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The Love Project

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

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?

Wiggle Your Big Toe

Kill Bill is my favorite movie.  Followed closely by Kill Bill 2.  I’m not a Tarantino fan though.  I thought Pulp Fiction was kind of sophomoric and Reservoir Dogs was gratuitous.  But Kill Bill blew my mind and spoke to parts of me I didn’t even know I had.  I wasn’t a mom at the time, but something spoke to that yet-to-be-awakened primal caretaker beast that us females have growling quietly beneath our surface.  The inspiration to be that kind of single-minded, purposeful, unstoppable warrior has never left me.

That is not to say I have actually been a warrior in my life, I just continue to be inspired to be one.  Which is just code for saying I am scared and probably a little lazy and the path of a warrior would require energy and resolve – and right now I am super short on both of those things.  My husband of 14 years and I recently separated and I’m living in a new town with my daughter.  (He lives nearby because we decided neither of us could be far from her, though he and I have been on different planets for most, if not all, of our relationship.)  I feel raw and strange and empty and excited.  I make really, really bad decisions sometimes about how to handle the newness of this separation and the total quiet of my life when my kid is with him.  It is really, really, really quiet when she’s gone.  Sometimes I smoke and drink and trash my body with junk food and I feel like there’s no end to the poison dump I’ll endure just to not feel a morsel of space in me.  Sometimes I run on the beach and enjoy a good sweat and drink cucumber juice and cry in my kitchen freely.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and have no idea who is staring back.  Other times I look in the mirror and think she and I can take baby steps and fall and get up and take baby steps again.

I was pondering Kill Bill recently, thinking about the bad ass moments where she destroys bad guys under impossible circumstances.  And then I remembered the scene that was the most dramatic to me, the one that has stuck with me over all the others and one that means the most to me now.  When she wakes from her coma and drags herself to a car, still unable to use her lower half from being bed ridden for so long, she climbs in the back seat and stares at her feet.  She reflects on the awful things that have been done to her, what she’s going to do to the awful people who did them and the grand way in which she’s going to do it.  She looks at her legs, which are not working, and starts talking to her feet.  She channels all her energy into getting her muscles to work because without that basic step, without that happening first, she will be powerless to seek revenge.

“However,” she says, as she’s thinking of the retribution to come, “before satisfaction can be mine, first things first…wiggle your big toe.”  The screen shows her feet not moving, followed by her repeating the command.  Finally, her big toe moves and she smiles. “Hard part’s over,” she says.

Hard part’s over.  That is how I feel about making the decision to separate, making the decision to write this first blog post, making the decision not to smoke today.  They aren’t glamorous motions, not broad strokes or powerful gestures.  They are small steps, but those are perhaps the most important ones because they are the hardest.  They are quiet moments that no one sees, the struggle that is anonymous but monumental.  Uma Thurman in the back of a van talking to her feet. The pain that is small enough to fit right behind your eyes and in your chest, but large enough to swallow your world.

My notion of a warrior now is someone who understands that before they can slaughter hundreds of bad guys with a big sword, they must first wiggle their big toe.  I still don’t see myself as a warrior and perhaps it’s better if I don’t.  That way I will continue to strive to be one.  Anything that first puts us on the path is the most righteous gesture of all.

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