don’t.
I’ve got work to do. It’s part of the transition. Maybe transformation is a better word. I don’t want to carry negativity forward.
Digging deep and learning what all of this is really about matters. There is certainly a part of me that feels more comfortable holding on to my image of a very pure, very good girl, and that girl is always wearing a mask.  Part of her mask is a cushy body.  There is another part of me that is very much enjoying my femininity, my sexuality and womanhood.  For some reason, I have it set up in my mind that she must look very different than me.  “She” must be in supreme shape in order to be worthy of those things.
I am trying to consolidate (still) that I can be very pure hearted, very good hearted, very God loving AND very authentic, womanly, sexy AND enjoy every minute of who she is.
I dream of a love story that I’ve yet to experience…it’s the one where I love myself deeply so that I can love others better.  People say loving me is easy…I am trying to find that truth for myself.