365 days in a row! I am so incredibly grateful that I set this goal and met it. If I learned nothing else over the past year, I learned that I love writing every day and will always be grateful to The Mansbatical for giving me the intention and vehicle to begin and commit to a daily writing practice.
Wow, so a year ago I was distraught at my inability to have a meaningful relationship with men. I was convinced that a year off with no dating behavior would help. And it did. Except, like most of life, it didn’t go as planned.
Let me get honest first. I did take an entire year off from having a committed relationship. I did not take a year off from relationships. In this last year, I did date, however I did spend time reflecting on why and examining how and why I was engaging in dating conduct.
I have to say that I am a bit disappointed that I didn’t make it the full year although I can’t honestly tell you why. The trysts that I had were super important and I needed them to grow in the ways that I have. If I would have spent the entire year alone, I would have for sure learned something, but not what I learned this last year because, as is so often the case in my life, I learn things from relationships with others and if I would have only been having an intimate relationship with myself, I would have been limited in my subject matter.
I am a bit leery about putting all the stuff I learned out here...it is scary to really own your shit and then share it with whomever will read it. But I really want what I have learned to be useful to someone else, I pray that something I can say or share will help some other person on the path to finding intimacy and love and connection. So I will share it all with the hope that you are able to suspend judgment and instead find something helpful.
The Mansbatical: 108 Lessons
1. Men were not the problem.
2. I have been and continue to be the problem.
3. My self worth or lack thereof seems to be a recurrent theme...in ALL of my relationships.
4. I cannot go a year without sex.
5. Most, if not all, of what causes me pain in relation to men, also causes pain for men in relation to me and women in general. I did not know this...I seriously thought that men didn’t think about a lot of the shit that I think about. But thanks to lots of men, and a few in particular, I now have a better understanding about what they think, how they think and what they need.
6. Men want intimacy too.
7. Writing everyday has been super healing for me.
8. My brokenheart has mended a great deal and I feel the most whole I have felt since the breakup. I love Lane still and that is ok.
9. Cryking (crying + hiking) is good for the soul.
10. Everything I have felt, thought and been upset about, is relatable as a human experience, not solely a female experience.
11. I have been delusional in thinking that I can and want to be alone. If that were really the case, it would have been super easy to be alone for 365 days in a row. I really do want a relationship despite my ego telling me all the time that I do not.
12. I am still afraid of intimacy.
13. Sex is a broken way to access intimacy. Intimacy is a healing way to access sex.
14. I have been unable in all of my relationships to show up in an authentic form where I say what I feel and think in real time. I like to hold things back and not share them. This causes disconnection in my relationships and I have to do it differently if I want to change how I relate to others.
15. I have been aggressive in my relationships. I have retaliated. I have punished. These are intimacy killing concepts and actions and if I ever want a truly loving partnership, I have to do the work to rid myself of aggression in myself.
16. Love is not a prize. It is not a reward. Love is something that I can share freely with everyone I meet. Everyone, including myself, is worthy of it. I can love everyone, no exceptions, while still maintaining boundaries for myself.
17. A pandemic is a great time to have The Mansbatical.
18. I have allowed myself to be misguided by many cockarooses in my life. I see this now and feel a little less susceptible.
19. All of my relationships have been filled with some level of dishonesty, inconsideration and selfishness. I still have a lot of work to do here...and this is a life long process.
20. I am less broken than I feel. I am really just a human being with a lifetime of experiences that I am trying to sort through so that I can do things differently.
21. I like who I am but still have some trouble loving her.
22. Working the steps on any issue, brings clarity and healing.
23. I love men. I love their energy, thinking and am so very lucky to have male friends in my life!
24. Lane and I can have a different relationship than we did before. One that is based on mutual respect, kindness, and the genuine affection of two people who once loved each other so much. There is a lot to be said for maintaining a relationship with someone you loved with all that you were.
25. I have a lot in common with men who are older than me by about 25 years.
26. Connection or disconnection. I am always doing one, why?
27. Disillusionment is part of any and all relationships. Real, true and meaningful relationships exist right there on the other side of it.
28. Twin flames is a lovely idea. But I really don’t believe in it for me. I believe it exists but it isn’t my lot.
29. I do not pick the right thing for the right reason...still.
30. I love writing and reading and attempting to share what I learn and think.
31. Letting go is still hard. But not as hard as holding onto things and people not meant for me.
32. Dating in middle age is a lot like dating as teenager. There are curfews, no really good place to have sex without being caught and full of confusion and heartache. But the high is so totally worth the effort.
33. I am still afraid of loving with my whole self. But I am more afraid of not loving at all so I will continue to love in whatever fractured, broken form I can.
34. Nature is healing for the soul and can handle a lifetime of pent up tears.
35. A Tribe of women is a wonderful base camp for life.
36. Laughter and a sense of humor are super important on any spiritual quest.
37. I am ok alone but need relationships to challenge me to grow and see where I can improve.
38. Travel helps me access parts of myself that are dormant or asleep.
39. I love my home and am grateful to live where I do.
40. I have an amazing life that is full of love.
41. I still have a hard time accepting or asking for help and this is an issue in my relationship with men.
42. I have created a lot of intimate enemies. I do not and will not do that anymore.
43. One can have a peaceful abiding while growing and changing.
44. Forward (Fucking onward) helps when stuck.
45. Projective identification is real and needs to be addressed for intimacy to thrive.
46. I am NOT the only one...ever.
47. Marriage and commitment are two things that still scare me. But both are on the table...for that very reason.
48. Loving myself in a real and honest way is harder than loving someone else.
49. We spend the second half of life getting over the first or not. Everyone. No exceptions.
50. I will never ever have enough...unless I practice what I have being considered enough.
51. Anger and aggression are not the same things. Intimacy can survive anger, it cannot survive aggression.
52. Being willing to have messy honest conversations is a great way to grow up.
53. Music, especially live music, gives me access to parts of myself that I cannot get any other way.
54. I do not leave it there well.
55. I am ok being the last woman unpartnered in The Tribe.
56. I am never, ever going to give up.
57. Restlessness can be tamed, if only on a daily basis.
58. My life is the best, most clear example of my progress on the path.
59. Trauma has lasting effects...on everyone and not everyone is going to be able to heal from it.
60. Hiking is something I need everyday.
61. Animals are still the place where I get unconditional love and support.
62. I can handle a lot more than I think I can...AND, I need to take it easy far more often than I will allow myself.
63. I am not patient. But when I am, the universe takes care of everything just perfectly.
64. I can hold a good thought...even for myself.
65. I learn the most from people I find difficult.
66. I am 50 and not yet do I feel like a grown up.
67. Parenting is hard.
68. Perfectionism is a very good way to alienate people.
69. Goats are good for the soul.
70. I got a lot of positive and wonderful things by staying home.
71. I am so grateful to be recovering.
72. I get to do this life.
73. I am very grateful to have the issues I have and wouldn’t want to trade issues with anyone.
74. Boredom is good for the soul.
75. You can have a dance party of one in your kitchen on a Tuesday and it can be the best dance party you have ever had.
76. I am a role model for my children - or a warning...really depends on the day.
77. The Buddhist path feels like home to me.
78. Men suffer just like I do.
79. Hawks are my spirit animal.
80. Alignment is more useful than willpower.
81. Tenderness is a commodity that is needed more in this world and my own life.
82. I can and do better when I slow down.
83. I am brave, courageous and willing to do the work.
84. I can stay sober and relatively sane for a quarter century.
85. I do actually love my life.
86. Gratitude is the best way to stay right sized.
87. I will never ever believe I have enough.
88. Everything is always falling apart and coming together and it is ok.
89. Everyone is afraid.
90. I do not enjoy being uncomfortable...but it is the only way I grow.
91. I still move at the speed of pain...I just need less of it than I used to for motivation to do the work.
92. I miss having an intimate, loving sexual relationship with one man.
93. Look back, but don’t stare.
94. I need to go to Big Sur...as often as I can.
95. I get to define my success or failure...what other people think, say or believe is not my business.
96. Rejection is nothing to be afraid of...
97. I still have no idea what I want...but I am making progress.
98. I still hate Valentine’s Day.
99. Sexuality is an evolving thing...
100. Happiness doesn’t depend on who you are or what you feel, it depends mostly on what you think.
101. I can do a lot of things if I am willing to be uncomfortable.
102. Fear is just another facet of living life. If you aren’t afraid then you probably aren’t really living.
103. I cannot online date and not be an asshole.
104. I am an addict about everything.
105. Endings are beginnings in disguise.
106. Kicking tires is exhausting.
107. People will pretty much take what you give them. Truly meaningful relationships will demand a great deal more.
108. I am right where I am supposed to be...in every single moment I find myself.
This is what I learned. This is what I know. This is who I am. This is how I am living my life. This is how I screw it up. This is how I attempt to fix it. This is my life over the last year.
Ultimately, I show up for my life with the best of intentions and that gets me moving but where I end up is really not up to me. I can fight, demand, insist and manipulate but the universe knows where I am needed and will send me there every single time.
Seems like now would be a good time just to accept all the many interesting facets of my life as being exactly the way that they are right now while knowing that it is going to change. Sometimes I will love the change and other times I will not. It doesn’t really matter as my life has to be about more than me getting what I want, when I want it. Seems like the whole entire point after this last year is that I am forever a work in progress. My ego would love to tell you that I set a goal, achieved the motherfucking shit out of that goal and now can let you in on the secret that I learned...but for me, as always, success came in the failure to achieve the goal. All I gained was through the loss, the failure, the goal not achieved. And that is just life. We aim for perfection but we never really get there. We love and lose and hurt and cry and bleed and submit every day to the crushing thing that is life. And if we are really, really lucky we get to see and feel and believe that all of it is happening for us, not to us.
And that is my final and enduring conclusion of The Mansbatical: It all happened for me, not to me. And I am better for it...always.