Feb 21 • 10M

Why I Hide Under The Bed

Where my romantic cat & mouse games stand in real time...

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Me and my much more brave feline buddy, Auggie Mann.

Hey,

Today, I keep trying to write about anything but this. I have so many good stories from the past! And this is so fresh…it feels so vulnerable. But alas there’s only one thing bubbling up, demanding to be exposed and explored. And so I begin…

I started seeing a new guy (let’s call him Sweet Yogini 🧘🏻‍♂️) last fall, literally three days after The Bear and I ended Season 2 of our relationship. I flipped the Hinge switch immediately when I got home the night of our breakup as a kind of fuck-you-dickhead signal. I know – it’s so funny when we go through these dramatic motions for…NO ONE AT ALL! 🤦🏻‍♀️ I mean, it’s not like he knew! Regardless, that was Saturday night. By Tuesday night I’d already had three dates. (I know…I can’t…whatever…it’s The Bear! I had to anesthetize, people. And yes, one of my dates was a morning walk. I like to be efficient.) ANYWAY 🙄….

Date 3 was Sweet Yogini. 🧘🏻‍♂️ I will tell you something funny about Sweet Yogini. He was the first guy (I’m pretty sure!) that I ever swiped first on Hinge. My MO on the app is mainly window shopping. I don’t “like” anyone but I’m definitely open when guy swipes on me. In fact, I often see guys and think Oh, I hope he “likes” me and it’s super exciting if he does (that happened with The Bear) but I don’t put myself out there. We can explore the why behind this behavior another time, but that’s my app vibe. But, for some fucking reason I swiped on Sweet Yogini!

In fact, I remember after I swiped, I was like WTF DID YOU JUST DO?? I mean, I know why I did it. He was very specific about what he was into in one of his blurbs (his type of music, poetry, meditation, etc.) and for once…FOR ONCE there was a guy who was specifically into the same shit I was into. The. Exact. Same. Shit. So I think it was truly a reflex. I must have blocked swiping though, because I was totally surprised when the next day or so, I got a nice message from him and we met for dinner a few days later. He and I actually went on three dates that week.

But the third date was not the charm.

Let me back up.

My husband always called me the Cat. This was based on the theory that people are either cats or dogs. Dogs are the kind of relationship people that are jumping all over you, always excited to play. My ex was a dog. And then there’s the cats. If you pet us the wrong way or even just give too enthusiastic a vibe, we are under the bed before you can even say Meow. And just for the record, I am not a particularly friendly cat. My husband knew exactly how to handle me so I didn’t withdraw or become avoidant. But heck, this was a skill honed over decades by a person who was truly committed to the craft.

Poor Sweet Yogini. He didn’t know he was dealing with a cat. I kinda present human. Plus, I was really grieving The Bear. So three dates in a week is a sign I was knee deep in the Pacifier mode you read about last week: Luring someone deep into false intimacy, almost like a sea siren, to create a sense of security for myself. Ugh. But pacifier or no pacifier, three dates in a week scared the cat under the bed. And then there’s Sweet Yogini himself. Hmmm…how to describe him. Earnest? Healthy? I mean…I guess Sweet Yogini kinda nails it. (Although perhaps Sweet Yogini 🔥 is more accurate. 😉) Who wants to lure a Sweet Yogini into a ship wreck? I’m not that evil. So on that third date (which, btw, followed a first date with yet another guy…if that’s not a sign I was anesthetizing myself, I don’t know what is), I acted pretty distant…cordial. And after, I sent the friend zone text. You know the one. “I really value my friends so I hope you understand what an important place that is in my life.” All true, but in retrospect, it’s kind of funny how binary I was thinking. Romantic relationship, not safe. Friendship, safe. Sweet Yogini: “Friendship is always a great place to start anything.” I know. He is the cutest.

And that was that. From that evening onward, I put him in the friend zone and my nervous system relaxed. Sweet Yogini stayed in touch. And I also kept him in the loop about everything. When a seemingly normal guy sent me an unsolicited dick pic, I laughed about it with Sweet Yogini. Divorce drama, Sweet Yogini. Songs, poems, lectures, podcasts, Sweet Yogini. He was very present, yet at a cat-safe distance.

But eventually I slid back to pacifier mode with him. I would give him hope…and then go out with someone else. I will spare you all of the details but Sweet Yogini is the guy who I mentioned in last week’s letter who totally hated me. He was done being a cat toy. His last words to me were, “Fuck you. Leave me alone.” Ooof. 🦵🏼🐈‍⬛ (Believe me, he made some mistakes too, but this isn’t about him, it’s about me.) Two weeks went by and he read last week’s letter. I got a text from him the next morning. Valentine’s Day, ironically. “I don’t hate you,” he said. But he had some things to say and asked if he could call me. What followed were a bunch of words and phrases like “narcissist” and “chew men up and spit them out.” Not the kind of stuff that’s usually being said to ones face. But I listened. I didn’t interrupt or get defensive. I could see how he would experience me that way. I can’t apologize for who I am but I can apologize for how I treated him. And I did. I did.

And here’s my big takeaway. I’m a scaredy cat. I had to learn how to be “Atoosa” when I was working. I remember that first time I was in a television studio for a live segment on a major morning show. In that moment, I went from how-the-fuck-am-I-going-to-do-this-I’m-going-to-die-this-isn’t-possible to “You’re on!” in a five-second countdown. Insert big smile, “We’re here with Atoosa….” I learned how to act “as if.” As if, I’m on top of the world. As if, I’m a super hero. As if, I can do anything. As if, I’m not scared.

But...

I’m scared.

I’m scared of relationships. That’s why I objectify men. It’s not because I’m an asshole. It’s because I’m fucking scared. In the past, the only people I’ve felt safe in relationship with are men who were as scared and fucked up as I was…I won’t name any names or use any animal emojis 😳. I was safe with those people because they were also too jammed up to experience any real intimacy. But I do want real intimacy. I do. And healthy guys don’t play cat and mouse. At least they don’t once they realize that’s what is happening.

So here’s where I’m at.

For now, homebase is under the bed. In other words, I am going to try not strutting around the room like a glamorous Persian cat with my tail in the air. That is not a true indication of who I am or where I’m at. I will play with Sweet Yogini from under the bed. We will go slow. One paw out. Then maybe another. When it’s really slow like this, in the past week, I’ve been able to isolate when I’m scared so I don’t suddenly find myself in the middle of a room, terrified. No need for claws or hiding. I can explore and examine what is making me scared from a safe space. Listen, Sweet Yogini may ultimately want to go at a normal pace with a normal girl and you, beloved reader, will be the first to know, obv. But I am just being present with what is. We are just being present with what is. And what is it? For now it’s a relationship that’s safe and exhilarating at the same time. A first for this cat.

How about you? Are you a cat or a dog? Share below or if you want to discuss further you know where I am 24/7, as always, at atoosa@atoosa.com.

xo, atoosa

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