Since my divorce, I've gone out on a lot of dates (though none for quite a long time... much longer than I care to think about). I've had one long-ish relationship, but it was ages ago and it left a lot to be desired. Thankfully I learned some good stuff from it. Another, much shorter relationship caused significant heartbreak. It was the second time in my life I actually fell in love (the first was when I was quite young and it was not with my ex-husband [though I did love him]). Hindsight (and several years) proved that it all worked out for the best, but it didn't change the hurt - or the resulting scars.
Since then, I've met a few more men and I've been hurt (from mildly to miserably) a few times (and I hurt someone else, which left its own brand of scars on my heart and psyche).
Relationships are hard, yo.
I realized a while ago that my modus operandi is to fall for men who are unavailable. Their reasons for being unavailable vary and I make sure to cover them all - emotional, distance, marital status (though please note that I have never, nor would I ever, involve myself in another person's marriage. But I have certainly been attracted to [and kept it to myself] a married man or two).
I worked out that it's because it poses no risk. If a person isn't available - and I know it - then I can't really expect anything. I don't have to do the work because I already know it's not going to work out (or even, you know, start).
Unfortunately, it doesn't mean that I don't get hurt. Or that I don't feel rejected.
Sucks, man. It really sucks.
And I finally worked out (much later than I should have) that rejection is my big issue. Fear of rejection, really.
And it's a whopping big issue.
I've learned a bit about it over these past few years. I've learned that it's not always about me. Very often, it's about where the other person is in his life. Sometimes, however, it is about me, and hearing that, in no uncertain terms, is kind of awful. But at least there's no wondering. Because when it comes to rejection, wondering is the hardest.
What did I do wrong?
What should I have done?
Am I not pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, sexy enough?
What is wrong with me?
Ugh. It's the worst. It makes you doubt everything you believe (everything you want to believe) about yourself. It negates all the wonderful things your friends tell you (they love you, so they have to say nice things, right?). It makes you imagine the worst about yourself.
Now, some people don't do that, I'm sure. Some people ooze self-confidence to the point that, even if it is about them, they don't care.
His loss, baby! I'm fabulous. Just. As. I. Am.
Yeah. I'm not those people.
I wish I was. I really do.
I'm confident in other areas of my life. I don't doubt myself when it comes to certain things.
But not this one.
I'd like to say it goes back to my marriage. And that certainly had a bearing on it. A marriage - a good, healthy marriage - is supposed to give you feelings of safety, security, and surety of self, even when doubt creeps in. It should make you feel loved and accepted for who you are, warts and all (please note, however, that I don't have any warts). Mine did none of of that. And when it ended badly, with my husband rejecting me for someone else, all the doubts that had been festering deep inside came bubbling (in the way an erupting volcano bubbles) to the surface.
So it did not help. That's for certain.
But the lack of self-confidence in this particular area goes way back (it's why, in part, anyway, I wound up in an unhealthy marriage to begin with). And though I don't want to go into those deep-seeded issues here, I have identified them and I'm working to heal those parts of myself damaged decades ago.
And I've finally put together that it all comes back to that whole self-love thing.
(Does everything come back to that?)
If I love myself enough, rejection might sting a bit, but in the end, I'll believe it's his loss, baby. I'm fabulous. Just. As. I. Am.
I don't need a relationship. Obviously. I've gone a long time without one and my life isn't lacking. It's not about feeling incomplete. But I like being part of a couple. I like sharing things - the good things and the bad things. I'd like to have someone to shoulder the burdens of Life with. I'd like to have someone to grow old with.
But in order to have a relationship like that, I have to get out there. And in order to get out there, I have to get over the fear of rejection. And in order to get over the fear of rejection, I have to build myself up. And in order to build myself up, I have to love and accept myself for who I am, right here, right now, as is.
And I have to stop causing my own shadows.
Because I'm ready for some sunshine.
Basically, this was a very long way of saying that the self-love/acceptance work I figured out I need to do (and talked about in this post right here) is important for so very many reasons, not the least of which is making sure I'm staying open to love - and to being loved.
So, heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go...
I'll keep you posted. You know I will.