Losing Love to Find It

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I’m eating a burrito in my living room watching the latest dejected bachelorette contestant sob over Bachelor, Sean.

After only two weeks on the show, and one five-minute date with him, the reject-ee cries hysterically into the camera saying something like, “He was the man of my dreams. I mean, I’m thirty, and I’m getting really nervous about finding love.”

I take another bite of the burrito that is now dripping down my hand, “Try being thirty-six.” I laugh and rush to the sink before the sour cream hits the floor.

As my thirty-seventh birthday approaches, I can’t decide whether I’m still in my mid-thirties or full-blown late-thirties.

I do know power yoga makes me so sore sometimes, real tears come out, and one rogue gray hair has taken up residence in my right eyebrow.

To celebrate my move back to Northern California, my friends nominated me for a “Most Eligible Singles” contest in my area.

Not thinking anything of it, I sent a picture to the popular blog hosting the competition and just got an email announcing I made the cut.

To my surprise, I saw that the other male and female contestants were on average, seven to ten years younger than me.

My coming-out-debutante-ball fantasy fizzled as I envisioned myself standing at the contest mixer amidst little versions of me ten years ago.

I’m trying to be a good sport, but all I can muster is, maybe one of the youngsters will bring their older brother, and I can fall in love with him?

I’ve actually grown less afraid of age over the years. At thirty, I too felt pressure to be married, so I glommed onto a guy who wasn’t right for me and made myself bleed trying to make it work.

I was determined to morph him into my intended, when from day one, we both knew he wasn’t.

My ex-boyfriend and I met on a foggy Saint Patrick’s Day. He was beautiful, funny, ambitious, and needed to be right about everything.

There was nothing he could do though to make me leave; not even him pushing me away, the nasty fights I’m sure the entire apartment building heard, and certainly not the times he couldn’t plan anything with me without becoming overheated and overwhelmed.

We fought and made up for more than a year until he got a job transfer and moved to another country.

For years (not exaggerating), I cried and blamed him. He was so mean and couldn’t commit. He was crazy. Over and over I told my victim story about the situation until it hit me: I was fifty percent of that relationship.

I acted just as crazy as he did. Afraid to stand on my own two feet, I rode on his coattails. His dreams became my dreams, and I lost myself.

That relationship broke my spirit. Losing love, forced me to step back and reassess my relationship-self and addiction to attachment.

One of the strongest components of Buddhism is that we need to stop attaching ourselves to people and things, because nothing is permanent, and it will all eventually go away. That is where the suffering lives.

The question is, how do we love, and not become so attached? I think the answer for me on that one, was to find my own joy, first.

In the years following the breakup, I began checking off a long list of goals I was too afraid to tackle on my own. I went back to school, changed careers, traveled extensively, and learned to get out of my own way.

It’s been a long time since I let someone in, and I know some of my loved ones worry about me. They want me to find love before I’m eighty because they want me to be happy with someone.

I want that too, but I can honestly say I needed to get to this place first: a place where Michelle Kennedy can build an Ikea dresser all by herself (even though the front board up top is flipped backwards forcing two very large and ugly screws outward).

She can also catch a mouse and care for rambunctious infants.

She has bungee jumped in New Zealand and just repainted the entire inside of her house (with boarders) all by herself. She might check to see if the front door is locked seven times before she goes to bed, but overall, she’s not scared of life anymore.

And even though friends (and strangers) still ask her, “Have you thought any more about freezing your eggs?” she doesn’t even feel like slugging anyone.

The bottom line: I am certain I will be a better partner in the future because I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. I actually listen to people and work hard not to be selfish now.

Time and maturity did the trick, as well as the courage to truly look at myself in the mirror and experience humility and self-esteem for the first time.

I won’t be afraid to let go if the fit isn’t right in my next relationship, because I have a support system and stuff to do now.

Losing love forced me to find a different kind of love. The love I embrace these days tells me not to look for someone to make my dreams come true.

I’m making my own dreams come true so that when he comes, I can share them with him, learn about his dreams, and create new ones together.

I believe there is a plan for me, and I’m not worried. In the meantime, I will continue to try my best, treat people with kindness, and sign up for that improv class down the street.

 

Image credit: rawartletterpress on Etsy

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