I am not the same person I was a year ago.

Over the past few years, I’ve spent an enormous amount of time in solitude and celibacy. No need to roll out the pity party. After all, like many of you, I’ve been on a quest for personal transformation. Let’s face it, it’s not easy to break free from a lot of unconscious programming if we continue on in relationships that reinforce that programming.

And what area of our lives is fraught with more co-dependent and unhelpful programming than intimate relationships? After all, look around. Even the relationships held up as models for the rest of us are often only “perfect” on the outside. Look a little more deeply, and you will often find a whole lot of unexpressed despair, rage, and co-dependency. I should know, being a life coach for such a long time. People often tell me the secrets they don’t tell anyone else.

For much of my life, like many women, I dreamed of being swept off my feet by a perfect lover man. We get programmed very early with Cinderella and Snow White. Heck, I was wooed by some of the most seductive men on the planet. I even allowed it to happen, a few times, through what in retrospect was suspension of disbelief. I wanted to believe it could be real.

And I got burned. Badly.

After all, I have values that are really, really important to me in relationships. Values like trust, honesty, integrity, keeping agreements. Oh yes, that pesky expectation of keeping agreements, that’s a really big one for me. For me, the feeling of crushing disappointment after counting on someone to do something – especially someone I really loved – and they don’t follow through … is up there on my list of never-want-to-have-again feelings.

Trust, honesty, integrity, keeping agreements … those values are not in the repertoire of men who “sweep you off your feet.” The man who sweeps you off your feet is a con man. That’s who he is.

With a lot of solitude and celibacy, I was able to step back from my childhood Cinderella fantasy with a lot more honesty … When I was really honest with myself, I could see that What I found with being swept off my feet was only disappointment. Men with no integrity, who could not keep their word to save their lives. The betrayal seared me. It almost destroyed me. Maybe they too wanted to believe their lavish (in retrospect, rather grotesque) fantasies, or maybe they were even more cynical than that. Either way, it left me wanting never to have sex or romance ever again.

So I released and released and released. When Harvey the Cat was really sick this past year, there was no time or energy for taking a shower much less dating. I barely slept for several months, barely left my apartment for the better part of a year. Getting even the most basic tasks done was almost impossible. There was only wall-to-wall healing, week after week, month after month. Only God and I know how many thousands of tears were shed, releasing so many lifetimes of grief to save Harvey’s life.

I am not the same person I was a year ago. I am almost unrecognizable as a person, after being in the crucible this past year. I’m approaching myself now almost the way I would a stranger, not knowing the answer to so many questions. What do I like to do? Who am I? How will I move forward from here? I don’t know.

What’s very, very clear though, is that I have absolutely no interest in being swept off my feet by a man. Never again. I will keep both my feet firmly grounded on the earth, thank you very much :)

Now being a stranger to myself, and so not knowing how to expect myself to behave or think or feel, I went out on the town a few weeks ago. I wrote about it in my newsletter, as some of you who are on my list may remember. What seemed to be the highlight of that night was practicing assertive communication, ala the 30-Day Communication Challenge, with another woman.

I did though meet a man that night too, briefly. It was quite random. And while we did exchange Facebook information, there really was no reason for him to know that I found him intriguing. Not as someone to sweep me off my feet. As a human being. He’s a renegade, like me. Living on the fringe of society, outside the lines. Like me.

And so, since he is a hermit, and I am a hermit, after a couple weeks went by, I found myself feeling drawn toward connecting with him. What’s more … gasp … I went ahead and made the first move to see if he would like to get together. He seemed very excited about it. I didn’t know how he would react. He might have blown me off, and I might have let the fear of that stop me from asking for connection … How many opportunities do we miss in life because of the “roles” we expect each other to play?

Remember, I don’t know myself anymore. So instead of following rules or roles, I did was in my heart.

I’m so glad. We went out for Cinco de Mayo. I didn’t know it was Cinco de Mayo until people started mentioning margaritas. What I did know is that, without any expectations of being swept off my feet, we were having a beautiful, amazing, dynamic, energizing conversation. He super graciously paid for my dinner, even though I had been the first to reach out. Then, it seemed nobody wanted the evening to end. So we went up the street for margaritas, which I was going to pay for but could not get the bartender to accept the cash. (I have a long history of the Universe giving things for free.) They were seriously the best margaritas I’ve ever had in my life, and I’m sure the taste was enhanced by the amazing company and conversation.

Today we saw each other again. Was it some hot and heavy intense seduction? Nope. We hung out in my garage and made a new insert out of glued-together styrofoam scraps for my sagging hot tub cover. And talked, and talked, and talked. While we wound yards and yards of duck tape around our makeshift insert. Then we celebrated by taking a dip in the hot tub. Where we talked some more.

It was glorious. There were no expectations. There was no pressure. I felt super grounded. It was fun.

I will not be swept off my feet. Any relationship that develops in my life now is going to develop in alignment with my deepest values. Honesty, trust, integrity, keeping agreements. Day by day, long before any deep physical intimacy, stone by stone, DIY project by DIY project, the foundation will be built first. Or it won’t go anywhere.

I will never again allow my life to be capsized by a little boy in man’s clothing. Those values – trust, honesty, decency, keeping agreements, mutuality, integrity – are not negotiable. The responsibility for keeping things grounded and everything moving glacially slowly, is on me. It’s a responsibility that – after all I’ve been through that took me to the brink of despair – I happily accept and embrace.

That means getting swept off my feet, is no longer in the cards.

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