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The Love Project

Learning how to love myself. One huge mistake at a time.

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Sex

The Pitfall of Being in Love

The pursuit of love is really, truly the point of why we’re here. I’m not saying it should be the point, but I believe it is. The kind of love I’m talking about is romantic love. Sexy love. The kind of love that makes you look in the mirror and think “Holy shit, I DO matter.” It’s not the love from your children that does that. It’s not the love from your parents, your best friends, your dog. (The love from your dog probably comes the closest, but it’s still a distant second.) The love we’re all subtly or openly searching for is that kind that makes us warm in our crotches, makes our heart skip a beat, makes us see the profound beauty in ourselves, that for some flipping reason, we can’t see any other way.

I am in love. Deeply, madly, mind-erasingly in love. It happened quite by accident, in a way that would make you roll your eyes and throw up in your mouth a little if I told you. I would probably use the phrase “love at first sight.” And it would be entirely true. I don’t know where he came from or how we found each other, but he’s that person who…wait for it…completes me. I know: ACK! Take a deep breath and let’s keep going.

A few months in, I was aware of being happy in way I hadn’t been in a long time, if ever. Not happy giddy, but happy peaceful. Happy in my cells. Content and more in touch with myself. Then at some point, a little demon came out and tapped me on the shoulder. She whispered things in my ear that made me feel crazy. She said it wouldn’t last. I became jealous for no reason, insecure over absolutely nothing. Even as I was overwhelmed with these feelings, a part of me knew there was no substance to it. When I dug a little deeper, I realized the driving thoughts were all around the fear of losing this special love. This love that crawled in and curled up in my empty spaces. This love that picked up my broken pieces and lovingly put them back in place. And here, right in the middle of fully having this special love, I felt like it was already gone.

It is well-documented that romantic love floods your brain with dopamine. The feeling of being in love is literally addicting. The same way cocaine and caffeine and sugar are addicting. And how do we feel when someone takes away our coffee and our biscotti? God, I love biscotti, by the way. It’s just the right amount of crunch and sweetness. We know that drugs and sugar are bad for us (mmm, I love biscotti), but … how do we reconcile this with love?  Anthropologist and love expert Helen Fisher has given a few TED talks about love. Here is one that goes into detail about what’s happening in our pitiful little brains when we’re stupid in love:

Stem cell biologist Bruce Lipton also explored this topic in The Honeymoon Effect, where he not only examines the physics and biology of love, but tells a very powerful love story of his own that illustrates the science behind love. It’s a fascinating book even though he uses exclamation points.

So, back to me…

I’m about six months into this love thing. It’s real love, I’m telling you. I love this man from the furthest corners of my being. We are deeply connected and getting closer all the time. Yet, when he leaves, I am always empty. It’s as if he takes his love with him. Sure enough, I get texts from him soon after he’s left telling me how beautiful I am, how much he loves me, etc, etc. etc. (I know, I know. Ack.) The point is that my level of security and assurance in the relationship go up and down irrationally. When he goes away, so does my dopamine. Somehow, this man, who has soothed my most chaotic places, is also stirring up entirely new chaos in my heart. He has both set me right-side-up and thrown me sideways.

So, how do we negotiate between the most powerful drive on the planet and the fact that it is designed to make us crazy with the fear of losing it? How are we supposed to behave lovingly towards someone we love when our primal architecture is an agenda of madness? How can we receive the genuine love someone shows when we are also afraid of losing it?

Let me know if you’ve figured it out. Please.

Sole Mate

I’ve started down the path of Internet dating. I created a profile on one of these “Meet Your Soul Mate” type websites, and I even started looking for possible soul mates. There’s just one teeny, tiny problem. I do not want a soul mate. I am a loner, and I like it that way. (I think.) I want companionship, but I do not want a burden. I like to be alone – a lot. But I also want companionship (you realize that’s just code for “sex,” right?).

Is that weird?

I want really, really good sex and maybe that entails a soul connection, but the whole “mate” thing implies I’m interested in intertwining my life with someone else. And I’m solidly not interested in that. But I seem to be alone: all of the guys I would potentially be interested in (based on the completely superficial details of their profile…like, whether or not they’re hot) have as a part of their profile: Looking for a Relationship.

Really?

How do they know they want a relationship? And, for that matter, how do I know that I don’t? Just because I was married to someone who I wasn’t passionately in love with doesn’t mean that the next guy I meet won’t complete me in the way my husband never did. But still, when I read that someone is Looking for a Relationship (capital “L,” capital “R”) I hear: “I have this massive void in my life, and I’m ready for YOU, yes YOU, the one reading this right now, to fill that wasteland of loneliness.”  And then I just slam my laptop shut and run away screaming.

I have always felt a little claustrophobic in my relationships, like I never had enough freedom. Not to be bad, but to be myself. Does that mean that I am someone who fundamentally should not be in a long-term, committed relationship? Or have I just not found that perfect complement to myself? Is it possible to find your soul mate…even if you want to be the sole character of your life?

Honestly

The honesty thing. Why is it so hard? One minute, I feel like I’m on track, taking care of myself, doing the things I want and need to do to feel good and productive, aligning my actions with my priorities and all that good stuff Oprah and Dr. Phil are always talking about. The next minute, I’m off the track, sometimes drunk and confused, dirty dishes are piling up in the sink, my bills are overdue, and I’m feeling angry at the world. Oh. So. Angry.

Why am I only able to be honest about what I want and how I want to spend my time when there’s no one else around to be honest to? In other words, why do I have so much trouble actually being honest. Because being honest when you’re avoiding the world isn’t being honest. Honesty doesn’t work in a vacuum. It’s all fine and well to say, “I just want to sit down and read a book. I don’t care that it’s Friday night,” when there’s no one around to hear it. But when someone I’m dating is here or my well-meaning, potentially alcoholic friends are texting me about hanging out, I cave and do what they want to do.

Why?

Because I’m afraid they won’t love me anymore if I’m honest about what I really want when what I really want goes against what they want. And then I cave and drink too much and smoke cigarettes when I so desperately want to NOT smoke cigarettes and then I’m too tired to do the dishes or pay the bills. And then I’m so angry at my friends or the guy I’m dating for leading me down a path I didn’t want to go down when the person I’m really mad at is…wait for it…me.

How can I be expected to ever have an honest relationship with anyone else when I can’t be honest with myself? Agreeing to go along with what others want to do so that I’ll have a social life is a colossal lie. It lurks deep, deep, deep so that you don’t even really know the lie is in control. But it’s there, guiding your behavior. That shadow lie we all tell ourselves is: “I am unlovable if I’m not doing what others want me to do.”

And that’s the honest truth.

Love Actually

Yesterday I was not in love.  I was decidedly in thorough dislike.  This, after being in love the weekend before and also at some point before that.  Now, I am back in love.  And I’m having a hard time keeping up with it all.

I met someone quite accidentally.  Though I realize that’s how most people meet.  (Online dating sites aside.)  It was an accident because I was really not supposed to meet him.  I was supposed to be single for the next year or so and – as the name of this blog promises – learn how to love myself.  I have been married for 14 years and am getting divorced.  I have a five-year-old daughter.  I hadn’t had sex in (gulp) years.  I felt (feel) worthless in general and terrified about the future.  Really, all I could cling to was this idea that I could be alone and figure out what love means.

And then I met a boy.  I started participating in a beach volleyball clinic and he is one of the coaches.  He’s not chiseled and dripping sex like one might imagine in this scenario.  (Go ahead and imagine that if you want to though.  Hell, I might stop for a minute and imagine it.)  He chased me up the street after the first practice and asked me if I was going home to take a hot shower.  Not in a “I’ll be imagining you naked and wet” sort of way, but more of a “I can’t think of anything else to say and you’re covered in sand” sort of way.  I stopped to talk to him and we stood on the corner barefoot and sandy, grinning, with our sunglasses on top of our head as the sun went down behind us.

That was about two months ago.  Since then we have been dating.  (Is it considered dating if we just watch movies at each other’s houses?)  And I’ve run the gamut of emotions, mostly because my very unrealistic expectations for a fling have only been partially met.  And by partially I mean, this isn’t so much a fling as it is a full-blown relationship.  But the hardest part for me is that we seemed to have skipped the all-important hummingbird phase where we just buzz around each other, wanting to have sex constantly and whisper in each other’s ears about the sex we’re going to have and the sex we just had.

I brought this up stealthily the other night around 2 AM after we had been drinking and he admitted he didn’t have butterflies (or hummingbirds) with me, but something better.  He had never been so comfortable with a girl as he was with me.  That every time he sees me, he falls deeper for me, his heart grows.  (I’d prefer his nether region grow when he sees me.)  So, all the while he’s settling in to spooning while we watch Marvel comic book movies, I’m back and forth with frustration, then lust when he decides to take off my pants during said Marvel comic book movie, then back to frustration when he doesn’t want to do a play-by-play of the sex, complimenting my every gesture and impactful groan.

Comfortable.

Of all the things I would want a guy to feel for me, this is not one of them.  I feel hurt and angry that he doesn’t buzz into a hard-on when I walk into the room.  The sex is great, don’t get me wrong.  (But after five years, honestly, it could be super average and I wouldn’t know the difference.)  And he’s into me in the moment, but… I want that impossible vibrating in your belly that makes you high and then angry later when it fades and you want it back.  I want the roller coaster, the obsessing, the jealousy, the “that ass belongs to me” …

Don’t I?

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