Last week, we learned about the "Essentials" that make up our heart - the things that nourish, empower and inspire us, on a daily basis. The main takeaway? In order to take flight, and live a life full of health & happiness, we need to nourish ourselves in various aspects of our lives. If one of those 11 Essentials is lacking, well then we won't find ourselves in the best health we could potentially be in. I mentioned this being the "Season of Love"; and a main takeaway in my last couple of posts has been on self-love, as well as finding love (and contentment) in being single, and in being alone. As a woman, I know how difficult this statement can be. This post is a composition of stories, opinions and a couple of really-important aspects - things I desire for each and every woman out there.
I feel like my 'dating history' consists of a couple of long-term relationships, with a dash of random situations. And in my history, those relationships went one of two ways - the person you're with decides they no longer want to be with you, OR you realize you no longer want to be with the person you're with, but unsure of what to do next. And I think this is usually the story for many women; as women, we're always wanting to "make things work"; we're never wanting to give up on a situation, or a person.
Now, I'm also no idiot. Women, at least a lot of us, tend to cling on, long after we should have let go. This can happen when we're out of a relationship, or if we're still in one. This isn't a 'flaw' no; it's simply just being a woman; it's simply just being caring. Again, being in a situation where we'd be willing to try anything to 'make things work'; putting others before ourselves. But I want you to think about what that 'making things work' does to your own system - or, if you're like me, thinking about what it's DONE to your system...
Staying When We Should Go
I don't speak of my breakup, with my ex boyfriend, because it's something still regularly on my mind, but instead because it was a critical break in the chain I needed, in my life. See, looking back on it now, I can see how severely unhappy I was, for so long; how little I was made to feel, so often; how grey my life felt. Instead of getting out at the first sign of distress, I stayed. Why? For numerous reasons (as we all do) - I thought I could CHANGE him; I thought that he loved me; I wanted to be wanted; I had this grand idea that things would get better; and honestly, I couldn't imagine my life without the person I had experienced so much with. But things didn't get better. And instead of leaving (getting out), I stayed and turned into a version of myself I wasn't proud of. I began to apologize, constantly; and not just to him, but to everyone. Why was I starting to feel apologetic for things I hadn't even done? My view on myself took a turn, as well. I started to question everything I did - everything I felt.
I find it interesting now, but I remember a conversation my dad sparked one night, when he, my mom and I were out at dinner, "So Kate, are you planning on marrying your boyfriend?" I stopped, mid-drink, and looked at him and laughed, "No." Inside, my gut was wrenching, "WHY WAS I CONTINUING TO BE WITH SOMEONE I DIDN'T WANT TO SPEND THE REST OF MY LIFE WITH?" Not only did I not want to marry him, but I knew my parents didn't want me to, either; even if they didn't specifically say so. This example is key for what I plan on discussing later.
Did I end things, there and then, after that conversation? Nope. Instead, I continued to battle feelings of insecurity for years to come. I continued to endure arguments, tears and the curiosity of what it'd be like to be in a relationship with other men.
The end of this ten year on-and-off-again-relationship came easily, astonishingly... for me. After years of waking up, heartbroken about potentially not having this person in my life, one morning I woke up, and knew that it was done. My mind, and my heart were free.
I used to think that women were being "stupid" for staying in an unhappy relationship, "Rip off the band-aid; it'll hurt for a while, but you'll be better off in the long run." This phrase doesn't resonate with me, as well, now (after experiencing it).
I don't share this story as a bashing, of any sort. I don't talk to my ex boyfriend anymore, and that's okay. Do I regret being in that relationship? Of course not! Do I wish ill on him? Definitely not, and just the opposite! Just because you have a really crummy relationship with someone doesn't make them a bad person; it doesn't make you a bad person; it just serves as a reminder that things weren't supposed to work out. I'm so, extremely grateful for those ten years; I'm so extremely grateful I stayed for the length I did. Each one of those days served a purpose - helping turn me into the person I am today.
After this relationship came to an end, I found myself in a spot I hadn't been in before. For the first time, in ten years, I was single - like emotionally, physically, completely SINGLE. While exciting, it honestly, also, scared the bejesus out of me. Suddenly, I found myself fixated on my appearance, more than ever. I started to take more selfies, flirt and go on dates. I downloaded Tinder & Bumble and was horrified when some dude sent me a dick pic. I remember going on a date once, and this guy told me I had a "nice ass". Another time, a man walked into the store I was working and asked for my number. He texted me, the next week, and asked if I wanted to go out for wings and beer (I was vegan and gluten free). Friends in Humboldt began to try to fix me up with other singles, who were around the same age as me. Isn't it interesting when THAT'S enough common-ground for someone to fix you up?!
Guys, use this as a reminder to treat women with respect, always. Being crude, in any way, isn't going to get you anywhere. It's a turn-off.
For a "relationship girl", this all was so foreign to me, and honestly, kind of draining. I began to pine for that connection to someone. Meeting people was fun, but it was also hard work... I would feel so confident, yet so insecure, at the same time. Feeling "on the stand" regularly is tough work; I felt like I needed to be portrayed as perfect, all of the time.
Being single, especially when you don't necessarily want to be single is the worst. For anyone going through that, I completely empathize. Maybe you don't even necessarily want to be in a relationship, but want to make a connection with someone halfway decent; I get that, too!
During this time, I also started talking to a guy who managed bands, and toured, constantly. While I knew a future with him was impossible, I began to think of one anyway. I think we, as humans, tend to reach for what, in our minds, seems safe and comfortable. Sometimes, putting ourselves out there is harder than imagining a life with someone... even if we know that vision will never come true.
This guy flew me out to L.A. for a couple of days, and a week later, stopped returning my texts. This was around the same time I had been roofied, at a club. While nothing, physically, happened to me, I found myself devastated. For some strange reason, now unbeknownst to me, I felt that my getting roofied and being "vulnerable" was the reason he stopped texting; stopped wanting me.
Ladies, this is something so many of us feel, more times than not. How come, when a dude decides to be a dick, we automatically assume it's on us; we assume it's because of something WE did?! I now know this isn't true, and I hope the same for you. When a guy doesn't call, or doesn't show up the way he should, don't put the blame on yourself; that's all on him. He's not worth your time, anyway.
Making Your List
During this time of being single, my mom told me to make a list of the things I was looking for in a man. The first couple of times, I laughed and rolled my eyes. "I'm not looking for a husband, Mom!" She'd laugh back, and tell me that it didn't matter; creating a list of things you want, in a man, can be really helpful. That 'laundry list', if you will, of the most important aspects. So, I decided creating a list wouldn't hurt (even if I didn't want to get married).
- Gets along with my family
- Enjoys spending time with MY friends
- Supports me
- Is reliable, always
- Gets along, and loves being with his own family
- Kind, and courteous
- Talks to the old ladies, when accompanying me to church
*#10 was one of those "reasons when I'll know I want to marry him" jokes, I would make with my family
As strange as I thought this list was, when my mom first suggested I make it, I now understand where she was coming from. Regardless of if you are ready to get married, or not, having that list (in the back of your mind) can be helpful; it keeps you in check with yourself, your values and what YOU DESERVE.
Finding Your Equivalent
You know how people say that you'll fall in love when you least expect it; when you're not looking for it? Well, I believed this to be untrue, for as long as I can remember. How can I find love if I'm not looking for it? What if I meet a really nice guy, and he doesn't ask for my number? Did I just lose out on meeting my 'soulmate'? But now this makes a lot of sense, and I think for good reason. When we're not actively looking for 'the one', we're our truest self. We're completely open, and the universe takes that as an opportunity to drop something in your lap.
I remember getting ready, one morning, when I was visiting my brother. My friend, Katie, sent me a text and said, "Dude! I can't believe I never thought of this before, but you and Ryan Nelson would be PERFECT for one another!...ADD HIM ON FACEBOOK!"
We all know that situation, right?! A friend tells you you'd be PERFECT with someone they know?! Similarly to what I mentioned earlier, sometimes you get the impression that two single individuals, with similar mutual acquaintances, AUTOMATICALLY mean TRUE LOVE, in the eyes of a friend. At first, this was where my mind was. I laughed, rolled my eyes, and continued putting on my eyeliner.
I knew who this guy was. I had met this guy before (we grew up in the same hometown). I was pretty damn sure we weren't 'perfect' for each other... (or else, I would have known... right)? Either way, after getting countless promising texts, I decided to add him on Facebook.
Beginning to "talk" to someone is always humorous to me, "What do you do?" "What kind of music do you like?" "What do you do on the weekends?" The questions are always the same; always getting the same typical answers. This is how our Facebook Messenger conversation started, as well. Honestly, at first, I just saw it as any other random messenger convo I'd had with people, in the past; we'd message for a while, but then get bored of one another, and that'd be that. Except this one was different. Ryan seemed legitimately interested in me, and what I was saying; he was kind (which was so freaking refreshing)!
In one of our earlier conversations, I made the joke about how he seemed to be the 'male equivalent of me'; we laughed and decided that in order to know, for sure, we needed to meet.
Quick side-note: For as long as I've lived, people have said that "opposites attract"! Yeah... they do, and for good reason. Opposites DO attract, but what usually happens after this attraction? Do they live happily ever after, or does that spark burn out as quickly as it began? After the experience I've had, instead of trying to find someone that is your 'opposite', try looking for someone more like you - someone who meets your values... your list!
I'm Your Density... I Mean, Your Destiny
Does anyone here remember in "Back to the Future", when George introduces himself to Lorraine and accidentally calls him her "Density", instead of destiny?! The BTTF series is my absolute favorite, and I was pleased to know that Ryan felt the same. The day of our first date came, and I drove up to Minnesota (he lived there, and I was in the process of moving up there). I remember driving by his house, once, because I was so nervous! After having spent the last week talking to the 'male equivalent' of myself, I began to think that this date might not be just any typical date.
I got out of my car, after taking five minutes (I swear) to park, on the street. We hugged, awkwardly, and went inside the house, for a bit. As we were walking to his car, to go have dinner, he stopped me, "Wait. I have to do what I was originally planning on doing, before I got so nervous..." He took his phone, and in the best awkward George McFly way, read, "Kate, I am your density... I mean, your destiny." I laughed out loud, and we drove to dinner.
I won't bore you with the details of our dinner. We talked about Humboldt, mutual friends and past relationships. Ryan, like myself, had been in a ten-year relationship; a relationship that had changed his whole outlook on life. It was extremely refreshing to have a conversation with someone who had gone through something almost identical, and had the same outlook on it.
Easy Like Sunday Morning
People would always say to me, in the past, that meeting 'the one' would be easy, "You'll just know because it's easy. Nothing is forced." Again, a phrase I hadn't believed to be true, until I met Ryan. I think that our common-ground, mixed with our similar personalities made conversation easy; I felt like I had known him my whole life.
I had expected to spend the night (since my brother told me I was not welcome to stay at his place, again). LOL Except, I ended up staying the entire weekend. Again, easy. Nothing was awkward, forced or strange; I felt at home, when I was with Ryan.
Each week continued to be similar to our first weekend together, and it didn't take long for me to know that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this person. Ryan seemed to balance me out, in just the way I hadn't known I needed, before we met. He had this way of taking any obstacle, and overcoming it with a positive outlook.
In past relationships, I'd find myself worried to share my feelings, or opinions because I would be contradicted, and made to feel inferior. Ryan was the opposite; I remember him telling me once, "Kate, in order to have a good relationship, we have to be honest with each other. You need to tell me when you're mad." WOW... for the first time, I was able to share about things that bothered me, without worrying about him getting mad, in return.
Using Your Past to Define Your Future
Looking back on the list my mom told me to make, now, makes me smile. Every number is met (including #10... when Ryan and his grandma accompanied me to church, on Christmas Eve). The "little things" continue to bring me the most joy: kisses in the kitchen, texts that say "I love you", movie quotes, random laughter, snuggles and smiles, in the morning. I've come to the conclusion that sometimes, in order to get what we want, we need to first define what it is, exactly, we DO want; and then, we need to be patient. Create space in your life, and the universe will take advantage of that.
Remember when I said that my past relationships and experiences helped turn me into the person I am today? This is something Ryan and I talk about frequently; it rings true for the both of us. See, five years ago, if we would have been introduced, we wouldn't have been in a place to start dating; wanting to spend the rest of our lives with one another. Sometimes, it's easy, when you're in a relationship, to get focused on the past your partner had. But the next time you find yourself paying attention to that, I want you to take a step back; it was the path you and your partner took that got you both to where you are. If one thing didn't happen, in the series of your past, that could have created a time paradox, "the result of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the spacetime continuum..." OR, if you aren't into quoting "Back to the Future", if that one thing didn't happen, in the series of your past, who's to say you'd be with your partner now, or with your future partner, to come?
My hope is that you all, someday, find your Ryan, your "density". And even if you don't, my hope is that you recognize how amazing you really are, and the greatness you deserve. Don't continue to put yourself on the back-burner; if you are, I want you to recognize it's happening, and start to make your own list - maybe not a list of what you're looking for in a partner, but what you're looking for in yourself!