Becoming more clearly aware of emotions and life situations and the space in which they occur might open us to a still more panoramic awareness. A compassionate attitude, a warmth, develops at this point. It is an attitude of fundamental acceptance of oneself while still retaining critical intelligence . . . Emotions are as they are, neither suppressed nor indulged but simply acknowledged . . . [T]he precise awareness of details leads into an openness to the complex totality of situations. —Ocean of Dharma: The Everyday Wisdom
of Chögyam Trungpa, quote 149.
So as I have been turning the corner into 2012, I have been going on lots of dates. This is a new experience for me. And when I say new, I mean that my dating life can be summarized in about three phases. First, High School in a Small Town. Then–lasting seven years–College Boyfriend. After two months of singledom, five years with the Ex.
To put this all together, the last time I truly dated was . . . never. So here I am writing these vibrant posts about opening up to pleasure, and it turns out that in one very real and concrete way I am kind of new to what that means. Not only that, but despite all of these guys I have been meeting, none of them have gone anywhere. I just keep on finding myself thinking.. nice guy…great friend…attractive even…but no. It is not like I am looking for a relationship. The opposite, I want to stay single. But while I am saying no, my recently-single guy friends are hooking up left and right.
So I started to wonder–am I really saying yes to life and pleasure? Or am I holding back? (total Sex in the City transition, I know…cue voice-over and Mac laptop)
I have sat with this question for a few days, and I what I have realized is that I am a bystander to a fight between two imaginary chicks. On one side stands: Amazing Liberated Sexy Woman. And on the other side of the ring is: Self-Doubting Never-Dated Girl. It is sort of funny to watch them duke it out. I get all excited about Tantra… and my experience of higher bliss…and wham! I convince myself I “should” be having full-body orgasms already and embodying the feminine divine. But what if I can’t? Or what if I don’t feel like being all deep, and just want to hang out, or get laid? And then (as my Carrie voice mentioned above), I go back to the other extreme and think shit, I am scared! I am afraid of being hurt. I do not feel powerful in my body. I can be awkward, and silly, and (insert not-goddess-like behavior here).
Of course, neither of these women is real. But the way to deal with them is not to push them away or tell them they do not exist. In fact, the more I resist them and pretend like I totally have it together, the stronger they become. Back into the arrows-into-flowers practice. I have to invite both of these illusionary ladies to tea. I watch them. I learn their funny tricks. I listen to what they say. The more comfortable I get acknowledging and sitting with them… the more I can laugh at how ridiculous and endearing they can be...and the more I realize they are not me. Staying present during this internal tug-of-war allows me to step outside of it and be free.
What is the truth of where I am at? I am strong and scared. I want connection and space. I can be awkward and full of grace. I am me and more. When I let things be real and complex, I stop trying to force anything to be something it is not. And–paradox of all paradoxes–I get where I want to be, which is creating a space for true connection and life to come through me. Who knows what life will bring me . . . a super-intense deep experience, or a physical one just cause I feel like it. In fact, the couple of connections I have had so far happened without too much thought, and they were fun. When I stop feeling limited by definitions and false dichotomies, I can approach dating like what is supposed to be–an adventure.
When I think back to my original awakening experience at the Tantra workshop, this is exactly the heart-space where it came from… I wasn’t worried about what experience I was going to have…I accepted that some part of me was a bit nervous…and I just went for it. What all of this brings me to is the beautiful lesson that opening to pleasure and connection is really less about opening to others than it is about opening to (and loving) my own messy, human, real self.
Any other women or men out there share similar struggles with self-judgment (in the area of sexuality/dating or anything else)? Was this story helpful to you? Questions? Share your comments below….:)