I raised a glass of bubbly and gave a toast on self-respect, changing one’s pattern, and the history of masturbation. I redecorated my apartment—between dinner parties and book signings—and took up a new hobby. Doesn’t matter which one.
And then my knight in a shining Armor All-buffed Mustang showed up and all the inner work I’d done in the past twelve months came to fruition. I’d done it. I’d finally learned my great spiritual lesson and been rewarded with the boyfriend equivalent of cash and prizes: George Clooney. And we lived happily ever after.
That’s the fairytale version. Here’s the reality-TV-show-starring-me version:
The official close of my year-long hiatus from dating was on October 5. Or was it the 4th? I can’t remember. Shit, I should remember something like this. Maybe I should have some champagne to celebrate. Yeah, but where’s the line between celebrating by yourself and alcoholism?
Well, I don’t need anything external to commemorate this—I’ve got my self-respect, I changed my relationship pattern, and I finally returned History of Masturbation to the library. The hobby refers to the library book, the dinner parties consisted of me and a Trader Joe’s pre-packaged salad, and a boyfriend named George Clooney is just called delusional.
So what the hell did I get from retiring my dance card for a year?
- I learned how to say no. Example:
Man: You seem really great. Would you like to go out sometime?
Man (jumps): Oh…ok. May I ask why?
Man: Aw, come on, just one little coffee?
Man: What are you, autistic?
- Clearly saw my fear that I’m not enough if I’m not a sexual being.
- Signed a publishing contract for my first book.
- Had a cancer recurrence scare.
- Became closer (read: intimacy without sex) with three of my female friends.
- Lost my book deal.
- Got more writing and editing work in this past year than in the entire five years previous.
- Wrote a novel.
- Saw a ton of movies.
- Grieved the death of my grandpa.
This last year was a mix of good and bad, but what I really saw was how I’ve used relationships/guys/flirting to avoid feeling lonely, sad, restless, incomplete—or really any feeling that feels uncomfortable or painful. I was slowing down the progress of my life by being unwilling, or afraid, to walk through the discomfort of certain feelings. So when I took away the Novocain, i.e. the menfolk, I had no choice but to experience these deep, stuffed-down emotions and let them go. And there’s freedom in letting go. Freedom to feel the unpleasant emotions, yes, but also freedom to feel the joyous, amazing things, too.
So what did I learn?
I learned to redefine my relationship to myself without needing to be validated by someone else. A friend told me that we accept the love we think we deserve, and until you can love yourself fully, no one else can either. This last year has taught me to love myself, warts and all, with or without a man, no matter what happens to me.
And I lived happily ever after…with myself.
Read more posts by Selena Templeton, love and relationship expert. Selena blogs for JenningsWire.