Monthly Archives: January 2015

post relationship stress disorder? 3 tips for keeping your shoes on

**originally posted on my column at elephant journal 2013

Break up number 1,067: The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

You didn’t eat for a week. You couldn’t sleep well for a month. You wondered if you would ever laugh again. You hurt. Deeply.

I understand—I’ve been there.

Now, time has passed, and you’ve had thoughts of throwing yourself back in to the dating world. But you fear that it will be bad again, that it will end in more hurt. So you sit and do nothing. You’ve given up.

Why would anyone want to live their live that way? I’m not entirely sure, but I see it all the time. That fear of it being bad again really is the only logical guess. Fear that the same pattern will keep repeating.

Married? Unavailable? You run when you get close? They run when you get close? Sex issues?

I’m not certain which it is, but we all fear it nonetheless.

Every time you meet someone new, no matter how wonderful, no matter how much they show up, you wait for the other shoe to drop.

How do we come back from the depths of a soul sucking relationship? You know, the one that, in retrospect, you would have preferred eating your own face off instead of staying? How do we get back in the ring with post relationship stress disorder?

If you haven’t read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, I highly recommend it. When you re-enter the dating war zone these “agreements” can save you from a potential meltdown situation, and keep you out of the past. I’m not suggesting that this is a quick fix. It took a bit of chewing gum and spit, a lot of inner work and a ton of loving myself out of the pain. The first two that really made a difference in my life are his agreements; the third is my own.

1. Don’t take things personally.

Ruiz writes, “You take it personally because you agree with whatever was said. As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you and you are trapped in the dream of hell. What causes you to be trapped is what we call personal importance. Personal importance, or taking things personally is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption everything is about me… (pg 87-88) When we really see other people as they are without taking it personally, we can never be hurt by what they say or do. Even if others lie to you, it is okay. They are lying to you because they are afraid. They are afraid that you will discover that they are not perfect.”

“I’m running late.” “I can’t make it tonight.” “What did you do to your hair exactly?”

It’s OK. Breathe—it’s not personal.

2. Don’t make assumptions.

As Ruiz states says:

“We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything. The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking—we take it personally—then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word. That is why whenever we make assumptions, we’re asking for problems. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally and we end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.”

We all know the old saying about assuming. (Or should I not assume that?)

A hot woman comments on his Facebook page. It’s just a comment. What if he likes her? You panic. No one is going to take out every other attractive person on the planet, genocide style. If you are having an irrational fear, call anyone but him. Be confident. Why? Because you are unique. He had to cancel because he said he was sick. He’s either actually sick, in which case I’d bring him some soup, or he’s lying through his teeth and out with another woman.

If it is the latter, best you know now anyway.

3. Don’t let your past predict your future.

Easier said than done, right? If you start with the simple reality that the new person in your life isn’t the old one, it’s a great beginning. It’s not to say that they aren’t an asshole, but they aren’t the same asshole. It’s not to say that they are either. They may be everything good that you can imagine but you won’t know until you give them a fair shake.

We all get affected by past experiences. It’s okay. It makes us who we are and hopefully makes us stronger. I can find 12 million reasons not to date again. My ex-husband got re-married. I had a guy end it with me via email. I dated the master of emotional unavailability, several times. His actions did not match his words. Not once.

The reality is that my ex-husband found the right person for him. Why would I not be happy for him?

And email guy? Why would I think that not having him in my life is a loss?

It’s all about perspective. It’s key to getting back in the ring , not expecting the other shoe to drop and getting back out with your heart intact if things don’t work out.

When we really see people as they are; humans, with their own set of faults, it’s easier to grasp that it isn’t about us. No one is perfect. I know that I’m not. Sometimes two people aren’t perfect for each other. Sometimes two people are perfect for each other for a while, then lessons are complete, and we can let go with love. Sometimes two people are forever.

I may have days where I find that opening the dating door may be a bit scary, but I will never let it slam shut solely based on fear.

I’ll keep my shoes on—and if he’s lucky, perhaps they’ll be black stilettos.

Advertisements

my journey with aids lifecycle

 

image-2-250x187

For the past 14 years, during the first week in June, nearly 3,000 men and women meet to begin one heroic challenge and one common goal: riding a bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles to help end AIDS and HIV.

Orientation, day one, a whirlwind of what was I thinking, followed by…where did these people come from….followed by….does his jersey really say that… followed by an astounding sense of trust and love.

I started the day two climb. We were 30 miles into the day. I was used to riding flat and not prepared for the challenge I had in front of me. Directly in front of me.

I wasn’t thinking about quad-busters, or what they call the evil twins, I was taking it mile by mile on a bad knee. The climb was probably nothing to a seasoned cyclist, but for me it looked as if I was hitting a stage of the Tour de France. It’s okay. I got over it—literally.

So there I was, four miles into this obscene grind (obscene by my standards) and I saw another rider pulled over on the road. I stopped to check on him, and if I may be completely honest, take a break. I didn’t like to stop on climbs for fear that my bike wouldn’t move forward again.

Oddly enough he asked me if I was okay. I told him that my knee was not thrilled with me. I tried to hide the pain.

“What are you in for?” I asked. He said “I need a breather. Cancer.” He tried to hide his exhaustion.

I extended my hand and unknowingly part of my heart to him. “I’m Ronna. “ “Nick.” We were both out of breath and nearly spent. He looked tired. I knew I was. I asked him if he had a full bottle of water to drink. “Drink,” I said. “We get to the top together. I’m not finishing without you.” It was at that moment I started to understand the community that is Aids/Lifecycle.

image-250x187 Aids/Lifecycle isn’t just a fundraising event. Yes, they have training    rides to teach you how become better in group rides. It showed be  how to become better in groups of people. Period. You see, Aids/lifecycle is indeed a community. It is an awareness. It is the most challenging and rewarding thing I’ve ever been honored to be a part of.

When I was trudging up that climb, thinking that my body was going to collapse, I thought of the cyclists who were HIV positive. I thought of the men and women who couldn’t ride because they had become too sick or who had just lost their partner. I thought of my own close call.

I thought of the riders who rode so that when my heterosexual, non-drug-using boyfriend lied to me about his HIV status, I had help. My apologies for putting a dent in the stigma, but he was not gay. He is the reason I ride.

Most of the ride was truly surreal. I wouldn’t think that there were words for the feeling I had when Nick and I clipped back in to get to the top of that climb, but I would liken it to being in the front row of Wembley Stadium and Liam Gallagher (insert name of favorite rock star here) looks you in the eye while he’s belting out…oh…anything.

The following days allowed me time with the sports medicine tent. Adhesive spray, KT Tape and mass quantities of ice and Advil were involved. My knee wasn’t sexy, but I kept my spirit up.

Day six I rode almost every mile. I did not know it would be the night my life would forever change. That night at the dinner tent a story was told about a woman. I had come in a bit late and didn’t hear the start of it, or even her name, but I heard what I needed to hear. They told my story that night; my reason for riding, only her ending was not the same. She died. Her life was cut short. She is my reason for riding. She is the reason I tell my story now. She is why I need to be part of the solution and end the stigma. She is my hero.

Fifty miles in I was on the last day of the ride. It was as beautiful as it was painful. My leg was now taped from mid-calf to thigh, and blistered from my knee up.

I was fighting my way down the Pacific Coast Highway as I saw our team captain for UTAC, Until There’s A Cure. We pulled over because I needed to smoke, and I did. Full cycling kit. PCH. Two thousand cyclists, and a cigarette.

And as I clipped out off my bike, and put my right foot down, barely grazing the ground a pain unlike anything I can recall started in my toes and shot up my leg. I doubled over. There was no putting pressure of any kind on my foot—but I could pedal. The guys looked at me. ”Do you want to sweep in?” No. No fucking way. I’m nine miles out. I didn’t know how, but I was going to finish. Because she couldn’t.

I put out my Camel Light with my good foot, loosened the buckles on my shoes and clipped in.

Motor safety carried both me and my bike through the PCH tunnel.The last grind was less than a mile away. I should take this moment to point out that nothing feels worse to an injured knee than any type of climb, except maybe a sledgehammer. I looked up at Chattaqua Street. It wasn’t going to happen.

I got a quarter of the way up and just as I was about to lay my bike down, I felt a hand on my back and a voice said, “C’mon girl you’ve got this”! And that hand pushed me to the top of Chattaqua Street. Do you know that I never even saw his face?

The last three miles were grueling. The moment I crossed that finish line was bittersweet. My eyes welled up with tears of relief, pain, and pure joy. My heart filled with accomplishment. There is nothing to describe what ALC gave me that week, and there may be no way I can ever give back to the people who have changed my life forever.

All I can do is keep fighting for those who can’t. And I will not stop until we, together, have won the fight.

image-1-250x187


when it comes to love: truth or dare

When I was younger, the game Truth or Dare terrified me.

It scared the ever loving crap out of me. Truth? You mean actual honesty at the age of 17? Thank you, no. The last thing I would have been cool with was telling a room full of my peers the person who I secretly wished to take me to prom or my most embarrassing moment.

Dare? Kiss every guy in the room? What? Streak? Now?

Now.

Now would be my most embarrassing moment.

I prided myself on being a bit of a bad ass when I was younger. I always tried to be tough, and I’m certain I did a half decent job of hiding my fear. Despite the layers of armor I wore, I was incredibly shy. Truth or Dare cracked my armor and I was not a fan of letting anyone in.

I can remember only a couple of times that stupid game reared its ugly head, usually at an infamous teenage house party. You recall those…guys, girls, a keg, possibly some weed and a flask floating around. (“Floating around” for me meant in my pocket, by the way.)

I didn’t think anything could make me more uncomfortable than Truth or Dare, until Five Minutes in the Closet happened. I know, I know. Some of you called it Seven Minutes in Heaven. Seven minutes was pushing it, and it was slightly was closer to hell.

I dreaded that closet. I wasn’t claustrophobic. Leatherface wasn’t hiding there. (I checked. Twice.) I had no skeletons at 15—possibly a pair of rad skeleton leggings, but I hadn’t created anything incriminating yet. My closet was filled with shoes, boxes of photographs and posters of last Tuesday’s rock star.

When you sit in that circle, watching a bottle spin is like the longest three seconds of ever. How many thoughts can race through your mind in three seconds? Apparently more than four. Who is it going to land on? God please not him…maybe him…no. What if it’s the lame guy and he says I have to take my shirt off? What if it’s the hot guy and he says I suck at kissing? Do I do anything? Do I lie and say I did? Do I lie and say I didn’t ? You get my point.

Shaping my teenage romantic life in a closet didn’t seem very Hollywood. It did, however, feel a bit like a John Hughes film. Potentially Stephen King. Definitely not Disney.

There wasn’t really anything to be scared of. As I said, I had no skeletons; I left those closets with my dignity intact and my bra facing the right way. Truth or Dare wasn’t ever that bad either. It was just a bunch of experiments in our parent’s coat closets.

Looking back I almost miss how simply playful it was.

Being an adult puts a completely different spin on it. Truth can be hard to get the gist of for some people, but it sure is worth walking through the fear. I find nothing scary about speaking my truth. To me, speaking my truth it what grants me dignity. It allows me to have self respect. It is essential for human growth. It is what keeps me sure of myself. It is invaluable.

Others run from the truth like their ass is on fire. Fear of being vulnerable? Letting someone see that you aren’t perfect? Honey, your faults are what make you perfect. The vulnerability of truth makes us human. It makes us real. Truth give us depth, and hopefully character.

Truth is the very thing that allows people to know who you actually are, and that takes more than five minutes in a closet.

Dares? Now they’re just challenges; challenging myself, or perhaps it’s challenging someone to a game of air hockey, or making a bet about whether or not they can sleep on a plane. Dares can also be incredibly sexy. Dare me to kiss you in an alley up against a cold brick wall? Don’t think I won’t. Dare me to hold still? Um…. OK.

Dare to be yourself.

Dares are taking chances. Some people grow up and long to take chances, but they never do. I take them over and over. Perhaps you’d call me stupid, because they don’t always work out. When a “chance” doesn’t go as planned, good or bad, I get to call it an experience. Does this mean I’m not terrified? No. Not even close. I’ve been knocked down, kicked sideways and hung up to dry. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying.

Does this mean there may be tears involved? Absofuckinglutely. I’ve cried enough tears for my best friend, my next door neighbor and anyone who has ever bought a self help book. I always dust off and see what the universe has next. It’s usually better than I could plan anyway.

Being a grown-up gets us scared for grown-up reasons, but I’m no longer scared of being kissed by my 8th grade crush, or anyone’s closet.

Speak your truth. Fall hard. Take a chance in love. Go on. I dare you. It’s worth everything.


january 1, 2015

10885048_10203432487438782_7168226321052537347_n

 

I spent the first morning of 2015 handing out socks, water and cookies with Brian. We met a man named Jesse who broke my heart open. Jesse was sitting on 6th Street in a box facing the sun on a day when the warmth was needed. Jesse is fighting diabetes with full blown aids. His wish is to not be in pain every day. It’s been nine years since he had a day without it.

As we drove down the streets filled with pigeons and lined with homes built from trash, I knew that there was no other way to start the year.

It is so easy to compare, so natural to have expectations. Instead of contemplating which movie I would see this weekend I thought of this country and how it could allow this. How can so many be on the street, be in pain with no medical care because they get dropped from the system…It’s sickening. These people are no different than anyone else. Some are there because of illness, some were heroes. Some are there due to circumstance and fear of limitations. Yes, some by choice….but those are the exception.

If we all could take a minute….just one day….just to give. It took ten dollars and 90 minutes to give. Even if what you do is say a prayer instead of roll up your window the next time you seem a person less fortunate, that is enough. It all starts with a seed of hope. Everyone can find something to be grateful for, as I heard today on the streets. Take this year to love and appreciate. If nothing else, be grateful and know that you are blessed.

I wish you all everything you dream of.

 

 


%d bloggers like this: