20 years to forgiveness

If you had told me twenty years ago that I would be happily letting my former husband crash on my living room couch for a week so he could hang out with our son, I would have thought it completely inconceivable. I’ve been working on coming to grips with my divorce for a long, long time and I actually thought I had already purged all the sadness and potential regrets. It turns out though that saying you forgive someone, including yourself, is a very slow process. I feel like I have had every type of emotion possible during the course of our time apart, so I was wholly unprepared for the tears that sprung to my eyes after we hugged and he walked out the front door. Our son drove him to the airport so I had some time alone to process my emotions.

The interesting thing is that this is not the first time I’ve let him crash on my couch to spend time with our son, so the real curiosity is what is it about this time that feels so different? I didn’t suddenly fall back in love with him and I don’t have a secret desire to get back together. No, this is unlike anything I have experienced before. I am different, or rather, I am more different this time.

Way back when we were clashing and choosing to go our separate ways, I have this memory of the moment of no return. It is a now familiar reaction that I tend to express when I am full of rage and defiance and I know that no matter what, I am not going to back down. I knew in my heart that there was no way I could stay married to him and I also knew I would never be the same again. This memory popped back into my head during the past week and I let myself consider for a moment if I did the right thing. What if I had forgiven him and stayed married? Would it have been better for all of us? Would we have been able to survive the actions that were deal breakers for me then and now? People do it all the time, I know they do.

As I let myself consider this, I heard that small voice in my head reminding me of the truth that I knew before I even asked the question. The girl that I was back then would not have become the woman that I am today if I had not made the very hard decision that I made twenty years ago. I am literally not the same person and I mean that both figuratively and literally.

I was 30 years old when I became a mom and a few months after that, I had the opportunity to have laser surgery on my eyes. It was surreal to go from 20/600 to 20/15 within a few days, and the symbolic impact of seeing the world shift from unfocused to crystal clear was not lost on me. It was the ultimate perspective change that we seek in an inversion practice in yoga, but without any of the work. Big changes were moving through my life and I had no interest in stopping them.

Less than a year later, I started the process of becoming the version of me that I am today. When I was married, my name was Nikki. That sounds so strange to me now, and it is even more strange to share my old “secret” name with the world in this way. I changed my name with the help of a group in Canada that specializes in helping people reach their fullest potential through the energy of their name. I chose the name I wanted, but I had to decide on the last name. I could have picked something totally different, but I somehow knew that getting rid of my husband’s last name entirely would be the death blow to our marriage, so I opted for a more balanced spelling of his name instead. Clearly, it didn’t save my marriage, but it did save me, eventually.

For a long time, I kept that part of my history hidden. I worried that it would be difficult for people to accept me as Logynn if they knew I used to be Nikki. Of course my family and oldest friends had the most difficulty in accepting my new name, but a few years later, we moved to a new city and I stopped having to explain any of it. For all of my new friends, I was only Logynn and when they did learn of my former name, they couldn’t even imagine me using it.

When I stood in front of the judge and told her that I wanted my name to reflect balance and wholeness so that I could reach my full potential as a person, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but on that day, I became Logynn B. Northrhip and said goodbye to Nikki Northrup. I also had no idea that within a little over a year, I would be standing in front of that same judge asking for a divorce. It took a while to shift gears and embrace the changes that were plowing the ground in all directions around me, changes that I instigated warily and then doggedly.

Today, I can spend time with my former husband and our son and relish the fact that we have somehow managed to see the best in each other after all these years. Watching him and our son together has healed this judgement and sadness and despair that I didn’t even know was lingering in my heart. I can honestly say that I love the person I am today and I know without a doubt that I would not be the me that I am today if I hadn’t gone through the fire of all that pain so many years ago. Today is the first day of the new moon in Cancer and according to @moonomens, it “begins a new chapter in our relationship with our past, our family and our emotions.” I feel you new moon, and thank you for being here right when I needed you. My past did indeed prepare me to be blessed.

Can We Just Be Friends?

I’ve been struggling with this question for awhile now, but it really hit home this week.  Probably one of the most influential movies that has impacted my understanding of this question came when I first watched the now classic, “When Harry Met Sally” and heard Billy Crystal’s character state in a matter of fact voice that men and women can never REALLY be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.  That gave and still gives me pause.  Over the years, I have tested this hypothesis and I have come to conclude that there is  A LOT of truth to it.  Notice that I didn’t say that it is 100% accurate, however; in my experience, it is mostly true.

Can men and women be friends?  Yes.  Does the sex part get in the way?  Yes.  Can they be friends in spite of this? Yes? Probably?  Maybe?  Actually, I have no valid data to confirm this.  I do believe it is possible, just like I believe that faeries and unicorns exist somewhere, even though I can’t see them in this dimension.

For starters, it might be good to define what we mean when we say “friends” and to qualify it a little. Let’s check in with Oxford just to be on the safe side.  A friend is:

A person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.

A person who is not an enemy or opponent; an ally.

A contact on a social networking website.

To be (or become) on good or affectionate terms with someone.

After looking at all of these definitions, I am partial to the word and definition of friendship instead.  It seems like a more accurate description of what I consider important.  I can be “friends” with hundreds of people, but far fewer of those friends involve true friendship.  This is particularly true of my friendships with men.  Oxford defines friendship as:

 . . . a close association between two people marked by feelings of care, respect, admiration, concern, or even love.

So why am I picking on men today?  There is a reason of course, and it is fueled by a man I recently met and have been getting to know for a few months.  He showed up at a time when I wasn’t looking and when I think I needed to believe that people like him exist.  He was my unicorn.

I met him while I was sitting on a log, enjoying the scenery of the aspen along Kenosha Pass.  Even though I enjoy group hikes, I also love being in nature alone, and such was the case on this day.  I had stopped to rest and have a snack before heading back the three miles or so to my car when a single man (with no ring on his wedding finger), stopped to ask for directions.  I gave them and as he continued on his way, I thought to myself, “now, that is the kind of guy I need to be with.” I thought this because he was out adventuring alone, enjoying nature in a similar way and he appeared to be single.

I was already in the process of gathering my things and continuing on my way when he paused as if he had heard my inward thoughts, turned around and headed back toward me.  I looked at him and asked, “change your mind?” We started up a conversation as we walked back through the wonderland of golden leaves and mystic trees. As we neared our vehicles, he asked if I’d like to exchange numbers and go on some hikes together in the future.  For the record, I have never done that.  I’ve never just handed out my number to a man I just met in the woods, but the connection I felt in that moment was undeniable and friendly, so I did.

Less than a week later, he proved to be someone I could count on in a way I had never imagined.  He inspired and encouraged me to fulfill my personal goal of hiking up to Gray’s Peak for my very first 14er.  For a hike that started at 6 a.m. and ended almost 10 hours later, we got to know each other more quickly than usual.  You don’t truly know someone until you’ve had to hide behind a rock and pee when they are nearby!

It was a few days afterward that I stumbled upon his Facebook page (Ok, fine, I searched for him). What I found was not what I expected; a recent profile photo of him posing with his adult children, and a very obvious wedding ring on his finger.  I thought it strange (and alarming) that he had left out this very important detail about himself.

To be honest, I was more than alarmed, I was downright pissed.  It felt like an intentional omission, and one that hit a nerve because of my own personal history.  When I asked about it, he didn’t deny it and confessed that he didn’t mean to hide it from me. There was already a feeling of connection and chemistry brewing between us so it felt like this changed everything about our friendship and what seemed to be evolving between us.  While it’s not like he lied, he also didn’t present the truth that a wedding ring implies.  We talked about his situation, and based on what he shared, it seemed like it would be safe to continue our friendship without stepping on his vows, which he assured me were over.

Every couple of weeks, we would meet at the crack of dawn and go on an epic hike somewhere.  It was nice to finally meet a man organically, without the taxing effort of online dating.  We  laughed so much on these excursions and realized our mutual love for nature.  He was always very respectful and conscientious of honoring my boundaries, and it felt safe and solid to be around him.  This was entirely new to me and I got swept up in it.

During the moments in between our hikes, there was much flirting and communicating via text messages, and a few phone calls.  It was about this time that it occurred to me that I needed to clarify a few things about the status of his divorce proceedings.  Being ready to sign on the dotted line is much different than just living under different roofs.  It turns out that he didn’t even have a lawyer yet.

As the truth of the situation came to light, he began to pull away.  Suddenly, the closeness that had been so easy and tangible at the beginning, was replaced with mild indifference and a formality that felt foreign.  I started to question whether I had imagined the connection entirely. The energy between us started to yo-yo between two extremes and it left me feeling much less safe and grounded.

In an effort to be a grown-up and not make assumptions, I asked what was going on.  His response was the type of bullshit answer that I have heard in various forms from a long line of men throughout my life, and it was not well-received.  It sounded like a cop-out and in one swift moment, two months of budding friendship became tenuous.

In a recent blog, I shared about how I had finally managed to let go of 18 years of anger, blame and hurt from my own divorce.  I know that my friend is at the beginning of this process, and that he has a long road ahead of him.  How can I be friends with someone without giving in to my curiosity and attraction to him?  The answer is simple.

I have come to the conclusion that this chance meeting and the challenging emotions that have surfaced within me because of it, are here for a reason.  I just don’t truly know the reason right now, but I think it involves learning to allow my friends to be where they are without needing them to be where I want them to be.  In other words, to accept them without condition, and focus on my feelings of care, respect and kindness.

I’ve had to ask myself some tough questions.  Am I the kind of person who only wants to be friends with those who have successfully walked through the fire of change? Or do I want to be the kind of friend that walks beside them, giving encouragement and acceptance along the way?  It is the latter of course, and I finally realize that in order to do this, I must stop projecting my expectations onto them, and just sit back and be grateful that they showed up at all.  On this day of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for all the perfectly imperfect people who show up for me, and give me the support I need, when I least expect it.  I hope that I can return the favor, and give back all that I have received with unconditional love and acceptance.

 

Forgiveness Looks Good on You

Letting go is in the air.  Trees are doing it.  The seasons are doing it.  Seems like we are in good company if we want to do it.  I’ve been carrying something for a really, really long time, and this week, I made a decision that I am ready to let it go.  This week, was the mother of all weeks,  thanks to a Full Moon on 11/11 in Mercury Retrograde.  Oh yeah.  Good stuff.  If you didn’t feel it, then I guarantee you just weren’t paying attention.

This was the kind of week that is like a naughty puppy, or child, the kind that will do just about anything, good or bad, to get your attention.  It got mine, that’s for damn sure.  I’ve been yo-yoing between waking up at 3 a.m., unable to fall back to sleep and going to sleep at 8 p.m. the next night to make up for it; but my desire to let go started on my only day off of the week and the first Saturday I’ve had off in recent memory that had drop-dead gorgeous weather. All my usual hiking partners were busy doing their own thing, so I grabbed my aging, but ever-willing pup, and we headed to the woods of Nederland and the Hessie Trailhead with the intention of hiking up to Jasper Lake off of Devil’s Thumb trail.

I packed my micro spikes, some borrowed snowshoes and plenty of layers in preparation for the deep snow that I knew would meet me at the top, and got to the trailhead by 6:45 a.m. along with a record minimum of only 5 other cars.  I love getting up really early to hike, and not just because it usually means less people will be there.  The light is so stunning as it rises over the horizon and touches the trees and mountains in front of it.  There is nothing like it, and pictures just don’t do it justice.

It was cold, icy and perfectly quiet; my favorite hiking conditions. About two miles in, we made it to the trail that would take us to the elusive Jasper Lake.  I say elusive because I had a hard time finding any sort of direct trail to it via my AllTrails app, so I used the Devil’s Thumb Pass to King Lake trail as a guide to show me the route that would take me to Jasper Lake without hiking the full 15 mile loop.

The trail became a single file, narrow path with at least a foot of snow on either side.  I was feeling very much like I was in the Robert Frost poem,  The Road Less Traveled since it was clear that the majority of humanity was taking the trail that leads to Lost Lake.  We got to an open area with an amazing view and an Indian Peaks Wilderness sign that seems oddly out of place.  The wind started howling as we hiked across the exposed landscape.  The snow here had given way to the dried up grass beneath it, but this was misleading because just on the other side, the thick snow returned and I had to switch to my snowshoes.

Since I was attempting to record my route, I had downloaded the trail to my phone and was using it to pick my way through the now two feet of snow.  Many wrong turns later, I finally found a single set of footprints that led the way into an area that had not seen any other humans since the most recent snow storm.   It was eerily quiet and the silence and view invited contemplation.

We were about four miles in and still had two to go before we would hit the lake.  My dog was so done.  He had not been on such a long hike in over a year and even though he wasn’t overheating, he was definitely tired.  One look at him using the snow as a pillow, and I knew we weren’t going to make it to the lake.  We pulled over, found a few rocks near the edge of a cliff and sat down to enjoy the view with some cold pizza for me and apple slices for him.

I started thinking about my life and what I wanted for the rest of it.  For close to 20 years, I have been on a crusade of defiance.  That crusade began when the ink dried on my divorce papers and I decided that men were not to be trusted.  I lost something very dear to me that day. I lost a piece of my heart, and I have wasted many years aiming blame and guilt at the person who took it from me.  I stood up, and spoke out loud to the trees and mountains around me and set an intention that I was ready to let all of that pain go.  I asked to be guided to release my anger and hurt and find a way to forgive him, and the Universe heard me.

As is oft the case, I promptly forgot the magnitude of my request, when first thing Monday morning, men from my recent past started popping up like forgotten popcorn kernels.  These were men I had met since arriving in Colorado, not my former husband, but they gave me some much needed closure and tested my resolve for forgiveness.   It was about this time that I realized it was 11/11 which in numerology is a power number sequence that is like a door opening in the fabric of consciousness that surrounds our forgotten awareness that we are creator gods.

“Angel Number 111 signifies that an energetic gateway has opened up for you, and this will rapidly manifest your thoughts into reality.” – Joanne Walmsley – Sacred Scribes

That evening, I found some instructions on how to use the power of the full moon and this numerological anomaly happening during Mercury Retrograde .  I wanted to wait until 11:11 p.m. to give this little ceremony an extra added boost, but started early because I knew this was unlikely to happen.  I made my list, burned it, and then wrote down the top three things that had stood out from it.  I took this list, put it in an envelope and went to bed.

The following day I was invited to participate in a mini Tibetan bowl sound healing session with some graduating students at Atma Buti Sound Healing School.  Sound is a powerful healer and one that I had not previously experienced in this way before.  Surrounded by bowls as I lay facedown on a massage table, another bowl was placed on my lower back and as it was struck, I felt a shot of energy rise up my spine and out of the top of my head.  That was the beginning of an even deeper shift that was soon to follow.

On Friday, I was gifted with a full body sound healing session from a very loving woman and healer I am lucky to call a friend and co-worker.  When she asked if I’d like to set an intention for our session, I knew that my request from the Universe on Saturday had come full circle.  I restated my desire to let go of the pain from my divorce and all the broken relationships that had followed.

During the session, I could feel this knot in my belly, right around the 3rd chakra/solar plexus area.  I knew that is where I was holding all the pain, and I knew I was ready to release it.  It is one thing to decide to let go and it is another thing to actually do it.  Knowing how to do it does not come naturally for me or most people I know, but when we do it, we definitely know it.  I pictured my former husband and I saw him as someone who came into my life to to be the “bad” one so that I could embrace radical forgiveness and know myself in a new way.

The tears poured out of me and I sobbed until I was empty.  I cried for everything that I had lost and for the hope of something that I know I will find again.  I visualized him surrounded in white light and I sent him a heart hug of forgiveness.  I don’t know if he will feel it, and I don’t plan on telling him about it, but I feel it.  I woke up this morning and as I look at my reflection, I see someone I haven’t seen in a long time.  In the act of forgiveness, I have reclaimed a piece of myself that I lost when I embraced the hurt from my divorce and planted it in my center.  My journey is far from over, but I think I am on the right path now, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

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Swipe Left or Right . . . The Truth about Dating

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.

Can We Break Up with Facebook?

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.