Are you gonna poke my bear?

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“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Except for bears…bears will kill you.”

Every now and then someone comes along and pokes my bear. This is an expression I heard several years ago which simply means, someone comes along and taps on your wounds or stirs up your shit or your baggage to put it a little nicer.

I really love the expression though. I felt it added a layer of humor that resonates with me. It’s like my own personal safe word minus the S&M. If someone is stirring up my stuff and I’m too uncomfortable, all I have to do is look at them and say, “you’re poking my bear.”

But if only it truly worked that way.

Most of my bear poking has to do with the idea that I am not enough and truth be told, most of the people that come along and poke my bear are men. My daddy and abandonment issues run deep and who better to poke that bear then whoever I’m dating.

But I’ve noticed my bear getting poked in all areas of my life, not just dating. There is a story that was set a long time ago, deep in the back of my subconscious mind that says I’ll never be good enough for much of anything or anyone. Work, friendships, my art, even my health has it’s own bear. It’s inevitable that wherever we place our sense of worth will be a prime target for bear poking.

Last night I sat on my couch and listened to Ben Howard’s hypnotic melodies echo throughout my quiet home and I read over my old blog posts. Tears filled my eyes as I relived old memories and feelings that were, at worst, horribly painful and at best, life changing.

I came across the piece I wrote called, Sit In Your Shit and it reminded me how, for the last few months, I’ve felt called to sit in all the uncomfortable feelings instead of run from them as I so often do.

Being a perpetual runner has offered a lot of excitement in my life however, it’s also caused a lot of my shit to reside just below the surface waiting to be poked.

And I’m still here. I’m still being called to sit in my shit. And I’m reminded, once again, that it’s never fun to lean into your past traumas and barely healed wounds. Instead of running or numbing, I’m sitting and at times, it feels as if my skin is crawling and I’m a recovering drug addict, desperate for my next fix.

I want to show you what sitting in your shit looks like…

Sitting in your shit ISN’T about being a victim or pointing a finger and placing blame. Although a lot of our wounds and traumas are the consequences of someone else’s actions, at some point in our adult lives we must find it in ourselves to let go of the blame. We’ll never fully heal unless we do. Sitting in your shit is ABSOLUTELY about getting curious about these traumas and wounds and asking ourselves what the TRUTH is. Not the story we’ve created from it.

For example, if I’m dating someone and I start to feel my bear getting poked I take pause whereas in the past, I’d lash out and stir up the shit. Now, instead I sit in the discomfort of whatever their actions are creating within me. Because we know really this is merely a projection. It’s a memory from the past that is telling you a story triggered by this new person’s actions. So I ask myself; what is the truth here? I get curious. I lean in. I talk to the six your old me who was desperate to be loved and seen by a man who just didn’t have the ability to do so. I tell her she IS loved. She IS seen. She IS enough.

Sitting in your shit after someone has poked your bear is about asking questions. It’s about reacting less and inquiring more. It’s about doing things differently. It’s a curiosity of the unknown. The belief in the possibility, that maybe, just maybe, this wound may loosen it’s grip on you if you understand it more.

And I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it over and over, it’s gonna hurt like hell but each time you address it, that pain subsides and softens and transforms into something different.

So what I’ve allowed myself to get really intrigued by lately isn’t so much my baggage but rather HOW the act of really looking at it has dramatically CHANGED it’s hold on me. I’m intrigued by how I’m showing up different when old bears get poked all because I finally succumbed to the reality that, what I was doing in the past just wasn’t working so why not try something different? Why not look at it all in a different light?

So that’s what I’ve been doing. With dating, with work, with friendships, with communication, with my overall feelings of never being ENOUGH.

Because truth be told, I am enough. We are all enough. Every single last one of us is enough right this very moment.

I’m imperfect and flawed and at times moody and emotional. But this makes me who I am too. Just as much as all the other “good” aspects do. I can’t deny them because by doing so I am only feeding the bears and constantly confirming the story that runs through so many of our minds…I am not enough.

But we are enough. We have to begin to understand that and fully integrate that into our being. I think that our bears and those that come along to poke them are actually, and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, a gift to us. In a weird and twisted way, they are really doing so to get us to wake up and do our work so that one day when that bear get’s poked it no longer needs to rear it’s defensive head and instead, just slowly turns and walks away.




Dating: For all you ghost out there. This one is for you.

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It's a doggy dog dating world these days and ladies and gents, apparently, some of them don't come out alive cause there are a bunch of ghosts out there. 

It's been a long time since I wrote about dating. 

Mainly, if I'm honest, I had taken a bit of a break. 

However, recently I put myself back out there only to have had an experience that made me want to shed some light on a kind of new, not so new phenomenon that is extremely prevalent in the dating world:

ghosting

Dating to me is an off and on again thing. Sometimes I'm really into it, sometimes it's the furthest thing from my mind.

Last year, I didn't think it was entirely fair to put myself out into the dating scene when I was going through something so consuming that required a lot of my attention to be on myself.  That's not to say that dealing with an illness makes you any less of a person to date. Honestly, I think going through something major in your life makes you have a deep understanding of yourself, what you are looking for and what's important.  

I actually did meet someone right as I started radiation last July and we dated briefly before we realized we'd be better off friends. We are still friends to this day because of our mutual respect and proper communication.  

However, there are some things about dating in today's mostly online dating world that really frustrate and baffle me. Mainly, this whole phenomenon of ghosting people. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghosting, it can go a little something like this. Or this was my latest experience at least. 

You meet a guy (or girl), he/she comes off really intrigued. 

They ask all the questions and seem genuinely, very interested. They flatter you a lot and make you feel pretty damn good. They initiate getting together. You are totally open to it. A date is set but they need to get back to you on time because they have tentative plans. Your mind briefly wonders if it's another date but you're like, whateves. We did, after all, meet online. 

You get excited and think, "awesome! I finally met a decent human being and I'm excited to meet them!"

So you lean back and give a bit more to match his/her energy because you think games are bulls*t! ESPECIALLY after everything you just went through, you realize just how short life is and really don't have the energy or time in your thirties for them. You feel like maybe they are on the same page. 

Then suddenly you feel it. I don't know how but something in the air shifts. Something happens. You don't know what but the energy shifts.  It's just a feeling and you know. You know what's coming. 

Crickets. 

Um, hello? Is anyone there? And you wonder, WTF did I say that warranted being ghosted? I was just matching your shit thank you very much.

Annoyed, you start to think, well, maybe something happened because they couldn't have possibly just...gasp...disappeared! 

And then you laugh at yourself and think, oh silly Manda, trix are for kids! Nothing happened because as you are scrolling Instagram, you see that he just posted something new.   HE initiated the follow to begin with. You, just followed back. 

And then it hits you. Shit. I totally forgot. I was supposed to pretend that I was NOT interested. Maybe radiation altered my memory after all? 

Silly me. 

And then you laugh out loud and roll your eyes and think to yourself... right...I've just been ghosted. 

Lame. 

But in all seriousness, ghosting is just about the rudest, most immature behavior I have ever come across.

It is just downright disrespectful. I'm a human being and as much as I remind myself that it truly has nothing to do with me and that I shouldn't take it personally, it still doesn't feel good.  

So, I think to myself...what's the best thing to do in this situation. 

Upon consulting the experts, ie: a couple of my friends whom all say opposing things: 

 'Under no circumstance whatsoever, say anything to him!" One says. 

"You should call him out on his bullshit! He a friggin' thirty-something-year-old man for Christ sake!" Says the other. 

I think about both positions and decided that he IS, in fact, a thirty-something-year-old man and I'm pretty sure we all learned how to treat others way back in kindergarten. As much as I'd like to say, "Hey man, it's totally fine if, for whatever reason, you are no longer interested but I am a human being and deserve to be treated as if I'm not just a picture on some profile on a dating app. Thank. You. Very. Much.

I have a feeling however, whatever I say, will fall on deaf ears. Instead, I choose to say nothing and write this post instead.

Most people I talk to who've been ghosted, both men and women, have all said the same thing. It's really quite shitty. 

And it can trigger, even the strongest of people, into feeling like they did something. 

This brings me to the solution.

Here is the thing. We live in the age of dating apps. Chances are, you will never have to see this person face to face. If you've started exchanging text messages or have arranged to meet, even if day and time is tentative, that person still deserves some kind of correspondence if you have a change of heart. I mean, you LITERALLY don't even have to pick up the bloody phone or say it in person. You can just send a text message. 

And I'll even go as far as to help you come up with a few things you can say.

"Hey, although it was nice talking/meeting with you, I really don't think I'm interested. I do wish you the best." I mean, we are all human beings. I'd hope you'd have enough compassion to at the very least, acknowledge their humanness and wish them the best. 

Or, "You came off too strong." Sure, it's blunt but I mean, if it's the truth that person might want to know. But I do suggest you ask yourself WHY you felt they came off too strong first. Chances are, that has more to do with YOU then them.  

Or, how about this, "I realized it's just not the best time for me to date." Cool. No problem. I think everyone's been there before, right? You think your feelings for an ex have passed only to be reminded that they haven't when you meet someone new. No biggie. 

Or this one! "Hey, someone from my past came back into the picture and I just don't think I'm ready to explore someone new. I need to figure this one out." Again, awesome. Been there too. Totally get it. Hope you figure out what it is you need. 

You get it right? It may not be the most fun text to send but at least it doesn't leave the other person wondering, "what did I do?" Because about 99.9% of the time, if you get really honest with yourself, they did NOTHING. In reality, it's all your junk coming up. 

In closing

We are human beings . We like a beginning, a middle and...AN END. We appreciate closure of all kinds. It does something crazy awesome to our brains and lets us easily shake it off and not make it so personal. 

Now, I know a lot of people fear honest communication because yes, some people don't handle honesty very well. A lot of people get super defensive and if that happens, I think it's okay to say, "I really was just trying to do what was best by telling you because i do respect you as another human being. I wish you the best." And at this point, if they don't stop, you can just block their number. 

Chances are, if you are like me, you are just grateful that they were honest and you respond with a friendly, "Hey, no problem. Thanks for letting me know. Wish you the best too."

Done. Delete number, move on. Best wishes. 

Sure, egos may be bruised momentarily. It never feels great experiencing a sense of rejection. But it's like a bandaid. Rip it off, it stings for a minute and then you are usually over it. 

And then, when it comes down to it, really try and not take it personal. I'm serious. Keep filling your calendar with fun and exciting things. Keep dating! Don't sit around overanalyzing things because honestly, a few conversations over texts or phone or even a few actual, real-life dates do not, in the slightest bit, give you any idea of who someone is. 

Even if you do your research ie: stalk the shit out of them on Instagram or whatever media you find them on, you don't truly know the depths of someone. That can only be done with time, in person and an open and honest heart.

The whole evolution of online dating has created this massive disconnect and the direction it's going, in all honesty, is pretty frightening. Dating is suppose to be fun, light-hearted, sexy, flirty, exciting! 

And when it comes down to it, I really value great communication, honesty, patience, and trust in any relationship and if someone ghosts me and thinks that is okay, I look at it as a blessing. I wouldn't want to date someone that inconsiderate. Ever. Good luck. Peace out. Ba-bye. 

I hope and pray for my niece and nephew's generation that something changes or we are in for a really sad future full of disrespectful, socially inept and communicatively dysfunctional robots.  

I'll leave you with this incredible piece of advice. It's so good it was literally written by God himself and put into this little thing called The 10 Commandments. Maybe you've heard of it? 

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.