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I have been trying to drop my armor since 2014. Or since way before that. The armor suit, built so early in my childhood that I didn't even know it was there. The high Ace score armor. Like wolverine, I can snap bone claws through the skin of my hands. Like a porcupine, spines ready to snap up in defense and slap in offense.

But the armor takes it's toll, on body and soul, and how do you let people in? I've written about the armor suit and trying to let it go. I work with my slow twitch muscle expert once a month now, and try to let the muscles relax. Especially my throat. And the throat and lungs, that explains the recurrent pneumonia. That along with my mother's tuberculosis during pregnancy and my father's years and years of unfiltered camels.

I let the armor fall off in early 2017. Like Iron Man I can call it back.

It leaves me vulnerable. I date someone for almost two years, unarmored, unguarded. My first romantic beau ever. He says the right things. Love forever, sacred, beautiful, he speaks of commitment.

As always, words are words, but it is actions that we high Ace score adults watch. We watch for the actions to be sure they match the words.

The actions do not match the words. The actions are to silence me. I am to show up, shut up, and put out. I suppose I could see booty call as sacred, but it would have to be totally egalitarian. I get to call too. And if I am to be silent and all listening when I am called, then he would have to do the same. As it was, it does not even qualify as booty call. I would call it thoughtless and abusive treatment, masked in love lies. On a particularly egregious evening, I refuse to be silent. And he threatens: "Perhaps we should take a break from each other." I say "Yes." That is it.

But if it is thoughtless and abusive, why am I still sad? I think we can love each other and we love the abusive people too. The dream dies but part of me continues to mourn loss and the good parts, though those got less and less. That part mourns the words. Unarmored I am terribly sad that the words of love do not match the actions. I don't want to do this again ever. How do I avoid it? What must I change?

I dream that I am in clinic. It is Halloween. My receptionist sticks her head in the room and her costume has changed. She is dressed as death. I am surprised. I look at my patient, and my patient is also dressed as death. I feel my heart start racing, fast, and I am falling off my stool, towards the floor. I am hoping it is not ventricular tachycardia, not ventricular fibrillation, I know I might be dying. But atrial fibrillation too, I might survive, but this is not convenient! All this as I fall in slow motion towards the floor. I wake up before I hit the floor.

Dreams of dying are dreams of change. What do I need to change? Not put the armor back on. I want to remain unarmored.

I dream that I am asked to help a woman give birth. The room is an upscale hotel suite. The woman is unconcerned and not in pain. No family. No nurse. No monitor. Thank god there are gloves. I check her cervix and later when I check again the placenta is ready to deliver (which is wrong and bad, but in the dream I'm just confused). She doesn't feel like pushing. That doesn't make sense either. A nurse finally shows up, I want a monitor or doppler, push, I say, don't they have any tools? A delivery kit. A man shows up and opens a door in the middle of the room. There is a boiler and tools. He points to a dirty tool bag. "No" I say, "A ring forceps. A sterile gown!" I realize that I may need to call for c-section and that I don't have hospital privileges at whatever the damned place is. And wake up.

I am all the people in the room. The woman, the fetus, the man with tools, the physician, the nurse. I am giving birth to a new aspect of myself. Change again. Apparently I don't have permission or privileges or the right tools or much support, but the baby is coming anyhow.

I think I need to be unarmored for a very long time, years and years, practice this dangerous vulnerability, before I could date anyone. And that time is probably never.

I want friends. I don't want to date any more. I am saying no to dating. I am interested in friendships but not dates.

Unguarded, unarmored, scarred heart, friendships.