For a few years now, running has been my way to escape from all the worries, the distractions, the sadness, the anxiety – and just go. To jam up Gaga and Fergie and feel the heat of the pavement on my soles.
Maybe it’s because I feel like a hamster on a revolving wheel being cooped up inside or the new gaggle of New Year’s resolution-ers who are determined to lose 10 pounds by Cupid’s Day – but lately, my daily run has been so monotonous. By the time I hit mile three, I’m ready to hop off and get back to my apartment – and not because I’m tired or out of breath, but because I’m just bored.
This has happened before and it is usually the time when I jack up the speed, switch to the elliptical or the bike for a few weeks, add in an extra mile, or sign up for some additional Pilates classes. As a person who lives for the next challenge and can’t imagine not moving forward in her life – it is incredibly hard for me to take a back seat to anything or to ever just relax.
Aside from Mr. Possibility (and now Mr. Rescue), when I met a guy – I dove right into the middle of everything. I looked for certain qualities, I took note of “signs”, I paraded him with questions and imagined everything from our wedding date, our names together, and how he would drop down on one knee. Before I even kissed a guy, I had him figured out in my head and placed these enormous expectations on what I thought the relationship would be. When I started seeing red flags arise, I would turn a blind eye, excuse the behavior and just “see what happens next” before I made any rash decisions. I forgave their pasts, no matter how ridiculous and I vowed to be the girl who changed everything in their life. Who fixed their troubles, who stood strong and reliable, and hoped to become this girl who entered their life and made it better.
Before I even really, truly, knew who the man was – as a person, not a romantic partner – I let myself fall completely in love with the idea of what could be with them. Now, I took this to extreme lengths with Mr. Idea, (hence his name) – but if I’m being honest about the “exact nature of my wrongs” in terms of love addiction, I think I’ve done this with every man I’ve ever known. Even ones I didn’t date longer than a week in college.
And then inevitably, at some point, it would all get to be too much. Those red flags would become less like fabric blowing in the wind and turn into screeching, violently scarlet lights surrounded by orange caution cones, begging me to just walk away. Yet, when I reached the point of turning on my toes and getting away from Mr. So-Not-Right-For-Me, and I hesitated, allowing him to be the one to end the courtship – I was hurt. My confidence became shattered, along with my viewpoints of relationships.
This pattern, as ugly and self-defeating as it is, has been pretty consistent with every Mr who has captured my interest. Instead of allowing myself time and room to really understand who I was dealing with or who I was truly kissing on the corner of Broadway or having drinks with downtown, I let my thirst for companionship, for love, for a consistent relationship take over my ability to form actual opinions and think realistically.
I allowed my fear of being alone, of being single, of not being good enough for a relationship, or my inability to keep a “good man” around to be at the forefront of my mind. No wonder I blamed myself for everything, no wonder I got myself to a plateau where I had to overcome what I coined “love addiction” through an intense journey that tests me every single day. No wonder I ended up crying in the corner of my tub, the day after my last birthday because I got myself in such a devastating state.
Because I didn’t stop. I just kept going. Even when I was bored, even when I knew it was wrong, even when I knew it wouldn’t work out one day, even when I was tired and nothing was changing – I kept running right back into the arms of someone who never deserved my embrace to begin with. Just like I switch to an elliptical to change up the pace, I would try to steer the man or the dating process in a better direction to ward off any negativity, or take on more work than the dude, so he wouldn’t feel overburdened. I resumed responsibility for all of the things that were mine…and all of those that weren’t.
Even with Mr. Possibility (who continues to look less and less like his name) and new guys I meet, I have to remind myself to breathe, to pace myself, to not push myself to where I can’t even enjoy the next relationship because the last one banged me up so badly.
Finding self-love through this journey isn’t just about making myself a better person so I can find Mr. Right. It isn’t about going back through all of my old relationships and figuring out what I learned. It isn’t about preaching my viewpoints or spreading the message of independence.
It’s about finally being able to rest assured.
To have faith in myself so I don’t settle for less than I deserve, because I know that regardless if I get married or not, I have confidence in who I am and am proud of the decisions I’ve made. To listen to my gut when it tells me to hold back or to slow down or to think before I leap. To enjoy my life, with all of its uncertainties and complications, and stop waiting for it to begin, instead of just living it. To keep my eyes focused on today instead of worrying myself into a frenzy about several years from now.
But most importantly – it’s about getting back up in the race, clearing my head and my heart, and taking one huge breath, knowing that even if I feel stuck in a rut or like I’m not making progress, it’s my right, my responsibility to do what’s best for me.
And at times, the smartest thing a gal can do is accept the red flag…and run as fast as she can in the other direction. Even if that road is one she’ll have to take alone. After all, the company of confidence is much better than the company of a coward.