If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself and try again…” – Try Again, Aaliyah
“You named it Brad. You loved Brad….You two had been through everything together… Nothing can replace Brad.” – sound familiar? A young woman in the now infamous Liberty Mutual commercial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSIHbt8tGQA) humanized her first car, making listeners believe “Brad” was her first real love. The commercial elicited the reaction that it was supposed to – it made you smile and if you’re anything like me, made you think about either your first car or a love from a past relationship. “I named him (*insert nickname for previous significant other*)…. You two have been through everything together… Nothing can replace (*insert nickname for previous significant other*)…. Well that is until you and (*insert name for previous significant other*) are no more.
Before taking a chance on love with my most recent significant other, “Todd” (see Crushed – https://unicorninbk.com/crushed/), I casually dated for (five) years. Why? I guess because I wasn’t exactly comfortable jumping into a monogamous relationship. I feared that moment that comes within the first few weeks/months of exclusivity – being vulnerable. I feared the disappointment, pain, and rejection that comes from opening up (largely because of my upbringing, I’ll elaborate on that in a forthcoming post), so I kept my heart locked up in the uppermost region of a fortress… Surrounded by a crocodile ridden moat… Only accessible by drawbridge… Guarded by fire spitting dragons. Sure my heart was safe, but it longed to be touched again. So, after awhile I obliged the desires of my heart and took a chance on love with the wrong man. I was ready to receive it, ready to open up, and ready to share my world in the most authentic way possible, but he wasn’t. Despite my friends and family having their suspicions about his longevity and authenticity I tried to make it work. When they didn’t, I received the “I told you so’s” from girlfriends, sharing their thoughts on the his fuckboy ways. I was too blinded by love to acknowledge the red flags then, but now they’re crystal clear – hindsight is always 20/20. Nonetheless, things didn’t work out, but I focused on the silver lining in the situation. I learned valuable lessons about love while gaining personal insight on how to go about seeking out another potential mate. Despite this, I loathed the part that followed a breakup, the mourning.
I can’t be the only one that gets emotionally exhausted at the sheer thought of putting yourself back out there, am I? You’re either (a) still healing from your last failed relationship, mourning (and possibly crying over) the loss of what could’ve been or you’re (b) just about healed, but still somewhat brokenhearted about the aftermath. You took a chance with your heart because you wholeheartedly believed the person you entrusted with it would handle it with care – but they didn’t. Now what? Do you listen to your loved ones and/or loved ones encouraging you not to “not waste time, to get back out there”? It sounds good, but its easier said than done.
The cyclical phases of a breakup are pretty much experienced by everyone. First, sadness sets in. Crying becomes a shadow that you can’t get rid of. Shedding gangsta tears in public, crying at home (alone or with friends) and crying in bed (often to sleep from the palpable pain of heartache) becomes your reality. The amount of time that you spend in this phase depend on the length of time you spent in your relationship and the level of love that you had for your ex. Second, tenacious motivation arrives. With it comes a surge in energy and determination to change yourself for the better. This usually looks like an increased desire to change your physical appearance and/or lifestyle. You lose weight (from changing your eating habits and working out), change your appearance (altering your style, getting a haircut and/or changing your hair color), and/or perhaps doing something drastic like quitting your job to chase a life-long dream, traveling solo, or moving (to a new city or new country). Third, momentum sets in and you get your mojo back – you’re ready to put yourself back out there and try your hand at love again. Fourth (and lastly), you get nervous – like first day of kindergarten nervous. Will the men on the dating scene like me? Will they deem me too difficult? Will they still want me after I show my vulnerable side? – Do these phases resonate with you?
I went through all of the above; phases I & II – I cried myself to sleep many a night, lost weight, and cut off all my hair off. Needless to say that when I made it to phase III I felt fucking incredible! I spent months investing in myself, tapping into my creativity (preparing to relaunch this blog, getting into photography, and modeling), stepping outside of my box of comfort, and taking chances whenever opportunities presented themselves. Most importantly, I embraced my “singledom” and became extremely comfortable when attending events and doing things that made me happy – alone. However, things changed. I wish I could tell you that I remained full of cheer and hope, but I didn’t. I settled into space foreign to me – becoming downright bitter, incredibly skeptical, and angry. Don’t get me wrong, I was polite when men spoke to me, but I spaced out while listening to them. Remember how adults sounded to Charlie Brown (listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ss2hULhXf04), “womp, womp, womp” – that’s what I heard. The more they spoke, the more spaced out and skeptical I became while thinking to myself, “I bet everything that you’re saying is bull shit. Spare me the semantics, when do we get the part where I take a chance on your emotionally vacant ass only to be left to pick up the pieces of my broken heart?” These acerbic emotions lasted for weeks proving to me that I was in absolutely no position to date anyone. I was a bitter bitch – even I realized that. Why should I subject anyone to my rage?
Time has passed and my emotions have shifted. I’m not longer bitter, instead I’ve approached a state of numbness. I tell myself that it’s easier to be in this space because I no longer have expectations for anything from anyone. I’m almost to the point of no longer being bothered by the unsolicited advice from friends and family who keep telling me to “work on me” and to “get comfortable being alone before jumping into the arms of another man” because I know that their (annoying) advice comes from a place of love (although I think it’s total BS). I don’t care how much one works on themselves it doesn’t substitute for companionship. Furthermore, how much more comfortable can one be than traveling across the world by themselves for weeks at a time? While I’m understanding of the advice from friends/family, I don’t think I’ll ever understand men telling women what to do in order to find love (i.e. Steve Harvey and that fat fool of a pastor (that Ciara referenced on social media) telling women that they needed to “have the spirit of a wife” (WTF does that even mean?) to find love. I will never comprehend why MEN keep telling women what they need to have to acquire a man or husband and more importantly YTF women listen to it.
I wish I had helpful advice for you. I wish I could tell you to tap into your faith and pray to your God for patience and strength, but I’m not so sure that’s the answer. I believe that healing from heartache is subjective – what works for me may not work for you (and vice versa). I can say that practicing self-care has helped me substantially. Saying no to outings/ functions because you don’t want to pretend that everything is OK – is OK. Getting a spa pedicure on a random Wednesday and choosing the brightest pink in the middle of winter to pick up your spirits is OK. Leaving your phone on airplane mode or Do Not Disturb to indulge in your favorite book all weekend is OK. Do what works best for you until you feel that you are ready to lower your own drawbridge over the moat surrounding YOUR heart.
Am I ready? Not quite. The loneliness coupled with the frustration that I’ve felt as of lately has turned me into a bit of a recluse. I fortify myself with words of encouragement from friends that can commiserate with what I’m feeling, watch feel good movies, and practice my favorite go to self-care regimens (journaling, guided meditation, practicing photography, and giving myself at home spa treatments). When the time is right, I will know and will revisit phase IV – nervously (yet courageously) and try my hand at the dating game again. Until then, I will continue to push through my moments of despair and…