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.

 

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Diary Get Your Shit Together

Dating in Thailand: you’re f#%^ed. Definitely not literally.

dating in thailand

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: ngmmemuda

I used to joke with my married best friend here in Chiang Mai about dating. Wouldn’t it be great to write an anonymous blog about dating in Thailand as a western woman? I mean, the possibilities (ha)! That’s when she uttered this gem of a title: “You’re fucked. Definitely not literally.”

We had a good laugh about it that ended with that heavy sigh on my end. The sigh that means, “that’s funny as shit, but dammit, you are so right.”

So, with TCZP, I decided I would put myself out there, see what could happen. Even though I am perfectly content being single and not in a relationship. In fact, I don’t really have any desire to date. BUT, a part of this project is dating and meeting men on different online sites since meeting them here in my free time is pretty much not an option since when I’m not working, I’m working out. Or sleeping. Or spending time with people I care about.

A brief examination of the dating options in Thailand for western women seeking a western man:

OK Cupid

Since March, I’ve been fielding requests on OK Cupid for dates. Although I specifically state that I am interested more in learning about what men are looking for living here than a relationship, and that the date must be with someone who either lives here or is visiting longer term, it hasn’t stopped people from all over the world messaging me with ridiculousness.

Like these gems.

Some of which are just arrogant drivel that simply attempts to tell me I am wrong and can be better XX ways:

“I don’t know what’s worse: You writing about yourself in third person or you writing about being fat although obviously you aren’t. Well who am I to judge. Maybe you just master the angles. In that case I am sorry that you feel bad. And for me making fun of that. So I’ve read your post almost completely now. Never really hard from anyone that thai people would talking like that. Anyway. It shouldn’t be too hard to meet western men. A lot of them are actually no sexpats who would enjoy spending time with caucasian gal. So, enjoy your stay! And the best of luck. Maybe cut down a little on that ‘I am a writer and I am living my dream in thailand” crap and write some interesting stuff about ya. Just saying. Well anyway, I just came here because the pictures were cute. So there you have it.” [SIC] [SIC] [SIC]

Mind you, I responded to not one of those messages. And each sentence was an instant message.

One guy offered to fly up to see me from Bangkok, which just made me uncomfortable, particularly since we had exchanged maybe two lines of communication before the ask.

Then, there are the ones from somewhere far away, largely from India, that tell me they would like to get to know me better.

And, of course, the pervs who want me to read their erotica and tell them what I think.

So, delete. Delete. Delete. And delete some more.

After deciding that I don’t really give a shit knowing what men are looking for here because I see the men here and they are not men I want to date  … EVER … I decided to move on over to the dark side: Tinder.

Tinder

Tinder, as most of you may know, is  basically an App that lets you pick and choose potential “dates” based pretty much entirely on appearance and a super brief description. That’s it. And, in the not nice terms, it is largely used for people to go and have random sex and maybe, just maybe meet a suitable match.

Of course, the men I meet on Tinder here are in town for a quick jaunt mostly, and either the convo goes downhill quickly or I lose interest and have no desire to take a night off from the gym or my quiet days to go and have conversation with a passerby.

Things changed when I went to Europe though. The guys on Tinder there are locals. They stay put, and — joy of joys — they want to date a western woman. I was the one passing through, I held the intrigue and for the first time, guys were messaging me and asking me out, versus just engaging in mundane conversation of “how long you in town?” blah blah filler.

But, even those men living in Europe seemed to only want one thing: sex.

I mean, I started getting messages without even so much as small talk telling me they were staying at such-and-such location and did I want to come over because they are good kissers?

What? The? Fuck?

And, no. Just … no.

Then, I met someone on there who was engaging. Seemed cute. Seemed to have his shit together. The only downside was we never got to meet when I was in Europe, which meant the conversation continued with 5,000 miles between us.

Let me tell you this — 5,000 miles between a potential match kind of opens one up to being more up front. Because what’s the worst that can happen? You stop e-mailing? So, I let loose. I opened up like I had never opened up before. It was a whirlwind and soon he was planning to come here to meet me.

But, there were warning bells going off in my head. Friends waving red flags to me. (I’m not going to get into it because it is all personal, and while I am fine opening up about me, I am not fine with talking about someone else on here and their personal life confided to me.) At the end of the day, I decided it wasn’t a relationship I wanted to be in so I ended it.

JDate

As someone who would like to end up with someone of my own religious upbringing, although I am not really practicing, my best friend suggested I check out JDate. In Thailand. Which kind of made me scratch my head a little, because really? JDate exists in Thailand?

Guess what?

It doesn’t.

Sure, there is a drop down menu that lets the user click on “Thailand” but then nothing comes up with the actual listing for cities.

JDate fail.

Expat Dating Sites

I also looked at the expat dating sites on the fabulous inter webs. After doing some inputting, my results were handed to me. About one page of men my dads age. So, nope on those. Apparently, the expat dating sites in Chiang Mai are not utilized by the eligible bachelors my age.

Match.com

Match.com, back in the States, was my go-to. It was less annoying than e-Harmony and the quality of men was far better than OKCupid, Plenty of Fish and others. So, I decided to take a little swim through Match the other week. Similar to the expat dating sites, Match.com is definitely not utilized by many foreigners here looking for a western girlfriend. There were about 10 results for Chiang Mai within my age group. I didn’t even narrow it down to any deal breakers or anything. I just entered in the ages. And, yeah …

The friend of a friend

This. This is where I made the ultimate mistake. I met a friend of a friend. A friend of a friend who was in town for only a short while. This FOF, however, was super cute. Super polite. And wanted to spend time with me. For a long weekend, we spent a lot of time together, going out, eating, drinking, canoodling.

One night, laying together, I asked him if he had a wife or a girlfriend. He said “no” and then kissed me.

Cue melting.

I mean, a nice guy. Single. Handsome. Heaps of vacation time at the ready. There were no wedding bells dinging in my mind or anything serious, but someone who comes to town and can hold a conversation and is nice and nice to spend time with? Yes, please. Even if it is not often. It’s … comforting.

This shit doesn’t exist in Thailand for me. I barely get a hug, let alone a kiss. So, this was big. Temporary, but big.

And then, the shit hits the fan.

If you don’t know a lot about Thailand’s tourism industry, please, let me enlighten you for a brief moment. There are the beaches. There are the elephants. There are the treks. And then, there is the sex tourism. I cannot name more than one or two men I have ever met here who have not had sex with a prostitute while in Thailand. (Unless they are traveling with their significant other, but that’s a different breed of tourist.)

Turns out, not only was this great (!) guy down in the seedy sex tourism city of the south, but also married. Of course, I didn’t know that until after we had promised to keep in touch and perhaps see him on his side of the world, and when he comes back here to visit.

The shock when I read that was mind-boggling. The fact that he lied. It felt like I had been slapped in the face over. And. Over. And. Over.

Not to mention the sheer disgust when I learned from my friend that this FOF planned this trip to be top-secret. I wanted to scrub my entire body raw and vomit glass, that’s how furious I was. I am not that girl

So, moral of this long story? FOFs are now out. Unless they come highly recommended, but most men I know here would rather their buddies get laid than ruin the chances. And, I’ve never met a FOF through a female here and don’t really even know any females here.

Yes, it is a sweeping generalization, but I am keenly aware that Thailand gives men –either in or not in relationships — permission to act like sex crazed teens and while they can do whatever they choose, I’m not going to take sloppy seconds after some hooker in Patong.

In conclusion

Dating in Thailand: you’re fucked. Definitely not literally. Except for very special occasions. This little portion of my project is officially over. And, I am oh-so glad to just be done with even trying to figure the shit out. I much rather just go back to working on me and making myself happy.

Single life for this girl is just fine. Fine. And far easier. And sparing my feelings. And pain-free.

 

Diary Featured The Dating Life