Tag Archives: relationships

Dear Jane: This Isn’t a Temporary State of Being

2 May

Dear Jane.jpg

Hello, dear readers. Those of you who have been following awhile might remember Jane, my first follower. She recently sent me an update, which I wanted to share, along with a few words. Thanks always for reading. I hope to have more exciting updates soon!

Dear Jennifer, 

Hello again. It’s been a few months since I wrote to you. That’s really cool that I kind of inspired your adventures. Me – the waitress from Kansas who used to spend more time waiting at the pharmacy window than staring out the window of an airplane. But that’s going to change soon!

My dad is a lot better now, but he still is on a lot of medications. But I think he can handle things on his own. I’m glad I stayed home to take care of him. If I hadn’t, I would have thought about how I was letting him down. But also, staying home led me to the most wonderful man I ever met. 

Thank you for inspiring me to be patient and do things that make me a more interesting person so that I would meet a great guy. It really helped me get to this point where I can actually see myself really being with him for a long time. I’ve decided to postpone my college plans for now so that I can follow him (his name is Kurt) to Arizona where he’s going to finish college. I feel like I’m starting a new life with Kurt – all thanks to you.

I just wanted to say thank you for helping me get through a tough time and for inspiring me to be the kind of woman who could get a guy like that. Good luck with your dating life! (I think you should give that last guy a second chance – you never know when it might be the one!).

Sincerely,

Jane

(name changed for anonymity)


Dear Jane,

I’m happy to hear your father is better. You sound happy and that is always a great thing. I admire you for sacrificing your future to help those you love. I’m sure your dad and brother will be forever grateful to you.

You seem like a sweet and unselfish young woman with genuinely good intentions, so I feel like a jerk for saying this so bluntly, but I just have to: I think you misunderstood me.

You are not alone in mistaking my intentions, or the intentions of even stronger, more determined women. It’s a familiar narrative that I’ve noticed in my past self, in my friends, and even in female protagonists in crappy movies. It goes something like this: woman becomes single, woman gets mad, woman finds voice, voice makes her interesting, some other man finds that attractive, woman couples with new man, woman’s new voice is validated because it led her to a better man.

Let me say this loud and clear, in case there’s any lingering confusion: being an empowered female is not a coping mechanism to employ between romantic relationships. It should be a permanent state of being.

I didn’t make it my mission to become an International Woman of Mystery so I would be more appealing to my next boyfriend. I did it so my emotional and spiritual center of gravity would always reside in myself. I did it to find a long-lost inner confidence. I did it so I would have a permanent independence in an impermanent world.

Sometimes I let my mind wander to a post-apocalyptic state where I have nothing but the clothes on my back, the brain in my head and the soul in my heart. What would I ever do in that future world if my identity resided in someone or something else that no longer existed? I would have even less, and that would be devastating.

It’s not any of our faults for making this mistake. And I don’t think it’s necessarily a female problem. But I do think women are more often raised to believe that the men (or women) we end up with, the weddings we have, and the children we bear warrant our efforts to become more intellectually, emotionally and physically successful.

Jane, be the best version of yourself because the things that make you that way fill you with joy. Do what makes you happy and share that energy with the world. Fall in love, of course, but be careful that you’re not doing it to validate your life, or because you depend on it for your main source of happiness and acceptance. Let the men in your life be not the leads in your story, but the supporting cast, for that very reason.

If I sound redundant, it’s intentional. We have to make these points often and we have to make them loud if we’re really going to change the way we women value ourselves. And so, I must say Jane, you have inspired me once again, though maybe not in the way you planned.

I see now that I still have so much more work to do. Thank you for showing me that.

Yours,
The International Woman of Mystery

Advertisements

A Perfectly Fine Man

1 Apr

wg_news_italian_cinema_2_web_1column

The sun pierced my eyes through the blinds of my bedroom. I squinted through them, catching the snow-capped Rockies in the distance. There is nothing like coming home to a place you love.

New York was fabulous, and it made me want to explore everything – Denver while I am broke. And the rest of the world when I have the means to travel (thanks to those readers who gave me those travel ideas and tips, by the way; it was quite helpful).

Since I had been at a work conference all weekend, I got to take the weekday off. I rolled over, excited to let the day and city take me where I let it, restricted by no one.

And then I remembered I had a date that night.

Ugh.

After networking all weekend in New York, my stores of social energy were depleted. All I wanted was to walk around aimlessly and daydream, without interference from a schedule.

I so wanted to cancel, but one of my mom’s friend’s daughters had set me up on this date; cancelling would have caused more turmoil for me later with my mother than the inconvenience of going now. With the date looming over my head, inhibiting my full enjoyment of the day because I could only wander so far and do so much, I still managed to walk to a neighborhood I’d never seen and find a used book store with a wide array of travel books. I returned to the apartment, procrastinated, then allowed myself just enough time to throw on some black pumps and red lipstick, grab a trench and head out the door.

Continue reading

Dating: An Attempt

5 Mar

Actress Greta Garbo and Eric Von Seyffertitz in

“Wow. You look fantastic.”

GoFarther83 nodded with hopeful eyes and a genuine smile.

“Thank you.” I smiled back, unsure of how to react or what to do with my hands.

He looked a little different than I expected from his online picture. Though, to be fair, he was wearing sunglasses in that picture, so it was hard to see who he really was.

It was my first-ever Internet date and I felt unidentifiable anxiety, anticipation, contentment, and excitement. I didn’t know the protocol and that made me nervous. Do you just go up to someone and ask if you met online? Do you try a flirty opening line? What if they take one look at you and leave? What if they like you more than you like them and you don’t know how to reject someone you don’t really know?

I’d started writing messages back and forth with GF83 (whose real name is Adam) a few days ago. He initiated the exchange: If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

Since I haven’t been anywhere, I said the most unusual one I could think of, to mask my inexperience. Easter Island.

Exotic. I like it! What do you like to do for fun?

We then launched into a somewhat typical get-to-know-you conversation. It surprised me how Internet dating really did feel just like real world dating. It wasn’t the most passionate or inspiring opening conversation, but he seemed nice and talkative enough. Just when it felt like the time to wrap up, he messaged, You seem really interesting. Would you want to grab a drink?

How about Thursday? I typed back.

Continue reading

Dating In The Modern Age

28 Feb

18155204718535914_Zy7DEL6T_c

“You’re going to have to suck it up and do it at some point,” challenged the crackling voice on the other end of my telephone. “Might as well rip off the bandaid and get it over with.”

I’d been debriefing with an old friend, and while I’ve been keeping most of my activities off the radar these days, the loneliness in my voice betrayed me. My cohort suggested it might be time for me to try online dating. Despite my protests that I simply wasn’t ready, her insistence struck a nerve. An International Woman of Mystery would never back down from a challenge.

Continue reading

Hello Next Big Thing

25 Feb

 

bette-davis-now-voyager-wispy-evening-gown-cape1

There comes a point when you are getting over someone, when you are at the lowest depths of loneliness and self-pity that a sudden burst of energy comes on, a result of finally having exhausted all you have left to mourn for someone.

You might call this closure.

I am finding that in order to reach closure, I have to grieve; it’s inevitable. It’s the only route through this mess of feelings to true liberation.

It feels silly to say that: grief. No one died. Other people have been through far, far worse than getting dumped by their fiancé. It makes me feel insensitive to people who really have lost someone.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am not one of those people who embraces this process – I am much better at avoidance and distraction. Going through this whole transformation of self-awareness to become a more ideal woman has effectively helped me avoid grief. The idea of “grieving” a man I wish I hadn’t loved makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I even threw myself destructively into a two-day romance I wasn’t ready for in the hopes of moving on. Besides, superheroes don’t cry. They suck it up and forget about it.

But then I got that coat in the mail. Without warning, the physical presence of that damn coat brought me face-to-face with Mr. Poison and the feelings I buried when I left Boston. I thought I could outsmart the questions about what I did wrong, the memories of the best times we had, the mental rehashing of all our fights, and all our makeups.

Listen here: grief does not discriminate. It affects everyone, for every kind of loss. You can’t avoid it, no matter how far or fast or hard you run.

Having realized this, when I got home the other night after giving that coat away, I let myself cry hard and long, to deeply feel the pain of the loss.

I’ve never cried like that before, but maybe that’s what’s been missing in my ability to move on from things. It forced me into emotionally dark spaces I wished I didn’t have to visit, but the end result is true catharsis that has given me a freedom I have never felt before.

It’s the freedom to finally say: goodbye Mr. Poison (for real this time).

Someone recently told me that when you grieve a relationship, you are really grieving the part of yourself that was inherently tied to that person. Whether you like it or not, you become someone a little bit different when you’re in a relationship, perhaps a better version of yourself, perhaps a worse version of yourself. Either way, you somehow can’t be that person around anyone else, so without his presence to influence you, that part of you dies.

And so this new grieving process also allows me to say: goodbye girl I used to be.

Hello next big life thing. I’m ready.

-Jennifer

Mission: Be Benevolent

18 Feb

Benevolent

Sometimes you choose the mission, but as I’m sure many an action hero can attest, sometimes the mission chooses you.

I hadn’t planned on undertaking any new endeavors this Valentine’s Day. It seemed as good a day as any to work on being incognito. And by incognito, I mean laying at home watching cheesy romantic comedies (even the International Woman of Mystery has guilty pleasures) and eating popcorn for dinner. Don’t get me wrong – I did treat myself to a nice bottle of wine and some chocolates. I’m not a complete barbarian. If anything, I’m the best date I’ve had for Valentine’s Day in quite some time.

However. As if sensing my intrinsic happiness from afar, it seems Mr. Poison was not to be outdone.

Continue reading

This Is Unacceptable

28 Jan

sad-writer

My Boston friends have caught onto this blog.

Apparently Katie, that girl that I skied with in Vail, told them about it (I had told her about it in a moment of drunken vulnerability that I now regret), and a few of them were curious, so they looked it up.

I received exactly three emails in the last week from three of those close female friends who read the blog.

One email was generally encouraging – thank you, friend, for that.

The other two emails had a critical edge – subtle, but damaging. There was nothing directly punishing or aggressive in them, but the implications behind their loaded comments hurt when I first read them. It was clear they didn’t agree with the way I handled the breakup, and they didn’t seem to like my Jenny G. persona. I let them know that, to little acknowledgment in return.

It’s possible they’re reading this now, so I won’t republish their comments here. But I will say that their questions and passive criticisms made me feel like they were judging not what I’m doing, but who I am. It felt like they think that the person driving my actions is not someone they particularly care for. It felt like they were saying, “Why can’t you fit the version of who I wish you were?”

It was a familiar feeling. When I was with Mr. Poison, he was often disappointed or irritated by my reactions. He used my faults for ransom. Change your faults or I will leave you was the constant, unspoken ultimatum. I criticized myself based on what we fought about. I put myself down in the hope that it would motivate me to change. If I could be perfect the way Mr. Poison wanted, then he would love me perfectly.

It makes you feel like you are unworthy of love unless you change. If you fall for that, you will spend your entire life changing who you are to please someone else. Of course, they will never be pleased because their disapproval has more to do with themselves than with you, and you will never be happy because you’re putting your love of yourself in someone else’s hands.

This is not to say that we can’t get annoyed with each other. This isn’t to say we can’t ask someone to improve a behavior because it’s hurtful or dysfunctional or unsafe. And this isn’t to say that we shouldn’t want to be wiser, more mature, healthier people.

But my friends’ criticisms, like the ones from Mr. Poison, were not about a behavior. They were about a personality trait. They got down to the bare bones of who I am at my core, and in the moment of truth, none of them liked that so much.

After I got the emails, I re-read my blog, from beginning to end, scrutinizing every detail, every perspective, every event, through the lens of someone who actually knows me. I looked at the posts critically. I searched for points where I could have said something less cheesy, or emoted less and opined intelligently a little more. I cringed at the parts where I could feel some of my annoying tendencies coming out.

And then I thought: this is unacceptable. No one should make me feel this way.

Moving to Denver and devoting myself to this IWOM project is one of the first times I can remember developing myself into the person I wanted to be – not the person I believed I needed to be to receive love and acceptance from certain people.

Changing for yourself and for no one else simply makes you a happier person. It takes the burden off others who feel like you depend on them to make you happy. It allows you to bring so much more joy into others’ lives. It’s liberating to figure out that you alone hold the cards to make you happy just by embracing and enhancing your inherent you. And guess what? It’s been that way all along.

When I started this blog, I honestly did not think my friends in Boston would find it, read it, or judge it. I certainly wasn’t writing it for them. Back then, I think the only person I was writing for was myself. I never really thought about an audience until Jane showed up. Now, I am more aware than ever of that audience. I can’t say it makes me totally comfortable, but if I really want to inspire others through my adventures, I’d better get used to it. I’ll just have to remind myself to continue to stay true to myself.

-Jennifer

Living On A Whim: Part Two

19 Jan

Whim

I rolled over in a groggy haze. There was a figure in the corner, dressed only to the waist. I pulled the comforter up over my shoulders, and buried my head in the pillow. The figure spoke.

“Hey Jennifer.”

Continue reading

Living On A Whim: Part One

17 Jan

Vail2

It appeared that I was in a European village. The brick streets wound through narrow passages, and wooden balconies hugged the condos above. A Swiss flag waved in the distance. Ski shops abounded, and there was a clog shop over there. White lights hung over an ice rink. It was almost international.

But I wasn’t in Europe. I was in Vail, just 100 miles from Denver. I was here on a whim, a practice in spontaneity.

You might ask why I need to practice living spontaneously. I am, after all, the girl who fled 2,000 miles in the middle of the night to a city she’d never been to.

That was the first time in my life I ever acted so boldly.

Until that night, I couldn’t make any decisions on a moment’s notice. I felt paralyzed unless I had time to ponder every decision, carefully weighing every implication of every action. I planned and planned and planned, and left nothing to chance.

In retrospect, I see how much I pondered myself out of doing anything fun, mostly because I was too afraid – too afraid to trust that things would work out. Too afraid to simply let go. There were tangible fears too, like my fear of heights, and I was too uncomfortable with that fear to ride it out.

When Mr. Poison dumped me, something snapped. Some long buried instinct rose to the surface and took over. I didn’t think of consequences. It was exhilarating. Once I felt that, I knew I wanted to feel it again, and I’ve been searching for it ever since.

Continue reading

Here’s To You, Jane

28 Dec

Marilyn Monroe triumphant.jpg

My blog has a follower. My blog has a follower! And it’s not my mom!

This girl “Jane,” a stranger from Kansas, somehow found me, even though we don’t know the same people. Jane wrote to me today – she wanted to tell me that she enjoys my blog and is looking forward to seeing me go on more adventures.

Jane also shared a little bit of her story, and it has affected me.

Continue reading