The number of days I have been someone’s girlfriend in my adult life (adult defined as 18 years old)
The number of days I have spent single as an adult
I spent 6 years, 9 months and 9 days in a committed relationship with my ex fiancée (plus the few months spent casually dating).
I spent 2 months and 6 days with Chef (plus the 2 months spent casually dating).
I’ve spent less than a year of my adult life alone. Approximately 11 months, to be exact. About 6 months of that included the first 6 months after I turned 18, when I hadn’t even graduated high school yet. The other 5 months included the time right after my breakup with my ex fiancée.
Why would I spend the time doing such a calculation, you ask? Well, I have a lot of free time on my hands these days. And frankly, I can’t stop thinking about how I have always defined my life, and my happiness, by the person I was dating. How happy were we that year? What stage in our relationship were we? How happy did he make me? That was our first Christmas together. That’s the day he asked me to be his girlfriend. That was the day he took me to my first (and only) concert. That’s the month he proposed to me on the doorstep of his house. That’s the year he and my sister threw a surprise birthday party for me. That’s the year my dad got sick and I didn’t feel like he was there for me. That’s the day that I was sick and he came over, took care of me and cooked my favorite meal. Was he proud of me when I graduated from college? What about when I got my first job? My first promotion? Was he proud of me when the post I wrote about him got Freshly Pressed?
So many moments. So many important moments of my life, and almost all of them were spent with a man. I’m lucky to have always had someone love me, but I wonder about the person I would have become if I had spent some, even a handful, of those moments alone.
“I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone,” Chef told me several times. I felt disappointed in myself and guilty that I couldn’t say it back. Indeed, I’d loved my ex fiancée more than I loved Chef. Isn’t that fair? I mean look at the difference in days alone – I spent 2,475 days with my ex fiancée and 67 days with Chef. I’m not saying that a day in one relationship is equivalent to a day in another in terms of the love you have for the person, but the sheer amount of time I spent with my ex fiancée is daunting to overcome. The amount of love I had for him (partially still have) is hard to surmount. I was going to marry the man, after all. I envisioned having children with him. In fact, I thought I’d be pregnant right now and we’d be spending our first married Christmas together.
This past weekend, I broke up with Chef. I feel like I can’t breathe typing those words because somehow, admitting it on this blog makes it true. There’s no going back. It was an incredibly hard decision and I feel terribly sad. And, I miss him already. He was wonderful, is wonderful. He loved me, and I didn’t have to doubt for one minute his love for me. He took care of me, sacrificed for me and did everything he could to make time for me, no matter how busy he was. He cooked for me, held me, made me laugh, listened to me cry, trusted me, kissed me, forgave my faults, met my parents, played with my hair, encouraged me, left me sweet notes, bought me flowers, introduced me to his friends and shared his hopes and dreams with me. Even with all that, it wasn’t enough.
It should have been enough, but it wasn’t, because I’m simply not ready. I’m not ready to be loved so deeply and I don’t feel capable of returning that love adequately. Some days, I find myself almost traumatized from what I’ve been through with my ex fiancée and cancelling the wedding. But then other days, I feel completely fine, and it makes me feel like I imagined the sad days.
The past several weeks, I’ve found myself filled with guilt about not being able to reciprocate Chef’s feelings for me. The nicer he was to me, the closer we got, the more he put me first in his life, the more guilty I felt. I love him, truly love him, but I’m having a hard time letting go of everything I’ve been through. I’m having a hard time releasing all the memories of my ex, especially during the holidays. And I’ve had doubts. Doubts that I’m ready for a serious relationship and doubts that I was with Chef for the right reasons. Was I with him because he made me feel better, because after my breakup, it felt amazing to have someone love me again? Was I with him because I loved him and he’s right for me? Or was I with him because, well, because I simply don’t know how to NOT be with someone? The fact that I couldn’t confidently answer those questions concerned me.
Along with the doubts came the guilt – especially when he seemed so happy and so certain of being with me. For example, Chef wanted me to go with him on a trip to Seattle in April. He was ready to book his ticket and asked me if I was going to book mine. Yet, I couldn’t. I had too many doubts. Planning something for April scared me. I wanted to go, and genuinely thought it would be really fun, especially since I’ve never been to the West Coast. However, I just couldn’t commit. I realized that Chef deserves to be with someone who would be thrilled about going on a trip together, not confused and uncertain.
I came to the conclusion that if I have these doubts, I must give myself the time to heal. I know now that I jumped into dating far too quickly after my breakup. I jumped so fast because A: I wanted to get back the years of dating I believed I’d missed, and B: I was certain I wouldn’t find anyone for a long, long time. I thought I had plenty of time to casually date the wrong guys until I found someone special. Then, Chef came along, before I was ready. But he was so great that I tried to convince myself that I was ready for him. I didn’t want to lose him. As everyone so readily reminds me, good guys are hard to come by.
Now we’re in so deep that I’ve hurt someone. I’ve hurt Chef and he didn’t deserve to be hurt. He says that he will wait for me to be ready, and that I’m worth the wait (for a reasonable time, anyway). I really don’t know how much time I’ll need. I don’t strive to get my number of days in a relationship to equal the number of days I’ve been single. I can’t say I need to be single for 2, 3 or 6 months in order to know I’m ready to move on. I’m striving for a feeling. The feeling that I am healed, over my ex and ready to move on. Who knows how long that will take? While I’d love it if Chef were around when that time comes, I also don’t think it’s fair to ask him to put his life on hold for me.
My goal is to spend some time alone. I don’t want to date; the thought of dating makes me sick to my stomach. Right now, I want to spend some time recovering from the past year. And, I want to spend some time learning how to be alone and how to truly love myself. I don’t know how to get there, exactly, but I know it’s worth trying. And that journey starts right now.
I’m not sure exactly what I’ll write about in the coming weeks and months, but trust me, I’m going to keep blogging. This blog and all of you wonderful readers have helped me tremendously, and I’ll be forever thankful. I’m hoping to explore different kinds of writing, and maybe even post some creative pieces here. I hope to not be emo all the time and make you laugh once in a while. And I hope, in the end, to be healed. And ready for love again.