The Universe Has My Back, Right?

 
Manifesting a soul mate and the role of the Universe in the process.

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.”

I chortle.

“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.”

I sigh.

“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?”

Butterflies.

Fast. Furious.

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.”

“OK …”

“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.”

Fuck. Hello, Fear. You fucking asshole

“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.”

I nod.

“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?”

“Choose you.”

“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.

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Kevin Dooley
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Diary The Dating Life

The Wildfire and Rebirth

An essay about getting over heartbreak and learning self love.

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Daniel Stark

Hi.

I’ve missed you. Seriously. Missed.

“So, if you’ve missed TCZP so much, Miss, why have you not penned a damn thing in almost a whopping year?”

I call Life.

See, after garnering more consecutive days of sobriety since I was 18, I realized some stuff. Not because I kicked the sauce. After I headed to Thailand to speak at a conference (where, yes, I drank a copious amount of seriously shitty Thai beer and wine), I realized all the things.

Actually, it wasn’t so much realized, but more like admitted shit to myself.

And, what did I admit?

Oh, you know, the basic stuff: I was absolutely fucking miserable in Spain.

Yup. Mis.er.able.

Gut-wrenchingly, devastatingly, miserable.

Long story: Why I said adios to being an expat.

So …

I returned to my desert roots of Las Vegas. It’s been my home more than any other city in my adult life. And, for some reason, despite how many times I utter under my breath “I loathe you,” it’s always wrapped its dry heat and strip malls firmly around my heart.

I arrived, fresh-eyed and ready to tackle Sin City. Except I had baggage. About 160 pounds (give or take) of it. Stuff I never talked about anywhere.

Baggage that kept me from really living. From really experiencing, because that weight constantly had my mind, had my eye, and, yes, had my heart.

I could never be firmly present, firmly anywhere, because my mind (and that annoying beating thing in my chest that always took over the mind) was never present. It was living in some world I imagined, where every little piece of the puzzle was perfectly placed and those romantic movies come true.

Spoiler alert for any of those who are in love with your best friend: life is not “Just Friends” or “When Harry Met Sally” or even “One Day.” You are not Mindy and he is not Danny (not this season, obviously). Or any of those other movies where the camera encircles a couple, realizing their love, locked in that passionate first kiss.

It’s far sloppier than that. And not really true.

Here’s the thing about an unrequited love: it destroys. Like a wildfire raging out of control through the parched land, it crackles and burns and then wind comes and makes it grow even larger until it burns everything in it’s path (oh hai, heart).

But, often times, those wildfires are necessary because they nourish the soil, making way for new growth. For new life.

Minus the burn being (at times) catastrophic, in the end, there is some good that comes out of it. (Folks, it’s an analogy, I certainly don’t wish wildfires to destroy anything.)

So, my Wildfire came in March. And again a month later because sometimes you think the fire is out, but then some embers reignite the shit and it’s even worse.

But, finally, I put it out.

It was heartbreaking. It was tragic. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. And then, it was over.

Like any period of mourning, you grieve. You miss. You yearn. You look at the phone number of the ghost and toy with deleting or keeping it alive. Your eyes search over old photos, letting memories pop up and linger until that hole in your heart becomes almost unbearable.

Then, you stand up, dust your shoulders off, hold your head up high and tackle the shit out of life because you’ve got no choice.

That end ended up freeing me. And being the best thing to happen in my life.

Why?

Because (with some therapy, natch), I realized it wasn’t about me. That I’m not this deeply flawed person who is not loveable. It’s human nature to want to feel good. To feel validated, and damned if that validation didn’t turn out to be a legit thing.

I mean, of course you love someone and keep them around when they make you feel so good. They make you feel happy. They make you feel special. Loved.

Until they don’t.

That validation I felt/no longer felt, turned to anger. And then, acceptance and gratitude for the past.

Validation became a theme for me as I moved forward.

Not consciously … at that point … but still.

For the first time in years, I truly wanted to date. I wanted to meet a good guy. So, I downloaded Bumble. OK Cupid. Even as I still cried over my loss, I dated with vigor.

Begrudgingly at times, but I did it because I knew I needed to. I knew I needed to know – nay, to prove – that I was, indeed loveable. Pretty. Funny. And whatever other stupid fucking words I needed to feel via a first kiss.

I can’t even recount all of the dates I went on (although my friends and I definitely came up for nicknames for some of the ones who made more than one or two appearances. It’s coming.). The shallow promises of second dates. The drunken first kisses (although I always firmly told my therapist the right guy for me would be a sober first kiss … or one glass of wine versus four). The text messages. Then, the teetering out of communication or straight ghosting mid-conversation for reasons unbeknownst (not by me, I’ll tell someone it’s not working).

There were even a few in the mix I genuinely liked. Cared about. But, always knew there was zero chance of it ever being more than dating.

Then, after a particularly draining, boundary-ignoring man entered my life and refused to leave it, I decided something: I had it.

“I don’t understand why I continue to do this,” I explained to my therapist, curled up on her couch. “I don’t even like this guy, I told him as much and now that he hasn’t responded, I sit here wondering if maybe I made a mistake. Although, I know I don’t want to be with him. If I wanted to be with him, I wouldn’t have ever told him to back off or complain that every word he says drives me batshit and literally feel my jaw clench when his name pops up on my screen and feel the urge to throw my phone like a hot potato across the room. And yet …”

My voice trails off as she and I both go back to that Wildfire.

And, that word: validation.

We had tossed around the word before. It ended in her referring a book to me, Radical Acceptance, which I ordered immediately, read the first chapter and then tucked it under my bed.

But, there we were again.

Fucking. Validation.

I dated. And dated. And dated. Looking for someone … anyone … to make me feel good about myself.

So, on that couch that day, my therapist and I decide it’s time.

“You have to learn how to validate yourself. To really love yourself. You’ve told yourself this horrible story for so long [Ed. Note: that’s what happens when you have a love/hate relationship with yourself aka depression] now you need to rewrite it, Diana.”

Of course, the tears flow because, fuck, I’ve never been happier in my life than I have been since I moved back to Vegas, since I moved on from that unrequited heart suck, since I’ve worked so hard on me. I even started a Gratitude Journal and every night before bed, would turn on my salt lamp, light a candle, and document at least five things which I was grateful for each day.

I’m obsessive when I get into things, so even the days I didn’t write, I’d make it up the following, sometimes literally going back four days and writing 20 things I was grateful for.

However, it wasn’t enough.

“You need to rewrite your story,” she said reaffirming. “You need to love yourself, truly love yourself. You need to tell yourself every day …”

Then, it hit me: “I’m done dating,” I state, proudly, sitting up on the couch. “I want to do kind things for me. I want to love me. I have to learn how to do that. I have to retell my story because the shit I have been putting out into the universe for the past 36 years has led me to where I am, and it isn’t where I really want to be.”

“What do you want?”

“Me. I want to love me. And then, I really want to be open to love. I want to meet a man who loves me as much as I love him. To have a relationship that is good and kind and loving and nothing like the shitty relationships I have had.”

I walked out of that office that evening knowing it was time to make a change. I delete Bumble. OK Cupid. Any phone number in my phone of a guy whose last name is “Bumble” or “OKC” or any derivative/identifier of who they may be since I was still nurturing communications with a handful.

Of course, not even 24 hours later, I met someone who ended up derailing me for a moment. But, even that derail didn’t cause catastrophic results. It opened me up even more.

Over dinner a few nights after that, I sat with my good friend, Jen, telling her my ideas about not dating, but also my feelings about what had happened with this man.

“It’s not like anything can happen,” I explain. “He’s not even a match for me. And yet, I feel so sad about it.”

“Diana,” she said, her blue eyes focusing in on me, “You have to replace that shit.”

I blink, moving the Thai food around on my plate.

“Change your story. When you start to feel sad, or bad, or lonely, tell yourself this: I have everything I need.

“But, I don’t …”

“Yes, you do,” she argued. “You absolutely do. You just don’t believe it.”

So, I open Radical Acceptance that night and start to read it. Then, the next day, I try the affirmation.

I tell myself “I have everything I need” so many fucking times. And, a funny thing starts to happen. When I repeat it in my head, I can feel a tingle in my heart. Every. Single. Time. And it feels fantastic.

I start telling myself anytime my mind wanders to doubt about who I am.

The company I now keep in Vegas is very energy- and manifest-focused, so I started a manifest journal and my friend sent me a video she did explaining how to do it. I decided I want to really start meditating.

Then, a few days later, Jen came over with gifts for me. She pulled out a tiny bag filled with a few relics to put on my mediation altar, and a rose quartz bracelet.

“You have to practice self-love,” she says, handing it to me. Then, she had me lay on the floor and do a reiki session.

Of course, my chakras were out-of-whack, namely my heart and throat ones.

She instructed me to imagine pink glowing from my heart and tell myself I love me, and love others, and am open to love from myself and others. And, for the throat, she instructed me to write letters to people of things I haven’t said and then burn them.

That week, I started to meditate. To manifest journal. To retell my story in words and thoughts.

Then, magic started to happen.

My thought process began to slowly change. I started to vibrate happiness. I actually felt my heart opening. I felt peaceful. I felt powerful. And, somewhere in there, the idea that the universe is going to give me exactly what I needed really, truly, hits home. In those brief moments of doubt, that thought comforted me, gently. Empowered me. Made my heart flutter.

The universe is giving me what I need.

So, what do I need right now? Me. That’s it. Me.

I need to believe in myself – truly believe in myself. To love myself. Truly love myself and be aware of it.

Let me tell you something – it’s a lot easier said than done.

As I grow, I’m going to grow here, because I want to show that anyone can change their story. Anyone can come out of their shells. Can find love and happiness within themselves.

The past few weeks have opened my eyes as life has literally changed because of the things I have manifested. As I have felt free. Weightless. Blissful.

This isn’t TCZP of old. It’s new. I haven’t laid it all out in terms of how I’m going to break it down, but I am going to say this: TCZP is truly going to be about getting out of my comfort zone. About opening up to loving me and others. To being kind. To being compassionate. And to learn more about how I can attract what I need and want in my life.

I’ll be sharing it all here, along with bringing in experts to shed some light on how to change old thought patterns.

I envision TCZP to be part holistic health, meditation, energy, wellness and also the other goodies life brings, like relationships.

Welcome back to TCZP.

 

Diary Get Your Shit Together

Cut nose. Spite face.

fork in the road

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Andre Chinn

“So, let me get this straight,” my new friend begins as we walk down Moonmueang on a balmy Saturday night. “You won’t go on a date with someone who is only here for two nights?”

“Correct,” I say, resolute in this decision.

“But, what if that person is the one you are meant to be with and you decide not to go because he is only in town for two nights? What if he’s the one?” he asks.

“I guess I would kind of know if he was the one,” I reason, “and what would happen if he was the one for me? He’s here for two nights and then off on some other adventure. I don’t want that.”

“If it was me, I would stay, I would stop traveling, if I met someone I thought was the one,” he says.

“Yeah, I guess there is that,” and then in the back of my mind, I think this guy is the exception to the rule. He’s not the typical traveler coming through here. He’s on his own. He’s 40. He’s mature. The guys who hit me up on OK Cupid, on Tinder, are not looking for the “one,” they are looking for a good time. Then, they’re off to Laos. Or Vietnam. Or down south to the beaches and bars.

And, then I announce, “You know, I’m really not looking for a relationship right now. I’m really not looking for anything. The idea of taking the time, the effort, to go out on a date with someone here for only two nights just does not appeal to me in the least. I’d rather spend that time on me and be selfish.”

I’d rather go to the gym, go to dinner with friends and go home and write, than make that effort, have that strained conversation and think that maybe, just maybe this random guy who has hit me up on the flavor-of-the-day dating site could possibly  be someone long term. I’m really happy just being with myself.”

For the first time in my life, I actually want to be by myself.

It took me until a few months ago to really realize that. I’d always just assumed that if I met the right guy, I would drop everything and balls-to-the-wall it with that man and embark on said relationship with gusto. Then, when I started that long distance Tinder relationship in June, things got serious really quick. Sure, we hadn’t met each other yet, but the conversations, the deep, deep conversations, the realizations that we had about each other,  the awe that we clicked that well, the sheer idea that this was like a little fairytale between us, made me start thinking about relationships more.

About what I was willing to give up in exchange for that partner in crime.

He was planning on coming here. We were going to see if it would work. And if it did, then we would figure out those all-important next steps. Those major steps that move one from their single life into that life of compromise.

Turns out, I’m not ready to give up anything. Yet.

I remember so clearly, sitting in the back of the songthaew, coming home from a rather intense workout. I looked out the window and just gushed love for my city, the moat, everything that makes this place my place (annoyances and all).

Was I ready to drop it for someone? Did I want to re-start my life in a foreign city? Did I really want to sacrifice the things I was working on (a book, a new project, travel, focusing on my health and well-being) because of a relationship? Was I willing to succumb to the pressure of being under relationship pressure?

Far too often in my life, I have made decisions based on others lives and my conforming to them. Was this a case where I would need to conform?

Ultimately, that was not what ended the could-belong-distance relationship, but I knew that instant, as we puttered along the Old City, that I wanted to be selfish. I wanted to focus on me. To not get distracted. I was not willing to sacrifice the point I am at in my life, the things I am doing for me, for anyone else or anything else.

And, that still stands.

But then, with my friend the other night, and that conversation, I began to second guess myself. I’m nearly 35. I’m nearly 40. I’m nearly out of that range where if I wanted to have kids of my own, I could. Am I setting myself up for a never having this by turning my nose up at potential dates? Potential opportunities? Or am I giving myself a chance to fall deeper in love with me, and perhaps meet someone in the future who can love me as much as I love myself?

Am I regularly coming to forks in the road and choosing the wrong path? I feel like before I can be in a relationship with someone else I keep focusing on me and let the chips fall as they may because at the end of the day, it is ultimately up to me to find happiness within myself. The rest is just extra.

Thoughts?

Diary The Dating Life

But I don’t want to date

Editor’s Note: This post was written a long time ago. Basically, a lifetime ago. If you count December 2013 as a lifetime ago (I certainly do at this point). It was written before I announced TCZP and only had it in my head, but still a fitting thing, as it deals with the insecurities and issues I was battling as an expat in Chiang Mai, and more important, as a single women in a foreign land. A part of TCZP is about dating and understanding the cultural differences in Thailand compared to my American ideals, as well as actually my own dating. While this post is old, I promise, there is new stuff coming. But, you’ve got to get the background in order to get to the present, riiiiight?

dating

I hate dating. Always have. In America, I had dates, though. In Thailand? Not so much. I’ve been on a couple, but that’s it, so when my date with Sam happens, I am so out of practice, I am so not wanting to go, that I nearly bail.

I don’t want to put myself through the first date conversation. I don’t want to have that awkward moment at the end of a date when I stand there, either wanting to kiss him or not, and waiting to see what his decision is.

But, I go. I force myself to, because, after all, isn’t the goal of The Comfort Zone Project to get out of my comfort zone and open myself up to new things? And dating in Thailand is most definitely one of those new things.

See, there’s this problem though — I don’t know if I want to be in a relationship. And, I don’t put much value in what I bring to the table. Even though everyone tells me I should, I haven’t come to the point where I believe in myself enough to actually thing I rock as much as others say.

So, naturally, while sitting across from handsome Sam over some imported beers on a rather chilly evening in Chiang Mai, I let my mind wander into my world. Forget that’s he’s good-looking. Forget that he’s got a great personality. Forget that he is actually one hell of a cool guy (jackpot, I know!). Instead of letting myself be in the moment, I revert into my fabulous mind of self-doubt.

What do I discover as he sits there and tells me about his life?

I have a huge fear of rejection.

Like, astronomical. To the point where I actually blow off dates, don’t return calls, don’t even initiate chats, because it is just easier to not start something versus getting my heart pummeled.

My self-confidence is pure shit.

I fidget nervously in my chair when has asks about me. To most people, I know the life I am living is a pretty damn cool one, but to him? I … just … don’t … know. What if I sound silly? What if I sound like I’m not grown up enough to be in a relationship with someone?

Which, of course, opens the flood gates to my personal hell of insecurities. Maybe you know the ones: Am I pretty enough? Am I funny enough? Am I smart enough? Am I interesting enough? Am I adventurous enough? Am I the woman you are looking for?

Forget just being me and loving me. For some reason, I’ve always placed my self-worth on what others think of me and how they perceive me.

I am a horrible flirt.

I once asked a guy why he wasn’t interested in me. He told me it was because I never flirted. That I never put anything out there that was sexual. I have no idea how that is possible, but it made me realize something: I am a horrible flirt. I should note, this likely could also be included above in self-confidence, but this is my rambling, so it’s not.

While I’m with Sam, he puts his arm around me and I lean in. Or, I put my hand on his knee … and leave it there. But, that’s as far as I get. My mind repeats over and over that I have nothing flirty to say, so I just don’t. And, I know I could be more physical, more outright, but again … I don’t.

Why?

Because it sets me up for being uncomfortable. For the potential of being rejected. For having my insecurities validated. And, shit, I don’t want that.

What I really learned

I seriously need to start loving myself more (Ed. Note: I feel like it is necessary at this point to remind you this was written more than half-a-year-ago and a lot has changed since then, namely the whole loving myself and respecting myself thing. And the self-confidence. And not being so paralyzed by rejection. The flirting? Well … ). It also made me realize something my mom used to always tell me, but I ignored because I like to learn things the super hard way — don’t give a shit what others think about me, what matters is what I think of myself. It’s important to shut off that part of the brain that is all “Diana, do you think this person is interested? Do you think …” and let those ideas of not fitting what the other person wants float away. As my friend told me the night before I turned 34, I am fine perfect just the way I am. Faults. Pluses. All of it. And, that is the most important thing.

This next part of TCZP is about getting back on the Dating Wagon. It’s time to take those lessons I learned from my night with Sam (which actually ended up being quite lovely, and wasn’t just one night, but also was not romantic) and apply them to dating life. Do I want a boyfriend? Nah. But, this certainly forces me out of my comfort zone and into telling those insecurities I have to politely f#$% off.

Diary The Dating Life