On My Own

“Don’t date anyone for at least a year.”

This piece of advice is given to men and women who are recently divorced. I’ll admit that no one said this to me exactly. “Take your time,” they said, “you’ll find someone who adores you. Someone who really loves you. They’re out there, and when you find them, you’ll see the difference between what you had and what you’ll have.”

What I think is missing from the counsel and what the advice-givers misunderstand is that it isn’t a person who’s going to come and make you right again. There isn’t some missing puzzle piece that, when placed correctly with all of the grooves in tact, makes you whole, allowing you to see the entire picture. And as much as we may want everything to be the story of how two halves with baggage come together to create one beautiful, functional relationship, the real thing is not as theatrical. It’s honestly so hideous and unappetizing, that I shouldn’t go into specifics. I really shouldn’t.

And so I won’t tell you about the time I went for a run and ended up sobbing and screaming, “Fuck you!” over and over again for miles.

And I definitely won’t tell you about the time I spent a night with this girl I didn’t really like that much so that I didn’t have to spend it alone and hurting.

And I would never in a million years tell you about that time I broke up with one of the kindest, sweetest girls I’ve ever met after only a month because I had so much relational backlash and fear of ending up in another failed marriage that instead of staying in a relationship that possibly could’ve worked out to my benefit, I walked away, leaving her alone and regretting having ever met me.

Well I can tell you now, that makes two of us. Sometimes I wish I never had to meet the person I am, but what would be the point, then?

“Who is he?” you might ask, and in truth, I’ve had that question asked of me this very week by a friend of mine from which I haven’t heard in quite some time. In a lot of ways, I’m not the same person I was a year ago, so it’s a fair question. The man a year ago had everything he ever wanted. He was in a stable relationship; had a dog, a house, a wife, rich in-laws, two cars, a job in Nashville; and secretly believed he could do nothing wrong. Relative to others, I felt like I was killing at life. I was self-righteous. I was arrogant. I was wrong.

There lives within me an increasing desire for approval, acceptance, and validation. Having a wife, girlfriend, or lover can give you shots of these virtues, but like someone who watches porn to get off, it doesn’t compare to real intimacy. At least, I don’t think so. But then again, this is my hypothesis.

“Don’t date anyone for at least a year.”

My response to this statement hovered around two words that can set a driver against a speed limit, a child against a parent, a man against the world: why not?

I knew what I wanted in a potential partner. Every characteristic I desired I’d written down on a small sheet of paper tucked safely away in my wallet like it were cash, and with it, I’d purchase exactly the kind of partner with which I wanted to spend the rest of my life. No sense in putting it off. I wouldn’t make any bullshit mistakes.

Until I made them all.

The miscalculation wasn’t that I knew what I wanted, but instead that I wasn’t a person setup and ready to take on the kind of partner I felt I needed. I didn’t know how it would feel to be acclimated to a certain level of intimacy and then thrust myself in association with someone else at the ground floor. I wanted immediacy and to have someone quell the huge, gut-wrenching loneliness as soon as possible. It had everything to do with me, and why not? I believed myself so selfless and knew I deserved the things I wanted: gentleness, physicality, intimacy, graciousness, comfort, and friendship.

It wasn’t until I dated again that I realized, too late, I was making the same mistakes I made when I married my wife. Instead of waiting and learning what it meant to be ok with being alone, I jumped right in, because she checked off every box on my list.

So what can I do? How do I keep myself from making subjective decisions based on emotion? And at what point do you take a chance?

So I’m going to take the advice. I’m not going to date anyone for a complete year and fill the time and effort with other things. A couple people have already told me that this is too long (maybe they should join me, eh?). In taking a pre-specified amount of time, I remove myself from the equation. It’s no longer about the feelings I have toward someone, because I can convince myself I’m ready (especially if the particular girl is kind and cute). Settling down will happen for me.

But until I’ve learned to live with myself, I’ll never be content sharing my life with anyone.

This is going to be a hard year. After a few days, I’m already feeling it. Growth hurts, and like an addict, I’m going to go through some withdrawals. It’s all part of the journey. I’ll be writing every week about what’s going on, new struggles, reflections on experiences, and the occasional epiphany. Hopefully, by the end of this, I’ll be better.

Wish me luck.

2 thoughts on “On My Own

  1. My dear Michial. You probably didn’t expect to see a response from your Aunt Laura but here it goes. I agree that There is a reason for the ‘year’ when you lose someone in this way. I’m sure you know the two main reasons… Their departure is like a death and they have hurt you so deeply it affects you in so many ways. Whereas the circumstances for your uncles departure was for a different reason ‘adultery’, nevertheless the hurt is still there. The main thing I still struggle with to this day is Free Will. I won’t go in to that, but I do. Another reason for waiting is… You will find that your feelings about different things will change over time. Your feelings and you yourself will change. Only thru your faith in God will you change for the better . I will tell you one example… Of your feelings changing. For a period of time I hated ALL CHRISTIAN men. Yep! Odd right? I would rather put my trust in a non believer for love, guidance, etc. if the cheated or left me, I wouldn’t have to struggle with thoughts like, were they even. Christian, or the Free Will thing. It was something I couldn’t shake. But oddly enough I never lost my faith I. God. Just Christian men. I any remember how long that lasted . But it was months. My brother in law is a preacher and he and my sister are christian counselors. I had to judging your uncle based on the fact that he was supposed to be a Christian and only God helped me let it go. I can’t explain it God just lifted it from me like a feather into the clouds. No longer a heavy burden. Why, because God in his infinite wisdom knew the plans He had for me and that wasn’t going to mesh with them. That’s all I can say. There were other feelings that came and went as well. Another reason for waiting…my desire was always to be a wife and mother. I would always be a mother but I knew no one would ever want me. I was disgusting not just physically, but in everyway possible. No, it wasn’t true. But I felt it to the core of my being . Too many feelings came and went that first year. So I can see why people would tell you to wait a year. You encounter different things that trigger feelings or thoughts that hurt or that you may not normally have. And by the way, how is it that a counselor can say little things that stick in your mind forever? lol Not that they really helped. Just things to ponder, I.e., a bird is a bird , a deer is a deer, a zebra is a zebra, and they never change, only people do. Did that help me , Not really , but I still ponder it from time to time lol. Waiting gives you time for your feelings to heal and things won’t bother you as much that once did. Auntie Laura does have advice , ya know! Not really . If I did, I would say… Soak up all the stories and advice . The. When you encounter something you can say… Ahhhh so that’s what they were talking about. Even though my feelings and thoughts were askew, God ended up fulfilling 24 yrs worth of prayer for a husband I wanted and needed your uncle to be. And God did fulfill those prayers in a way I never would have dreamed. That was thru another husband. I thought I was praying for your uncle, but all along God was listening the whole time because he held my future. Ya know, God spoke to me and told me to hold off writing you. I believe you needed your mom and dad to be there for you the most. They are the greatest comfort and rock you can have except of course for the love of the one who created us and wants us to love HIM above any one or thing on this earth. He is why we are here. I am still learning new things all the time as I get older. Only here lately God reveled to me that we are here for Him to use US and Not for US to use Him. Something else to Ponder. So…. That’s it, that’s all I got lol. I love you so much. I prayed for you every day. My heart hurt for you. But you will be fine sweetheart and God will see you thru. I am a living testament to that. Much love and Hugs and kisses to you. Aunt Laura.

    • Hello Aunt Laura,

      And thank you so much for reaching out to me. It’s taken me a while to respond, and I apologize for that. It means a lot that you would contact me directly, and of course, I still consider you family.

      It isn’t odd to me that you would hate all Christian men after what happened, and honestly, I don’t blame you. Free will is a pretty big concept to tackle, but I am resolved that whether or not my actions are determined or chosen, I still must take them. While I don’t believe thinking about such things is wasted time, I do find that those questions have a kind of consuming power that can cripple us as people. My mind is a kind of gift and curse these days, as I can sink into thoughts completely until I am unable to step out of my own head long enough to breathe. Being outside certainly helps, and because the city is quite walkable, I find that I am outside quite a bit.

      It is wonderful that you found solace and peace through your faith in God, and I can attest that I’ve often relied on faith to get me through some very difficult times, including my own separation and divorce. It was difficult, and I felt I needed something greater than me to pull me up. In the end, I believe my family and friends did most of this, including this part that you’ve played. I’ve been greatly affected by your choice to continue living your life in spite of all the terrible things that happened to you. It has been a source of strength for me, although you may not believe it.

      I love you very much and am very thankful for the advice and guidance that you’ve extended here. Please have a wonderful day, and tell the girls hello for me when you get a chance.

      Michial

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