1. Do not touch the camera for a while and never date photographers again:
From day one, I know it was not the wisest thing to attribute the whole thing to photography or to photographers. But if I hadn't blamed photography, I would have to start pointing the finger at myself. I was really not in the mood to analyze myself or my patterns only to suffer more after two breakups.
+ it was great that I didn't have to drag my heavy camera bag everywhere I went and enjoyed just what my eyes captured in that moment.
- apparently photography (like anything else) needs constant practice. Not practicing brought my photos to the level of a facebook snapshot from your average tourist.
- especially in humid climates like the tropics, being in a closed camera bag creates fungus on the lenses. Not all service centers can clear fungus and even if they can, it costs a fortune. One of my lenses was saved, however 2 are in critical condition and will probably be unusable in a year or two. I can say that the fungus on the lenses hurt a lot more than the two breakups. With time, emotional wounds heal, but fungus just keeps growing.
2. Be in a men-diet for 11 months.
This was the wiser of my two decisions. Especially the first 4-5 months felt really good, like an extended summer break from boarding school. Around the 6th month, I started to regret my decision – 11 months felt ridiculously long. I'm sure this happened because I was in Istanbul around that time. And life in Istanbul is like in a Cosmo magazine – a lot of gossip and advice on men, relations, sex and not much more. So much obsession about men and relations had an impact on how I was feeling. During that time, I was almost sure that I would not be able to keep my promise and give up. Thankfully, it didn't happen.
This was the time that I realized that temptation can take many different forms; chocolate, a good glass of wine, sleeping in someone's arms or desire for an earth-shattering orgasm. However different they appear to be, in reality they are reflections of the same craving. Craving for some different, heightened sensation than what I already have. And I noticed that if I can be aware of that craving but not act on it, it just melts away. With men, it invariably always took 3 days to melt. I see someone I like, I want to be witrh him like crazy and 3 days later I find myself completely alientated from that craving and from the guy... Why 3 days I have no idea, but that was one of th most interesting discoveries of this whole process.
Around 9th month, I realized that I got into the comfort zone too much and didn't really use the previous months for introspection or for changing my patterns. I panicked a little, but I can't really force awareness, can I?
+ I felt very comfortable around men that I've just met or being introduced to. Subconsciously most of us tend to categorize members of the other sex as “potential dating material” or not as soon as we meet them. When that categorization if off the shelf, it's a whole different feeling.
+ life became much easier and much simpler in so many ways. I was truly by myself in almost everything I did. No lengthy discussions, no undecisive moments where to have dinner, no misunderstandings, no fights, no jealousy, no long-term plans... Can you imagine that??? Instead a lot of spare time and energy to do things that I enjoy. This was probably the best aspect of the diet – so good that I cannot fully express it in words.
+ I noticed that I don't really “need” a relationship. I am perfectly happy with myself and if I'm going to include someone in my life, he really needs to add a lot of value. That value is surely not money, not breakfast in bed or not someone to take care of me while I'm sick. It's something much deeper.
- life became so much relaxed and simple that I'm not sure if I can get back to being with someone easily. The diet was supposed to last 11 months – it's been 17 months already and I now feel so much more comfortable in monasteries and around monks than anywhere else. More importantly, the monks feel very comfortable in my presence too. (A monk is never ever supposed to be alone with a woman, there has to be at least 2 more monks present and watching – but lately they've been trusting me so much, I work with monks one-to-one behind closed doors.)
Feeling very easy in a monastery but cringing at the presence of a caring and interesting French man... This might be a good reference for a career as nun, but doesn't sound very promising for an average 37-year old, single woman.
So the diet brought awareness to my temptations, cravings and my fears. As boring as it sounds, it also made me more aware of “people”, rather than women, men, hot guys, handsome boys, dates etc. I feel much stronger because I can notice the temptations but I now know I have a choice of not acting on them. And when I don't act on them, I can see cravings for what they really are – just cravings that will pass away.
Am I enlightened as to why I suffer in relationships? Not really. Still I can say that the “men diet” worked well; it brought answers to what I needed to know at this stage of my life, not to what I thought I have to know.