Challenging Your Past (and Other Necessary Habits) |
Maybe you're very, very, very single. You probably feel like you're missing out.
Because you're not a big dater.
Perhaps you’ve never dated anyone.
You’ve never had a boyfriend, never been asked out, never tried online dating, never been set up.
Never been drunk and hooked up with a stranger.
Never dated the completely wrong guy and not realized until it was way, way too late.
You’ve never had to take a pregnancy test and face the fact that you’d have to have two conversations with two potential fathers.
You’ve never had your boyfriend of two and a half years tell you that he’s fallen in love with your best friend (who’s a guy), and therefore won’t be moving in with you after all.
Poor, poor you. You are definitely missing out.
It’s funny, isn't it? The way we interpret inexperience and compare ourselves to others. We often assume that if we haven’t experienced something, that means we’re lacking some knowledge, some awareness, some missing link that others must possess.
But that belief is just a belief. And it's pretty far off.
Do you know how many conversations I have with friends, family members, colleagues, clients, and perfect strangers who have loads of relationship experience and are still totally lost, continuing to date in circles??
Wonderful, smart people who never learn from their mistakes, never challenge their habits and patterns, and continue making the same, awkward, awful choices.
These are the people you envy - the “more experienced” of the bunch. And they usually feel used up and screwy. They think they’ve already messed up too many times; they’re beyond hope.
Because whatever our level of experience is, it's pretty easy to find something wrong with it.
And doing THAT (labeling our experiences as wrong) is the problem.
It is always our interpretation and ownership of those experiences (or lack there-of) that influences us.
It is our perspective that messes with us, and nothing else.
The good news is that while we can’t change our past, we can definitely shift perspectives.
Try this on: So I’ve never dated anyone, so what?
So she's been engaged three times before thirty, who cares?
Does it have to matter? Does it have to define us? Who decides?
We decide as individuals, of course.
And until you realize that, you will continue to be a victim of your seemingly unfair circumstances.
Here’s what I would like you to do to take some steps in a new, happier, more helpful direction:
1) Mourn your relationship identity (or identities).
Who have you cast yourself as in your own love life?
- The twenty-something virgin.
- The damaged one.
- The one who can’t get a date.
- The one who never learns from her mistakes.
- The self-sabotager.
- The desperate one.
- The slut.
- The one who can’t trust herself.
We label ourselves, and then we lean into those labels. We invest, when really we should be questioning.
Is this label helping me or hurting me?
If it hurts, I encourage you to grieve it. Mourn it. Let it die. Recognize how much that identity has pained you, and let it go.
I have identified as every label listed above, and I know how much it hurts to carry around that kind of self-diagnosis. I got to a point where I had to make peace with my past, or it was going to continue to color everything about my future.
I took time to do this. I treated it like a bona fide funeral. I sat with that version of myself. I remembered what it felt like to be her. I cried (I’m a big crier) and heaped on loads of compassion for the girl who felt damaged, who felt lost, who felt slutty and mistrustful. I mourned every painful experience. Every guy who rejected me. Every guy who lied. Every guy I blew or slept with when I didn’t really want to.
Facing the version of ourselves that we no longer want to be is powerful. Acknowledging her existence, seeing her, and forgiving yourself for being that person is huge.
Give yourself that gift. Mourn your former (or current) self in favor of your future self.
2) QUIT TAKING NOTES ON ANYONE ELSE.
You have got to stop looking around at where everyone else is on the imaginary timeline of life, and then deciding how much “further along” or “behind” you are in relation to them.
I once had a therapist tell me, “You don’t know anybody’s inner world,” and damn, was she right.
The girl you know who just got engaged could be a closeted lesbian.
Your friend who has a hot new date every Friday might be secretly miserable and self-loathing.
Your cousin who’s moving in with her boyfriend of four years might be dying to end things, but doesn’t know how.
Get in the habit of questioning your knee-jerk assessment of someone else’s situation. You don’t have a clue as to what’s really going on; trust me.
I’m always fascinated by messages and conversations I have with viewers who assume I have my shit together relationship-wise. Listen: There's always a lot going on behind the scenes that you don't see. Mostly everything. Please, question the picture-perfect judgment you have curated for me or anyone else. It’s probably way, way off.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, has their struggles, their story, their ongoing work. And if you can, let yourself be at peace with where you are in your story. To the best of your ability, let go of wherever you think you should be and decide that you are precisely where you are meant to be. There is no evidence that could ever tell you otherwise.
And if it helps, know this: I love your story. I love that it has brought you to this point. And I am so ready for whatever unfolds next, because I know everything is going to be way more than okay for you. I’m happy to carry the torch until you decide to start seeing things that way too. :)