Eleven months ago today, I started this blog in the cafe of a local grocery store with my legs laid across the chairs, glancing down at my tattered heels as I typed. It was one of those evenings where I was particularly filled with ambition and yearning for a big change in my life. More than any drive though, I was ashamed of myself.
The night before (which happened to be the day after my birthday party), I curled up in the fetal position of an old Victorian tub, crying my eyes out in hysteria, making demands instead of prayers toward God, and attempting to avoid the scary mold on the shower curtain. I was so distraught because I was so incredibly, pathetically, longingly, ridiculously single.
The months before, I had signed up for OkCupid and PlentyofFish – resulting in plenty of “ok” dates that never turned into anything. I had yet to have sex in New York (I know, sad) after living here for quite some time, and though my friend base existed, I didn’t feel like I had developed any strong connections. I had a job that I liked fine, I was meeting rent, I was living in Manhattan and not in a borough, as I had wanted – and yet something felt like it was missing. I was convinced that I needed a boyfriend to fill that space. Someone to come home, someone to call when I wobbled back to the train on a Saturday night, someone to snuggle up to and kiss, someone to make love to, someone to love me, someone to complete that silly little void I couldn’t shake.
But I didn’t have that, I thought, feeling the hot water pound my stomach. I winced at the thought of being alone, of becoming one of those bitter cat ladies who lived with bookshelf-lined walls in rent-controlled apartments in the West Village, reading about romances they will never have. I was terrified that my looks would go before I could snag a husband, that I wouldn’t be attractive in my wedding dress, but wrinkly instead. That the New York love story I had always wanted was a far-fetched fantasy that wouldn’t come true, unlike every other dream I had for this damn city.
I had already moved to chase what I wanted and so many had hoped I would fail, so many condemned me for just being who I am – but I had made it. I had a foundation and I could walk on it, though as much as I thought I wanted to walk alone, I was now determined not to. Crying it seemed, felt better than trying. I didn’t want to go out there and date anymore. I didn’t want to shoot arrows on OkCupid or go fishing on PlentyofFish. I didn’t want my nights out with the girls to translate into flirting until some poor chump was suckered into buying us drinks for the rest of the evening. I didn’t want to play the texting game or to act like I was going home with someone when I knew from the beginning I had no intention to. I was looking and searching the faces of strangers, wondering if they would become a lover that would ultimately turn right back into a stranger when the love affair failed.
Because they always do, don’t they?
Wallowing in this self-pity mess, though, I looked down at my naked body and felt the naked emotion running down my cheeks. What was I doing? What was wrong with me? What do I have to complain about? I’m not going to walk the runways, I thought, but I’m attractive. I’m not going to cure cancer, but I have gifts and I’m smart, but most of all I’m brave enough to go after what I want. I’m not perfect, but I accept my flaws. I don’t live in the part of town I want to, but I have faith that I will. Working at a business magazine isn’t my dream job, but I’ll get there, won’t I? I may not have a very best friend, but I have support. I may not be in love, but won’t I be, one day?
And just like that, it clicked. It was time for a change. It was time for me to stop worrying about love and to start living my life. Time to start building it into what I wanted it to be instead of waiting for a pseudo-Prince Charming to rescue me from an existence that was frankly already pretty magical.
So I picked myself up out of the tub, threw on makeup and clothes, and headed to click “Publish” for the first time on this blog. I wanted to really love myself, really define myself, really just be myself without worrying about a man or a lack of one. I never dreamed my decision to create and follow at 12-step program by writing daily for a year would give me what it has. I was shocked to find my blog on the homepage of WordPress, for it to produce dozens of Internet/blog friends from all over the world, to meet a close friend because she figured out the identity of one of the Mr’s. I didn’t expect for its pages to be attacked by an ex-lover and her friends of Mr. Possibility or for friends I haven’t talked to in years to come out of the woodwork to say they relate to what I write, regardless of how old they are, where they are, or what they do.
But all of those things happened and so much more, and now that there is only a month left to go, I’m in awe of what’s changed in the past year. I start my dream job on Monday, I have a beautiful, wonderful best friend who gets me so well, I live in an apartment that I adore and I may even move downtown within the next 12 months, I did have sex and I did fall in love in New York….and I never gave up on writing these posts. No matter the circumstance or what stress was going on in my life, I found a way to come up with something. I was honest and open with myself, my friends, my readers. I believed in the 12 steps and in myself, but did they work?
Time will only tell, but I’ve learned to accept my flaws and my shortcomings, to admit my strong points even if they aren’t deemed significant in the eyes of others. I’m learning how to continuously stand up for myself in relationships and how to walk away before too much damage is done or bridges are burned. I’ve decided that I’d rather be a 37-year-old bride who marries the right man instead of a 27-year-old bride who rushes down the aisle because she’s afraid she won’t find better. I know that if given the choice today to meet the man I’d marry or have my career be booming and fulfilling for the next five years, I’d pick the career over and over. And now, I know that’s not such a bad thing – there is plenty of time for everything we want to have, there’s no deadline for love, there’s no trick to this most-confusing thing called life.
You just have to live it.
And if something or someone asks you to sacrifice parts of yourself for their happiness or for something to work, then you have to have the courage to choose yourself. To love yourself and have faith in the life you know is destined for you instead of hanging onto the notion that something or someone could change. The 12-steps don’t fix obsessive thoughts or an addiction to love – I still have crazy ramblings, and of course, I still want to find that once-in-a-lifetime love.
But it’s not the most important part of me anymore. It’s just a piece of what makes me me, not the end-all-be-all or the start of my happily ever after. For the first time, I’m truly happy with where I am and that’s not dependent on any man or any fairytale I wish to have. It’s merely dependent on me.
With a month left to go, on the 11th step, I’ll be sad to see this blog end, but I sure am thankful for that depressing night in that disgusting tub that made me see the light and take a chance on loving myself.