Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The First Ten Days

Day 11 Post-Hiatus

The first ten days after completing my dating hiatus have been very busy, as most of my days are.  It's almost time for school to start again (both for the kids - well, my boys, as my daughter graduated this year! - and for me) and that realization has me in a sudden flurry of worry and activity.  There are school supplies to buy, courses to plan, schedules to arrange...lots of things that I have blissfully been ignoring during this summer will soon be back full-force.  So I've been trying to get my life back on track and realizing that there is not a lot of summer left to enjoy.  Why do they always go by so quickly?  I want more travel and sun and fun in the water.  Ah well...soon it will be Christmas again, I suppose.  That's something to look forward to, right?

They say that the second year of nursing school is the hardest one, and judging from what I've heard of the Biology course - Pathophysiology, otherwise known as Everything That Can Go Wrong With Every Single Body System - that will be the course that has me in tears this year.  It's very memorization-heavy, but I don't memorize things well without having a solid understanding of them, so I want to really get a grasp of all that I'm learning in order to apply it properly.  That is, I suppose, a desirable quality in a nurse.  I had planned to find out which text we will be studying from and use it to get a good idea of what we'll be learning this semester and next, but it didn't happen, and the summer has gotten away from me, so I'm going in fairly blind.  Just thinking about how I am going to manage all the schedules (my school; the kids' school; my work; our meals; housecleaning; studying...aggghhhh) is enough to make me want to just run away back to California.  Or even Mexico.  Life is simpler there.  But forge ahead I will.

Some of you have asked what's been happening with the Michelin Man.  Of course you know that I told him a while back that I was no longer interested in further communication, but he hasn't been listening too well.  The more I get to know him, the more I realize that he either a) never pays attention to anything but what he is thinking or feeling; b) is really kind of ignorant; or c) just thinks he can completely overturn my decisions and emotions simply by words.  Occasionally he will send me a text message designed to make me melt and open up a whole new line of conversation with him.  Sometimes I get photographs (and when he feels brave, they are not exactly appropriate photographs).  I have told him and told him that he has to stop and that I am not interested, but he doesn't seem to get it.  For a time it was entertaining, but it has become irritating and frustrating.  I can tell him with the clearest of statements that I do not want to be with him and that he has to stop texting, and he ignores it.  It's probably time to do something a bit more definite.  I'm still working on figuring that out.

The good thing about this silly infatuation with Mitch is that I can go back and read everything I wrote and see exactly how I was doing all the things I used to do.  I told myself in the beginning of my hiatus that I had to learn to recognize Red Flags and Dealbreakers, and when I "met" Mitch I even spelled out some of the Red Flags I saw in him, but immediately I began to do the same things that I've always done when it comes to men: I began to make excuses for him and to try to push through to do exactly what I wanted to do anyway, just because I wanted to do it.  It doesn't matter how much the romantic in me hopes for these things to pan out; I need to pay attention to those things.

I actually don't believe this across the board, but unfortunately it does have some truth to it.

My friends were concerned and tried to warn me, but I pushed ahead regardless.  And look how it turned out.  I haven't even told you all - because I was so busy trying to gloss over my concerns about Mitch in the first place - but Mitch is married.  He told me when we first started talking that he was separated, but as time went on I began to realize that there was something off.  I questioned him; he either ignored, deflected, or half-answered my questions.  After I told Mitch that I knew he couldn't give me what I needed and wanted - and deserved - in a relationship, he kept trying to pursue me and, although he said he didn't know what he would do if he ever lost me (which he already had), he still refused to give me straight answers.  Finally, in frustration, I talked to a good friend of his about the situation, discovered that Mitch had kept my presence in his life a complete secret from anyone at home, that he has apparently send inappropriate photographs to other women, and that as far as this friend knows, Mitch is still quite happily married.  That was when I told him I didn't even want to be friends anymore.  I feel as though I completely dodged a bullet there...and to think that if I had paid attention to the Red Flags that I spotted right at the beginning - instead of being Miss Overly Romantic as per usual - I could have saved myself a whole lot of emotion and frustration.  Lesson learned.  Hard way?  Sort of.  But learned.  FINALLY.  That`s worth celebrating.

Reflecting on those things, and thinking about how I plan to face life now that my Hiatus is complete, I realize that there are still things I need to work on before I'm ready to be in a relationship with anyone (and yes, I am still enjoying the company of the man I believe I will eventually end up with - henceforth known as The Man - but there's no rush and we're nowhere near a romantic relationship yet).  The Man deserves me at my best, and I want to get to the point where I have worked through more things than those I've attacked during the year off.  So, although my year off from dating has ended, there's no end to the reflection that I need to do every single day.  

I keep reminding myself that, although I thought I was ready for The Man when we were first seeing each other, the years between now and then - and especially this past year - have been invaluable in bringing me to a place where I now believe I could be a good partner and wife to someone.  If I could do that much work on myself - if God could do that much work within me - in a few short years, then I should welcome the chance to do even more.  Any time that is well spent on bringing me to a place where I am more ready for a relationship is well worth it.  And The Man can probably use that time, as well.

I've learned there is value in taking time away from my regular, everyday routines and thought patterns.  At this time last year, I found myself overly stressed and completely unprepared to face a completely new situation in starting Nursing School.  This year, I've felt myself drawing closer to that point of exhaustion and being overwhelmed, so I'm taking some time for myself before school begins.  The week before school starts on September 3rd, and for the first week of school, I am taking off from work in order to get rested, ready, and re-vamped before life completely changes again.  Part of that time will involve getting supplies ready; back-to-school shopping; and more of my lists-upon-lists for financial things, menus and schedules, and part of that time will be set aside to make one more list: the things I need to do before I am ready for another relationship.

It`s no longer about finding the right man for me.  It`s about being the best person that I can be, and taking whatever time I need in order to do that.  Another Step One is about to happen.


Saturday, 10 August 2013

That's a Wrap

And that's it.  No more numbers at the top of my post.  No more counting days.  No more days ahead.  My dating hiatus is officially behind me.

And it feels...totally normal.

Right now I don't feel all riled up and ready to go out looking for a man.  It isn't time to start "(rude verb)-ing my way across Canada", as one friend referred to the impending end of my sabbatical.  I don't want to start emailing random guys to see if they want to go for coffee, or suddenly re-open my Plenty of Fish profile for speculative viewing of potential mates.  I'm not even interested in seeing whether my text message inbox "starts to explode", as suggested by another friend.  As trite as it may sound, and as much of an anticlimax it may be, I just am grateful for the lessons that I've learned in this year.  The whole idea behind the dating hiatus was that I had spent too many years looking to be completed in the wrong way: I was searching for that "missing piece" in my life by trying to find a man who would fulfill the emptiness that was left and would make me feel right and whole.  I needed to learn to be happy with myself and to be able to realize that if I didn't end up with someone special, I would still be completely happy and whole on my own.  I think I've accomplished that task.

Of course, I still have a longing deep down for a partner in life.  There are times when I listen to my clients talk about their deceased husbands with such fondness and gratitude for all the years they spent together, and I still feel that same pang of envy that they were able to have that and I won't.  I mean, even if I got married tomorrow, it's unlikely that I will live long enough to be married for fifty or sixty years (well, maybe fifty - but would he survive being with me for that long?? Ha!).  The difference is that before, I would listen to them talk about their marriages and feel self-pity, or loneliness, or desperation...or even jealousy.  Now, instead of thinking "This lucky woman had someone love her for all those years, and I never will", I find myself thinking how very blessed they were to have had each other, and instead of regretting the fact that I don't now have it, I`m looking forward with hope to the time that I will.  I believe that God does have someone in mind for me, and for the first time in my life, I am actually falling back on that in faith, and believing that it will happen when it is supposed to happen.  However many years we do end up having together, I am sure we will make them happy ones.  In the meantime, I will wait.


It's so incredible to me when I look back at all of the things I have talked about during the course of this blog.  I've reflected on past relationships and told stories of these men who helped shape my romantic history, as well as taken the time to really think through why those relationships didn't work out, and hopefully used those experiences as lessons on how to learn to choose better the next time.  I've talked about priorities; goals; mistakes; the benefits of being single; the difficulties of sticking to decisions; and the importance of loving yourself just the way you are.  I've explored the characteristics of Women Who Love Too Much and recognized many of those tendencies in myself.  I've faced the holidays - one birthday, one Christmas, and one Valentine's Day - alone, but with a very different viewpoint from the ones I've endured in the past.  I've found ways to celebrate the joys of friendship and tried a few different ways to lift up people in my life who are important to me.  I've fallen down; I've kicked myself; but I have gotten back up wiser...and the bruises faded quickly.  And quite aside from what I've written about is what I've accomplished - I started the nursing program after years of working toward it.  I have traveled on my own.  I kicked the habit of an old flame, and I learned to recognize rather quickly (hey, it`s all relative) when someone who was interested in me was absolutely not right for me.  And it would appear that I've been able to let go of worry, stress, and panic, and trust my life - and even my relationships - to my God.

So.  The big question now, from many of you and from my close family and friends, is: What now?
So many directions, so many possibilities...

Am I going to stop writing?  No.  The blog will obviously have to change, as I'm no longer focusing on a break from dating, but I am sure its effects will continue on as I move into a different stage in my life.  I may not write all the time, but I have come to really enjoy keeping a blog.  And I know you will want to know when developments happen!

Am I dating this man I mentioned in my past post?  No, we are not dating at this point.  He is a consistent presence in my life and I love the time we spend together, but we're not at that stage.  However, I know that I am now patient enough to wait and see what happens between us.  I thought I was ready when we first were seeing each other, but looking back, I'm glad I've had that time to grow.  If it takes another two, or five, or ten years (and I'm not above saying Please God, don't let it be ten years!!!), I know that time will be well spent and I will be even better prepared for a life together.  I'm excited to see where the road takes us.  In the meantime, our friendship is comfortable, full of both laughs and serious discussions, and is forming a great basis for wherever our relationship eventually goes.

Will I accept a date if someone asks me?  That's actually a tricky one.  On the one hand, I feel like I shouldn't because I do believe that I have already met the right man for me.  On the other hand, we are not together, so would a date or two be so bad?  I guess it wouldn't, but really, what would be the point?  The realization that I am having now, as I write this, is that I just am not interested in accepting a date with anyone else.  My focus isn't on "dating" as a concept, because "dating" implies searching around for the person who you will end up with in life.  Dating seems pointless when you've already met that person.  I have other things to spend my time on.  My life is filled with good friends, school, children, work, and plans for future travel and mission work.  I know now that I want to learn Spanish - I know I had mentioned it before as one of the things I want to do, but now that I've been to Mexico again and have had the opportunity to be in relationship with native Spanish speakers, I feel a real need to be able to communicate properly with them the next time I go down.  So really, even if I wanted to date, I wouldn't have time!  The only real difference between being on my dating hiatus and having completed it is that now, when this man is ready for me, I'll be able to say yes without hesitation.

And so concludes this year of abstinence and reflection.  Despite the setbacks and the moments of panic, I do believe I have indeed accomplished my goals, including ones that I didn't even realize that I had.  Life now moves on, and I follow my path with anticipation and confidence.  Thanks for having come on this journey with me; it has been great to have your support and encouragement along the way.  I look forward to sharing with you the changes that will happen in the future.

Cut; scene; print it...That's a wrap.


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Second to Last

Day 364

What can I say now that a day that I thought would never get here is now on the brink of arriving, and a year that I thought would be incredibly hard on me has almost reached its end? I can't believe that tomorrow it will be one year since that day I discovered that the man I had a coffee date with had been convicted of murder, convincing me that it was finally time to throw my hands up and give up on dating completely for a little while.  I will admit that at first it was all about the novelty of it, although I definitely did recognize the potential and the value of undertaking such a year.  I wasn't even sure I was going to go through with it, to be honest.  Deep down, I hoped that I would actually stick to it and get something out of it, but I also knew that I do tend to get bored with things if I don't see immediate results.  Plus the Drama Queen in me just liked the idea of being "out there" doing something that was - for me - quite radical.  However, really deciding that I would spend the time "alone" (and I put alone in quotes, because I know I was not completely successful at keeping my mind off men - darn that masculine gender for just being so appealing to me!); doing a lot of reflection and insight into why I reached the point I reached one year ago; and having this blog (and knowing how many of you are rooting for me) have all kept me focused and working toward tomorrow.  Now it's here, and it's time to stop looking backward and begin to look forward.

Part of the reason that it's hard to believe that I'm actually - finally - here at the end of this year off from dating is that the past three weeks have been a blur of preparation and busy-ness; I had the opportunity to go with a group from my church to a small town in Mexico in order to build a house for a family in need.  We were gone from the 24th of July until the 4th of August, which pretty much ate up a lot of the final weeks of my hiatus.  It was an amazing experience; I have a hard time putting it into words.  Suffice it to say that it had a huge impact on me. I know that one of the results of this year off - which in itself actually made it a lot easier for me to go on this trip - is that I now know that I love to travel, and I want to do mission work.  I know that when I am an RN, I will want to use those skills to help people who don't have access to the same kind of medical care that we do.

I don't have a lot to say right now; I'm still rather overwhelmed, both emotionally and physically, with unpacking and organizing and financial matters that have been left for the past few weeks, so I'm going to make this a short one.  Here, however, is a little movie I made: my video diary compilation from Mission Mexico.  I put it together to share my thoughts on the trip and some of the fun moments we had.  I hope you enjoy it.

(There is a short section where there is no sound; YouTube didn`t like that I used a DC Talk song so they deleted the audio for that part of the video.  Sorry `bout that.)

Mission Mexico: My Experience

And tomorrow is the last day, so I will have to find some special way to celebrate it.  Let me know if you can think of anything and send your ideas my way.