I've started seeing someone, someone special. But I'm not dating anyone. No, haven't done that in a while. I'm seeing a therapist. She's good. By the end of our first hour she told me my issues are interpersonal.
"You have a fear of connection," she said. The jig is up. For whatever reason, I'm currently sorting through old baggage left over from my formative years. My mum was nuts and yelled all the time, and Dad left. My first boyfriend was manic-depressive as well as needy and manipulative. I've had just one other major relationship since him, and my dating track record is pretty barren.
I used to explain my perpetual singleness by saying I just hadn't met the right person. But the good doctor hit the nail on the head: I'm afraid to love again.
I'm still licking my wounds. But now that I can see what's been holding me back, I'm not sure how to move beyond all these old issues. When your past experiences have taught you not to trust your own emotions, and you fear getting involved with anyone lest you be used as their emotional punching bag, how do you brush your shoulders off and open up again?
Even if you come out of your youth unscathed (if that's even possible), dating is still a sport of guises and make-believe.
You go on a date, and the two of you dance around and puff your chests out like pigeons in heat. You're asked ridiculous questions like "What do you do?," which for some people means "How do you make money?" As though telling someone I'm a waitress lets them know anything about me.
Hopefully, when you meet someone great and the connection is there, conversation about things you actually care about ensues. Maybe a follow-up date is arranged.
And here's where I bail. If they aren't perfect, I decide not to bother and jump ship. My rationale is, why date someone if you aren't completely into him right off the bat? What I'm beginning to realize is that it's just good experience.
Like every other activity, dating takes practice before you get good. It's an awkward sport, and not even pros can avoid the fumblings and discomforts. But if you do it more and more, you get a better sense of when to stay and explore the person more, and when to stop and move on.
This summer, I did date a guy, for one week. We met travelling overseas, and there was something between us. Within minutes of making eye contact, I felt like throwing up - "butterflies," as the feeling is euphemistically called.
I was into him for sure. But the moment, the second, he made it clear that he dug me, too, my gut started screaming, "Get up! Get out! Go now!" But like a good psych patient, I told my gut to fuck off and threw myself off the proverbial cliff and into the unfamiliar gulf of potential love.
We spent a great week together, and I left with no regrets. No coulda, woulda, shoulda's. Just the feeling, "I did."
It was good training. It revived my faith. I'd been starting to question whether gut-wrenching, soul-awakening, hot connection was even possible. So even though he and I could never be, just seeing the potential was enough.
I'm getting back out there. Hopefully, soon I'll start seeing a real Someone.