Open Heart, No Hands

05 Aug

By now the Old Me would have scattered her entire wardrobe around the room looking for the Perfect Outfit to attract Him in an understated way. I would be panicking as I realized that I don’t own any Hoochie Couture and would have to settle for leggings and the best of my light and summery but not cheap looking blouses.

Next would come the anxious process of searching for physical flaws using every mirror in the house: the full length one on the bedroom door that has a bloating funhouse effect, the fluorescent lit bathroom one that makes me look like an Ancient Alien, the softly flattering wall mirror which always reflects a lovely glowing woman in her prime, and the final reality check in the small but deadly mirror that magnifies.

Then, sweating in the 100 degree heat whilst trying to figure out how to control the egress of water from my pores, I would grab my purse and anxiously head for the door and the place where I know He goes for lunch or coffee or to hear music at night. Or perhaps I would cruise down His street to see if I could spot Him. Could I park and hide behind a newspaper?

Today, however, I am not doing any of that. Instead I am relaxing at home, writing this and trying a new approach to handling the extreme emotional and physical discomfort known as Romantic Attraction.

I would describe my new strategy as Getting Over It. Call it preventive medicine for the broken heart. The way I see it, if I can get over the guy (and my own Big Feelings) on Day One, then I will save myself a lot of suffering later–starting with the disappointment I will experience if the frisson of attraction fizzles.

Getting over it means having a realistic approach to pheromonal urges from the first warning thumps of my eager heart. It means taking the fuzzy filters off my eyes, removing the chick flick script from my brain; not planning the wedding from across a crowded room nor breaking up with Him in my mind before our first friendly chat.

It seems to me that a lot of the pain of relationships comes from getting too far ahead of myself. A healthy love affair is the ultimate Twelve Step exercise in present-moment living without forcing anything or trying to race into the future. You are just there dealing with it as it unfolds, neither inflating nor deflating it with your imagination and projections.

I am not sure why I feel the need to rush a relationship. It could be an urge to control, to move rapidly out of the uncertainty that is part of new love into the later more secure stage of things.

After all, nothing is more ambiguous than a new attraction. True amours, lousy love affairs, crushes that crash, and one-sided infatuations all start out more or less the same way. I’m talking about the very VERY beginning: the idyllic fantasy-fueled interlude before red flags, epiphanies, disappointments, hating, blaming and heartbreak.

The fact that you cannot tell where something is headed at the outset means you have to endure uncertainty, unresolved feelings, fear and fretting if you want a relationship to develop. For control freaks and anxiety junkies like me, living with the unknown is agonizing. Sometimes I think I would rather wreck a potential partnership than wait to find out of it is a go or a NO.

In fact, I have done that very thing–more than once.

Some of my airbag-popping strategies for racing into romance (and crashing) have included:

Doing IT too soon in order to get IT over with and become instantly intimate (guys mistook me for a garden implement and tended to not call again–apparently nothing has changed in this regard since the 1950s).

Cultivating a passionate relationship via email before the first coffee (we got so emotionally involved that we had a huge cyber fight and broke up before meeting).

Really opening up on the first date, and sobbing uncontrollably (this is terrifying to a guy…a romantic buzz kill for sure).

Treating the hopeful like a husband by displaying all my worst personality traits in a single email: a paranoid, petty, possessive, jealous Gynormous Beatch Manifesto. This is the sickest way to lose a dude. Yeah, it’s instantaneous.

That is why today you won’t find me driving slowly down the Street Where he Lives (while singing the Broadway tune of the same name) nor surreptitiously scheming to get his email. If you pry into my brain you won’t find a single fantasy about the banging body I plan to have before He Gets to See It.

This time, I am dousing my flaming imagination with cold water, giving up on all hopes and plans, surrendering my will to God and the Universe. I am over him before I start, before I get a chance to ruin it.

Over him but at the same time completely willing, optimistic, and eager to see what develops.

Heart Open, Hands Off. I think it’s a good plan.


Posted by on August 5, 2011 in Clarity, Essays


6 responses to “Open Heart, No Hands

  1. Leslie

    August 5, 2011 at 8:50 pm


    • mariehelene56

      August 5, 2011 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks so much, Leslie. You made my day. Yay.

  2. aeisman

    August 6, 2011 at 1:41 am

    What a beautiful writer! And I support your strategy. Though I would toss in those red shoes.

    • mariehelene56

      August 6, 2011 at 2:12 am

      Hi Amy, thanks so much for your kind words. Your encouragement over the years has always been a source of inspiration, since the days when we edited at the same terminal–you had an empty cardboard tube and I chewed gum. Yeah, the shoes are over the top. Blame it on clip art. I never owned a pair of pointy red heels. My red shoes are Mary Janes and look like I got them at the Buster Brown store in 1965. xxoo

  3. Kitty

    August 6, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Beautifully written, but more important, this is true. As my grandmother said, “Why waste your energy when the man isn’t giving equal attention back?” We’ve all done that. You are lovely and I hope you wait for someone who is your equal to love you as you are. No primping or driving around the block or fake presentation needed. Thanks for introducing me to one of those special guys.

    • mariehelene56

      August 6, 2011 at 8:32 am

      Thank you Kitty dear. No primpin’, I promise. Love you.


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