• nicole calder

What do you not want?

How often have you been asked this seemingly simple question of, what do you want? Whether that’s been in the form of a profession, a partner, or just what you want in life. And how often have you consciously answered this question, but felt nothing in your heart? My question is, how can you possibly know what you want when you’ve never experienced it? The truth? You can’t. Often times we describe what we want by its negative, by defining what we don’t want. And the reason we know this is because we’ve experienced it. Please don’t mistake me, learning what we don’t want is invaluable, it helps guide us in the direction to finding what it is we do want. But, that takes time. And patience. And an openness to the messages of the universe. It also takes pain, frustration, and quite often, disappointment too. We must endure these lessons of those unenjoyable experiences if we are ever to appreciate and become aware of what it is we do want.

Just over six weeks ago now, I met someone at my restaurant who works at a beauty salon. After some fantastic conversation, she informed me of a service that her salon offers called sensory deprivation therapy or simply, floatation therapy. I’ve been interested in this since 2014 when my ex’s brother mentioned it, but I never proceeded to do much more than research it online. She mentioned that floats are excellent for reaching a higher level of consciousness and are also very useful for athletes in their recovery. Given my interest in consciousness and commitment to growth, I booked a 90 minute appointment the following week.


The experience itself was interesting – for the first ten or so minutes, I felt myself wanting to run away, to escape the uncomfortableness. I couldn’t see shit and my brain was suddenly trying to convince me I was afraid of the dark. But I sat through this and endured the 90 minutes. My thoughts seemed to focus heavily on my knee, playing soccer, and possibly playing in England, but frequently drifted back to the last girl I was seeing and our time together. I didn’t feel as though anything was resolved nor any consciousness gained during my float, but I was encouraged that the effects can last a few days. I left not expecting much, and admittedly, I was perhaps a little disappointed with the experience, but I remained open nonetheless.


And then I experienced three intensely clarifying dreams within that next week. The first pertained to my former mentor and sport psychologist, Becky. In my dream, I was in England looking at different schools to go play soccer at. But I was told not to tell coaches I was “shopping around” because they wouldn’t be interested if that was the case. I remember we were in a gay city (as defined by my English friend), and walking through a field of vast openness with houses here and there. I remember thinking, “Simba would love this place!” (If anyone of you know me, you know how important finding somewhere for my cats to live too is to me). I met with the coach at this school and as we were talking, a drunken Becky shows up. She tells the coach that I’m shopping around, that this isn’t the only place I’m looking in to, to which the coach immediately responds, “It might be best for you to look somewhere else then.” Becky, seemingly happy with herself, walks out. I ask her, “Becky, what the fuck? You just ruined an opportunity for me.” She’s like “What? You didn’t want to go to that school anyway.” I felt some tension release – here she is, still giving me advice and looking out for me; she always seemed to know what was best for me and challenged me to become a better person. Flabbergasted by her presence, I continued to press, “Yeah but I haven’t heard from you in three years and here you are, in fucking England. What the fuck?” She then starts opening up and says that she’s had an extremely hard three years and is currently going through a divorce. She came here because she needed support and was hoping I would be there for her. She was almost crying at this point. I vividly remember putting my arm around her and her resting her head on my shoulders to offer comfort. Despite the time that had passed, I was looking after her because she finally let me in.

What’s important to me in this dream is not so much what happened, although I have definitely analysed the contents of the dream, but how I felt in the dream. I woke up with my heart full – I distinctly remember how it felt to have my arm around her, to have her letting me in, to see her vulnerable, to feel needed, and it made me feel warm. It’s as though I’ve been craving this connection since we first started communicating. As though, it didn’t matter what she put me through or the pain she caused, because here she was in need, and I was grateful to be there for her. Because I care, and have always cared. I’ve just wanted her to let me in.


This dream, and the feelings in the dream, were reinforced just the next night when I had another dream about a friend, Emily, from Australia. The details in this dream were not as clear as the former night, but the feelings experienced were just as distinct and potent. This friend was finally opening up; through a stream of tears, she was confessing how she needs to leave her husband, admitting that she needs and wants the comfort and sensuality of a woman’s touch. At this point I started rubbing her back, offering warmth through my touch. I was grateful and finally felt that deep platonic connection between us that I have been craving.

These two dreams made something incredibly clear for me; I need vulnerability. And I need it to be reciprocated. I’ve always felt that I’ve been an open book when it comes to communicating my struggles and my pain, almost to a flaw. When people ask me, “How are you?” I can’t give anything less than the honest truth. Some find that exposing oneself in this way is risky because it leaves you susceptible to getting hurt, but as I wrote in a former post, there comes a point where you feel the invulnerability in vulnerability. Where you realise your past can only hurt you if you give power to it, and suppressing it does just that.

Within these two dreams, these individuals became vulnerable to me. They let me see their pain; there were no walls, no reservations. And the feeling I so distinctly felt, that was a connection. A connection of the deepest, most intimate sense. A connection of mutual vulnerability. I realise this is what I need, not just in a relationship, but in friendships too. I need shared vulnerability; I’m tired of having to pull information out of others when I so readily expose myself. I want to experience these kinds of connections all the time and not after five years of knowing someone. This is why I’ve been so grateful for both my friend Jen and my cousin Lizzie; they’ve both been nothing but raw and real with me. And because of that, we’ve formed a deeply understanding and comforting connection. I see them and they see me – the most beautiful feeling two humans can experience.

This leads me to my last dream. And quite honestly, the best dream I’ve ever experienced. I wrote about it the next morning and here’s the raw, unedited excerpt.


“Well fuck. I couldn’t get back to sleep after this dream because it felt so good. I suppose this is how people feel when they wake up in the middle of a sex dream, but this had very little to do with that. In this dream I was on the sidewalk next to a road and I see this car pull up, it’s a Subaru WRX (a sexy as fuck car for those that aren’t familiar) and in it is a female. Immediately this driver already appears super attractive, purely because of the car she’s driving. She stops in the middle of the road and winds down her window, pointing to my car on the opposing side, “You know, you’re going to get a ticket if you don’t do something about that.” Next thing I know, she’s out of her car and helping me figure out where to park it. I didn’t think I would get a ticket until I see a ticketing officer at my car! I run over and I see there’s a scooter thing (a super small smart car) parked in front and I plead with the officer to not give me a ticket; “I’ve been trying to leave but this scooter has been preventing me.” So the officer takes the ticket away and tries to locate the person who owns the scooter.

I walk back to my hotel room and the girl is waiting for me to laugh about me getting a ticket. I told her I might’ve told a white lie to get out of it and she laughed again. From what I remember, she was blonde, older, (early 30s), and very athletic looking. She was confident. Secure. And just great fun. She’s one of those amazing people that you meet and you think, holy shit. What happened to you to make you so great?


We continue to have a little bit of a laugh and some fun and I invite her in to my room. It’s so easy with her, but I have no idea if she’s gay or what. I’m supposed to be having dinner soon with my parents so I naturally ask her if she wants to come back after dinner, and she says of course. Normally I would shower, clean myself up, change my clothes, etc., to impress the person I just met, but I didn’t feel like I needed to do that with her. I felt like she accepted me, entirely as I was. She comes back around after my parents leave and we get talking – I feel like I know her, on a soul deep level, without knowing anything about her. We start talking well, more so, I start talking about my past relationships. I talk about the last girl I was seeing in Australia, I talk about my ex Rachel, and everyone in between – I talk about how I’ve been lied to, how I’ve confronted them about their exes and they told me they were over them, only to find their way back to them. In that moment, she takes my hand and she says, “I can’t imagine how heartbreaking that must have been for you, to have been lied to, not just once, but numerous times by people you deeply cared for.” She’s sensitive too. Instead of lashing out at my exes telling me I’ve dated shit people, she understands. She focuses on my pain and comforting me within that space. And her touch, her hand in mine, it was so gentle. It communicated warmth and sensitivity. An understanding of the pain I’ve experienced. And so I ask her, “So what the fuck have you been through to make you such an incredible human?!” (Basing this off of my theory that the most beautiful people have been through the most pain). She chuckles. And then she opens up to me. Just like that. She tells me that she lost both her parents when she was young, so she’s known heartbreak and pain since an early age. But she’s survived. And that probably explains her independence and confidence, but also her sensitivity too. And then she mentioned that she too, has had some painful relationships. She’s been burned, taken for granted, had her heart broken. She admitted that she is just getting out of a relationship a month or so ago, but there aren’t any invested feelings. She was the one that broke up with her and it’s been civil, an understanding on both sides – there just wasn’t a connection. She takes my hand again. “I have to be honest, I’ve wanted to kiss you since I saw you on the side of the street. But I totally understand if you don’t want to, especially given your past and how recently I was in a relationship. I understand how hard it is for you to trust words ----“ I cut her off. I move my hand to her face and I kiss her. And I know exactly why. Because with her, it felt right. I didn’t have reservations from what she told me, I believed her. Which is huge. Because her situation is no different than many others that I have been in, except she is the difference. We finish kissing and I think…holy fuck. That’s what a kiss is supposed to feel like. And she felt the same thing. The same intense rush from just a kiss. The rush that communicated, “Everything about this is right.” We kiss again. Easy. Natural. Right. We undress one another. But not hastily. We take our time. Passionately. Intimately. It’s like we’ve done this so many times before. My insecurities about being naked vanish, I don’t care with her because I know she doesn’t care. She’s athletic, and fit, and has a great body. I feel her body gingerly, tenderly. We make love. Not at one point were either of us concerned with “getting the other off” – nor was there a sense of dominance of who has to give and who has to take. I felt so comfortable when she was making love to me, and that rarely happens. Speechless. I vividly remember thinking, this is what I want. This is what I’m looking for. Something that is easy. Something that is with someone who has known pain, but survived. Someone who is confident, fun, full of life, but sensitive too. Someone older, mature, real, soft. I immediately asked her to meet my parents the next day, despite only having just met her from a random occurrence.


What was so important was that she knew, even from a distance, that she wanted to be with me. She detected that I would appreciate her because I too have had my heart broken. She sensed that and she sought me out. And I let her, because I knew too. I accepted her, and I wanted her to be the one I have always wanted to be with. I’ve been looking for that someone.


I woke up, wishing to be back in the dream. I felt a heaviness in my heart, but I felt a warming too – I know what I want. And I just projected that in my dream in seemingly ridiculous clarity. It was so easy in my dream. She was vulnerable with me and I, with her; my insecurities vanished. I trusted her, despite her situation, because I knew it to be true. There were no conflicts within me to pursue things with her. And holy fuck, that kiss. I can’t even explain it. It was electric. She was electric.”


Although this seems like one of those fantasy, unrealistic dreams, it made so many things clear for me. It allowed me to feel what it’s like to be with someone who is right for me. Despite her situation being similar to others I have dated in the past, I trusted her and believed her. With my former exes, I’m not sure my heart ever truly did, it was always conflicted about their situation and what they were telling me. But there wasn’t any conflict in this dream. I sensed that she had experienced pain and heartbreak herself meaning she was wanting, and ready, to have something easy, to appreciate something, someone, good. And I realise this is what I want too; I want something easy. Something that feels right. I want someone who is just as vulnerable as I am from the start, someone who seeks me out before I seek them out. I want sensitivity. And I also want them to be secure and independent too.


My dream instilled a sense of hope within me that I didn’t formerly have. It also made it very clear what I want – I remember a couple of years ago how my cousin mentioned that she wrote out everything she wanted in a job and she ended up finding it because she put that idea out to the universe. I had done the same with regards to a relationship, but I don’t think I genuinely knew what I wanted. And how could I? I didn’t know what it looked like nor felt like. But now I do. And I suspect I have that float to thank for it.


This float also helped clarify what I want to do within these coming months. It did so by helping me see things objectively, rather than behind a filtered, emotional perception. I have been able to process my past relationship with startling clarity and a much needed detachment. I have also been able to process my experiences in the US with this same clarity and detachment, which is why I’ve concluded it’s time to return home. I’ve done what I needed to do in the US, and I am now at a point where I feel strong enough to return back to Australia. There is no longer anything for me in US and the prospect of returning home not only excites me, but comforts me. Despite the chaos surrounding my life, I feel a sense of peace within. I am content with my decision and I am content with my where I am.


So back to my opening paragraph; it’s improbable to know what one wants until one has experienced it. I have learned that the quickest way in finding out what you want is by determining what you don’t want. Unfortunately, this is invariably accompanied by significant pain, uncertainty, and heartbreak. And this has been true for me. Through my unsuccessful, and unbearably painful relationships, I have learned what I don’t want. Consciously, I thought I had a good idea of what I did want, but it wasn’t until I had those dreams that I felt (in my heart) what it was that I wanted. And I couldn’t have achieved this without the pain of my past. Without the openness of my heart. And without the messages from the universe. So please, do not be disheartened if you do not know what you want. Instead, I encourage you to experience. Experience everything you can because experience is life’s greatest available mentor.

​Please note: some names mentioned in this post have been altered to respect the privacy of those individuals mentioned.

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