10 years ago my whole life was in upheaval. Anniversaries tend to stick around in my head, and the fact that I’m in upheaval again has made it stick even more.
It was a weird time. I’d just finished law school. I was waiting for my bar exam results to start my life as an independent, working, contributing member of society.
The last couple years of school I went through a serious crisis of faith but when I graduated I decided to start fresh and go all in at church. It was near the end of the year that my best efforts fell through and I figured out once and for all that I couldn’t live that way anymore.
And then there was Giles, my first non-Mormon boyfriend. Who was also 4 years my junior, which feels like eternity when you’re only 24.
During just a few months I rewrote my entire life plan. It was terrifying. It was lonely. But I’m proud of how I got through that time because after I finally took a month or two to re-figure out the world, I decided where to go from there. And I’m still moving in the same direction a decade later. I figured it out. It stuck. It’s something I’ve never questioned at all.
I stayed up for a little while last night re-reading my diary from the couple of months I spent in Florida with Giles. It was a tumultuous relationship, which I wasn’t used to. He was openly interested in me, which I wasn’t used to. And there was probably no future in it, which I wasn’t used to.
What I was used to: short, genial relationships with Mormon boys where I fell hard and immediately. I pined and waited and was too into them and started imagining our wedding and then got dumped. I can’t step into any of their shoes and say exactly why they dumped me, but the general gist was I wasn’t the girl they were going to marry and that was that. That’s how things worked there.
This new relationship was so weird and different. I would say how I felt. Then I would second-guess myself and worry and feel like I’d ruined everything… but it’d turn out okay. So I would say how I felt again. Followed by worry, psyching out, etc. But it would be okay again. At one point I wrote that we were fighting and I wanted to say, “You don’t even know me,” but realized I couldn’t. Because he actually knew me pretty well. Because for once I wasn’t hiding myself and just trying so hard not to be dumped.
I didn’t fully get to rewrite the narrative on my dating life because we weren’t together long (I was only in Florida for 2 months) and after that I only had one more relationship (a bad one) before I met someone I decided to marry. So now it’s like I’m picking up a thread I dropped a long time ago and figuring out what to do with it.
I know I’m not who I was while dating from 17 to 24. And I’m not who I was when I was dating from 24 to 26. Who am I now? Well, I’m not positive. I can’t tell you exactly who I’m looking for. But there are a few priorities that I feel comfortable with.
- I have to feel it hard. No half measures. (This is something I agree with thoroughly.)
- I don’t ask for perfect, but I do ask for honest. Because I am no longer the girl who won’t say what she thinks or how she feels to please you and I expect the same from a partner.
- If I think there’s a future in it, that’s enough. But I’m going to do my utmost not to write out that future too quickly. There’s a lot of things that can screw up your future that take time to show.
- I don’t ask for perfect, but it needs to be mostly good. Like way more than half. Let’s say it needs to bring approximately ten times more joy to my life than it brings trouble or stress. Not that stress should be a dealbreaker per se, but I don’t have room for much more.
Not on the required list, but on the sure-would-be-nice list (which is crazy long) is to have someone get for-reals hung up on me. This has not really happened much for me, maybe not at all. I don’t really know why.
Giles and I have been chatting recently, going back and re-processing the time we spent together. Those are always revealing conversations. “I was struck by you,” he said, about seeing me the night we met. I laughed and I’m still a little skeptical because I’d just cut my hair very short, I wasn’t exactly looking my best, and I doubt I was really projecting much of an attitude of confidence.
I’d like to think now that I’m pushing 35 I have a sense of style and attitude I lacked then. I don’t, really, but I do have a sense of security and comfort with myself that I didn’t have then. Not that it’s doing me any favors in the dating department, or at least not so far.
Mostly I’m just glad I haven’t thrown in the towel in frustration. I’m still slowly chipping away. I don’t have time to go out as much as I did a few months ago. But I slip one in every so often. They generally vary from okay to pretty nice. And so far I haven’t punched through a wall or anything because it shouldn’t be this hard and take this long and make me this lonely. But yeah, otherwise, you know, it’s not the worst. Today I’m feeling okay about it. And that’s something.