What’s Love Got to Do With It?

I am 36-year-old woman who has only been in one semi-significant relationship, and that was with a man. I can count the number of times I have had sex on one hand. I have felt fairly pathetic for the entirety of my reproductive years. I was convinced that by society’s standards I was subpar.

Coupling always seemed like it is the next maturation step that I never got. As a pre-teen, I longed to be asked out. I dreamed of what it would be like when I met, “the one.” Through school, I felt pinched every time those stupid Valentine’s carnations were delivered to our homerooms. I knew there would be none for me.

I was pretty fat in middle school and that was an understandable excuse in my world for not receiving a side-glance from anyone. In college, I was thinner, prettier. I was convinced that when I moved to Chicago and got settled in, I would find “the one.”

That didn’t happen. When I moved back to Michigan, I got tired of waiting and bought my own house. I figured that if I kept busy, things would sort themselves out. They didn’t. Enter Max and Alex. They pushed me to get out there. I discovered that it is pretty easy to find a guy to date or to fool around with. I dated a few nice guys, but I didn’t feel anything when I was with them.

There were a million reasons why I could point to not having a guy. I hated being single, but I loved not being in a relationship that I regretted. As I watched others take on new marriages, I could see their pain when they were not matched well. Jealousy, verbal abuse, and neglect seemed common. I hated how some of my friends felt controlled. They became zombie noodles.

My parents’ relationship was not something I wanted to model my future on. They would get into vicious fights in my youth. I stopped looking forward to the weekends because they would get into a big fight and you would feel like you had to walk on eggshells. I began to see marriage as a trap. Who wants to sign up for that?

Still, I am a total lover at heart. I love the sappy Valentine crap. I lost my virginity to the first guy who gave me flowers. I loved the idea of love, but saw few models of loving relationships that really reflected this.

The best examples of a healthy relationship came from my gay friends. Alex and Max have been together twelve or more years now. They communicate well. They are each other’s best friend. Similarly, I have friends who are a lesbian couple. They equally have each other’s backs. Both couples spend quality time with one another. They seem to “fit.”

Through the years I have gone from being curious about relationships, to disgusted by them, to longing for them. The hardest times to be single are by far the holidays. Every merchant is sure to make you aware of sharing a special something with someone. This is compounded by all the inquiries from well meaning people into your love life. From work, to your parents, to aunts, and friends constantly asking who I have been seeing…you get sick of finding a tactful way to say, “nope, I am still pathetically single.”

As I rolled into my thirties, the pressure was immense. My aunt told me that now I would be considered a “mature” bride if I wanted to get married. Friends and siblings started getting married off by the butt load. I found it so painful to be a part of the festivities. I forgot worrying about my own wedding. I had already assumed it was never going to happen. My mother reminded me several times in my youth that I was not the “marrying” type. I never understood what they meant. Did they not want me to have a significant other?

Through my life, whenever there was a portrayal of an old “hag,” I felt squeamish. My father would recall all these women that he knew that didn’t get married. He couldn’t understand why. “She seemed pretty to me.” I felt that bucking the system meant a life of hardship: no one to provide for you, no children to take care of you in your old age. You’re on your own kid!

Still, I didn’t mind being on my own. I made my own schedule. I never had to answer to anyone. I had my own money. I could eat what I wanted. I didn’t ever have to share the TV remote. As much as these perks were nice, you can’t help having the nagging feeling that you are missing out. You start believing that you are so different. You must be a freak. How horrible can I be that I can’t find someone who might love me for me?

As the veil of my depression began to break, I started talking to a guy I thought was everything that I would ever want. He didn’t call after our first date. I was devastated. What did I do? No matter how much I touched up my hair, got dolled up, and even tolerated heels…I was still not attractive.

Then, as life tends to throw you a curve ball, I had the epiphany that maybe I wasn’t so crazy, maybe I am just gay. All of a sudden, in a matter of hours, I could see everything making sense. I never thought I had any real romantic entanglements, but I had, they were just with girls. No, I had only really kissed one…but I could understand now that my attraction to them was very similar to someone who would have a crush with the opposite sex. I had told myself that being gay was not a possibility and worked my whole life to repress it. I destroyed my sex drive. It doesn’t seem that far of a stretch to see why I developed cancer in an organ that is most strikingly female.

Once I figured out things, I began venturing into this new world. I actually dated a girl for a while, but then I got cancer. She was cool with it, but I couldn’t handle figuring out my sexuality and my new diagnosis at the same time. I even had a few dates before Christmas, but they were disasters. I was more than eager to have a dating break for a while.

In the New Year, Alex and Max tried to get me to start dating again. I was really reluctant. I really wanted to just worry about me. I was totally okay with this. As a whole, I have found this self-acceptance thing to be super difficult. How can you try to find someone when you still hate so much about yourself?

More comfortable with my single status then ever, I got to Valentine’s Day. I sent Valentines out to friends and family. I indulged Alex and Max with a shower of chocolates and goodies. It felt good. The next day I was to spend alone. I got super hungry and tried to go out to eat. Every restaurant in the area was packed. Low blood sugar fired a spiral of self-pity that I had not expected. Again, I felt like an outsider just looking in on a world that I am never suppose to know. I ended up spending the rest of the day in bed.

For me, I know my problem is still being okay with who I am. I judge myself for looking too boyish (especially with my cancer crew cut). I fear that I might find someone attractive, and everyone else in my world will think they are a complete dog. I am embarrassed to be with a girl that is too butch. I don’t want someone who can’t hold a conversation, or who will embarrass me in front of company. I am worried about someone being too clingy. I feel being yelled at, misunderstood. Maybe I am too selfish to ever share my life with someone. I don’t want to be the whole financial supporter of someone, but I question what I have to give in a relationship. I am scared shitless about lesbian sex. I am embarrassed to be so inexperienced at such a late age.

I am mostly afraid that I can’t trust my own judgment. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad about themselves, and I really don’t want someone to get involved with me and then get hurt. I don’t know why anyone would want to be with me. The insecurity and inferiority exacerbate everything.

Alex and I talked about this past Saturday. He was like, “what do you need to get started?” He had me venture out to the dating sites again while he worked on something else. I clicked on a picture of a girl who I would have never clicked on before. We had a ton in common. She was kind of butch. Could I handle that? I guess you don’t know until you try.

So again, I continue to try. Not because if I don’t find someone that I will die lonely, but because I am just ready to stop listening to crap in my head and just try it. Put on my big girl panties and make some new friends. Don’t be so afraid. Don’t measure mine or anyone else’s worth on what someone else may or may not think. Grow some tits and just show up in this life. If I can handle cancer, I should be able to handle this just fine.

The Ideal Relationship

Okay, I have been focused on love a lot. I know I have so much to learn on the topic that the words are pouring out of my hands. I want to grasp it, feel it. I want to taste the deliciousness of it. I feel like I have been preventing myself from tasting the juiciest, most decadent cupcake in all of the land.

Honestly, I do love pastry but the sadder part is that cupcakes represented the joy I was missing from life. A cupcake didn’t judge. It always looks cute. It doesn’t discriminate. My younger self would gorge on these items, which lead to weight gain, PCOS, and in all honesty…uterine cancer.

The problem is we often make fun of the fatty eating the cupcake. We don’t dig deeper to see what that means. For me it is the lack of love and acceptance I felt, which ultimately led to swallowing my sexual confusion and frustration down with pastry. It was a talent my father passed down to me. Seriously.

I crave pastry when I have gone awhile with out it. I can’t go a week without a cupcake. I have gone without sex for years. At one point, it was over a decade. When you are looking for an object to love, one that hasn’t betrayed you, one that has never made you feel worse, I look to the humble cupcake in all sizes, shapes, and flavors. My love is unconditional when it comes to this pastry.

I remember a great conversation with Alex and Max when I was explaining my love of all things cupcake. I could describe every aspect of the experience, from selection to devouring. They explained to me that the feeling of craving is exactly what they experience when they are hungry for intimacy with one another. As a self-professed prude, I didn’t think that eating a simple pastry could be as tantalizing as having sex. It made it almost feel dirty. They told me I needed to stop hoarding, and start sharing my cupcakes.

That judgment is exactly what I have to counteract when it comes to really trying to connect with a partner. Being intimate with someone is not dirty. There is nothing wrong. It is natural. Our bodies were made to express pleasure in the experience. Why we have demonized sex is beyond me. I bought it for so long. I drank the kool-aide. I just wanted to be a good girl. A respectable girl. Meanwhile, girls who were whoring it up and getting pregnant at young ages were actually better adjusted than I was.

No sense weeping over lost time, but it is time to get a handle on things.  I don’t have any more lady bits to be ripped out from neglect.

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When you really want something, you often have equally as intense emotions about not wanting it. This has confused me for years. I have had a paralyzing fear of being alone for a good portion of my life. All those years of feeling desperately alone in my bedroom, begging for someone to love me, didn’t set me up for long term mental health. I feared the lack of love so much, that I was obsessed by it.  Little did I know, you get what you think about, whether you want it or not.

On the rare moments where I felt love or attention from an adult in my life, I was so ecstatic that I became frightened by what lied on the other side. It is rational, or at least I was taught, that I should look out for the other shoe dropping. The vulnerability of loving and being so connected to myself created a fear of lack that morphed into foreboding joy.

Somehow I was taught that I had to find my worth outside of myself. When I couldn’t mold myself to be worthy in someone else’s eyes, I felt excruciating alone and disconnected. I stopped looking for objects to love, and I stopped hoping to be someone’s object of attention.

On occasion, someone would surprise me and shine a little attention onto me. As much as I felt excited, I became super paranoid. First, why would they ever hold me as an object of attention? I wouldn’t, so they must be flawed. If I got passed that, which was almost never, I had trouble relaxing into the acceptance of that attention, or desperately focused on not losing it. I would begin doing everything I could think of to prove to them that I was still worthy of their attention at even greater sacrifice to my self.

Some people could smell this desperation and milked it for all they could. There are people who are drawn to these situations because the pickings are easy. I was easy to control and manipulate. You could do it to get something, or do it for show.

Eventually, I released these people. I found other friends who made me feel so great when I was around them that I became terrified that I couldn’t live with out them. For these non-sexual soul mates, our relationship was filled with ease. Time flew by when I was around them. The stark contrast of how good I felt with them, made the darkness of my isolation when I was not around them seem unbearable.

I became so dependent on them to make me feel good, that I released any accountability on my part. I was an emotional leech. I would do anything for these individuals, but I couldn’t take responsibility for my own happiness. They loved me, but I was draining them.

When I was the object of their attention, I felt great. I felt fed. I felt love. I demanded that they kept focused on me, because when they let go…I was a puppet cut from its strings. They saw the crash and wanted to do anything they could to prevent that, but they knew they were killing themselves. No matter how much someone loves you, they will never be always available to you. It is impossible. Their mission on this Earth was never to be that for you.

This was a really difficult lesson for me to learn. As someone with almost no relationship experience, I was so emotionally unintelligent that I could understand what was going on. I just felt the pain from the lack of love and connection. It got so bad that these friends moved 21 hours away to restore balance. I am pleased to report that we are now closer than ever, but I couldn’t have done it without them.

Sometimes your worst nightmare has to happen in order for you to get the biggest a-ha. I believe that it wasn’t really meant to be this way. The universe whispers what you need to do all the time. When we don’t listen, the result can feel like that impact of a car crash on the soul.

So, back to finding a significant other.

There are so many reasons why I am so grateful that I haven’t met “the one” or others in my life. First, how many women are in their late 30s, discover they are lesbian, and are stuck in a bad marriage with children? It is more than you can imagine. If Law of Attraction states that you are matched to that which you are a vibrational match of, I am grateful that I have held off. I am sure in my depressed state I would have ended up in a miserable relationship.

On New Year’s Eve, Max asked me what I wanted most in life. I told him a relationship. On that night, he made me call it out into the universe and we actually talked about action steps for making it happen.

This year in particular, as I have grown and expanded on my journey, I have had a lot of close calls. In January, I dated a man who had every item checked off my Cosmo inspired husband checklist. He fit every expectation that I thought I had for my partner, but we met and he disappeared. It was spooky.

I was devastated for a while and took a break from looking again. I worked on myself. I found things to do that made me feel sexy. I tried to look at things in a less prudish way.  Shortly there after, I had the epiphany that I was most likely gay.

This realization opened so many doors, but I remember being discouraged because I couldn’t find as many ladies interested in dating as I could find men. I became impatient. I tried to force things on for size. I would talk to girls that I was not clearly attracted to. This felt like swimming upstream.  The universe knew I wasn’t ready and wasn’t yielding me what I wanted; I was dissatisfied.

I finally came across a lovely girl named Juliet.  She looked like a girl, not a man. I thought she was cute and went and saw her at a bar on the same night we were introduced to one another. She was younger, but more experienced. She had a bad childhood and rotten mother. She recently survived cervical cancer. She was smarter than hell and loved Shakespeare.

For everything that I found positive, I could find a negative. What I couldn’t ignore was that I felt the most like myself when I was around her. When I saw her, I knew she thought I was cute no matter what I wore. I didn’t have to try and be anything other than myself, and it felt great.

I started to see what people were talking about. Step one: coming together. We see only the positive aspects of one another. We see ourselves being vulnerable and true to who we are, and being the object of the other’s attention feels so good. We are both aligned with source on our own accord, and find ourselves even more aligned together.

Then, I started seeing things I didn’t like. I got judgmental. What would others think? Each item I saw and disliked separated me from her and my source. I held her responsible for how I felt. I knew I felt good before I saw it. The next thought becomes, she isn’t the one; I must go somewhere else where that thing that is displeasing to me is not present. In reality, that is nowhere.

The more I realized this, the more I felt like I was such a loser. I knew my problem had nothing to do with her. I was more honest with her than I had really been with any other partner, but I couldn’t keep the door of communication open. I was still questioning my worth, my homophobia, and my sexuality. As long as I was poking at my vulnerabilities, the more I felt like I had to protect her from me.

Hence, I took a break.

The momentum wasn’t flowing from ease. Besides, by now I knew I had cancer. There were a lot more fish to fry. I realized that it was crucial to keep people with the right energy around me, a positive one. I realized that part of my difficulty with Juliet was the fact that I sensed such negativity in her. It was the same negativity I had worked so hard to process in me. I knew that I didn’t want to revisit it. The problem was, I still wasn’t assertive enough to tell her what I felt. I was too concerned with people pleasing. I wanted to be polite, not honest.

Feeling a little stronger, I am ready to give things another go. I am the attractor of what I want and can attract it from anyone I want. I am in the process currently of picking out what I want. So here is the request list:

I am looking for someone already tuned in, tapped in, turned on. They already get it. They are already in alignment with source and won’t hold me responsible for how they feel. This is someone with a majority of things I feel at ease with. Not someone who satisfies me on every level because expansion is fun. This is someone who understands who she is and who she is expanding to be. She is eager about life and willing to keep up with what she is becoming.

I take responsibility for how I feel. I will focus myself on being in alignment with who I am so I can attract someone else who is in alignment. By learning to control my thoughts and take responsibility for my emotions, I can go with the flow and be deliberate.

We understand our own autonomy and can both be expansive without being joined at the hip. We can do our own thing and root for the one another. I will do my best to stay in alignment with source, but will not hold the other one responsible when I slip.

I like you pretty good. Let’s see how it goes.

I am going to only focus on positive aspects.

I want to go with my flow. I plan to go with my flow and I don’t hold you responsible for going with my flow. But, if we can make it easy to go with the flow together….there is nothing we can’t achieve.

And let’s not forget to share your cupcakes!

AGAIN…I am heavily influenced by Abraham Hicks.

Womanhood

If it wasn’t for Judy Blume or Rosanne indoctrinating young ladies about the thrill of womanhood in the 90s, I am sure I would be a bigger prude than I already am. The only conversation I had with my mother about the birds and the bees was before I attended Girl Scout camp around 5th grade. There must have been a question on the application for camp that asked if the girl attending knew something about periods and such.

My mother’s line of questioning was as follows: “There are pads under the sink in the upstairs bathroom if you ever need them.”

That…was it.

No warm fuzzes. When I did get my period, no one said anything. Even getting a bra came late. I had boobs in fourth grade, but my mom didn’t finally get me a bra until 6th grade, when a gym teacher told her I was distracting the rest of the class.

Due to this, I don’t think I was ever really comfortable with the idea of being a girl. I feel very much like a girl, but I didn’t want to deal with the mechanics of being a girl. When our health teacher told us in fifth grade about menstruation, I remember wishing I were a guy so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. The idea of giving birth was even worse.

I went through school trying to be as low key as possible. I was horribly teased in middle school for my weight. I grew up in a fat family, and I had been overweight since 3rd grade. I think this was compounded by the weirdness of everyone touching upon their new sexuality in middle school. I loved guys, but only to the point of wanting to play soccer with them at recess.

There were a handful of guys who made my life the biggest living hell during middle school. I always thought it was because I was fat and ugly. In retrospect, maybe some of them were hitting on me and I didn’t get it. In order to avoid the pain, I isolated myself. My parents, teachers, and friends never really took any steps to help me counteract the bullying. There was no real push to do so back then. I also didn’t ever complain or say anything about it. In some ways, I thought it would just solicit worse attention back at home.

During these years, I locked myself up in my room nearly every day. I felt like my mother HATED me. My father was usually traveling for work. My motto was to just be out of the way. I feel like I lost a lot during these years. I missed a time to be more social. I lost time to be more vulnerable, to feel loved.

I lost a lot of weight before high school, and things got better. I still always found it difficult to relax and be myself around people. I wanted to desperately find a boyfriend, but never really did.

I was so lonely in college that I would go for late night drives and cry in parking lots. Why could I not find anyone who wanted to be with me? I had started to believe I looked good, but I never really got asked out. As I grew older, I cringed every time that someone asked me if I had someone special in my life. While my friends got married, divorced, and remarried, I would be told that I was going to be a “mature” bride.

When my mom passed, while I was 24, I just sort of gave up. I figured that if it was going to happen, it just would. I was cute during my late twenties. Fat, but still cute. I would sign up for dating websites, but I was never really impressed with the offers. I refrained from sex for years.

When I developed PCOS and bleeding problems, I kept myself off the dating scene even more so. I thought I was so ugly and so unworthy of being loved. I definitely hated my lady parts.

I write this because I don’t think there is any woman under the age of 40 who gets endometrial cancer and doesn’t have this problem. It is through our hatred of our own bodies that we don’t seek the help we need on a more timely basis. If a doctor assures us nothing is wrong, we believe him because we don’t want to spend any more time thinking about our lady bits.

It was through the love of my friends that I began to learn to love myself. I found out that finding new people to hang out with didn’t have to be that difficult, and that you could really find a man in a minute if you wanted to. The problem wasn’t my physicality, it was my sexuality. I had spent so much time trying to mold myself to the example of a straight relationship, that I missed the inevitable signs that I was a lesbian.

Now, I haven’t had tons of experience in this new world either. I feel like it is so new and I am only beginning to wade through it. I have been so distrustful of others and so deeply afraid of being hurt that vulnerability for me is excruciating. I know that in order to heal from my current health problems, this is what I really need to tackle.

I know I might piss off people I love. I know that I am not who I might have previously advertised myself to be, but I can no longer be something that I am not. This has been revolutionary for me. I believe that if I would have been diagnosed a year earlier, I wouldn’t have what it takes to face my new demons head on.

In some ways, this has been a life affirming as well as changing experience. I believe I might have died if I wasn’t able to fully embrace the beauty of who I am. Everyone needs to embrace who they are. When we deny ourselves to be “deeply seen,” we deny our very existence. We can’t make proper choices. We can’t fully enjoy this gift called life.

If you are a mother of a daughter, reach out to her and let her know how beautiful she is. Don’t make her feel that having periods or having sex makes her dirty. When you can embrace what makes our human, or even female, we can embrace a fuller life. I only wish I would have received this message much sooner.

Some Interesting Reads:

What I Wish I Knew About My Period

Periods are a Wondrous, Horrible Thing

Ode to Vaginas

A Period Care Kit

The Care and Keeping of You