Make the Most of Moments

These last three days have been far more busy than I had originally anticipated. I’ve been cast in a new show, and rehearsals started this week. Choosing happy these last three days has meant taking moments to absorb the present, and simply breathe.

Monday I physically felt horrible. After the previous day of cleaning and moving, I was sore, and had a headache with admirable persistence. In between things, I took a moment to do some light yoga, specifically poses with headache reducing effects, curated conveniently from YouTube. I avoid medication when I can, not because I don’t believe in it, but because I try to live by moderation. I breathed, and stretched, and fortunately reduced my headache enough to be functional, and even eventually enjoy the day, mustering up the gumption to visit with one of my close friends in the evening to wind down.

Tuesday was Day One of rehearsals past the initial read-through, which followed a full day of work, used to its fullest extent, as my office was in preparations for our annual conference. After a full day, on my way home from the theatre, I noticed the moon, hazed with orange, a bleak reminder of the wildfires in neighboring states, ash dying the air like a macabre Holi. Walking up to my house, I looked up at the moon again, whose face had cleared by winds, now brightly white, the ash now a halo pigmented with ombre hues of red, orange and pale yellow. In spite of the sinister implications, I couldn’t help but admire the ironic beauty of the scene. It served as a reminder that we are far closer to each other than we often realize, the wreckage from miles away drifting into my local lungs.

Wednesday, another busy day at work, and another rehearsal. While driving to rehearsal in the early evening, I felt guilty for neglecting my blog, and briefly debated whether or not I would inevitably let myself down. I briefly thought about abandoning the blog, questioning whether or not I’d be able to maintain momentum, or insight, if the quality of my writing would even be worth the read. Then I remembered the initial goals of the blog, specifically the goal to combat my tendency towards perfectionism. What was I doing at that very moment? Criticizing myself for disobeying the rules I had crudely assigned for myself. Why? This exploration of happiness was meant to be fun, to help me be more conscious of my own choices. By this point, I’d noticed simply writing on a regular basis made me happier. And, making the choice to be happy each day forced me to think about my needs as a priority, not as something to put aside in favor of “more important” tasks, or to demote next to someone else’s well-being. Truthfully, remembering to even take a moment to ground myself, simply because it made me feel good, was already making a difference, even if these moments only lasted a matter of seconds.

Upon realizing that I should continue the blog, if for no one else but myself, I gazed out my driver’s window to see the edge of a rainbow, and eager for a stoplight, I took a longer look to discover it was full, framed edge to edge by my window-frame. I took this universally hopeful symbol as a sign that I had made the right decision.

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Clean a Crawl-Space

When I awoke, it was nearly noon, and a calendar alert chimed on my phone– “Help K. Move.” This was the final hurrah, the last weekend to help my friend reinvent herself in her new home, no small feat for a woman with the remains of what was once a very full nest to sort out. A week ago we moved boxes enough to fill a 5×7 storage locker to the brim with supplies for the theatre, and now we needed to clear out the rest of the house.

Assuming I’d be the only one there, I knew I was in for a doozy. So I strapped on my Keds, wore some beat-up skinny jeans, and a loose tank, ate some leftover pizza for breakfast and drove over. An enormous moving truck was sitting outside, a 20 foot dumpster in her driveway. Overdue by nearly 15 years, this was the purge.

I parked and walked towards the house, reassuringly packed with our theatre tribe. It was a relief and inspiring all at once. One member even brought his three sons, ranging from 12 to 23, all sweet hearted boys.

We all tackled the house, taking assignments from the President of our Board of Directors like we do at the theatre: upstairs, downstairs, new place, Goodwill. We were all in and out of the house in synchronization, placing things according to their next destination.

I was assigned the downstairs, which my group completed all except for the laundry, and the crawl space. I went upstairs to have some lunch and water, and asked my friend’s sister, “So what’s the ruling on the crawl-space?” Her tiny body retracted all it was made of in horror, “The crawl-space?” She shuddered, “I am NOT going in there, that’s all of her ex’s old stuff and I will not touch it. Ohmygod dead things must be in there, that stuff’s been sitting so long.” Clearly prone to her own kind of dramatics in parallel to her sister, I texted K. “Crawl-space?” She said “All of it’s garbage.”

“I’m on it.”

I shouted up the stairs to the second floor, where our group had migrated since the other half was on their way to move her in to the new place. “Hey! I’m heading downstairs to the crawl-space, so if you don’t hear from me in a while, check.”

“The crawl-space?!” Her sister shouted, “You’re NUTS.”

And off I went. Grabbing a pair of working gloves off the kitchen counter on my way down. I started to pull things over the edge of the space, clearing out the initial loose items, boxes of mugs, camping gear, tarps, and then came across far more heavy boxes that couldn’t be pulled. I’d have to climb up into it.

I shrugged, “No dead things so far.”

I vaulted myself over the crawlspace wall with the help of a sturdy shelf, and landed into a mesh of small tan stones. I’m not very familiar with crawl-space lingo, but an accurate description came from the 12-year-old, “It looks like a giant cat litter box,” which he articulated upon finding me contorted in the basement.

“What are you doing down here? Or, I mean, up there?” He asked.

“No one else can do it, so I’m doing it,” I explained simply. He looked at me like I was crazy.

“Can I help?” his little voice a hopeful squeak.

“Sure thing! Can you grab some garbage bags?”

And off he scampered upstairs only to come down waving a bag through the stagnant basement air making “swoosh” sounds. “Here you go!”

He held the bag while I shoved the garbage of yesteryear down into it. What took more doing were rotted Craftsman tools, apparently from the distant past, the box they were housed in eaten through and broke upon lifting, tools scattering into the litter box. But with his moral support, sense of humor, and ability to make it up and down stairs in lightning speed, the litter box was cleared, and I managed to fit it all right into the dumpster.

As I walked through the house, the walls emptying in stages, I noticed a penciled growth chart of K’s two sons scratched on the wall by the foyer. I took a picture. ‘Something she’ll want to keep.’ Her life has been the definition of chaos this last year, and something like that I wasn’t sure if she’d remember that she’d want it in this last minute rush of a short-sale.

I stopped to reflect on the day, all the objects that summed up her life in this house. All the objects that were donated, or just thrown away, once bore memories, memories meaningful enough to squirrel away in hiding places, lacking feasible use, but still retaining an essence too great to throw away, maybe even saved for another generation. It occurred to me why, in addition to the chaos, my friend had waited so long to let us in to help, this outcome impending for the last year. Emptying her house, every nook and cranny made bare, is seeing my friend at her most vulnerable, her house the expression of her living heart. This was the place she made a home and reared her boys with limited help, the place she kept a home for them to return to when they flew the nest, the empty nest she filled with homeless animals. This was the place now to be flipped over and emptied, gallons of water dumped all at once into a mason jar.

Happy today meant tackling the crawl-space, the cavity of the basement with all his things. Things I could touch without cringing. Things I could throw away with no remorse. The memories rising from the dank dark into consciousness, for me only dust.

 

 

Line Dancing & the Flip Side of Happy

The bar was packed with women– not one, but three bachelorette parties were taking place simultaneously. Mini-veil hair accessories, and a hot pink cowgirl hat with tulle in the back could be spotted bouncing in the crowd, penis-straws spotted in the occasional cocktail denoting friends of the soon-to-be brides.

Of two women in my company, one is single, and the other has mingled, being in a relationship that is close to being ‘official.’ I’m single, and happy. I wouldn’t say I’m not looking– I can’t stand it when people say ‘it will happen when you stop looking,’ because it’s over-simplistic, and sounds like it’s better to not know, or even to deny what you want, so you can invariably ignore it, and then it will just pop into your life inconveniently or by accident. However, the essence of the advice stands, and that is to accept my status, and live my life without postponing things I want to do, or who I want to become while waiting for this dream man.  For instance, I used to want to dance more, dated a man who danced, he dumped me, but I kept dancing!

My single friend is less than at ease with her status. In spite of being soft-spoken about her status, it is over-apparent to the rest of the world, in her coy demeanor and actions. I speak openly about my life, as it’s cathartic for me to let my friends in to alleviate the feelings of being alone in my challenges, if not also because it bears the benefit of giving others permission to open up, which it has in the past, to find that solidarity and catharsis for themselves in me.

I let the line dancing be my challenge for the evening, being more uniform than swing, with less room for error. Each time I managed to get a dance nearly seamless by the end, we’d high-five and move on to the next one. I felt awesome. In spite of my jagged missteps accompanied by the occasional smoothly braided grapevine, I was in my favorite pair of jeans, and cowgirl boots, my hair up in  high-pony, read to sweat.

“IF YOU’RE IN A BACHELORETTE PARTY, MAKE SOME NOISE!!!”

We stared at each other, and laughed awkwardly. I could tell this bothered her. Shortly after the third time during the night that we couldn’t “make some noise” we called it a night, mostly because it was nearly 1:00am, and we had been dancing for the last four hours. But, I couldn’t help but notice the expression on her face had changed. She doesn’t usually show distress. She’s an educator, and keeps her negative emotions concealed expertly. Tonight was different. She’s a little older than I am, and last night must have distressed her more than I anticipated it would. It occurs to me now in reflection that she even suggested, jokingly, that we leave in favor of an event in what looked like a circus tent nearby.

We aren’t close friends, and I’m really only now getting to know her in the last couple months, in spite of knowing of each other for the last 9 years. She’s starting to make more sense to me as time goes on. I hope she opens up to me, or to someone she feels safe with about her un-pretty emotions. But, tonight she helped me see, externally from myself, the flip-side of happy.

I was able to enjoy these humorously endearing bachelorettes because I’ve found peace in being single, which was not the case a few months ago, or ever before that. That peace comes from a few factors that take consistent work to keep at the forefront of my thoughts. My peace comes from (a) knowing what I want in a relationship, which means that when I turn a man away, it’s my own choice, and that when he leaves, it’s not rejection, it’s a bullet dodged, because if he doesn’t want me romantically, I shouldn’t want him either; (b) knowing I can live a happy life full of adventure without a man’s romantic company, because I’m acting on those choices and living that life right now, and (c) my faith in knowing I’ll meet him when the time is right, when he and I are both ready to create a life with each other.

After a conversation with a psychic stranger that happened serendipitously earlier in the day, I was told I’d meet him once I’ve embraced my own power, my power to assert myself, my power to be fully myself wherever I go and with whomever I accompany. For the first time yesterday, I truly felt he was waiting for me. I don’t know where he is, or what he looks like, or even when I’ll meet him, but I know that he’s there, and that I need to work on myself more before I meet him, even though I don’t know when, or how long it will take.

I’ve come to peace with the idea that I may not get the chance to have children, which I’ve been told is cynical for my age, but it’s not. In fact, it’s been incredibly helpful in taking the pressure off. If I’m meant to bear biological children, I will, if I am meant to pursue other options, I’ll feel the inclination intuitively to do that, if I am meant to make the world my child, as in contribute a non-human project to add to the multitude of human efforts to progress existence to a better place, I will. My contribution to the world, whether the product of my relationship with a man, or the product solely of my own heart, will be the product of love, with or without a romantic partner.

I hope my friend can find this peace within herself, as it’s the only way it can be found. Words are only words until we feel. I’m relieved I’ve tackled these uncomfortable questions by the young age of 23, and didn’t let the opinions of others stymie my coming to terms with the unknown. I have to work on maintaining my peace, it’s a project every day, but at least it’s intellectually available. Moving the peace to my heart takes work, but at least I have the means to try.

The flip-side of happiness is that happiness can only be achieved, it seems, when what is making one unhappy is addressed, completely acknowledged, felt and overcome with a change of mind and heart. If only it didn’t sound so simple.

 

Go Swing Dancing!

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Finally, Friday. After a gratifying day at work, I tepidly looked forward to an evening of swing dancing. When the time came, like most with a leaning towards introversion, it took some doing to jazz myself up for the evening, but once I had rolled up my white dress shirt’s sleeves, and tied the tails at the waist in a knot, I felt instantly sexy, and instantly ready to enjoy myself. All it took was a little retro glamour and some winged-tip eyeliner.

I arrived downtown early, and took some time to sit on a city bench on a bridge. The moon hung over the river, glowing white, and trickling down into the water. After placing myself in the present moment, I approached the theatre.

I tentatively stepped into a darkened foyer that led into a hall, dimly lit by a popcorn machine. Beyond the dark were double doors that led into another concert room. I looked for a way upstairs, as that was where I needed to be. I was directed to the end of the hallway, where I found a greeter in a bright red vintage uniform, and an elevator emblazoned with an Art Deco design, “1926.” I was told the password to get into the Speakeasy, and was sent to the third floor.

As if synchronized, the elevator opened and my jaw dropped. The reception to the speakeasy was glowing bright reds and golds, relics from the 1920s scattered lovingly on end tables, couches the femininely curvy aesthetic from a beautiful and tumultuous time, heavy port red curtains cascaded from high windows. As the uniformed staff, in glitzy flapper dresses and sharply cut velvet jackets welcomed me, I felt rude to be speechless in return. I apologized awkwardly, and was directed to my table.

The Rockabilly band had already started, and they were electric! The band was costumed in their 1950s and ’60s throwbacks, while the dance floor was a blend of eras, ages, and nationalities. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Awkward young ones new to swing, and new to courting, coo’d sweet ‘oopses’ to their partners, elderly couples letting completely loose, low kicks and twirls, bright smiles glowing with old memories and present happiness. Everyone was dressed up, some to the eights, and some to the nines! Some in hoop skirts, others in flapper dresses, and the men looked dapper in shirts and ties, some in vests, and even oxfords and winged-tip shoes.

I sipped on the signature Prohibition Red, one of my two required items with no cover charge to see the band– and what a sweet deal that was! Later I followed it with a classic dirty martini– don’t forget the bleu cheese stuffed olives.

Between dancing, I chatted with friends old and new, five fantastic people. We all have our unique crazy, we’re artists, and we accept each other, one of the most genuine acts of love. I danced with my girlfriends, my guyfriends, and new friends, laughing and tripping and spinning on the dancefloor.

A new friend I’ve made in the recent weeks reminded me the importance of forgetting the oppressive ‘how’ in dancing. Our first dance, I felt stiff, and afraid to disappoint him, he a born dancer. Afterwards, when I voiced my lack of proper steps he reassured me that proper steps were over-rated. Our next dance was the exact opposite, the gentle reminder to relinquish control all I needed to lighten my touch on his hands, and let him gently angle my wrist in the direction of a spin, the movements coming naturally to the beat of the music. I shook my hips and raised my arms above my head, like a scene from Dirty Dancing, barely able to withhold the same chutzpah in a public place.

This community of dancers more than welcomed us. With a deceptively young twinkle in his eye for a man in his fifties, one patron enthusiastically approached us saying, “You two were a joy to watch!” And, upon formal introduction, he inquired as to what dance we had been doing, “Was that the Jitterbug or the Lindy Hop?” We laughed, it was apparent we knew the basics, but tonight we had been overwhelmingly making it up as we went along. He smiled broadly, generously adding “Well you two are great! Hope to keep seeing you around!” As the night wore on, everyone in that Speakeasy was on the same page, the audience whooping and hollering decibels inspired by liquid and unified courage.

“God, I love humans,” I whispered as we sat at our table, sipping our reds. “Yeah?” He asked, seeming to already understand. I crescendoed, “I love them so much that I HATE them when they hurt each other.” He laughed, endeared at my passion. He nodded. Breathy, I sighed, “When I can’t dance anymore, I’m gonna be the old lady sitting in that corner, sipping my martini, enjoying everybody.”

Day 6: Coming Home to My Body

After the last couple days of feeling helpless to the whims of the Universe, I was ready to take back some control. I needed to feel empowered in some small, easily accessible, instantly gratifying way. I needed to ground myself, and get back in touch with my body: the most tangible present moment.

After two months of haphazardly maintaining an fitness routine, I finally started up again with a 35 minute workout incorporating weights and basic calisthenics. I turned up my acoustic pop tunes, and began with dead lifts, moving down a list of exercises for a full-body shake down. Literally. By the end I was shaking. And it felt so good. The late afternoon made no difference to my sleepy muscles, weakened from two months of neglect, who started to peak out from their hiding places, and yawn broadly with a quivering stretch. It’s a new day, Katrina. It’s time to take yourself back.

After my final rep, I limply dropped onto my yoga mat. When I’m at my most exhausted, it’s time to meditate. For assistance, I usually simply search “meditation music,” and get some recordings of chants, and light bells, and a deep sounding wind instrument combination that I’m told is Tibetan in some way. Today, I felt like something different. So I tried some American Indian meditation music, which I found aesthetically beautiful, but didn’t calm me, or help me relinquish my mind to let it wander. It occurred to me, I should try some meditation music from a culture I relate to on a personal level, not just an intellectually artistic one.

I’m half Greek, raised by a Greek “off the boat,” who grew up on an island, and emigrated here as a student. My mom was born in the USA, and is northern European, with little connection to any of the cultures she embodies, except for her love of folk music, based in Celtic traditions, which I’ve definitely inherited. In spite of being essentially raised Greek, I feel a kinship with my under-expressed ancestry in music, even deciding to learn the banjo at a considerably late age for learning music.

In knowing this, I realized that meditation, though famously Eastern Indian, is a concept that also transcends cultures. The concept is to free the mind, and then gain better control of it. It’s an exercise in self-awareness, self-acceptance, and a greater understanding of the world. From what I can tell, most of the spiritual traditions I’ve learned at least a smattering about, incorporate these ideals to an extent.

For the first time, it occurred to me to search for Celtic meditation music. The familiar bittersweet birdsong of the tin whistle, in tandem with cascading waterfall harps, and light drums soothed my skull. I laid in Savasana, a Sanskrit term also known as ‘corpse’ pose, my palms up, focusing on sinking into the floor, grounding myself. I felt my mind empty of its contents, like it was being poured gently from a basin into a stream.

I started to cry, a single tear rolling down my right cheek.

And I let myself cry, gently, a release of the last week. I intellectually had made sense of the events. But, neglecting to empty myself emotionally meant the pressure had surpassed the limits. The levee had to break.

As I breathed deeply, and small tears rolled down my face. I thought of his name, perhaps naively hoping I’d be able to see him, or hear him in my mind’s eye, and find out how he was doing. I couldn’t impose too much via text, unsure of how much he’d even want to talk to me anymore, but I needed reassurance he was indeed at home, like everyone hoped. Finally, I relinquished control, and went back to finding that open-minded peace.

Shortly thereafter, I rose from Savasana to join the living, and checked my phone. The alert glowed in the darkness of my room– a message from him. One I’d been hoping to receive for the last several hours, with reassurance. Maybe he heard me call him, or maybe just coincidence, either way I sat with my legs crossed and surrendered heavy tears onto the floor. Relief, acceptance, gratitude, and grief. I let it all go.

I arose feeling less confused, more at home in myself, and at peace. My mind needed to unify with my body in order to feel more bravely me. The mantra I see is often the trite Instagram triptych, “Mind, Body, & Soul,” but in spite of its overuse and tendency to underwhelm, today it made complete sense. We can’t have one without the others. As physical existence is comprised of Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire, so too are we incomplete without all of our elements. I’ll spend my life trying to unite them, the gains in the trying itself. I’ve come to terms with the truth that there is no one-size-fits-all “right way,” there’s only the individual’s “right way” to find the balance. Whether yoga in a brightly lit class, or taking a walk in nature, we all need to find unity within ourselves, to find the solidarity we have with the rest of humanity. Then forgiveness becomes easier, and hurts become easier to overcome. Love is the invaluable remainder.

This song makes more & more sense every time I’m drawn to it.

“Awake My Soul” by Mumford and Sons.

“How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know
My weakness I feel I must finally show

Lend me your hand and we’ll conquer them all
But lend me your heart and I’ll just let you fall
Lend me your eyes I can change what you see
But your soul you must keep, totally free
Har har, har har, har har, har har

Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know
My weakness I feel I must finally show
Har har, har har, har har, har har

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life
In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life

Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul
For you were made to meet your maker
Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul
For you were made to meet your maker
You were made to meet your maker”

Written by Benjamin Walter David Lovett, Edward James Milton Dwane, Marcus Oliver Johnstone Mumford, Winston Aubrey Aladar Marshall • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group
Source: https://play.google.com/music/preview/Tw7jb6m5w6dgkdw25hqxvjkio5y?lyrics=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=lyrics&pcampaignid=kp-lyrics

 

 

Be Honest with Myself & Find Peace

Today, my worry was soothed earlier than I had anticipated. I had reached out to my friend’s father on Facebook, and had his phone number at the ready, should my friend not get back to me by the morning. I wrote a brief message detailing my concern, and the freedom to withhold information, if he viewed my question as stepping into personal territory, in which he’d prefer no intruders. Fortunately, my friend’s father quelled my worry with updates, informing me my friend was optimistically on the mend, and he’d be released from the hospital shortly.

I was so relieved, I nearly cried, being at work the only force restraining me. I was able to nix one toxic emotion– fear. I knew he’d be alright. Shortly thereafter, my friend also texted me as I had asked him, to let me know he was tired, but better.

The next emotion has not been so easy to calm– guilt. All day I felt oppressively guilty for misjudging him. His dad had mentioned the difficulties of the last few days, implying this has been going on, indeed, for the time period in which my friend kept postponing our dates. He had been deliberately withholding the aggression of his symptoms, ironically to prevent worry.

I had to look inward for answers. How could I come to peace with my mistake? And, did this change how I felt about our budding relationship?

First, I analyzed out of what experiences my distrust had been born. That answer was easy: my baggage. But, my insight didn’t stop there: My baggage makes me more sensitive to feeling blown off, and I realized I now need more reassurance in a romantic relationship than I have needed in the past. I used to idolize the woman who needs no man, Mae West a prime example. That woman never got hurt, she was strong. Anything outside of that narrative would mean I was weak. But I’m not Mae West. I want an equal relationship, a partner with whom to be a dynamic duo, I want us to inspire each other, and to be there for each other, when the rest of the world makes no sense. And that means I can’t be Mae West. I have to learn a new kind of strength now, the strength to assert my needs in a relationship. I don’t need a man to be happy, or to change the world, but if I’m to have a relationship, it had better be a healthy one, in which neither ‘has the upper hand.’

In the past, I’ve dated men who would go days, plural, without talking to me, deluding myself into thinking ‘we’re both busy, we both have lives, I’m independent, I don’t want to weigh him down, this is good for me,’ only to be tossed aside when I was no longer convenient. I thought I could be that way still, but I can’t. This time around, the days we’d message each other, with no date night in sight, felt like romantic purgatory.

Every step of this relationship, I felt I had to watch my back, withhold real feelings for him, which were definitely starting to pick out furniture and test paint swatches on my heart. Every man I’ve dated, I’ve felt something real for, and he was no different. But, I couldn’t relinquish my power this time, I couldn’t bear to let him hurt me, because I don’t go back once I’m hurt, and I couldn’t lose him, even if that meant we could only be friends.

As soon as I saw the potential to be hurt again, I abandoned the relationship. He didn’t see me more than once a week, something in the past I’ve been okay with, but this time felt like not enough. He’d message me somewhat daily, but many days I found I was the first to send. He’d be late to dates consistently, even though I knew he shared a car with his brother, I couldn’t help but feel like less-than-important when tardiness was the shadow that loomed over the explanations of why he couldn’t arrive at all. Perhaps his excuses were to spare me from worry, I think they really were. But, excuses, even if true, when not the entire truth, make my head spin and wonder, the emotional scars left from others twitching like Potter-esque warnings.

I acted to protect my heart, something I’ve never done in the past. I’ve given my heart to too many people who didn’t deserve it. And I couldn’t give it over completely this time, even if perhaps this one did.

Romantically, I’m putting the onus on him to make his choice. We both knew this would likely be only temporary, but we would ‘see how it goes.’ I saw. I’ve had to re-evaluate.

My needs are different now.

I need a man who will make the plans he makes with me a true priority. I’ve fallen into the habit of waiting til the last minute to get ready, in case he cancels within the hour we are supposed to get together, with the hopes that if I don’t finish my hair or makeup within that time, I’ll be less bitter when he stands me up. This does not work.

I need a man who talks openly with me. My imagination is too powerful at times, and it will fill in the blanks of a story with images of several possible variations and outcomes, all of which logical, and likely worse than the reality of the situation.

I need a man who doesn’t just tell me I’m special, but acts in a way that make me know that I’m special. Pretty words don’t evoke any emotion in me anymore. I didn’t think I’d get to that point, jaded like the vixens in movies. But, I’ve been told pretty things ever since puberty finally worked itself out, and all those pretty things have ever gotten me has been excessive and lasting pain. Maybe I’ll date a man who doesn’t compliment me at all.

It’s not that I don’t trust people. I trust people too readily, and then fall too hard when I’m disappointed. I thought today I should do some kind of trust exercise with myself, but I’m not experiencing trust issues, or fears of commitment. The problem is far more simple than all that: I wasn’t honest enough with myself, and therefore not honest with him.

I was not open to my friend about my needs from the beginning, because I firmly felt he wouldn’t change to accommodate me, as none of them ever have. This was perhaps unfair, but not unwarranted. And truly, I wasn’t self-aware enough to realize my part in the sabotage of our happy ending, not even being fully aware of how my needs have changed. How could I assert them when I did not consciously acknowledge them for myself?

Today, happy meant finding peace with the events of the last two days. My peace is this: I know he was not lying to me, and he was likely trying to protect me from worry when he withheld more information (“the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” comes to mind).  I know that we are still friends, he still keeps me posted, knowing I’m genuinely concerned. I know that he’s got big life changes in front of him, changes that truly necessitate freedom. I know that I can’t really be a part of that freedom, because my needs are no longer as whimsical and easy-going as a younger me once had. I know myself better now. I need consistency that leads to commitment, because I no longer get butterflies in the beginning from excitement, I get indigestion from nervousness.

I need the comfortable stage. I need to know that when my significant other says he’ll be there for me. He. Will. Be. There. I cannot settle for any less. I know now that if I try to settle, I’ll inevitably sabotage whatever small successes we’ve achieved. It’s a priority I thought I could demote, but in fact just made it to #1.

We are still friends, and I’m immensely grateful. But the relationship stands where it does, for now. In friendship. I can’t give myself completely to anyone who cannot make my needs the priority that they must be. The love and loyalty that I give is more than worth the responsibility.

And though the future is fluid, and “life is ironic,” my needs come first next round, whether it be with him, or anyone else.

I’m Wrong & Worried Sick

An Update: I Was Wrong

The last day has been draining. After not hearing back from him in 24 hours, no reply to the answer to a question he had asked, I started to worry. I messaged him ironically, “It’s been 24 hours, please let me know you’re alive, and I’ll leave you be,” assuming he was sick of me.

Last night I found out he is indeed ill, and in the hospital even. I got woozy. I feel I should set the record straight. I don’t know what to think anymore… Were the two prior postponements due to feeling ill? Have the precedents set by other men before him ruined my ability to be objective? The one time I refrain from granting the benefit of the doubt, he turns out to be telling the truth.

I’m far more jaded than I realized, the hurt from the past deeper than I thought. I quickly judged a friend, who, in my defense, has withheld what’s been happening in his life from me in general, only adding to my lack of trust, but my judgement made in fear of another rejection weighed the most in mind, in spite of perhaps emotionally knowing better. My prior hurts the loudest voices in my brain.

Why did this time have to be different? I wish he was lying. Right now, I wish he was like all the others. Instead he’s sick, and I’m worried sick.

How did I choose to be happy today? Well, before I knew he was telling the truth, and the prognosis, I danced while no one was watching, releasing the emotional pain, and the stress from work. Disjointed movements, and pained gestures, lyrics to “Somebody Else” by the 1975, and “One” by Ed Sheeran both felt like painful fantasy, the fantasy that I meant more to the people who’ve left me than I know I do.

In spite of feeling like hell, I managed to feel a release. I let go, I stopped caring about what I looked like. I just moved with the music, my sweat a cleanse of toxic emotions.

The evening took a turn upon the news. I’m still in shock. I’m still worried. I don’t really know how I’ll choose happy tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow will have to be measured distress. I’ll try to stay calm. I don’t think I’m capable of more.