I think I have always had the disposition of making my own path in life as I’ve never seemed to be a fan of following the same path as everyone else with certain things. I’ve become a sort of trailblazer in my own way, and I’ve always liked to control my own feet. In fact, I did just that the moment I came into this world; I apparently was born feet first and have let those feet guide me ever since.
This past year, I especially needed to rely these two feet to guide me through some unchartered territory as I found myself thrown back into the wild on my own. Dating has changed substantially in just the past 5 years, it is completely unrecognizable.
Seriously, I was blown away with all the dating apps out there now, and how digitalized and cold it had all become. You swipe through pictures and judge someone literally just on the way they look. I get that dating in general is based on looks, I’m not oblivious to that, but at least when you meet someone in person you’re still seeing their personality and their characteristics and not just basing it solely on the way someone looks.
All I knew was, dating had become this foreign place and I was going to need some refined perspectives to manage my way through it all.
Into the Wild
Returning back to the wild after being in captivity can be traumatic for any animal. In fact, animals bred in captivity and surrounded by humans their whole lives can never be released into their natural habitat, because they lack certain survival skills and will more than likely die.
The only animals that can be returned to the wild are the ones who are rehabilitated in a controlled environment close to their own natural one, and have little to no actual contact with humans.
I joked around when I first got divorced, that I was going to use the next year as my own rehabilitation to be re-released back into the wilds of the world – more so, the dating world. I knew I needed time to heal and move on from everything I had been through with my marriage, and if I jumped right back into it I would feel overwhelmed.
Also, I knew I needed time to figure out what I really wanted from my next relationship. The thing about someone who has been through something traumatic like abuse, is that they need to do a certain amount of work and healing to rehabilitate themselves internally and emotionally from what has been damaged and broken. So, I literally told myself I needed a year, at least, to be alone.
I’ve been on quite a number of dates admittedly, but they never went anywhere serious because I was in no shape or form of ready; but the act of just dating was a good step for me and helped me refine those dating skills that had faded. But more importantly I’ve made some wonderful new lifelong friends in the past year, as well as reconnected with some old friends I had lost touch with. I’ve gone on many adventures, and discovered some things about myself that I wouldn’t have been able to if I had literally just jumped into another relationship and just disappeared into their life.
For me, I knew I needed to be alone for awhile, and it was the best decision I could have made. I think in a lot of instances, people leave one abusive/dysfunctional relationship and go right into another one without truly realizing and changing what internally is drawing them towards those types of relationships. I knew if I didn’t take the time to be alone and break the pattern I was stuck in of being co-dependent on these abusive types of men, that I would find myself doing this all over again.
My original dating resolution as of last year was to take a year for myself, which I considered my ‘man-cott’ year (not a boycott since I only want men now and no more boys! ha) But I have surpassed my year mark and now have some new dating resolutions for this coming year.
A Brave New World
Just like I mentioned, the dating world has changed drastically even just in the past 5 years that Ive been out of the game. Just a few weeks back into it last January, and I found myself seriously doubting that anyone even wanted to end up in a real relationship.
This is the problem that I’ve started referring to as “Expiration Dating“. A lot of food products have expiration dates on them, so we are counseled to buy them and consume them before the time expires. Well, when it comes to dating I think a lot of people nowadays are dating with an expiring time line in mind.
Maybe having an expiration date in mind takes the pressure off of the whole thing. Like, this will be fun for a few weeks or months but then it will fizzle out; so no need to get super attached, I think many of us have been burned pretty badly at this point in our lives, and having the possibility of getting hurt again off the table makes it easier to hang out and date someone.
While I do admit having the possibility of getting hurt no longer being an option tends to be easier, it definitely does not make things meaningful. Eventually, things become stale well before the ‘expiration date’ comes along because you realize things are going no where.
So, one of my dating resolutions is to no longer expiration date. I want meaningful experiences, and even if nothing comes out of it all I can at lest feel good about the fact that it was real; for however long it lasts.
I’ll Tell You What I Want.. What I Really, Really Want
One of my main reasons for taking a year from seriously dating, was to reevaluate what it is I really want from any future relationships.
Something I consistently thought about was how society has strangely put too much emphasis and pressure on our happiness depending entirely on another person. Think about it, what are the girls always searching for in nearly every romantic comedy? Their better half, their soul mate, their reason to live.
And what have we as women been told nearly our whole lives? That we can’t feel complete without a significant other. The common line ‘you complete me’ can be found in nearly any love story.
Why has this become the normal idea about love? Why can’t I be considered whole and happy unless I am with someone? Honestly, I think it’s sad that society can’t adjust to the modern times and not put so much pressure and emphasis on needing someone else to make you happy.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think being with the right person can absolutely add to your happiness! Together you can build a life and thrive happily with your lives overlapping, but your entire existence and joy should not rely solely on them. I want to be complete without anyone else, then find someone who can complement my complete and happy life and make it that much more joyful.
I’ll explain it like this, like I did just a few weeks ago to a friend. Your happiness in a relationship should be more like a Venn diagram; your whole, complete selves and lives should overlap to create a happy existence together, while still maintaining the self-sufficient joy ability on your own.
Here are some diagrams to help illustrate my point:
I made this just to give an idea of what your own little bubble should look like. I filled this “You” one with things that make me happy. Notice on there I don’t have a significant other? It’s because I don’t need to rely on another person to give me joy or make me feel complete.
Now here is what I believe a relationship should look:
Look at all that open space still available on each side of the diagram, in “You” and “Them’. That is significant because even when you are in a committed and loving relationship, it shouldn’t be one single bubble, but still 2 separate ones that are only overlapped to a certain degree.
Together you can enjoy certain hobbies, do things together, and even have some things in common that make you both happy. But, you can still be individually joyful and feel complete without them. Your overlapping lives just accentuate and even further add joy into both of your bubbles.
I absolutely know without a doubt that one of the main mistakes I made in my marriage was that I tried to adapt and morph my life completely into his. I wanted us to do everything together, and in the end I became co-dependent on him to make me happy. It was so unhealthy, and beyond unrealistic.
So, another dating resolution: find someone to complement my life, not complete it.
A few weeks ago I went to an energy healing to balance my chakras with an amazing woman referred to me by my sister, and when she did her initial aura/energy reading with me she told me my dominant chakra color was green.
She told me the green chakra represents the heart chakra, which is the balancing point for all your other chakras to be in sync with one another. I was surprised and I even made the comment, the one I always make, “But my heart is black and I’m dead inside so that doesn’t seem to make sense.” She smiled and told me, “It’s definitely not black or dead it’s just out of balance. Once you have rebalanced it, it will be your strongest guiding chakra.”
I guess I shouldn’t have been all that surprised, because my heart has always been my biggest strength and weakness; I love people in my life with my whole heart and sometimes that meant I would give everything and in the end lose it all too.
Afterwards, I was curious and wanted to learn more about my chakras and re-balancing my heart. I went to the trusty old Google and found this article about the green heart chakra. Right there in bold letters I saw this:
Some signs that the Heart Chakra is out of balance are:
Lack of self discipline
Difficulty in relationships
An attempt to live vicariously through another
Dependence on someone else for your happiness
Wow. Dependence on someone else for your own happiness. I could not have been more guilty of that! I mean.. right?! That could not have been more accurate from my marriage.
It seems I do indeed need to re-balance this dead, black heart back to green.
A few weeks ago I had a conversation with someone very close and dear to me, and I mentioned my heart was dead. She told me it wasn’t dead but was more likely just “hiding in the basement with a chainsaw.”
I laugh thinking about that mental picture, but it does seem fairly accurate. I know my heart isn’t actually dead or black… but sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to feel again like I was able to before. Right now, I feel nothing but numbness.
I realize this is a defense mechanism, and maybe my heart really is just protecting itself with a metaphorical chainsaw to avoid any further pain.
But the question is, how do I coax this defensive heart up out if it’s bunker and take away the chainsaw so that it can allow itself to feel again?
Again, this comes down to me allowing time for my heart to heal itself, and not relying on someone else to just fill in the broken and missing pieces. I can’t be complete if I let someone else put a bandaid on my bullet wounds; I have to heal it all internally on my own.
What I do hope for, though, is to find someone who will make me feel something; anything. I consistently refer to myself as ‘dead inside’ and when I get to the point where I feel ready to feel something, I look forward to finding that person who will make me feel anything, basically like a little electric jumpstart to my heart.
Now don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t need to fall in love anytime soon, but just feeling something towards someone would be another resolution for me and a step towards where I want to be. I’ve been completely emotionally unattached, which makes things easier and less complicated for me. But, of course this rules out anything being meaningful.
Conquering the Wild
Like I explained in my last post here , I surpassed my year mark on December 19th. Now here I am, reintroduced back into the wild after months of emotional and mental rehabilitation.
I’m ready to move forward into 2018 with a stabilized relationship with myself, and I’ll continue to follow my own two feet out through the wilds that life will throw at me.
Carrie Bradshaw, from Sex and the City, explained this perfectly at the very end of the series with this quote:
“I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic. Those that are old and familiar. Those that bring up lots of questions. Those that bring you somewhere unexpected. Those that bring you far from where you started. And those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you, you love, well that’s just fabulous.”
I hope 2018 is the year of love; self love. I hope all of you out there who even read this love yourselves and feel complete and happy, and follow your own hearts on your paths through those wild places out there.
I learned so much this past year and while I can always look back, I am continuing forward on these two trusty feet.