It’s funny how you never know when you’re going to turn a corner from sadness into something less raw. Just as the pain always seems to sneak up on you — no matter how much you should have seen it coming — so does the return of lightness and hope.
For the first time in awhile, I awoke recently in the company of Hope and her friend, Peace. I was so happy to see them again, a long, slow smile spread across my face. I rolled over, grasped my phone, and lost myself in an email from a new friend that was so funny and sweet and open and comforting that it both made me chuckle out loud and brought tears to my eyes. As I laid in bed after reading it, I was conscious of the absence of that heaviness I’d been carrying around, the weight of my dead-end feelings for James. I was…. dare I say it?… happy again.
There comes a time, post-break-up, when you realize that you can either sit around waiting for the Hollywood ending or you can push forward and resume the search for a new script. Grieving the loss of someone who has been important to you is necessary and valuable; wallowing in your sadness and what ifs is not. I have been known, on occasion, to wallow. But I’ve decided to try something new this time. It’s called not wallowing.
I am lucky that I have girlfriends who circle the wagons and take care of me when I’m a mess. They listen to the same tears and fears over and over, patiently reassuring me each time. They were routing for me and James, but even my hopelessly romantic friends have been forced to acknowledge that he doesn’t seem to have cared for me as I did for him. They have been encouraging me to date, to revisit my old match.com stomping ground, to get out and be seen and wait for the phone to start ringing. I love them for it. God only knows what I’d do without them.
My work colleagues know only that it is over, but they, too, have begun appearing in my doorway with conversations that begin with “You know who would be perfect for you?” and “Would it be okay if I set you up with….?” Again, the sweetness and support is so very gratifying. My closest work friend rallied me with the brutally honest, “You can’t make someone love you, so you might as well get busy not loving them.” Truer words….
My guy friends, being penis-endowed, are insisting that the best antidote is time spent with another guy. “Let some new guy tell you how awesome you are, if he can’t,” one of them said. I am not really one to pinball from one relationship to another; I am very good at dating casually and just for fun. I am not ready to fall in love with someone else, but a nice distraction would certainly be welcome….
So I am going out on a date. A real date. With a man who has pursued me for two years. And I am going to have fun and laugh and r-e-l-a-x. He’s aware of my situation but, again, being penis-endowed, doesn’t mind. He’s just plain happy that he gets to take me out. I’ll take a double order of that, please.
But bigger than any of these things this week was the realization I had one morning driving up the canyon to work…. the aspens were gold, the sunshine was gentle, and I was aware of the passing seasons and how much has changed in a few short years. I was busy missing James and wondering why we couldn’t just make it work, when something inside me shifted. And instead of focusing on what had gone wrong, I found myself starkly aware of what had gone right. I hadn’t run. I had spoken up. I had used my voice, as my friend Rob implored me. It wasn’t pretty or eloquent or my best moment, for sure. There were a lot of tears (blubbering might even be accurate) but there was also honesty and vulnerability. I did it. Finally. After 13 years of swallowing my own needs and another couple spent running away from risking the pain of being told “Sorry, but I can’t/won’t give you what you need,” I finally did it. Instead of bolting or hiding behind a casual, flirtatious persona, I planted both feet, let myself feel something deep and rich for a man, and opened myself to all the possibilities. The sad ending doesn’t negate the good work done.
And from that realization sprang the first trickles of happiness and hope and peace. Sure, my delivery technique could stand some serious improvement and I need to open my mouth sooner in the relationship. But growth of any kind usually happens in baby steps. My goal is to simply keep moving forward, however precarious my gait.
Oh, and when I’m dating, it’s a crazy ride. Better hold on tight. Here we go again.