It ain’t for me, babe. It ain’t for me.

The immense danger of relationships is that they bring out both our best and worst selves. At best, we give with abandon. At worst, frightened of our own vulnerability, we disregard the emotions of our partner in ways that we wouldn’t a friend or an acquaintance.

It seems a cruel joke, both inevitable and horrible, that we find it so difficult to treat the people we care about the most with the dignity they so much deserve.

This more than anything else makes me want to be alone. The energy it takes to be wrestle with my own resistance to vulnerability and fear of being hurt combined with the energy it takes to protect the vulnerability of another and to protect myself from the defensiveness and offensiveness that vulnerability might incur in another is exhausting.

It is amazing how much hurt and tumult can be bound into one relationship.

Most recently I quickly was branded as an overreacting, crazy lover of drama. I was the target of misdirected anger. Many times I have been shut down and shut out.  I have caused multiple men to go cold, to find themselves bored and too comfortable. I have been withdrawn from. I’ve been cheated on and left without being informed.

Frankly, I’m tired.
I’m tired of protecting myself in and from my most intimate relationships. I’m tired of giving without replenishment. I’m tired of having to get stronger just because I’m not dead.

I know that I’m not perfect, that I can be rough around the edges and stubborn.
But I also know that I deserve to be cared for in the way I care for others. I know that I deserve to be listened to and valued as a whole person, imperfections and all.

Unfortunately, when I look back over all of the many comings and goings, the math doesn’t really add up to a positive number. I’m too old and too cynical to ever believe that if I keep adding up wrongs, I’ll eventually make a right.

The thought that perhaps long-term or relationships with much depth are just not for me has returned and stayed longer each time it arrives.
This thought is often accompanied by the notion that my solitude may be a blessing because it frees me to focus my energy on more productive and more fulfilling things than the double-edged sword of relationships.

Until I can both love myself and love another and also be loved in return, I will choose myself and solitude every time. Unfortunately, this seems an impossibly high bar, so it is likely that I will and should make myself at home with a solitary life.

Inadvertently Single on the Northside

Both the details of being single and living on the Northside are kind of irrelevant to these stories. I just wanted to use that title.
No one has actually inquired if I’m single. In fact, one special gent insisted that I was not single, no matter how vehemently I (or anyone else) denied it, but we’ll get to that later. The fact that it occurs on the northside is also pretty irrelevant, as there tend to be drunk fools almost anywhere.

The only way the title is actually relevant is that all of the words contained within it are factually accurate. I was inadvertently single. I was on the northside.

Drunk fools #1 and #2:
One recent night, two drunk men approached my roommate and me. After some very drunk chatting, the chatter-upper of my roommate reaches across her to grab my left arm upon which I have a tattoo of the moon blowing stars around my arm. He looks at my tattoo, then at me and asks very seriously, “Are you a Vice Lord?”
To which I chuckled, “Do I look like I’m a Vice Lord?”

At this point, I turned to his friend, my chatter-upper, and ask, “Is that a line?…. Is that a good line?”
He just shook his head with that kind of slow-motion headshake that one reserves for the very saddest of sad things.

I don’t know if the headshake was because I’m so not a gangster or if the headshake was because chatter-upper/drunk fool #2  was in the middle of passionately telling me about how a visit to Augie’s ‘would change my life.’
Frankly, I’m more sold by Augie’s  attempts to secure a reality show than drunk fool #2’s pitch.

Drunk fool #3 and his unfortunate big brother:
The bar was pretty empty, so I suspect that drunk fool #3 approached us primarily out of lack of options.

I was able to convince drunk fool #3 to abandon his shitty beer for something slightly more beer-like. Grain Belt, I think. He claimed it tasted like earwax.

I never got a satisfactory answer about why he was so familiar with taste of earwax.

Eventually, my roommate and I got suckered into playing pool. Drunk fool #3 was my partner, and though I had warned him that I suck at pool, we played.

Sure enough, I sucked. But drunk fool #3’s positivity couldn’t be stifled. Every shitty shot earned a high-five and praise.

I give him an “A” for positive bullshit. If we could have won based on that alone, we certainly would have. His big brother and my roommate kicked our asses pretty thoroughly with actual pool talent.

Drunk fool #4:
Ballsy but misguided, drunk fool #4 sat down at the booth with a friend and I, whilst my roomie ran off to sing “Baby Got Back.” Regardless the intensity of denial, he proceeded to insist that my roommate and I were a couple. That was all very entertaining until he looked at the both of us and decided that “she’s the man.”

I’m like, “So let me get this straight: In this hypothetical relationship you’ve concocted for us, you’ve looked at the both of us and decided she’s the butch one?”
To which he replied, “Yes.”

The sad part is that I was genuinely offended by this.
As I stood up to walk away, he says, “I lust you.”

“Huh?” I responded, because not only did he not know how to use the word properly, it’s just how roughly 75% of the conversation had gone.
Then he said louder, “I lust you. Lust. You know this word?”
“Yeah,” I said, “I’m an English teacher. I know words sometimes.”

Anticlimactic end: Then I walked away and went to smoke with my “lesbian lover.”

My heart is a minefield

Honestly, I feel like a fool making such public declarations of having found love and then retracting them like a middle-class housewife with buyer’s remorse.

Also, honestly, this is not a retraction of love. It is a retraction of presence and not of my own. Everything I said about this love is still true. I would have spent a lifetime enjoying the better and wrestling with the “for worse,” but he has chosen to leave.

For the third time in a row, my lover has gone numb and has ceased to feel anything about me, so I probably should be more accustomed to the dull ache of indifference. But I am not.

I am obliterated, and I am exhausted.

I used to think I had a problem with men loving me. I don’t.
I have a problem with men loving me continuously and at the same time as I am willing (and able) to love them.

The typical trajectory – lasting from a few dates to a year – includes this:

Man really enjoys my presence. We laugh a lot.
Man gets scared because the novelty wears off and/or he’s afraid of commitment.
He leaves.
Three to twelve months later (longer for a few), he realizes that the same thing happens in all relationships, but when it does he’s in a relationship with a far shittier person.
He comes back. I get text messages, emails, etc.

The further complication is this: Healing requires scarring, and scarring does not really invite wounds in the same place. Instead, I repeat the cycle with fresh wounds really close to existing scars which is, perhaps, why I always expect a different outcome.

I have grown tired of prodigal lovers.

  • My first internet date was with a pudgy, balding, ginger who I’ll call “Mr. Applebees” because despite the fact that he lives in a city with a great deal of good food, Applebees was his favorite restaurant.
    He re-emerged with via email.

Mr. Applebees:

I responded by sending him a link to Sex and the Pity.

Mr. Applebees:

Me:

Mr. Applebees:

I was trying to tell him something.

  • Fuck You: Chapter 1 has periodically re-emerged even from his re-emergence which is an odd thing because our four “dates” consisted of this:

    1) We talked and he asked to go out “sometime.” I informed him that “sometime” meant that night or in six weeks after I have back surgery and settle down on the narcotics. He came to a bar I liked and then insisted that we ditch it for a bar he liked.

    2) A month after surgery, he came over to hang out with my invalid ass, and I made him watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 with me. He was not amused.

    3) Whilst I was still recovering, we go out. We have some drinks and then climb to the top of an abandoned granary in Minneapolis with a group of his friends. I go home and read my back surgery manual. It says “avoid stairs.” I took extra narcotics that night.

    4) A few years later, I was an idiot and flew to Arizona. We have drinks. He ignores me for the rest of my weekend. I went hiking and to a Bluegrass festival.

  • Fuck You: Chapter 2 has also texted. I responded with a link to this post. He misidentified himself as Fuck You: Chapter 3.

  • Fuck You: Chapter 3’s reinterest was as short-lived as his initial interest.

  • The alcoholic finalist for you’re pretty cool has unsuccessfully attempted a reappearance or two. Fortunately, he became far less attractive, when I realized how much he drank and how rarely he did not. Also, he said these words, “Hydration is a myth.” True story.

  • The other finalist – a resident of Nebraska – disappeared as quickly as he reappeared. In shame, I assume. I’ve learned that booty calls that cross state boundaries are ill-advised. Stupid, even.

  • Mr. elicitor of stabbery knows better than to try to really re-emerge, but he has since learned that sometimes love (much like war) is, well, boring, and that’s okay. Because I still think he’s a decent person, I’ll spare him the full Sex and the Pity treatment.

  • And others who have escaped previous comment on Sex and the Pity occasionally emerge .

    • The man who became exceptionally awkward when I commented on his use of the word “retarded” as a synonym for “stupid.”

    • And one who should have most certainly been included for leaving me for an “almost twenty-one year-old.” He finally came back saying all the things I told him upon the exit he neglected to inform me about. “I don’t know what I was thinking,”  “She just wanted my money,” and my personal favorite, “You are the best woman I’ve ever been with, certainly the smartest.”
      Yes, but not smart enough to avoid it in the first place…

This is all to say that attempts at mutual love have been a long and laborious journey – much like travel through Nebraska – it all pretty much looks the same, and that makes me sad.

Now, I am doing my best walk through the pain, to acknowledge it but not avoid it.
I am not allowing myself distraction with people who will make me feel wanted but whom I will ultimately hurt.

I talk big about being happy alone.

At this moment, I am not, and the ugly truth is that I have rarely been alone for any extended period of time because I break my contentment with a fresh start on the same old trajectory.

So I am working at being alone.

I suppose my current discipline is a step of faith that I can and will be content in my solitude, but for now it is merely discipline.

I am stepping gingerly through the minefield of my heart, reactivating the tripped mines.

It is a healing of sorts, I guess.  A wholeness that only scars can bring.

 

On discovering that love is not all fun and games

Six months in: the love of my life is still the love of my life.
I have never been more confident about that.

Every little thing that matters, every red flag that ever waved before is white.
It’s miraculous, in that I never before believed that I would not have to sacrifice parts to myself to love and be loved.

And he loves me. Perfectly. Because he knows me better than any person on earth. Perhaps, at times, better than I know myself, and he STILL loves me.

That is not to say that our road has been smooth. There have been challenges that we deserve honorary years for.

My heart is learning to be whole (a condition to which it is wholly unaccustomed). I am also learning that I am my own formidable foe, perfectly willing to get in the way of my own happiness.

But there is also this: Our challenges are just that. Challenges.

My love challenges me to become a better, stronger, more open, more authentic person through our relationship (as opposed to learning those things by having survived the relationship).

And he challenges me by doing it himself – by loving authentically, by being open in the face of insecurity, and by choosing always to grow rather than escape.

Loving him is at the same time the easiest and most difficult thing I have ever done.

Easy, because we fit each other so perfectly. Difficult, because he challenges me to face parts of myself that I have never loved thoroughly enough to encounter, parts of myself that, in the past, were more trying to confront than being alone. Again.

Loving him is difficult.
Loving him is wonderful.
Loving him is what I’ve been looking for.

Riding shotgun with cupid and other reflections on turning thirty

Getting older ain’t no thing.

The last year has been a roller coaster of sorrow and hope and grit. At every turn, I am amazed at the order life makes out of disorder when seen from a far enough distance, amazed at its ability to fall together in ways I would have never foreseen, amazed at its tenacious beauty in light of the shadows.
I’ll spare you the details of the roller coaster, but suffice it to say that my year was filled with love and loss, sorrow, disappointment, reconstruction and moves. You know, the normal stuff. But more.

In reflection, I am humbled. I am blessed, and I have so many reasons to be thankful for thirty years.

I am blessed with a group of family and friends who rally for me when I need them, who are willing to help me move me twice in a summer, who let me cry without shame in public, if necessary, and who don’t give up on me despite my workaholic tendencies.

I get to spend every day with some of the best people I have had the honor of meeting on this planet. My school is an amazing place. Both students and staff are talented and passionate individuals who enrich my life by sharing a great love for learning and for a place where students can learn to become their best selves. Both the staff and students make me a better, more loving, content, and passionate person. There’s no place like home with the LGAwesome family.

After years of internet dating, it turns out that I had been working for 2½ years with the love of my life.
Just as I let my internet dating memberships expire, got myself a kitten to ward off loneliness and decided to quit, what I expected to be a friendly brunch happened. It was all over. .
Every day I find myself more in awe at how perfectly my love and I fit each other, at how lucky I am to be loved by him, and at how very unfair the path that led me to this place once seemed. Through the lens of my love for him, even the best of my previous relationships seem like settling. AND the feeling is reciprocal, the most magical and elusive of all loves.

And then there’s this:

Points awarded if this interaction is as cool to you as it is to me. And if it’s not, get educated.
Bitches, I be riding shotgun with cupid.

As I turn thirty, I will be approaching my two year anniversary of starting boot camp at Sgt. Peterson’s. As a result of this new routine, I have become more committed to creating an active lifestyle for myself. Physical exercise has become both a leisure activity AND a necessity for sanity. I have found myself willing to challenge myself to a degree that wouldn’t have occurred at any other time in my life. Consequently, I am in better shape than ever before. I have lost more than 5% body fat. I have run two 5Ks and have signed myself up for the toughest event I could find: the Tough Mudder. My knees no longer bother me. I feel healthy and unstoppable – both physically and mentally.

In these thirty years, I have learned a few things, many of which took me too long to learn.

  1. There is nothing wrong with a drink or two to get you through housework.
    When moving, a higher drink to work ratio is acceptable.
  2. We are all stronger than we give ourselves credit for. Find people who believe in your strength and allow them to push you until you believe in it yourself.
  3. I am small. Therefore, my problems are small. The worst that will happen to me is miniscule in the scope of human suffering.
  4. I am both powerful and powerless. As any human, I have the capacity to touch lives around me, but I am only one factor in each of these lives.
  5. Work hard. Love hard. Be authentic. It’s more powerful than unions.
  6. Don’t let romantic relationships take the place of friends and family. You’ll need them when things fall apart.
  7. Love god. Love people. By loving people, we love god. And it doesn’t really matter if that god is the unutterable name of the Judeo-Christian tradition, or Brahman, or whether there is nothing. Service is its own reward.
  8. I can’t love others unless I love myself. It is also difficult to love myself without loving others.
  9. There will never be enough time for all of the things I want to do. Life is about constantly shifting priorities.
  10. “When you know, you know” sounds like bullshit until it doesn’t.
Thirty also brings this reality: Life is short, and I have so much left to do.
But don’t let that read as disappointment. It’s not. I have already done and daily do the things which satisfy me most. I love and I am loved in return. I laugh and learn daily. I live a life of service, and that is what allows me to go to bed every night and wake up every morning satisfied.
My life is full – whether it ends tomorrow or in sixty years.

Here’s to another thirty years of living, loving, and serving.
L’chaim!

Dredging the Lake

Match is at it again, dredging the depths of their vast testosterone inventory to find only the most suitable suitors for me.

Here are a couple of gems.

Meet chu1010

Of all the unfortunate (and rather appropriate) places to prematurely end a sentence, this man has it nailed. Don’t worry, Meet chu1010, I am less likely to want to shoot you and more likely to want to shoot myself in wherever it is that stores my short-term memories and processes visual images.

Thanks, Match.

Winona341

Of all the shitty matches Match has deemed fit for me, this one may take the cake. This one says, “There is no actual process. This is all just as random as real world you get to live in for free – complete with advertising in all corners.”

Good news: This scam and I are a good match because “he” is “athletic and toned”.

Vote of Confidence

I’m pretty sure that Match’s most recent matching algorithm consists of: *Shrug* Fuck if I know…

These gems were all contained within one day’s set of “matches.”

“Eligible” Bachelor #1: YOUNGCOWBOY28

Aside from his inexplicable caps lock and splitting of one word into two smaller one-syllable words, I guess we could be a match.
FUCK THAT, MATCH.
FUCK THAT.

Enjoying camping, drinking, and dogs is not enough to bring two people together. Trust me, I’ve tried that shit.

Next.

“Eligible” Bachelor #2:  Ladieslovesandme

Can you say, “codependent”? “My favorite place is your favorite place.” “I like to do, what u like to do hopefully shopping, cooking, and putting on makeup.”

Wow.
Also, fuck you and your pixelated, lego-faced second picture.

“Eligible” Bachelor #3: b_t_hellam1

I think Match may have momentarily gotten me confused with my crazy sister who would love to date and marry a nondenominational protestant minister (for marriage #4) with whom she could relax, read the Bible, and watch Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

“Eligible” Bachelor #4: D8M4

You know, this fucker’s not so bad (comparatively) except that he listens to shitty music.
Still, fuck him.

Also, fuck this.