"In that time, I wrote lists of all the qualities I wanted in a partner, little did I know that what I should have done was written a list of all that I NEEDED. I had men come into my life in this time and I had convinced myself that they were exactly what I wanted, but they smelt my desperation a mile away and thankfully they knew that they weren’t what I needed; they knew they couldn’t give me what I needed."
Valentine’s Day, you either love it or hate it, or indeed have a healthy cynicism about it which I completely support. Valentine’s Day started as a remembrance to Christian martyrs and involved violence and bloodshed and women being hit by “hides of animals”, it had nothing at all to do with what we equate to romantic love. It has turned into a mass marketing juggernaut which taps into our insecurities about our relationship and indeed our social expectations to have one, when in reality maybe we don’t actually need a relationship in our life right now.
For 14 years, I was one of those people dreading the inevitable marketing nonsense that comes up around February each year which brings up feelings of rejection, dejection and hopelessness about being a single person when deep down we just know what an amazing person that we are if only someone would just give us a chance.
I spent so much time and energy lamenting my single status, thinking that something was fundamentally wrong with me, when what I should have been appreciating exactly where I was; able to create time for me, my kids, my career and my creative projects. That time of being single was a gift, not a punishment. That time was exactly what I NEEDED to heal my previous relationship, to do the inner work on myself and to parent how I wanted without the complications that come with step-parenting and blended families.
In that time, I wrote lists of all the qualities I wanted in a partner, little did I know that what I should have done was written a list of all that I NEEDED. I had men come into my life in this time and I had convinced myself that they were exactly what I wanted, but they smelt my desperation a mile away and thankfully they knew that they weren’t what I needed; they knew they couldn’t give me what I needed.
If you read back over my blogs you’ll see that I had gotten to a point where I had surrendered to single life. I accepted that I was okay with or without a partner, I had accepted the rejection to a point where I no longer took it personally. And then Kind Man arrived. You can read about it here.
Had I known, I should have asked for someone who loved and accepted me just as I am.
Because that’s ultimately what I needed.
So before you go and write down all the things in a potential partner that you want. Stop, pause and ask yourself what do you NEED at this time? Do you actually NEED a person in your life?
Do you need time on your own to grieve a previous relationship?
Do you need a person to support you with kids?
Do you need a person who is honest? Trustworthy? Kind?
Do you need someone who is good with money? Who is flexible in their sexuality?
Do you need someone who accepts your family?
Do you need a friend who is also your lover, adventure buddy and cheerleader? Or do you just need a sex with benefits sort of friend?
Do you need someone to party with? Have children with? Chill with?
Go through all areas: sexuality, family (yours and extended), career, time, love languages, financial, dreams/goals, values. It’s in narrowing down what you need that really makes it easy to find someone who fits you and more importantly accepts you.
To be honest, I didn’t have electric chemistry with Kind Man when we met, like I did with GSM (gorgeous sexy man), but his kindness and patience opened my heart in a way that immediate electrical sexual charge never could have and that chemistry has just grown so much into an exquisite slow burn because I trust him. I trust him not to hurt me. He is just what I needed.
Sometimes just what we need, gives us exactly what we want.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2018
 . https://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day
"Yet, I know it is inevitable. So, I continue to try and create new memories in this time of transition as I realise my own additional freedom of time which comes with being the parent of young adults. I am trying so hard to keep them close that I know that eventually I’ll have to let them go as young people are destined to do."
My children are preparing to leave home and I’ve got to be honest, I’m struggling with it. I remember them as babies like it was yesterday, cliche, I know, but it's true. In my mind, they can’t leave home, they are still so young. My two eldest have recently started driving and talking about what’s next and I cannot possibly imagine our lives where we aren’t all together. It’s always just been me and the girls and things are changing so much, I’m finding that I’m not coping this transition.
I suspect that my eldest, who is about to turn 18 would have left home years ago, but I think she’s humouring me because she knows that it will be hard for me with her gone. I think she feels sorry for me and is holding off until I’m ready. I’ve been looking through the photographs of the past 18 years of her life and the life that we’ve shared together. I cannot believe how fast childhood goes, how very little time we have with them, how very little time that I’ve had with them.
I’ve developed a new appreciation for my parents and grandparents and the rapid passing of time as our children grow. I remember when each of them was just a 3kg baby in my arms, suckling, learning to walk, being curious about the world. I have found a fabulous quote from the outstanding novel: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes which sums up exactly what being a parent means:
“It’s just that the thing you never understand about being a mother, until you are one, is that it is not the grown man – the galumphing, unshaven, stinking, opinionated offspring – you see before you, with his parking tickets and unpolished shoes and uncomplicated love life. You see all the people he has ever been all rolled up into one.”
Full credit to JoJo Moyes, for I wish I had written those words, but it is exactly as she says. When I look at my children, I don’t just see who they are today, I see who they were as children, the adventures we’ve had, the tears we’ve shared, the songs we’ve sung in the care, and who they may possibly become in the future.
“Empty nest” or when our children launch themselves into the world, is a time for celebration, it means that we’ve done all that we possibly can to be the best parents we can and to be in joy with them as they take off. Yet, there is also sadness at what we have shared together and the knowledge that what we have shared will never be the same again. It will be different.
Yet, I know it is inevitable. So, I continue to try and create new memories in this time of transition as I realise my own additional freedom of time which comes with being the parent of young adults. I am trying so hard to keep them close that I know that eventually I’ll have to let them go as young people are destined to do.
I have to trust in the fact that I’ve done all that I can to help them be kind, responsible global citizens and trust them to make good decisions for their lives as they step out into the world. I have to learn to let them go and be who they were born to be. I have to create plans which enable them to come back to me whenever they need me. I need to trust the process of life.
In my heart, I know that I need to let them go, but at the same time, I’m excited for them and the possibilities that lay ahead and the new adventures that await us all as a family of young adults, and not a single mum with three little kids.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2017
"I’m completely stripping back the layers of who I think I am and looking at who I was and who I want to be. Some of the activities that I was doing no longer were serving me, so I let them go. It just randomly coincided with his arrival into my life."
I’ve now been in the most healthy, functional relationship that I’ve ever been in for twelve months and in that time, I have put on 8kg, quit yoga (which formed the basis of my identity) and feel more supported by another human being than I ever have in my life. I have changed. A relationship is more than two lives together, it is a blending of habits, routines and ways of being with another person. It is an interesting shift from being single to partnered and it challenges us to look at ourselves and the other person with some depth.
Is it normal to put on weight in a new relationship? According to a study by Taheri et al, increase in body mass index was due to less sleep and certainly, my sleep habits have changed, not only sharing a bed but sexual activity has altered my sleeping habits. Certainly, he cooks wonderful food and feeds me much richer foods than I was eating. I was on a fairly routine diet which included sometimes not eating at all in the evenings and I was certainly exercising…well, differently than I was. I do not blame him at all for my weight gain or change in lifestyle, but it has made me wonder what is going on within me to allow this? Is there another reason?
Am I changing who I am for someone or am I protecting myself from being hurt? Am I putting up barriers for his love? In Louise L. Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, extra fat is what we do in order to protect ourselves. But if anything, Kind Man (KM) makes me feel safe, he makes me feel supported and he makes me feel loved. However, I have changed a number of my behaviours and routines, particularly around diet and exercise in my efforts to accommodate this new “normal” in my life.
I have been in relationships where I changed who I was for a man, but this feels different. I don’t feel that he is changing me, per se, but I do feel like I am changing as a result of having him in my life and apart from the weight gain, it is a good change. I’m completely stripping back the layers of who I think I am and looking at who I was and who I want to be. Some of the activities that I was doing no longer were serving me, so I let them go. It just randomly coincided with his arrival into my life.
For most of my adult life I have been seeking a significant other, not having any conscious thought about what I would do when it arrived and now, I have someone who is willing to commit to me and my family for my entire life! I don’t need to seek anymore, yet there is still that space where the “seeking” energy sat. There is a space where much of my thoughts were directed and now, I’m not quite sure what to do with this new space in my head. So, I guess, I eat. I fill my mind up with worries about not being enough or other such nonsense. I create excuses why we shouldn’t be together when there is not ONE single reason why we should break up.
When we are dating, we make ourselves look nice and consciously or not, try to make ourselves more attractive to a potential mate, but I’ve heard the term, “letting go” of things like not shaving regularly, or wearing make-up and not bothering to dress nicely. Have I just let myself go? Have I unconsciously figured that he loves me no matter what so I can be as unattractive as possible as a way to push him away? Or as a test of his love for me?
It is an unresolved space, but it is where I am right now and I accept what is. In the meantime, I am back on the treadmill and building up my exercise routine and being more conscious about the food that I eat and filling my body with nutrition rather than worry about weight. Eight kilograms is not an easy ride, but perhaps what I need to do is just love my new bigger body for teaching me that even at my worst, he will still love me, even if I can’t fit into that fabulous dress anymore!
©Alyssa Curtayne 2017
Share your new relationship stories in the comments below:
 Taheri, Shahrad, et al. "Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index." PLoS Med 1.3 (2004): e62.
"We repeatedly push people who love us away to a point that they either rise above and show us their unconditional love or they don’t."
We are sold this idea that it comes easy; that it should come easily.
But some of us are different.
Some of us put huge barriers around our hearts to protect it from harm.
Some of us don’t let anyone in unless they pass through a series of tests that we unconsciously give them.
And some of us try very hard to push the people who love us most away.
I am one of those people and unconsciously I have taught my daughter to be one of those people.
You can tell me a million times that you love me, but it will take more than a million times until my walls start coming down, until I believe you, until I trust you.
I can’t tell you when I first put these walls up, maybe it was pre-birth, past life or from an early childhood experience. The moment that it started really is irrelevant, what is important is acknowledging that it is there now and that I really own them.
I’ve subconsciously known these walls are there and I have done a blog about how my current partner is helping me to break them down, but it was when I noticed my 17-year-old daughter doing the same thing – pushing her family away – that I realised that it was actually my problem. I have been modelling a defensive heart to her. I have been modelling a testing heart to her.
A testing heart.
It’s an interesting concept but I’ve done it and I can see her doing it too. We repeatedly push people who love us away to a point that they either rise above and show us their unconditional love or they don’t. If it’s the latter, we walk away from that person they haven’t shown us that they are willing to love us no matter what, if it is the former, we welcome them into our tiny circle of trusted loved ones.
We keep those close who love us and rarely do we let others in. If they want into our testing hearts, they will have to prove to us time and time again that they are willing to fight for us.
It’s a defence mechanism that we use to try and weed out those that love us unconditionally and those who have judgement, criticism or love us with conditions that we are avoiding.
Gary Chapman in his popular book, The Five Love Languages, speaks about the five ways we like to show and receive love, but I propose an alternative explanation. As a testing heart, I don’t care how you show your love to me, the method is irrelevant, I just want to know that you really do love me, even if I do something despicable. It’s a very adolescent behaviour and maybe I just haven’t grown out of adolescence, but it’s a behaviour that I have, that I own and that I see in others too.
For now, that’s where I am and I hope that I can model a more open heart to my daughter but until
then, I have deep self-reflection to do with my Chakra Cards.
May you love those who need to be loved most with an open and unconditional heart, because those of us who test you know for sure that we are worth it and are just checking if you are too.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2017