I do not subscribe to the victim mentality.  I believe that we each bear complete and total responsibility for our own lives, and that we can create and change our reality with focused intention and effort.

That being said, I am basically traumatized by the last year of dating. I can’t think of any other way to frame it.

I’m a sensitive soul.  I was married for 10 years, and totally forgot how to date.  

I fell in love - or infatuation, or something - to various degrees, with three men this past year.  All of whom rejected me. There might be more.  I may have blocked them out.

The thing that kills me is that I fell for the chase each time. They started out so damn gung-ho. Texts, Skype conversations, emails, calls. Intense pursuit of me. I was promised marriage, visits to their family, lifelong love and connection. One of them even suggested that he would adopt my son.

Maybe my heart is too open, maybe I make myself too available, maybe I scream “wounded little girl,” maybe I don’t “play the game” or follow “the rules.” Basically I seem to have an effective man-repellent function. I don’t think I’m scary. I like to think I’m intelligent and fun and good looking and attentive in bed - not sure if that’s the proper order.  I don’t stalk or call too much or text in the middle of the night or do anything creepy. (I have made the relationship-killing error of dropping the L-bomb a bit prematurely. I own that. I’m working on it.) 

And then - the poof.  I’ve discussed the poof at great length.

Sometimes the poof was instant - a disappearance, or a sudden change in behavior.  Sometimes the poof was a slow deflation. Ppppppooooooofffffff.  If a slow poof is possible.  But poofage has occurred, pretty much consistently, for the last 8 months (at least).  Usually, in each case, I picked myself up, tried to regain the shattered pieces of my dignity, wiped the puke off the prom dress and shoes, and moved on to the next one.  The next one generally erased the pain of the one who came before.

But –the last one basically slaughtered me.  My heart is still bleeding on the dirty, trash- strewn asphalt of a back alley somewhere.

While I recognize that I have had a role to play in all of this, and I am far from a defenseless victim, I’ve come to realize that I am somewhat traumatized by men now.

Here is some partial proof.  A Facebook friend, a very attractive man whom I share mutual friends with but I’ve never met in real life, a man whom I’ve been having some cool conversations with, sent me a one line email the other morning, entitled “GM”

Good morning, beautiful.

I cringed in horror upon reading it.  

I had a series of flashbacks. I flashed back to all the warm and fuzzy texts of lovers past, the “I adore yous” the “Good morning, gorgeouses,” the “Sweet dreams, sexys.”  The nonstop succession of words, declaring me brilliant and beautiful and marvelous in every way. The hours-long discussions where souls were bared, laughter was constant, and deep philosophical truths were explored.  Mind-blowing sex where I never felt closer to anyone, never more fulfilled.  

Then I flashed back to the pop, the steady trickle-off of emails and texts, the cessation of phone calls, the gradual icing of the tone, to the disappearance.  The complete and total withdrawal of affection.  The poof.

It ended in tears. I closed the Facebook page.

I am reading a tiny and wonderful book by a deceased Indian priest named Anthony di Mello called The Way to Love, in which the author exhorts us, in quite stark and non-fuzzy, non-coddling terms, to break our addiction to others’ love and approval. According to di Mello, this is not authentic love, but attachment, which creates a high when you are favored by said object, and a crash when the object withdraws his approval of you.  Di Mello challenges us to smash these kinds of attachments to people and things and to learn to see all things and people as they are, and as equally worthy of love.  That, to him, is true love.  Love that does not discriminate or play favorites.

Tall fucking order.  I’m taking it in.  I’ll consider what you have to say, Anthony di Mello, you dead priest, you.

Right now I’m almost too afraid to let anyone in.  I’ve never known this feeling before. The feeling that being alone is preferable to being possibly, potentially, more than likely hurt by another.

That is not me. I take risks for love. I’ve done crazy things like fly cross country for love. 

I don’t regret the experiences I had with each of these men, even though the end result was/is a whole mess o’ pain.  I don’t regret any experience or relationship I’ve had.

In writing this, I realize that I refuse to be one of those people who gives up on the possibility of love.

I’m prescribing for myself a bit of time, some rest, and some triage on my heart (once I figure out what alleyway I left it in).