“The story is always better than your ability to write it.” — Robin McKinley
I know it’s only August, but it’s already been a long, interesting year.
I’m amazed when people say that Time Flies. I don’t find that to be true (although I also say things like that from time to time so you can imagine the intense self loathing that happens here). At least I don’t find that to be true now.
In my sobriety, I’ve learned to really take the time to enjoy the little moments that happen each day, the little events that sometimes slip through the cracks. Because of that, I think the year seems to be moving more slowly. Or maybe it’s because I’ve laid out some rather large goals that simply time the passage of time (with some action) to come to fruition.
The Year of Health and The Year of Friends has really helped re-configure my life’s priorities. I’ve can feel how my life could be if I just keep moving forward. The Brad@40 plan is already helping me get my act together in the next few years.
The one thing I haven’t really done this year – other than a couple mis-steps – is date. I’ve purposefully removed myself from the dating pool, focusing on getting my sobriety and life in working order. Something I’ve never really done.
Now, though, it feels like it’s time:
I haven’t talked much about my decision sometime late last year to take a break from dating, which is weird for me. For some reason, stories about my addiction and damage I’ve inflicted – and tried to fix – are easy to type. Stories about writing are simple. Travel, that’s just fun.
My personal life, though, has always been something that’s a bit off-limits. Maybe that’s left over from my drinking days. There was much to be hidden.
I suspect it’s something greater than that.
Several years ago when my long-time girlfriend – Film Girl — and I were breaking up, she said this: “There’s always been another person in this relationship.”
And it’s true. There was. Or more accurately: there were. Because it wasn’t just one ghost. I’d trapped The Muse and The Girl in my head. I’d built a mythology around my writing and the travel that nobody could rightly fit.
In order to keep that fantasy alive, it’s important to horde facts and information lest it get out and burst the bubble. This, I’ve found, had disastrous results on my dating.
My closest friends, the ones who have known me the longest, reacted mostly with skepticism and giggles when I told them about my decision.
They were supportive, it’s important to note, the idea – when spoken – just brought up an interesting point: Since I was 19, there’s hardly been a time when I didn’t have either a girlfriend or some casual form of casual relationship.
It’s an odd juxtaposition since I’ve always been a bit of a loner. (The question as to whether cognitive dissonance kicked in and made be believe I was a loner is not a subject worth getting into here, although that general idea is one I think it’s probably true.)
However, you hear the same refrain from your friends enough and it’s hard to ignore the story.
Which got me thinking.
Since I’d spent so much time drinking, living in this self-created world while avoiding any real long-lasting connections , maybe I never really figured out who I am.
And more importantly, who I wanted to be with.
In the last 10 months, here’s some of what I have learned about the partner I’m looking for:
And just as important, I’ve learned this about me:
What does it all mean? I’ve got no real idea. It’s uncharted territory for me.
I know I won’t be blogging about my dating experiences here. I’ve always tried to be protective of the people in my life. They didn’t ask to be friends with a writer, particularly one who lives publicly. I try to write simply about my life.
And I find it unexpected that I’m more uncomfortable preparing to hit publish on this blog than anything else I’ve written. When I described getting sober to my ex-therapist, I said it was like taking a wolf, turning him into a sheep and releasing him into the world. The sheep knows exactly how his end will come.
The decision to date again – and to talk about it – feels very similar. But I’m told those moments build character.
Besides: life is just a grand adventure, and it sure would be nice to find someone who wants to go on that trip together. It’s time to get busy living or get busy dying.