Merry Christmas, With Love

Maybe it is under the mistletoe or under the tree. Maybe it is in the eyes of your grandmother who giggles at the slightest joke. Maybe it is in watching your mom so thrilled to give you a gift she knows you’ll love. Maybe it is your dad’s awful singing as he carves the ham in the kitchen. Maybe it is in your puppy’s excitement as she “opens” her Christmas present well before the actual day comes. Maybe it is in the hopes you have for the holidays to come with your Mr. Right and the children that you can’t imagine their faces, but one day, will look up at you with rosy cheeks and excited eyes.

Maybe we all long for that romantic love, for a man with a big jacket for us to stick our cold hands in, and somehow feel that magic with someone…and it not to go away. But maybe in all of our desiring, all of our hoping, all of our dreaming – we lose sight of the fact that love is truly everywhere. And many of us, even though we’d rather tell Santa to bring us a man instead of another scarf or necklace, forget that the true blessing of the season doesn’t come from a person, but from ourselves.

I’m under the belief that much of our happiness and our sadness is direcly correlated to the decisions we make. When we’re feeling down-in-the-dumps about a relationship that could have been that now never will or upset with the universe for leaving us alone, again, at Christmas – to snap out of the rut, it really is our choice. No present with a red bow or apple pie can turn it around for us – no matter how many we rip open or bites we take.

So while I’m recovering from food poisioning and wasn’t exactly able to overeat on Christmas Eve as I usually do, and even though things with Mr. Possibility have become quite shaky in the last few days – I’m making a decision – or rather, a demand on myself – to choose to keep the Christmas spirit. To not let any illness or emotional rollercoaster take away from the brilliance, from the wonder, the beauty that this special time brings.

In celebration of all things love, I must share my blog lovers: those men and women who are such avid supporters of what I write and my journey. Of those who comment and click, tweet, and tumble, and keep me motivated and encouraged – no matter what is going on in my life.

So while you’re recovering from a food-coma and getting up entirely too early or spending way too much time with extended family members – take a stop by these blogs to meet my “love addicts” who are truly a blessing in my life. I’m so thankful for each of you.

Merry Christmas, from my heart to yours, with love:

Courting Adell

DearExGirlfriend

From Falling Water

Medaniellemarie

Tallbrewnette

Jenn’s Blog

Binary Boyfriend

Cat’s City Life

Leila Castaneda

Kternes

iTiffTaffTuff

Kacey R. Wherley

BeReal BeHappy

From the Mind of Moose

Life of Sarah

Michelle Joni

Ahuvah Berger

Alesya Bags

Kuldeep Brar

Eternally Single Kelly

The Blind Leading the Blonde

Allison Gee

Opportunity Speaks

Jenny MD

Flickery

Lexamantis’s Blog

Bookspotting

Small Things. Big Dreams.

Simply Solo

Gathers No Moss

I Won’t Go Back to How it Was

To Be Incognito

Shay Rae’s Diary

Shades of Bright

Trains and Sunsets

Ever Perceived

Little Miss Graham

Lucy’s Entries

The Good, the Bad & The Kitsch

Lynaima’s Blog

Divorcing Mr. Wrong

Live for Each Moment

Slam Dunks

It’s The Pits

A Love Train

In Search of Serene

Food Law

Ava Aston

She Who Will Be Tamed?

If I missed you, please know I still appreciate your support. Shoot me an email and I’ll add you!


All the (Uncensored) Single Ladies

Last night, I held a holiday potluck with my friends from high school and college at my house to reconnect, catch up, and share the exciting stories of our current adventures. As guests gradually rolled in, along with the beer and the wine, our conversation turned more towards old school truth-or-dare and the drinking games we all hope we’ll grow tired of, but never quite do.

As we went around the table, each sharing pieces of our most embarrassing, most scandalous, and well, most entertaining moments in recent history – I noticed a very distinctive divide between the couples and the singles.

While the pairs stood or sat next to one another, sharing private conversations, and exchanging glances, the singles were busy mingling with the rest of the party (including my parents who joined in), and they were not being controlled or concerned by someone else. When it came time to answer the questions that sometimes don’t have the most flattering answers or do-a-little-dance to stir up some giggles – the couples refrained from participating and kept to themselves, in whatever alternate universe they were part of in my kitchen. I wasn’t invited and would have declined invitation, if I was.

And while I understand that to be in a successful partnership, you must always think of your counterpart – what irked me was the two friends with their boyfriends (one I’ve known for 13 years, another since day-one of college) – were not acting like themselves. They were guarded. Protective. Holding extremely back. Not being true to the women I know them to be. Hiding the parts of themselves that are so endearing, so powerful, so radiant.

To be frank – they were so censored.

Now – regardless of how hard we try or how much we hope or strive to relate to our lady-friends who are giddily in love or happily wed, there is always a difference in our experiences. And especially in our day-to-day.  Though they may have been there before, walking in our single shoes,  somehow- something changes when you get into a relationship. Priorities, along with viewpoints and schedules, gradually transform as the Mr becomes more prominent, and suddenly every word out of your gal pal’s mouth is about him. I know some coupled women have mastered the art of keeping themselves in tact, but it is a feat for anyone who tackles it.  Believe me, I’ve done this countless times with countless men (which can be found in all the many pages of this blog) – but it is something I’m hoping to correct as the journey continues.

And because of that, because of my progress, because I’m recognizing varying actions and reactions, both in myself and in others – I have to wonder – will I become censored when I meet the next Mr? Or when Mr. Possibility possibly becomes Mr. Definite?

When two become one – does the one that we once were fade away? Do fragments of the supreme single ladies and the fabulous lives we lead while flying solo, become distant memories of who we once were and what we once did? When we accept a Facebook relationship request, when we agree to wear that little (or large) rock on our left hand, and when we sign our name on a dotted line, promising forever – where does our independence go?

And even more so, what about our charm? Our character? Our personality? Our humor? I mean…just who we are, period?

I haven’t been in a relationship since I started writing this blog or since I decided to admit to myself (and to the World Wide Web) that I was obsessed with finding a boyfriend – so I can’t say for sure that I won’t ever lose myself again in a relationship. But what I can say – is that when Mr. Possibility came along, I was more upfront, honest, and sincere than I have ever been with any man.

I laid out what I wanted, what I was doing, what was important, what meant something to me, what I would accept and what I wouldn’t – and I made no excuses. I admitted that I like to be the belle of the ball, I’m confident, but can be needy; I’m a giver, but I can be greedy; I believe in myself and don’t want to be questioned, but I still want to feel supported. And in return, he put all of his cards on the table, too. There was no beating around the bush, no role to play, no mask to put on, and in any social setting we’ve been in, I haven’t hid behind him, and I haven’t censored myself or shrunken my personality to fit into the crowd.

And guess what? I feel better about who I am, my friends are vocal about the fact that I’ve remained ballsy and true to me, and Mr. Possibility respects me….and still likes me. Well, at least, we’ll hope so, right?

After the couples left, all the single ladies sat around, sharing our most recent dating stories, complaining about the men who have not-a-clue what to do, and how we still have that hope for love – and I realized that for the first time, I didn’t envy my coupled friends. I didn’t want to be the lady who had a sub-par evening and rushed home to be with my man. I didn’t long to be the one at the end of the table, doting on my boyfriend instead of catching up with my friend who I hadn’t seen in months. I didn’t wish for a relationship or love or partnership.

Because right there, E, with her most surprising and sexy tales of men she’s allowed into her life and on the brink of a brilliant new chapter; R, with dreams and hopes of international love affairs and letting go of a man who never deserved her; and J, who appreciates being single, but just wishes she would meet one fling to show her having sex can be enjoyable – were honest, free, radiating

…and uncensored by a man. By even the possibility of love. By being in a relationship. They were just themselves – and that’s the company I prefer over any duo, any love interest, or anyone. Because it is when you can be yourself, when you can show every tangled, tortured, and unattractive feature you have to another person, that you never run the risk of having to censor yourself in their presence. Instead, you just let it all hang out and they encourage you to keep going – just like E, R, and J.

And if we can just capture that mindset and make demands on ourselves to never lose that freedom of expression – we can find that same acceptance, that same admiration, that same companionship…when we trade in our single shoes for a pair of love.

Ex on the Shelf

A few months ago when I booked my ticket to come home for the holidays, my mother tenderly and carefully asked: “You think when you’re home, maybe you could go through your room and get rid of some of your stuff?

At the time, I quickly agreed and apologized for keeping so much at the house I grew up in for my parents to look after. While my mom and dad will both promise me that I’ll have a place in their home until I get married (and even after, if I need it) – I know they want to transform my bedroom into something more than a glorified storage unit.

Yesterday, as I went through piles of clothes, boxes full of old notebooks, letters and cards from high school and college, makeup that expired years ago, books I haven’t read in years, and writings that date back to the 1990s – I came across something I had long forgotten about while gallivanting in New York.

The classic ex-boyfriend box.

I’ve heard them called “Love Boxes”, “Remember When Boxes” , “Past Flame Memorabilia” – but inevitably, every single friend I’ve had or just woman I’ve known has some collection of stuff from a man she once dated.

When I pulled down the box, opened it, and discovered what it was – I immediately pulled away. In year’s past, my ex-boyfriend box had been a part of my room I only teetered with in those sad, desperate moments of being a single-something when I wanted to remember what it felt like to be in love. When I wanted to smell an old t-shirt, that while I’m sure lost the scent of the man who gave it to me many moons ago, somehow still reminded me what it was like to be in that comfortable nook. It would be the item I’d use to excuse crying or remind me that while I “simply can’t find love” that I have in fact, been in love, and if I just hold onto these sentiments, I’ll never forget what it was like to be romantically happy.

I sat on the edge of my bed for a little while, gazing at the box, all four flaps open revealing the corner of a blue t-shirt that I knew was from Mr. Idea. I thought about my journey, my experiences in New York, and the growth I’ve been feeling, and knew I didn’t want to willingly push myself into a crying fest.

I mean, if I’m doing a 12-step program to recovery – I can’t purposefully take a few steps backward, can I? C’mon now.

I looked over at the box, racking my brain to try and determine what exactly was inside of it. If it didn’t include any of the men from the city – it was surely jammed-full of every pre-Manhattan dude who swept me away in his arms or swept me under the rug before stepping on it. I remembered the last time I went through the box; just a few days before I headed North – my eyes still swollen from crying myself to sleep more times than I would like to admit over the bittersweet end with Mr. Idea.

But – if I’m ever going to reach a point of self-love, of complete security in my single self, I certainly can’t let the Ex on the Shelf who is looking down at me, keep me from releasing the fear of being sad. Because sometimes, with a little bit of pain, comes a hell of a lot of change.

So, I dug into my Ex-Boyfriend Box of Memories.

I pulled out every last t-shirt and smelled them each. I looked at every picture, smiled at the memory of each man who has had his grip on my heart and my back. I read (and re-read) the words that these men, who at the time absolutely adored me, and felt my heart swell with thankfulness that I’ve been lucky enough to experience the blessing of  love from another person.  I held the ticket stubs and the plane tickets and thought of the experiences I had with each man, regardless if the flame died sooner than I wished upon it, or if the love was real or unrequited.

And not one letter, snapshot from the past, anniversary card, or sweatshirt made me cry. None of them crushed me. And more importantly, the memories this love memorabilia evoked – didn’t sadden me or make me long for old love – but they just made me remember how magical, how powerful, how life-altering, how incredible love can be.

Maybe because the timing wasn’t right, the romance wasn’t compatible, the desire wasn’t equal, the taking was more than the giving or due to him or due to me, or due to us – the love with the men of the box didn’t work out. It wasn’t designed by the fates to be everlasting, unconditional, and concrete enough for the commitment and upkeep of a lifetime. It took me a long time to realize that just because a relationship ended or a man walked away or put on my boots that were made for walkin‘ – that all love was lost. And to preserve those feelings, to hold onto to the images in my head that I valued so much I needed to catalog their apparel, their handwriting, and their handsome faces in a box on a shelf 600 miles away.

As I looked at all of my mementos and physical shadows of boyfriends-past (praying my parents didn’t open my door and ask what I was up to) – I decided I didn’t need any of it anymore. Well at least, not most of it, anyways. Of everything in that rather large box – I kept only two envelopes.  One with a few notes and another with a handful of photos. The rest of it was either tossed away or placed in a box for charity.

Because I don’t need a box to put my past behind glass or keep old love filed away. My exes don’t belong on a shelf – but rather, in special place in my heart, in my soul, and in my mind. And those memories, those images, those moments I shared with some very special men can never be contained to a single box or an entire blog, anyways. They are far too immense and have helped me become the woman I am more than any memorabilia I could ever keep.

After all, the love I’m searching for in myself, in the brilliance of being bold, beautiful, and single, in the bliss that comes with being independent – is partly due to the experiences of the past. Of the love I’ve shared and the heartbreak I’ve endured. Of the reminients of love that linger in my heart and will forever hope to find a love that not only stains, but stays. Of the process of not only admitting to the difficulties of the journey to loving myself, but accepting and learning from them, too.

If I’m going to free my mind and liberate my heart – I can’t keep all the exes on the shelf. Especially when the thought of them no longer makes me yearn, but makes me grateful for what was…and even more excited about meeting the man who I will share my life with, and hopefully much more than what could fit in any box ever created.

 

All I Want for Christmas is Me

There is something about this time of the year that makes everyone, young and old, near and far – want to be less of a “patridge in a pear tree” and rather one of two turtle doves. With less than 12 days left to Christmas – how’s a girl supposed to get through this season without wanting five gold rings (or just a diamond one), a kiss under the mistletoe, and someone to prove to us that really, every kiss does begin with Kay.

Since I started college, and freshman, sophomore, and junior year passed swiftly without a significant other to dote on me during the holiday season – Christmas has served as a nagging reminder that I was (and am) in fact, single. As my friends and their newly found college sweethearts would plan out trips to their respective hometowns (and now are married, by the way), and obsessively describe what they wanted and what they were getting their boyfriend – I silently wished they would all just shut up.

During breaks, I’d work at a retail store at the local mall and constantly watch couples cooing and smiling with their little shopping bags and hand-holding techniques that made me want to gag myself. And of course, at my Southern-inspired Christmas dinner, where at the ripe ol’ age of 20 – I was the strange one who was not only without a boyfriend, but also with no intentions of getting married right after graduation. Nope, I was the crazy misfit who wanted to move far, far away to a scary place called New York City and be a writer. Though they supported me, I’m not sure they ever quite understood.

But this year, this Christmas, this season, something in me is different. In fact – I hadn’t even noticed that I was single for the holidays until a dear friend of mine, K, sought my counsel and said “You know, it is just really hard to be single right now.”

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been well aware that Christmas is quickly approaching. I’m flying home on Friday to spend some much-needed time with my family and long-lost friends whom I haven’t seen in ages. I’ve toured all the window-displays on Fifth Avenue both with my friend E, and Mr. Possibility. I had front-row tickets to watch the tree at Rockefeller Center light up with Mr. Unavailable. I saw the Rockettes in complete style and everlasting wonder with my friend J, and I’ve walked throughout the city admiring the lights and the peace that seems to come with this time of year. Mr. Possibility took me ice skating and we went to Macy’s to check off gifts on our shopping lists. Right this very second and for the last few weeks, my Pandora “Christmas” station has been getting quite the workout. And most important of all, when that first flake fluttered to the Manhattan ground, I was completely alone and completely in awe.

I’ve embraced Christmas, and without even knowing, I’ve been perfectly content without a boyfriend. I haven’t been putting myself down because for the fourth year in a row, one of my best friends, L, will be my date to our Christmas Eve dinner. I haven’t felt ashamed that I’ll reunite with my extended family and they will probably ask me when I’m getting married. I haven’t wished and hoped and dreamed of being proposed to on Christmas morning (as I used to carefully plan out in my head). I haven’t cursed the smitten couples or the newlyweds who are so excited to spend their very first Christmas together.

But for the longest time, this season was so difficult, so grueling, so sad, so disappointing – because isn’t Christmas or any type of holiday at this time of year – supposed to be about love? About celebrating miracles and hoping for all that is to come? Or trusting that even if you can’t see it, it is out there – waiting to come into your life and shower you with gifts not only under the tree, but also helping you hang ornaments on the top limb.

But really, aren’t all of those ideas applicable to being single? Even when we relate it more about being a pair?

That while we think meeting Mr. Right will be a miracle, the true amazement is that before him, we get this incredible time to just love and concentrate on ourselves. We hope to see our children’s faces light up and ask us about Santa and play with our hubby in the snow – but don’t we also hope that we don’t lose ourselves in a relationship, and that we continue to adore the person we’ll see staring back at us in the mirror, each and every day for the rest of our lives? That sometimes it is so tough to believe there is a light at the end of the single tunnel or a glimmer of positivity in truly, finding peace in being alone – but even if we can’t feel it, we know it is possible, we know it can be ours.

This anticipation of a man to enter, to make the holidays brighter and fuller, to give us little boxes with bows, and to love how we look in our red sweater dresses – tears us up inside. Because really, we fear it will never happen. But instead of doubting the process, doubting the fates, and even worse, doubting ourselves – we miss out on how magical and truly beautiful a Christmas can be without a man. How experiencing flickering lights, parties, and travel can be just as entertaining when we’re out of love.

I don’t feel like I’m waiting on something. I don’t feel like I’m missing something from Christmas or that the universe is depriving me of a companion to make the holidays bearable. But instead, I’m excited. I’m so ready to shout from the rooftops that I’m single and that I’m happy. That I have a life that I created, that the presents you see were bought by only me and my money. That while I’m not kissing under the mistletoe – I haven’t lost hope that one day I will. Besides, it isn’t the number one priority anymore – not at Christmas, not at New Year’s, not at all. Right now, in this moment, in the snow, in the lights– the only thing to focus on is myself and this journey. And I can say with confidence that I disagree with you, Mariah Carey – I don’t want you (whichever man that represents) for Christmas, but all I really want is me.

Tis Christmastime in the city, and my, oh, my is the weather frightful

…but the feeling I have inside is so delightful. It is a feeling of wholeness, of completeness, of security, of magic – that derives from the greatest blessing, the most thoughtful gift, and the most incredible miracle I could ever experience – and that’s celebrating self-love. Celebrating…me.