A Life Candy or a Partner? 

I remember that weekend day in Spring of 2010 so vividly when I was down and disappointed over my last relationship which had not worked out. My dad who had been sick for a while but tried to go for daily walks asked me to go for a walk with him. As we slowly walked to his pace, he asked me why I was down. I normally didn’t like sharing my emotions with my parents especially my dad because there was always a lesson he would give me in it, but my dad had changed in the last years of his life. He had stopped preaching and started being more real.  So I took a chance. I told him I was disappointed… why was it so easy for my friends to be with someone and I couldn’t?…. I remember how angry I got at his answer, when he said “well, maybe you don’t really want a relationship, subconsciously”… I interrupted him in frustration “what does that even mean? that my conscious wants something and yet my freaking subconscious is leading my life. That would seem like a cruel punishment”

I wish I could go back to that day and hug my dad and just listen to what he had to say. He died a few months after that and I was left to figure out all this on my own.
In later years I pondered my dad’s words over and over again. If my subconscious doesn’t want a marriage then what does it want and why does a part of me thinks she wants it…. I analyzed it in therapy and with myself….and I journaled and wrote and asked myself why did I want a man? why really? I started putting in to practice what I learned from that healer and lovely teacher I met in 2012, Siri Gian, who taught me how to ask questions, listen and differentiate between the voices of that Wise part of myself (Soul) and the other every day-self  or ego and write down the answers.
And the answer was kind of mind blowing and kind of really obvious. I thought I wanted to have a relationship. I even thought maybe I wanted to get married but when I got honest with myself I saw that the desire wasn’t so much to find a partner in life. It was really to have someone whose love, affection and attention would make me feel good, someone that with him I would never feel lonely, someone who would be my arm-candy and life-candy. The candy that would take away any of life’s bitterness and replace it with only sweetness.
And really come to think of it, that’s what I thought love is. Someone who will sweep you off your feet and then love you every day. And any time you feel down, he will lift you up by his love. Just like all the books I had read growing up in Iran which all started with “he saw a glimpse of her and fell in love with her, not with one heart but with a hundred hearts” And the movies I had seen and the couples who seemed to have that at least from a distance and on the outside.
And yet all the marriages around me growing up seemed to not have that. Women close to me whose marriages seemed tumultuous and flawed. Women who always seemed not happy from what their husbands did or didn’t do.
To me it seemed either people are trying to tolerate a marriage that is unhappy and love-less or there is this perfect love where the imperfections are even cute and the girl will pull away and the guy always chases her…. always!
When those bits of my subconscious finally became conscious, my initial reaction was that of self-judgement but eventually with mindfulness and sitting with it all, the voice of that Wise-Self came to my rescue every time. and here is what I realized. That this kind of expectations of a man as a life-candy is exactly the recipe for bitterness. For disappointment and heartache when I’d inevitably come face to face with his insecurities, with the moments that he is in his own head, or in self-doubt.
At these exact moments, if I am in it for him to make me feel better when I feel insecure, to make me feel loved, then it will feel like a love-less marriage.
Yet, if I am able to hold space for my own insecurities, to be aware of all the human parts of me that want affection and attention and feel lonely at times, if I can hold them like little children, then even when my partner is in his own insecurities and unable to hold me in his love, I can just see it for what it is, not project more to it, not make it about me and go in that downward spiraling and reacting. And when he is feeling good about himself and can give love, then it is just the icing on the cake of my own self-love.
I still don’t know exactly what that healthy relationship would look like for me but I am starting to realize that a life with someone else, no matter how smart, kind, cool and confident, will be marred with the same highs and lows of feeling loved and cared for and then feeling unloved, insecure and lonely that paints the canvas of my single life.
And here is what I wish I could tell my Dad that I am even starting to understand that this subconscious mind of mine is not an unfair, cruel punishment keeping me away from that ultimate happy marriage but it is the mystery of me that unravels in this journey of my life, one experience at a time, one disappointment at a time, one reflection at a time, and one breath at a time.

Insecure or Confident?

I don’t know what age I was…maybe 18… maybe younger, when I heard phrases like “Confidence is the most important thing”, “Confidence is sexy”, “Confidence is the most attractive attribute of a woman”
Whenever I had insecure thoughts in my head, which were not uncommon, especially when it came to how I looked, it would quickly follow by the acute realization that I am not confident since I have these thoughts.
I would sometimes see these women who seemed to somehow embody confidence in my eyes. Most times I didn’t really know them well. Maybe it was at a party, I would see a girl who didn’t seem shy, was beautiful, had a perfect body, or dressed beautifully, or seemed to have an air of detached-ness about her, or maybe a handsome or seemingly “cool” man next to her, looking at her with desire.
Without really knowing anything about her, merely based on her demeanor or looks I would think  “Gosh, she looks so confident. I bet she doesn’t care about what anyone thinks of her. I wish I was confident like that” And of course, having been told how confidence is important, I tried to hide all those areas where I lacked confidence. In fact I didn’t even see it as some areas of insecurity. I didn’t see it as shades of gray. I saw it as black and white. That this person has confidence and I don’t. Either you have it or not.
So, I just learned how to hide it. I learned how to never show my insecurities. I learned to act the opposite of what insecurity wanted me to do. I tried to make friends with confident people. And I tried to be social and outgoing and make it seem like I don’t care about what others think. And I don’t know if I did any of this consciously.
What is ironic is that everyone I chose to be friends with, based on how confident they appeared, when I actually got to know them well, I realized they also have insecurities. And the more they were aware of their insecurities and allowed me to see them, the more I connected with them and the closer our friendships became.
I remember I was talking to a friend who was telling me about how she has felt insecure about this or that in herself and realizing the insecurities makes her feel even more insecure.
This friend is a woman who is an amazing surgeon and one of the most beautiful women I know. She is someone I wished to be be friends with when I first met her in the hospital and saw that same air of confidence in her. She was quite and kept to her self and I took this as confidence and even slight detached-ness which I had come to associate with “coolness”. Little did I know that this was her “shyness”.
I don’t know at exactly which point in time, this big, impossible mountain of misconception about “insecure” vs. “confident” started to slowly chip away. Maybe it was after meeting my teacher, Siri Gian, the healer who taught me how to listen to that inner wisdom, that loving voice that speaks in whispers and for most of my life I wasn’t hearing it over the shouts of the other insecure voices. Or maybe it was in Azita’s yoga classes; a yoga teacher and psychologist who would open the class by genuinely sharing about her own vulnerabilities and emotions. Or maybe it was watching Brene Brown’s ted talks. Or maybe it slowly happened through all of these experiences and still happening as I sit with Homeira, my beloved therapist and teacher every week.
And that mountain started to chip away to this realization; That confidence is not a lack of insecurity, just like courage is not a lack of fear. It is wether we are aware of the insecurity, can accept it, not judge ourselves for it, love ourselves despite of it and look at it honestly and see the unreality of it.
After having talked to many brave women; doctors, artists, lawyers, engineers, dentists, journalists, housewives, mothers, etc, everyone seems to have insecurities around something or other. For someone it is around a body part that they try so hard to perfect, or around money or career or family or children or lack of children or status or partner or lack of it or health or a personality trait or so many other issues.
I know I have many insecurities of my own, but here is the amazing part of this past years of awakening to all of this, that the more I accept where I am, the more I get honest with myself instead of putting up a facade, the more I stop labeling myself as insecure and projecting perfection of confidence on to others, the more I breathe through any insecure feelings that come up and remember that this isn’t real, it doesn’t define me and is merely based on what I have bought in to, the more the insecurities release, shift and transform to real confidence. Not confidence based on having it all, but confidence based on accepting it all.
Thank you all the women (and men) who have bared your Souls with me, putting down the masks we all wear for some seconds or minutes or hours, showing me a piece of your insecurities and helping me heal mine. I am passing it on.

 

This being single

For the past 12 years or more, since my last relationship of almost 10 years ended, I thought I’d just meet someone and get married like every woman I know. And although secretly marriage and kids scared me but the idea of that woman who is 40, alone, unmarried, no kids, pitied and judged scared the shit out of me.
So in these years of confusion I kept wondering why I can’t, like most of my friends, just click with someone. Why is it so hard?
 And of course every friend or aquaintance who learns that indeed I do want a partner but don’t have one yet, offers advice. “You are probably too picky”, “You probably pick the wrong guys”, “You must not really want marriage subconsciously”. A teacher told me that once I fully loved all aspects of myself the right guy will show up right in front of me.
And so I psychoanalyzed myself. I went to therapy. I kept wondering if I feared marriage. I tried to ask myself if I really wanted to get married. That do I really want children or just think I should have them to fit in? Do I want to have children of my own or adopt? Is a woman’s life defined by motherhood? If not, then what will define me? I tried as much as I could to love and accept myself more and more.
And through the years, friends or relatives whom I would run in to, always asked: “Sooooo, have you found the one?” and the “No” that I would have to say felt like such a failure. That I somehow have to justify it by saying “No, but…..” “No, I am not married yet, but I am a doctor and doing yoga teacher training”, “No, I don’t have kids yet, but I am taking this course and starting meditation classes for my patients at work” or “No, but let me tell you about the last guy I went out with and what lessons I learned”
And I just felt a sense of shame. Every year that passed and I am STILL single I felt more shame. And here is what I learned about shame, that once it builds up, you either go hide yourself so you never have to confront with the shame-causing issue or after enduring it and trying so hard to change the “shame-causing issue” you look it really hard in the eyes and say to it: shame, I see you! I see your pain. I see that you have totally bought in to the bullshit, but if you don’t let it go, it will destroy you. If you don’t wholeheartedly embrace the truth it will literally make you want to jump off a bridge.
And so today after years of this, here is what I have to say.
I am still single. I am still hoping to find the right guy some day. I am still probably picky and still probably making “mistakes” and still not sure if I fear marriage or if want to have kids and STILL probably not as loving and as accepting of myself as I should be.
But here is the thing, the truth, is that I am, with my whole heart, grateful for this past very many years of single life with this quest. The quest to find the answer to my “defect.” The quest to find out why I am single.
This quest has taken me on this amazing, beautiful, priceless journey so far. The quest that took me to meet a healer who taught me to connect to my higher self and forever changed my life. The quest which took me to meet many teachers and therapists and finally made me realize that the best therapist and teacher is that higher Self within my own being. The quest that took me to hours of shedding tears of release and exaltation in Kundalini Yoga classes and learning meditation and mindfulness which has changed my life’s moments to richer and more real.
And to putting myself out there and meeting some great men whose encounters taught me about myself and gave me the opportunity to come face to face with my own fears and biases.
And this quest which has brought me to to this day, a day that I thought would never come in to my life. No, I have not found “THE ONE” if that is even such a thing. But the day where I can practice being brave and writing these words. To look shame in the eye, hold its hands and say, let’s open the door and not hide. A day where I am deciding to be humble with my vulnerabilities and write that yes, I am single and I am turning 40 in a few months and sometimes it can be lonely and sometimes it can be scary but most times when I am not in the trance of the messages I’ve gotten from the society I am actually in love with life and this messy and alive journey of being here.