It was March 16 — and I was having one of those terrible, horrible, very bad, no good days.
It started with a lack of hot water in my apartment for like the 100th time (sadly, only a slight exaggeration), which resulted in playing chicken with the shower head until I was at least somewhat clean. From there, it only went downhill: the train was late, the weather was depressing, the line at Starbucks was way too long for me to make it to work on time, and as it always does, the course of negative events left me feeling less than 100 percent. Midway through the day while eating the snack-size Lean Cuisine that I somehow manage to consider lunch, something else popped up to make what was a crappy day, completely shot to hell.
He emailed me.
And for whatever reason, even in my near-crazy state, I decided the logical thing to do was to read it. Then and there, on the spot, while chewing highly processed food that I didn’t care for. The sentences weren’t important, nor the sentiment, but the feeling I had my stomach — and in my heart — was. Moving it to trash doesn’t make it any less significant, but it at least gets it out of plain sight, or at least, I thought so anyway. But with the swift deletion, I started to feel them inch their way up, fighting to let out the crisis I felt I was facing. My warmest organ started to burn, signaling it was time to make a b-line for the bathroom where I could exhale in semi-private.
Standing in the stall, counting to ten over and over, looking up to the fluorescent lights, feeling the salty, achy drops form in the corner of my eyes, I got angry. Not for the first time and certainly not for the last in this ordeal, but for the first time, it felt real. I thought about the six months I had wasted communicating when I knew I shouldn’t, the few months I spent going back to what I knew was wrong, and most of all, for trying to be so strong and really, being nothing but weak. Sure, I forgave myself (and luckily my awesome friends did too), but knowing I needed to focus my energy on positive things, like my great job, I decided that it was really, truly time to move the f*** on.
I’m not sure why that particular afternoon meant so much to me — it wasn’t any different or worse than other days I spent attempting to let go of Mr. Possibility. I probably still Gchatted the regulars expressing my frustration and he obviously still made an effort to talk to me, as he did for such a long time. And if I’m honest, even here-and-there now. But in that brief thirty-minute span where my lunch break turned into the moving-on-moment, it clicked in a way it hadn’t before. Maybe I saw that regardless of how much time passes or how many tears I waste, it’s still impossible to make something out of nothing. Or that some sorts of love and relationships simply aren’t meant to last forever, and that’s okay. Perhaps it was just that I finally figured out I wanted more – I truly deserved more – and I wouldn’t get any closer to the best kind of love if I kept holding onto to the hope that mostly-bad could turn into kinda-good.
And so, I did what I always do when I set my mind to getting over someone: I started frantically dating. I signed up for two dating sites, tried to make my profile sound like myself (though, it rarely does), and accepted three or four after work drink invitations. I smiled and flirted, and had meaningless conversations with men who now I can’t remember their names. I didn’t find anyone appealing or entertaining enough to continue to a second date, and I found myself a week later, sitting on Gchat complaining to K about the stress of trying to rebound and how much dating felt like some cursed chore I really didn’t want to do.
So don’t date.
Her response was how much of her advice is — to the point, realistic, mature and taken from the wisdom she’s gained from many more experiences than me. I started to counter her argument, stating I tried that in college and decided placing rules on myself wasn’t healthy and that I never lived up to the promises anyway. I’d be 20 days in when I said I’d wait 60 and give in to some guy I worked up into my head to be the guy. He never was and I only became more disappointed in dating, and worse, in myself. She then, with careful words and gentle encouragement, convinced me that because it was my decision — regardless if I changed my mind later or not — giving myself a break from the whole scene, the intolerable exhaustion (especially in this city!) would make me hopeful…and less bitter.
It hurt to see those words in black-and-white and it stung even deeper to feel it in my heart. Mr. Possibility hadn’t turned me totally sour, I had swallowed that pill all on my own — allowing destructive, damning mantras to become my normal, instead of the cheery, optimistic phrases I usually live by and post around my bedroom walls.
And so, I took K’s advice and set a time frame — from March 23 until May 31, I’d be single. Like really, completely, refusing-to-go-on-one date single. I would be by myself and I would do what I needed to do the most: heal and forgive. Myself, Mr. Possibility, New York and love itself.
Today, on June 7, I’m happy to announce that I did it: no dating, no falling in love with strangers, no making random glances into advances on the subway, no anything. I went to and returned from Puerto Rico, welcoming the world of adventure that awaited me there. I found the peace I had been needing from Mr. Possibility by realizing that somethings really don’t change, but I can, even if he can’t. I stayed out later than I usually did and felt comfortable calling it a night a bit earlier than my friends. I showed my beautiful mother the city I love, ending the last evening by running through an open fire hydrant on my street, and savored every tone, every pitch in her laugh, wishing I could capture it for whenever I feel alone in this big place I adore. I started to accept that maybe, I’m never going to be a size two again, but size six looks pretty good on me. I had heart-to-hearts with my friends and dove into the work that fulfills and excites me.
And then, out of nowhere, without any warning at all, I found love. Real, powerful, all-consuming, can’t-live-without-you love.
No, not with the first guy I went out with on June 1 (he was actually rather awful). I don’t intend to find it with the dates I have lined up next week — but instead, I fell in love with myself. With my life here, with the people and the experiences that have made up the sum of all of my parts.
K was right — I needed time to put dating totally out of the picture so I could see that at the center of it all, there is me. There is the hope I’ve always believed in. And most importantly, there is love.