6pm on Friday night. I am standing in the bathroom, dry-curling my hair in perfect retro Farrah Fawcett waves. Satisfied with my efforts, I apply a little mascara to make my eyes “pop” and I slide into a sleek pair of jeans paired with high-heeled ankle boots. It’s my first date after my separation. Nervous doesn’t begin to describe the swarm of butterflies inhabiting my stomach. Any dating muscle memory has long since atrophied, leaving me with doubts that I’ve ever done this before. Now that I am free from my divorce, it’s time to try new things, right? Arrangements have been made: the meeting time, the restaurant, the movie theatre. Even with all the details organized, I am overcome with anxiety. How do I date after divorce? Will I be alone forever? Will I find love again?
Keys in hand, I head to the restaurant ignoring the internal hum of “go-home-go-home-go-home” eroding my self-confidence.
“I’d like a table, please”, I tell the too-cool for school host, my heart pounding.
“Sure. We can seat you as soon as the rest of your party arrives.”
This is it. This is the moment I have rehearsed over and over again. I answer, “It’s just me, tonight.”
A tray crashes.
A fork falls from the hand of a shocked patron.
A woman grabs her baby, protects her head and runs to the front door for cover.
Or maybe my kindred souled host grabs a menu and seats me at a very comfy banquette with silky pillows and a great view of the rest of the tables while feeling inconspicuous myself. He smiles with neither condescension nor pity and leaves me to peruse the menu.
As a married woman, I became well-versed in the delicate art of the co-dependent dance with a narcissist. I had become isolated, insignificant and incapable of doing things on my own. Part of the dizzying vortex of co-dependency was doing everything together. Ev.Er.Y.Thing. If there was a party, we were there. If there was a meeting, we were there. If there was a movie, we saw it. Together.
Here I am, by myself for the next 45 minutes without a book, phone, or a dining companion. Just me.
I may not have been able to commit to my marriage when I knew it wasn’t right for me, no matter how many years had passed, but dammit, I am committed to me. I didn’t leave my Costco-buying, Co-Dependent, Cape Cod life to remain stagnant. I am going to grab my life by the horns and make it mine.
Author’s note: Little did I know that this first date with myself would be an essential start to being the better half of a partnership. One will only be a good addition to a relationship when each partner’s first and final priority is to themselves. This doesn’t mean that you should recklessly barrel through life, thinking only of your selfish needs. It means you need to be the 100% responsible to and for yourself, to care for yourself like no one else can.
Remember, no partner will ever be able to read your mind. But, you will.
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