~ Elizabeth Gilbert
When I pulled out my journal Wednesday morning, I noticed the date on the first entry - February 3, 2014. It gave me pause to realize that little composition notebook chronicled the bulk of my relationship with my ex, from a few days before we became engaged through the demise of the relationship and beyond. I spent a few moments pondering that, allowed my mind to wander back through everything that has happened since I broke up with my previous fiance' and - well, I didn't like what I saw. This is what I wrote afterwards.
I refuse to allow history to repeat itself again. For the next six months, at least, I hereby declare a moratorium on dating. I'm going to spruce up the house, practice the piano, finish my novels in progress, start another one. I'm going to eat and drink healthy and exercise regularly and lose the rest of the twenty pounds I have been carrying around since menopause had its way with me. I'm going to put together a family cookbook and stitch memory quilts and hit the beach as often as I can. Then, after Christmas, I will open my heart up again - not with expectation, but to possibility - while continuing to do the things I love to do and spend time with the people I cherish.
Then I set my journal aside, made a pot of coffee, and checked in on Facebook. To my delight, one of the first things I saw was a post from Elizabeth Gilbert, in which she re-posted an essay from last year "about how important it is for women to learn how to be lonely." Liz had had met a young woman who had just broken up with her boyfriend of four years because he didn't treat her right and become concerned when the woman proclaimed, "I gotta go out there right now and get myself somebody BETTER." This was Liz's response.
Once you learn what is good for you, you settle for nothing less. And you can't learn what is good for you until you spend some time getting to know yourself. So six months, I made that girl promise. At LEAST six months alone, I made her swear. We shook on it. And it was sort of comic - here I was, a perfect stranger, and she was agreeing to my demand that she commit to celibacy for half a year...AT LEAST half a year. But that's, I believe, what even she knew she needed. To be lonely until it didn't scare her anymore. Until she wasn't just throwing herself at the next warm body that came along, out of panic and fear of her own being.
Click HERE to read the entire essay. Liz's words are so much more powerful than my own. But I found it serendipitous that she had come to the same conclusion I did - validating my thinking in a comforting and relieving sort of way.
And so I begin six-months of life-changing aloneness. May I come out better on the other side.