Self Confidence and Online Dating

I spent many years as a stay at home mom.  My days were spent chasing babies, cleaning up messes and doing yard work.  The yard work made me happy.  I love fresh dirt under my nails and working up a sweat in pulling stubborn weeds. It was often done in bare feet or running shoes.  Mainly bare feet.  When I went back to work in January, I decided I wanted to wear heels, but it was hard on my calves and I had to work through some seriously solid comfort zone fears. I wasn’t used to walking or standing in heels.  I used to be.  I could spend a night dancing in heels at one time.  I still miss my black Esprit Mary Jane pumps with a chunky heel. It was a long time ago.  Pushing Past My Comfort Zones To Reclaim Ownership of my self-imposed value system came with rewards, but the first few days it mainly came with serious calf cramps.

I was talking to my regional manager about my shoe issues, and she said she never wants to lose her confidence in heels.  The word, “confidence” immediately shifted my perspective.  It shifted everything.  That was when I really saw that confidence is something you decide you are going to accept as part of your identity. When I was walking without confidence, I had this fear that my ankles would twist and I would teeter and fall.  When I realised it was about confidence, I started walking as if I knew I wouldn’t fall because my confidence made the decision that I wouldn’t.  The change in my stride made my calf pain go away.  I wasn’t walking like I would fall and my muscles didn’t have to compensate for my insecurities.

I’m building my confidence in my dating profile.  Funny story:  I set up my preferences based on my type, and someone I know ended up in the search that pops up when I open the app.  He’s not my dating option, but he pops up, and I remember his smile and the real life person I know.  For some reason, the views and likes and messages I’ve gotten since yesterday are all compared to him and they all fall short.  I’m chatting when I’m I get an email or chat window, but they’re already rejected based on the person I know in real life.  It’s sad.  On the other hand, it was a moment of joy to realise that I’m no longer comparing everyone to my ex.

The app and website are boosting my confidence.  I don’t have to go out and turn down polite interest, I can do it from my phone in my pj’s while getting laundry done. And there’s something that feels good knowing that in 24 hours, I’ve had over 150 men click through my profile.  The numbers may be average or sub par, but it’s far more than I was getting while out and about. Some of them might have read my verbose ramblings and checked out the profile I’ve plastered with several vapid examples of vanity.  I like reading, “nice smile, ” and that I’m a “striking eyed beautiful woman,” even if the smiles he can screenshot are all he’ll ever see.

Right now my confidence is looking for balance.  The person I was the last time I was dating was intimidating and aggressive.  She was also a bit of a slut. I’m at peace with that.  It isn’t who I am now. I’m trying to dial it back a lot and this in between gray area is foreign and frightening.  Besides, I still feel that I am having a great lot of  Fun Dating Myself and I feel I am pretty phenomenal.

There’s something to be said about online dating.  I like real life interactions where I don’t really pay attention to cars, status, or even looks until a man has said something that makes me want to learn more about him.  In real life, I can feel the guilt when I start to become materialistic, but online it’s expected and I’m eased into it without the real life person in front of me to remind me there is a person with genuine feelings before me. The online version has made me look at these men in a different way, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.  Realistically, I look at profile pictures and the first thought I have is, would I be willing to see this man naked and be attracted to what I see?  It happens in person within the first two minutes, but I can usually get past that.  Getting past my vanity and physical attraction is how many of my long term relationships were born. Online, he won’t get a chance to make an impression.  I usually like conversations about interests and likes but online they become a blur.  I’m missing the expressions and cadence in a voice that makes me obsess like I did when I wrote That’s cute, and Getting Back on that Flirtation Bike.

Everyone’s profile duplicates each other after a while. The profiles in my searches all have readers and outdoorsy types.  They like children and animals and water.  They want someone fit and attractive and happy.  And they all make insane amounts of money. The woman they are searching for needs to be driven and make him a first priority.  So many of men want to show women a great time, snuggle and travel the world. I’m just hoping to find someone that’s already survived their midlife crisis, but I won’t add that to my profile. They like motorcycles and fast cars, and I can’t help but remember I’m not dent proof and will lose in a car fight and become a victim to their need for speed.

I find lots of really driven men that have worked so hard on a career that they missed the part about starting a family, or stayed in a relationship for longer than it was working.  I was in a marriage that I thought was working.  I get it.  I was putting our kids before my career and now I’m starting over, but on my terms.  I’m not the financial powerhouse I plan to be one day.  That confidence will grow once I start a career path that I’m designing, and not one that I’m trying to fit into, and once I find work I can be passionate about.

I can’t help but see the lack of confidence on these profiles.  It’s not always obvious, but it is often shy and insecure in the last line of an open invitation.  It’s in the pictures of places they’ve been and their pets, children and cars, instead of a bright and wide smile.  It’s hiding behind sunglasses as if they can’t imagine anyone getting lost in their eyes.  It’s in their disdain for a sales pitch they know is a sales pitch that they aren’t fully confident of. I’m just as guilty, talking about the places I like to go and feeling like I may be padding a resume while I do it.  At the same time, I’m not advertising my blog and a full visual of what makes me who I am.

I am being honest though.  That is huge for me.  I’m not lying in my profile or in private messages.  I have no reason to because I’m not ashamed of who I am or what my life looks like right now.  I’m not even lying about my lack of gainful employment.  Go, me.

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Fun Dating Myself

I gave up the Jewish dating site.  The first person to contact me was disrespectful and disgusting.  The second one was an 80 year old man from Florida.  As much as I would have loved to find a sweet Jewish man on their site, it’s clear that the men were looking for their sweet Jewish girl and I’m not her.  I was able to get a refund and subscribed to a more diverse dating site.

I was planning a night at home, but there was a moment when I couldn’t unsettle the sticky film that was squeezing and scratching under my skin.  The ex is going through something that has nothing to do with me, but because I’m not suffering in a way that satisfies him, he makes his hate palpable when he directs his rage at me.  I didn’t like the way his ire was affecting my joy, and I had to get out. It’s not about him.  It’s fine that he doesn’t like me right now because normally I don’t care.  I’m just not used to being disliked.  The feeling is uncomfortable, but it has nothing to do with him.

I started at Pan Pacific Park.  The last time I was there was in 2008 and I remembered all of the young families and the feeling of contentment that settles along the slopes and pathways.  Don’t let the irony of the holocaust museum sharing that space slip past you. There is joy when you honor the sorrow of the past and learn to move forward.  There were people playing sports, and throwing balls to their dogs. I spread out a blanket and worked on my dating profile.

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The sun began to set and before I left, there was a cute and fluffy white puppy that ran to me and kissed my face.  Then she flopped right in front of me for belly rubs.  Her owner was mortified, but I didn’t mind.  You can’t complain about kids or dogs when you choose to lay on their level in a park.  I left after the sun set and the chill in the air was making me shiver.

My next stop was Santa Monica.  I walked the pier and ran into that photographer that always greets me with a smile and a handshake.  Last time I saw him he gave me a hug and it was a little creepy.  Tonight there was a hug too, but my perspective shifted enough that he’s not so creepy and it’s just who he is. I treated myself to chile relleno at Maria Sol. It was time to walk over the memory of a romantic dinner that happened in 1997.  It was slightly nerve wrecking to walk in alone, but once I was sitting, it was natural to smile at the other diners around me.

There was a drunk couple in front of me and they were my entertainment for the night.  She was wearing what could only be described as a onesie.  I’ve put my kids in enough of them to know what they look like.  She kept sitting on her boyfriend’s lap and the woman at the table next to us expressed her disgust.  There was nearly a brawl in front of my table and I kept wondering if I should pick up my drink or my purse.  In the end, the angry table next to us left.  At some point, the drunk woman was surprised that I was eating alone and offered for me to join them.  I politely declined.  When they left, the waiter found a half empty bottle of Ciroc they left behind.  A couple of times, the manager threatened to throw them out.  I understand why he didn’t.  Their inebriation could have been his liability.

I was thinking about the date she was on, and the one I was on with myself.  I didn’t have to worry about being with a sloppy lush and embarrassed. She kept telling her boyfriend to STFU and I couldn’t imagine talking to someone like that.  Especially if I wanted him to believe I loved him.  It was a relief to be alone.  I was enjoying the views and likes my new profile was getting and I messaged a few people back.  It is funny to me that I’m younger than some of the men I was looking at, but too old for them to date.  At the same time, I was rejecting a few men that were too young for me (28) and others that were too old (50), so I get it.

After dinner, I walked to the end of the pier and watched a ham of a seal swimming in the water.  I’m sure he was hoping some angler would toss him a fish or two but we all just wanted pictures.  The anglers held onto their catch but the fish were biting tonight.

There were a couple of young men standing next to me and we struck up a conversation.  They were really cute but I couldn’t help but feel like they were too young.  There was something about finally really opening up to the idea of dating that shifted my perspective just enough.  I didn’t feel like a cougar.  Well, not until I left and thought about it a little more.

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I headed home by the streets again and stopped at the Hustler store because every date should make me blush at least once.  I answered two calls on my date myself night and I decided I would ignore all calls except emergencies in the future. If I had been on a date with someone else, I would have ignored all calls.  I played really loud music and sang even louder on my drive home.  It was good.

Beauty in Rough Winds and Angry Waters

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I headed to the beach, but today was different.  It was windy and my first views of the ocean caught my breath.  That hasn’t happened for a while. It wasn’t a block of darker blue beneath a block of blue sky.  I could see the white waves where the surface of the water was being pushed by the winds and breaking the normally calm sea into white crested waves.  It was beautiful.  Standing on the sand, the waves were larger and pulled farther toward me.  The violent crashes came in quicker succession.

There was something about the abuse of the wind against the waves that was beautiful and uncomfortable and it spoke to me about the storm that is my right here and right now.  As cool air numbed my hands, the winds blew away the mark of human trails across the sand.  The choppy sea looked different and picturesque.  Little waves generally shine in peaks reflecting the sun, but these waves were forced into small crests of white.  There was beauty in the chaos.  It was really cold and I left Will Rogers to check out Venice Beach.

Venice Beach is one of those places I like to see once every handful of years.  It is a mix of amazing that I really love to see and “Dear Lord, get me out of here unscathed.” Will Rogers has a more natural sand line with heavier, wet sand that stays where it was intended to.  Venice was plagued with mini sand storms that flew up in sheets.  I walked along shops where I was asked if I “blaze” which I do not.  I’m boring that way.  The sun was filtering through the palm trees and I would have taken a picture, but the sand blowing cold air and the men asking for more of my time was uncomfortable. Then it occurred to me that I wouldn’t really want to walk alone with closed shops once the sun sets.  I headed back to my car, watching the athletes for a while because, well, yum.  Then I headed back home, taking the streets back to PCH, then Chautauqua Blvd. to Sunset. I wanted to try something new. The sun winked behind the mountains while I was on PCH and the painted sky ushering in night highlighted the many beautiful homes I am starting to look forward to seeing on my drive on my favorite curvy street.

I suppose my lesson is that there is beauty in the chaos and storms but I have to look for it.  I have to be aware that it will be uncomfortable and painful, but if I open my eyes to look for the pretty parts, I will see what I’m searching for.

When I got home I decided to try another dating site.  My niece laughed at me and said, “good luck with that,” when I told her I wanted to look for a nice Jewish boy.  I suppose for a shiksa like myself who can’t even pass as sephardic, finding a purple unicorn might be easier.  Maybe that’s the point.  Maybe I’m just looking for someone to hang out with so I look a little less creepy when I’m people watching or venturing outdoors.  Either way, I’m enjoying these profiles from men who are less creepy than what I had been seeing and full of humor.  I think one or two “about me” sections made me teary eyed because of their tender honesty and sweetness.  These unicorns exist!  It’s the morning and my account is still active and it has pictures.  I haven’t subscribed yet, and I’m not sure I will, but the looking has given me smiles and laughter and right now that might be enough. It’s been a chaotic few weeks but I’m finding the beauty in the storm.

Update: I’m at an appointment and a very attractive Jewish man started flirting on my dating app. It ended because I wouldn’t cooperate with his sexting fantasy. He is now blocked. He wasn’t my purple unicorn, but now I have a subscription. At the moment where I wanted to run out for Ben and Jerry’s and maybe a good cry, (because he was being a jerk) an older man next to me started singing in Hebrew. It was beautiful and uplifting and hopeful with a heavy hand of sorrow. It was a low ballad, and when I told him it was beautiful, he sang another song to me and it was louder and it was the sweetest balm.

I Can’t Keep Playing Hide and Seek

“The man who thinks a thousand dragons sufficient to watch a woman, when her inclination takes a contrary bent, will find all too little; and she will engage the stones in the street, or the grass in the field, to act for her, and help on her correspondence.”

Pamela, Or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson

I’m really trying not to hide lately but hiding has been my default.  In new relationships I was so driven by who I wanted to be with, that I often shifted their perspective of me so I would fit, not giving credence to the fact that my value from beginning to end would always end up more meaningful to me in the end. So far they have all left my daily life, and I’m still here. I lied because I didn’t believe in the value of my thoughts or feelings.

I’m a bookish broad.  I love a good story with romance and magic and very little sex.  I’d rather read through loads of build up in angsty infatuation than literary porn without satisfaction and a set up for real life disappointment.  Besides, not every author’s idea of kink is a good fit with mine.  I used to buy Amazon gift cards to hide how much I loved new books.  I’d spend an extra $25 on a grocery store receipt to hide the books I was buying. I loved reading and losing myself in novel after novel, but felt that was something to be ashamed of because it brought pain to the ex.  I made him jealous because I spent so much time with my favorite authors in my head that his value was then in question.  It was like going on a date with your face glued to your phone.  It was very rude of me. The insidious irony is I still believe that no matter how much I believe in the freedom to read.  There are people that have died for that right.  (Are the gaslights dimming, or is it me?)

I wanted to print out pay stubs for the job I had earlier this year.  I set up a password for the Paychex system they use and I saved it on the computer, but the computer I saved it on was the one that stayed at the company I no longer work at.  As I was explaining this to the person on the phone helping me reset my password, I was laughing about never working for that temp agency again.

I told her about the last interview I went on for this agency.  I didn’t want to go to begin with.  It was farther than I would want to work. I got there and the people I was interviewing with had this really strong dislike of people in general and I didn’t like being there for the little while I was there.  It was like that spidey sense we all get when we are sitting with someone that means us harm.  You feel it in raised hairs and tingling at the back of your scalp.  You know it without having words to nail it into finality.  I bombed the interview.  It wasn’t on purpose and maybe it was just my personality.  Either way, I was okay with not working there.  The agency rep ripped me a new one like I was a child.  I took it because that is what you do when you need a job, but we hung up and I decided I don’t want a job where my boss would send me somewhere I told her I didn’t want to be and have her pitch a fit because I wasn’t grateful for her lack of interest in my needs.  It’s not servitude I’m looking for but service to a company I want to retire with.  The actual company I was at would have fit that bill, but I’m looking forward to the open possibilities before me. I’m okay with the idea of waiting for a company that suits my needs and not just a paycheck.  I hit a few beaches that day because it was a day for  Beach Days and Bombed Job Interviews. I decided I would no longer go on interviews that I didn’t want to go on and it was a liberating feeling.  That was another way I was hiding.  I was hiding in looking to take jobs that wouldn’t fit my needs because that’s what family and friends and society as a whole thinks I need to do. It felt good to decide the needs of my children and myself are most important to me. I need to send my boys off to school in the morning and have dinner with them at night.  I can’t spend most of my night in traffic and give away the little time I have with them in shared custody.  I can live with crock pot dinners, but I will not only see my children as they sleep and every other weekend. My last job showed me that I could find passion in what I was doing.  I could wake up excited to go to work.  That’s the bar I’ve set and I don’t want to stumble below it any longer.

For so long I hid behind my marriage.  I fell into the idea of fate and destinies and I knew I married the right man, so it was so hard to let go even after he left me.  It was hard to see that I was wrong.  He left and I hid behind the ring I still wore and the marriage license that is still valid.  I was hiding behind a vow he broke and a covenant he walked away from.  I was hiding behind scriptures and ideals and refusing the norms that are part of who we are as a society.  My turning point was in a nonchalant admission of “I’m dating,” and a leg kicked out in petulant defiance that made me feel that dating wouldn’t destroy me.  It’s been blogging about past loves that remind me he wasn’t the first forever I was willing to commit to.  I’ve had 2 long term boyfriends I would have given forever to, and 3 other boys that strung me along because I was willing to be walked on for the forever I saw in their smiles.  There were also many, many Mr. Right Now contenders that aren’t worth an individual mention. I never took statistics, but if that could happen in a span of 8 years before dedicating the next nearly 16 years to someone else, that tells me he might not have been the one, especially when he was happiest with me when I was hiding myself from him.  I can accept being wrong because it’s better to have been wrong than to admit that my forever destiny is to be let go.

I’m not hiding today but a lot of times I need the reminder not to. Sometimes the effort for transparency is more difficult than I like to admit, especially when it involves conversations with my parents.  In stepping out in other uncharted territory, I’m learning that in doing, I am more capable than I imagined in my fear.  The past week has been filled with unfounded terror, and there have been specific moments when my doubts were crippling. I was letting my insecurities harden into bitterness and it was stealing my joy.

Yesterday was a really good day.  It was a day of unexpected blessings and encouragement. It was a day that reminded me I can’t be intimidated in a corner if I’m busy being the greatness I choose to live. I’m not hiding today.

Spring Forth Through Winter’s Heartache

“April is the cruelest month… breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” – TS Eliot, The Waste Land

Eliot nailed the angst coursing through this month. There’s too much to do and my heart aches with longing to be more than I can right now.

There’s a blending in the flow of memories that dovetails the many into a nebulous “he” and each sin is muted and sharpened by the collective act of their rejections.

The place where I was in the mixing of “we” flows in chaotic jagged edges. In leaving me, they took too much and I was unable to do more than breathe and ache. I am a series of ripped seams and messy scars. I’m moving in fits and starts because I must. I can not stagnate. I will not.

There are steps being walked through. Tiny steps. Baby steps. I need to trust that I will not fail myself once more in attaching my hopes to another crumbling ledge by placing my hope in the hands of another fleeting love.

I see the winds have cleared the clouds and the cool air is tempered by a warm sun. The rain drops and drying tears of yesterday bring new growth. Decayed leaves mulch tender roots, keeping moist what would otherwise dessicate in death. There’s an unspoken promise that is stronger than words and it flows in honeyed nectar in each flower that blooms. Each dawning realization is a promise to be better than I was.

Gates have creaked open in stiff disuse and what is without will grow within and I await the cool dusk where I stand a little taller under the warmth of a fading sun. Reaching. I wait for the fury that rages with the fall of night in hushed anticipation of my sleepless slaughter of self because each day I am stronger with a boldness of courage I can’t always feel.

Where certainty falls short, faith holds my firm belief.

Sleepless Nights

Long after dusk settles into indigo night, the stars shine proudly with haughty indignation.

Clouds filter through windy skies in a dance of shadow and light.

They see the thoughts that intrude through sleep and wake racing thoughts from fitful slumber.

Whispered memories tell me I’m not enough and there is no beauty or jewel within.

I know the lies but can’t separate them from truth without the light of his vision to see through.

I know to look in opposing views from the perspective he gave but memory shifts and I only see the failures painted over me by his artful brushstroke of rejection. 

His bright light shines too far from memory to cast more than a haze of soft shadows dancing in the periphery.

My anchor becomes a distant memory in a dream imagined from hopeful fascination.

All thoughts of self disappear in him.

His words.  His laugh. His joy. His shy smile and his proud stance.

My surrender.

Our words wash over me and I’m surrounded by his dreams. His accomplishments. What he does to make him be who he told me he was.

His beauty blinded me from seeing who he was.  What was still fades and I have yet to see.

But I’m no longer blinded by the radiance of who I made him to be.

I see that in fitting our world around him, we left no room for me.

I see the spaces where I fit were outside of who we were and the empty spaces were full of my longing.

I whisper to the approaching dawn the ideas that form a weapon against insecurities.

You are amazing because of who you are and not what you do or what pleasures are found in you because you are worthy of being pleased.

Murmuring lips whisper prayers for peace and a love that sinks below skin and settles in the marrow of my bones.

I am enough to be and in the acceptance of my limits I find I have an abundance.

 

I’m Curious.

I have an insatiable curiosity that is generally only satisfied with exhaustive research.

When the boys were little and before Kid3 came along, I read about cowboys using ashes from a campfire with bacon grease to clean their dishes.  I was curious about mixing fat and lye and creating soap.  That directed me toward learning about cold process soap.  I spent hours online looking up recipes and videos.  I wanted to see pictures of what the trace stage looked like.  I made a few batches of cold process soap.  It smelled delicious and it was a gift to be able to play with chemistry and create something new.  Working with lye is extremely dangerous and I stopped because the fear of my child picking up a cup of lye water was terrifying.  Getting the measurements perfect by weight was another issue.  My soaps were a little alkaline and unkind to delicate skin. I may pick it up again.

Soap making required dyeing my soaps.  I explored mica for pigmentation, and started exploring geology as more than the pretty rocks I’ve always picked up.  It was about seeing how ground up rocks could lend bright and bold colors during the trace phase, because any sooner and the batch would seize.  I started learning about other dyes, and this was when I first learned about foods using ground up beetle bodies for color.  I exhausted that research until I was disgusted.

I was using waxes and carrier oils and found melting and burning points fascinating.  What would make beeswax take forever to melt over a low flame, when coconut oil was liquid at room temperature?  I could tell which oils were which by how long it took to melt and the color and scent.  Cocoa butter smelled like chocolate and shea butter was almost unscented.

Making soap led to making lotion bars and lip balms and bath bombs that fizz with citric acid and baking soda.  I used beeswax for all of it because what else do you do when you buy a pound of it?  I went through a stage where I wanted beeswax candles and honey in the comb and I wanted to know all there was about beekeeping.  I wanted to know about smoking them into calm and how the queen determined the health and life of her colony.  I loved that each bee had a job and how organized they are.  I was interested in the flavors that certain flowers would impart and how each batch of wildflower honey would taste different depending on the season and what is in bloom.

My Pinterest addiction only feeds my curiosity. Or maybe it’s the other way around.  I have boards on rock hounding treasures, leadership, new ways to learn, woodworking, and needle craft, life hacks and homeopathy. I loved learning that brewed and cooled tea could ease my kid’s sunburn.

I signed up for another dating app.  This time it lasted a whole hour or so, with a picture uploaded and everything.  I haven’t done that before.  It took about that long to realize I wasn’t interested in meeting anyone, but I really wanted to know what 40 year old men in the dating arena look like.  I was curious about what they are looking for and what they think someone like me is looking for.  I’ve already made my profile private again, but it was fun to window surf.  I’m sure I’ll revisit this before I go on a first date. And that first date will be with someone I’ve met in person first because that is where my comfort lies.