The One Time I Earned a Pretend Medal

I turn the corner onto Virginia Avenue, and suddenly I see him walking on the sidewalk. Aaron (my ex-something-not really a boyfriend but something like that) is tall, dark, and handsome–my archetype, so he stands out.  I stare at Aaron through my car window, jaw dropping, unable to believe that he’s in my neck of the woods.

Why in the world would he drive an hour to have brunch at Milktooth?  I mean, Milktooth is cool and everything, but he’s NOT even a foodie.

Aaron spots me in my car, since I don’t have the foresight to close my jaw and stop staring at him.

Like, this is a photo of me in that very moment:


I have this feeling that the universe is conspiring against me. I want to evaporate into the rain puddles I’m surrounded by in the street.

Aaron waves.  I wave back.  I suddenly have a flashback of the time he made me a mimosa for breakfast and I didn’t have the courage to tell him that it was the worst mimosa I’d ever had in my life. I quickly snap back to reality as I spot a girl walking next to him, attempting to keep up with his long stride.

Now normally, this would REALLY bother me:  seeing an ex-something but not really a boyfriend with another woman. (I mean I’m kinda zen, but not THAT zen.) However, in this very moment I realize I have no reason at all to feel weird about it, since I’m about to do the VERY same thing: brunch with new man 😳.

I pull out my phone and text Aaron, “Hey!  What are you doing here?” followed by a smiley emoji so he doesn’t think I’m being confrontational.  I just need to figure out if he’s going into Milktooth (where I’m meeting my date, Justin), because if he is, I NEED TO KNOW THIS MINUTE SO I CAN AVOID COMPLETE AWKWARDNESS.

He texts back that his “friend” is visiting from Boston, and he just picked her up at the Indy airport and decided to eat brunch at Milktooth since it was ranked #1 on some foodie thing and BLAH BLAH BLAH I stop reading since I have my answer.

I find a parking space and immediately text Justin.

“Hi!” I say and then stop.

Because I have no clue what to say next.  This feels like one of those life or death moments, since I’m now sweating about the prospect of a FIRST (yes, I said first) date with a guy I really like (at least so far, over text) at a restaurant where I will have to watch another guy whom I have dated eat brunch with another girl.

I just literally CANNOT EVEN with this shit.

“Now is not the time to beat around the bush,” some gut instinctual voice whispers in my ear.  “Now is the time for ruthless honesty.”

I suddenly imagine myself wearing some kind of medal for being courageous, which feels ridiculous and yet soothing at the same time. This image somehow propels me into typing the next part of the text.

“Can we meet at a donut shop up the street?  I know you really want to go to Milktooth, but I can’t go there today because a guy I know is there on a date and I have gone on dates with him before and it would just be awkward.” Push send now, damn it, before you have second thoughts.

I push send and wait.  A minute passes.  Two minutes.  Finally I see those little dots on Justin’s side of the IMessage which tells me he’s typing.  I stare at those stupid dots because, in this moment, I believe they hold the power to decide for me whether or not this day is going to be shitty or half-way pleasant.  The dots suddenly stop again.  UGH.  I wait another minute.  Then the IMessage text comes through.

“Sure that would be fine lol.”

I was in shock that I was honest and he still wanted to see me. Like, I SHOWED UP as my awkward, embarrassed self and he still may like me.

This story happened over two years ago, and I’m still scared to show up as me. I continue to struggle with the fact that it’s okay to tell the truth from the start with someone about the awkward shit we feel and experience. Like, I may be someone who is easy to talk to, but I am not someone who is completely comfortable with being my awkward self all of the time.

Some of our most painful experiences stem from the times we have shown up to the party as ourselves, and people left the room. (Yes, this is a metaphor, but if you’re nerdy like me, it has actually happened literally too.)

Being myself is SCARY and I need to give myself medals for doing it.

Because, here’s the thing: there’s a part of me that knows that the only way I can find “my people” is if I tell the truth. There will be people who may leave the room when I show up as me, but there will also be people that feel my “realness.”

And even though Justin turned out to be a complete meanie (more on him some other time), I am thankful that I learned how to show up as me. Because it also gave him the opportunity to decide if he wanted to come to my party and help me put on my new, shiny pretend medal- the one I awarded myself for being me.

Sit Still, Look Pretty

Sometimes it’s hard to be a girl.

“Why do you not want to give me another chance?” I hear the boingy Facebook messenger notification sound, and look down at my phone to see this message.

I am confused by this question, because I already told him why, several months ago. We dated almost five years ago. He broke up with ME. 

Five years ago when he told me that he and I just “didn’t fit,” I drove with my then four year old daughter all the way up to Fort Wayne to visit my aunt and uncle to escape the pain I associated with this statement. But you all know what happens when you try to escape your devastation, right? Those feelings of devastation end up hijacking your body. They cause you to lean up against the kitchen counter in your aunt and uncle’s home and find yourself sinking into the floor because you can no longer stand. The feelings then cause you to crumble and get smaller and weep and suddenly forget that your very aware four year old daughter is looking at you, and tearing up at the sight of your pain. 

Your aunt and uncle distract your daughter by taking her into the basement to watch the Disney Channel. This is good, because you need to cry, and so you do. You sob, crouched on the kitchen floor, with your back up against the cabinet, until you’re tired. 

And then you wipe your face, drink some water, take a hot shower, and realize somewhere deep inside of you, that you are still loved and still worthy of love. The voice that tells you this is very quiet, but you still know it’s true. 

Fast forward to five years later. You receive the aforementioned message from this guy who broke your heart, and you remember sitting on the kitchen floor at your aunt and uncle’s house, and all you can say is what. in. the. f*ck. 

But I (because we all know I’m talking about myself, and not you), decide to provide an explanation. 

“Ummm, you broke up with me. So, I got over you. You didn’t like me getting over you, and you unfriended me on Facebook, which is fine. But now here we are: you are messaging me on messenger because you don’t even have my phone number, and you want to know why I’ve moved on. We are at different places. I don’t know what to say…other than I ‘just know’ I don’t want to date you.”

He is quiet, and confused. Not satisfied by my response, but accepts it. 

The next day I receive this message: 

“Are you just trying to make me feel like shit, talking about how I ‘dumped you’? None of it makes sense. I have far more to offer now than I did then, yet either it’s not enough for you, or an excuse. Are you actually saying to me that you can do better, and that’s why we’re not at the same point in our lives?”

I feel these words like a punch in my gut.  They feel like a snake bite, venom pulsing up my arm and into an artery* flowing straight to my heart. 

I choose not to respond to his message. I move on with my day. And yet, I’m clearly bothered by it. 

You see, I was taught from a very young age that you don’t say “no” to others, if it causes them pain. I don’t know if boys are taught this or not; but I know that lots of girls are. We are subtly taught that being kind means being small and pretending to be happy. We are taught that if we say no, we must say it nicely, and that if we offend or hurt someone with our “NO” that it is our duty to ameliorate that. 

In very subtle ways, we are instructed to be peaceful and pleasant and pretty. We do not rock the boat. We apologize when we forget this, and acccidentally rock it. 
When a girl begins to date, this translates to “don’t overwhelm guys by being emotional or needy” or “if he doesn’t like your personality, you need to tone it down” or “don’t ever initiate anything, ever.”

It all comes down to playing small. 

And the problem with playing small is that when you play small, you are never truly being you. And more importantly, you are never truly free.  

I want to be done with playing small. 

I want to be done with feeling guilty for saying how I feel. I want to be done with not trusting how I feel. I want to be done with not trusting my thoughts and my logic.

I want to be loud and take up space. I want to show my daughter that it’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to say no, if saying yes means compromising yourself–ESPECIALLY if saying yes means compromising yourself. And while being kind and respectful to others is important, HONESTY and INTEGRITY and BOUNDARIES are just as important. So when it comes down to being nice or being truthful, I will hope she chooses to speak wisdom and truth.

Telling the truth is fundamental to our development as people–into our development of WHO God ordained us to be.

And we were not ordained to be small. 

*(It is arteries that go to our heart, right? Or is it veins? I don’t know and I’m too tired to google it.)

I Woke Up Like This

When I first got divorced, I walked around for about a year like a female version of Rip Van Winkle who had awoken and was seeing a new world. 

Despite a PTSD diagnosis from my doctor,  everything felt like a miracle to me. 

Every time I would pay a bill, I felt gratitude to be paying my own bills. When I bought my first piece of decent furniture, I felt like a queen. I finally slept like a baby most nights in my bed, and I let my daughter, who was two at the time, sleep next to me, despite everyone telling me “that was a bad idea.” I didn’t care. What I cared about was that we were finally SAFE and FREE. 

For about a year, I walked around like that-in an almost mystical, childlike state of wonder. I am not saying I wasn’t raw and emotional-what I’m saying is that I felt peace, despite the range of emotions that passed through me.

I remember sitting in my little, white and brick house in a not-so-great part of town, rocking my daughter in my tattered, hand-me down rocking chair, thinking that I had life figured out and that life was good. 

You see, it takes some time to realize you have your own life after you haven’t for so many years. And here I was, in 2010, finally awake to the idea that I was alive and that I could make choices for myself.

People observing me said, “Wow. Emily is doing SO well. She’s, like, a brand new person.”

Only I wasn’t. I was still the same person I had been during my entire marriage; I was simply now reacting to the fact that I was finally safe and free.

I was like an aged onion. There were so many layers of me that hadn’t been peeled back yet, and my skin was starting to toughen and the roots were trying to pop out because I needed to be peeled. The learning had barely begun. 

I realized in therapy that rejection was my oldest wound. And it has also been the most difficult wound to heal. Deep wounds like that do not heal from the outside–they can only heal from within. You cannot slap a bandaid on a rejection wound and expect it to heal. You have to do the deep, psychological work that starts from within. 

Combining my fear of rejection with PTSD, and you could say my post divorce dating life was a complete shit storm. I went from boyfriend to boyfriend. I remember my therapist looking up at me and asking me, “Where did you go?”

My energy was frenetic. Although the framework for the abusive marriage was gone, I was still the same person, afraid to be seen. Afraid to show up, instead of showing off. Afraid of being my true self, because…who would actually love that?  Although I said I wanted a partner, I continued to pick partners who were clearly not right for me. 

But tonight, as I sit here on Valentines Day 2017, the one thought in my mind is this: it is so good to be single, free, and safe. I once prayed so hard for the things I have now, and I feel GRATITUDE to have them. I feel a little wide-eyed tonight, even though seven years have passed since I left. 

I know there are many men and women in relationships that, even if they are safe, they are not free. They feel afraid. Maybe they are afraid of rejection from their spouses, even after being married all these years. Or maybe they feel like they just don’t have the courage to be seen, and that eats away at their insides. Or maybe they feel they cannot trust this person lying next to him or her and that wears on them day in, and day out.

If that is you, while I do not have specific answers, I can tell you this. Don’t stop peeling off your layers. Don’t stop showing up. Don’t stop feeling the feelings. Don’t numb out. Have the courage to be yourself and figure out what’s underneath the feelings. Because until you peel all the layers off, all you are is a body with feelings-not your awokened self. And we all need a planet that is full of humans who are healthy, alive, and awake. 

Happy love day, 2017.


Back in the days of my 2010, Rip Van Winkle awakening. 

The Time I Picked Up a Waiter

Last October, my friends and I decided to go out for dinner at a delicious restaurant called Late Harvest Kitchen. 

The waiter caught my eye as he came over to our table. Like, in a good way that made me blush. 😳

We started chatting. 

“I feel like I know you,” he said. 

“I feel like I know you, too,” I said, trying to figure out if we were just feeding each other flirty lines, or if we did, in fact, actually know each other. 

We began to ask each other questions to determine if we had indeed met before. One of the questions I asked him was for his full name. Cause, you know, I’m super nosey like that. 

“John David O’Connell,” (name has been changed of course) he said. 

We talked a bit further, and then he walked away from the table. When he was gone, I asked my friend, Terra, “What did he say his name was again?”

“John David O’Connell,” she said. 

“Good job,” I said, thankful that my friends have minds like steel traps.  

I got out my phone to look him up on Facebook to see if we, indeed, do, know each other through mutual friends, you know?  As I’m pulling up his profile and I see that we don’t, John David suddenly appeared, hovering over my shoulder. 

“Aahh!!” I yelled, throwing my phone across the table at my friends. 

“Don’t worry,” John David said. “I didn’t see anything,” he said. “Anything, that is, except for you looking at my Facebook page.”

“Oh my God! I’m so embarrassed! 😱😰” I said, covering my face with my hands. I now was apologizing to my friends for hitting them with my phone, while simulataneously over-explaining my reasoning to John David for why I was looking him up on Facebook. 

Thankfully, my friends know me and understood that my phone throwing was a knee jerk reaction. Surprisingly though, John David seemed flattered that I was looking him up on FB. 

“You know, ” he said. “You should send me a friend request instead of just looking.”

And so I did. And we continued to talk. However, we discovered we were, in fact, not a match, and pleasantly parted ways. 

But there was a reason for that interaction. That interaction was a reminder to me that there is no one else in this world like me. Just like there is no one just like you. And we have to just keep on being ourselves and having compassion for ourselves, even when we do ridiculous things. John David, in fact, seemed to find my ridiculousness endearing for some reason. Maybe because he somehow knew I was being the unadulterated version of myself. 

However, the story doesn’t end there. Yesterday, I saw my dear friend from college, Patty, at brunch. We were talking about embarrassing moments or something like that, and I brought up this story. As I was retelling it, I got SO into it that I, without thinking, began to actually act out the story. When I got to the part about me throwing my cell phone across the table, I–you guessed it–threw my cell phone across the table. Only this time, instead of hitting my friend with it, it hit the lady at the table next to me, and was traveling at such a high velocity that it bounced off her and hit her husband across the table.

“I…am so…sorry,” I said to them. “I was, um, retelling a story and I guess I was acting it out as well.”

“Yeah,” the husband said, straight faced, “I know. I feel like I was just there.”

Luckily his wife found it to be funny. 

I am Emily. I am a quirky, moderately  loud, storytelling, nosey nerd. And that is my power. 

No Love is Wasted

I had the opportunity several days ago to meet someone I deeply admire, Glennon Doyle Melton. And because I am touched so much by what she writes and the actions of her charity, Together Rising, I naturally burst into slobbery tears when I  met her: 

 

Glennon spoke at St.Paul’s Church. She spoke about love, kindness, vulnerability, and pain. While listening to her speak, I laughed and I cried. 

  
Oh, and I got to meet Mary. 

  
Mary was sitting next to me and my friends. She asked me two questions: 

1) Did I find Glennon on the Internet?

Yes, Mary, I did. The Internet is a simultaneously wonderful and scary place.

2) Are you and your friends millennials?

No, Mary. I’m almost 40. But I’m flattered you think I’m that young, so now you’re my best friend. 

Anywho, back to Glennon. Throughout her talk, and in the days that followed, I replayed the following quote of hers in my head: 

“And I do not judge a love’s worth by how it ends. I do not. I believe that NO LOVE IS WASTED…Love is worthy of the time and sweat and tears it takes from us simply because it changes both lovers forever—whether they stay or go.” -Glennon Doyle Melton

I kept pondering that quote, over and over again, because it gave me so much comfort. It’s a comfort, for some reason, for me to know that as I look back at my relationships with the men I loved or showed love to–NO MATTER the outcome of the relationship–that was NOT wasted energy. 

Because it changed them. And it changed me. 

After my divorce, I waited a year to date. Once I started dating, I had two relationships back to back. I was still not healed from the pain of divorce.  I was raw.  I was kinda needy. And I was just wanting to love someone–to give and receive love. Like, I picture myself at that point in my life both as approaching relationships with my arms wide open, but also wanting to not let go of the man who fell into my arms. 

Fast forward to today: now, I understand that there is much more freedom in love, than what I was allowing myself and my partner to experience during that time. I now understand and desire a healthy space from my partner while in a relationship. I know that for any worthwhile relationship to sustain itself, there must be both self love and love of partner present. If I practice self love and compassion, I’m much more equipped to give love away to my partner. 

That’s me now. (Yay!! Yay!!) I prayed and healed and did the work to get to where I presently am. But let’s go back to that other girl, five years ago. 

That Emily didn’t know these truths yet. I gave love away like it was nobody’s business. I baked cookies for my boyfriends and made mixed CDs for them and homemade lasagna and tried to twist myself into a pretzel so that they felt loved. 

And when I wasn’t loved back, I was devastated. 

Over the years, since this time in my life, I have thought to myself, “Geesh, you wasted so much time giving love to men who didn’t even love you. How did that work for you, Emily? HOW DID THAT WORK? Awful, Emily.AWFUL. Don’t ever give like that again to someone who doesn’t appreciate it.”

Now cue some Beyoncé music or something here.  

Because BOTH  of the men that I dated during that time recently reached out to me and told me: 

“I realize now that I’ve never had anyone show love to me in the way that you did. You were just so ready to love me. And I didn’t understand that and wasn’t ready then. But now I am.”

The following emojis describe my reaction to that: 

🤔😳🤓😱

I said to both of them, “I’m not that person anymore. I was needy then. I was giving love away with the intention of getting love back, and that’s not even real love. I’m sorry, but I have no desire to go back to that person I was or to our relationship.”

But they weren’t hearing any of that, and so I just listened. Because they needed to  reflect and remember 34 year old Emily, who was acting like 19 year old Emily, who was also acting like 12 year old Emily. I gave love because I was hungry for it. 

And so I let them have their memories. They reflected on our relationships as very happy times in their lives.  They remember me as someone who truly made them feel loved. And even though I’m not that same person anymore, I find great comfort in knowing I gave love away and touched someone’s life in a somewhat significant manner.

And you know what they gave to me? The gift of self love. The gift of “no.” When they told me they wanted to break up, I finally learned that I needed to take ALL that love I was giving to them, and pour it on myself. Give to myself, nourish myself, love myself. To quote the wise band, Def Leppard, I poured that sugar right on me. 

No love is ever wasted. Ever. ❤️

I’m Looking for a Warrior

I’m grateful to have cool neighbors. One of them is named Megan. And when Megan and I were talking the other day about men and what we are looking for, she said something that stuck to my brain like glue. 

“You see, I’m looking for a warrior,” she said. 

A warrior. And warriors aren’t a dime a dozen. A warrior is brave. A warrior has integrity. A warrior has character. Megan, herself, is a warrior. She is a hard worker–a highly intelligent, intellectual woman who speaks truth to those around her. 

I realized in that moment that I want a warrior, too. But in order for me to attract a warrior into my life, I must consistently work harder at being one myself. 

And the path to warriorhood includes saying a word more often that I’m not accustomed to saying: NO. 

I have a hard time saying no. Sometimes it’s because I don’t trust myself or my feelings. Sometimes it’s because I don’t want to miss out on fun. Sometimes it’s because I don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings. 

And sometimes it’s simply because I’m not mentally prepared. 

And warriors are mentally prepared. They are tough, even though they may actually be sensitive. They tell the truth, even though it causes others to be uncomfortable. Warriors care about other people, but also practice self-care. Warriors believe in their cause.

I made A LOT of mistakes this past year by saying yes to people when I should have said no, in particular in the realm of  dating. If a man asked me out, I said yes–especially if I were caught off guard. This led to a weakening in my mental strength. I digressed from the path of the warrior, that I had already paved.  

There was a trainer I went out with a couple of times, and then I googled him and found out he was actually engaged. #goodtimes, #thisiswhyicreeponpeople, #imaybeoldbuticanusegoogle

Then there was the 28 year old guy who worked from home, watched animae, went to video game conventions, and only would communicate via text. #idontunderstandanimae, #pleasecommunicatelikearealperson

Oh and I almost forgot about the cop who said he wanted to see me–yet never actually arranged an actual date beyond bringing me carry out from Taco Bell. Yet I continued to talk to him, even though his actions didn’t match up to his words. #sorrybutidontwanttokickitwithyou, #iliketacobellbutnotthatmuch

Oh and I didn’t even tell you about the Jimmy Johns employee who sorta stalked me and the Verizon Wireless dude who pretended that he didn’t have a girlfriend and kept asking me out. I didn’t actually go out with those two, but made the mistake of giving them my number when they asked for it in the spot, because I was afraid of hurting their feelings. 

On a side note, at least Jimmy taught me a new acronym.  

 

I think he meant to text “Gtk.” What I eventually had to do was draft a text to them like this: 

“Hey. This is Emily. I’m sorry I haven’t been more forthright with you from the get go. When you asked me for my number I gave it to you without actually thinking through the implications of it. I am not interested in dating you, and I don’t feel comfortable continuing to communicate with you.”

But all of that nonsense could have been avoided if I had already adopted a warrior mentality. 

So here’s the deal, friends. I am now mentally preparing myself to say no to any man that doesn’t strike me as a warrior, while continuing to work on being a warrior myself. I’m going to practice self care and integrity. When someone asks me to do something that doesn’t align with  my warrior path, I’m going to say, “Thank you for (recognizing me, asking me, etc), but I can’t.” I have found in life that it always helps to have a phrase prepared to spit out when you’re caught on the spot. I’ve already practiced standing in front of the mirror tonight and saying, “Thank you, but I can’t. Thank you, but I can’t. Thank you, but I can’t.” I said it 64 times so far. And it felt really good. 

Maybe you want to come along with me and join me on my path to warriorhood. Maybe you, too, are ready to be your authentic, brave, sincere self. Maybe you, too, need to practice self care. 

Say it with me, “Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t. Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t.”

I can’t because I’m practicing the courage to be who I am meant to be.

   
 

Being Alone 

I’m getting better and better at being alone. 

You see, I have this thing called an ego. My ego tells me that being by myself isn’t socially acceptable and that whatever my life is on the outside is all that it is. 

Thankfully, I’ve started listening more to my soul and my spirit–and less to my ego. 

I went through phases on and off during the last year where I had a few minor setbacks. I started getting impatient with being alone–especially during my “off” weekends when Aliana goes with her dad. I would fill up my weekends with trying to be out and about as much as possible–out with friends or on dates with men–instead of just giving myself time to be still and alone.

The thing is, being alone does not come easily for me. I am an extrovert–an ENFP on the Myers Briggs. I enjoy being around people. I thrive on connection and connecting with others. I have always believed that I (along with most humans) am wired to desire a committed, long term relationship. 

And so it is not in the nature of my ego to say what I am about to say; however, what I am about to say is something very important I have learned through some rather painful experiences. And that is this: I may be alone for the rest of my life and that is okay. I may never find a yin to my yang. I may never find my true love, my other half, my soulmate–or whatever term you want to use. 

And that is one hundred percent okay with me.

Because my life will not be measured on whether or not I have a partner or husband. It will be measured on the life that I have lived–the mother I am to my child, the teacher I am to my students, and the citizen I am of my community. 

I was put on this earth to make a difference–that is my truth. And I think that is yours, too. So that is the only thing I must do. I must do good, practice abundance, and bring life and connectivity to others. 

If along the way of my journey, I find a partner who understands my truth and can compliment my journey–then that could be an added bonus. But it is not promised, nor is it necessary for me to have that in order to have joy. 

I know the sadness that comes from choosing the wrong partner. It can rip at your heart. For that reason, I have learned to choose being alone over being in a relationship that isn’t a good fit.

I listened to a sermon online once from a pastor named Toure Roberts. In his message, he stated, “A soul mate is a person that God has chosen for you to complete each others’ purpose. Soul mates compliment one another’s goals, dreams, and most important–their purpose.”

So if I find any sort of “soulmate”–it will have to be that person that compliments my truth and my purpose here on earth. It will be someone who I have no doubt walked into my life for a reason. And although I am sure there would be love between us–there must be much more than love to sustain the relationship. There must be that aforementioned sense of purpose, founded in integrity, respect, and wholeheartedness.

All of these things I just told you are lessons it has taken me 38 years to learn. 38, long, freaking years. Years of an unhappy marriage and years of dating men who weren’t right for me. I spent time orchestrating relationships which got me nowhere. (I mean, I spent so much time orchestrating, that I’m surprised I wasn’t carrying around a baton and conducting the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.) I  have experienced bouts of sadness or anxiousness in order to learn these truths.  I learned them by walking through the pain.

I have the following quote saved in the notes of my IPhone. I think it came from one of the books in the “Boundaries” series by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend: 
“To be happy enough to pick the kind of relationship you desire, you must be happy enough without one. You must sustain being alone and get over that fear, in order to get the right relationship. Otherwise, you are just attracting the wrong people.”

And I’m so glad I got over that stinking fear, because there is so much peace on the other side.  

One of my heroes, author Elizabeth Gilbert, nails all of those words I just pontificated about in six perfect sentences:

  

 So, You Think You Can Date Me? 

If I were to put out a personal ad looking for the love of my life, this is what it would say:

“38 year old, divorced, single mom seeks a man who is

  • Intelligent
  • Sincere
  • Kind, but not a pushover
  • Empathetic, yet rational
  • Flexible and Laid back, but not dead
  • Consistent
  • Ambitious 
  • Open to developing a long term relationship 
  • Open to communicating via phone and getting to know each other in person

Do you see that? ☝🏼️☝🏼☝🏼

THAT is what I want. I know that. 

However, if you were to look at the men I’ve dated in the past, you’d probably think my personal ad read like this: 

“38 year old, divorced single mom seeks a man who is

  • Either unavailable or clingy
  • Unemployed or a workaholic 
  • Not sure what he wants or is 100% sure he wants me before he has even met me
  • Inconsistent
  • Unable to communicate feelings 
  • Unable to feel feelings 
  • Unsure what a feeling is
  • Inconsistent 
  • Interested in my body but not my mind and character and the whole package
  • Inconsistent 
  • Intimidated by my ability to use big words
  • Did I say inconsistent?

I could go on. But I’ll stop for now because my parents read this. 

There are exboyfriends and men I’ve dated  who might be reading this blog. If you are one of them–this isn’t about you. It’s about the other 99 percent of men I’ve dated, so don’t take it personal. (Cue Carly Simon chorus of “You’re So Vain”) now…I kid, I kid.

But on a serious note, it actually ISN’T about you or whatever my perception is or was of you. 

IT’S ABOUT ME. It’s about me NOT making decisions that align with my values. It’s about a bullsh** story that I tell myself. 

And you know what that’s called? It’s called disequilibrium. It’s called imbalance. It’s called making yourself feel constantly unsettled yet doing nothing about it. 

When your actions don’t line up with your true feelings or values, you feel like a piece of crap. Maybe you want to leave something–a job, a relationship, a living situation, a friendship, but you continue to stay and continue to act as if everything is fine. Inside you everything is not fine, though. In fact you really feel haunted by the fact that you’re faking it. 

And then the haunting gets bigger when you don’t listen to it. And then all of a sudden you wake up in the middle of the night and seriously feel like there’s a ghost in your house the size of Kansas, whispering in my ear, “You’re in pain. Stop the BS.”

And your friends start to give you advice like this:

  • “This person has no business in your life.”
  • “It’s not about you.” 
  • “Heck this isn’t even YOU!! When have you ever said, ‘I want a boyfriend who is at a completely different stage in life and has different life goals than me.’ Hmmmm… Let me think about that–Oh wait! Never would be the answer, Emily. Because NEVER once in your life, Emily, have you EVER said you wanted that.”
  • You can’t soar with eagles, Emily, if you’re walking around with chickens.

Hmm, let me ponder that, but not for too long. 

Because on this day, Cinco de Mayo, which also happens to be Teacher Appreciation Day and Voting Day, (and was actually even the day I got engaged to my exhusband fifteen years ago)–on THIS day, I am pledging to myself to stop that bullsh*t story and to only choose men I want in my life. 

I’m gonna stop it because I’m done with being haunted and smashing an imaginary frying pan on my head. 

Never settle. Never pick that which you don’t want. 

Let your actions reflect who you are–your true nature. 

And I suddenly don’t know how to end this, but don’t really care, so I’m just going to leave you with this image.  

 

Me, smashing a real frying pan on my head.   

The Night that Flowed, Part 1…Emily and Janet’s Hijinks

Have you ever had the experience of running into an ex or someone you used to date on the street, and then deduce that he or she is somewhat drunk and then begin to listen to him make all kinds of confessions about you that you had never heard before?

Really? Cool! Because that just happened to me, too.

Last night, my friend, Janet, and I had what I like to call a “flow” evening–an evening where nothing was planned at all, but we truly carped the heck out of that diem. These evenings are magical, and if you haven’t had an evening like ours, I don’t care how old you are–go and do it. You don’t need to stay out as late. You don’t need to go to fancy places. Just find a place you and your friend love and go there. And then let the day or evening unfold, allowing yourself to be inspired by the interesting people you observe around you, or the food you eat, or the weather, or the smells in the street. Just STOP. Pay attention. Love life. Invest in your five senses. DO life, and move wherever you feel led to move.

So back to the story. We were going to have sushi–just sushi–after a fun afternoon of shopping.

We get to 45 degrees on Mass Ave. We devour sushi.

“Are you tired?” she asked me.

“Nope,” I said. “Strangely not.”

It was 10:00, but the sushi gave us new energy and life to continue to let the night unfold. Janet was wearing work-out leggings. I was wearing jeans and a top with a hoodie that I would not wear if I were going out. We were on Mass Ave., where all the women around us are wearing high heels, lots of makeup, short skirts, etc.

“I’m not sure if what I’m wearing is appropriate,” I said. “But….I really don’t care. I’m almost 40. I don’t give a crap about these things anymore. I’m done being uncomfortable or feeling like I have to dress a certain way to stand out. Who the heck cares?” My martini had given me energy to start on this diatribe of how I no longer give a crap about fitting in.

“Let’s go,” she said.

And as a little side note–my friend, Janet, is a gem. She really is. She is one of the few people I know who can flow like me. She actually taught me a lot about how to flow. I have learned that a life lived without flow is not a life worth living. Flow is actually listening to your heart and allowing yourself to be led by what inspires you in your surroundings. I didn’t learn this until I was in my 30s–until I allowed myself to learn this.

But, back to the story. More on “flow” tomorrow.

We decided to go to Union 50, which is a bar up the street that everyone keeps talking about. We went in, and it was packed–packed like fricking sardines. And some of those sardines smelled sweaty and drunk. I couldn’t move without being sandwiched between two strangers. It was like a horrible traffic jam, but with people.

Janet and I looked at each other. We weren’t “feeling” this trendy place, and decided to walk out.

As we walked out the door, I literally bumped into a familiar face.

“I know you!” I blurted out without thinking through how I actually knew him.

The man’s eyes slightly widened. “Oh, yeah! How are you? How’s life?”

This man was a man who I went on about four dates with, about a year and a half ago. We never were an item, obviously. But he was memorable–a captain in the military from Savannah, Georgia, but originally from California. His parents were from India. He smoked cigars and had taken me to a cigar bar downtown on one of our dates.

I introduced him to Janet, and we all three started chatting.

His speech was kind of slurred, so I deduced he was somewhat inebriated.

As he was talking, I suddenly realized that I had remembered him as being tall, dark, handsome, and charming. But now, he was only tall and dark. Not so handsome. And he was talking incessantly like a car motor revving itself up.

“He’s actually kind of annoying. But why do I remember being so smitten with him?” I asked myself.

Please know that I am not criticizing the gentleman, because I’m certain that my former dates may be saying similar things about me. I am simply intrigued by the fact that our memories can play tricks on us. It could be that he has changed since we went out, but I don’t think so. I think I’ve changed. Time and space had suddenly allowed me to view him completely differently.

Our “let’s try to date” hats had come off.

As we started to talk, he felt compelled to rehash everything that happened between us, which was quite entertaining.

These were the facts he stated about me that he remembered:

1. I was a teacher, and I was a really nice person. And my name was Elizabeth. I had a daughter.

2. I had a cat who freaked him out.

3. I liked to eat healthy and ate organic meats and vegetables. He said he remembers eating a handful of organic walnuts in my kitchen when he had come over to visit me once. He said I was the first person to teach him about GMOS.

4. That we stopped seeing each other because we wanted different things. Namely, I had wanted to see him on a regular basis, while he had wanted something “casual” since his lifestyle only allowed for that.

Here is my rebuttal that I said (in my head, mostly) to those statements he made:

1. I am a teacher and I have a daughter, but my name is Emily. The nice part is debatable at times.

2. True. My cat does this to people.

3. True. I remembered him eating walnuts in my kitchen. I hadn’t remembered talking about the dangers of GMOs with him, but that sounds like something I would do.

4. True. I was surprised he was able to clearly articulate this while drunk.

What struck me most about the entire interaction, though, was that he seemed to remember me quite fondly. He went into detail about the whole GMOS discussion in particular, and implied that he had often thought about learning that from me during the last year and a half.

When we stopped seeing each other, I didn’t know why exactly at the time. I just knew we weren’t meant to be. He was able, however, to articulate the exact reason why WHILE DRUNK.

It wasn’t about me. It was never about me. Nor was it about him, really.

We just wanted two different things. I felt badly that I hadn’t remembered him so fondly, but I think that was because I had thought he had sort of disappeared on me and gone away without telling me why.

But rarely do we get these kind of explanations. And this was only four dates–not even a real relationship or anything–four dates. It wasn’t like he owed me any real explanation. In life, you just have to accept that God or the universe has something better planned for you–explanation or not.

I just simply had been given the interesting gift of an explanation last night. It was a gift I had no longer needed, but it ended up qualifying as a distinct reassurance that I can trust that life is happening FOR me–not to me. And that things are always working out for me. Relationships have fallen apart for reasons that I haven’t always understood, but I can continue to trust in the divine nature of God’s protection from things that are not meant for me.

I wondered if maybe the whole purpose for our paths crossing was for me to teach him about GMOS. I wondered why I had liked him. I wondered why he was eating my walnuts. I wondered what my cat had done to him specifically.

I was thankful for this little gift of knowing that he remembered me fondly, and that I could now clearly see he wasn’t a bad guy or anything like that. He just wasn’t the guy for me. Most of all, I’m thankful for the gift of the reassurance that when things fall apart, it’s always for the greater good.

More on the night that flowed tomorrow.

Why is her dog in his pic? Because life is brutiful.

It’s really hard to be a badass when you’re a sensitive soul.

You see, I’ve always wanted to be one of those women who didn’t give a crap about what anyone else thought of her. I’ve wanted to walk with a swagger wearing a jacket that says, “Haters gonna hate,” on the back of it. But, instead I’m just sitting here, post workout, with a sweaty face, greasy hair, and a pink tshirt.  

 
That’s pretty much my angry face. And it’s not very threatening.

About three weeks ago, a boy I had been dating told me he didn’t want to see me anymore. My response was to say, “okay! 😄” and then asked 100 more clarifying questions, since this convo was over text. 

Anyways, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the conversation, I walked away from it, determined to be a badass. This was a very short dating relationship. It wasn’t like we were serious or anything. I gave myself 24 hours to be a little bummed, and then I was essentially fine. I didn’t think about it, was focused on having a good time with my friends and my daughter, and just went about my business.

But then tonight, it was revealed to me that he is dating someone else. And I didn’t really feel anger. I didn’t feel like a badass. I just felt…confused. 

So after I was given this information I started to chat with my circle of trust–aka, my close friends about this. I asked them several questions–seeking answers from them. (My lovely friends are just amazing, by the way.) I  asked them questions like, “Do you think he was dating us simultaneously?” and “Why is her dog in his profile pic?”

And they wisely said things to me like this:

  • Don’t make any assumptions. 
  • He’s dating. He’s trying it out. He tried it with you. Liked it. Now, he’s trying it with her. 

And so here are my friends, being all wise and shit, and here I am, still asking the same question on repeat: 

 
WHY IS HER DOG IN THE DAMN PROFILE PIC?

And here’s the thing. Now I’m lying here in bed, looking at my lovely daughter, and realizing that life is beautiful, and life is brutal. One of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Doyle Melton, says, “Life is brutiful.” And I want to add that it’s seriously funny. Because it’s just a damn dog. And now my friends and I are laughing about me saying over and over again, “why is her dog in his profile pic?” Because it’s funny and beautiful and brutal all at the same time. 

And I might not be a badass. But I love my life and will continue to laugh my ass off at the craziness of it all, and embrace that it’s brutiful.