Friday, March 18, 2016

My Tinder Adventures

Profile pic from round 3
This week, I saw a blog post from Artista called; Dating as a Pole Artist. It got me thinking about my recent dating adventures. See, I have two strikes against me: dating while fat AND dating while being a pole dancer.

I got out of a six year relationship in August. I didn't feel compelled to start dating again immediately. In fact, it wasn't until mid-December that I finally decided to give it a try. Several people had suggested Tinder as a good app to try. Although I had heard it was just a hook-up app, several people promised that regular guys looking for a relationship were also there (not that I was looking to jump back into a relationship but I was hoping to meet someone who could at least pretend they wanted to be friends and get to know me before they tried to get me in bed). So began my Tinder Adventures.

(Side note: About six weeks ago, I also tried for about 12 hours and absolutely hated the stalker aspect of it. I also tried Bumble this week, and the quality of the men appeared to be higher, but there weren't many on there, so I ended up deleting after only making four matches in a two day period.)

Got it, Bruce Lee doesn't do karate, right?
I first set up my Tinder profile with perfectly safe and lovely photos. I felt like I proved I was no average Tinderella - I showed off my quirky personality without revealing my pole dance hobby, which I hoped would keep the freaks away. I also made it clear that I was a big girl and was looking for someone to appreciate my body, not tolerate it. I thought I was honest yet funny. I started receiving messages immediately and corresponded with (and met) a few guys. I also started receiving the expected hook-up messages. Guys will say the craziest things, and a good number of them love to show off their penises. You can't send photos over Tinder but I gave my number (or my user name for another messaging program) to some guys and was a little surprised how quickly some would send over a picture of their dick. I guess they thought I would be so impressed, I would invite them over for an immediate play date? Don't get me wrong, I got great pleasure out of critiquing their photos, so I'm not sad they sent them. Hey, if they need to send photos, I want to provide a service.  For $10, I will remind you to take your socks off, throw your kids' toys out of the shot, or not let your tighty whiteys hug your balls during your photoshoot. Towards the end, I even started asking for photos if I knew it was someone I was never planning to meet. However, just for the record, generally, I do not actually want to see a photo of your dick until I have met said dick in person.

At some point, I got overwhelmed (more like frustrated -- disgusted?), so I canceled Tinder. But Tinder is like a drug. It is an addiction. Swiping on these guys is like playing a card game (in fact, I gave up my Angry Birds addiction after I downloaded Tinder). I have a pretty high rejection rate -- probably 90% or better. So I was swiping left way more often than I was swiping right. But man, when you swipe right and "ITS A MATCH" pops up on the screen, it's like you won a prize! I craved it. I needed to play the slot machine again. I missed those Tinder boys!

It didn't take me long to set up another Tinder account. This time, however, I decided to play it a little differently. If these guys were going to act like fuck boys, I was going to treat them as such. I only put up super sexy photos, including pole pictures, and wrote stupid things on my profile referencing being tall enough to ride this attraction, taco salads and driving a tractor. I also did a callback to an article written by a girl who did a 1950's style profile where her objective was matrimony. I guess I thought it was funny to have all these sexy photos then pretend I was looking for my husband on Tinder. I did not give a single fuck on round 2 because I was there to play the game and win. I was not expecting (nor prepared for) the onslaught of attention. I received over 70 matches in 24 hours (previously, it probably took me five or six days to get that many matches). I believe I had 20 or more super likes in that short period of time (super likes are when people can't rely on the game of chance so they let you know that they really want to talk to you). I also had probably 60% of those initial matches message me almost immediately (previously, I probably heard from 20-30% of my matches).  Well, holy shit. Apparently, on a hook-up app, sexy photos are popular. That being said, I actually met some really nice guys this round as well. It felt ugly baiting some of the fuck boys to say stupid shit. I don't always like being a mean person and so round 2 was weird for me.

(Interesting side note: I received fewer unsolicited dick pics...perhaps they were intimidated by my photos, believed I had seen A LOT of dicks and didn't want me judging them? Or perhaps, previously, they were trying to help a good girl go bad?)

(Another side note: Can we discuss why men get so angry when I say I'm generally interested in men taller than me? That's about my insecurities, not his. I don't need to hear about how we are all the same height when we are horizontal.)

For even (or especially?) the nice guys who contacted me, this created a conundrum in my mind. I had a similar experience after gastric bypass. Once I lost 165 pounds, I started receiving a lot more male attention. I had a really difficult time trusting men because I would always question whether they would have liked me when I was fat. So, with these Tinder Adventures, I started questioning where these guys were when I just had normal photos up. It was really a bad situation and pissed me off. Dating while angry is never a good thing. Tinder had to go again.

I saw a Facebook friend posting some of her online dating nightmares not long after and thought maybe it would be fun to fuck with those Tinder boys again. So, I essentially put up the same stupid profile as round 2. I was not quite as popular this time around, but I received plenty of messages and, again, met one really nice guy that made it worth the round. But I did get overwhelmed and, once again, deleted Tinder (just this week, in fact). Possibly for good this time -- three strikes and I'm out!

While I certainly have had many weird comments based on my pole dancing, I have also met plenty of guys who were perfectly respectful about it. I can't say I regret getting on Tinder, as I did meet some nice guys, but I really feel like I would like to meet my ultimate partner the old fashioned way -- drunk at a bar.

Dating this time around has been interesting. Honestly, it has been over 12 years since I have really been in the dating scene. That was also the last time I tried online dating. I got into a relationship when I was 27 and spent 4-1/2 years with that person (I did meet him online but made him chase me for two years before I met him in person). I dated another person for a few months (met him in a bar), then ended up in my six year relationship at the age of 33 (met him through a friend). I am now 39 -- facing down 40 single. (Oh, the humanity!) At this age, many of the  men in my age group have baggage that includes divorces and children. I'm here just trying to figure out which wig I'm going to wear to my next Chunky Girls event. And dating younger men hasn't proven fruitful as so many in the generation behind me are kind of flaky and non-communicative.

I also realize I am not everyone's cup of tea. I have a very big personality. I'm loud. I laugh big. I talk a lot. I use my hands and make gestures while I tell fantastical stories. I swear profusely. I'm silly. I can be intense. I bite back when I feel like someone is being a jerk. I need someone who can handle that. I feel like putting all of this into an online dating profile is putting a lot of pressure on that profile to accurately represent me without scaring men away. I feel like all of this is best experienced in person.

I know people get uncomfortable when I say I am fat but it is the truth. I am not a thin girl and not all men appreciate a bigger girl. That being said, a whole hell of a lot more of them appreciate me than I realized was possible, so that was a nice surprise. However, I have to wonder if I felt like over-sexualizing myself was a way to entice more physically attractive men into talking to me. It was a social experiment. Try being sexy to see what happens. Then I was disappointed that it worked -- my milkshake brought all the boys to the yard, and I was mad about that. I now realize I am worthy of the attention of attractive men and the ones who are deserving of my attention won't expect me to use tricks to get them. Who cares if I had 70 matches in 24 hours if, ultimately, none were worth my time?

Long story short, I learned a lot about myself and what I want from any future man that I spend my time with. I appreciate honesty and integrity over all else. I also believe that every person we meet is there to teach us some kind of lesson and I certainly walked away with lessons from everyone I met during these adventures. I also learned that, yes, it is okay for me to be a sexual person, but it should not be the initial person I present to any potential date. I do have a large personality and the right person will accept me as I am. I know he's out there.

I imagine the onslaught of "you should try ...this... dating site" messages will begin now. However, I have decided to enjoy some time with the people I have already met and also continue to re-learn how to be single. If you want to share your dating nightmares below, though, I would love to read them! I hope you are enjoying some of my favorite gems shared here.

I don't know how I passed on this gem. He takes rejection well.

Some version of round 2's profile

Thursday, March 17, 2016

My 12th new-birthday: The path to self-acceptance

Today is the 12th anniversary of my gastric bypass surgery. In years past, this date was always celebrated as my new-birthday. A celebration of the first day of the rest of my life. Apparently last year I wasn't feeling the love, as it was probably the first year I didn't post about my surgiversary since I started this blog (my last update was from year 10). That ambivalence continues this year. Yes, having that surgery changed my life but I don't know that it made it better. Yes, I am still 100+ pounds lighter than my heaviest weight, but that doesn't make me a better person (and also hasn't cured my self-esteem issues as I recently realized as I read back on some journals from my 20's). The surgery has, in fact, created more health problems than it has cured. My brain is still geared to believe I am not beautiful or worthy. While I have made HUGE strides in this department, I still tend to use sugar and money to feed my addictions.  

So, this could possibly be my final surgery update on this blog. I no longer want to champion the idea that being thin makes your life any easier or better. I have moved on to a more worthy cause: acceptance of self. As I am. Right here, right now.

I am trying to be less weight-obsessed. If you ask me about a big life activity, I can often tell you almost exactly how much I weighed. Not always how amazing the day was or how much fun I had (or how terrible it was) -- first, how much I weighed, which could often determine how well that day went for me.

No more.

I have been on the path of self-acceptance for awhile now.  It started when I joined Twirly Girls in 2009. My journey continued when I found Chunky Girl Comics in 2013. And it completely sky-rocketed when I started taking control of my health with Ellen a couple of years ago. Don't get me wrong, I still have good and bad days (THIS was a pretty epic public meltdown), however, recognizing that life truly IS a journey and not a destination has been life-changing.

Just because I see a photo or video of myself and am bummed to see a fat roll doesn't mean I am no longer accepting of my body. If I allowed that to stop me from wearing an outfit for a performance, then that would be a problem. I did see myself in a performance costume this weekend and hated myself in it but I'm not allowing myself to back out. So that is huge in my book. That is what body acceptance is about -- not allowing my brain to talk me out of enjoying my life. I have a good life and I am generally very happy, so not setting this hard line of believing I have to love and accept myself every single day is what gives me the power to actually love and accept myself more often than not. Realizing we all have bad days, even the thinner girls, helps me realize that disliking how I look one day doesn't have to ruin my entire life. I mean, just this week, I saw a photo of me at my lowest post-surgery weight and wished I looked like that again. So, I'm a work in progress. But the time it takes me to pick myself up by my boot straps and move on is getting shorter, so that's a win.

I always feel conflicted when people ask me about my weight loss surgery. On one hand, I do appreciate that it helped me lose so much weight. I do worry that I would have ended up with diabetes, or heart issues, or sleep apnea, or other issues had I continued to gain at the rate I was gaining (at 15 pounds per year, I was scheduled to weigh 500 pounds by the age of 35). However, it is frustrating that I got to deal with post-surgery black-outs, low blood sugar, low blood pressure, mal-absorption, bone spurs, etc. Surgery wasn't the easy way out, that's for sure. Plus, I ended up with enough skin for two people and had to spend $45,000 on surgeries to have that removed. No one warned me how annoying that would be. So, yes, I am happy I had surgery because I feel like it has helped me on my journey toward taking responsibility for my health and being aware of my body. But considering I never had to take anti-depressants until after I lost weight, I don't think the surgery is the end-all, be-all. It is the path I chose, so it is the only one I can report on. And, as I have mentioned before, my life doesn't suck.

Thank you all for coming on this journey with me! I love reading your comments and private messages. I know many of us are in similar boats so it helps to know we are not alone. And we are not -- this blog has helped me realize that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Here We Go Again!

So, less than ONE WEEK after my doctor declared our war on my left leg/hip/foot OVER, I have done it again. I'm injured. This time, I broke a toe on my left foot.

Here's a very brief recap of the history before this latest issue:

About six to seven years ago, I started having MAJOR left hip pain for no reason. Like can't-get-out-of-bed-or-walk-some-days kind of pain. (SEE this link.) I had plantar fascial release surgery on my right foot about three years ago. (SEE this link.) A year and a half ago, I flipped out of a fly gym in Las Vegas, and smacked my left foot on the wall (as well as my face on the ground). (SEE this link.) For the past 18 months, I have been seeing my doctor for myofascial release (generally weekly), as well as Tobe Hanson (usually every other month) for some crazy mind-body voodoo that perfectly complimented my doctor's treatments. In the last couple of weeks, I have been pain free. Tobe told me about three weeks ago that he didn't need to see me again unless I have a flare-up. One week before this injury, my doctor declared me cured. Yay for me. All of the pain in my body was gone. My hip didn't hurt. My feet didn't hurt. I felt fantastic. (Side note: I credit some of this disappearing pain to leaving a toxic situation, but that's a post for another day.)

Then, last Tuesday, this happened:

Breaking a toe...
Posted by Confessions of a Twirly Girl on Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Smacking the pole didn't really do much other than ruin my fan kick and sting a bit. Right after this video, I looked down and noticed my toe was facing the wrong direction. I reached down and straightened it out. That's when the pain and swelling started. I wasn't able to finish class.

Although I figured my baby toe was broken, I didn't think it was worth going to the doctor. Other than knowing he would kill me for coming in with another pole injury, I figured he would just tell me to tape it. My boss thought I should go in anyway. Wednesday night, I went to the doctor, where he told me he was fairly certain it was broken. He sent me for an x-ray the next morning -- saying that it would at least tell me if I could expect a three week or six week recovery. By Friday morning, I had convinced myself the toe wasn't broken. The bruise was still pretty fantastic, but the pain was already cut in half. However, the doctor called, confirmed my baby toe was, in fact, broken, and said that I should continue with tape, ice and rest. Boo.

So, in response, I poled (kind of) and wore heels on Sunday, then went out Monday night and stood for a couple of hours. Honestly, other than rubbing a little when I wear real shoes, the pain isn't unbearable. I think I'm going to get back to yoga (carefully) in two weeks and maybe even some pole classes after that. I don't think I can downward dog any time soon but maybe if I only do it on one leg. I certainly don't expect this injury to keep me down for six weeks. I'm an active fat girl. I spent a rainy day on the couch one recent Saturday and almost couldn't walk on Sunday. Six weeks of doing nothing will ruin me. 

I have been back in the pole game for only a couple of months but I am (or was) feeling more and more comfortable moving around the pole. Check out this video was just a minute or so before I hit my toe:

Free dance before I hit my toe
Posted by Confessions of a Twirly Girl on Tuesday, March 8, 2016

And here's some rehab floor work from Sunday:

Chunky Girls behaving badly
Posted by Confessions of a Twirly Girl on Sunday, March 13, 2016

I'm not going to let this stop me, but this sure does get frustrating when I feel like the Universe knocks me down. I feel like it may have been whispering to me and I wasn't listening, so it sent me a stronger warning. I get it. I do too much. I'm listening now. However, this is the only way I know to be. So I can't lay around on the couch for six weeks. I promise to be careful but I'm getting back in the game as soon as possible.