Happily single or miserably dating?

Gone are the days of flowers and pick-ups and a guy planning and paying for a date. In are the days of dick-pics, splitting the cheque with a guy with no job because he’s “finding himself” or because he “gets bored easily”, and date-rape drugs. Yay for 2017, we’ve come so far and yet have lost so much.

I have such a love-hate relationship with dating. On the one hand, I love meeting new people, I love learning about other people’s lives and other cultures, I love learning about other families, the way they do things and the way their brains work. On the other hand, I seriously hate all of the “rules”. Perhaps hate is a strong word… but really, who has the time or energy for all of that bullsh*t?! Playing by the “rules” means we’re playing games, and I don’t have the patience for that shit.

It recently occurred to me that I’ve been happily single for a while now, so happily single that I have not made any effort to meet anyone. At all. Which is fine except that I’ll turn 27 this winter which means that if I want to be married and having children by approximately the age of 34, it wouldn’t hurt me to widen my opportunities to meet someone outside of the familiar people within my small town. And how does one do this in 2017? Through swiping left or right on their cell phone, obviously! (How the heck did we get to a place where dating has literally become swiping left or right on someones face if you find them attractive or not?!)

So basically, this is ridiculous. How I’m supposed to know within a few heavily filtered pictures and a bio of 300 characters or less, if this person is a) not a serial killer, b) not going to drug my drink and c) someone I’d actually like to talk to and, ideally meet, is not within my knowledge. Not to mention that you can’t smell a person through a phone, isn’t a good percentage of attraction scent? What if he smells like rotting eggs? Or ladies perfume? Not only are we heading into the dating realm without any physical sense of the other person’s energy, but without a nose as well.

One full week in I am making the most of it, I even met one guy in person. I don’t believe that he is a serial killer and he did not drug my drink. That being said, I don’t plan to see him again either. I learned about his several moves, his travels, his job, why he doesn’t like his job, why he hasn’t yet left his job, his alcoholic brother, his lazy sister, his lazy mother, his dad, his parents separation, his step dad, his step-parents separation, his time so far in BC, his trade tickets, what courses he’s taking and more. What did he learn about me? That I am a hairstylist and barber who rents a chair. It didn’t fully occur to me until after the date was over that he maybe asked me one question the entire 3 hours that we were together. At one point in conversation I even said, “Well you haven’t asked me anything yet,” and he replied, “Oh, I guess you just told me everything,”.

Why am I confident about sharing all of this in my blog so publicly? Because he doesn’t know it exists. Why doesn’t he know it exists? Because he literally knows nothing about me.

I am an open book, ask me just about anything and I will answer honestly. What I can’t play into is all of the so called dating rules. I say things that I’m not supposed to say, do things that I’m not supposed to do, and basically the rule book is up in flames. For example, when my phone rings halfway through the date and I wouldn’t normally answer it, but I have to because it’s my girlfriend calling to offer me an out and if I don’t pick up she’ll assume he’s kidnapped me, why can’t I tell him after saying, “I’m fine,” and hanging up, that it was my escape call? Doesn’t everybody do this? And even if they don’t, wouldn’t he be happy that I didn’t take the out? Or online before agreeing to meet, why can’t I send him a list of questions that helps me determine whether or not he’s worth meeting in person? Mine goes a little something like this:

“Do you smoke?
Is the glass half full or half empty?
Is country music a blessing or a deal breaker?
can you cross the border into the U.S.?
How much alcohol do you drink on average?
Do you like to party?
Do you have any children?
Are you currently married?
Assuming one day in the future you meet the right person would you like to one day be married?
Do you want children?
What is your goal on online dating?
Is this form of questioning too much for you? [insert mood-lightening emoji]”

I’m not stupid, but I’m also not desperate or looking for a cheap hookup. I realize that these questions will scare some people off, but the way I see it is that will weed out the ones who aren’t worth me taking the time and energy to meet in person. I mean really, if you can’t answer some pretty basic questions about yourself and where you would like your life to go, then should you be dating at all? Certainly you should not be dating someone like me!

My date last week was a good sport about these questions, which is why I decided to meet him, and when we did he told me that if he ever asked a girl a series of questions like that she’d stop talking to him. Are we so uncomfortable with who we are or what we want in life that these questions should be scary? There are a lot worse and scarier things being sent through online dating before meeting a guy! There are thousands of people online dating, so what if I don’t want to meet you if you smoke? Someone else is still going to want to meet you. So what if someone doesn’t want to meet me because they’re uncomfortable asking those questions? There are a thousand others to choose from. This is both the blessing and the curse of online dating. Your options are endless.

Would I ask this series of questions to someone who asked me on a date in person? No, of course not. When you get asked on a date in person you can sense the other person’s energy. You have a gut reaction based on this energy that tells you whether to say yes or no. Online all you have are potentially fake photos and conversation in which the person may or may not lie. No facial cues, no body language, no tone of voice, no eye contact. I would think that in an age where the dating options were endless, people would be true to themselves more than ever, knowing that if one person didn’t like them, another would. However, all it seems to have done is increase our chances of rejection and hide us behind a computer screen so that we can portray ourselves however we think the other person will want us to. In a time where we are more free to be our true selves than ever in the past, why are we all still hiding and playing these games?

Am I the weird one or is everybody else? Does everybody who successfully online dates play into the social standards and so-called norms? To meet someone do I have to pretend to be someone I’m not, scrap my list of questions, let the guy send me an un-requested dick-pic and smoke in the car after not picking me up? Personally, I’d rather stay single.

 

Send me your online dating horror stories to share! Do you follow the rules or play by your own?

The Gift of Chronic Illness

I can’t believe that it’s been a full year of Lyme treatment and over 2.5 years since my first definitive symptom. Just over a year ago I didn’t even know what Chronic Lyme disease was. I had no idea the severity of the situation or how the Doctors of BC would quite literally leave me to die.

I’ve never fully trusted naturopaths but it turned out to be a naturopath who would save my life.
At the time all I could see was what I was loosing – friends, jobs, volunteer positions, strength, my body, my mind, my self confidence. This time last year I could barely read. A couple months later I temporarily lost my ability to speak. I’ve had days where my legs completely give out on me and I’ve had to swallow all of my pride and use a cane. My brain function was lessening by the day. My memory is still questionable but not as bad as it was. I couldn’t remember family members and friends names, only the letter that they started with. I would forget if I took my meds or if I fed the dog. Every second that I wasn’t working, was spent on the couch or in bed because I simply had no strength to do anything more. I thought for sure that this disease was going to kill me. And that our government medical system would just sit back and watch it happen.

I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in the past year. For the lack of brain function and memory issues, the amount of information that I have absorbed is remarkable. But I definitely know too much about the politics to ever fully trust a medical doctor or our medical system again. When I say that the Doctors of BC left me to die, that is not an exaggeration. It is the basic reality for me and thousands of other Lyme patients. The absolute betrayal and bitter disgust that I feel towards our medical community is something that can never fully be forgiven, however, I have had an amazing Lyme-literate GP from Maple Ridge offer to come and do Grand Rounds here for all of the doctors in Delta on Lyme disease and how to recognize and treat it within the guidelines. If we could get our doctors here on board and open to do this, then that would most definitely be a step in the right direction.

All that I have lost has made room for all that I have gained.

The friends that left me, made room for both new and old friends to come back into my life who all have stepped up huge to help me. On top of this I have learned which family members would really step up and which would not. I am forever grateful for both this understanding as well as for anyone who has willingly driven me to appointments, taken me for errands or groceries, done my grocery shopping for me when I cannot, cooked for me, cleaned for me, and even just visited with me or been a text or phone call away when I am struggling. The loss of everyone who couldn’t or wouldn’t handle my life with Lyme, made room for my people to find me and that’s been a huge blessing.

Getting sick to this extreme was the only way I ever would have stopped working 7 days a week, filling my schedule with 3 jobs and other volunteer positions that I thought made me worthy, that I thought made my life important. What I now know is that it isn’t my multiple jobs or businesses or volunteer boards that make my life important, what makes it important is simply that – my life. My intrinsic need to share my stories, my struggles, my mistakes, my wins; my willingness to be completely open and vulnerable for the good of others every single day. This is what gives my life meaning, this, to me, is what makes me important. This is what aligns my soul. Although some of my jobs and volunteering pushed me to be so open sharing these things, they were still for the purpose of a job. This was what I was “supposed” to do for that position. Clearing those positions from my life created time and space for me to understand that I don’t need a job or board to allow me to share my voice. That need is a soul-calling that I am ready to answer.

Another thing that getting sick taught me is that it’s okay to not be going 100 miles an hour 7 days a week. It’s okay to sit in silence. It’s okay to not have a schedule filled past its breaking point. It’s okay to turn off all notifications and take time for yourself. It’s okay to relax in a bath or read in the middle of the day or not get dressed until noon or to nap. It’s okay to spend a full day on the couch watching netflix if that’s what your body needs. I’ve learned that it’s honorable and difficult to not only listen to your body but to act on its needs accordingly, even if that means resting. There is so much that my body had to teach me and I made sure that I was too busy to listen, so it made me. If I had learned these things much sooner, I may never have gotten sick.

I see the world so much clearer now, past my insecurities and negative, taught self-beliefs. My third eye has opened. And I understand certain parts of me life so much differently and have been able to let them go. Things that have weighed heavily on me for years, situations where I based my entire self-worth in another person incapable of seeing it. I’ve accepted now that their issues are not mine and have no hold on how amazing I am or am not as a person.

I can’t, and won’t, say that I never have days that make me want to die. I won’t say that I never lay in bed or on the bathroom floor sobbing for the pain to stop. I won’t say that I am better or healed or that I can trust my legs or my memory or my brain now, because I still have a long treatment ahead of me. We’ve only just begun a new treatment protocol about 3 months ago and now we’re talking about the possibility of IV antibiotics in 5 weeks if I don’t start to see a difference soon. I still consider it a good day if I can walk up a flight of stairs or take my dog for a 5 minute walk. If I can cook or clean or go grocery shopping on top of a work day then that’s an incredible day. Last night I drove to Bridgeport, and that was a huge win being my first time driving outside of South Delta in ages. I have completely lost my independence and yet I’m wholey finding who I am.

I am not Denise, the fitness coach.
I am not Denise, the girl who went from a size 16 to a size 2.
I am not Denise, the mental health activist or the youth on the local action team.
I am not Denise, the LBA board member.

I am Denise. The survivor. The warrior. The leader. The truth speaker. The boundary breaker. The light worker. The creative. The feeler. The writer. The healer.
I am Denise, the one with the always open heart. And I never would have learned this if my body didn’t force me to slow down, shed all of which was weighing on me in order to survive, and be forced to sit in silence.

Still Broken

•Sometimes I forget that I’m still broken.•

Or should I say remember; because really it’s more often I think that I’m whole than not. Or maybe what it really is, is that I forget that it’s OK to be broken.

I’ve over come so much for so young, I wonder if sometimes I believe that I shouldn’t ever struggle anymore because I am so much happier than I used to be. Did I believe that once I became a genuinely happy person I would never struggle again? That none of my past trauma would ever rear it’s ugly head or that no new trauma or heart break would ever occur? Or that when it did I’d suddenly be invincible to life’s challenges?

I don’t know if it’s the smoke in the air right now, or a neurological Lyme herxheimer reaction, hormones, the inability to exercise, or mourning the loss of a really good friend who is still with us, however, is just not the person I needed him to be. I thought that maybe if I could get from him what I could never get from my dad, then maybe I’d be good enough (typical right?!). Whatever it is that’s causing it, I am learning that I am not immune to sadness.

I believe my heart has been broken so many times that it will forever stay open – and I love that! Without heartbreak there is no love, and that’s all that should ever be – love.

For as long as I can remember I’ve longed for a family that fit into my box. My version of what I view a family should be – a group of people, blood or otherwise, who love each other, check in on eachother, hang out together, eat meals together, enjoy eachothers company and genuinely look out for one another. I have longed for this and searched every corner of my life to find it, and maybe I still will someday. Maybe I already have it and don’t even know it. Maybe I have more to let go of in order to create space for it. I’ve held on so tightly to so many nouns that just anchored me. I have pulled around the weight of years of grief for so long now, but link by link that anchor is being left behind; soon I will be weightless. Soon, I will fly.

As you walk through your life, may you all take each step forward with love and an open heart.