Monday, December 22, 2014

Lessons in letting go

The last twelve months have been exhausting. I had so much going on (new job, new home), dating really wasn't a priority. Then a guy I already knew showed himself back into my life. I let him really get the best of me, and I reacted by making some horrible, terrible, just plain awful choices.

(I never shared much detail on those choices; some things are better left locked in a vault - know what I mean?)

That went on for about a month, culminating in a, "What the &%@# am I doing?!" moment, after which I immediately gave up on all that nonsense.

Then I met Turtle. Things started off slow...then picked up a bit....then got weird. Turtle is not ready for a relationship, but he is still in my life. We do not hang out as often as we once did, but we still talk just about everyday and we do see each other pretty regularly.

I am still trying not to set expectations. I am trying to just put a pin in my feelings, enjoy the time I spend with him, and let things evolve into whatever it is we are meant to be. I have, for the first time ever, tried to approach dating with patience and understanding and compromise; without an agenda, or pushing.

I suck at it.

(To be fair, though - I am improving.)

If nothing else, I have learned a lot about myself.

I learned that I have spent the last few years (since Trooper) with my heart closed off and a big wall built up to keep people from getting all the way in. I thought I was being laid back when it came to dating - but really, I was just not allowing those emotions to show. The trouble with walls is that while they are a great way to keep out the pain and the tears - they also block your blessings.

The truth is, while I am laid back about a lot of things in life, when I really care about someone, I can get anxious and worried and frustrated pretty easily. I can tell people all I want that I'm OK with taking things slow, but the truth is, I do have a pace in mind - and when things don't go at that pace, I can freak out a little.

I had to spend a little time figuring out why. Why do I react that way? What has me so scared? All of the major relationships in my life (right back to my mom when I was a baby) have resulted in me being left behind. It's the one thing that completely knocks me off my game. To cope, I try to put things in a certain order - what I want, when I want - to calm my fears and convince my mind that he (whoever "he" is at the time) won't leave.

That was pretty easy to figure out. What wasn't easy was trying to figure out how to go about changing a reaction and a behavior that is forty years in the making. I mean - I know better. In a million years I never expected that X would leave - but he did. That taught me it doesn't matter what order things are in, or how much control you think you have. But knowing better and behaving better are two completely different things.

(Ironically, it was a long conversation with X that really helped me start to realize what I needed to do.)

I needed to learn that it wasn't about having better control of things - it was about learning to let go of the illusion that I have any control at all. Things happen. Life happens. It can't be predicted. We don't know where we're headed from one moment to the next. Every day, every hour, every minute we're faced with choices. There's no way to predict where those choices will lead - and that's OK. That's the way life is meant to be. If we all knew the future, there'd be no surprises, no lessons. No hope.

Life isn't meant to be controlled or predicted - it is meant to be lived. Enjoy time with people when you can; maybe they won't be here tomorrow. Learn lessons. Allow yourself to be sad. Sit in the quiet now and then and listen to your heart. If you're so inclined, listen to God and what He wants for your life. Focus on what you know you want, and keep making choices that will get you there. Keep moving until you run out of options.

I have thought many times that Turtle may have come into my life as a way to teach me how to know when it's time to let go. This thing with him is not perfect, or easy. I'm not always happy....there's a million reasons to leave, and I owe him nothing. I know I don't have to stay.

I have sat in quiet, in tears, and prayed to God on what is best for me. I have handed Him my problems and my fears, and asked that He fix them - because I surely can't. I have accepted that God works at His pace, not mine - and I might be waiting a while.

I do think I am meant to let go - but not of a relationship. The God to Whom I pray loves me and wants nothing but the best for me. He would not look to punish me or make me sad. He would look to prepare me - and I do realize that while Turtle is here to bring the lessons, they may not be about him. Only time will tell for sure.

I am learning how to let go of the illusion that I control when, or how, things happen. I am learning to let go of the idea that life, or love, needs to look a certain way in order for it to be true. I am learning patience and understanding and how to accept someone, faults and all, and learn to build him up rather than look for reasons to walk away. I am learning that it isn't all about me, and that sometimes, I can't have exactly what I want, when I want - and that's OK.

It turns out I don't always know best, anyway.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Why I am a fade out convert

Anyone who has been around a while knows how much I used to hate when men would go black hole on me. I figured it doesn't hurt to just say, hey, I'm not really that interested, sorry. I've thought and wondered and hypothesized why anyone would just not have the courtesy to tell the truth.

But I have to say, over the last 12 months, I've come to realize there's something to be said for just letting someone fade away. Obviously I'm not a fan of doing that when you have an actual relationship. Once someone has invested, even just a little, they deserve some kind of closure. But for brief exchanges, or even after just a date or two, I am officially a fade out convert.

It happened when I met a guy and we messaged, and then we texted. At first it was OK, but then I realized I really wasn't into the conversations we were having. I tried to be polite - but not encouraging - but he didn't take the hint. I started to feel like I was a hostage of my phone. I felt like I had to reply, and I had to be nice - or I had to explain myself.

I finally did, but it was so awkward. He asked for a reason, and I didn't have one. I just didn't like talking to him. I ended up inventing a story (I think I told him I just wasn't in a good mental place to meet new people), and he went away. But I found myself irritated that I had to lie, and even more irritated that I had to explain myself to someone I had never even seen in person.

It occurred to me that might be one of the reasons that men fade away. They don't have a reason, it isn't personal, and they really just don't want to explain themselves. Maybe the truth is as simple as it wasn't worth pursuing.

I've come to the conclusion that's OK.

A friend said to me, well what about when there's a date and it seemed to go well? That's always bugged me too, but I think we can give it the same perspective.

I've been on some awful dates. Most of the time, the other person felt the same. But I have, on occasion, been miserable on a date - only to hear from the guy, wanting another. He thought it went well. Like he was on a totally different date.

A good date is really subjective. You may have thought it went wonderful for both of you; but maybe he was just good at pretending. Or maybe you had rose-colored glasses on. Or maybe the date really was great, but for some other reason, another can't happen. 

After one date, does it really matter?

I've come to the conclusion that the fade out is a sign that, for one reason or another, this is not the guy for you. It's the universe's way of protecting you from the unhappiness or hurt or even just inconvenience that comes from investing in the wrong person.

I know it feels like there's no closure, and that stinks. I like closure, too. But sometimes in life, we have to create our own. I think looking at the fade out as protection is a great way to find the closure we really need.

The right guy - the one who is really meant for you - wouldn't just fade away.

Friday, December 12, 2014

In store for 2015

I am counting down the days until January. I'm over the holidays, and I really just want to turn the page on 2014.

I look forward to a fresh calendar year, full of possibilities. I'm ready for new goals, new projects, and new adventures!

I have no idea what's in store for 2015, but I do know this...a lot can happen in a year.

If this picture is any indication, 2015 will bring me health, wealth, peace, and love. I'll take it.

(OK, OK- so I found peace first, and health soon after. I stumbled across wealth after 10 minutes of searching for love. Totally still counts.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Middle ground

I have decided to have no expectations where Turtle is concerned. By "no expectations," I mean mostly I don't worry about where things are going. I try not to predict, or plan. I try to just take it as it comes. When we see each other (which isn't often), I try to just enjoy his company and conversation. When we talk/text (which is just about every day), I try to be as positive as possible.

As someone who likes to know where things are going, this has been a totally new experience. But I have to say - it's truly been enlightening. I am learning a ton about myself, my strengths and especially my weaknesses when it comes to dating. I am learning why I have been unhappy in previous relationships, and (hopefully) what I can improve going forward.

Of  course, no expectations also means that I am not just sitting around,waiting for Turtle. For all I know, he and I will never be more than friends. So, when I got bored the other night, there was no reason not to reply to a message on OKCupid....

....except that, as I suspected, I really can't give this guy a fair chance. He seems very nice. He seems enthusiastic about dating, and like he really would like to find someone. He's probably a lot closer to where I am (emotionally) than Turtle.

But I just can't bring myself to care.

I know I should give the guy a fair chance. But even if I cast Turtle out completely (which I do not plan on doing), my feelings for him would still exist - and they would still get in the way of anything happening with anyone else.

So what do I do? Well, for starters I completely hid that profile. I may continue talking with this guy - but not much longer, so I don't lead him on. Things will have to remain as friends, and see what develops.

As for Turtle....

I promised myself I wouldn't try to plan or predict. I also promised myself I wouldn't wait around. I guess it's time to figure out the middle ground.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Shine on

The last few weeks have been tough. I have struggled with sorting through some feelings, trying to decide if I want to open myself up to dating again (more on that later), and struggles with friends. Add the holiday and family stress, and I'm about spent.

Don't even get me started on my New Years Eve plans.

It occurs to me that I just need to focus my energy on the good stuff. What's meant to be, will be. In the meantime, I'm free to do what I want with whomever. I can enjoy my friends (and the family I like), and I spend time with those friends who fill my life with smiles.

Plus - shopping.

Sometimes life isn't how you hoped or planned. Sometimes you're not too sure of yourself, or your choices.

All you can do is keep pushing forward, focus on the good, and hope for the best.

Shine on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Honesty is my policy

I have been told that I am too accomodating in relationships. I'm too available, too nice, too understanding. I give a lot, without expecting much in return.

The other day, though, I was told that while I am accomodating, I do expect something: Unabridged honesty. While I am understanding, I do have trouble grasping that this might be difficult for some.

I suppose some people think honesty means I want them to be open about the things I want to hear - but keep the other stuff to themselves. Some people have trouble saying anything to anyone that might be hurtful. They definitely don't want to say anything to me that will hurt my feelings, because in all likelihood, I have been nothing but nice (and accomodating, understanding...blah, blah, blah) towards them.

Which, if you think about it - kinda stinks. It's almost like I give kindess and in return, all I get are lies. It could easily make me want to start being less honest, less likely to trust, and quicker to leave.

But I really don't think that's the best way to look at things.

That same friend pointed out to me that I tend to surround myself with people who will give me honesty - even when it makes them uncomfortable, and even when they know my feelings might get hurt. I know a lot of people, and obviously not all of them are 100% honest with me all of the time. But those with whom I am closest, the ones who really know me, will always tell me the truth. They know I want to hear what they honestly think about me or my situation, so that I can make good decisions, and improvements where needed. They tell me what I need to know - not what I want to hear.

I do not want to get discouraged from asking for, or expecting, honesty. I also don't want to stop being understanding, or start assuming everyone is lying. I don't want to change who I am or settle for a man who is less than what I want.

I will continue to be accomodating. I will continue to be available and nice. I will continue to be honest - even though it means putting myself out there. I may try to be even more understanding, and realize that not everyone is capable of the sort of honesty I want.

That honesty exists - my friends are proof. So I will keep looking for that honesty in any sort of partner. After all, if I need that from my friends, it only makes sense it should be on my list.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Top of the list

Everyone has a list of what they want, both from their relationship and in the person they choose. Some people are specific (he needs to be tall, she needs to like video games, we need to travel, etc.), while others are more general.

Every list is personal and unique. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another.

But I do think every list should start out with one primary requirement: I should be happy.

That may mean that you find someone who wants to spend a lot of time together. It may mean you finally find a guy who is taller than you. It may mean you find a guy who doesn't mind that you don't cook, or a woman who doesn't want kids, or a man who wants to help you train for your next marathon.

A friend recently pointed out to me that we all have something we want from our relationships. One of the greatest things we can learn about ourselves is what that something is. Once we know, we are in a much better position to choose the relationship that's best for us - whether or not it makes sense to anyone else.

I'm not in the best position to offer advice right now, but I hope you'll take some great advice from one of my dearest friends: 

Top your list with happy - and the rest will fall into place.