Trick or Treat?

Halloween gives us the opportunity to step out of our comfort zones and play a different character for the night. Some of us decide to go scary, while some become a little more scandalous, and a few break out the creativity – regardless, we all put on a face that doesn’t belong to us and go to brew up some trouble.

We all have the excuse that it’s Halloween and we can do and be whoever and whatever we would like, because the next morning, we’ll wake up, wash off the makeup or face paint and be back to our normal selves. The image we portray is temporary and with everyone else joining in on the charade, it’s easy to pretend.

But in matters of love and of our hearts, is it ever okay to play make believe? Can we trick ourselves into a treat, or out of one, because we become something we’re not? Or is it okay to experiment and see what we feel, what we think, and how we respond to something out of our character.

Is experimenting bad or is it just part of the journey? Part of recovery? Part of the falling in love with ourselves?

Lately, I’ve been trying not to put myself in a box. I’ve always been very rule-oriented – maybe because I’m a Virgo or because that’s just who I am, I’m not quite sure. But I’ve always supported self-imposed rules that have dictated my choices, my actions, and my feelings.

I’m guilty of using phrases like “have to” or “can’t” when it comes to everything from exercise and sex to my career. I can’t kiss him or he’ll think I’m easy. I can’t have sex with someone out of a relationship or I’ll feel awful about it afterwards. I have to go to the gym at least five days a week or I’ll gain weight and look bad. I have to have a certain amount of internships to make it in publishing. I have to write in a certain so I’ll get the specific job I want.

I should, I can’t, I must, I won’t, I have to – all of these words are so limiting. They don’t allow me to treat myself or to try something new. They play mind tricks with me that make me feel guilty or make me feel like I’m not good enough or I have short comings. It makes me feel suffocated and stuck in a rut that I’m so desparately trying to break free of.

No, I don’t think I should start sleeping around or stop going to the gym (I do love running, after all), and I don’t think I should stop freelancing or stop improving my writing. But I do think my language needs to change and so does the amount of pressure I put on myself.

If I want to kiss someone, I want be able to do that without fear of what other people think or feeling less ladylike. If I want to take more than one day off a week from working out, I want to be able to do that without worrying about my hips spreading.

And I shouldn’t have to trick my mind into allowing me to treat myself – but rather, just go with the flow. Love myself in the same unconditional form I love my friends and my family. Forgive myself if I do something that later I may not feel 100 percent good about. Believe that every experience, every bump in the road, or sporadic decision is just bringing me one step closer to security and self-love, and eventually, the love I’ll find with the right man.

I don’t want to put on a face or stay locked up in a routine or a mindset that limits me from exploring, being, and trying all that I want to experience. I don’t want to have to put on a costume to taste a new flavor I haven’t before, but I also don’t want to miss out on my youth for fear of doing the wrong thing.

Where is the line between treating and tricking? Where’s the happy ground between living openly and freely and staying true to ourselves?

Can you ever really, have the treat, without the trick?

 

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Trail Blazing

It’s easy, it’s natural, and it’s captivatingly simple to me. It comes without any trouble, without any worries, and without any fears or complications. It gives as much as it takes and it can make me feel better in an instant. It is part of what defines me and what makes me get up each and every single morning.

Writing.

Regardless if it’s an article, this blog, freelancing, or Tumbling – I know I was put on this planet to be a writer. Yes, of course, everyone in New York is a writer of sorts, but I truly believe I was given the gift of being a word craftswoman and that it’ll take me wherever I want to go. And I also know I have the ability to write as I do so I can help others with their struggles, their thoughts, and their daily lives.

Recently, I met with an editor at a magazine who is in charge of a networking group I’m part of. We met to discuss my career, taking a leadership role in the group, and advice about moving forward. Not only did she compliment me and tell me she knew I’d go far and that my ambition was admirable – but hearing about her accomplishments and witnessing her career…gave me a surge of energy.

While I’ve always had confidence in my career and in the steps I’m taking to be successful, having someone else validate you gives you that extra kick ya need. And that feeling – that kick, the ecstatic feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes your heart swell…is incomparable.

As I left her office and got on the elevator, it took every ounce of maturity in me to not jump up and down the hallway. And when I was on the streets, I practically was skipping and my smile was as wide as the Grand Central Terminal I was entering.

That feeling when you know you’re doing exactly what you’re meant to do, in the place you want to do it, at the time you’re supposed to do it…wow. When I see my byline in print or online, when I get a check for freelancing, when I get fan mail from this blog, the joy that intensifies in my soul is more powerful than any feeling a man has ever given me.

That happiness, that beautiful, irreplaceable confidence in myself, my career, and my ability to achieve makes me realize how important writing really is to me. No matter who I meet or who I marry or who I fall in love with – they will never be able to give me this energy or this joy.

Because that joy, that perfectly-aligned with your soul feeling – comes from a place they’ll never reach. And I wouldn’t want them to. This happiness, this immense pleasure is just for me and for the hard work I put into being who I know I’m meant to be, and helping those I know I need to serve.

I feel like I’m at the brink of something incredible. I’m learning to love myself, be confidently single, and I’m advancing myself to the next level I want to be at in my career. Something is brewing in the atmosphere and something even more amazing is brewing inside of me.

I sincerely feel like I’m on fire and wherever I go next will light up all around me, illuminating a path for others to follow. This passionate flame that burns so intensely inside of me cannot and will not be extinguished because it’s been there forever – without faltering when anyone comes in and out of my line of fire.

Watch out, world – I’m blazing a new trail, and I’m taking this spark with me to the next adventure. And…I’m doing it all by myself.

Walk This Way

If there is one aspect of my style that will never change, it is my love for high heels. I can’t explain the surge of energy it gives me to strut down the street, hearing the incomparable click-click rhythm on the pavement, and seeing heads turn as I pass by.

Even when I went to a school with an elevation of 3,333 feet and there was a foot of snow on the ground, I always sported a pair of kicks with a little step. Needless to say, I was often ridiculed and declared insane, but to this day, I feel out-of-my-element when I don’t have some heels on my feet (I think they’ve grown accustomed to the curve).

I may regret the decision to wear stilettos when I get older, but for now, the strength they “give” me, either metaphorically or literally, is something that helps boost my confidence and morale.

Sure enough, this self-assurance via Jimmy Choo has shown through my love life, too. Every man I’ve ever dated has told me they loved the way I walk. I’ve always taken it as a compliment and appreciated that they took note, but it never quite mattered to me what they thought. Wearing heels or hearing their click has never been about attracting the attention of a man, but just a fashion that I thoroughly enjoy just for me.

While I think part of my walk was just hereditary (I have a smokin’ mom), some of the way I got the swivel down pat is by listening to girl-power tunes while strutting. Without even noticing, I get a little more attitude in my step and I feel more confident when I have some buds in my ear. Anytime I’ve been down about a guy or my looks, I download an empowering song and strut-it-out. Somehow, the beat and the you-go-girl themed lyrics seem to lift my spirits, even when they are at an all-time low.

In fact, I have a playlist on my iTunes called “High Heels” which I always put on as I walk out the door and again when I get off the train to go somewhere. The songs in this collection give me the beat I need to battle the streets and “walk-it-out” before facing the day.

Because step 4 is about digging deep inside of myself to see where my obsession with love originated, I’ve been thinking a lot about past relationships and how I’ve dealt with them. And while I’ll go into detail about each one in posts to come, I’ve noticed a central theme of what’s helped me to recover: music.

Seems simple enough, but part of recovery (from a breakup or from having a day when you feel so ugly you could die) is finding simple ways to escape, regroup, and reenergize. For me, certain songs and artists do the trick for me.

In celebration of the dedication to honesty I’ve recently adapted, here is my “High Heels” playlist, straight from my iPod (without deleting anything, so no judging). Try downloading a few and please add your comments of ones that have helped you:

Sexy Chick by David Gruetta ft. Akon

If this doesn’t make you feel sexy when you sway your hips, what will? I mean, damn girl!

Born to Fly by Sara Evans

The words could be more perfect – “I’ve been tellin’ my dreams to the preacher about the places I’d like to see….is there a brown-eyed boy in my future…girl you ain’t got nothin’ but time!”

Short Skirt, Long Jacket by Cake

I have, in fact, worn a mini and a trench while listening to this song. Yep.

Right as Rain by Adele

I’m a big jazz fan and this has a jazzy-feel to it. Plus, it’s perfect when you’re just done with a relationship and you’re getting over someone. “Cos’ when hard work don’t pay off, and I’m tired, there ain’t no room in my bed, as far as I’m concerned. So wipe that dirty smile off – we won’t be making up, I’ve cried my heart out. And now, I’ve had enough of love.” (After being pissed, though, please do believe in love again, k?)

American Boy by Estelle

It’s this song that I picture myself as a fierce European woman using an American boy as a playmate. And it says “New York” in it, so I’m hooked by default.

Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall

When I interned at Cosmo, as I walked from the subway to the Hearst tower, I listened to this song and marched in my red high heels. The words remind me of myself, “And I feel like walking the world, like walking the world. And you can hear she’s a beautiful girl, she’s a beautiful girl. She fills up every corner like she’s born in black and white…looking from the pages of a magazine…”

I Don’t Need a Man by Pussycat Dolls

This is a recovering love addict’s theme song: “I don’t need a man to make it happen. I get off being free. I don’t need a man to make me feel good, I get off doing my own thing. I don’t need a ring around my finger, to make me feel complete…”

See the World by Guzmo

I stole this from one of my mom’s CDs and fell absolutely in love with it. It’s more of a happy tune then a beat-boppin’ tune, but it’s about seeing the world, finding yourself, and then of course, finding someone.

Good Life by OneRepublic

If I could pick one song to represent how I feel about living in New York, being a 20-something finding herself, and learning to love today for what it is – this song would be it. Oh yes, it is going to be the good life.

Gives You Hell by All American Rejects

This is for Mr. Curls, Mr. Faithful, Mr. Rebound, Mr. Buddy, Mr. Fire, and Mr. Idea when this blog turns into a book, which turns into a movie. Just sayin’.

Walk this Way by Aerosmith

I picture myself in a catholic school girl outfit, dancing on a bar with my girlfriends while cute boys watch. Don’t ask why, I just do.

Fergalicious by Fergie

Actually, in my playlist, it’s called “Linds-a-licious” and I encourage you to do the same with your own name. Fergie always makes a point to spell in her songs, but girl’s got the best single-gal songs, ever.

Do You Believe in Magic by The Lovin’ Spoonful

This was given to me by my friend, R, who is one of the happiest individuals I’ve ever met. When you listen to it, you just gotta’ smile.

Candyman by Christina Aguleria

I think of a very attractive man, who probably isn’t quite my type, but we have this amazing chemistry and we’re flirting. I may also be wearing very red lipstick.

Labels or Love by Fergie

In honor of Sex & the City (I won’t deny I’m a fan), this song embodies what it’s like sometimes to be single and struggling in the city. If I had the money, I would be even more into this song.

Rockstar by Rihanna

No, I can’t sing. I can’t play the guitar. I’m not very…hip. I played the piano a decade ago. But, yes I’m a rockstar. And so are you.

Dynamite by Taio Cruz

How can you not walk fiercely when you listen to this song? It is absolutely perfect for picturing you and your “crew” going out to the bar and not looking for anything but a good time.

London Bridge by Fergie

Oh snap! Why is it that every time you come around, my London Bridge wants to go down? And who knew it was called a London Bridge. I think I’d rather have a more New York term…every time you come around, my Big Apple wants to go down? Hmm.

Can’t be Tamed by Miley Cyrus

Well of course I already feel like I can’t be “tamed” per say. While Miss Miley may be a little risqué these days, I still dig her music and I’m not ashamed of it.

Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z

When I think of this song, I think of my best friend L and I dancing at this crummy little bar in my college town a few weeks before I graduated from college. As we were dancing, she said, “I can’t believe you’re really leaving!” And even though I was sad, it was then that it really clicked that I was. It’s surreal to listen to it and walk through the streets the lyrics talk about, FYI.

The Middle by Jimmy Eat World

It’s an oldie, but a goodie. It couldn’t be truer, either: “It just takes some time, little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride. Everything, everything will be just fine. Everything will be alright.

Any Man of Mine by Shania Twain

Dear future boyfriend or husband (or just fling, if I so decide to have), please listen to this song and realize this is how I feel. Ok?

Click Flash by Ciara

This song, as I’m walking down the street, I pretend there are paparazzi following me, taking pictures and that I’m famous. I also pretend my clothes are designer. Lame? Yes. Gratifying? Yessss.

Faith by George Michael

Not only is this fun to sing along to, but the words are powerful. Yes, we want to go home with certain guys and throw our hearts to the wind (and maybe I will one day), but you have to stay true to yourself, too. And more than anything, you have to have faith in yourself and in the process.

Hey Girl by OAR

There is one sweet love song on my High Heels playlist. When I close my eyes and I imagine the type of man I will end up with (and now dreaming doesn’t hurt as much), I think of a guy who would sing these words to me. Free but loyal, talented but centered, passionate and fun, but humble. And of course, adores me.

Just Dance by Lady Gaga

For a while, this song reminded me of Mr. Idea and his dance moves, but now, it just shows me how much I have to keep the steps going and try not to lose sight of today, when I’m looking for the finale. It will be okay.

New Soul by Yael Naim

Move to a big city. Check. Find a job. Check. Find an apartment. Check. Make a ton of mistakes. Check. Learn from mistakes. Check. Find peace and love in herself. In progress.

One Step at a Time by Jordin Sparks

If you have high heels on, you can coordinate the clicking at the beginning of this song with your actual heels. And listen to the words, all very encouraging. So close you can taste it…but it’s all one step at a time.

Unwritten by Natasha Beddingfield

Well, I’m a writer. C’mon.

My Father, the Oak Tree

Everyone has a safe place.

A place where they can go to feel secure. To feel comforted. To feel like the world is right. And even years after that place is no longer within reach, if they close their eyes and imagine it, they’ll find that same peace deep down in their soul.

For me- that place, my place, is on a wooden swing hanging from a tall Oak tree in the backyard of my childhood home.

This swing, while only made of a slab of polished wood, and rope- was created by my father’s two hands and without a doubt; I know he would never let anything happen to me. On that simple swing, that never failed me once, I would do all my dreaming. All my make-believing. All of my writing in string-bound notebooks. All of my never, never lands ended up dangling from that sturdy rope tucked behind trees in North Carolina.

It has been a while since I’d given much thought to that swing or needed to escape to a safe place, but for the last three nights, I’ve dreamt about an Oak tree. Each time, I’ve been hidden behind its branches, protected and secure in its shadow, and in search of something…although I’m not quite sure what.

Never one to take anything at face value, I dug into my Dreamer’s Dictionary (placed easily accessible next to my bed) and looked up what dreaming of a tree meant. Underneath Oak tree, it said: a symbol of faithful love.

Of course, now it makes sense.

What could be more faithful in terms of love in my life, than the love between my father and me? In that father/daughter bond that no one can understand unless they’ve experienced it, and many long for if they haven’t.

My dad, much like an Oak tree, is tall and strong and always wants to shade me from any harm that may tempt to cause me trouble. I’ve hidden behind his branches, both literally and emotionally for such a long time. And I’ve hesitated introducing him to this blog…or to my life, for fear it would stir up too many emotions that I’m not sure I want to feel yet.

But, if this is about honesty and about going through significant relationships- there is no relationship more important, more impactful, more devastating and hopeful, than my relationship with this man.

So…here it goes. This is for you, daddy-o.

Up until I was fifteen, my father could do no wrong. He was my partner in crime, the man who took me on every risky adventure my mom said “no” to, but still kept me safe if I was afraid or worried. My childhood is filled with countless vivid and irreplaceable memories of growing up in the sweet south- hanging around with my dad. If given the choice, I would have picked him as someone to spend time with over anyone, even my very, very best BFF.

Apple of his eye

I idolized my dad in a way that I don’t think was wrong. To me, he was this tough fireman who made my mom laugh and tickled me until I begged him to stop. He let me put makeup on him and when I asked him if he would “pretend to marry me” he gladly accepted. He told me I was his darling lovely little girl and that he would always defend me against the big bad monsters or scary things that lived under my bed or in my closet.

With my dad by my side, I could do anything.

Then, he retired from the fire department the end of my freshman year in high school. Because he wanted to get away from the ‘busy” city of Asheville (c’mon dad, try NYC), we moved to our lake house- far away from all of my friends and familiar settings. Of course, I was angry, but I typically adjust well to new situations and people- so I knew I’d be okay.

And I was- but he wasn’t. He ended up getting a cyst that caused him to be immobile for a while. In those weeks, he started to feel the onset of depression, which led to therapy and medicine. At the time, my mom and I thought it would pass, just as it did for her and for me, but we really had no idea of what was ahead of us.

For the next five years, right up until the week before I moved to New York City (no exaggeration), through my high school and college tenures, my dad was sick. There were extreme ups, disturbing downs. His lungs would suffer from past fires he fought. His heart would get weak because of the constant anti-depressants and uppers he was on to try and combat whatever illness the doctors decided he had that week. He spent time in the hospital and I’ve seen my dad in states saying things and acting in ways that no daughter should have to witness. We literally couldn’t get him to smile for a picture, regardless of what it was for.

College graduation, in the midst of illness

He became someone I didn’t know- lifeless, hopeless, and cold. One week, we’d think he was bi-polar. Then we’d think he just had a heart condition. Next, we’d think maybe a brain tumor. No doctor could figure out what was causing him to be without any energy and so far from himself that my mother and I didn’t recognize him. And there is no pain more real than missing someone when their body is right in front of you, but who they are…is gone.

And through all of this- I learned to be strong. I learned to be independent. I learned to be the shoulder my mom needed when she didn’t have anyone else. I learned to push myself through anything and to not ask for recognition. I learned to put my dad so far out of my mind that I could hide from the hurt.

But most importantly, I learned to trust in myself because I lost my trust in my dad.

I didn’t know who he would be the next time I saw him. I didn’t know if the voicemail he left me would be the last time I ever heard his voice. I didn’t know what to expect, what to think, or how to feel. I didn’t know if I should relish in the ups or to mourn in the downs.

Being me, the journalist, I looked for the answers. I looked for the answer in a slew of men who I desperately wanted to love me. For me to be able to trust them. I looked for the answer in books, articles, and websites that claimed to know. I looked for the answer in the arms of guys I knew didn’t care about me in the way I deserved. I looked for the answer by telling Mr. Idea absolutely everything, unlike I had ever told anyone before, and then was disappointed. I looked for the answer in every place but myself and my dad.

And then, out of the blue, with one test- the answer was there. Of everything they could have tested my dad for; there was one thing they left out. And my dad, by looking on the internet randomly one day, found the solution himself. The doctor did as my dad said, and within a few weeks…my dad was back.

 

 

Back to himself, pretending to be “Indiana Jones”

 

 

He was laughing. He was smiling. He was giving me a hard time. He was calling me his butterfly, his angel, and wanting to actually hug me. He started remembering things when I told him and paying attention to what I was doing. He wanted to be part of my life again, and he came out of this shell of hell that defined the last five years of my life.

…and then, within a few days, I moved to New York. I packed up two suitcases and headed for my dreams. The dreams that hadn’t included my father for such a long time. And now, I’m left with this ongoing battle between my heart and my mind, what I hope for and I what I fear, and what I should do and what I should protect.

The thing is- I realize he’s better. And the second I felt like I had him back, that man he always was to me, I forgave him in an instant. All of the negativity and all of the resentment and all of the awfulness that consumed my life for so long…vanished. But that fear, that nagging sting in the back of my heart isn’t gone. It’s the fear that warns “Just wait, it could all go downhill again.” It’s the fear that keeps me from getting my hopes up and from truly trusting him period.

So maybe I have trust issues- it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve considered it a possibility. And probably a huge part of my desire to just want to meet someone worthwhile is so I can lay my trust in someone…without the fear of them changing right before my eyes.

Everyday, I make myself call my dad. Hearing his voice and his laugh still makes me so thankful that my prayers were finally answered. And each day, that smile that comes on my face when I think of him becomes a little less hesitant. We write to each other in a journal, since that’s how I express myself the best, and mail it back-and-forth. I’m gradually starting to tell him more things about me that he missed in the last five years, and we’re getting to know each other again. The process is slow and extremely painful and difficult- but it brings me so much happiness to just have my dad back.

He will always be my hero, just like I’ll be his butterfly no matter how old I get or where I live. And while I’ve left the shade of his protection and his branches can’t hold me back- it’s from his roots, his faithful, unrelenting, and unconditional love that I draw strength and hope.

The hope that says…just believe. Because sometimes, when you least expect it, when everything else is lost, and nothing could seem more impossible- a new seed, a new leaf, a new beginning…blooms.

Finally getting a beer with my dad, after the awful journey came to a close.

PS: If you know a middle-aged man who suffers from symptoms similar to depression, bi-polar disorder, and experiences loss of energy in addition to bone/muscle issues, please go to this website. It changed my family’s life.

Skating Around Love

Since I started this blog, nearly a month and a half ago, I’ve made a lot of progress. I have learned how to not only recognize but to alter negative habits into good ones. I’ve learned how to realistically and lovingly talk to myself, and more so, accept myself for who I am –even the messy parts.

I’ve also become a lot stronger and my word choice when talking to myself (promise I’m not crazy), has become more encouraging than self-defeating. Instead of being jealous of couples, I’ve learned to be happy for them and to smile at the sight of love. Instead of thinking with a never-ever attitude, I’ve started to use a more one-day-at-a-time mentality.

But, like any good addict who is a teensy-bit obsessed, I have vices that come up. Even when you think you’re doing a good job of swaying your feelings and thoughts to be healthier –something pops up and throws you off of your pretty little recovering high horse.

For me, all it took was seeing the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center yesterday.


Since I had a meeting near the Rock yesterday, my friend Mr. Unavailable and I met for a quick lunch. As I was waiting for him to come down from his office, I turned around and out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of the skaters.

Now, for those of you who may not know me personally (although if you read this blog, you know a lot) – I’ve always been in love with New York. And for me, everything right, beautiful, and worthy in this world is on this tiny, but boisterous island. Sights in New York bring me more joy than any man ever has come close to bringing.

Because of this 15-year-city-crush, I’ve developed quite a few romantic notions about what my love life would be like once I moved here. So far, all of them have been proven dramatically wrong, but of course, I’m learning to keep my hopes and my head held high.

But no amount of self-encouraging and doting could compare to the weight in my heart and the lump in my throat when I saw Rockefeller Center. In an instant, all of these ideas I’ve built up in my head about the skating rink came flooding back:

Skating (or rather attempting to) with an attractive man with our cheeks rosy from the cold, the movement, and the flirty anticipation. Starting to stumble and being caught by him as we laugh at how ridiculous we both look. And that moment when he reaches out for my hand and we have that look, the look that says “this could be something.”

And with those thoughts, other things about the winter season and the city started coming to mind: It’s going to start snowing soon and when I see that first snowfall, I’ll want to be kissed. I’ll want to experience it with someone…right? And who will be there? Probably no one.

Christmas isn’t far away and I always feel extra lonely when it’s the holiday season and everyone is getting special/personalized gifts from their loves and I get the same zip-up hoodie from my grandma that I’ve unwrapped for years. And the dreaded dinner where everyone is in pairs and I sit alone, the awkward one without any cute story to tell, cheek to kiss, or secret glance to share.

And just look at those skaters….that was supposed to be me this year. Wasn’t 2010 supposed to be the year I got everything I ever wanted?

In the midst of this, Mr. Unavailable came up, stood next to me and asked, “Whacha lookin’ at?” Of course, I smiled and replied, “Just always dreamt of it and here it is.” With enough struggles of his own, I didn’t include the rest of my ridiculousness as he (as a Queens native) showed me around the area to get a good look, and in quiet reflection, I dreamt about everything I have had planned for this silly little rink.

After our lunch and my meeting, I thought about how much I freaked out in that moment looking at Rockefeller and wondered why it bothered me so much to see something I’ve loved and looked forward to seeing in person for a decade. I mean, I even have a Christmas decoration that’s of skaters at Rockefeller Center! Frankly, the more I thought about it, the more I became really disappointed in myself and extremely frustrated.

Why does it bother me? Why does it matter? Why is it, that even after all this work, I just can’t let go? Why does seeing such a beautiful site irk me so badly? Why does it literally make my heart race and cause tears to well up in my eyesseconds before I meet an attractive man (yeah, he’s unavailable, but he’s still cute)?

Does the fact that it gets to me, mean I’m not actually progressing, but just skating around my issues? Skating around my desire for love, pretending it doesn’t exist? Am I really approaching this as I should and need to? Am I doing something wrong…or am I just human?

So having these romantic notions –good or bad? I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, but I hate that it hurts to think about them, especially with all the work I’m putting into not hurting. Am I always going to have these notions? Of course. But I don’t want them to be painful or disruptive to my day, my confidence, or my life. Will I stop wanting these things? Probably not, but I hope I can accept not having them.

I think maybe it’s time to take myself out on another datefar away from those skaters. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I see the Christmas tree all lit up. Although, Mr. Unavailable did mention an ‘in’ he had….we’ll see.

Click here for photo credit.

The Blame Game

As I’m preparing myself to go back through all of my important relationships, I find myself spending a lot of time parked in memory lane.

Now, for some of these relationships, enough time has passed and the initial sting of the end has long been gone and relieved. For others (or really just the last), the memories are incredibly vivid and the wounds are far from healed.

Thinking back on the men who have entered and exited my life, who I’ve loved and lost or let go, I’ve tried to figure out what patterns I’m continuing and how to learn from them. While the Mr’s have varied in looks, ages, occupations, and duration by my side – the way I’ve reacted after each relationship is basically the same.

I’m an active player in The Blame Game.

Somehow, when a relationship comes to a close – regardless if I ended it, he ended it, or we ended it together, I always seem to blame myself. If only I was more attractive, he wouldn’t have left me for her. If I would have slept with him, maybe he wouldn’t have moved on so quickly to her bed. If I would have given him another chance, maybe we’d be together and it all would have worked out. If I wouldn’t have said what I said or freaked out or over analyzed, maybe we’d be in love. If I wouldn’t have been so inquisitive, maybe he wouldn’t have felt smothered, and that I was “too much.”

If only I wouldn’t blame myself for everything that went wrong.

I catch myself saying sometimes, “You’re just not good at relationships.” Which is far from the truth because I don’t really think someone can be “good” at relationships, nor can they succeed or fail. Love isn’t like a test, a career, or a goal to reach –but more so, just something that naturally progresses in your life. Technically, no one is “good” at relationships until they find their person, but even then, it is not all smooth sailing, rainbows, wishes, and butterflies. Truth be told, relationships are work. Being a pro at them would mean you’re unaffected by arguments or struggles, and that’s not really a healthy union in the first place.

As hard as it is to not feel guilty for the end of a relationship, there is never a one-hundred-and-ten-percent person to blame for why things fall apart. To say you have no part or complete part is not giving the relationship or the love the credit it deserves. And, it is selling yourself way too short.

My mother has told me for many years, so eloquently, “You can’t screw up what’s meant to be, Linds.” While those words may not seem like much, they have comforted me in many dark hours, hysterical fits, and analytical trances. One of my favorite books is The Alchemist and in it, there is a line that says something along the lines of: when you’re truly meant for something, whatever it is, the universe aligns to make it happen.

So really, regardless of why a relationship went astray, who made a mistake, who fell out of love, or what argument caused the last straw to break the relationship’s backbone – all is working out just as it should. Even if we think someone is The One and for whatever reason, fate decides to craft a new plan; we can rest assured that something better is in store for us.

A lot of my recovery is based on speaking differently to myself and thinking more realistically and positively about old (and to-be) loves. Instead of blaming myself for the end of my significant relationships – I’ve discovered that turning around the approach can help tremendously.

Mr Curls broke my heart in the seventh grade, but I moved on just fine. Mr Faithful had my heart for three years, but after quite the epidemic, I learned to completely let go. Mr Rebound served his purpose and introduced me to college, but we’re able to be friends now with ease. Mr Buddy and I went down a path we probably should have steered clear of, but now we talk almost daily. Mr Fire may be the one who got away, but there is a passion (that doesn’t upset me anymore) that’ll remain…probably forever. And as for Mr Idea, though I may have sincerely fallen in love with him, what I learned was more important than our romance.

So who’s to blame? A little bit of them, a little bit of me, and a whole lot of fate.

Museum of Lost Love

I’m an avid museum-goer. When I interned in the city nearly three years ago, I made it my mission to go to every famous museum Manhattan had to offer. And now that I live here, I sincerely need to go more often than I do.

There is something incredibly fascinating about seeing items that once belonged to people hundreds of years ago. Just by looking at artifacts, you can envision how daily life was, what fashion was popular, and what roles were defined by men and by women. You can witness first-hand talented artists and individuals who not only existed in their time, but have the gift to transcend centuries.

And maybe because I’m a writer (or I think just way too much), I always attempt to think of the story behind those portrayed in paintings or sculptures. Did the sculptor love this woman who he shaped so beautifully? Did the artist who painted this happy family hear them fight and scream behind closed doors? Do the Egyptians really mean something different than what we’ve all determined they meant in their inscriptions?

As I walked through the Met on Saturday, I thought about how as humans, not only do we remember the stories behind items (and others try to guess), but we place so many parts of our stuff and our hearts behind glass. And once a relationship ends, parts of our lives that were once alive and vivacious become not only dead-to-us, but completely forbidden.

When a relationship ends, why do we put parts of ourselves away in a Museum of Lost Love?

For instance, when my most recent ex and I broke up, Mr. Idea (which I’ll get into more detail about in a post to come), I all-but deleted Dave Matthews Band from my music collection. Because we both shared a love for DMB, we spent a lot of our relationship listening to them, and of course, our song is by them as well. When we broke up, it was much too painful to listen to anything DMB for a while, and when someone else would mention them, my stomach would churn. Of course, this is normal for someone dealing with heartbreak – but I could list all sorts of remnants from other relationships that cause me pain, too.

So when does that end?

We can’t spend all of our lives avoiding music, restaurants, places, foods, smells, or clothes that remind us of someone we once loved. We can’t cringe at the thought of a name or meeting someone who looks a lot like a boyfriend three-years-removed. At some point, there has to be a time when we completely let go and start putting in all the things we love back into our lives.

And the same goes with our hearts.

Sure, everyone we love remains with us. And hopefully, if the love was returned, they keep that feeling with them too. But, to be able to meet the person we’re meant to be with or to completely fall in love with ourselves, like we need to, we have to have all pieces together.

When the Mr’s stop being Unavailable, Flings or Ideas, and turn into Mr. Right – he doesn’t need to be led around rooms in our souls that are off-limits because a man before him touched them. He shouldn’t get half-a-heart because someone else has the rest.

But even before Mr. Right – there has to be a point where we accept all of the pain we’ve endured, the disappointments we’ve dealt with, and the love we’ve experienced, and lost. We have to come to a point where we accept that what is over, is over for a reason – and what is before us is so much more important, more exciting, and more brilliant, than what’s behind us.

There is no need for a museum to preserve and to highlight what happened, even if we enjoy the stories of long ago. Those stories will never be forgotten or deleted, but their endings will remain the same, and shouldn’t be rewritten.

It is only when we break through that glass, no matter how painful or dangerous that may be, that we can turn the page to a new chapter. And if we just let ourselves continue to the next plot twist, we will see that we never needed to create that “Love Lost Museum” in the first place.

That really, our relationship residue isn’t meant to be overly examined by ourselves and others –but to just be exactly what it was in the time that it happened. Our hearts don’t belong in a museum to never be touched again for fear they will be ruined, but they need to be out there in the open, ready for whatever, and whomever, lays before us.

No admission should be necessary, but you can request a suggested donation of dinner-and-a-movie, if you’d like.