Many of you read how Vince and I got together nearly two years ago. What I didn’t include in that version, was how I got myself ready to meet my guy.
For years…decades even, I believed with my whole heart I wanted to fall in love. You can imagine how frustrated I felt as I turned 30, 31…35, 36… still never having a relationship in which I felt all in. I’m not saying 36 is old, just that after twenty years of pining, I felt exhausted.
The day after I had turned 37, my friend Sue and I were seated in the front of my white Acura in a yoga studio parking lot. Clearly, the conversation that followed left an impression. Note: This is probably not exactly what she said, but it’s what I heard:
“Maybe you don’t really want a partnership. It doesn’t seem like it. You don’t go on dates. You keep quitting online dating, and every few months you change your tune about what you want.”
Anyone who has ever played me in Tetris, Dr. Mario, Beat Saber, or Fishbowl, knows how competitive I can be.
When Sue said those words, meant I think, as a thoughtful observation, I heard a challenge. Internally, I probably said something like:
“B***S***! I do too want a partner! I want it more than anyone! I spend half my life curled up in a jealous ball of self pity! Don’t tell me I don’t want a partner.”
Externally, I probably said something like, “Huh. Interesting.” I’m sure my cheeks were ho
In the work that Sue and I practice and teach, we say that the best evidence of what you’re committed to are the results. The results would show that Sue was right, I was committed to being single.
Within the next twenty minutes I had typed out a new online dating profile on my phone and I decided I would not quit again, no matter what, until I had found my person.
Upon reflection, it turns out that this commitment was one of a few key steps I took to change myself from a person committed to being single (or in the wrong relationship) to a person able to recognize and say YES to my guy when he came along.
In the interest of time, I’ll just tell you about one of the other steps here:
Remember how I started this story by saying that ever since I was sixteen I believed with my whole heart that I wanted to fall in love? Well, it turns out that that wasn’t true.
After Sue’s challenge, I got curious. If evidence suggested I was committed to being single, why was that? My mind was practically a 24-7 looping tape of all the reasons being in a relationship would be better than my current status. But if I was committed to being single, there must be reasons.
So one day, I called my friend Deb Katz and asked her to hold space while I talked to myself. This is often the kind of fun me and my friends have together 😉
“On one side of the room” I said, “is going to be the part of me who wants a relationship. On the other side, is the part that doesn’t. I’m just going to let them argue about this while you listen, ok? If you have any questions for either part, jump in.”
This conversation with my two parts and Deb lasted maybe thirty minutes, ending with me in a sobbing pile in the middle of the room.
I was astounded by what I had learned. I had never realized how much part of me dreaded the idea of a relationship. I had never faced all the great reasons that part of me had to keep me out of one. I had never really let her speak before, or if she had, I hadn’t listened. The other part of me was too busy trying to shut her up so we could get back to wanting and longing and pining. For so long I’d had an identity as someone who wanted a relationship I had never let in the counter evidence.
I’m about to end this story, but before I do, I just want to say that I now use this practice all the time. Sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend, sometimes with a journal.
What I’ve found is that whenever I feel stuck around any topic, there is almost always a loud conscious part and a quiet unconscious part. The shocking thing is that the unconscious part is the one winning, which is why I am stuck. I have discovered to move out of a stuck place, it requires turning down the volume on Who I Think I Am to listen to Who I’m Afraid I Might Be.