Sunday, August 11, 2019

A Love Story Part 1: The Single Life

Last month, at 38 and a half years old, I got married. I wasn't sure if real, long-lasting love was in the cards for me. By nature, I'm a pretty independent and industrious person, happily going through my twenties and thirties, building a successful teaching career, tackling ventures in house flipping/renovating, and maintaining an active social life with a wonderful group of friends. I felt accomplished in many respects but also felt the longing to build a life and a family with a loving, devoted partner. Being in a relationship and wanting marriage and children is not for everyone, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with being single, but I've always hoped for the former.

To that end, I actively put myself out into the dating world for 20+ years, going on more first and second dates than I can count. Blind date fix-ups through friends, well-intentioned co-workers offering up their male relatives, online dating before it was popular or mainstream, and eventually hopping on board the 'swipe left/right' apps, all in the hopes of finding 'the one'.  During that span there were a couple of relationships but for most of my life I've been single. As frustrating as it was to be the perpetual third wheel or to have yet another fruitless first date that wouldn't end up going anywhere, in retrospect I can see that being single for so long allowed me to accomplish so much on my own, providing a great sense of pride and accomplishment. Silver linings all around.

(One of my most fun and exciting accomplishments, 
the cover of Maine Women Magazine's DIY issue)

Still, there were many times that I was fearful that I'd spend my life alone. I heard many times "I can't believe you are single" and "just give him another chance" and "you should go out with my friend's cousin's roommate from college because he's single too", as well as so many pieces of advice. One person would tell me to put myself out there more while another would tell me to "just stop looking and then you'll find him when you least expect it"...two completely contradictory, yet well-meaning pieces of advice.  

I was told many times that I was being too picky, but in my gut I always just felt that I'd know it when I found it, as cliche as that may sound. As with most important decisions in life, but particularly when it comes to spending your life with someone, settling for anything less that what you feel is right for you and that is anything less than what you deserve will never end well. I was never looking for "perfect" in a partner but I was looking for someone who was perfect for me- which are two very different ideas. As much as it hurt sometimes to be alone, settling because I was afraid of being alone was just never an option for me.

In the fall of 2017 I went through a break up and subsequently a depression. It wasn't that particular guy that I was so upset about but rather that residual fear that I was going to spend my life alone. On top of that, I was about to turn 37, which can be troubling for any single woman who would like to try and have biological children. I had a rough couple of months, but after allowing myself to wallow a bit, I rang in New Year's 2018 with a commitment to work on my physical and emotional health and take active steps to pull myself out of my funk. I worked out faithfully, ate well, filled my social calendar, talked to a therapist, started journaling & meditating, planned a solo vacation, and found comfort in the company of dear friends.

During this time one of my friends encouraged me to read a really inspiring book called "The Universe Has Your Back" by Gabrielle Bernstein. In it she asks you to picture what your life would be like if you lived from a place of faith rather than a place of fear. That idea became my mantra and by mid-February I was feeling so good- strong, happy, and optimistic.

After taking a few months off from the dating apps while I worked on "me", I decided to put myself back out there. I even designed and printed 100 'calling cards' (very Victorian, I know) so that if I saw someone interesting while I was out, I could hand him a card with my contact information. I figured I had nothing to lose and a creative strategy for meeting people couldn't hurt! Little did I know then but I would only end up giving out one card to one guy- and that guy would eventually become my husband (we met on an app but he got the one and only card on our first date)!

(the front of the calling cards I designed)

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