Life after divorce is still life: breathing, sighing, laughing, living. It's not the end of the world, even though that's exactly what it feels like. It's hard, but not a normal 'hard' phase of life that one would typically think of. It's more than that, so much more than that. And along the way, I'm learning. I'm learning that I've got to keep putting one foot in front of the other and live off of faith. I'm learning that there's nothing easy about starting over. I've learned that moving forward was harder than I could have ever imagined. Why?
Falling out of love with your ex-spouse is one thing, and it's a good thing. It's the first step in a process that has an unlimited number of steps. (Oh how I sometimes wish divorce could be solved and figured out in a 12-step program...) Once that's done, though, I found myself in a whole other world: dating.
I heard the talk, that I should wait to start dating because I had been so broken and it's just what I should do. "Be careful," they said. "Take things slow," I was told. Anyone and everyone had an opinion for a time frame of when I should do things in moving on, and dating was certainly one of them! "Just have fun." "You're moving too fast." "He reminds me of your ex." "Are y'all serious?" "Another date?" The list of things I've heard goes on and on and on. I could probably write a book on it, but it's not super interesting enough to sell in that format. Thank goodness for a blog, though, right? :)
So, I began dating. And not only that, I began online dating. Oh yes, you can guarantee that people had their own reservations and opinions on THAT kind of dating on top of just dating in general. Oh Em Gee. It never ended, but I took it all in stride. I was doing it for me and for no one else. Who really knew what was best for me other than myself? Sure, I turned to my loved ones and friends for advice and support, who do you think has laughed with me along the way?! It's definitely been a rollercoaster of a ride, but it's been fun, and necessary. In all seriousness, I was nervous about dating again. It had been more than 5 years that I dated and I didn't even know what that looked like anymore. Not in today's society. I was also scared about opening my heart again. What was I looking for out of dating? Something fun? Flirtatious? Something serious? To settle down? To go out during the week with? To share my life with? Those were just a few questions I've had to answer for myself along the way. And the answer was yes to all of them, at different times, but yes nonetheless.
In the beginning, I went on dates, dates with guys I couldn't necessarily see a forever with, but they were fun and totally in the moment. I went out with guys that complimented me and made me feel good about myself (hey, I was dumped by my ex-husband and my ego was bruised, what else is a girl to do?!). I went out with guys that weren't super successful or didn't have a lot going for themselves other than their looks. I went to movies and dinners, got free drinks at bars, you know, I DATED. There were some duds, some fun ones, some amazing ones, and some that kept coming back for more. And it felt amazing. There was no commitment. There were no expectations. There was only fun, in the moment, laughing, smiling, being woo'ed (?!) kind of fun. And I was all about that! I enjoyed it and felt that it truly was a necessary step in my healing and moving on process. For me, dating was essential. None of my memories consisted of only my ex. He didn't consume all of my "lasts", and that was huge to me. I was creating new memories and had a blast doing it.
I had my worst date of all time and some really good times. I laughed again and really began living life again. I was enjoying just being in the moment, which is something I don't think I've ever done in my entire life. I usually like to plan things out and know what my options are, what the future looks like. But dating casually, there was none of that. No hopes, no hurt feelings, no strings attached. And I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute of it! So I continued dating. I continued the fun and the going out, having men spend money on me. It was a nice change of pace, and who was I to argue with that? :)