Dating Fears: Did I Work Hard Enough?

Standing on the edge of my fears

These past few nights, I have been haunted in dreams by people from my past. Specifically from the parents who are no longer a part of my life. The reasons for us no longer being family is complicated, but there is an underlying commonality, neither should have ever been parents. That could just be my sleep deprived oversimplification talking, because yes these dreams are keeping me from sleeping through the night, and I think I have figured out why they keep happening. I am afraid of telling new people about my past.

While I can proudly champion the fact that I have worked incredibly hard to get where I am at. To say that I love myself, inside and out…finally. And that taking the summer to really be by myself has been worth it, I cannot escape the realities of the people who used to be in my life, and the hurdles they brought into my life. Sure, I overcame some true obstacles, but I don’t want to be seen as broken. I don’t want to portray this victim vibe, or be called a survivor. I want to be recognized for my own merit. I worked damn hard, and I am proud.

But there is a lingering fear of having to explain to a new person about why I closed the door on so many family members. I don’t want to be viewed as someone who won’t make a good parent due to my upbringing or current isolation. I don’t want the questions of someone with a loving close family to cast me out because I don’t have the same. I fear, that all my hard work, building myself up into the person that I am won’t be enough.

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I am not broken. I don’t feel broken, I hope I don’t act broken, and quite frankly, if I do from time to time I feel that’s just an expression of emotion and is valid. Yeah, that sentence confuses me at times too, but coming to terms with feeling vulnerable at times is part of my growth, and not my whole identity. And while I can write that… I don’t want to have to constantly explain myself and situation to others. I want to be loved for who I am now, and cherished for all my hard work, and dreams. I don’t want new people to judge me for a past that was out of my control. No one chooses their parents. I did the very best with what I was born into, and it helped shape me into the loving, compassionate, and at times even funny self.

My dreams though, are reminding me that there is a deep rooted fear that all my hard work is not enough, may never be enough, and I could be doomed to relationship failure. In the daylight, I don’t feel that way, it is only when everything is quiet, and my brain is left to sort its own version of events.

I am in no way looking for a cheering squad in writing this either. And for what it’s worth, I feel sick to my stomach typing this post. I don’t know what outcome I am expecting. I feel raw, vulnerable, and it is very off-putting to someone who likes the control of my emotions that I normally do have. What I recognize I have no control over is someone else, or their reactions to me, my story, and my past. And that evokes fear. Fear of dating, and putting myself out there. And that look in their eyes, that maybe all this hard work will never be enough for love and a family.

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A Few Stumbles Loving Myself

As I continue the uphill battle of falling back in love with myself, I have to keep reminding myself that the only certainty in life is that I will always be with me. Humans will come and go, but at the end of it all, I need to be someone that I can look back upon and just be proud. For decades, I only wanted to be the sunshine in my step dad’s eyes. My raison d’être was making him smile. And, if you have read any of my posts about the gaslighter who use to be in my life, well… that blew up royally in my face. I made that fatal mistake, of living for someone else. And as I mentioned in my last post, I did the same thing over the last year. My motivations were different, and of course, I would do it again in a heartbeat, but now it is time for me.

I have always had a creative mind, that ran parallel with this inane desire to do everything myself. I equated loving myself with being able to do everything on my own. Pride equals hard work, and this weird solo sense of worth. As a person who has only been single for about 6 months her entire adult life, that is a pretty strange thing to say. I have had incredible partners, and yet, I would never let them help me sort out my career, finances, or have any say in who I am as a person (good or bad). And as I sit here, writing alone in my house I have to admit, that this line of thinking is wrong.

I have not done myself a single favour by going alone. I love being an individual, but I cannot help wondering where I would be at if I just let someone in without kicking and screaming. Would that behaviour make me less lovable? Admitting vulnerability? I mean sure, if you follow my twitter, or have read a few of my more intimate posts you know I can open up. I absolutely have it in me. But… it is always on my terms. I deal with what I choose to, when I choose to, and can pretty much keep everything else in nice and neat boxes (the last year of my life not withstanding). However I am only open on my terms, and have never been that bubbly warm soul that everyone wants to be friends with.

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There are so many times that I have wished I could be that person who walks into a room, and just lights it up. My grandmother is genuinely loved by everyone who meets her. She is that rare soul that you just cannot help but adore. Generous, warm, hard working, always smiling, and an amazing cook/baker. The greatest testament to her amazing effect on people is that every breakup my mom went through, I would hear the outed party comment about how much they would miss my grandmother. And I have always admired this quality in her, while also knowing, I could never fill these shoes.

As I spend this summer coming to much more intimate terms with who I am, and what makes me amazing, it is difficult not to fall into an old trap, the desire of being that lady in red. That woman who makes heads turn when she walks into a room, and has an entourage of people laughing at her every word. I, so badly want to please people, while at the same time being true to my independent self.  It’s a balance game I should probably just give up on, because if I have learned anything, it is that I am not able to achieve it.

When I open my mouth, I quickly sense the person that I have offended, or rubbed the wrong way. Call it a gift! Of course I make it worse if I backtrack, or try and dig myself out of those holes. So, I try to say less, and listen more. Which if I am being honest is one of the things I truly love about myself. Being able to listen with compassion has opened up a whole world of new people and possibilities. And this is the foundation of me falling back in love with me. That and of course some amazing sex toys!

Deep down, I know I want people to fall in love with me, when I am in love with myself. I don’t desire anyone to pity me, or feel that they need to help me, solve my problems, or dig me out of endless hole. I have never desired that knight in shining armour to come and rescue me on his noble stead. I can only rescue myself. And that is what I am doing, one day at a time, so I can resume the most sex forward, and positive adventures of my life!

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Falling Back in Love… With Myself

Falling in Love… with me!

As a non-monogamous person, I spend a lot of my time working on relationships. Between strengthening the one I have at home, and the constant quest for new and incredible people, I humbly submit that I should get an A for effort. People are my passion. Relationship building is my forte. But, I will admit, there is a problem with my foundation, with me. While I have overcome many things in the past few years (with this last one being a real rollercoaster), there is something I need to put more focus on, loving me again.

A few months ago, I created a sex positive 30 day challenge, which was probably harder for me, than anyone else who joined in. Having to tell myself “I love me”, in the mirror brought me to tears. I crumbled.  Not because I don’t love myself, but because I wasn’t in love with myself. I had not done anything of late to boost myself up.  I had no new crazy or adventurous stories to tell. I had no new projects that I can excitedly get feedback on or bounce ideas about. I had put my inner passion for my ideas and creativity on the back burner.

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And yes, I did this in on purpose. I finally took that long hard look at myself and realized that I needed to forgive myself for my past, heal up, and take a real break to recharge. Loving half a person is the most difficult journey I have ever endured. And I did it, for the last year (more to come on that in a future post). I would do it again in a heartbeat, but it changed me. As a creative and passionate individual with drive and dreams I would find myself snapping at life in general. Why do I have to do everything? Why can I not take a break, and have someone take care of me for a few moments? Why will these tears just not stop?

The answer? I put myself on hold for another human being. I was living at half my creative capacity, with the other half keeping my human… alive. (Watching a loved one battle depression is anguish.)

Reading that last thought, over and over again, I am not sure if using past or present tense is more accurate. That being said, I didn’t make excuses to type this morning. I simply poured my coffee, and started to type.  And that, is a huge step. I didn’t feel obligated, instead I felt calm enough to start sharing. And that means I am feeling the fruits of the recharge. The drive is coming back, and you better believe that passion is too. I am starting to fall back in love with myself, because let’s face it, a whole human being is far sexier than half a soul right?

I will be challenging myself to post more photos on my Patreon page this month in the spirit of accepting and loving my body for the here and now instead of lamenting that it is not what it was, and I am grateful for all the support in this endeavour. 

Monogamy to Ethical Non-Monogamy: A Reflection 16 Years in the Making

Do you remember your first genuine relationship?  Of course you do, that first love stays with you, long after you’ve grown apart or in some rare cases grown together.  Today I was shocked to realize that it would have been 16 years had I stayed in my monogamous relationship/marriage.  I’ve mentioned a few times throughout my blog, that I do believe I would have fallen into non-monogamy eventually.  The fantasies were beginning, and there were sex acts that I just didn’t want to take part in, so I figured a unicorn would be perfect.  And as I have admitted, I was coming closer and closer to cheating all the time.  My then boyfriend and I would have taken the non-monogamous route to keep us together for the sake of the un-realized children.  It’s painful to accept, yet, I realize the truth in those words, having gained such a deep knowledge of myself and my needs.  And I absolutely know that I am not alone in this thinking.  So many have turned to an open relationships to save themselves and their partners.  Or to level the playing field after an indiscretion.  All judgement aside, this is the simple truth to why many have found themselves in the non-monogamous uncertain waters.

In my case, I consider myself lucky in that I ended things when I did.  When I walked away from monogamy and started serial dating I had yet to have heard the term non-monogamy.  So as I have mentioned when I did meet my current partner I had my eyes opened.  I can now say how fortunate I am to have found him and to have ended up where we are.  But as with any relationship we did not start out well.  I think our relationship can be broken down into two distinct parts.  The first, where I was so overwhelmed with being in an open relationship that we were living in an extremely unethical fashion.  Dates were hidden, and extra curricular activities were discovered, rather than discussed.  We began open, but did so, with a rocky and unstable foundation.

So we broke up.  I kept writing and he kept living the exact way he wanted to.  And then, a really surprising thing happened, we started building a new foundation, free of all pressure, just two singles coming together every now and again.  We weren’t intending to get back together, instead we used each others strengths, weaknesses and experiences to start forging ahead with a relationship style that would meaningful for each of us.  By the time we knew what was happening we were living together, and running on parallel paths.  There was a strange symmetry to our work and home lives and the word boyfriend and girlfriend was replaced by that of the title, partner.

Our love story was truly beginning.  And this is when we started looking together for our first couple.  We had been to a swing club, and had mixed feelings about it.  But the take away was the same, our foundation was ready to start building upon.  To start creating experiences together.  It was around this time that I started using the word ethical non-monogamy in my blogging.  I finally understood what it meant, and more than that, was living it.

I look back on these two distinct failed relationships, knowing that I am a direct result of them.  They were both interlaced with non-monogamy, but it wasn’t until I brought the word ethical in that my shift from an uncertain bystander turned to owning my relationship norm.  I cannot help but wonder if there is a parallel universe out there, where I sit here typing in secret about cheating and the mistakes I had made in monogamy.  That perhaps, I would still be a voice, but for those of the pained, rather than those of my current community.  It’s a strange feeling, looking across time like this.  But I feel a calmness in doing so.  It’s a peaceful realization that I am right where I need to be, and perhaps I need to watch a little less sci -fi (Ok, that would and could never happen!).  The path to non-monogamy was never straight and narrow, but I hope, in some small way, my reflection can offer some comfort to someone currently struggling.  After all, the journey is where the real memories are made.

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Update Post, Family Changes: A New Year, New Challenges

I wrote a post nearly 4 years ago, whereby I questioned the forgive and forget mantra when it comes to family.  I wrote also, that I was done allowing my family to control me.  When I read back through this post I can see that I was a mess, both in sentence structure and grammar, but also in the waves of emotion I tried to conceal.  I was forcing objectivity while hurting so badly.  It is never easy to walk away from a family that does not support you as an adult.  A woman who is trying to find her way in the world, judged from the foundation out. 
But I am very proud to report a few things.  Number one, I closed the door on a family member who emotionally abused me.  Number two, I opened the door to a family member that had been closed out of my life for years.  We offered each other forgiveness and love and are working diligently to have a real father daughter adult relationships.  And I couldn’t be more thankful that he came back into my life during this dark timeline that I am in.   
I broke free of my families hypocrisy.  And rejected the notion that I had to accept them and their words and actions, while they talk about me behind my back and judge me.  Acceptance is a two way street.  My biological dad and my renewed relationship with him is based on this principle.  We do not judge each other, simply try to understand and support.  We are no longer re hashing past events, but rather forging new memories and experiences.  He found peace, and I have found my inner voice.  I can not lament the closed minded people who share my blood.  I can only be grateful to have relationships with those who are open and genuinely love life, themselves and me. 
Finding unconditional love within a few of my family members has helped my confidence in the dating world as well.  I am more open to new partners and less jealous of the past.  It took a few years to really see the truth in who I am and who my partner is. Now that I can, well, I treat myself with the respect and pride I deserve. 

In a Utopian world, this post would be about everyone in my life forgiving and forgetting.  However, this is the real world and this post is celebratory.  I have forgiven myself and by forgetting the past on an individual that never thought I could or would, I have found peace.  Here`s to new and amazing beginnings.  Why wait until 2016 is officially over to move forward?