I seem to have more than my fair share of ailing and failing friendships, and it has me a little bit concerned. In the course of my life, I have let some friendships wane out of a too-busy life and I have allowed some to fade because of disagreements and hurts. The worst of these happened a few years ago between me and a dear friend of more than a decade. The worst part about it was that during the year that we stopped speaking, she developed cancer and died before I could apologize or mend fences. I refuse to ever let that happen again.
Some friendships can take a heavy blow and bounce back because both parties are willing to be vulnerable and communicate their hurts. Others, get stuck and never recover. I think that when friends fall out of our lives, it is ultimately because a shift occurs and the friendship is no longer serving both parties. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it is just a thing that happens and it hurts. That person often becomes the “someone I used to know” that Gotye sings about. Of course, he is singing about a lover, but the message is basically the same.
I recently fell out with two different friends, one male and one female, for vastly different reasons. Maybe I am just too hard on the people I call my friends. I insist that they have integrity, are truthful and that they walk their talk. In my opinion, a true friend is one that will call you out on your shit and wants you to do the same for them. That, to me, is the greatest gift we can give our friends.
There’s only one problem with this scenario; the truth looks different depending on one’s perspective. Sometimes we just have to decide if we are willing to take all the blame for something or if we are going to stand up for our beliefs and toe the line. I am a big fan of standing up for my beliefs and for my worth, though it’s a belated gift that I am finally giving myself.
For the longest time, I had a hard time finding my voice. It was like my throat chakra was in a knot. I would let people take me for granted. I would allow them to treat me with disrespect, and I would keep my mouth shut out of fear of losing them. Then one day, I woke up and realized the disservice I was doing to my Self. That pesky fear of abandonment finally lost its grip and I am forever changed because of it.
Friendships end. That is life and it is an inevitable part of being human. There doesn’t have to be any judgement about it. There doesn’t have to be any blame. For all the friends I have lost during my life, I have also managed to save a few. I have made amends and been willing to communicate and heal the hurts and miscommunications, but only because the other person was also willing. For those friendships, I am even more grateful because they are a mirror of hope and self-worth, and that seems to be the bigger theme that is occurring in my life these days.
For my birthday, a friend did a spiritual reading on me and said that I needed to journal daily that “I am worthy.” She also suggested that I say it while I stare at myself in the mirror. I thought it was strange at first, but I did it anyway. After a few tries, I was able to add a little more to the sentence. “I am worthy of love.” “I am worthy of success.” “I am worthy of a faithful partner.” “I am worthy of abundance.” I am worthy of being seen, of being heard, of happiness, peace, wholeness, stability, great friends . . . . well, you get the idea.
The words “I am” create a complete sentence, and they are the most powerful words we can say. They are magic and anything that we add to them becomes a mantra that anchors and creates the life that we want and deserve. If you don’t believe me, try it. Just remember, using “I am” to judge and knock yourself down is just as powerful so it’s important to be mindful. You can just as easily create a life that you don’t want if you use this phrase without proper intention.
When my son was little, we had a favorite book called Unloveable by Dan Yaccarino. It was about this little dog who thought he was unloveable because the cat, the fish and the bird told him so. Then one day, he met a new friend who reminded him that he was absolutely lovable. Find those friends. They are the ones worth fighting for, and they will be the ones who remind you that you are absolutely lovable and worthy no matter what.
For starters, dating apps have absolutely taken over. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “Swipe left or swipe right”, you can thank a dating app for that. For anyone who hasn’t had the “opportunity” to date through a dating app, prepare yourself, because it is not for the weak, and most definitely requires a thick skin. I’ve been dating off and on since my divorce, and I can say that online dating and/or dating apps has evolved, a little. However, it has also devolved.
I have tried a few different dating apps in the past year, and the thing I have noticed is that meeting potential dates and mates this way feels like a job interview with one purpose and one purpose only, to determine your desire to have a meaningless and untethered sexual encounter . . . preferably on the first date.
The vast majority of men I’ve met on dating sites have one thing in common; they are looking for a low-investment connection. Trust me, you haven’t lived until a guy tells you he is looking for this type of connection. I remember when I first heard a guy say something like this to me. We were at a cute little speakeasy, standing at the bar when he leans in, and asks, “So what are you looking for?” I had literally known this person for two hours, tops, so I really wasn’t sure how to answer that question. He helped steer me through it by telling me that he had just ended a nine month relationship and wasn’t looking for anything serious. Ding! A light bulb suddenly went off as I realized what he was really asking.
In my head I did a flashback to his profile that said he was looking for an adventure and travel partner who lives life deep, but loves to laugh, is into keeping it real while having a good time. He also mentioned that he was spiritual and interested in the metaphysical. That was the thing that made him stand out to me. I rarely meet men who have an interest in this topic which is very close to my heart. Something wasn’t lining up. Turns out, either he hadn’t updated his preferences lately, or he was lying about what he was seeking. Hold that thought.
We later made plans to celebrate my 50th birthday doing something totally cool and new which I had decided was the theme for the upcoming year, but a conversation we had in between those plans almost derailed things as I admitted that while I wasn’t looking for a serious relationship at the moment, I also don’t like to carelessly hook up and have random sex with men that I have just met. In order to save face, he did his part and made sure I had a fun birthday experience, but he disappeared, as I knew he would, because he was really only there for the sex.
If I am going to spend time picking out a cute outfit and making myself look as if I just nonchalantly woke up this way without any effort, than believe me, it will take some effort! If I go to all that effort, it means I care and want to make a good impression because something about the guy’s profile made me want to know him outside of the virtual world. Call me old-fashioned, but I can promise that if we meet in person, it isn’t because I just want to fuck. It appears however, that I am in the minority on this one.
Take for example, a guy I met on a dating app whom we will call the, “I’m Super Motivated to Date You Guy”; and before you ask, yes, he really said that. This guy went from zero to 60 in less than 24 hours. Here’s his strategy. First, he stalked my Facebook page and tried to emulate things he thought mattered to me. Once he realized that wasn’t working, he decided on a new strategy. He begged me to give him my number and message outside of the dating app, and it went downhill from there. Here’s a sample of one of our texted conversations:
Him: I’d also like to hang out with you on a regular basis.
Me: I’d like to meet you to see how compatible we are in person.
Him: Or we can just talk on the phone prior. That whole compatible thing, im gunna need you to work with me on that. Honestly I prefer older women for this very reason. (spelling and punctuation his)
Me: (in my head . . and what reason is that? ) I’d like to hear your voice so talking on the phone ahead of meeting would be nice. (I have a thing for voices, the deeper and sexier, the better)
Him: Anytime babe (in my head: So I’m your babe now am I? Phfff!)
A few texts later, and by later, I mean a few minutes; I get this doozie:
Him: I may even insist on a commitment beyond one date.
Me: Wait, What?! You barely know me. . . .
Him: I know you pretty well, its mostly documented on FB and this conversation.
(Me, in my head: Hahahahahaha!) Well again, how about we meet before we start making too many plans for the future . . .
Him: Oh im already sold.
(Me, in my head: well, I’m not). Yeah, I’m a little more cautious with my heart.
As if all of this wasn’t enough to ignite a major red flag, I kept playing along. Honestly, by this point, I just really wanted to see what the hell he was going to say next. And he did not disappoint! Within minutes, he managed to bring up sex, but first he made sure to soften it by mentioning that he was only looking for a monogamous partner. That appealed to me, but then he launched into this dialogue:
Him: I do like to have a fair amount of sex, fair warning. Again, not my primary thing, just something I figured id mention. (He went on to mention it 3 more times that night)
Me: (in my head, WTF?!)
It was about to get really interesting, and this ladies, is your on-line dating public service announcement . . .
Him: I’m toying with idea of committing early on to like a 2 month commitment, that way sex early on won’t wreck it.
Me: Wait, what? (Me, in my head, OMG is this guy for real?!)
Him: Right so if i commit for 2 months you don’t get hurt, we can grow into the relationship and have sex while doing it. Its genius really.
(It’s like watching a train crash in slow motion . . . but I just can’t help myself, I’ve got to see how crazy this guy truly is)
Me: And what happens after two months?
Him: So after 2 months we keep building the relationship. if not well we’ll both of had a lot of fun, no regrets. I’ve cleared the next 8 weekends for you.
Me: literally speechless
A few texts later, he was feeling pretty confident that I had just bought his entire line of bullshit so he lobs one out into the stratosphere . . .
Him: Night baby. You should just swing by tonight, thatd be baller.
And that ladies, is how a narcissistic predator sounds when he is trying to “date” you. I shared this particular encounter because it was the most absurd and over the top version of what dating via phone apps has become.
I am also sharing this because I have to admit, even though my defenses were cued up and I was immediately suspicious of this guy’s game, a part of me started to get sucked into the vortex of it all. It was that quick. Seriously, as soon as he started talking about sex, the boundaries started melting because I mean, sex is nice when it has some intimacy and emotion mixed in with a nice orgasm. And talking about that via text makes us drop our inhibitions because it doesn’t seem real. It’s like talking to one of your girlfriends, and then you realize that you AREN’T talking to one of your girlfriends and it’s like ummmmmm, who is this again?
It suddenly makes perfect sense why guys so often lose interest if we don’t immediately give out our number. I have lost count of the number of men who deleted me when I refused to give them my number after they said “hi”. That’s how you know what they are all about. Is it too much to ask to meet for a coffee or a fancy water before I let you start blowing up my phone with inappropriate questions? Or worse, dick pics?!
So how did dating become such a field of virtual landmines? I think it started with an app designed to locate a person you’ve just met online so that you can “hook up” for a quickie. When this happened, the world of dating started to devolve. The other factor that makes dating today more difficult than ever is age. I was 49 going on 50 when I started dating here in Colorado, and let me tell you, nobody is dating in their age group.
My first Colorado date was in July 2018, and I finally took a break in March of 2019. In the space of 9 months, I went on 22 dates with 16 different men and their ages ranged from 25 years (don’t judge!) to 51 years old. Obviously, based on those numbers, a few of these men warranted more than one date; very few. Out of all of them, only one has become a friend, and that says a lot about him and his character.
One of the things that I noticed and cannot deny is that all of these men were mirroring a blatant truth back to me. I am not ready to be in a serious relationship right now, just as they aren’t. I am enjoying the hell out of my life, and for me, being in a serious relationship just feels like a trap full of compromise, topped with compromise. Not too long ago, I was in a 4-year relationship that was nothing but compromise on my part. I think I still have a little PTSD from that experience.
At this point in my life, I am not looking to marry anyone, but I do want the opportunity to get to know them, go on a hike, see a movie, talk, walk around Pearl Street, experience something new together, and hold the space for something to potentially develop. I think people have forgotten how dating used to be. It wasn’t always like this. It used to be exciting to just talk to each other and take things slowish. That little flip that your stomach would do when he called, or you saw him and smelled his cologne, the sparks that would fly when you held hands or kissed for the first time; I miss that.
As much as I would like to tell you that the example from above was the only weirdo I’ve had to deal with over the past several months, I have much more hilarium to share.
Next, is a guy I nicknamed GQ, or Fifty Shades of No Thank You, because quite honestly his photos looked like they were straight out of Vogue. So when we matched up and did some texting, I was thrilled when he asked me out. I mentioned that I was craving some Tex-Mex, so he invited me out to Chuy’s, one of my favorites.
We had a great conversation; he was very charismatic and just as good-looking in person as online, (not always the case). After he walked me to my car, he turned away with his hands in his pockets, and mumbled something over his shoulder about how we should do it again sometime. Well, I’m no psychic, but with body language like that, I figured I’d never see him again. Turns out the Universe heard my frustration, and we matched up a second time. That is when I finally discovered the real reason that he hadn’t called for a second date.
We were texting a little about Halloween and such when he messaged me with this little shocker:
Him: So, you do know that I am a Dominant right?
Me: (in my head . . and how would I know that?) Are you talking about 50 Shades of Grey dominant?
Him: That’s the one doll. (Me: I hate it when men patronize me with names like doll. I’ll show you doll, asshole!)
Me: (momentarily speechless) Alright, well, I actually hated that book and couldn’t even finish it but . . . out of curiosity, how long have you been into this dominant/submissive thing? Do you get a lot of positive feedback? (The journalism student in me suddenly came to life).
Him: A long time. And it’s hit or miss. Some are into it and some not. I consider it a filter.
Me: (in my head: Funny, I’m using this conversation as a filter) Um, probably gained some traction with the books and movies . . . I just take issue with being required to give up control. Is it about one night stands or mutual pleasure?
Him: Not a one night stand. It’s about pleasure through giving up control.
Me: Yeah, I can see how that works for one person, but you’re not giving up any control; you’re taking it.
Needless to say, I never saw him again.
I’d like to point out that I did not start dating again in order to gather evidence of the weirdness out there in the dating world, that just happened. I started dating again because I was tired of spending all my time alone and curious to see if guys in Colorado are different than the ones I dated in Texas. (They are).
I would also like to say that I am grateful for all the men that I met during the past 9 months. Even though a vast majority of them were only there for the sex, they were men I never would have met otherwise. I had some good conversations, discovered some cool new restaurants, and felt that flutter in my belly when I saw a few of them and smelled their cologne. I also learned a lot about myself and my needs right now.
I guess what I am saying is that if both parties are only there for the sex, that’s one thing, but don’t ask me out and pretend that you care, only to instantly lose interest when we do have sex. That’s just rude, even if you do apologize for it later.
Dating is not a complete waste of time, but it is something that requires intention and mindfulness. If you are brave enough to dive in, I applaud you! I hope that you meet a kindred spirit and have some fun together. Whether that fun involves a sexual connection only, or something deeper is totally up to you. Just be prepared and know that dating has changed, and not necessarily for the better. Knowledge is power and is a requirement today more than ever, as we try to understand ourselves through the process of dating.
Today was one of those bittersweet kind of days. It was the final class with some of my most dedicated and adventurous yoga students, at a location that was one of my very first yoga employers. I’ve been with this company longer than I was even married! It was bittersweet because I recently decided to give up the financially unstable environment of teaching yoga as my main job, to working full time for someone else, and teaching yoga a lot less. I start tomorrow.
The thing that no one tells you about yoga is how much you will grow to love it, and how often the people that you see in your classes will become some of your best friends. I’m not sure why yoga has this effect on us. I think it has something to do with the fact that it takes you to a previously un-investigated place within yourself, and pulls that to the surface. The fears that used to rule your every thought, word and deed are replaced with confidence and acceptance within yourself.
In yoga, all of our credentials are removed. If you are a doctor or a literary PhD, it does not matter one bit. If you’ve never been married, or if you have been divorced four times, no-one will know that. In a yoga class, you are just a person in workout clothes, probably no makeup, and you are at your most vulnerable. I think that is it. That is where the playing field gets leveled. When you walk into a yoga class, you have the potential to become emotionally exposed. It can be raw, and it can be life-changing.
A few students took me out to lunch after this class today, and although I promised myself I would not cry, and I even went out on a limb and wore non-waterproof mascara, it was inevitable. One student brought her five year old little girl with her. She came up to me with a little rose that she picked and thanked me for teaching her Mom yoga. (Sniff) Another student told me how many times she had cried in class, and how much she had grown and learned about herself and her practice. She said, “even if you don’t realize it, you have changed a lot of people’s lives.” That was it, I just sobbed.
I remember when I was a little girl, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. Well that’s not true. When I was really little, I wanted to collect all the animals that had been run over, and were dying on the side of the road, and try to save them. When I grew up a little and realized how impossible that dream was, I expanded it to include people. I just wanted to “help” people. It was like that little mantra was planted into my head at birth. So that is what I do. It doesn’t matter if it is with words, poems, feng shui, yoga, gardening or some other action. All of the things that light me up are the way that I try to help people light themselves up. I just want to remind them in some way how truly Divine they are, and to help them go out and share that with the world.
So to all of my students, past, present and future, thank you for helping me to live my passion, and to share it with you. The Divine in Me Bows, to the Divine in You ~ Namaste!
“The fact is that there is nothing more beautiful, more worthy or more conscious than you.” ~ Yogi Bhajan
I just went through a big breakup. I ended a relationship that lasted just shy of four years, and actually, thanks to Facebook, seemed much happier and whole than it truly was. It was a relationship that was slowly bleeding out, dying from a thousand tiny cuts that couldn’t be patched. Ending that relationship was easier than I think it would be to breakup with the ever-charismatic Facebook, and it wasn’t truly easy.
My relationship with Facebook has been rocking steady since 2008. My “friends” total has climbed to 500+, although I’d guess that the real number of my true friends is barely a fraction of that. I’ve tried breaking up with Facebook in the past, but as with all addictions, the seduction of losing myself in its posts drags me back. There is something strangely hypnotic about scrolling and searching for some part of myself among the postings. When I see some meme or a quote that really resonates with me, I feel seen, known and understood all at once.
Getting back to relationships though, I remember when my recently-ended relationship first began, and how important it was to me to be able to share it with my Facebook family of friends. It was after all, my first legit, and mutually monogamous relationship since my 2002 divorce, and my only one since joining the social networking giant in 2008. I wanted very much to be seen as whole and complete, and this included being publicly acknowledged on Facebook, by my new guy as his new girl.
The danger of Facebook is the temptation to gloss over all that is wrong or incomplete in our real-life relationships and focus only on the photo opportunities that are full of happy, smiling faces. There were no pictures of the moments where love and affection was withheld, and requests for time together were dismissed, ignored or suppressed with anger, hostility and passive aggression. I knew the end was near when a colleague recently hugged me and gushed about how happy I always look in the photos that I posted of me and my guy. It stopped me in my tracks because I realized that I wasn’t happy at all. I was wagging the dog by creating an illusion that was not accurate.
Yes, there had been moments of love, moments of tenderness and affection unlike any I’d ever experienced before, and that is why it took so long for me to realize that even though I loved him, I was not happy. My needs were not being met, and no amount of communication seemed to make a lasting difference. I finally admitted to myself and to him that I wanted more than he was willing to give. I wanted a life of togetherness, a life of blending our families and growing old together. I wanted someone to wake up to and grow old with. I wanted to heal the dysfunctional habits of my family of origin, and I wanted him to do the same.
If you’ve ever tried to “break-up” with Facebook, I can assure you, it isn’t easy. You will be asked more than once, “Are you sure you want to leave Facebook?” What they don’t tell you is that they are so sure that you will doubt yourself and have second thoughts, that they will make it very easy for you to re-activate your account whenever you are ready. It’s not uncommon at this point to start doubting yourself. Do I really want to leave? Do I want to end this? Do I have the strength to let go completely? It’s like Facebook is “gaslighting” us!
And so it went in my life, as I asked myself the same questions of my own fraudulent relationship. Do I have the strength to let him go? Do I trust my own mind, my own heart? As Facebook continues to ask if am I sure, I ask it myself, and just like with Facebook, I doubt myself. Somewhere along the way, I stopped trusting myself, and I also stopped valuing myself and my needs. I got lost in perpetuating the illusion of my perfect relationship. I convinced myself that things were okay with us because my audience believed it, so why didn’t I?
I know people who jump off of Facebook when they end a long-term relationship. It’s as if the shame of admitting to everyone that their relationship wasn’t as bullet-proof as they thought it was is just too much for them to bear. Some people are very subtle and just disappear for awhile. Other people are very public about it and announce it to everyone, as if we didn’t already notice. I fall somewhere in between these two extremes. I didn’t disappear, but I waited a few weeks before I told my close friends and family. I changed my relationship status privately, and then I let my friends see it. Then I started writing. That is where the healing truly began for me. I realized that I would have to expose myself and my failure in order to heal.
Ultimately, I was able to say goodbye to the illusion of my seemingly perfect relationship. It has been difficult, and sad mostly because I wanted so very much for it to succeed. I miss the way his hand felt in mine and the way it felt to lean into him when he was near. I wanted to believe the story of us, as much as everyone else did. I wanted the feelings that we started with to still be present, and the story that we were telling to be authentic. Once I knew that it wasn’t, I couldn’t keep pretending. I thought that if I refused to give up, things would magically change. I was half correct. Things in my life are magically changing, but its not because I refused to give up; it’s because I finally did.
I finally let go of something that wasn’t serving me any longer. I stopped expecting someone else to make me a priority and I started doing it myself. Some days, that means that I log off of Facebook and forget about keeping up with the world. And some days, I am a posting freak and loving every minute of it. I’m learning to put Facebook in its place, and I am rediscovering myself without spending hour after hour obsessing about it.
To answer my own question, I cannot break up with Facebook because I enjoy it too much. I can, however; set healthy boundaries with it. I can hide and unfollow the people and posts that irk me. My relationship with Facebook appears to be salvageable. I don’t have to cut it out of my life completely. I can limit the amount of time that I spend scrolling and staring, and I can enjoy it for the gifts that it gives. For me, that includes the hysterical videos and posts that make me cry from laughing, memes that inspire me and the ones that make me feel normal.
I have learned that I don’t have to have an “all or nothing” attitude with Facebook. Like it or not, if I made that choice, I would never see or hear from too many of my real-life and far-away friends. My relationship with my guy didn’t make it, but it taught me so much, and it gave me hope that I will recognize the right relationship when I am open to allowing another one. My relationship with Facebook is safe. I don’t have to break up with it. I am willing to do the work needed to keep its place in my life healthy, happy and fun, and the next relationship I am in will remain private. I won’t require it to be validated by Facebook or my friends. I will let my heart do that instead.