Days Six & Seven: Loving & Losing
Day 6: In Chapter Four of You Are Enough, I share my journey of “Looking for Love,” and how a dating app helped shake up my romantic life. Share your thoughts about online dating or an experience you had while doing online dating that made an impact on your life.
Day 7: In Chapter Five, I write a letter to a past version of myself to share with her the struggles she would soon face. Write a letter to a past version of yourself, at any time in your life, letting her know that whatever is up ahead for her, she is ENOUGH to handle it.
Dear December 2017 Mandy:
In a few days…you’re going to meet him. On Bumble. On the tail end of another Bumble relationship, one that left you unsure about whether or not you even wanted to be on Bumble, or any online dating platform, at all.
You’re going to be so unsure, in fact, that you almost cancel your first date at the last minute.
Wow, how life would be different right now had you canceled the date at the last minute.
But you didn’t. You went. And around ten or fifteen minutes in, you could already tell this guy was going to be someone special.
The date will be one of the best first dates of your life. So good that when he announces abruptly at the end of the date: “I’m going to kiss you now,” you’ll laugh at his deadpan delivery but then you’ll let him. And it will be magical. So magical that a couple of months later, he’ll give you a bracelet with the GPS coordinates of the location of that first kiss engraved on it.
From that first date, you’ll be inseparable.
And you’ll get so caught up in the romance of it all that you’ll miss the red flags.
Like two weeks in, when he’ll lie to you. It will hurt at first, and every warning bell in your gut will ring loudly…but you’ll still manage to convince yourself it’s not a deal breaker because you weren’t even yet “exclusive” and you don’t want to let one small infraction cause you to turn away from what might be the best relationship of your life.
Then a couple of weeks after that, when he springs it on you that he’s introducing you to his two little ones…in two hours. It will feel too soon but you won’t speak up, because you don’t want to hurt his feelings or seem like you don’t want to meet his kids. You do, very much…but you want it to be at the perfect time for everyone concerned. You’ve never dated a guy with kids before and you want to do it right.
And again a few days after that, when he tells you he loves you and once again, it feels too soon. You are definitely falling for him too but you’re not quite there yet but still…you say it back, because you don’t want to hurt his feelings. You’re always worried about other people’s feelings at the expense of your own, a habit you won’t learn to break until this relationship ends. (Which it’s inevitably going to.)
You also try not to let it bother you too much that you’re his fourth relationship since he filed for a divorce less than a year before meeting you. At least I’m not the rebound girl, you’ll think to yourself. Plus, he’ll assure you that those other relationships were casual and just him “getting back out there to get his feet wet” after being married for ten years. You’ll believe him…never dreaming he could feel the things for and say the things to anyone else like he is with you. Surely you’re special…right? Surely this is a “when you know, you know” situation…right? And that’s why it’s moving at warp speed…right? You’ll believe that with your whole entire heart, until the day less than two months after your breakup when a friend points you to a social media post and you’ll realize that you weren’t special at all, and that the man you fell in love with and who called you the love of his life has found a new “love of his life,” and that he seems to “know” with every woman he dates.
Does this make him a bad person? No. He’s actually a good person, and a great dad. My personal opinion, in hindsight, is that he never got over his ex-wife, and he’s desperately trying to recreate the marriage dynamic with every woman he dates. But once you show a flaw, and he sees that you’re not perfect, he bails. I think he wants marriage so badly but since he hasn’t taken the time to heal or reflect or even really get to know himself outside the dynamics of marriage, he keeps pushing it away. (Or for all I know, he could be remarried right now. I refuse to look at exes’ social media pages anymore. It’s not a healthy choice.)
Yes, December 2017 Mandy…in a few days, you’re going to meet him. And a few months after that, you’re going to lose him. But I can’t urge you to do anything differently, because it is in the losing him that you will find an inner strength unlike anything you have ever known.
Almost a year after meeting him, you will be in the strongest emotional place of your life. You will have let yourself grieve the loss of him fully…not running or dodging the sadness or burying it in another relationship, as was his habit, but really moving all the way THROUGH it and coming out on the other side. You will be in therapy with a new therapist who’s helping you identify exactly who you are and what you’re looking for out of love and life. November 2018 Mandy has learned to let go and loosen the reigns on life a little…trusting that everything is happening just as it should. November 2018 Mandy is learning to trust herself and her gut and would never be pushed into doing or saying anything that she wasn’t ready to do or say. November 2018 Mandy knows how to spot the red flags and isn’t afraid to walk away when she does. And yet…November 2018 Mandy is grateful that December 2017 Mandy didn’t walk away. She knows that this man and this relationship taught her the lessons she needed to learn, and then moved on. Because that’s what everyone until THE One is meant to do…teach us a lesson about ourselves, help us become a little bit more US, open our eyes to the things about ourselves that we need to change, push us to change…and then leave.
And what we’re meant to do…is let them go. Hold tight to the gifts that they gave us…but let them go.
So, December 2017 Mandy, I wouldn’t change a thing. Because love is a beautiful thing. Even when it doesn’t last. And your future, my dear girl, is going to be SO much bigger and better than your past.
November 9, 2018 Mandy
You can get my book You Are Enough: Heartbreak, Healing, and Becoming Whole at any bookstore or order it here.
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