The Dating Apocalypse: Or how dating in your 30s is a lot like the Walking Dead

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His face is haggard, his eyes tired, but he misses nothing. His body, though broken, is strong and poised to strike at a moment’s notice. He is sizing up this stranger to see whether or not he’s a threat.

“How many walkers have you killed?” “How many people have you killed?” “Why?”

If you’re familiar with The Walking Dead, you know that when Rick Grimes and his crew meet new people they might want to bring into their group they ask them these three questions. These questions are loaded and heavy and quickly cut to the heart of a persons character. And they MUST be answered before he’ll even consider bringing a new person into the fold. It was while watching him ask these questions on an episode recently that I had an a-ha moment.

Rick Grimes and I are basically the same person.  Yup.

His character is trying to survive the wasteland that is America after the zombie apocalypse happens.  I am trying to survive the wasteland that is the dating scene in Dallas in my mid-30’s.

IT IS BASICALLY THE SAME THING. Just kidding … but, no really … kinda the same. Let me tell you why.

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Thoughts on being brave (and my new love for Tracee Ellis Ross)

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My life is mine. Woah.

I heard these words recently when listening to Tracee Ellis Ross’ speech for Glamour’s 2017 Women of the Year Summit.  In that speech she discusses how being an incredibly successful woman in her mid-40s seems to be forever overshadowed by the fact that she is still single and childless. 

“Oh, you just haven’t found the right guy yet.” 

“What are you going to DO?” 

“Oh, you poor thing… WHY is someone like you still single?,” 

people ask her (and all single women), thinking it’s a compliment. When in fact it often undermines our entire existence. As if being single and manless/childless is our burden and our one defining factor.

Tracee went on to describe how during a particular season in her life, after breaking up with a guy she loved to date other people, she was journaling about this. About what I’m sure felt like guilt over wanting to date other people and not being in a relationship with a man she still loved (just (I’m assuming) not in the right way). She wrote down the words ‘My life is mine.’ And it stopped her in her tracks.

It stopped me in my tracks the other day while listening to that speech. My life is MINE.

What does that even mean? What does that look like when I really embrace it?

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Flying Solo (Part 1): Bali, bedbugs and break-ups

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If it weren’t for the bedbugs, I would’ve never gone to Bali.

I thought about that as I stood in the immigration line after a grueling, fairly inebriated 33 hour flight. I was tired but I had made it and I had a ‘holy shit’ moment. Me? I’m here? How did I get here? How did this small town girl wind up solo in Bali? 

Well, it all started with a song and a book (of course). 

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This is 35

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I drank way too much last night.

It started out with dinner with a good friend. We had wine and some incredible mediterranean food and got into some deep discussions. I love those. The kinds of discussions where it’s food for the soul and you leave feeling sated and full in spirit. I love the safe spaces friends can provide where your burdens become suddenly lighter because you’re carrying them together. I love emotional transparency and vulnerability. Gah. It really was beautiful. 

Then I ubered to meet two friends at another bar, more deep discussions (though I must say they started to get a little gibberish-y towards the end cause… vodka). Then ubered to karaoke, sang a song (killed it), then ubered to yet another bar for last call. I don’t even know how much alcohol I consumed. Wine, vodka, whiskey. Oof. 

This is 35. For me. 

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Chickens and Dancing: Thoughts on being single

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The greatest part of being single is the chicken. Hear me out.

When I was married (and then in subsequent relationships), I would often buy those yummy delicious rotisserie chickens from Kroger for dinner for us. They are quite literally one of my most favorite things in the world. The first time I bought one of those whole chickens as a single girl I legit rejoiced. BOTH drumsticks were mine. BOTH wings. All the best parts of the chicken. And I didn’t have to share it with ANYONE. I swear I could hear the trumpets sound.

As I sit here in the aftermath of yet another failed attempt at a thing (I mean, can we even call three months a relationship?), there are a lot of things I’m pondering. It’s easy to get caught up in the blame game. Usually this is the point when I start really beating myself up and obsessing over every little mistake and each anxious outburst, but that’s not helpful. The good news is that this time I have finally found a few resources that are helping me discern what actually happened as it relates to me. And it’s giving me tools for any future relationships. I have homework, I have some takeaways and for that I am truly grateful.

Yes, there is work to do. And yes, I am doing it. But for now … for now, I am single. And there are SO many things to rejoice about. For starters, the chicken. As a woman who once broke it off with a guy who ate food off her plate (multiple times without asking AND while using his bare hands), I cannot stress the value of this enough.

Also, it’s getting cold outside in Dallas finally. Now that no one will be seeing me naked anytime soon, it’s time to don some sweats and forget the razor and my god, that is glorious. GLORIOUS. I mean, not to say it gets like crazy wolf-like on my legs or anything, but it’s nice to not have that as a top concern when I’m getting ready in the morning. Plus, it’s warmer. (NOTE: yes, a warm body to cuddle with would be warmer than leg fur but I do have two very precious dogs to snuggle with and they were honestly feeling a little jealous/neglected).

Also, there’s the beauty of your schedule being your own. Which for me means that when some friends say, hey you wanna meet up for a drink or dinner, my answer is yes yes yes. It’s liberating to not have to accommodate someone else’s schedule. I find that in relationships, especially in the beginning stages, I tend to be the one that loses more sleep and has my schedule compromised in order to see the other person. Now that’s not their fault entirely. I get super duper excited (then I get super duper anxious) and I definitely give WAY too much of my time and myself without many boundaries or without requiring the other person to put forth the same effort. Part of that homework I have to do before my next attempt, eh? But for now, it’s nice. No more missing workouts or losing sleep just so I can see the person I’m trying to build something with. And most especially, no more missing prime opportunities to dance.

Which brings me to one of my most favorite things to do as a single girl. Dancing. More specifically, swing dancing.

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In Praise of Promiscuity (Part 1): The fuck-it list

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I was 21 before I learned to masturbate. Up till then I hid my naked body from myself most of the time. I didn’t really even look at it when showering. 

Weird? Yes. But I was raised Southern Baptist and sexual sin was considered the greatest. Honestly, I think I was afraid of my body and what was ‘down there’. In addition, I’d taken the true love waits pledge and seriously believed I would wait to even KISS a guy until my wedding day. My body scared me, boys scared me, all the sexual TERMS scared me. Blow job. Doggy style. Eating … I mean, what?? I had to often pretend like I knew what my friends were discussing, then run home and ask my mom which was even more embarrassing and terrifying. 

When I started to explore myself sexually, I had no clue what I was doing. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to figure ‘it’ out but from all the conversations I’d had with friends about it, it seemed like it was something I was gonna have to do eventually and I was pretty sick of being alone. I kind of felt like my V-card was becoming a burden. I thought if I figured out how to, you know, pleasure myself I’d have a higher chance of actually losing my virginity.

I’ll spare the graphic details but I will say was trying to learn to masturbate when you have no clue what’s going on down there is hilarious. Well … in hindsight it is. At the time it was frustrating. I tried a plethora of random things (like really random things), but no success. Because ummm, I apparently wasn’t paying any attention in biology and had no clue what (or WHERE) my own clitoris was. So … one day I borrowed my roommates computer and searched ‘how to masturbate’. I found a forum that explained how my body was supposed to work and eventually I figured it out. Wowza. 

I tell this story because, well, it’s funny (to me) and also it offers some insight into the type of person who jumped into a long term relationship at 23 with very little to no sexual experience. The intense level of guilt and shame I felt for even having sex in the first place took a long, long time to work through. Even inside of a committed relationship I would feel dirty having sex. But I also so deeply craved physical affection. Quite frankly, the guilt was another reason why I was convinced I needed to make my problematic relationship work despite all the signs pointing to us being completely incompatible. 

So when I separated from my ex, I was 31 and had had two sexual partners. What followed was a time of transformation and discovery and here’s the fun part. I decided to be a sexual explorer. I didn’t do this in my 20s and maybe that was a good thing. Because now I was divorced and in my 30s and after having been burnt and starved for affection in my last relationship, I was ready to try all the things that I’d always been curious about.

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Happy Anniversary to me

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It’s been a year. A whole year. Since my heart was broken for the very first time. 

It was the thing I was most petrified of my whole life. Surrendering your heart to someone and having them break it, hand it back to you and walk away. Rejection. To be quite honest, that was likely a major reason why it took me 8 years to work up the courage to leave my ex in the first place. Heartbreak was something I was petrified of, how could I possibly do that to him, even if breaking up was the best thing for both of us?

This time last year, I was 34 and heartbroken. And to make matters worse, I live in the neighborhood he works. Ugh. Needless to say, it became complicated and mired. Humiliating. People expect a woman at my age to know what to do in a situation like this, to have already gone through heartbreak and to have learned how to do it gracefully. I didn’t. I’d never had that experience. Not to say that I’d never experienced hurt or rejection – I had many times during the course of my 8 year relationship as well, little hurts and indifferences and small cruelties that sting and break your heart slowly. But this was different. This time I had truly ‘fallen’ in love. It got messy. I didn’t understand ’no contact’ and why that’s integral to moving on with some dignity. In some ways it was like I was 16 in my heart, having my high school sweetheart break up with me and it felt like I would never recover. 

I don’t know that I’m ready to talk about that relationship in great detail just yet. But I’m gonna try to unpack it, at least a little bit, because it’s the anniversary of us ending and that actually seems like something to celebrate. You see, he was an unavailable man. I warned you, I have done some very cringe-worthy shit. This is one of those things. I was the other woman. 

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Dating with Anxiety (Part 2): Or how I’m learning to give myself a break

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Last time I talked about some painful things. My anxiety and how that has really become a burden while dating and embarking on a new relationship.

One of the biggest things I’m learning is how to have compassion for myself. And to see things in a clearer perspective (vs the nagging negative voice that has repeatedly told me I’m too much of a burden for anyone, I’ll never be able to have the life or love I truly desire, etc etc). 

Four years ago I walked away from a safe space. A marriage and a home with a man who I might not have been in love with, but someone who I did care for, who cared for me (well, most of the time) and who was my partner. I shared everything with this man – my ups and downs, good and bad.  It might’ve been unhealthy, unkind, even indifferent but it was certain. I, a person with very intense anxiety, walked away from a very certain and stable future. Did I mention I walked away from a HOME? We had this beautiful home we remodeled. It had a yard. And vaulted ceilings. Sigh. I had safety and security but emotionally we were totally empty.

Walking away from the stability was GD scary. There were moments I was worried I had a brain tumor. My whole self, my entire identity (to a degree), was shifting. I was … becoming me. It was a rebirth in a sense. I knew it had to be done and yet there was a vast amount of time spent going WTF is wrong with me.

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Dating with Anxiety: How to lose a guy in 10 days … or three months

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I’ve been trying to think about what my next article should be … for about a month now. I’ve been stumped. Why? Partly because I truly want to sound cool and I want to be Carrie Bradshaw. I freaking love her. Sex and the Big D. I feel like my posts should be about single girl adventures and fun, flirty lessons … and while I do have some crazy adventures from time to time, the lessons are rarely fun and flirty and they’re really starting to beat me up.

I started this blog for me right? And I must stay true to that. To the authenticity of this project. Warts and anxiety and repeated mistakes and all.

During the past month I ended a very short-lived but promising relationship with a guy I was growing fond of … and I traveled to Bali alone. But in reverse order. Soon I will write about Bali, but for now I need to talk about that short-lived relationship.

Ok … to be honest, I’m still processing the relationship. I am sad that it has ended though I was the one who opted to call it quits. I miss him … or do I? I don’t know. The honest truth is I have overwhelming anxiety at the beginning of relationships. Oh let’s be honest, I have overwhelming anxiety throughout ALL of my romantic relationships. I have carried these deep fears of abandonment since childhood and I am only just now, at 35, starting to understand them. Starting to really see the damage NOT addressing them is doing to me and my future happiness. 

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The Big D: Divorced

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I’ve been trying to think of a clever way to start this part of my life’s tale but I came up short. To be blunt, I’m exhausted thinking about writing this. Just as you’re likely exhausted at the thought of reading it. Divorce. Blech. What can I say about divorce that hasn’t already been said? Nothing. What advice could I give? Honestly … nothing, except be wary of who you marry but that’s been said a gazillion times already. And those of us who have been divorced were likely choosing a person because we believed they WERE it. In fact, I was married after being in a relationship for 6 years. I was very VERY wary. And still here I am … divorced.

I have no insights for you. The only ones I have are my own and they are for me and my life and I’m not sure I understand them fully either. Quite frankly, if you read this you might end up hating me by the end. But I came here to tell the truth and so the truth I will tell.

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