“There are times when it will go so wrong that you will barely be alive, and times when you realize that being barely alive, on your own terms, is better than living a bloated half-life on someone else’s terms.” - Jeanette Winterson
As I’ve said, I’ve given up dating for the whole of 2013.
See, I’m not…the best when it comes to picking healthy partners, creating healthy relationships, or acting in a healthy way while in couple-hood.
I realized a few months back: dating is my drug. In the past I've used dating and relationships in order to distract myself from problems and all the bad shit in my life. And, if you've been around the last few years, you know the bad shit was rather bad. I used dating to validate myself and my worth.
I ended up in a relationship with someone who used me up and spit me out. Who took everything he could from me and then dumped me via text when I had nothing left to take. I knew what was happening but couldn’t bring myself to end things. Because I didn’t understand how someone can say they love you but not actually love you. I know that’s ridiculous but, god, I wanted so badly to believe it. To wish it into reality. Once again, I thought if I tried harder, if I gave more, if I “loved” enough, it would be okay. He’d love me like he said he did. But that didn’t happen. Just like it didn’t happen with the relationship before him. Just like it didn’t happen with my parents. I was 30 years old and still begging for love. Still trying to earn love. Still trying to be good enough to love. But I never was. (It probably isn’t surprising to learn that relationship began a few weeks after my dads suicide.)
Six months later I met someone, someone who was different. Someone who made me feel hopeful. We were both broken in so many ways but being together in our pain made it less so. He wanted me to be happy, he wanted to help me in any way he could, he cared about pleasing me in bed, he made me feel loved. And I, so happily, gave him the same. Then he committed suicide and I blamed myself. I still do, honestly. Even knowing and understanding the place he was in…I still carry that.
I also had a lot of sex during that year+ of mental instability. I really don’t regret the sex itself. I regret how little importance I put on my needs during that sex. There were selfish lovers who didn’t care whether I came or not. And I was so desperate for approval that I didn’t dare ask for anything I wanted/needed. Some were awesome in bed and made me feel wanted and sexy. But some weren’t. You could say I was being used but, really, so were they.
Here we are, three to four years later, in Alabama. I dated a little, met a few people, fucked even fewer. Making stupid decisions because I still wasn’t able to shake that need to be wanted and, therefore, worthwhile. But dating is a numbers game and suddenly I went from a population pool of 9,000,000+ to one of 200,000. Additionally, I live in a college town where online dating isn’t really the common way to meet folks, my looks are not most peoples cup of tea, and my OK Cupid profile listed my being an atheist, extremely liberal, and a feminist. So, what? I’ve got a handful of people left? Then my age, my personality, my aesthetic, my everything else isn’t jiving with what a chunk of those people want so, basically, I have, like, three people I have any chance with. This numbers game is not working in my favor!
I had a few crushes and I noticed how much space they took up in my brain. I realized the reason I was kinda losing my shit was because I don't have the entire dating distraction down here like I did back home. I don’t have anyone I can take care of and love. I don’t have anyone I can fix.
I’ve tried to focus on accepting the fact that I’ll never find love. Like, okay, fine, let’s break this shit down. Worst case scenario, I’m single for the rest of my life. This isn't pessimism, it's being realistic and using that possibility to move on. My reason being, I can just live as if that’s already decided. And if I take that as truth, how would I live my life? What would I do for myself? What would I focus on? Work on? How do I give myself that love? If I was in love with Heidi, how would I treat her? It’s a scary question because I have no idea how to do that. All I have is me; and it's terrifying but exciting.
So, no dating for me. I have amazing friends who call me on my shit and love me deeply in a way I don’t always feel I deserve. I have doctors who treat me with respect and compassion. I have a nutritionist helping me to have a sane relationship with food. I have a therapy group I can fall apart with while learning how to be a healthier and stronger person. I have a therapist I trust to take me to my darkest places and then help me pull myself back out. And I’m having the greatest sex of my life with people who love my body and make me come a thousand times before they even take off their pants.
Everything and everybody are slowly falling into place. Maybe when my dating ban is over, I’ll find and date someone I can trust with my heart. And maybe I won’t. But I’m not going to allow that possibility to distract me from what I’m doing, from becoming the person I want to be, for having the life I want to create.