The Infamous Flow

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Lately I’ve been perusing the endless possibilities of Bumble.  I’ve been on several dates, none of which (obviously) have manifested into the love of my life, but they’ve mostly all been interesting albeit a let down when it doesn’t move forward, especially because I actually enjoy meeting random people and hearing their perspective on life.

One date in particular, recently, was a bit of a disappointment.  We met on Thursday, had sushi and some wine, talked for HOURS without pause, and in general had an awesome time.  I came home on a high, and excitedly told all my girlfriends what a great time we had had.

A couple of days go by, and no second date invitation seemed to be forthcoming.  Determined to not slip silently into Bumble oblivion, I threw out a message saying what a great time I had had, and if he was free Monday or Tuesday, I’d love to get together again.

Crickets.

Needless to say, I was pretty bummed.  And immediately fell to analyzing anything that could have gone wrong.  Was it because of the holiday weight? (Damn you Christmas Walk cookies!) The zit that had popped up on my face hours prior to the date?  The fact that I seemed TOO interested?  Not interesting enough?  Perhaps because my hair was day-old curls and not fresh ones?  I could go on.

Of course, all craziness aside, it just simply comes down to the fact that he, for whatever reason, was not into me. *womp womp*.  No matter how much I wish I could capture his affection, I can’t.  End of story.

People always tell me to just ‘go with the flow’ and ‘it’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen’.  If you know me at all, you know that this seriously goes against my usual M.O.  I am (most times) a take charge, get-this-shit-done-NOW, no excuses type of person.  Sitting back and allowing love to manifest seems appealing to me; actually waiting for it to happen does not.  When I get an idea in my head, I cannot put it off for later; it must be accomplish ASAP.

Yet, as with all great things, you cannot force amazing things to happen; all you can do is put in the ingredients for success, stir it up a bit, and hope that it works.

For example, in teaching, I cannot walk in to the classroom and expect my students to instantly respect and adore me (as much as they totally should *hair toss*).  I have to come in and show them that I care.  I have to plan lessons that don’t suck.  I have to make sure that I listen when they are struggling.  I have to make class fun yet productive.  All of the ingredients can be carefully portioned out and folded together with a gentle yet masterful hand, and there will still be those days where that one girl in the second row gives you so. much. attitude.  Yet despite those few anomalies, if the ingredients are quality, the product will be amazing 9 times out of 10 IF you don’t open the oven every two seconds to check how it’s doing.

Similarly, I also cannot force myself to have the perfect bikini body, as much as I wish I could snap my fingers and look like Kim Kardashian.  Instead, I need to stick to my diet, exercise, refrain from alcohol (sob), and trust in that process to slowly change my body, however long it takes.  I cannot starve myself for a week and expect miracles.

Likewise, I am now acknowledging (slowly but surely) that I cannot will my perfect person into my life.  I simply have to create a more perfect version of myself, solidify what I want, and allow my vibes to permeate the universe and attract someone when they’re meant to come in to my life.

Which low-key DRIVES ME CRAZY.

But throughout all of my dating shenanigans, I have refused to compromise on what I want in a guy.  Which I haven’t found yet.  And that brings me to my conundrum:  how will I find my person if I don’t make SOME effort, yet why am I wasting my time on dates when I need to be focusing on the goals that I have set for myself?  How can I attract the right person into my life if I spend all my time looking for the person and not actually building myself into the person that my perfect person would love?

Truthfully, I can’t.  I need to take a step back and just….be.  And there are times that I do-I go through cycles, like I think that everyone does.

While ruminating on it, I’ve realized that failing at dating seems a lot less scary than failing at my goals.  Everyone fails at dating.  It’s normal.  It’s accepted.  It’s expected that date after date will turn into a great big nothingness (until the magical moment that it doesn’t).  Yet trying to do things that other people don’t normally do, such a blogging, a podcast, a second side career, writing books…failing that that seems more REAL.  More hurtful.  More in-your-face.

Not trying isn’t scary at all.  It gives you a lot of free time.  Yet one of my Bumble dates made a great observation when he said “the world is our oyster”.  Why wouldn’t I try to gather as many pearls as I can?

So, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, I’m going “shake it off, shake it off” and turn my focus to what I want to do that will just be the cherry on top of my already full life.  I need to stop the bullshit and simply DO.

And so, dear readers, expect big things in my next year of blogging.  I’ll keep you updated, and you can keep me accountable.

2018—you’re MINE.

Reasons to Embrace Being Single

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Whenever cocktails and girlfriends (or even just the latter) are in the same room, the conversation almost invariable makes a stop on the subject of men, or more accurately, boys.  Specifically, bemoaning the fact that we can’t find any good ones, causing us to be subjected to singledom for eternity (or so it feels).

Couples holding hands seem to pop up everywhere we go.  Pictures of engagement rings fill our Facebook feeds.  Movies like “The Notebook” and shows like “The Bachelor” get shoved in our face.  Everything couple-related becomes glaring reminders of the missing piece in our lives.

Being in a relationship, the right relationship, is an amazing thing.  However, as amazing as a relationship is, we have to remember that there are some damn good things about being single, too.

You can do whatever you want.  This is the most obvious and most touted perk of singles everywhere.  But I feel like very rarely do people actually take advantage of this freedom.  Think about it.  There are truly no limits.

Take travel, for instance.  Do you want to go overseas and experience the exoticism of Asia?  You can!  You have no one else’s schedule to worry about, no one else’s budget, no one else’s preferences for the trip.  If you want to have a super high-end luxury week with spa pampering and endless cocktails by the pool, you can make that happen.  If you want a three week trek through the jungle sleeping in a tent with the native people, you can do that too without worrying about what someone else would want to choose.

Even on a smaller, daily scale, this luxury shouldn’t be taken lightly.  You can eat takeout for dinner if you want.  You can make a four course meal every night.  You can meet up with an old friend at a moment’s notice.  You can stay in bed all day or go out and socialize all night.  It’s truly 100% up to you.

Being single in your 20’s and 30’s is really the only time that you can actually take advantage of this fully.  There are no academic obligations of high school and college.  There are no work obligations that you didn’t fully choose if you have a career you love.  There are no stigmas attached to anything that you might enjoy, because you are now surrounded by adults and not asshole teenagers.

So many people waste singlehood on Netflix and sweatpants on the couch.  There is SO MUCH LIFE to live, and it’s ridiculous to skip out on it because you don’t have someone to experience it with yet.

You can discover yourself.  This is another cliched mantra of the single ones, but it is so true.  In the past, I have been guilty of taking on my boyfriend’s interests and letting my own slide.  However, this really was because I hadn’t solidified my own interests before I got into a serious relationship.

Now that I’ve been on my own for a while, I’ve tried tons of different things and discovered what I love and what I can do without.  Just because something hasn’t been a part of your life up until this point does not mean that it can’t become a part of your life now.  For example, I played no sports in high school (sadly).  Now, I play beach football, turf football, and kickball.  I absolutely love it, and while I am not at the level of athleticism I would prefer to be at, I am getting better with each game that I play.  Had I not ventured out of my comfort zone, I would have never discovered that I actually like to play sports.

So many people don’t try things because they either ‘think’ they won’t like it or because they are simply too snobby to give something new a try because, surprise surprise, they are going to suck at it at first.  We have to stop getting so caught up in being perfect at things all the time.  It is only when we allow ourselves to embrace the possibility of falling that we will be able fly.

You can build yourself.  When you don’t have someone else constantly in your space, you tend to have a lot of time to think–if you don’t crowd out these valuable hours with mindless TV and/or social media and/or other various wastes of time.  If you spend some quiet moments alone reflecting on yourself as a person, both in and out of a relationship, you may come across some things that you don’t like.

This is hard to take.  We all like to think that we are just a little bit more perfect than those around us and if anybody needs to change, it’s the other guy.  But admitting that you have things to work on is arguably more admirable than swimming in self-denial and staying the same, even if you are a decent person to start out with.

In my reflections lately, I’ve noticed that I am a pretty selfish conversation participant.  Whenever someone has something to say, I immediately try to relate to to something similar that has happened in my life.  Not that trying to relate and find common ground is necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes letting that person have their moment in the conversational sun is the more kind and less egotistical choice.  While this is just a small example of something that I feel I need to change personally, there are many other things that we could allow ourselves to get better at if we just acknowledged that some maintenance needs to take place.

Beyond making  cosmetic adjustments to our temple, we can also build on whole new sections.  I have always admired my sisters for being able to play guitar, and a couple months ago I drug out my old acoustic and vowed to spend more time playing.   That lasted for a little while, but it has since faded away as it is not a fully solidified part of me yet.  However, I know that if I really put my mind to it, I can achieve success in that arena, and I plan to make a more concerted effort to make it happen since this is something that I do actually want to add into my life.

Overall, being single is a chance to mold yourself into the person that your future partner will jump at the chance to be with.  So often we admire qualities in other people and desire them in our relationships, but forget we cannot expect roses if we are offering dandelions.

Embrace the freedom.  Embrace the challenge.  Embrace the endless opportunities.  Our years of singlehood will be far less than our years of partnership, so squeeze every last drop out of awesomeness from your solo ventures, and don’t be sad if it takes you a while to find The One.  In fact, take some time to be thankful that they haven’t materialized yet, because you just get a little longer to date yourself.  And lucky for you, you’ll always get the rose.

Me Too

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I have been overwhelmed and saddened by the amount of “me too” posts that I have seen in my social media feed over the past couple of days.

Not that I didn’t know that girls all over the place experienced the catcalls, unwanted brushes of the hand (or other parts), and suggestive looks and comments, but because these things are so commonplace that I have simply looked at them as a integral part of life.

I almost didn’t post a ‘me too’ status because I thought “I haven’t actually been brutally raped…I’ve never experienced violent sexual harassment…I’ve never felt like I was in imminent danger of sexual violation.”

But then I stopped myself.  I have experienced whistles and comments from men on the streets on a regular basis.  I have been asked multiple times by random men at bars if they could “just” see or squeeze my ass.  I have ignored whistles and “damnnnnn” comments from STUDENTS at my school because I wasn’t sure how to handle such disrespectful behavior and I thought if I ignored it it would just go away.  I felt a man rub his genitals on me in a crowded subway and try to take a picture of my face.

I have experienced all of these things and more, yet I still hesitated when posting a status to join the ranks of women who have been sexually harassed because I wasn’t sure if I had been hassled “enough” to stand with them.

How absolutely sad is that?

Women have become so used to feeling judged by their bodies that a certain level of discomfort has become normal.

That needs to stop.

Right the fuck now.

Women are not commodities.  Women are not eye candy.  Women are not tits and ass and a pretty face.

So why we are branded as such?

Simply put, humans are a creature of habit and learn almost everything by example.  If I were a man and grew up seeing the men around me talk about women in a disrespectful manner, calling out dirty remarks for a laugh, and generally basing their value of a woman off of how good she looks in a pair of skinny jeans, I would quite honestly do the same.  It would be normal.  And heartrendingly, that’s how most of the men in America are raised.

However, this is not the norm across the entire range of male humanity.  I have never once seen my dad make a disrespectful comment about a woman.  I can’t even remember him commenting on a woman’s body in a complimentary and non-sexual way.  It simply was never a part of the rhetoric that he used.

Not surprisingly, my brother is the exact. same. way.

Never once have I heard my brother comment about any girls in a sexual way.  There have been zero instances where I saw him oogle a woman.  No dirty jokes.  No inappropriate comments.  Not even with his wife, where it would be more acceptable.  It has been nothing but consideration and respect.

How much more amazing would every female’s experience be if every male had an example like my dad or brother to emulate?  I can’t even imagine how it would feel to step out into the world and not wonder who is checking out my ass or tossing a glance at my silhouette.

BUT WAIT, you say.  Sexuality is part of human nature!  Surely you cannot be suggesting that we move to a mindset where sex is not somewhere in the forefront?  That’s impossible.

I agree.  Sex IS part of our nature.  Sex, in fact, is freaking awesome.  And it’s doubly awesome when you feel sexy and confident and you know you look good and the person you are having sex with makes sure you know how attractive you are to them.

But a large part of that feeling is immediately doused in ice-cold water when you feel disrespected.  I have gone from feeling awesome and self-assured to feeling insecure and small in a matter of seconds all because of a moment of unwanted attention that crossed the line.

And no, this doesn’t only happen when I’m wearing a sexy dress or short shorts.  I have dealt with this feeling in every different type of clothing imaginable.

The bottom line is, I want to take my body back.  I want to be able to feel comfortable in anything.  I want to be able to wear something that makes me feel like a million dollars without worrying that someone is going to assume that I want to hear their two cents.

Comments on my body make me feel amazing when they come from people that I give a shit about.  Nothing makes me smile wider than a well-placed “damnnn” from the person that I’m dating.  But when it comes to words pouring from the mouths of strangers, it gets old really fucking fast.

So men, please, please listen:

Woman love to feel sexy.  We love to feel special.  We love to feel like we are on top of the world.  But that outcome is not achieved by catcalls, “flattering” compliments, or forcing yourself upon us.  That result is not realized by staring at us from the corner and raking your eyes constantly across our frames so hard we can feel it even when we uneasily turn away.  That effect is not attained by focusing solely on our physical attributes that you find pleasing.

We want to be seen.  Really, truly seen.  Move past the old rhetoric that has been passed down from generation to generation and be the man that takes a step forward to take a hand, not grope a curve.

You will still have your animal needs sated, don’t worry about that.  But maybe, just maybe, you will realized that treating women as civilized creatures rather than prey to be hunted will yield a far richer feast than the outdated methods of pursuit with bow and poisoned arrow.

Be the change.

Please.

Why Tinder has Ruined Dating

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Last week I downloaded Tinder.  Last week I also deleted Tinder.

To be fair, the only reason I downloaded it in the first place was because I was fairly bored (aka being lazy) and all of my friends were merrily swiping away all around me.  It was a moment of weakness in which I was like “wellllllll ok, I’ll play”.

Just to be clear, I am not looking for men to sleep with; notches on a bedpost do NOT appeal to me.  I want to find a quality man that I am attracted to and who obviously shares those feelings in return and eventually build an amazing life with that person.  (But Hannah, why are you on Tinder then?  Yeah, Yeah, I know).  While I do not want to meet my future husband off Tinder, I also was curious to see what was out there because frankly, the dating pool in California majorly sucks.

With this goal in mind, the only thing I put in my profile was my height and the tagline “if you’re not ready to take me out on a legit date, don’t even bother.”   This, I thought to myself, should weed out any potential booty solicitations.

What I didn’t take into consideration, however, was the fact that I was supremely busy and didn’t actually have time to go on many dates.  And every message I got asked me when we were going to meet up for drinks, or coffee, or dinner.  It was overwhelming!  Yet also exciting-so many men who wanted to meet me?  Really?? Oh the possibilities!

The same sword that slays the dragon can also cut the hero, however.  The fact that there are so many options at your literal fingertips seems glorious at first, until you find yourself discarding this one or that one due to minor issues that you wouldn’t even have known about yet had you met them in real life.

The seemingly endless options that we have available at any moment has made us picky to the point of ridiculousness.  Why would I settle for THIS guy/girl who has 9/10 of my wants in a mate when I could just swipe a couple hours more and possible get a guy/girl with 10/10?

Choices are not the enemy, but they definitely make commitment harder and loyalty a treasure more precious than diamonds.  The endless option atmosphere that permeates almost every aspect of our lives, while amazing, is making us fickle and SO much more shallow.

This was made incredibly real to me when I went to fair by myself.  I had spent the day intermittently working and swiping, and had had several different conversations with eligible Tinderinians who fit my initial attractiveness criteria for swiping right (which means they were HOT…I have high standards.  #sorrynotsorry.).  At the fair, I ran into one of the guys running a booth and we struck up a conversation.

This guy was not my usual type.  Scrawny, blonde, a smoker, not unattractive but definitely not movie star status, and just over my height.  Yet for some reason, I found myself attracted to him more and more as we talked.  Our vibes just clicked.

We kept in contact, and each time I get a text, I am always excited.  Which completely weirds me out.  He is NOT someone I would have EVER pictured myself with, and I’m pretty sure that this won’t actually go anywhere, but just the fact that I wouldn’t be opposed to being taken on a date by someone I would have never, ever swiped right on is indicator enough that it’s time to take dating back offline.

Online dating has made us hyper critical of everyone else while simultaneously complaining that we can’t find a man or woman who loves us for who we really are.  We are quick to dismiss people we may actually be quite compatible with simply because they don’t fit what we have envisioned for ourselves or because we fear what other people might think or say.

Online dating has also made us scared to actually start something in real life.  I have been in so many situations where I had a great conversation with a dude only to have it end with a “see ya around!” rather than a “hey, let me get your number.”  Granted, some of those men might have just been friendly and/or already taken, but I get the feeling that the vast majority find it a lot easier to miss a match than to get shot down in person.

Additionally, online dating has made open sexuality permissible.  If the initial messages aren’t sexual from the start, its becoming more and more acceptable to introduce sex as a topic on the first date.  I went out for drink with one guy, my age, from Tinder last week, and by the end of the first cocktail he mentioned that (R rating alert) he wished I was sitting on his face.  I had known him for less than 12 hours and he felt that this was an acceptable addition to the conversation.

This is contrasted to a date that I had on Saturday night with a guy who was older than me by 7+ years.  He checked about my dietary restrictions, made reservations at a vegan friendly restaurant, and bought tickets to a show that I’ve wanted to see for forever.  There may have only been 7 or 8 years between those two men (and I met them both on Tinder), but there was a world of difference in how I felt about how I was treated.

So what’s the solution?  How can we balance all the amazing things this new generation has to offer with all of the pitfalls that come along with it?

Honestly, it comes down to you, the individual.  You decide how you will view the world, and you decide what you’re going to accept and what you’re going to reject.  It may take more work and more time, but you WILL find someone who has decided on the same values.

When you find someone who gets you, truly gets you, it doesn’t matter how many matches you made or how many right swipes you may be losing out on.  All that matters, truly, is how THEY make you feel and how much you elevate each other to become your best selves.  And that, friends, is the best match you could ever make.

 

 

 

Dear Men: Court Me like This

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Once again, surprise surprise, my thoughts have turned towards relationships.  One of these days I’ll be able to shake it off like Taylor Swift and mull over some other profound thoughts, but for now, my mind is stuck on love.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about what I as a woman have the right to expect out of a courtship and eventual relationship.  So many times we get used to being treated poorly and we think that this is normal, and then something happens that makes us go Oh!  So THIS is what being treated like a lady feels like!

The standards for dating, in my eyes, have been playing a game of limbo for years: how low can you go?  How low can you go?  And yet when you try to stick to a higher principle, it can seem discouraging because that immediately shrinks the eligible bachelor pool down to 1.5 men in the nearest 100 mile radius.  Yet I have decided that when I am ready for another go-around on the roller-coaster of romance, I will not settle for less than I deserve.

So what, exactly, do I feel that I (and all women) are entitled to?

Women deserve to be courted.  And yes, I mean courted in the old-fashioned sense.  Women warrant feeling like the man wants to pursue them and is willing to put in extra effort to make that known.  This means paying for things, that extra text to make sure she gets home safe, making sure to compliment her on her outfit/makeup, and overall making her feel like she is wanted.

In most social settings, you can really tell who likes you and wants to potentially date you versus someone who just wants a piece of ass.  This was made abundantly clear to me yesterday when I had one guy at one bar approach me and start a nice conversation, then offer to buy both me AND my friend a drink.  At the next place, I had a guy talk and flirt with me for hours without offering anything.

In the current hook-up culture that we have going on, being courted is rare.  Yet if a guy really wants to get a quality girl, he has to put in the time and effort that it takes to make that bid for her affection.  Trust me guys, it’s worth it.

Women deserve to know where they stand.  I have seen endless amounts of memes where the woman is freaking out because her man hasn’t texted her back in days and she has no idea if he still likes her or not.  If a man truly wants to seriously date a woman, he needs to make his intentions crystal clear.

Speaking from experience, not knowing how someone feels about you for weeks or months on end is a shitty feeling.  I am all about being busy chasing your own dreams, however, busyness is something that can be communicated.  If a man likes a woman but simply is strapped for time, that needs to be something that is addressed.  Quality women will have things going on on their own and will more than likely be just as busy.  However, days without communication can be misinterpreted if they aren’t given the proper heads up.

Women deserve to keep their bodies to themselves.  I am all about an amorous sack session, but that should not be expected right away.  As a woman, sex is a powerful bonding experience, and it should not be viewed as normal to give that privilege away cheaply.  If a man is seriously interested in a woman, he might hate the thought of waiting, but he will do it without making her feel pressured because he respects her and wants more than just the cookie.

Sex is amazing.  Yet if you were to compare sex just for sex versus actual lovemaking with someone you care about and are connected to on a deeper level, lovemaking will win every time.  You get all the heated passion PLUS a deep level of trust and intimacy that cannot be found stumbling home with some random from the bar.

I am all about women having the freedom to enjoy whatever they want whenever they want with whomever they want.  However, once you’re ready to pursue something real, it’s worth it to hold out; those who want ALL of you will wait, those who don’t, won’t.

Women deserve to feel beautiful.  I don’t care if you are a solid 4 or a 10+; no matter where you fall in the stereotypical beauty scale, the man you are with should make every effort to make sure that you feel like a million bucks.  No woman will ever get tired of hearing “WOW” when she steps out the door or a low whistle when you bend over to grab your purse from the floor.

Feeling beautiful is so much more than feeling like your guy loves your body or your face.  Feeling beautiful is feeling completely seen by someone else, and knowing that they like the view.  Feeling beautiful encompasses a woman’s whole being, and a man who truly wants to pursue the whole woman will gladly make that known.

Women deserve effort.  This is my last point because I know that sometimes, the things that I mention above are hard for guys.  Some guys don’t make a lot of money.  Some guys would rather choke than say what they actually feel.  Some guys are awkward and have no idea how to interact with a woman properly.  No on is perfect.  However, no matter how far away a guy is from a streamlined dating machine, if they want a woman bad enough, they will put in the effort.

This effort might come in the form of planning out an entire date of free things.  Cost-effective, yet the time it takes to think everything through is work.  Effort might come in the form of someone who hates words mustering up the courage to simply state “I like you”.  Effort also always comes in the form of communication; no matter what your hangups, quality women are infinitely able to work with them if they are made clear and attempts are strongly made to work through them.

Overall, the goal of courtship is to see whether or not this is someone with whom you can build a quality, lasting bond.  If there is no effort put in to obtain this partnership, than there will more than likely be no effort to maintain the connection.  A relationship with a good person is a privilege for both men and women, and its benefits will correlate with the value placed upon it.

So men: if you aren’t ready for a real relationship, don’t try to add notches on your bedpost with women who are.  And if you do want to try to win the love of a real woman, do it right.  Court her like she is a lady of old and you are her knight in shining armor; when a woman feels desired, respected, and safe, there is nothing that she will not do for you.  Put in the work to earn it, and the ROI will be more than you could have dreamed.

 

The Gifts my Ex’s Gave Me

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Breakups suck.  In the moment, it always seems like your world will never be quite right again, and there will always be a part of you missing.  Yet I have gone through enough separations to know that this is not the case; eventually, you will feel whole again, and you will even be able to look back on the relationship with fondness and not pain.

My most recent breakup has led me to contemplate all of my past relationships.  When you’re in smack in the middle and full of new love, they seem amazing.  When they’re removed from your life, you sob in wrenching pain; eventually, months later, you wonder what you ever saw in them and roll your eyes at your past self and her choices.  But for me, years down the road, I am thankful for all of my failed relationships because they each have shaped a part of who I am.

None of my ex’s were rich; they didn’t buy me fancy clothes or whisk me off to Europe in their private jets.  But in their own way, they each gave me gifts that are immeasurable in value, even if their presence in my life was not meant to be.

My first ex gave me the gift of heartbreak.  I lived several states away from my high school boyfriend, and as brief as our relationship was, I was devastated when it ended.  I was SURE that I was going to marry this boy, and I lamented as most stereotypical teenage girls do, writing very bad poetry and pouring my heart out in a song (that I years later found, shuddered at, and promptly deleted).  And yet all of this innocent heartbreak soon healed, and I found that I was able to move on with my life just fine.  It’s partly because of this early, necessary, over-dramatic heartbreak that I am able to move on from all of life’s storms that seem to keep coming my way because it taught me that pain is not forever.

There will be people in life who cause you immense amounts of agony.  And yet, this hurt is able to be overcome with time and personal growth.  It is those moments of overcoming this pain that we discover our true unshakable ability to keep marching on.  When we are in the trenches of more suffering, we can remember how we persevered before, and muster up the courage to burst through yet again.

My second ex gave me the gift of freedom.  I grew up very conservatively and extremely religious.  While I am thankful for the solid foundation that this upbringing gave me in terms of values, I am also very thankful to not possess such a narrow-minded view of the world anymore.  My ex-husband was the opposite of conservative, and while most of his ideas are way too radical to be contemplated in the realm of reality, being around someone who opposed my views so violently caused me to question why I subscribed to certain world-views.  It’s because of him that I have been able to rebuild what I believe and have been able to be so empathetic and compassionate to others in turmoil around me.

Anyone who causes you to question who you are and what you believe is a valuable person.  Sometimes, this self-questioning leads to a more solidified stance in what you think.  Other times, such as in my case, it causes a shaky foundation to crumble, leaving room for constructing one that is more solidly built.

My third ex gave me the gift of experience.  He was almost 18 years older than me, accomplished in so many things, and had a zest for life that drew me too him despite the age difference.  Growing up in the Midwest, I had never dreamed that there were so many simple and varied pleasures to enjoy.  Eating cucumber sandwiches on the beach, gambling in Vegas, drinking wine on the sand while the sun goes down, completely feeling the music at a rock concert one day and an acoustic performance the next.  Because of him, I have a thirst for experiencing ALL of life, and I eagerly grasp any opportunity to try something new.

Sometimes, meeting someone with more experience than you is intimidating.  It can make your life seem pitiful and pale in comparison.  However, if you jump at the chance to listen to their stories and allow yourself to get caught up in the whirlwind, you will inevitably end up with way more interesting stories than standing on the sidelines watching.

My most recent ex gave me the gift of inspiration.  Before I dated him, I was established in my career and going with the flow of life.  But when we met, I saw in him a drive and a passion for more than the status quo, which quite honestly seemed a bit much at first.  Yet as we spent more time together, he influenced me by example.  He’s the reason I started this blog, started exploring my options for other side careers, and started striving to exceed my own expectations.  It’s because of him that I feel that I have a renewed purpose in life, and I can feel that energy trickling into all facets of my being.

There are those people who come into your lives at the exact right moment and with just the right tools to spur you on towards greatness in your own journey.  Sometimes those people get to stay with you, and you get to do that for each other for many amazing years together.  Other times, those people touch us briefly before spinning off into the universe, too caught in their own destiny to stay.  Either way, their inspiration is valuable, and no matter how brief or long the encounter, you have to be grateful for their impact on your life.

Some of us get lucky and find our missing puzzle piece right out of the gate.  Those people get to grow and learn together, help each other out along the way, and build an amazing lifetime of memories together.  Others of us have a more rocky path; we are the ones who reach our hands out again and again, only to have them slapped down by those we desire.  We can choose to ache with each dismissal or to take each experience as a lesson in what we truly want and deserve.  With each rejection comes a stronger assurance that eventually, our hand will be taken with gentle strength, and we will finish this journey together with someone who is worth every bit of pain and sorrow along the way.

 

The Anatomy of a Broken Heart

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In the cartoons that we watched when we were younger, a broken heart is dramatized by a jagged line.  The two halves split apart and sometimes fall to the ground, symbolizing two people going their separate ways.  It’s simple.  It’s clean.  It’s nothing like reality.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of muffled sobs and hot tears pouring down your face.  It’s made up of deep shuddering breaths and wiping the back of your hand across your nose, uncaringly smearing snot across your cheek.  It’s made up of red, swollen eyes and deep breaths that end when another wave of hurt crashes over you like the slap of the ocean on a windy day.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of memories of the good times.  It’s remembering that one time on that one Saturday that he made a stupid comment and you both laughed and laughed until your sides hurt and the best kind of tears streamed down your face.  It’s feeling the sensation of his hand still intertwined with yours, feeling safe and cared for and warm as you strolled along the beach.  It’s hearing his car pulling into your driveway, looking into the mirror one final time to make sure that you look perfect, and flinging open the door before he can knock.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of words.  The “hi” that he spoke when he first walked up to you.  The “miss you” that followed an extended period of time without seeing each other.  The reluctant “goodnight” that came at the end of every phone conversation.  The “like a glove” phrase that become an instant addition to every successful parallel parking job.  The exaggerated “oh yeah” he drawled as you changed outfits, showing him a glimpse of skin.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of fights.  The serious discussions that ended with resolutions that made things better and relieved embraces on the couch.  The play fights that ended with you getting your ass kicked but refusing to accept defeat.  The battle of wits that took place every time he tried to prove that he was smarter and you told yourself you just let him win.

In reality, a broken heart is made of touch.  The slap on your ass when he was feeling frisky.  The tender kiss on your forehead when your head was on his chest.  The long, tightly gripping hugs that happened when you walked in the door.  The passionate kisses that fanned the flames of physical love.  The playful squeeze on his biceps to let him know that yes, you notice his workouts, and yes, you like the results.  The secret thrill when he reached for your hand and your fingers intertwine perfectly.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of what could have been.  The joyful anticipation meeting of his mom where she, of course, would love you and tell him in private that “that’s the one”.   The vacation to Hawaii that would have been your first real adventure together.  The nervous awareness of him meeting your parents in the future.  The proposal and wedding that was crazy to have been thinking of already but you allowed yourself glimpses of because you knew in your heart that this was the guy you wanted.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of silence.  The blank cell phone screen that won’t show his name, no matter how many times you look at it.  The endless occasions you tuck a moment of the day away to share with him later, only to quietly push those moments to the side when reality strikes again.  The stark absence of your best friend when a crisis happens or when you nail your goals.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of hurt.  The desire to hate him for leaving, yet not being able to because you still love him too much to want to hurt him.  The crumbling realization that you were not enough.  The ache that comes with knowing that it’s truly the end, and no amount of convincing or begging will change his mind.  The screaming pains that initially hit you, even when you know it’s coming.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of change.  The weekend routine that suddenly ends.  The awkward response when some asks “hey, you still dating that guy?”  The unwelcome reality that no longer can use your status as a way to curve unwanted attention.  The moment when you find a perfect book for him but slowly place it back on the self, your fingers lingering a bit longer than normal.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of the knowledge of healing.  The understanding that someday, your heart will not hurt for him anymore and panicking at the thought of not caring.  The awareness that someday, someone else will take his place and feeling physically sick at the thought of loving another.

In the end, a broken heart gets shattered because it is fully given.  No jagged line can encompass the pure pain of completely surrendering your most precious possession to another, only to have it tossed around for a few months and then given back.  The heart wants what the heart wants, but it cannot do anything but yearn when the other heart stays closed.

Eventually it will heal, and it may even forget the pain, allowing itself to be fully given again, in good faith and with the same wide-eyed innocence and trust as the first time around.

But that’s in the future.  And in the now, it still lies there; bloody, raw, bruised.  It still wants to be healed by the person who broke it in the first place.  It craves the warmth it has gotten used to.  It misses its companion heart, still beating, yet so far away.

And so, allow yourself to fully feel.  Sob at the memories.  Shudder in the waves of pain.  Scream in defiance.  Punch something in frustration.  Something broken must be acknowledged to ever be fully healed, and as much as it feels like you will never rise from your crumpled, pathetic spot in the dust, your heart is stronger then you think, braver than you feel, and even at its most broken, capable of so. much. love.