Sex & Dating: Round Four

So here we are- separated, recently divorced or single, maybe enough time has passed to try and get back out there. Or you took the leap and got your heart broken and are petrified to go back out.

Regardless, this whole starting over process is not for the faint of heart. You have been warned. Or am I an anomaly here? Because I find this whole thing terrifying.

The exception might be if it just happens organically. Facebook is actually your ‘friend’ in this scenario. You reconnect with an old boyfriend or friend and discover or rekindle a connection. You like each other. You know what you need and want and can be honest and candid with this person because you have a history. You trust each other enough to approach intimacy in a way that is safe enough to start with. It’s a much less painful approach, I assure you.

But this is rare, unless you are in the proximity of your network of old friends or recyclable boyfriends. If you are not, your options are a bit more… well, you’ll see soon enough. Please know, I feel your pain., Bumble, Tinder. These are the ones I have dabbled in. I’m sure there are a dozen others, but these three have sufficiently traumatized me enough to hold off on taking anything else. And I have downloaded and deleted all of the above at least 3 times in the past 3 weeks.

Lessons learned thus far: free apps are for the most part a vehicle for a one-night stand. If it is sex you are after, Tinder is your go to. Bumble is a notch above as far as substance goes, but it’s a tossup. you pay for, so a bit more of an indication that there is some potential longevity. But it’s still a tossup.

This is precisely why I have deleted and re-downloaded enough times to keep their heads spinning with regards to whether I’m in or out.

It’s such a fine line between not being ready, still too fragile and you just need to get out of the house… and your head. Or maybe you really do just want to have sex… which is completely valid despite how taboo this admission still seems to be, especially for women. Really? Are we not past this antiquated stigma? I find it kind of shocking, to be honest.

So you agonize over your profile, wondering if it is too much or not enough. Which picture shows your best angle but still looks enough like you so as to not elicit disappointment if actual contact is made. Does your profile description sufficiently represent who you are without scaring the shit out of potential prospects, or is it too bland? Either way, you increase your chances of heading ‘left’.

I’m pretty sure mine might be a bit much. I wrote it on a day I just wanted to get over with- Christmas. What better day to write something that is supposed to confidently boast all of my best qualities and outlook on life? My venue, the brewery down the street- the only place other than Starbuck’s that was open. And let’s be honest, the task at hand warranted something a bit stronger than a venti latte.

Admittedly, the tone was a bit cynical. The chosen quote, the first thing my prospects would see when they click on my picture, was the following:

“You are terrifying and strange and beautiful, someone not everyone knows how to love.”   – Warsan Shire

Well, that should reel them in.

Next, profile description:

Adventurous, compassionate, globetrotter, save the world kind of girl. A DEMOCRAT, through and through, active, fun, independent, a little crazy (mostly in a good way), Virgo, considerate, kind, a bit of an introvert in an extroverted fashion, animal lover, NOT a homebody. Normalcy scares me.

I’m interested in finding someone who can keep up, who is kind, smart, compassionate, worldly, socially/globally aware and engaged, fun, healthy, fit, active, handsome, interesting, adventurous…. with a great sense of humor. A unicorn, in essence

Shockingly, I instantly got a constant stream of men claiming to be ‘my unicorn’, the majority who were between the ages of 54 and 60. There were a handful, like five, who had some potential, maybe three who refrained from taking a picture of themselves half-naked in their bathroom mirror or at the gym, and maybe one who did not feel compelled to share a photo opp boasting their prize catch or brand new car.

Be clear, you get to select your ideal age demographic, and I did not select my cutoff to be 60. Forty-eight is not 60.

What the hell?

Now commences the slew of indicators we have to endure to express even the slightest interest: The wink, a thumbs up, ‘he’s interested’, ‘you’re his favorite’, ‘your move’…

Now what, exactly? Do I wink back? Or should I favorite him instead? Does he see these with the basic subscription, or does he need premium? What if his ‘notifications’ are not activated? If I really think he is cute or I see potential, do I email him? Too forward? Truly, is there a manual for this?

When you finally manage to select the appropriate indicator of interest, now begins the process of dating via thumbs. First contact, think of something witty and engaging to say to catch their attention. So do I offer up my wittiest banter, or is that too scary? Maybe more casual and aloof is better. You finally reluctantly press send and wait. And then the back and forth ensues.

I find this exhausting. My thumbs can’t keep up. So I now allow them only 3 exchanges and then throw out the ultimatum. We can either meet or you can continue on your path of winking and swiping right or left.

It’s so superficial and unrealistic and basically equivalent to a video game. You go into pilot mode and just start swiping whatever direction your mood dictates. Mine is left more often than not. In fact, I have swiped left so many times in a row the app keeps on asking me if I know how it all works. “To match with someone, you might consider swiping right.”

Yep, got it, thanks. Give me some effing decent options then.

You know you are maybe not doing it correctly when you frequently receive the message: ‘looks like you are out of people. Check back soon or invite some friends.” 

Wait, what? Invite my friends? I know this sounds crazy, but I don’t really want to date my friends, nor do I want to subject them to this whole thing.


So, below are the results thus far:

  • One Tinder date, app promptly deleted.
  • One Bumble date, not terrible, but not enough to keep me swiping right. Deleted.
  • One date. Success, first try. A good but brief first attempt. But it didn’t work out. The dreaded deal breaker. Timing… deleted.

Timing. As much as I tried to convince myself that ‘love conquers all’. It just doesn’t. It simply won’t work if the timing for either one of us is wrong. I think this might even be worse than rejection. You know it could work, you know it has the potential to be beautiful and enduring. But it can’t be right now, and most likely won’t be in the future. So you let it go and keep swiping.

Round two.

So sex.

Most likely, we have been a bit deprived in this department if we have been married for decades or are too timid or scared to get back out there. Chemistry is kind of a make it or break it at this point, at least for me.

So we made it through all indicators and rapid-fire text exchanges. Your two hours proved good enough to transition to the next stage. Now what? Do I make the first move, or does he? Do I lose his respect if I do, is that still happening, or is that a relief for him? Are we still expected to wait until the 2nd date? Or is the third considered more appropriate? Is the first date completely out of the question if we want a second? Do we really want a second if there is no chemistry on the first? What the hell are the ‘rules’ now?

Someone, a manual, please. I would do it, but I have absolutely no idea how to navigate this part.

We have to be safe, so we comb through all things social media- Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn to start- their friends, their family, their friends’ and families’ comments, their responses. Do they have a lot of friends? Do they seem ‘normal’, are they kind and responsive?  Is there enough contact where you can see a pattern in their responses?

If they sufficiently pass the social media screening, how do we approach the whole sex thing? Cocktails are definitely in order, but not too many. Do you talk about it before, or do you just let it unfold? How and when do you broach the whole disease/protection discussion? How do you know for sure? Most people assume they don’t, but clearly, there is no required certificate confirming their negative/positive status. The safe route is clearly best, but what if it goes past a handful of dates? Do you demand proof or a trip to the doctor before you proceed?

Exit strategy.

Somehow you made it through all the initial phases, but it’s just not there or isn’t going to work long-term. So you stay in it too long because you are terrified of having to go through all of this again with the remaining prospects that you reluctantly left in your queue just to have some options or validation that someone believed you worthy of ‘right’.

So how do you end it in this day and age? It feels like there is so much more pressure now. This is my downfall. I know we are all fragile and trying to get back out there, build our confidence back up, learn how to do this whole thing after decades of comfortable complacency (if there is such a thing). The last thing I want to do is make you feel bad. And I don’t want to feel bad. So do I just start responding to your texts less and less? No, I need to act like an adult and tell you the truth. “I’m just not ready. It’s too soon. It’s truly not you, you are awesome…”

Jesus, this is all just too much work right now. Deleting all things virtual dating seems like the best option.

But then what is the alternative? Joining a running group or a group anything and finding yourself surrounded by single millennials who make you feel old and desperate?

Round Three.

No, all three deleted. I truly am not ready- still too fragile, too picky, too worried about making you feel bad. And as much as I need a solid meal and some validation that I am still worthy of ‘right’, enduring two hours of forced conversation makes me just want to be back home and wallow. And, as I have been repeatedly told, I scare the shit out of you anyway. And I don’t want to be scary, nor do I want to waste two hours with someone who can’t handle me.

Maybe I should just embrace abstinence for a spell.

But I don’t want to be abstinent. Jesus, fine, I’ll give it one more try. Forever the optimist, it seems.

God help us all. We’ll get through it. But you have been warned…not for the faint at heart.

Round four.



Adulting Revisited (published in Thought Catalog)

Check out my latest article published in Thought Catelog:

The Unedited Truth Of What It Feels Like To Find Yourself Unexpectedly Reliving Your 20s

It’s fun, think you’ll enjoy it. But I have no idea what the picture is supposed to mean. And they take liberties with the title. But, I’ll take it.

Thanks for reading and supporting!!!

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The Accident

WARNING: Some of the content below is very graphic…and it’s sad. It just is.


Mine. Yours. Theirs. Is it real? Is it worse? Can you understand mine? Can I yours? Does hearing mine make yours hurt less?

When I was little, there was a lot of it. But I didn’t understand it, really. And I certainly didn’t talk about it, mainly because I was horrified. But also because I knew that it would make people sad to think of me being sad. I didn’t want anyone else to be sad, so I just didn’t talk about it.

This was the impetus for what came to be a lifelong survival tactic. I would seek out others whose pain I thought to be worse than mine, whose pain was real. This would give me a perspective of how trivial mine really was. Maybe I could even help them feel better. Maybe I would feel better. Sometimes I did. And sometimes it all just made me feel worse.

Admittedly, for the most part, I really didn’t believe pain was relative. I tried to empathize with my friend’s sadness over a broken heart or a fight with her boyfriend. I tried to understand why she was so sad and thought her life was ending. I mean, I tried. But I couldn’t shut off the voice inside. “Really? You think that is pain? I could tell you what real pain is, but it will make you sad. And I don’t want you to be sad”.

On the rare occasion that I did share my story, it was done with a tone of indifference so as to not make anyone uncomfortable. I would remain detached while describing the last few minutes before my father’s last breath. I would even leave space for some comic relief if necessary. I would be laughing and my friends would be crying. But I didn’t want them to cry. So I quit telling my story.

I trained myself just to listen, to offer advice when appropriate, to empathize but not draw too much attention to my pain. I just listened to yours. Yours could not possibly be as bad, right? Besides, I needed to cry, and I could only cry because of your pain, not mine.

As bad. This is what gives pain its power. I compare mine to yours, you compare yours to mine- whether to minimize or justify it.

We all know we are going through different versions of the same thing, that we all have the same pain to varying degrees. We all know sharing our stories and naming our pain will help us heal.

But we all still default to either believing ours is all there is or that it’s nothing at all. We don’t want to be the victim. We don’t want to be the cause of more sadness or pain. We don’t want to be exposed or weak or stigmatized. We don’t want to be in pain.

So this is how I tried to navigate my story, constantly trying to find ways to deal with it while not exposing it. I minimized it, numbed it or found ways to trivialize it.

But this time I can’t. This time, it’s too big. There is no hiding it. It can’t be minimized. And I can’t find anyone else’s that will allow me to trivialize it or help me gain a perspective. This time, I have to go through it. I have to feel my way through it.

I was flying back to Texas after spending a month in Paris. How bad could my life be, right? I had just spent a month in Paris. But I spent it by myself, completely heartbroken in every way possible.

On the flight to Paris, I truly believed we were going to make it. He was going to do whatever it took to make it work. Maybe he could even come meet me in Paris at some point. But none of that happened.

I was furious with myself. Not because I was sad. I deserved to be sad. I was furious that I couldn’t stop crying over him, while their parents most likely couldn’t stop crying over them. All three of them…who are now dead.

But I wasn’t. I lived, I was flying back from Paris, all limbs and organs intact, save one.

I was in the right-hand lane, trailing about 6 feet behind the car in front of me in the left-hand lane. I heard them hit the other car, and then they hit me. Or I guess I hit them.

I still don’t understand what happened exactly. I’ve replayed it over and over in my head, trying to make sense of it. I was told that a car full of three 22-year old boys swerved into our lane coming from the opposite direction, going 80 miles/hour.

They hit the girl in front of me and then catapulted into my lane. The car spun around 180 degrees, and I slammed into the two boys on the driver’s side. I didn’t have time to hit the brakes. They were my brakes. And they all died.

I tried to throw the door open to get out. It was jammed shut. I finally stumbled out and just stood there, paralyzed, trying to get my head around what had just happened.

Everything was a complete blur of lights and distorted shapes- scraps of metal, severed bumpers, a license plate crumpled up like a piece of trash, orange shards of broken headlights… the smell of gas, fumes, burnt rubber.

I remember thinking how quiet it was. I can still hear the slight buzz of traffic off in the distance and the sound of fluids spewing out of our cars. The crunch of shattered glass underneath my feet seemed offensive as I made my way over to the side of the road.

I tried to take it all in, not even seeing the crowd of people gathering around me. I frantically began to call the only person I knew in Arlington. He didn’t answer. So I just sat there, methodically pulling cold blades of grass from the ground beneath me, my entire body violently shaking- either from shock or the relentless chill that blanketed the row of mutilated cars strewn out before me. All were now empty, save one.

The driver, his head, was distorted in a way that reminded me of a painting by Dalí, tilted back as if it was melting down his back. Blood poured out of every part of him. The boy directly behind him, the other one I hit, his head was thrown back too but facing away from me. I could see his left arm dangling out of the shattered window, blood pouring out of every part of him.

And I just sat there, watching, pulling cold, wet blades of grass out of the ground. I watched the policeman approach the car to access the damage. I watched the fire department arrive and begin to cut them out of the car. I watched them put the boys on the stretchers and push them into the ambulance. I watched the ambulance drive away.

I found out later that night that there was a third boy in the car. They didn’t even bother pulling him out.

I continued to sit there, waiting for him to call me back until someone finally realized it was me who was driving the other car.

Two hours later, after enduring question after question, I was asked the final one.

“Do you have anyone who can come pick you up?”


“Can we give you a ride?”

“No. I’m okay, thanks. I can walk.”

The onsite counselor finally insisted on taking me home. She was understandably worried.

“Do you have anyone who can come over?”


“What about friends or family you can call?”

“Um, yeah… I will try to call someone. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I mean, I’m still alive, right? I’ll be fine.”

I have this weird thing I do on planes. Sometimes I just can’t commit to watching a movie,  so I watch whatever the person next to me is watching. I can’t hear it, so I just kind of make up my own story and dialogue.

We were about an hour away from the Dallas/Ft.Worth airport, and I was in an absolute state of panic about what I had to deal with after we landed. So I watched his movie instead. I hated it. It was stupid. Just another story. One poor kid, trying to fight back, experiencing disappointment and heartbreak. Oh, and his girlfriend died. That was legitimately sad. But it happens. Death happens. He might as well learn how to deal with it.

It finally ended and the man took off his headphones. I looked at him and made some asinine comment about how trivial it all is.

“It’s life, man. It’s pain. It’s real”, he replied.

“I’m sorry, but no it’s not. It’s a movie. You want to hear real? I was in a car accident a month ago and the three boys I hit died. They all died”. That is pain. That is real.”

He closed his laptop and looked back up at me, straight in the eyes, his pain palpable.

“God, I am so sorry. He looked back down, and repeated, almost in a whisper, “I’m sorry. I know what you are feeling. I know because my wife and son were in a car accident. My wife and son, they both died in that car accident.”

I shut my mouth, and I cried. In a matter of seconds, my pain seemed insignificant and his was all that mattered.

Pain. When is it enough to be justified, to be real? I keep on hearing stories like this. About pain. Mine, yours, theirs- all of us wondering what the fuck we are supposed to do with it.

It seems to always be there, somewhere on the spectrum. But we need to live our lives, so we try to hide it, dismiss it, numb it, or hopefully heal it.

I’m not quite sure how to do that, exactly, heal it. I do know, however, how I won’t – by hiding it. dismissing it, or numbing it. I’ve tried those. They only feed it. They are what sustain it.

What I have finally come to terms with is this: all of our pain is justified, all of it is real. We all bleed the same. The source of our wounds may differ. The extent of the damage may vary, but in the end, the results are the same. We bleed and it hurts. And we have to find a way to transcend it if we are going to survive.

This is what I want for all of us. I just want us to figure out how to transcend it, to transform it into a beautiful scar that we can wear proudly, to inspire and share our wisdom.

But this won’t happen if we don’t give ourselves permission to feel it. To acknowledge that what is happening or has happened is terrible. To allow ourselves to feel sad and angry and resentful and, yes, like a victim.

Because we will all be victims of pain. But our pain doesn’t have to make us victims.

It just makes us real. It gives us depth and courage and resilience. It gives us the opportunity to gain perspective and to practice empathy, to evolve and grow and help others do the same.

I know if those three boys had lived, they would have given anything to have that opportunity, to feel all of it, to live.. fully and authentically.

So, that’s what I now have to do. I owe them that. If nothing else, I owe them that.

Whipped Cream

Wow. That guy is terribly cute. Well, don’t look at him. Wait, I think he was looking at me? Dammit, I think he just saw me looking at him. Ok Brooke, stop, he is probably looking at the person behind you. Nope, no one behind me.

K, just go get a coffee and stop staring.

I mean, really, how do you think this would play out exactly? You two would go out for dinner and get to know each other? That would go over well… if you just don’t talk about anything that has happened post November, 2015. Absolutley nothing.

“So, I see you in here a lot, you must work ‘from home’. What do you do?  

Ummm…What do I do? Its a very good question….

Actually, let’s not talk about me just yet. My life is really boring right now. Nothing interesting has happened at all, especially post November 2015. It’s kind of sad, really.

I would rather hear about you. What do you do?

That could work. I’ll just spend two hours asking him about him. That can be done, right? Unless he is boring. That wouldn’t work. But if that was the case, I could go ahead and fill him in on the past year, explaining why I was standing in line at the coffee shop, rehearsing what I might say to someone who most likely doesn’t even know I exist.

But what if he isn’t boring? What if he is cute AND interesting, maybe even funny and smart and kind…maybe even a democrat? Shit, okay, so no details about anything post November 2015. You just have to avoid all questions and refrain from crying for two hours. You’ve totally got this.

“No wait, At least give me something. You said you just moved back to Denver. From where? Why?

Very long, awkward pause….

You want to hear something weird? I kind of like the smell of sewers. Not that I think sewage smells good per se, but it reminds me of a place I stayed in Mexico. I like Mexico, but it isn’t actually my favorite. I much prefer Colombia or Guatemala. The unfortunate thing about all of those places though is that my hair gets really frizzy in humid climates, so you can’t take any pictures of me. I’ll take pictures of you, though. Not that I’m saying we are going to any foreign countries together, although they say that is the best way to find out if you should marry someone or not. Not that I think we are getting married.

Wait, you aren’t married are you? I ask because that seems to be a trend of mine of late that I prefer not to repeat… ever. Not that I go around looking for married men. But shit, at our age, everyone is getting a divorce, or at least trying to, unless they change their minds, which is what happened to me. Well, he changed his mind. (Shit, abort… definitely post November, 2015)

Speaking of hair, I cut my hair like Jennifer Anniston’s once. It was when she had it short. I look terrible with short hair. It makes my features look out of proportion, my nose mainly. I actually ran into her once at the health food store. Jennifer. We were at the salad bar, each going for the last dolma. I took it from her… retribution for the bad haircut.

Friends is the only sitcom I’ve seen in its entirety, besides West Wing, which is definitely more my thing. I don’t really like watching TV, to be honest, or going to the movies. Which is bizarre sense I moved to L.A. to become an actress. But most of it is crap and its painful for me to try to sit still for 2 hours…or two minutes, really. Harry Potter is good though. I have seen all the Harry Potter movies at least five times. I actually just started the whole series over again. 

And I do sometimes watch soap operas, but only in Spanish. It’s kind of educational, really, and sometimes it’s better than complete silence. The reality is they make me feel like my life isn’t really that fucked up. But they make me cry sometimes, too. 

I cried when he was elected. I was living in Arlington, Texas at the time. Can you imagine? Wait, you aren’t a Republican are you?

(You just mentioned the past AND policitics. Subject change, please.)

Don’t answer that, I still think you are cute and once I let you talk, you could even be smart. But, no, if you voted for Donald Trump, you are not smart. That beautiful smile won’t get you anywhere if you voted for Donald Trump.

(Brooke, subject change!)

I hate the feeling of popsicle sticks, especially on my tongue. They make me literally want to throw up, which I usually do, by the way, when I try to read anything while in motion. I actually had a girl throw up on me once, in the Congo, in a very small car packed with about 15 people. She was on my lap. I somehow managed to keep it together for the next 3 hours … had I thrown up on her because she threw up on me, it would have been on her. I would have felt terrible…and I would have had her throw up on me and mine on her with her on my lap.

Yes, I lived in the Congo for six months, the Democratic Republic of Congo actually. I was trying to save the chimps. I’m not sure I did much good, but you have to try, right? I am trying to save the elephants too, and the sea turtles, and pangolins. I so love pangolins.

I pretty much want to save all animals, everywhere, except Praying Mantis. I don’t want to save those. They freak me out.

There was one that would sit outside my window when I was little… right above my goldfish bowl. I think he wanted to eat him, Chester, my goldfish. My cat ate him instead. I walked in as she was lickig the water off her paws, the paws she used to scoop him out of the bowl and eat him with. I looked everywhere to try to find him, Hoping maybe he just fell on the floor or under the dresser. But there was nothing. Only a piece of ground beef that fell out of the burrito I had eaten earlier. So I buried it. I buried my burrito. Sad, huh?

Clowns make me sad. I think they paint smiles on their faces to make people think they are happy. Old couples holding hands though, they make me happy. I think there is such thing as true love and magic and angels in disguise.

I want to be one of those old couples, holding hands someday. I’m not saying with you necessarily, I just want to find someone to grow old with. I mean someday. I don’t want to be old right now, but I would like to find my person right now… not right now, right now. I’m not saying you are my person.

I never wanted to have kids, not until I was 42. I’m 42, by the way. No, god, I’m not saying I want to have children right now with you. Although, they would be ridiculously cute. No, wait, I don’t mean they will be ridiculously cute, just that they would be if we ever had them.

If I had a girl, I always wanted to name her Billy, after my dad, and Jean, after my grams. But then I thought that might be weird. So maybe I will just name her Billy. Except I won’t, because I just decided that I wanted to have a child at the age of 42. And I don’t think we will probably have a child together. But she would be adorable if we did.

She would be adorable and very skinny…. because I can’t really cook. I do it, well I used to do it, but I hate it. I’m kind of okay just eating cold leftovers…and whipped cream. I think whipped cream should be considered its own food group and we should all be encouraged to eat 3-5 servings a day.

You should know that I tell little white lies sometimes. Not to manipulate or hurt people. But sometimes a minor fabrication just makes a story so much better.”

“Hi, excuse me, I think it’s your turn to order”.

“Sorry? Oh, right sorry. I was totally lost in a conversation I was having in my head. With you actually, which I can’t believe I just said out loud. No, it didn’t go very well…kind of a disaster.

Actually, I think maybe I don’t need coffee anymore. I’ve already had like 5 cups. I don’t even really like the coffee here. Not that you shouldn’t. I’m sure it tastes good to people who have never had good coffee. Not that you haven’t had good coffee, or maybe you don’t even drink coffee and you are getting tea instead. If you do decide on coffee, get the one from Colombia. It’s better than the one from Mexico.

Right, so you probably want to actually order your coffee, or tea, which I’m sure will be good. Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t think it will be good.

Okay, yeah, I’m going to go now. Enjoy whatever you decide on…you should get them to put whipped cream on top. You can never have enough whipped cream…


N. Brooke Breazeale

Founder, Briya                                                   


‘Making Love Stay’ Revisited (published in Thought Catalog)

Very excited to share with all of you my first published article posted yesterday in Thought Catalog… small, scary first step, but it’s a start and most likely would not have happened without all of your encouraging words, support, and guidance.  Hope you enjoy…

Sometimes You Can’t Convince Love to Stay

Direct link to article below:

Sometimes You Can’t Convince Love To Stay