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.
I’ve been a victim of this type of con man more times than I would like to admit. Thank you for taking the time to write this, as it offers a glimmer of hope to those of us who have all but given up on finding a real love. You do a great job of highlighting that real love starts within us.. Beautiful! Best wishes to you on your journey!
Thanks Nikki, I appreciate your comment. Yep I like to take it very, very slooooowwwww …
Yes!!! Slow is the only way to go, really.. Going at a snail’s pace gives time enough opportunity to expose the essence of who a person really is.. for better or worse.
Plus, it saves us from that gut-wrenching feeling that happens when we realize we’ve shared an intimate part ourselves with someone who ultimately didn’t appreciate, respect or deserve to experience that part of us.
Thanks again for your insight!
Yes indeed plus as the sexual side of the relationship unfolds, it actually can be way better for the anticipation and intimacy that’s already been built
(says the woman who recently had one of the most amazing nights in bed she’s ever had and no P penetration as yet)
Very true, infatuation is not Love, not even close. It’s important to be grateful for the beauty in our life that did happen, not resentful for that which did not.
Thanks John, I appreciate you stopping by. I find the slow approach leads to way less resentment in the long run. When it becomes clear it’s not a match, there can be a graceful, drama-free exit.
Yes, but when “LOVE” hits you…. will you still be able to keep yourself “grounded” and not get “swept away”? Conciously, you are now more ‘mature’ to handle the emotions… but LOVE has a way of reducing our best laid plans to rubble, if you let it…. you cannot give yourself over to LOVE without giving up some control, it’s just about near impossible.
If it’s really love, it won’t mind taking it slowly and going the “touchless tantra” route … releasing a bit of energy at a time … most of what people call “love” is anything but …
So true! Can’t go wrong with the “slow and steady” route… but it could still end up on the LoveTrain! Good luck to you!
Hey Erika, I really looove your blog post and your honesty! It so resonates with me. And the truth is that quite a few people feel the same way. It gets pretty lonely out there on the wild and beautiful path of personal growth. For a while at least. Until you figure certain things out.
Thanks Cristina. I’m glad it resonates with you. Yes it can feel lonely for sure, especially when you’re no longer “playing the game.”
Erika, this article is timely in my life and I want to thank you for taking the time to share. It has been too long that so many of us believe that we should be swept up in order for it to be meaningful, and you really solidified my belief that it isn’t healthy. I look forward to hearing about things as they develop, it is of great worth to me.
Thank you for sharing, Tiffany, I really appreciate it :)