Hope and Tinder

I recently read that the brain shows similar reward responses to matches on Tinder, Soul Swype, Bumble, pick your poison, as it does to crack (which, interestingly, is the same as being in love). That we are basically addicted to matches, especially since they are on unknown and varied schedule system (basically it’s gambling, but for love or lust). I disagree my brain works this way. In fact, I’ve come to realize my brain is terrified of matches.

Perhaps, it isn’t in response to the match or app itself, but rather to what it represents, or actually fails to represent for me. Every match, every convo, every date so far, has been a failed attempt of my ability to build meaningful romantic connection.

Before you tell me something clichè or bad advice, like “wait until you least expect it,” “stop expecting anything and something will happen someday,” “God is working on your husband,” “and have you tried *insert everything I’ve tried, only short of wearing a sign around my neck every day and changing who I am completely to be with someone,* please first, try to listen with your heart and hear the hurt in my words. Imagine the pain that I (and many others) may feel from constant rejection or failed attempts at love. The days where we wish we could just give in and choose the good enough person, because that’s better, or the times we refuse the great person because deep down, we aren’t sure we it’s real. But mostly, remember what it feels like to always be picked last at recess, to not be liked, to try to do something and do it right, and yet, each time prove to be another learning lesson or outright failure. None of these things will kill you, they teach you character and resilience, but no one would deny that they hurt like hell to be repeated for several attempts. And then, perhaps, you can understand why this isn’t an appropriate time for a clichè or advice.

A match means another time to not get it right. To move too fast, too slow, to be not the right pretty, too fiery in wit and attitude, but too boring for nightlife, to not be enough, to be too hopeful, but obviously miss every yellow flag, to be jaded and completely unhopeful, for first dates with no sparks on either or both sides, to let down guys not for you, but with good hearts, to be potentially mentally abused, to be too hopeful (repeated twice), to let down everyone rooting for a relationship for you, to have to explain why it didn’t happen.

Most people say I put too much pressure on it. The reality is, I honestly don’t. I no longer swipe looking for love or something, I learned you can’t build homes out of people. Recently, I’ve been swiping with a dull numbness, occasionally feeling a spark, but not expecting anything, and that kills me at least as much as, if not more, than expecting nothing and going with the flow (which is a phrase I hate… not a dead fish, although I try). It kills me, and I suspect at least one other sensitive person like myself, reading this blog, because it removes the hope that has always sustained humanity from the equation, removes the hope of connection, which, that desire for connection, is a precursor for, building connection, removes the hope that things can always be magical and unexpected things can happen… and instead replaces it with a somber feeling that love and connection are not real or you must settle, and that you are wrong and silly for ever believing these things, or in the magic of life.

I have never, ever felt that I needed a man to complete me or make my life better. In spite of my many flaws, I consider myself a complete and whole person (perhaps a little bruised, but aren’t we all). But I do yearn for romantic love. (Spoiler alert: these two things are not mutually exclusive). And although matches, talking to someone I find attractive, and dates terrify me, I must not give into temptation to go with the flow… I must hold onto hope.

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Jesus loves me this I know…because everyone and their mama keeps telling me so!! 

First off let’s get something straight. I known Jesus. I love him. He loves me. We have a special relationship like everyone else should. So please do not take this as some post confirming your suspicions that I’ve gone off the deep end and no longer love the lord and need you to be fasting and praying for me. Pray for me all you want. It is greatly appreciated. But my soul is safe okay. 
But like the bio says…I love Jesus. I just cuss a lot. What do you mean Ashley?!?! How could you cuss and love the lord?!? That’s impossible. NEWS FLASH.. nobodies perfect. Jesus didn’t come to save perfect people. Jesus hung out with sinners, prostitutes and all other manner of imperfect creation and that’s why we are best friends. If he was looking for a perfect woman, he would have left me to my own demise a long time ago.

But before I get to far off from what my original intention of this post was let me reign it back in. So. I know Jesus loves me. People, however, seem to think it is their mission in life to remind me of this. And not in a like hey just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you and praying for you (this does happen occasionally and for those people I am eternally grateful) way.  But it’s usually more of a Hey Ashley your Facebook status (and now blog post) really has me questioning where your soul is headed and since you are so caught up on your singleness let me remind you that Jesus still loves you. 

YES!!! That’s what people do. Almost anytime I write about being single, someone reminds me that Jesus loves me. Like I forgot. But here’s the thing. No one. ABSOLUTELY NO ONE reminded me of that when I was in relationship. For nine sweet glorious months, I was free from Jesus cliches and reminders and “wait for Jesus” pep talks. 

So Jesus only loves me when I’m single? Or I only need reminding when I’m single? Or is it that my willingness to openly talk about it makes you so uncomfortable that you are absolutely unable to control yourself from reminding me that Jesus loves me so I should shut up and stop seeking love from a man and stop being a heathen?!?! Which one?! I’ll wait! 

So a few things: 

I talk about being single a lot because…well I’m single. It really doesn’t bother me as much as it used to but it’s still entertaining to vent and rant about sometimes. If it makes you uncomfortable I suggest you not click on this blog ever again. 

Also, I don’t hate men. 

I love Jesus. I know he loves me. 
In conclusion: if you have ever responded to anything I have written with a reminder that Jesus loves me…thank you…continue to do so if you feel inclined but know that I will be giving some serious side eye as I read the comment. I know it comes from a place of love but I just want to make sure you know how it comes across. 

Also, continue to pray for your girl. Clearly I can use all the prayer I can get. And not just because I’m single!! 

Pre First Date Thoughts

I just touched up my make up and am heading down 12 floors in an elevator, gonna stop to pass some time, maybe have a shot or something, to take the jitters off… Cause I’m currently less than an hour out from a first date.

Ok. Hold on. People who text and walk in NYC are the absolute worst, can’t walk…

Ok. I’m back in my favorite place to grab an after work caipirinha. Yum. I can feel the alcohol. He made this one well.

So yeah, pre date is kind of the worst. Angsty, nervous, butterflies, and scared as hell that this will be Tinder/Bumble/SoulSwipe/Match/insert other crappy ways to try to meet someone you connect with and can watch movies Sat night til you pass out and brunch with in the morning date #2019749 that goes nowhere (see Malcolm’s earlier post) for details. And so the pre date thoughts begin…

I look down at my toes and wonder why I didn’t paint them… well this was kinda a surprise, and he should know I’m a hot mess anyway.

Wondering if he is as good as he seems or is it bull like all 9374029 times?

Will this be fun? Will he take an interesting turn at the end of the night and be a baby, asshole, demanding, abusive, or weird?

Is this shade of lipstick nice?

What is cachaca anyway? I love this cocktail.

Is he the one?

Stop thinking about if he is the one. Everyone says so. Go with the flow. Be a dead fish in that way. Not ok to think nice guy is the one.

Does he look like his pics?

Hell, do I look like my pics?

Will we kiss? Ladies don’t kiss in the first date. Good thing I’m not a lady.

Is he the one?

STOP STOP STOP. Not allowed to think of people as potential mates. All the latest advice from every single and partnered person, magazine, article, self help book and auntie says so. This is why you fail!!

He wrote a book? Who TF writes a book?

This girl brought her date and her friends and had her dad meet her at this bar? Weird. But cool. My dad would do that.

Ok date. Probably, should take the train now. Damn trains. Better not be late.

This outfit makes me look curvy AF in a good way.

I hope he’s not a serial killer, despite the fact I’ve never met a serial killer on online dating.

He has nice shoulders and arms in his pics. The better to lift you with.Yassssss.

LeAnna, don’t be so lusty. Sheesh.

Malcolm would say be lusty.

Ashley would too.

I hope he calls me after.

Ahhh screw it… is he THE ONE?!?!

Time to go now and face the date!!!

Oh wait. His train is late. Better have another drink and think more thoughts!!

Dating is the worst….Kind of…

Here you are, just out and about, having the time of your life.  Not caring about anything in the world other than yourself, because why? You’re single…..AF!

In the times of the dating apps, where people are doing anything but; you often find yourself bored. Ok, let’s pick up the phone, open up an app, say a few one liners, call someone over and wam, bam, you’re done and you’ve spent no money. Perfect scenario, amirite? Especially if you don’t have to put any work into it either!?!? Bruh, come on. (Sidenote: I’m a top tier advocate for getting it in on a regular basis, just saying. We’re all human. As long as you’re safe, maintaining good sexual health practices!)

And then it happens….One of those “convenient hookups” starts feeling like something more.  You actually talk to them other than when you just need some, and go out in public with each other (which is probably the number 1 indicator this is a “thing”).  Then you start thinking, “Are we dating?”, “Is this serious?”, “Do they like me like that?”.  As soon as those thoughts cross your mind, you automatically open up to feelings and your heart starts to become vulnerable.  This freaks you out because you’ve been through this before and other times it never became anything because again, you just met on a hookup app. “Don’t catch feelings, they don’t feel the same way” constantly runs through your mind. Or maybe you do want to catch feelings. I mean, that’s the point in dating right? Unfortunately, it all becomes a mind game. Trying to figure out your partner’s next move.  “Are they really into you?” is still running through your mind even though you’ve been chilling for weeks.  Their actions say yes, their words say yes, but you still have that little bit of doubt running through your brain.

Luckily for you though, dating is pretty much the bomb at this point.  No effort to get some. Yall both like to eat, and go to the movies together. You got your ride or die. The bond is still new so you know yall on each other like rabbits (lol). You have engaging conversations, and text messages don’t take ten years to be responded to.  You feel wanted, and that’s all anyone needs, right?

And then it happens…

All this time you’ve spent, and then BOOM, they disappear. Who knows for what reason. It “just didn’t work out”, or it was “just a temporary thing”, or “well, I wasn’t really looking for anything serious”, and at this point, you’re back to square 1; Over it, completely.

And this is where the cycle begins again.  You promise yourself, you’ll be single for YEARS (Spoiler: You won’t), and you build those walls that were broken down “one. last. time.” So what do you do? Download the hookup app again.  What other place to go get your ego stroked after you’ve wasted your time dating?  It definitely helps.  Probably unhealthy though, but whatever….You’ve put up walls again.

So yeah, Dating IS the worst….

 

The Difficulties of Self Love: A Letter to My Current Self From my Future Self

Dear Current Self,

This is Future LeAnna. I see you girl. You’re struggling right now. I know that your body is changing faster than and in more ways you can imagine. Maybe it’s the medications you are on, maybe it’s the new city, maybe it’s your hormones, or growing older? I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like your old tricks are working anymore – you workout regularly, you walk more than ever, you eat well most of the time, and nothing works. And when you do lose weight, your body shape is really different from super past LeAnna. You need to purge many clothes that don’t make you feel good and don’t fit, and you need to buy new clothes, and dammit, as much as you love to shop, this a been a slow, somber, and laborious process. And you’re really struggling with if this is ok, is it enough? Every picture and many mirrors point to “no,” at least you believe.

You’ve really come far on this whole self-love and body acceptance thing, but you’ve had a long time to come, and so no, this isn’t perfect or quick or near. Mixed messages are driving you fucking insane. You know the ones – love yourself, but then people lose weight and are happier and have “post pics” where they’re smiling and shit. And even though you’ve got your health and diabetes now under good control (like non diabetic numbers), you still have this fear that you’re somehow sloppy and unhealthy and others think that of you based on your size, and there’s a good type of “plus,” the one that everyone else is but you – you know curvy in the right places, proportionate and a fat ass, and I’m not sure why you take these so personally, but you do (don’t worry, you’ll figure this out and be more compassionate in the future. Remember you always figure it out).

I know that these past two weeks, every time you look in the mirror, you’ve struggled to see the beauty in your eyes, your crooked smile,  your balding hair (another post, another day, don’t come from me or I’ll come for you), your bushy brows (I meeeeean, why the hell did you wait so long to get them done though?), and your squishy belly (by the way this is genetic). You’ve questioned if is this why he decided he no longer wanted you in your life? You were sweet, you supported him during hard times, you were bomb in bed, and you were authentic. But maybe, just maybe, he couldn’t get past your curves, the cushion, the arms that are muscular (the doctor even commented on how muscular they were when she put that nexplanon in your arm), but still kinda squishy. Maybe my eyes weren’t the right shade of green or hazel or the dimples in my thigh too deep? Maybe my double digit dress size would have been more appeasing in a single digit? Who knows why they disappear? But it leaves you in anxiety, but just as Past Lee learned, you will continue to learn, that these doubts are symptoms of your trauma and other shit, and you’ll continue to grow compassion for that part of you, instead of blaming it for others failing to love and see you. I know right now, you’re rolling your eyes, and saying that Future Lee is full of BS. But you’ll come to accept that more too.

Current Lee, I want you to know that you’re beautiful. And that reading this right now fills your heart with quickening beats of anxiety and doubt, and oddly, guilt for reading this statement (you never think you deserve this).. But you are. People are not lying about how your smile, eyes, and freckles make you beautiful. And when they see your beauty, they really do mean you’re beautiful on the outside, and not because they know you or love your personality, but in light all of that, you are. People are not lying about your energy; it’s your gift – use it. Your size is fine. Your body is fine. Your shape is fine. It’s actually better than fine. Girl, you are fine. You are healthy. You do enough. You are flexible and can run. It’s enough. No one judges you running down the street and if they do, fuck them; you’re powerful girl.

You have never loved your body fully; even when you exercised for hours a day, skipping lunch, and was half your size, on the verge of an eating or exercise disorder, and even your father commented on your small size and lack of eating. This is a symptom of something bigger, and future Lee wants you to know, that you will overcome this. It gets better. You deserve love and light and wonderful things, and you will get these things – as soon as you stop standing in your own way. You’re making progress though, you are just having a bad couple of weeks, letting self-loathing have a go at your life. But Current Lee, I love you fiercely – past, current and future – even when you can’t feel it. You are the love of my life. You are my soulmate. I’m waiting on you, Current Lee. You just have to get your shit together and accept my unconditional love. I know you want it. And you deserve it.

You. Are. More. Than. Enough. Today.

With love until the end of time and then even more,

Future Lee