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What I think is....

(From June 2007)

My therapist said it was time. He said I was ready. Over a year of soul-searching, breakdown then build-up sessions, and he said I was ready to date. Ready to meet someone and perhaps find a partner who would be willing to walk by my side on this path I seem to be on. I'd identified my strengths and weakness. I'd examined my past relationships and determined what my expectations and losses and joys had been in each. I'd learned what I needed and wanted from a relationship and, more importantly, I'd learned how to articulate it. Not just say it in a couple of pat phrases, but to truly articulate it. This is where I am, this is what I've lacked for most of my life, this is what I expect, need, want. These are my deal breakers. This is who I am at this point in time. That is who I was, who I pretended to be, who I assumed others needed me to be. But today - this is me. Fabulous, funny, strong, sexy, sensual, talented, creative, passionate, independent, thoughtful, caring, generous, cautious, scared, open, honest, real. The whole package. The Powerball of womanhood looking for the guy with the winning ticket. Ready to try again - to love and laugh and share and give and receive. Ready to expect everything I ask for to be honored and respected and heard. Ready to negotiate through the quagmire of learning how to be a real grown-up in a real grown-up relationship. I was ready.

Well - what I think is...I may be ready, but I don't think the world is quite ready for me. At least not the world of dating men. I know I'm only a month into this dating thing, but so far I've been rejected, assaulted and stood up. And those are just the one's I've actually gotten to meet. Well except for the stood up guy. Still haven't met him.

There are the ones who respond to my profile or my icebreaker. I've had them ask me to color my hair, lose weight, change my movie or tv habits, change what music I listen to, what food I like, what I do for my workout - and then they might consider MEETING me. Not even a real date, just a meet. I've been told that I'm too in conflict with myself. I'm too honest. I expect too much. I am out of touch with reality.

Okay, so I'm an idealistic, romantic with many passionately held beliefs. What's wrong with that? I've chatted with plenty of men who don't hesitate to state their deal-breakers up front. Just because I'm a woman, I shouldn't ask for what I need? I should just wait for you to give it? No thank you.

Then there are the one who never quite get past the profile. That's okay. I've done my share of scanning the men.

Christian Conservative - nope. Sorry. Deal breaker.
Wants children - no can do. I'm not bearing the next Messiah.
Allergic to cats - well, that's workable. But then he rejected me.
Loves to hunt, fish, camp, ski, sail, run, rock-climb, etc. - I love the Pacific Northwest, too. But I've never been a big outdoor girl. Let me sit by the fire while you're on the slopes. Let me sit on the sand while you go for a jog. Let me sleep in a motel while you get up at 4:00 to get that salmon, tag that elk. I don't have to do everything with you. But they seem pretty determined to have an Olympic athlete with them. So...move on. And if I read one more "love to walk on the beach holding hands, curl up by a warm fire, dinner by candlelight" Please - we all love that.

What I really want to know is, are you going to put up my bookshelves when you said you would? Are you going to kill those ants because you know how they make my skin crawl? And are you willing to clean out the cat box, take out the garbage, sort the laundry, wash the car? How about washing the cat? How about helping me into bed when I've had major surgery and it's all I can do to get from the couch to the bathroom? Will you wash my hair when I can't? Because I know myself and I'll do all those things and more for someone I love. I'll drive all over town to find a blue shirt because it's your favorite color and you hate green - which is the color this year and seems to be the only thing in the stores. I'll fix your favorite dinner. But more than that, I'll spend years getting that recipe your grandmother always cooked for you - just right. And when I've found it, I'll fix it every time you ask me. How do I know I'll do these things? Because I have done all this before. Not because anybody asked me, but because I believe that when someone is important to me - there is nothing to big or small I do to show my love. In fact, the smaller the gesture, the dearer I hold it. Leave me strawberries in the fridge because you know I love them. Buy me that fabulous pen because you know I'll love how it feels in my hand when I write you little notes. Call me just to say you can't wait until you see me again - because you just saw something that you have to tell me about and because you miss my smiling eyes. Anyone can buy roses, but finding me violets in February? That's love.

But back to this dating thing. I guess I just don't date. I never really did. My first boyfriend was in my junior year of high school and he broke up with me because I wouldn't put out. He broke up with me when I was sick - with mono - which he gave me. It still stings. I didn't date senior year because I was going away to college and it just didn't make sense to get involved. I didn't date in college because I was too busy. Working, acting, directing, classes. My god it's a miracle I found time to even have sex. But I did. Or I guess I wouldn't have gotten pregnant at 22. I dated my ex. We dated while we were married. Or we would never have had time together. Life gets in the way so easily.

And what I think is...I'm not the dating sort. I'm the sort of woman you go with. You go to the same movie or concert. You go to the same art exhibit or restaurant. You just go along because it matters to me and because I'm the one you want to do this with.

What I think is...when I "date" - when there is an expectation placed on me, that I am to meet some nebulous standard of yours, I fail every time. I talk too much. I over share. You don't really want to know how long it's been since I made love. And you don't really want to know why my mother is still in my head telling me I want too much. You don't really care that I am incomplete. But I think it's important for you to know.

I think it's important that I haven't settled with myself yet. I think it's important that I want to keep growing. I think I'm growing into someone really wonderful, but this whole dating thing...it has me over thinking every tiny rejection. I spend hours agonizing over why they reject me - what do I have to fix in order to be perfect? What did I do wrong, say wrong, think wrong?

So this weekend I came to a conclusion of sorts.

What I think is...when I meet the right person I will be perfect. There won't be a thing I need to worry about or change.
What I think is...I need to stop looking at these internet sites as anything I really need to do and as the only way I'm going to find someone.
What I think is...that I need to spend this time working on the things I want to change FOR MYSELF, not for a date. I need to continue my workout and diet regimen. Not to get the perfect body, but because I feel better when I do.
What I think is...that I need to stop looking for a date and let the date come to me.
What I think is...I'm a really great woman with a great deal to give.
What I think is...anyone who makes me feel this insecure is definitely not right for me.
What I think is...Love isn't here, but it's somewhere. And when the time is right, it will find me. It'll walk right up to me and say "Where have you been? I've been looking all over for you!"
And then I'll know.
I'm ready.

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