Taking Off the Mask

A recent dating experience became the catalyst for a pretty significant experiment. Hell, dating itself is a pretty choosey experiment theses days, but I’ll save that for another time.  Anywhooo

Date and I had some serious conversations about where we were at individually and relationship wise.  On the surface, this seemed like a great sign that this woman would prove to be good relationship material.  The ability to have these conversations seemed mature and all that.  Sadly no….  A clue was one comment that she repeated enough times that I felt the need to change.

Date kept encouraging me to drink, because (from her POV) I loosen up with alcohol.  I’m known to enjoy gin on a regular basis.  I taste gins like wines (I like wine too).

I have two favorite gins: Bombay Sapphire for everyday and Wheeler’s Western Dry as a special treat.  Wheeler’s is made with sage instead of juniper – really different and it takes getting used to.  Magellan’s is a nice treat too.  I drink my gin chilled & neat or on the rocks.  no mixers – just a slice of lime – fresh enough to be juicy please.  The Wheeler’s doesn’t need lime.

ok – so you get the idea – I know my gin.  I not only know what I like, I know when and how much I’m going to drink.  I hate getting drunk – been there done that – not fun.  Yes, drinking mellows me out- of course – why else would I drink – except that I like the taste of the gin….and now I’m making myself a little nuts…. I should stop and get back to the experiment.

Date’s comments really bugged me, because I don’t want alcohol to change or mask who I am.  Dammit, I’m going through therapy to deprogram myself from alcoholic parents right?  It seemed I was just following in their footsteps and that really freaked me out.

On Friday the 11th, I left for a trails project with NMVFO.  These trips are awesome!  Joining NMVFO is the best thing I did for myself this year.  Hiking has been an integral part of my life for 30 years.  Now I have a consistent way to give back.  About once a month I join a group of great folks to either build, repair or maintain a section of trail in cooperation with various park service organizations.

NMVFO weekends are usually the highlight of my month.  I’ve seldom combined alcohol with hiking or camping.  Just being outdoors is enough for me; that’s where the world makes sense, I find peace and I relax.  So, that Friday became day 1

No gin.

That was 14 days ago.

I don’t really know where this experiment is going.  I didn’t have a theory, a plan, a set of variables to test.  I just stopped.  I don’t think I intended to stop forever.  I don’t know yet.

Actually, eliminating gin may be a variable in a larger experiment.

Being authentic….

Most of my life was very controlled.  I showed only the parts of myself that a given situation warranted.  The A student, the caring mother, the efficient volunteer, the mid-life baby butch, the driven executive.  Very few people saw inside and those that did only saw a small portion.  There was one woman who immediately saw ME, pretty damn near all of me.  scared the crap out of me and thrilled me at the same time.  I am sooooo grateful she’s still in my life.  Chosen family is the best and she is my forever family.  My one really authentic relationship.

That’s the experiment.  I want more authenticity.  I want to really know the person I engage with.  Now, this is partly defensive, having been burned by surprises.   Mostly, it’s about a desire for connection.  After a 25yr marriage to a gay man, followed by a handful of lesbian lovers; only one of those people knows me.

Being seen, known, acknowledged, accepted and gasp – maybe even loved for who we really are is a basic human need.  That’s what I’m after.  I want to know you and I want you to know me.  No masks.

Scary huh?  Big time scary!!  Vulnerable….risky….yeah yeah all that

So, gin had become a mask and I took off that mask.  What happens now?  I dunno…I’ll let you know when I find out.

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