Today, I want to dive into a lesson the Universe delivered to me ever-so-kindly the past month.
Let’s step back in time to the end of June (and even before that). I’m mid-way through a massive two-week juice cleanse and have just stumbled into some serious emotional detox. Like, oh man, this fucking sucks type of emotional detox. Sitting on the couch at my therapist’s office, I take off my glasses (so they don’t get those dreaded speckles from tears that are hard as shit to get off).
“So, I guess during all of this cleanse, I realized I tuck away my fear of being single,” I confess. “Like, the only time it ever comes out is when I drink and that’s a big reason I don’t drink anymore. I’m happy 99 percent of the time, but then that little annoying one percent just hammers me when I let it.”
May and Dating
We dissect the past brief “relationship” I had. I put it in quotes, because I met a guy and we dated. And by date, we met on a Friday night, and then went out every night but one, our last date being the following Tuesday.
I realized he was nowhere near where he needed to be in his healing process with his ex, and I wasn’t interested in being the guinea pig for it, and also, we just weren’t a match.
But, I clung to it … because he liked me and I convinced myself to like him. Only, the convincing I did was courtesy of whisky, beer and wine, since that makes it easier to fake feelings … to feel how you think you’re supposed to feel and also to ignore those red flags (ex-wife he still lived with, not in tune with our goals, etc.) because damnitIwanttofindsomeoneamazingandwhileheisntitmaybehecouldbe … right?
Fucking wrong wrong wrong.
“Diana,” my therapist says, “fear makes us do things we normally wouldn’t do.”
“How do I ignore it then?”
“You have to be in tune with yourself. And, you have to know that the right man for you is on his way.”
In tune with myself. Isn’t that what I’ve been working on for the past year?
But, I know what she means. It’s those red flags. Because if those weren’t there, I would have worked to make that relationship blossom. Unlike in the past, when I would have kept on until my partner (no matter how ill-fitting) would walk, this time, I lasted four dates. And I acknowledged the red flags … and made excuses/justified them.
So, I was kinda sorta but not really there.
“You’ve got to make space for the right person,” she states. “Go home and clean out some space in your drawers. Buy an extra toothbrush. Open your house to love.”
“Imagine what it feels like to be with the right person,” she continues. “Repeat ‘I am ready for him.’ It will happen, you have to put it out there.”
“Alright, I’ll do it.”
After therapy, I head to Ikea to shop for cool shit make space for this man I am going to manifest. I buy organizers for my bathroom counter, red candles for my bath tub (she said to have red items in my house because that is the color of love). I go to the grocery store to buy a tooth brush and cleaning supplies.
That night, I clean my bathroom and make space on the counter, placing the unopened toothbrush in one of the organizers.
I go through my clothes, creating a giveaway pile and emptying areas in drawers. I adjust my closet so there is space for my future love’s hangers.
Once it’s all done, I light those red candles next to the tub and draw a bath. Sinking into the lavender-oiled water, I lean my head back against the rim of the tub, placing my feet on the faucet.
I close my eyes and imagine being in love. I feel the feelings. I walk through my day in behind closed eyes, letting myself envision what it feels like to be in love and to be in a real, caring relationship.
After my bath, I do a little dating app exploration, and nearly every man I swipe right on is a match and from Las Vegas (a rarity). The following day, I give my number to one of said matches. He’s cute and witty, but when I tell him I’m on a juice cleanse at the beginning of our text conversation, his response is “I’ve got some juice for you.”
Wait. What. Also, seriously?
Where Old Diana would have let that slide, Fear Aware Diana doesn’t.
“Pretty forward for someone you just messaged, eh?”
“LOL it was funny.”
Or, it wasn’t and it wasn’t the way I wanted to be flirted with by someone I didn’t know and doesn’t know me.
So, I took a deep breath. Blocked. Deleted. Next.
July and Dating
Right on call, the next day the Universe delivers someone to me.
He’s a “semi-local,” 45 years old, seemingly normal guy. We talk on the phone and hit it off, so despite being on a juice cleanse, I agree to meet him for “dinner” that night.
As I watch him clean his Cracker Barrel plate, he fires questions at me, and we learn about each other over a longer than normal dinner date.
I sit there, thinking of the space I’ve made as he tells me I’m beautiful and funny and all the things I want to hear.
When he takes me home that night and kisses me goodbye, I don’t fight it.
It feels right.
We make plans for two nights later, right before I’m due to head out of town. Again, we go to a long dinner where I drink water. This time, our conversation goes a little deeper.
“Why are you single?” He asks me, holding my hand.
Wouldn’t I fucking like to know.
“I think I’m a lot for most men my age,” I offer. “I have my shit together. I’m super independent. I’m driven. I’m me and I don’t make any apologies. I think that really intimidates a lot of potential matches.”
“You are a lot,” he says, rubbing his thumb on my hand. “But, then again, so am I. I think you’re incredible. Beautiful. I like holding your hand. Is it OK if I keep doing it?”
I sink. This man is saying all the right things, and he continues to do so.
We end the night at my place, where he endears himself to me even more by playing with my cats for a good 15 minutes. I keep the night PG because I’ve learned by now that I want something serious and getting too hot and heavy too quickly means those flames also burn out really fast.
Cuddled on the couch, he lazily traces his finger up and down my arm.
“You deserve to be loved. You deserve someone incredible. If it’s not me who gets you, the person who does is going to be so lucky.”
He spouts magic word after magic word, knowing exactly what to say to rope me in, praying on my desire to manifest my match. I’ve wanted someone to say that to me … forever. And, now, here we are. And, just wow.
You’re beautiful. You’re amazing. You’re perfect. I feel like I’ve known you forever. This is so wonderful.
Even for a woman with confidence like I have, to hear those words come out of another’s mouth fills me up with hope, desire, an idea that despite initial thoughts (he’s super short and scrawny, and I always imagined I’d be with someone who’d make me feel secure and safe), I overlook them because no man has ever said those words to me and they make me feel so damn good.
Maybe he is saying them to me and he’s never said them to anyone else before. Maybe he really believes what he is saying. Or, maybe he says it to everyone. It doesn’t matter. I’m. In.
Before the night is over, it’s been established I’m going to meet him in LA in two weeks. We part ways and continue our “relationship” over text.
As I sit on the runway 36 hours later, I get a text from him saying: “Is it weird to kinda miss you?”
A few days later, I remember that he has a free ticket to Universal Studios, and I really want to see him and he makes it seem like he really wants to see me.
“What would you say if I came out for the day to go with you to Universal”? I write.
He responds enthusiastically, telling me it will be a blast.
Ultimately, I book the ticket and the days leading up to our reunion, I get countdown texts.
When I arrive to LAX, he greets me at the bottom of the escalator at baggage claim, my name written in Thai.
Jesus, how did I ever end up so lucky? I put it out into the Universe I was ready, I made space, and there this man landed on cue.
Then, the red flags start.
When I get in his car at the airport, he hands me a Visa gift card.
I hold it in my hand and look at it.
Was he helping to cover the cost of my adventure?
“Don’t get excited,” he says. “There’s nothing on it.”
“You’re on Southwest. You can use this and order whatever you like. They don’t run reports until after the flight is over, so by the time they run it, you’re gone.”
Oh mannnnnnn. My stomach sinks.
“Oh,” I say, at a loss for words. I blink and look outside as we drive through Hollywood. “I appreciate it, but I won’t use it. I think it’s bad karma.”
“Not for me, it’s not,” he says. “I don’t have any bad karma.”
He also confesses grabbing discarded airplane tickets and using the tickets to bulk up his frequent flier account.
“It’s OK because it doesn’t take away from anyone else,” he promises.
I ignore all of it and instead focus on his hand on my knee and how nice it feels to have someone make me feel so special.
We spend the day holding hands, hugging, kissing, going on rides and having a wonderful time. Even when I’m back at LAX after a super romantic theme park adventure and my best friend asks me how the date was, I tell her there were some things I wasn’t OK with, but not red flags. He’s really cheap, I joke. But, not really joking.
“Best dates 3-5 ever,” he writes that night. “Can’t wait to see you next week.”
Fear and Choices
Then, the next afternoon, he becomes cold and distant. I feel the shift in the pit of my stomach as his Xs and Os disappear and his response times go from a minute to a day.
Yet, I continue to gush, thinking of all of the wonderful things he has said to me to hook me, ignoring the things which bother me.
“They’re behaviors that can change,” my friend explains to me over dinner.
“Yeah,” I say, stirring my ramen, “I hope so, because I don’t know how I feel about some of that stuff he does. It makes my stomach sink.”
We go two days without talking and then on Monday, I go to look at our old conversation from the dating app, and he’s edited it since the day before when I showed someone his profile, changing his text about being in Las Vegas.
“He has a penis,” my friend justifies to me when I tell her what I saw.
“Yeah, but also, he was so all about me and telling me how wonderful I was and beautiful and perfect, and all of the sudden, that stopped and he hasn’t responded to my message today, but had time to change his dating profile? What the fuck?”
I feel betrayed. Like the words he spouted meant nothing. Did they mean anything? Haven’t we reached a point in our mid-to-late mid-life that we can simply be open and honest and not pussyfoot around important conversations like “hey, I liked you and now I don’t, maybe it’s not a match after all?”
I hear from him half a day later, right before I go to bed, and he apologizes, saying he fell asleep. For seven hours.
“I’m not going to LA this weekend,” I tell another friend. “He’s going to cancel.”
Never do I admit I should cancel, that is isn’t working, that I’m not ok with his sudden change in behavior because, man, I love the way I feel when I’m around him.
I book a session with my therapist the next day after prompting from my mom, who I call and tell her what’s happened.
“Literally, nothing changed. It was all ‘you’re amazing, I can’t wait to see you,’ and then it was silence,” I say, trying to make sense.
And then, she points out my red flags.
“Those aren’t things you liked,” she says, “But you ignored them.”
“Yeah, I did, because I like him and I want to give him a chance.”
“Or, because he liked you and you liked what he said to you.”
“Well, tomorrow will be a good session,” I offer.
As I sit in the waiting room for my therapist the late afternoon of the next day, he calls me.
“I’ve had a shitty day,” he begins. I feel my stomach tense up. I know what’s coming. “I think I’m getting sick. I don’t know for sure, but I think there’s something coming.” Fake cough
“Yeah, ok,” I say because I already knew this was going to happen. I don’t feel sad, I feel angry. Furious that I’m being lied to and he thinks he is getting away with it. Thinks that I am an idiot.
“I’m really sorry, I mean, I don’t know if I am sick, maybe I’m not, but just in case, I don’t want to leave you hanging or have to cancel your plans or not have a Plan B.”
“Oh, I have no intention of canceling my plans, I’m going to be with friends, and I have a Plan B.”
“OK, good. I really want to see you, I just don’t know if I’m going to be sick or not, so let me see how I feel tonight and call you tomorrow and if I don’t have a fever, it’s cool.”
And, it’s Tuesday. LA is Friday. And, I’m in town until Monday. But, hey, when you’re lying, I suppose it can make sense.
“Yup, ok, I hope you feel better. Eat some garlic and drink some tea.”
“Oh yeah, right, I will,” and then, “I hope I can see you. Will talk to you later, cutie.”
I shudder, disgusted in the time and space I’ve given him.
Why? Just why?
So, over therapy, we dissect the relationship. I report to my therapist what I’ve learned about his life, who he is, what he’s said to me, how he has treated me. And, my feelings about his behaviors that don’t sit right with me i.e. the total lack of integrity.
“OK, so, let’s go back to the other guy,” she says, referencing the man with the ex who still lived with him. “You knew it wasn’t right but you didn’t walk away immediately. But, you did walk away.”
“This stuff with this guy, it’s the same. You know it isn’t right, but you didn’t walk away. It’s never going to sit right with you. Why didn’t you walk away.”
“Because he made me feel really good about myself,” I say. And, then I get really mad. I start to feel like prey. Like, there’s this piece of me that he knew wanted to be loved and cherished and he saw it when others haven’t, and dangled words and affection in my face until he found his next person. And, that there was something in me that still needed that fucking validation that I thought had vanished ages ago.
“Oh, and yeah, fear.” I finally admit. “I knew and I ignored it because I wanted it to work.”
“But, you see he’s not right for you and you ignore it, even now, when he is pulling this with you, you see it, you acknowledge it and instead of walking away, you wait for him to make a decision about what happens next.”
I hug the pillow. “Yeah,” I mumble. “So, how do I change that?”
“I don’t know how to say that.”
“Yes, you do. Tell him you choose you. Take control of your life and make a decision for the two of you.”
“I did all this work, I put it out into the Universe, he came along. I thought it was him,” I say, frustrated.
“The Universe gave you him, and you know why? Because you need to learn how to choose you. How to listen to your gut instinct and not ignore it. How to acknowledge when something isn’t right and walk away. That you don’t need someone else to tell you how wonderful you are, that you need to believe it yourself. You’ve got to learn these lessons because they will bring you to the right person, and that’s what the Universe is telling you.”
Well, damn. She’s right.
I get in my car and call him. I can feel the tension pulse through my body as I take a deep breath before diving in.
“I know you’re sick and I’m sorry,” I begin. “But, it made me think a lot about us and I choose to be with someone who has space in their life for me, who wants to spend time with me, and I don’t think that’s you.”
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking the same thing,” he says. “It sucks because I like you and I’d like it to turn into something, but yeah, the distance isn’t going to work.”
I leave out the original statements he had made to me when he told me that he isn’t really semi-local and is only here on occasion, but it’s ok because he’s dated women here before and it can totally work.
The conversation continues for a minute or two as he over explains why it won’t work.
Then, he says: “Well, I mean, we can still hang out Friday, just maybe you don’t spend the night because that might be a little uncomfortable.”
Oh, but you’re sick.
“No, I don’t want to see you, this isn’t going to work.”
The words come out of my mouth and suddenly, I feel empowered. In control. I choose to walk away, even from a fleeting feeling of good. I’m not overlooking the things I was willing to overlook so you can play on my fears.
It’s something I haven’t really done before but holy shit, I just did.
“Well, I guess I will talk to you soon,” he offers.
“I hope you don’t get too sick this week,” I say sweetly, then it’s over.
Tomorrow, I’m going to LA because why would I not go to LA? As the Universe would have it, there’s actually a vegan market in town this weekend. Which I’m going to because obviously there’s a reason I moved my schedule around in the first place.
And, as the Universe would have it, this week has made me hyper aware of my boundaries and truly listening to my gut. This fear vs. gut is a new thing for me, and it’s going to take some getting used to listening my gut, truly listening, but it’s all part of the process.
Because, as Gabby Bernstein promises, the Universe does indeed have my back.