My mind likes targets and bullseyes. My mind's way of dealing with these likes involves merry-go-rounds and tea cup saucers. Nine times out of ten the targets and bullseyes are a man - from the past or present and nine times out of ten the spinning is uncontrollable.
Therein lies the beauty of distraction, which is the cure to all evils as long as it is not evil in itself. Here's the point where I remind myself that I have quite a few at hand that have nothing to do with a man - well as long as I am careful not to make the end point of the distraction impressing a man in some way. The goal is to make the distraction something that will better yourself for yourself. This is hard for me because sometimes it feels selfish and pointless - but it is not.
Here are distractions to remember:
The only thing I love as much as men is a good book. The trick now is to love the good books more, and to tear through, catalog and obsess over them the way I do love affairs. The other important part is not - and this is really difficult - let parts of a book remind you of a certain anyone. I can't count the number of times that a book I've read has become so imbued with thoughts of a romantic attachment at the time I was reading it that it became almost impossible to appreciate the truths the book had to offer to only me. At some point this is probably inevitable, but it need not be.
I've decided my way of trying to avoid this is to set goals about the volume of books to read (very helpful goodreads.com's lists to tear through) and make it a point to summarize them as I myself see them and not how it relates to my love life. Sadly, love is a theme in the books, but it's important to be able to see the love (or denial of) that characters offer each other without it having to be about your own personal dramas.
The second advantage is that the merry-go-round suddenly turns upside down into a wheel that is actually headed out to dreamy and foreign frontiers. And reading makes you smart, and as long as you only need to be smart in yourself and not to impress a potential mate that is enough. Besides, I've never met a man as well-read as me, and this in itself makes reading to attract a man relatively useless. That uselessness right now is perfect.
When I started running again, it was to relieve stress and drop some pounds. And then, after I had been running a little while, I realized how beneficial running is for my mood and to increase my self esteem. Running, even when it hurts or I look less like a gazelle and more like a gorilla, makes me happy. It is one of the few times I can shut things off and start to feel hopeful. This feeling does not always last, particularly if I still have real things to deal with, but most of the time it does. The trivial goal of running to have a killer and complimented body that brings on the menfolk can now be eclipsed by solid statistics. Can I run faster? What are my splits? Will I be ready for the half-marathon in March? Where am I in my training? What must I do today? Thus, while my ass does look good in jeans, I am okay with admiring it myself. And my statistics may be carefully (and a little obsessively) recorded on mapmyrun.com, which I can look at to remind myself I am still headed toward a goal that has nothing to do with a man being there to cheer me on at the finish line.
I love languages, and when I want to, pick them up quickly. The scary part about this past time is that it has often been a method for me to meet men or to potentially expand the universe of men I want to meet. Instead, I need to focus on what languages really mean, which are a way to communicate with the universe, hear new stories, and at times, think completely differently. (Idiomatic expressions really help with the latter.) I started taking Russian lessons from Rosetta Stone a few months ago, and was really doing well. The program is fun and easy to follow (and really, I'm not getting paid to plug it - I've just been trying to do this for years from boring textbooks and was really unsuccessful). There is no reason I cannot play what is essentially a computer game that teaches me something useful for twenty minutes a day when I spend nearly four times that amount uselessly trolling facebook - often with the conclusion that there is something wrong with me that I have not found the perfect man to gaze at me lovingly in some cheesy photo. I think a good push for the Russian will be to make it useful and I'll do it with the goal in mind of one day traveling across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway, an old dream of mine.
Even if it is a daily and boring update on this blog and not a beautiful piece of literature, there is a true joy in laying down what is tumbling through your head and putting it to rest. Besides the ability to occasionally get creative, it is a also a good reminder of where you need to be and where you have come from. Very few of my friends know about this blog, and there is a reason for that. It's because I can write for an audience that I am not trying to charm and impress - and very importantly this audience does not include boys past and present who I may subconsciously be reaching out to. This blog is about me, me, me trying to cure something that I find problematic, while opening it up to input from those I know can either remain objective or point out pitfalls and encouragements.
Friend time is some of the best times, particularly when it doesn't involve me whining about this or that intrigue. The celibacy I'm shooting for in this blog is also a celibacy to be practiced around my friends (who will probably be grateful for this particular goal). It is a celibacy of voice - meaning not overanalyzing the latest text exchange, not fishing for guesses on what my friends think about this guy or that guy, not even picking out the guy in the room I would take home no matter how innocent and giggly the proposition is. Friendtime is for chatting about nonsense, anecdotes, joy, commiseration, but it will not be about my love woes. My sponsors have been instructed to tell me to zip it if I even begin to discuss a man, and they'll do their jobs well. The one exception of course, is analyzing or ridding myself of certain emotions on this blog, with the idea that the rumination is goal-oriented toward elimination and not thought entrenchment.
Be pretty for me. Treasure my cheekbones. Keep my toenails painted. Take compliments well, but only as compliments and not as declarations of love. Stay attractive but distant. Be an awesome amazing ice princess. Wonder why you find ice princesses awesome and amazing, but still try to be one.
There are certain aspects of my life that really need some heavy thought investment right now, and sometimes I believe that infatuations are the best way to try to avoid that. This is hurting me. I am unhappy in my career, but rather than confronting that dead on and either trying to make the most of it or constructively looking for something else, I am spending hours thinking about certain people, and probably even more hours cyberstalking them or daydreaming up potential scenarios that never seem to come to fruition in real life. In fact, maybe even avoiding that real life - which actually can be totally cool - to insist on these day dreams. Instead, I need to use this distraction to distract myself from distractions.
One of my favorite scenes in Out of Africa is after the main character's husband moves out for the last time after years of cheating. She goes into the workroom of her coffee plantation and demands "Give me work" and then we see her functioning, if not always joyously, at least productively. I need to throw myself into my work, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how much more my mind wants to fantasize about marrying a rock star or a doctor or a spy who will lift me, like Cinderella out of the dust, and maybe I will find that it's not so bad after all. That I have been able to attain things that make me happy because of the work I have been given.
Clearing out the clutter and deciding to downgrade. Another stressor that leads me into wild imaginings is my financial situation right now, which of course is linked to my work. I am okay, but if I were to lose my job tomorrow, life would get tricky. So, streamlining my finances, my money going nowhere, my debt, even what I own is something that should really be a priority right now. And without dating this should help cut down on the money a bit. It sucks dating poor losers - and I have been stuck with a few of those. Too bad I can't ask for a refund. What has helped is having a very detailed budget in place and a solid plan to try to survive the next year, even if the worse happens. And to know that if I do survive the next year, I'll be able to downgrade some more and not feel so trapped.
Thinking of Others
Returning phone calls, emails - not with the purpose of detailing the great exploits of your romantic life - but to give (and receive) updates of what is real and important in the lives of people you communicate with. Remember the beauty of stories you have learned from others. Even the most trivial details mean something, and are often more meaningful than replaying an entire bewildering evening with a very toxic bachelor. Also, I should call my mother more often - as long as I remember not to mention any love interest, those conversations are pretty painless.
Something funny happens when I finally make myself clean. I turn on music and suddenly everything goes where it should and step by step I make it until my house is sparkling. The odd thing is the need to react to make order out of disorder shuts my obsessions off the way it's helpful to completely clean off your desk before starting a new project. Most of the time I choose lying in bed replaying some stupid erotic moment (that is probably not as great as my memory is tricking me into thinking it is). Hours pass, my dishes are turning into petri cultures. Maybe this involves talking myself into it, but it's a small price to pay for waking up with some order in my life
This list has revealed my OCD side - but OCD side has saved me on a few occasions and I have to under 86 days completely man-free than I will indulge. I hope to remember my distractions and maybe come up with some others. For now, I am going to settle in for some dog time and reading, and let my mind roll on into a constructive wheel for awhile. Tomorrow I am getting up early to run a 5K and then I am going to finally tackle a work project that has really been bothering me - both for its difficulty and also for the fact that it is late and causing me worry in that department as well. Two goals, that is all and I have faith that if those aren't enough I've certainly come up with quite a few more to choose from.