I started with a quarter-pill in September 2018 and bumped it up to about a half a pill during all of 2019. Dating had lost its luster, men their intrigue, my pain tolerance its infinite depths. I was beginning to feel my edges, my limits. Betraying my basic needs to feel seen, heard, and valuable was no longer the course de rigueur, it had become to feel more like the affront to my soul that it was. Then Covid struck the world and rocked my little chaotic, hurting life – and it was the biggest, fattest, juiciest red pill I’ve ever swallowed in my life.
It was also delicious.
I am free of injuries on insults, free of ignoring my inner voice, free of obligation. I have stepped into a sense of myself I have longed for for decades. Interactions with my ex-husband are opportunities to stand in my own righteous strength, my boundaries with my mother are better drawn, my equation related to the world and my energy crystal clear: nothing and no one is greater or more important than my own well-being. Not even my own inertia to destroy myself.
I haven’t been writing because this space originated out of a need to explore and devour and tell the world about it. I’m on the other side of all that consumption and am feeling contemplative and supremely private. I also haven’t been fucking around all that much, so what’s to tell? How every day is like Groundhog’s Day? Work, animals, child, parents. Repeat repeat repeat motherfucking repeat.
I guess I could have been writing about my dating app experiences. I’ve had a handful of little dalliances in my pocket. They’d burn bright with dicks and tits being slung across the ether at break neck speeds then the realities of Covid and comfort levels would crash into us and we’d limp away into the dark corners of our phones never to speak again.
The last time I wrote I was hopeful I was curating something fun and light. I put far too much faith into one so ridiculously young, but oh! how I wanted to believe in the bravado of this young 22 yo man! It puttered out as pitifully as you might imagine. Then there was the 30 yo lawyer whose drinking could have drowned a fish. His open and affectionate manner reminded me of The Golfer in some ways and our texting and sexting was delightful for 6 full weeks. And then he stood me up one Saturday and I ended things on Sunday. No wiggle room, no doubts. I will never, ever continue to see anyone – man or woman – who wastes my time like that.
I entertained the idea that something had “happened to him” for about .3 seconds that Saturday evening when I realized he’d gone MIA. The only reason I waited to tie things off with him until Sunday was simply to see if he’d break the silence first.
I said my piece, he apologized, offered up an “alternative solution” (“I’d be happy to be your booty call!”) to which I politely declined. “I no longer trust you and so I won’t be taking you up on that,” I’d said blithely. I forgot to add that I thought we were booty calls, but by the time I’d realized my omission I’d already lost any sense of giving a shit.
Today, February 1st, is the morning after my second date with a tall, fair-skinned Mexican man. He’s 28, has a graduate degree, and a fetching Spanish accent. He also grins ear to ear and bends over in tickled delight at things I say, which is probably for the best because he can’t see me looking at him wide-eyed with disbelief. Am I really that funny?? Apparently I am!
Our first date was at a coffee shop outdoors in 42º F (6º C) weather with no heat source. I sat as long as my cold butt could stand it then begged off. He’d said he’d be open to coming home with me, but sober and jaded as I was, I demurred. “I definitely want to see you again,” I told him, “but I’m not up for bringing you home tonight.” He didn’t seem bothered and when I asked if I could kiss him when he’d walked me to my car he nodded and blasted a grin at me.
Three weeks and several more failed attempts to see one another later he finally made it over to my house last night. I was observing myself more than him. A hot cup of tea cradled in my hands, minimal makeup, my knees drawn up against my breasts I sat practically guarding myself from him. He sat on the middle cushion of the couch while the dog took up the third. It was cozy, familiar.
He did the grinning, bending over thing some more, told me about his family back in Mexico, his friends, his life. Gushed over how genuine and different I was from any other woman he’d ever dated. I was flattered, but also searching for that connection I had felt at the end of our chilly date. I sensed tendrils of it, but we had been shitty texters in between these two dates. The water between us felt so cold, insurmountably so.
He was closing in on me, shrinking the distance from me to him. I smelled the woodsy scents of his cologne, could hear the crinkle of his leather jacket. “I’m so glad you’re here tonight,” I said looking directly into his beautiful inky brown eyes, “but I feel like some of our connection has been lost these past few weeks because we’ve hardly talked and so I’m not looking to have sex with you tonight.”
He didn’t miss a beat. “That’s totally ok with me. I just really wanted to see you and hang out.”
We talked some more about our desire for a stronger connection and committed to keeping the water warmer between visits with one another.
Eventually, three hours after he arrived all tall, dark and handsome, he said he needed to leave. It was 10:30 on a school night for the both of us after all. I walked him to the door and tilted my face to his and closed the gap between us, careful to press my heavy and untouched breasts into the bottom of his rib cage.
Our hands slowly explored one another. One of his cold hands cupped the side of my neck behind my ear. The other slipped beneath my t-shirt. I tried not to move away from its iciness. I sneaked one beneath his jacket and the other ran through the short hair behind his ear. His lips soft and pliant opened against mine and we melted into one another, a tall dark moon against a short bright sun.
The dog barked at us and we chuckled into each other’s mouths. It was time for him to go.
Later, as I got ready for bed, I felt so incredibly happy. And safe. I felt so completely safe because I had been true to myself through and through and hadn’t done one tiny thing that the whole of me wasn’t behind. The red pill I started to take 2+ years ago means so much more to me than simply seeing the Matrix for what it is. It has also been the gateway to regaining my own trust. Because if I can’t trust myself first and foremost, then how in the hell will I ever be able to trust anyone else??
For the first time in my life, I am feeling truly myself.