Old Lessons, New Loves, and Wet Toes

I used to think that love was powerful enough to do anything. I thought that if I could show someone how much love I had to give, that they would see how amazing I am and would thus shed all baggage and we would live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, this is not how human psychology works. Yes, I can throw my love all over a man, but unless he wants to receive it, I might as well be lavishing all my attention on a pet rock. I learned this lesson the hard way, of course. Not just by being the person who was trying to use love to help a person change, but also as the closed-off person on the other end of affection. Years ago I once dated a man who tried to move the moon and the stars for me, but I just wasn’t having it. I look back on that relationship and see that I was so emotionally shut down that no amount of love in the universe could have forced me to open my eyes to what I was doing, which was using any excuse to push him away.

Love may be powerful, but the human psyche is stronger. If a person does not want to give or receive love, there is nothing you can do to change that. It can be a hard pill to swallow, especially for someone like me. I think it is part of my DNA to want to take care of others. I once took a personality profile for work and got ISFJ, and the career section was all about helping others: teacher, therapist, social worker, and so on. I have an innate instinct to care for others, and when it comes to romance, that instinct goes into hyper over drive.

Having come to terms with this harsh life lesson, I am approaching my next relationship differently. I recently started dating someone. This person has been in my life a very long time, and I am ashamed to report how neglectful and blind I have been of this relationship. How could I have overlooked what has been right in front of me for years? Now that I see the light, I am committing to making this work between us, because I think it may be my only shot at learning to be truly happy with my life.

Folks, I am dating myself.

You read that right. I recently had an epiphany: I have spent so many years throwing my love into other people that I overlooked the simple truth that I should have been throwing love into myself. One of the things that helped me come to terms with this fact is the movie Lola Versus, about a woman nearing 30 who gets dumped by her fiancé just weeks before their wedding. We aren’t privy to much of their relationship before he leaves, but the aftermath of the breakup is no less devastating.

What I loved about this movie is that it is not your typical rom-com. Lola is not an entirely sympathetic character, and her ex is not a total cad. Instead of cheesy music montages and grand gestures, we see Lola self-destruct as she wades through the waters of gut-wrenching heartbreak. After her engagement ends she is a self-centered, confused, possible-alcoholic who endangers her friendships with her behavior. We don’t get to see much of Lola pre-dumpage, so it is hard to say if this is who she in her relationship, but this is definitely who she is turning into.

Lola, in her downward spiral, is no loveable Carrie Bradshaw. However, that’s not the point of the movie. Lola is real, she is human, and she is trying to figure out her next steps. Although her ex-fiancé does not have much screen time, he is also painted in a very human light. There is no villain in their love story; there are no fingers to point. All we have are two people who have issues and are trying to make sense of them.

Towards the end of the movie, Lola realizes her behavior is destructive, and begins finally starting her healing process. We see her at yoga and finally unpacking her things in her new apartment. She is beginning to settle into her new reality with acceptance and hope. She begins repairing her relationship with her friends. You can see she is beginning to find peace.

One of my favorite scenes is of her and her mother.   Lola says,

Remember how much I loved Cinderella as a kid? What a sick fucking kid. It messes little girls up because we become obsessed with shoes and then we think that some guy is gonna come put them on our feet.

Ah, Lola, you hit the nail on the head about what is wrong with so many women, including myself. We wait for a man to make us happy, when we should be buying our down damn shoes and putting them on ourselves.

The last scene is of her birthday party. She is turning 30, and her friends and family have gathered at a park to celebrate. Her ex-fiancé shows up, and they greet each other warmly. He tells her he misses her, and wants to get back together. He said the time apart has made him realize how much he loves her.

Does Lola jump into his arms as a cheesy upbeat 60s song plays in the background? Does the camera pan down at them from the sky, as they fly into each other’s arms and embrace in a majestic kiss?

Lola, with wisdom and kindness, tells him that while he spent that time finding himself, she spent that time obsessing over him. Now she is at a point when she is attempting to find herself, and she isn’t ready to think about getting back together. And in a touching scene, he understands and accepts that.

Ladies, it is time to start dating you. I won’t lie. It is hard being single sometimes. Every once in a while I get on to OkCupid with a ghost account just to remind myself that I am not the only one alone and hoping for love. In case you are wondering, I do realize how pathetic that sounds. What else can I do? I am still mourning the loss of my baby, and my heart is still recovering from one man. Last week that man told me he is moving to Germany, effectively shutting the door on any chance we may have had in the future. There is nothing like moving to another continent to terminally end a relationship.

With that news, there is nothing more to do than start moving forward, dating myself, and seeing where that takes me. However, this does not mean I am going to be a nun. I actually had a coffee date yesterday with a man I met in New Seasons. In an old school meet-cute, I accidentally got right in his way down the drink aisle. I apologized, we laughed, and after a couple minutes of banter, went our separate ways. Five minutes later he caught me completely off guard when he found me in another part of the store and asked me if I want to get a cup of coffee sometime. I said yes, and he gave me his number.

I held on to it for two weeks before I decided it was time to take a step forward and get in touch with him. Cause, you know, like YOLO and stuff. Seriously, though. I figured it was just a cuppa joe, so what was stopping me from having a nice conversation with a new friend? Yesterday we met at a cute little place in Sellwood and had a great time. He has pretty eyes and nice forearms. (Yeah, I’m into manly strong looking forearms. No judgment. It’s just my thing.) The coffee date was the perfect “dipping my toes into the water” experience, and we plan on grabbing a bite to eat this week.

Love may not conquer all, but I definitely believe that the more I love myself, the better of a person I will become. As I date myself, my goal is to try new things, figure out what I like (I can finally admit I prefer TV over movies and coffee over alcohol), and build enough confidence so that my heart matches my head. This means that my heart will finally and truly believe what my head knows to be true: that I’m pretty damn awesome, and worth taking a chance on. If a man can’t see that, the fault lies in his eyes, not in me.

Let the dates begin…

Until next time ~ B