The most romantic date of my life ending with me walking in the chilly February rain, without proper boots and carrying no umbrella. I’ve walked in the rain (on dates even) plenty of times before, but this was different. This was true love.
At the time of writing this, I’m single. It’s been 14 months since being sideswiped by my own separation. Hindsight being the bitch that it is, of course I see the signs now, but that point is moot. What matters is where I am now, how far I’ve come, and how thankful I am for being here.
It’s not an easy road when you’re left unexpectedly. Some days were so dark, I couldn’t see anything but fear and heartache. Despite being assured I’d end up happier, I couldn’t see how that could ever be true, but you know what? I am. Days get better, life moves on, and if you’re in the midst of those sad days, I promise it’ll be better soon.
One of the strangest transitions after being in a relationship for almost 20 years is dating new people. Trust me when I tell you that the dating world today is bizarre. Where am I supposed to meet someone, really? The only reasonable options are through friends, or through apps, and I’m not saying there’s nobody out there, but you sure have to kiss a lotta frogs. But maybe my heart’s not really in it, because my dream isn’t to find a mate, my dream has been to find me.
I can’t remember a time I was ever single since the age of about 15. I’m a serial monogamist, and had some lovely boyfriends, and some… let’s just call them learning experiences. When my husband left, the first thing I though after the shock subsided was, “How the hell am I supposed to find anyone like this? I’m middle-aged, I’m hollow, my kids are my entire existence now”, but then… hope. I realized it was up to me to make myself happy, and that we get to write our own stories, so why would I settle for anything less than wild success?
I mean, who gets the chance to start over? I’m still young enough to find adventure, I’m old enough to know better, and I’m confident enough to say, “Fuck it, let’s do this!” and not feel embarrassed when my crazy ideas fail miserably.
I didn’t know who I was as a solitary adult — I’d been with my ex for almost 20 years. Beyond caring for my kids physically and emotionally, I knew I needed to shift some focus inwards. What are my goals?(Do I really like cars? Is this furniture really what I want in my home? Is this how I want to look? Is this who I want to be?) What’s on that bucket list of mine? Everything had shifted. I wanted to get to know myself.
Never have I been terribly outgoing. Although I’m very friendly, I’m an introvert — I recharge in solitude, and one of the biggest things I’ve noticed is how amazing I feel being able to be off duty as a Mom more now than in the last 12 years. All this alone time is incredible!
I’ve also realized that if I want to do things, I can’t wait around for anyone else. I don’t have an in-house date to rely on anymore, so when I want to see a movie, I go buy a solo ticket. If a vacation is what I want, I get to choose when and where. I even got to choose when and how to do my powder room reno… I can’t remember ever having full control over things like that!
I read all the advice I could devour — books, articles, friends’ experiences — and as silly as it sounds, I decided the only way to really get to know myself was to date myself.
I took myself to a gorgeous B&B for a weekend.
I go to small towns to shop in cute antique shops, and I wander through forests.
I take myself out for dinner. (I realized I don’t like eating in restaurants alone at dinner time. But I also realized I love solo lunching!)
I try new foods, new clothes, new hobbies.
I buy myself flowers and gifts.
I write poetry.
I take long, leisurely baths (and I am happily and confidently high-maintenance).
I wrote lists of things I love about myself, and things I want to improve on.
It turns out, I am quite enjoying dating myself. As it happens, I love myself. A lot.
So a few months back, I bought two tickets to a concert, assuming that I’d have someone to take. I invited someone, but then changed my mind about that one. I invited someone else and they bailed on me. And then I decided, fuck it, I’d rather go alone.
And so I did.
I took myself to a romantic concert by Carla Bruni. I sat in the second row and swooned as she swayed. It was magical. And when the concert let out, I wandered slowly to my car as couples rushed by me swearing about the cold rain, completely missing out on the most romantic evening ever.