Deliberately looking for love

I came back from China, in broken pieces scattered on a serpentine path and without the slightest idea of how and where to start reconstructing myself. I have been away for the past 10 years and I was always on a journey filled with struggles, derived from my attempts to find a purpose in life, a meaning to exist, a place to call home, a man to call my lover and a career that I would find exciting and rewarding.

Needless to say, I have not managed to find any of that and the troubles that ate at me daily, forced me to flee inumerable times from cities, countries, jobs, relationships.

The only constant in my life is that I often feel lost, lonely and without a sense of belonging. The tendency, so far, has been to fill the void with my insatiable desire to find love and a man that can love me so much it hurts. I never experienced intense love and at the same time, healthy and uplifting. The more I couldn’t have it, the more I longed for it and created a whole fantasy of love inside my head. The reason for that might be that I am an incurable romantic. Ever since I was a teenager I felt like part of my fulfillment and my happiness was a man, another human being to make me whole.

I idealized the notion of love to such an extent that I almost served myself on a silver platter to numerous men that only intended to use me. I was constantly dreaming about longing for someone, for anyone that could make me feel awe, immense admiration and absolute, fucking, intense love.

After my 5 years relationship, the loss of love, no matter how much of a routine or just a comfortable prison it had become towards the end, I returned to my beloved home country, Romania.

Instead of focusing on healing and self-development, I denied my pain, I externalized my thoughts of failing in every single domain of my life and unconsciously, I decided that I am not worth being loved and treated with respect by men.

So, guess what? During the pandemic, I went for the easiest and fastest way to meet guys or “to have a chance at love” and that happened to be Tinder.

Tinder was like looking for the needle in a haystack, looking for a decent guy that matches me,that can give me that unconditional love and care I was yearning for, and who could ,at the same time, enjoy the same things I do: reading, art, exploring off the beaten track places, mystery, deep emotions…And I was kind of aware that I would have to sort through so many people that don’t even come close to what I really wanted, but still, I kept going and I allowed myself to be disrespected, humilliated, dominated…as if I was punishing myself for being a failure, for not being good enough, for not deserving to be loved.

During the first few months of 2021, I was marked by a painful duality, the naive desire that I could find someone to treat me right and care about me on Tinder, and the burning tendency to swallow every bit of rubbish that came my way, to self-flagellate by allowing men to treat me worse than I deserved. It all happend because I was in transition and because my suffering was clogged deep inside and on the surface I was, and to be honest, I still am, numb and frozen. I am still at the self-discovery stage and how erroneous it was to think that fulfillment comes with a partner that supports you and helps you develop.

The only thing that I have learnt is that when you are deliberately and desperately searching for love, you won’t find it.

Inner peace and happiness do not depend on a romantic partner.

I am glad I got to the stage of saying no, of stopping my desperate searches and my exhausting, repetive dates.

I had all these ideas in my mind about what I want and I met guys who were just selfish and in it for their own pleasure. They were exactly the accumulation of all the things I despised. They weren’t capable of giving residues of care, respect and kindness or of even being grateful for receiving. I do not blame them because I was attracting exactly what I thought I deserved, men for whom I was never enough, because I wasn’t enough for myself.

How did the dating stories go?

I met a few guys that were decent, and kind of compatible in terms of personality and values, but I didn’t really feel physically attracted to them.

On the other side, I encountered a few handsome men, whose behaviours, arrogance, selfishness and past traumas warned of difficulties and screamed “Stay way”. Did I listen to my intuition? Did I protect myself and love myself enough to refuse everything I didn’t really need or want? No, I kept walking on the path of longing, of painful, superficial, empty and aggressive sex on floors covered in wine, cigarettes and bites.

There was “The Viking”. I went up to him in a teahouse and started a conversation. I was superficially attracted to his looks. However, once I realised he sweats too much in bed and I can’t handle that smell and that behind his image of a strong, muscular guy there is negligence and a soft belly I started liking him less. Those things together with the fact that he was younger than me and sexually inexperienced, completely annihilated my shallow emotions. I led him on, got him to be into me, just to realise that he can’t satisfy me in bed and that he is not sophisticated enough in his way of being and in his way of expressing himself. His jokes about vomit, shit and boogers disgusted me.

There was Mihai, the 45 years old guy, good looking, kind of spiritual, but too sexually-focused, and with a huge package from his past. He was the way I used to see myself, smart, curious, with adventure in his blood, sexually-open to new experiences and not too fond of monogamy. But the fact that he was way too similar to myself challenged me and made me ask myself how far I’d be willing to go. It felt like it’s all about sex and sensual pleasure with him, nothing about emotions, empathy and affection. The little, vulnerable girl inside of myself wanted to be showered with care and undivided attention.

There was Razvan, too short and not consistent enough when interacting with me and way too humorous for my taste. Nothing was a normal conversation about deep, philosophical subjects, and all was about trivial shit and bad jokes memorised from the internet. He was smart enough, but in order to make up for his height he pretended to be too self-confident and took evertything as a joke.

There was Siri, the bistro guy, a blonde hottie suffering from exhaustion, a gambling addiction and a severe depression wrapped up in wit and bursts of maniacal energy. Deep inside, he is an emotionally sensitive guy who has been burnt too many times and wants to present himself as a tough guy in order to protect himself. He made it clear from the beginning that we are too different and we won’t be more than fuck buddies. Due to the fact that it was kind of a challenge for me, I started for an instant to think and fantasize about wanting more from him, but he was absolutely right, a potential relationship would have been disastrous. It became a sort of routine to meet biweekly for sex, even though the sex wasn’t even great or satisfying. He started telling me stuff about his interactions with other women, and when I started doing the same, I felt he doesn’t want to hear that. Wtf?

There was Cristian, a kind of a smart guy, but too selfish and with out of this world expectations from a woman. He boasted he is great with his communication skills, but he was awful at seeing things from another’s perspective and everytime I’d say something that wasn’t going down well with his perspective, his blood would start to boil and he’d start shouting. He was selfish in sex and too cold when out in society together.

Meeting all these men and dealing with all their shit, with their past baggage and expectations, all their self-focus made me long for an idealized past.

And then I realized that I have to stop searching and that I have to focus on myself and end this downfall of disappointments, of being used and abused and of making compromises just to feel less lonely.

From now on, it’s all going to be about me, about self-love and improvement. If anything else comes up on this path, I will be open for it, but I will not make it my purpose in life any longer. It’s time to heal!

Moments like these

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There are mornings when the sky is crystal clear, when you open the windows at dawn and you can hear the birds chirping pleasantly. You welcome the first rays of the sun and they delicately caress your face. In moments like those you can feel the peace that floats around you, you can sense that there is purity and gentility inside of a human being, similar to the soft vibrations of nature and its freshness. A cup of coffee, the humid fragrance of last night’s summer storm, the crumbling, yellow pages of a rare, vintage book, your favourite crimson-velvet armchair and all those little things erase the unsolvable complexity of life, and the gigantic questions that can permanently trouble a forever-seeking mind. However, when darkness comes and settles inside the human mind, tension fills the environment, homes, cafes, parks, hearts and entire lives. This overwhelming darkness attempts to let anxiety and fear sneak inside your bones. The serenity of nature that stemmed from your spirit is overtaken by obscurity. In moments like these, the obscurity reveals the rotten and scattered pieces of ego and insecurity that lurk in the tiniest of cells. Darkness seeks to break you. In moments like these, you ponder at everything that led you to where you are right now and you question every choice you have ever made. And sometimes, the voices you hear and the answers you receive are terrifying. They are a proof and a constant reminder that you are failing yourself because you have walked down mistaken paths. More often than not, the whispers that torment you are the fragmented, secret voices of your consciousness that seek to blame you or provide an answer. Either way, the voices are never satisfying enough and regrets appear.

Regrets of things done, of paths taken, of choices made or just the opposite, the bitter, burning taste of ashes in your mouth, the reminder of everything wished and never achieved…glimpses of what could have been, would have been rotate behind closed eyelids. In moments like these, dreams of repressed desires become nightmares and welcome mornings and awakenings with tears and sadness. How do you know you are living the life you are supposed to be living? You often feel trapped in a never-ending routine, an endless cycle of predictable bullshit…eat, sleep, repeat. In moments like these existence seems dull, useless and it keeps spinning inside the same, grim wheel of destiny. The hell of never-ending routine, of isolation, of spontaneity gone awol, of joys and fantastic realms smothered, of unfulfilled purposes and of ardent wishes and desired love lies abandoned at the bottom of the sea. What hurts the most is that regrets or the dire situation of purely surviving and not rejoicing at life’s endless possibilities are entirely of your own doing. You are the only person who is responsible for where you are right now. And sometimes, you just have to take a stance and choose between the roads less travelled by and the beaten track. And yet, you levitate in the ‘Kingdom of Midway’, you struggle and you walk in-between. You play it safe by taking the road that is not predictable, but that it is not entirely unknown either. You are indecisive about your own life and you wait for the winds of change to steer you into the right direction. Two turns to the left, three turns to the right, moving forward for a bit and after, going backwards.

A life full of spontaneity would be intense and risky, but probably worth it. An entirely rational, planned existence would be safe and comfortable. The classical dilemma: Would you rather live an intense and passionate life that is short or a monotonous, long life? I am and I will always be just a kid that can’t decide which cake to choose.

 

P.S: I always had half of my cake and half of one of my parents’ cake!

The fault in our relationships

Today’s topic of reflection is relationships. Relationships are basic components of our lives as highly social beings. Probably most of us are part of several relationships at the same time, but it can often be hard to glimpse behind their thick layers. Frequently, relationships are extremely complex and can easily become a source of great pain. I was wondering how people unconsciously cross this invisible bridge between happiness and the point where their relationships are mostly filled with heavy feelings of sadness, anger, frustration and shame. Any kind of relationship, either with family members, friends or with a partner can, at any given moment in life, seem like an inescapable labyrinth that weighs down on you. You can, all of a sudden, find yourself in a relationship that seems absolutely broken, in a lonely place where the person who used to bring the most joy to you is now floating on the parallel bank of the same river. If in the past you used to walk hand in hand, in the same direction, reaching for the same goals, now you feel alone and misunderstood. Or worse still, you feel like you are not being cared for or listened to attentively. It is a strange situation dominated by feelings of isolation and disconnection even though you might be sitting right next to other people. At this point, any attempt at communication is a complete failure because you and the other person in the relationship are on different frequencies. It is almost like you both want to transmit a message and receive a message and you do your best to put together a concise message that can communicate your feelings. However, you fail because you are using distinct communication mediums. Say, it is similar to one using a phone and the other using an email. It ends in a connection error.

I started to brood over relationships after watching a few Romanian short films (available on http://www.cinepub.ro with English subtitles, if you are interested). These shorts portrayed exactly a tangled spiderweb of painful and damaged relationships that suddenly explode and discharge cruel words and agonizing sounds. We can all agree that this type of extreme communication is damaging, but once in a while it sweeps over us, almost like a cold taking us by surprise each autumn. Sometimes, humans reach their limits and they need to release all the anger, the frustration, the anxiety, the shame, the bitterness, the despair, the jealousy, all the feelings that have been piling up inside of them. When we arrive at the point of utter fragility and desperation, our relationships become so dramatic that the tiniest of things can set us on fire. It is not about what has been said or what has been done, it is just the last blow, the icing on the cake or a mere raindrop added to a violent inner storm.

Dramatic portrayals of characters and relationships in the short films: a woman choosing solitude over attending a New Year’s Eve party because her friends invited her in the last moment and she felt betrayed (ask: what are your expectations of a friendship?; what is your conception of friendship?); a couple blaming each other for tiny mistakes or sudden actions during tense external occurrences; siblings fighting because of an unequal distribution of responsibilities in the family; an overprotective father and his daughter keeping secrets and fighting for her freedom; disagreements and shouts between spouses on how to treat their child; a man expressing his anger over the fact that he feels unsupported by his wife, daughter, brother and parents; a woman being ignored by a husband who is so taken with reading a newspaper and feeling invisible in her own house , etc. All these intense portrayals of relationships and the feelings that arise inside them illustrate examples of thwarted communication. We could argue that they are intensified or dramatized in order to create more artistic films. However, I suspect that the shorts can have such a strong impact on the viewers exactly because they feel so real. I can identify the intricate details inside my own relationships and in the relationships of people that surround me. The ultimate feeling that arguments, fights and miscommunication bring to an individual is that of isolation. Imagine being in a dark cave, completely alone! You are withdrawn from the world at that moment. It is as if your partner, friend or family member is not concerned with your feelings at all. You feel as if no one listens to you, or rather that they appear to be listening, but your words do not reach them.

Each of us have been, are or will be at some point in a situation where the way we communicate is not functional anymore. Our desires, needs, wants, goals, feelings and thoughts dissipate in the air and the person near to us seems so distant, so removed from ourselves. Maybe communication is not the problem, but rather our connection. The fact is that maybe we need more time to look within ourselves to find solutions, to listen more attentively to our feelings  instead of looking to the other person for solutions and advice. In a way, we are very self-absorbed and everything is about we, we, we…how we feel, how we suffer, how overwhelming the feeling of loneliness is, how bad was our day, our week, our entire year. Maybe it is better to start taking small steps for improving the connection in the relationship by doing pleasurable things together and by actively listening to the other. I believe that we have, in general, become so selfish that we don’t really know how to actively listen to people with an open mind and heart. We listen in order to reply and to advance our points of view. Let’s direct our attention towards our inner selves! Let’s listen and understand more!Let’s identify our painful feelings at the incipient stages and express them in a thoughtful and loving way! Let’s try to deal effectively with the fault in our relationships!

 

 

New Year’s resolutions or how I lost myself

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This is a story of regression and confusion. This is a story of lost paths, mistakes and blind choices. This is a story that does not have a happy end or an end at all.

01.01.2019: I woke up startled that morning and I knew that 2019 is just an illusion. Measuring time was invented by human beings and thus, 8 changed to 9. Because I was conditioned to live by the rules of society my brain acknowledged the coming of the new year. However, I wasn’t about to start making an interminable list of crap with what I want to achieve in the new year or add new fantasies to the all too popular bucket list. It is absolutely unrealistic because you just don’t know what life throws at you everyday. I used to believe that the unpredictability of life is awesome because it does not allow you to settle into routine. I was ,thus, convinced that all you have to do in life is adapt, be flexible and go with the flow. Just see what happens, and go with it, a bit like in Daoism, or a lesson we might have learned from Don Quixote. Do not fight the windmills, do not go against dao, against the path! Just flow with the river ,and nature in the direction they dictate. That sounds about right, nope?

Well, not really. Not for me, at least. I was startled on the first morning of January 2019 because I was lost, and I started to analyze myself and view my entire life under a microscope. I had a great life so far, full of exceptional, happy moments, intense emotions and various experiences that included both gratifying, but also extremely hard and challenging occasions. So far, so good! I lived my 27 years of life by, somehow, following this principle of ‘the path’, following a kind of invisible line that life opened up for me. But all of a sudden, it just didn’t work anymore. It took me places that I didn’t want to be at, it made me travel dark routes outside and inside of myself. After graduating from my master in Belgium, my journey as a responsible adult was supposed to start. Taking into consideration that my family invested financially and emotionally in transforming my being into a succesful and happy adult, I believed I was somehow guaranteed to get there. I mean, I did very well in school, university, master, I managed to be by myself and organize everything in various foreign countries, I had amazing, smart friends, I was creative, clever enough ,and I got involved in the occasional volunteering or other artsy projects. I considered myself motivated enough to achieve what I wanted, I believed I deserved it because I was a good, kind and empathic person that somehow decided that she wants to contribute to other people’s wellbeing. But who was about to contribute to my own wellbeing? Well, everything started to spiral downwards. I just couldn’t find my way, I was struggling in the dark, I was lost at sea. Choices to make, career goals, what job to pursue, where to live, who do I wanna be, what are my desires and most of all, how do I balance what makes me smile and feel good inside with this new-found responsibility to sustain myself financially, and be responsible for myself and my adopted dog? I just couldn’t find any answers at all, and life was crushing me.

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I wish I could say I found what I was looking for. But I didn’t. I can just say that I struggled with being an English teacher in Shanghai, a tourism lecturer in a university in a 3rd tier city in China and a tour guide in Turkey. Now I am back in Shanghai, doing a second master because I still haven’t found my path or I don’t have the courage to wander in the dark aimlessly. I don’t have resolutions for 2019 because I need to learn how to function again as a human being in society. I need to start again, by being a baby, a child, a teenager ,and finally an adult.

I lost my motivation ,and determination to fight and achieve what I want in life.

I am lost at sea, I am just floating endlessly, I am reading too much, watching too many movies, reflecting too much and feeling like a wreck, a failure. I keep wondering where did I go wrong? I mean, where did I lose my real self?

The self that desired to travel the world for a year or two and discover, discover, discover ….without plans or too much money? Well, I am afraid to let go and just travel. I am afraid that I will lose out on precious work experience to add on my CV when I am away on my year travel. I am afraid that I won’t have enough money and I will get stuck in the middle of nowhere, broke and vulnerable. I am afraid that I will spend money that otherwise I could have used to do something else with, like saving to be more financially secure.

I want to become a writer and publish my poetry ,and maybe in the future, short stories or a novel. Am I doing anything to achieve that? No. I am afraid to send any of my work to any publication or contest. I am not confident enough that I have what it takes ,and I am so scared to get rejected.
Where do I want to be? In a middle-sized European picturesque city where I could draw inspiration for my life, and poems just by walking on the streets and breathing in the spirit of history. I want to be able to admire the exquisite, old buildings touched by lives lost and lives yet to come. Where am I? In Shanghai, a giant glass-like city, full of impersonal skyscrapers, commercial shopping malls and ugliness.
I want to be economically independent, and have a job that fulfills me. What am I doing? Well, after a year of looking for jobs in various places and not finding anything suitable, getting rejected too many times and not even discovering what exactly I should be doing, I am now doing a second master in political theory. Gosh, I don’t even wanna do that, but I am too scared of not having anything to do at all. And I am so disillusioned with politics and leaders. I have always been. It is a pain for me to analyze and learn about political systems because I can only see failures in them, just like I see myself now.

I lack self-discipline and motivation, I eat too much and I even put on 10 kilograms since I have come back to Shanghai. I am highly disappointed with myself and it is hard to admit that ,by my own standards, I have become a failure. How can I say that? It is painful and I don’t know where it all went wrong. The hardest thing right now is to start addressing all these issues. And sadder than everything else is that I am clueless.

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There are too many doors, and choices in front of me or maybe not enough. I remain numb, and unable to open any of them. I have this recurring dream where I have to run away from this terrible, bulky man, who wants to hurt me and touch me. I am in a fancy mansion that has never-ending rooms and doors. I always open too many doors and I see theatre-like scenes full of everything that one can imagine. The horrible man can never catch me because we always choose different doors. What to choose now? In my dream, I never stop opening doors and exploring rooms until it’s time to wake up. I would appreciate any comments with advice or suggestions!