Tuesday, July 27, 2010

And Then....

They say that giving up doesn't always mean you're weak; sometimes it means you're strong enough to let go. The question is, once you've let go - then what?

After my separation, I had to conquer a few fears. Spiders, furniture and lawn mowing are just a few of the things I dealt with at first. I managed to reconnect with some family and made wonderful new friends. The truth was, my biggest fear was how to open up and meet new people. 

Number one, I was afraid I wouldn't want to make the effort. Having known people who just shut down after a failed marriage/relationship, I was afraid I'd fall into this trap. More importantly - I had no idea how I would go about meeting people.

Like I've shared before, I figured out early on that the bar scene wasn't for me. I decided that meeting people online was a good alternative for someone in my situation. I quickly learned a few things about myself and my dating-style. I really believe that the most important part of dating isn't the people you're getting to know - it's getting to know yourself.

It seems to me, there is also another purpose in dating (no - besides that!). It may sound weird - but part of dating is resolving your feelings about your ex.

There's always that person you meet, after the relationship. It might be the first, or it might be the tenth. But it ends up being your first "relationship" - sometimes called your "transitional relationship." I'd heard the phrase, but never really put much stock in it, or tried to understand. But when I met him I found out it's really not just a bunch of psycho bs - there's real merit to this idea.

I was pretty lucky to meet someone who was very cool, very considerate and an all-around good guy. We started dating, and pretty quickly, he knew he didn't have feelings for me beyond friendship. I was more hung up on him. Neither of us was dating, so we hung out a lot, even after we'd decided to just be friends. It wasn't until he started seeing someone that I really dealt with the fact that it wasn't going to happen. Of course it hurt, but it also gave me some much needed perspective.

I suddenly started paying attention to who I was meeting and dating. I had a much clearer idea of what I was looking for, and what I wanted. Oddly enough, I also got a much-needed confidence booster. Sure, this guy didn't end up liking me - but at one point, he had, at least enough to date. If he would - then so would others. It was just a matter of me feeling good enough about myself to let it happen.

Not to sound cold, but it was also good practice. I needed to get back into the routine of meeting new people - what to wear, where to go on a first date, what to talk about, etc. It's all stuff you forget after being the same person for a while. It's like riding a bicycle - you still know how, but you're rusty and need to refresh your skills a bit.

This may sound weird - but being hurt also helped me to figure out how to forgive. The two relationships (my ex and my new friend) couldn't have been any more different, but the one thing they had in common was my hurt feelings. Learning that I could survive being hurt again made it easier to keep moving forward with the whole dating-thing. Finding out how good it felt to forgive helped me deal with those last, residual feelings of anger, resentment and loss, and truly move past the marriage.

For the first time since my separation, I really felt like I knew exactly what I was looking for. Which was good - because knowing makes it a whole lot easier to recognize when you find it.

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