Sunday, July 21, 2024 11:21

Remaining Single: First Time Bride At Last

July 22nd, 2015

I’m a first time bride at 55 years old, and I now have a husband! Who could have imagined that would ever happen to me? I may have had hope in my Cinderella heart but I didn’t know if it would ever come true. And now it has and I’m married. So unbelievable for me to be able to say, and I’m filled with gratitude for Higher Power’s love, shown to me through this ultimate experience as well as in every other aspect of my life. Sometimes I struggle with the belief that Higher Power has a plan far better than any I could ever imagine. I try each day to give my will and my faith over to Higher Power and ask for the willingness to be open to whatever I’m sent and know that’s what was meant for me. Often I’ve heard the slogan “Higher Power’s time, not mine.” But being human and wanting things when I want them, I sometimes was reluctant to really believe. But as in many instances before and I’m sure many more yet to come, the plan that came true was in fact the best one of all. As I’ve said, if I could have ordered my husband from a catalogue or built him from a kit, I couldn’t have found anyone else as perfect for me as he is. Every day with him on this earth is such a gift and for that I’m truly grateful.

How can I find enough superlative words to describe the magic and beauty that was my wedding day? There are so many thoughts and feelings inside my head – reminders of the memories created on that day. It’s an event that I prayed for, hoped for, thought about, wrote about, and wondered about. Everything leading up to the event and the event itself were all beyond my wildest dreams. In the weeks just before the event there were many details to finalize and the tasks all got completed. In the few days before the wedding I felt the butterflies of anticipation. That was such a new feeling for me. I’ve had nervous anticipation before for other reasons, but never for this. In the days before our wedding we had other social events that helped build the anticipation even more. We spent time with family members and good friends at dinners and lunches and it was lovely to see their excitement for us and to share that positive energy.

The day of our wedding dawned with good weather, another gift from Higher Power as we planned an outdoor ceremony at a mountaintop location. My husband (!) and I got ready and went to meet our photographer for some pre-wedding photos. I felt so nervous just before we got in the car to drive to our ceremony location, but once we got there I felt calm and relaxed and so happy. Some of our guests began to show up and they hugged us and took photos with us and it was so warm and friendly and joyous. Our ceremony started right on time and our friends and family assembled on the mountaintop. The sun shone down on us as we exchanged rings. After the ceremony there was an impromptu hugging reception line as our guests came to wish us well. One of my friends who is also single, in her 50′s and never married said to me “There’s hope for all of us.” My husband’s sister told me she hasn’t seen him this happy for many years. There was a shuttle bus for some guests to be driven to the ceremony from the reception site and then back to the reception. One of our friends told me that on the front of the shuttle bus was a marquee sign that said “Shinbaum/Lane Wedding.” That’s so cool!

Our reception site was an indoor space with outdoor access overlooking a lake with a mountain view beyond. Our guests gathered at inside and outside tables with food and my husband and I gave a toast to welcome everyone. We had a piano player to play music and the rest of the evening was spent visiting with our guests and enjoying the wonderful energy of that experience. It was so amazing to look around and see my favorite people all in the same place at the same time. That was the best wedding gift of all. My husband (husband!) told me that the whole week leading up to the wedding and on the day and evening of the wedding itself I was beaming with happiness. I have been looking at the photos some folks took with my phone and it’s true. I have a smile on my face that I know was so genuine and so heartfelt. He and I were happy and we had such a wonderful time and magical experience.

There was one note of sadness and disappointment. My mother chose not to attend the wedding. At first, she was going to come and sent her RSVP as a yes. Later on she changed her mind. I have no way to get inside her head and understand what motivated that choice and it’s not important or necessary for me to do that. I sit with the feelings of the little girl inside me who was constantly disappointed and hurt by her throughout my life and continued to believe that she was capable of being the kind of mother or really ‘mommy’ that I yearned for. With the decision not to be a part of this special experience, I am once again reminded of her inability to be the fantasy I made up in my little girl head and heart. It would make better sense for me to believe in the reality of her limitations. Therefore, out of this sadness and disappointment came the recognition of the strength of Higher Power’s love for me in the gift that was my mother’s absence from our wedding. The day was all about me and my husband and our loving friends and gracious family members. We celebrated and affirmed the positive energy created by those people along with us and the presence of Higher Power in our hearts.

Now that this life changing event has come and gone, what will the future hold? There was such a huge emotional build up not only toward this experience with my husband around the wedding but also in the remaining single lifetime before it filled with wondering, dreaming, thinking, planning, doubting and trying to continue believing it would happen. In the movie “Fools Rush In” with Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek, Matthew Perry says “You’re everything I never knew I always wanted.” That’s so true of me. So many times I thought I didn’t need this milestone, that it wasn’t for me, that I could live without it, that I was more than okay if it never happened, that I was doing fine on my own, that remaining single was a wise and well thought out choice. And that was all true. But as in all things, Higher Power had a different plan for me, and I was being prepared through my own personal work to be ready for my husband to arrive, just as he was being prepared for me through his own work and life journey. We are together in life, sharing the same road going forward. Remaining single until this moment was the ultimate right choice, even though it was more driven by Higher Power than by me. None of this would be possible without that willingness to accept what is and believe in what could be.

Remaining Single: OMG It’s My Turn for a Wedding!

June 16th, 2015

It’s finally happening for me, and it’s an out of body experience in a way. I just attended my bridal shower and it was totally amazing and so surprising and I still can’t believe it’s real.

I have been going to weddings since I was a child, when I went to a few family weddings. Then in my twenties as everyone I knew seemed to be running to couple with someone, I went to so many bridal showers and weddings and all things connected to weddings. Then I went to more weddings in my thirties and forties and I remember sitting at many of them with tears in my eyes, feeling sad for the thought of always being at someone else’s wedding and never at mine. The last wedding I attended was in my fifties, and I remember thinking while watching the couple say their vows how it seemed like a staged play. I also remember thinking how I could never imagine doing that kind of thing in front of other people. I don’t know that I’d reached a place of acceptance or belief that I would never get married, but I know I was in a different head space about it than I’d ever been before.

And now it’s my turn for a wedding, and the other wedding events like my bridal shower. I wore the dress up veil and crown and sash at my bridal shower. I sat in a circle and opened gifts. People took photos of me. We went to lunch and toasted my special day. It was all for me, all about me, and is this really real? All this time when I’ve been engaged, I look at my engagement ring and I think “Whose hand is this wearing that ring?” Seems unbelievable sometimes that it’s really happening in my life – the life always lived as a single, never married woman. Wow.

It’s been quite the whirlwind for me, doing all of the typical and sometimes traditional things connected with a wedding. My fiancé and I went shopping for rings together and chose our rings together. I was calm sitting in the jewelry store, choosing a ring to wear every day for a lifetime, not really able to take in how significant that is. Wearing the ring has been emotional sometimes. At first I was conscious of how odd it felt to have a ring on that finger which I’d always intentionally left bare. But after a while I adjusted to it, and now if it’s not on my hand it feels odd not to be wearing it. That was a quick adjustment.

My fiancé and I talked about planning our wedding. He was in on everything from the start – how many people to invite, what was our budget, where we would be married, what we both wanted. It’s been a collaboration from the beginning. He knew I was the kind of woman who always imagined a certain kind of wedding in my head. At one point he asked me had my vision changed much since my younger days and actually the answer was no. The venue is different and so is the time of day, but other than that, most everything is as visualized it years ago.

We designed the invitation together and prepared the invitation packets together. We visited with the wedding venue managers and all of the other vendors together. It’s been a together experience and it’s gone smoothly as we both participated equally. This is the reason why he’s the one for me. It’s that partnership I’d been dreaming of, yearning for, believing in my whole life. It’s finally become real and true.

We’re almost at the “big day” at this point and whenever I say that out loud there’s this little tingle that runs down the back of my neck. It’s not a bad thing, more about the anticipation and the whole ‘who would have ever thought this would really happen?’ kind of thought that goes on inside my head. I think in my heart of hearts, my ‘hope for happily ever after’ heart, I always hoped this would happen. But the decades of single and disappointed in so many prior attempts at lasting romance created some cynicism and disbelief that the right life partner would ever find his way to me.

When I moved to Colorado in 2011 I had no sense that I was moving to find the love of my life. I heard the call, so to speak and knew it was the right decision and the right timing. I came to Colorado without knowing anyone, and established my life in every facet and aspect. I found work, made friendships, became involved in my favorite activities, and eventually went back out there with dating again. Perhaps putting things in that order of priority was part of the reason why ultimately my fiancé was brought to me. Perhaps it was my willingness to turn things over to the larger than I am presence which I allow to guide my life. For me I describe this as my Higher Power. But it could also be thought of as God, or the Divine or the Universe – that’s entirely up to the individual. In any event, the unfolding journey that is my life has led me to this set of events that I always dreamed of as a little girl.

Who knew I had so much of that little girl inside me? She’s still in there and giggling with delight as the wedding events and wedding itself draws near. That little girl is as much a part of me as the evolving grownup woman. I work toward integrating them together to create the authentic woman I choose to be in my daily life.

Remaining Single: Letting Go of Life Alone

May 7th, 2015

I had my own room growing up as a child. I had roommates with off campus boyfriends the first couple of college semesters and then I had a single room for the rest of my college experience. I had one roommate after college but we had a three bedroom town home and each of us had our own bathrooms. Then at 26 years old I started living on my own, in my own residence. I acknowledge I like my privacy and my time to myself. I admit I really enjoy just being alone.

In all of my romantic relationships, I may have spent time at someone’s home or had them come to my home, but never did I choose to live with a man with whom I was romantically involved. So now for the first time, I’m choosing to live with a man and share space with him in this new chapter of my life called marriage. It’s a little scary to be sure, but I admit it’s something I’ve always thought about, wondered about, perhaps even wished for. I’ve wondered what it would be like to sleep in the same bed with a man every night and wake up with him every day. I’ve wondered what it would be like to come home from work to someone being there instead of an empty house. I’ve wondered what it would be like to share a refrigerator, a closet, a bathroom, a living space, and ultimately a life built by two people together. It’s such a contrast to living my life on my own and for me always a foreign concept until now.

I’m used to making my own plans, arranging my own schedule, having the run of my alone space, being able to do what I want, when I want and how I want. So this whole being with someone else on a permanent basis – especially in a shared residence – is definitely daunting for me. Sometimes I wonder what it’s going to be like to be around my future husband all the time. It’s not as if we work together or are going to be together 24/7, but still it’s quite something to think that after a lifetime of being a single (meaning unmarried person), I’m going to be a married person with all that title implies.

Of course I’m over the moon about this dream come true in my life. I never knew I wanted this so much until it happened for me. I met a man who I knew from the first moment I could build a life with, and that he would be for me as I always hoped and imagined – a strong, confident, secure, vibrant, honest, thoughtful, willing partner for me. And with that being said, as we are in the process of combing our households we are finding out that we work very well together. We see a task and figure out together how best and most efficiently to get it done. I am going to live with a grownup and that’s really what I was waiting for.

There are so many people in the world who don’t know how to function as grownups emotionally or intellectually or in terms of being able to partner another person. I was pretty sure I was capable of being a grownup partner to a man, but I kept running into men who were not capable of that kind of partnership. Some men were closer than others to the ultimate mark but they all fell short until the man who was able to be that partner was sent to my life. And now he’s arrived and it’s pretty amazing and sometimes unbelievable. I am grateful for the gift of this man in my life, and am grateful for every day we get to be together.

As I said above, I was used to making my own plans, being on my own, living alone, being prepared to do that forever if that was what was meant for me. But the hopeful romantic inside me always wanted to believe that a partner would be sent someday to experience the love I have to share. Since that is happening, I can see now that with the right partner, the joining of lives doesn’t need to be scary or difficult or fraught with obstacles or complications. With the right partner, it’s a choreographed dance where the steps are known by both, and it’s in perfect time to the music that only they can hear. Let the music play on!

Remaining Single: I Got What I Prayed For

April 11th, 2015

What was it about this man that made me reach out to him in the first place? I will never be able to tell you why I chose to hit ‘send’ and let him know I was interested. From reading his profile, I thought we might not have very much in common, but that was never a deal breaker for me, as I’ve known many couples where the two were opposites. Was it his face, his eyes, his smile? I don’t know, but for whatever reason, I thought it would be a worthwhile effort to let him know I was curious.

When he wrote back to me initially, I was impressed because he said he is never afraid to take a risk, and right from the start he was self disclosing which I found refreshing. As we corresponded over the next few emails or so, I kept looking for red flags in his delivery and/or his message but could find none. I suggested we move to a phone call and he was thrilled and encouraged by that. Our first conversation was shortly after our first few emails and on a Saturday evening. What impressed me is I liked that we were both at home alone on a Saturday evening. After chatting for two hours we made plans to meet the following Friday afternoon. He checked in with me by email and phone the day before to confirm our plans.

On the afternoon of our first meeting I arrived at the location first and waited for him. He walked up and we shook hands and started walking and talking together. From the first moment I felt a comfort and safety with him that is hard to describe. I also knew I was attracted to him, I liked the sound of his voice and how he carried himself. As we walked and talked, I found myself walking close to him and the pace of our walk and of our conversation was easy and relaxed. At one point we got caught in a thunderstorm and after a flash of lightning there was a crack of thunder that startled me and I reached out instinctively and grabbed his arm. I had only known this man for an hour and yet I felt safe with him, and somehow I knew he would protect me from danger.

After we walked and talked, we went for dinner, and then he walked me to my car where we stood together and talked for a while, and set up another date for the next evening. We kissed good night and I drove home with a quiet feeling, a calmness inside me, a certainty that this was something special. It wasn’t elation or giddiness, just that calm quiet feeling. The next evening we had another lovely date and we managed to say good night again though neither of us wanted to. Two days later he called and told me he wanted to be all in and see where this relationship might go and was I game for that too? I said yes. By the end of that first week we had said “I love you” to each other (he said it first). By the end of a month I knew I wanted to make a permanent future with him. By the end of two months he asked to have a conversation where he said the same thing. By the end of three months he asked me to marry him and I said yes.

Does this seem fast, like a whirlwind? You bet. Should I have had doubts or been more cautious? I don’t know, because at no point since meeting this man has any of this felt hasty or rushed or in any way unsafe. We are in love, we both feel it equally, and we want to spend the rest of our lives together with gratitude and appreciation for being brought together. All I know is if I could have ordered this man from a catalogue, I couldn’t have made a better choice.

So what was it? What was the ‘magic formula’ that made this one click, that made this situation be what I’d always hoped for? I can’t say for sure, but I do know that I now realized all of the trial and error throughout my forty years of dating served a purpose. By virtue of decades of experience in identifying what doesn’t work, what I don’t want, I was very clear about what would and would not work for me in a permanent relationship. I have been proposed to before, but something always stopped things short of really moving forward. There was always a red flag, a reason to hesitate, or to walk away. This time there was none of that. I listened to my heart and my head and they were aligned, probably for the first time.

I believe in a Higher Power that guides my life, and sends me everything I’m meant to have, whether positive or negative. Sometimes that comes in the form of major challenges, like job loss, or changes in friendships, or the endless stream of dates and romances with men who were so wrong for me. Sometimes my Higher Power has guided my footsteps toward greater joy, like with my move from Pennsylvania to Colorado where I found my true home. I often say that moving to Colorado from Pennsylvania was moving from a life lived in black and white to a technicolor one, and with that came contentment, fulfillment and joy. And all of this awareness happened before this best romantic partner came into my life. All it took was choosing to trust the guidance and follow that guidance to the best of my ability. When I realized I had done that with every other aspect of my life, I was able to do it with the romantic journey, and I was sent the gift of this man. As the title of this chapter states, I got what I prayed for. It was worth the wait.

Remaining Single: The Websites Really Work!

March 30th, 2015

The above title speaks for itself, because I am happy to report that after using the dating websites for quite some time, I have found a true love and we are engaged to be married.

This was not my first experience with dating websites, and it can be frustrating to ‘look for love’ in the internet dating world. There were many instances where correspondence over email was all that ever happened. Sometimes there might have been a phone call or texts back and forth, but face to face meetings were not in the cards. Other times a first date happened but no way would there ever be a second date. And in other instances there was a first date and perhaps a second or third, but nothing more was meant to happen. There were countless instances of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and misperception. Fortunately for me, all of these circumstances were great learning lessons in showing me what I didn’t want, didn’t need, and didn’t deserve.

As I continued with the most recent dating journey, I resolved for probably the first time ever not to settle for anything less than what I knew would be right for me. That man didn’t have a specific physical type, nor did he work a certain kind of job, or have a certain level of education. The qualities I knew to hold out for had to do with intangibles, but I believed more and more firmly that I would know those qualities when they were brought to me in the right man. Happily that’s how it’s worked out.

How do I know he is my true love? I can’t explain that as accurately as some might like. So many people out there want the one formula or solution or just answers to the essential question of will I ever find the true love I hope for, wish for, yearn for? I know this because I was one of those people. I asked those questions over and over. I read the dating manuals and all of the self help books about attracting love, finding love, keeping love, letting go of the wrong ones in order to be open to the right ones. You name it, I did it.

Why did it take me so long to stop settling, you ask? In my dating history I was often attracted to men who seemed ‘comfortable’ or ‘safe’ to me, but really what they turned out to be were ‘familiar’ and ‘known.’ What I mean by that is I became romantically involved with men whose characteristics echoed those of some origin family members who routinely bullied and verbally abused me. After three or so of those types of men had come and gone, I went back to resolve some issues within those origin family relationships for myself. I had to do that self work in order to be very clear about what I would not longer tolerate or accept in romantic relationships.

All of this took years, but I think I finally figured out what would be right for me. So with this most recent dating search, I was on a very different journey than in prior attempts. Even within this recent experience I got to a place where I was at long last comfortable with myself, accepting of whatever might happen or not happen in terms of permanent romantic partnership. I was absolutely certain that if I was meant to spend my entire life on this earth without a permanent romantic partner, then that was going to have to be enough. And for the first time, I was really willing around that issue. Did I hope that true love would come? Absolutely. I never stopped hoping, wishing, dreaming, believing. But at the same time, I knew and admitted that life without a permanent romantic partner would still be one well-lived on my own.

Doing this kind of ‘focused’ dating brings the benefit of figuring out what doesn’t work, and therefore being aware of what does work if/when it cones along. For example, I realized someone right for me would be someone like me in terms of lifestyle choices, like owning a residence, having gainful employment and leading a grownup existence. Things as simple as the above might not seem like much, but there are men out there who don’t have even those essential building blocks. There are also the ones who still are involved in way too much chaos on a daily basis. That might take the form of over indulgence in drugs and alcohol, or entanglements with ex-wives and disrespectful or misbehaving children, or enmeshed emotional care taking relationships with aging parents.

With all of this information in my head, I turned over the outcome and stayed open to the possible. With that, the quality of men I attracted or to whom I was attracted changed quite a bit. I didn’t go on as many dates, but the ones I did agree to were with men who had better communication skills, had much more stable lives and in general brought more to the table overall as potential life partners.. I also didn’t limit my ‘search’ to dating websites. As I said, I stayed open to the possible, which means I wasn’t opposed to meeting the right man within an activity group, or at the grocery store, or wherever he might have appeared. The dating websites just allowed access to more options.

And after all of the trial and error, the right man entered my life and I knew almost instantly that he was the partner I had waited for all of these decades. So I’m here to say finding a true love is possible, does happen and it’s well worth the wait! My best advice? Don’t stop believing!

Remaining Single: Seven Words For Love

February 21st, 2015

I think the word love is something too easily said. What is the meaning of that word? We use it for everything, don’t we? I love to travel, or I love that movie, or I love my home. That’s all true but is that what love is really about? When we’re talking about romantic relationships, how is the word love handled?

I remember my first serious romantic relationship and how I knew my boyfriend wanted to tell me he loved me but I think he was afraid to say it first in case I didn’t say it back. I knew I loved him too but had never said that to anyone other than family before so it was scary to say it for the first time. It was a very sweet and tender moment and one I have always treasured. The relationship didn’t last a lifetime but that memory does.

Sometimes the word love is said with fury which seems completely paradoxical. I remember in another of my past significant romantic relationships, the first time we ever said “I love you” to each other was in the midst of an argument! Not the best predictor of a bright and happy future, to be sure. To this day I am grateful that romance didn’t last either, because it was full of red flags flying from the very first day. The two plus years we spent together were very hard for me and though I learned much about myself it certainly took its toll. And yet we said we loved each other. Hmmm…….

In thinking about what love really represents, I find there are some other words that I hear in my head when I think of the word love. They include but are not limited to patience, understanding, support, acceptance, regard/respect, admiration, value and cherish. These are the words I think of when thinking of love and how to love and who I love. I know I want those words to be present in any of my relationships – with colleagues , friends or romantic partners.

The words I mention aren’t difficult ones to figure out, and yet I know so many relationships of all kinds where it is clear by observation of interactions that these words are not in the relationship lexicon. I think about the relationships I have had with former friends, all of whom might have done the lip service of saying “I love you” with one breath while harshly criticizing and verbally judging something about me with the next. I have many instances where immediate family members have lied to me, verbally abused me, harshly disapproved of me, relentlessly criticized me, and were hurtful in general. Not quite what I would describe as love, and yet in our society we are ‘supposed to’ use the word ‘love’ when talking about family members. Seems hypocritical, doesn’t it?

Fortunately, I have had some positive love relationships in my life from whom I draw inspiration and strength. My father, now deceased, was the embodiment of the words I use to describe love. From the day I was born until the day he died, I was certain beyond all doubt that he loved me for exactly who I am, always. All I ever had to do was be his daughter and that was enough. We disagreed at times, and we didn’t always see eye to eye at times, but at no time did I ever feel anything else but that unconditional love from him.

I’m grateful that I had this positive loving relationship with at least one member of my immediate family, because as a result I have something to work toward in the rest of my relationships, including the most important one of all – the relationship I have with myself. And I continue to hold onto the belief that it is better to be on my own than to be settling for anything less than the words I use to describe love. In any personal relationship, I choose today to wait for the ones where those words can be said, meant and felt.

Remaining Single: Dating Without Desperation

December 8th, 2014

I think I finally figured out how to date without desperation and I have to say it gives me a whole new perspective to this dance of dating and relating with men. When I first decided to actively engage in the dating journey a while back, I thought I should take the ‘in with both feet’ approach. I put myself out there, threw myself into it, and right at the beginning had a three week email correspondence with someone that I thought was going to lead to much more. I thought I’d gotten really lucky and had found someone so quickly that it must be fate or meant to be or whatever term you want to use.

After about three weeks of intense lengthy emails sometimes twice a day, this man started dropping hints about us getting together in person. I said that would be nice and even went so far as to suggest we choose a time and place for a face to face. Almost as soon as I did that, I got an email that said he realized we wanted different things and he was not in a position to be in the kind of relationship he knew I wanted, and blah, blah, blah…….

Clearly, this man was running game, and unfortunately I fell for it. I know this man is available for dating (i.e. not married) because I know people who work with him. Regardless, he may have been available in terms of dating status, but just the same he wasn’t emotionally available. And I’m sure I was one of many email ‘pen pals’ with whom this man was corresponding.

Nevertheless, I refused to be discouraged, and continued on my dating journey. There was a year long period where I had a date with someone just about every weekend. Sometimes it was multiple dates with the same person, sometimes it was just one and done. And in between, there were email contacts, some phone contacts that seemed to be going toward something serious and other phone conversations that saved me having to go meet someone in person.

One phone contact person also turned out to be a game runner. We never met in person and he dropped off the face of the earth after a month, but for one 30 day period, this man called me nightly and we had a very intense four hour conversation together. I fell for this guy hard, and kept thinking we were going to meet at some point. We made plans to do that three different times and each time the excuses he gave were just plausible enough that I bought it. Once again I was wounded emotionally.

Still, I continued on, having dates every weekend as I said, and it was exhausting emotionally. I would no sooner be able to protect my heart and move forward that a situation would present itself and I would be emotionally invested all over again, only to have the whole thing disappear like smoke on a breeze. I kept thinking “maybe it’s this one, maybe it’s this one.” But those maybes never turned into the real deal. Sigh…….

After about a year of this exhaustive searching, I did a lot of thinking about how much this was intensifying my feelings of lonely and sad and angry. But I kept thinking about how many people I knew who had done the dating deal and found the love they were looking for. What was their secret and why wasn’t I getting clued into it?

I knew it was time to take a step back and take a different approach. I was not only aware of men on dating sites but also of men in activity groups I enjoyed. I was sending out messages of being open but also hearing the messages of self care, self worth and self love. And with that, I became aware of how desperate I had been during the first year of dating. I was so intent on finding someone that I wasn’t aware of how I wasn’t connecting to myself and wasn’t clear about my needs and also about my emotional boundaries.

It took some doing, but I decided to stop doing as much initiating towards men. Instead I took the approach of seeing who might initiate towards me. In the second year of this dating exploration I’ve had far fewer dates. Sometimes it’s been the men who initiated and I’ve had some lovely evenings with some nice men. A couple of times I did decide to initiate and a couple of those were okay too. Once or twice a game running man has shown up and I’ve gone along for the ride for a bit, but it hasn’t lasted as long and the fall hasn’t been as hard.

Now I remember lessons learned long ago from other aspects of my life and today I choose to trust the process. I firmly believe there is a bigger force in charge of all of this and my only responsibility is to be in the place of strength to allow my heart to stay open. He’s out there, and he and I will find our way to each other when that’s meant to happen. But the meant to happen piece or timetable is not controlled by me or him. Now that it’s out of my hands, the desperation is gone and I can date, relate and don’t mind the wait.

Remaining Single: The Choice to Feel and Be Real

October 9th, 2014

The suicide of Robin Williams in August of 2014 got me thinking about how so many people choose to avoid, ignore, discount and dismiss their feelings. In this instance the death was not by overdose but rather by the actor’s own hand. I watched this actor’s career with fascination and admiration over decades and know my favorite role of his was one of the serious roles, though this actor was known for comedy genius.

Robin Williams had many acting credits to his name, but for me his best role was as the psychotherapist in the film “Good Will Hunting.” In that film, his character Sean is suffering the loss of his wife to cancer and is teaching at a community college when he is asked to treat Will Hunting played by Matt Damon. In my favorite scene, Sean and Will are sitting on a park bench outside and Sean tells Will that life is a collection of experiences and also of the feelings that go along with those experiences.

In my opinion, feelings are the essence of life. What is life in the day to day? What is any one life worth? If there is no connection to emotion that surrounds every experience we have, then we might as well be robots, moving through our days with the automation of the routine. Life is about routine, of course, and we have the patterns of routine that make up our days, weeks, months and years. And along the way we have the ‘big’ experiences – graduating from high school or college, buying a house, getting a job, getting married, having children, getting divorced, relocating, going on a vacation, traveling to a new place. For most of us, that’s as much as we want or hope for or aspire to or dream about. Some folks might have any of the experiences on the prior list and more. Olympic athletes or others who achieve fame on any level have an extra catalogue of life events to review.

At the end of the day, what is the common denominator that links all of these experiences together? The feelings that we feel as each of the days of our lives unfold. I am aware that I have feelings every minute of every day and they actually break down very simply. What are the driving feelings for me? There are basically five I connect with most frequently, with happy being the preferred one of the five. Along with happy , the other feelings I am challenged by are angry, sad, lonely and scared.

Who among us wouldn’t want to spend all of our time being happy, right? It’s the best feeling in the world and I connect to happy a great deal of the time. I’m happy being in my own home, especially when the windows are open and I can smell the fresh air on the breeze wafting in from outside. I am happy to live where the sun shines often. I am happy when I listen to live music, perhaps in the car or when I’m dancing. I feel happiness when I am on a hike, climbing up to somewhere high and once arriving there am rewarded by a beautiful and breathtaking view. I am happy when I ski down a smooth groomed cruising run, hearing the whoosh of air in my ears as I make my turns. I am happy when I am engaged in a stimulating conversation one on one or sometimes in a group setting. In so many instances the happy feelings are close to the surface in various aspects of my life.

It’s enough to say happiness is a goal to strive for, but along with happy I choose to accept the deep connection I have to the other four of angry, sad, lonely and scared. As a younger person I was very in touch with angry. I know some of this is my background – I come from a family where there were some raging people, people who couldn’t accept or more accurately process their own fear, which is what anger covers. This fear turned into anger punctuated my childhood and certainly spilled over into my own behavior as a younger person. I still have a tendency toward anger but whenever I remember that anger covers fear, I’m able to get to the deeper connection around fear and what that’s really about.

Regarding fear, one of my favorite slogans states that fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. I know I get stuck on worrying about certain things that are fearful for me from time to time. One of my fears is that there is nobody who has my back, who will be in my corner, so to speak. This comes from a lifetime of experiences of having the rug pulled out from under me in emotional interpersonal relationships. It takes everything I have in my emotional strengths tool box sometimes to have the confidence that there will always be people in my life who care about and value me. On good days, I know I have the confidence to be on my own and be okay if there is nobody there. On not so good days, the feelings around fear spill over into sad and lonely.

I frequently state that lonely is not the same as alone. I can be alone and be perfectly content. I can be with others and be heartbreakingly lonely. Such a huge difference and yet so often misinterpreted by others. I know the difference all too well, and again some of the lonely feelings come from inside my own head. But I know when I feel lonely it’s coming from some circumstance in my life and as I get older I become more aware of the need to deal with that feeling and explore what circumstances are creating the lonely feelings, and to honor and validate the sadness that comes along with lonely.

When I feel my feelings and have the opportunity to share about them, I am able to honor the feelings as I said above. Honoring and validating feelings creates better self worth for me. With better self worth, I am able to go to happy more often. I am able to connect to what is good and valuable about me, and I’m able to enjoy more of the moments of my life. Sometimes it’s hard work, but ultimately in my opinion, this life is worth living.

Remaining Single: WAIT (Walk Along In Trust) and HOPE (Heart Open Prayers/Patience Extended)

August 12th, 2014

As the dating process continues, and I continue to WAIT (Walk Along In Trust), I have time to reflect about trust and faith and belief and HOPE (Heart Open Prayers Extended).

For me HOPE also stands for Heart Open, Patience Extended. Indeed the dating journey is no different than any other life journey. It’s a process, a trust thing, a one day at a time situation. When I started this latest chapter in my dating story, I was hopeful. At times I have been impatient and frustrated, wondering why I kept going out on first dates and sometimes second and third dates and even sometimes more dates than that, and nothing clicked. A little romantic glimmer here and there perhaps, sometimes feelings became invested, but so far nothing has led to a lasting loving romantic partnership. Sigh……

Whenever I think something romantic might be starting and then it doesn’t work out, I feel sad, hurt, and lonely. Sometimes I feel angry too, but that doesn’t last very long. Mostly it’s the other three feelings of heartache that are closer to the surface. It’s hard to go through this process of feeling the feelings again and again. It’s uncomfortable and painful. That’s where hope comes in. With the knowledge that I keep hope alive, I’m able to get to gratitude for having met the person at all, for know he was sent to my life for a reason. Sometimes I don’t know the reason but eventually it becomes clear to me that I was given a gift. This is not only true of romantic encounters, but also with friendships. Many times I have found that I’ve needed to let go of friendships in my life when it began to be clear that none of my friendship needs were being met and it was all a one way situation, with me doing the giving and the other person doing the taking. I hate when that happens but at least I’ve learned through constant reminder and constant repetition of this situation that it’s better to walk away sooner than to hang on to something where there is no reciprocal effort.

Recently someone told me to give up on hope in order to let go of desire and that way the heart won’t be hurt. But why would I want to protect myself from hurt? For me, hurt serves a purpose. The hurt lets me know that at least I have a heart that can feel and my feelings deserve to be felt and honored and validated. I don’t want to close myself off from hope just to avoid being hurt. Rather, I choose to stay hopeful around many things in my life, not just romance. What is hope after all, but a willingness to believe in things going right, or working out, or coming to pass, or anything else positive? I don’t think I’ll take this person’s suggestion, which I was told comes from Buddhism’s teachings. I don’t know much about Buddhism, but that doesn’t work for me. No matter how many times I may be shot down, no matter how many times I open my heart and my life with the belief that someone right for me will walk into it only to have that belief negated, I will continue to have Heart Open Patience Extended (HOPE).

And if hope is the belief that things will work out somehow when that’s meant to happen, along with HOPE must come WAIT (Walk Along In Trust). That’s a tough one, because I get impatient sometimes, and when I get impatient I know I stop trusting for a while. But again, along with the resilient belief in hope, I soon regain my trust and my willingness to let go of the outcome, which is what I know I need to do in order to keep with the whole concept of WAIT. In the lonely times when nothing is happening on the romantic front, or I’ve let go of a friendship that wasn’t working, I feel the sad and scared feelings that go along with the impatience. The impatience speaks to anger but soon passes into sad, lonely and scared. I wonder why I’m by myself again, or why it seems as if I’m more on my own than closely connected to people. Then those thoughts give way to gratitude and I go back to being able to Walk Along In Trust (WAIT).
Ultimately it’s the trust factor that I’m being taught to embrace over and over. With each experience of letting go, I’m being shown how important it is for me to define my self worth and to be true to my own needs. So often I believe I’ve let go of my own needs for the sake of someone else. I know I did this for years with family of origin relationships, based on the belief that if I kept modeling the caring and giving behavior it would come back around to me. Didn’t happen. Then with certain friendships I thought If I did nice things for them they would reciprocate. Didn’t happen. And with certain past romantic partners, I believed if I demonstrated loving gestures, they would be returned to me. Didn’t happen.

Through the decades of my life the constant reminder is I need to make my own life the primary focus an the ultimate number one priority. When I feel the shift of moving my life to a back burner, or the role of supporting player in my own life, that’s when I know it’s time to let go of whatever relationship is not meeting my needs, be it romance, friendship, family of origin member, client, colleague, whatever. I’m being shown what is required to be able to go slow, let go, relax and let go of the outcome one day at a time. It comes down to the same two concepts – Walk Along In Trust (WAIT) and continue to keep my Heart Open Patience/Prayers Extended (HOPE).

Remaining Single: Question For Men (Or Women!): Why Lie?

May 30th, 2014

Here’s an oldie but goodie from the joke archives: How do you know a man is lying? His lips are moving and sound is coming out of his mouth. (Pause for laugh) I’m sure men tell the same joke about women too, by the way.

I’m not a man hater and I’m not bitter about men. But it does get frustrating sometimes to encounter men who choose not to be truthful. Let’s not even sugar coat it. Men lie. It’s that simple. And there’s no rhyme or reason for why they lie. But they create an atmosphere of distrust the minute they do it with anyone, especially women. More’s the pity though, because too many women (myself included at times, sad to say) are willing to believe the lie! I have worked hard on my own self awareness journey to live in my truth and be a truthful person. So it’s disheartening when I encounter men who lie.

Men have different ways of lying. Some are outright liars and they are manipulative enough to make it seem like we’re the ones with the problem if we catch them in a life. I once was dating someone who it turns out was continuing a relationship with an ex girlfriend even though I said it was a deal breaker for me. I found out about it, confronted him and he did nothing. But that’s when I needed to end the relationship. Did I do that? No, I continued to date this man for what seemed like an eternity. Actually we were together only 2.5 years, but when they are not happy years, they can seem like forever, right?

Some men choose to lie by omission. Here’s an example. I know a man who has a number of women interested in him romantically. He seems to be a nice friendly romantically unattached guy. Or so we all thought. Recently he shared that he had been romantically involved with someone for a number of months. I know there have been times when he has been out with me or friends of ours on a weekend evening and when asked how does this fly with his girlfriend his reply was “What someone doesn’t know they don’t have to be told, right?” Further, he went on to say that he didn’t consider this woman to be his girlfriend, even though they were physically involved. It was stunning to hear those words come out of his mouth because it seems this man, who presented as a nice romantically unattached guy, is more of a player than anyone gave him credit for. It’s a little scary to know that there’s a man out there who ‘kept his options open’ so to speak, while being romantically (i.e. physically) involved with a woman.

Here’s another one – the man who drops off the face of the earth after a couple of good dates. Or the man who starts a relationship and then runs with some story about being busy at work or not feeling attracted, or he doesn’t miss you enough when he’s not with you. These are all so flimsy a ten year old could see through them . They are all ‘man speak’ for the unwillingness to take a dating romance to the next level and make the commitment towards a long term, monogamous, all investment type of relationship.

So back to the question of why men lie? And by the way, I’m not saying women don’t lie. They lie just as much as men. I don’t even want to write down some of the excuses women I know have made when they don’t want to say yes to an invitation to do something together. It’s pretty sad. I think the basic thing is very few people are willing to say no, or no thanks. I have heard people tell me it sounds ‘mean’ to say no. But what is worse – telling the truth with a polite “no” or “no thank you” or lying and then being found out? I’m okay with someone saying no to me. Yes, it hurts my feelings a bit because if I ask someone to get together it’s because I truly want to spend time with that person. But if they say no, I need to accept their choice and move on, make different plans for myself or with others. I don’t always accept every invitation I get either. Just for myself, it hurts worse when someone lies about why they can’t get together. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a man or a woman. A lie is a lie is a lie. Here’s the hope that’s worth the work – I send out the wish or belief that there are others along my life journey who strive for the same standards of honesty, integrity and authenticity that I try to maintain in myself. If it starts with me, then that has to be enough. If I continue the journey with those standards, then I will be rewarded by encountering others who believe the same. Here’s hoping.