I'm going to be real with all the women out there. I am horrible at dating. I don't know if I'm the only person like this, but I actually hate going on dates. Making myself up to look cute and fancy is not in my schedule. Maybe it's having three different jobs, but honestly dating sounds like the most exhausting thing. Don't get me wrong, if girls who like to dress up and go out to a nice restaurant or a concert that's really exciting for me because I get to watch them feel beautiful for a minute. Seeing women who put on makeup and the looks on their faces when they feel more confident in themselves is wonderful to see. I guess I'm just too tired to care. The effort of pretending to be something I'm not is not really in my energy bracket right now.
Dating seemed to me to be just really uncomfortable moments with someone that I didn't know wearing something I didn't want to be wearing and talking about something I didn't have an interest in. Flirting honestly is boring to me because there are better and more important things to be doing with my time. I honestly enjoy helping people more than I do pretending to be someone different. Being with someone shouldn't be that difficult. In my mind, the person you are in a relationship with should make you feel comfortable enough to not care about how you look or what you wear. My ex used to tell me when we first dated that it didn't matter what I looked like because he thought I was beautiful even without makeup on. It was the first time I felt like someone had called me truly beautiful, even though I'd heard it before. That is one of the moments I appreciated back then, and something that I remember now that I loved about him. When you leave any relationship, it's important to remember the things that you realized mattered more than they did in the moment.
Maybe that's why I don't care about dating anymore. It could be the dozens of things that I need to do before August 1st. Maybe it's the fact that I have a dog who has behavioral issues and needs a lot of attention. Or it could be the number of hours I've had to pick up at other jobs. Or that I run out of health insurance in September, don't know if I'll have the internet, can't remember the last time I slept more than 4 hours at a time. Or who knows, it could be because I really hate dating.
All I'm saying is, if a woman in adulthood really sees all of the responsibilities and decisions that you have to deal with, there are more important things than whether or not you get asked out on a date. If you are the kind of person who gets worried about not going out on a date ever again, I have a piece of advice: instead of thinking about the next romance, take a second and look around at all of the people around you that you could be enjoying a conversation with. Talk to that older woman that's sitting next to you on the bus. Or that little kid who's excited about his fruit snacks. It doesn't have to be someone who takes you out to fancy dinners.
My favorite thing to do right now is slightly odd, but totally gratifying. Every time I go to the grocery store and I spot an older man or woman putting their groceries away, I walk over to them and help. It's amazing to me how many people don't do this anymore. Every time I have done this, I always get a welcoming and surprised smile by someone who didn't expect any help. Another thing I love to do is to enjoy the people that I'm around in the moment. I have a lot of friends even though I've been really bad at doing things outside of my comfort zone. I have so many people who care about me because instead of planning to be friends, I choose to be best friends with everyone in that moment. I find that if you are just yourself in front of someone you don't know, it's a lot easier to not care about their opinion because who knows if you'll ever see them again?
Maybe that's why I'm really bad at dating. Planning to be something I'm not is impossible because I am already bad at planning to spend time with my friends. I've gotten a lot better since this all happened, only because of the fact that I realized that the most important people in my life are the friends and family I have who stick with me because they do know me, and love me because of it. I would rather use my energy on those that don't expect it than on those who expect me to be something I'm not.
Let's talk about one of my worst qualities, because let me tell you I'm not perfect. Ever since I was a kid I've never been able to keep my mouth shut. I have zero filter. I would say whatever I felt regardless if it hurt someone's feelings. What was worse was that I actually cared that I was hurting someone's feelings. I didn't mean to, I just had no ability to not say how I felt.
Present day: I still have no filter. I think one of the qualities that stands out is that for me at least, sharing my truth with others matters more to me than ever before. Having the ability to speak your mind is one of the beautiful gifts in life that you only notice when it is taken away from you. Being an artist and an advocate for other women like myself, I have the responsibility as well as the capacity to speak my truth regardless of what others will say. It's not that I don't care, it's just that I don't mind sharing, and I don't mind when others think I'm weird for being way too open about myself and my life. Even now, writing on this blog can be the most uncomfortable feeling, only because I don't know who's reading it and I don't know what they will get out of it. But, the beauty of discovering your own personal voice is that you reach a point where it doesn't matter what others reactions are because you feel nothing but empathy and understanding for those points in your life where others might feel ashamed.
Talking so openly about getting divorced was actually one of the hardest points to open up about. Yet, because I am so exhausted and have no filter, I've been able to move past the idea that I failed and instead look at this as an opportunity for growth. Why be ashamed of an experience when it has brought so many opportunities into my life to grow and change?
Being exhausted brings out the worst in this quality. I have been around complete strangers recently who I have just opened up to without even knowing their name. I have zero ability to not talk, and when I talk, I talk about the things that matter to me in that moment, even if they are way too serious. If someone asks me how I'm feeling, I'll tell them. At first, it was terrifying to admit to what was happening, because who wouldn't be ashamed? If someone up and leaves you, how could you not question your worth as a person. Expectations are hard, especially the high expectations we all put on ourselves. What was beautiful about these moments where I seemed to forget about myself is that the responses that I was getting were perfect for me in the moment. Instead of my friends and family responding out of pity, they came with open arms and honesty telling me I was worth more than the cards that I was dealt. I realized that in life, I mattered more to myself than I could matter to anyone else.
The other day I was talking to a woman who was also going through a divorce with her husband of 15 years who was a veteran diagnosed with PTSD. Hearing her story and how she was dealing with moving on helped me to understand that there are other women like myself who have waited for their loved ones to get better, even though usually those people would not help themselves. And that's the reality of it. When I express my feelings, I have zero capability of hiding the truth. If I am not sleeping it's very evident. If I'm not eating, you can tell. If I am going through a hard time, I will cry openly in front of people that I don't know and run away like an idiot because I can't hold it in.
Having no filter has it's benefits and downsides. I am able to connect with people very easily because I am so willing to share. I have made so many lifelong friends because I have no filter, and for some reason they like that about me. I have also been able to help women like myself by opening up so they don't have to. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to speak the truth for so many women who cannot because they do not have the capacity yet or do not know how. Having no filter also means that I lose a lot of people. While there are many who are still my friends, I have definitely made my own personal enemies because for whatever reason, some people don't like to hear the truth. I've had people who I hadn't seen in years still hateful towards me for things that I had already forgotten about. I've had members of my own family cut off contact with me because I set a boundary as to how I want to be treated as a person. I've gotten plenty of weird looks from people who I talk to like they've been a lifelong friend, and most of the time I think that I lose some opportunities because I make others uncomfortable.
For a very long time I hated the fact that I had no filter. I wanted to be like everyone else, a person who could keep their mouth shut and follow along with the rest. I wanted to have a million friends and I wanted to be cool and collected, suave and seductive. I wanted a lot of things out of myself that really just don't exist. I'm an eccentric hermit who is also social. I don't expect much out of others because I've done everything for myself. I have no filter because I had to grow up defending my story from others who were trying to manipulate my truth to make themselves feel better. I have had a really weird life to be honest. No one really prepares you for situations that are out of your control. But, what I have learned to love about not having a filter is that I don't feel ashamed or embarrassed to express myself in the moment because I've learned that telling the truth has way more benefits than downfalls, even if it means others will not like me.
Moral of this post: Don't hold back just because it might make someone else uncomfortable. Don't hide your truth because you're worried others will judge you. After 26 years of experiencing my inability to keep my mouth shut, I've learned that the people who leave because I share so easily are the ones that I wouldn't want to be friends with anyways. And honestly, for all the hundreds of people who haven't like me, there are thousands who do.
P.S. Also, let's be real, friendships that last a lifetime matter more than any relationship you can ever have. Love is love, regardless if it involves romance in the mix. And I have never felt more loved by myself and others than now, so who cares, it's just a piece of paper.
Moving on is something I'm familiar with. However, I haven't personally moved on from a situation like what I'm going through. When I fell in love, I knew that love was a choice and not an expectation. Each day I chose to love because I felt that way. When someone suddenly disappears, how do you move forward knowing you don't get the closure that comes with ending a chapter of your life?
I've moved on from friendships, family, relationships, coworkers. I've moved many times, from Nebraska to Alaska to Colorado. Moving on was never my choice, but it was what was necessary. That is what I am trying to remember, that sometimes when the people you love the most hurt you the most, you have to move on because otherwise you'll continue to hurt for the loss of something that is no longer there.
Moving on from a relationship seems to be something people have a lot of opinions about. What's worse is that somehow the idea of moving on seems to be about the idea of rebounding. While I can understand why women do this in order to move forward, I cannot. It's not that I couldn't, I could go ahead and choose to be free in every possible way. But, from all that I have experienced and all I continue to experience, sex has never been the solution to anyone's problems. Sex never changed how someone felt. Sex never stopped others from hurting me. Sex never gave me comfort or assurance that everything would be okay. I don't judge girls who choose to do this, I am just not one of them.
I have watched many of my friends get involved in situations that could have been avoided if only they had seen the value within themselves. I don't have value because someone loves me. I don't have value because I am in a relationship. I don't have value just because I go and sleep with someone else. What I've learned the most out of anything in life is that the only person that can value me the best is me. I won't find happiness by deciding to destroy my own self value to "feel better".
For me, moving on means looking at a situation and seeing the good and bad in everything. I can look at the last three years and hold my head up high knowing that I honestly did my best. I've learned what I love in a partner, and most importantly things that do not work for me. I hold no ill will towards anyone when I choose to reflect instead of act. I do not use someone else to make myself feel better, regardless of whether or not they care. I love myself enough to know that no one will fill whatever problems I continue to work on. The only person that can change things is myself. I can create a positive experience or I can wither away.
One of the first things I had to relearn as a teenager was identifying what was actually my problem and what others were telling me was my problem. I would spend hours reevaluating everything in my head about what I had done wrong and how awful I was as a person. It was shameful to hear all of the things that I thought about myself coming out of someone else's mouth. It hurt when I finally decided to start changing all the behaviors that were causing me grief.
I learned from many professionals that the key to finding out what I could do better was in this phrase: "If it fits, let it sit. If it doesn't apply, let it fly." This means that while many people may think they know you, the only person whose opinion matters is your own. For example, a few weeks ago I was on the phone with my dad crying about how ashamed I felt about getting divorced. I yelled at my dad when he tried to tell me that there was nothing to be ashamed of. I hurt him, and my dad let me know. I felt very proud to know that instead of lashing out like I could have done, I chose to listen and hear what his feedback was. If I hadn't, I don't think I would have felt as happy and positive as I do right now. He told me that when people you love hurt you and you have to walk away, it only means that there is something better around the corner. My dad is an amazing individual that I look up to for just this reason. While I could turn hateful, my dad reminded me that sometimes those we love will hurt us badly because they do not know anything different.
I feel so grateful to have had these past few months of reflection on how I can better myself as a person. I've taken feedback, even when it has hurt, and learned to let what matters sit and all the rest just float away. What I learned from this experience is that I am a kind and loving person. I am strong, independent, and capable of forgiveness and understanding, even when someone has hurt me deeply. I've learned that I am capable of setting boundaries when it is justified and I am able to understand the situation from a perspective of growth instead of anger. I am capable of moving on from a situation because I did not give up, but instead I put my foot down about things that were not okay with me and the reaction was to walk away.
Having my marriage end in such an abrupt way was traumatizing. It was terrifying and sad and confusing. It was also understandable and had been coming for months. I don't mean it was understandable in the sense that I did something to deserve this. I mean that it is understandable because someone I loved felt like they were in so much pain that they had to do something so drastic. I have watched many people I love change over the years into people I hardly recognize. I have watched loved ones be so wrapped up in their own mental illnesses that they can't control how they react. I've had to say goodbye to a lot of people because of how their own personal issues were affecting my own abilities.
I've heard many opinions as to how I'm supposed to feel, how long I'm supposed to process and how I'm supposed to deal with the end of this chapter. I've heard that I should still be in shock, still be committed, should still wait for whatever comes next. I've been asked what I'm going to do, where I'm going, whether or not I need a fresh start, when I'm getting the divorce papers finalized. I've been told to take power back into my own hands by filing the papers myself. I've listened over the last month as I've processed what's happened. I've sifted through what I thought was accurate and I sat with what I needed to. I've learned that I don't need to take power back when I already have the power within myself. I learned from this experience that I am kind and loving, and that I am a committed partner to whomever I'm with. I've learned the full capacity of how I love others and I've been able to express it to people that I wouldn't have been able to if this hadn't happened to me. That chapter in my life has closed, and I don't need a piece of paper to tell me that I am done when it was done the moment I decided I was ready to move on. I could choose to wait for a piece of paper to tell me I'm free or I could just be free now and to hell with what anyone else says. What happened to me was upsetting, and therefore I do not need an official piece of paper telling me that I'm single when that part of my life was decided for me. I did not get any choice in the cards I was dealt, but I can definitely continue to move forward and not care what others think.
I learned a long time ago that trauma can provide the most change as well as the most opportunity to see the beauty in every day life. I was supported by friends and family, I was supported by strangers that I didn't even know. I've had multiple conversations with men and women who have been in the exact position that I'm in right now and I've learned a lot about what I deserve and what I don't. I've seen small moments in my life where people who care about me have shown up and told me that they love me and care about my well being. I honestly never expected to have so many people be there for me in my time of need, which also showed me that I deserve better.
I'm so excited for what's next, even if I have no clue what that is. I've been able to see lovely things from lovely people that I never noticed before. I also get to appreciate the kind and decent men out there that do exist that I never would have noticed if not for this situation. I had a guy I had known in passing for years treat me with such kindness that it brought me out of a place I didn't know I'd get out of. He was kind and decent, and it meant the world to me to have someone just be kind because they could see I was sad. If there are men out there like that, then there is still hope that I can move forward without hatred or anger in my heart. I can move forward now knowing that there are plenty of people out there that I could share my kindness to that will see me for who I am and appreciate me in return.
I don't need anyone to make me feel loved or appreciated. I don't need opinions or feedback when I already know I'm okay. I don't need to be told when I should be okay and when I should move on if I already have. I don't need to have a piece of paper tell me that it's okay to finally move on. I do however want to still smile and feel happy because that's the kind of person I am, and if someone can make me smile in my worst moment then I would like to do the same for them. It's not selfish or cruel. I don't feel guilty anymore. I won't allow my love for the world to be tainted by trauma. I will however allow myself to express my appreciation towards others that so obviously deserve it.