How Sweet It Is

After my company put on an event giving entrepreneurs opportunities to grow global, J and I headed to a wine store two blocks over to find some international Merlot-inspired strategies of our own.

As we listened to the sommelier, in his terribly cliché French accent, black-rimmed glasses, and v-neck cardigan explain to us the history of vineyards in lands we’ve never heard of, J and I shared a knowing smile that though we may never be well-versed in the language of vino, we can at the very least, pretend. Once we decided on a 2006 edition of something “surprisingly infused with cherry and lime in an exquisite fashion“, we stood waiting at gift wrap. Easily distracted by decorations, a smile curved its way across J’s chiseled chin and he said, “Give your sweetie a treatie!” and nodded toward a leftover Valentine’s Day sign.

Still dressed in my pencil skirt and white-billowing blouse, I tousled my hair seductively and sarcastically and asked, “What treat will you be buying me then, J?” Unable to hide the half-British, half-New York accent he pulls off so well, he quickly responded, “You’re not my sweetie, darling.”

Without missing a beat, I rose to my tiptoes (even in my four-inch Carlos), and beamed: “I’m not anyone’s sweetie!” Confused, J raised an eyebrow at me, shook his head probably thinking “silly American” and looked back to his iPhone. As he fervently put the touch-screen to the test, I glanced back at the sign and stole away a smile, just for me. And I remembered.

In college, when I felt stranded by the mountains that encircled the campus and the snow would fall taller than the top of my highest boots -I would lay on my couch, afghan carelessly laying across me and just stare out the window. I would imagine the two arms I wanted – I needed – so badly to keep me warm. To make me feel like I wasn’t alone. To wrap their body so tightly around me that I would never doubt that love, no matter how difficult or seemingly unattainable, was possible for someone like me. Someone who had yet to feel successful in any relationship or love she’d found thus far.

That longing, that thirst – carried its way to New York when I first moved – especially since my mother’s prophecy that I’d meet the man I’d marry the second I took my first step at JFK. While my career aspirations had gone as planned, the romantic component of my city fairytale didn’t resemble Cinderella in any way. Well, except maybe for the shoes.

For the longest time, regardless of where I was, who I was or was not with, or what was changing or remaining stagnant in my life – I hungered for a man. For a magical person who would take away that sting, that fear, that something that brought me so much trouble, so much physically emotional emptiness. For someone to be more than something – but everything to me. If they could take away any insecurity about my future – romantically inclined and all else – then I need not worry about it. If I had them, didn’t I have everything I would ever need?

But now, instead of looking for a sweetie to give me treatie – I’d rather have a sweetie who is my treatie. Not the my full source of healthiness or my daily dose that keeps me going or the main ingredient of my internal caloric intake – but just a special something I treat myself to. The icing on the cake, but not the concoction it took to make the dough rise. One of the sweeter parts of my afternoon, but not the thing that’ll make or break my day, my diet, or my spirit.

Isn’t that how a relationship should be, anyways? Isn’t that why we all see love as this incredibly desirable and often indescribable feeling (or choice, depending on what you believe) that brings this added glow, sweetness to our lives? Wouldn’t that passion, that certain comfort, that something incredibly beautiful, be best as something we look forward to? Instead of something that we’ve gotta have to survive?

Doesn’t a treat taste the best when we save it for something special? Or should I say someone special? And while that added spice or sugary-goodness that may or may not be good for us will be an added pleasure in our life – we have to also know the sweetest love of all is the one we’ve already found by mixing the right ingredients together to make us the irresistible women we are.

All of this time, all of those countless cold nights I spent wrapped up in an idea of what a leading man would be. All of those tears wasted on those who never deserved my attention in the first place. All of the worries about a love I was terrified I’d never find. All of those strolls through the city that never lets me down and all of the pages of any and every diary I’ve ever owned, going on-and-on about this singular thing, singular stranger, who would take away that appetite for what I thought was the miracle nourishment to make my every ache and pain a distant memory. All of this time wishing I was someone’s honey, someone’s escape as much as they were mine. All of this time I have been forgetting the simplest thing of all that never fails to hit the right spot at the right time. Even in the middle of an overpriced wine store in Chelsea:

How sweet it is to be loved…by me.

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Sugar & Spice, but Not Everything Nice

Since New Year’s, when I felt ready to move onto Step 5, I’ve been trying to figure out what “admitting the exact nature of my wrongs” actually entails. For months now, I’ve confessed many unattractive obsessive qualities and maybe told more than TMI on the pages of this blog.

Nevertheless, if I think of my “wrongs” as they pertain to feeling unworthy of love or as a perceived failure in relationships, I think one of the most consistent mistakes I’ve made as a love addict is something that you’d think wouldn’t be portrayed as a bad thing.

As my mother puts it: “You’re just too nice, sweetie.”

I’d classify myself as someone who avoids controversy like the plague. Unless I feel super passionate about something, say women’s, children’s and animal rights, I allow people to state their case and calmly and kindly say, “I don’t agree with you, but I’m glad you have an opinion.” Maybe this makes me a pretty killer journalist, but in the dating scene or as someone’s girlfriend – it makes me a little vulnerable to manipulation.

After about three months of dating Mr. Idea, he went into what I called a “funk.” For whatever reason, not only did he have no interest in kissing me, making love to me, or really even holding me – but his attitude was hostile and flat-out rude. Of any man I’ve ever dated, he knew exactly what to say to make me feel the lowest of lows and his blows were harder than any boyfriend should ever give. Though he never physically hurt me (I did, however, throw a high heel shoe at his face once, woops), the emotional baggage we gave to each other was immeasurable. Needless to say, it wasn’t a healthy relationship and to deal with my extreme ups and downs, I consulted my very best friend, my mom, and my group of girlfriends.

And when I would go to them, crying, frustrated, or mad – they almost all said the exact same thing: “Why don’t you just break up with him, Linds? Why are you sticking around when he treats you so badly?

I’m not sure anyone really understands the true dynamic in a relationship unless you are one of the two experiencing it, and those who love us only want us to be surrounded by support and happiness – but when you’re in love (or even just in lust), you want to stick around because you can imagine tomorrow. And you also don’t want to leave, in fear of the “what if” monsters you’ll have to battle down the road. Because somehow, if you’re the girl who puts up with the good and the bad, the ugliness and the messiness, the frustrations and shortcomings – you must be something special, right? Because don’t we all go through hardships, don’t we all lose ourselves in funks, and don’t we all just want someone who will stick with us through the thick-and-the-thin, through the years when our breasts hit our toes, and our hair turns a lovely shade of gray?

But at what point does being the nice girl, the good girl, the girl who stands by her dude’s side encouraging him and forgiving his mishaps…get completely pissed off and leaves the relationship (or pretend one) for good?

I do believe in the best in people and perhaps even more so, I believe everyone is capable of change. But the older I get, the more confident I become in myself and with my life, I also believe that the only person who can make your life better, is yourself. It is a decision and a journey that begins and ends with taking one step forward, without looking back, and having faith in the miles ahead. And until you can be without funkiness or messiness as an individual, it is real tough to be in love or be an active, giving-and-taking participant in a relationship. My personal goal to be a better person and un-addicted to love is part of my disarray and something I should work through before I agree to be official with someone. And maybe that reasoning is why I made the agreement with Mr. Possibility in the first place. Or the reason why Mr. Unavailable was unattainable and Mr. Idea finally drove me to a point that I had to leave.

And that point is one that is taking me less time to get to as I grow in my recovery. I’m not really the kind of person to completely dismiss someone, place them on a blacklist, and curse the ground they walk on – but I also am starting to notice when I’m being just a little too nice. A little too reachable. A little too comforting. And when a man pushes you and tests your patience and your lenient nature – you reach an even more intense summit where you’re just done. Sure, girls are sugar and spice, – but we don’t have to be everything  nice.

If I want to be in a relationship one day with a man who has his act together, a stable head on his shoulders, and enough charisma to light up a room – I can’t wait around forever for him to come out of the shadows. Sure, no one is perfect, but a line has to be drawn somewhere and it is really up to me on where to place my ending point. Standing by your man or having patience with someone who you can see a future with is an attractive quality – but independence and the ability to demand respect and your needs to be met is even sexier.

While my Southern graces will stick with me until the end, the New Yorker I’m growing into knows sometimes you have to kick the grace to the curb, state your case for exiting, tie your laces, and get right back in the dating race.

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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.