Posted by: Marie | November 18, 2014

(960) The dance of intimacy – Part 3 of 5

Post #960
[Private journal entry written on Friday, September 14, 2012 about a therapy session – continued from previous post]


(Edward waited patiently as I thought my thoughts . . . then he checked in with me . . . )

Edward: Where did you just go?

Me: I was processing what you just said . . . that you are disappointed in George’s response . . .

Your being disappointed validates my disappointment. It makes it “okay” for me to feel that way.

Edward: It is very “okay” for you to feel that way. Your disappointment is very valid . . . and appropriate.


Photo by Martin Chen

Me: (Nodding my head) I’m beginning to understand that . . .

(Thoughtful pause)

Edward: How are you feeling about that validation?

Me: It feels good to me.

Edward: Is there anything more you need for me to say or do to support you in the process of embracing that validation?

Me: No . . . I’m still processing it, and I don’t need anything further from you right now around it . . .

Edward: Okay . . .

Me: Would it be okay if we moved to the next topic on my sticky note?

Edward: Sure!

Me: I wanted to give you an update on the CASA stuff . . .

Edward: Oh, good! I was wondering about that!

Me: So . . . each year in July, I set up my teaching schedule for the upcoming school year. In order to arrange my schedule around the CASA training next fall, I’ll need to know whether I’ve been accepted into the training program no later than July 1st. The CASA volunteer coordinator told me that I would need to turn my application in by May 1st so they have time to process it by July 1st. So, that’s the plan.

Edward: Are they going to be able to create an alternative training schedule for you?

Me: No . . . they are still saying there is no wiggle room in the schedule. I’ll just have to take a hit to my income for those three weeks. It’s okay . . . I’ll find a way to make it work. The volunteering won’t impact my teaching schedule, just the training. It will be a one-time deal and then the volunteer schedule will work well for me. I can live with that.

Edward: It seems they could meet you partway, at least . . .

Me: They say not . . . but, it’s okay, I’ll figure out how to make it work.

I know that there will be some challenges around being a CASA . . . not just the time demands, but also dealing with what I will be witness to as I work with the kids. I’m sure it will be triggering for me, maybe even traumatic for me.

So, in order to be prepared for that, there are some things I want to have in place by the time I turn in my application on May 1st . . . some self-care practices and some additional structure in my business . . .

I’ll need to save up some money so I can withstand the loss of revenue next fall . . . I’d like to have $1,000 saved up by then. That means I need to have $500 of it saved up by May 1st. If I don’t have that much saved up by May 1st, then that will be a cause for concern about my ability to be ready to start the training program in the fall.

I also need to have some things like exercising regularly, eating well on a regular basis . . . healthy coping strategies in place that I use as a replacement for the binge eating I do now . . . those things need to be in place – really integrated in my daily life – by the time May 1st rolls around. I don’t think it would be wise to think I’m going to magically put those practices in place once I start the training . . . I feel they need to be in place by May 1st, otherwise it may be wise for me to delay submitting my application until they are in place.

And, there are some things I need to accomplish in my business before I start the training . . . I need to streamline my business and teaching processes as much as possible, and there are some piano techniques I need to develop some more in myself before I start volunteering . . . I don’t think I’ll have as much time and energy to dedicate to my professional development after I become a CASA, so I need to get a lot of it done before then.

Edward: It sounds like you plan to be very busy between now and May 1st . . .

Me: Yeah . . .


I noticed that Edward’s response was rather noncommittal. Sometimes his feedback will indicate that he fully supports what I’m planning. Other times he’ll express concern. But, this time, he did neither.

That causes me to wonder if he thinks I’m being unrealistically ambitious with my plans. Or, maybe he is taking a “wait and see” attitude . . . maybe he is thinking he’ll be available to support me in whatever way it turns out I need to be supported. I’m not sure what he is thinking . . .


Me: I’ve already starting taking some of these steps . . .

I know I’ve told you about how I’ve gotten triggered when I’ve tried to implement healthy habits in the past . . .

(Edward nodded)

Me: Well, I’m finding that I’m not getting triggered this time around. I think it is because, before, I was always trying to improve myself so I would be “attractive enough” to be able to date . . . you know, to have a fair shot at actually getting asked out on a date.

This time around, I’m doing it so that I can be in a better position with my physical and mental health as I take on additional challenges and stresses. I’m not doing it in order to become a “better” and more lovable person, I’m doing it for myself, for my own health and comfort. Having a more grounded motivation seems to remove the triggers. So, I’m having an easier time with making some lifestyle changes this time around.

Edward: Tell me more about what is triggering for you when you attempt to implement healthier habits for the sake of becoming more suitable for dating . . .

Me: I believe that, in order to attract a man, I have to be nearly perfect . . . I have to be an ideal weight and I have to be in great physical shape . . . my appearance has to be “pulled together” and polished anytime I’m in public . . . and part of being “polished” would likely involve wearing at least some make-up . . . I hate wearing make-up . . . it feels so fake to me* . . . I’ve pretty much decided that I will never wear make-up again . . . well, other than what is needed to cover up my acne . . .

*(Editorial note: If I were a guy, I’d probably refuse to wear ties for the same reason . . . I’m just saying . . . )

Of course, in order to date, I’d have to get my skin care routine perfected. And, I’d have to have the binge eating and the skin picking under control . . . and it would be a waste of time to enter the dating scene until I have all of that “fixed” . . . and I had better have it all so much under control that there is no danger I’d slide back into my old habits after I started dating someone . . . because then the guy I’d be dating would no longer be attracted to me and would bail . . .

I get triggered because I know I’ll never be able to live up to that standard . . . and yet I ache so much to be in a relationship that I’m willing to keep trying . . . I know I will never be able to live up to it . . . but I keep trying because the only other option is to give up on dating all together . . . which is where I’m at with it right now, anyway . . .

But, with CASA, there is room for me to be imperfect. The kids I’m working with won’t care how heavy I am and they won’t care if I have a zit on my face . . . the judge I’m reporting to won’t care if I binged on ice cream the night before . . . I’ll still be accepted as I am. So, any improvements I make to how I care for myself is only for my own good . . . to improve my own quality of life. I can still be effective at being a CASA even when my practices falter, and the kids will still want me in their lives. There will be room for me to be imperfect.

Edward: Do you think that you really have to be so “perfect” in order to find a romantic partner?

Me: It seems that many people find really awesome partners despite being anywhere near perfect . . . but, in my experience, men are only interested in women who are sexy . . . as in skinny, well-dressed, well-groomed . . . they only want to date women who are really attractive. As long as I’m overweight, I’m invisible to men.

So, while I logically know my belief is not so realistic, it seems to be realistic in my situation.


[Continued in the next post . . . ]



  1. This reminded me of something that’s been on my mind lately, which is that the particular group of people I hang out with are a fabulous refutation of everything society tries to feed us…almost all of the “beautiful” people I know are lonely and single, and all of the happily partnered people are “imperfect” (by the ludicrous standard we’re taught to admire)…which makes me think it’s true that confidence is attractive in ways that we don’t even understand, and which are impossible to understand when we’re working through that place of feeling as if our imperfections are insurmountable…to some extent, if one tries hard enough and/or has thousands of dollars to spend on cosmetic surgery, conventional beauty or something like it can be “faked,” but confidence can’t be…not really…which makes it in some ways even a more frustrating standard to be held to than beauty.

    I’ve noticed that in the year and a half since I’ve been completely single (after The Curious Affair of the Schizophrenic Drug Addict came to its strange end), and particularly in the past six months or so, I am increasingly attractive to other men–which I take as a compliment; gay men are damned difficult to impress. As far as I can tell, the only thing that’s changed about me is that I am now more indifferent than I’ve ever been to whether anyone notices me…which has oddly resulted in my being more visible. I spent most of my life impeccably dressed, impeccably groomed, and totally invisible, and very conscious of my invisibility; these days I can leave home looking like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backward, but happy about whatever is going on in my day, and someone will hit on me. Whatever rule is at work here, it’s hilarious and ironic and frustrating–and it’s as impossible to explain as it is to capitalize on…because when you care, you care; and when you don’t, you don’t…and there’s no shortcut from self-conscious to confident.

    For nearly ten years now, I’ve attended my friend Elissa’s annual Halloween party, and after this last one, we had lunch together, and she remarked,”You know, David, you’re one of the few people I know who has genuinely, really changed in the time I’ve known you. When you first started coming to my parties, you were so uncomfortable and withdrawn. And now you are so charming and at ease.”

    To which I replied: “That’s odd, because last week at your party I did what I’ve done at all of your parties: I showed up late, made five minutes of small talk with a couple of people I knew, got a drink, sat on the couch for an hour and watched the kids, and played with your cat for a little while. That’s what I always do.”

    “You’re completely different,” she insisted. And I’m not saying she’s wrong…but it’s odd how tangible those intangibles are, when one is defining perfection.

    • I’m so glad you wrote this . . . it gives me some hope . . .
      I’ve noticed that when I chase what I want the most, it alludes me. When I stop chasing and just let it be, there is a better chance it will come to me at the perfect time and in the perfect manner.

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