Finding Keepers

People. Unless you’ve shunned society altogether and have carved out a piece of land for yourself someplace at the end of the earth, you cannot escape them. If, for one hypothetical moment, we agree to engage in the notion of a solitary existence, the likelihood of avoiding human beings altogether during your self-imposed isolation is still quite improbable. Let’s face it, most of us will not be the outlier who chooses to embrace a Bear Grylls persona and charge off into the wilderness to live indefinitely in a log cabin in the woods.

It’s a fact that people need other people. It’s also fair to say that without interacting and forming relationships with other humans, our own abilities to love and evolve, and develop interpersonal skills such as empathy and compassion would eventually stifle before heading on a downward spiral toward emotional immaturity. You see, relationships are vital to personal, spiritual and emotional growth, and critical in fuelling the embers of love from which we are born; the same realm which we will someday return.

People do need other people. Solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment within our prison systems for hundreds of years. Isolating and stripping a human being from contact with others has a profound psychological effect. Despite its “time to reflect and connect to God” origins, there is no evidence to suggest any positive effects on inmates from time spent in solitude. In fact, the opposite is true. Solitary confinement has received severe criticism for having “detrimental psychological effects, causing trauma and an array of mental disorders, and in some cases, constituting torture”.

So, for the one who concludes his existence rests on the provision of food, water and shelter and proclaims love is not vital for life and survival, I respectfully disagree. All the food and water in the world cannot fill you enough to nourish your soul or cultivate your heart. You might eat and drink, and you might find warmth beneath shelter, but if you are starved of the one true thing your heart and soul crave in order to grow and thrive, eventually you’ll start talking to coconuts while you shrivel from the inside out and lose your mind.

The world is full of people. They are here, and they are there. Some are good, and others are not. We need each other, but do I need you?

People cross our paths all the time, whether it be through social meetings and mutual acquaintances, work opportunities, meeting someone by chance at an event or some other scenario. They come and go, and for the most part they drift into the background of your past and barely summon enough effort to be thought of again.

So, how is it that we know when someone is a keeper? How do we push past the screen and the superficial courtesies that often accompany our encounters long enough to know when a connection feels right? And when do we allow our precious hearts to become vulnerable?

In 2008 I met a man during a night out with my friends at a local bar. We’d gone out to watch a band and celebrate my divorce – yes, it was an essential moment etched along the string of my life-path and warranted the celebratory occasion. I called the evening “the D-party”; I know, it’s not so creative, but then again, the “D” didn’t necessarily stand for divorce.

A bunch of my friends, my brother and I pulled on some threads and hit the small town of Springwood to welcome in my new life of freedom. New beginnings. I remember the evening well because it was early-July, the mountain night air was icy cold, and well, it was a great night. It wasn’t often that my brother would drag himself up those mountains from Sydney to come see me, and I was delighted to spend some time with him.

It was great – the conversations were awesome, the drinks flowed and the cover band played the usual rock classics. We danced and laughed; the “D-party” was getting down and rocking it. I was totally in the moment, enjoying myself and sitting at a table with my friends when suddenly my attention was drawn to him. Like a beautiful, buff blonde vision, Mr Confident emerged from the parting crowd with me firmly in his blue-jeweled sight.

You know how it goes; heart temporarily seizes, pulse ramps up a notch and all of a sudden, you’re feeling a little more than heady. I mean this guy was close to perfect. So perfect, I almost felt pale in comparison. When his lips spread into a wide grin and he greeted me as he took the chair beside me, it took all I had not to focus on the dropping jaws of my girlfriends as they ogled him.

As it turned out, he was an athlete and had mutual acquaintances with my friend’s husband in the professional sporting arena. He was friendly and charming; charisma oozed from each deliberate remark and gesture as he set about making me the center of his universe. And when he realized the big guy in the corner chair was my brother, he put out all the stops to impress.

Mr nice-guy. Mr cool-cat. Mr can-I-take-you-out-for-dinner-next-week-when-you’re-all-alone-guy.

Of course, I agreed. Why wouldn’t I? It was a no-brainer. The man was hot, and I was available. There were no rings on my fingers, and I thought it might be about time to dip my toes into the perilous depths of the dating game. My friends thought he was awesome, and my brother gave his nod of approval too. I had nothing to lose.

Or so I thought.

There’s that thing about me, the part that believes the good in everyone and takes people at face value. I assume the best in people’s intentions. I never intentionally set out to hurt people, so why would they want to hurt me?

In hindsight, the signs were there. Had I paid closer attention to a few of his mannerisms the night I met him, I might have avoided the date night. Had I listened to the way my incessant nerves tortured me right up till the moment he knocked on my door to take me out, I might have avoided him forcing himself on me. I might have avoided the breach of my personal safety and the ordeal of being violated, but I didn’t.

It’s not that I dislike sex. On the contrary, I’m quite partial to the steamy activity. No other act can fuse two people together so deeply, so intimately. When two people are in love their connection and hunger for each other expands, flows and thrives as they merge themselves completely through love-making. This is fusion in all its wondrous glory; physically, mentally, soulfully. It is the kind of stuff we live for and crave above all else; the ultimate expression of love that transports us to higher realms. Exquisite realms.

Of course, not all sex is like that. Sometimes, we just need to be close to another human. Sometimes, we just want to have fun. All good, as long we all understand each other.

I saw a man once. I met him during a trip to Canada. He was seven years younger than me, eager as a bucking bull on rodeo night, and packed just like one, if you know what I mean. He boarded a plane and travelled to Australia to spend some quality time with me. Twice. He happened to arrive in my life when it was exactly the kind of quality time I was looking for. Right on time. I did things with that guy I hadn’t ever done before. Or since. We understood each other.

Until his possessive tendencies kicked in and he didn’t want to leave.

The point is, mutually agreed upon sex is an awesome part of being human. I enjoy sex. More than likely, you do too. But if I’m not feeling it, then I’m not feeling it and it’s not on – period.

Mr Horny-cool-cat had other ideas.

There’s that the thing about some people – you know, the ones that have trouble understanding that part about sex. They are the same kind of people that play games and reel you in, the ones that get off on power tripping and saying the right things at the right times to gain the trust they don’t deserve. They show you what they want you to see in order to get what they want from you. Those kinds of people are dangerous because their truth is probably false, even to themselves.

Want to hear the real kicker? He called me the following week to ask me out on another date. When I ignored his calls, he pinged me with a text. I mean, really? I’m not sure if he was clueless or cunning as a rat’s ass. Either way, seeing his number appear on my phone sparked the anxiety attack that had landed me in the emergency room the day following our first date.

We can never really know what lies beneath the exterior that a person chooses to present to the world. Hell, even Mr Gorgeous had my usually doubtful brother fooled – and that’s saying something. Not to mention my over-protective friends. It was the clean-cut, white-toothed, good-guy image he had going for him, and it worked a treat. I can only imagine how many victims he has tallied up on his date-rape quest, and I can only hope that he eventually encountered more than he bargained for.

I know that Mr Confident became my experience because he was the final thread that released me from men like him infecting my life. He was the catalyst in reminding me what I didn’t want and what I refused to settle for – bullies and men who didn’t respect women. In the end, though, without taking the time to look beyond our initial encounters and getting to know someone who captures our attention, how would we know the keepers from the rubble? How would we harness and nurture the important connections destined to cross our paths?

We wouldn’t. Yet, I know now to pay more attention to my internal warning system and give it the trust it deserves. People need other people. Sometimes, we do have to take a chance and put ourselves out there, because if we don’t, we might end up talking to coconuts and dancing naked with a broomstick to Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy. Or worse, we might miss the greatest love of our lives.

I’ve learned by honoring and loving myself first, that I will attract those with the best intentions in all arenas of my life. They are the diamonds in the rough; those special ones that are sent here to shine over you and touch your life in a magical way. You can’t miss them – they are the ones that make the little moments special; the ones unafraid to love.

Treasure your diamonds for not only are they rare, they form the groundwork beating your heart with love.  

IMG_0628
Me and my “blurred out” girlfriend on the “D-party” night. 

 

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