Numbing the Soul’s Pain

The advice to keep busy after a breakup or during a hard time has never really felt right to me. Something about it didn’t sit right with me, but everyone says it works so I did it. Every time.

 

I find it so easy to distract myself and numb the pain with distractions. It is so incredibly easy. I am a driven person so it is easy to be really busy with work and projects and hobbies. I am so good at it that I don’t even realize I am doing it.

I think I am just doing the things you’re supposed to do after a breakup. When your heart hurts aren’t you supposed to go out and drink too much? Aren’t you supposed to find some random dude to make out with? And then you call a fall back dude from years ago and hook up a few times to feel the rush again?

Aren;t you supposed to watch your favorite sappy movies and the silly TV shows and cry?

Isn’t this all what “fake it till you make it is all about?”

I thought so. I thought those were all the things that were normal that led to healing. It made sense to me: if you do the things you normally do, maybe at a heighten level or a slightly more frantic pace, then you will get over the hurt faster and you will be healed before you know it.

I think I started practicing these habits when my dad died when I was 14. I decided the best thing I could do would be to keep pushing forward and doing my best, because that would have made him proud. I went to school after my dad’s funeral because I didn’t want to ruin my perfect attendance streak. I played three sports that year, I got straight As. I got my first boyfriend. Nothing was knocking me off my track.

I remember a guy I dated in my early twenties that didn’t treat me well. He left me guessing all the time. He cheated on me with his ex girlfriend. And I think that is when I started numbing with alcohol, constant TV and keeping my friends around me all the time.

And I thought that it actually worked. Because I would eventually stop crying and I would eventually stop thinking about the pain and the memories. Eventually it all fell away.

But those things don’t heal anything, they numb. And just like anesthesia, the numbness wears off and you have a choice. You can re-numb or you feel the pain.

For as long as I can remember, I have chosen to continue to re-numb. I found it was always easy to find some kind of escape. It was immediately available at my finger tips.

The other night I had a moment of clarity. Where I suddenly saw all my habits for what they really are. They weren’t hobbies, they weren’t a good time, they weren’t bonding opportunities. I was running from my pain, pushing it away, burying it, trying to numb all the deep pain and fear I feel.

So that night I decided to face it. And the amazing thing was that I identified the pain, I sat with it and it passed so quickly. Granted, I have been working through and feeling this pain for a while. But there was something incredibly healing about seeing the pain clearly for what it was that allowed me to move past it. It was as if I could actually feel the scab form over the wound.

I’m not saying I am completely healed, but it feels very different. It feels like forward movement. It feels like I don’t need the girlfriend dates to distract me from the lonely weekend nights, I don’t need the exes to sleep with me to make me feel something again, and I don’t need to drink too much to feel a high.

Cupid’s arrow has been sticking out of my side for a long time. I’ve been walking around with that thing, and because it’s still there I keep re-injuring myself and it never heals. I finally pushed it through. Let the healing begin.

 

There Must Be A Better Way

I remember dating when I was in high school. And there was always such drama around the courtship period. I would have a crush and I would do everything to learn about his schedule, find out what he likes, and try to find a way to make myself converge with both of those things.

There were always that chats with girl friends about him. And about “the signs.” Ladies, you know “the signs” I’m talking about:

Ohmigod! He SMILED at me today!”

Squeal!!! He let me borrow his pencil! Our fingers touched. That means he likes me, right?”

We ran into each other after soccer practice and we actually talked for a whole 5 minutes!!!”

And I would analyze all these things with my friends. While it bonded the friendship because we had this common goal and something to talk about and analyze together. And it was such FUN.

I will be honest. The drama was a lot of fun. It gave me something to laugh at and distract myself from other things. It gave me something to fantasize about and dream about. I enjoyed it.

And because of that, I will never be The Cool Girl. I will never be the girl that has a crush and then can detach and not care if he likes me back. I get excited. I want him to care. I want him to want me back. I want him to want to see me again. I want this crush thing to be two sided.

I accept this about myself even though I don’t like it very much.

I know everyone says they want “no drama” but there is a reason there is so much drama. It’s because it is FUN and DISTRACTING. And at the end of the day, those are really easy things to give into.

My life has such great memories around the drama. Some of my silliest moments in high school were because I had a crush on a boy. I realize I even have relationships in my life with friends that I build around that drama. I have a few friends that I really only connect to them because we talk about the drama of our dating lives.

But despite the fun and excitement that comes from the drama of dating, I can’t help but think “isn’t there a better way?”

There is a saying that goes something like “When you ask for patience, life gives you a line at the bank.” And I just read the other day that when we commit to a new way of thinking or being, all of your old habits will get stirred up to test your new commitment.

Well, in my life, right now I am asking for freedom and ease. Those are not at all aligned with drama.

And here I am with this new and unexpected crush. And for a few days all my old habits kicked up. All the wondering about whether or not he will call. Placing my value   on whether or not he was interested.

But in the back of my head the whole time I had a tiny, quiet alarm that was ringing. It was saying “Isn’t there a better way?”

And that single question is enough to shift everything. Being open to a different way is like rewiring your brain. It allows new ways of thinking to start.

I know the answer to the question “Isn’t there a better way” is yes. But I don’t exactly have a specific answer of what that better way is or how I should be thinking differently. But I trust that will come to me in time.

And it is a lot easier to let go of the drama of “does he like me?” when I really approach the situation of “I like me.” And at the end of the day, that’s the only opinion that really matters. And if he sees me and doesn’t like me, that’s ok. I’m the one that has to live with me for the rest of my life, so his opinion doesn’t really matter.

The Valley Of Despair

Don’t worry, I am no longer in the Valley of Despair. Just wanted to be clear and get that out of the way.

About a week after the breakup I just felt really low. I knew that the breakup was the right thing but I couldn’t stop wondering “Why didn’t he pick me? What is wrong with me? Will I ever find anyone that loves me, that chooses me, that wants me in his life? Will I ever find anyone that understands me the way he did?”

Besides my woes over the breakup, I also felt like I was struggling at work. The one thing that has been an absolute joy in my life, the thing that challenged me, that kept me busy and on my toes. And I loved every minute. Until I felt like I had let things slip through the cracks.

I called my best friend, like you do in these times. We went out for a glass of wine so we could talk in person, I really wanted the company. I cried a little at the bar, it was the total of all the problems I was facing and I couldn’t stop it from coming out of my eyeballs.

She rubbed my arm in that comforting way and said “You’re just in the Valley of Despair.”

It sounded so dramatic that I couldn’t help but laugh and sarcastically thank her.

Then she explained the Valley of Despair. She said no one is there permanently, it’s just a short stay. Sometimes it can feel longer because parts of getting in and out of the Valley are pretty low too. But in every life we have peaks and valleys and we all go through it. Sometimes you’re up, and sometimes you are down at the bottom. But one always comes out again.

Somehow, hearing this made me feel better. I was just going through a phase, something that would be temporary, and everyone goes through it! As if I needed the reinforcement, I found a handy-dandy chart on Pinterest!

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Yeah, that pretty much summed it up. There was something comforting knowing that it would be temporary. I’m lucky that it was short and exactly by the book. I’m still on the upswing, I don’t think I’ve gone through all those steps yet. I am probably somewhere in the “new” phases, perhaps hope is starting to sneak in there, too.

The Valley of Despair is brief. Mine was very short, but I think I grieved that relationship for a while before it was actually over. I was ready for it, I had already started bolstering myself with breakup songs and meeting new people. Maybe because last time I was so caught off guard that I ignored the beginning of the end last time, and I refused to do that again. Maybe I jumped ship before it was really early and I shouldn’t have given up.

Meh, what can you do? I know that when it’s the right guy there is nothing I can do to mess it up. The right guy won’t be pushed away so easily. The right guy won’t make me wonder how he feels or make me feel like crying. The right guy will have no reason to put me through the stages of grief.

There is no reason to be hung up on a guy that isn’t the right guy, the one that chose to leave and walk away. I just need to keep walking, keep marching my way out of the Valley because new things are ahead of me. There are better things on the horizon, I just need to get out of the Valley first. It’s hard to see people when you are so low, down there!

 

 

Why Don’t We Say Hello??

We all have those moments. In a coffee shop, in the grocery store, or wherever you are out and about doing your thing but not really there to have a conversation with new people. It just happened to me. I’m in a Starbucks, reading. A cute guy walks past once, we politely smile. He walked by a second time, and we made deliberate eye contact and gave each other a big smile.

Neither of us said hello. Neither of us made any kind of move. I suppose I could have gotten up to get a packet of sugar or something, made a move towards him when he was at the station with the cream and sugar. But I didn’t.

It’s another Missed Connection. I supposed there is a reason this has beeN a staple in personal columns in newspapers and on Craigslist.

But I don’t want a missed connection. I want an actual connection.

I have no problem being bold and starting a conversation with a stranger. I talk to people at bars and concerts all the time. I chat to my barista and the cashier. Why can’t I say hi to the cute guy I made eye contact with?

Is it really a fear of rejection? I’ve been rejected enough times in my life to know that the sting doesn’t last any longer than a bee sting. There isn’t even any swelling or redness!

Can I blame that the situation would have to be forced a little? How does a guy really approach someone engaged in their book? And to talk, I’d have to make up a reason to go over to him. So? I’ve done worse. I’ve driven over an hour to see a crush’s band play, only to realize that he has a girlfriend. Oops.

I have flirted and complimented men that are married or have girlfriends. And either I make their day by giving them a little attention, or they politely let me know they are taken and I laugh off the awkward situation. No harm, no foul.

So, here I sit. Whining about the cute man I made eye contact with and did nothing about. I could say that I’ll do better next time but I rarely talk to anyone in Starbucks unless we happen to be in line together. I am more frustrated that I let a situation dissolve without giving it a chance to be anything. I suppose I could be romantic and day it is the kind gesture of two people smiling at each other, and oh isn’t that nice? But I see it as a missed opportunity that I wish hadn’t been missed.

Has anyone else had this happen and been frustrated by it? Has anyone actually connected with someone on Missed Connections, and how did it go?

Sexy Self Love Time

I said last week I wasn’t going to write about masturbation. But with Valentines Day around the corner and no real prospects, I feel like it was bound to come up eventually. So i have been honest, open, and direct with you my readers about everything else so I think it’s time we talk about some Self Love.

If it makes you less uncomfortable with the topic, because for whatever reason female masturbation seems to be an uncomfortable topic for people, this post was inspired by an article in the Sunday New York Times magazine. The article was about asking if equal partnerships in marriage leads to less sex? It started with a story about a dinner party and the husband brings up porn and the wife gets uncomfortable. I actually thought it was funny, he released tension on Pornhub and she would be on Pinterest.

After I laughed to myself I really wondered why porn is still such an uncomfortable topic for women? Or is just because it’s these women that are over 40 that feel like James Deen is too young to fantasize about? Because although I was never anti-porn, there was some that I enjoyed and some that I just didn’t see the appeal. So I was guaranteed to be turned on, sometimes it was the opposite and I was very turned off. However, when I discovered James Deen it’s almost always a hot turn on. He is God’s gift to women everywhere.

While James Deen is more in the traditional porn industry, with the exception of the porn that he is now filming with almost any woman after the application process, there are other porn outlets for women that want to feel comfortable and turned on. Cindy Gallop is now creating a website that is all about making love, not about the “money shot” or absolute submissiveness that is most common in the porn industry. She started makelovenotporn.tv so that people could submit their own videos of making love and people can subscribe and watch real instances of people having sex, not staged and unrealistic scenarios. Gallop was featured for her work in The New York Times as well, which is where I first heard about her project. She also has a popular TED talk about desire and fetishes. She happens to prefer younger men, and revolutionizes the term Cougar. she teaches these younger men to learn to express themselves sexually and make it safe for women to do the same.

So I have had very low sex drive since my break up until recently. I have had dates and opportunities to take things farther, but strangely I haven’t wanted sex. Maybe it’s because of all this chocolate and lingerie and talk about love that I finally want sex again. Sex, not necessarily a relationship.

There is a difference, and I am ok with that difference. I am not the girl to go around looking for a one night stand at a bar. I am much happier to be alone, I know I wont have to have awkward morning after conversations with myself. I know I will respect myself in the morning. I made a deal with myself a while ago that I would only sleep with someone if I was fully on board. If I had any hesitancy or uncertainty, the deal was off. Sex could wait. I know exactly how to satisfy myself, thankyouverymuch. No help needed. And I always feel worse if I try to pick someone up or go out with the intention to get hit on. Things never go as I imagined, and I don’t feel sexier or more attractive just because some guy flirted with me. It’s pretty meaningless to me at this point. I would much rather be in bed with someone I love and respect- myself. I don’t have sex for an Ego boost, I have sex because I want sex. The motivation is the important factor. If I am looking outward for validation, it will never work. If I just want that physical expression of the body, well that’s a little different.

I decided that I will buy myself some nice lacy lingerie to celebrate Valentines Day and enjoy some sexy time in solidarity with the many other single gals fantasizing about a steamy night with James Deen. And if you have never heard of him before, you’re welcome. Happy Valentines Day to you!

You Do You For A Little While

I am apparently having a “you” week. And by you, I hope you realize I mean me, too. We teach what we need to learn the most.

I realize that maybe a first read that title looks…odd. I do me? Huh? Is this saying I should masturbate?

I’m not going to write about masturbation, not today. Maybe not ever. Or maybe tomorrow.

I was tickled pink when I went to this free lunchtime concert for The Dismemberment Plan. The lead singer asked for some back up dancers for his final song. So these kids ran up there with their moms. This one kid had been dancing the whole show, and I remember thinking to myself “When do we stop letting ourselves dance like that?” So at one point this kid just started running the perimeter of the room. It was adorable and funny in that “look at that kid do something cute and silly!” kind of way.

The lead singer was also thinking how cute and cool it was so he encouraged the kid. “Run, kid! That’s right. You do you.”

It made me laugh a little, but it’s so true.  Why and when do we lose our childhood innocence that we need the encouragement from someone on the outside to be who we are? The kid didn’t even hear the lead singer, he was just doin’ his thing and didn’t care about what anyone around him thought or did. He was free.

They say that as a child we hear no way more than we hear yes, one study from UCLA reported a child can hear no up to 400 times in a day! Perhaps it’s all that discouragement. We stop doing our own thing and try to be the person that we “should” be so that we stop hearing no. Not because it’s who we are.

Maybe that’s it, maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s middle school or whenever you went through your awkward period where you tried to conform and be like everyone else so you could be liked. For me it was middle school. I remember trying to be so cool. Trying to not show how much I liked math or sports, or whatever it was that my friends did or didn’t like. I even remember pretending to be ok when my best friend started dating the guy I secretly liked.

Regardless, we lose that ability to freely do our own thing. We become a little duller so that we can blend with everyone else. We become really aware that people have judgements of other people and for whatever reason that becomes really important to us. For some reason it becomes really important that people do not have negative judgements of who we are. So we try to not step out of line, we worry that our individualism will cause judgement.

Instead, as adults we need to say “fuck what other people think.” If you’re like me and it’s hard to take a statement like that seriously, you can also remind yourself that each person is thinking about themselves too much to really be too concerned with anyone else. Besides, it’s not their life. It’s your life. It really, honestly doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

I figure I can live one of two ways- for everyone else and try to make them all happy. Or I live for myself and I make myself happy.

So I choose me. I choose to do my thing- do me for a little while.

 

 

The Coulda Woulda Shoulda

I don’t know about you but after a breakup I spend way too long looking back at what I should have done better.  I say it’s because I want to learn and be better for next time. But really, it just feels like torture.

I call it The Coulda Woulda Shoulda. And if you find yourself coming down with a case of The CWS, you need to know right now that it’s like a cold- treat it or don’t but there is really nothing you can do about it.

After a breakup it is hard to not think about what could have been done differently. I think about that big fight a couple of weeks earlier. What if I had held my tongue? What if I had apologized faster and admitted that I was being wrong and narrow-minded? Even though I know I didn’t di anything wrong, I know I didn’t cause the breakup because of the fight, and I was just being true to me. But the Coulda still runs through my head.

I wonder about if I could make it right if only I would have told him how I felt. If I would have shown him or if I would have chilled out or if I would have… These are the feelings if wondering what could have been. These are tricky feelings because there is really no way of knowing what would have happened. Because it never happened, and you can’t see what an alternate universe could have had in store for you. I usually find comfort in knowing that most relationships don’t breakup because of one misstep, it is no single thing that went wrong. It is a compilation of all the things that add up to show that this wasnt the right person at the right time.

And then the Shoulds. All those things that I think I should do that would make it all ok. I should apologize, I should email to explain, I should see if he’s happy by checking Facebook… Oh, insert the collective groan here. I usually tell myself to stop “shoulding” all over myself, at least that makes me smile and pause before I actually do look up the guy on Facebook. Shoulds in any context are bad news. Shoulds are worthless. It’s just inaction combined with guilt. Shoulds can be eliminated all together.

Why waste all this energy on things that haven’t happened and never will? All this wondering about the what ifs are unproductive and unhelpful. It doesn’t help get any closer to healing after heartbreak. It actually prolongs the process by living in the unreal realm of “What if.”

Snap outta it! It’s time to ditch The Coulda Woulda Shoulda and move on.

Rushing Into A Relationship Isn’t The Answer

Everyone moves at their own pace and each person finds his or herself ready for a relationship at their own pace. Some people are ready to jump in quickly after a relationship ends, and some people need time to themselves to heal old wounds and get in touch with themselves.

I typically fall into the latter category. Especially because I have a habit of analyzing things and talking through them over and over again. My old relationships tend to linger a bit too long. I have  a friend that is wading through these murky waters and seems to want to be in the first category.

Why do I say “seems to want” you may ask?

Because in one breath she’s checking out the hot guys and flirting and debating about who to makeout with. In the next breath, she’s obsessing over the ex, she’s saying how she doesn’t want to be with anyone, and says everything feels empty.

These feelings are completely normal, going through a breakup is an extremely big change and that stirs up a lot of emotion. Mood swings and changing one’s mind is all a part of the process. And sometimes those mood swings are going to involve craving company in your bed.

And I would never judge someone for being lonely or for wanting someone new to have sex with. That is up to the individual to choose. But the key word is choose. The Webster’s dictionary defines choose as “to select from a number of possibilities, to prefer or decide.”

There is making active, thought-out choices and there are spontaneous choices. Neither is better than the other, it’s just a matter of deciding which of the options one will go with and then leaving the others in the dust.

Choice means not waffling back and forth and trying to have everything. It is a matter of picking one road, and going down that road. You can choose any road you wish, but after you do you can’t go down both.

(Oh dear, I just accidentally summarized Robert Frost)

After you make the choice you can either move forward or you can regret it. And now I’m going to be sharing my experiences of regret, and I am not speaking for anyone other than myself and my lessons learned.

I found that when I slept with someone just to forget someone else or to feel better about myself it never worked out. Even if I went out to flirt with guys and to get picked up so that I could boost my self esteem, it never worked out. I would get hit on by people that made me feel bad about myself, I wouldn’t get hit on at all, or I would find the guy I was interested in wasn’t interested in me. This made me feel worse, lower than low. I’d end up drinking too much so I felt awful physically, I would end up crying and feeling sorry for myself. Never pretty.

It’s hard to shake that feeling, too. It would last for days and it would drag me down way longer than it needed to.

So here’s my advice from my personal experience.

It’s ok to sleep with someone whenever you want, if what you want is to have sex. Try to have as few expectations other than you want to get off. Try to avoid using other people to heal your own wounds.There are better ways to do that. You can’t control what another person is going to do, so you cannot lay your well-being on someone else’s shoulders.

Someone else cannot be your happiness. It doesn’t work in the long run. Find what makes you happy, and pursue that. It can be whatever you want, sex, flirting, dancing, reading and being quiet, making mix tapes, making new friends… whatever! Just choose that option because it is what you want.

It’s about you, not someone else. Don’t make choices based on someone else. You have to listen to yourself and use that as your guide. Listen to your inner voice.

 

I Can’t Believe I Am Actually Considering This

I hate online dating. It’s awkward and you end up spending way too much time online and the face to face time isn’t really quality.

But, to be honest, I haven’t been out on a date in a long time. And it’s totally my fault. I haven’t had time to go out and meet new people, I’m not putting the effort in.

My game feels rusty, I need to shake the dust off and get off the bench!

but that doesn’t mean that I suddenly have free time to get out there and meet new people. I need a way to meet new men in a way that will be easy, and can fit into my weird schedule.

Hm. After I get the date, how am I going to find time to actually go on dates??? I guess I can figure that out when I get there.

So for whatever reason I am drawn to How About We? Maybe because the featured daters in the column ad are always hot and have great ideas for dates. Plus you can quickly jump through people’s pictures and suggested dates and decide if you’re intrigued. That part is free, but messaging costs money.

I went on last night and just flipped through some of the Daters. Yep, there are some cute guys, that’s for sure. And some have already messages me today.

I haven’t paid for membership yet, I’m still debating the pros and cons. Yes it’s easy to meet people, and even if I go out for one date it will probably pay for the membership. But is it worth my time? I know a few people that have met their boyfriends or even husbands online.

The last time I tried online dating it ended up being a waste of time. How do I know this won’t be the same?

Obviously I am conflicted about this. Anyone ever had good online dating experiences?

Worse case scenario I might get some good stories to share with all of you!

Rise Above The Easy Way

It’s easy to talk tough. It’s even easier to mope, feel sorry for yourself.

The hard part? Rising above it.

Rising above it means pushing aside the bullshit and the pettiness. It means there is something more, something deeper than the superficial, on-the-surface appearance of things.

I’m a Cancer astrologically, but more than that I know that I take things to heart. I deeply feel my emotions. I should stress the word deeply. I fall in love deeply, and I take my heartaches like the deepest of wounds.

Sometimes I find that it is most important to remember that whatever is happening right now is just a blip on the screen of life.

Lately my trick to rise above it is to ask myself if this will be important 5 minutes, 5 weeks and 5 years from now. That’s a small trick that puts things into perspective quickly.

However, it doesn’t always work in my favor. Sometimes I play that little mind trick, and I say it won’t matter so I act on my impulse. Because it won’t matter in 5 weeks or years. But the part that the trick leaves out is that GAO of time between 5 minutes and 5 weeks.

For me, if I have gotten into an emotional state, good or bad, my mind is stuck like a broken record. I keep playing it over in my head again and again up until the point when I don’t. At some point in the future it just stops, not because I’ve done anything but because it just does.

And that’s where I am today. Stuck on repeat, wondering what I can do to set things straight. The One That Got Away contacted me, wanted to tell me he’s been thinking of me and wanted to get together. It didn’t happen. It hasn’t been rescheduled.

I know the logical thing to do is to forget him. His actions say he doesn’t want to see me. But the pull of what we once had is so strong even after it’s been so long. Even after I’ve dated other guys.

I guess I’m a hopeless romantic. Or just hopeless?

So I’m working on practicing rising above. But I’d much rather take the easy route and call him, or jump into bed with some guy to take it off my mind. Instead, I write, I try to learn, I meditate and reflect.

I can’t say it’s easy. I can’t even tell you how it all turns out.

i’ll keep you posted, though.

And for the sake of keeping you posted? That guy I was going to ask out? He just proposed to his girlfriend of five years. Oh well!

i apologize for any typos, I’m on my iPad and will correct them once I am home.