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Choosing a different path

13 Jul

woods

A dear friend once told me that every time he asked how I had been since the last time we spoke, I would always begin by telling him if I were dating anyone. He said I defined myself by my relationship status, and it seemed to be the most important thing for me to discuss when I was asked about myself.

Since that day, I have worked very hard not to begin a description of myself, or the answer to your question about what’s new with me, by telling you if I am currently single or otherwise. The fact remains, however, that the search for a partner has been a central focus for most of my life. I have often said that finding a partner was the greatest desire of my heart, and everyone who knows me knows this about me.


But for a while now, I have been standing at a crossroads looking back down the path I’ve worn bare and considering that perhaps the other path–the one less traveled–is the right one for me.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

From The Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost


What if it’s possible that some of us are not meant to be with a partner? Or what if we are meant to love many people and not just one special soulmate? I’ve been considering these questions and thinking that maybe, just maybe, traditional partnership is not my thing.


I like being single and I’m good at it, and I have a rewarding and beautiful life! But from time to time I miss having someone to hold my hand or snuggle me during a movie or sit with me on the patio and ask about my day while we sip fruity drinks. Would it be possible for me to remain “single,” whatever that means, but find a way to fulfill those needs for companionship or intimacy with friends who love and care about me?


Maybe you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal Wendi?” To me, it’s a monumental change in the way I see myself, the way I operate in the world, and in the focus of my intentions. Sure, perhaps I’m overthinking it. It’s a big deal to me, and I’ve devoted a lot of thought to it, and I’m still not 100% sure which path to take.

Watering the grass

4 Jul

Last night I went to urgent care, not because my need for care was overly urgent but because I’d been dealing with a health issue for nearly two weeks and the medication my doctor prescribed was not effective. And it was a Monday at 8 p.m. and today is July the 4th (all offices closed) so I needed some urgent care.

The nurse asked me the questions they have to ask: is anyone hurting you, do you feel safe at home, have you had thoughts of self harm? I said no (no one is hurting me), yes (I feel safe, except when Melvin is bitchy), and no. The last one was a lie. At the time I hesitated because I was there to get help for something else, but later as I lie in bed my answer came back to me. I have, in fact, had thoughts of self harm the last few days.

I have said before that this thing — affliction, dis-ease — is one I’ve lived with for most of my life. It’s like your arthritis or gastrointestinal problem. Under normal conditions, when I am sleeping and eating and exercising and spending time with people who love me and experiencing life on life’s terms, I do not have an issue with this thing. But at other times, when I am stressed or worried or not caring for myself, it flares up.

Today, and yesterday, and the day before, this thing is on my mind, and it isn’t because I feel sorry for myself or want you to feel sorry for me. In this case, it’s because I feel overwhelmed and trapped and powerless in a situation. I tried to talk about it, but I still cannot let it go.

It’s important for me to write about this because I know other people feel the same and suffer in silence, hoping the thoughts will just go away. We need to be able to share these feelings without fear that we will be shunned or mocked or locked away. We need to share so that we can get help if we need it.

Today I choose not to feed the fear that makes me believe the world would be a better place without me, or that I am powerless, or that no one loves me. I choose to water the grass on my side of the fence. I welcome your help if you can share some of your healing, heavenly water with me.

grass

Loving completely

16 Jun

I have a friend who (I think) loves deeply and completely: her family members including her children and especially her grandchildren, her pets, her significant other, her friends, and her students. She shares a lot about her life on social media, which I appreciate, and recently she wrote about being away from her beloved. Her post made me feel both a little bit jealous and a lot inspired.

If you’ve known me for more than a few days, you know that finding a partner has been and continues to be perhaps the deepest desire of my heart, second only to running a 4-hour marathon. Just kidding. Finding a partner really is my deepest desire. If you know this about me, you also know that I suck at it.

There are a number of reasons I have been largely unsuccessful in this endeavor. It doesn’t take an analyst (I heard a mental health professional referred to as an “analyst” in a 1960s movie I watched last night, and I think we should bring that term back) to identify my issues. One of my problems is that I’m afraid to actually meet people.

I know that’s utterly ridiculous. I mean, trust me, I know.

I get very nervous about first meetings because I’ve had so many of them where I can tell within the first 10 seconds that the person is not at all interested in me, and it just makes for an awkward and uncomfortable hour. Even when I try to squeeze the best out of the situation, it’s still weird when we get to the end and there has to be an acknowledgement that we will never see each other ever again in our lives unless we happen to run into each other at the grocery store, which can certainly happen in the small town where I live now. And then, again, awkward.

Because I’m afraid of rejection, I usually do something to sabotage my interactions with men on dating sites, like judge them harshly for their spelling or grammar or disqualify them because they hate coffee or cats. Then we never get to that “Would you like to meet for coffee or drinks?” stage. A lot of the guys on the dating sites lack written communication skills, so it’s kind of easy to be all judgey and cross them off my list for dumb, trivial reasons. 

I’m doing it wrong. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

After reading my friend’s Facebook post about missing her friend, I thought, What if I loved deeply, everyone in my life, all the time? What if I gave people a chance instead of finding reasons not to like them? What if I were more open and less afraid? I wonder what kind of a difference that would make in my interactions with others.

how-to-honor-love

So I’m going to try this. I’m going to try really hard to exude love, even to people who don’t know the difference between your and you’re. Let’s see what happens!

Getting picked last

23 May

Last week I had a junior high school flashback, and it was unpleasant. Does anyone have pleasant flashbacks to junior high? I’m sure some people have fond memories of their young teenage years, but for me it was all angst and embarrassment and trying impossibly to figure out how the hell to fit in with a bunch of people who were trying to figure out who the hell they were.

Out of the blue, my coworker said, “I should set you up with my buddy.” He texted his buddy, who replied immediately, “Send pics.” We snapped a picture. I tried to look cute. Since I have not received any follow-up from my coworker, I assume his buddy’s reaction was not favorable. In fact, I imagine he said, “Um, no thanks. She’s ugly.” I am positive he did not say, “Wow! She’s gorgeous! What is her number?” or I would have heard about it by now.

I had, and still have, no idea who this person is. I don’t know what he looks like or what he values. I don’t know what he does in his free time. I don’t know if he even wants to date anyone. While his rejection of me should not matter one tiny little bit, it does. It stings. Why? Because being picked last — or not being picked at all — hurts, no matter how old you are.

In junior high I had a terrible crush on a boy one grade above me. I wrote out the lyrics to Lionel Richie’s Hello and put them in his locker. If he told his pals about it, and I have completely blocked the memory if he did, I’m sure they all stood around and laughed at how gross and weird I was. Clearly, I still feel foolish and mortified by it, which is ridiculous because it happened 30 years ago.

do-you-like-me-lg

I also got picked last all the time in junior high. Last for kickball and softball and dodge ball and anything that required height or agility or speed. If we had smarts contests or spelling bees, I would be picked second (after the smartest girl in the class), but I don’t recall that we had a lot of smarts contests in my school. So that, combined with the fact that I wrote out song lyrics in an attempt to win the hearts of boys made me a bit of a loser. And I also loved Classical music more than 80s pop. 

So much of my life has been defined by the search for a partner and the rejection of hundreds (am I exaggerating?) of people. Of course I have had (a few successful) relationships! Of course there are seemingly well adjusted, normalish people who have liked me and wanted to kiss me! Lately, however, the people who are interested in going on a date with me are 1) married, 2) scammers who I assume live in a foreign country and are waiting for the right time to ask me to wire money, 3) sporting gold-capped teeth, or 4) located hundreds of miles away from my town.

I have a full, wonderful life. I am healthy and happy. I am surrounded by friends and family who love me and care about my well-being. But I really and truly want to be in love with a partner who loves me. Just one time, maybe for the only time, I want to be picked first. I want to pass that boy a note and have him return it with this message: Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?

Fuck junior high, man.

Loving and losing

16 Apr

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about my weight loss. A lot of friends and family did exactly what I asked — they told me “Yay!” — and helped me celebrate my accomplishment.

But one friend made a comment that caused me to ponder the reasons people lose or gain weight, and the reasons people decide to make those changes to their bodies. We can lose or gain for many reasons, positive and negative, and several factors might motivate us to make changes.

Later in the day, as I was writing and rewriting this post in my head, a friend said on Facebook that his wife had started a diet. A friend of theirs commented, “Tell your wife she is perfect just the way she is.”

And that set me off!

I want to propose the idea that it is possible to truly, deeply love yourself and your life, to be very happy and content, and still want to lose (or gain) weight. That decision need not come from self-loathing, a desire to conform to any real or perceived standards, or any other unhealthy attitudes toward one’s own body or food.

At times in my life, I have certainly hated my body and wished it would magically become smaller without me having to make any lifestyle changes, even though I knew that wish was ridiculous. It’s the dream of every person who has an addiction — to do whatever you want and not face any negative consequences.

Since I became an athlete and a personal trainer, I have had to confront and refine my ideas about body image, weight, health, and wellness. I know that weight loss is not always a reason for congratulations. I also have become very passionate about the fact that we feel comfortable saying, “You look great! Have you lost weight?” to friends and family, but when we notice someone has gained weight (and don’t lie, you notice) you don’t ask or wonder if that person is physically, spiritually, or emotionally well. We think loss is “good” and gain is “bad,” but both are usually more complex.

This time, I am working toward weight loss as part of a focus on overall wellness, but I also have a very specific and perhaps lofty goal: I want to take about 20-30 minutes off my marathon finish time. In case math isn’t your thing, that means I would need to run at least one minute per mile faster than I did at my best. A goal like mine requires attention to nutrition, sleep, stress, weight/mass, attitude, meditation (which I don’t do!), strength training, AND running. I’m 45 years old and I’ve only been running for only six years, so I have a lot of work to do!

hearthandsFor me, this weight loss is an act of self-care. I’m eating whole, real, delicious food that helps support my goals and activities. I feel strong and beautiful and capable. And I’m in love with my life, which is exactly why I believe I’m seeing improvements in my body and my training.

I believe you can love yourself and still want to change. Do you? I’d like to know.

Understanding Wendi

7 Feb

Last weekend I had this realization after my Frozen rant was met with complete silence: the man of my dreams will understand why I like Anna better than Elsa and why I was so upset that all the little girls wanted to be Elsa for Halloween. 

Most of the time when I am rejected, I don’t know the reason why, and to be honest it really doesn’t matter. But whether I go on a date and know there will never be another or send a thoughtful message that does not receive a response, I start wondering what the hell that person thinks is wrong with me. And of course if I think about it for just a few minutes, I can come up with at least 20 possibilities.  

Maybe the key to success (and to maintaining my sanity) during this process is to focus on what is unique and awesome about me because the person who will really dig me will be excited about those qualities and attributes and won’t giving a flying you-know-what about the rest.

So if you want to hear my thoughts about Frozen, let’s talk. It perfectly illustrates one of the qualities I like most about myself. 

Trying to figure out love

28 Jan

The other night I was Skyping with my friend who is a man, and he asked me, “So…what is love to you?”

Geez.

Couldn’t have asked me what my favorite ice cream flavor is or if I’ve ever had any broken bones, huh? Had to go right for the question I can’t really answer.

I couldn’t really answer. He was like, “Well you’re the one with all the feels.”

I mean, I tried to explain that while I have declared feelings of love for several people in my lifetime, there were two men in my most recent past with whom I thought I might have a future longer than a few months. One — a man I truly believed would spend the rest of his life with me — turned out to be a sociopath (look it up) and a pathological liar. The day I found out he’d lied to me about almost everything, I was on the phone pacing around my apartment thinking I’m on Candid Camera, and I am sure any minute now someone’s going to pop out of my closet and yell “Surprise! Just kidding!” The other, who I thought was my soul mate and with whom I had a deeper spiritual connection than I’ve ever experienced, was a very sick man. I actually went through a ritual to sever my bond with him because I thought it would kill me. I know, that’s freaky, but you can find almost anything on the Internet these days. Anyway, on the last day I saw him, he said, “Don’t ever try to contact me again.” And that is what I plan to do.

loveisIn both of those instances, I felt a strong attraction to the man almost immediately. So I thought, maybe love is the opposite of that. Does that mean, I wondered, that real love is when you don’t feel that, or you can’t have real love if you feel that scary awesome thing right away because it’s not real and cannot be trusted?

Given that I have “loved” such fucked up people, it stands to reason that my idea of love is not emotionally, psychologically, or spiritually sound. In other words, what the hell do I know?

As you might imagine, this question has bothered me for a few days. I don’t know the answer. I mean, I don’t even have a clue. But last night while I was running I figured out that I do know what love isn’t, at least to me.

  • Love is not dishonest. Love does not lie, even about stupid shit that doesn’t really matter.
  • Love is not being afraid to honestly express your feelings or fears.
  • Love is not always easy or fun or sparkling or magical.

That’s about all I could come up with in the 45 minutes it took for me to finish my run.

Maybe one day I will have a better idea, and maybe I never will. I don’t suppose any of us can do a whole lot better than to come up with a list of what love is or is not, because there probably is not one perfect or universal definition.

What is love to you?