No Deadline for Love

When I was in college, I was a hostess at a restaurant in the outskirts of town. The place was reasonably priced for a surprisingly rich cuisine, and they allowed (well, encouraged) me to wear pretty dresses, so I stayed for the extra wages into my final semester of school. One night when it was slow up front, I had way too much time to think about the sour patch I was having in my relationship with Mr. Idea, the difficulties with my friends (primarily due to Mr. Idea), and the feeling that I was all-in-all so ready to leave my sleepy university village for the never-sleeping streets of Manhattan.

As I usually do when I’m bored or emotionally distracted, I started scribbling some notes and some ideas for articles or ramblings (which have now turned into this lovely blog). Many of these notes consist of lists and quotes that I find meaningful or inspiring, and because apparently I’m a 13-year-old in a 20-something’s body, I usually write the words “all pretty” or sign my name like I’m a celebrity (but I have deleted the hearts and smiley’s, for the record).

One of the lists I made that evening described everything I hoped to have by December 2010. And ironically, as I was cleaning my apartment, I stumbled upon the folded piece of paper –the eve of December 1.

On my wish list for this point in my life, I wanted (in specific order):

-A job paying enough to be secure in the publishing industry.

-For the job to be in New York City.

-To find a decent apartment that’s affordable and in a safe neighborhood in Manhattan.

-To meet and be dating the man I will marry.

-To remain healthy and fit and continue to become more beautiful.

-For my father to get better and for my parent’s marriage to be saved and rekindled.

-To mend my relationship with my father.

-To never under any circumstance give up on finding the love of my life: a man that will make feel incredibly happy and loved.

Well, 7 out of 8 sure isn’t too awful, right?

As I read through these words and mentally checked off items on this list, I thought of how much of my life is mandated by deadlines. My career in itself is defined by them and while those are not optional, the limitations and restrictions I place on myself are.

This mini-list of desires for this exact time in my life is a minimal example of the constraints I’ve always strapped myself to. I can’t think of a time (even now) when I haven’t had a countdown to something (birthday, trip, Christmas, weight-lost goal, etc.) on my dry-erase board. I’ve perfected my resume and added on freelancing gigs for the mere fact that I knew I needed to have a robust and diverse writing background by my age. I’ve given myself an allotted amount of time to “get over” someone and move on. I still have lists that I must meet before I’m 30 or before I have a baby or before I get married or before I get my first wrinkle. Now, not all of these are necessarily bad or limiting, but if I’m always living on a deadline, waiting for the next phase to get here before I can set a new due date – am I ever really just living? Sure, I’ve been able to meet some of these set-in-Lindsay-stone dates – but is that only because I needed to move on to the following item? Or at the very least, create a new time stamp? Does everything work that way?

The one thing I haven’t checked off my December 2010 deadline – find and be dating the man I’ll marry – isn’t something that quite belongs on a story lineup for tomorrow. I can’t check off “meet the love of my life” and move onto the next task at hand because it doesn’t ever end. When I meet this person, I’ll stay with them until the end of time (because we will hopefully beat divorce statistics).

So why, prior to this blog and to this journey, was I in such a huge rush to meet this man? The reason a limit is ever set, at least in publishing, is because the mag is going to press at the middle of the month or the article is time-sensitive, or the breaking story must-get-out now or it will lose its value and its newsworthiness.

But does love ever lose its importance? Will it ever not be worth screaming from the rooftops when you feel that thing that we’re all told we will feel with Mr. Right? Is it necessary to set a date before we even literally set a date for our “I Do” exchange?

Following my usual run, I sat on the rug in the middle of my miniature Manhattan apartment (that’s affordable), thinking about the job that allows me to live in the place I adore, and the family that has grown and healed in countless ways since I wrote that wish list, and the blog that’s only intensified my faith, not only in finding everlasting love with a man, but in myself too. And so, I made a decision:

I ripped the list into tiny little shreds.

And on a new sheet of paper, I wrote eight new wishes:

-Believe in my possibilities and my gifts.

-Experience life’s many wonders and opportunities.

-Grow into myself.

-Dream of more.

-Do good for others and for the universe.

-Give my thoughts, my heart, my time, and my patience.

-Question the limits and the traditions.

-Explore my world and my fears.

…..and

-Love myself without exceptions.

As for the deadline? Every single day, all day long, with or without a man, my family, my job, my city, my looks, my friends, my bank account or my youth. Because really, there is no deadline for happiness. And, even though it may scare me to fully admit it and let it go, there is no box to check or list to make or deadline to meet for finding love.

About these ads

The Almost-It Love: Mr. Idea

There was a period between my junior and senior years of college where I went on a string of really awful dates. Sometimes the guy would like me, other times we’d both realize how wrong we were for each other right at the start. While I didn’t really stop dating, I became incredibly frustrated and once I felt like my New York move was within reach, I declared I would stop going on such terrible  first dates and save myself the trouble.

I mean, if I wasn’t preoccupied with bracing myself for another man who literally slurped up his pasta, I’d be able to concentrate on more important things, like freelancing, my friends, and enjoying my last semester before graduation. And so, for the first time in my life (now being the second), I stopped looking for a relationship. I put up my guard and decided that I didn’t want anything to do with the opposite sex or the hassle they ultimately brought to my life.

And that was right when Mr. Idea walked in.

Most literally, I saw him walking down the street towards me in this green shirt (that I can still see clear as day as I type it right now) towards me and a sliver of hope said “Oh, let that be him!” A friend of mine, S, had set us up on a blind date and though it took me a while to agree, when I saw him with his big goofy grin and his 6’4″ frame strutting my way – I couldn’t have been happier to meet him. Our lunch date turned into dinner and a movie, which turned into us staying up all night long, talking and laughing, gradually feeling the fireworks burst between us.

Within a week, he started calling me his girlfriend and the love that we were growing so effortlessly continued to bloom over the next few months. Being around him was so easy and the way we melted into each other’s hearts and bodies seemed perfectly ideal. And our union came with so many signs - something that has always been important to me. He was from New York, I had always wanted to live there. He told me his name meant some sort of butterfly (jokingly, of course), and I had always said that whoever I ended up with must give me butterflies in every inch of my body. He always said we were putting the carriage in front of the horse because we moved so quickly, and for a while, I had always wanted to be proposed to in a horse-and-buggy in Central Park. He left me notes in random places to surprise me and brighten up my day, and as a writer, I always value written words.

I could list countless other romantic signals that made me feel like he was The One for me. I couldn’t imagine anything more aligned with the universe and I certainly had never felt anything so magical, so peaceful, so passionate and so surprising. We fell incredibly quick and before I knew it – I looked back at this person who I thought was so right for me and realized, I didn’t know who this person was.

And things started to change as fiercely as they began. All of the red flags that I ignored in an effort to keep the love alive for him started sprouting up in such vivid warning colors that I couldn’t ignore them anymore. We were incompatible in the bedroom. We were incompatible emotionally. We wanted different things. We had opposite drives – both in sex and in our careers. We valued and wanted vastly different things out of our partners and our futures. Suddenly, the couple that everyone wanted to be turned into the couple who fought, stayed up all night , and the flutter in my heart morphed into a severe sting that I still feel today. Right this very second.

I had put off writing about Mr. Idea because even in the duration of this blog, he’s been in-and-out of my life by calling or texting or emailing. You see, even though we broke up several months ago (nearly a year, now) – we haven’t been able to just let go. Sure, we don’t see one another, nor will I ever agree to be a couple with him, but for whatever reason,  it is insanely difficult to let go of him.

During our relationship, I learned much more about what I want (and what I don’t) – but more importantly, I learned about myself. Before Mr. Idea, I was the gal who said she would never let her social life go when she became part of a pair. But when he walked into my life and I started loving him – his priorities became first. His desires became supreme. What I needed and what I deserved became secondary to meet his requirements. I stepped away from my friends, from my writing, from my goals, and positioned myself as his everything. Because there were so many romantic signs and I had this idea of what we would be, I would be silly to walk away – no? I would be wasting all the work and the tough times I stuck through for him if I just broke it off, right? No matter how miserable I was or how often I cried from his selfishness – I knew I couldn’t leave.

Until finally, it occured to me that I literally had no other choice.

If I didn’t pack up my heart and my pride and any type of confidence I had left, I would lose everything I had worked so hard to get to. I would start compromising what was most important to me and 20 years from now, I’d look back and wonder what in the world I had done. And so, with the most courage I could derive from my stomach, I said goodbye. I cried harder than I knew possible and there was more fear inside of me then I had when I boarded the flight to New York.

Because, I still loved (and love) him. I knew he wasn’t my Mr. Right and though he had qualities that would never satisfy me in the long-term, he did bring happiness to my life. He did help me grow into a better person. He did help me through some difficult times. In the beginning, there was a lot of passion and incomparable butterflies that reaches my toes, like I wanted. And anytime you leave someone who you still care about – you have that emptying feeling of fear. Of hesitation. And at times, you want to go back – but you remind yourself that stepping into a relationship with someone who was merely a dream…will end in a nightmare.

I’d by lying if I said there was a day that went by that I didn’t think of him or I didn’t wonder if I made the best decision. But I know I’d be a fool if I returned to a relationship that did far more harm than it did good. Or a love where I lost every other love in my life to focus on a dead-end relationship.

On the surface, in photos, and on paper - he is everything I wanted. But when I broke up with him, I did it because I realized I hadn’t fallen in love with him for who he is, as a person. I had been swept away by the idea of him. And the image of what I thought he and we would become. I saw things I didn’t like, things I knew I could never live with, and things that didn’t match me at all – but I stuck around because I believed that something would change. That the magic we felt so immensely in the beginning would come back around, and I’d realize that whatever troubles we faced were just temporary. It took a couple swift kicks to my heart and my head for me to come to my senses and start to let go of this idea.

And really, what dies more slowly and more painfully than a dream? A heartbreak will leave you broken, but you’ll feel the gumption to go on another date eventually. But when you fall in love with this amazing dreamy idealistic plan that you dervied with someone, it is so difficult to let that longing go.

I will never forget him nor what he taught me and brought to my life. He is not a bad person and at his heart-of-hearts, he is a sincerely wonderful individual who is all deserving of everything kind and wonderful. I would never wish him anything but happiness and the best of love.

I just know that I’m not the love of his life, nor is he the love of mine. Because when I think of finding Mr. Right or Mr. The One – I don’t want to be smitten with an image or an idea, I want to love the real deal, the honest-to-goodness reality and truth, and all of the flaws of another human being. If there are no silly romantic symbols or pennies leading me to him, so be it. I’d rather have no signs then allowing myself to be misled by my own idealistic desires.

After all, ’tis better to feel and lose true, profound love, then to get lost in something that’ll never be more than an idea.

Just Because You’re a Bird, Doesn’t Mean I Am

As the taxi pulls around at Columbus Circle, the young woman with long brown hair and piercing blue eyes, looks out the window. When the car comes to a stop, she steps out, her Louboutins leading her way, tosses her hair around and a panoramic view of Manhattan flashes in her stare.

She struts to her high-profile, wildly successful job where she has the corner office, and men answering her calls for her. Her day is filled with important meetings, entertaining lunches, and calls from best friends who are slightly more neurotic and ridiculous then she is. Although, she has her little quirks, has a hard time letting go, and organizes her life to the ultimate degree. Though she may not realize it (or she actually might), her life lacks meaning and she often spends nights tucked away in her fancy apartment in a doorman building…wondering what piece of her existence is missing.  Those who know her best would call her high strung, and someone in her family, a mother, a grandmother, or an aunt twice-removed tell her she needs to just relax.

But of course, she can’t. That is – until she meets him.

This is a guy who she doesn’t like. A man who doesn’t fit into her checklist of required qualities to be dating material. He doesn’t work in her five-year plan or into the space of her heart she’s reserved for love. In fact, he is everything opposite of what she ever wanted. But of course, he’s smitten. He sees her and instantly falls in love with all of beauty and all of the flaws that define her. And even though he as some shady past or a past love who stole away his heart (making him a player of course) – he knows he will overcome it to win this gal’s admiration. This is his woman, after all.

But before he can claim her, something happens.

She is transfered somewhere else. She’s forced to pick her career. He completely screws up. She finds out a secret that makes her question everything. He won’t commit. She can’t believe he is actually different from every other guy. He can’t man up. The love that changed both of them, just isn’t designed by the fates…

…until it is.

He makes a grand gesture or she flies half-way across the world to be with him. She gives up her career for the Harry Winston or he goes back to school to make her satisfied. They both pack up everything they own and move to Africa. Nothing else matters, all other situations and issues are solved, because even if it’s hard, it is all worth it as long as they have the love they share. Of course, they live happily ever after, until death do they part, in perfect bliss and matrimony.

Why, oh why, are all romantic comedies the same?

My friend, S, and I spent an evening in with greasy street meat (but so good!) and two girly chick flicks. Now sometimes, there are no better nights then the ones you spend with a friend you can talk to and not feel guilty about eating food that you know is going straight to your hips. Somehow, if you eat it with someone else, it doesn’t seem to count. Right?

The movies had different leading stars and were set in opposite ends of the world – but the message was exactly the same. And really, the path it took to get from hating-the-dude to loving-the-dude was identical. The women were both highly organized and particular and the dudes, laid back and chummy. But yet, the girl broke up with the seemingly ideal man who she was dating to be with the guy who was from a completely different league then her. That is, once she whipped him into shape and forced him into a grand gesture.

I can’t say a man has ever performed or thought up a big hoopla to win me back, but I have to wonder: why do movies make the public display of affection and admiration, so alluring? Does a relationship have to have struggle and conflict and fights to make it work? Does a woman have to leave to make a man realize he absolutely needs to have her in his life? And, if we do happen to want to give a dude a second go-around – does he really have to do a grand gesture to get our heart strings back in tune?

Is it really about the love letters and the flowers and the chocolates or remembering initimate details that makes us swoon for a man? Do we need to have that drama and that dazzle to leave us dazed and confused, but ultimately – madly in love?

Maybe I’m coming from a place of inexperience or I haven’t read enough romantic novels or watched enough boy-wins-the-girl comedies, but I don’t believe true love should be that complicated. Sure, I know relationships take work and they don’t magically morph into something perfect when situations require compromise and change. However, I’m under the belief, that if after months of trying or weeks of crying and questioning - sometimes a relationship is more work than it’s worth. When it stops being supportive and progressive, loving, and passionate - and starts becoming nothing but a hassle, a harm, and full of  arguments that go on for six-week periods, what’s the point?

I don’t want to be with a man that I have to push to the limits to make him realize he has something good when he has me. I don’t want to have to leave to make him want to stay. I don’t want him to have to think of some beautiful, romantic, gesture that makes me weak in my knees and forget any hostility I ever had towards him or the relationship. I don’t want to be won back, I just want to be The One for him. It isn’t about being completed or about a dozen tulips and a marching band playing “I Want You Baby” as a man cascades up stadium stairs. There isn’t always a boombox outside the window or a single glove on Wollman rink, 10 years after we first met.

I don’t believe that life is like a romantic comedy and I certainly don’t think we should ever measure up men to the characters we see flirting with their leading ladies on the silver screen. Because real relationships may be messy and dramatic, but they are not prescribed by the directors and producers who play on our desire for true love to make millions. Because, as love addicts, or what I’d like to call, hopeful romantics - we will always stick around to the end so we can get a glimpse at a happy ending.

But in reality, that happy ending doesn’t always involve breaking up and getting back together, fighting and making wild monkey sex afterwards – sometimes, it is just about the simplicity of being together. About two people who share the same affinity for events, culture, travel, morals, and values.

So maybe I’ll stop living vicariously through the love stories I grew up watching and continue to rent and go see in the theaters. While I do love seeing the good rejoice over the bad and the guy and the girl finally finding each other – what I love more is thinking of the reality of a real relationship.

One that is about two people who want the same things, and while they may disagree - they never have to declare they are a bird because there partner is a bird. I mean, really?

There is No Other Me

Lately, I’ve been going through a pseudo-identity crisis. Not because I’ve lost touch with who I am or because I’m not adjusting to the ever-changing tide that defines my 20s – but because a friend of mine is constantly telling me how much I’m like someone else.

Alright, let’s get this a little clearer, a boy that I’ve been hanging out with, points out the similarities between me and his ex-girlfriend.

Now, he doesn’t do this to be rude or to reminisce about his former flame, but he finds it humorous. I can’t say I actually think it’s funny (though certain matching traits and stories are quite ridiculous) – but I admit it has thrown me for a loop.

This blog and journey has made me celebrate being single and feeling comfortable as a minus one. While I do have my obsessive moments (usually brought on by red wine or love songs), as a whole, I see dramatic changes and an intense rise in self-confidence. I could contribute this to growing up and starting to realize the bigger picture and scope of my life, but I really, truly, believe part of the transformation is due to facing and accepting my “love addiction.”

However, even for the brand-new-me who is happy to be flying solo, being compared to another woman doesn’t sit well with me. In fact, at times, it has made me angry. Regardless if you are falling head over heels for a man, have the desire to date him, or just are enjoying his company – no one wants to be told “Wow. You sound just like her.” or “She said that too.” or “You’re her two years ago.”

I’m sorry, dude, but just because you seem to have a “type” –doesn’t mean I fit into a mold that was created by your lovely lady of months (or years?) ago. While I like to think I’m relatable, I am also my own person,o ne of a kind, and a unique, beautiful creature, that deserves to be treated as such.

Hearing him compare or indicate the parallels has made me think before I speak and question if he sees me for me or as a slightly different version of someone he once loved. Even more so, it has made me wonder if it would bother me if he wasn’t in fact, a man, but just a girlfriend who kept saying “Oh my God! You remind me of my ex-best friend!”

Would I still be irked by being discounted as an individual, by being matched up to another person?

I think so. While it is rather odd when a triangle is created between you and a man’s former gal, it is still peculiar when anyone thinks you’re “just like” someone else. Everyone, man or woman, wants to feel like they are one in a million, not a clone of someone they’ve never met.

So to keep myself from continuing down this very bizarre mini identity crisis I’ve been experiencing, here are 25 facts about me, that even if someone else feels the same way, they belong to me:

-I drink coffee every single day and exactly the same way. With skim and three Splendas. Sometimes, I go back for seconds. Possibly thirds.

-I can’t stand the quiet. I must always have music playing to be able to write, sleep, work, or get ready.

-I’m a big fan of museums. It is my goal to see every single one in the city several times while I live here. Among my favorites include The Met and the Guggenheim and the MoMA.

-I think constantly and I’m always brewing an article, a blog, or an idea. If there were more hours in the day, I’d spend them in the park, watching people go by, meeting new friends in random NYC-approved ways, and drinking, well, coffee, of course.

-I’m about as girly as it gets. I own two pairs of skinny jeans that I adore and look great on me. However, if you’re my friend and you see me in jeans, you say “Wow, you wear pants? It is so strange to see you in them.” I also own probably 75 pairs of heels. No exaggeration.

-I’ve been in love twice in my life. But I’ve had a lot of lust in between.

-Whenever I’m down or blue or nervous or unsure of what to do in my life or if I’m going on the right path, I always find a penny. Sometimes a dime. I believe it is the heavens way of telling me they are listening and guiding me.

-I want to be a published author of a book. Scratch that, I will be.

-I’m a fan of babies and puppies and when I see either, I coo. I make no excuses for it.

-I love to run and if I couldn’t run or write, I’m not quite sure what I would do with myself.

-I love to travel. I have a list of places I must see before I die and I’d love to live abroad for a portion of my life, possibly even raise my family there. When I was in college, I had a map of the world and I pin-pointed every place I wanted to go. I need to do that in NYC too.

-I love being naked. Not sure why, just like it. However, I will never go to a nude beach or colony. Well…unless someone paid me to write about it.

-It took me a long time to call myself a “writer” or a “journalist.” Because I had been “playing” that part since I was seven, when it actually happened, I felt like I was still playing make-believe.

-I document everything. I have a “Dream Book” that highlights all of the important dates and people that have been in my life. It also holds movie and show and art ticket stubs that I will never throw away.

-I’m dying to get a bike in the city. And to move downtown. Both, I believe will happen by summertime.

-I love to cook and bake. I’m looking into taking a baking and/or cooking class next year. And possibly a dance class. I have absolutely no rhythm, but I’d love for someone to try to teach me.

-I never go anywhere without my wallet, lipstick, and a blank notebook. I often times, however, forget a pen.

-I’m a PC-user, but want to be a Mac user.

-When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is shower. Then I drink a glass of orange juice and check Gmail, this blog, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and The NY Times. In that order, no exceptions.

-I talk to my mom at least once a day. I really should call my dad more.

-While I like to go out to bars, I don’t want to meet a man there. I think it is a prescription for trouble.

-I love atmosphere. It is almost as important to me as the food at a restaurant. I like candles, music, and presentation. I want to have an experience, not a meal.

-I don’t have a food weakness really, other then, well, food. I like all of it: desserts, breads, meat, veggies – ah, I’m in love. I will eat almost anything, except cauliflower. I think it looks like broccoli gone wrong.

-I sincerely don’t think I’m ready to meet the person I will marry. And for once, that doesn’t bother me.

-Yes, the city is everything I hoped it would be. But it is different too – in a good way. It is more difficult and more amazing then I thought possible.

While these may seem like silly things, it is often the little traits that make a person. And if I’m going to love myself, no matter what, under any circumstance, I’m going to adore the miniature characteristics that people may or may not notice, but are important to me.

And regardless if there is someone else out there who feels the same way or does the same things or acts in the same fashion, I know there is only one me in the world.

So sorry, buddy, I’m not like your ex-girlfriend. I’m like me.

Fully-Loaded Journalist

The main reason why I decided a long time ago (nearly 18 years ago) that I wanted to be a writer derived from the fact that in an essence, a journalist is a teacher. We open doors and discuss topics that we think other people care about, and then provide the necessary information they need to move forward.

Writing isn’t so much about a personal success or getting my byline above the fold or in the front-of-the-book on the masthead, but about the opportunity to reach people. To touch hearts, to inspire change, to cultivate reactions, and spark conversations. To get people, especially women, thinking in a new way that motivates them to turn their lives around…or just their day.

And I believe with having the ability to string words together in an effective way – a writer feels a lot of responsibility. There is this weight on your shoulders that you don’t really want to remove because you picked this profession – but this pressure sometimes gets to you. It’s this anxiety that stems from wanting to do the right thing, write the most truthful (and thoughtful) information possible, and feel proud and accountable for what you put into the infinite universe – where it be in a mag or on the streaming web.

When it comes to this blog and to this journey, I’ve thought about how in a way, I’m exposing the men who come in and out of my life. While, of course, I’ll never use names and unless you’re a friend intricately involved in my life, you’d never know who these guys are – I am, after all, displaying parts of our intimate relationship for anyone who clicks on my URL.

Is it wrong for me to share secrets and these feelings with strangers? Does it discount the relationship I had and the love I share? Or does it give it the spotlight it so deserves?

Often times, when I’m on a date or hanging out with a male friend who happens to know about my journey and my blog, they will be telling a story or confiding in me, and almost out of reflex, they’ll spin around and say: “Linds, don’t put this on your blog, okay?

Now, don’t get me wrong – there are certain parts of my life I’d never put out for the world to read (well, maybe, anyways), but do I have an obligation to share whatever happens that affects my journey? With or without the discretion or disclaimer from other people? Should I be able to shoot back at them with: “Anything and everything that affects my self-proclaimed love addiction is fair game. Proceed with caution.”

There seems to be this disconnect between my journalist integrity who wants to tell the whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth and the other side of my morality who thinks, “maybe I should protect those dudes and respect their wishes.” I’m often torn between what’s affecting my journey, what makes good copy, and what’s a little of both. And when someone specifically asks you not to put something somewhere, so they don’t risk being exposed, it almost makes you want to do it that much more. If anything, it makes you want to cleverly write so that others can be tempted to read between the lines.

If I’m honest with myself and true to this blog - I think any relationship, non-relationship, courtship, or fling that makes me feel negatively, teaches me something new, or is flat-out entertaining deserves a credit in the path to self-love and space on this blog. Because of this, I can’t promise to keep everything on the DL that’s asked of me and I certainly can never go off the record (since the record is my life, after all) – but I can use kindness when describing peoples, places, and events.

As I’ve said before, I’m going to ask questions and I’m going to seek answers. It is my nature and it is part of what’s made me successful as a writer. If you never ask, you never know. If you never question, you remain stagnant. And I can’t live with immobile wonder – it just doesn’t mix well in my DNA.

When a man asks you not to share something with your friends (as Mr. Idea often did) or discredits your profession – there may be something to think about in terms of the relationship. Secrets that are sensitive and experiences that causes great emotional pain that are shared between two people should be kept that way - but if we’re never “allowed” to speak what we feel, regardless if we publish it or not, we will never learn from the past. And without educating ourselves, we will never move forward to the futures awaiting us.

So regardless if you write it down or let it slip in your next Yoga class – talk about what you’ve been through. Put it out in the open. Give it fresh air and face it head on. You will often see yourselves in the eyes of your best friends, or as in my case, in the words of my readers. Too often, women keep everything we’re concerned about or think is out of the norm (when it’s probably not) hidden and in that, we never are able to progress.

I would never threaten a guy with my writing and if he does feel under fire when we’re on a date or in a relationship – I doubt he’s the guy for me. I may come with a fully-loaded pen and keyboard, but my safety is always on.

At least for now, anyways.

 

Thankful for A New Kind of Love

When I started this blog months ago, I really had no expectations.

I had reached this point where I realized how much the yearning and the desire for love and for a man to validate me was tearing away little pieces of my heart each day. The pressure I was putting on myself to find “The One” and to finally stop searching and stop dating and stop fretting was immeasurable. I was exhausted, I was down on myself, and any ounce of positivity and hope I had ever had…was long gone from any recent memory.

And so, on a whim, I signed up for a WordPress blog and my friend M and I came up with the 12-steps. I never intended to write every day and I never thought anyone other then my best friends would read what I wrote. I never anticipated any sort of reaction at all and if anything, the blogs would be something I could hold onto for years to remember my 20’s and all of their madness. And of course, I had no idea if doing a self-proscribed and created 12-step process to gain back confidence and let go of chasing after “Happily Ever After’ would work. In many ways, I doubted I’d see any change at all.

But here I am, on Step 4, and seeing the progress I’m making each and every single day. I feel more relaxed and more confident than I’ve been in a very long time. I’ve transformed my thinking-processes (sometimes they get the best of me, but still) and the attitude I have towards love, relationships, and men. I’ve started taking away what I’ve learned instead of what I resent, and by not ruling out any man who is unavailable in any sense – I’ve gained a true, wonderful, friend (who just happens to be a dude, too).

I compliment myself and encourage myself to not only go above and beyond what I’m capable of doing but to rest and to cherish the quiet and the times of immobility. The hope that I thought would always be extinguished has started to weather a new flame, and something, down deep in the most profound parts of my soul – I feel like I’m doing exactly what I was meant to do.

And yet, there are days when I don’t want to write a blog. When the only thing I want to do is hide from the world, call in sick, turn off my cell phone, curse every man who ever chopped away my pride and my purity, and scream at the universe for making me so miserable and alone. There are questions that live unanswered in my heart and people I think of every day, but never call. There are memories that burn painfully inside and nights where even the city in its everlasting wonder can’t take away the pang of loneliness.

But it is in those moments, those down-low-and-dirty seconds where I start to lose momentum or the passion to continue on this journey and on this blog – that I think of you. And yes, that means you - whoever it is reading this blog right now.

When I made the decision to put it all out there – on my personal Facebook, on a Facebook fan page, on Tumblr, on Twitter, and on the winding web of WordPress (not to mention 20-Something Bloggers and BlogHer) – I did it because I knew I wasn’t the only single girl feeling the way I did (and still do at times). I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt things in the pit of her stomach that she couldn’t swallow, dare say them out loud. I knew I wasn’t the only one who longed for a Prince Charming or just a man who sticks around through everything, no matter what. I knew I wasn’t the only one who dreamed a little dream as a little girl, and in some little apartment in a great big city is making a little life for herself on a little budget.

Because that’s the thing about being a 20-something or being a single woman (or man for the matter) – sure, we’re all unattached, but in some cosmic, magical way – we’re all attached. We’re all connected in those same feelings and in those ridiculous fleeting thoughts and ideas that we get consumed by. We may be in different places all over the world, at a variety of ages, and with different men who represent Mr. Fling or Mr. Unavailable or Mr. Fire or Mr. Rebound – but together we stand single and dealing with it. And hopefully in time, celebrating our independence and freedom, while still having hope that when the time and the rhyme is ideal- we’ll meet that right person.

So on Thanksgiving Day and always - thank you. For proving to me there are so many other people in the world who share my struggles and my thoughts. For supporting me by commenting and promoting my blog to other people. For Tweeting about the blog and Tumbling away the posts. For emailing me such wonderful thank you letters and for sending loving Facebook messages. For laughing with me and sharing in my sadness. For giving words of kindness and of criticism to help me see things in a different way.

Thank you for making me thankful to be a single woman at this stage in my life so I can have the ability to help others and for the first time, realize how special and temporary this portion is. And instead of being depressed to be without a boyfriend at Thanksgiving dinner, I can think of nothing more promising and exciting then finishing the 12-steps and gaining that strength I so badly desire and need. Now, I’m thankful for a new kind of love – blog love.

And again (and again and again!) thank you for your continuous support and for encouraging me, no matter what, under any circumstance, to ever miss a day of blogging. Because now, instead of this journey just being about me and what I’m going through – it is about all of you and the path you’re going down, too.

And for as long as you wish, you’re more than welcome to walk by this single girl. We’ll even stop and get margaritas somewhere along the way.

I’m Not Ms. Fix It

There’s this common belief that love cures all things.

That once you meet this dream person, that he or she in their infinite wonderfulness will take away every ache and pain, scar and bruise – and you’ll feel absolutely, totally brand new. Anything that was wrong or imperfect before, anything you worried about, or anything that made you self-conscious instantly disappears and because you have this person’s attention and they are giving you unyielding love – you’re fixed.

Now, I haven’t met someone who I could seriously consider spending until-death-do-we-part with, so I can’t say if this belief is true and I can’t completely discredit the late Dr. Karl Menniger when he said: “Love cures people – both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.” I do believe that love (and not just romantic) is good medicine. However, it’s not a cure-all.

But what I can confirm with total confidence is that I’m no Ms. Fix It. At least not, anymore.

Tuesday night I was walking home after dumplings with Mr. Unavailable (I swear he’s addicted to those things) and I was in a particularly great mood. I usually do not listen to my iPod when I walk because the North Carolina in me is still a little on-guard in her neighborhood, but I was in the mood for jammin’, so jammin’ is what I did. I put my playlist on shuffle and the first song that came on was “Fix You” by Coldplay.

As I walked down my block, listening to the somber words and feeling my boots click against the streets and the wind blow my hair in unattractive circles, I thought of the men I’ve dated, the men I’ve touched, and the men I’ve loved (or all three). And I realized that in every relationship I’ve been in – I’ve tried to “fix” the guys.

Now, this doesn’t mean I tried to change who they were, shape their beliefs, or dress them up how I would like (though, maybe a few times with Mr. Faithful, but that was high school) – but more so, make them feel better. In a way, turn all of their frowns upside down all the time, and anytime they felt poorly about some function or faucet of their lives – I attempted to be the one to change it for them.

I tried to be Ms. Fix It, and though with some I excelled at helping them grow into a stronger, better, and more confident person – with others, I failed miserably. Mr. Idea had a fit for six weeks where he was rather unaffectionate (among other things) and I lovingly called this episode a “funk” and disregarded each and every feeling I had to focus on him and his needs. With Mr. Fire, I  pretended to lose my desire for commitment so I could fit into this box I thought he wanted me in.

I always, always put what they wanted, how they wanted it, and when they wanted it (“it” being a constant rotating wish-list) before what was important to me. In an effort to be the “girl who changed everything” or “the woman who made him a better man” or “the lady who swept away every badness and blessed him with goodness” – I stopped focusing on me and started concealing my dreams.

Now, I’ve already said that frankly, I do give a damn – and that’s still true, but even more so, I realize that I can’t make a man’s world. I can’t make a man who he is. And I don’t want to.

I don’t want to be the woman who swoops down and takes all of his pain and troubles away. I will listen to someone (man or woman) talk about the troubles they experience, the sadness they can’t get rid of, and the heartache that constantly tugs at them – but at some point, they have to get it together and deal with it. Sometimes, you just put your big gal panties on and you force yourself to push through it because it’s all you can do. I don’t want to be the one who jiggles his ego until it feels good or makes him realize his worth.

I would much rather be with someone who knows what they have going for them without me having to constantly remind them or solve their issues so they can reach happiness. It isn’t my responsibility to ensure someone’s joy or the success of their life or dreams by being the one to place them on a pedestal and shower them with compliments. My role, as a girlfriend, a lover, or a friend is to be there when they need me, and of course, to encourage them – but never, ever, define who they are. Or put them back together.

Part of the journey to learning to love myself is be just fine on my single two feet (pun intended). And to of course, fix my own problems. To be secure and wise and independent and value the power I have within to move forward through any situation. At times, I stumble and I fall, and I admit and face my weakeness straight on.  But it is me, in my single-ness, who picks up the pieces and glues them back together. No man-part required for construction.

So, for the next one I get involved with or for the guy I will ultimately marry (or not) – please realize right this very second that I do not come with hammers and nails and screwdrivers. Whatever issues you’ve dealt with before you met me, deal with them, and I’ll deal with mine. When we are both complete and self-assured individuals – then we’ll meet. Then we’ll put our gorgeously chipped but stable whole pieces together and make something bigger than both of us.

Until then, I’ll be just fine here, collecting all of my many shortcomings and chaotic disasters and celebrating the beautiful mess that I am. Because I know, that with or without a love to “cure every inch” – I’ll be perfectly happy just in my own company.

And most liberating, I don’t have to be Ms. Fix It for anyone but myself.