So, lately, I've been working on this essay about dating that I plan on submitting for publication in the Los Angeles Times. My essay prompted me to reread parts of one of my old journals. This particular journal was from 2009, about a year after my husband and I separated. Reading about where I was in my life during that time was both interesting, and also, kind of shocking. I can't believe some of the terrible things I said about myself. Never, in my life has anybody ever been so cruel. I was absolutely brutal. I said awful things-- things I'd never say to another living soul because they are just so hurtful.
T says I'm pretty. I just don't see it. I'm not pretty. I'm not even cute.
I've got the body of an absolute cow.
I'm nothing special.
I can't see why anybody would want someone like me.
I'm a loser.
In 2009, I was in the midst of a major life transition. I was desperately trying to regroup, figure myself out, and get back on my feet, while at the same time, navigate the online dating world.
Only, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.
In retrospect, it's clear to me that I had no business dating. I was a hot mess. I was not in my right mind. I had all these major life changes happening and here I was, looking for love, and in all the wrong places, no less. I was looking for love despite lacking self-love. It's crazy, right? I mean, who was that person? How did I expect someone to love me when I couldn't even love myself? Moreover, how could I effectively love others if I didn't love me?
I've undergone a complete overhaul since then. A lot of intense soul searching has taken place. Baby step by baby step, I rid myself of toxic relationships and broke unhealthy patterns, which allowed me the freedom to move forward. By adopting a more positive, go-with-the-flow attitude, I drastically reduced my stress level. Learning to master my emotions meant a lot less drama. And with the loving support of close friends, my daughter, and a good therapist, I have since come to realize my value as a human being. I've learned it's not selfish or narcissistic to love myself. It's essential. Believe me, I'm far more kind to myself these days.
Joan H's mom used to say: Leave room. I love that. So now, I leave room for forgiveness when I (and others) make mistakes. I leave room for new ideas. I leave room for one more. I leave room for improvement. I leave room for small miracles and joy. I leave room for receiving; which is just as significant as giving, but has always been so hard for me to do.
Unlike the woman I was in 2009, I no longer view being single as an affliction. It's simply where I am right now. It's not good, it's not bad, it just is. I mean, the world isn't going to cease spinning just because I don't have a boyfriend, right? Sure, I spend a lot of weekends alone, but I've come to embrace that time as an opportunity to take care of me. Instead of feeling sorry for myself-- all alone on a Saturday night-- I might treat myself to a movie, give myself a pedicure, cuddle on the couch with the dog and a good book. It's quality me time.
Looking back reminded me of how far I've come. I worked damn hard to get where I am now. Indeed, there were times when I wanted to give up; because learning to love myself and effect positive change seemed next to impossible. I'm proud of myself for hanging in there and for facing my fears head on instead of running away. It's so clear to me now. I had to struggle, mourn a loss, and wade through the noxious mire in order to evolve and grow into the happy, self-loving woman I am now.