Everything Is Possible
"You walk with your heart in your hand Mary". Someone said to me 4 years ago when I was travelling in Goa. It was one of those English phrases I didn't quite understand at first. Like "how are you finding it?" or "not too shabby". I had never noticed it before. But it was true and still is: I am a hopeless romantic.
For a few months now I have read and researched on why and how romantic relationships work, crack, break, get stronger and last happily. Let me tell you, I’m getting closer to formulating the “forever after”. But that’s for another post.
What I can share here from my personal experience is that we, as a collective in the western world, have been robbed of choosing from our hearts. On top of that, commuting, 9-5 working hours (if not more), financial ambitions and Disney have twisted our perception of what’s genuinely important to us as individuals and we constantly chase success by comparison. I am no heroine, until yesterday, give or take, I wanted to look younger, I wanted a bigger house, a better film and a better partner than my friends had. I was constantly comparing. And I suspect so are you.
In the love arena add to that mix the swipe me right/ swipe me wrong dating apps, they have sucked the life out of dating and being genuine. Don’t get me wrong, I know of a few online dating successful stories. And undoubtedly you have to kiss many frogs (the word “army” resonates a great deal here). But I feel that if we continue approaching relationships as if they were a silly game, we are truly and royally screwed.
Brené Brown -I know I keep quoting her, but the woman is just brilliant- insists that “we cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known”. But how can we let that happen when we find easier to pretend we have a winning hand rather than folding and letting go of the poker face?
In poker, the flop is like the first time you meet someone. You know what you have in your hand, but can’t quite work out the odds yet. It’s too soon to make your mind up, so you wait for the other players’ reactions, for the turn and then the river card. This is the perfect environment for the truth to come out; the point when the emotionally challenged folds. Always. Being a winner at this game is not for the light hearted.
Being a hopeless romantic as well as a bad poker player doesn’t help my quest either. I have lost pretty badly on both accounts. Yet, it amazes me when my friend Jenny says I’m the Queen of Falling in Love. To tell you the truth I have loved several times, and with great intensity, but I have fallen in love just once.
After 7 years of being single I realised my game was skewed. I, invariably, sat with unworthy opponents but, because I believed –and still do- that everything is possible, I continued playing, wasting my time. I was a very lousy player myself. I didn’t read the signs; I didn’t count the cards or take any odds into account. Apparently on an even hand, the person with the most concentration will almost always win. I was never really paying attention; I was imagining a game that was never real.
Most of the time I was playing, I didn’t even know what I wanted to get out of the experience, and focused on meeting that perfect player that will make it all magical and better (Disney, you see now)! I convinced myself I knew what I was doing and that I was ready. Well, I wasn’t.
This realisation sucked! Now, what do I do? Is it all lost? Am I too late? So here is what I did:
Step 1 Temporarily stay away from all games, players and online championships: use the silence to write, heal and take time to forgive.
Step 2 Learn from the pros: listen to those who are good players and are in good relationships, they aren’t many around, so choose well. And stop watching romantic comedies, they are frying your brain.
Step 3 Know your strengths: focusing on the things I’m not a good at is a waste of energy. I suffer from Compulsive Honesty Syndrome, so I use it towards myself every single day, and I trust my instincts, so I go with them all the time.
Step 4 Work out the odds: apart from a writer, life coach and traveler, I am and always will be an accountant. Numbers are my thing. “If this same scenario didn’t work out in the past and you lost, what’s the likelihood of the results being different this time around?” It’s all about probability.
Step 5 Don’t be afraid to lose all your money: this is the hardest one, because I don’t want to get my heartbroken. No one does, but this is where the money is at. I, literally, have a heart tattooed on my sleeve, so I will never forget that to celebrate love and joy I must show up with my whole heart, despite the risk of losing it all.
Next time I play I know the odds will be in my favour. I’m not sure if there’s a worthy opponent out there, where he is at or what the future will be. All I know is that if you want someone, as hard it is may be, practice loving them no matter what will come right back at you and show your intentions despite the poker face. There is nothing wrong with wanting to win the hand but with attaching our sense of worthiness to the chips on the table or irrationally desire security. There is none. Love is like poker, you don't know what hand you're going to get dealt next.
And when you’re truly ready to go all in, sit at the table and give everything you got.
“Nobody wins all the time, so when you lose, you need to learn what you can from it, then let it go. Forget it”. Johnny Moss, professional poker player (1907-1995), nine times World Series of Poker bracelet holder.
PS: just as I finished writing this I feel like taking the edge off by eating a steak, gulp a large glass of red wine, watching Cinderella and call my former lover. The journey of being vulnerable is a daily practice. Off to the gym instead!