I have been single for over a year now. I mean, mostly single. I have dated...maybe a little too much, but nothing that I would have wanted to fully commit to. I have had two marriage proposals this year (albeit, one from a not-so-sober 30 year old that probably didn't count. OK..it didn't count at all...but you can read about it here)... dated a guy across state lines that really seemed to have some potential until I found out he's on parole...for the third time...and recently, I stayed out way past bar time playing pool and then jumped on the back of a Harley to watch the sun come up. I am a bit responsibly irresponsible...a fun chaser. And I like it that way...for the most part. It's a trade off, of course...short-term fun for long term connection (and I am wise enough to know, that if I had a therapist, they would have a field day with me). But I like to think that I am learning (or re-learning) little lessons along the way that help to make me a better person. And one of those that always seems to keep reappearing in my life is knowing that I am fully in charge of how people treat me. It's a tricky one to grasp because it requires...well...eh... boundaries.
It's no surprise that I have struggled with these in the past...I think we all have. Setting them is easy. Enforcing them...well...that's another story. Being single and dating, I have had to come up with more short-term boundaries for myself and others on how I want to be treated. And although I will spare you the list, the one that I work hardest on is not allowing others to treat me like an option. Not feeling disposable. Like you can walk away pretty easy...anytime. You know, wanting to feeling relatively important about your place in someone else's little existence. Of course, this has deep roots and I have had many opportunities to work on this...and for that I should be grateful. I get that in the end, it's more about how we prioritize and feel about ourselves when we step out into someone else's world. That people are just mirrors for where our scars lie and what needs to be healed. And sometimes this takes a lifetime. But I am getting there. I have had lots of practice. I am sure you have too.
And with dating. Well, it requires a certain level of detachment. A certain way of living in the moment, which I'd like to think I am good at. But every once in a while, I find that I am not. I catch myself writing stories in my head about what things could be like if I just let it. I erase your flaws and see your beauty. I ignore the flags and see the possibilities. I find myself thinking about what it would be like to get rid of my side hustles and focus on something deeper, more connective. And honestly, that scares the shit out of me sometimes. Not because I couldn't do it, but because then I might have to find other ways to distract myself. Or more truthfully, not find other ways. I'd have to let you in and see the places that most don't. I'd have to take the chance that some of you have already bravely done, and worked on those little dark areas that rarely get the light shined on them. I'd have to heal those scars. Because in the end...this has very little to do with you at all. This is my work.
And with that, I know that my self-esteem doesn't come from you. But I am wise enough to know that you can affect it...by how you prioritize me, by how you treat me. That is just the world we live in. And although I wake up everyday excited to see what lies ahead, I also find myself waiting to see if you will step up or step back. Waiting to see if I will step up. Or step back.
And friends...I get that we could all hide out. I get that we could all keep our doors and windows shut tight. We could choose to not let anyone in...like really in. But here's the thing...the more we put ourselves out there, the more triggers we are going to experience to let us know where we are most vulnerable...where we need to focus and pay attention to the most. And that's where the good stuff starts. That's where our power lies. That is where our work is. That is where we can observe what comes up for us when we feel abandoned, or disrespected, or ignored or disposable. That is where we make shifts with the people that bring this out in us, shifts with how we write stories on what we deserve and what we expect from others. Shifts in who we want to become and what we want our life to look like. And the people that are supposed to be in our life...they will get that.
Because, in the end, we get to decide that. We get to choose the life we want to create. We get to choose who we want in it and who we want to just pass through it. They are all important to us, and some are easier to let go than others...but recognize how important it is to really let them go.
We aren't someone's option. Not by a long shot.
And now if you'll excuse me...I have an afternoon date on the back of a Harley.