SO. After two and a half years… it finally happened.
I had my first date this week.
I can't even tell you how this happened. I had no idea this person would be interested and I've never much been interested in him either. It sort of came out of the blue… no real warning, no time for planning how I want to feel about this step. Just… bam, there it is, you're going on a date today.
I haven't even been able to really be friends with men since my fiancé died. It has just felt so weird. But lately, I've found myself feeling more comfortable being around men again. In fact, wanting to be around them. Maybe not romantically per say, but just, be around them. Building friendships with new men actually feels okay right now. Which is a HUGE deal. I used to have plenty of guy friends before, and I miss spending time around that male energy. I really do. So when someone offered to take me to lunch, somehow it didn't feel so awful. Instead of the "HELL NO!" I expected to hear from inside me, there was instead this sort of heavy sigh, which seemed to say "I'm so tired of pushing that away. Yes, please, take me out. I just want to feel what it feels like to be taken to lunch again".
HUGE. super freaking huge. I don't know when this change happened. But somewhere in the past several months I gather it has been growing. My counselor asked a month or two ago how I felt now about the idea of dating and instead of the immediate "nope" I've had for two and a half years… my answer was a very thoughtful "I don't know". That in itself is a big shift. And an unexpected one.
So… the date. It wasn't anything fancy - just a casual friend who recently said he was interested to know me more and offered to take me out for lunch. It felt easy and nonthreatening. He is enough of a friend to already know my story and of my fiancé - so that also made it a little easier, too.
I did plenty of freaking out about it beforehand of course. Because that's what I do now, about anything new since he died. "WHY did I say yes to that?! I'm no where near dating people - what am I doing?!" But then there was the other side of me… the side that is just… just so tired. Tired of being alone. Tired of NO ONE taking me ANYWHERE for two and a half years. Tired of not letting men in at all. And so I suppose that side won. And I decided to just let it be lunch. Like it was. And let it be about getting to know a friend on a little deeper level. Which it was. I decided not to let it mean all these other things. For today, no, I am just going to let a nice guy take me out. I am not going to give a shit what it means or where it goes or doesn't go or whether I'm ready or not ready… I'm just going to enjoy lunch dammit.
And you know what? I did. It was great. We had a really fun time - and the world didn't end afterwards. I realized something while there that surprised me. My whole experience of a date is completely different now than before I met Drew. And it is because I am different now. When I met Drew, I still had a lot of things I was working through in my life. Things that he helped me to heal in our time together. And now, I discovered on that date that all those demons I used to have when I first met Drew weren't in the way anymore. It was a beautiful thing.
I also realized that, because he died, my whole way of knowing people is different. I feel deeply honored when I sit down with anyone and we share our stories - both the good and the bad - with each other now. Sitting across the table from this guy last week was no different. I felt honored to have that exchange. Because time and people are so much more precious to me now than ever before.
It didn't feel wrong. And I didn't feel guilty. And I didn't even have the total nervous breakdown I thought I would have as I drove home. Actually, the opposite.
I just felt proud. I felt proud that I went on a date. I looked that enormous fear right in the face and I just said "Yep, I'm doin it". And I know you all know how totally perplexing and horrifying the idea of the first date is. God I was terrified, but a bigger part of me wanted to face it than was scared of it. And so I guess that is how it happens… when our desire to face our fears finally grows bigger than our fear of them.