“Sometimes, you need to be alone. Not to be lonely, but to enjoy your free time being yourself.” – Unknown
The last time I think I liked someone was this same time last year. It started off how it usually does, with him putting in, what I would consider, a decent level of effort (you know, as opposed to the texting 24/7…or on the flip side maybe once every 5 days).
It’s hard to know if I truly liked him; given that he was my teenage dream – tall, handsome, funny and…Irish. If the universe was sending a test. I failed.
Please just take a second to hear that…It was only a short year ago, I found myself hooked on a few characteristics, and wind up creating a dream guy/relationship in my head.
This guy brought with him that old, familiar feeling – The kind where your intuition is screaming for your attention. You know deep down, this is no different from the others – “walk away, walk away, WALK AWAY”, it’s the same guy, different suit.
On reflection, I’ve not been totally fair in my description above. I have to hand it to him; not only does he hold the award for my favourite first date, he who broke things off without a line. He wasn’t ‘too busy’, he didn’t ‘live too far away’, he didn’t claim he is ‘not looking for something serious’. Nope, he gave it to me straight, he didn’t see it going anywhere. Respect for that my friend (we’re not friends, it went pear shaped when he reached out a few weeks later for nothing but an ego stroke)! So close.
I’ve shared many times before, I’m particularly grateful for that experience – it highlighted how much I had grown. I may have tripped over again but this time, quicker than ever before – I dusted myself off and did things different:
I didn’t chase; I didn’t dwell on what went wrong; I didn’t question what I could have done different; I did intentionally shift my thoughts when they tried to do any of the above; I did appreciate the lessons; I did read ‘The Dreamer and The Fantasy Relationship’ (written by the brilliant Nat Lue) and realise a few truths about myself (I’m a dreamer!); I did celebrate and congratulate myself for this undeniable growth!
In Your Life, You Must Tune in to What Makes You Feel Good
So given all this growth – Was I sad when it ended?! Yes. I was sad. I spent two weeks feeling on the blue side of life. The thing is, it wasn’t about this guy, or the others for that matter. Let me try and explain…
This all happened around my 31st birthday. In fact, I cancelled my birthday plans with friends in the pub, replacing it for a wholesome one with my soul sister – park run, followed by our favourite cosy café (Nutella on toast included) and a night of too much wine. Whilst it sounds dramatic, it didn’t feel it. What it felt like, was deciding to do something I REALLY wanted to do. It was a decision to tune in to what would make me feel warm & happy – and to do it.
That’s the thing – I’ve spent years obsessing over what makes us happy. Teaching others the power of responsibility to live happier lives. We have to figure out what makes us feel good in this life and make the effort to do more of it. Same goes for figuring out what makes you feel crap and doing less of it. I’m pretty good at following that advice.
Except, when it comes to relationships & dating.
I was sad this time a year ago. I was sad because the pull towards people who do not light me up, reflect my worth or make me feel good – was still too strong for me to resist. It made me sad, that I knew better, yet here I was. It left me questioning, how many times will I repeat this mistake? Is it even possible for me to recover?
Ultimately, the feeling I get from the kind of people I have been attracted to – is not a good one. There are high moments, sure. But no…security. You know?
I can see clearly, since my twenties, I have never felt secure with anyone I have dated or been in a relationship with.
Ding, ding, ding. (That’s the alarm bells I always ignored)
The truth is, as far as relationships go, I didn’t know much about a secure attachment. I have always described that feeling that comes from an insecure attachment as… LOVE! (I told my best friend this recently and she replied “Carly, can you stop having epiphanies about things I told you years ago?!” Oops).
You know the feeling I mean right?! I can only relate it to that one that comes when you are trying to hold on to something so tight, hoping it won’t slip through your fingers and leave you? I have always mistaken that feeling for being a good thing. I thought that must mean something is worth holding on to.
When I am in limbo – I know it’s not nice, I know I hate it. I even tell this to the person offering me the drug, yet still, I never let go. They could come back as many times as they please. In relationships, they could hurt me time and time again.
We’re All a Little Bit Broken, and that’s OK
I’ve come to accept I’m a bit broken. Yup. Broken. (Aren’t we all?!). Secure relationships are not something I was ever really exposed to. Growing up, the main examples of relationships I experienced were toxic, to say the very least. Whilst I can’t say I grew up feeling unloved, the love I did experience was unreliable and easy for a child to misunderstand.
I’ve come to understand my (our?) attachment habits are the result of a variety of issues; as learned from the pre-mentioned ‘The Dreamer and The Fantasy Relationship’ – it is a logical idea, as a child I learned to live in my imagination, where everything was safer. I learned to attract unavailable men or ‘settle’; at least that way my heart could never be truly broken, and I’m pretty certain I have had an unconscious mission to make someone unavailable love me – in a bid to fix the biggest unavailable relationship of all – and finally feel good enough.
I went on to date into January 2019. Nothing hugely to write home about. Except, well, I dated a couple of available people. Which for me, was different, And something I wasn’t ready for. I promptly ended that and declared a month off dating, it started out as a bit of a joke, but I guess the motivation was coming from somewhere, even if I didn’t see it then.
In the time I had been single, I hadn’t actually had long periods of not dating anyone. A month seemed realistic, and if i’m honest, it seemed a long time.
One month turned into three. I felt so good that three became eight (disclaimer, there was ONE date around six months, it was too soon, it didn’t matter what he had to offer, I wasn’t done with my break just yet).
Alone Time will Heal Your Heart, Mind & Soul
If given the gift of time, I would like to experience a real, secure kind of love in my time. I understand though, that is only possible, if I allow myself to heal.
What am I healing? The broken heart of a little girl.
We all cope in our own ways – at some point, in your life, that coping strategy worked. So I’m OK with why I am addicted to a wrong kind of ‘love’ and why to me, it is my version of ‘safe’.
I don’t consider myself a storyteller, and so I’m not sure I will ever accurately convey what this time alone has done for me. What I can say is, I feel wide awake, like the puzzle piece on my wrist finally reflects its meaning – I complete myself.
I have learned how to live with myself, support myself, look after myself, love myself and pick myself up.
Time alone is when you get to work on you – figure out who you are and what you want for your precious, precious life.
As far as we know, we get one shot at this life. For some reason, we have been fed a bunch of lies about what it means to be on your own. To the point, where some people find it unbearable.
You are with yourself 24/7. Only you. No one else. There will always be times when you find yourself alone, learning to love that time is key for your peace of mind. Being accepted by yourself, far outweighs the importance of being accepted by anyone else – whether that be a parent or someone you are dating. Don’t believe me? Try it (more than once!!).
If there is a part of you attracted to the idea of going it alone – You must be willing to do the work; feel the feelings; and walk away from what isn’t good for you.
You have to date yourself the way you would anyone else. Get to know the things about yourself you really should know. What makes you smile? Cry? Angry? Sad? Jealous?
And what I would consider the most important; What lights up your soul?
Whilst you get to know yourself on a new level, it’s not all pretty and it’s not all fun. There will be tears, there will be questions and there will be moments where you forget the path you’ve chosen.
Slowly, as you come to terms with (and get excited by) a Friday night alone, other people getting engaged, solo trips, and all the other things that scare you; something begins to happen – You change. You feel strong. Your mind-set shifts. You know your worth. You validate yourself. You feel a sense of calm. You experience a powerful independence that will never come with a relationship, no matter how healthy.
The confidence that comes when you believe you do not need another person to be happy is something I don’t think there is a word for. That might seem extreme, but genuinely, until last year, I questioned if real happiness could be experienced when you are single.
Now I can say this – I wouldn’t swap this feeling for any romantic relationship I’ve experienced so far in my life.
Imagine then, how magical the right one will have to be.
The feeling I get as I write this, easily compares to the feeling you get when someone you like texts you – and some.
When you know how to be happy alone, you have something extraordinary. It’s something no one can ever take from you. Like I said, I don’t have the words for what it is, but it is so. powerful.
Both naturally and intentionally, over the 8 months, I formed a picture of what I want and deserve from my magic relationship. Boundaries and standards set. Once you know how amazing being alone can feel, you sure as hell do not intend to give that up for just anyone.
When I did date again, I found myself walking away from a situation I would have forgiven and ignored 6 months ago, and potentially wouldn’t have seen as a problem 8 months ago. So Proud.
No matter how much happiness another person will bring with them, I will cherish this time, this feeling, this whole experience.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a bit broken 😉 but I have filled in the cracks myself.
It’s so risky when you ask someone else to fill them in. They just can’t fulfill that job.
They can’t do it.
They weren’t born to do it.
You were. It’s your job.
I didn’t learn how to love or be loved. That isn’t one person’s fault. It’s just a fact. That’s how life goes. It’s messy, it’s bumpy, and it’s bloody tough. At some point, it is your responsibility to change what you can. If you want happiness and you want love, which I know you say you do, you must take action towards something new.
When my magic guy rocks up, they get to meet me, the real me. Everyone I ever dated in the past, did not meet me as a whole person. To be expected, with those experiences came sadness and confusion. Do I wish I knew then what I know now? I don’t know, I guess not.
When I think about it, I truly believe, each one led me here. Everyone I ever dated, in the end, put me back together again. They put me in the position to look at myself in a way I never had, they helped me understand what I must walk away from, they helped me feel whole again, and they helped me to help others who are in my position, then.
Find peace in your past. It led you right here. To the point where you’ve had enough. Finally.
I am not telling you this is going to be easy; I’m telling you it’s going to get easier. I know you think too much when you’re on your own and you take being single as a personal attack, but it isn’t any of those things. It’s an opportunity – if you choose to take it that is. I can’t make you.
This is going to require you to feel uncomfortable. Cry during that Friday night alone. Take yourself out. Smile when you catch yourself wishing you had someone with you. Date yourself. Be Kind. Have hope. Attend Workshops. Be present with your loved ones. Trip Up. Get Back Up. Begin that project. Take that Leap. Eat healthy food. Go on the run. Be You. Do you. Love Yourself.
When the time is right, you can put yourself back out there again. When you do – it’s a new world, you’re wide awake and you are not about to put up with the same old.
Since Learning to Love Myself, it’s no coincidence that I have attracted women who are in the position that I was, then. I’ve witnessed them become whole, know their worth and walk away. If that’s you, and you are ready to invest your time and energy into building a brand new relationship with yourself, get in touch. Together, we will get you here.
Life is too short to spend it with the wrong people and you deserve real, magic love; From yourself and from your right person.
Carly ann xx