So…right before the New Year, I accepted a bet from my best friend – I had to go on 15 dates before February. I foolishly accepted, thinking, ‘what a piece of cake’. I had more than 30 days. How hard could it be?! Ha! Well suffice to say, I did indeed win the bet – but at a such a high cost…Not only am I exhausted, disillusioned, and but also more than a little sad about finding myself alone at 40. I don’t really want to date, but I don’t want to be alone forever. Its been over 10 years since I lost my heart, Michael. We had only three years together and he was the love of my life. He was not a perfect person, nor did we have a perfect relationship. But, things were good, really good! He took care of my heart in a way I had never experienced…and have yet to find again. I did try dating years ago, instead I married a good friend – settled for stability over passion, love. Unfortunately that ended in divorce. And now I am no longer willing to settle. I have learned so much the past few years and have my eyes wide open especially after this last dating stretch. I know Michael would have wanted me to keep finding the courage and the strength to keep moving forward. I count my blessings every day.
This morning was one of those blessings in disguise…going through the motions of my daily morning routine of walking my Chili dog, I was surprised to see the sunrise…a beautiful collage of colors. I stared because it looked like it was fighting with the gray clouds. It just struck me as negative and hopeful at the same time. On my walk, I conceded that life is full of frustration, obstacles, but we have to keep finding the faith to get up every day…see more sunrises. On my walks, living my life, I may find dead end streets, one way streets, but I believe with hope and optimism, I will find my destination.
Many times, I have heard, we can create our own future if we focus our energies on where we want to end up. On the other side of the equation lies the philosophy that we each have a destiny that is laid out for us from the moment we are born. I tend to believe the truth lies somewhere in between. There is a road that each of us is meant to travel. But I don’t believe that the destination is a fixed point in time or place. The choices we make, or fail to make, influence where that road leads us. But choices can only be made once we fully start living our lives. Sometimes, we just need to shake up our routines. If we keep going though just the motions, we will overlook that fork in the road when we come across it. A routine walk, a sunrise, the morning sky – all reminders that I need to live my life with my eyes wide open.
Let me get back to my dating life – or lack of…I am not looking for someone to fill my late fiance’s shoes. Nor am I looking for a clone of him. I get wistful at times, but nostalgia doesn’t mean I keep this idealized version of my lost love with me, sizing up everyone, comparing. I want someone to enhance the life I live now – not my past.
Unfortunately, I think most of us, at this age, especially after lost loves, divorce, can agree that our negative experiences outweigh our positive experiences in dating. An effortless connection seems so elusive, so fleeting. It feels like every negative experience leaves a bigger scar than the first. This is what makes me truly reluctant to keep dating. Sadly, I have been meeting people that are almost numb…they are almost expecting things not to work. Self-fulfilling prophecy at its worst. I have heard so many stories the past few weeks – cheating, emotional abuse, no passion, letdowns – no wonder we tend to shy away from dating and building trust. I hate not having any faith in dating. I have met a few people, who build a false hope by going through the initial motions of dating, then pulling back. Its been a frustrating experience. I find it very hard to hold onto any hope and keep trusting people when so many flake out on potential relationships with no real explanations.
I still tend to believe that negative experiences make us stronger. *sigh* Maybe. But the past month and all these little annoying experiences is making me skeptical. When I was younger, I believed most of what people told me. Gullible much?! I never read fine print. But now, after being exposed to so many little painful experiences, keeping my eyes wide open and reading the fine print is a survival necessity. So now when I go on yet another date, I have to remind myself that it may not be what I expect, want; someone may build up my hopes only to dash them; I may not be treated the way I want to be treated; some people may not mean what they say. I have to read into their actions better. I am learning to expect nothing really from this attempt at finding love. I can just hope to meet some nice people, deal better with the disappointments, the letdowns. I will not be settling though again. I find its almost safer for my mind and heart, to be pleasantly surprised, than to keep expectations high. Maybe some of the sad, hopeless people I have met, have learned something I have not. Maybe it’s good that they have gotten to that point of no hope. That means anything good that happens will be a pleasant surprise. Maybe part of growing up, getting older, means accepting that dating is about losing hope. I don’t know…I am still hopeful. Silly perhaps.
I don’t want nor need many dates, I want better dates. I don’t know that I will ever fall in love again. But I have learned that I am able to love, though. I have loved someone but we just couldn’t make each other happy. It’s kind of like you love them, but… you can’t love them the way they want or need to be loved. Maybe I am just meant to be in love with my forever heart. ♥