For four years, every time my tender, needy heart felt empty, I would look for the next person to try to fill it up.
My friends had implored me, repeatedly, to “take a break for a while.” And I would always say, “I know I should, but I just met this new guy … maybe if it doesn’t work out with him …” With the end result that I had not spend more than two months alone since the day my then-husband walked out the door.
I told all of this to my wonderful therapist, Sara, who suggested it. Strongly. I let her pick the duration. She chose six months to start with. I told her, “But what if I meet THE GUY while I’m doing this and I miss out?” She asked, gently, “If you do meet him, would you be in a position to make things work with him right now?”
A few days later, I came across a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert online, and it resonated deeply within me. “When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.”
Oh, yes, that had been me. Caring for the men I dated, yes, and sometimes loving them, but also trying to fill this bottomless pit of need and hurt and loneliness yawning before me. Hoping desperately that someone could love me in my brokenness and yet refusing to believe it when they did.
My new motto, from “Game of Thrones,” became, “I’m not going to stop the wheel — I’m going to break the wheel.” But I didn’t know how. And I was terrified of the prospect of six lonely, sexless months.
My longtime friend Scott told me, “You’ve kayaked on Lake Superior! You can do this!” I replied, “Screw Lake Superior — I would rather go through childbirth again than do this.” He suggested that perhaps that was exactly the reason I HAD to do it.