“Sweetbitter”

I just finished reading the new novel “Sweetbitter.” I had seen a profile of the author in the New York Times and I was intrigued. She was my age, divorced, with a book that was coming out and everyone was buzzing.

She had worked a year in a swanky restaurant in Union Square, and the book was a fictionalized version of her experience. She was extremely knowledgeable about wine, and that is something I yearn for.

There is a part of her life I covet. Something about being that confident about picking a wine. Having a style the way that she does. She’s gorgeous, in my opinion. I was hooked.

So I got the audiobook from the library and I DEVOURED it. I couldn’t stop. The actress that read the book sounded naive and experienced at the same time. Her character work was excellent and I absorbed it all. The author was incredibly poetic. It was an experience of reading about someone that had a life that I craved but I could never see us actually being friends.

She was honest and it shone through. Whether the stories were true or not didn’t matter, it was a novel. The soul of the story was true, and that’s what I latched onto.

I couldn’t exactly relate to her experiences directly, but that wasn’t the point. It was the language. The living vicariously. The emotion of being young and naive again. The spirit of throwing yourself fully into a new experience and learning everything you can. The experience of making new friends as an adult and the dodgy terrain of dating.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I think it is definitely more for women than it is for men, but I do wonder how men would respond to it.

There was a moment that just lit me up, because finally it felt like passing wisdom from the author to me. It was a conversation between a lesbian and the narrator. The lesbian had at least a decade more experience than the narrator in work and in relationships. But she didn’t often share advice, she usually facilitated a good time. When the narrator was falling hard for the bartender (and lord knows, I could understand that) and he was obviously bad news (again, I could relate).

The conversation went like this, the lesbian spoke first.

“‘Good sex isn’t a big deal.’

‘What is?’ I asked.

‘Trust. Intimacy.”

I was driving when I was listening and I nearly pulled over. Woah. Yes. I completely agree. That is putting words to something I have been dancing around.

One of my fears is that I will never find someone as great in bed as the last guy. If I actually looked at my history, I have never had a problem finding a great lover. But I was always afraid that this was the last great one.

But… It. Is. So. Not. True. The guy isn’t the last great one, there will always be another. And it’s not even the biggest thing in a relationship. The lesbian character hit it on the nose. It is so much bigger to have trust and intimacy with your partner. The sex is great, but I would be that it will never be a constant. But trust and intimacy are things that can be built and worked on as a couple.  Those are things that can be reliable and constant.

I wanted to put that out in the universe. I wanted to put that down in writing that good sex isn’t the most important thing. The foundation, which is also the scary part for me, is the crucial, important part. It’s the part where it requires me to be vulnerable over and over. I’m willing to do that.

Advertisements

Dating Story: The Bartender

Don’t we all have at least one story about a bartender? I have a few, I will do my best to distinguish between them.

He was so my type. Tall. Dreamy. Charming. Boyish. Incredibly intelligent. Unattainable.

There’s something about those charming bartenders. It’s like they get training to be that charming. I guess they do. It’s called a night with good tips.

I was volunteering at a nearby theater where I used to work. It was their gala, so I was dressed fairly fancy. I had the fits shift to check people in at the door and show them where to go. With this shift, I had a chunk of time with nothing to do. All of my former coworkers were assigned to the main events – the big fancy dinner and the onstage performance.

So I decided to go around the corner to my favorite dive bar where I could always get a cheap, strong cocktail from a friendly bartender.

I didn’t know the bartender behind the bar, but he looked friendly. He looked very sweet. I asked if he could put the Stanley Cup finals on and he gave me a look. He switched a TV near me and left me alone. Eventually I started a conversation with the other people in the bar and we had a great vibe going.

The bartender and the second bartender came over to join us and we all joked around. We decided to cement our new friendship with shots and a round of beers. The bartender seemed to always linger in my general area and found ways to talk to me. But I had flirted with other bartenders before, so I knew the game. Also it was a bar that was usually populated by gay people so odds were that he was gay. (I found out later he suspected the same of me)

I continued flirting and we talked about hockey and how impressed he was that a woman in a dress and heels would ask to watch that. We talked about Baltimore. And then I finished my beer and paid my tab (he only charged me for one drink, not the shot or beer) and left.

But I couldn’t get his cute eyes out of my mind. And I could have sworn he was flirting. I decided to recruit a friend that was also volunteering to come with me to the bar after the gala and give me a second opinion.

We returned, very late, and the place was hopping. I was served immediately and of course the bartender remembered me! He was happy I came back!

My friend and I had a round of drinks and then a second so my friend could really observe the two of us together.

My friend concluded that the bartender was indeed flirting and I should make a move to make myself clear. So I decided to use the good ol’ standby- my number on a napkin. So, I asked the bartender over t close my tab and paid for the drinks. When I was settled up I leaned over the bar so I was closer to his space and asked “If I gave you my number would you actually call?” He looked stunned, and paused. Eventually he said yes so I slid my number across the bar.

He texted the next day and asked me out for that evening. Being a bartender, his schedule was crazy and he had Sunday nights off and didn’t want to wait another week. So he picked me up and we went to a little bar with a pool table. We talked about the book about body language he had recently read and philosophy and all the things that really turn me on but I feel too pretentious to say that.

It was a pretty perfect first date. And then the second was just as perfect. Somehow I found a man that was younger than me in years but intellectually older than me and more of a gentleman that I had ever met. His mix on his iPod was also exactly my taste and let me sing along with the windows down when “Electric Feel” came on the mix.

And then he cancelled our third date. He gave some excuse that seemed logical so I let it slide even though I was disappointed.

Our third date was more of the same – great conversation and when he dropped me off he actually came upstairs for a cup of tea. Which led to making out on my bed. We had kissed before but it had always been a peck in public places or making out in his car, which is always awkward. So making out on my bed was hot. What was even hotter was that neither of us was trying to take it any farther than that. We just enjoyed making out.

He was so endearing in so many ways. He was smart but humble about it. He had a model-like handsomeness but had a skin disease which caused patches of discoloration on his skin. He was youthful and mature. It was wonderful. And that’s probably why I believed his excuses when he cancelled out fourth date, some kind of health emergency in his family. And then we rescheduled and it was some other ridiculous excuse.

It just all seemed too strange. And it was always at the last minute, within a few hours of our date. They were these ridiculous excuses that sounded made up. And it felt awful to have someone cancel on me over and over, especially with crazy excuses that seemed to deserve their own reality show.

So I said something to him that each excuse seemed to get more ridiculous and I wasn’t sure if they were real. So I told him I didn’t want to have another cancelled date, I wanted an actual date. And if that’s not what he wanted than he shouldn’t call me again.

I think that caught him off guard. So he never called. And I never reached out. So that was that. And most of the time I tell myself my gut was right that there was something behind those strange stories. At the very least, those would be difficult problems to be dealing with.

Every once in awhile he comes up as a recommended contact on LinkedIn because his email is in my gmail somewhere. And I wonder how he is. I wonder if that chemistry would still be there. I wonder if things got easier for him.

And typing this made me realize how important that mental chemistry is for me. It was an amazing mix of physical attraction and mix of wits. I need someone that makes me grow, strive to be my best. And I know I often settle for less. I settle for the guy that’s hot or smart or steady.

So, Bartender, wherever you are and whatever you are doing now, I hope you’re well and you’re happy. I hope you and your family have less health problems. I hope you’re still reading and thinking big thoughts.

 

 

Dating Story: The One Night Stand

I am not a stranger to the one night stand. I actually have no problem with it, if both people are on the same page and are looking for exactly that.

But I have one one night stand that I absolutely regret.

And even the word “regret” feels strong because I at least learned the lesson that I never want to do that again.

This is the one guy that the details are completely fuzzy because I was incredibly drunk. It’s probably as close to blacked out as I have ever been.

There was no particular reason, I went out with my roommate at the time and her friends. And we just kept drinking and drinking and drinking.

I met the One Night Stand at our local bar on a Saturday night. My roommate had friends in town, and I felt like the best way to impress them was to keep up with their drinking pace. I should mention it was two men that were 6 feet tall. I am 5’2 (and a half!)”. My roommate had an intense flirtation with the more attractive one and the other guy was happy to play my wingman.

We picked out a guy and he facilitated an introduction and kept conversation going. And we started playing the games in the bar, like darts. And we kept drinking. My wingman was proud of his match and peeled away.

At one point in the conversation we realized we live in the same apartment complex. And how convenient… So we got back to his place. And I can’t remember how. I don’t know if we walked or had a driver, but we got to his place where I watched him play video games with his roommate.

Apparently this is seduction.

I sipped my Bud Light because I was aware of how drunk I was. I mostly use let it get warm. I was trying to be the Cool Girl. The girl that could hang. I thought this is what I had to do to get a guy to like me.

So I waited and it kept getting later and later. And if I know anything about myself, I am useless late at night. The mix of all the alcohol and the late hour made me so extremely blurry eyed that I can remember making out in his bed. I can remember waking up (wearing some of my clothes) and walking to my apartment. I don’t remember what happened in between.

I’m really ashamed of it, and I actually hold a lot of shame around those nights when I drink more than 2 and get that buzzed feeling.

I feel like I let myself done when I get drunk. I hate that I let myself lose control. I hate feeling hungover, and it doesn’t take much for me to feel hungover anymore. It takes me a long time to recover, and being a morning person I hate losing that energy every morning to feeling hungover.

I feel ashamed that I don’t stop myself. 75% of the time I stop at my limit to feel buzzed but not drunk. I am ashamed when I get caught up in the “woe is me, I deserve another drink” story. Or sometimes it’s the “It’s girls night so I deserve another drink!” Or “I’m flirting and on a roll, I want to look cool and like I can keep up!” Or I just lose that common sense after two drinks and instead of ordering a soda and give into social pressure and I order a third…

I am sure that this shame I feel around drinking doesn’t help my hangover. It probably contributes to me feeling bad physically. And I wish I could say I’m hopeful and I could say I’ll get it right. But maybe I won’t. Maybe 25% of the time I drink too much, and maybe progress is simply not feeling so ashamed.

And I’ve only had the one semi-blacked out hookup, so it could be a lot worse. Thank god it’s not. At least I know absolutely for certain what I DO NOT WANT.

Waiting for Prince Charming

We all have one. As painful as it is to admit. We all have a thing we are waiting for to come along and save us. Maybe it’s the idea of a perfect guy, maybe it’s the idea of a perfect job, but it’s this idea that is out there and everything will be happily ever after when it finally swoops in on its white horse and changes everything.

I think I just have this general idea of perfection and it is always outside of myself. I always feel like my problems will be solved by something else.

I worked in a corporate finance job for almost 5 years in my twenties. I was miserable. I rarely dated (my theory is that it was because I spent so much time trying to fit a mold that wasn’t me and I was so unhappy I wasn’t attracting anyone into my life). There were parts of the job I enjoyed and I made some great friends. And I wouldn’t know anything about retirement accounts if it wasn’t for that job or my innate talents for teaching a group.

When I became a personal trainer, I thought it would all change. I read the books. I believed that because I was following my passion and doing something I truly loved deep down that now everything would line up.

Money was extremely tight, but I knew that was all a part of the process. I met a guy about 6 months after I started. This is when I realized I would naturally attract people to me if I was happy in my life. And now I really thought that everything was changing for me. the universe was finally sending everything my way.

Little did I know that there is a bigger lesson. No job, no guy, no fairy godmother is going to save me. Those are all things outside of myself and they can change. The magic fairy dust wears off.

I dated the guy for 4 months and when I thought I was in love with him he didn’t feel the same and dumped me. In retrospect, I wasn’t in love I was just enamored with how he could take care of me with his steady engineering job and his predictable lifestyle. I thought it perfectly complimented my crazy life as a trainer where very little was predictable. I saw a partner that liked to take me out to nice places and would make me feel like a lady, and that must mean he wanted to take care of me.

And the job that I was so passionate about ended, too. When we chase anything as our savior we are putting in a tall order for the universe. No single thing is going to save me. Just me. It’s inside of me all along. The small quiet voice that leads me gently.

I thought that because they had all the outward qualities of what I thought I wanted that it would line up perfectly. The universe doesn’t work that way. Sometimes we have things in our lives to open our eyes an teach us a lesson.

What if all these years of me chasing after the guy I thought was perfect that I actually kept myself away from really great options that I never even saw? I was so distracted by this pull for what I thought I wanted that it never occurred to me that something really great was probably right around the corner, and just out of view for the moment. My stubbornness to attach to what I thought was the perfect answer may have kept me blocked from something really great that the universe wants to send me.

I’m working through my issues with control and letting go. I am realizing that I am taken care of by the universe and I already have what I need. Sometimes that means leaning into the thing that really scares me, even though my ego would much rather I attach my wagon to the dude with the really good job and I should take the corporate gig to make sure I have a steady income to take care of myself.

But what if that’s not the answer? What if it’s simpler than that?

I was talking to my life coach last month and when she made an offhand remark about my attitude towards money, I realized that many things in my life are connected. My lack mentality around money is also very similar to the lack mentality I have about relationships.

I have a deep seated belief that money is scarce, that when I have it I squander it and there is always going to be a need that is greater right around the corner so I should feel guilty for spending it now.

It sounds something like this. “Those groceries should’ve been cheaper. What could I have cut out? I better make this stretch for a long time.” “You don’t really need that thing that will bring joy to your life. You have things that bring joy. You don’t need it. It’s probably not worth it.” “If you’re going to buy it, you better do a bunch of research to make sure you are getting the best price. You want to spend as little as possible, and use the thing for as long as possible to get the most value from it.”

And when it comes to relationships, it’s very similar. I think this is why I recycle my exes and keep trying to resurrect those relationships without searching for someone new. I think that what I had is as good as it’s going to get and that I should hang on for dear life.

That voice in my head says, “Maybe I will never meet anyone that understands me this way every again.” “Maybe I will never meet someone that I have this kind of chemistry with ever again.” “The sex is good, I better get as much as I can because you might never meet anyone that makes you feel this way again.” “Love is rare.” “Connection is rare.” “Someone who understands me and sees me for who I am is rare.”

You know how I know all these voices are lying? Because I make money every week. I use my talents at a day job and I am paid for those talents. I have people seek me out for my talents and ask me to do things and they pay me for that.

And every time I have broken up with someone, I have met someone new. Good sex is around the corner if I want it. And usually the new person I meet is an upgrade from what I had. I have yet to move on to someone new and be really disappointed. Usually the disappointment comes when I break up with that person and I go back to an ex from a while ago as an ego patch.

There is a lot of money in the universe. There is a lot of love in the universe. Both are incredibly abundant things. It is not limited. I am about to get a little woo-woo on you. Both are an energy that flows to like energy. This is how the law of attraction works. If you are putting out a clean and clear energy of abundance, abundance comes back to you.

I am working on my thinking. I have known this fact about attracting for a long time, but the patterns of thought are embedded pretty deep. I am working on clearing that out, weeding my garden of thought and getting rid of the riff raf that are not serving my purposes of growing something beautiful.

I know it’s going to take some time and some awareness. I am purposefully not saying effort because I have a sneaking suspicion that I need to let go of effort and let things flow naturally. I need to stop trying to force things, and be more in flow. I think that abundance is the natural state, and I need to get out of my own way. I think that answer is probably much easier than I think it is.

I am worthy of abundance. You are, too.

 

The Pain of Self-Sacrifice

My last relationship ended for a whole list full of reasons, but it all boils down to the guy needed a lot of help that I was not qualified to give and he wanted to do it alone. There were patterns of addiction, and it manifested itself in various ways from the obvious to needed validation from everyone around him including another woman.

It is some deep, troubling baggage that he needs to unpack and work through. And I know what any logical person would say “Thank God that’s not your problem to deal with anymore, Single Gal.”

And I would agree. Thank God indeed. Thank God he did not want my support because then I was given permission to be selfish and to look after myself first. But that isn’t what I wanted to do at first.

When I put all the pieces of his bad behavior together and saw the really big problem, I offered to help. I offered to be there as a support if he was willing to do all the hard work to get better. I basically said “I see you stuck in the hole down there and you are stuck in a pile of shit. I will jump down there with you and hold your hand if you are willing to get yourself out. I will go be stuck in shit with you, for as long as you need me to.”

I didn’t do it to be valiant or a martyr. I did it because I really loved this person and I cared so much about him being healthy that I was willing to put myself through hell to help him get to the other side.

I am so grateful he turned my offer down (which is actually very much in line with my understanding of people that suffer from addiction. He pushed away the person that could see the truth so that he would be allowed to live his lie longer. He would rather not go through the pain of looking at and changing his behavior which is a shame). I am so grateful because in the months after the breakup I have made huge strides forward in my life because I had all this extra space and energy that I could create with. My mind was not distracted with his major problems and my energy was not drained by supporting him.

My situation is an extreme example of choosing someone else over myself. If I had gotten what I thought I wanted, who knows where I would be right now. In the last 6 months I created a play and raised funding to take it to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. That took up so much of my time and energy, and I don’t know what would have happened if I had someone around that I felt responsible for.

I have recently met a man that I more than I knew I could ask for in a guy. And I don’t know where that path is going but I never would have met him if I was dating someone else.

I think about how easy it was for me to choose him over myself. And maybe that I partially why he turned down my offer, because he recognized that I shouldn’t have to go through that shit with him. That he was the only one that should deal with it and that I had more important dreams for my life. Maybe he knew he couldn’t let me make that sacrifice by choosing him over me.

Apparently it is something women do very naturally. We put the needs of others before our own. It’s is actually a really big problem because every time we do that we are programming our brain to work against ourself.

Luckily this can be rewired. Part of the rewiring process is doing exactly this. Bring attention to when you chose someone else instead of yourself. Look for triggers and patterns. Where can we make a different choice next time?

I know that something like regularly choosing myself is going to feel unnatural at first. I will have to make a conscious effort to do it, and I am probably going to mess up. Big change can be hard, but not impossible. But I am confident that choosing myself has the biggest payoff in the end and I am not willing to sacrifice myself any more.

Dating Story: The Train Driver

I can’t remember if I knew I was being set up when I went to the play reading. But it was incredibly clear when we were introduced that our mutual friend orchestrated the evening so that we would both be there so we could meet.

He was tall and boyishly handsome. And he was funny and sweet. I was completely smitten.

We had a really easy time together. We laughed all the time and flirted constantly. Conversations just flowed. Hours flew by. I knew he had a tricky schedule but in that first 6 weeks he always seemed to make time for me on his day off.

He drove trains for a freight train company. His route took him up the eastern coast and back. All he had to do was make sure nothing went wrong and to solve problems if it went wrong. It was a mostly mindless job, so he spend most of his time reading, texting, Facebooking, playing games on his phone.

What I thought I found was a guy that was really into me because he was texting all the time and really getting to know me by asking lots of questions. What was really happening was that he was bored and I was responding.

But it took me a long time to figure that out.

The Train Driver is still to this day one of the best kissers I have ever known. The makeup sessions were incredibly hot and we would lose hours. Just making out. It was the most fun I had ever had.

For a long time we didn’t jump in bed even though the kissing was fantastic. Later that summer we made a plan for his next day off and talked about both being ready for the relationship to become sexual. And then he got called in to work. This last minute call and change of plans had already happened a few times before.

Maybe I got scared that I would lose the opportunity to sleep with this guy that I had such great chemistry with (trust me, I know how ridiculous this sounds, I suffer from some serious lack mentality instead of realizing that there is an abundant amount of chemistry out there in the universe!). Or maybe I was just being completely impatient, which I am often guilty of.

Fueled by an impatience to get laid, I asked if I could come to him at his hotel in Philly. Insert eye rolling and groans here. “No, Single Gal! That’s a HORRIBLE idea!”

Yes, in hindsight I know this. At the time, I didn’t see the huge red flag waving back and forth just behind my eyes. (Have you noticed this pattern in my dating stories??)

So I went. I thought it was exciting. A night in a hotel that his job was paying for. It would be fun! Instead, it was awkward. He was worried about his coworker seeing me go into the room and ratting him out. He has different sleeping habits than I do and I don’t recommend finding this out in a hotel. And first time sex is always a little tricky, and it would have been a little more comfortable at home.

And the hotel was not in downtown Philly, it was in a weird outskirt of Philly. So when we wanted to get breakfast in the morning we couldn’t find anything that was open. So we had that awkward time in the car looking for a coffee shop but not finding anything, and both of us were getting hungrier and hungrier. This was not sexy, at all.

And I think that was the turning point. I saw him a few times after that, but he started working 6 days a week instead of 5. His day off was spent sleeping and rarely scheduled time to see me. He still texted constantly but I was growing tired of having a pen pal. Eventually I picked a fight because I was never seeing him and I drove a wedge between us and I decided to move on.

He and I kept in touch a few times a year. Every once in awhile it was a nice distraction for me. Sometimes it slipped into sexting. But I always knew it was just text messaging and I wanted a relationship with someone I actually saw. I finally ended it once and for all when he he sexting me but had announced his engagement on Facebook. It seemed like a fishy situation. He told me it was “fake” to “make her ex jealous.” I told him I wanted nothing to do with that situation.

I’m realizing I don’t stand up for myself often. I try way harder than I need to when it comes to saving a failing relationship. I very rarely am the one to end things. But it feels really good when I set a standard, and if that standard isn’t being met I ask the person to leave. I really should do that more often.

Dating Story: The Beach Hookup

There is a good chance if my mom ever reads this she may kill me. Or maybe enough time has gone by that it’s blown over.

My family has a tradition of going to the beach together, like many American families. My aunts, uncles and cousins all try to go to the beach for the same week every year or at least try to overlap for a long weekend together. For most of my adult life I just go for the weekend.

I don’t think it’s unusual to say that I can take my family in small doses so weekends are best. And even then I try to get some alone time by going for a morning run, taking time alone to read, and other things like that. My family has grown to understand that it’s just what I need so they let me have my space.

But a few years ago this was not the case and I was still trying to fight for my boundaries with my mom. She would often get frustrated when I asked for space because she perceived it was about her (it wasn’t).

One year we did dinner on the water at a restaurant that turned into a dance club later in the evening. We like to do dinner and watch the sunset and stay and dance for a little bit. This year, all of the women in my family were single- myself, my mom, my sister, and my aunt. We were all dancing and having a great time and my aunt even hit it off with some guy  and they kept dancing together. This guy’s nephew was playing wingman decided to strike up a conversation with me, even though I am sure Iw as giving off my best “This is a girl’s night, don’t interrupt us” vibe.

He was cute. He was fit. He was younger than me and he was a lot of fun. We actually had a lot in common and there was great chemistry.

The end of the night rolled around, numbers were exchanged, and I leave with my family. My mom was still very much in her over-protective mode and it was “no man left behind. We came together, we’re leaving together.” (I should note that even though I was in my mid-twenties my mom did this often. She is the biggest worrier I have ever met. You gotta love her for caring so much)

The Beach Guy and I decide to meet up for a drink someplace quieter. My mom was not having any of this, despite the fact that it was still fairly early.  So I told the guy to meet me at a bar a block away but I delayed the time by half an hour.

Like a rebellious teenager I waited for my mom to be fast asleep and plotted to sneak out. My younger sister thought I was insane but agreed to cover for me. I quietly left our rented condo with the skill of a cat burglar.

Beach Guy was sweet and smart. And he had a adventurous, rebellious side that seemed to match mine – rebellious but not too rebellious.I still felt safe with this guy.

He suggested a walk on the beach and I thought how romantic. The moon was out. I’ve always wanted a cute guy to suggest a walk on the beach together.

It was a nice stroll, but short-lived because before long we were really making out. And the way things escalate when there’s been drinking, dancing and moonlight things took a turn for steamy romance novel really fast.

Let’s just say I was able to check an item off my bucket list that night.

And that was that. We laughed at ourselves for getting so caught up in the moment but we both had fun. He walked me back to the condo where we were staying and we kissed goodnight. No promises of trying to stay in touch or get together. It was understood on both sides it was a one night kind of deal.

With far less grace I snuck back into the house. I was a little clumsier since I was still buzzing from a fun evening. But the door I had carefully rigged to not lock behind me was still unlocked, and no one woke up as I got back into bed.

I got away with it. My sister never really asked for details and my mom never found out. (I don’t think she reads this blog, but if she does I’m sorry mom!) The experience was fun mostly because I was never the kid that would sneak out of the house. I think every person should have that experience, it’s an adrenaline rush. It was probably that adrenaline and self-identifying as a rebel that night that led me down the path to a one night stand. But I have no regrets.

Sometimes Love is Just a Short Story

A good friend of mine supported me through my breakup this winter and then two months later she had her own. We both found ourselves in very similar situations. We compared situations about our breakups and couldn’t believe how similar they were. And how similar our reactions were. We both knew the breakup was ultimately for the best, but we were still mourning it deeply and we were frustrated we weren’t moving on faster.

I would say I am 90% healed. She is probably 70%. I saw her for 4th of July weekend and we had a number of heart to heart talks. She kept referring to the relationship as a failure and as something bad. It wasn’t sitting right with me.

I had a mental shift and it really made a lot of sense to both of us, and it helped us embrace the sadness that we felt when the relationship ended instead of resenting that we felt sad over something that we should be glad about.

I realized that the relationship is not a failure because it ended. Let me say that again because I need to take it in, and I bet you probably do too. The relationship is not a failure because it ended.

A relationship can still be a success even though it is over. Successful relationships do not have to be defined by whether or not it ended in marriage. There is still a lot that can be learned from relationships that don’t last forever. And often there is still a lot of love in those relationships.

The way I said it to my friend was “Some relationships are just short stories.” And that shifted both of our thinking. Not every story has to be an epic “War and Peace”-like tome. We can still love and appreciate the short novellas or the essays just as much. They are still valid contributions and can move us deep in our souls. So can poems. It doesn’t make them lesser than only because their length is shorter and there are fewer words on the page.

I think we need to redefine failure in relationships. Failure in relationships is staying in something long after it is over rather than leaving when you stopped growing. It is not serving either of you to stay if you have grown all you can from the relationship and there is nothing else to gain. I’ve been there many times. Thinking that if you try hard you can force it to be what it’s not. Accept it, let it go. That’s life.

A failed relationship is one where you deceive yourself or the other person intentionally. That’s not a relationship. That’s just not being honest and that feels gross all around. You can’t even have a relationship if you’re not being honest.

A relationship is a failure if you manipulate or make the other person (or yourself feel small). We have relationships so that we can grown and expand as human beings. So we can become better versions of ourselves. We are able to grow in a different way with another person by our side, it’s why we are wired for all kinds of relationships. But if you are in a romantic relationship with someone and you are intentionally causing pain, if you are trying to manipulate the other person, or if you are putting yourself or the other person in a box then it is failing to allow you to grow.

I’m writing a little off the cuff on this topic to really fully explore this idea of changing the idea of a failed relationship. Removing that label feels so good, it feels like I can expand a little. It removes the self-pity of having another failed relationship. I don’t have a failed relationship. I have a relationship that came to its completion. It ran its course.

 

Tiny Deaths and Rising Like a Phoenix

 

I pray for rebirth and surrender.

Let me back up and explain. I have been talking with a life coach and in our last session she made a small comment that sparked a tiny ember that has been growing into a flame.

She casually mentioned that money is one of the areas where I have issues, back from when we first met. And I didn’t focus on that in the moment because that wasn’t what we were discussing that day but that small observation stuck with me. I was a little offended. What did she mean I have issues with money? I never said that!

And then I realized I was having a really strong reaction against her observation of something that I must’ve said, or she wouldn’t have said it. And as she and I unpacked our topic for the day, some of these stories I have about money came up, and I found that they were mostly fear based. And I have had them as stories for so long that I don’t exactly know where they started. Or how they started.

And so I did what I always do. I got a book to do some research about money stories. I chose one that had been on my shelf for ages and I never opened it, “The Soul of Money.” And it was exactly what I needed.

So I started pairing the reading with long walks so I could reflect on what I was reading and how it applied or what was coming up for me. And I started noticing all kinds of issues I have. I limit myself a lot. I constantly tell myself I can’t afford something. And I constantly spend money on things that are not aligned with my values but are convenient or seem necessary and I am often denying myself the things that do align with my values.

It’s like eating. It’s like when you finally pay attention to how your body responds to what you put in your body. I first noticed this when I was a vegetarian and would often have an upset stomach and bad acne. I realized it was caused  by those fake meatless products that are made for vegetarians as substitutes. Simple answer was I stopped eating them and bought whole foods instead and just made things from scratch.

With money, it’s like buying that Starbucks latte because I want it just because I am out shopping and would like something warm and comforting and it’s conveniently right there down the hall. But then I deny myself something like a new pair of sunglasses to replace the broken pair that I keep fixing and breaking over and over.

THIS is what the money books and blogs mean when they say cut out the latte and save the money. That is addressing the surface problem by saying don’t buy that, buy this other thing.

The real underlying problem is that you have to evaluate your values and realign your spending that way. When we detach from our values and make choices based on the moment and immediate whims. We are satisfied immediately, but get no closer to our bigger goals.

I am becoming aware that I have a lot of old habits that are like this that I would like to break. They are no longer serving me. They are misaligned from what I really want and are keeping me on a treadmill instead of walking down a path towards the goals.

I do it in money, in relationships, in my career, and in my spiritual growth. I have been hanging out with a new guy and we discussed that we both need to take things slow. This made me like him even more. So when he gave me a little bit of space because that’s what we agreed that we want, my mind freaked out. It went into Spin mode where it created all these stories that he doesn’t like me, that he doesn’t want me around, that I’m not good enough.

I pray that these old habits and old ways of thinking die a little death so that I may replace them with habits that serve my long terms goals.

Someday I do want a loving partnership. I want a career that supports a flexible lifestyle that I can fill with learning, growth and adventures. I want to have time and energy to help other people. I want peace.

If I can find a way to focus on the big things that I want and work backwards by asking what do I need to do to get what I want I will be able to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of my old habits.

I’m not saying it is easy. But it is as simple as that.