Thursday, October 20, 2011

men diet - part 2

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.    

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

men diet - part 1

Some recent events stirred up a lot in me and I started thinking about past relations.  I had been in a relationship for most of my adult life despite being very pro-single. Yet I very my much liked if my partner was at a distance, preferably as far as in another city of country. Too close and too predictable suffocated me. The idea of a husband was terrifying, because even the concepts like “always” or “forever” were too scary. I just couldn't imagine being with someone forever... Not because I'm polygamist or I cheat, but as soon as I know something or someone will be there forever, it loses its true meaning. In relationships, I always had my set of Fight Club rules and made them very clear. Rule number one: you do not propose to me, Rule number two: if you propose to me, you get dumped on the spot. A proposal, which brings tears of joy to the faces of many would suffocate me with fear and I'd run away like crazy.

Naturally being so rigid and so scared,  I broke many good boys and many bad boys broke me. Those who wanted a “normal” relationship with a caring and sharing person were hurt. Those who were even more terrified with the idea of a relationship than me, ended up hurting me.

In the recent years, I had two relationships that broke me a lot worse than the past ones . I was just getting familiar with the concept of commitment. Like a kid with a new science test kit, I was eager to play with it as soon as possible. Science kits, when played safely at home would probably teach a lot. I tried mine under unsafe conditions and it exploded in my face – twice. After the second breakup, I started to think where I went wrong; The guys were extremely different profiles, had completely different backgrounds and were even in different countries! Oh, the only thing common with them was both were photographers. I needed to find where I was going wrong in order to avoid repeating my mistakes. So to be on the very very safe side I took two decisions:
1. Do not touch the camera for a while and never date photographers again.
2. Start a “men-diet” for 11 months and use that time to figure out what goes wrong in my relationships. A men-diet meant no flirting, no dating, no physical intimacy in any way.

Why 11 months? No sensible reasons. There was a time in the past that I was single for 11 months (after a very long-term relation) and it seemed to clear the debris of the former relationship. So I thought if it worked in the past, it would work again.

All that was about than 18 months ago. Looking back, it was great in some ways and not so great in others.
to be continued...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

to relate or not to relate

About two months ago, I had a dream. I was in a public bus in Istanbul and a geeky-looking guy starts a conversation with me. He has his friends with him and we all get in a very lively chat. I get to learn that he owns an internet company (yes, even in dreams I attract geeks) and he's also very smart (an IQ score above 120 is the sexiest thing for me). I really like him. After maybe about half an hour, the bus reaches my stop and I get off. By the time I step out of the bus, I intuitively feel that he will be my boyfriend in the near future and suddenly that light and elevated feeling of meeting someone I really like, turns into a very heavy load in my chest. All sorts of worries start to fill my head and I wake up with that very heavy and dark feeling... Some degree of attraction is fine, yet when there's the slightest possibility that it would turn into a relationship I freak out – even in a dream.

About a week ago I was flying to Bali from Bangkok. It was a very early morning flight and by the time my bum touched the plane seat, I started to fall fast asleep. It was one of these uncomfortable flight-sleeps where my head kept rolling here and there. Unfortunately most of the time, it rolled towards the chest of the passenger sitting next to me. Each time I'd wake up in panic and mumble “sorry” to him and immediately fall back asleep, only to find my head hovering somewhere near his chest again in a few minutes.  A few times he said “don't worry” with a smile. Then I noticed him closing all window blinds so that when the sun rises up I won't be disturbed. Then he reclined my seat (why hadn't I thought of that???) with the slowest, smoothest movements possible and my head finally rested in the tiny groove created between the seat and the window. The rest was a very comfortable and uninterrupted sleep for more than 2 hours.

I noticed how kind he was only after we landed. The plane was only half-full, he could have changed seats. Not only did he stay next to me, but he also did everything possible to make sure I was comfortable. Who would do that to a complete stranger in a flight? I know I wouldn't. We barely spoke afterwards, but as soon as I arrived to Ubud, I told my friends about the unbelievable “guardian angel” of my sleep. All agreed that it was unusually kind and sweet.

Tonight I was having dinner with friends and my guardian angel appears in the street out of nowhere! What are the chances of coming face to face with your flight-neighbor in an island with 5 million people and hundreds of different tourist destinations? I have been feeling very thankful towards him, so I invite him for a cup of tea one of these days. He says he's free in fifteen minutes so we meet much sooner than I expected, so I didn't have time to put my usual guards up. He's French, traveling around, arrived to Ubud just hours ago. We talk about museums in Europe, the history of Egypt and the like... However the conversation turns to a direction that I don't like because I don't know how to handle it. I thank him many times for his kindness. He says he would remember my sweet face anywhere and would do the same thing again. And he wouldn't mind staying in Ubud longer if he knew he'd be seeing me again. Oops!

He's got just the right amount of French accent, the kindest eyes I've seen in a long time, is truly caring and is a traveler. He says he's divorced and didn't have a relationship since then. So very Eat, Pray Love-ishly attractive right?   Not for me... I tense up and drink my hot tea so fast that he has to tell me to slow down so that I don't burn myself. He doesn't know that a scalding tongue is a relief compared to how I'm feeling at that moment. Thanks to my friends who were waiting for me around the corner, I have a quick excuse to leave the table. He says he'll call me again tomorrow. So here I am wide-awake at midnight writing all this.

The dream of a relationship makes me wake up feeling very heavy. The real-life possibility of a relationship gives me a sleepless night... Something's definitely not right in this picture, is it?

I can give up all material possessions and live out of a luggage in a small room. I can leave my comfortable profession and move to an Indonesian village not knowing what to expect. I can turn my back to a 6-digit income and don't mind calculating cents for lunch money. I am scared of all that, yet I would do (and have already done) these things... However up until this moment, I've never realized how terrified I was of an actual relationship, that even the idea of it tenses me up to a point of complete paralysis.

All the things I've been scared of are happening to me one by one... They are like yearly final exams at university. Something tells me that “a man” would be my ultimate graduation thesis. And I don't feel ready to work on any kind of thesis now – or in the next three decades or so...

ps1: image copied from
ps2: After writing. I thought for two days whether I should post this or not. This subject seems to touch somewhere really deep. Hmm...