Sunday, 7 October 2012

Another Little Piece of My (Grateful) Heart

Day 59
306 Days Remaining

Well, here we are at Thanksgiving, and tomorrow I reach a milestone day in this dating hiatus: yup, I'll be at 60 days tomorrow.  Soon enough we'll be counting down in the 200s.

It hasn't felt like a huge sacrifice to me for these past two months, although I've definitely had my moments when I really had some feelings of temptation.  They are fleeting, however, and although I'm sure it will get more difficult as more days and months roll on, I also find that I am feeling stronger and happier in my decision to remain single and not to look for a man.  I really recognized that the other day when I was on my way to school, and I noticed my ring fingers were bare.  This is not unusual; I`ve been without a wedding ring for over six years now, and since HB and I made the decision not to continue communicating I also have taken off the ring that he gave me (we exchanged rings two Christmases ago, ones we had made for each other from a design I created myself, and I have worn it on my right hand ring finger for the majority of the time since).  I wore a purity ring on my left ring finger for a while as well, but in health care it`s better to go without any rings, so I`m now generally bare-fingered.

Sometimes it`s strange; even now, six and a half years after my husband and I split up, my thumb will automatically go to my ring finger to spin my wedding ring around, and I`m surprised not to feel it there.  It`s like a phantom limb after it`s been cut off: it still itches and aches and you want to scratch it and then you`re startled when it`s not where it felt like it was.  That's what it was like the other day as I was driving.  Stopped at a red light, I absentmindedly moved both thumbs toward the familiarity of my rings and felt that shock of reminder that they are no longer there.  No symbol of marriage on my left hand; no tie to HB on my right.  Often when these moments happen I feel an ache, as though I want a replacement, a sign on my finger of someone`s devotion and commitment to me.  This time was different.  I tried to picture a ring on my wedding finger, and it felt wrong.  At least for now.  I almost felt a sense of panic at having something like that tying me down, as though the huge sense of possibility I am currently feeling about my life and the direction it`s headed in would be cut off if I made a commitment like that again.  I am happy being single.

That was a momentous realization.  I am happy being single!  I, who always based my life around the person I was dating; who would remember historical dates and events by who I seeing at the time; who always felt as though I couldn`t be worth anything unless there was someone there to tell me that I was.  I am happy being single, I am happy being "alone" - although, of course, with the support network of family and friends that I have, I am never really alone - and I am not in any rush to find someone with whom to spend my life.  I do want it again; I would love to share my life with someone who cares about me as much as I care about them and who respects and loves me, but I won't ever settle.  EVER.  God will bring the right partner for me in time - heck, my dad has finally found his true love in his 70s - and I want to be ready.  I want to be really me, completely comfortable in my skin, and find that person who rejoices in my differences.  Never again will I conform myself to someone else`s ideals, or my ideas of what their ideals are.

To that end, I`ve been thinking a bit more about that list of Dealbreakers I need to make before I start dating again.  A good friend - if I may quote her here - had this to say about it:

"Make that list of 'deal-breakers'. Also make a list of 'not quite deal-breakers'. And a list of 'I'd rather not'. And maybe even a list of 'annoying but tolerable if there is only one or two'. And a list of 'must-haves'. And a list of 'I'd really like". And 'wouldn't it be great if's'. Make sure your deal-breakers and must-haves are truly those. Those mean you will NEVER talk to the guy again. No matter how cute, sexy, funny or wonderful he is in other ways. So make sure those lists are completely accurate. And take your time making those lists."  [bold emphasis mine]

I love that this friend challenges me to live up to my own expectations.  I`ve been thinking a lot about those Dealbreakers and in my observations of the world over the past couple of weeks, I've come up with two things that are absolute must-haves on my "No" list.  These two Dealbreakers are as follows:

- He is not a Christian, and
- He smokes, does drugs, or drinks to excess [clarification needed here, as pointed out by the friend who reminded me to make this list: This means no cigarettes or drug use whatsoever.  I hate what it does to people.  "In excess" was ONLY relating to alcohol, by which I mean that if he drinks socially (as I do) or as a wind-down at the end of the day and not to get drunk, doesn't need it in order to be able to relate to people, isn`t a wild partier and does not make a habit of getting very drunk (although occasionally, like once every few years, happens!), I find that acceptable and tolerable.  One or two beer every night I find excessive and I would cut anyone off immediately if he were drunk in front of my children.]

If I meet a man (after my yearlong sabbatical, of course!) and think he`s pretty darn great, and then discover either of those things about him, then I have an obligation to myself to throw him to the curb.  Not in a mean way, obviously - yikes, I need to develop a thicker skin about how to let people down properly, rather than worry so much about hurting their feelings - but firmly.  I have to remind myself that these two things - so far - are things that I absolutely need to have in my future partner.  I`ve tried to ignore them before, and it hasn`t worked.  No amount of other "wonderful" things about any guy could make up for their lack.  It is so difficult, especially when it comes to the issue of faith, because I've known - and do know - so many amazing people who are not Christians.  I don't hold Christians to a higher standard than other people, but how can a relationship really work when they disagree on something so fundamental?  At least for me, my faith is a central part of who I am.  When I was with HB, he was tolerant of my "religion", as he called it, but in some ways he wasn't respectful, and instead of him trying to meet me halfway, I found that I was often holding myself back from talking about anything that was related to what I believed, whether it was the fact that I went to church that morning, or saying grace before a meal, or telling him that I was praying for him.  I was hiding a huge part of who I was from him.  What kind of partnership is that?  I want my boyfriend/husband/partner to celebrate with me in the things I find joyful, not for me to tamp down my joy so that I don't offend him. 

Tomorrow is Day 60.

On Day One, did I think I would still be working on this dating hiatus two months in?  Perhaps.  Did I think I would still be blogging about it, rather than abandon the first few entries to cyberspace as with any other blog I've attempted?  Not really.  But knowing that I have the support of my family, friends, and all of you as readers who faithfully follow my journey, keeps me on track.

I'm grateful for this journey.  I'm grateful for my family, for my friends, for my school and the love of learning that has been ignited in me this year.  I'm grateful for the insight that I'm gaining into myself, and for the gift of reflection that allows me to grow and continue growing.  I am grateful to God for never leaving me through all of my crazy soap opera life, and I'm excited to see what He continues to do in me.  And I'm grateful to you for reading and for encouraging me.  Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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