Clean up your mess

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I have been single for 5 years now. And I haven’t lived with someone in nearly 4 years.

When I first moved out of the house I shared with my ex, I was ecstatic at the idea of living by myself. Having complete say over what kind of decor to purchase, how the house was kept up, etc etc.

At first, it was amazing. I kept my apartment fairly immaculate. I painted giant canvases for my walls with Ash. I sought out color coordinated pillows and decorations. I cleaned every weekend. I found interesting local art to hang. I made my home a place I wanted to be and hoped others would want to be as well.

However, after years of being single, my standards began to decline and I now believe I have become TOO comfortable with living on my own.

How?

Well, I let the dishes pile up. I sometimes let the housework slide a week or two before I really clean (ok .. maybe three weeks). I honestly don’t remember the last time I did the floors (omg wait … have I even done the floors ONCE?).

I live as if no one might see my home … ever. I am NOT the house maker woman with an immaculately clean home that smells of fresh baked cookies, complete with pinterest-worthy decor. That shit stopped once my dogs began to destroy my adorable color coordinated pillows.

My art hangs on the wall off centered and eclectic. Nothing matches. I have some glade air fresheners but I doubt it masks the rampant dog scent that well. When I lost my belongings last year, I settled for some hand-me-down furniture which included a worn-out teal green fabric lazyboy and an old futon. Seriously.

My home does not look like it belongs to a successful mid-30s female with aspirations of being a wife. I have lived basically like a lonely bachelor. Messy and unkempt and I have been ok with that. Until now.

I recently started dating again.

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The Hard Way

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“We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”

I feel like this must’ve been what the universe (or God) asked my fresh, new soul before it sent me spiraling down to earth.

And until recently, I would say my dumb ass soul must’ve answered  ‘the hard way’.

I have often said that this is how I tend to learn things. The hard way. Not everything, but most things. Sometimes this is because while I can read about certain experiences and hear pre-emptive advice, I tend to not retain it unless I’ve gone through the same experience. I learn better through application.

Sometimes, however, learning ‘the hard way’ has been because I am STUBBORN AF and I have a rebel tendency. So even if I have a situation in which I can apply really great advice, I might not. My dumb, hopeful, rebellious heart will try to hold out for a different conclusion. It’s frustrating at times. But for me, once I learn something the hard way, I really do get it. On a soul and core level.

Here are a few truths I’ve learned the hard way.

1) It’s really important to take your car in if it makes some weird crunching noise when you turn … because if not, your tire might fly off.

2) Do NOT try to nudge a couch that is blocking your path with your vehicle … or it might dent your door and make it impossible to open it fully ever again.

3) If you have a messy, heartbreak of a situation with a guy, you shouldn’t continue to show up at his bar with your rabble-rousing friends.

4) DO NOT – I REPEAT – DO NOT DATE A BARTENDER AT YOUR FAVORITE BAR. No man is worth losing your favorite bar. NO. MAN. The bar is forever.

5) If a guy tells you he’s not ready for a relationship, listen to him and don’t try to change his mind.

Ahem. So … most of my ‘hard learned’ lessons clearly tend to deal with love and relationships.

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How to be happy single

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I have been single now for the past 4 years. During that time, I’ve had a handful of really short-lived things and one devastating little affair, but for the most part I’ve been alone and single for 4 long years.

And for the first time, maybe EVER, I am finally happy that this is true. Like … happy happy. Like my life is so full, my-cup-runneth-over type happy. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but seriously I am truly, finally enjoying my singledom. And no, not in this I’m-single-so-I’m-on-the-prowl-dating-all-the-hot-men kind of way. But in the I’m-single-and-I’m-really-happy-alone-binge-watching-old-shows-and-reading-good-books kind of way.

I’m just … happy. Going out, staying in, whatever. There are the occasional bumps, because life is bumpy, but none of them have to do with me being single really. So here are my full-proof steps for getting to a place where you’re absurdly happy being single.

(Note: Ok so these aren’t full-proof, that’s an overstatement. And absurdly is a bit of an exaggeration too. These are basically ‘My unproven steps to getting to a place of general happiness most of the time being single’. Yeah. That’s more accurate.)

 

Step 1: Have your heart broken twice, preferably by the same man.

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It doesn’t actually have to be twice, sometimes one will suffice. But get your heart good and broken. Like good and BROKEN. The more devastating the better. I mean, stop you in your tracks, staring-at-his-picture-and-his-love-notes-for-hours kind of broken. Tears, wailing, binge eating. The works. Sweat pants, no showers, serious weight gain. Like I said, the messier the better. Oh and if you can add in getting banned from his bar, then you’re well on your way to true happiness, my friend.

(Note:  A devastating breakup is not mandatory. Neither is a bar banning. If not applicable, please proceed to step 2.)

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Hands

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I saw hands and I froze.

They looked like his hands. Big. Bigger than normal hands. The hands of a giant really. I couldn’t see the face from across the room but I could see his hands and my heart nearly short circuited.

It’s been two years since A and I officially ended things, two years since my heart was broken. But it’s only been a few months since I last saw him. Last kissed him. Last laid my head on his chest, breathing him in, feeling safe and warm and loved.

And at the same time … not safe. Not warm. Not loved.

I’ve glimpsed him only once in the past couple of months. While walking past his bar, I glanced inside and he looked right back at me and our eyes locked for just a second. No expressions. Just … a moment. We caught eyes and then I was gone, walking down the street littered with memories I’d shared with him. The ghosts of our affair.

To be honest, I don’t ache like I used to. I don’t think about him non-stop. Most days I don’t think about him at all. I’m focused on moving my life forward and it feels good. I feel really good. I have a great job I’m starting to really get the hang of. I have an incredible network of friends who I love. I don’t have a lot of anger like I used to. I don’t replay the moments and beat myself up like before. I don’t sit for hours on end and recount every good moment, every electric kiss and every time we’d stare into each others eyes and feel the weight of our connection. I don’t cry all the time this time. (It helps his social media accounts are private.) I accept where our story ended.

But still … still … my heart froze when I thought I saw his hands from across the room.

Why? Was it because I looked like a hot mess? (I did.) Was it because I’ve gained weight and don’t want him to see? (I have and I don’t.)

Am I terrified he’ll ignore me? Or am I more afraid that he won’t? And I wonder .. is this for always? Or just for now?

I wonder this because the year and a half we spent apart I had many moments like these. I’d see a tall guy with a full beard who resembled him from a distance and my stomach would flip like the way it does when you’re rounding the top of a hill on a rollercoaster and speeding down to the bottom. A mix of excitement, panic, fear and hope.

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What happens after 36?

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I’ve recently been re-watching Sex and the City from the beginning. Why? Well I seriously suck at adulting and still don’t have internet at my home (feel free to judge me), so I’ve just been entertaining myself with my ancient, relatively unused DVD collection.

I was obsessed with this show in my 20s. Before I met the man who would be my ex-husband, while I was living alone, broke and poor in a shitty little apartment in Carrolton, I watched this show for the first time after renting the DVD’s from a Hollywood Video store. Yes, yes I said DVD’s twice … I’m old.

I remember falling in love with these women and their friendships … and I remember falling in love with New York. I looked at them and their fabulous lives and was in sheer awe. I was 22 and had never even dated and at the time, my only friend and I had just had our first falling out and weren’t talking (spoiler alert: we made up and became best friends and co-authors of thetruthandthechaos.com). These women were in their 30s and single but living it right. They were best friends whose connection kept them afloat amidst every dating woe they faced.

It was something I absolutely loved but couldn’t really relate to at the time.

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Whip it good: All about that time I was a dom

An older friend once told me that during the course of a lifetime, most people end up leading at least 5 very different lives.

He mentioned this while we were sitting at a karaoke bar after having already danced earlier that night. It was one of those fun, spontaneous evenings where we just bar hopped and met up with various friends over the course of an evening, dancing and singing and laughing and sharing stories.

I was relaying to him how it seemed crazy to me how radically different my life was from just a few short years ago, when I was married with a house and a yard and I never sang or danced or went out ever. It was so different in fact that I often wondered … who am I? Am I the same person? And of course, the answer to that question was both yes and no.

I used to really worry that something was wrong with me to have had such a change in direction in my 30s. So I found his advice to be quite comforting. And also very, very true. I was indeed living a very different life, hopefully one of many still to come.

His words came to mind again recently while I was cleaning out the trunk of my car and ran across a very long, very serious leather whip and a smaller riding crop. And I remembered, ahhhhh yes … I was a dominatrix once.

Talk about a different life, eh?

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Dating & Demon Facing

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I have taken quite the hiatus from dating. A full year. Seriously.

October 2017 was when my last little blip of a relationship ended and I decided to take some time to myself. And I think I’ve been on maybe one random date since?

There are a few reasons why I stopped dating or trying to date. One, I felt like I really needed to just put the brakes on anything romantic for a while. After my heart was crushed nearly two years ago, my immediate response was to jump into dating full force. Probs not the wisest of emotional choices but I was trying my hardest to move on towards something real. I was also trying super hard not to contact my ex. Long story short, I kind of hurricane-d my way through men without stopping.

But after the last ‘thing’ ended, I realized I had a lot of hurt and baggage I hadn’t dealt with.  I didn’t know exactly HOW to deal with it, but I figured taking a break from subjecting my wildly anxious, broken heart on men was a good first step.

Another reason I stopped dating was because I just got worn the hell out. It is EXHAUSTING. The funny thing is, I was the most hopeful, most energetic and optimistic of all my friends when I first started dating about 4 years ago. I was like, this is easy and fun! I was the one encouraging all my friends to jump in, open up, give dating a try! You get to meet new people, eat good food, have a grand old time. This, of course, was my young(er), naive(er) self that had yet to be truly burned by this cold, loveless world. Just kidding. But … not really.

Dating was tricky for me before I started seeing the guy who broke me (lets call him Andy) and then dating got even trickier after. Then … it just got tiring. So tiring.

Banter till you get the date, then pretty yourself up, shave parts, put all the things together and then go see if you even like each other. Or at least like the version of each other that is all prettied up and neatly put together. If you do (huzzah), then you have to start the very slow, very time-consuming task of getting to know each other, layer by layer, to hopefully (if you don’t fuck it up with your insecurities or baggage) get to the place that I SO long to be … which is true depth and intimacy. I forgot how much I hate the beginning parts of a relationship. I love the romance! But then I wanna skip straight to intimacy and deep knowing.

Dating is just …. SO much. I needed a Rip Van Winkle type nap from dating. And so I took one.

However, another reason I haven’t been dating, at least in past 6 months, was because of a very dumb (but maybe also wise?) decision. My ex, the one who shredded my heart before, came back into my life briefly.

*Cue chorus of groans.*  Yup, I went there. Again.

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