Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hello 2013

January is a time for resolutions. Like many Americans, I often set goals about weight, goals that are usually broken by 1PM on January 1st when I self-medicate my NYE hangover with piles of bacon. It is not a healthy cycle. So, this year, I have decided to take a different approach. My 2013 resolution is to be sexually honest. You might think that a girl who talks about her queefs does not need sexual honesty, and could actually benefit from some discretion. You are wrong.

I rarely lie, but I am not honest.

I am impulsive, passive, and analytic. If you push my head down to your cock I will probably say something about potato chips (impulsive), give you a blowjob (passive), and then, somewhere between 2 minutes or 2 years after the event, I will overthink why I said something about potato chips rather then telling you I was sincerely uncomfortable with having my head forcibly shoved towards your dick. Problem is, once a certain amount of time has passed, it isn’t socially acceptable for me to tell you these feelings. I’m not supposed to call six years later and say, “Remember that night after we went dancing and I didn’t want to have sex? I didn’t like how you took that opportunity to do the push-the-head-to-get-head move.”  As a result, the regretful words and acts of past hookups are silenced.

Until now. 

This post is a conscious-clearing trip down memory lane. It’s an opportunity for me to say the things I wish I had said and explain the things I wish I had done. The idea is that, by reevaluating, reliving, and reexamining the ghosts of hookups past, I’ll be able to be more honest in the future. Who decided that sexual communication has an expiration date anyway?

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Summer of 2004:
Dear Preppy Boy,

You asked if I wanted dessert. I was 14. In my mind, dessert meant dessert. You were 17 and had another definition for dessert. You brought me to the sauna. I said I didn’t want to take a sauna and that I should probably go home. You told me to “just relax” as you slid my hand down your pants.

This was the first time I touched a penis. I remember thinking how bizarre it felt, like a malformed cactus—all squishy and wrinkled, with waxy pubic hair bunched at the base. The texture of pubic hair always surprises me. I wish I had pulled my hand out of your pants and told you that I was not relaxed. I was anxious and confused and afraid that I was going to break your cactus (it seemed fragile). All I wanted was key lime pie. You had promised me key lime pie.

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Fall 2004:
Dear Drunk Girl (Who Probably Doesn’t Remember Me),

You told me I was hot at the foot of a staircase. You were cool and old and hip and loud and fierce and went on to be a model. You were also a woman. My budding sexuality could not handle the confusion of being attracted to a woman. Being gay was my sister’s thing. In my mind, kissing you would mean that I was gay, which would mean that I would never have kids, which would mean my parents would never have grandkids, which would mean my parents would disown me, which would mean I would live on the streets. None of this is true, but it’s a slippery slope in the mind of a hormonal teen. Looking back, I should’ve kissed you—if only for the story.

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Spring of 2005:
Dear Whimsical #1,

You were the first in a series of your “type”. You were also probably the first person who I really liked. The crush kind of like. I don’t blame you for many things nor do I regret a lot of our interactions. We were fairly innocent. Only kisses and booby squeezes.  

But there was one event that should’ve gone differently. We were driving home from a concert in Rhode Island. You were in the bitch seat, squeezed between my best friend and I. We both had feelings for you. Everyone knew this and, unless you were deaf, blind, and lived under a rock, you knew this too. Your solution to this problem was to hold both of our hands. And not in a platonic way. It was that tickling, finger-stroking stuff that high school students do to avoid hand sweat—a true “hand” job. I played along, realizing what was happening but not having the courage to tell the senior boy with the swooping hair and the guitar that his behavior was dickish. I should’ve let go of your hand and moved on. There were other swooping hair guitarists in the sea.

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Spring of 2007:
Dear V-Card Recipient, 

The list of things I want to say to you is long---so long that I don’t know where to start. So I guess I’ll begin with the beginning.

I hated you when I was four-years-old. My birthday is in September. Yours is in October. Parents and teachers never know where autumn babies belong. It’s the age-cut-off limbo. You got pushed ahead a grade and they kept me back. It’s not your fault, but I still irrationally blame you for beating me in the ABC’s or counting to ten or Legos or whatever other way our elementary school measured the intelligence of preschoolers.

Skip thirteen years.

Your dick was the first dick to venture in my mouth. (I also told you that you were my first handjob, but that wasn’t true. I told everyone they were my first handjob because I wanted an excuse if it was bad, which I knew it was going to be because handjobs are incredibly difficult. It took five handjobs for me to finally admit that I had touched a dick before.) We parked your car in front of your Rabbi’s house. I’m not quite sure why we chose that location. Mid-blow-job “Do You Come From A Land Down Under” played from your I-Pod shuffle. It was perfect timing.

You came.

And then you told me that you wouldn’t go down on me until I shaved my pubic hair. All of my pubic hair. This is a good place to point out that I come from a naked hippie family where women don’t shave their legs. I sincerely did not know pussy shaving was a common practice. You said that going down on someone with pubic hair was gross, which seemed hypocritical because a few seconds earlier I had your hairy genitals in my face.

But I shut-up, bought a razor, and shaved my pubes. The next night you went down on my itchy, raw, razor-burned vag.

We also had sex that night. Whatever.

A few days later we had sex for the second time. Again, the sex itself was unremarkable. This was no fault of yours. I actually bet you were doing things quite well. You were experienced. Your penis had been places. I was convinced that my inexperienced vagina would mess-up. Turns out, the thing I did wrong was not the sex itself, but the stopping of the sex. You see, after a bit of time I got tired. Your erection lasted impressively long for a high school senior. I rolled over, lay on my back, and thought that I could be done with having sex for the afternoon.

And you laughed at me. You told me sex ends when a guy cums, that everyone knows that. You said you would tell your friends how silly I was to have stopped having sex. I was mortified. I begged you not to tell anyone. And you kept laughing. You laughed while putting on your clothes and while walking me home. When we got to my house you kept walking. “Where are you going?” I asked, confused why he was heading towards the store at the end of my street. “I’m going to go finish myself off because you won’t.”

I. Could’ve. Died.

Fuck you. Fuck you for making me feel like the male orgasm is the reason for having sex. Fuck you for my razor burned vagina. Fuck you for making me feel dumb. Fuck you for teaching me not to care about my own pleasure. Fuck you for the times that I still doubt my own sexuality when I can’t make my partner cum. Fuck you for your chauvinistic definition of sex.

Moreover, fuck society for teaching you this chauvinistic definition. You are not a bad person. You didn’t invent this belief. You were young. You listened. Fuck that. Just fuck all of it.

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Winter of 2008:
Dear Whimsical #2,

Like the first of your breed, you had the guitar and the poetry and the swooping hair. You were also 22, which seemed like the coolest thing in the world to my 18-year-old self. You had been in relationships, lived on your own, collected tarantulas—all the things I imagined grown-ups did.

But you would not get tested. I even booked you the appointment and you missed it. It was important to me that you get tested. Nevertheless, you said you were clean and wanted to have sex without condoms. I smiled. I got an IUD.  And we began boning without condoms.

Unprotected sex in a non-monogamous relationship is not smart. Unprotected sex in a non-monogamous relationship when you are a severe hypochondriac is straight-up idiotic. I didn’t get any actual diseases. However, over the 8 month period that we were fucking I convinced myself that I had herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, and, during one especially stressful week, a new, sexually transmittable strain of the bubonic plague.

Insisting that you get tested would have saved me (and my parents, gynecologist, and therapist) a lot of time and energy.

Or, I could have just decided to stop filling my orifices with your untested penis.

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Fall of 2009:
Dear Whimsical #3,

You are the first person I ever loved. More importantly, you are the first partner who ever made me feel loved. You gave me mutual love. Then we broke up. There was a lot of yelling (done by me) and tears (also done by me) and attempts at communication (me again). But I never told you in our post-relationship existence how thankful I am for our relationship, how thankful I am for you. You will always be special.

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Summer 2012:
Dear Strumpet,

We were holding hands. We were drunk. We kissed. Then you said you had a girlfriend who was conveniently located 20 feet away. This is a good moment to point out that I had just ended a serious relationship and was in need for some good, no-strings attached boning, if only to boost my self-esteem and forget what it was like to “make love”.  

So, upon learning that you had a girlfriend, I said “Strumpet!” Then I went home.

The next morning you confronted me about our encounter (10 points for trying to communicate…negative 5 points for doing it before I had coffee). You told me I wasn’t a strumpet. I shrugged. I hadn’t been referring to myself, I was referring to you. I had never questioned my strumpet-tude. I did nothing strumpet-like, as I was completely unaware of your relationship status prior to the kiss. And yet, you assumed that I was using the word to describe myself, which, in a moment of insecurity, made me question whether I was, in fact, the strumpet. Webster tells us that a strumpet is a woman. But here I am, 4 months later, breaking the gender binary and relinquishing my strumpet-teering hat. That night, you were the strumpet. Not me.

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These are the thoughts that have been cooped up in my brain/heart/loins for longer than necessary. Creating this list was an incredibly therapeutic experience. And, like most therapeutic experiences, it was self-centered, disjointed, rambling, overly-emotional, and altogether necessary. Apologies to those of you who read this blog to giggle over fart stories. This post was lacking in farts.

Before I resume farting, I want to recommend this activity to anyone who feels like they lost their moment for communication. This can be your moment. Create your own list and, if you like, email it to me at clumsy.d.cup@gmail.com. I can be the eyes and ears of your rant. I promise to keep your words confidential unless you specifically ask for me to post your email on Sexy Awkward Times (which I will do anonymously). I am giving you these options because I personally feel that it helps to know that this list is read by someone…even if that person is a floppy-breasted stranger.





p.s.--this post was a struggle. 




Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fox(y) in Socks


I went on a date with someone who wears matching socks. And not in the sense that he only wears one style of black, Hanes socks that he buys in a bag every time he goes to Target so he can push back doing his laundry for one more week. I mean real matching socks. The kind you buy in a pair. And wash in a pair. And fold in a pair.

They were green. Green, matching socks.

These socks represent my arrival to the world of grown-up dating.

My past boyfriends/fuck buddies/one-night-stands (the sexual trifecta) were not the kind of people to wear matching socks. Come to think of it, most of them didn’t wear socks. My hookup past is painted with smelly hippies with hobbit feet and trust funds. In the rare opportunities that socks were needed, their mother’s came to the rescue. Think I’m kidding? My ex-boyfriend once complained about not having socks. I offered to pick up some up at the drugstore. “No,” he said. “That’s too weird. My mom buys me socks.” We were living together at the time--splitting rent, pooping in the same bathroom, and using sex as a sleep aid—all those things you do when you’ve been dating someone for two years. But socks? It was as though I offered him breast milk with a side of Freud.

So imagine my shock when I looked at  picked up from my bedroom floor my date’s matching socks. Grown-up bells went off in my head.  It sounded like the classical music parents listen to at dinner parties. Granted, he’s 29, has gone to grad school, and holds a steady job that offers dental insurance (Dental insurance! The luxury!) But those are just logistics.  The socks are what make him a grown-up. 

I first began realizing I was on the road to grown-up dating when my mom called. A friend of hers has in a son in law school in NY that she thinks I should reach out to. “Most of his friends are ‘hooked’ (my poor mother tries so hard to understand 21st century lingo, thinking that ‘hooked up’ can be rephrased as ‘hooked’), but you should contact him. Maybe there is someone.” My parents are setting me up. This shit is real.  

I don’t come across as a grown-up (or particularly sane) on first dates. Truth is, most people aren’t grown-ups or sane, but they can hide it behind their career path, interests, and a secure mask of stability. I am currently a full-time nanny. This means that on a date, I will talk about babies. Baby yoga, baby food, baby noises—I am baby obsessed. I will shove my phone in your face and insist you watch videos of her crawling.

“What else do you do?” these gentlemen ask, eager to steer the conversation away from ovaries. Enter feminism, sex, and porn. You may think that these things would interest a young man. They like porn. I like porn. It’s a shared interest. However, listening to a girl blab about the socio-political nature of the cum-shot isn’t exactly pillow talk. Most of the time it scares them into thinking I am a porn star with a sex addiction problem and a closet full of whips, none of which is true (as of yet).

The weird thing is, I actually enjoy the company of the sock-wearing type.  It’s a pleasant change. Their adult demeanor balances out my quirkiness. Best of all, folks who wear matching socks pay for drinks—drinks that aren’t PBRs with money that isn’t kept in a duct tape wallet.

But I order PBR. And I keep my money in a wallet held together by duct tape. And I don’t think I will ever wear matching socks. I worry that my naked, carefree feet will leave them running for some preppy lass who doesn’t own period underwear. 

Side Note: Period underwear are giant, stained, diaper-esque panties. The weak elastic allows you to bloat like a menstrual balloon while simultaneously wearing a pad that doubles as a floatation device. Girls who don’t own period underwear are stupid. They make me feel like I’m a failure at menstruating, which means I’m a failure at life because my period never seems to end (looks begrudgingly down at my faucet-of-a-vagina).

So what am I to do? Should I compromise my own sockless feet and comfortable underwear in order to snag an “adult”? Or can I keep letting my freak flag fly, hoping that someday a socked man is going to fall in love with my mismatched, dirty feet?

I’m going to go with the latter. Cinderella’s glass slipper never would have fit if she were wearing socks.  



Friday, November 16, 2012

It Isn’t “Hell Yes Cupid” For a Reason


My friend recently described OkCupid as "tamagotchi with humans."

She is brilliant.

For all you folks who lived through the late nineties in a cave and/or were homeschooled, allow me to enlighten you. Tamagotchi were cheap, egg-shaped virtual pets designed to teach tweens that everything they cared for would suffocate in a pile of their own feces. The amount of time or energy spent crouched over your plastic egg did not change this inevitable conclusion. So you did what you could. You entertained yourself by pressing buttons, telling yourself that this time would be different. There would be no flood of digitalized shit. You would keep it alive forever and prove to your parents that you were responsible enough to get a pet monkey. But eventually, the shit came. It always did.

I treat my OkCupid account like I treated my tamagotchi. It’s simple amusement. I flirt over messenger and feel flattered when I get an e-mail saying that someone ranked me with 4 or 5 stars (Stars! Oh boy!), but deep down none of it seems real. I am always waiting for the pile of shit.

I’ve been on a couple of OkCupid dates. Each was preceded by extensive witty banter and a thorough analysis of their profiles. Do they seem funny? Smart? Attractive? What are their thoughts on women who don’t shave their legs? The people I choose must pass my Internet test. 

The routine on these dates is the same—I skip eagerly to the bar where we agreed to meet, calling my mom along the way. I arrive five minutes late. I see my date. We have an uncomfortable initial physical interaction that is some jumble of hug and a handshake (what the hell is the protocol in this situation?). And, within five minutes, I have been reminded of the harsh reality of online dating—virtual love is a different species than in-person love.  

That is not to say that these two standards of attraction do not share some central components. They both require patience, compassion, and a basic understanding of human emotions. But, just like how the success of my tamagotchi could not predict my ability to care for a monkey, falling for someone over OkCupid messages is not a good predictor of my feelings in the bright, un-computerized light of reality. The reason—the online person does not exist.. They are an imaginary Adonis that I have constructed from profile shots and quippy prose. The human I meet on the date does not stand a chance against this Internet God. 


Nobody’s profile says the shit. There isn’t a space to list your baggage or faults. Even the “most private thing I’m willing to admit” section is often devoted to some backhanded, self-aggrandizing compliment. So all of the shit is left to the date, when it comes pouring down in a sea of oh-my-god-you-look-different-than-your-pictures (!?) and you-like-cats-more-than-dogs (?!). It’s a tamagotchi style shitstorm of deal breakers…only this time, it isn’t digital.

But I’m learning how to read through the sell-yourself profiles and recognize the trends of douchwadery. Here, my friends, are the five douches you will meet in OkCupid.
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The Shirtless Douche—He is the archetypal douche. Probably a lacrosse star in high school and a frat boy in college, this douche is looking for someone to play trophy wife work functions and Dave Matthew’s concerts. Or someone to fuck. The initial message will say something like “lol” or “brb.” Unlike his hipster brethren, these phrases will be said without a trace of irony.

The 40-Year-Old Douche—I have nothing against dating older men, but I draw my limit at 40. If you were a legal adult by the year I was born, then you are too old for me. And what would we do? Talk about cassette tapes and life during the Cold War?

The I-Live-In-Bushwick-And-Write-Poetry-About-Playing-My-Mandolin-While-Riding-A-Bike Douche (AKA the hipster douche)—It doesn’t have to be Bushwick or poetry or mandolins or bikes. Maybe it’s art made from stray cat hairs and a ukulele. Or an obsession with uneaten corn kernels. Or a skateboard designed for a baby koala. Any way the vegan, roof-top garden cookie crumbles, the hipster douche screams pretention. I don’t want pretention.

The Actor Douche—This douche studied theater in college and prides himself on the commercial he did for ranch dressing five years ago. On a first date he will take you to his friends mediocre play or an open-mic night at a comedy club, where he may or may not be performing. It will be uncomfortable. Also, don’t be fooled by the high-quality profile pic. He is not always standing in a doorway with gelled hair and a semi-creepy grin—it’s a headshot. 

The Perfect Douche—He is the douchiest of douche. Why? He never responds. This douche seems smart and beautiful and funny and, after visiting his profile a zillion times, you finally get the courage to send him a message. Hypothetically, the message looks something like this and is sent during an apocalyptic storm:

“how are you hibernating?

i needed to say something about ms (or mrs? dr? madam?) sandy. it's an easy conversation starter.

but actually. hello! this is a bizarre day. i nacho-ed all my snack food, meaning that i melted cheese on everything. now i have no more cheese. and no more snack food. i'm telling you all this because i'm going a bit stir crazy and really, why not share cheese techniques? the news should be talking more about cheese. what's your favorite thing to melt cheese on? and what kind of cheese?”

Remember—Totally. Hypothetical.


Despite all this, I’m sticking with Cupid. I’m doing what I can. I’m entertaining myself by pressing buttons, telling myself that this time will be different. There will be no flood of shit. I will keep my love alive forever and prove to my parents that they will one day have grandkids. You can only hope…tamagotchi style.



P.S.—I coincidentally just got this text from a friend: “Omg I am at a concert at ________ ________ literally sitting NEXT to a guy I dated for a little while from OkCupid. We are also both with our dads.” Wow. Just wow.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Aint Nuthin' But A G Thang


I am not scientific. I still think of my IUD as a little person whom, upon being inserted into my "bagel" (cervix) using "tongs" (a speculum), stops pregnancy by knocking away sperm with plastic arms. Or a contraceptive crucifix. Both explanations are rooted in an overactive imagination rather than fact.

Therefore, my attempt to integrate an anatomical understanding of the vagina into this post is a stretch. Bare with me.

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This weekend, it happened. The flood. I've had ponds and pools before, most of the time gathered in the moist bellybutton of my partner. But this was something new. An eruption. A vaginal geyser. My first flood.

Obviously, "flood" isn't the correct term for the gushing of vaginal fluids. Folks today like to call it female ejaculation. The exact make up of female ejaculation is heavily debated. Up until the late 20th century, it was assumed to be some combination of urine and/or vaginal discharge. Then came the  "discovery" of the G-Spot (or Grafenberg spot). Although the exact location of the G-Spot has yet to be scientifically determined, the general consensus is that it is a bean-shaped bundle of spongy tissue, about 2-4 centimeters in length, which runs along the anterior vaginal wall. It is widely believed that the G-spot is where ejaculate is produced and expelled, a process that has given it the alternative title as the “female prostate”.

I knew all of this information prior to my own "flood". Hell, I have been trying to ejaculate for years. Cumming always seemed like a cool party trick—the grown-up equivalent to burping the ABC’s. There have been fingers, toys, cocks, and a variety of lubes, all utilized with the purpose of achieving G-Spot stimulation and female ejaculation. But the ejaculation never came. So imagine my disbelief when the floodgates broke this past weekend. I was terrified. I became convinced that something was wrong, or that I had peed, or that I had peed because something was wrong, or something was wrong so I peed to flush it out my system. All roads led to disease and urine. It is not a scenic route. 

In my defense, excess fluid can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or bacterial vaginosis (the latter is a regular, uninvited guest at my vag party). However, in all these cases, the fluid is often smelly and accompanied by itchiness. Female ejaculation doesn't itch and is considered to have a rather sweet aroma.

To calm my hypochondrical fears, I did what most 23-year-olds do following a bizarre sexual situation--I called my mom. She doesn't enjoy these phone calls. But, as I aptly pointed out, she's a doctor who deals with vagina's on a daily basis. What's one extra? Plus, I literally emerged from her genitals--face, feet, fists--my entire 8lb 7oz self was, at one point, inside of her vagina. The least she can do is listen to me talk about mine. She obliged. "It soaked through...right to the egg crate," I explained. Silence. "What does 'eggcrate' mean"? Poor lady thought egg crate was some hip, new sexual position, like tea-bagging or spread eagle. Once we got over the terminology hump, she calmed my fears: "When women get excited they sometimes ejaculate." There it was. I had read that information online and in books, heard it from friends and sex educators, and yet I only actually understood when it came from my mother. Funny how advice can depend upon the speaker.

There was something my mom couldn't fix--the embarrassment. It takes a lot for me to get embarrassed. But this was a lot of fluid. Plus, it was my first bone-sesh with this particular partner. Why my body chose to test out the flotation ability of the human penis with a new partner will always be a mystery. He was reassuring while he removed his vagina-covered sheets from the bed. Luckily, he has read this blog (ha!) so he was aware that sheet-changing wasn't usually involved in my sexual repertoire

Nonetheless, I was mortified. So I did what any normal person would do—I put my bra on his face like a bug. In my brain, brugging him was a good way to even-out the sexy-awkward playing fields. I'm realizing now that insisting he put my bra on his face is more embarrassing for me than for him.

I left a couple hours later, half-giggling, half-frowning, and 100% beet-red.

It's been five days since the incident. Embarrassment has slowly evolved into satisfaction. I had an incredible orgasm. I don't know how or why or what or where (good thing I know who), but it was an experience. Unlike my clitoral orgasms, this felt like a release. It was as though my vagina sighed while sinking into a bubble bath with unexpected jets. Relaxation. Stimulation. Joy.

In my opinion, it was well worth the mess. But next time I’m feeling juicy, I'll bring a towel. Just in case.




P.S. For more information, check out Tristan Taormino's The Secrets of Great G Spot Orgasms and Female Ejaculation

Saturday, October 13, 2012

After a rather sexy awkward time, I am on a mission to understand my own fluids. Expect more on the matter once the sex nerd gets sleep and time to process the embarrassment of a giant wet stain.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Guest Poster!


Sexy Awkward Times has a guest poster. For the sake of anonymity, let's call this mystery person the Clumsy C-Cup (or at least I think C-Cup. I have touched these breasts a number of time and feel pretty confident about the sizing abilities of my hands).

Last night, I sat at the kitchen table with my roommate, attempting to find words for the way I felt about the recent end of a romantic relationship.  I tried so many ways of expressing it – “I think I’m feeling the loss of a physical-emotional connection…”  “I’m feeling vulnerable because I let myself get close…”  “I’m feeling the loss of my idea of a future with him…”  Although all of these things were true, it eventually became clear that at the crux of it, I was heartbroken.  I fell in love with someone who didn’t want to be with me, and it hurt.  It didn’t matter that I knew that, like he said, we wouldn’t work out as a couple.  It didn’t matter that logic and reason made me feel sure that ending the romantic part of our relationship was the right thing to do.  It didn’t even matter that he is actually a genuinely wonderful guy who wants to be friends with me when I’m ready.  Love doesn't care about logic.  Love happens regardless of the least feasible circumstances.  Love can open parts of you that you spent years learning to shut down.  And for all of those reasons, love hurts.

Loving is not new to me.  I’ve been in love in so many ways, from deeply involved relationships, to fleeting wisps of non-attached love, to falling in love with moments.  I have felt all of this.  There have been times at which I thought that, lacking the capacity to contain any more emotion, I might burst open, spilling excess love out onto the sidewalk and unsuspecting passers-by.

In the past few years, I've become a pro at picking myself up when things don't work out.  Years ago, I used to take things really personally - I spent a lot of time feeling like a victim.  A few key experiences shifted me out of that mode (that's another post altogether... patience!).  Now, I can learn something from everything, I can see how even the most painful experiences have benefited me, and I can let go without attachment, look ahead, and move forward.  This is a strength of mine.  I have become resilient, for sure.  But some of that resilience has come from shutting down - choosing not to feel in order to make it easier to move on.  That's not good or bad, it was just an adaptive response, but I don't think it's necessary for me any more.  What’s next for me, and what’s happening now, is to stay resilient, while learning to soften around the edges and give myself a little more space to feel before moving on.  Often this isn’t even about time.  It’s about allowing, rather than pushing.  It's about letting yourself just be where be where you're at - because when you do that, the shift out of that feeling is so much quicker and more natural than when you try to push through a tough time without feeling bad.

To clarify, by “feeling what you feel,” I don't mean wallowing, or losing touch with reality, or lying on the couch for a week with unwashed hair eating only chips and ice cream.  Genuinely feeling what you feel can happen in a day, an hour, or a moment, depending on how fully you can welcome whatever emotion needs to move through. 

Yesterday I cried on and off for the whole train-ride home from school.  It wasn’t particularly conspicuous, but as I wrote an email that I knew I would not send to this man who had broken my heart, I felt, over and over, the gravity of what I had lost.  I sat on the train, iPhone in hand, email half-written, and the sadness welled up again and again, starting with a tightness in my chest, my throat, a quivering lower lip, and finally, quiet tears.  I was undoubtedly open and vulnerable, but I wasn't struggling against it.  I could have sniffled, stuffed it all down, and thought about something else.  But when I squash my emotions, they just leak out in weird ways later.  More importantly, emotion-squashing is another way of saying, “the way you feel now is not OK”.  It sends the message that our feelings and, by extension, ourselves, are not acceptable.  And any time we tell ourselves that we're not OK, we do more damage that just feeling sad could ever do.  To me, letting myself feel is all about doing the opposite – communicating to myself, through action, “This emotion is OK. You are OK.”  And the thing is, most of the time, all I need to do to feel differently is to permit whatever emotion I am feeling in the moment to move through.  It’s the suppression of emotions that gives them strength and makes us afraid of them.  If we don't let ourselves feel pain and sorrow, we never get the validation of knowing that we can handle feeling those things, and that those feelings change.

So there I was, crying on the subway, fully feeling loss, fully feeling my heart break, and telling myself, “It’s OK, I know this really hurts right now, but this feeling will change.”  And that’s the thing - it does – it did -- I didn't feel better right away, but within minutes, I felt different.  Different is progress.  

Still feeling raw and weepy, I got off the train and walked across Flatbush to a nearby cafĂ©.  I ordered a beet salad and sat down to finish the email I had been writing.  Already I had shifted enough to a different emotional space that I felt like some parts of the email were no longer necessary.  A man around my age sat down across from me with a veggie burger and sweet potato fries, which I eyed as secretly as possible.  A few minutes later, he offered me a fry, and we ended up talking and laughing for the next hour.  He walked me to my bike and asked me if I’d like to hang out sometime.  I have no idea if anything will come of that interaction, but really, it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that I had enough emotional space to let someone make me smile, and to feel something other than sadness.  Welcoming and respecting my deepest, most painful emotions made it possible for change to happen. Feeling heartbroken helped me begin mending my heart.  That's the takeaway here - it's so tempting to shut down, especially when it has served us in the past.  But when we make a different choice -- when we choose to let feeling in, it hurts at first, but it also lets us stay open to connection. And when we connect with others, we can feel love again, if only in the smallest ways.

So this post is not so much about anything sexy, or anything awkward, except that it can feel pretty awkward to have a broken heart in front of the person who broke it. This post is about letting your heart get broken, and being open to feeling it break. Because your heart can only get broken when you take it out from behind its shield, let it swell with love, and hell, maybe even let someone else hold it for a little while.  And yeah, maybe they'll drop it (even though they probably didn't mean to), and maybe they'll give it back, but that doesn't mean that it didn’t love being held.  Every time you go through that process of loving fully without expectation or attachment-- of letting your heart feel what it needs to feel, even if that feeling is deep sadness, you become more and more sure that feelings come and feelings move, and you become more able to feel without holding back for fear of hurting.  Because you know you can do that too, and that it'll change.  And that's the first step towards freedom.

So, back to the dinner table with my roommate.  As I told her about what happened, I felt my heart crack open again.  But it wasn’t the same as the first time.  I felt a little stronger, a little less raw, and laughter came more easily.  I said (and truly felt), “I’m so sad, but it feels OK.”  And it is.  Today, I woke up, brushed my teeth, took the dog out, went to a sing-a-long with a friend who’s nannying for a baby, and had a meeting about an exciting new prospect.  I’m still sad, but the sadness feels so much farther away.  I feel lighter, less attached to what I had, and more ready for what’s next.  The connections I’m making today feel clearer, fuller, more joyful.  I can tell that I’m growing.  And in this life, that’s the best I could hope for.

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