Monday, February 15, 2010

self-love and nurturing

Valentine's Day. It's not the first Valentine's that I've been alone. It's not even the first consecutive Valentine's that I've been alone. But you know what? It's really okay.

I decided a while ago to take a page out of someone else's book (and if I could remember whose book it was I would give them full credit - it was a blogger, and likely a pagan blogger - but alas, I have forgotten) and call February 14th the Feast of Aphrodite. Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love, and for me she is a strong symbol of self-love as well as the romantic type that's epitomized in Valentine's Day. So today, my thoughts turned towards all the love that's in my life. There is so much of it. My kids, my family, my friends...to start with. And then there are all the ways in which I am touched by love that I'm not always conscious of - the kids at work, my facebook friends that I've never met, the bloggers who have followed and advised and supported me through so much.

So...self-love. That's a tough one. I struggle with it a lot. I guess the better term is self-acceptance. I am comfortable with who I am in a lot of ways. I know my strengths. I know my talents and gifts. I know my weaknesses - chocolate, for example. And the tendency to let clutter overwhelm me. I'm working on that, but chocolate? I'll always have room for a little bit of chocolate. I've developed patterns in my life that are nurturing and self-loving. I exercise. I eat right (most of the time), I do things for myself and other people that are good, and that are indulgent. I surround myself with good books and good music. After a year, I've finally started cooking for myself again, and I've filled my fridge and freezer with the fresh, home-cooked food I love. I play the guitar that I've worked so hard to buy. I watch movies with my youngest on Friday nights, curled up with her and a small bowl of popcorn between us. I write, and write, and then I write some more. Every day. I journal. I edit my old work and I work on new pieces. These things are all good - so good. Finally, after ten years of inertia, of thinking that someone else's life is more important than my own, I'm finding a groove, I'm settling into this warm and cozy sense of having found something good. My life can't revolve completely around someone else ever again. There has to be something in it for me.

I've written a lot in this space about dating, about being ready to date, about continuing to be alone long after I expected things to change. I've shared my frustration, my sadness, and the loneliness that haunts me, even with this very good life. It's like I've come so far....but I can't take that extra step forward, to complete, or should I say continue the cycle. I was pondering in the car last night (on the way home from a friend's - I tend to ponder a lot in the car) and I came to the realization that really, I am the only one who's holding me back.

It's true.

You see, I want to date. But I don't want to. I have such horrible memories of dating...men....goddess, it was tough. With the exception of my ex, who made dating very easy. I didn't have to do a thing. I didn't have to work at all...there was no impression to make, no preliminaries, none of that does he or doesn't he shit. Too easy, almost. I didn't evaluate why I was with him, or whether or not I was really attracted to him. I was so tired of being rejected that I just played along. I never really thought about how I felt about him - as long as he liked me, it was okay. Because I could play along, fit into the niche that was safe and comfy. And so wrong for me.

And don't get me started about sex. I have this deep-seated fear that I really am frigid...sometimes. And then I wake from a dream that has my heart racing and my breath coming in big, huge gulps, dreams that involve women - and when I was in the hetero world I never dreamed about men - and I have at least some hope that I'm not. But what if I'm just not good enough?

I really don't want to make the same mistakes again. At the same time, I'm afraid of exposing myself to that scrutiny - what if I physically don't pass muster. I know, I know - all those insecurities are left over from having once weighed 300 pounds, from always feeling as though I could never be good enough. I need to get over them - but I also need to be real. I'm 44 years old. I have wrinkles. I sag in places. My skin is stretched and somewhat loose in places,  no matter how much I exercise, how many different creams I apply. Soft, yes, and supple around my shoulders...but I will never look 20 again. Or 30. I don't think anyone expects that. But I've set such impossibly high standards for myself that I start out at a loss...if I don't believe that I'm capable of sustaining a healthy relationship, then I probably won't.

It sounds like such a negative spew, out here in the blog world - but really, I'm just trying to give insight into my process - how I managed to get through eighteen months of separation without so much as a single date. Crush. Expression of interest (beyond, you know, the usual fantasy figures). As long as I think I might not be good enough, as long as a part of me fears, and therefore rejects the process, the idea of dating, then it likely won't happen.

Sure, I have logistical problems. But don't we all? I mean, I have it a bit tougher, having come out mid-life, and needing to build a network. But I have one, a small one to be sure, but one that I can build on. I deliberately overlook opportunities because I am afraid. I've been afraid of this for so long that I've forgotten what it means to be fearless, to be able to plunge into something new without hesitation.

I need that courage. I need to turn this around and make it positive. All along, I thought I was being positive, but at the same time I use phrases like "I can't." "I won't." "I don't want...." If I want to get somewhere, I need to change that focus, concentrate on what I do wand, what I can do, what I will do in order to be happy. I can say "I want to learn how to..." It starts with self-love. It begins with the courage to change, and know that my past does not define my future unless I allow those negative lessons to maintain control of my actions.

So...I'm ready to move forward. After months of paying lip-service to the concept, I'm ready to build the life I've always dreamed about, but was never really able to see myself achieving. Until now.

15 comments:

eileen pennington said...

:)

Mel's Way or No Way said...

Good for you. You don't sound negative or down and are definitely are headed in the right direction. Good luck on your journey.

~Just me again~ said...

First off, I think whether in a relationship or not, Valentine's day is a highly overrated, commercialized day.I never liked it.

Second, your attitude is great! I know how hard it can be to be positive all the time. Especially, when everything looks so gloomy.

Chin up, it's all going to work out just fine (((Big hugs))) (now if I can just take that advise on my own ;) )

Kalisis Rising said...

You know, this is something I struggle with regarding the LoA world - sometimes me, as a person, I need to step back and let go with a string of curse words and say, "THIS SUCKS!" I have felt for the longest time that this was discouraged or I was looked down upon as "less than" all those other women with their perfect lives and small worries for needing to do so. Almost like I wasn't doing LoA right.

But then, I came to a place where I know that I am the only one living my life and if I need that release and to get that crap out of my head and the endless circle, that's ok. I do it in different spaces (ie I blog about it rather than putting it on the LoA forum I frequent) and it has greatly enriched my life. I found lots of interesting blogs to read and comment on and I'm making friends of a different sort in a different way.

So, I say, it's ok to note how awful things are or how awful you feel. The gift is then in being able to move up the ladder and turn those negative statements into positive ones - which you did beautifully in this post. Were I to try to cite an example of the very exercise I'm talking about, I'd point people over here. :)

So, with that said, get out there! Stop being scared. There's no cure for fear, except just making up your mind that you're not scared. Leap. Jump. Have some fun. Get out there and see what your options are. You never know until you try. And you know what? There will probably be some bumps and bruises along the way and that's ok too. Some setbacks, a few small cracks in your heart, but it's all about the journey and if you can have some fun while you're at it, well, go!

love and light to you. I love the spirit of this post!

Solo Homo said...

Geez, Cam. I can relate to a lot of what you said, but it feels like you're putting pressure on yourself.
You've lost so much weight, you've become a well-known writer, you've gotten the requisite tat'....enjoy! Your "Date" will appear when the time is right. But, I suspect you already know that.

I must thank you for what you do. This site is such a wonderful place to visit.

greg said...

I think it takes great courage to admit our fears and weaknesses. Instead of sweeping them away behind a perfect smile you are acknowledging and working on what you want to improve. Very impressive. We are all just a work in progress and the job is never completely done. :)

You are doing great!

Camlin said...

Just me again - it will! It will!

Kalisis - I guess part of my process was thinking that I was being positive, when in fact, I was being as negative as ever. Using different words, but the same mindset. I have to be mindful...mindful of my thoughts, and the way I express things. But when I feel like crap, when I feel like everything's falling apart, I call a spade a spade. There's a thin line sometimes between positive thinking and living in an illusion. But as soon as I can, I work my way back into a positive frame of mind.

Solo - you are so very welcome!

Greg - thank you! Your support means a lot to me.

reeflightning said...

hey camlin, wish you lived in my neighbourhood and we could sit down with a cup of coffee/ glass of wine and consider ...
"how to find the perfect woman"
or perhaps more accurately ...
"how to find a woman"

'she' is waiting for you sweetie, perfection takes time.
big wolf hug (( ))

Camlin said...

reef - Scotland is on my list! One of these days.....

Earth Muffin said...

You'll get there again, and when you do, it'll be great!

Dragon said...

I get that. It took a long time for me to work on myself and I am not perfect, still have things. But as long as you keep looking at your loved ones, those who love you and that you have all this good around you, the bad stuff is not as much of a big deal. Don't get me wrong, some days are harder then others. Especially with this winter. I have a harder time staying on the positive end, almost like i have to work harder at it. But keeping positive and remembering all the good and love in your life is the key.

Maria said...

I was mostly a coward. I can't remember one time when I actively went after someone. I would do the long look, the come-hither thing and if it panned out, swell. If not, swell.

I have no idea if I would be good at dating since I never really put myself out there, you know?

Ang said...

My friend I admire your courage and your strength. It is not easy facing the things that we fear the most about ourselves. It isn't easy looking them head on but you are headed in the right direction. Go for it you can do it. I am totally cheering you on :)

Making Space said...

Love this! How did I miss THREE blog posts???? Bad cyberfriend!! Love reading about your process and where you are. Beautiful. Truly.

jelly said...

I admire your courage. :-)