Conscious Life

A Blog on Personal Development for Awaken(ed/ing) Souls – by Tim Stanek

Category: Dating

Open Relationships + Organic Courage

I haven’t kicked it with Dark Princess in a couple weeks, and other than a few casual conversations on the phone or by text, we haven’t talked. Maybe this is one relationship that will just fall away naturally. I’ve actually reached out a few times but she seems to be pretty busy. Recently I’ve become aware that one quality that I look for in people I’m interested in is time abundance and schedule orientation. Without these qualities, it is impossible for me to commit energetically to building something – even casually – with another human being. I bring this up because knowing that I need time abundance and schedule orientation is a wonderful lesson I’ve recieved in these last few months.

When I first started dating at the beginning of the 21 day Yoga Challenge after taking a year off I had to break through some shame-based fears about being “seen” before I was ready. Now I feel like I’ve been seen, and it wasn’t terrible. In fact, I’ve had many wonderful, real, and pleasureable moments in the process.

I am excited about a new woman in my life, whom I will refer to as The Doc. We are both schedule oriented, and, because there is a mutual attraction, we make time for eachother. Our connection started as friends, then we became intimate friends, then we kissed and eventually became lovers. It took courage to ask if I could kiss her, but other than that, the whole process was very organic and fluid. Maybe even the courage on my part was an organic courage, instead of courage tainted by a sense of needing to prove myself.

ORGANIC COURAGE!!!

Organic courage is courage that arises naturally. A willingness to go outside ones comfort zone is part of the process, but it really isn’t the entire thing. Organic courage means the courage to act, be, do as the person you feel like you are – the person you feel like you are becoming. Organic courage means that you posess within you the wherewithall to knock on the door of opportunity. It doesn’t matter if you knock gingerly, confidently, boisterously, but just knock anyways.

Show up to the opportunity. To run away from that opportunity will never get you through it. You can navigate life brilliantly with organic courage – knock gingerly if you will, but knock.
Eventually the quality of your courage may distill, mature, and turn into a skillset. Eventually you may begin to understand more about what you want, and develop the unique skill set required to get what you want (like I am currently developing in dating…slowly, but surely)

For example, I’m learning more about what I want. I recently had an encounter with a rediculously gorgeous woman. I mean, head turning accident causing good looks. I started a conversation with her (which took courage), and I told her she was beautiful (which also took courage). I didn’t use any cheesy pickup lines – which take courage too – but they’re pretty new to me. I may experiment with them eventually, if I think the time is right, but my organic courage approach seems like it fits better with who I am, at least for now.

Conscious pickup lines
I’ve never really been one for pickup lines. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them, and I know some people for whom they really work, but I prefer my method of soft courage or organic courage.

Why? I don’t know – maybe it’s an introvert thing. Maybe I prefer to make connections with people with whom there is mutual respect, and I have a belief that pickup lines are disrespectful in some way. I’ve seen them used – boisterously, courageously, and unabashedly – and I’ve seen them work. But I lost respect for the men who used them, and for the women that they used them on. It felt disheartening, and I want to understand why. At one point I used to get my love through the use of covert contract – in other words, “If I am kind and a nice guy, and don’t objectify you or treat you like I am actually interested in you, then you should love me and validate me sexually.”

This nice guy covert contract is pretty common I think, and a cause of sexual frustration for a lot of people young and old – I know because I was once one of them! I’ve really lucked out though, because my organic courage is working for me. Slowly, but it’s still working ok.
But, as any healthy self-regulating system must do, I question this approach. I wonder – is there something to the pickup line thing? Perhaps I can tailor the ethos of the pickup line to fit my vibe. I’d venture a proposal that the reason that pickup lines can work is that they express interest from the get go, which let’s the object of your affections respond in kind, or at least understand your intentions.. My approach with Dark Princess, “the other woman”, The Doc, and more, has been to get to know them personally first, then express my interest in physical affection. I did this because the vibe felt right to do so, which is a result of just feeling out a situation intuitively (another reason why yoga and meditation are so great for self-efficacy – they sharpen intuition).

Positive marketing in Dating
I’d consider the vibe and the way that we interact with potential partners as a form of advertizing. Thus, if I advertise my self – in this case, the quality and value that I provide to a partner – as something that is flashier than the reality of what I can truly offer, then I feel way out of alignment with my integrity.

This is why, if I were to start using pickup lines, they would have to be reflective of the quality and value that I can truly provide – which is an open-hearted, encouraging, fun, fluid connection. Boom. I just learned something about myself.

Now…

I am in an incredible dating situation! The Doc is encouraging of my current preference for open relationship, as well as my desire to explore role play as a method of self discovery…essentially, she encourages me to be me.

Emotionally, this is incredibly rewarding. To be in an intimate partnership with someone who encourages me to be me is like, literally the best thing evar. (Usually I’d want to use a perhaps more literary description, but girly linguistics seems to do the trick here. Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it). Encouragement to be me was never something I had as a child. The fact that I found someone who provides that is wonderful. I’ve worked on becoming more of myself recently, and to meet someone who reflects my internal change back to me helps to reenforce the change.

The speed at which I manifested this relationship is pretty staggering. Remember the fourth step of the manifestation process? Yeah, I’m still adjusting. It’s changing me and bringin me new positive cognitive dissonance experiences!

Open Relationships – a lesson from a couple years back
A couple years back I dated multiple people at the same time, but I started things out wrong. I became physically intimate with someone before having an in-depth conversation and making a mutual decision to be open. I dated this person and we became physically intimate quickly. I did so with the understanding and explicit detailing that I didn’t want anything exclusive. But she became jealous of my other partners and let that jealousy get the best of her. She contacted one of my other partners and told her off very territorially. It fvcked the whole situation up and I ended up having to choose neither of them. I was learning at the time, and so I understand there were probably some other things that I could have done differently. Most notably, I would have spent longer choosing a primary partner. I would have chosen a primary partner who was open and understanding of my need for open relationships, not just accepting because she wanted to be with me.

I’ve never had a partner as encouraging as The Doc. It’s hard to say if she’ll be my primary – I think it’s too early to tell. For now I’ll just enjoy our connection, playfulness, conversation, and mutual respect and admiration.

It’s a good thing.

[Comment! I love hearing from you.]

[If you want to learn more about my creative projects, check out my musical project Timo or my psy-fi novel Igby]

The Fallacy of Good Citizens, and Re-Framing Love vs. Sex

Checkin’
I’ve been able to get excellent feedback on a poignant cause of recent consternation. Essentially my lesson has been this: that I had put up a rigid mask of how I thought society needed to perceive me in order to be accepted (validated). This was made readily apparent to me when I showed up to a counseling appointment in a button up shirt that was too tight to be comfortable. I mentioned that I was going to the bank after our appointment, and stated that I always dressed up nicely to go to the bank. I didn’t understand why. My counselor, a pragmatist, checked me and said that all I needed to go to the bank was money!

This shift of perspective helped me to unravel a deeply ingrained belief that if I dress up and present myself as a “good citizen”, then I will somehow make it, or be successful, or be validated.

Ok: let’s explore this.

Good Citizen
My subconscious’ definition of “good citizen”: someone who is under the radar, free from contempt and scrutiny. I found scrutiny to be soul crushing in my adolescence, particularly when I was continually under scrutiny for smoking weed and watching porn. These two activities were my escapes. I needed them to cope with a dysfunctional family environment.
My parents, both raised catholic, shamed me for not following the rules. Furthermore, they couldn’t figure out how to stop my behavior, which to them was totally aberrant. I understand their frustration: I was escaping and medicating from their toxic codependency, which they didn’t have the perspective to see. When grounding me didn’t work, instead of re-evaluating their approach, they simply grounded me for longer periods of time. Dammit! I wish they were more creative, or willing to go outside their box and be cool with me as a person, but neither was in a place to do that.
I remember getting caught one time, after many warnings to stop smoking pot, in which I was grounded for 5 weeks. This seems cruel to me. Instead of reaching out for help, my parents chose to perpetuate their frustration at not being able to control my behavior by enacting lengthy punishment. I guess they had a lot to deal with, but it made me feel pretty fvcking worthless; like I was an afterthought. I still feel echoes of the resultant anger to this day – it’s something that I’m working through and I feel like I’m coming towards the end of it, thank the maker. It was soul crushing. During that time I was not allowed to see any friends outside of school. I was forced to remain in physical proximity of a toxic family environment; I had to escape somehow, so porn and video games did the trick for me. I used porn to medicate my feelings of complete unworthiness, and video games to escape from the tangled web of emotions I felt. Some Saturdays I would spend 10 hours playing games. The upside of this is that I was able to really get into a video game whose music influenced me greatly in my compositional works (Timo).
I want to make a note here that my parents are not terrible people – they did some dumb stuff and made some poor parenting choices. this was around fifteen years ago, and they both have evolved and grown as individuals since. I do not condone their actions, but I understand where they were coming from. I’m not writing about these experiences to shame them or to get back at them. It’s not about them! It’s about using the benefit of experience to rise above difficult circumstances of my past in order to greater understand the man I am now, and give credence to the lessons that showed up initially as great pain, thereby dissolving them in effect. Furthermore, to help to validate those with similar experiences as a way of encouraging self-growth and reflection.
The greatest frustration that I experienced when I started trying to make sense of this time in my life was the feeling of being handicapped by their negligence, and having to play catch up to the rest of the world. It wasn’t fair. At first I would use coldness and sternness as a way of punishing them for their actions. I’m in a different frame now – they are my birth parents and we’ve shared many experiences, but my growth and life is my number one priority and responsibility. They reach out occasionally, but I’m often too busy creating the life of my dreams to interact on a more intimate level. Which is how it should be. I never want my parents to reach out to me for intimacy again. My covert contract with them was “If I’m a good son (citizen) and validate your problems and love you then maybe you wont hurt me emotionally or physically and actually validate and encourage me”. Nope. They weren’t capable of that kind of role, because no one did that for them! That’s why they were so needy and dependent on me. I’ve always had a big heart and as a loving child I wanted to make things better for them (a common behavior in children). What a responsible self-aware parent would have done would be to, in situations where I wanted to make things better for them, let the child know that what they were going through was ok and that parents experience difficulty sometimes and that they were dealing with it in a healthy and responsible way, instead of looking to a yet-unformed child to provide comfort or validation. I would have liked this kind of reassurance, but I never got it.

Fvck.

So “good citizen” is a mask – a paradigm – that I began to adopt after a while as a way of safe-guarding myself from further pain and cruelty. It is was paradigm in which I would create a covert contract. A covert contract is a way of behaving in which indirect actions and positioning are used as a way of getting needs met, instead of directly asking for what one needs. This can be conscious or unconscious behavior. The more I become aware of my self, my programming, and my conscious behavior, the more I can understand where these covert contracts exist in my life and dissolve them.

A Time-Consuming Lesson: AKA Avoid this trap!
The most time-consuming lessons that I’ve experienced have dealt with dating and intimate relationships. Several years back I became very close with a female friend and spent a ton of my free time with her – which was in short supply because I was in school and playing gigs during the week and on the weekends. My covert contract is essentially this: I spend time with you, validate you, take care of you, and you have to validate me, emotionally and sexually. It’s an indirect way of getting needs met, which often leads to disappointment.

We spent much time together, months and months, until I asked if I could kiss her. She turned me down. I was crushed! My thinking: What? I just invested so much time into you and you won’t even kiss me?

Well, why should she? Firstly, it’s a choice. She made a choice, and it’s totally fine. Secondly, we had been operating on the premise of close friends, and nothing more. Why should she feel obligated to do anything? My covert contract operating system said “I’ve spent all this time for you, you should now validate me”. I can see the insanity of the whole situation now, but at the time I could not and it was incredibly frustrating.

That was then, this is now
Recently I was able to go from trusting friends to cuddle buddies to making out to non-monogamous sex play partners with someone I was attracted to in…about 2 weeks. How did I do this?

It might seem counter-intuitive to someone whose life is riddled with covert contracts: I was direct!

After hanging out and establishing a friendship of trust and communication, I asked Q:”Can I put my arm around you”. A: Yes. (sexy voice:) Q:”Can I kiss you?” A: Yes.

This was after feeling out the vibe and internalizing her body language towards me. Still, it was a risk that I took. I could have been turned down, for any various reasons, but I wasn’t.
After we made out, we talked about what we like sexually, what we want to explore, what we want to try. We arranged a date to do it, and voila! It was a very fun and *ahem* stimulating experience!

I’m really proud of myself for going outside my previous programming and asking for what I want. And LAWD let me tell you that the things we talked about doing are as far off from 10 minutes of vanilla, lights off, missionary sex play as creating a covert contract is from getting the juicy sex that you want.

The Heart Perspective and Sex drive
How does this tie in with my souls mission – with my heart’s song? The song my heart sings is the most important thing in my life. This recent sexual partner is cool, fun, and interesting. I am aware here that there is a subtle cognitive dissonance because my previous programming states that in order to follow my heart I must weed out every experience that is not in direct resonance with my heart. I challenge this assumption! I would put forth, rather, that following my heart is always the most important aspect of my life. The more I do this, the more I my inner being will change. Sex is a valid aspect of my humanity, and I will validate it and acknowledge it as I explore my sexuality with fun and pleasure, but nowhere in my new frame is there a mutual exclusion of love and sex.

The disparate aspect of a shame-based paradigm is that sex is somehow separate from the heart. Sin vs. salvation. I think it can seem that way, but there must be a more unified way of looking at it. If the heart is your center, then any kind of sexual experience can arise if you’re open to it. For me, old guilt and shame can also arise if sex is placed as the center of my life at the expense of following my heart. But following my heart can also include juicy sexual experiences.

The more that this paradigm shapes my reality, the more poly-dating seems functional. Poly dating for me isn’t really the focus here – it’s simply a model or tool that helps facilitate the growth experiences that I really want out of life right now.

Simply, if I operate life from my heart – the core of my being, life becomes fluid, juicy, and infinitely blessed.

How often do we as a society separate heart centered living from juicy sexual experiences? It’s easy to do so because of the prevalence of “sin shaming” in much of western religion. Lol. That’s another topic for another time.

Bless, always.

Tim

P.S. Hey if you liked what I have to say, let me know in the comments below! I welcome feedback, please be respectful. Peace!

Validation, and Questioning the Poly Dating Model.

Last night I had the opportunity to fulfill a dream: I played in a video game cover band, playing some of my favorite tracks. People recorded us with their phones, and many thanked me at the end of the performance. It was clear that there was adequate success.

But something about the whole thing felt off, and I think I’ve finally put my finger on it.

It still feels like I am perpetuating some elusive childhood dream that my heart really isn’t interested in anymore. What is this elusive dream that I chased all of my teen years and young adult life? Mother fvcking validation. Looking to outside approval for the “ok”ness to be myself and enjoy expressing myself as whomever i want.
Over my many years of playing in bands – and also desperately clinging to projects with which I felt out of alignment – I realize that I may have put myself onstage to create a covert contract with people in the audience to fill that hole of lack of validation in me. I would stay in projects that I didn’t really enjoy because I was addicted to the applause and the resulting feeling of validation. As I’ve been recovering from this paradigm, which seems to have – as ineffective paradigms do when met with awareness, patience, and a willingness to work at it – dissolved from the inside out, I question my commitment to the video game music project.

Am I following my heart here? I manifested this video game music cover band pretty quickly, over the past 3 weeks or so. It was a goal of mine with the TIMO project I released in August to create a live band, and I did it!

However, I encountered a couple factors that bothered me last night.

Firstly, we were told to be there for a 6:30 soundcheck. We didn’t soundcheck until 8. While this might seem inconsequential to someone who truly loves performing, It pissed me off. Do I really love it enough to put up with shifty times? Is there a way to operate in a touring band and have people respect your time? Surely there are many professional acts that have this aspect handled, such as those with touring managers and recording contracts. That is many musicians’ dreams. I know it will be easy to achieve, but I question whether or not it is my dream.

Reflecting on this point, perhaps if I choose to invest more time into this musical venture, I must accept the reality of the shiftyness of the music business. It’s hard to see it as a lucrative business venture…it is a creative venture. The ROI (return on investment) needs to be not only monetary but also emotional. I need to find out if it is going to be emotionally worth it for me.

Since I got the job at the juice bar, my spirit has lifted. I’ve had time to release my scarcity mindset and truly chill out for the first time in a few years. This means the opportunity to detach the money aspect from any musical ventures, and focus my creative pursuits on whatever I want. I want to invest my time into writing Igby (my fiction novel).

If I choose to perpetuate my videogame project, it is a large time commitment. It’s not a matter of showing up and playing. It also requires research into videogames, hours of additional listening, hours of practicing, monetary investments in patch-loading keyboards an equipment, hours taking care of the business and marketing side, and much more. I think it’s a great idea. I think someone that truly loves it should do it.

I like it. But I don’t love it. And because love is becoming a defining factor – a guiding light – in my life’s spiritual journey, I am thinking of letting it go.

I need to decide if I will be willing and able to take care of the project in the way that it needs.

Secondly, something about being on stage makes me nervous. It’s not the musical aspect though – I feel very confident about my musical aptitude.

It has to do with an old paradigm of reaching out to sexy people I want to talk to after the show. Part of the appeal of music to me as an adolescent and a young man was that being in a good band meant a steady flow of groupies. Now, as a self-realized man, I simply don’t feel attracted to party-animal groupies. And while I like partying every once in a while, I like doing so with people I already know and trust. If I were to connect with sexy people after the show, it would be probably be purely physical, but purely physical connections don’t interest me. I am attracted to minds, to souls, to spirits that dwell in beautiful bodies. I had my time sleeping with strangers in my young twenties (when I wasn’t incapacitated by sexual anorexia – which I’ve struggled with most of my adolescent and young adult life). I know that if I have sex with someone I will want to get to know them more. It creates an attachment in me that I must respect. I don’t think it’s a fault – it’s a predictable thing. I can’t just fvck and leave, even though in the past I tried to impose that reality on myself as a right of passage.

When I’m around adventurous, gregarious, party-animal vibe type people, it takes an inordinate amount of energy for me to meet them on their level. Life is short. I used to give a fvck, but now I don’t. I am, however, experiencing the result of choosing to live outside the party-animal paradigm which means my ways of meeting people must change.

I want to make a connection with a special person who likes to spend time with the introverted, spiritual, yogic, growth-oriented creative soul, and I want this person to be a sexual partner who not only jives with this vibe, but also has the time to spend with me. This person is financially stable, happy, sexually healthy, and matches my steady pacing in cultivating growing intimacy. I want someone that doesn’t need constant stimulation to be happy spending time with me, that can chill and be introverted, but still appreciate sizzling sexual attraction and intimacy.

Right now I need to be particular with those whose bodies I connect with physically.
Speaking of compatibility, I much prefer my work to be writing, composing, and working on focused and sustained activities; and my play to be one on on intimate conversations, movies, sex and cuddling, and growth-oriented personal development. Socialization is fine, like double dates or small gatherings, but I want to be very careful with which crowds I meld. Heavy drugs and alcohol use are red flags. Gossip and blaming are red flags. Unhealthy sexual guilt and shame are red flags.

Questioning the poly-dating model
Recently I’ve been questioning whether or not poly-dating is the right choice for me. Although I did like the initial freedom of it, and it’s requirement for total honesty and transparency, I seem to have fallen off the bandwagon. I still have many questions, and it’s been hard not to get down on myself for where I am emotionally with dating in general. It’s hard not to get down on myself for feeling stunted because I was never encouraged to date and try new things and be myself as an adolescent, and for being shamed almost irrevocably for being a sexual being in the first place. It’s hard to look past my rage at being emotionally neglected. I realize that these psychological complexes still occasionally pull at my consciousness.

If I am to continue my poly-dating, I want to surround myself with people who’ve made it work for them. These people must also be free of heavy drug and alcohol use, gossip and blaming, and unhealthy sexual guilt and shame. In other words, I want to find people that have made poly-dating work for them, and I must like them and want to model their behavior not just in their dating lives, but in most or all other aspects of their lives.

The poly-dating model must include total honesty and transparency. Total honesty and transparency with others, and also total honesty and transparency with myself, and coming to terms with the fact that the more my heart shines the more ineffective paradigms will dissolve. Any paradigm that can’t stand up to the shining light of my heart is no longer of interest to me.

Coming through: a balanced approach

The light of my heart is my guiding light, but I still make decisions based on several factors. Gnosis, knowledge that passes understanding, emotions, experience, advice. I choose to take all these factors into account when making decisions, and so to reject the poly-dating model now I think would be premature.

It is, however, time to iterate. What I like about it is the openness, the freedom, the transparency, the integrity required to do it the right way. What I don’t like that I’ve encountered has been a sort of cold-foot approach that I’ve found myself perpetuating. In other words, I’ve used the knowledge that I am dating multiple people as a defense mechanism for really connecting deeply with people. If you read my first post of the 21 day yoga challenge, you know that this was one of my initial fears. So apparently I’ve manifested that fear. It’s ok though, this happens a lot in human experience. What would the preferred alternative be? It would be connecting deeply with people. I actually have done this to a certain extent though, so it don’t want to fall into the trap of black and white thinking. there’s much grey area. It’s like I have a little fear about it and I also have actually had the opportunity to connect deeply with some people…

But what I think has been missing is consistency. I want a predictable, consistent relationship. Maybe this will look like a standing, weekly date. Maybe it will look like something else. What I can offer is consistency, companionship, mirroring, and love!

I didn’t mean for this blogpost to look like a personal ad, but I do believe that publicly asking for what you want is also the quickest way to get it.

So I will continue to be myself in whatever changes I go through, embracing my feeling of now growing introversion. I will write more, which somehow calms me and soothes my soul. Hopefully by sharing my story I am inspiring someone to heal, and to live the life of their dreams.

Query: who is it that is doing the dreaming?

21-Day Yoga Challenge: The Rules, and My Expectations

Hey!

I just completed my first day of the 21-Day Yoga Challenge. The rules are simple:

Do at least one-hour of yoga every day for 21 days straight. 

That’s it! If you fulfill this task, you’ve completed the challenge. If you’re like me and you want to go a bit further, here’s what I’m doing:

Measuring before and after, on a scale of 1-10 these four metrics:
– Physical – How good do I feel physically? How many times a week do have have a moment where I find myself feeling really good in my body for no apparent reason?
– Mental – How focused to I feel? How often do I catch my mind worrying or stressing unnecessarily?
– Emotional – How expressive am I? Is my emotional processing immediate or delayed?
– Spiritual – How connected to I feel? How often do I experience extended periods of  unconditional love and acceptance?

Yesterday my levels were:
P – 6.5
M – 3
E – 3.5
S – 7

Physically I felt out of shape, and I hadn’t done yoga or exercised in a couple of days. Mentally, I was definitely in a depression for much of the day, which led to lack of focus AND delayed emotional processing. My spiritual metric was about a 7. It feels so strange to have a spiritual metric! Perhaps spirituality isn’t meant to be measured by a metric, but let’s see what consistent measuring does for me. I hope have a 2 point increase in P and S, and a 4 point increase in M and E.

I am anticipating (and, honestly, leaning into) some additional changes. Firstly, I predict that I will be drawn more to a plant-based diet, including more fruits, vegetables, beans, oils, herbs, and teas. I predict that this change will decrease my coffee intake and clear up my skin. I also anticipate clearer, more heart-centered relationships emerging during this time, because as I become clearer and more heart-centered, I attract people on a similar vibe or frequency.

This isn’t my first rodeo…
I’ve been practicing yoga for 12 years. My approach has been such that I’ve learned from many different teachers in many different styles, all leading to a cohesive personal practice, but for the past year I’ve focused almost solely on weight-lifting, letting yoga fall by the wayside. Now it’s time for a change. I love how open and free I feel with regular yoga practice. The whole process can catalyze great change and healing, as I began to experience ten years ago.

Ten years ago, I began a daily yoga practice, and practiced 2 hours a day for 3 months straight. In that time I changed and evolved in many ways physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But the change that I appreciate the most – ten years later, mind you – is how yoga put me in direct contact with emotional challenges that I HAD to deal with. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t pleasant. But it was absolutely necessary for my soul’s growth.

I had to confront the toxic shame of my childhood that shook me to the core of my being. 

I’m still working on this by the way – It’s a work in progress! I feel very vulnerable to be sharing this with you, my readers, but I’ll take a stab at it. I wish that by doing so I can inspire others who have lived through similar circumstances to heal, grow, and integrate the lessons of toxic shame. This will likely be an ongoing exploration, not limited a single post.

I was shamed for my body, eating, sexuality, expression, and more. I remember one afternoon where my sisters dressed up in their tutus, and I decided to put on a leotard. In our play, I wanted to be a statue, so I stood on a milk crate and became a stoic beautiful statue, changing positions every few minutes, as my sisters danced around me.

My father couldn’t understand this type of non-binary gender expression. He took pictures of me that made their way into the family photo album, which was regularly pulled out to show visitors. Being seen in this way became a regular shaming ritual.

The entirety of a childhood in a hyper-religious family is enough to keep any good counselor in business. Suffice it to say, yoga helps. I wish, through regular practice, to understand myself on a deeper level, and unravel the knot – the complex of the psyche – that toxic shame has twisted around me. The real me. My true self. That which always is, and which is always becoming.

Dating as exploration

The fun part of all this is I will be dating throughout the challenge! As someone who grew up through toxic shame, one of my greatest fears is being seen before I’m ready to be seen. The fear itself sometimes freezes me into a state where I never wish to be seen. It’s static and constricting. I hope that yoga will help me become more fluid, confident, and, instead of a barricade, place on my heart a screen door that lets the breeze through.

What I’m learning about myself is that the static roles that I employed when dating in the past don’t feel right anymore. I would attract people that I could “save” because that’s how I got most of my love as a child – by being the rescuer! Now, I know this role no longer serves me, so I’m forced to go outside of my comfort zone. Maybe it will be easy, but the last date that I went on I found myself trying to play the rescuer role when it wasn’t even relevant. I hope to catch myself even sooner next time and choose a different frame, like the “Tim having a good time” frame. I like the “Tim having a good time” frame.

In dating, my pattern has usually been bouts of monogamy followed by bouts of celibacy. I will be challenging this model during this time. While the ideas of polyamory and alternative dating/relationship styles are interesting to me, I’m going to be sure that I’m not using the option to connect physically with multiple people or partners as a way to avoid letting them in emotionally. So transparency is paramount, with authentic heart connections taking precedence.

My guidelines will be as long as it’s fun, transparent, and good for Tim, it’s happening. Maybe I’ll meet some cool yogis who wants to connect (and do acro-yoga!). I’m not going to the classes to get dates, but heart-connections happen, man.

The Journey

I love how the experience of the journey itself is shapes the individual. I love how an experience that seems out of your control can shape you into the person that you wish to be. I love the choice to discover what makes my heart sing, and the choice to pursue that joy until the ends of the earth.

I have a few more thoughts, but as I am focusing on quality, conciseness, and consistency, I will reserve them for another post.

For now, be the light.

 

© Tim Stanek 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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