begin again

I started dating again…slowly. Lots of chatting through the apps for a couple of weeks, and then slowly getting out and meeting people. I guess “slowly” is relative, considering I’ve met five guys in the past two weeks.

Red (Taylor’s Version) has been my soundtrack for the past several weeks, pretty much since it came out — and, as I’ve shared before, I’ve been hitting the repeat button on All Too Well, sometimes weeping, sometimes singing at the top of my lungs.

Yesterday, as I was putting on makeup before sashimi dinner with the only gentleman I’ve agreed to see a second time, I caught myself singing “I’ve been spending the last eight months thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end, but on Wednesday in a cafe, I watched it begin again…” A hopeful sign.

He chose one of my favorite sushi restaurants for dinner. He looked a little nervous when I walked in… maybe slightly less than when we’d met for tea earlier in the week. But from the moment I sat down, our conversation flowed naturally, we learned more about one another and we laughed and laughed. We savored small dishes and sashimi for nearly three hours and left as staff was turning chairs upside down on top of tables. And he walked me to my car and kissed me just enough to keep me wanting more.

Today he texted to ask for another date.

Stay tuned… ūüėČ

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…

that happy

If you had told me a year ago that I would soon fall for a short, bald, portly man who felt like sunshine, I would have called you crazy.¬†But fall I did… for a man I refer to here as Lee.

Even before we’d met, I sketched out a vision of what I wanted, in terms of lifestyle and a mate:

  • Regular travel — especially opportunities to adventure, ski or escape the cold midwestern winters.
  • Good food. A prospective mate must love sushi. And wine. And my cooking.
  • Some toys… I’d love a boat, enjoy biking, paddle boarding and more.
  • Experiences with someone who enjoys live music, theater, cooking and says “yes” to fun of all kinds.
  • A partner whose income as, at minimum, equal to mine. (I’ve had to support a man before. I did not enjoy it.)
  • And, looking ahead, I want his children to be at least as old as mine… because when mine are off to college, the heavens open up, the hallelujah chorus plays and even more travel and fun can begin for us as my / our children are off chasing their own dreams!

I never imagined I’d find all these things, even if in a package I didn’t expect — or, at first, appreciate. But he was persistent, kind, generous and thoughtful, not to mention intelligent and a ton of fun! He said yes to me, up until it was a no.

And, now, if you asked me what I want in life, I’d simply refer back to the time Lee and I spent together and say, “I want to feel¬†that happy.” I honestly can’t imagine feeling more happy, content and fulfilled. Lee dotted all my i’s and crossed all my t’s; we seemed like a near perfect fit.

If it sounds like I’m crediting a man for all my happiness, that’s simply not true. I am a happy person because I’ve shaped my life and psyche to cultivate and nurture my own happiness. But there’s something to be said for finding someone with whom to share it all…

I’ve had to work extremely hard to get past the hurt, grief, anger and disappointment of the loss of said relationship. I’m finally moving on, meeting new men and allowing myself to have fun on dates.

So far, there have been¬†no Lees…but I’ll know I’ve met someone special when I feel that happy.

back to reality

Lee and I woke up early on our final morning and went out for a brisk walk / run while it was still dark.

Okay, actually, it happened more like this: ¬†I woke up around 5 a.m. not touching him and missing our “sporking.” So I rolled over, slapped his ass and ground my rear into his groin, assuming the small spoon position. It took him only moments to respond and roll on top of me. I had him put a pillow under my hips for a more advantageous angle and, my oh my!, what an effect it had! I’m sure we woke the guests in the neighboring room.

And then we got up and went out while it will still dark… We had breakfast, packed, checked out and shopped for a bit in the downtown area. While walking by one of those paradise real estate storefronts, we gazed at the range of properties for sale. That’s when Lee brought it up:

“One inadvertent ‘I love you,’ and you’re eyeing¬†$8 million properties!”

We laughed together as I told him the $8 million one was a bit gauche and, pointing, that this $5.7 million one was more my style.

Driving to the airport was bittersweet. I missed my children and longed to see them, but I didn’t want our time together to end. I felt a bit like I was on a reality show — of course we were bound to fall in love — it’s paradise!

We snuggled and dozed on our flights, nuzzling and kissing one another, holding hands, aware in every moment that our time¬†together in this feeling was waning and we would go back to our separate realities: ¬†It was New Year’s Eve — he had plans to meet friends out while I was going to a family-friendly house party.

Each time I recalled Lee’s premature “I love you,” I burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter. I still chuckle when I¬†think about it.

We shared a cab back to my place and, as he carried my bag¬†up the stairs to my front porch, ¬†my realities came rushing back — overflowing boxes from my ex’s place littered the porch and inside my modest little house. Lee, in contrast, would go back to his sparsely-furnished and tidy executive apartment.

What was to come of this?

paradise, part deux

In our early hours together on this adventure, we both brought up names of all the folks we knew near our destination, presumably to have the “out” of other companions or folks we might need to see (in case things didn’t go well). And, truth be told, it seemed like it would be entirely unnecessary for us to spend time with anyone else…at first.

But given the shit storm that had just enveloped my entire life, Lee was kind, attentive, generous and — it must be said — far too “nice” in a far too boring sort of way. I was certain I’d recalled a bit of snark in his personality, yet it was somehow absent in his all-too-accommodating demeanor. So¬†I began pressing for him to arrange a dinner with one of these many people whose names he’d dropped in our first hours together…

And I’m so glad I did. On our second day together, we arranged dinner with one of Lee’s business associates and his family. From the second the two were together, zingers flew back and forth, and I was immediately relieved and delighted to learn the snarky, smart-alecky guy I thought I’d met was, in fact, fully present still. That dinner “broke the ice” for us in ways we might not have been able to do alone together — and, I might add, seemed to enhance our¬†physical connection.

By our third day together, it was clear we’d settled into a routine: ¬†get up early and run the 2.5 miles of beach in front of the resort, sit down for coffee and breakfast, then go lounge by the beach. Lee made a habit of tipping well, so staff at the small resort were happy to accommodate any of our modest requests.

We sat at the bar at the end of one of these first days, drinking beer-garitas and watching the sunset, and I remember saying to him: ¬†“I have no idea what might happen after this… but, in this moment, I am incredibly grateful.”

Every day was sunny and warm — we had paddle boarded, run, explored, sunbathed, swum in the ocean… Our days were long and lazy, and our evenings were filled with dinner conversation that was intellectually and emotionally stimulating. I felt weirdly as though I was in one of those reality television shows set in paradise, an experience tailored to induce couples like us to fall in love…

(To be continued.)

meeting more men

As I wrote about a couple of months ago in “licking my wounds,” I began online dating…again…and got a fair amount of attention right away. In person, I only ended up meeting two guys:

One, incredibly tall and broad-shouldered, took me to lunch at a fun neighborhood spot. We had a congenial conversation. There was camaraderie, but no sparks.

The other was slightly more interesting in the way it unfolded: ¬†We were chatting online when I complained about a UX (that’s “user experience,” in case you were wondering) issue I was having while trying to buy concert tickets online. He told me to give him my digits, and he would try to help. By the next morning, he had texted me that he had “the goods,” and I would have to meet him. I told him I was busy, and I’d be out of town over the Thanksgiving weekend, so he’d have to wait. He asked where I was going, and it just so happened we’d be in the same city. So we met Thanksgiving night, snow falling softly, band playing loudly, practically yelling everything we had to share across a table and having a quite enjoyable time.

I don’t give first meetings much credence, and I made no predictions about either of these fellows. Both continued to text me throughout the holiday weekend, and I saw both of them again…the first met me at an Italian restaurant; the second, again, was a more interesting experience:

He Ubered me to his place and asked me in for a drink. I told him it was unusual for me to accept such an invitation, as a smart woman is¬†safety conscious, but I agreed, given that he has a certain public status. We shared a glass of champers, then drove to the restaurant for sushi. I introduced him to Onikoroshi sake, seaweed salad and agedashi tofu. We stopped for a drink on the way home and he took my hand in his; he told me he wasn’t ready for anything serious, though he knew that’s what I was looking for, but that he would get there.

What’s a girl to make of that?

back to the beginning?

Several weeks ago, I would have told you that the gentleman I’ve called Brad and I were on our way to a relationship. And now I’m not so sure…

The two of us, as I’ve said, have potential:

  • Such amazing chemistry.
  • We have fun together.
  • We think highly of each other and each other’s characters.
  • The stars and numbers suggest a certain compatibility, if you give such things credence.

Let’s recap: ¬†The couple of weeks after our first meeting, Brad was in full-on seduction mode. Then he learned he would soon be out of work. But we kept communicating and seduction turned to courtship, which was even better! Something has always felt just a little different with Brad…and I guess I want to believe that’s a good sign, rather than him just being a novelty. A little more than two weeks ago, he took me on an all-day outing to celebrate my birthday. We held hands, talked, laughed, kissed and ended the day back at his home, where he gave me a hot oil massage…yes, with a happy ending.

It was our eighth date in as many weeks. And he still has not asked me for exclusivity, to be his girlfriend, introduced me to friends or any such thing. Thus, we have not gone all the way. For the record, I was ready to say yes to exclusivity as of our fourth date.

So this, to me, is weird. I am confused. And if I were to hazard a guess about what’s going on, here are some of the possibilities:

  1. He’s just not that into me. When we are together, I can tell you with certainty that this is not true; he is very into me. But I feel a certain amount “out of sight, out of mind” when we’re apart. He is not pressing for my time, trying to crowd out the others, or asking me to be his girlfriend. And this is exactly what I’d say to any girlfriend who described a similar situation, which is why I listed it first. Which leads me to…
  2. He’s on a different timeline. It’s possible that he just has a much slower pace than I have patience for. In fact, he told me he’s had a year-long relationship since his divorce — and that his girlfriend OF A YEAR never met his children. Don’t get me wrong — I think it’s great that he’s cautious, that he takes his time… but this is getting ridiculous. Our next live, in-person conversation will make clear that this does not work for me. I’m interested in a relationship. He is not the prize; a great relationship is the prize. And he can bow out if that’s not what he wants.
  3. He’s on “pause” until he finds his next gig. I’ve never thought twice about dating this man though he is, technically at this moment, jobless. He’s the sort of fellow with ambition and thrust, and whose phone has been ringing consistently since the first moment he found out his company was closing the division he led. He has said the sorts of things that suggest he believes¬†he needs to be earning at a certain level to be worthy of me. If that’s the concern he has; I’m cool with it. Maybe he just needs to do the new job thing first, before taking a relationship to the next level. Meanwhile, he’s continued to treat me when we go out, even though I’d be just as happy talking a walk or gazing at stars.

Candidly, I’ve been feeling these things for awhile, but I’ve been letting it go while Mercury was retrograde. Now that it’s gone direct, though, it’s time to make my desires known and gain some clarity.

Whatever it is, I’m going to be cool. I’m not going to be devastated if we decide we want different things. I’m going to continue to meet and go out with men. It’s the relationship I want, remember, so I’ll keep meeting people until I meet the guy who wants that with me. Maybe it’s Brad, maybe it’s someone else. But, as I swipe and find an entirely new batch of matches, I kind of feel like I’m back at the beginning…

mirror mirror

Any Harry Potter fans out there? My children and I love the series, the characters, the theme parks, the movies… you get the idea. So last night, to celebrate JK Rowling’s birthday, we watched the first movie together.

In it, Harry discovers a mirror in which he can see the parents who died when he was an infant. They are standing behind him, smiling, his mother with a hand on his shoulder. Like a phantom pain, you can see how he nearly feels it and how badly he wants to feel it. Eventually, the headmaster and great wizard Dumbledore approaches Harry to gently send him away with these words:

“It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts… this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.”

And this struck me deeply, as that’s exactly what I’ve been doing on¬†and off for the past 27 months with Jeffrey, Mr. Meltsmyheart (though certainly more off than on, because I’m not that crazy!): ¬†I allowed myself to be transfixed by a fantasy, perhaps not quite driven mad, but certainly showing occasional signs of cray-cray. And that’s simply not the norm for a healthy, well-adjusted¬†me. (Not that I’m always healthy or well-adjusted, but I’d like to think I am spend more time than not within those guardrails.)

Perhaps this article on break-ups sheds some light on what’s going on with the brain and why this has been¬†an off-again, on-again obsessive theme for me. And, as I believe I’ve mentioned before, there has been enough other unpleasant emotional stuff going on in my life that it’s no wonder I prefer the addictive feeling of longing and heartache to the raw and wrenching work of simply dealing with everything else.

To be fair, I have done both:

  • My will, trust and other legal documents have been updated. I’ve shored up my risk portfolio. And I’ve started talking to my family about my wishes in the unlikely event of my untimely demise.
  • This evening I will say goodbye to Tom, the friend I mentioned earlier, who finally succumbed to his battle with brain cancer. I managed to stop in and visit him every few weeks over the past several months, and it feels good to me to have provided him some company and friendship.
  • I have spent time in the sun and working out, doing my damnedest to turn the corner on a general malaise that has been hard to shake but that I cannot, in good conscience, quite call depression. And I finally feel I’ve largely shaken it.
  • Oprah and Deepak sent me an invitation I couldn’t refuse, and I’ve spent 21 days enjoying their guided meditations on gratitude using their free app. I love to do the Chopra Center 21-day meditation challenges when I can, and I found this one genuinely spoke to me.
  • I have taken action on the dating front, as well, and am now swiping left and right, often feeling disturbingly superficial about it all. There are many lessons to be learned from this activity, some of which I’m sure you’ll hear about soon. Why Tinder? A close friend met her fianc√© with it, and sheer volume…another geeky friend encouraged me with, “so much of it is just a numbers game” — meaning, meet a lot of people and you’re bound to find one who’s a match eventually. (Of course he is also fond of bringing up a phrase from the used car industry: ¬†“There’s a butt for every seat.” I am genuinely repulsed by this analogy.)

My Mirror of Erised (“desire” in reverse, for those of who hadn’t figured that out) is safely stored away and all those fantasies…well, the top of that head of dark hair I’ve so often imagined between my thighs could be anybody, right!?