Friday, September 28, 2012

Dispelling the Notion

You know that ultra-romantic notion of “one true love”?  Bullshit.  I’ve been in nine major relationships (as opposed to the occasional fling), and each time I have loved as deeply as I am capable.  I bent all my energy and will toward those women.  I fought for them with every method, tool, and weapon in my heart’s arsenal.  I screwed up more than once, and in more than one way, and sooner or later I lost each of them.
I loved them each in different ways for different reasons, because of course I did; no two people are the same, nor was I the same man each time I met someone new.
I’ve heard people talk about their first love being the greatest, the definition by which all future relationships are judged.  And that first breakup is frequently regarded as the most painful.  Again, I call bullshit.
I have to say each successive breakup is harder than the last.  I recognize that I may be approaching the idea from the wrong angle, but it hurts more because I think I’m supposed to have this whole relationship thing figured out by now.  I’m supposed to know how to behave, how to treat my partner with love and respect and keep the magic and excitement alive.  Each time a relationship fails I try to figure out where I went wrong, what I did that made them want to leave.   Each time it hurts worse because I still haven’t found the woman who would ultimately choose to fix a problem with me than start over with someone else.
And every time it ends I ask myself: do I have the strength to do this again?  How many more times can I handle a heartbreak?
The answer always comes back the same: at least one more time.
If there is a karmic balance to be achieved, I can pretend this keeps happening because I was very selfish and disrespectful early on, and I’m paying for it now.  If that’s true, I firmly believe I’ve completely and totally paid for my sins.  Which is not to say I’m karmically due a perfect happiness from here on out; rather I’m back to a level playing field.
So here I am again, Universe.  Arms open wide and ready to give as good as I get.  Bring it on.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mister Boddy

I host burlesque shows, and I adore it.  I love the community.  I love the attitudes of people brought together by sexy, sexy fun times.  There’s a perception of debauchery, but really it’s wrought a sense of celebration in All Things Human.

Burlesque is the acceptance of all people.  All body types are represented, all shapes and sizes and ethnicities and attitudes, all definitions of the phrase “sexual identity.”  I have never felt more comfortable being my true self than I feel when I’m with the people of burlesque.
I’ve been overweight most of my life.  This isn’t to say I’m unhealthy by a medical definition, but I’ve typically had more cushion around my middle than I’ve been comfortable with.  I’ve always known what it would take to get into the shape I want, but I’ve rarely been able to exercise the necessary discipline to obtain and maintain success.
But in burlesque, it doesn’t matter.  I’ve learned to accept the fact that as long as you’re comfortable with yourself, there is someone out there who wants exactly what you are.  Several someones, in point of fact.  The more I can feel accepted by others, the more I accept myself as-is.  It’s a lovely, self-sustaining cycle.
In mid-March of this year I was given a present.  I had recently been honored with the task to host the 3rd annual Windy City Burlesque Festival, and a woman very close to my heart presented me with a gift of celebration; a vest and tie to wear on stage (which I wear shirtless, because sex).  Both items were of high quality to begin with, but they had her added touch of decoration that made them extra special.
And the vest didn’t fit.  I tried to put it on, but as much as I sucked in my belly and stretched the fabric the buttons still had a good four inches of torso to cross before they could reach the buttonholes.  It was awfully embarrassing.
With three months until the festival, I began to cut weight.  I lifted weights, I jogged, I cycled, I cut loose in an African Dance class.  For the first month I exercised an average of two hours a day, six days a week.  When my schedule became too cramped for the gym I switched to an all salad diet, and my torso began to melt like a candle.
I was able to button the vest in time for the festival.  When I’m gaining weight and denying it I keep my belt tighter than it should be, and the notches look like the horrified screams of the melting Nazi faces in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Not so with this vest; I was still a little too big for it, but not grossly so.  Many out-of-town attendees from the previous year’s festival noted I had lost a lot.  The pride I felt in such a personal victory was a delightful antidote to the (unrelated) emotional distress I’d been through about that same time.
But with the festival now two months behind me I find myself way behind in the measured structure of weight loss.  I’m doing well at keeping a maintenance level; I haven’t put any weight back on, but I’m not losing any more either.  I’m pleased with this, but I still have further to go before I get to where I want to be.  Before I look the way I want to look.
But why, with so much acceptance and support from my fellow burlesquers (presently the most important people in my life), do I still feel the need to alter who and what I am?  Two reasons.
First; because I know I can.  I love setting physical goals for myself and achieving them.  The last time I lost a significant amount of weight (three years ago), I was running 7-8 miles per day.  A few months prior I could barely do two.  I love watching myself change.  I love feeling the difference in how much further (and easier) I can run during a 34 minute playlist compared with the previous month.   I revel in the kudos from people I haven’t seen in a while who remark at my success.  It’s a validation of hard work having paid off. 
Second; well, second is more shallow.  I’m finally at the point where once again I’m ready for romance (I think/I hope/who-the-fuck-knows, but I’m gonna try it again anyway and find out).  This inspires me to be the best version of myself I can be.  I want to be wholly worthy of Ms. Right, whomever and wherever she is, and I know physical aesthetics are a part of that.  They’re a part of the initial stages of attraction.  I want to be seen and known and loved for who I am in my heart and mind and soul, but I don’t want those deeper parts of who I am to be overlooked because “he’s cute, but chubby.”
Frankly, I don’t like having these shallow thoughts.  Maybe they’re approaching my goals from the wrong motivational angle, but not liking these thoughts doesn’t make them go away.
So now, while I have the time and the resources to do so, I’m getting back to it.  Cycling.  Running.  Lifting.  Bag-punching. 

All in the vein of holding myself to a higher standard, and hopes of a brighter future all around.