dating · dysfunction · self-appraisal

We attract what we are.

9.22.18.jpgAs I begin to dip my toes back in the dating waters, I wrote the following in my journal this morning:

Remember, I’ve always attracted my loves/guys when I’ve been at my best.  I want a guy to attract me when he’s at his best!!!   Hmm.  Have I been attracted to health before?  If not, why not?  If so, when & how was that?     Never.    Ugh.    Ow. 

What does this mean?  My models of grown-ups were utterly dysfunctional and that’s upon whom I made my template of how to “grown-up/adult” and who was attractive.  They. Were. Broken.  And I thought that was, if not normal, then the only option.  So that’s what I’ve sought.    Oh, man, that’s hard.  

Repatterning.   Ouch. 

Reflecting on this, I feel like a cast iron pan: I’ve seasoned and molded and re-seasoned and re-molded for years, trying to get the best results out of this one pan, but ultimately, the whole thing is never going to produce the results I want—the flavor I want, if you will.

I need to smash that pan; I need to “take another street.”  But I don’t yet have directions to that new place — or, to continue to mix metaphors, the template for that new pan.

I am learning, gathering code on what makes a healthy adult.  And it is pretty satisfying to note that, lately, some of the pieces I hope to attract aren’t pieces that I’m missing or wish I had, but pieces I know I’ve built and am building, like having a job and career I love.  We so often look at the deficits in ourselves; it’s rare we contemplate our assets.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if I did look and if my partner did, too?  If we engaged in a cycle of uplift and inspiration, challenging one another to reach for the next rung?

It’s both painful and necessary for me to see that, frankly, not once have I attracted a man who was on an upswing in his life, feeling confident in his place or jazzed about what was next.  This isn’t to point fault but to affirm that I don’t merely want to be on an upswing myself, I want to attract a partner who is also jazzed, psyched, engaged … and stable.

In order to do that I need to start to even see those men in the world!  Like being red/green color blind, I’ve never even seen those people before.  I sift through the mental catalogue of former mates and dates, yet there isn’t one who was stoked on life, on an upward trajectory, joyful and confident in their person and future.  I mean, isn’t that WEIRD???

I know this all sounds egregiously judgmental, I do, and for that I truly am sorry.  But it is not my aim to judge these men, whose positive traits could fill the Library of Congress.  Rather, my aim is to explore the idea that in order to advance on an upswing myself, I need to see where I’m limiting myself, where I’m not seeing the reds and greens, where I’m blocking out the positive things in life.

Magnets are attracted to one another because of forces of nature that none of us can cancel out.  We can pull them apart, attach them to other things, paint them funny colors, but the magnetic force is extant with or without our permission — and I have been drawn to a type of person whose magnet looks eerily similar to those of the people who raised me.

I need to stop being a magnet and become something else altogether.  Because even if smashed, a magnet re-creates the same set of poles from the new pieces!

So, what will I be?  A shattered iron pan, a sidewalk without holes, a detector of ”upswing” metals?

If the latter is to be the case, then it will be imperative that I do a sweep for those upswing metals regularly within myself and begin to amass them into a meaningful concentration.

Because in the end, like everyone else, I am still a magnet.


dating · level up · trust

All About that Bass

8.22.18Or, “I want the world. I want the whole world.”

The person I went on a date with Sunday texted to say he didn’t see a love match there, but it was nice to meet me, etc.etc.  I concur with his conclusion, but it doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed.  It dropped me back into my low-grade loneliness and longing for my ex, and the truth that I must trust if it’s meant to be, then it will, but that I have to let him go completely.  Which I haven’t.

What I am seeing is that I want it all right now.  I want romance and finance to soar!! Effective Immediately!  I want to hear the manic trill of frenetic notes as I flit from success to success.  The joie de vivre of a person loved, those high silvery violas and piccolos, maybe.

What I have is a sonorous resounding orchestra in the bass clef, holding everything up — not too exciting … until you attune to it.

Wonderful home: a cello sings.  Car that works and fits my life: perhaps a tuba pumping along to a jaunty rhythm (tubas have pistons, too, after all!).

But moreover, more resounding, more languid and supportive is the work/career/creative arena.  This arena is humming and crescendoing, right there, if I choose to listen.

My thinking is that this deeper section is where my focus is and will be for now, cementing in the time signature, the grooved practice of my life.  There are exciting things happening in that section!  I am increasingly being asked to perform, professionally and creatively.  I am increasingly saying Yes.  I am increasingly revealing more of myself, and that liquid, reverberating bass is hugging everything in, dependable and warm.

My attention to the treble is a distraction at the moment.  I am not yet in harmony with the bass rhythm of my expanding life, and frankly, I’m pretty sure that until I “level up” and sink in to my expansion, whomever I attract from this frenetic place will not be the right person.

I wrote a blog earlier this year called “Who’s Next,” wondering not who my next partner would be, but who I would be, if and when I attract my next partner.  I know, and can feel, that I am not that person yet.  I am not the grounded, velvet waltz I am becoming.  I am getting there.  Each time I write a blog, each time I share it.  Each time I write another line for my play, another title for a poem.  Each time I own my desires a little bit more, I am becoming.

They do call a beautiful woman “becoming” after all.

I want the manic syncopation of love and sex and dating and union.  But what I have is the dark luscious creation of rich ground.  A thrumming beat, expanding.  Boom.  Boom.  Boom.


dating · fear · isolation · love · recovery

"I want to go to there." Good thing I am.

Where there is smoke, there is fire. And where there is fire, we take off our knitted gloves and hold our hands to it. 
It’s not that bad. This work. It’s tragic and awful, and would certainly raise eyebrows in most circles. I just got through chronicling the years from high school through, “Then I got sober.” 

The phrase “shit show” comes to mind. 
And yet, I remind myself, in small, calm handwriting at the end of each of these morning writing sessions that I am not that person anymore. That I have been shaped by her experiences, surely, but that the shape and essence of who I am can’t and couldn’t be eroded. 
Someone commented yesterday that I am courageous. And as I go through and into this work on healing my relationship to relationships and love, I know that I am. 
Not (only) because I’ve chosen (or been “forced” by fate) to do this work at all, but because of all that has come before that hasn’t broken me. 
Injured, scarred, frightened me. Sure. But I sit here today, in my sweats, a space heater licking my calves, half-philz half-trader joes coffee in my mug, and I’m not broken. 
I have been through things and experienced them in a way that makes me cautious to the point of isolation against romantic relationships, but that doesn’t make me broken. That makes me habituated to a way of being. 
It all comes, for me, down to safety. With others, in my body, in relationship, in intimacy and authenticity. To slowly peel back the traumas and defenses and reveal that there’s nothing to be scared of anymore. Nothing that can harm me the way my high school/college/post-college years did. 
I won’t say that my love life in sobriety has been a cake walk or the pinnacle of wise. It used to have a lot of the same patterns as my drinking days. But it doesn’t anymore. 
However, there’s a middle ground, I know, between wanton and nunnery. 
I want to go to there. 
I want to go to the place where I am safe, even in exposing myself. Not because other people are so trustworthy, but because I am. Because my spidey-sense is coming back, and I want to get to a place where I trust it. I don’t have to tap out of the dating game entirely. I just have to listen when the alarms go off, and act accordingly. Take action accordingly. 
In previous iterations of my love-life, I have pressed the override button so forcibly, for moments, I did break. 
But, I’m not that girl-woman anymore. As I said, I’ve been shaped and molded by her experiences. But I also have my own inherent grace, fortitude, and hope. 

And so, where there has been smoke (read: my love life), I have sought the fire (read: my fearful heart). And it will be there that I remove my (boxing) gloves. And learn to love and trust my own self. 
authenticity · balance · dating · honesty · relationships

Why Nice Guys Finish Last.




(Note: The following is one human’s opinion and not
intended for relationship diagnostic purposes. See a doctor if symptoms
You can add your variation of this sentiment to a long list
of complaints we’ve heard over the years:
“I don’t get it; I’m a nice guy. Why do women only go for
In my meditation on kindness today, I was brought to
thinking about “nice-ness.”
In dating, what does “being nice” look like? Most times, we
translate “being nice” as allowing the other person to make the decision:
“Wherever you want to go.” “Whatever food you want to eat.”
“Whichever movie looks good to you.”
In the beginning, this seems like a great tack. Allowing the
other person to choose, we figure, means that we’re being “nice” by saying that
we respect and trust their opinion. We’re also saying (perhaps) that we don’t want
to impose our will or assert our own interests or preferences, because we’re
afraid that if we do, we’re going to proffer the “wrong” choice. 
I’ve had Mexican all week, and want to have Thai, but what
if she hates Thai? I have absolutely no interest in seeing a chick flick, but
if it means I get to spend time with her, then fine, I’ll sit through it.
We believe that we’re letting the other person make the choice
in this situation, but actually, we’ve already made one: I am choosing not to
disclose my desires for fear that my idea — and therefore I — will be rejected. Period. So, by contrast, if I let you choose, then I know whatever it is is something you’ll like, and therefore you’ll have a good time and you’ll like me.
So, the “nice” guy says, “Whatever you want.” Look how nice I am. 
This is a choice. But it’s also a manipulation of the truth. And, in my experience, if you add enough
of those up, what you wind up with is not knowing at all what the other person
likes, what their preferences are — who they are.
We wind up dating someone who is just trying to stay in our good graces, and in doing so, the “nice guy” begins to lose us, because there isn’t
enough of “them” to keep us engaged.
I want to date you.
Or at least, I want to
find out
if I want to date you.
I will add here, that of course, in the start of any dating situation, we’re all
angling somehow – of course we want this to work! Who doesn’t want to find someone they enjoy and can be themselves with?
But there’s the rub. If we begin to date on a basis of
people-pleasing, we’re not being ourselves at all. We’re being who you want us
to be – Or more accurately, who we think
you want us to be.
There is always room for negotiation, for compromise,
obviously. (And sometimes, yes, you really don’t care.)
But I think the (mis)understanding of “nice guys vs assholes” is that we set up a dichotomy that states: “Being nice” doesn’t work, therefore women want an asshole. And, asshole becomes defined by the opposite: Someone who asserts themselves regardless of the
other person’s needs or wants. Someone who treats the other like crap.
And that is NOT what I’m saying is the successful tactic.
Certainly, someone who takes only their interest and
desire into account is an asshole. And is not someone who I (or
most people I know) want to date.
But there is a middle-ground for each of us between being a
doormat, and being the one who makes the other a doormat.
Equality, self-esteem, honesty, fluidity. Uncertainty.
Yes, perhaps you see the chick flick on your second date.
But maybe you have Thai beforehand.
Because, I want to get to know you, whoever that is, and whatever the outcome.

awareness · dating · fear · isolation · safety · self-preservation

“I Hate to See You Go, But I…”




I will never stick around long enough to watch you leave.
Like a forest animal who senses the seismic shift before an earthquake, I will
run to high ground before you even know there’s trouble a’comin. Where’d she
I heard that a lot in my drinking days: Where did you go last night anyway?
I was always leaving. I left because I was antsy or bored or
horny or wasted. I left because I could sense the swell of the evening had
reached its peak, and I don’t stick around for the lull. I left because I knew
you couldn’t give me anything more, and so I went elsewhere to seek it.
It was a different kind of dragon I chased, but one
nonetheless: The perpetually up moment. The height of hilarity and connection.
In relationship, I am becoming aware, I do the same thing.
Because relationships are never “Safety Guaranteed,” I try to figure it out:
Will this “work” / will this not “work?” I will look at the barometer and try
to figure out if we’ve reached our peak, and if it’s time for me to bail.
Before I do, however, I will engage in a lovely sequence of
emotional aerobics: If I am standoffish, will you chase me and thereby prove
you like me, and I’m safe? If I am more attached, will you reciprocate and,
here, prove that you like me, and therefore I am safe?
Somewhere in the distance between initial connection and
“the end,” I have attached my personal safety to this “working” or to my
assurance that it won’t. Either way, certainty, I have believed, will keep me
And if, through all my calculations, I still cannot devise
whether this will work or not, or if I begin to spidey-sense that your interest in me has reached its apex, I will high-tail it so fast, you
won’t remember the color of my eyes.
What a lonely way of being.
Particularly, because I won’t just leave: in order to
ensure that I am doing the “right”
thing, that I am following our projected course, simply in a truncated fashion,
I will likely nuke the relationship first. This way, I know there will be no
questions, and no “What ifs?” because it’s dead. I killed it. Hard.
And therefore, I am safe. Because I have certainty about
things. About everything.
The horrible variable in this equation is humanity. The
uncertainty principle.
Human relationships are not quantifiable by my fear-brain.
The flaw in it, too, is that I have attached, long ago, my
feeling of safety to assurance in relationships.
I know where this cycle comes from. I know that having a
formative environment that was unstable is not the foundation on which to build
ideas of safety and trust. I know what it feels like to love, and have that
love turn, viciously and swiftly.
And so, I have learned to turn first.
If I can only figure out the exact moment when we’ve reached
our groundswell, I can outrun your abandoning me.
But sometimes, dear self, rain is just rain, and it doesn’t
mean anything more. Sometimes you stay in the shallows while it storms, because
after it passes, you’re witness to god’s great rainbow. Sometimes when you stay
put, you learn how to sway in the storm instead of to rail against it or
crumble beneath it.
I don’t learn these things if I leave first.
I want to. Believe me. In the simplest of encounters, like a
phone call even, I want to be the one gone first. Because then I’m safe.
But, as I posited in “Safety Guanteed(?),” perhaps I can
begin (again) to test the theory that “I am not in control, and I am safe.”
Perhaps I can begin to root my personal sense of safety
somewhere within, instead of without, and then I never have to try to figure
others out, manipulate my behavior, or believe I’ve predicted an end. If I can
seat my personal safety in trust of myself, maybe I’ll become willing to see
what happens when I stick around.
Because maybe the party isn’t over after all. 

anxiety · body · connection · dating · fear · isolation · love · relationships · vulnerability





I am having a languid, delightful time getting to know someone.
A man.
The same someone who inspired me to look at how much I don’t want to let a romantic interest get to know me. And,
for whatever this is or will be, it’s really, really nice.
I described to a friend what it felt like to be held – not spooning, or even the enjoyable resting of your head on the guy’s
chest – but simply standing, holding one another, like the kind of extended hug that
someone forces around you until you relax. Until they can feel your shoulders drop,
and your lungs start to inhale again. Until you feel safe enough to breathe.
It’s like that, only without the imperative insistence of the
extended hug. This feels, to me, mutual, natural, like we both are relieved
just to stand there, heads tucked, arms wrapped, bodies together, and breathe
for a minute, guileless. It’s similar to the feeling I sometimes have when I realize that
I’ve been holding my breath or breathing shallowly for too long, and I finally
take a nice deep breath into my belly. Filling out my whole body with awareness, instead of constriction.
It’s a feeling that you didn’t know how stressed or armored
or anxious you were, until it falls away so fucking naturally and quickly,
that it almost makes you dizzy. And suddenly, you’re just two people, two
hearts, unaware you were looking for relief and comfort and ease, until now
you’re experiencing it.
It’s benevolent, and it’s grace.
For me, it’s also an awareness, I think, of how lonely and
body-starved I’ve been. Not for sex, though sure, but for that kind of holding.
To be held. It’s actually, now that I think of it, what I came to at the
conclusion of my meditation retreat in January. I concluded that this year, I
wanted to learn to let myself be held.
I almost always hold my breath, as I’ve written about before. Even in the safety and constance of my own home. I am always on guard,
protecting myself from something. And it’s just so tiring, but I don’t realize
it – didn’t realize it, until in this togetherness, I find it fall from around
me, and experience feeling unburdened and relieved of that something. 
I am not Fate’s author, I am only the scribe. So, I can only
report to you what I know, and share with you how I feel in the moment, today.
As everything changes so quickly.
But recognizing for myself that there’s another way of
being, that there’s an open way to be, that in fact that way of being feels
like its own ecstasy, I think I’m learning that my armor is not as useful as it
once was. And that being held, without that shield, is more healing, joyful,
and filling than I could have predicted. 

authenticity · dating · fear · growth · isolation · relationships

Pushing the RelationShip off the Edge of the Earth




As I recently found out in “Well, Shoot…” there are things
that I claim that I want but if they did actually happen, I’m not sure I could show up for them.
It’s embarrassing to be here again.
It just makes me feel really old and really weary.
And I’ll start with the perfect example that I’m sure I’ve
told here before:
When I was in college, I was having a fling with a guy. It
was purely physical, no “date nights,” no philosophical conversations; whenever
both of us were into it, we’d contact the other. Easy peasy.
Then, one night, lying in bed after our activities, he told
me he wanted to take me out to dinner. I was aghast, “Why?!” Because I want to get to know you, he replied, as
if it were the most obvious and natural thing in the world.
And after that night, I never called him again.
Perhaps to most people it is the most obvious and natural
thing in the world to want to get to know the person you’re being physically
intimate with. But my years of practicing it otherwise have hardened me to the
kind of softness real connection requires.
(I feel really vulnerable writing about this today, I have
to say.)
See, there would be no problem if I only wanted to “hit it
& quit it.” But I don’t. I would like
a connection, I would like a relationship. I would like to be vulnerable and
intimate with another person and have them be that way with me.
But when the glimpse of that possibility arises, I bolt. Too
much, too scary, I can’t, I don’t know how,
followed by the justifications
, You only want sex anyway, why don’t you just hit it & quit it? Stop trying to pretend you want to get to know me.
It’s very easy for me to throw up the barriers, and to put
between us one of those cardboard cut-outs of myself: Here is my reasonable
facsimile. Have fun.
No, really, just have
FUN! Enough with the getting to know me bullshit. Light’s out, Nobody home.
And the trouble today is that I’m really tired of this M.O. And, yet, I’m really terrified to
be any way else – the way else being “real.”
So, again, I come to a place where what I say I want (a
relationship) in the light of that possibility I say fuck no.
I can lick the wounds of old hurts for many more years to
come. I can point to those people to whom I’ve been real and vulnerable and
been eviscerated. I can pile up the evidence to say, See, this and this and
here is why I can’t show up fully
I’ve been hurt.
But who hasn’t?
To tangent, once again:
There are several situations lately, where I’ve gotten to
show up fully, stand in my truth, and not let fear drive me or hide me.
I was offered a job that would pay me minimum wage, but
would be in a profession and a capacity that would be a dream. After much thought,
writing, and reaching out for help, I turned the job down. I’m able to show up
for myself, I don’t have to abandon my truth.
I declined the invitation to my father’s wedding, despite
the already rolling-in fall-out. After much thought, writing, and reaching out
for help, I was able to show up for myself and not abandon my truth.
I was offered the lead in a play that I didn’t want to be
in. And, once again, after much thought, writing, and reaching out for help, I
was able to turn it down, show up for myself and not abandon my truth.
What each of these are evidence of is that I am creating
boundaries for myself, and a value for myself. I am able to weigh and measure
how I feel in a situation, and parse out if it feels right for me. I don’t have
to make snap judgments of yes or no, of people pleasing, or underselling, or

I’ve been scared to be vulnerable because I’m scared I can’t show up for myself, or protect myself when I need to. I’ve been scared to be vulnerable because I think it lays me open to being attacked. 

But, what I have done in just the last fucking month is to back
myself up. I have let myself be open to what was true for me, and be honest
(enough) with those I had to create boundaries with.
Isn’t it possible
then, that the same practice, the same muscles could be exercised in
relationships? Isn’t it possible that I can show up with my truth, with all of me, even though,
YES IT’S THE HARDER THING, but it’s the most rewarding of all?
I’m having a tough time at the moment accepting that I’m
going to have to change my M.O. Not serving me well, surely, but familiar as
all get out.
As a friend once sardonically said, “Everybody look at me,
but please avert your eyes.”
Oh, you want to look at me. Oh, I find that I want to look
Well, Shoot.