My Own Private Dichotomy

Fear is not my friend. I don’t care what the bookstore’s self-help section says.

Fear is a bitch. A mean, driven bitch.

I am not a fan of fear.

I bought that book. Twice. Feel The Fear and Do It Anyways. Sometimes I do it anyways. But I always feel the fear. Ever-present, always-niggling fear.

Fortunately I know that I’m apparently invincible. Soft and mushy on the inside, but tough as nails on the out. This has worked well for me so far. And I fake it. I fake it good.

You know the great thing about staying single? You never really have to trust anyone. You don’t have to lower your guard. You don’t have to expose your soft underbelly and air your insecurities.

You should, but you don’t have to. It’s easy to stay a self-contained unit. I’ve been on lockdown for a while now.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting in the last few days, since certain choices may soon need to be faced, and it’s been weird. Really.

I haven’t just been single, I’ve been single through some pretty dramatic circumstances over the last two years. One doesn’t up and just lose almost 70 pounds on a whim, you know.

Some serious excavations of the soul need to occur for that to really happen. In a perfect world I’d have disappeared to some new place and worked on myself, but in my reality, I was broke off my ass and barely keeping myself in a home. I had to change myself from the inside out while living the same life I’d been living for much of the past decade, and on a pretty hand-to-mouth basis.

I had to find a lot of focus, I couldn’t afford support groups or trained pros to help me make my changes. Throw into that mix my rehabbing, the depression that started this whole change-thyself route, and I’ve been intensely single as a coping mechanism for a long while. I’m woefully undersexed. I’m tightly-strung in more ways than one.

It’s not really that I’m scared to make a commitment at this point in life. I’m absolutely not. I prefer a regular lover to a series of them. Sex is a pretty wild and far-reaching journey, and it can take a long, long time to exhaust all the avenues when you’re with a single lover, especially if you’re open enough to trying and exploring new things with them. Call me Steff the open explorer. So, yeah, I favour monogamy. It works for me.

But that said… I get this fear before every new stage in my life. I get it before I take chances of any kind. Am I really ready? Is it right? If it doesn’t work, what of my resilience? Am I tough enough?

I wanted to avoid answering those questions for a while longer. I’ve had to be tough for an awful lot of things for a while now, and I just wanted to coast and take life as it came.

But this is how life came, and where I find myself, so I’ll ask the questions.

I know where *I* went wrong in my last relationship. I know where I failed not only the relationship but myself. I don’t take all the blame for it, and I’m not even sure I deserve most of the blame for it. But I deserve enough of it, and that’s, well, enough.

Mostly, I’m disappointed with the needy woman I became in that relationship. I was disgusted with myself. I didn’t know then that it was the start of a deepening chemical depression, and perhaps was really the reason behind my behaviour and my obnoxious need. But I really, really hated who I became.

Because I’m not that woman. Yet I became her. And even now that scares me. How your nature can turn against you despite every ounce of you being completely Not That. I am a strong, proud, independent woman. And then I wasn’t.

Love makes fools of us all sooner or later, but the magnitude of the fool that that experience made me has resulted in this long, profound path to a new, better, stronger Not-That-Chick self.

Let’s call a spade a spade. I’m a hard-core feminist. I’ve drunk the Margaret Atwood “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” potion. I believe it, to an extent.

Yet I love men. I’m not bisexual in the least (sorry, girls). I don’t often do the “MEN” groan. I love their musty smell, their sinewy bodies. Sigh.

There are good men and there are bad men. Like everything in life. I don’t hold it against all onions when my stew’s put on hold ‘cos the Vidalia I chose had rot in the middle. I look for a better onion. Pretty simple.

I’m absolutely terrified of taking chances. I hate putting myself into positions where I’m vulnerable. I don’t like having to trust. It makes me queasy.

But I bought Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway twice now. Life’s short. A good argument for doing it anyway. And because more of the same of what I already have? It’s just more of the same. More of the good-enough, getting-by, but-never-great same.

I, for one, vote for change.

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