So it’s a New Year and I’ve been nursing a broken heart for a month. It’s getting a little easier everyday to wake up alone and accept the fact that my ex-partner was, in many ways, not who I thought he was. I knew enough to be wary of the drinking when we first got together (though ultimately, that spared me nothing) but he caught me by surprise in other areas where I expected more maturity and personal responsibility, perhaps wrongly. The losses I’ve been mourning are related to those disillusionments as much as his actual flight.
I am also coming to terms with the idea that when a relationship fails, there is always shared blame. I wanted to control and fix where letting go and letting be would have been healthier and saner. Furthermore, the Al-Anon meetings I am now attending do not solely revolve around my experiences with my ex – not by a long shot. Co-dependent relationships with addicts began in childhood but somehow, long after I had other choices and the cognitive ability to recognize the patterns of attraction, followed by self-esteem crushing rejection of me and my “help,” I stayed the course. Al-Anon is helping me figure out why, and since I’ve decided I no longer care to define insanity (performing the same action over and over, yet anticipating different outcomes), how to fortify myself against the natural draw to “projects.”
It is owing to this drop of self-awareness and insight that my loyal and faithful therapist suggested that it was time I start casually dating. I know. I was as surprised by the recommendation as you are. But her thinking went like this: I’ve only been on dry dock for a month, but there’s a fine line between reflection and taking time for yourself, and becoming a hermit who stays in bed watching marathons of Law & Order (original recipe and SVU). She also theorized that I haven’t really ever done casual dating, at least not very well. Usually some form of pressure (self-inflicted or external) has led to quick decisions about whether or not to hitch myself to another’s wagon. I remain an undetermined length of time away from relationship-ready, but Dr. T challenged me to really make a go of disinterested acquaintance. See a bunch of new people. Enjoy fresh neighborhoods, places and activities. Maybe there is a second date, maybe not. Be ok with that and keep the mind focused on an individual’s potential compatibility with me, rather than fixating on intractable personal flaws that could lead to repudiation of my company. Historically, I have been famous for Sally Albright logic: “I knew [so and so] was all wrong, but why didn’t he want ME?!” That, as the great Saturday Night Live character Stuart Smalley might have said, is stinkin’, pointless thinkin’.
Well ok then. I am ready to cause a fulsome breach with the old habits of my past and to that end, what feels foreign and uncomfortable might be completely necessary. Challenge accepted Dr. T. So when I haven’t been working, at the gym or spending time with the fabulous circle of friends and family I’ve no desire to short change, I have gone on two very brief first “dates” with men I might have rejected in the past for various, self-defeating reasons. A couple of cocktails with a former U.S. Senatorial press secretary here, a cup of coffee (tea for me) with an environmental project consultant there. No immediate sparks flew and the best part was, I didn’t feel compelled to create them or cross the guys off the list for eternity. 2014 is all about the slow build.
I am being treated like a lady, enjoying diverse and enlightening conversation with…get this people: no internal or external pressure to turn the experience into more than a satisfying moment. Who knew? It still feels weird but a girl could definitely get used to this.