circling back

I’ve been single for the past seven months after a long-term relationship ended.

For much of the time we were together, we talked about marriage. And, in the end, we never made those next steps — and it’s better this way. I’ve made peace with it.

And then I focused on work and family.

A few months later as I was still focused on my own growth, I felt a little nudge like a small voice asking a question as it poked at the back of my head, on the right side, just at the base of my skull. This poking was persistent and specific; the question was “love?”

In no way was I ready to dive back into a relationship. My business needed my attention. And I have only a few more months of having a child at home… once again, more possibilities open on the horizon. I needed to get back into the energy of what I wanted to create — and, as I did, unresolved hurts from the past kept rising to the surface. I took on a mission of healing and clearing those persistent beliefs, stories and energies.

A strange thing began happening as I started doing this work: nearly every man I’ve dated in the past decade circled back in one way or another. Guys I haven’t heard from in years came out of the woodwork to say “hey” in my dms: one became a client, one invited me to play Words with Friends, one asked to catch up over dinner, one hit me up to learn more about the work I’m doing now — and even that most recent guy reached back out to express his disappointment that I didn’t try to repair our relationship (he even gave me an apology script) after it had ended (and then notified me two days later he was engaged).

It became a running joke among a group of girlfriends. “Who did you hear from this week?” became a regular question during phone calls or messages, with me occasionally sharing screen shots or photos.

As flattering as it may have been to suddenly and strangely attract all these fellows from the past, there’s only one who might have stood a chance. And, of course, he’s the one I haven’t heard from in five and a half years.

“What if you reached out to him?” my friends have asked.

Truthfully, I have. More than once. Following through on something I said I’d do. Checking in. Sharing a photo memory that made me smile. And ultimately to let him know that I’d forgiven him and was grateful to have experienced what we shared together, to have those feelings as a compass. And I’ve never gotten any sort of response to those handful of notes over as many years. Which is its own sort of response.

I know all this and it still hurts. And I’m still tempted to share the Facebook memory that popped up from six years ago from our time at the beach. And I still hope for at least one more conversation, an acknowledgement, some kind of closure that I haven’t seemed to be able to allow myself.

I’m learning to move forward again, to release the energy and heal the hurt that seems to come in unending layers, and to embody the energies of what I want for myself: love, tenderness, devotion, adventure, companionship, etc.

And still, I can’t help wishing he would circle back.

past to possibility

And here is the biggest realization of all in all this reflection: There was an energy I felt; there was an energy from which I attracted; and there was an energy I was in that relationship. The reason I loved him so much was because I also loved me so much:

  • I loved the way I showed up.
  • I loved wanting to be my best self every day.
  • I loved being loving.
  • I loved feeling playful.
  • I loved feeling feminine, sensual, vulnerable, sexy, connected, and naughty.
  • I loved the conversation and companionship.
  • I loved the ease and harmony.
  • I loved feeling warm, safe and expansive.
  • I loved having my needs met.
  • I loved feeling YES! in every cell of my body.

So I might never hear from him again. I may never experience a relationship like ours again. But I know I don’t have to create that again, because I can be all of those things. I can choose to live in that energetic place — and, for the first time in nearly six years, that feels accessible to me again. And, for the first time in my life, I have the knowledge, skills and energetic practice to sustain it.

owning my feelings, part 2

About six months ago, I wrote about taking ownership of my feelings and being responsible for how I felt in relationship to another. I wrote about how I had to shift my perspective to fully embrace a relationship with a man who was not who I wanted him to be, but himself.

In short, I had to take ownership of my happiness and the way I was showing up.

Looking back, I realize I was also settling. I allowed myself to stay in something for a long time because it felt secure and comfortable and okay, even if it didn’t light me up. The truth is that I was terrified to seek that lit-up-from-within love I’d felt before, because my experience with that kind of love was that it didn’t last. And the pain was so great I never wanted to feel that way again. (I still don’t.)

Healing past patterns

I’ve been doing a lot of intuitive energy clearing around the old wounds and energetic patterns, working to free myself from the karma of abandonment, unworthiness, and more. I’ve stared plainly into the face of the ways I’ve allowed myself to be treated and vowed “never again.” And, to be honest, it’s still been a struggle to release the hope / pain / futility of a relationship that began six years ago and ended three months later. Processing and healing the pain and trauma of that break-up is something I’ve had to take on in layers. It’s as though that one, seemingly insignificant life event became a portal or container for every ounce of unprocessed pain I’ve ever felt. In short, it felt karmic.

Forgiveness has not been easy. But it’s worth it if I can free myself to find that kind of love, support, warmth, expansiveness and freedom again in an intimate relationship with another human.

The worst in all of it is the advice givers, the “you need to be happy yourself” and “you need to be your own complete person” spewers. No doubt these things are true. But who says I’m not?

It’s possible to be happy and also very sad at the same time, to want to share a partnership and companionship — especially in this bizarre season of pandemic isolation — and to be perfectly capable of living a full life on my own. Haven’t I already proven this?

Creating from ‘hell yes!’

This is a long way of getting around to where I am, which is having shifted into a place of possibility. I’m open to meeting new people. I hope friends introduce me, or that we reach for the same avocado in the grocery store. The thought of going online again is less dreadful than it was a month ago, and I can get there if I must. (I’m still terrified at the prospect of letting anyone in, though, of getting too close. So that will be my next hurdle.)

Meanwhile, I have begun to remember who I was when I attracted the kind of man who felt like a great match: I was whole, happy, empowered and, candidly, sick of taking any wishy-washy shit. I was part Pink’s “So what? I’m still a Rock Star” and part Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable,” along with a whole lot of other not-gonna-take-any-crap-ness. I was in the energy of anything not “Hell yes!” is a hell no. And this may be the realization I needed to get back to that place where I can attract that epic, life-long soul love I’ve tried to find or create for my entire adult existence. This kind of “bitchy” energy is incredibly clarifying, and allowed me to easily edit the people with whom I spent time.

Maybe it was getting to this “I’m a goddess; do not mess with me” energy and staying there that drew in a man I was crazy about. He was very much in the driver’s seat, and I loved that about him. But I was the one asking him to dance in the kitchen on a Sunday morning; I was creating the kind of love I wanted.

I’ll write more about that energetic evolution in my next post…

welp, here we go again

We got into a fight over a long weekend. By text. It was stupid.

But I have boundaries and was enjoying my time with my son that day so after a few snarky exchanges, I typed “I’m happy to talk when we can have a reasonable conversation.” And I put my phone on airplane mode.

The next morning, I turned on my phone to find 70-odd text messages, of which I assume about half were duplicates (you know, like when you turn on your phone after a flight). I took a screenshot and sent it to him in the afternoon, saying “Last night, I practiced self care by turning off my phone. You may want to consider whether this is a sign you need some self care too.”

He replied: “You don’t need to worry about it anymore.”

I left it alone. Later I went back and skimmed his messages. He was clearly flooded with lizard brain emotions, and I have some compassion for that. But there was a “you better reply” ultimatum and some very personal attacks — a line neither of us had crossed before, and one I could forgive but not forget. It’s not okay to listen to someone’s vulnerabilities only to weaponize them years later. Even if it struck me as out of character.

Here’s the thing: I’d been loving traveling to see him. Our visits were easy — show up, enjoy each other. No drama. I thought maybe he was past his pattern of occasionally blowing things up. There was no need to. We seemed comfortable and secure.

But, having been laid off, I’d been training in neuro linguistic programming, strategic intervention, intuition, reactivation (activation) — all modalities of coaching I was using to better myself and plan to use working with others. I was strengthening my internal resources and leveling up. He could be in lower energy often, and I wondered if he would accept some upgrades for himself…?

I got my answer.

And I’m more okay with it than I might have thought, given the time we’d spent together planning for our future. But more than half of our time together was long distance, which makes separation less intense than near-daily presence. Letting it go, knowing it’s better this way felt very zen… very witness mode… very above the matrix.

So I’ll date myself for awhile, rediscover what I like and what I want as I venture back into a post lockdown world. I’ve got one more year with a kid at home. The horizon looks different, open.

owning my feelings

My feelings are my own. I generate my feelings by the thoughts I think. It’s my job to master my mind to spend more time thinking quality thoughts, the ones that generate the sort of feelings I wish to feel.

Anyone who’s embarked on a self-help journey has taken in the above in some form, whether it’s described as being responsible for your feelings, becoming an emotional adult or some variation of “no one can make you feel bad without your permission.”

But there’s a difference between knowing this and living it. And for me, that difference was a lengthy journey, some of which you’ve read about if you’re a reader of this blog. To summarize:

About five and a half years ago, I fell too hard, too fast, amidst traumatic circumstances, for someone who was in no place to relationship. And I wasn’t in the best place either. Our connection felt a certain kind of way that I hadn’t experienced before, and haven’t yet again. It was a relationship that made an imprint.

It took me a long time to get over it and move on. And then, even when I had, it came back from time to time.

Even when I entered another positive long-term committed relationship, I didn’t feel that way. Until I decided: he hadn’t made me feel that way; I felt that way. And even if I didn’t want to feel the exact same way, because different relationship, I could still choose to feel closeness, intimacy, support, warmth, love, etc.

And I did. I loved my man. Somewhere, sometime several months back, I released the emotional charge of that previous relationship’s imprint and let it float away into the ether. In so doing, I gave myself a fuller, deeper permission to commit to the now.

I have no explanation for why this was so difficult for me or why it took so long. But one day, it just shifted. And the pain / grief / hope / loss / wishing / yearning, however faded it had all become, was just another something that happened that I carry with me in my memory and makes me part of whom I am today.

I feel more integrated, more grace, more resolved… maybe it’s the constant self-work binge I’ve been on since last autumn.

I eagerly brought this new fullness, this new readiness to meet my current long-distance love in a place of commitment and openness to future planning. I made energetic offerings to him, hoping he would embrace me in the energetic nuances of my evolution. And it lasted a comically short time before he blew it up.

There’s much more to the story, but I will leave it here for now. I am at peace with this completion.

Perry with a p

I have stories to tell. And screw it; it’s been long enough.

One of the men I’ve written about was named Perry. I gave him an alias back then “to protect the innocent,” as I always said. But, in doing so, I was always missing the most Hollywood part of the story: his name (which I really liked, by the way) as a recurring comic bit.

Scene: Couple getting ready for night out in luxury apartment. She is in front of the mirror, touching up hair and putting in her earrings. He is making a phone call.

Man: Reservation for two, please… yes, 7:30 is perfect… Perry… Perry, with a P as in Peter.

Let me interject here to say I found this repeated need to emphasize his name quirky. Maybe even leaning toward self-aggrandizing. But I was quick to grasp that it had been a lifetime of what follows in the making:

Cut to couple arriving at host stand at restaurant.

Host: Welcome you two.

Man: Hi. We’ve got a reservation for 7:30…

Host: And what’s the name?

Man: Perry.

Host: Great, Barry, I’ve got you right here. Follow me.

This scene replayed itself nearly everywhere we went, over and over. Barry, Gary, Larry, Harry, Terry… the combinations of venues, scenarios and names seemed potentially endless. One could easily imagine Ben Stiller or Jim Carey playing an exasperated Perry as he navigates life being addressed as just about anything but the name he was given.

I thought you might find this memory as amusing as I do — and I imagine Perry has fully embraced online reservation systems where his name gets the respect it deserves.

lately…

I dreamt about Lee the other night. After all this time, we were going to get together for a glass of wine. And then something happened and we didn’t. I think I woke up trying to reschedule and then slowly realized it wasn’t real.

Sometimes I think he visits here. And sometimes I’m sure he doesn’t. I was so certain he’d come back into my life, but without any evidence or reason to believe.

For a long time, I checked out bald dudes. I started listening to Country music (you can check out my playlist on Spotify). I dug deep into how to communicate better in relationships. I stopped eating gluten and dairy. I’ve learned to more authentically stand in my truth. I have a rescue dog (that’s supposed to be my daughter’s).

I’m also in a relationship with a kind and loving man. It’s been more than two years now. We moved in after a year. Then he got a job out of state. We thought we’d make it a pretty balanced situation, where he’d be home two or three weeks a month. But it hasn’t worked out that way. And, in those times of distance and (not gonna lie) a bit of resentment, we’ve argued — and thoughts about how happy I’d been in relationship with Lee snuck in.

It’s indefensible, I know. It’s not fair to compare people — and, if it is, my current guy has several different legs up on Lee. But our relationship doesn’t have that same level of ease; we have to work on it. And sometimes I crave the harmony and stronger political alignment I shared with Lee.

I’ve tried to put my finger on what it was about that relationship that seemed so right. After all, I still had my own stuff — I struggled with some anxiety, I was on the verge of descending into consuming grief — but I liked myself and who I was in our relationship. I liked that I wanted to be my best self and was actively taking steps that ultimately resulted in a promotion at work and feeling pretty fit. I liked how natural we felt, as though our souls had known each other before. I felt authentic in how I was navigating the world. My personal momentum was toward the positive.

These days, I regularly feel angry and lethargic. Being positive seems to take extraordinary effort. And rather than casting about, trying to assign blame to a stressful situation at work or a normal, mostly positive relationship, I sometimes find myself wondering what life might be like if I were navigating it with Lee.

Deep down, I know the relationship we had wasn’t real, even as it felt more so than most. Let me clarify: the connection was real, the love was genuine. But our relationship didn’t have time to become real because we never got bored, never watched television together, never learned how to negotiate conflict with one another, were never tested. And this occasional fantasy can’t match a man who wants to create a life with me, even if his vision for our future makes me consider possibilities that are different from what I would have chosen for myself.

And there’s another possibility that plays into this malaise: What if my current mental state is simply a side effect of the outrage fatigue so many women I know are feeling… since right around January, 2017, and more so since the Kavanaugh confirmation fiasco (during which a series of ancient, shriveled white men demonstrated how little they value women, and a female senator from Maine rapturously sang the praises of an abusive drunk as though he was lapping at her labia even while she spoke).

I keep thinking I’ll be happier, calmer, better able to look forward after the next election… provided it’s free and fair, and hatred is defeated.

really, I’m fine

I keep meaning to write — really, I do… And then I go into a funk because it’s rained for like six days straight and I might lose my ever-loving mind if we don’t get some sunshine and a high pressure system soon.

So here’s what’s going on (as might relate to this blog):  not much.

Meaning:  my life is busy and full, as usual. I enjoy time with my girlfriends and family, spend a bit of time at sporting or other school events with my children and occasionally do some work around the house. Or pay someone to.

This last weekend, I clicked through a link in my Facebook feed and found myself answering some questions and ultimately realized I was in the process of completing a profile on a dating site. Momentary freakout… because as excited as I can get for the vision of my partnered / mated life, as good as that feels to imagine / remember how amazing love can be, I still can’t seem to get myself excited about the prospect of online dating. It just feels like so much work! Still I hit “submit.” And I was fine. The world didn’t come crashing to a halt… nor did the heavens open and angels sing.

The next day, I happened to be in a place where there was a psychic. Okay, I drove to a place because I heard good things about a certain psychic. So I sat down for a few minutes and found myself becoming quite emotional as I asked about this “other half” I’m eager to meet and share my life with. The psychic looked at me with my teary eyes and said, “You need to focus on your own happiness right now.” And this was my exact in-that-moment thought:

It’s not that I’m unhappy; I’m just really sad.

Because, unlike what we’re taught when we’re growing up, happy and sad are not polar opposites; they are not mutually exclusive. I’m living proof that it is entirely possible to be happy and content with life, and to be sad that there’s one part that feels … well, frankly… cursed.

The psychic said of my experience with Lee:  “That experience had a purpose — it was to give you a glimpse of how great love can be.”

To which my response is:  “F&$# that! I didn’t need a trial run or a dress rehearsal; I was ready for the real thing…and for it to last.” He also assured me that it was very real — for Lee, as well. And that he got scared. Which was like, DUH.

(All of which should probably make me question whether said psychic is really psychic, because it was approximately as informative and “true” as a daily horoscope. But some days I take comfort where I can find it.)

At any rate, the next day I checked my new dating app, read a few messages, looked at the potential matches within my parameters (scant) and, then, I unceremoniously deleted my profile. Because even though I’m pretty happy most of the time, I wouldn’t say I’m feeling vibrant, in love with life or excited at the prospect of meeting new men.