When I've been in the throes of a toxic relationship, I've thought almost nothing of hanging on just a few more weeks. And I've often done it for absurd reasons. Maybe we had a fun outing planned or I wasn't ready to let go of the physical stuff quite yet. Whatever the reason, I could very easily justify "what's a few more weeks?"
So when the idea occurred to me yesterday to extend my "man fast", it concerned me that I needed so much time and thought to mull it over. After all, "what's a few more weeks?" And that's exactly why I'm extending it.
The reason for this extension, in addition to the fact that I simply need more time, is that I am signing up to do a 5k obstacle race and mud run on March 18th (which would be the arrival point of my new countdown!) For some people, signing up for such an event is just a fun challenge. For me, it's much more.
By nature, I have always been a fearful person. I'm afraid of getting hurt and of being embarrassed. I have always tended to avoid any activities that could cause either and most definitely those that can cause both!
However, a few years ago when I embarked on this new journey of self-discovery, I really started pushing the envelope. Exercise was the equivalent of what this mud run has turned into (as well as a skydiving trip I am seriously contemplating). Exercise used to be very fear inducing for me. There are even times now, when I walk into my Crossfit style gym, I look at the workout of the day and feel that little hint of fear bubble up inside of me. But I push through and grow every single time.
So, I've learned that facing my fears equals growth. Right now I'm facing a lot of them. In addition to the aforementioned, the fear of being "alone" is one I'm facing down every single day and it progressively has less and less control over my thoughts. There is something actually very liberating about facing life every day without a man around to tell me my value. I find that in myself now.
I recently had a male friend, who I used to be extremely interested in but he did not reciprocate my feelings at the time, tell me that this "new me" I was becoming made me extremely attractive. Likewise, other men, a type of men who never seemed to express interest in me in the past, have started popping up and challenging my resolve. Do I struggle when this happens? Yes. But not how you might think. I struggle to remain focused on my own self-worth instead of the false sense of self-worth they could temporarily provide. Other than that, I have no desire to pursue anything with any man right now. No matter how amazing. This is MY time and it's been a long time coming.
My last "almost relationship" was a couple months ago with a man who was so completely not my type. He was cute enough, cool enough and very funny but I consistently had to overlook all the many indications that he was not "the one". But still I struggled to let him go because THAT is how much I felt I needed a man in my life.
But the final straw that broke me of this toxic addiction to men was when my ex came back into my life a couple months ago. This was an ex who repeatedly hurt and betrayed me in various ways, eventually walking out of my life for another woman. I had, at least, grown enough where I had no desire to be in a relationship with him again. However, I hadn't grown so much that I didn't need his validation.
Honestly, I can't say the subsequent time I spent with him was completely in vain. Maybe I would've healed eventually on my own. But I felt like I had hit a wall in my growth because I felt so unbelievably rejected and undesirable as a result of the way he had left me.
Now he was back and telling me everything I needed to hear to feel once again validated. It was every bit of validation that a woman could ask for....yet it wasn't.
When he first came back around, it almost seemed that he was testing the waters of possibly getting back into a relationship. I was wholly uninterested in this and I told him so. I told him I could not see us ever being back together again. At the time, he seemed affected by it. Then suddenly he did not. He said he would be happy just being my friend forever. That bothered me. A lot. It bothered me that he seemed okay to never have me again....even though I didn't want him!
However, we both kept discussing how we were two broken people who kept going from one broken relationship to the next. We promised each other that we were going to be single for a long while in order to work on ourselves and learn to be alone. We were going to be friends and offer each other support in this. I felt good and excited about my own resolution....but somehow his still bothered me. I needed him to chase me like he used to. When I would bring it up, he would point out how he might have broken up with me once but that I had broken up with him four times before that and that he wasn't going to chase pain and rejection again. Intellectually, I understood this. I could look back to that first night he came back around and remember the look on his face when he said, "wow, you're different. More confident." Intellectually, I really did understand. I knew I had outgrown him. And I knew he probably knew it too. He knew I wouldn't tolerate so many things that I had in the past....but somehow I was still bothered that he didn't chase me....
This actually ate away at me and started to tear me down again, despite the overall ego boost that he had given me. I finally recognized this destructive pattern within myself and that is when my 100 day resolution began. My resolution of Brahmacharya: the conservation of ones vital energy in order to direct one's attention toward divine pursuits and self-knowledge. I wanted to finally find that validation and self-acceptance that I so desperately needed.
At the time, my ex and I were attempting some convoluted version of a friendship. I told him I needed a little time before I actually saw him again so that I could really focus on myself and my new goals. Within less than two days, I told him I, instead, needed zero communication with him for a while to truly focus on them. His last words to me were "I completely understand, I will always be there for you. I'm not going anywhere."
About 48 hours later, he mysteriously had me blocked via text and social media.
I could probably guess the reason why but focusing my vital energy on all that is exactly opposite of what I'm trying to accomplish here. And, interestingly enough, I find the "why" suddenly is of no consequence to me. I feel like in that moment of realization that he had walked away in this new fashion, that part of my mind and heart that had been reserved for him emptied out. I've had quite a few people comment since that I seem so different and "over it". And I am. It went from being a chapter I was stuck on and reading over and over again to a chapter I had no interest in whatsoever.
As I look back, I realize that him coming back into my life was the biggest blessing he could've ever given me. He helped me break through that wall I had hit. I was so stuck in that feeling of rejection and pain he had caused me that I just couldn't seem to move forward. I was seeking validation from unworthy men as a band-aid. And, again, maybe I would've eventually worked through it all on my own. But he came along and accelerated that whole process for me. Then he gave me the biggest gift of all.
He left no stone unturned when he burned that final bridge we had: potential friendship. And, in doing so, he somehow broke that connection in my mind. There were no more unanswered questions. It was finally over in my heart. I kept waiting for it to resurface but it truly seems to finally be gone and I can breath deeper because of it. But there is still much work to do because life won't always be this neat and tidy. Someone could grossly reject me again and not come back and validate me. I need to be okay no matter what.
So, back to me. As this is what this post is actually about!
Instead of spending so much time obsessing about who may or may not like me, I find myself fantasizing about the new car I'm about the get, imagining myself free falling out of an airplane, running through muddy obstacles with one of my very best friends, the personal training sessions I bought as a Christmas present to myself, a three day backpacking trip I'm going to take with another friend and so often smiling to myself when I realize the unbelievably amazing little man my son is growing into. I am finally FINALLY fully engaged in my own life! And, yes, someday I will know great love. I will be a whole and healthy person and I will attract the same but, for now, I can't even think about all that.
With every passing day, I find that I am more comfortable in my own skin. Without a man standing in front of me whose actions and facial expressions I can analyze and obsess over to determine if I am worthy enough in his eyes from moment to moment, I turn inward. And I find that I am enough. I am more than enough. I am amazing! And I'm becoming more amazing every day. I can honestly say that I am finally someone who I would date....so that's what I'm doing.