Privilege

English: Homeless man in New York 2008, Credit...

English: Homeless man in New York 2008, Credit Crises. On any given night in USA, anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million people are homeless, according to estimates of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I grew up in a modest home. My parents worked extremely hard. We always had food on the table, clothes on our back, and a roof over our heads. However, name brands, family vacations, and eating out were rarities. In between 40 hour work weeks, my parents volunteered their time to good causes. They reminded my sister and me of our blessings. When we complained that “EVERYONE has Guess jeans”, they reminded us, “Many people have it much worse than you.” As a teenager who desperately wanted the coveted red question mark on my derriere, I lost sight of my blessings. My parents’ love and sacrifices allowed me to go to college. My experiences there gave me the confidence to pursue graduate school. Now I live in one of the most beautiful and expensive cities in the country, and I work in a clinic that sees some of the poorest people who inhabit it.

On a daily basis, I hear stories of remarkable individuals dealt incredibly unfair hands . . . illness, businesses failing, trauma . . . which left them without a family, shelter, and/or money to cover basic needs. Food stamps do not cover razors or feminine products. I frequently ask, “Given everything you’ve endured, what keeps you going?” Their responses humble me . . . “God, my children, my dog, hope it’s got to get better, others have it worse than I do.”

Last night I appreciated the warmth of my down comforter given the plummeting temperature. I thought of my patients who lacked a warm bed to sleep in. It filled me with sadness and fear. I quickly attempted to expunge this thought. Privilege allows one to do that . . .change the channel, look straight ahead when someone is panhandling, and overlook the sociopolitical structures which perpetuate inequality in our society.

I recognize that I have to stand in the discomfort of privilege. Then, ask myself, “What I can do in my corner of the world to level the playing field a bit?” What can you do?

Imperfectly,

Amelia

 

 

Emotional Short-Arming: Protecting A Psychological Injury

My massage therapist commented that I twist my right arm whenever she moves it. She questioned the origin of this tendency. During the height of my swim conditioning, I short-armed my right free style stroke. My coach instructed me to pull my arm through completely before exiting the water.  This adjustment improved my speed and efficiency. For a few workouts I decelerated and concentrated on pulling through. However, I found it tedious, and it slowed me down tremendously. Additionally, as I fatigued I returned to short-arming. I shared this story with my massage therapist, and she commented, “Maybe you’re protecting something.” She asked if I had a past injury. Prior to swimming, I spent several years rock climbing and pushing my body in ways you can in your late 20’s and early 30’s. I likely sustained an injury.

My response to this physical injury mimics a psychological injury. Often times we compensate to avoid pain and keep moving forward. However, this coping style eventually short changes us when we can no longer progress with ease and efficiency. We are frequently unaware of this protective mechanism until we enter relationships, and others identify it. Once this compensatory strategy enters our awareness slowing down and addressing it proves challenging. We feel pulled into our old habit particularly during times of stress and fatigue. However, if we slow down and address the injury, we start moving with greater fluidity and ease.

Admittedly, when I dive into the pool, I’m tempted to bullet through the water like a torpedo. Then, I hear my healthy self, “you’re short-arming . . . pull through the entire stroke . . . don’t get in a hurry.” I may resemble Esther Williams. However, my right arm propels me further if I can resist exiting at the point of discomfort.

Where in your life are you emotional short-arming? How can you leave your arm in the water a bit longer when it feels uncomfortable?

Imperfectly,

Amelia

 

 

Avoiding Painful Emotions: Garnet Will Make You Popular

My fave piece: smokey quartz and bright orange...

My fave piece: smokey quartz and bright orange garnet crystals, China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After years of driving past The Cave of Wonders, curiosity pulled me in. I stepped inside and magnificent gems encircled me. A sweet caramel and white pitbull named Bella shadowed me as I perused the stones. I showed Bella a black, shiny piece of tourmaline and explained its energy-absorbing properties. She sniffed and licked my hand, confirming my selection. I picked up a piece of smooth, rose quartz and felt its coolness and weight in my hand. The bin’s placard announced that it decreased stress and brought love into one’s life. Sign me up for that! I added it to my growing collection and continued browsing. Bella grew bored of examining my treasures and parked herself in the front entrance to greet unsuspecting humans.

When my stone collection overflowed the reaches of my palm, I decided to check out. I had gems to help me grieve, avoid negative energy and stress, and bring love and prosperity into my life. Yep, I was covered in the happy life department now. The shop owner handed me a complimentary marble-sized garnet – the stone of the week. He gave me a handout describing its properties and meanings. Garnet brings successful business, cures depression, makes a person popular, adds constancy to friendships, increases security level, cleanses and purifies and increases sex drive. I hit the jackpot! Now I could start a successful business, be happy, popular, confident, clear negative energy and be a sex goddess!

While the garnet claims appeared exaggerated, I think we all hope at times that one special thing or person can provide fulfillment, safety, and happiness. We all have experiences in which we wish a garnet could cure all our troubles. Simple fixes are attractive but no replacement to feeling our way through life. I keep the garnet in my purse to remind me of this fact. If life hands me a lesson, and I choose not to accept the challenge, it comes around again. The times I find myself wishing for a “garnet fix” are typically the times I want to avoid painful emotions.

Where in your life do you find yourself wishing for the garnet fix? What do you need to feel your way through?

 

Imperfectly,

Amelia

 

 

You Won’t Die in the Yoga Room

I made the mistake. I had the fortunate opportunity to practice Bikram yoga on a 90% humidity day in sunny southern California. For ten years I effectively tolerated the 105 degree, 60% humidity environment of this yoga. However, this day I entered the studio, unrolled my mat, and instantly transformed into a human water fountain. Sweat gushed from every pore in my body despite the fact I laid silently in savasana (i.e., corpse pose)! The teacher entered the room and announced, “Rise and shine it’s yoga time! I know it’s a hot day, but you’re not going to die in the yoga room.” I stood up and thought, “I’m f*&#ed!” My body boiled. Probably, because I was standing DIRECTLY under the red glow of a radiant heater. Given room was packed with sweaty yoga bodies, I could not escape the heater’s radius. During the second breath of pranayama, my mind raced, “It’s too hot . . .I’m dizzy . . . I have to pee. . . I want to run out of this room . . . what if I run out? . . .I’ve never run out. . .what’s wrong with me? . . . everyone else looks ok . . .this absolutely sucks . . . I should have slept in . . . I will be dehydrated . . .my stomach is on fire . . .why did I eat garlicky hummus before class? . . . breathe . . . breathe . . .breathe.” I eventually calmed my mind. However, my body fought to stand. My stomach knotted and the room spun. I surrendered to my mat until the world stilled. Then, with a big deep breath, I stood up and tried again.

By virtue of our human-beingness, we experience moments of intense emotional pain. We question whether we can tolerate another excruciating second and feel pulled to flee the room. We numb . . . with reality TV (goodness knows I’ve watched way too much Teen Mom), busyness, material objects, and substances. We do everything in our power to escape that radiant heater, because it’s tremendously uncomfortable. We gain momentary lapses of relief only for the heat to blast us squarely in the face. If we surrender and breathe, the perspiration pours from our bodies. The toxins leave, we cool, and oxygen replenishes us. We stand up and try again. When the intensity of the heat overwhelms you, lie down, breathe, and recover. Then, get up and try again. If you run, pain will follow you right out of the door.

 If emotional heat has left you face down on the floor, I recommend reading Brene Brown’s Rising Strong. This wonderful manuscript reminds us that signing up to live whole-heartedly involves falling, and she gives us a formula for rising up.

Imperfectly,

Amelia

My splendidly imperfect dog's version of shavasana.

My splendidly imperfect dog’s version of savasana.

A Vulnerability Lesson . . .Right in the . . .

Like many recovering perfectionists, I pride myself on being productive and doing things independently. I enjoy being the “helper” not the “helpee” . . . Well, the universe lovingly sent me a lesson to smooth out this jagged growing edge. I had a fabulous start to my spring break vacation. I connected with my dear friend from graduate school and my mom. I very much enjoyed my visitors, but also looked forward to five days of me time. Time for ME, ME, ME – yoga, bike riding, writing, reading, and closet-cleaning. I would finally catch up with life until tonsillitis caught up with me. . .

Following a negative strep test, my primary care physician (PCP) informed me there was nothing he could do for me. He sent me home, told me to rest, gargle with salt water, and drink Theraflu. Forty-eight hours later ambulating and swallowing became herculean efforts. Sadly, my tonsils resembled something from Aliens – red, pus-filled, sacs which invaded the space I once called my throat. I sent the wonderful man in my life (WMIML), a dramatic text, “Something is really wrong, I feel worse. I need help. Come.” Fortunately, he came and convinced me to go to urgent care. I greatly appreciated his concern and patience as I attempted to pull myself together. This scene falls far from my best self. Fortunately, WMIML’s compassion eclipsed my pitiful pageantry.

WMIML: Where is your sweater?

Me: (Tears falling) I don’t know.

WMIML: Is it hanging over there on your coat rack?

Me: Uh-huh.

WMIML: (Kindly brings it over to me and helps me put it on). How about some shoes?

Me: It’s too cold to wear shorts out. I need to find some pants (snotty nose blow).

WMIML: (Picks up the pair I’ve been wearing the past two days off the floor.) How about these?

Me: They stink. I need clean pants.

WMIML: Ok. Where do you keep them?

Me: Over there. (I pitifully point to a dresser drawer).

WMIML: (Pulls out a pair of jeans). How about these?

Me: Ok. Thank you (sniff, sniff). I can’t even find myself a pair of pants. I’m a mess.

WMIML: Yes, that’s why we need to get you to urgent care. Go put them on and let’s go.

Fortunately, the wait was short, and the compassionate physician complimented my coming in promptly. He gave me antibiotics and pain medication on the spot. WMIML drove me home, helped me into bed, and kindly took my sweet doggie out for a potty break. Ahh, back to the land of the living until . . .

I finished the 10 day course of antibiotics and the tonsillitis migrated from the right tonsil to the left. I felt demoralized as I trudged back to my PCP. Now, I was on antibiotics round two. No improvement after several days. WMIML returns to drive me to urgent care. I have not washed my hair in four days and given my malaise the idea of dreadlocks sounds somewhat appealing. I throw on a t-shirt, jeans and manage to corral my oily locks into a hair clip.

PCP: Given you haven’t improved and it’s been three weeks we should try a steroid. It’s like a “miracle” you should start feeling better right away.

Me: I want a miracle. Give me the miracle. Would it be inappropriate to hug you?

PCP: The miracle will involve a shot in your bottom.

Me: I don’t care. I want the miracle.

The nurse comes in and promptly administers the miracle. She mentions it “will burn.” What she failed to declare is that it will feel like a wasp stung you on the ass and reduce your stride to a pitiful limp. I texted WMIML that I received a steroid shot and swiftly hobbled out of the exam room. He politely tried to stifle his laughter to no avail. I was a sight, and I knew it. We climbed onto the elevator with another woman, and his snicker broke into full blown hilarity. I joined him because the only alternative was crying and rubbing my derrière in front of a stranger. She just smiled and commented, “we all have those kind of days.” I nodded in agreement.

After I tried to inconspicuously massage my bottom while waiting on my prescriptions in the pharmacy, I limped through the parking garage while WMIML tried to remember where we parked. The song This Sex is on Fire by the Kings of Leon echoed in my head. Except the word “ass” replaced “sex.” I hummed while I hobbled until the burning overcame my entire backside. I halted and yelled to WMIML, “time out!” He ran over, placed my arm over his shoulder and helped me stagger to the car. I felt guilty for monopolizing what could have been his enjoyable weekend. We had a trip planned for stargazing in the desert. I kept running through scenarios of how I could repay him. However, an African safari or a seat on the Virgin Galactic space shuttle to Mars was slightly out of my budget. I opted for an Amazon gift card.

Why do we find it challenging to be vulnerable and soak in the compassion of others? I know if the tables were turned I would have gladly cared for WMIML. I probably earned a B- during this vulnerability lesson and more will likely come. In the meantime, I’m going to go wash my hair. I wish all of you well and challenge you to embrace a smidge of vulnerability this week.

Imperfectly,

Amelia

My splendidly imperfect dog had no problem with my oily locks.

My splendidly imperfect dog had no problem with my oily locks.

Own Your Power: Channeling Your Inner Beyoncé

A couple of weeks ago, I nearly sustained a concussion while pulling items off my closet shelf. Ok, this declaration is somewhat dramatic. The cardboard tube housing my Master’s degree (earned in route to my doctorate) fell and bonked me on the head. Yes, I did not bother framing it. I already had a terminal master’s degree and a doctoral degree adorning my office wall. I thought hanging this degree would appear excessively pretentious, “too much.” When I theatrically recounted my tube-clobbering story to a friend, he expressed shock that I let my degree hibernate in the depths of my closet for eight years. He said, “You earned it. Put it up!”

Why do girls and women fear being “too much”? Maybe it’s because we tell little girls, “keep your voice down . . .cross your legs . . . don’t get fat. . .don’t make a man look stupid . . . be nice . . . be sweet.” Simply put – “don’t take up space . . . don’t be too much.” For the longest time I feared anger – others’ and my own.  I did everything I could to avoid it; and if I felt anger, I questioned its validity. The messages of “good girls are nice” and “angry women are bitches” deeply rooted themselves in my young cerebral cortex. Now, I realize the value of my voice and anger. When I confided my relationship with anger to a friend, he encouraged me to channel my inner Beyoncé.  In 2008 Beyoncé released her album I am Sasha Fierce. During an interview, she explained her persona of Sasha Fierce allowed her to own her power in her performances and dealings in the music industry.

Today, I am making a vow to let my light shine and to channel my inner Beyoncé. I hung up my master’s degree. I give myself permission to be outraged about. . .

  1. My male advisor in college telling me not to pursue a doctorate because it was “too hard”

  2. Equally qualified women earning 78% of what men make

  3. Being verbally harassed by a male security guard, filing a complaint, being told I would be informed of the outcome and never hearing a thing

  4. One in five women being sexually assaulted at some point in their lives

  5. Having dates thinking a good night kiss entitled them to be human octopuses. Too many times I squirmed my way out of these situations and said, “I have to go.” I was nice, and I should have yelled, “Get your f*&ing hands off me!”

  6. Thongs being marketed to elementary school-aged girls

  7. Having an unfamiliar woman at a baby shower ask me if I was going to freeze my eggs since I was in my late 30’s and not married

  8. Young women being told to “be sexy” but don’t have sex

  9. People telling my amazing friend, who suffered a heart-breaking miscarriage, that she was “lucky to conceive”

  10. Growing up in a culture that tells girls they must be thin, heterosexual, married and mothers in order to have value

To all my amazing readers out there, I encourage you to speak up, speak out and let your imperfectly, beautiful light shine! Please feel free to add comments about injustices you no longer wish to be silent about.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

Imperfectly,

Amelia

The Dangers of Living Alone

 

Dear Readers,

I apologize for the tardiness of this post. Ironically, the day I planned to post this blog, I got sick. However, I am delighted to share this piece with you by my dear friend and guest blogger Taylor. My response to Taylor’s piece follows below. Enjoy! ~Amelia

 

I have lived with back problems for many years. If I am not careful, I can easily agitate old wounds and truly injure myself.  Yesterday, I was leading a class on crisis intervention and slipped on a slick floor (And yes, I am aware of the irony in this situation). I immediately knew that the minor slip was going to create some stiffness and pain later. However, I had no idea what the extent of it would be.  In preparation for what was sure to come, I went through my stretching routine, took some meds and iced the area of concern.

Only a few hours into a restless sleep, I was awoken by an all too familiar shooting pain in my lower back and legs.  I got up, took another hand full of ibuprofen and tried to go back to sleep.  With little hope of actually resting, I decided to get up and try to stretch a bit.  As the night creeped forward, I could feel the magic of the ibuprofen waning.  I went to the medicine cabinet and pulled out the big guns which quickly put me back to sleep for a few hours.  When I woke up again, I managed to get to the shower and partially wash the nightly grime off my now stiff and achy body. Toweling off was an exercise in futility as my body groaned at every attempt to bend beyond a few degrees.  Breathless and fatigued, I made one final effort to dry and clothe myself.  Unable to even get my underwear on, I simply collapsed under the weight of this damp, naked cleaning tragedy.

 Now, at this point, I don’t know if it was the stress, the ridiculous nature of the circumstance, or the muscle relaxers, but I couldn’t stop laughing. These were no ordinary run of the mill laughs.  They took on a maniacal quality that drenched me in a feeling that was otherworldly. I felt disembodied yet somehow grounded to the moment.  Each heaving laugh, was married to a pain so intense, I started to sob uncontrollably. What made this whole situation worse, was that I started imagining what the text would look like if actually had to call someone to help me. “So Amelia, how good of a friend are you? Well, I was wondering if you could come over and pull my underwear up over my bulbous backside? Also, there is some homemade ice-cream in the freezer if you want it. Thanks.”

 These are the moments that truly test your resolve.  Who did I call on to help me? Well, I called no one. Now this is not to say that my friends wouldn’t have come to my rescue if I needed it(And laughed their asses off as they would have surely retold the story a million times). In fact, the knowledge that support was available was enough to push me into action. I pulled myself up off the floor, kicked off the underwear that was trajectory wrapped around my ankle and went back to bed for 8 hours.  I awoke in a bit less pain, but with a renewed sense of resiliency. Even in the toughest of times, we can surprise ourselves with the strength that resides within. Indeed, I had climbed the mountain of Motrin and seen the promise Lumbar support land.

 Cheers

–  Taylor F. Alvarez

 Amelia’s response:

 Had you texted me, I would have come, found myself consumed by your infectious laughter, pulled up your pants and then eaten your ice cream. Why is it that we hesitate to reach out for help during times when it is abundantly clear that we need it and others would love to provide it?

 Like Taylor, I too live alone. Several months ago I contracted strep throat. I knew I was in for a turbulent ride when the chills hijacked my body despite wrapping it in a wool jacket and blasting the space heater. Miraculously, I negotiated the last three hours of work, crawled into my car and made my way home. In a zombie-like state, I trudged up the stairs to my apartment, opened the door and collapsed on the couch. Several hours later, I awoke to darkness and the realization I lacked the energy to move from the couch to the bathroom. Tears rolled down my cheeks as my sweet dog licked my hand to say, “I would help if I could.” I prided myself on fierce independence and now I truly needed help. For a few minutes, I threw myself a fabulous pity party. If only my ex-husband had done x,y & z I would not be alone right now. I quickly realized this party sucked and I best bounce before I woke up with a misery hangover. I picked up my phone and began scrolling through my contacts. Relief washed over me as realized I had several amazing people in my life who would come to my rescue. I would only be alone and dejected if I chose to be. I called a friend who graciously brought over coconut water and a thermometer. She also called to check on me the following day. Love is all around us. We just have to invite it in and trust that we are worthy of it.

 Imperfectly,

Amelia

Doesn't that sweet face just make you feel better?

Doesn’t that sweet face just make you feel better?

The Dyson Airblade . . . It’s Not Just For Drying Hands: Travel Adventures with Amelia

I have traveled alone – a lot. Given I am the youngest of the family, and the only one who lives on the west coast, I go to them. Given my recovering perfectionist status, I still exhibit “type A” travel traits. Yes, I have a packing checklist. I store it on my computer and ceremonially print it out prior to each departure. I commence packing two days before my trip, and I use packing cubes. If you do not have packing cubes, I highly, highly recommend them. eBags pays me nothing for this endorsement. Packing cubes allow one to rifle through one’s suitcase at lightning speed to procure a swimsuit or clean pair of underwear. I also bring a water bottle and quickly fill it once I pass security. I continue to marvel at folks who gawk at it and remark “Wow, how do you get THAT through security?”

Speaking of security, it is a rare event that I make it through without a TSA agent touching me in a way that warrants fine wine, a five star dinner and some smokin’ hot chemistry. I remember leaving Vegas in my new, designer jeans. You know, the ones with the awesome metal designs on the pockets which make any woman’s pancake butt look voluptuous. Note — never wear these jeans through security, ever. Evidently my derriere posed a threat to national security and required a physical pat down. The female TSA agent kindly asked if I wanted to do it in private. Given the early hour of my flight, I needed my double soy, latte stat. Hence, I opted for getting felt up in front of the entire procession of passengers. Interestingly, I have supposedly posed a threat to airport security by . . . wearing a large watch, pony tail, nothing (just kidding), and dangly earrings. I strive to practice thoughtfulness when I go through security. I remove any object which will activate the metal detector. I willingly choose the back scatter machine even though the picture is leaving little to the screener’s imagination. I limit my baggie of liquids to the quart size bag. Honesty, I ‘ve witnessed many a passenger coming through with two gallon freezer bags. One woman brought in a full bottle of Kai body spray. Honestly, I was jealous. Have you smelled that stuff? It is amazing.

I am known to take VERY early morning flights in order to arrive on the east coast at a reasonable hour. (Do I love my family or what?) Hence, my first order of business is to find a large cup of java. Then, I find intellectually stimulating reading material. Ok, I am going to be f’ing honest with you folks. I bring The Week and use it to disguise People. Don’t judge. I know many of you have done the same thing . . . Did you know the stars are just like us? They go to Starbucks and pump their own gas. Who knew? Cross country flights give me plenty of time to read, watch movies . . . I experienced a minor myocardial infarction when the wifi signal disappeared in the middle of Gravity.  That movie was intense.

My flight to my sister’s place was relatively uneventful, and I exited the aircraft only to feel water dripping down the back of my legs. In my hurry to deplane, I overlooked securely fastening my water bottle. The bottom of my backpack was soaked. I ran to the bathroom and urgently blotted it with paper towels. It was like trying to soak up Lake Michigan with a cellulose sponge . . .no bueno. I panicked. Not only did I have a wet back pack. I had a wet bottom. Desperate times called for desperate measures . . .thank God the bathroom had a Dyson airblade. It’s not just for drying hands anymore. I will leave the rest to your imagination and assure you I left that bathroom dry . . . Using an object for a purpose other than it’s original function is the definition of creativity ya’ll.

I spent several days visiting my sweet sister and Dad while attending a conference. Then, I returned to the airport where I am happy report I made it through security without a patting or wanding. My first plane left on time and so did my second! However, after one hour on the tarmac we taxied back to the gate due to a mechanical problem. Ugh. This event presented me with quite a dilemma. I bought a box of gourmet chocolates for a friend who offered to pick me up at the airport. Given the delay, the decent option was to graciously thank her and say, “I brought you these chocolates.” However, I needed self-soothing after several hours in Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport with VERY limited vegetarian food options, no dessert and travel stress. I ate the dark chocolate, and I must admit it made me feel immensely better, so did the salted caramel, hazelnut ganache and pinot noir truffle. . . Currently, I am one hour away from home in a full-blown sugar coma. I look forward to landing . . .to tail wags and licks from my splendidly imperfect dog and crawling into my splendidly perfect bed. Good night.

Imperfectly,

Amelia 

My splendidly imperfect dog enjoyed sneaking onto the throw pillows in my absence.

My splendidly imperfect dog enjoyed sneaking onto the throw pillows in my absence.

Vulnerability Hangover

 

A few months ago I had the following conversation with a yogi from my yoga class.image

Yogi: So what are you up to tonight Amelia?

Me: Oh, probably hanging with Frankie on the beach and then staying in for a movie.

Yogi: How long have you and Frankie been together?

Me: Seven years. It’s hard to believe. Time flies.

Yogi: Wow, the seven year itch . . .that’s quite a milestone in a marriage.

Me: (Totally mortified now realizing this yogi thinks my dog is my spouse and further realizing that I talk about my dog like he’s my spouse.) . . . um, yep.

This conversation nudges me, rather violently thrusts me, into the world of online dating. One of my dear friends, Sarah, met the love of her life and soon-to-be husband on a popular online dating site, so I think at least I can find a date or two. I visit lovetownusa.com (ok, not the real name of the website just in case there is really a lovetownusa.com and it’s a disreputable, vulgar “dating” service) and take the bazillion question survey that guarantees I will find the love of my life. Honestly, it takes me three weeks to complete it. Once I finish it, I have the lovely fortune of receiving my “unique personality profile.” In addition to including multiple blanket statements about all my fabulous qualities, it also lets me know about my following “growth edges”:

  1. Others might be afraid of your “new-fangled” thoughts. (Please send me a comment if anything on this blog appears “new-fangled.”)
  2. Some people may think you’re wound too tightly and may secretly want to see you lose control or relax a little bit. (Ok, maybe there is some merit to this one given I am a recovering perfectionist. However, I have thrown some very wild living room dance parties in my day . . . maybe I will actually invite others to join me at some point.)
  3. Some people may be threatened by your openness or find you too much to compete with. (Seriously, why would someone with three graduate degrees be too much to compete with? Did I mention I won a Nobel Prize?)
  4. People who spend most of their time on themselves may feel embarrassed around you. (Ok, this one means I am super nice. . .and I certainly hope narcissists feel embarrassed for talking about themselves too much around me.)

Yep, reading through these sparkling qualities certainly instills a sense of confidence as I create my profile and upload pictures for male “it will take less than three seconds to determine if you are worth clicking on” scrutiny. Yuck, yuck . . . vulnerability forms a lump in my throat . . . AND prevents me from activating this profile for three months. . . The many crazy book recommendations (e.g. Why Men Marry Bitches, Date Like a Man, and How to Get the Guy) and advice (e.g., don’t tell men what I do for a living, consider freezing my eggs) from well-intentioned folks certainly do not help either.

I decide to take a leap and activate my profile as the calendar speeds forward to “singles awareness day” (aka Valentine’s Day). I upload the lovetownusa.com app to my phone and make the brilliant decision to accept push notifications. Then . . . (insert crickets chirping) . . . absolutely nothing for two days. My worst fears confirmed . . . I am divorced and now undateable . . .I will grow into the elderly woman who dresses her dog in tutus and sunglasses and pushes him around in a dog carriage . . .at least I don’t have to worry about cleaning my apartment or making sure I own cute underwear . . . it’s all over now. . .

Then, I wake up to seven notifications on my phone . . . Jason sent you a smile, Rick, Richard, Ryan, Jeff, Jeffery and Geof want to get to know you better. Instead of jumping up and down like a squealing middle school girl, I feel utterly overwhelmed. I look at Jason’s profile and the thought of going through five more feels like drudgery. How do I keep these men straight in my head? Lovetownusa.com also has the lovely feature of showing you all the people who decided to look at your profile and NOT communicate with you. Why in the hell do I need to know this fact? What purpose does this serve? Enlighten me. I delete the app from my phone, go about my day, go to bed and wake up at 4am with a vulnerability hangover. Brene Brown, vulnerability and shame researcher, made this term famous in her second TED talk. According to dictionary.com, when something is vulnerable it is capable of being wounded or hurt. After going through an intensely painful divorce, entering the world of online dating renders me vulnerable. I call Sarah for support.

Me: I just earned an F in online dating.

Sarah: There are no grades in online dating, unless you found a dating site with which I am unfamiliar.

Me: Is there a way I can do this without being vulnerable? My head hurts. Do you have a cure for a vulnerability hangover?

Sarah: Yes, do that which you fear.

Me: You mean I actually have to communicate with some of these men?

Sarah: Yes or you can just hole up in your apartment with Frankie.

Me: Frankie is safer.

Sarah: True, but Frankie also licks his feet and his butt.

Me: Good point. I will respond to some of these men.

Sarah: You should also reach out to some of your matches.

Me: Seriously? This is so much work . . . I think I would rather go back to middle school and be a wallflower.

Sarah: Hang in there sweetie. I am really proud of you. It takes a ton of courage to step back out there again when you suffered a deep and excruciatingly painful heart break. Take it at your own pace.

Me: Thank you. I love you.

Sarah: Love you too.

I start responding to these men. Lovetownusa.com requires users to go through several levels of “piloted communication” before delving into the world of email. Slowly I find myself getting excited about some of the conversations, thinking I might meet some nice guys . . . it’s fun getting to know new people . . . until one just abruptly stops communicating with you! Unlike a totally normal and rational person, the recovering perfectionist in me tries to personalize my first “email drop.” I try to challenge her critical voice by coming up with perfectly plausible reasons why he stopped emailing me such as . . .

  1. He got trapped under a heavy object and is doing everything possible in his power to reach his computer to email me back.
  2. He was kidnapped by aliens.
  3. He hit his head and completely lost his memory.
  4. He contracted a flesh-eating virus.
  5. He witnessed a horrible crime and entered the witness protection program.
  6. He realized we may be distant cousins . . . two fair-skinned, red-headed, very attractive people . . .it could happen.
  7. He was killed in a zombie apocalypse.
  8. The possibilities are endless . . .

I also must cope with being asked on dates! In my neurotic online dating state, I neglect to contemplate what I might do if one of these guys actually asked me out. I initially respond by saying things like, “Thank you so much for your interest in my profile. It’s been fun getting to know you but I think I’m not the best fit for you. I think we’re in very different places right now” (i.e., I’m neurotic and you’re not). Or “I would love to keep getting to know you via email before connecting in person” (this response was often met with an email drop.)

I need a break from lovetownusa.com and decide to turn off new matches while I travel to Texas to attend Sarah’s engagement party. I keep communicating via email with three men and this load feels manageable. Communicating with two of the men feels like “work”; however, I have fun communicating with one of them. He invites me to meet up for drinks to which I agree, then I delay for a week with a lame excuse about a cold and work conflict. However, I realize curling up with Frankie on the couch, while comfy, has minimal power in decreasing my vulnerability hangover. The only cure is to . . . Go.On.The.Date!

In consultation with my fashionista co-worker, I decide on an outfit, get dressed, do the hair and make up thing, hop into my car and head to a swanky downtown bar to meet my date. I step into the elevator and push the button for the bar level, the door opens, I step out, and I see him at the bar. I walk up, extend my hand and say, “Hi, I’m Amelia.” . . . My vulnerability hangover begins to subside. . .

To Be Continued. . .(What can I say? I have to leave ya’ll hanging so you’ll come back to my blog.)

Imperfectly,

Amelia

My splendidly imperfect "spouse"

My splendidly imperfect “spouse”