compassion · dating · fear · isolation · love · self-love

Cookie Monster

Otherwise, who would eat the blackened one?
This single line is the first poem of my first chapbook, back in 2010.
The essence of its meaning is the idea that I must eat the blackened cookie in
order to save others from having to eat it. In fact, it meant that I would choose that cookie above others on the savory plate just so
no one else would have to touch it. I would throw myself on that sword before
you even had to see it was there. I would do this for you.
That was 2010. I revisited this question a little while ago,
and asked myself, if not me, then who would? No one, came the answer. No one had to eat the rotten,
blackened thing. No one had to throw themselves on a sword.
There is
that we can all have a chewy,
chocolate chipity experience. There is enough that none of us have to be
a martyr and I can let others choose around the thing (or choose the thing) if they want.
Today, in my new dating world, I find myself, per metaphor,
rushing to knock others over on my way to the hearty cookies. I am not patient
to wait for the tray to be passed around the table—if there’s a way to get the
good cookie, I will elbow your ribs to find one. In the process, I will annoy
or anger you, or I will eventually upset the whole tray, and no one, including
myself will get a cookie.
Because this way, too, the belief is there is not enough.
Call it cancer, age, healing, I am
not willing to eat the blackened one anymore. I am not willing to drink the
dregs, settle for less, diminish my worth, stand silently… or, apparently, be
patient. In an effort to reverse years of sour cookies, I am finding myself
clawing my way to the better ones. But only here, in this dating world. Only
here, am I getting to see where I have long-harbored ideas of lack, and so
perhaps one could call me “grateful” (gag,
sputter, gasp
) to have the experience now
and the perspective on myself to see what is happening.
I WANT CONTROL. I am so attached to an outcome (the good cookie), I think
that I can poke or wink or smile or demure or hearty laugh or intellectual
conversation or sex or heavy or shared interest my way toward that outcome. Yet, see above: upset
In many ways, it’s the same as
diving for the blackened one. It’s a manipulation of the results. The belief
follows that if I eat the blackened one, you are saved, and you are able to
love me. The belief was that if I ate the sour cookie, I am the silent, steady
rube whom you will reward for my sacrifice with accolades.
Both manners of being are born out
of the fear of lack of love. Fear that I will not be taken care of.
It does not surprise me that a
monolith of emotions and emotional backlash and predatory fear have arisen as I
step into the dating world. It simply confirms why I’ve stayed away as long as
I have. I know there is work to be done here, and avoidance is a great way to
not have to feel those feelings. To not have to look at the monster and,
perhaps, Hulk-like, calm it down until it reverts back to a normal, California
If you stay out of the dining
room, you neither have to eat the blackened one nor cut a path through to
the full ones.
But, eventually you get hungry. 
My object now is to whisper in
that girl’s terrified ear, There is enough (love).
If you wait and allow the tray to be brought to you, you can have one. If 
you allow yourself to focus on the rest of the meal, the chicken and potatoes and brussel
sprouts (cuz you know you love em), the tray
will come to you. If, instead you focus jealously on
GETTING A FUCKING COOKIE you will miss the bounty that’s in front of you.
Which is another way to say that
my being so singularly focused on the outcome I want around this (or any) situation, I’m actually making myself miserable. I notice that calculating all the angles to
my end-goal (through poking and winking and sexing and making you see
) is taking me out of the joy of the
experience. It’s removing me from my center, my self, and from the fucking
thing I wanted in the first place: to date.
I certainly am learning things!
And I am going to try to eat my potatoes, and TRUST that I can be present in the
moment, and let all the other moments follow in their own order and time. I
will try to trust that I can relax into the moment, into the joy, into the newness and the awkwardness and the hilarity and the growth, because there is enough. 
And, who knows, if
the cookies do run out, maybe there’s a Junior’s Cheesecake in the kitchen. 

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