It's something of an understatement to say that I am an open book.
Everything about me, all of the stories that led me to be who I am now, have been laid bare in the pages of Persona Non Grata and on these blog posts at Muchness and Light. There may be a few other outlets—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—that show snippets of my personality, but generally everything about my past is on public display.
When I meet people for the first time, especially men, I tend to throw all of that out there at once.
"Hi, I'm Stephanie. I'm a lot to handle. You will one day say it's too much and that I overwhelm you. They all do, and I have no reason to think you're any different. Here I am—take it or leave it!"
It's kind of like lobbing a grenade of muchness at them and daring them to take me on.
For all of my talk of loathing the unavailable men whom I perpetually attract, is it really I who is unavailable?
I hate it when men I care about tell me I'm too much. It strikes a nerve in me, both because it's true and because I warned them. Just once, I'd like not to feel that pang of I told you so that inevitably comes.
But just because I warn someone of what to expect, and how to deal with me when it happens, does that make it okay? Does my glittery Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here sign justify my reaction when they give up hope?
If I taunt men into letting me down, I am culpable, both in giving them reason to turn away and in delighting in being able to find those reasons when it happens. I get a little jolt from pushing their buttons, and I probably try to do it from the onset of salutation. It's like an experiment sometimes, just to see how much it will take before their façade of availability cracks and they scurry to close the gaps before I can get my hooks into them and force them to open deeper and wider than they'd ever imagined.
And that is exactly what I do.
I test men, looking to see who will fail me and how and why. Sometimes I know within minutes that they aren't up to the challenge, and I dust their crumbling egos from my fingertips as I walk away. Sometimes it takes longer, in which case I become more subtle, more unintentionally manipulative in my ministrations. They rarely see or feel it coming, though, as I do seem to have the inexplicable power to sweet talk them into smiling submission. (Dimples and destruction.)
I told Hot Pocket that it's one of Sassafras's superpowers, the ability to hide behind a plume of pretty, swirling smoke until they're so entranced they can't help but stare dumbfounded at the glittery chaos that bats her eyes and nods her blond ponytail as she wishes what she wants for their world.
My girls, the Castration Committee, are the ones who can accept my muchness for exactly what it is, no matter what. They will sometimes call me out for being too much, but they never judge me for it and they never, ever turn away from it or from me. I constantly experience the depths of love from the people who adore me no matter what.
Is it too much to want that same connection in erotic love?
It's unimaginable to me that it won't exist for me, that given everything I have lived and done and seen and experienced, that there isn't a lover who can adore me and accept me and embrace my batshit while they kiss me breathless. I have paid so much, done so much work, to get to the place that I have the ability to love as deeply and intensely as I do, and to do it willingly and from a place of utter awareness and selflessness. Can it really be true that there is no one worth that price? Is there no reward for having worked this hard?
Even asking those questions feels arrogant and makes me think I have so much more work to do.
But I don't want my book to end now. I don't want my stories to end at 40. I want someone, maybe more than one if that's how my journey goes, who will make new stories with me—bigger, better, faster, more! I want someone who reminds me to breathe when I'm so excited that I stammer over my own head, but who also smiles patiently and happily when I tell them for the hundredth time that day just how and why I love them. And I want that to be the same someone who can sit in the quiet with me and let me cry out whatever my heart can't find the words to express. The same someone who can make time stand still and the seas to turn to dust with just one kiss.
It comes back to the idea of expectations, what's reasonable and what's not. Growler and Absolem would advise me to be willing to lower those expectations. Maurice reminded me when I needed it most that doing that will only lead to tears. Bounder reminded me that my expectations can be met in the most painful and unexpected of ways. But Hot Pocket says it exists for me, that there's someone out there who can and will love me like that.
I hope she's right. It feels like she is, like she just has to be, but maybe that's my tragically romantic heart being unreasonably optimistic.
And maybe, just maybe, someone else will get the chance to tell me, "I told you so."