What Do I Do With That?!?!

Sitting around a table at a dive bar with two men, one of whom is young, and the other is a little older  than I am, the subject came around to dating, mostly discussing the young one’s dating life, because as he’s young and pretty, has the most active dating life at the table.  I made a comment about my lack of dating life, and how I’m cursed to always land in the friend zone no matter what, and this is where the unsolicited free advice started.

“I would argue that you get friend zoned because that’s where you put yourself,” said the young one.  And as I blinked at him, he added, “You’re a beautiful woman, and my guess is that you don’t believe that.”  He’s not wrong.  I don’t see myself that way.  Never have.  And again, before I could respond, he goes, “You’re really fun to be around and one of the most interesting people I’ve met, and so I think in order to not get friend zoned, you’re going to have to open yourself up more.”

As my best friend, the older, and wiser one at the table just cackled, I couldn’t help but squint at the young one, because these are almost the same verbatim words that my best friend has said to me on numerous occasions.  Additionally, getting this advice from a young man who has never even once made a pass in my direction, has no desire for anything other than friendship from me can sit there and so quickly and easily blame it all on my is a bit bizarre.

So, in finally finding my voice I say to the young one, “I agree.  You’re 100% right on all accounts.  The problem is, I have no idea how to do what you’re suggesting.”  And the quizzical look he gave me showed me he didn’t believe me.

I tried to explain to him that, the time in life that most people figure out how to maneuver dating is in high school.  That’s where you should be cutting your teeth on learning the dos and don’ts about navigating romance.  I, however, wasn’t given that option.  My mother had me programmed to never see myself as attractive.  And God help any boy who even remotely found me so, as she’d figure out a way to run them off.  Whether it was forcing me to break up with them once summer hit because, “I was too young for something that long and serious” or talking a boy into breaking up with me because “I needed to focus on school and not boys” or manipulating all of my guy friends to act as body guards to ensure that no other boy ever looked at me as anything more than a friend.  And when all of that is happening without your knowledge, you learn to see yourself as nothing more than the friend.

This has continued into my adult life.  I can be at a party, gathering, event with single men, and while they might enjoy talking to me, and might laugh at my wit, they never ask for my number before they leave.  They never want to get to know me better.  They never pursue me.  So, in explaining this to the young one, he blatantly says, “Yeah, but that’s because you don’t seem open to it.  You have a logical way of looking at the world, compartmentalizing everything into a neat little box, so you aren’t open to being pursued.”  My best friend adds, “They can see your ‘Keep Out’ sign that is tattooed on your forehead.

And I’m baffled.  What the fuck are they talking about?  I have no idea what they’re talking about.  I had no idea that’s how I am perceived.  When I meet new people, I always try to just ‘be myself’ and I’m now realizing, that in doing that, I’m some how also giving off an unavailable vibe.  And i have no idea how or why that’s happened, so with all this very honest advice that I’m getting, as I sat at that bar staring at them, all I could think was, “What do I do with that?!?  How do I fix a problem I don’t even know I have?”  It’s not that I don’t believe them.  I’m sure they’re right.  I’m sure they’re telling the truth.  But how the hell do I fix it because I don’t see it?

I have no idea how to do things differently.  I have no idea what personality traits I”m supposed to hide, or which ones to make bigger.  I have no idea how to navigate this in any way, shape or form.  Mostly because when I do meet a guy I find attractive, I do try to get to know him, but the way I do it always lands me in the friend zone, so in addition to not knowing how to be pursued, I clearly don’t know how to pursue either.

And it occurred to me.  How is this completely all on me?  How is there not a guy out there who would see past the ‘keep out sign’ that is supposedly on my forehead? Back in the day, I’ve learned since my mother died, there were quite a few guys who wanted to pursue me, but didn’t for either fear of my mother or fear of my friends.  As an adult, only two men dared try to be with me, both not giving a crap about my mother’s tactics to run them off, but i was too obedient to choose them over her once the ultimatum was thrown down by her.

It’s been almost 24 hours since all this truth was laid at my feet, and still, I have no idea how to fix this problem.  No idea how to ‘be more open’.  No clue whatsoever.  Perhaps the curse of the friend zone is my fault.  But since I don’t know how to fix it, I guess it’s just going to have to stay as it is for now.  Maybe an epiphany will come to me.  Although, it does suck that being myself isn’t enough.  It does suck that who I am, who I know myself to be, and the things I like about myself aren’t enough.  That I somehow now have to figure out some way to be more.  I don’t know that I want to do that.  But I don’t want to be alone forever, either.

No breadcrumb, this time, sadly.  Instead, I fear this conversation and the emotions and frustrations that have come from it have led me down a new path of self evaluation that is taking me further away from the life I’m meant to have.  I probably should stop this path, and just go back…but I don’t know that I can just ignore it now that it’s out there.  Truth. What do I do with that?

I have no idea….

Ciao for now,

M

Awaken Your Joy!

awaken your joy

I had an unbelievable experience on Saturday night that I have to write down so that I don’t forget it.  I went to this event with my best friend.  It was called Sea Compression, and the theme was “Let Them Eat Cake!”  It being October, it was a full costume party at this amazing Seattle location, and we fully dressed up in the spirit of the event.

Now, it’s important to note that my best friend and I go out quite often, and inevitably, something goes wonky during the outing.  Sometimes the wonky thing is a huge deal breaker and ends the night before it begins, and sometimes it’s just a small irritation, but never do we get a smooth, easy, drama free night.  Until Saturday night, that is.

I arrived at my best friend’s house where he was ironing the last bits of his costume.  With me in my black corset, black leggings, over the knee leather boots, full bustle floor length skirt in the back, and my cute tri-corner mini hat with its cheeky hot pink feather securely pinned amidst my mile high hair in true Marie Antoinette fashion, and my bestie in his leather pants, white vest, blood red collared shirt, and black velvet calf length livery coat, we were quite the pair.  Another friend joined us, and perfectly clad in her leather corset, and donning one of my venetian metal masks, off we went to this mysterious event.

We arrived and found a perfect parking spot one block away.  My bestie chose to leave his phone at home, so we were not interrupted while out having fun.  We met nothing but wonderfully nice and friendly people, and as we were there quite early, we didn’t even have to stand in line to get inside.

My best friend is one of the most amazing people I know, but he’s also very introverted most of the time.  Rarely liking to be touched by those he likes, and almost never wanting to be touched by strangers, his wit and sass often make him the most sought out company in any arena, whether he likes it or not.  And being an introvert myself, there were A LOT of people at this thing and it was slightly overwhelming.  At one point, my bestie said, “I’m feeling really exposed, I wish I’d thought to wear a mask.”  To which I said, “Well, why don’t you wear the one our friend here is wearing,” and she agreed wholeheartedly and gave him the mask.  And when he tied it on, something magical happened.  And that thing…..is joy.

Donning that mask awakened the joy inside him somehow, and even here, two days and many hours of processing later, I am still not sure what was the trigger.  But the minute the mask was on, he became a different person.  He was open, and happy, and friendly, and dare I say extroverted in the most beautiful way possible.  I’ve known him for so many years, and never in all that time had I ever seen him full of so much joy.

And that joy was beaming out of him like a lighthouse, calling all of the other joyful people home, as his magnetism and happiness attracted many people to come say hello, share a dance, or simply introduce themselves as they complimented our costumes.  He was the belle of the ball, so to speak, and it’s a mind blowing experience I will never forget.  And from the moment we left his apartment to the moment we returned, the evening went smoothly without one hitch, and each moment was linked together by one thing:  his joy.

As someone who is in constant search of happiness, not knowing where to find it on a consistent basis, and often only finding it in false idols and half truths, to watch someone have their joy fully awakened and embraced got me thinking:  what will awaken my joy?

Which actually led to the deeper question of, is there joy hidden somewhere inside me at all?  Do I have joy to be awakened?

And the reason I ask this is because after the event, in reliving the details, my bestie said, “I used to be this joyful all of the time.  I don’t know when I lost it!”  And I had to admit to him, as we keep no secrets from each other, “I don’t think I’ve ever had it.”

Joy and happiness are not things that come easily to me, and not emotions I remember having either as a child or as an adult.  Ask my friends to describe me, and I guarantee you, out of all the wonderful adjectives they choose, happy would not be one of them.  Loyal, funny, sassy, sure, but not happy.

I don’t remember being a happy child, I remember being a disciplined, serious child.  Not a child at all, really, I was always just kind of a little adult.  Always making the responsible choice, always focused on the future, so much so that I never fully enjoyed the present.  A good example of this is high school.  I was so focused on getting good grades and excelling so that I could get into a good college and out of that podunct town I grew up in that I didn’t take the time to really enjoy myself and build and develop lasting friendships.

And since then, not a lot of joy has come my way, and I’m wondering if it’s because when it did arrive, I had no idea of how to be grateful for it and enjoy it, but instead would just worry when it was going to leave.  How have I survived living like this all these years?  And how the hell did I never realize this before?  I think the answer is, until Saturday night, I had never seen joy in it’s purest form.  And now that I have, I want to feel it for myself.

In all this processing I’ve done over the past two days, I am so happy to say it has brought me to a new breadcrumb, in that I need to learn to live in the NOW!  Enjoy and be grateful for the things I have NOW!  I must stop rehashing the past in my brain and trying to make sense of all the things that didn’t work that I can’t change even if I want to change them, so as Elsa says, I need to let them go.  I must also stop worrying so much about the future and what is possibly lurking around the next corner.  And I must start living in this moment.  In every moment.  I think enough moments have been wasted.  It’s time to awaken my joy, which I now know, has to be inside me somewhere.

Breadcrumb very emotionally found.

Ciao for now,

M

I Can Do It Myself!

Evidently, when I was a young child, according to the many stories I was told growing up, my favorite phrase was, “I can do it myself!”  My favorite of these stories is when I was just learning to tie my shoes, and my mom and I were heading out to go somewhere and we were running late.  On the floor I sat, meticulously working to tie my shoes all by my independent self, and my mother was begging me to let her do it, to which I responded vehemently, “I can do it myself!”

I believe these countless stories I was told, because I grew up to be a very independent teenager, and into an even more independent adult.  I’m the queen of ‘not needing anyone’ and have become a jedi master when it comes to handling life all on my own.  But the events of the past 9 months have made me wonder, has my independence cost me a support system?  Is my independence actually a hindrance in my ability to have people want to be there for me? Is my ability to stand on my own strength keeping me from people offering to help me?  And I fear the answer might be yes.

My best friend said the most profound thing to me one time.  He said, “You never let me care for you.  You’ll let me care about you, but not for you, and that’s weird for me.”  He’s the ultimate care giver.  So, being someone who didn’t need caring, I’m sure was strange for him.  There were times, after something hard was over, I’d make an offhand comment about how it sucked doing that alone, and friends would say things like, ‘I’d have helped, if you’d have let me know.”  And that’s a true statement.  I don’t often let people know when I need help until it’s too late.  Is that their fault?  Nope.  All me.  How can people help you if you don’t ask them.  And as the Bard so beautifully had Hamlet speak, “Therein lies the rub.”

Asking for help.  Well, to be frank, I suck at it.  I’m so used to doing things for myself, by myself that asking for help is as foreign to me as a conscience is to Frank or Claire Underwood.  I can count on one hand how many times I’ve done it.  Ok, maybe two, but no more than that.  I don’t know how to explain what comes over me when I can’t accomplish a task on my own.  I feel, well, I feel weak.  And if there’s one thing I was taught never to be, it’s weak.   I loathe weakness in myself.  I don’t particularly like it others, especially don’t like it in women, but in myself, yeah, that’s not an option.  So, there must be some part of me that equates asking for help with weakness, and in living that way, I’ve surrounded myself in my independent bubble, and now, at the point in my life where I do need help, I don’t know how to ask for it, and so I’m struggling.  And I’m struggling alone.

The last man I dated, while on paper the absolutely wrong man for me, but the feelings we had for each other were so intense, it was like nothing I’d ever felt.  And for the first time in my life I wanted to be taken care of; let me rephrase, I wanted to be taken care of by him.  He was so strong.  So unbelievably strong, and for the first time in my life, he did things for me without my having to ask.  Before we even dated, I had a problem with my mom’s house, and without my asking, he sent a buddy to fix it for a fraction of what I’d have had to pay otherwise.  On a cold morning, when we were dating, he started my car, and put one cup of coffee just the way I liked it in a to go cup in one cup holder, and a cup full of apple slices and banana slices in the other.  I remember that day like it was yesterday.  How amazing it felt to have someone take care of me without my having to ask for it.  And when my mom died, and he asked me what my priorities were first to start moving forward, I mentioned three things, the most important being the ramp in front of the house I had built for her, that I wanted to have that removed.  Second, I wanted a new home for her cats that I was too allergic to to take care of, and third, I needed her car sold.

The next day, I came home from work, and the ramp was gone.  The wood was stacked on the side of the house neatly, and he was nowhere to be found.  Two days later he showed up with a cat carrier, said he found a home for them, and whisked them away.  A few days after that, he arrived with his brother who needed a cheap commuter car, and that was gone as well.  I’ll never forget how all that felt.  All that caring.  So, with all that, why, you might ask, is he my ex boyfriend?  I asked him that once.  And his answer left a scar.

He dated a woman after me, and even proposed to her.  They had decided to take a break, and he and I became good friends.  Platonic, good friends.  And one day I asked him why, through all the ups and downs with the woman after me, why would he put so much effort into her, when after we broke up, he wouldn’t even give me a second chance.  He, being the cowboy that he is said, “M, it’s like having two horses in a pasture.  One is stunning, and healthy, and independent, and sure, she likes it when you’re around, but she can find her own food, her own shelter, and she can take care of herself.  She doesn’t need me.  The other one, well, she’s got health issues, and she’s a little scared of life, and she’s more fragile, and she depends on me for food and shelter, and needs me to take care of her.  Which horse do you think will get more of my attention?”  He said it so matter of factly, I didn’t know what to say.  And I always know what to say.  I didn’t that day.

So, what do I do?  Do I start being more needy?  Do I have to erase this independent, take care of myself attitude in order to be cared for?  Maybe.

The past few days have been really rough.  I’ve been cleaning out my mother’s house, and it’s no small chore.  I could have used help.  I did ask a few people, but I’m starting to think that maybe no one takes me seriously when I ask for it.  I’ve been chastised a lot in my life for not asking for help, well, when I do, it’s often not well received.  I could easily put that on the other people, but the more I think about it, the more I think, maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I’m just seen as so damn strong and so damn independent, that if they don’t help me, they know I’ll be ok.

So what do I do right now?  Well, right now I want to scream this from the rooftops:

But that won’t change anything.  I have to do some more changing.  I don’t need to be helpless for people to help me, but I don’t have to be all by myself.  Don’t wanna be all by myself, annnnnnymoooooooooooooooore!

Seriously, though, as I move through 2014, hopefully to my next chapter, I think in order to have a more fulfilling life, I need to stop living from a “I can do it myself” place.  I think I need to allow myself the ability to let people help me; to let people care for me.  Cuz, man, when the ex did it, I’ve never felt so good, or so safe.  Maybe it’s ok to let more of that come into my life.  Maybe I don’t need to walk this world alone if I don’t want to.  I guess what I’m figuring out is, just because I can do it myself, doesn’t mean I always have to.  And that doesn’t make me weak.  It makes me human.  And that’s ok, too.

Ciao for now,

M