Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Epílogos: No Longer Greek to Me

(To read about my yearlong dating hiatus from the beginning, start here.) 

Two and a half years post-hiatus

It's funny how you can start out on a journey with an idea of how it's going to impact you, or of the impact that you will have on others, and have it turn out in a way that you never could have expected.  In August 2012, when I started my dating hiatus, I thought it would be something fun that I could focus on, to take my mind off being alone and wanting someone in my life.  I envisioned it as a little project where I could take the time to write every few days, giving myself a creative outlet and forcing me to actually sit down and do some writing, and hoped that I would have enough material to be interesting to others.  Perhaps I could even compile my entries into a book someday.  I don't think I ever really expected much to come of it; let's face it; I've never been excellent at finishing what I start.

However, this was perhaps turning out to be a real medium for change for me.  Once I started blogging, I knew that I needed material if I was ever going to have enough writing to fill a book, or a website, or even just to keep people engaged.  So, I had to give myself some subjects.  Naturally, if one is to write a blog on a year without dating, some basic questions come up.  Why are you doing this?  How are you going to do it?  What guidelines are you giving yourself?  How can you use what you've learned in the past to help you move forward and not make the same mistakes?  So I began to plod along, writing the first few entries easily, and discovered that I was enjoying creating a framework for myself to work within during my year off from men.  And it carried on from there.  I didn't always have something to say, but when I did, it flowed easily.  Looking back on my dating history with new eyes - doing what I have since learned in nursing school to be reflection - I began to see the mistakes that I had made.  And I realized that I really didn't want to make those mistakes again.  Going for a year without dating really stopped being about avoiding the wrong kind of man, and started being about discovering the best kind of me.

Despite the many little slip-ups I had during that year, it was really the best possible thing I could ever have done.  I started to really, earnestly attempt to learn more about who I was, how God sees me, what He wants me to be, and how to recognize the wrong people in my life.  I reflected; I wrote; I read; I learned.  And I made more mistakes.  Even as I looked back on the errors in judgment I had made before I started the hiatus, I was making more of them.  It's cringe-worthy to look back now and see how I was doing some of the exact same things that I was trying to reflect on and learn from.  I can't stand to read how I was simpering over The Michelin Man and thinking that I actually could end up with him.  The man was married (to his THIRD wife!), lived in a different country, and had contacted me randomly by texting my cell phone after seeing me on Facebook!  He was also twelve years older than me, had seven kids, and constantly sent me inappropriate pictures of himself after I had asked him not to.  What in the world was wrong with me???  I really was learning nothing, apparently.  I'm amazed that my dating hiatus didn't get even more off track than it did by his sudden presence in my life.

However, some changes had already happened within me.  After the initial ignoring of the red flags, I recognized within a few short months that this man was no good, and ended any communication. As I have said before, it took a lot less time than it might have if I had not been on this journey of reflection.  And, interestingly - and sadly - I discovered this past weekend that The Michelin Man was recently arrested and jailed for some inappropriate conduct.  As shocking as that was, I was somewhat surprised to realize that I wasn't surprised; the signs were there.  And I was more grateful than ever that I had stopped talking with him.

And what about Stu?

Those of you who faithfully read my blog while I was on my hiatus, and those who read my posts from July and November 2013 titled Plans, Patience, and Answered Prayers and God is Writing My Love Story, may be wondering how things turned out with Stu, the old flame who had re-entered my life as I was coming to the end of my year off from dating.  In Plans & Patience I talked about my hope for a life with him and my certainty that this was the man that God had for me: "I have faith that this is the man I am supposed to end up with.  I have so much faith in this that I am writing it here for everyone to read (and don't think that's not a scary thing to do - it is)!"

When I wrote that, it was terrifying.  Here I was not only putting my hope in a man - again - but I was also saying that I had enough faith that God knew what He was doing when He told me this man would be my husband to boldly state it for posterity.  I already knew that I had said things in my blog that I would look back and regret; would this be another thing?  Would I come back to it two or three or ten years later and say, "Oh, ridiculous me; I had so much misplaced trust and naive optimism that I told the whole world that Stu was The One.  How foolish I was, yet again."  Yet I chose to put it out there.  I chose to hope, whether foolish or not, and I chose to believe that this time, I had really found that happiness that had eluded me for so long.

And wouldn't you know it...I was actually right this time.

Stu and I have been together for the last two and a half years, and it gets better all the time.  He truly is my best friend; he is the embodiment of every hope I ever had for a relationship - a true partnership where each likes, respects and supports the other.  In all the times I imagined that someday I would be happy, I honestly never envisioned that a relationship could be so easy and comfortable.  We don't fight, although we have disagreements; we enjoy discussing and explaining our points of view to each other, and it's wonderful to have opinions from him that I so value, and know that my opinion is just as important to him.  We talk often about our future, and I know it is with him.  I can say that with one hundred percent confidence now - it's not scary anymore.  And I love going back and reading my old entries about Stu and seeing the foreshadowing that I had not realized at the time:

"I was beginning to understand the importance of crafting a solid and true foundation to lead up to what could eventually be a great and stable marriage." - The Story of Stu, Part II

"...even if it's been weeks since I've seen the guy, something strange happens as soon as I am back in his presence.  He sat down beside me on my right, and I swear, it's as though my spirit is drawn to him: I actually felt something inside me pulling toward him.  The guy is like one huge magnet." - Stu is a Force to be Reckoned With

"There is someone I am waiting to be physical with - to be more than physical with: to be physically and emotionally and spiritually entwined...I just don't yet know who he is yet.  Just because I can`t see him and I am not aware that he is the one I will be with doesn't mean that I shouldn't be just as content to wait for him.  And who knows: who's to say it won`t be Stu, after all?  Maybe he will be at the right place by then." - Stu is a Force to be Reckoned With

It took some time, but my foreshadowing was right on. 
My life has come full circle.  This year is shaping up with only good things around the corner - although I know that God can take them away at any moment, I still choose to hold onto my endless optimism and be grateful for every day I have.  In six short weeks I will complete my nursing degree, and soon after will be working as an RN in the Operating Room.  My children are almost grown, healthy and happy; my relationship with their father has improved by leaps and bounds; I plan to buy a home this year - whether a condo for me and the boys or a house with Stu when we marry remains to be seen - and Stu's family has embraced me wholly and lovingly.  I am blessed and content, and definitely believe that taking a year off from dating has contributed to me being a better person, ready for Stu when he was ready for me.  I praise God daily for all He has done in me, and pray that I will continue to seek what He has for me, no matter what is around the corner.  For now, I rejoice in the contentment and peace that I have found.  Finally, everything makes sense.

Thanks for reading.