Tinder, Trauma and Tree Stumps

grayscale photo of cut down trees
Photo by Johan Bos on Pexels.com

As we throw ourselves into August, I have to say it’s been an interesting couple of weeks for me. I’m taking a few weeks off of dating. I realised it wasn’t sparking joy so Marie Kondo style, I got rid. I have taken some learnings from it, as I endeavour to with all that I do, so the last few weeks haven’t been a waste when I have talked to the men of Hinge and Tinder. I have learnt that for me, dating someone needs to involve my gut. No, I don’t mean from a hunger perspective, despite the fact I am always ready for a snack that preferably involves cheese, but rather, I mean my gut feeling.

I was recently speaking with a nice man who fulfilled a lot of my checklist. Intelligent? Yes. Likes to go out for food and drinks? Yes. Good job? Yes. Passionate about something in his life? Yes. Independent so won’t be in my hair all the time? Yes. Loves animals? In abundance. However, something didn’t sit right, something in my gut said ‘no’. Those who haven’t had the pleasure of internet dating are usually fairly quick in telling me I need to ‘give people a chance’ because messaging someone as a first impression is difficult. Yes, it is difficult, which is why I spent the last week ignoring that gut feeling for the sake of ‘The Checklist’.  However, I then found, with a quick Facebook stalk (don’t judge, you do it too) that a more recent photo showed this particular gentleman looked a spit of one of my exes. A problematic ex from many, many moons ago. He also hadn’t made me laugh at any stage (a task that those who know me will confirm is an incredibly easy one) and he was very full-on, which just isn’t for me. Sorry buddy, I don’t want to go for a drink with you, my gut was right and I’m going to trust it from now on.

This is just one of four realisations I have had over the last week. One was in regards to a situation that had lingered for several months now. When triggered, I would get annoyed about it all over again but the lightbulb moment, not to be dramatic, set me free. Any fucks that were there had been moved swiftly into the Fuck It Bucket.  Another was in regards to why I have chosen the men I have up to this point in my dating career, why they were wrong and why men who were more ‘right’ for me were written off as ‘too good for me’.

However, amongst the dating realisations and problem resolution that I have been going through, I have also been thinking about tree stumps and trauma. Stay with me, there’s a metaphor coming for you because I know you like them. When something traumatic happens or when something really affects us in life, we sometimes don’t deal with it, we bury it, but it’s still there. The refusal or denial of the event or thing becomes a part of us. It influences who we are, how we feel and as a result, our behaviours. I am speaking from very personal experience so bear with. If you have read previous blogs of mine, going back some time now so you’d have to be keen if you’re new here, you will know I had a brain haemorrhage. These days I joke and use it as an excuse for things I don’t want to do: “Chilli vodka shot? Ohh no, can’t do that, had a brain haemorrhage”, but at one stage my denial that I was affected by this massively traumatic event and its aftermath was rife. This aside, things from my childhood which I had written off as insignificant but ultimately were the main reasons for various toxic behaviours I had, took multiple therapy sessions to come to terms with, so the manner of things we can bury is really quite substantial.

I know you’ve been waiting ever so patiently so this is where our tree stump comes in. If you have had something traumatic happen, or something which affected you, and you realise this, you maybe chat to a friend a bit about it. Maybe you listen to an audiobook, but don’t really pay attention and perhaps even skip parts. You cut down the metaphorical tree that was in your way and say you’ve moved past it. However, whilst the main tree is no longer looming over you, you keep tripping over the stump. You try to do something new, try to behave differently, try to get a more positive outlook but nothing ever sticks because every god damn time, you trip over that stump. What would happen though, if you dug in? If you dug under that stump and brought up all those roots, all that debris and threw it away? During the process, you’d probably feel like it was hard work and question whether it would be worth it. Afterwards, though, you’d fill that gap with beautiful fresh soil and not keep tripping over that pesky stump each time. Until you dig deep, until you put in those long, uncomfortable hours, whatever you have buried will stay there. It’ll mar the beautiful experiences we can have as humans. Do you want to keep struggling, tripping, feeling exhausted from constantly feeling negative or do you want to feel free?

Until I dealt with my tree stump, I didn’t really know what it was to feel. Now I feel every emotion more strongly than ever, and I wouldn’t want it any other way because irrespective of the bad feelings, the good ones, like the joy, happiness and the pleasure are just insurmountable feelings I hope you don’t miss out on.

You can now go on with your day, just look out for those stumps.

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