Last weekend, I attended a wine tasting event with my adopted family. There were four of us and we used the event as an optimal excuse to gather for food, wine and a much needed catch up. Near the close of the night (read: several glasses of wine later), my girlfriend looked at me and said, “I’m so happy to see that you have taken on the starring role in your life.” This comment, as innocuous as it seemed at the time, was followed by many hugs and “I love you’s,” as is often the case, especially when fueled by red wine. At the conclusion of the event, the four of us attempted to watch our go-to Rom-Com, while one-by-one, we all dropped off to our respective sleeping areas and fell into a night’s slumber. My girlfriend and I were sleeping on the pull-out couch, so we were the last to fall asleep. And we did…literally 30 minutes into the Rom-Com.
I woke up super early the next morning, before everyone else. I wanted to be on the first ferry (7 am) so I could be home in time to watch the Patriots beat Houston…in a nail biter I might add. In the quiet and darkness of the morning, those words my friend uttered in her wine haze were still turning around in my head. I felt simultaneously proud of myself and also disappointed.
Just over two years ago I moved back to Vancouver, after a few years abroad, and essentially started over. I had to find a new place to live, a new job, new furniture and reconnected with old friends and met new ones. I also took time to lick my emotional wounds after the end of my long term relationship. Eventually, I started dating.
Through the learning experience, that is dating in the online era, I’ve discovered different aspects of myself. I’ve identified patterns that have been repeating themselves as a constant thread through my relationships. I believe that patterns repeat themselves until the lesson is learned. The Universe will present that same lesson again and again. My lesson is that I have had a tendency to put myself last in my romantic relationships. I’m a supporter, a cheerleader, a caretaker, a partner in crime and I definitely don’t like to fight or argue. By no means, do I identify as a pushover or as a weak or meek partner. I speak my mind and stand up for myself. But I am not the most important person in the relationship. Is this an occupational hazard? Or is this tendency part of the reason I was attracted to being a nurse? This is a bit like the chicken or the egg debate.
Once I felt ready to date again, I ventured out into the online world. And I approached it like I do many other things in my life, with zest and determination. It became a focal point in my life. I started to feel like I was getting old, like it was “too late” for me. When I met someone new, where there was a spark and a connection and a potential, I analyzed all the ways I was a good fit for him. It never occurred to me to consider whether or not he was a good fit for me! Again, I was not putting myself first. I did not contemplate how this new person would fit in with my life, with my activities and hobbies and tastes.
The realization that I came to was that I needed to get a life! It became important to me to figure out who I was. What do I love to do? What am I passionate about? What do I lose myself in? I’ve joined a running club and have a weekly hiking date with my girlfriend. I signed up for some creative writing classes and have started reading more and more books. I watch football and go to wine, beer and food events and as much live, local sports and music as I can. I volunteer and I started my blog. I went out and got myself a life. One where I’m in the starring role, as my lovely friend stated.
The disappointment comes from not doing this sooner. But regret is a wasted emotion. Rather than regret lost time, I have used it to reinforce my determination to stay true to myself and to find joy in the little things in my life. Being aware of what I enjoy (or don’t enjoy) and participating in those activities not only allow me to bring something to the table (so to speak) and make me a more dynamic and engaging person to be around, but it has become easier to figure out what my boundaries are, my beliefs and to identify “deal breakers”. It allows me to put myself first, I simply have to choose to do so.
I was so determined to find someone to share my life with, that I forgot to go out and get one. After all, what good is having someone to share my life with, when I don’t have a life to share?