It felt good—the chats, the likes, the two dates I went on, the comments from strangers telling me I’m beautiful. Maybe they say that to every woman.
It still felt good.
But the truth is, I’m not that smiling girl on the beach in Costa Rica who you’re chatting with on Bumble. I am not a positive beam of light smiling from a doorway. I don’t feel sexy or sensual or flirty or fun. I’m not that girl you are seeing in my profile in any shape or form—not right now.
I am not a good date right now. I won’t be present. If we kiss, it might feel nice but I’ll still have this pit in my stomach. I certainly can’t sleep with you and if I did, my body would tense up around you. I might wear a sundress and smile but my real beauty is hidden. The real me is hidden. I can’t connect with you.
You won’t see my tender heart. I can’t open up to you or be authentic. I am about to dive headfirst into a rebound relationship, fueled by my unconscious need to numb the f*ck out. My fearful avoidant attachment style beckons me to “just find someone else, you’ll feel better.”
No, I am not girlfriend material right now.
I am recovering from knee surgery. My mother was in the ICU. And my partner left me sobbing in a hotel room in Antigua a little over a month ago.
I’m a mess trying to make sense of a loving relationship gone bad. I am lonely and feeling sad. And truthfully, I am in no shape whatsoever to be dating anyone. Months of denial and ignoring red flags have done a number on my intuition. My boundaries weakened and with that my sense of self-worth and love.
Being in a relationship can feel really good:
>> You have someone’s arms to fall into.
>> You have your own secret language.
>> You have someone to ride bikes with.
>> There’s someone to call on your drive home from work.
>> You have someone to hike with.
>> You make future plans.
>> You are part of something; there is familiarity and comfort.
But then we get sick. We get so sick we start drowning. And sometimes the best intentions aren’t enough. Sometimes love isn’t enough. Sometimes you have to do the work all by yourself. And so, we leave. But that means starting over.
And now, I am alone.
And so, I scroll through a sea of faces seeking validation. The messages pour in. There are good men who want to meet me. I enjoy their conversations. I go on dates. One is tall and handsome with an amazing smile. I imagine sex with him—my body is yearning for affection. I miss intimacy. They send me good morning messages. I get asked out. I feel good. For a minute.
And then, I stop.
I see their hearts. These are not profiles. These are human beings who want connection and love.
I am not in the place to give it. I am not in a place to receive it. I am not healed. I see I have nowhere to go except inward. It’s time to be accountable. It’s time to not let my inner wounded little girl run the show. It’s time to be the woman I truly am: The strong one. The one with integrity. The one who chooses love. In this case, choosing love means choosing myself and no one else…for now.
I apologize to them. I explain I am heartbroken, fresh out of a breakup. I thought I was ready and I am not. I get vulnerable. I risk disappointing them, but I must be honest.
I don’t need a rebound, I need healing.
They thank me profusely for not ghosting them. I respect them. They respect me. I stay friends with a couple of them. “Look me up in six months,” I say. Then I promptly delete my dating apps and call my therapist. I hire a life coach and book a spiritual retreat in the mountains. I stop numbing. I own my sh*t and my mistakes and I sadly delete and block my ex. It’s time to move on. I bless the love we had with gratitude. I allow space for the hurt and disappointment. I buy a teddy bear and name him Boyfriend. We snuggle at night. I stay close to my girlfriends. I eat ice cream and try to gain back the 10 pounds I’ve lost. I cry in the tub. I commit myself to my healing. I give my heart a sabbatical. I embrace change and uncertainty because I know I followed my heart. I’m growing into a better, stronger, more loving version of myself.
And as days pass, the anger softens. The sadness isn’t as intense. I focus less on my own narrative and more on what I learned in my relationship. I think of the good memories, hold them close to my heart, and say goodbye.
There is relief in letting go.
I start making plans for the future, a distant one that feels bright and hopeful. It’s lonely and painful at times but I am living my truth. I am not ready to be back out there again.
We cannot run a marathon with a broken leg. We cannot rush healing. We cannot expect to have a conscious, loving relationship with someone else if we do not have one with ourselves.
Perhaps I’ll find the one who is right for me. Perhaps I won’t. And maybe, I’ll be so blanketed in self-love it won’t matter.
Will I date in five months? I have no idea.
But I know choosing not to date meant choosing love, for myself and for others. And for that, for the first time in months, I am getting closer to whole.