The Urge to Nest

nest

This originally appeared on LisaKerr.net. Read the piece here. This is Part I of a series about turning thirty, getting closer to my family, and finally deciding to settle down. Read Part II here and Part III here

Something happened when I turned thirty.

I started missing my parents, even though I lived two hours away. I worried about their health. My friends’ parents were having major health issues and passing away at young ages and my own parents were starting their annual physicals and colonoscopies, sometimes with discussions about “what they found.” I began to realize that they weren’t going to be around forever. I was growing up and they were growing older. I could feel myself aging.

I started feeling the need to settle down and the urge to nest. I wanted to find a home I could stay in for decades, instead of an apartment that I changed from time to time. I was single, and not 100% sure I really wanted kids, so I adopted a rescue puppy. I didn’t realize she would make me want to both have a child and make me question the idea of having kids all at once. A year has passed now, and we have survived the puppy stage. We’ve house-trained. We’ve obedience trained. Kids might not be so hard, right?

During college, I promised myself I would publish at least one book before getting pregnant. It was one way to keep me focused on working toward my dreams. But as I aged, and as my second set of friends started talking about having kids (the first set of friends started having kids around their mid-twenties), I started wondering what it would be like to be pregnant with my closest friends who were pinning things to their Babies! boards on Pinterest). I also started wondering what I was actually waiting for.

Love, of course. I was waiting for love. But I was also simultaneously avoiding it.

I was also waiting to move away from L.A. where most of the men I met didn’t want kids…probably because many of them were still so immature. I figured if I stayed in that city I would have to be a single mom and the single moms I knew (who did amazing jobs raising their kids) cautioned me at how hard it was. I knew they were right. I had been a nanny in my early twenties and even that was difficult.

But more than babies, I wanted to fall in love like I had only a few times in my life. The last time I’d fallen in love was when I was twenty-six and he’d moved away. Sometime after the move and our failed attempt to keep a long-distance relationship working, we’d broken each other’s hearts.

He and I had met through a mutual friend in my hometown and we were instantly swept up in love. Within a month, we’d made love in one of the most intimate moments I’d had with a man. We’d watched baseball games together. We’d dressed up together for romantic dinners. And then at the end of that month, he told me what I already knew: that he was moving and we’d have to say goodbye soon–at least until he could afford to move me up there. He told me he wanted me to visit soon and he followed through with sending me a plane ticket to come for my twenty-sixth birthday. While I was there, we laid on the couch together and he gave me a simple, pink heart diamond necklace and we kissed each other in a way I thought meant he’d be the last man I kissed.

He wasn’t.

We fell apart for reasons that usually exist when you attempt to do a long-distance relationship. Sometimes, no matter how much in love you are, the timing is wrong and the distance makes it complicated. But I knew from experience with him that there were good men out there; men who wanted a family and kids; men who treated women well; men who were honest about who they were and what they wanted. As I entered my thirties, I knew I needed to stop dating men who weren’t like that. I needed to reevaluate who I’d been dating and sleeping with. But more than that, I needed to understand what my desires were telling me. I was ready to find someone amazing. I was happy in nearly every area of my life except this one missing piece and except for the itch that kept reappearing: I wanted to settle down and find someone to start a family with.

Image from Pinterest.

Read Part II here and Part III here

Taking Our Time

I’m no stranger to falling quickly and wanting to move fast when dating. But I also made it to thirty without being married because I never actually followed through with those steps, mostly because it didn’t quite feel right with those people. You know the reasons it wasn’t right–there was a different reason for every person and I’m sure you’ve experienced some of those reasons. It just wasn’t a good fit and didn’t seem like the payoff was worth the risk. Or deep down you just didn’t believe the person’s words because their actions said something subtly different.

taking your timeI love this quote. There’s something magical about feeling relaxed about taking your time with someone (not that I’m not going “squee!” inside constantly and doing ridiculous shit–because I AM). But there’s something nice about being able to tell yourself that this could be a good person to actually take your time with–not because you have doubts and want to make sure he’s the right one, but because you’re enjoying the chance to fall in love with someone and you don’t want to rush it or slow it down–you just want to experience all of it as it comes.

The “Yucky Love Stuff”

There’s this great scene in one of my all-time favorite chick-flicks (My Best Friend’s Wedding) where Julia Roberts says “This is not about longevity. This is about me being comfortable with the yucky love stuff. And I am.”

The whole film is about her facing how she’s ran away from love (and the “yucky love stuff”) all her life until her best friend, Michael, meets and proposes to the love of his life (played by Cameron Diaz). And yet Julia always took for granted that Michael would be there for her and be in love with her. He wasn’t. Now she had to stand in his wedding and she spends the whole time trying to ruin the wedding so he doesn’t marry Cameron.

But really, Julia doesn’t want to marry Michael and she’s probably not really that comfortable with the yucky love stuff. She just doesn’t want to be alone and grow old without her best friend. And that makes sense. But she still spends the whole movie trying to ruin his wedding.

There are a lot of people like Julia. Many of them are internet commenters (although I have some great commenters here, lately) and sometimes, your own friends surprise you and are those “Julia’s.”

***

Not entirely unrelated, I was just watching this Ellen clip about Mila Kunis and her pregnancy/engagement to Ashton Kutcher (celeb gossip–so sue me.). Mila’s keeping her baby’s sex and name private and she and Ashton kept the engagement ring private for two months. Something I’ve learned in life is that not everyone is supportive of happy people and sometimes it’s just best to keep your happiest moments private. The minute you start sharing how awesome your life is, the minute haters come on the scene. Let’s be honest. It’s just natural if we’re feeling shitty about our own lives to feel like no one’s life can possibly be THAT good. But sometimes life can be THAT good, and sometimes those are perfect MOMENTS (no one’s life is perfect 100% of the time), not an indication of a perfect LIFE. Either way, happy people want to be around people who are happy for them, not around people who are critical of them. And that’s why Mila and Ashton (and every other celebrity couple) keeps their private lives private–because really, one’s private life (and the up’s and down’s everyone goes through) shouldn’t be fodder for public scrutiny. Our personal lives aren’t the Hunger Games, so why should we share intimate things with the public if we don’t feel like it?

***

All this to say, I’m in love and I’m happy. I’ve also kept it pretty private and am going to keep doing that until I feel like sharing it. There are a lot of reasons I wanted to do the private thing, and one of them had to do with people’s reactions to me when I first announced I was “on the market.” The amount of married/taken men on the prowl for sex seemed to jump sky high and I was getting propositioned like a straight whore during those few weeks. It was baffling. It was insulting. It was enough to make me reconsider sharing intimate details of my personal life on Facebook again, so I pulled back and kept dating, but doing so on a more low-key level.

I told the boyfriend that before I met him, I wasn’t planning on doing a public relationship–not on Facebook, not on the blog, etc. Considering how public I am with things here, I feel like it’s most respectful of him if I don’t blog too much about him/us (yet). It’s new. It’s magical. I don’t need to disclose all of those moments with the world. Maybe I will one day, but right now the story is being written and it’s all ours. It makes it more intimate to know that those memories aren’t being blasted through social media. They aren’t being hated on. They aren’t being discussed. They’re just building.

I realize the private relationship thing isn’t for everyone, but to me it makes it more sacred. Knowing that there’s at least one thing I don’t share openly with the world–moments I have all to myself with someone else, and feelings that I don’t spoil by opening up for internet opinions. This is what makes things between he and I more magical right now. It’s all ours.

What I can say is that we’ve had some magical dates and we have a lot in common–more than I expected to find in someone, to be honest. And also, I highly recommend the “yucky love stuff” because it can be pretty fucking fantastic–even (and especially when) your whole head turns to mush.

soul

Leaving Los Angeles For Good

When I was a kid, the first thing I wanted to do after graduating high school was leave my small town and move to a big city. Los Angeles was the closest city to me so it seemed only natural that I would end up there. In 2009, I moved to the L.A. area and settled in for a few years, two jobs, and a college graduation later. This past December I started to really question whether I wanted to stay in L.A. or not. I loved so much of the city but the one thing I couldn’t get past were the people. It seemed so hard to meet really good people who were warm and caring. I’d met a few of them but they were so far away from me that even though we still considered ourselves living in L.A., it was an hour plus drive to see each other. I think the warm, caring types stay hidden from the rest of the city and as a result I met mostly self-centered, fake people who had a really hard time being honest about themselves and life. L.A. wasn’t where I found a good confidant. It was where I discovered the city was cutthroat and you had to hide your secrets from people who would use them against you.

Being a small-town girl, this wasn’t entirely foreign to me. I dealt with the Mean Girls of my high school and junior high while growing up. I didn’t confide in everyone. But after I moved away and joined a cult, I returned for college and reconnected with some really great friends. Friends I could tell anything to and friends who were supportive of me. When I moved to L.A., I did so to start my career as a professional writer. I didn’t realize I would miss my friends so much, but every year I was gone, the ache of not having them to talk to and share life experiences with really hurt.

I saw some of those friends this weekend and on the drive home with one of them last night, my heart felt like it wasn’t dead anymore.

hollywood

In my time in L.A., I’d forgotten just how awesome it was to have friends you can be honest with and can tell things to. Friends who see the best in you and support you no matter what. I’m crying a little just thinking about my talk last night and what it felt like to have my good friends back in my life.

It’s a great feeling.

It’s nice to know that I don’t have to worry about them using me or pushing me down to get ahead. When I have issues with falling in love with men who aren’t good for me, they don’t judge me and tell me I’m stupid. They don’t tell me to get over it. They listen and if they can’t say anything else, they say “I’m sorry, friend.”

Of course I do miss L.A. I miss the food, the weather, the beach. I miss the shopping and the mixture of city and desert landscapes. I miss the culture rich with music and film and all things artistic. But for me it just wasn’t the whole package.

What Makes Me Feel Beautiful

Someone recently asked me the question “What makes you feel beautiful?” I smiled and I thought about this new guy I’d met named Jay*. A few days ago we were talking before bed and he texted me “Good night, beautiful.” It wasn’t the first time he’d said it and there had been other men who said it to me recently–that I was beautiful, or sexy–but when he said it, it made me feel beautiful. It made me blush. I got that warm feeling in my stomach that all crushes start with. I liked hearing it from him. I knew he meant it and it wasn’t about sex or trying to get on my good side. It was sincere.

Just last night, though, I had one final talk-turned-argument (for closure’s sake) with the person I’d spent the past three plus years in love with. I’d told Jay about him and Jay asked me what it would take for me to get over him. It made me think for the first time that maybe there was someone out there that would be worth getting over him. Someone who made me feel the same way. I thought the answer would be that when I lost weight and got (what I considered) hot again, but the more Jay asked me certain questions, the more I realized I could-and should-get over him now. Why wait for someone who didn’t even tell me I was beautiful when there was someone who had no hangups about telling me now?

When I was talking to the now ex-love last night, I started thinking about the fact that he never once called me beautiful. When I would ask him if he liked my hair or something I was wearing, he wouldn’t even answer. One time he said he liked brunettes and later I died my hair brown and he said it didn’t look good. I wasn’t used to this. Usually men had no problem complimenting me or finding me attractive, and although I didn’t expect it (nor did I always believe they were sincere), I appreciated it.

It really bothered me–this inability for the ex-love to compliment how I looked. Of course there were many other amazing traits that made me fall in love with him in the first place, but this was something that hurt me. And it wasn’t something I’d read on Cosmo’s “Ten Signs Your Man Isn’t The One.” (Just kidding, maybe I do read Cosmo.) It was something I started realizing hurt me even deeper than I thought as the result of receiving compliments from someone else I started caring about. It wasn’t about the compliments. It was the ability Jay had to actually verbalize how I made him feel and how he saw me. Communication is key and if you feel that someone is amazing or attractive, shouldn’t you be able to say it?love

I think that’s why it made it much more meaningful when Jay said it. He told me I was beautiful in a moment where I least expected it. I had just finished saying “I can’t date you. You’re too young and you live far away. I can’t do long distance anymore.” He said he understood about the distance and we discussed why his age would be problematic and then before we got offline, he said “Good night, beautiful.” I blushed. I felt butterflies. Magic. All of it. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t like Jay. It was that I did like him but I’d tried a few long distance relationships and they just didn’t work.

But still, his compliments continued, despite that we started meeting other people and my feelings for him grew the more we talked and the more I felt understood deeply by him. And as his compliments continued, I realized what I loved about them was the fact that he said how he felt and if I was going to “get away” then he was going to make sure I knew how he felt about me.

What woman doesn’t want that?

*Not his real name.

 

Apps of the Week

I came across some interesting apps today. Mind you, I’m new to the Google app store since my last phone couldn’t hold more than a few phone numbers.

Here are some gems:

Hide Your Kids

 

Jiggle It N Share It

Jew Booth

 

Beards for Bears

 

Of course I had to try that app out…just to see what it would look like. I DO love beards.

 

And of course, if you’re looking to hide from your stalkers in real life, you can get some Sun-Staches:

The “List”

I know I’ve written about the shitty “list” that they made us write in church back in the day. In case you forgot, our pastor’s wife suggested we write a list of the ideal husband and pin it to our wall and pray over it. That’s so ’50s. At seventeen (and even again at eighteen), my list was absurd. I have it and I’m sure as hell not going to share it here. But let’s just say it was ridiculous. (I will say that I was dumb enough to put “he must love chocolate” on the list. What the ever loving fuck? lol) Even worse, since I didn’t have as much experience dating anyone, I was totally unreasonable in my list. Once you have a few real relationships under your belt you realize that some expectations are just absurd, and some traits are ‘nice to have’ but no one is a robot. You might get what you want and you might just fall in love with someone totally different than you expected to. No big deal.

I’m bringing the list back up though, because the other day my NOT-’50s friend S. said she just made a list of her ideal girlfriend. To be fair, she’s neither a pastor’s wife or really a religious person. Just a cool girl who was having some retrospective moments following a breakup with a girl who wasn’t really a good match for her. When she talked about some of the things her ex-girlfriend said to her over the breakup, I was pretty mad. So, for her, I’m a fan of the list for her.

I don’t really have a list but I started talking to her about things I like in dudes. I prefer to think of it less like a list and more like  ‘lessons I’ve learned along the way and why some guys just don’t do it for me’. Ha! Like the too-young guy. I’ve dated him before (quite a few times, actually!) and most of the too-young guys weren’t ready for any kind of serious relationship yet. They were still playing video games…over and over and over. Or living at home, or didn’t have a job. These aren’t really things some guys get over, though, so I’ve learned it’s not always about age. But there comes a point in a woman’s life when she has to date a man, otherwise the relationship is a lot like caring for a puppy. Mostly, I’ve just learned it’s best to spend a lot of time getting to know someone before getting too committed, no matter how old they are.

When I was younger I HAD to date a Christian guy. Just had to. Or I’d…die? I don’t know what the threat was there. I think it helps if people have similar values and morals, but they don’t have to be the same religion for that to happen. After I became atheist, I thought I only had to date atheist and agnostic guys, but then I dated atheist and agnostic guys. We had a lot in common and a lot to talk about, but I’m much more complex than just my lack of beliefs and experiences in church. At some point this year, I got over my anger and anxiety about uber-religious people and realized that there were some very cool, laid back Christian guys I could date. I almost hate to admit it, but some of the Christian guys I dated were actually some of the most romantic, most caring guys I’d dated. (On the other hand, some of them were the biggest jerks…so it goes to show you that being an asshole isn’t just reserved for certain religions or lack thereof.)

Politics are another thing I’ve kind of been adamant about but now I’m more flexible. I was really into politics for about two years there, but I spent most of my life as a moderate. I enjoy life around moderates much more than around extremists when it comes to politics. Mostly because you can’t get a word in edgewise when someone is very political and they think they’re right…all the damn time. I hold fast to the idea that you’re allowed to change your mind when you get new information and I feel like political views should be a lot more flexible than they are.

I wish I could say I’m the kind of girl who has a specific type, but I really don’t. Sometimes I’ve dated really insecure guys and they freak out and question me. DON’T YOU HAVE A ‘TYPE’, WOMAN? I KNOW I’M NOT IT! To me, it’s less about a type and more about the person: how much they love you, how much they respect you, how much they challenge you to be a better person, how much you trust them and mostly how they treat you.

To be honest, I’ve fallen hardest for friends and that’s why I think developing a really deep connection via friendship is much more important than passion or sex. There’s something incredibly intoxicating about becoming so close to someone, and knowing they are an incredibly authentic person in every way possible, and then one day just waking up to find out you love them. It doesn’t happen all the time and to be honest, it’s also as scary as it is intoxicating. After all, they know your flaws and insecurities and your biggest fears, so if anyone could judge you or use that against you, they could. But because you both care about each other, you know they’ll support you instead of tear you down and you know they understand you well enough to believe the best of you.

So, the specifics? Race? Don’t care. Height? Don’t care. Hair? Who cares? Weight? I like it all. Buff guys are usually assholes, though, so I try not to get too attached there. Sorry. I’m more of the kind of person who falls in love with someone’s personality first and I actually think chubby guys are really hot.

Probably my only real criteria is that I’m challenged intellectually by the person. That doesn’t mean he’s smarter than me–maybe smarter in different ways, or maybe not. But someone who makes me think and encourages me to learn. I’m invigorated by learning new things, the more complex the better. Whether it’s philosophy or coding, I just find intellectualism very hot. Very. Hot. Very.

Do you have a ‘list’? Share it with me below or email me. I’d love to hear your take on this subject. Or, if you’re boring and married (JK), did you have a list? Or did you just know?

Cult and Destructive Ministry Research Survey

As a reader of my blog, you are invited to participate in this survey on cults and destructive groups.

I decided to start recording some of the information from you all, because MANY of you have been so kind to email me about your group, but I didn’t have a way to centralize the data for research or to help anyone. Hopefully this will be a start of some good things to come.

As many of you know, I’m a writer. I write about my own experiences, but many of your stories are similar to mine. I’d love to use some of your stories in future books or articles, but first I need them to be filed away and organized. If you decided to participate, you MUST know this: If you agree, your identity will be made known in all written data resulting from the study. Otherwise, your individual privacy will be maintained in all published and written data resulting from the study. That’s just a fancy way of saying you choose whether you remain anonymous in any publication or whether I can use your name. I will NOT ever use your name without your consent. And I will never sell your name or email address to anyone. Ever.

So, if you’d like to participate, please visit the link here. Feel free to copy and paste the link on Facebook, Twitter or share on your own blogs.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dEhKT1N2NS1tMEw2RkRGQjVlalVFVEE6MQ
If this link isn’t working please email me at: mycultlife AT gmail DOT com and I will send you the link.

And thanks in advance. Let’s work together to stop spiritual abuse and give voice to the victims of cults.

I’m in Love

I happen to be in love right now. I can’t even tell you how head over heels I am for this guy, but I am. Sometimes he and I take off on a Monday (we both have the day off) and spend the day together. The other day we drove up to Chumash Casino, near Santa Barbara. We just have so much fun in each other’s company–singing and yelling and letting the cool breeze blow through our hair.

Ryan Adams just came out with his new album, Ashes and Fire. I love Ryan, although I have to admit I probably know of him because an ex-boyfriend (can I call him that if we never actually kissed?), but I don’t really associate him with that guy because I’ve mostly forgotten him.

Yesterday I went to Malibu and sat by the beach in my car listening to the album and came across the song Dirty Rain. Like many of Ryan Adam’s songs, they’re soulful and deeply romantic. I happen to be in love right now. I can’t even tell you how head over heels I am for this guy, but I am. Sometimes he and I take off on a Monday (we both have the day off) and spend the day together. The other day we drove up to Chumash Casino, near Santa Barbara. We just have so much fun in each other’s company–singing and yelling and letting the cool breeze blow through our hair.

A few weeks ago, I drove him to my favorite spot in Malibu. This spot where I was alone last night. Since he loves taking pictures at night, I pulled over so he could get a few photos of the moonlight reflecting on the ocean. They turned out gorgeous. Then he put his camera up and I grabbed a blanket from the backseat. We walked hand-in-hand to the seashore and kissed under the moonlight. We took a little walk on the beach, laughing and talking and holding each other. And then we laid out the blanket on the sand and snuggled while we talked. It was so romantic–just he and I and the moonlight reflecting on our faces.

My Tragic Love Story, La Strada Style

We’re all young and dumb at some point in our lives, right? I was. I left home when I was 17, after graduating high school, convinced that I should join a traveling ministry group.

We’re all young and dumb at some point in our lives, right? I was. This is the beginning of a tragic love story.

I left home when I was 17, after graduating high school, convinced that I should join a traveling ministry group. I was recruited into Master’s Commission which was housed out of a megachurch called Phoenix First Assembly of God. After I joined, I became like Gelsomina and the pastor I worked for was like Zampano. As the famous Fellini movie La Strada had a tragic ending, so my story would also have a sad ending.

During my last year in Master’s Commission, I fell in love with a man that I can only call a Tool:  “someone who tries too hard to act cool, a poser” (as defined by urbandictionary.com). This guy, who we’ll call Tool, had convinced me that he was in love with me and proposed to me over the phone. It was the beginning of the tragic love story and here begins my story…