When I was a young nurse, my mentor in the Neonatal ICU taught me something I’ll never forget. Ruth was twenty plus years my senior and she had been with her partner for decades and she knew a thing or two about preemies, life, and love. “Laura, as you slide the baby out of the incubator put your dominate hand firmly under Baby’s head, gently cupping her head in the palm of your hand as the neck rests over your wrist. Let her body rest along your arm and rest your other hand on top of her lower body for support. “
Ruth explained this as she reached into Baby’s warm and peaceful bed. Then she turned to me she gave me the best advice I’ve ever received: “The idea is to firmly grasp Baby without squeezing. Hold her like she is a fine piece of porcelain. Or a lover’s heart. If you hold too tight you can break it but if you don’t hold it firmly enough it will shatter after it falls from your hands.”
I’m dating again. It feels weird to have profiles up on dating sites and answering emails with enthusiasm when every single profile I ponder I find something “wrong”. Or worse, there’s nothing “wrong” until I get the email back and the man is nothing like his profile or sends me 2005 Nokia text speak email:
“whut u doin darlin” “Hitting delete, you?”
But this is the least of it. When I posted my profiles in May, I didn’t know what I wanted. Casual is what I said I wanted. Casual is easy to admit and made me about a million times less vulnerable than saying: “I’m ready for a long-term relationship.” I know I’m ready and have been for about a year. But the attempts I’ve made have fallen short of my own plan and desires.
Saying I don’t know what I want is an excuse borne from fear. I’ve been rejected multiple times in the last year and casual felt less risky. I moved the desire for a fully realized long-term connection to the back of my bus. Not an authentic way to treat myself or honor the work I’ve done to allow myself permission to own, celebrate, and know I deserve everything I desire.
The epiphany scared me so much I pulled my profiles in a fit of hyperventilating anxiety. I’m not afraid of functioning in a fulltime thing with a committed lover. I’ve got that. I’ll make someone an excellent partner: I’m smart, fun, sexy, and know myself better than most people. The scary bit is the vulnerability:
I’m here. Look at me. Love me. Please. Thank you.
I revised my profile and I hope it doesn’t drip in desperate subtext. But I don’t feel desperate because surrounded by people who love me and I feel cherished by my friends. Maybe this is why I’m so extraordinarily picky. I’ve never been this exacting about dates and partners which is making the dating game a challenge. There aren’t a whole lot of 45-55 year olds looking for a long-term relationship with a sex positive twice divorced bisexual woman. My dating pool feels like a puddle some days. I hate being vulnerable and I’ve really tried to screw myself over a few times because of this pride or ego or whatever it is.
The worst part about this is when I deny my vulnerability and my wish for a special romantic relationship, I’m breaking all four of the agreements I try to live by:
Be impeccable with your word; Don’t take things personally; Don’t make assumptions Do your best.
“You can travel around the world with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you. You can say, ‘I love you,’ without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need. You can say yes, or you can say no. . .you can choose to follow your heart always. “ –Ruiz
I need to hold my own heart like a porcelain treasure. Wish me luck.