He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not – Either Way, It’s All in My Head

I feel like those of us with mental health issues are constantly chasing normalcy – in whatever form comes quickest at times. Sometimes we really buckle in and do the hard work through therapists and psychiatrists – but sometimes we’re weak, or we get laid off and our health benefits expire. Ya know, fucking life.

I’ve chased “normalcy” through temporary fixes like drinking, “carving” (my version of “cutting”), eating disorders (usually binge eating), a weirdly satisfying addiction to the gym for a short bit (I was so happy with how I looked – but in an unhealthy fixation kind of way), and then there was always my natural state of mania that sent me into my typical two week high of insane self-esteem and destructive behaviors that can only come from a confidence that is completely unfounded.

I recently lost my job. I had already asked my boo to move in before that. It had been a roller coaster ride of depression and giving in on the low swings up to determination and being set on kicking ass when on the up swings. Now, he’s moved in.

On the outside it’s going relatively well. On the inside I cannot shut my brain off. It’s so infuriating. My thoughts are destructive and illogical. I KNOW this. These unfounded and ridiculous thoughts serve no purpose other than ruining something good while destroying my own self esteem. And yet I can’t stop them from popping up every few hours. And then I have to BATTLE them. It’s so fucking absurd! Knowing they’re illogical and having to fight my own brain to shut them out with facts and reasoning makes it feel like I’m an exhausted parent trying to tell a screaming child there is most certainly not a monster in the closet and to GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP. Ugh.

I don’t have a therapist any more – thanks to losing my health insurance and not wanting to pay out of pocket costs. Even if I did though, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to admit any of this to my therapist – I was doing so well!!! So here, on the internet of anonymity, I bare all. Here, where I know there are others like me, I feel safe.

I’m sad because I feel like it’s only a matter of time until he realizes how defective I am and decides I’m not worth it. It really should be clear that I’m a lot of work – I don’t know if I’m truly worth it.

I’m mad because he, and almost everyone else, seem so ok, so functional, and why can’t I just be that way?

I feel insecure because I’m not who I think/know I am all the time. And when I’m not feeling like myself, I ask for reassurance that “we’re ok” which I’m sure is exhausting to him. Because he’s not in my head – he doesn’t understand it’s just to shut up this little voice that I know has little validity – but it NAGS at me until I get that completely pointless confirmation. So it’s this stupid vicious cycle of obsessing over it. Maybe I should add OCD to my co-morbid diagnosis. I just cannot shut my brain off.

And the thing is, I’m 90% sure he absolutely loves me. My brain won’t even let me say 100% despite the fact that he fucking moved in, spends almost all of his free time with me, shows me affection, makes future plans with me, and is constantly making me laugh. That illogical part of my brain is debating every single one of those points with some stupid nonsensical point though! It’s like a tug-of-war over a daisy doing “he loves me, he loves me not” where both the number of flower petals and how he actually feels/acts toward me/makes me feel are COMPLETELY irrelevant! What in the actual fuck, brain???

Anyway, I just had to get this all out.

I’ve got a new job! And I’m painting again! So I’ve got to get back to painting before I leave for work.

Fuck this mental illness bullshit. I’m over it.

Edit:

Here’s the painting! It’s the one on the bottom. I did the one on the top last night.

You Have Value

A friend from college posted on the Facebooks today asking for friends to share a memory they have with her – something positive, because she’s having a tough time. This woman was a bad ass in college; she was a sorority sister of mine who was a known local DJ and even though she was popular she never let it go to her head and she was always very genuine. Shortly after college her and her boyfriend were in an accident where they were hit by a drunk driver. Her boyfriend did not survive the accident and she was left with severe brain damage. She had to relearn how to speak while she grieved the loss of her boyfriend – while she was in her early 20’s. In her late 20’s she fought hard and ended up going to Purdue and getting a masters degree. So yeah, she’s still a complete bad ass. But, even bad assess forget who they are and need a boost from friends from time to time.

I commented on her wall that I thought then and still think now that she’s a bad ass, for being strong enough to get through that obstacle and strong enough to ask for help now – which is just as important if not more. She’s someone I’ve loosely kept up with through Facebook and have messaged her with my support – letting her know that I can understand mental health struggles.

Recently I’ve forgotten my own value. I don’t feel valued at work, a recent “rejection” of sorts with my ma has me feeling dejected, I’ve been eating like crap (valuing myself very little), and this house limbo bullshit has me on edge. I haven’t been in a relationship since March of last year – June if you count that super painfully awkward debacle with Nice Guy. I’ve been talking to my therapist about waiting to move into the house, get healthy habits established for a while, then signing up on some dating site and see what’s out there for me. I think I should really wait for the time to be right, for ME to be right, before I try to find a partner.

Well, with the news that the house closing was being pushed ANOTHER week, I said “Nope! Screw that, I ain’t waiting!” and reactivated my account on a dating app just for funsies – to see what’s out there.

Again, just like the previous foray into dating apps, I was overwhelmed pretty quickly with the amount of “no, thank you though” guys that were messaging me. I just don’t respond well to “Hey beautiful.” But there were a few that messaged me that I thought were cute, they were “my type”, and they didn’t say anything offensive (yay!). I was heading to the annual business women’s conference with my ma this week so I gave the few eligible bachelors my Sideline number (fantastic app where you can have another phone number that routes to your actual one) and disabled my dating app account for the weekend.

I know my self-value should come from within. Most of the time it does. But sometimes, my self-value crumbles from the weight of all the bullshit of the exterior world and usually, as a serial monogamist, I’ve got my partner in crime to help pick me up when I’m down. Being single though, I have my cat – who’s super cute and all, but she mostly likes me when I’m feeding her or giving her exactly 3 pets and 5 scratches behind the ears – NO MORE, NO LESS! Well, messaging these 3 strangers for the past 3 days has made me feel valuable again. No, they didn’t say anything about how amazing I am or try to flatter me to death – nothing over the top like that. But they’ve SEEN me. Texting with them I’ve been myself and they’ve responded enthusiastically. I feel attractive again. (no, no nudes were involved) I feel like I CAN attract my partner in crime.

It’s painful to admit that I haven’t felt that way in a long time. It’s also embarrassing to admit that I haven’t been able to find that from within myself – I’ve found it through three strangers on a dating app.

I’m trying not to analyze this too much or judge myself too harshly, just embrace it and help it grow. Ok, so I briefly forgot my bad ass-ness but I think this glimmer of it is enough to hold onto and build it up like an epic snowball that I can just keep rolling around until it’s big enough to knock down a skyscraper.

Yeah. . . I’m not really sure where I was going with that.

Anyway. I feel a little better today and I’m going to embrace that. Embrace it and NURTURE it.

 

Judgement-free zone!

I want

I read this article right here and it made the below just come bubbling out of me like a tapped bottle of beer when I had been thinking these past few months that my feelings were just cool being dormant for a while. That’s a big fat nope! Maybe it’s the colder weather that’s got me wanting holding hands and kissing and mixed tapes. 
I want a partner in crime. 

I want someone perfect for me when I don’t even know they’re perfect for me (as in perhaps they occasionally annoy me by challenging my core beliefs or drag me out of my shell more often that I’d prefer). 

I want to blurt out every worry, random thought, new career trajectory, creative idea, or newfound expression of love for my partner and instead of being greeted with either blindly enthusiastic acceptance or outright negative rejection be engaged in a two-way conversation with questions and ideas exchanged.

I want to hold hands in public and sneak away every once in a while to steal a kiss away from everyone’s prying eyes.

I want to have conversations that we both participate in fully, and when the other is quiet, we pause to check in. Intellectual conversations, random thoughts, fleeting insignificances, grocery lists, parts of our pasts, what our futures may look like, what our favorites are, whether or not we’ll ever have a red panda for a pet.

I want exotic foreign vacations, 200 mile away road trips, camping under the stars, reading books on the beach, Disney, Harry Potter world, local hidden treasures, playing hooky for the day and lounging in hammocks all afternoon, hosted dinners with friends, New Year’s Eve parties,  private dance parties with the record player on while doing almost anything – no reason needed, fun in the daily distractions from traffic to long lines because we can view them as opportunities for time together.

I want a strong, dependable, loyal foundation. I want an equal partner. I want a partner who respects me enough to also call me out when warranted – the first time, not after I’ve already caused a bruise.

I want to be held and feel needed when I hold them, I want random fiercely passionate kisses where I can tell they couldn’t hold it in any longer, I want all the cuddles – unless I’m too hot – then I want none of the cuddles – unless I get cold again – then I want all the cuddles again, I want a slow burning passion punctuated with fireworks, I want a thousand tiny kisses and a thousand more long ones, more than any of that I want to see that look in their eye when you can tell they see nothing but you in that moment.

I want a shared humility, I want to embrace the imperfections, I want to laugh at how ridiculous it all is sometimes, I want to try to make the best of shit circumstances and know that I have a fighter in my corner because they sure as hell will have me fighting in theirs, I want someone to be mutual anti-anxiety triggers with, I want someone to hold my hand when it all seems too hard. 

I want someone to remind me of everything I forget – all of the memories I didn’t write down. 

I want to give someone my loyalty, empathy, levity, desire, adoration, intellect, attention, and strength.

Just Get Over It Already

Move on, count your losses, count your blessings, better to have loved (liked) and lost than never to have loved (liked) at all, get over it, there’s plenty of fish in the sea, blah blah blah whatever else I’m tired of trying to tell myself.

Since this blog is about my life and how I’m trying to figure things out – I’m just going to share my biggest current personal point of frustration regardless of how ridiculous it is. 

I’ve already written about my most recent relationship blunder and it’s been three months since then and we only actually “dated” (if it was even up to that?) for maybe a month but I’m still bummed about it.  And this is abnormal for me – I’m a “well, it wasn’t meant to be so it isn’t anymore!” kind of person and with the above background information, this breakup should be a breeze for me to get over, right?  Not so much apparently. 

I’ve thought about it and one explanation for my inability to move on could be that the chance to really truly find out if it wasn’t meant to be wasn’t even given room to breathe.  Yes, I ended it, but I did so preemptively and I tried explain this but the person had already “moved on” by the time I came to that realization.

It takes me a LONG time to open up to a partner – it even takes me a bit to feel at ease around them – I’m a tough nut to crack.  If you’re so inclined to enjoy astrology, I’m a cancer and though I’m trying to soften my hard shell just try to imagine a crab without its shell – that’s a very unnerving site!  I’m still stuck on the “but what if?” because it wasn’t explored fully.  My shell was thick and tough thanks to the relationship before this one (cheating, lying, yelling, emotional manipulation, all around bad news bears).  What could have been if my walls weren’t so solidly up?  Sure it could’ve ended just the same,  but it would be with reason. 

 And that’s the other big component that’s missing from this breakup – the lack of clarity in my closure.  Moved on?  Ok, but why?  There’s got to be a reason, right?  I post on Facebook too much, I’m pushy, I hate the TV news, the  physical attraction just wasn’t there, the spark was more like a fizzle, I’m too in my own head half the time then writing blogs the other half. . .  I need something identifiable that I can stick next to the expiration date of the relationship and say “Yeah, that makes sense.”  The vague nebulous of potential reasons has got my heart shoving its foot in the door whispering that there’s still a chance.  No, heart!  There is NOT a chance!  But without enough information that the brain can process then relay to the heart that damn heart will just not let it go. 

I never would have thought that at 32 I’d be writing about relationship woes on a damn blog.  This seemingly disproportionate heartache makes me feel borderline pathetic but I think this is just me being human.  I have to admit that I’m not indestructible for once and I’m not used to that.  I suppose I could consider it a lesson in humility.  It’s all so cliche though.  

It’ll be easier one day.  Even without closure.  I just need to remind myself that it’s ok to not be ok, regardless of how ridiculous it seems to indulge that. 

Adventuring for the Introvert – My First Solo Trip

Whew!  I made it!  I am back in the swamp lands of Florida, just in time for tropical storm/tropical depression/hurricane Hermine, whatever she’s been upgraded-downgraded to now.

I won’t go into details in this post, I’m still exhausted, but I wanted to let y’all know that I survived my very first solo vacation!!!  I was in Baltimore for corporate training for 2 days, which I then took advantage of by hopping on over to Washington, D.C. for 5 days to explore.  I’ll be writing more soon once I rest up some more – I’m recovering from a lovely sinus infection that I got whilst running around in foreign allergens for a week.

Anyway, a little teaser. . . it was fun, exhausting, eye-opening, intimidating, heart-warming, clarifying, educational, challenging, memorable, and both too long and too short at the same time.

Hooray!  I did it!  Bucket list item, CHECKED!

adventuring

 

Swearwords as motivation

If you’ve read my blog in the last couple of weeks you may recall this post here:  It’s a Process – try, fail, succeed

In that post I shared a lovely graphic that I made in the hopes of inspiring you to embrace failure.

Well, after asking a representative at Canva if I could use swearwords in a non-defamatory way with their site to make my graphics, I got just the answer I was looking for: yes.

I bring to you, my motivation through swearwords version of that graphic.  This one should not be displayed on cubical walls.  But definitely text it to your bestie if they’re having a hard time at work.  They’ll appreciate it.

Copy of When you repeat the cycle of is sitting on the other side of fear. (1)

Leap then Look, When not to Consider the Consequences

BEST IDEA EVER!!

I’ve always had a knack for carelessly jumping head-first into whatever grand idea I thought was The Best Idea Ever at any given time.  I would chalk this up to the poor decision making abilities that come with my bipolar, but this goes way back into childhood.  I broke my arm when I was super young, during preschool years, because I absolutely NEEDED to “couch dance.”  This was dancing not just on the couch cushions where one sits, but also the backrest of the couch which is completely ill-advised for a small child.  I was told not to, I didn’t listen, I had an AMAZING time doing it, until – the THUD of my tiny frame came crashing to the ground behind the couch.  The fun was over.  At least until the cast was off.

I’ve never much thought about my ability (or disability, depending on how you view it) to make decisions with my gut and go for them full steam ahead without much consideration until recently.  Being a new member of Toastmasters, I gave my Icebreaker Speech late last year in which I chronicled my “inventive” and “entrepreneurial” spirit throughout my development into adulthood (I went with the fact that I spell my name Jessie with an “ie”).  One of the members commented afterward that she wished she had approached her life like I did when she was growing up.  I didn’t know what she meant because to me, I kind of seem like a hot mess looking back, but she explained that she appreciates my “why not?” attitude about everything.

 

Yeah, WHY NOT?

The woman had an excellent point.  I’ve accomplished a lot of random little victories in my life because I’ve looked at most things with that “why not?” outlook.  Opportunities came up and with little thought I embraced them wholeheartedly and let them play out.  There are times in life when caution is advisable and 100% appropriate, but with a lot of the non-essential stuff, stuff that your heart just whispers to you “Hey, this might be kind of neat to try” why would you stop yourself?  Thanks to my whim-following heart I’ve hosted a radio show in college, been involved in roller derby for 9 years, was the social chair of my sorority, told multiple people I thought they were cute/I liked them (I would say it was a 50/50 ROI on that, I’m way better with rejection than I am with “waiting to see if they make the first move”), moved to Denver, acted in sketch comedy skits, and opened multiple Etsy shops.  These were not things that I thought through.  The idea came to me, or just presented itself all up in my face, and I embraced it.  Some of those ventures failed, some happened and were fun, and some changed the course of my life (I guess all did technically).

 

Leap already!

I’m sure we’ve all seen those articles on our social media feeds that list the “Top 30 Things You Regret not Doing when You’re 70” or whatever, and every single one emphasizes that you wind up regretting the things that you DIDN’T do.  Here is a list of things that I believe you can go ahead and DO, just leap before looking!

Cut your hair, audition for a play, apply for that promotion, SING KARAOKE, ask the cute person across the way to dance, say yes when your friend invites you to try something new, explore that hobby you’ve always been interested in, start saving for that big trip you’ve always wanted to take, just go take that little weekend trip already, try out for the sports team, join an adult recreational sports team, START BLOGGING, raise your hand excitedly the next time you hear “Can I have a volunteer from the audience?”, dance – even if no one else is, go back to school, volunteer your time, write a book, or join a new group a little outside of your comfort zone.

 

 

03%2F22%2F19

Ok, take a peek over the edge real quick, but then leap!

And now, the things that perhaps you should take some time to consider before acting on (because I definitely have one tattoo that I did NOT look into before leaping).

Adopt a fur child, get a tattoo, change careers, move to a new city/state/country, actually go on that big trip you’ve always wanted to take, pop the “big question”, start a business, or go in to the boss person and ask for that raise at work.

 

You do You

Most importantly, you do you.  Speak and act your heart’s truth.  The last thing you want is to go through life regretting chances you didn’t take or the bad choices you did make.  If your gut says “LEAP!  NOW!”, maybe tell your best friend first and see if they offer a parachute or downright refuse to let you get in the airplane – then weigh their input and act accordingly.  Life is way too short to wonder “What if?”

Chronic Loneliness – Is it or isn’t it?

Ain’t No Pity Party!

Lemme preface real quick and say that this is no woe-is-me post, this is simply me indulging in my love of psychology and weird ability to observe then write about my own feelings.  Perhaps others have felt this way too and can relate, maybe even feel a little better about those feelings!

 

Single but NOT Alone!

So one time at a brunch with a bunch of people – some friends and some strangers (ok, friends of friends – for a birthday) the server was going around the long table asking who would be on the same ticket.  Apparently I was the lone single lady at the table of all couples so when the server looked at me expectantly I proudly said “Single! But NOT alone!” which added some levity to the situation (it wasn’t an awkward situation by any means, I was just being funny).  That was a couple years ago, or maybe one?  The friend’s birthday is coming up so I guess actually less than a year. . . Man.  My concept of time is awful.

Fast forward to today.  I’m single.  If you’ve read my other posts you know that I rather tumultuously exited a 2-ish year relationship with an awful fraud toward the beginning of the year then briefly dated (and “destroyed” a la Dresden Dolls Coin Operated Boy) a Very Nice Guy (who I actually tried to reach out to recently, have not heard a word, not surprised) and am now very definitively single.  I have friends trying to play matchmaker but. . . yeah, no.  Just. . . no.

a party of one is still a party!

 

Friends with Benefits

I’m not talking the sexy kind here.  My “friends with benefits” are my BFFs – the ones I can hang out with and talk for hours on end about nothing, leaving them feeling worlds better than when I got to them.  My BFFs are the people I love hugging.  I *want* to be a hugger, and I *try* being one of those people who hugs people they first meet (only if the other party comes at me first) but I just can’t.  I only like hugging people when I MEAN it.  So my BFFs get all my good hugs – and I love the hugs they give me in return.  My BFFs know all of my quirks already so anything that I do/say/think that’s weird to others, they’re already on the same page with me when I’m 10 minutes into whatever random story I’ve got going on in my life.  My BFFs know exactly what to say to make me have an A-HA moment, or realize I’m just being -insert whatever I’m usually being here-, and to make me feel completely ok with everything – the good and the bad.

My BFFs live far away.  My very best friend lives in another state – that requires a plane ticket to get to.  She has odd work hours and I actually have to call her LAND LINE!  Ok, she lives in the BEAUTIFUL mountains so it makes sense, and the view from her house it totally worth it, I just love saying land line in 2016.  My other BFF lives in Indiana.  I’ve only seen her when she comes to visit and she’s got tons of people to see when she’s here so our time together is rare.  She’s also about to pop out baybay number 2.  Another BFF only lives a two hour drive away.  She’s actually going to put me through “Baby Boot Camp” with her new 2-month-old baybay so I can learn how not to break a baby.  She’s hilarious and I really do need to hang out with her more.

Locally I have friends.  There are a few people I have Deep Conversations with.  There are people I hug and don’t mind it.  There are people I love hanging out with on a week or weekend night.  There are only a couple of people I could sit on a porch with for a few hours and just talk about life.  THAT is what I miss.  THAT is what I feel like causes Chronic Loneliness, at least in my life definition.

 

Chronic Loneliness

I had heard this term while watching a TED Talk on Mental Hygiene and it was new to me, but it immediately made sense.  In the American culture, we tend to run around making these superficial connections through business or our cellphones/social media and seldom delve deeper than that with others outside of our pre-existing friends.  CONNECTIONS seem to be lacking.  I work 9-6 and when I was living with my ex, I would go home most nights and connect with him – only a few nights out of the month would I venture outside of that bubble to connect with other friends.  Now, being single, I’ve been going out a lot more with different friends and we connect, but we don’t CONNECT.  It’s still superficial.  That’s not to say my FRIENDS are superficial, not by any means, in fact most of them are the opposite, but our connections typically are.

I suppose this is something that may come with time, developing a friendship to be deeper, but part of me wants to challenge people to have a face to face conversation about the deep stuff right up front.  Just for funsies.  Get to the real human grit.  Can you make a new BFF in less than a month with a new friend?  Would it take some sort of shared trauma?  Or is that something only a romantic partner can achieve in such a short amount of time?

This whole ponderance comes from my insane desire to cuddle with someone after a really rough day today.  Someone other than my adorable kitty because sometimes she gets sassy and bites.  I’m pretty sure there are things like cuddle booty calls (ok, I know there are) but that’s not REAL.  It’s not real human CONNECTION.  And then I remembered the term Chronic Loneliness and started googling it – yay internet always giving you complexes you didn’t know you had!  But when you’ve had a rough day, you just want someone to hold you and assure you that it’s ok, you’re ok, tomorrow will be better, and there are still rainbows in the world somewhere.  People who don’t have that for years on end, I don’t know what that’s like.  I’ve been single here and there, but not really for more than a year and a half (or so) at a time.  I don’t know how I would handle not cuddling with someone for more than a year.  I mean, according to this internet article (must be true!) loneliness can lead to all kinds of wicked bad stuff.  Why aren’t we connecting more?

 

Try New Things

As part of getting out of my apartment I’ve been trying new things.  I tried this crazy thing called acro yoga and it’s pretty much using all of your muscles to stack humans in pretty ways.  If you’re really fancy, you can do “transitions” where you go from one position to another.  It’s insane.  I did three poses as a “base” and then was peer-pressured into doing a transition between two super basic “flying” poses.  I was a hot mess and my muscles were sore the next day.  However!  The people were super cool.  I went because of a friend I met through roller derby who happens to also perform circus acts – she’s pretty bad ass.  I’ve definitely got to get some core strength, and like, arm and leg strength too, but man!  It’s pretty rad when you can sit on the bottom of some dude’s feet without holding onto anything (except your fear, on the inside).

I’ll also be learning music things starting next week!  The circus friend’s boo is musically-inclined and apparently likes teaching so we shall see how that goes!  I wanna be able to play the keyboard and sing in key – make up my own songs and such.  Just for myself – for funsies.

 

Super Awkward First Date Idea!

Ok, so I heard about this on a podcast, how to fall in love with anyone and I totes wanna try it one day.  Do I have faith in it?  Not likely.  Do I think it would be super uncomfortable and weird?  YES!  Do I find it exciting to make a potential date feel uncomfortable and weird?  DOUBLE YES!  So you have to ask a series of questions, and then you have to STARE INTO EACH OTHERS EYES.  FOR FOUR WHOLE MINUTES.  As part of some leadership exercise I had to stare into a partner’s eyes for one minute and that was TORTURE!  FOUR MINUTES???  WITH A DATE???  Oh man.  Totes gonna do this ish.

Oh, and that’s related to this post because I’m pretty sure it creates a connection.  Perhaps a temporarily superficial one, but come on, there’s no going back after staring into someone’s eyes for TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY SECONDS!

Super Sage Relationship Wisdom – Before the Beginning

So maybe I don’t know a WHOLE lot about SUCCESSFUL relationships/dating, but I’ve been doing it for a while now and I’ve learned some things so. . . here they are.

 

Before you even decide to BEGIN a new relationship there are a few key ingredients you should be looking for before you make the leap.

Start with the Self-Love

Before you even consider entering into a romantic partnership with another human being, you should be pretty well comfortable with who YOU are as a human being FIRST.  Ain’t nobody got time to be fixing you up, honey!  That’s your own job!  If you’ve got any lingering “issues”, please, for the sanity of yourself and your soon-to-be sweetie, DEAL with them!  Of course, I understand that we all have our issues and the mountain of minor ones will never ALL be resolved, but I’m talking about the big ones here.  Sort out those skeletons in the closet so that when those little minor issues come up in the relationship, they just seem like adorable little quirks for you and your partner to figure out together.

If you notice a trend of going from one relationship to the next, pause for a minute next time to give yourself time to reflect.  It’s very easy to fall into the ebb and flow of “serial monogamy” but if your last relationship dredged up anything that might need some processing, you should consider taking a step back and focus on yourself for a bit.  Work on who you are outside of the “relationship equation” so that you can be even more solid the next go around.

My point is, you’ve got to do this hard work to be able to begin a relationship as a whole person.  If you don’t absolutely LOVE who you are, how will anyone else?  This doesn’t have to be an unconditional 24-7 kind of love, I don’t even think Oprah’s capable of that, but if you can’t look at where you are in your life and be happy with the person you are and the path you’re on, perhaps YOU should be your top priority for now – not someone else.

 

Que sera, sera

“What will be, will be” I swear this is my mom’s favorite piece of relationship advice to me on any given day.  I will admit that this broken record approach of hers might be merited. . .  If you find yourself being impatient, always acting as “the first”, or perhaps your friends have told you to chill out over a person a few times – you may need this sound bit of advice.  Yes, there is a time to act, and no, I can’t say with certainty WHEN that is, but if the potential for a relationship is starting to break ground – give it room (and TIME) to grow.  According to my mom, if something is meant to come of a connection between two people, it will happen inevitably.  This is easy for her to say, having been married to my dad for 42 years at the time he died in 2011, because she’s had that ONE partner, nearly her entire life – but I’m trying to apply it to my own life as well (easier said than done!).  I don’t know about the concept of fate, but somehow I can reconcile the belief that things happen for a reason – and I apply that here.

So if you’ve got a potential partner, or maybe some missed connection, just wait it out.  Keep yourself busy with activities/people/places that make you happy.  Don’t just wait around.  Now, if you’ve given the relationship in question a good amount of time, space, whatever, and there’s still inaction – I don’t know what to tell you then.  You can try to “act first” but beware that you may get hurt (this has been my M.O. most of the time, and it does hurt when the answer is “no”, but then you’re not left wondering “what if” – I HATE being left in the “wondering” way more than I dislike dealing with the “no”).  Keep in mind that once you receive a “no” in any way, shape, or form, you had best respect that and move on.

 

Know Your Non-Negotiables

A friend of mine once pointed out that with each newly ended relationship, we come out with at least 1-2 more “non-negotiables” which we can use to more easily sort through potential partners.  A “non-negotiable” is something like “they’re voting for Trump and that’s not cool” or “they have to be ok with two babies, three cats, and 5 goldfish” – whatever those MUST HAVES (or absolutely cannot haves) are to you.  From the 2.5 year relationship I learned the non-negotiable of “trust without thinking” (see below) and “must be a feminist” – these things may change definitions over time and from person to person, but if there is something that REALLY matters to you, you should not give that up for someone.  If it’s something like “must have a nice car”, well now, perhaps you could look at their other attributes and see how much that single one really does matter to you.  If it still REALLY matters, then put it on your list!

I’ll admit here that there’s some grey area with this.  Ok, A LOT of grey area, read my post on Negotiating the Non-Negotiable here.  As I said, these can be flexible and they can change over time.  If you want someone who doesn’t smoke for instance, perhaps you’ll consider someone on the premise that “one day they’ll quit” – that’s all your call.  Maybe use some of the point above and give the new relationship a little “que sera, sera” treatment to see how things shake out those first few months.  You may just find out that your own non-negotiable is in fact, 100% opposite of what you thought!

 

Trust without Thinking

DO NOT ignore your gut!  So many times I have seen friends ignore their initial instincts “Yeah, they seem a little off, but they’re super cute so it’s cool, yeah?” only to have it bite them in the ass shortly after (and by friends I mean myself included).  Use your own initial reaction, as well as that of your friends (TRUST THEM! They’re thinking way more clearly than you are!), to gauge potential partners.  If you get the sense of “red flags” please for the love of your heart, pay attention.

The best relationships I’ve had are the ones that came from either friendships or the “refer a friend” method.  Either way, these partners were vetted – I knew they were legit GOOD people.  That’s part of the reason I dislike the idea of online dating so much, you have NO IDEA who this person really is, and even your gut can lie when it tells you to trust someone implicitly.  But when you’ve been referred by a friend, that potential partner usually comes with some recommendation and at least a little backstory.

With any new relationship it’s important that you are able to trust that person outright.  If there is any cause at all for you to doubt that person, what’s the point of letting yourself open up to them?  That’s why I call it the “trust without thinking”, it’s on some subconscious level that you instinctively know you can trust this person with your personal stories, and eventually your heart.

 

Obviously that list isn’t exhaustive, just a brief collection of my most recent lessons.  What have been your most valuable lessons in relationships recently?

-The Flutter-

BONUS to look for:  “The Flutter”

My mom’s pretty adorable sometimes and recently she outdid herself.  We were talking about relationships (in which she gave me the que sera, sera speech) when she asked me if I felt “the flutter” with someone.  I asked her to clarify, thinking I pretty well understood what she meant but I really wanted to hear the “mom” explanation.  She went on to describe how she felt every time she saw my dad (and then any time she sees someone who resembles him from afar now after he died – which is heart-breaking) when she would get this feeling like a breath caught in her chest from excitement.  Or when you smile just thinking about someone.  The heart skipping a beat feeling.  I think it’s a universal feeling, maybe all just a little different from person to person, but for my mom it’s that breath of excitement caught in her chest for just a moment.

Of course, it’s very easy to start a relationship this way – there’s almost always an initially exciting attraction that causes your heart to race when you think about that person.  But my mom’s point was that her feeling STAYED, through 42 years – 2 kids, countless arguments, deaths, moves, 9/11, and into the aging process when your metabolism slows and your wrinkles get deeper.  So if you’ve found someone, dated them for a bit, found out that maybe they snore or quote cartoons more than most people, and you still feel “the flutter”, then you might have someone worth keeping around for a while.

 

Negotiating the Non-Negotiable

The Non-Negotiable

By internet definition this is something that is “not open to discussion or modification.”  In my current world this is something that hinders the development of a relationship, in other words, a deal-breaker.

 

Dating at 22

Ahh, to be young, most likely tipsy, broke, and relatively care-free again.  Recently out of college, blindly following a budding career path, living for the weekend, and barely a thought of what comes after paying rent next month.  At 22 I decided to move to Denver, I wanted to take my BFF with me but she wasn’t ready so instead I ended up taking my boyfriend at the time with me.  He was fun, creative, outgoing, kind, hilarious, weird, and. . . he DANCED.  Those were all super important things to me at the time.  The relationship ended while in Denver thanks to a combination of me being a young jerk with bipolar and warranted trust issues.  That was a good two years of drunken debauchery – which at 22, why the hell not?

The Non-Negotiables at 22

Ok, let’s be real here – I was 22 and honestly didn’t really care much about the future so why would I limit my partners based on anything other than the simple question “Do I like them?”  Also, he danced.  Not professionally or anything, but like ridiculous 80’s danced in the middle of the dance floor without any care in the world – SWOON.

 

Dating Marriage at 27

Ok, it’s been 5 years of learning from life.  Well, I should have been learning but instead I was just kind of stumbling through my existence in a bipolar mess of extended depression with spikes of mania – not the best way to experience it.  Very long story short, at age 26 I ran into a high school sweetheart who had joined the military, I moved to a depressingly remote area to be with him, it was not an actually happy or successful relationship by any means, thanks to my bipolar (random bad ideas and the lack of thought to stop them) and his willingness to go along with it we eloped and got married at a courthouse literally 5 minutes from where we lived.  He then got deployed as my dad had a stroke back home.  My dad ended up dying two weeks later due to horrendous complications from the stroke.  Meanwhile the “husband” (so weird to say still) was deployed and I had to maintain a happy facade whenever we could Skype because, you know, he was in a war zone and all that.  So, after 4 months of “Why am I doing this?” he returned and I already had the talk planned out, I wanted to divorce.   Yup.  That was my romantic life at 27.  On a scale of one to even, I just couldn’t.

The Non-Negotiables at 27

At this point, with this person, I had learned that I wanted someone passionate about something, ANYTHING.  I needed someone who needed more out of life than just coasting with the status quo.  I learned that physical attraction is an absolute must – I’m not talking the shallow “They’ve got to be SUPER HOT” but a chemistry of sorts, an electric pull.  I also realized with this person that I didn’t want someone who was addicted to nicotine.  The partner I was with at 22 was a smoker, which is how I started smoking in the first place, and the partner at 27 chewed nicotine gum ENDLESSLY.  I have one of those deep-seeded childhood issues with smoking and despite the fact that I’m an on-again off-again smoker, I decided that dating another smoker was not going to be good for me (I believe they call that an enabler).  I hate admitting that I was a COMPLETE BRAT with this partner and that I took advantage of the regard that I was held in, but I did.  However, I can say now that one of my non-negotiables is that my partner must be someone who can and will stand up to me when merited.  I have a strong personality and I can be pushy (yeah, yeah, I know) but with years of practice I have learned to tone that down (still working on it), but I need a partner who has thoughts and opinions of their own and stands up for themselves.

 

Dating at 32

Ahh, to be in the NOW.  I’m happy for the most part.  My life has been a choose your own adventure story that, even if I could go back to a previous page and pick a different path, I wouldn’t want to.  I have Life Things to figure out still and I’m a work in progress – isn’t everyone?  In the past 5 years I’ve spent most of the time being single, a few dates here and there from online dating sites, a few months with a very sweet but very conflicted individual, a couple years in a relationship with a complete fraud, and a few weeks recently that I’m still figuring out.  Most of my friends are married and settled into their coupled lives, some with kids, some not.  One commonality among all of those couples is that they have chosen quality partners, not a single one has a sub-par spouse.  My BFF and her unicorn of a husband (as in he’s rare and wonderful) were apparently recently discussing me and my singleness.  They contemplated what my “perfect partner” would look like and jointly came up with no clear picture.  I tried to figure this out as well during one of our long conversations when I came to visit her recently.  I came up with nada.  No clue.  This concerned me at first until I considered it further and realized that this is probably the best approach to finding a partner in crime.  I have no idea what they’ll be like, but I trust that I’ll figure it out when I do find them.  And then we shall go on the biggest non-crime crime spree ever, or maybe just hold hands on that ride from my dad’s favorite Jerry Seinfeld quote.

“Life is truly a ride. We’re all strapped in and no one can stop it. When the doctor slaps your behind, he’s ripping your ticket and away you go. As you make each passage from youth to adulthood to maturity, sometimes you put your arms up and scream, sometimes you just hang on to that bar in front of you. But the ride is the thing. I think the most you can hope for at the end of life is that your hair’s messed, you’re out of breath, and you didn’t throw up.”

The Non-Negotiables at 32

Here’s the deal, I’m beginning to think that this concept of a non-negotiable is complete BS.  Nearly everything in life is situational, right?  I actually dated an ex-heroin addict (who ended up not being over that addiction, lesson learned) which to me SCREAMS of non-negotiable.  But I entered into that relationship knowing the truth and it was a lovely relationship for the time that it lasted – there are some solid good memories.  I wouldn’t have those memories if I didn’t allow myself the chance to explore (negotiate) that potential.  Have you ever heard of “self-limiting beliefs”?  They’re nasty little things, usually on the subconscious level, where your mind is convinced that there are these made up limitations so that you believe you cannot achieve XYZ because of these utterly made up limitations.  Perhaps that’s what a non-negotiable is, a relationship-limiting standard/expectation/belief that only serves to hinder the potential progress of what could be an amazing relationship.  It’s something to consider at the very least.

 

Where to go from here

Umm. . . I have no idea.  I’ll continue to follow my heart and see where it leads me.  I’ll do my best to suspend the non-negotiables because they’re just a construct after all.  I’ll be honest with myself and others.  And most importantly, I’m just gonna be over here, doing me.  You do you, you do you.