Wear My Heart On My Sleeve Or Take Off My Shirt?

I am a hopeless romantic. I am a seeker. I feel as if I am on a constant mission to find a man with whom I can share my life. This is something that I have been aware of for as long as I can remember. It as if it is already written and my soul knows the path that I am walking.

Most of the time I have real faith that eventually, when the time is right, I will find a person who will complement me, someone to be the yin to my yang, my partner in crime. Other times though, I fall into that pit of fear that exists inside me. The fear that my path does not include this kind of partnership pushes out the faith that I have. I think that maybe my God has other plans for me. I waffle between embracing my unfailing desire to find this individual, knowing that he awaits me at some point in my journey and hating that I cannot say, with complete honesty, that I am content to remain single forever.

Don’t get me wrong. My life is absolutely amazing. I often find myself in a moment observing the absolute perfection with which everything has unfolded around me. I have more friends than I have moments to share with them. My family is loving, supportive, and always there. I have a relationship with my creator that only strengthens and deepens with time. I have a yoga practice that blows my mind on a regular basis. I have a belief that everything happens for a reason and gratitude for the experiences that life has brought me. I have more than I need. I am truly blessed.

That being said, I often think that something is missing in my life. It manifests as a physical ache in my chest: it is longing, strong and sharp that cuts to the center of my being. It is a desire for a partner: someone to cook for and with, to fight with over the blankets and closet space, bicker with about whose turn it is to do the dishes, an accomplice for Home Depots runs, someone to come home to, and someone to make a home with.  I simply want to share these mundane tasks with someone on an intimate, daily basis.

This desire has brought some amazing men into my life over the years as well as some real jerks. Some of these men I still count as my closest friends and know that I can call on them anytime. They are a blessing.The others have shown me what I will and will not tolerate, how to communicate it, and how and when to set boundaries. These experiences have made me a stronger person. They have each taught me how to be a better partner and  a better friend.

This journey has taught me so much about honesty and open communication. It has taught me that love, whether brief or forever, is a gift that should be cherished. It has taught me to love myself a little more each time a “happily ever after” crashes down around me. Over time I have learned that relationships are challenging, but absolutely worth the effort. Romantic or platonic, these bonds are what this life is about.

Yet I sometimes wonder if life wouldn’t be simpler if I stopped the search and called it quits. It can bring a lot of pain along with the joy. Letting people in to end up disappointed, hurt, and feeling rejected can take a toll on the soul. The instinct is to show less of myself, to be less vulnerable, to put up a wall. This is what rationality tells me I should do: stop feeling so much and falling so fast, be careful, protect myself, be a watered down version of me. Thanks, but no thanks. I would rather stumble and fall than never run at all.

Today I choose to see dating as an adventure. I believe that the fall is exciting and beautiful even when it sometimes ends with me scraping myself up off of the floor. I have no plans to cease exploring every opportunity or close off my heart to the endless possibilities before me simply because I sometimes get hurt. I believe in love. And if I were to close myself off, even a little, I’d miss things that warm my heart, bring me joy, and make me laugh, like yesterday’s rapid fire texting with the charming #cajuncasanova, my frustrating twitter #luriatextcampaign, and all of the extensive and hilarious conversations that BH and I have about our own special kinds of crazy. And I ask, where would the fun be in that?!

Life is good my friends. You just have to take a risk and open your hearts to receive the gifts.

Be fearless and enjoy the ride.

Breaking Down Boxes: The Freedom to Become

The morning after I posted my last blog post my phone rang at around 7:30am. Let me be clear, I am NOT a morning person by nature. Regardless of the fact that I have been getting up for work before 6am for the past two years pretty regularly, I still hate that moment when the alarm buzzes. So when I answered my phone to discover my ex on the line, I wasn’t completely coherent.

“I figured out your problem! You are a lesbian!” This may or may not be what he said verbatim, but it is certainly the gist of it. Now let me say this, there is nothing wrong with being a lesbian, if you dig members of the same sex, that’s cool. Date whoever makes you happy. It just isn’t what floats my boat. I am perfectly content with my heterosexual status.  If you know me at all, then you know that I run toward the “boy crazy” end of the spectrum. I like men; I have dated quite a few of them in my 31 years, all shapes, sizes, and personalities. While I have finally learned that there are a couple of types that work best for me, I appreciate them all. I am clearly not a lesbian; therefore by his logic, I must be a fraud.

Now for the reasoning behind my ex’s proclamation. Apparently, this was brought on by the last topic or all topics that I write about here on Wandering Ginger. I am no longer the girl that he was in a relationship with through the years. His rationale is that I am either a) a lesbian or b) a fraud, writing about who I want to be rather than whom I am.

I can understand his confusion, or anyone’s really, over my transformation over the last few years. Especially if you only came to know me intimately over the first few years, I spent in Florida. I was just getting my life back together after quite a few years of utter chaos.  I was only interested in pulling things back together, in falling in line with the prevailing ideology of those around me, of the norms of upper-middle-class twenty-somethings.

Needless to say, I had certain ideas about how my life was supposed to look from the outside. Some of these things weren’t even possible at that exact moment – i.e. having a college degree – due to the choices I had made in my late teens and early twenties. The others, though, I emulated to the best of my ability.

To be fair, I was just getting to know myself, so it is not surprising that I had to try on a few different hats before I found the ones that fit me the best. “Housewife” with an education that I never had cause to use was one of the first stops on my journey from where I had come to where I am today. This is the hat that I wore for most of the time that he and I were together. It is the role that I tried the hardest to fit into, over and over and over again. I was hellbent on fitting that role no matter how many times I had to bang my head into the wall of failure. I was sure if I tried hard enough, if I just behaved myself and were a nice girl, I would be a happy homemaker, and we would live happily ever after. You know the type, nice home, expensive SUV, Lululemon filled closet (not that I don’t still LOVE Lulu), seeing a trainer several times a week, extensive travel, and a little help from a house cleaner.

Now there is nothing wrong with this picture. I really enjoyed it for a time and may or may not again in the future. I just couldn’t find fulfillment in that existence at that moment, so the ex and I would break up and makeup. I would run, or he would get tired of my bullshit. Yet, I couldn’t let go of the idea of what I thought we were and the ideas of what our future was supposed to be.

Let me say that I was intolerable a lot of the time. What I thought I wanted was utterly at war with what I needed to be happy. He was a good boyfriend and a great provider. I just needed things that he could not give. The final goodbye was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. And occasionally I entertain the idea of trying it all over again.

The rest of the stops on the journey have been shorter, but just as important. There was my time as an inspiring college English professor. Getting my doctorate felt like the only way I could prove that I was successful until I realized that the idea of doing the work required to become a tenured professor followed by what the job actually entailed made me want to run screaming from campus. This was followed by my summer as a yogini in training, where I spent 9 weeks sans music, caffeine, loud noise, and meat, in hours of silent 6am meditation, and even more hours on my mat or teaching. This was great until I graduated and went back to my day-to-day life, which has little room for 30 hours of yoga a week. Next up was my stint as band groupie for Black Taxi, my favorite foursome! I’m pretty sure that this one ended only because they are currently spending all their time in the studio working on their new album. It is hard to follow a band if they aren’t touring. This leads to my latest phase, my wandering phase, where I cannot seem to sit in one place for very long at all.

All of these periods and the fears that have come along with them have been integral in shaping me. Some bits and pieces stick with me as I move from one phase to the next. I still love cooking, wearing Lulu, and expensive accessories, I wish that I had time for yoga and meditation, Black Taxi still makes me dance around my house alone and sing at the top of my lungs, I even try to see the guys anytime I visit NYC, I see as much live music as financially possible, and I clearly have no intent on staying put anytime soon. So you see, I am not a fraud, just a girl in evolution on her way to something unexpected and amazing.

I would really like to take exception to either of my ex’s assertions, but I find that I cannot. I am so much different than I was then, or at least who I thought I was. I think that his logic is interesting and understandable in a weird, not based in reality kind of way. It has given me cause to think about my own reactions over the years as I have noticed marked changes in the people that I have known well at one time or another.

Do I give people the freedom to change, to become whoever they desire, without my own judgments getting in the way? Or do I discredit these changes as my ex does, if people step too far out of the box in which I have placed them?

I would love to say that the answer is yes; of course, I allow people the room to change as they wish! I mean, I expect people to give me the freedom to change and grow into the person that I would one day like to be, so why wouldn’t I give them the same courtesy and understanding? I am afraid that I haven’t though. I get so caught up in the way that I think people should behave, in the way that they always have, that I cannot see beyond my own expectations. I feel let down when they show up differently or in ways that are unexpected.  I begin to question the validity of our previous interactions and sentiments towards one another. Sometimes I am angry with them for the differences I see.

I am happy for that 7:30 wake up call. It has brought to my attention the amount of rigidity I still exhibit in my relationships, both romantic and platonic. That is not the kind of person that I would like to be. It is something that I can work on though; it gives me an ideal to work towards.

I want to be the kind of woman who brings light, love, and understanding to those within her circle and even those outside it. I am intimately acquainted with the fear that goes along with breaking down the box, and I want to be someone who encourages people to make the change and face the fear.

Thanks, Stink, for the enlightenment and for always being there, even when it is begrudgingly. ILY.

And thank you @GatorFrank for being a source of inspiration this afternoon!

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