Monday, January 2, 2017

Tearing Down the Wall

It's easy to say that 2016 was a lousy year.  So many famous people died.  There seemed to be no end to tragedies in the world.  People everywhere seemed to be so angry and full of hate. And personally, I struggled in a way that made it difficult for me to focus on anything outside of my own head for a lot of the year.

I entered 2016 feeling pretty sure of myself, cocky even.  I had been on my own for a few years and I was totally happy with who I was.  I felt secure.  I felt complete.  I joked about my own reckless independence, about how great it was to not need anyone for anything.  Never tempt the gods.

One day, I woke up and decided that I was ready to start dating again. I reached out, just a little. It felt so simple, so casual, so meaningless.  I was perfectly good on my own, so what harm could it do to invite someone into my life?

Somehow...somehow this one simple decision opened up a crack in a wall that I didn't even know existed.  A wall so big that I had mistaken it for the horizon.

So...other things happened in there.  I lost a bunch of weight and went from a size 18 to an 8.  I finally took up hiking, which is my new love and which I had wanted to do for years. Built myself a cool waterfall in my back yard, as well as a stone wall.  I even traveled to Iceland, all by myself.

Almost everything I did was all by myself.

Always...

And it was starting to weigh on me.  There is an unbearable weight to emptiness.  To loneliness. It is soul crushing to accomplish the things you want most in the world and not have someone beside you...that right someone who will smile at you in a way that lets you know that they get you, they see right through you to your very core.

I have friends, the absolute best friends anyone could ever ask for, and I love each and every one of them and could not have made it this far in life without them.  I am grateful for everything they have done for me, for every time they have listened to me, every time they have been here to pick up the pieces of me...but I think they will understand this need that they could not fill.  This void that no one could fill.

So yeah, I started taking some chances.  I started looking around and talking to guys and flirting, even.  I had some false starts, some practice runs...and then I finally dove in.

I have to admit that the experience has been terrifying and eye opening.

All of the fears that I thought I had gotten past in life came back, bigger than I remembered.  All of the self doubt and second guessing that I thought was behind me was suddenly surrounding me.  The gods heard me laugh, and they exposed my weakness.

I need to care about someone outside of myself.

Simple, right?  But for me, terrifying. Fucking terrifying.

I don't give up control easily. I don't like to let anyone else have control over me. But caring about another human being...that automatically gives them control, which makes me a basket case.

This whole thing...taking a chance on caring about someone...it's a high wire act.  When I started walking the rope it seemed scary, but I thought that once I got moving it would be all right.  Instead, what I've found is that when you get out toward the middle the rope bounces every time the wind blows, and I'm out here without a net.  Part of me wants to turn and run back to safety, but then that stubborn streak of mine kicks in and pushes me forward.  To hell with safety. What good is life if you don't take chances?

I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I don't know if it will be happiness or heartbreak. Either way, there is a hole in the wall...that wall I didn't know existed.  The wall is crumbling in a way that makes me think I will never be able to repair it or rebuild it.  I am coming out of 2016 a different person than I was when I went in. and I'm still not entirely sure of who this new person is.

I'm hoping 2017 will teach me easier lessons, like maybe mastering the ability to sleep in a bed beside another human being, or playing guitar.  Right now, all I really want is to sit on the couch next to a guy whose smile makes me happy and not talk about anything important, to lay my head on his chest and listen to him breathe...and just breathe beside him.  Because in those moments life is good. I forget all my fears and feel a little bit of peace.  So, all you gods, if you're listening...give a girl a break.  Just let me breathe here for a while. With any luck, I won't even notice that wall turning to rubble all around me.




Sunday, November 13, 2016

Chum

You know how it is when sharks smell blood in the water?  How they circle?  How they fight each other, growing ever more frenzied trying to get a bite of something good?  When you want to attract sharks, you chum the waters, tossing bloody bait out to bring them in.

Friday night, I was the chum.

I wear my heart on my sleeve.  Sometimes, this is a problem.  Still, I choose to put myself out there, to share my feelings with all of you.  Anyone who wants to look can see me.

So Friday was a rough day for me.  I was nothing but a raw nerve, unable to even make much of an effort to get myself together, and I put it out there for all the world to see, as I do so often, right or wrong.

My plan was just to go out, get drunk, and feel sorry for myself for a few hours.  I think I'm entitled to do that every now and then.  I didn't bother putting on makeup or doing my hair.  I wore jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt.  My eyes were red and puffy.  Basically, I was a hot mess.

At the bar, I hung out with my friends and I drank...a lot.  Trying to maintain a level of drunkenness that kept me from thinking too much.  All I wanted was to drink and dance and go home and pass out.

But somehow, I ended up in a shark tank.

I had put it on Facebook, that a relationship that had barely begun had come to an abrupt end due to some unusual circumstances.  I'm not going to elaborate on that part because it's not my story to tell, but I will say that the guy I was seeing is a good person and I don't fault him one bit.  Quite the opposite, actually.  Which doesn't make it any easier to let go.  I have no righteous anger to deflect the pain.  Just a sense of having lost something that had potential to be really good.

This, apparently, was blood in the water.

I started getting texts and Facebook messages.  Some from friends offering support...others from people masquerading as friends.

If you're not sure which category you fall in, ask yourself if you followed up your sympathy with an attempt to hit on me. 

Yup, apparently there are people out there who see someone in a vulnerable state and think, "Maybe I've got a shot while she's feeling really low". 

At the bar, I repeatedly told one guy that all I wanted was to drink and dance, but he just wouldn't quit.  I enlisted the help of a friend of the guy I had been seeing to get rid of him, too exhausted to deal with him myself at that point.

The "friend" did help me in that respect, but then things took an odd turn.

He asked what the guy I had been seeing had said to me, what he told me, fishing for information.  I told him that he was one of the few people I shouldn't have to explain the situation to and said no more.  I did, however, burst into tears right there on the dance floor.

More blood in the water.

This guy...he actually sat me down at the bar and wiped away my tears and then started trying to get me to take him home, promising me that he would just hold me and be there for me, then offering some very specific sexual favors.  He told me he wanted my number so he could call and check up on me.

I told him I would give it to him, but I never did.  I sat there and I drank and I listened to him for far too long.  I was so lost in that moment, wishing for real comfort and finding only this.  This...disgusting attempt at leveraging my heartache to try to score.

He actually mentioned seeing me at his friend's house the week before.  I wish I could remember everything he said, but I was so very drunk at that point in time and what I do remember is disturbing enough.

There are not enough hot showers in the world to get that kind of ick off.

In the end, I ran out of the bar, literally ran out the door, tossing on my coat as I went.  I kept looking over my shoulder as I walked home, afraid someone would follow me.  Afraid that there was too much blood in the water and the sharks would move in for the kill.

But I made it home safely.  I locked my door and had a good cry before drifting off to sleep.  I hate that feeling of being hunted.  I know too well the terror of the prey as the pack closes in.

I may have been chum, but anyone who makes another human being feel that way is scum.







Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I'm a Lover, Not a Fighter

I answered my phone today only to find a very angry woman on the other end of the line.  She told me that she had found my number in her "man's" phone, and wanted to know what I was doing with her man and how long it had been going on. 

I was at a bit of a loss.  I've met a few new people recently and I have no idea which one of them she might be referring to.  I tried to ask, but she cut me off, "I'm not finished!" she shouted at me.  I ended up hanging up on her since she didn't seem interested in getting any answers to her questions.

Later, I tried to call her back but she didn't answer.  I left her a message letting her know that if she would just tell me "her man's" name I would be happy to not have anything to do with him since the last thing I want to do is to get involved with someone who is already in a relationship with someone else.  I don't need that kind of drama.

This is not the first time this has happened to me.

The last time was probably twenty years ago, when a friend of mine decided to pass my phone number on to a guy friend of hers without asking my permission.  He never called, but his wife did.  That was weird, since I didn't even figure out how some random guy had my phone number until later and had no idea what she was talking about when she called.

The first time something like this happened...well, that time I deserved it. 

I was sixteen years old and dating a guy who was almost twice my age.  I knew he was engaged.  I didn't care.  In my defense, I was sixteen years old and just coming out of a horrible, abusive relationship.  This guy was nice to me, and that's really all I cared about at the time.

And then, she showed up at my apartment.  Imagine being a sixteen year old jackass and suddenly finding yourself trying to console a thirty year old woman in a fake fur jacket with blue mascara running down her cheeks as she asks, "Why are you doing this to me?"

Honestly, I had no good answer.  I didn't even care that much.  All I could think about was getting this sobbing woman out of my house before my father got home and I was forced to come up with some plausible excuse for what was going on.

Somehow, I did get her out, and soon thereafter I ended the relationship.  I decided then and there that I would never get involved in that kind of mess again.

I don't have any interest in fighting over any guy.  If he wants to be with me, he should be with me.  If he wants to be with someone else, he should go.  If we've decided we're going to see other people, everyone involved should know exactly where they stand.  No mystery.  No drama.  No bullshit. 

This whole dating thing is pretty new to me at this stage.  I'm trying to be as open and honest as I possibly can.  If anything, I think I err on the side of providing too much information right now, but that's okay.  If I make mistakes, it's probably going to be in assuming that the guys I'm talking to are being as honest with me as I am with them.  I don't feel a bit guilty over a lie that someone else told me.  All I want is to put some distance between myself and the person who would do that.

Unfortunately, the woman calling me a bitch on the phone today refused to tell me the guy's name, which does make it difficult for me to ensure that I'm leaving him alone.  But, I don't want to fight over anyone and if I find out who it is, she's welcome to him...not that I understand why she would want a guy she thinks is lying to her and cheating on her.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Hard to Keep

Many years ago...many, many years ago...a guy named Dick said to me, "I get it now.  You're not hard to get.  You're hard to keep.  Hard to earn."  Those words resonated with me.  I don't think that anyone in a position to know has ever said anything as true about me. 

I'm not hard to get.  I don't feel the need to play games or make someone jump through hoops for a chance with me.  If I find something to like about you, you have a chance.  The thing is, it's just as easy to blow that chance as it was to get it.

I'll put up with a little bit of bullshit at the beginning.  I'll make allowances.  Tell myself a story to make you come out looking better than you should.

But it's not long before I hit the point where I prefer to just cut my losses and walk away.

I asked my dad recently, "What's wrong with guys?" and he said, "They're just trying to get in your pants".  "But they're so bad at it," I replied.

Most guys blow it within minutes.  They can't seem to help saying or doing something stupid.  One guy actually said to me, "You look like you give good blow jobs".  "Funny, so do you", I said.  What did he expect for a response?  Really???

So anyway, here I am, trying to give someone a chance.  He made it a short distance without blowing it, but he's probably on the verge of goodbye already.  Which is okay.  I may as well put a stop to it before I have anything invested emotionally. The thing is that it's the emotional investment I actually crave. I want someone to show me that they're worth the effort.

I'm just no damn good at playing games.  And I'm definitely not into waiting for a guy to get good and ready to make a move.  I say what's on my mind.  I go after what I want.  I want someone equally honest and open and willing to take a chance.  Maybe some guys are intimidated by that?  I don't know.

All  I know is that I've been single for a long time now, and I'm ready to try.  I'm ready to put myself out there, to get rejected, to screw up and even to fall for the wrong guy.  I'm ready to get my heart broken, and even to take a chance on hurting someone else's feelings.  It's all part of the territory.

Ultimately, I want to find someone else to love. Someone else who will love me.  Someone who will understand that I'm not hard to get, but that I'm worth the effort to keep.  Someone who will put themselves out there and let me know that they're thinking about me.  Someone who can keep up with me intellectually as well as physically.

I want to find someone I like as much as I like myself.  And I don't think there's anything wrong with that.  It just may take a while to find.

In the meantime, I'll probably kiss some frogs. That's okay, too.  I toad you that I wasn't hard to get.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Invisible Man

I trace your jawline with my fingertips
Read the topography of your smile as I reach your mouth
I imagine the crinkling at the corners of your eyes
Though I cannot see you
It is pitch black in this room where we meet
But I can feel you
I know you

Sometimes you're gone away from me for so long that I wonder if you're ever coming back
Some nights I lie awake waiting for you to come to me
And then I feel a breeze stir the curtains
Hear a soft step approaching the bed
And I know you've come back to me
I open my arms, open my heart
It doesn't matter where you've been

Other nights fear enters my room like a lover
Her icy fingers trace my spine
And murmur in my ear that you will never return to me
That you are hers now
I try to shut her out, curling in toward myself
If you want me, I'm yours
I roll over and tell her that I don't care
If you don't want me, I will cease to want you
I cannot be ruled by fear

And when fear has gone her way I find myself entertaining hope
We drink a toast together in the dark and dream of what might be
We giggle like children, drunk on future happiness
She tells me you may be there even in the light
That you could be mere inches from me and I wouldn't know your face
She tells me you'll be back
And that you're worth the wait
But eventually I turn my back on her, too
I cannot subsist on hope alone

The emptiness is full of these demons that keep me company in the black of night
Until I hear that familiar step approaching
And they scatter like birds as I open my arms to you once again
Each time knowing
As long as you come back to me I will welcome you
To trace your features in the dark
To feel your smile pressed against my lips
To imagine what it might be like to look into your eyes
And to know that you are real and you are here
And not just a dream that returns to haunt me like the ghost of love night after night

But for now, this is all I have
And so I make it all I need
And I make the darkness stretch across the light
Even as I curse the sun for rising
Staring wide eyed at the dawn, hoping to catch just a glimpse of you, my love
Before you turn to smoke and drift away from me once more

Monday, August 8, 2016

Down a Dark Mountain

I've been wanting to get some nice sunset photos, and it seemed to me that the best vantage point would be the top of a mountain.  The only problem is that if you stay at the summit for the sunset, you have to hike down in the dark.



I'm not the most experienced hiker.  I've only been at this for a short time. So, I did what I do and consulted the internet.  Article after article said that you should never ever hike alone at night, that it wasn't smart or safe to go alone, especially if you're not an experienced hiker.

The articles stressed that this should only ever be done in good weather, on mountains you were super familiar with.

So, I told a few people what I was up to, and proceeded to climb Sleeping Beauty to take pictures of the sunset.  Alone.


It was a beautiful night, although there was a bit more cloud cover than I would have desired.  The clouds can make for more dramatic photos, but when there are too many, it just obscures most of the sunset, which is what eventually happened.  Before then, though, I managed to get a few pictures I was happy with.

There was a large group of hikers on the summit, obviously also there to watch the setting sun.  I could have hiked down with their group for safety, but by then I had set my mind on doing it alone.


So, once the sun set, I waited.  And once all the other hikers had gone, I waited.  I gave it about ten or fifteen minutes, just to be sure I wouldn't run into them on the way down.


The clouds had all but completely covered the sky and the second I started down the trail, it began to rain.  What could I do at that point but be glad my hiking boots were waterproof?  I turned on my headlamp and continued on.

At first I stumbled a few times, unused to judging the uneven ground in the beam of the headlamp, but after a few minutes I grew more sure of myself and had little trouble navigating.  I actually found that it was easier to see the trail markers in the dark as they reflected my light back to me. 

Once, I snagged my shoe lace on a tree stump as I took a step down and nearly fell, but I hopped around on one foot until I got free.  The rest really was smooth sailing.  I heard the other hikers up ahead calling someone's name once, but otherwise didn't see or hear anyone until I got to the end of the trail.  It didn't rain hard, just enough to make the trail squelchy in spots, and the dark trail and feeling of being utterly alone in the forest at night lent me some great ideas for a horror movie.

Before I knew it, I could see the lights of the group that had left before me gathered at the end of the trail just up ahead.  I had successfully completed my first night hike alone on a cloudy, rainy night. 

I can't wait to do it again!