My heart has been shattered almost as many times as my port-o-cath has been accessed. The problem with getting back out there, is well, it requires you to get back out there.
I remembered meeting Mr. Defense Contractor literally the same exact night I broke it off with Mr. Biotech Exec. This was during my shy phase, when attracting men was as simple as looking in their direction with a doughy gaze and pretending that I was the quiet mousey type. If only…
We hit it off right away on the mutual love of the game Words with Friends at a local country bar. Except for one tiny problem, I was completely broken inside and never liked the Words with Friends game. The whole entire night was a string of lies that I said to hide what was really going on deep inside my heart. He bought me a drink, which I slurped quickly, which he quickly replaced.
I refused playfully, knowing that would be the achilles for him, to which he responded with, “Your’e right, we should get you food and a drink.”
I ran to the restroom to pop the medicine I take to digest food, checked my blood sugars to make sure the sugar in the drink wouldn’t cause too many complications, applied some lipgloss, downloaded Words with Friends, and confidently walked back out to greet him.
“Play it cool” I told myself as I tried to shrug off the intense emotions I was experiencing inside. I attempted to balance mild flirtation after being single for a mere 4 hours, hoping that the coy glances could hide the bubbling emotions I had inside.
- I wanted love and commitment.
- I didn’t want to die alone.
- My scars made me deeply insecure.
- My health made me feel like a burden.
I pounded the next drink. And the next. Looking at him, he was attractive enough and yet, I knew it was the kind of attraction that meant I would settle because Mr. Right Now was always a better bet than never finding Mr. Right.
And in the daze of Luke Bryan playing over the speakers, the dancers on the floor, the buzz from the vodka, I had a realization.
I was willing to take anything I could get, because for a moment, it meant somebody else saw my worth and maybe just maybe, I could one day believe it too.
And I knew that I needed to go home. But I didn’t leave. I kept flirting.
Before seriously trying to date again, I had three things I needed to wrap up.
1. Let Go of The Insecurities
The right man will be grateful that I did the work to get rid of the thoughts that I wasn’t proud of. Yes, I will always have a stomach full of scars and a purse full of meds. My value isn’t placed on what my body decides it can and can’t handle. We all have fears and insecurities that we are not good enough, not worthy, and are unlovable. The trick to dating is to recognize that when these insecurities arise, to not get caught up in them and lose our love for ourselves. Recognize the emotions when they occur, practice grace with ourselves, and continue on.
2. Embrace Who You Are
Take some time to really reflect on who you are and the unique gifts you can offer. For the longest time, I kept a journal near my bed and listed out things about myself that I loved. At times, it was a pathetic list. On one day when I was really grappling with my inadequacies, I told myself to write out 50 things I love about who I am and who I am becoming. I wrote simple things such as how beautifully dainty my wrists are when I write and how I always find the good in strangers. It took me years of discovering who I was, piece by piece, until I found peace.
3. Know Your Worth
Sis, don’t hate me for this… but you’re settling. Women don’t date their potential, we date our self-esteem. We all can remember that one guy we went down on in a parking lot because we were afraid of being alone. Create your list of the ideal partner. When you’re creating your “list”, shoot for the stars. If you’re reluctant to put something on that list that you don’t think you can attract, put it down. And then rather than strive to find him, strive to become the person that list described. It starts with realizing how incredible of a woman you are and not settling just because you have a health condition. And when that realization becomes your truth, throw the list away completely.
I didn’t go home that night. I had my 5th drink with Mr. Defense Contractor and then wound up at his house for an entire weekend. For roughly one year we seriously dated, and I believed in my heart of hearts that he could be the right one. I never had to address my insecurities, learn to love myself, or learn how to lean into my own potential. I settled completely. I figured it was the quick route to my fairytale without having to do the deeper growth work.
We played Words with Friends our entire relationship. Exchanging sexual acts or who bought dinner whenever one of us won, laughing and growing together. I was happy enough and figured that’s what a relationship was.
And then one night, while he was working late at the office, I heard a ping on his computer.
Walking over I saw a notification, “Hey baby, dinner is ready, drive safe. P.s. I won the last game…”
While I was trying to escape my own insecurities, he was cheating on me because of his. I walked out that night and deleted the app. And when I got to my journal by my bedside, rather than feel crushed and defeated realized that maybe just maybe, if I can play Words With Friends for a year with a guy I pretended to like, imagine the dedication I’ll have when I find the guy I actually like.
Your turn: how did you decide you were ready to date again? We wanna know!